Friday, June 08, 2007
Budgetary Sense and Sensibility
June is Budget Month at San Francisco's City Hall, where the Mayor's Office offers a balanced projected budget at the beginning of the month, and the Board of Supervisors has 30 days to negotiate cuts and/or funding restoration in that document.
Mayor Newsom's office is being unusually confrontational this year, hurling epithets at Supervisor Daly and accusing him of playing "election-year politics," when of course the truth is exactly the opposite since it's Newsom who is up for re-election rather than Daly.
To make matters worse, after the budget was delivered, Newsom left town again for what is certainly important city business and sent some poor flunky to give a "presentation" to the Budget and Finance Committee with a truly ugly PowerPoint show highlighting all the potholes that were going to be paved with this year's $6.1 billion budget. If I remember correctly, the PowerPoint song-and-dance didn't bother mentioning all the poor people's services that are being cut, let alone offering any new or detailed information.
Earlier in the committee's agenda was consideration of the LAFCO budget, which is the committee that's trying to ease San Francisco out of PG&E's monopoly clutches and into the realm of public power, such as exists in Sacramento where everyone's utility bills are half of what we pay PG&E.
However, every bought-off political entity in San Francisco (and that's most of City Hall) is doing everything they can to make this transition from becoming a reality, and for a good example, there was none better than the weird, sneering woman from the City Attorney's office who kept telling the Supervisors they couldn't take the word "Draft" off of the proposed legislation because it was illegal without a new power supplier being specifically mentioned. In other words, they can't move forward until they have leaped into the future.
I watched most of the meeting live on the superlative Channel 26 GOTV, but decided to pop into the Board of Supervisors chambers to get a picture of two of my favorite public commenters. The lady above, whose name I have forgotten (please help me out), knows how to read budgets and bureaucratic minutiae as well as anybody at City Hall and her remarks are always quite brilliant and to the point. A favorite moment on Wednesday was her objection to a new clause in the MTA Memorandum of Understanding with their employees that they would get a bonus if they showed up to work a certain number of days. "Getting a bonus just for showing up at their jobs? Have you all gone insane?"
My friend Willie's favorite commenter is the ubiquitous Mrs. Johnson, above, who I assume is a schizophrenic. She intelligently starts each commentary with an allusion to the legislative subject at hand and then, mid-sentence, wanders into stream-of-consciousness arias about the Kennedys, underwear, homeless shelters, her brain, and what-have-you.
Plus, the commentary is always different, more than can be said about Gavin Newsom's tireless advocacy for the rich of San Francisco while pretending that all he cares about is "diversity" and caring for the poor.