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Monday, January 12, 2009

SF Gov InAction: The New Supes Don't Really NEED a City Attorney's Office, Do They?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 2:30 PM


I know we're all expecting the new Board of Supes to jump in and save us from the old Board of Supes, but ... hey, what did you accomplish in your first week on the job?

Eric Mar and David Chiu don't even have committee assignments yet (at least not officially, as of this writing), so it's okay if they take it slow. It's not like the sky is falling ... very fast ... and I'm sure they'll have some weighty symbolic gestures to make. Just you watch. Right out of the get-go, from the very first moment, they'll do what it takes to make us confident that a whole new era is upon us. Expect meetings FILLED with heavy symbolism.

You watch.

Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2 p.m. - Full Board of Supervisors

The very first item of business that the new Full Board of Supervisors takes up (after appointing a president) is ...

... appropriating $500,000 of Revenue from the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tournament Agreement for staffing and improvements to the Harding Park Golf Course per the PGA Tournament Agreement at the Recreation and Park Department for Fiscal Year 2008-2009.

Which, you know, kinds of sets the tone for the future. What will the class of 2008 be remembered for? Golf.

Or maybe sportsmanship. Or professional associations.


Like that.

The meeting pretty much continues in this vein. The "crisis" that everybody was talking about last week will take a back seat to notable items like these:

• A resolution congratulating Mike Singletary on being named the 16th head coach in San Francisco 49ers franchise history and congratulating Jed York on being named Team President of San Francisco 49ers. (Thank you Bevan Dufty)

• A resolution declaring January 10th, 2009, as Lee Mallory Day in San Francisco

• A resolution condemning recent acts of vandalism on Most Holy Redeemer Church (again, Bevan Dufty)

• Commending the success of the 2008 Emerald Bowl and the efforts of Gary Cavalli in directing this fantastic event. (Jesus, Dufty - don't you have a Halloween to ruin, or something?)

• Resolution urging Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to seek funds from President-Elect Obama's economic stimulus and infrastructure package to continue San Francisco's utility undergrounding program.
(This one's from Dufty, Chu, and Alioto-Pier ... just in case the Mayor's office never considered asking the federal government for money.)

There will also be an effort (likely failing, but who knows?) to override the Mayor's veto of a measure that would require a special approval for anyone who tries to eliminate a dwelling unit from their property.

After looking over the agenda, I am no longer convinced that this is a real meeting. This is a practice meeting, of some kind, just to show the new kids what a real meeting would look like. When it happens. Which it will next week. Probably.

Thursday, Jan. 15

10 a.m. - Rules Committee

Once again, there's not much happening this week: heck, new committee assignments are still up in the air. So this committee will spend most of its time appointing members to other, less important committees (like the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee - which I understand are locked in a death match for control of the streets). They'll also look into the resolution of several lawsuits against the city.

Which brings up an interesting idea to save San Francisco both money and time: do away with the City Attorney's office.

I know, I know, Dennis Herrera's great (although I challenge you to name even one fact about him), and it seems like a city that gets sued THIS MUCH needs a full time lawyer, plus a legal staff.

To which I reply: How many lawyers are now on the Board of Supervisors?

Let's see, there's

• David Campos
• David Chiu
• Sean Elsbernd
• Eric Mar


• Ross Mirkarimi, though not a lawyer, has also worked for the DA's office as an investigator.

• Michela Alioto-Pier is married to a lawyer (which counts she since relied on family connections to become a Supe anyway).

This means that when you put half the Supes together, you have a very competent small legal firm. Why not put them to use? Cut the City Attorney's office, save millions, and have the Supes handle the city's legal issues directly.

I know people will say they don't have time, what with the appointing people to bicycle committees and the authorizing improvements to golf courses, but I'm sure they could squeeze it in around the paperwork it takes to commend the success of the Emerald Bowl. Or they could stop going to so many parties. That's always an option, right? In fact, if they were to cut out the political bullshit in order to make room for the legal crap, they might find they have more time to spend with their families. If that's what they're into.

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

You think that meeting was boring? THIS meeting is boring.

Go home. There's nothing to see here. Your real government will resume in a week, after it's taken its training wheels off.

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Benjamin Wachs


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