Good intentions unmasked 

Recently, Supervisor John Avalos claimed to have been possessed by the “spirit of cooperation.” That phenomenon is supposed to explain why he acquiesced to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s request to pull the “must spend” City Charter amendment off the June ballot. (That measure would have given the Board of Supervisors the power to cut money from one place in the budget and force the mayor to spend it on something else, subject to a mayoral veto.)

The problem: Anyone who follows local politics will tell you that the “spirit of cooperation” hasn’t haunted City Hall for some time now.

Just last week, Newsom reportedly said of the “must spend” amendment, “This is a direct assault, and I take this very seriously.” And Avalos dismissed Mistermayor as being “a bit touchy.”

But all of the sudden, Avalos said he’s pulling the amendment because he’s satisfied with the fact that Newsom has respected all the board’s budget changes this year. This, however, is not new information. And it smells. To recap: This is smelly old information.

So, what has happened in the past week or so that caused Avalos to be overcome with the “spirit of cooperation?” Perhaps he got out a Ouija board and summoned the “spirit of reality” for a check on this measure’s chances of being endorsed by voters. I picture the paranormal pollster spelling out “LOL.”

I can think of one other recent development that might be hovering over Avalos’ decision: the growing school of thought that Mistermayor will run for, and win, the lieutenant governor post. If that happens, the progressive majority on the board will choose a new mayor. Avalos might not want to vex a progressive mayor by campaigning for months about the need for a “spirit of checks and balances.”


SF found to have played no role in Bologna deaths

The City Attorney’s Office scored a grim victory Monday when a Superior Court judge tossed out the lawsuit filed by two members of the Bologna family. You may recall that convicted criminal Edwin Ramos allegedly shot and killed Anthony Bologna and his sons Michael and Matthew in June 2008.

The suit against The City claimed that the repeated re-release of Ramos by city police and probation authorities, plus the failure to turn Ramos (who is not a legal U.S. citizen) over to federal immigration officials, meant that San Francisco was legally responsible for the deaths of the three Bologna family members. 

Among other things, the judge held that Ramos might have posed a general threat to others, but because authorities didn’t know specifically who Ramos would target, The City had no duty to protect the Bolognas.

Just three months ago, anti-immigration activist Kris Kobach joined the suit as an attorney for the Bologna family, so you can bet this case will be appealed.


Seismic safety bond leads to dramatic debate

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, members elected to put a $412 million bond measure on the June ballot. That money is supposed to build a new police command center, upgrade the water supply for firefighters and make firehouses seismically sound. Here’s my dramatic interpretation of the debate (only statements in quotation marks are real quotes): 

David Chiu: The big one is going to hit us any day now, so let’s get this done. Everyone agrees this is a good idea, even the mayor.

David Campos: I see that more than $60 million here is designated for “critical firefighting facilities and infrastructure.” We can’t get more specific than that?

Project Manager Charles Higueras: We need $400 million to fix all our firehouses, but we’re going to do the best we can with that measly $60 million and hit up the voters again in five or six years for the rest. Our environmental approval prevents us from telling you exactly which firehouses will be fixed.

Campos: The environmental approval is keeping you from telling voters what you’re doing with more than $60 million?

Higueras: Yes.

Campos: Bullpucky. I’ve never heard of such nonsense.

Chiu: The big one is coming, man. This is no time to be nitpicky. Whatever it’s spent on, it’ll be fancy firehouse seismic stuff.

Chris Daly: I’d like to throw a wrench into this entire discussion by pointing out that the justice facilities at 850 Bryant will get a new building, but the jail section of 850 Bryant is not being seismically fixed. That’s in my district and those are my constituents. “I care more about the people at the jail, people who are there involuntarily, if we have a seismic incident than I do about the rest of the people at 850 Bryant.”

Sean Elsbernd: Oh. My. God. You did not actually just say that! Those other people at 850 Bryant are public servants and citizens serving on juries.

Daly: Oh yes, I did and I’ll say it again for the people in the cheap seats: “I have more care for the folks we have locked up there rightfully or perhaps wrongly.”

Chiu: Fixing the jail cells would cost more than $1 billion. Let’s move forward with this. The big one is coming!

Campos: Is there anything we can tell the voters about this $60 million for firehouses?

Higueras: Yes, tell them it’ll be used to fix 10 to 12 firehouses. We just don’t know which ones.

Campos: Good enough.

The measure passed 9-1, with Daly voting “no.” And that’s the final stretch of putting a $412 million bond on the ballot.

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Melissa Griffin

Melissa Griffin

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