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Monday, February 2, 2009

SF Gov InAction: The First Rule of Rules Committee Is That There ARE NO RULES!

Posted By on Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 11:59 AM

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Is it any wonder that the mayor who could go on for 7.5 hours about the State of the City without ONCE mentioning a half-billion-dollar deficit has been in Switzerland when the city has to decide how to deal with it? How fitting that he married an actress.
Let's review. After being elected in the middle of the city's greatest financial crisis since that time Willie Brown announced that was investing the city's reserve fund in hats, the new Board of Supes has: • Spent $500,000 on the Harding Park Golf Course so it'll look all nice when the PGA comes (Week 1) • Celebrated Barack Obama (Week 2) • Held a BIG hearing or two on what to do about our massive budget mess (Week 3) Now, that last one sounds good, but don't get all excited. Because when the dust had settled, and the public had yelled at them for seven hours straight about what-the-mayor-did-now, and the board got down to vote on something, what happened? They referred a proposal to preserve programs the mayor would cut to committee, and they authorized a special budget-issue election in June without actually deciding to hold it. Which is to say that after a seven-hour meeting, absolutely nothing happened. This makes the new board far more effective than its predecessors, who took an average of nine hours to accomplish nothing. That makes government almost 30 percent more efficient. Who says San Francisco isn't a leader? Now that we've reviewed, let's see what won't get accomplished this week: Tuesday, Feb 3, 2 p.m. - Full Board of supervisors The agenda this week is very small. The Supes will be back to talk about the June special election -- will 100 people line up again to tell them what they're doing wrong?

The most helpful person they could consult with, of course, is the least likely to actually show up: Gavin Newsom.

Is it any wonder that the mayor who could go on for 7.5 hours about the State of the City without ONCE mentioning a half-a-billion dollar deficit has been in Switzerland when the city has to decide how to deal with it?

Without mayoral input, without knowing what Gavin will and won't go to the mat for, any discussion of the June election is a crap-shoot: The Supes cannot reasonably know what to put on that ballot (or whether to hold it at all) while the mayor's top priority is hiding from anything that resembles a number.

How fitting that he married an actress.

Wednesday, Feb 4, 1 p.m. - Budget and Finance Committee

Agenda item #3 - "Budget Updates" - pretty much says it all. This committee is in a listening place.

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that they're listening to you. They're not. They already know that you don't want bicycle lanes for transgendered pagan foster kids to be taken out of the budget. They understand how committed you are to arts for geriatric pets.

They heard you yelling out in the hallway. Really. Your voice carries. Also, that thing you said about David Chiu? Hate crime.

Nothing anybody says, no matter how passionately, will be able to keep this committee from having to recommend stuff that sucks. Activists always seem to be the last ones to figure this out. Maybe it's because they're so active.

Thursday, Feb. 5,

10 a.m. - Rules Committee

According to my (admittedly primitive) calculations, the Supes at this meeting will have to deal with:

16 committee appointments;

4 lawsuits;

1 proposal to eliminate the expiration date from the Workforce Development Program.

I've gotta be honest: I don't know if a committee made up of Chris Daly, Carmen Chu, and David Campos is up to the job. This is a stressful, high-impact, set of decisions that have to be made -- and they've never worked together before.

I saw them doing drills last week: Their hand signals are weak, their helmets don't fit properly, and when Daly takes point and shouts "Cover me!" for some reason no one covers him. Even worse, Chu might be a double agent: I think she's on the side of the lawsuits.

No, this is never going to work. It'll be another senseless rules committee slaughter.

Like the one that Gavin Newsom saw, back when he was on the Board of Supervisors.

He used to be different, you know ... an ordinary guy, like the rest of us. Only better-looking, with a bigger sense of entitlement. The kind of person whose hair didn't need a police escort, and whose YouTube channel would have been filled with videos of animals attacking.

But then ... then he got appointed to the Rules Committee, man, and he couldn't handle it! He was too young ... too pretty ... they did things to him that Dan Savage hasn't even named yet. They ate him alive and he's been a dead man walking ever since.

Why do we do it? Why do we take our young men and women and put them in this hell? We call it a "rules" committee but there ARE NO RULES! There's no "humane" way to have a committee like this! No sanity in the endless round of appointments and charter amendments! Committee members hold the power of life and death in their hands -- they're like GODS -- but in the end they're still just one pathetic little vote in a pathetic little committee in a city of fewer than a million people.

There is no God.

They shouldn't have to do it. There has to be a better way.

1 p.m. - City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee

Remember how, last year, a bunch of people voted for a ballot initiative, Prop T, that mandated that the city provide substance abuse treatment to whomever needs it?

Well, today this committee is going to meet to try and figure out how to, you know, actually do that.

Lots of luck.

Anyone want to bet that, when the dust has settled from this meeting, absolutely nothing has happened? I'll bet you Willie Brown's weight in hats.

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Benjamin Wachs

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