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Monday, September 15, 2008

SF Gov InAction: Supes to Investigate Crucial Wooden Decks, Celebrate Sea Otters, and Look like They're Reading Reports

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 5:45 PM


By Benjamin Wachs

After having just two meetings in five weeks, the Supes are back to work in SF like a lion working on a lamb. They’ve got eight, count ‘em, eight jam-packed meetings this week, and there’s no time for anything that isn’t important.

Except for Sea Otter Awareness Week.

That’s right, at their Tuesday meeting the Supes are set to once again declare next week to be Sea Otter Awareness Week, the very bestest holiday of all!

Think of everything we owe our fuzzy friends. Without sea otters, who would clean our streets? Without sea otters, who would give the children milk? Without sea otters, who would defend us from the Russians?

Not dolphins, that’s for damn sure.

So welcome back Supes (I know you technically came back last week, but, this time you mean it) and let’s try to conduct the city’s business as thoroughly as sea otters gut trout.

Monday, Sept. 15,

10 a.m. – Government Audit and Oversight Committee

I’ve been hurt by this committee too many times before.

Sure, they SAY they’re going to have a hearing about the recent Civil Grand Jury reports that document how there’s no accountability in SF and how the city tends to ignore Civil Grand Jury Reports, but somehow I think they’re just going to ignore them and be unaccountable.

I’ve seen it too many times, I can’t trust it again, and every disillusioned citizen knows how this downward spiral goes. First you stop attending the hearings, and then you stop watching the hearings, and then you stop asking people “how did the hearings go?” and then the next thing you know you’re face down in a ditch outside the Republican National Convention and someone’s written Sarah Palin’s résumé on the palm of your hand (it’s a short résumé). And you vaguely remember something about boarding a plane to Minnesota and you wonder “why am I wearing this Rotary Club jacket?” and then you know you’ve done something very, very, bad, and you just hope you don’t show up on YouTube kissing anyone in the McCain family.

All because, in the end, the San Francisco Government Audit and Oversight Committee didn’t exercise any real oversight.

Oh prove me wrong, Aaron Peskin, Tom Ammiano, and Sophie Maxwell. Oh do prove me wrong!

For what it’s worth, today they’ll also be voting to have the City Attorney and Public Utilities Commission lobby PG&E not to substantially increase its rates. Hey, good luck with that!

They’ll also be performing routine authorizations for the San Francisco General Hospital rebuilding program. How routine? It involves authorizing a contractor for drywall.

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

It just wouldn’t be a Land Use & Economic Development Committee meeting without a hearing on the status of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan. It’s like that old familiar song you hear coming out of a jukebox near the place you grew up, or the smell of your brother’s rotting corpse that never comes out of your skin no matter how hard you wash wash wash and you know you didn’t kill him because you loved your brother but he just shouldn’t have borrowed your iPod without asking.

Yeah, it’s like that.

There will also be proposals and hearings about development along the 19th Avenue corridor. I bet you didn’t even know we had one.

And this is very exciting: An “informational hearing on the processes and procedures that the Department of Building Inspection follows for inspection of wooden decks in San Francisco.”

Seriously? We have to have a hearing? A written summary wouldn’t be enough? We really need to -talk- this through? It wouldn’t be sufficient for Jake McGoldrick (the hearing’s sponsor) to just call up the Building Inspector and say “Hey, how do you guys inspect wooden decks?”

Okay...I guess. Man, this meeting is going to be deadly dull.

Tuesday, September 16, 2 p..m. – Full Board of Supervisors

Good ideas to come out of this meeting:

* Expanding the “first hire” ordinance of the Market and Octavia Plan (I bet you didn’t even know we had one) to effect more businesses building in the affected area so that more local people on public assistance will be hired to do the work, while simultaneously putting new reporting requirements on the First Source Hiring Administration (I didn’t even know we had one).

* Establishing a “re-entry council” to help people getting out of prison transition into outside life without getting pulled back into criminal activity.

* Making Sept. 21 – 27 Sea Otter Awareness Week

Controversial ideas to be voted on at this meeting:

* Turning the zoo into a zoo/animal shelter hybrid.

Wonky things that Peskin says we’d better do that we’d probably better do:

* Eliminating obsolete terms in the “In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority” (I knew about that one) and providing compensation for the members of its governing body when they attend meetings.

* Establishing the “Broadway Entertainment Corridor Benefit District”

* Did I mention “Sea Otter Awareness Week?”

Is there really anything else you want to know?

Wednesday, Sept. 17

1 p.m. – Budget and Finance Committee

There are some things I almost never say. “Hi mom, let me tell you about my day” for example. Or “Why yes, I would like to learn more about Scientology. Is it true that you have a stress test?”

So forgive me if I choke a little while I stare at the Budget and Finance Committee agenda and write “How interesting!”

Jake McGoldrick (have I lost you right there?) wants to hold a hearing (are you still with me?) on the procedure by which San Francisco tracks who’s leasing its property.

See, that last part, that’s a winner.

I don’t know what’s more disquieting: McGoldrick’s habit of jumping down rabbit holes or the fact that he occasionally comes back with a rabbit. This hearing could be a colossal waste of time, but he could also have identified an area filled with scandal and abuse. There’s no way to tell until the hearing.

Sean Elsbernd also has a proposal, one that would allow the Department of Public Health to award contracts for work on health facilities. This would likely streamline the process of getting clinics and other health facilities fixed fast … which is important. It would also likely open up the door to abuses … except that, honestly, if my public funds are going to get abused anyway I’d just rather they be efficient about it.

But that’s just me. Go ahead and argue.

1 p.m. – A very special meeting of the Land Use & Economic Development Committee

Cue music.

Madam Sophie Maxwell, her long red dress glowing in the torchlight, stared down at the pitiful wreck of a man before her. He was huddled in the corner, his legs in heavy chains, whimpering. Pleading for it to stop.

“Just kill me,” he moaned.

Aaron “The Knife” Peskin and Gerardo “the Contender” Sandoval turned to look at her.

“You want us to work him over again, Ms. Maxwell?” Gerardo asked.

Sophie traced her finger down the long scar that ran across her neck. She’d suffered so much to get here … anyone could see that. The scars on her soul, though, those were ten times worse – and just because they couldn’t be seen didn’t mean they’d ever heal.

“That depends,” she replied. “It depends on whether he has anything new to say.”

The man made a sound – like he was pleading for his mother, for God, for anyone to make this endless torture stop. But Sophie was pitiless.

She leaned down. She hissed: “Tell me everything you know about the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan.”

“I’ve ALREADY TOLD YOU EVERYTHING I know!” he sobbed.

She shook his head. “Then we do this from the beginning. Go to it boys.”

Gerardo stepped forward and just started pounding. Pounding. Pounding. Peskin shook his head and looked over at Sophie.

“This is why you called us here?” he said. “This is it? Just to go over the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan for the second time in a week? And then we go home? Are we really going to learn something today that we couldn’t learn two days ago?”

Sophie’s eyes were cold. “You want my support on the Board of Supervisors?” she asked. “Well, I want this!”

Peskin nodded, and pulled out his knife.

Thursday, Sept. 18

10 a.m. – Rules Committee

In addition to a bunch of committee appointments (did you know we have a “Community Oversight Committee Regarding Enforcement of Marijuana Offenses”?), there will also be a hearing to consider the quarterly reports of the Shelter Monitoring Committee.

It’s nice to think that, if we force the Shelter Monitoring Committee to write quarterly reports, someone will go to the trouble of reading them.

Unlikely, but nice.

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

Supes Mirkarimi and Peskin are going to demand that all newspapers or handbills that come in bags use recyclable or compostable bags. I expect them to be very, very popular men for a while.

Supe Sandoval will propose a waiver process for the enclosure requirements on garbage receptacles which sit on residential property. I don’t think anyone’s going to notice.

3:30 p.m. – City and School District Committee

Okay, I’ve gotta be honest here: I’ve given the matter a great deal of thought and I no longer believe that the San Francisco Unified School District really exists.

I mean, have YOU ever met a child in this city with an adequate education?

I’m not denying that there are buildings labeled “school” – I’ve seen those – but I can’t imagine what goes on inside them. And I know there is a fleet of yellow “school buses” that transport children from point to point across the city – but what does that prove really? Maybe those kids are being abducted in an extremely efficient manner, or maybe the buses are a temporary detention area sent out to make sure children don’t skateboard while the symphony is rehearsing. Maybe they’re a mobile homeless shelter. I don’t know: could be anything.

And of course I know that there are people here who make a living as “teachers”: but my impression is that they work in politics. I think they’re a lobbying group.

I’m not absolutely sure what Carlos Garcia (if that is his real name) and the alleged “school board” have to gain by this charade, but I’m pretty sure it’s a real estate con. They’re probably building condos without setting anything aside for affordable housing.

So naturally I’m skeptical of the so-called “City and School District Committee” – and their agenda sure doesn’t help.

According to the first item, the “school district” apparently decided to ax a program that is very popular with both minority students and parents because it doesn’t fit with the school board’s political agenda.

Honestly now, would a real school district do that?

And the rationales they give for this decision are just transparent! First they say it’s because the military is using the program as a recruitment tool, but in fact virtually none of the students in the program are going into the military! Hey, great “recruitment tool” geniuses! Better watch out: next thing you know one of your kids might not adequately consult with her guidance counselor for guidance!

Yeah, no real school board would think like that.

But then, the next explanation they come up with is just crazy: they say that they can’t accept the program because the military discriminates against gays and lesbians. Which is true: but THIS PROGRAM has openly gay and lesbian students enrolled in it, and they support it. So … in order to take a strong stand against the military’s policy of discriminating against gays, the district is eliminating one of the few military-connected programs that DOESN’T discriminate against gays?

I’m not making this up you know.

So anyway, now that the “school board” has axed this program, which a lot of kids took as a physical education requirement, the school board is saying they’ll come up with a “physical education master plan,” and that how they’ll do it will be discussed at this meeting.

Yep – that’s right, they scrapped physical education program that parents and kids liked BEFORE they created the “physical education master plan.” Because that TOTALLY makes sense.

Man are these guys phoning it in: maybe they should have gone to a real school board meeting, or watched a movie about a school, before they tried to pull this over on us.

So that’s what they’ll be talking about first at this meeting: how, having already killed the option for PE that a significant number of parents and kids liked, they should probably come up with some idea about how they’re going to run PE in a way that parents and kids will like. And they want the city’s help.

This is such a real estate con. Somehow.

Next on the agenda is a hearing to figure out how to resolve the district’s ongoing and serious problem with truancy. Hmmmm. If only they had some kind of popular program that kids would get really enthusiastic about ….

Oh, right.

Never mind. This is so not a real school district.

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Benjamin Wachs


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