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Monday, December 1, 2008

SF Gov. InAction: Quick, the Budget's in Trouble! Someone Cut the Community Justice Center or Something

Posted By on Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 11:46 AM


By Benjamin Wachs

Keeping with tradition, the Supervisors have taken a holiday weekend and turned it into an extended vacation. Their justification this time is that they all need the extra two days off to go see "Milk." Last year, it was to stand in line and buy iPhones, and the year before that, they needed time to stay home and catch up on "Heroes."

My understanding (I wasn't here) is that in 2005, one of them actually had a loved one to spend time with, and so the whole board took the week off to watch and see if they could understand what this strange human emotion called "love" is.

After the holidays, they asked the budget analyst to put together a report, and concluded that it was some kind of zoning exemption.

Which may be why they used the week of Thanksgiving to finally pass the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, because nothing says "Thanksgiving" like special use permits. Little known fact: the Mayflower spent more than three months harbored off Plymouth Rock, while the Iroquois debated whether ships full of white people constituted a non-conforming use.

This may explain why, now that the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan has passed, developers are giving blankets laced with smallpox to SOMA residents.

But I digress. Now that the Supes have finally dispensed with the ENP, and the Mirant Power Plant debate (for now), they have almost nothing to talk about. Which is, I think, the real reason for this week's light schedule.

Wednesday, Dec. 3 , 1 p.m. - Budget & Finance Committee

The big news to come out of this meeting will be a hearing held by Jake McGoldrick on mid-year budget cuts. McGoldrick, many of you may remember, is the founder of the Impressionist school of budgeting, which is more interested in the subjective reality of the moment than it is in making sense with numbers. The rumor is that this budget hearing will be all about sunsets, rainbows, and the oppression of prostitutes, but really, anything can happen. Maybe he'll see a butterfly on his way to City Hall.

Also noteworthy will be almost $2 billion in Water Revenue Bond proceeds to go to the Water System Improvement Program. This is not unexpected, but, it's an awfully large number. Bigger than a rainbow.

Chris Daly and Jake McGoldrick's proposal to defund the Community Justice Center comes up before this committee for the first time, which could lead to a shouting match of some kind. So does a possibly controversial is a proposal by McGoldrick to eliminate the restrictions the size of businesses that can apply for the "clean energy technology business" payroll expense exemption: it would also expand the scope of business activities that qualify.

Mostly, though, this hearing will award contracts for city services to lucky companies. There will also be the monthly examination of the overtime report, which leads to the obvious question: are we really going to have to do this every month? Really? I mean, it's nice to think that we could use this monthly review to track down ne'er-do-wells who are using too much overtime, but are we really going to learn anything more than "The city needs more cops and ambulance drivers than it is willing to hire?" Really?

Thursday, Dec. 4

10 a.m. - Rules Committee

If San Franciscans had been the first colonists in America, and conquered the continent going from West to East, there would have been no genocide of the Native Americans: instead, the pilgrims would have appointed all of the natives to the committee on Urban Forestry, and they would never have been heard from again.

Today, that proud tradition continues: no matter how little there is for city government to do, they will ALWAYS have committees to appoint people to.


Today, in addition to the Urban Forestry Council, they will be making appointments to: the Public Utilities Commission; the Treasure Island Development Authority Board of Directors; Assessment Appeals Board No. 1; Assessment Appeals Board No. 2; the Ballot Simplification Committee; the Immigrants rights Commission; the Market and Octavia Advisory Committee; the Children's Collaborative Task force; the biodiesel Access Task Force; and the Shelter Monitoring Committee.

They will round the meeting out by creating even more regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries, which is awfully hard on a bunch of organizations that haven't even been able to meet filing deadlines.

According to a new regulation proposed by Chris Daly, the installation of platform lifts will become part of the minimum disability access standards that medical cannabis dispensaries have to meet; and a proposal by the Mayor would "clarify" that medical cannabis dispensaries must be cooperatives or collectives - thus dashing hopes that the Big 3 automakers could make a comeback by including a stash in the glove department of each vehicle sold.

It's too bad. I'm telling you - that would have worked.

1 p.m. - City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee

Little known fact: the first Thanksgiving feast nearly didn't happen, because the Pilgrims' Entertainment Commission initially refused to grant a permit for a feast in the Town Square, citing concerns about drunken youths taking the Lord's name in vain.

Those kinds of shenanigans always seems to happen whenever you get a horn of plenty at a party.

Fortunately, the Pilgrims' Small Business Association initiated a dynamite lobbying campaign citing the need for increased tourism.

"Seeist thou yon Savages?" they asked the Entertainment Commission. "True, they be idolaters without shame, and fornicateist out of wedlock, but they have disposable income, so let's kill a wild turkey and have a party and see if maybe they'll bring some corn."

That story - which I'm telling you is truer than you think - is still relevant today because no entertainment commission yet devised is truly satisfying to its community. The San Francisco Entertainment Commission has never pleased anybody, and so today's meeting will feature a discussion about yet another possible revamp to the troubled organization.

My understanding is that several Native Americans will appear and demand their corn back. God knows we owe it to them: we TOTALLY trashed their neighborhood.

Also up is a measure by Ross Mirkarimi prohibiting advertisements for alcoholic beverages on city property. I don't know about this: at a city hall dominated by Gavin Newsom and Aaron Peskin, ads for booze seem pretty appropriate.

3 p.m. - City and School District Committee

The thing about this committee is, it reminds me of my family. I like it in theory but why why why does coming anywhere near it fill me with both a white hot anger and a sense of shame and disappointment at the way life turns out?

My therapist says it's because the City and School District Committee touched me someplace inappropriate when I was a child, and apparently under hypnosis I claim to have been abducted by Ross Mirkarimi, who took me to a space ship and read through a presentation about transit policy.

But how likely is that? I mean, my therapist isn't even licensed.

I shouldn't be so quick to judge: the City and School District Committee has made great strides over the past year, getting its act together and putting crucial issues front and center in the kind of discussion that should be a model for other committees.

I just wish it were accomplishing something. But give it time. Give it time. It's like my Aunt Agnes, who didn't quit smoking until late in life, after she died. But the important thing is: she quit.

Today the committee will discuss creating a School of the Arts campus at Civic Center; autistic education programs in the district; and hold hearings on the use of school-district facilities by outside groups after school hours.

Personally I'm in favor of that.

It's not flashy, but it's worth doing. Like Thanksgiving.

Now on with your Christmas shopping - which will likely be the Supes excuse for not meeting much for the rest of the month.

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Benjamin Wachs


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