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Monday, February 8, 2010

SF Gov InAction: Are Supes Spending Too Much Time Watching 'CSI'?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 9:30 AM


Ah the joys of vacation.

It's been weeks, literally weeks, since I've asked myself "What was David Chiu thinking?"

I have asked myself "What was Gavin Newsom thinking?" but only because people keep coming up to me and asking: "what the hell is with the mayor?"

I'm going to tell you two things you need to know, people: First, stop asking me that.

Second, if you think that someone who follows Gavin Newsom's career understands him any better than a tourist from Idaho who says "Your mayor must spend a lot of time on his hair," you're fooling yourself. The man's an enigma with a comb. 

If anyone can understand the byzantine ways of City Hall, however, it is this week's guest writer -- Examiner political columnist and analyst Melissa Griffin.

Melissa is a lawyer by training, which means she has an edge over almost every working reporter: she knows how to do something. But you can't be taught to have the kind of analytical mind and political instincts that she brings to her work every week. That's just pure talent. Character for character, she is one of the best informed political writers in the city. 

My only regret is that there aren't more meetings for her to cover this week.  


- Benjamin


As a loyal reader of Benjamin's column, I'm thrilled to be writing GovInaction this week! Let's get started...


Monday, February 8


10:30 a.m. -- City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee

There are only two items on the agenda and each requires the board to accept grant money. The time it takes you to read this sentence is longer than this meeting will last.


1:00 p.m. -- Land Use and Economic Development Committee


Here's how I picture it: About a year ago, former supervisor Aaron Peskin was driving around looking for parking in the neighborhood where he lives -- Telegraph Hill. Because there are so many driveways, finding street parking is a bitch.

Cue to 2010, David Chiu has proposed a law that severely restricts (and in some cases, eliminates) the right of residential property owners to install driveways and garages on their property in Telegraph Hill, North Beach and Chinatown.

It's magical. Problem solved.

If only Peskin had a problem with homeless people...

Anyway, this law will pass in committee on Monday and be considered at the full board on Tuesday.

Also at this meeting:

A resolution by Bevan Dufty thanking the California Department of the Obvious for conducting a survey showing that our city's roads are asphalt assassins, and asking the state to not cut funding that we need to at least maintain them in their current, dangerously depressed state.


Tuesday, February 9, 2 p.m. -- Full Board of Supervisors


Tuesday is my birthday! The full board has the following gifts in store...

First, they'll vote on whether to put a provision in the Charter allowing the Board of Supervisors to force the mayor to spend city money on certain priorities. This proposal might also be called the "Progressives Don't Think They'll Ever Have a Mayor" bill. If it goes on the ballot, it promises to be a hilarious referendum on the supervisors themselves. When it gets about 11 votes at the polls, such a clear outcry of anti-supe sentiment may pave the way for re-thinking district elections, too.

I can picture the opposition ad now: Video clips of things like Ross Mirkarimi meowing, Chris Daly cursing, and Eric Mar protesting the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. "Is This Who You Want Controlling The Budget?" the screen will read. Oh, the ways in which the mayor and the board will try to humiliate each other ... I'm giddy just thinking about it.

Second, Sean Elsbernd's retirement benefits overhaul is up for a vote. What's in it? Eh, e-mail me if you want the details. All you need to know is that it is a Charter Amendment that would save the city money and the SEIU hates parts of it.

Y'all may have heard that Elsbernd ripped Eric Mar a new one at Rules Committee last week when discussing the proposal. (Seriously, it was incredible.) Mar's transgression was the fact that he tried to amend Elsbernd's proposal with two amendments that: (A) are substantial, and; (B) he (Mar) clearly had not even read. Now, I won't bore you with the details, but Mar's amendments didn't make it out of committee. So, you can bet that he will try to make those amendments again on Tuesday. And it'll be on like Donkey Kong.

Third, remember how Supervisor John Avalos wanted to extend "just cause" eviction protection to all rental units in the city? Even non-rent-controlled ones? Then Mistermayor vetoed it, saying it should only protect non-rent controlled units where bank foreclosure has caused the eviction?

Well, last week Avalos begrudgingly scaled back the ordinance so it would only apply to foreclosure evictions. This way, when it passes, the mayor will sign it. Expect Avalos to publicly complain that the mayor ate his baby.

Last, there are several bond measures on the agenda. The board will vote to authorize the sale of $370 million in General Obligation bonds per voter mandates in 2008 -- specifically, $305 million for SF General Hospital and $65 million for parks and stuff.

However, the major bond vote at the board on Tuesday relates to a totally separate $652 million bond measure that, if passed, will be on the June ballot. Before bonds go to the voters, the board has to declare the reason we need to sell bonds. So, the resolution for Tuesday basically says: (A) our public safety facilities are ghetto, and; (B) we want a cool forensic lab like they have on CSI: Miami. Did you see that episode where they found a fleck of a murderer's skin and put it in a machine that identified the killer, hacked his phone and slapped his mama all with the press of a button? We want that shit. That'll be $652 million, please.


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


This committee will graciously accept some grants and consider giving away some money, too. For example, the committee will vote on whether to renew the city's contract with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. The proposed five-year contract gives the THC a total of $65 million from the general fund plus $17 million in federal money. In exchange, the THC will run 1,528 single room occupancy units from 2010 to 2015.

There will also be two hearings. Thanks, John Avalos. You really shouldn't have.

First is a discussion about the Controller's Six-Month Report followed by a presentation on "budget balancing strategies and efficiencies for the Police Department, Sherrif's Department, and the Juvenile Probation Department." No word on what Avalos will do if "turning juveniles over to the federal immigration authorities" is cited as a cost-savings strategy.

Melissa Griffin's columns for the San Francisco Examiner can be found here, and she blogs here


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Benjamin Wachs


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