A day after Mayor Ed Lee delivered his State of the City address, new Board of Supervisors President London Breed executed one of her first major decisions: assignments for the six board committees.
The assignments not only indicate the political balance of the day, but they show which board members will have the most influence. The most influential posts are the chairs of the budget and land use committees. One has considerable control over how tax dollars are spent; the other has an impact over big-money development projects, which these days are occurring at a rapid rate.
More prominent committee assignments carry significant political influence and can help a supervisor build a more promising career.
Supervisor Mark Farrell, who was among the contenders for board president and is aligned with the more moderate politics of Breed, was appointed to serve as budget chair for the third consecutive year.
“I’m excited,” he said. “Chairing our budget committee is what I wanted to do coming into City Hall.”
Times are prosperous with a booming local economy, much different than four years ago. Still, funding decisions remain challenging amid competing interests and conflicting visions on how best to address issues such as income inequality.
The budget committee reviews and makes changes to the mayor’s annual city and county budget submission. Given that Mayor Ed Lee laid out his “shared prosperity” State of the City address, in which he vowed that “as long as I'm mayor, we won't leave anyone behind,” such a focus is sure to influence the budget deliberations.
“We’re going to be very supportive of the mayor’s vision and also have our own ideas of where we want to focus,” Farrell said. Those focus areas include homelessness, closing the digital divide and helping residents improve their situations overall in what he called a “ladder up.”
Supervisor Katy Tang, who served as interim president before Breed was voted in to the job, was appointed to vice chair of the budget committee.
“I am honored to be able to serve on the budget committee as the vice chair, given my experience staffing my predecessor for four years on the committee – twice while she was the chair – and in working in the mayor’s budget office,” Tang said in an e-mail of her time working in former Supervisor Carmen Chu’s office. “I think one of the challenges we will face as a city is that during the good economic times, we tend to forget the severe challenges we face during the bad times. One of my goals will be to ensure we provide funding for critical city services and do so with a long-term lens.”
Breed has kept the membership of the board’s land use committee intact, but she shifted the chair from Supervisor Scott Wiener to Supervisor Malia Cohen. The committee also includes Supervisor Jane Kim, whose District 6 includes South of Market and the Tenderloin, where a lot of The City’s development is occurring.
Breed explained her decision in keeping the three members in place by saying, “The land use committee continues to reflect the areas of The City with the most development and has a renewed emphasis on transportation, which is not only a major city priority but a fundamental part of any land use conversation.”
Perhaps the most notable change was that Supervisor John Avalos – who nominated progressive colleague Supervisor David Campos for board president – will no longer serve on the budget committee, which he once chaired. Avalos was appointed to serve as chair of the Rules Committee, which can wield political power in its duties of reviewing mayoral appointments to city commissions.
“I’m happy to serve as rules chair,” Avalos said. “I stated a preference for budget but said I could serve on rules and if I was on rules I’d like to be rules chair.”
As for the appointments overall, Avalos said, “The power of the Board of Supervisors has shifted even more toward the moderates.”
Breed, who announced her appointments in a news release, said, “I think these are very balanced committees,” adding that “these assignments provide a broad diversity of committee chairs.”Breed's committees are: Budget & Finance Mark Farrell, chair Katy Tang, vice chair Eric Mar, member Norman Yee, temporary member Scott Wiener, temporary member City & School District Select Jane Kim, chair Norman Yee, vice chair David Campos, member Government Audit & Oversight Norman Yee, chair Julie Christensen, vice chair London Breed, member Land Use & Transportation Malia Cohen, chair Scott Wiener, vice chair Jane Kim, member Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Eric Mar, chair David Campos, vice chair Julie Christensen, member Rules John Avalos, chair Katy Tang, vice chair Malia Cohen, member