Griffin: If Arizona irks you, avoid Mexico 

The folks at the San Francisco crime lab must be happy that a new Miss Behavior has been crowned to push our dysfunctional drug den off the front page. She is Arizona! And financially floundering fiefdoms are wasting no time directing ire at the Grand Canyon State for enacting a jaw-dropping anti-immigration law last week.

California lawmakers and local leaders in Los Angeles and San Francisco are lining up to take a ride on the High Horse of Righteous Indignation.

In our fair city, a Board of Supervisors resolution has been introduced demanding a boycott of Arizona, the City Attorney’s Office has offered its resources to challenge Arizona’s new law and Mistermayor has put a stop to official business travel there.

Specifically, everyone is upset that Arizona’s new law makes it a crime to be in the state without proper immigration documents and directs the police to question anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

These draconian provisions were bound to set off fireworks. Mexico has even issued a travel advisory to its citizens headed for Arizona, warning that they could be stopped and asked for papers.

But what if I told you there was a place where foreigners (persons who are not nationals by birth or naturalization) can be deported whenever the nation’s chief executive deems their presence “inconvenient”; where federal authorities are empowered to use local police to assist in enforcing immigration laws; where foreigners have no right to due process of law or to “in any way become involved in the political affairs of the country”?

And what if I told you that place is Mexico?

According to the 2009 treatise “Mexican Law for the American Lawyer,” it is. Furthermore, Amnesty International reports, “The U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants visited Mexico in March [2009] and expressed grave concern at the treatment of Central American migrants.”

Giddy-up! When will the next boycott begin?


Rent Board’s opposition to Prop. F telling

If you live in a rent-controlled apartment, Proposition F on the June 8 ballot would limit the amount by which your rent could be increased so the total does not exceed 33 percent of your income.

However, you would only be eligible for this limitation if you are unemployed, have had your wages reduced by 20 percent in the past year or live on government benefits and have not received a cost-of-living increase in the past year. If all this sounds familiar, it should.

Back when Prop. F was known as Ordinance No. 090278 (which was passed by the board then vetoed by Mistermayor last year), the Office of the Controller did a report on the measure. That report estimated that, of the 88 percent of rental housing in San Francisco that is rent-controlled, 40 percent of people spend more than one-third of their income on rent. According to the report, this law would result in $16.7 million per year in lost rent increases. The report predicted that landlords will just shift that cost to vacant units (remember that landlords can set the base rent at whatever they want; it’s the rental increases that are limited by rent-control laws) to the tune of about $33 a month.

The report also pointed out that the real losers in all this are people with little income who are looking for a place to live. Landlords can simply refuse to rent to low-wage earners out of fear that they won’t pay future increases. That’s not illegal — yet.

Proponents of Prop. F argue that incomes have gone down while rents have gone up, and we must help those who are experiencing a financial hardship stay in their homes.

Interestingly, The City’s Rent Board (which would administer Prop. F) is opposed to the proposition. In a letter to Mistermayor, the board outlined its concerns, which include the lack of an income limit (a person making $200,000 whose salary goes down to $150,000 could claim Prop. F’s “financial hardship”); the measure allows a person to claim hardship as to past rent increases and to all future increases if they initially signed up for rent that exceeds 33 percent of their income; and the board’s current hardship-prevention policy is working just fine, thank you.

But hey, it’s just the Rent Board. What do they know?


Supervisors do what’s right, but not before having some fun

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the board considered whether to release bond money to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to fund the Hetch Hetchy rebuild, which was approved by voters who supported Proposition A in 2002. Here’s my interpretation of the debate (these are not quotes):

Supervisor David Campos: I move to delay this vote until the commission stops dragging its feet on community choice aggregation. [Note: Aggregation will allow The City to sell energy to residents.] This is an emergency because we need to have a deal in place before Prop. 16 gets voted on in June. [Note: That proposition — backed by PG&E — would make aggregation harder to implement.] Aggregation should be the commission’s No. 1 priority.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd: Actually, the voters have said that the Hetch Hetchy rebuild is the commission’s No. 1 priority and have never voted to endorse aggregation. You want to hold up a water bond because of something unrelated? That’s messed up!

Supervisor John Avalos: I’m all for aggregation, but this is not the right way to do business.

Supervisor Chris Daly: Hello? This is how we exert power at the board. When someone needs a vote from us, we use it to get what we want. We are not a rubber stamp. Voters didn’t elect aggregation, but they did elect a whole bunch of supervisors who are in favor of it.

SFPUC chief Ed Harrington: We are working every day on the aggregation plan and you’re actually considering using the health of our water system as a hostage? Are you people serious?! I’m flabbergasted!

Ultimately, the board narrowly voted down Campos’ proposed delay then unanimously elected to release the bond money, but as The Muppets song goes, “Getting there is half the fun.”

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Doug Graham

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