Making extravagant promises or claims with no intention of following through on them seems to have become something of a game for San Francisco's mayor. He campaigned on a promise to build work-force housing along the Central Waterfront, then quietly told backers post-election that he'd abandoned the plan. He spent six years swearing up and down he'd fix public housing; it isn't fixed yet. He's made "accountability" a stump-speech perennial. But as Benjamin Wachs and Joe Eskenazi reported in these pages last month ["The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.," 12/16/09], this has meant publishing mountains of meaningless data that actually obscure what government is or is not accomplishing.

But in making an implausible promise in his State of the City speech to provide shelter for half of the thousands of poor people who live on the streets — and making that promise just as city officials take steps in the opposite direction — Newsom seems to stray from gamesmanship toward cynicism.

"That's San Francisco government right there for you," Boden said. "What they say they want to do and want to achieve, and what they actually do in terms of funding priorities, have, since 1983 in San Francisco, been opposite. And if you don't have treatment, you don't have housing, and you're cutting emergency services again, the only tool left is a Greyhound bus ticket or the cops."

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