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Monday, February 9, 2009

SF Gov InAction: Supes Stand by Each Other After Little John Avalos Has His Bar Mitzvah

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 2:15 PM


This is the week the new Board of Supervisors goes from JV to Varsity. I know it felt like they'd hit the big time before, what with hundreds of people crowding the hearing rooms to yell at them about stuff they hadn't done -- but that's just the crowd getting fired up by San Francisco's airheaded cheerleader, Gavin "I'm really a Mayor!" Newsom. I know they thought that holding big hearings on potential budget cuts -- without actually doing anything about them -- was a big deal: But no, it wasn't. It was just a longer version of the conversation happening at every upscale bar in North Beach. Those were weeks with relatively few meetings, relatively short agendas, and mostly legacy agenda items from the last board. This is the week that changes all that. Do you hear me, S.F.? Eric Mar is honest-to-God relevant now! Today, John Avalos is a man! Monday, Feb. 9 10 a.m. - A Very Special episode of the Public Safety Committee You can bet David Campos prepped hard for this meeting. Pumped some iron, ran some laps, trained in his ancient master's style of Drunken Lobbyist Kung Fu. "I've got to step it up," he told himself. "I know I've rocked the Public Safety Committee so far, but I've got to take it to the next level: Today John Avalos is a man!" Ever since Campos, Avalos, Eric Mar, and David Chiu were boys and found that dead body by the MUNI tracks, they've known that whatever happened they would stick together. It doesn't matter if it's talking about their distant fathers or outwitting the "Cobras," the gang made up of School Board members - they're in it together.

Campos just hopes that something awful doesn't happen to one of them ... like getting stabbed while trying to break up a fight.That would be terrible: And as the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, he'd feel responsible.

That never happened on Ross Mirkarimi's watch.

Still, he muses: You can't predict the future. Friends come in and out of our lives like busboys in a restaurant.

Meanwhile, gotta focus. Today's a big day. Big hearings. In addition to the usual hearing where Ross grills the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice on why there's so much "criminal" and so little "justice," Campos is going to hold a special hearing on the SFPD's traffic stop protocols ... including community member "concerns" about the traffic stops, and the possibility of racial profiling.

And THEN Bevan Dufty will hold a hearing on the increasing frequency of robberies in San Francisco. Yep, it's a big day for public safety in San Francisco.

You probably feel safer already.

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

As six progressive Supervisors proved, it's easy to ignore Sophie Maxwell sometimes.

Admit it: You sometimes go a whole week without thinking of her.

Today is not one of those times.

Today, Sophie is lightning in a bottle, as she pushes the two most controversial items she could possibly push at today's meeting: An update on the proposed Visitacion Valley Redevelopment Plan and a report on the city's "Economic Stimulus Package" -- including a presentation "On how San Francisco is positioning itself for federal investment dollars."

If it is possible for half of San Francisco to talk to the other half of San Francisco about those things without shouting, I haven't heard it. In fact, David Chiu once got stabbed in a bar while trying to break up a fight about those very topics.

Maxwell also takes home the prize for what is likely to be the third most controversial item on the agenda: An amendment of the India Basin Industrial Park zoning map so that it's less "industrial" and more "park."

Admit it: You could get worked up about that if you tried.

Newsom actually has an item today that wins an award (if there were one) for "most important item that no one is going to talk about" -- approving the contract for the creation of the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District. This is, in fact, a good thing: however, since Gavin's involved, it will at some point be described in a press release as "leading the way nationally as an innovative, San Francisco, approach to solving problems that the other, less intelligent, less green, less pretty, city and state governments could all learn from. Hail Gavin!"

And still no one will pay attention. Probably because that's the same way he described his wedding.

Finally Mar wins the award for least controversial item with his proposal to make sure that the Richmond District is still named the Richmond District when we all wake up tomorrow.

Good work, Eric: I think you've got a future in this town.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2 p.m. - Full Board of Supervisors

The crucial things to note about this meeting can be summed up in bullet points:

• Special Election? Yes? Veto? Maybe?

• If yes, what will be on the ballot?


If that's not enough, though, don't worry. There are plenty of not-so-crucial things on the agenda too.

The board will decide, more or less collectively, that the mayor's eye needs a good spittin' into, and so will commend Margaret Brodkin "on over 30 years of service on behalf of San Francisco children and families."

Referring to her "visionary" work leading the city's Department of Children, Youth, and Families (which the mayor just fired her from, while he was in Europe), the commendation notes that "Thanks largely to Margaret's work, San Francisco leads the nation in its child care policies, providing wage subsidies for all child care workers, subsidizing and enhancing child care centers, and spearheading national opposition to the commercialization of schools."

It's not explicitly spelled out, but there's definitely a "Fuck you, Gavin," in there somewhere.

The Board will also be commending David H. Williams on his 19 years of dedicated work to the Human Services Agency, and Richard Rothman for his 25 years of service to the city. So far as I know, however, there's no hidden profanity in either of those.

There's also no explicit profanity in Supervisors Dufty, Maxwell, and Alioto-Pier's measure "commending Senator Diane Feinstein for her successful chairing of the 2009 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies." So I'd like to put some in.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? That is probably the least relevant thing that the woman who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee could possibly do in a week. Also, don't you people have a city to run?

Apparently not, as Michela Alioto-Pier's next item is one supporting "Earth Hour 2009."

No, I'm not making that up.

"Earth Hour" is March 28, between 8:30 - 9:30 p.m., if you care. Is it just me, of have we taken the concept of "saving the world" and turned it into something ridiculous?

Wednesday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

John Avalos preens in the mirror. "Today," he tells himself, "I am a man!"

And he's going to prove it by taking the Budget Committee where it has never gone before.

"After today," he says in between push-ups, "When people think of the budget committee, they're going to ask themselves 'Jake McGoldrick WHO?'"

It might make him feel better to know we've been asking ourselves that for years.

But never mind: Avalos has trained hard for this. He's been training for it ever since the day Chris Daly pushed his ear down onto a hot stove and nearly burned it off. It wasn't Chris' fault, though, Avalos knows: Daly was one of the activists who stormed city hall back in the Progressive revolution of 2000. He's a hero. Avalos wants to be a hero too: And he's ready for action.

Today he's proposing a gross receipts tax on city businesses AND a 0.5 percent sales tax increase to be dedicated to emergency health and human services, and public protection. Plus David Chiu, his buddy since childhood, will be proposing a reduction in the payroll tax for small businesses whose payroll expenses are between $300,000 to $400,000.

"Ah, jeez," Avalos thinks, "remember back when Chiu, Campos, Mar and I all found that kid's body on the MUNI tracks? And we were so scared of the Cobras because of their reckless fiscal policy? Well I'm not scared of anything now: I'll hold budget hearings and get updated figures until every department drops dead from exhaustion: Today I am a man!"

Thursday, Feb. 12,

9 a.m. - Rules Committee

This meeting looks suspiciously similar to last week's meeting: A whole bunch of commission appointments that I don't care about, followed by a bill on the First Source Hiring Program.

I know ... I know ... I should care about commission appointments. But, strangely, I've discovered that if I ignore SF commissions, nothing bad ever happens - while if I pay attention to SF commissions, they just yell at me for not caring enough about animals/fossil fuels/immigrant rights/global warming/child care/the arts/ and/or racism.

So I tend to ignore them.

I do know that, in principle, some of these commissions apply vital civilian oversight to government agencies. But, in practice, that never seems to work out. A bunch of politically appointed citizen hacks are rarely a good substitution for government competence.

1 p.m. - Government Audit & Oversight Committee

Speaking of government competence, this committee will be having a hearing "on the recently published 2007-2008 Civil Grand Jury Report regarding The Homeless Have Homes, But They Are Still On The Street."

Recently Published? As in ... recently? Because that report came out in July. And the Supes were examining it in August. If we had a response to it, shouldn't we have made it then? Has the delay improved anything, for anybody?

Well, that's the way life goes, isn't it? SFYou never really have a Board of Supervisors like the Board of Supervisors you had back in July. Jesus, who does?

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Benjamin Wachs


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