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Monday, March 8, 2010

Your Rundown on the Week in S.F. Government

Posted By on Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Will school integration get thrown under the bus (er, tram)?
  • Will school integration get thrown under the bus (er, tram)?
From farmers-market politics to school integration, there are opportunities for outrage on a sundry list of civic issues this week in the halls of San Francisco government.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Education will take a consequential vote on an evergreen controversy: the city's system of public-school assignment, which forces children to attend schools far from their homes in order to enforce racial and socioeconomic integration. The system has been deeply unpopular with parents. The new process the board will vote on would give greater weight to location -- and, specifically, a school's proximity to a family's neighborhood -- in deciding where kids are sent.

The chattering classes have been buzzing ceaselessly about San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon's push -- with Mayor Gavin Newsom's backing -- for a "sit-lie" ordinance that would make it illegal for folks to lounge on the sidewalk. On Wednesday, the Police Commission will discuss the proposed law. After handing Gascon a frustrating defeat on his request for TASERs last week, it will be interesting to see how the commission handles this other high-priority initiative. It's starting to look like commissioners and the chief could be getting used to the idea of long-term trench warfare over policy matters.

On Tuesday, the full Board of Supervisors will continue discussion of legislation preventing landlords from raising tenants' rent and extending restrictions on smoking in public places. Also up for discussion is a motion directing the Budget and Legislative Analyst to perform an audit on the Alemany Farmers' Market, where the city Real Estate Division's move to set up a competitive bidding process (and give some longstanding vendors the boot) led to outrage last summer.

The board will also take a look at proposed legislation from Supervisor Bevan Dufty that would increase penalties for assaulting members of the San Francisco Patrol Special Police, a quasi-public community policing force that has been on the streets since the days of the Gold Rush. This would be a plum for the Patrol Specials, who have been mired in a longstanding feud with the SFPD.

The words "quality" and "Muni" aren't typically uttered in the same sentence, but here's an exception: On Thursday, the supervisors' Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on a "quality review" of the city's public-transportation system. The hearing is a timely one, as talk of service cuts and fare increases to close the agency's $17 million budget shortfall has led to a whole lotta squawking.

The review, mandated by the 1999 public-transit reform measure Proposition E, isn't exactly glowing: Among its findings are that Muni service has been getting slower and that the notoriously high rate of unscheduled absenteeism among operators has remained steady. Makes you feel a bit better about the Budget and Finance Committee's consideration of a motion to repeal Muni operators' "lounge facilities fund" at a meeting on Wednesday.

Photo   |   Jim Herd

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Peter Jamison

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