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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SF Gov InAction: Supes Dream of Presidency, Take the Week Off -- Except For a Major Budget Showdown that Could Doom Us All

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 5:30 AM


For the last eight years in San Francisco, "President's Day" was a cruel joke on a city with no sense of humor about politics. Sure, America could boast Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and TWO Roosevelts -- but we were stuck with Bush. None of our traditional coping strategies worked. No matter how much we visualized change, no matter how many social networks we joined, no matter how "sex-positive" we were, and no matter how much fun we made of people who weren't visualizing sex-positive social networks, George W. Bush was still our president. It was almost as though the Secret Law of Attraction is bullshit, or something. It broke our hearts: Suddenly the country that we had always protested for no good reason was giving us really good reasons to protest ... but nobody was listening. We were depressed. We were down. When a massive economic collapse is the best thing to happen to you in eight years, you know you've hit bottom. But like the fictional orphan said, the sun'll come out tomorrow! And this president's day the sun was shaped like a glittering campaign graphic! It's a golden "O" symbolizing hope and change! Obama has called on us to make the nation anew! And here in San Francisco, on President's Day, the government answered his call by taking most of the week off! Why? Because we ARE the one's we've been waiting for! Monday, Feb.16 - President's Day Monday was the day when every elected official in San Francisco took a special moment out of their day to wonder what life will be like when THEY are president. Dianne Feinstein has already bought an outfit (and hats!). Nancy Pelosi is already releasing a limited-edition set of collector's plates. And Gavin Newsom just announced that he will not complete his term as president because he will be seeking higher office.

Tuesday, Feb. 17 - No Meetings

There was supposed to be a special meeting on the Full Board of Supervisors today to discuss ... oh, I don't know ... anything happening in the news lately? But it's been cancelled.

Only Obama can save us now.

Incidentally, David Chiu has announced that if America can not agree on a president following Obama, he would be willing to run as a consensus candidate.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

Only Obama can save us now ... or maybe John Avalos, as this week the Budget Committee comes roaring out of the gate with a tank full of progressive rocket fuel.

Check out these agenda items:

• Declaring an emergency and authorizing submission of a gross receipts tax (sponsored by Avalos);

• An ordinance imposing a local assessment on all vehicles in San Francisco that are subject to Department of Motor Vehicle registration (sponsored by Chiu and Bevan Dufty);

• Declaring an emergency and authorizing a reduction in the payroll tax for small businesses (sponsored by Chiu);

All that plus a closed consultation with the city's labor negotiators. Mmmmmmm, that's good meeting.

There will also be a hearing on the Controller's report, a discussion of Ross Mirkarimi's proposal to make "bicycle commuting reimbursements" to the commuter benefit package every city employer is already required to offer, and a $3.3 million adjustment to the Redevelopment Agency's budget.

See? Sometimes the system can work.

George Washington would be proud. Then he'd demand that we stop dressing like slackers. He was apparently a stickler for that kind of thing. Also, he went around chopping down trees.

Thursday, Feb. 19

10 a.m. - Rules committee

All that budget stuff is important, no doubt. But the fate of San Francisco really comes down to three proposals now being debated by the Rules Committee.

The decisions the Supes make about these bills are the ones most likely to tell us if San Francisco is serious about getting its fiscal house in order, if it can't take the budget off autopilot, or if it's going to decide that the best solution to an uncontrolled social-services spending binge is an even bigger uncontrolled social-services spending binge.

The first proposal is Chris Daly's bill to allow the city to use up the entire Rainy Day Fund when the city finds itself in a fiscal crisis - and to force it to share more with the school district should it do so.

The second is Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu's proposal requiring the city to use one-time revenue sources (like, say, appropriations from the Rainy Day fund) only for one-time expenses (like, say, a birthday surprise for Eric Mar).

The third, proposed by the unlikely trio of Chiu, Mirkarimi, and Elsbernd, is a charter amendment that would cap all set-asides, authorize a reduction of set-asides during fiscal shortfalls or emergencies, and establish city policies regarding future set-asides (among other things).

Bets, anyone?

Personally, I'm betting on the crazy people. Around here, they always seem to win. Shouting "That's crazy!" at a piece of legislation is taken as an endorsement.

3:30 p.m. - City and School District committee

This committee is the only one Sean Elsbernd's got, so you can bet he's making the most of it. After all, isn't this how Woodrow Wilson got started?

Hey, how did Woodrow Wilson get started?

Something about chopping down trees?

Never mind ... there are two items on the agenda, Elsbernd proposed both of them, and both of them ... frankly ... could have waited a week so that everybody could have taken an extra-long post-President's Day weekend, the way the Supes like to.

But hey, I'M glad you're working, Sean. And if you think sane and rational leadership can actually accomplish some good while no one is looking ... you just might be right.

Unfortunately, no one is looking -- which is why the first item on the agenda is a "hearing to highlight" a new collaborative agreement between the schools and the city to better utilize schools as public resources.

Things that people pay attention to don't need hearings to be "highlighted." It's kinda sad, actually.

The other item is a hearing on the school district's 10-year capital plan. This is, needless to say, a very optimistic plan: At the rate things are going in California, there won't be a school district in 10 years. Just a bunch of buildings covered under a collaborative agreement.

Still, hope springs eternal. The sun'll come out tomorrow. His name is Obama. Can you feel the warmth?

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Benjamin Wachs


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