Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Public Safety vs. Public Health 3: Patronage Politics
The SEIU protest on City Hall's stairs ended at about 1PM which was when the firefighter's rally was supposed to begin, but they seemed to be waiting on the perpetually late Mayor Newsom, and didn't start the speeches until 1:20.
Former Mayor Willie Brown, Jr. showed up on time, and stood on the flatbed truck podium while gossiping with DJs from radio station 97.7 FM ("The Bone") who were there in support of the firefighters.
Finally, dignitaries in the crowd were introduced including a trio of young military veterans.
Gary Delagnes, the president of the Police Officers Association, gave a speech calling the Supervisors a bunch of carpetbaggers from elsewhere who were "idiots" and weren't "real" native San Franciscans. It was when he mentioned his 89-year-old mother who "still lives in the City in the house she's always had" that I realized neither Delagnes nor the vast majority of the firefighters at the rally actually live in San Francisco. Delagnes, for instance, lives in Novato and doesn't pay a dime in taxes towards the six-figure salaries his police union members make each year.
Willie Brown, Jr. was introduced as "Mayor Brown" and he gave a short, rabblerousing speech. The fact that his eight years of mayoral patronage politics is one of the main reasons the city's budget is so out of whack was not mentioned.
The current mayor, Gavin Newsom, finally showed up and spouted cliches where the phrase "unprecedented shortfalls" cropped up at least a half dozen times.
The sheer emptiness of his rhetoric was dismaying and he looked even more like a hollow suit than usual.
Finally, the emcee from the Fire Department (above) told everyone to cross the street to City Hall and to go talk to their Supervisors about why the proposed cuts to the public safety budget were wrong. This made little sense to me, since it was 1:45PM and the Supervisors wouldn't be in their individual offices, but would instead be in the Board chambers for their weekly full meeting at 2PM.