Daly refuses to take a hint 

Supervisor Chris Daly is sponsoring a City Charter amendment that would require the mayor to attend a Board of Supervisors meeting once a month to engage in a public Q-and-A session.

Sound familiar?

It should. This is his third attempt at forcing the issue of “Mayor Question Time.”

Daly helped put Proposition I on the November 2006 ballot to make it city policy that the mayor publicly “engage in formal policy discussions” at the Board of Supervisors each month. There was no real opposition to the measure and it passed with 56 percent of the vote. Because it was only a “policy statement” and not a real law, Mayor Gavin Newsom just took out a red crayon and added “Prop. I” to the “List of Stuff I Ignore,” right next to “Board of Stoopidvisors (smiley face).”

Seeing that only the force of law would make his dreams of mandatory public couples therapy come true, Daly led the charge to put a charter amendment, Proposition E, on the November 2007 ballot that would do the same thing. This time, Mistermayor was paying attention (and running for re-election), so there was an opposition group called “Let’s Really Work Together” that spent some $250,000. Prop. E narrowly failed when 51 percent of voters rejected the measure.

Now, with about six months left to serve on the board, Daly has proposed the very same charter amendment voters rejected in 2007. Last week, when the Rules Committee considered (and passed) the measure, Daly called it “unfinished business.”

This charter amendment, Daly insisted, is still a good idea because it will “end the unnecessary divide and divisiveness between the mayor of San Francisco and members of the board.”

Of course, this assumes there will always be a problem between these two branches of local government (say it ain’t so!) and that mandatory interaction is always useful — when it could very well be as lame as watching two pandas thrown together refusing to mate.

At any rate, Daly wants us to know he’s not on a personal mission. “I have plenty of legacy stuff,” he said at the hearing. “This is not even on my ‘Top 20 List of Legacy Stuff.’”

If we have to decide this issue a third time, I think voters might disagree.


Gonzalez may be working on another run

Ever since Public Defender Jeff Adachi began his push for public pension reform by spearheading a City Charter amendment that would require larger contributions from public employees, people have speculated that he’s using the issue to raise his profile in preparation for a run for mayor.

“This is his Care Not Cash,” they say — a reference to the reform initiative that arguably swept Mayor Gavin Newsom into office.

But what if it isn’t Adachi (or just Adachi) who’s using the pension initiative to gear up for a mayoral campaign? The couple donating the lion’s share of funding ($150,000) for Adachi’s campaign to put the pension measure on the November ballot also contributed to Matt Gonzalez’s campaign for mayor in 2003. Soon after that, Gonzalez very publicly came out in favor of Adachi’s proposal — even challenging Tim Paulson of the Labor Council to a public debate on the issue. (Paulson wisely declined.)

Gonzalez has thus distinguished himself as the most high-profile progressive to support pension reform. For some folks who are pro-union but concerned about threatened cuts to city services if our pension obligations aren’t amended, his stance is appealing. He came very close to beating Newsom in the 2003 mayor’s race and may now be coming out of retirement on the issue of pension reform. 


Tax measures meet scourge of businesses

‘San Francisco’s government reminds me of a vampire sucking blood from its victim until that stream of blood becomes a trickle and the victim is empty,” Pat Christensen said at Monday’s meeting of the Small Business Commission. The commission was considering Supervisor David Chiu’s proposal to change The City’s payroll tax and impose a real estate receipts tax on businesses located within San Francisco.

Christensen is the executive director of the San Francisco Small Business Network, and she wasn’t the only one who was unhappy with the proposal. For almost an hour, the commission heard from nonplussed local business owners and ultimately declined to support the proposal unless Chiu makes some amendments.

At 11:30 a.m. Friday, the Budget and Finance Committee will take up Chiu’s tax proposal. The committee also will consider Supervisor John Avalos’ property transfer tax increase and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s parking tax increase. If one or more tax proposals passes at the committee, it will go before the full board, which will then decide which ones will be on the ballot in November. It will be interesting to see which measures the supervisors dare to present to voters, who are in no mood for more taxes. 

As Dennis Collins of Citizen Clothing in the Castro district proclaimed at that Small Business Commission meeting: “Until [local officials] clean up their mess, they should not be asking us for more money.”


There’s money for only some pet projects

Today, the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee will send forward a ballot proposal sponsored by Supervisor David Chiu that would allow undocumented immigrants to vote in school board elections. Next week, the full board will vote on whether the measure should go on the November ballot. The Department of Elections estimates that the initiative will cost “a minimum of $788,000 per election.” 

You may have missed it, but on June 28, supervisors John Avalos, Sean Elsbernd, Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi voted to eliminate the mayor’s college savings for kindergartners program (cost $260,000) because, according to Avalos, “It’s a new program, a new service, that I feel somewhat uncomfortable to initiate during our budget deficits.”

I wonder if this new election program will be treated similarly.

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Melissa Griffin

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