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Monday, September 28, 2009

SF Gov InAction: Supervisors Need to Atone For Canceling Meetings at the Drop of a Hat

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 9:30 AM

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As Snitch readers know, the supes have decided to cancel their regular Tuesday meeting in order to celebrate the Jewish holiday of the day-after-Yom Kippur -- a "holiday" which Jews don't actually celebrate.

It gets worse: It turns out that the supes have, in fact, decided to cancel their entire week of meetings in order to honor a non-existent Jewish holiday. That's right: there are no meetings this week.

It seems that the Supervisors love the Jews so much that they'd do anything for them, except work.

But, deep down, is it really about the Jews? I hate to suggest that David Chiu is anything but sincere in this matter, but, one wonders: Did he ever take a week off for the day-after-Yom Kippur before he started getting paid by the public?

In fact, the supes have a long tradition of canceling a week's worth of meetings on account of one-day holidays. For them, Labor Day, Memorial Day, day-after-Yom Kippur, and Christmas are all basically interchangeable. The real problem here isn't that they finally, inevitably, canceled meetings on account of a fake holiday. It's that they take such a casual attitude towards canceling meetings at all. 

Even when informed -- well in advance -- that after Monday they could safely go into work without dishonoring the chosen people (who will also be at work), the supes decided that this wasn't a good enough reason to start governing again.

It was too much trouble for them to go into work at the usual time and usual place even though there's no reason not to.

The only way our public servants could be lazier is if they didn't even bother to make up holidays to not come in on. Look for board meetings to be canceled on account of "Monday," soon.

This would be more acceptable if we paid them by the hour, but even then it would be distressing to realize that a majority of supervisors don't feel that the work they're doing is important enough to actually get done. Is there any excuse they won't take to put the business of the City and County of San Francisco on hold?

If they're willing to take a week off for Memorial Day, wait until we're a safe distance from the Fourth of July, and skip work for a week in order to "celebrate" a fake Jewish holiday, then I'm going to guess the answer is no. Even the government is now taking government ineffectiveness for granted.

There's actually a paper trail. Walk with me down memory lane.

How many items (not counting the Imperative Agenda, Off-Agenda legislation, etc.) did the supes have on their agenda for their Sept. 20, 2005 meeting? Answer: 51.

At their Sept. 19, 2006 meeting, the supes had 32 such items on their agenda.

At their Sept. 18, 2007 meeting: 47 items.

At their Sept. 16, 2008 meeting: 36.

And at their meeting on Sept. 15, 2009? 23 items.

Just 23.

The lowest of any such meeting in four years.

It gets worse. At the Sept. 23 meeting -- the most recent -- there were only 13 items on the agenda. Just 13.   

The supes aren't just doing less work because they're showing up for fewer meetings: They're also doing less work when they do show up for work. Here's another snapshot from full board meetings, using the same criteria:

June 7, 2005: 46
June 6, 2006: 50
June 5, 2007: 44
June 3, 2008: 40
June 2, 2009: 35

As you'll see, the drop in productivity didn't happen all at once: There were 35 items on the supes' agenda for the first June meeting, which is a lot more than 23, let alone 13. Nor has every meeting this year has had fewer items on the agenda than the corresponding meetings in previous years. This year's budget battle was a flurry of activity.   

But the trend is clear: There's been a gradual slowdown in the Board of Supervisors' work load, both when compared with what they were doing earlier this year and compared with previous boards in previous years.

The supes don't need a fake Jewish holiday to get less done. They're getting less done all by themselves.

What's going on here? There are several possibilities:

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Benjamin Wachs

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