Labor Groups, Babies, Very Old People, Supes Rally Against Rec & Park Cuts — But Layoffs May Already Be Fait Accompli

Fashion-wise, children often make the best accessories. Far better than purple tchochkes — but at today's SEIU City Hall rally on behalf of soon-to-be laid off San Francisco recreation directors, there were plenty of both. A succession of Recreation & Parks Department workers, labor leaders, baby-toting moms, little kids, a bevy of elderly Chinese people from the Portsmouth Square Rec Center, and two supervisors delivered variously impassioned, snappy, and audible versions of a general theme: The city is liquidating the front-line workers who deal with generations of neighborhood kids but features a top-heavy, bloated class of highly compensated managers. This is being done so the city can contract out Rec & Park positions to private non-profits — and the whole thing stinks! 

For the 51 “full-time equivalent” employees who will receive layoff notices on Feb. 27, hope may spring eternal — but even a loose reading between the lines of what was said by our elected officials indicates city recreation directors ought to dust off those resumes.

“I wish there was more I could do to prevent these cuts, but I don't know what to do about this,” admitted Supervisor John Avalos in front of a crowd of around 100 or so. “The best thing I can do is understand your pain and walk back into my committees and fight for every dollar for parks, libraries, and children. I'm with you on the long-term in this fight.”

Left unsaid, however, is that in the short-term, folks are going to get canned.

Supervisor David Chiu added that he “wants to protect the services that are most critical — that includes recreation centers — and our front-line workers as opposed to those who are mid-level.”

That received a warm round of applause, as did Avalos' pledge that he wished he could help. After the speech, however, Chiu told SF Weekly that the pending deep cuts were only a reaction to the $115 million in mid-year budget cuts — not the $570 million or so in projected shortfall that has everyone sweating down the backs of their suit jackets. Chiu told us that he's most concerned with preventing Rec & Parks from liquidate its staff in reaction to the coming hard times. In the short term, it appears what's done is done.

Following his speech, Avalos told SF Weekly that “only the mayor” could save the jobs of those scheduled to be jettisoned next week. Even Rec & Parks Director Jared Blumenfeld's hands are tied — “Jared can't do it; he has his mandate to close $11.4 million,” said Avalos.   

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