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Monday, June 15, 2009

SF Gov InAction: The Budget Still Sucks, But Now I Want to Hug Chris Daly

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 9:30 AM


Monday, June 15:

11 a.m. - Public Safety Committee

I know that the Prop. 8 court decision has passed, but with America still fighting two wars and California teetering on the brink of fiscal Armageddon, plus the Obama administration doing whatever it does -- there are going to be lots more opportunities to get arrested at rallies. Don't worry: You haven't missed your chance. Johannes Mehserle's trial hasn't even started yet.

There are so many opportunities to get arrested at rallies, in fact, that David Campos and Ross Mirkarimi are holding a hearing on the "Police Department's procedures with respect to rallies or other First Amendment activities."

This is good news for those of us who love to sit in traffic while a large group of protestors without a clear purpose attempts to influence events over which we have no control.

There's no question that this man's ...


... crucial, crucial opinion about Middle East politics is much more important than my right to go home after work.

"Open your mind!" he'll shout. And I will.

Gosh, we're just a whole city of Martin Luther King Juniors, aren't we? No wonder the SFPD must handle us with care. I'd better get my act together, or the next time a protest march forces the bus I'm on to stop for 30 minutes, I'll be forced to finally pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. Damn you Code Pink and your creative use of hats!

But really, why's this happening now? Probably because the progressive Supes (like Campos and Mirkarimi) are planning some big demonstrations against Newsom's budget -- and since Newsom's budget raises funding for the police while the Progressive counter-proposal (at present) slashes it pretty drastically, Campos and Mirkarimi want to make sure that their rag-tag army of social service workers on furlough days aren't being run through a law-enforcement abattoir and treated like either violent criminals or baby calves. Which is fair.

Still the whole thing seems pointless to me, because, come on people: if you want Gavin Newsom to notice your street protest, hold it in L.A.. He cares what the voters there think.

Also at this meeting is the Board of Supervisors' continuing attempt to get the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice to treat it with a little respect. Just a little: that's all they're asking.

Might I suggest that instead of cutting the police budget, the Supes cut the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice? I suspect that the criminal justice system can handle the blow.

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

This hearing begins with some relatively routine measures in preparation for the Hunters View Project: And may I say I admire the way the Supervisors are carrying on as though the stench of failure out of Sacramento weren't clinging to every redevelopment project in California.

Good show. Stiff upper lip.

Those of you who loved the moratorium on "Tobacco Paraphernalia Establishments" in the Haight and the creation of the "Lower Haight Street Tobacco Paraphernalia Restricted Use District" will love Ross Mirkarimi's bill to strengthen the restrictions and create a "Lower Haight Street Tobacco Paraphernalia Restricted Use Subdistrict."

"Hell yeah!" I hear you shout. "Woo!"

You say that way too much.

Only this guy is bummed about the measure:


And he's counting on Obama to veto it.

Michela Alioto-Pier has a measure before this committee, to adjust the planning code to allow "Philanthropic Administrative use" at 2503 Clay Street. I have no idea what this measure is about, and zzzzzzzzzzz ...

Finally, Mirkarimi has a measure to expand the definitions of "entry level position" and "economically disadvantaged individual" in the city's First Source Hiring Program. My understanding is that the new definitions will finally allow Aaron Peskin to find gainful employment.

Actually, Peskin probably could qualify under these changes. According to the proposal, an "economically disadvantaged" person would include:

"Individuals exiting the criminal justice system; participating in or completing substance abuse treatment; who receive financial aid for the purpose of obtaining an education or other vocational training program; survivors of domestic violence seeking employment; people with disabilities seeking employment; and veterans seeking employment."

That's pretty inclusive when you realize that none of it actually has anything to do with how much money a person has.

But it's doesn't hold a candle to the inclusiveness of the term "entry level position" in the new legislation. According to Mirkarimi's proposal, and "entry level position" can include:

"Managerial positions, and positions requiring a college and/or post graduate degree; or a license or a permit."

Wow. We aren't stretching the bounds of credulity just a tad here, are we? Even for San Francisco?

Tuesday, June 16, 2 p.m. - Full Board of Supervisors

There's other stuff happening at this meeting, sure: plenty for everyone to object to. But the fireworks will surround the Mayor's proposed budget and the progressive Supervisors' counter-proposals ... and the ground is pretty well set for that confrontation already. If you're not shouting about it by now, you're probably only reading this because you think that at some point I'll mention Paris Hilton.

If so, you do not belong here.

To that end, in addition to the various routine measures that have suddenly not become routine, there will be a "committee of the whole" hearing on proposed cuts to the Department of Public Health, which promises to be more fun than a barrel of sick, sick, monkeys without insurance.

There will also be many union contracts up for approval at this meeting. I doubt anyone will shout about this at the meeting, but you can bet an awful lot of shouting happened in private.

The new controls on massage parlors are still before the board ... so get your 11:30 p.m., perfectly legal, why-would-anyone-think-this-is-suspicious?, massage from an unlicensed "massaging her way through college" teenager while you still can.

Naturally there is the usual bumper crop of absolutely pointless resolutions urging people who already aren't paying attention to do things they've already decided not to do. This is progressivism at its heart, and it will save us all.

Today the Supes will "urge" our state legislators to:

• Modify the definition of a "change of ownership" for commercial property (thus increasing the opportunities to raise taxes);
• Change the California Constitution to restore majority rule to the budgeting process;
• Oppose the Governor's proposal to eliminate the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission;
• Fully fund HIV/AIDS programs cut in the 2009 - 2010 budget.

Isn't it odd how we pass official resolutions making demands of people whose phone numbers we have? In my experience, Tom Ammiano and Mark Leno are really good about returning calls.

I bet they'd return David Chiu's calls.

Finally, you'll be glad to know that there is a measure extending the life of the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force. No doubt you've been watching for that.

Wednesday, June 17

10 a.m. - Budget and Finance Subcommittee

I saw the words "Safe Streets and Road Repair General Obligation Bonds" and I turned on my TV to watch the news. Okay, looked for articles about the Iranian election online, Okay, looked for porn online. Okay, Googled myself.

You happy now?

11 a.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

You can pretty much see the budget section of yesterday's meeting of the full board to get a sense of what this one is about.

Thursday, June 18

10 a.m. - Rules Committee

The Rules Committee has been extremely dull ever since Tom Ammiano and Aaron Peskin left, one in the pursuit of bigger and better things and the other joining the state legislature. God I miss those guys. Hey, as long as our choice for Governor is going to come down to Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, or a right-wing nut, is there any chance we could draft Ammiano as a last-minute candidate?

Yeah yeah, I know: "would never win in the Central Valley." But come one: Not only would the campaign be more fun, you'd feel good about yourself when you voted. Are you sure you'll have that option now?

Run Tom, run!

But I digress.

Most of this meeting is devoted to the usual "Who's on first?" game of committee appointments, except that in Abbot and Costello's classic bit, we know who the players are and what position they're playing, while in the Rules Committee version nobody knows or cares. Be honest: You couldn't pick your representative on the Graffiti Advisory Board out of a crowd.

"Graffiti what now?" you'd ask. "Is that a comedy starring Will Ferrell? Because he's hugely overplayed. I could pick Will Ferrell out of a lineup, if I had to. But I'd rather go about my business and ... aw, shit, there's a massive street protest blocking traffic! Now I'll have to end the oppression of gays in Iraq! I loved the oppression of gays in Iraq! That was my thing!"

(For purposes if this conversation, you are Iraqi President Jalal Talibani.)

However, the meeting gets interesting near the end with two charter amendments. One of them, proposed by Chris Daly, is a doozy.

Daly, you see, is sick and tired of playing a game in which the Board of Supervisors (who, it might surprise you to know, are democratically elected representatives of the people of San Francisco, and authorized to pass laws on their behalf) legitimately pass a law ordering that money be spent on a particular program.

Then the mayor vetoes it.

Then the supes override the veto. Which, contrary to Gavin Newsom's press office, is actually legal in this city.

So the law goes into effect, but the mayor ... who only likes democracy when he wins ... refuses to spend the money on the thing that the money is legally required to be spent on. Because nowhere in the city charter does it say that the mayor HAS to get around to spending allocated funds.

It's a long-established game, and Daly has finally snapped: Only this time, it's in a cool way. This time, Daly is proposing a charter amendment that would allow the supes to determine whether appropriations are "mandated," meaning that the relevant city departments would have to spend them, and to report to the supes -- not the mayor - on how they're doing so.

That is to say, the system the will work the way everyone supposes it should.

I haven't always agreed with Chris Daly in the past -- in fact, I've told several jokes comparing him to Satan, all of which I stand by ... except the one in which he uses astrological signs to commit a string of murders (I've since found out that was the Zodiac Killer). But after reading this charter amendment, I want to give him a hug.

Do you hear me, Chris? C'mere big man: today the love's on me.

Also at this meeting: a charter amendment by Bevan Dufty that would create a city Office of Management and Budget, with a director appointed by the mayor (big mistake) and confirmed by the supes that would require the city to budget in two-year cycles and set a five year fiscal plan.

This charter amendment isn't as good as Daly's, but still. Bevan? You get a hug too.

11 a.m. - a very special meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee

Same shit, different day.

Seriously: This is the exact same shit as the previous budget meeting, which is the same shit as the full Board of Supervisors meeting, on a different day.

It wasn't that good the first time.

Have a great week -- and if you see Chris Daly, hug him for me.

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Benjamin Wachs


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