From time to time, our shiny little City Hall receives very large chunks of money from investors. Those investors trust that we will pay the money back because if we don’t, they can come take whatever public doodad was used to secure the loan. This is the essence of a municipal bond: a big fat public mortgage, if you will. Voters usually get a say in whether The City will issue municipal bonds because the promise of property tax revenue (increased as necessary) is often the revenue stream that investors are relying on to repay the loan. Read More
At last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor John Avalos (who is running for mayor) announced he is requesting that the city attorney draft a housing bond measure that would fund “affordable housing development,” “transit-oriented development” and “upgrades to single-family homes including seismic safety retrofits, green energy production and energy efficiency measures, and bringing buildings up to code.” In addition, the bond would provide down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers and “silent loans for homeowners at-risk of default and foreclosure.” Read More
Lately, “Who is going to be the next mayor?” is everyone’s favorite question.
Among my friends, this is a nerd test. But it also comes from genuinely concerned citizens who feel overwhelmed by our legion of candidates and funky system of voting.
The honest answer is that I have no idea. The only people who appear to be certain are the candidates themselves and their campaign staffers, none of whom can be trusted to convey reality. Read More
Beloved Sheriff Mike Hennessey certainly picked a good time to get out of the lawman business. After almost 32 years of service, Hennessey will not seek re-election in November. Instead, six men have officially declared their intention to run for the office of sheriff, including Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and 13-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, Matthew Haskell. Read More
‘It’s not magic, it has to have infrastructure!” exclaimed my friend. I was asking her advice about whether I should get an iSomething — and it turned into discussion of wireless coverage in San Francisco. She was referring to the numerous roadblocks companies wanting to install wireless data delivery hardware in our fair city must overcome.
Being hilly and surrounded by water makes it difficult for companies to deliver wireless service. Add the fact that we are proud early adopters of technology, and a serious need for proper Wi-Fi infrastructure emerges. Read More
As President of the Board of Supervisors, David Chiu has been yelled at, threatened, and even serenaded — but he generally keeps his cool. When he became saucy at a recent Budget and Finance Committee, one had to take notice.At issue was about $6.4 million dollars that 14 city departments are trying to get their hands on. The money was put in “reserve” last year in an effort to force the departments to find savings by streamlining information technology functions. A reserve is an amount of money that is set aside but only the board can release at a later date. Read More
Like other California cities, San Francisco is about to get hit by massive cuts at the state level. The current California budget proposal does not include the cuts that will be necessary without revenue measures. The potential for an “all-cuts budget,” to be released around May 14 by Gov. Jerry Brown, will have immediate implications. For example, San Francisco State, which is losing $32 million in the current version of the budget, stands to lose up to $70 million dollars in the all-cuts budget. Read More
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who advocates banning things like plastic bags, cat declawing and foie gras, wants to stop it. Supervisor David Chiu, the census-loving mayoral candidate, wants to form a committee to study it. And Supervisor Mark Farrell, the newbie with a venture capital background, wants to eliminate it altogether. I’m referring, of course, to San Francisco’s tax on stock options. Read More
Right now, Arizona’s robust system of public financing for political campaigns is on trial before the United States Supreme Court. And so is San Francisco’s. Read More
Public Defender Jeff Adachi has filed three different pension reform proposals with the City Attorney’s Office. Adachi said he will only move forward to collect signatures on one of the proposals, but since time is of the essence, submitting them all for approval seemed like the best approach. Read More
Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from attorneys on both sides of the debate on whether The City’s ranked-choice voting system is constitutional. If this sounds familiar, it’s because a court already tried to dismiss the case in September, but the plaintiffs took it to the federal appeals court.In one corner, we have a group of voters led by Ron Dudum, who narrowly lost the District 4 supervisor race to Ed Jew in 2006. In the other corner, we have a team of four lawyers from the City Attorney’s Office. Read More
Last Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to put a measure on the next ballot (which will be in November unless there is a special statewide election before then) that would allow the Board of Education to increase their pay from $500 per month up to half the regular salary of a first-year teacher in San Francisco, or about $25,000 per year. Supervisors Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd and Mark Farrell voted no. There are many problems with this proposal, but one issue, conceded by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, is “the timing of this is a bit funky.” Read More
It had been awhile since I yelled at my television, what with the new Board of Supervisors meeting peacefully and infrequently thus far this year. So when a friend told me, “You have to watch the Feb. 1 meeting of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors; check out agenda item 11,” I was feeling calm and ready for amusement. What I saw was so absurd and infuriating that I can scarcely describe it. But I will try, because it offers a glimpse into the brain trust that oversees The City’s monumentally mismanaged transportation system. Read More
When a politician says, “I proposed this amendment without any disrespect to any member of this House,” you can bet that the opposite is true. And that’s just what Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., said when last week when he proposed cutting $15 million in federal funding from the Presidio Trust, which oversees the Presidio park here in San Francisco. (Note that Rep. Read More
When the San Francisco Drug Users Union was created early last year, no one knew exactly what to expect. Would it collect dues? Picket drug-free zones? Field a softball team to play against the Erotic Service Providers Union?
In the past few months, some of our questions have been answered, as the union has launched a website and is making its presence known throughout The City. Read More