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Monday, June 1, 2009

SF Gov InAction: These Are Not the Budget Numbers You're Looking For

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 12:35 PM


The excitement stops here. I know ... I know ... that today's the day Gubernatorial Candidate Gavin Newsom releases his budget for San Francisco (a California city he occasionally resides in for campaign purposes). And I know that, when he does, we're all going to die a little. I know. But, the action's still not likely to happen this week.The budget will be a big document. People will need time to go through it. Oh, sure, someone's likely to start shouting about it any second now, but there's going to be some lag time before anybody has anything intelligent to say ... let alone before the Supes develop a counter-strategy. In fact, as a general rule, I'd say you can pretty safely ignore the first six or seven talking heads you hear exploding this week about something they see in the budget. Whatever happens with the budget in "real time," in "legislative time," the action likely doesn't pick-up until next week. After THAT, all hell breaks loose. Just so your expectations are realistic. Monday, June 1 11 a.m. - Public Safety Committee This meeting starts with a continuing hearing about the activities of the SFPD's fraud division (Motto: "Would you like to buy this watch? It's a genuine Rolex!").

It will also examine whether there is an increase in San Francisco-based financial crimes, including check fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and identity theft - and that's just Gavin Newsom's gubernatorial campaign. Other people might be committing financial crimes too.

The meeting concludes with a hearing called by Michela Alioto-Pier and David Campos about crimes against women in S.F., including rape, domestic violence, and Jennifer Siebel's movies.

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

This meeting begins by retroactively accepting a grant to help mentally ill parolees ... who, let's be honest, probably need the help, especially that guy outside the library ... and goes on to continue discussing the sale of 12 city parcels along the former Central Freeway right-of-way.

Do you really want me to talk more about that?

The meeting ends with another hearing on one of Ross Mirkarimi's measures on number of residential units, occupancy certificates and blah blah blah. Something about codes and paying fees. Bored now.

Tuesday, June 2 - Full Board of Supervisors

What most stands out is the cloud of overall futility hanging over this meeting.

Sure, the Supes will do things today, though for such a long agenda, most of this stuff is surprisingly mundane: A lot of "final passage" of bills already approved the first time, many committee appointments (Graffiti Advisory Board; Sweatfree Procurement Advisory Group; Immigrant Rights Commission; and all the usual suspects); and accepting grants.

But look at what the Supes haven't been able to do recently: Seriously alter the MTA's budget, get cooperation from the Mayor's office, support Gay Marriage in California, impact the budget process in Sacramento, reassure their constituents that they're on top of the city budget process ... oh sure, they can amend the city's contract with Office Depot, but will anybody care in the morning?

No, and they know it. Which is why they're also proposing pathetic little "cry in the darkness" bills like this:

• A resolution by David Chiu and Bevan Dufty "urging" city departments to "support" and "prioritize" the city's bike plan.

• Another resolution by Dufty and Chiu Urging the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors to increase the fines for fare evasion for first, second, and third-time offenders.

• A resolution by Sophie Maxwell and Chiu Opposing the use of additional local property tax funds in the state budget.

• A resolution by John Avalos urging the Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) to adopt the "Transit Justice Budget Alternative," (which would roll back on certain fare increases, restore specific service lines, and use alternative revenue sources).

This must be what Hugh Hefner sounds like when he runs out of Viagra.

"I'm really important," he whispers in the ear of the interchangeable blond underneath him. "REALLY important!"

"Uh huh," she says. "Uh huh."

Wednesday, June 3

11 a.m. - Budget and Finance sub-Committee

What with the city budget on the way, the action today ain't happening here at the budget subcommittee. Still, there are some awfully big numbers being thrown around today. Big numbers like:

• $83.44 million to the IHSS Consortium of San Francisco to provide In-Home Supportive Services from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2013;

• $818,844 for code enforcement activities in the Department of Building Inspection for Fiscal Year 2008-2009;

• $84.32 million for various mental health and substance abuse programs (mental health and substance abuse counseling services for clients enrolled in the CalWORK's Welfare to Work Program; integrated substance abuse, mental health and medical services for clients in the Opiate Treatment Program; and fiscal intermediary services related to the San Francisco Mental Health Plan's for Community Behavioral Health Services (CBHS), Residential Care Facilities, Private Provider Network, Mental Health Wraparound Services, and Department's Housing and Urban Health's Emergency Housing Program)

• $14,152,000 to support cost overruns at San Francisco General and Laguna Honda Hospitals in the Department of Public Health for Fiscal Year 2008-2009;

There will also be reviews of agreements the Treasure Island Development Authority has made with the Navy, the SFPUC, and the County Transportation Authority.

Let's move on, shall we?

1:30 p.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

And here we are: A measure by the Mayor "appropriating all estimated receipts and all estimated expenditures for Selected Departments of the City and County of San Francisco."

Pretty exciting, huh?

However, it's from the document he submitted in May, and the Budget Committee -- at least according to the agenda -- is only going to consider the budget of the Board of Appeals and the Public Utilities Commission today.

I know -- weak, right?

Thursday, June 4

10 a.m. - Rules Committee

There was a time when the Rules Committee was fun. Now, it mostly just appoints people to the San Francisco equivalent of gulags. In Russia, people were sent to Siberia to disappear: in SF, they're appointed to the SRO Task Force.

However, today two motions for ballot initiatives are crossing the committee's desk again, suggesting that maybe the Rules Committee is going to get a little exciting again.

Unfortunately, the first one is old news: It's a continued discussion of Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu's measure, proposed back at the beginning of the year, requiring that one-time revenues be spent only for one-time uses. That's a good idea, but not especially interesting.

The other, however, is a proposal by Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier withdrawing a previously proposed charter amendment changing the number of aides that the Board of Supervisors' members are entitled to.

Yes, that's right: withdrawing it. Now that's interesting. I have no idea why ... but I intend to keep watching. [Ed.: The amendment would have allowed them to hire more than the current two aides -- which could look bad when other government workers are being hustled out the door en masse. Just ask one of Gavin Newsom's four spokespeople.]

11 a.m. - Government Audit and Oversight Committee

No agenda for this meeting has yet been released. I'll update below if there's anything delicious when it comes out of the oven.

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Benjamin Wachs


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