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Monday, February 1, 2010

SF Gov InAction: 'Special Tax' Not To Be Paid By 'Special Taxpayers'

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 9:30 AM


Hello government watchers:

I understand there was a sighting of a red-crested Avalos last week! Very exciting! I'm sorry I couldn't be there with you to share such a great moment.

However, I do have exciting news.

No longer am I going to waste my vacation with frivolous pursuits like finding the lost city of gold or having my picture taken next to the world's largest doughnut. (It's huge! The glaze can be seen from space!) Instead, I will devote all my free time to self-improvement.

Already I've learned how to actualize my positive earning potential by unleashing the secret affirmation of my higher consciousness' inner confidence to set goals that go the distance to personal transformation through weight loss enriched spirituality energy supplements that vitalize my chakras while detoxifying my spine's reflexology through better sex.

You can see how this would take up all my time.

This week's Gov InAction won't suffer a bit, though, because it's written by Matt Baume, who I regard as one of the Internet's few natural resources. Matt first came to my attention with his insightful analysis of 2008's Prop 8 defeat, and I've read everything of his I could find ever since.

Pay attention now. He's making government funny just for you.

- Benjamin


Fact: the members of the Board of Supervisors meet to talk about governing and such at least once a week. Really!

Will this finally be the week that they accomplish something? Probably not, but we salute their undying optimism. Keep plugging away, noble supervisors! You'll get the hang of it one of these days.

Highlights of this week's meetings: advice for felons, Strangelovian restrictions on smoking, and ending the inexplicable practice of paying Muni drivers as though they're the best in the country.

Monday, February 1, 1:00pm -- Land Use and Economic Development Committee

It's going to get ever-so-slightly more difficult to get permission to install a garage North Beach, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Now you'll need to get a special permit; the required parking-space minimum will decrease; driveways will be prohibited in a few spots; and you won't be able to get a permit to block the sidewalk when installing a new garage. These are dark days indeed for enthusiasts of parking garages.

It's also going to get harder to stink, with new restrictions under consideration on smoking in businesses, housing, outdoor restaurant areas, farmers' markets, charity bingo games (?), and, appallingly, tobacco shops. Gentlemen, you can't smoke in here, this is a tobacco shop!

And your cellular service isn't getting better anytime soon, thanks to increased fees for setting up Personal Wireless Facilities. So, to all you AT&T customers in the Haight: Carry a couple quarters for the pay phones.

Tuesday, February 2, 2 p.m. -- Full Board of Supervisors

The real excitement happens at the full board meeting on Tuesday. On the agenda: a new tax! And not just any new tax, but a "special tax," which is a nice way of saying that it is a tax on the mentally retarded.

Ha ha ha, just kidding! Actually, the "special" refers to Special Tax District 2009-1, an area of the city recently designated to suffer heightened property taxes to finance water conservation. The exact dimensions of this "special" district are a little nebulous; if you want to know if you're in it, you have to go down IN PERSON to city hall to look at a map ON A PIECE OF PAPER like you're freaking Amerigo Vespucci. The only thing that we can safely assume about Special District 2009-1 is that everyone who lives there is mentally retarded.

Also on the agenda: money and operational support for San Francisco's Reentry Council, which is not concerned with the space shuttle but with assisting recently released prison inmates. They have a guide called "Getting Out and Staying Out" which offers such helpful advice as "Get a good night's sleep." Oh okay!

They'll also be settling a variety of lawsuits brought against the city for a total of $827,192.50. Details are sketchy; all that we know is that $40,000 goes to a case involving "civil rights", another $50,000 to a bicyclist who was hurt by one of SF's notoriously bike-antagonistic roads, about $160,000 is for a tourist who tripped in a crosswalk at Mason and Ellis, $80,000 goes to a case about which there are no details whatsoever, and $140,000 goes to "San Franciscans for Livable Neighborhoods," a group that advocates for the removal of buildings to make room for neighborhood parking lots. They sound fun!

Another agenda item would set up a Medical Cannabis Task Force, because why not? The words "task force" sound more exciting than what the group would actually do, which is "advise the board on medical cannabis issues." We hope that their advice is "the board of Supervisors would probably be more fun if they were all stoned."

What else is on the table? Doing more research about electronic parking meter gadgets. A report about setting up a Film Commission, since the city has done such a lousy job of attracting film productions over the last decade. Declaring February 5th Joe Illick Day, in honor of a local woodcutter. A declaration of solidarity with a union in Mexico. Declaring Larry Brinkin Week, either in an honor of one of the members of the Cockettes or in honor of a member of The Human Rights Commission, or maybe both. The Police Commission wants the board's help in prohibiting felons from wearing body armor. Some guy has written a letter to the supes expressing concern about Walgreen's selling alcohol. Someone else wrote a letter announcing the 30th anniversary of Black Cuisine. Funny, we thought it's been around for longer than that.

And it wouldn't be an S.F. Gov meeting without a bunch of parliamentary blah-blah-blah about Shall We Designate this and Permitting Informal Solicitization of Contracts for that. So, all for all you recently released felons, that part of the meeting should help you get an early start on that good night's sleep you've been hearing so much about.


Wednesday, February 3, 11:00am -- Budget and Finance Committee

A bond sale for hospital improvement! Another bond sale for neighborhood parks! Come one, come all, get your bonds! They're going fast and at these prices they won't last! It's Crazy Mirkarimi's Bond Bonanza down at the all-night Bond Warehouse!

Seriously, though, the hospital renovation is a very important project. Probably.

In other news: The city's looking into buying office space at 1600 Owens St (near UCSF Mission Bay) for the Chief Medical Examiner, probably to perform bizarre and macabre experiments.


Thursday, February 4,


10 a.m. -- Rules Committee


The news that has everyone atwitter in public transit circles (all four of us; hi Greg and Jamison and Jeff!) is Supervisor Sean Elsbernd's proposal to end the Muni drivers' automatic privilege of drawing the second-highest wages in the country. Most other city employee wages are set through collective bargaining, and Elsbernd's proposal would bring Muni drivers in line with that practice. Sounds good, but Greg's already expressed his skepticism for this plan: It excludes non-driver employees; Elsbernd looked the other way while Muni's budget was looted last year; and it could open us up to the possibility of strikes.

A Muni strike would be terrible, because it would leave tens of thousands of San Franciscans stranded at stops with no idea when their bus is coming. It's unimaginable.

Also: Chris Daly will be appointed to the Association of Bay Area Governments Executive Board. Hopefully this won't conflict with his duties as Chairman of the Bay Area Yelling at Everybody Subcommittee.

3:30 p.m. - City and School District Select Committee


The Committee has expressed interest in working with Parks & Rec and the School District to get people into parks. If the supes are really serious about "maximizing the use of recreation areas in San Francisco," they ought to just hire Kevin Montgomery, whose Uptown Almanac posts are so finely attuned to the pulse of Dolores Park that he's basically a deputy park ranger.

Well, that's about it for highlights of this week's BOS meetings. Happy Larry Brinkin Week everyone!

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Benjamin Wachs


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