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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SF Gov InAction: Supes Celebrate Columbus Day By Voting on Public Power, Just Like He Would Have Wanted

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 8:30 AM



I know SF Gov InAction is late this week, but I have a good excuse: Like the Board Supervisors, I took Columbus Day off. And the day after Columbus Day.

I know this seems excessive, but think about it: If we don't take extra time off for Columbus Day, how will we discover new continents?

Rumor around city hall is that Bevan "The Navigator" Dufty actually did find one on Tuesday, at around 7 p.m., but that the New World is stuck in committee and won't get looked at until after the election. It's already been completely tagged with graffiti, though.

Funny how history repeats itself.

Once again, it's a very slow week for meetings. I would like to suggest that if we replace the supervisors with day laborers, we might get a better value for our money. Someone write up a ballot initiative.

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 11 a.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

It occurs to me that Supervisor John Avalos, the chair of this committee, has never once returned any of my phone calls. He is so off my Columbus Day gift list. His loss: I was going to get him spices from the Indies. Have you ever tried pepper? It's amazing: It makes all your food taste like sneezing. He'd have loved it.

The biggest item on this agenda is a hearing to "consider" the mid-year budget adjustments proposed by Gavin Newsom (whose hair, interestingly, resembles an Aztec burial mound) in response to cuts to the state's general fund made by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was first discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1545 and colonized by French fur traders.

However, it is possible that Chris Daly's proposal to send $150,000 from the city's general fund to emergency aid relief in the Philippines, Samoa, and Indonesia will get more attention. I don't know: It's so hard to guess what people are going to yell about. Maybe if we could conduct polls of crazy people the week before a meeting, it would help.

Otherwise the meeting is mostly snoozers: Approving bridge preventative maintenance programs and Department of Building Inspection contracts. It's everything my Puritan ancestors fled England to escape. They hated paperwork.


Thursday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m. - Rules Committee


Wow, this is a surprisingly packed agenda. I haven't seen a Rules Committee agenda this ambitious since Ponce de León was chair in 1682: He swore that if this committee were efficient enough, it would uncover the Fountain of Youth. He was wrong. He did, however, manage to appoint a record number of people to the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

This meeting features Michela Alioto-Pier's bill to provide extra time for public comment at committee meetings, raising a question: If you extend a gesture of futility, does it become more or less futile? Discuss.

This meeting also has Daly's proposal to streamline the campaign finance reform ordinance. Another question: If you improve a law that nobody obeys, does that make government more or less efficient?

Daly also has a bill prohibiting city employees and officers from raising funds for city departments. Specifically, it would "prohibit City employees and officers from soliciting donations to nonprofit organizations to fund City departments from persons doing business with those departments."

This is actually a very good idea. Chris Daly gets a free pass from me for the rest of the week. Assuming he doesn't move to another suburb: in that case, all bets are off. But, okay, I will stop making fun of Daly, starting now.

This is harder than it looks.

Okay, starting NOW!

Instead, I will make fun of Sean Elsbernd, who is chair of the Joint City and School District Committee. I am making fun of him because he has a bill before the Rules Committee to extend the life of the City/School District committee for one year. It appears the same week that the City/School District Committee has cancelled its meeting because it has nothing to talk about.

Yeah, that was satisfying.

In addition to all that, the committee will appoint members to the following boards and committees (I've made a few boards and committees up: see if you can spot which ones aren't real):

• Bicycle Advisory Committee
• Children and Family First commission
• Small Business Loan Stimulus Advisory Task Force
• Minority Vaccination Commission
• Public Utilities Commission Rate Fairness Board

Finally, will vote on whether to settle seven lawsuits - including a $1.1 million suit that the city filed over Potrero Power Plant. I don't want to make anyone optimistic, but it's just possible that this could be one of the rare weeks when the city takes in more money from lawsuits than it pays out. This truly is the City of Gold.


Friday, Oct 16, 2 p.m. - joint meeting of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, and LAFCo


These two august bodies will be approving the issuance of a Request for Proposals on CleanPower SF, the city's Community Choice Aggregation plan, a kind of half-step towards public power. As you know, this is a program that Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann has been pushing for ever since he discovered San Francisco in 1831.

Some say that Brugmann, were he alive today, would celebrate this historic achievement. But I choose to believe that he would write a rambling editorial complaining that the measure does not go far enough, has happened too slowly, and that PG&E is distributing glossy fliers contaminated with smallpox.

Whether or not you agree, you can't disregard the magic of Columbus Day. It's a time when we can all come together -- because the courts are closed and no new motions can be filed.

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Benjamin Wachs


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