Griffin: Supe faces math problem 

Greeted by a hearty round of applause, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier made her first appearance Tuesday at a Board of Supervisors meeting since having been out sick for a few months. She thanked several people and said, “I’ve really missed being here.”

She may be looking to be there for several more years.

Alioto-Pier, you may recall, had been running for state insurance commissioner before falling ill, but has since dropped out of that race. When I asked whether she’d run for re-election in District 2, she said, “I’m keeping all of my options open and not saying no to anything.” And while the filing deadline for the November supervisor races is not until August, District 2 candidate Janet Riley has been campaigning for months, snapping up the endorsements of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Mistermayor, former Supervisor Aaron Peskin and District Attorney Kamala Harris. Thus, if she wants to compete against maniacally motivated candidates like Riley, Alioto-Pier should make a decision soon.

It’s a decision, though, that the city attorney doesn’t think she should be able to make.

According to the City Attorney’s Office, Alioto-Pier already served the legal limit of two four-year terms and is therefore termed out. I (and every other lawyer I’ve talked to about this) disagree.

Alioto-Pier was appointed to take Gavin Newsom’s seat in January 2004, when he moved on up to the Mayor’s Office. He had two years left in his term. She held on to the seat by being elected in November 2004 and served out the term, getting re-elected in 2006.

So, the question is: Do we round up and count that elected remainder of a term as a full four-year term? The law says a person appointed to a term of more than two years has to count it as a four-year term. But a more recent law says a person appointed has to run within a year of being appointed in order to keep the seat. In other words, no one can get “appointed ... in excess of two years” anymore. Elected, sure. But not appointed.

The city attorney said we should round up. Leave it to San Francisco government to say that two plus four equals eight.

Rec and Park makes amends with druids

The druid circles in Golden Gate Park are back in business. Both of them. I thought you’d like to know.

The Recreation and Park Department is aware of two druid circles in the park. One is near the western boundary of the AIDS memorial grove and the other is west of the Japanese Tea Garden.

The druids aren’t messy and seem to care about the environment, so the department employs a “live and let live” policy toward the nice people who like to wear robes and put 12 rocks in a circle and call it a church.

The tolerant relationship between The City and the druids was tested last week, though. John Dennis, landscape architect of the Rhododendron Dell, was wandering around looking for rocks to finish up the dell’s renovation. He found a series of beautiful, hand-carved limestone rocks and began moving them to his project. (He works for The City and they are city property after all.)

What he didn’t know was that he was dismantling a druid circle, potentially bringing upon himself all manner of ancient Celtic curses!

The druidic princesses got all up in arms and called the department demanding their religious rocks back. Like gifts from an ex, the department figured it was easier to return the stones than to fight about them. The department arranged for their safe return and directed Dennis to get his rocks elsewhere.

“This all seems like a lot of work. Why didn’t you suggest they join the other druid circle?” I asked department director Phil Ginsburg.

“Because,” he said, “I don’t know if they’re on good terms or not.”

Effort to make operators bargain gains steam

On April 8, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd spent the day gathering signatures for his Fix Muni Now initiative, which would make the operators union bargain for wages and benefits. The initiative needs 47,000 signatures to get on the November ballot.

I work in the Financial District and long ago learned to ignore the fresh-faced college students on every corner willing to flirt with you in exchange for your lifetime financial commitment to save Zambia’s orphaned baby dwarf whales. Like pop-up ads, I barely notice them anymore. And I’m not the only one.

So, I asked Elsbernd how hard it has been for his clipboard-toting foot soldiers to get signatures. “We’ve had great success, but getting their attention is the hardest part,” he said. “Once you have it, they always want to sign. Who doesn’t want to fix Muni?”

Indeed, the name of the initiative — Fix Muni Now — is hard to argue with.

Elsbernd determined to fix Muni – right now

There is one group that sees absolutely nothing wrong with Muni operators not having to bargain for wages. The operators union has a statement on its Web site calling the measure “vindictive.”

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd initially proposed the Fix Muni Now charter amendment at the board in January, but he agreed to pull it from consideration because the union was in talks with the Mayor’s Office about concessions that would have saved $15 million. Once the union rejected the package of givebacks, Elsbernd vowed to put the measure on the ballot using signatures.

With the union again negotiating about cuts, you can bet it would like nothing more than to (again) force Elsbernd to abandon his Fix Muni Now effort.  

But Elsbernd is having none of it. I asked whether he’d consider stopping the initiative if Mistermayor or someone else asked him to.

The affable Elsbernd said sternly, “There is zero possibility of stopping this effort.

“Do you want to sign?”

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Melissa Griffin

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