Budget Blame Game
District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly
Photos by Luke
February 20, 2008
Over 100 people braved the driving rain yesterday to protest
mid-year service reductions. With cuts to the General and Laguna
Honda Hospital, chronic care nurses, senior services and the City's
only 24-hour drop-in for homeless people, some of our City's most
vulnerable face serious harm.
Organized by SEIU 1021, with the support of the People's Budget
Collaborative, and featuring progressive Supervisors Ammiano,
McGoldrick, Mirkarimi, and myself, the rally was tailor-made to
call out the Newsom Administration for their mean-spirited
cuts. Instead, I took the opportunity to examine the Board of
Supervisors' complicity in the current budget morass.
Unlike the unraveling of the State budget, San Francisco's $229
million budget deficit is not the result of dropping revenue.
Instead, the problem is runaway spending.
Newsom's reelection campaign was fully
engaged during last year's budget process, and the Mayor had
numerous early supporters
to reward. Most notably, the Police Officers Association received
a 4-year contract worth an additional $80 million dollars. The
Newsom campaign also trumpeted numerous new initiatives with a
$40 million price tag attached.
As Budget Chair, I took an aggressive stance against Newsom's
pork barrel spending -- opposing the sweetheart POA contract and
moved to eliminate Newsom's new spending. The Newsom operation
responded with a nasty smear
campaign against me.
I turned to my progressive colleagues for support, but was greeted
with deafening silence. Supervisor Mirkarimi refused to support
my budget motion. President Peskin removed
me from the Budget
Committee. Then on 10-1 votes, the Board passed the POA contract
and the Newsom pork-barrel budget. In a very public
slight, my motion to delay the start of one of the new Police
Academy classes in order to save public health nurses failed for
a lack of second. Not one second member of the Board was even
willing to discuss this proposal!
So on this rainy Tuesday, I put it out there -- the Board of
responsibility with the Mayor for our current budget crisis. We
had the opportunity to reject Newsom's sweetheart contract and
pork barrel spending, and we took a pass.
Now, as some Supervisors ratchet-up
their rhetoric against the Mayor for his spending on plasma
televisions and pricey staffers, we also should acknowledge that
we sent Newsom the wrong message last year -- that the Board wasn't
willing to stand against the political winds to stop that kind
of spending. And when Supervisors denounce cuts to services like
chronic care nurses, we need to answer for our inadequate action
on the same issue 6 months ago.
With a very messy budget season approaching, this year our action
needs to match our rhetoric.