Former San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has been one busy lady. As California’s attorney general, she has made online dating sites agree to safety measures, wrestled $2.1 million dollars from Wal-Mart for overcharging customers, and is even going after Bernie Madoff’s estate.
One of my favorite legal moves by her office so far is the defense of State Controller John Chiang in a lawsuit brought by State Senator Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman John Perez.
Remember that in 2010, voters approved a change to the state constitution saying that state lawmakers have to pass a balanced budget each year by June 15 each year or stop getting paid until they do.
Because of that provision, Chiang stopped paying state legislators last June for two weeks because they passed a state budget full of smiley faces and unicorn stickers. When his own analysis showed the budget to be $1.85 billion short, Chiang said, “the number simply did not add up” and stopped the paycheck presses. People with real jobs high-fived. Meanwhile, the Governor vetoed the June 15 budget and a new budget was passed on June 28, 2011.
Presumably because their approval ratings can’t get any lower, Steinberg and Perez decided there was no harm in suing Chiang. They claim that the state controller does not have the power to make his own determination as to whether the legislature has proposed a balanced budget.
Harris’ office has opposed that lawsuit on Chiang’s behalf, arguing that Chiang’s job as chief money nerd requires him to audit the overly optimistic projections of politicians.
On April 10, a judge will hear the arguments from either side. I plan to proudly root for San Francisco’s own Team Harris.
Hunting season is officially open! Enterprising San Franciscans who wish to run for a seat on our Board of Supervisors have already begun filing “declarations of intent” that allow them to fundraise for November’s election. The deadline for everyone to declare is later this summer, but that’s no reason to wait to size up the contenders for our little local United Nations.
Eric Mar is the current District One supervisor and so far he is the only person who has declared his intent to run. Yesterday on his Facebook page, Mar posted a link to an editorial that decries Ross Mirkarimi’s arrest and prosecution for domestic violence because Eliana Lopez has been disempowered as a result. With the latest KCBS poll indicating that 72 percent of us want Mirkarimi out of office, I think it’s fair to assume that Mar does not yet have a campaign manager. Recreation and Parks Commissioner David Lee and Planning Commissioner Rodney Fong are rumored to be eyeing Mar’s seat on the board.
No one, not even current incumbent David Chiu, who will seek re-election, has filed to run in District Three. But the lack of interest in my district is made up for by the fact that eight people have already filed to run in District Five and about a dozen more are rumored to be considering it. The seat is currently held by Christina Olague, who was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to take over after Ross Mirkarimi was elected sheriff. When Mirkarimi was first elected to the board in 2004, he beat out 22 other candidates. And from the looks of things, the field will again be large enough to fascinate students of ranked-choice voting.
Now that current supervisor Sean Elsbernd is termed-out, seven people have declared that they will run in District Seven. For the last year or so, insiders have pegged Michael Garcia as the heir apparent to this seat but the new scuttlebutt is that former San Francisco Examiner columnist Ken Garcia will join the race. I would be thrilled if Ken decided to run and I wouldn’t be alone. For the first time, groups who sponsor candidate debates could charge admission.
District Nine is currently represented by David Campos who is popular and running for re-election. It will be very tough to unseat him, but Benjamin Castaneda and Tommy Gallegos have signed up to give it a shot.
Supervisor John Avalos is running for re-election in District Eleven and so far no one has stepped up to oppose him. In last year’s mayoral election, Ed Lee beat Avalos in this district, so there seems to be room for a willing soul to mount a challenge.
People are often baffled by the antics at City Hall but can’t name their own supervisor. It’s never too early to start checking out the field and asking questions of anyone hunting for your money and your vote.
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, our erstwhile representatives considered and endorsed the new and watered-down development deal for hosting the 34th America’s Cup race. Unlike prior displays that amounted to Billionaire Beat Down, sentiment among members of the public who showed up to speak was uniformly positive.
Some folks were thrilled that Red’s Java House will survive the maelstrom of progress, and others explained that the race will be a cool way to teach kids about technology and physics. But, as is often the case, our local crooner Walter Paulson said it best when he sang to the tune of Climax’s “Precious and Few”:
Good luck to you and America' s Cup, we city can share,
Sailing quiet blue on the water, I may be there with you,
And if I can’t sail my way back home and make the race fair,
Because the race is precious and few and the moment we two can share.