Husbanding Our Resources

To close the budget deficit, Mayor Newsom should take on the fire union and SFO's bureaucrats before he closes a single rec center for a single hour

Such a proposal would invariably piss off some neighborhood groups -- you can always roust someone in this town to protest new apartments. Antique-rail buffs might be frustrated; they've struggled nobly for six years to get a roof over the antique cars. But what's more important, happy NIMBYs and rail aficionados, or increased housing and revenue for the city as a whole?

The mayor has demonstrated during the past two years that he has a soldier's lust for political warfare. When his opponents believed they could bring him down by exploiting the Newsom-backed development proposition on the spring ballot, he attacked their left flank, using the issue of gay marriage to become a hero. When his opponents looked poised to counter his every policy proposal to the Board of Supervisors, his business allies formed multiple political action committees and public benefit charities in an effort to sway last week's Board elections in a direction favorable to his goals.

Yet John Kerry's loss in last week's presidential election proved that an aggressive ground game only goes so far. For a political faction to win, voters need something to believe in. Competence just might be that thing. And as America's symbol for left politics, San Francisco likely is the right place to start in convincing the nation that Democrats make government work. Somehow, I don't think maintaining waste and pork in city government and overlooking worthy sources of city revenue -- while cutting back on rec center hours to balance the budget -- sends an inspiring message across the land.

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