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Monday, February 11, 2008

City Hall's War Against City Hall: It's ...

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2008 at 6:17 PM


By Benjamin Wachs

It’s a busy, schitzo week at City Hall: city government will spend half the meetings trying to get things done, and the other half trying to gnaw its own leg off. It’s what they’re good at.

Monday, Feb. 11

10 a.m - Public Safety Committee

Man, I used to care about this committee so much. Where did the magic go?

Committee Chairman Ross Mirkarimi does everything right – holds regular public hearings, asks tough questions of police officials, and demands that important issues be addressed. He’s trying to make this work. He really is. But … I guess we were fooling ourselves. And now we’re older, wiser, and have learned a valuable lesson:

Calling attention to serious problems is not the same thing as having an organized response to them. And the Public Safety Committee just can’t do that on its own.

I’m sorry, but it’s over: I’m going to go pin my hopes on the Land Use and Economic Development Committee now. They’ll save us!

1 p.m. – Land Use & Economic Development Committee

Wow, what a great committee! They’re all concerned with land use and stuff! Like this proposal to prohibit “large tourist hotels” from converting into condominiums! See? That’s a healthy committee at work.

Or what about Chris Daly’s proposal “encouraging” the Treasure Island Development Authority to include 50% affordable housing at the former naval station? I’m sure that’s just the encouragement the Development Authority needed!

And, of course, there’s the mammoth planning code amendments to the Market and Octavia area. At 262 pages, this is the mother of all rezoning efforts. The Supes have been tussling with it for months, and I’m still convinced that not a single elected official has actually read it.

Why? Because it has too many big words for Jake McGoldrick; Chris Daly would demand that poor people get to read half of it; Michela-Alioto Pier would think it’s someone’s job to read it to her; and, of course, Gavin Newsom can’t read.

Your elected officials care enough to join a protest, sign an e-petition, or even get arrested for a hip cause. But read 262 pages of dense zoning changes? Uh-uh. They’ve got people for that.

Tuesday, Feb. 12 – 2 p.m.: Full Board of Supervisors

Today the board is getting ready to give the mayor the finger by proposing a charter resolution that would make it easier for them to nix his Public Utilities Commission appointees; They’ll also finally decide whether to shoot down the two he’s made recently.

You’ll also be pleased to know that Tom Ammiano will ask the board to support Mark Leno’s efforts to have Harvey Milk’s birthday declared a state holiday, and that February is being declared “Civil Grand Jury Awareness Month.”

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 1 p.m. – Budget and Finance Committee

The budget committee is starting to heat up. They’ll hold hearings on the budget and – bizarrely – the strain of drug resistant staph that’s got everyone so worked up. I’m not sure why that’s a budget item … are we funding it? … but I guess you have to start somewhere.

The Airport’s Terminal D will be getting a $55 million make-over if the mayor has his way; and $55,000 will be taken from the funds for the Golden Gate Park Stables that nobody wants and put towards the Golf Course Recreational Study that nobody wants.

See - this is what government’s supposed to look like. Important stuff almost top to bottom, that they can actually do something about. I am so dropping the Land Use and Economic Development Committee for the budget committee.

That was just a rebound committee anyway.

Thursday, Feb. 14

10 a.m. – Rules Committee

The Rules Committee is also caught up in appointment fever: will they or won’t they approve the appointment’s of the Mayor’s new MTA picks? How about the Board of Appeals? Man there’s a lot of insider’s baseball on the calendar this week. Is it just me, or is City Hall a bureaucratic Valhalla where people who want to fight over minutia get to knock each other out every day for high salaries?

1 p.m. – City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee

Don’t worry – the City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee will make it all better.

They’ll be applying for a $200,000 grant to find out whether geothermal heat pumps will be good for San Francisco; adding a “Climate Change Goals and Action Plan” to the city’s environmental code (we’ll have our own greenhouse gas emission targets!); a public hearing on pedestrian safety issues; and maybe even the establishment of a full service post-office in the Tenderloin.

All stuff we can fight to the death over later.

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Benjamin Wachs


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