Negotiate to Win
To win re-election, the mayor of San Francisco greases the backsides of the police and fire unions. Wage and benefit contracts are the most legal way to accomplish the payoff, but when voters passed Proposition F last November, wresting contract negotiations from the mayor and handing them to the Department of Human Resources, it appeared that Frank Jordan faced re-election without a way to purchase electoral clout.
The resourceful Jordan would not be denied. He took advantage of DHR's heavy workload — 36 contracts to negotiate in a matter of months — and offered his staff as negotiators with the police and fire unions. The mayor's ploy didn't escape the attentive Civil Grand Jury, however. “The Department [of Human Resources] has been undermined,” the grand jury scolded in its June 1 report on the DHR. In an interview, Grand Jury Chairwoman Hilda Bernstein was more to the point. “Why separate out two unions which have a tremendous amount of clout?” Bernstein asks. “It's not too paranoid to think they're being taken care of for political reasons.”
School Board Commissioner Steve Phillips introduced a measure June 13 to snuff the Junior Reserve Officer Training Program in San Francisco schools and replace it with a nonmilitary program. A fixture on middle- and high-school campuses for nearly 80 years, the $600,000-a-year program teaches troubled urban youth such useful life skills as blind obedience and how to shoot a rifle. The program has been under scrutiny since a March 1994 Balboa High hazing incident exposed a long tradition of beatings, allegedly sanctioned and encouraged by adult instructors. Phillips' measure is in dire need of a fourth vote, with Commissioners Keith Jackson and Jill Wynns still wavering.
In making up their minds, Jackson and Wynns should also read JROTC textbooks. Here's a quick primer. On Native Americans: “Fortunately for the Army, the government policy of pushing the Indians farther west then wiping them out was carried out successfully.” On cultural sensitivity: “One must be aware of cultural differences. For instance, Americans generally place a high value on human life. This may not necessarily be the case in other cultures.” (What was that about the Indians again?) On AIDS education: “The best way to avoid AIDS is to avoid illicit drug use and casual sex … especially with homosexuals.” On the Vietnam War: “Despite the activities of radicals, the American people in general knew that the military had been blamed for things which were not its fault.”
Mayor Frank Jordan's campaign Svengali, Clint Reilly, can count his first victory in the mayor's race. The Registrar of Voters qualified Reilly's referendum for the November ballot that snuffs the Board of Supervisors' new campaign finance law. The upshot of the Registrar's ruling is that the board's reforms are nullified until the voters speak their mind in November. (The law would have limited campaign spending to $600,000 in the general and $400,000 in a runoff election. It would have also prevented candidates from accepting money from businesses that have city contracts, a provision meant to end the long-standing influence-buying that contractors engage in during campaigns.) Since Jordan can't run on his less-than-stellar record, it's important for him to be able to run on the moola. Besides squelching reform, Reilly and Jordan also cost the city $15,000. As it turns out, Reilly submitted so many unqualified signatures that the Registrar of Voters had to come to a screeching halt and dedicate most of its staff to counting the 19,000 signatures needed to put the referendum on the ballot.
By George Cothran