SF Gov InAction: Another Battle in the War on Fun, Children, and Food Made with Real Organic Cruelty

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Monday, March 23,

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


It's hard to figure out what Sophie Maxwell and Gavin Newsom have in common.

Sophie, after all, is a black woman who doesn't like technology but will answer her land line to talk to friends and critics alike, while Gavin is a white man who thinks that everything he texts should be secret because, hey, he did it on his iPhone, and you don't come between a man and his iPhone. That's personal -- way more personal than actually communicating with people, which he won't do.

But in fact, Gavin and Sophie sometimes see eye to eye on a variety of measures, from redevelopment -- especially of Bayview and Hunters Point -- to law and order. So occasionally we'd see their names together on an otherwise unpopular piece of legislation. Recently we've come to see it more and more because they've gotten something else, viscerally bonding, in common:

They've both been rejected by the progressives, whom they think should be welcoming them with open arms.

"Why aren't I a progressive?" Sophie has wondered. "I vote with them most of the time."

"Why aren't I a progressive?" Gavin has wondered. "I look really good in this shirt!"

Put all this together and it makes perfect sense -- mostly -- that Sophie and Gavin are jointly proposing the next foray in San Francisco's war on fun.

Measures they've put before this committee today -- which, to be clear, have been bouncing around government for about a year now -- would prohibit loitering outside nightclubs, make it harder to get a one-night event permit, and make it more difficult to get a permit for extended hours of operations.

All of which may or may not improve public safety and order, but will never address the biggest concern about SF nightlife -- which is all the people loitering inside clubs. Who are these people? Can anyone help them?

Also on today's agenda is Michela Alioto-Pier's measure to get San Francisco to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We've seen this resolution come up before - only now it has a twist. Now David Campos has signed on as a co-sponsor, and the resolution contains new language.

Whereas before Alioto-Pier's resolution only applied to San Francisco in vague, general, terms, there is now a reference to the fact that:

"last year, the City of San Francisco initiated a new policy to automatically refer undocumented youth charged with felonies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials before their adjudication"

... and another passage declaring it

"City policy to provide every incarcerated youth his or her right to full due process under law before any City employee initiates communication with federal immigration officials regarding said youth's disposition."

Which, correct me if I'm wrong, means that this bill just got interesting.

It also, incidentally, continues to use the phrase "Harlequin object," even though no one at Alioto-Pier's office has been able to explain what that means. Neither has Alioto-Pier.

Do you think Campos knows?

I ask only because I still think it important that lawmakers know what the laws they're making actually say. If that's not a requirement, let me know, because I have some postmodern poetry I'd love to enshrine into the city code.


1 p.m. - Land Use & Economic Development Committee


If you care about Balboa stations -- I mean really, really, care -- then this is the meeting for you.

Sean Elsbernd and John Avalos have proposed four separate measures on the station: Everything from amending its zoning maps to monitoring the effectiveness of the amendments to its general plan - which are also on the agenda.

Separately, Avalos also has a measure urging city departments to consider Balboa station a priority when applying for federal stimulus dollars.

Are we sure we want this guy to head our budget committee?

Might as well, I suppose, because it could get worse. Eric Mar almost certainly wins the award for "Most pointless hearing" this week with this gem: A "Hearing to obtain community input on the creation of jobs, particularly green collar jobs, in San Francisco as the City is positioning itself for Federal investment dollars."

Um ... I'm guessing we're ... in favor of the creation of jobs?

Okay then, glad we've got that settled. Good meeting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2 p.m. - Full Board of Supervisors


Well now, this is interesting. And by "interesting" I don't actually mean "interesting," but, hey, you're reading a rundown of local government committee meetings, so what do you want from me, really?

Avalos, the aforementioned chair of the budget committee (who, I should admit, is thus far doing an admirable job) is requesting that the board create a budget and finance subcommittee -- one which would be made up of the three full-time members of budget and finance committee (unless the president of the board deems otherwise) and will be empowered to handle any budget and finance committee business except: (a) annual appropriations and salary ordinances and (b) the Mayor's budget instructions.

There's no indication with the measure as to what Avalos is thinking. A call to him has thus far not been returned. I'll let you know when I hear something.

Meanwhile, get a life. Go loiter outside a nightclub or something. While it's still legal.

Incidentally, there's a measure on today's board agenda to waive the requirements of holding a committee hearing on the creation of a subcommittee and allowing the board to just vote on the thing.

What's fascinating about this is that the measure allowing the vote is scheduled to follow the vote that it's intended to allow.

This is yet another example of what I call "Quantum Zoning Causality" - wherein time at government hearings does not follow a linear path, unless required to do so by a two-thirds majority. That isn't a big deal in this case, but I should warn the Supes to be careful: Left unchecked, Quantum Zoning Causality can lead you to go back in time and rezone your grandparents, causing one to exist in a state of non-conforming usage.

It's a risk.

Meanwhile Supervisors Alioto-Pier, Chu, Maxwell, Dufty, and Mar have a resolution "urging" the city "to aid the International Museum of Women in their efforts to secure a permanent physical location in San Francisco."

You know, that's so like a Woman's Museum: always needing help.

(Ahem) Let's preclude any angry protest and just have me apologize for saying that right now. I am deeply sorry. It won't happen again. At least until the Contemporary Jewish Museum is in the news.

Moving on ...

Bevan Dufty has a measure "recognizing freshwater as a human right and the importance of access to safe drinking water for all."

I can support everything in that bill except the lack of a space between "fresh" and "water." I am dead set against that. Do you hear me, Bevan Dufty? You are now my enemy.

Mirkarimi has a by-now much-trumpeted measure "commending" SF restaurants that have removed foie gras from their menus.

Really, guys? Commending restaurants for their menu choices? Are we really doing that? Because -- no skin off anyone's back, but ... really? Is that what government is for?

Finally, board members David Chiu and Maxwell (she's really getting around this week) are proposing a big discussion next week about "the Board's roles and responsibilities in the event of a City emergency."

Just a guess, but, I'm pretty sure it will be to argue about something the mayor's already done. Forgive me for pointing this out, but, the San Francisco Supervisors are not exactly a decisive body.

In fact, I once imagined this very scenario here. This is how it turned out when (hypothetically) a major earthquake struck during Public Comment (note that I've replaced Aaron Peskin with David Chiu):


"Colleagues," Ross Mirkarimi will say, "I'd like to propose a motion that we flee the city."

Chiu shakes his head. "While the chair would support such a motion, colleague, new motions cannot be taken during public comment. However, we will ask the people speaking to limit their remarks to one minute, in the interest of surviving this nightmarish act of God."

"That's outrageous!" Chris Daly says, standing up. "Colleagues, we are NOT fleeing America's most progressive city! What kind of message would it send to people in the Midwest?"

Sophie Maxwell stands up. "Colleagues, even if this earthquake does destroy us all, poor and minority areas will be destroyed first -- probably -- and I believe we must appoint a task force to examine issues of seismic racism."

Sean Elsbernd snorts. "We don't have money for that in a tight budget year! We need to save money so we can privatize the process of sorting through the rubble!"

Michela Alioto-Pier raises her hand. "I would like to propose a motion that the rubble be handicapped accessible."

Chiu bangs his gavel. "Colleagues, I must remind you that this is public comment!"

Mirkarimi looks crestfallen. "Come on ... are you serious?"

Daly hits him in the arm. "The REPUBLICANS are watching!" he hisses. "United front!"

Chiu rolls his eyes. He looks at the crowd. "Can we have the next speaker please?"

A familiar face steps forward. "Supervisors," he says, " I stand before you again to say that the Public Library is subverting democracy by leveling unlawful and illegal fines that you, the people's representatives, have not authorized ..."

End scene.


Wednesday, March 25, 11 a.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

I think we can safely assume by now that every budget committee hearing going forward will involve yelling about what-the-Mayor's-done-now, an audience participation game I like to call "You-Cut-WHAT?" and a regular review of just how screwed we are.

In addition, this week there will be a hearing on how the federal stimulus bill will save us (it won't save us) and a hearing to discuss the "Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst procurement process."

Just so you know.

Thursday, March 26, 1 p.m. - Government Audit & Oversight Committee


The entire meeting will be devoted to responding to two Civil Grand Jury Reports from 2008. "The Homeless Have Homes but they are Still on the Street" (which was reviewed by C.W. Nevius here and me, indirectly, here ) and "San Francisco Kindergarten Admissions" (which, I gotta be honest, I never read. Something was on TV. It involved a doctor. Who solves murders. With superpowers. You know the one).


Hey guys ... it's not like there's a rush or anything. I'm sure the problem of homeless kindergarteners can wait. Just take your time.

We'll be here, hanging outside of a nightclub, not eating Foie Gras, talking about Balboa station. What could go wrong?


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