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Monday, December 3, 2007

Oil Spill Hearings Mar Pristine, White Agenda: It's SFGovernmentInAction!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2007 at 8:19 AM


Monday, December 3:

10:00 a.m. – Public Safety Committee

Monday at 10 marks the formal report by city emergency responders to City Hall on the Cosco Busan oil spill. What went right (no, that’s not a joke), what went wrong, and how the city’s agencies can better prepare for a spill like this in the future.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval's proposing a measure that would “urge the Port of San Francisco to prohibit any vessel that uses heavy bunker oil from docking on Port property.”

Which is retarded, because the Port of SF sees as little action as a Noe Valley bedroom. Attend this bit of political theater if you can get the next few hours off. Nobody’s better at making city bureaucrats squirm on camera than Public Safety Committee Chairman Ross Mirkarimi.

It’s like he takes this job seriously or something.

1:00 p.m. – Land Use Committee

Are there ever mornings when you wake up and think, “Why the fuck does San Francisco even HAVE a Land Use committee?”

No? Not even when you’ve had really bad shrooms the night before? Am I really so alone on this?

Okay, whatever. I can take it. I thought we had an understanding here, but … whatever.

No … you know what … screw that, I can’t let this thing go. I mean, I can understand why a committee would do something sensible, like an “institutional master plan review for medical institutions” (click here to read what that’s all about) … that’s a good idea … but why does it have to be a Land Use Committee? Does that really fall under their jurisdiction? Huh? Does it?

And what about the other items on their agenda? How can you possibly defend those? Like item two, an “Interim Moratorium on institutional uses in the Western SoMa.” Huh? What’s that about? The entire progressive majority … Peskin, Daly, Ammiano, McGoldrick, Maxwell, Mirkarimi … they all seem to want it. And I like these guys. I do. But the measure they’re proposing includes this sentence:

“The Western SoMa Planning Area Special Use District houses important production, distribution, and repair (“PDR”) services that are a vital part of the San Francisco and regional economy, including the flower industry.”

Shit, all this time I thought we were a high tech center … when it fact it’s the FLOWER industry, the “vital” flower industry, that’s the engine of our prosperity. God alone knows what would happen if the terrorists got to our precious, precious flowers!

All this rigmarole is over nothing. City law requires that any institutions in the city have to file a master plan with the planning department, and the Academy of Art (among other offenders) hasn’t done that for 20 years, so now that the Academy wants to build or expand or … whatever they want to do and the Supes are saying “No, we’re going to put a moratorium on institutional building for the whole area until you fall into line!” Which is just — Wait — I like that. Fuck, that’s a good idea. I — wow — I’ve been horrible about this whole thing. I’m so sorry. Land Use Committee, can you ever forgive me?

I love this committee. And I hate — HATE — any supervisor who doesn’t support the Interim Moratorium on institutional uses in the Western SoMa, or support our vital, vital flower industry.

Tuesday, December 4

2:00 p.m. – Full Board of Supervisors

Ross Mirkarimi’s stealing the rest of the Supes thunder by holding his own Cosco Busan hearing a day before the full Board of Supervisors meets to have theirs. But it won’t be repetitious, because these will be very different hearings.

At Mirkarimi’s hearing, the committee’s going to listen and then decide what they think of the city’s response to the disaster. At the hearing today, the Supes have already decided to commend:

1) The Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) Training program

2) The Bay Area chapter of the Red Cross

3) SF Connect

4) The Volunteer Center … for the outstanding jobs they did.

Which is swell. But public hearings where they hand out awards are very different from public hearings where someone gets asked “Why, exactly, did your agency do that?”

Bottom line: if you’re angry about the Cosco Busan oil spill, show up at Mirkarimi’s hearing. If you’re thrilled by the way we all pulled together afterwards, show up at the Supes.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

What’s that sound, boys and girls? Why, it must be another charter amendment to annoy voters with the messy mechanics of democracy! Yes, the scars from the last election haven’t even healed but already we’ve got a heated political battle -- a ballot amendment.

This charter amendment is brought to you by Supervisors Daly, Ammiano, and Mirkarimi, whose Tony-award nominated musical “A Tale of One City” will be available on a Grammy-nominated compact disc in time for this Oscar-nominated Christmas. Their newest project, highly anticipated by progressive activists and the 18 – 35 year old starving artist demographic, is a proposal that would require a small percent of each tax dollar be set aside for affordable housing programs, and require the Mayor’s Office of Housing to prepare an affordable housing plan every three years.

No other supervisors’ names appear on this proposal, so it’s going to have a hard time at the meeting. But since voter turnout hovered near zero this year, getting something on the ballot is easier than dumping bunker oil in the bay. Expect some version of this charter amendment on the ballot, some way, some how.

This week the Supes will also be:

--Designating the Metro Theater on Union Street as a landmark

--Continue to screen possible lawyers to find one who can represent them in the forthcoming Ed Jew hearings (are there any impartial lawyers in this city?)

--Ask the DPW to create a “Citizen’s How To Kit” on how to move their utilities underground.

I’m sorry … what? A “how to kit” for ordinary people on how to move their utilities underground? Is that something we should be taking into our own hands? Don’t we want to leave that to the experts? Or, is this part of some really progressive movement I haven’t heard about?

Jeez – I can’t even screw in a light bulb.

Wednesday, December 5

1:00 p.m. – Budget and Finance Committee

Yes! Somebody’s finally creating a contract for a new voting system! We’ve moving into the 19th century!

Thursday, December 6

10:00 a.m. – Rules Committee

The Rules Committee is sending mixed signals this week. Do they like us or not?

On the one hand, they’re totally looking out for us. They’ll be appointing people to the Asthma Task Force, the Mental Health Board, the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, the Health Authority, the Developmental Disabilities Area Board V, the Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group (okay, I don’t know what that is – but it sounds like they’re looking after us), and the Children and Families First Commission (I don’t know what that is either, but, come on, Children and Families First!).

They’ll also be creating an “Independent Rate Payer Advocate” to make sure utility rates are fair. Nice, huh?

Then, suddenly, the committee turns mean – authorizing the Tax Collector Attorney to file suit against the relatives of people who get care at City hospitals then don't pay. The city needs coin, see.

Hey! Wait a minute! Isn’t health care a right? Isn’t that what the Asthma Task Force is all about? Come on, Rules Committee, cut us some slack! I needed that tumor removed!

Then, they’ll be holding a hearing on homeless LGBT youth in San Francisco.

There’s no explanation for this. What about homeless LGBT youth? Are we for them? Against them? Do they need help? Are they a public nuisance? Is Sean Elsbernd going to provide irrefutable proof that they don’t exist? What?

I bet they’re a threat to the vital flower industry. But I don’t know for sure.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all the government we can stand. Take a break. Walk it off. Smoke something mellow. Try to forget that, next week, we’ll have to do it all over again … and possibly move our own underground utilities.

(SFGovernmentInAction tells you what's on The Man's agenda every week on Monday morning at 9 a.m. Bookmark it, deltas.)

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David Downs


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