Already bored of supervisors

The wait is over! The Board of Supervisors is back! And I’m happy to watch the meetings so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights from Tuesday (along with my interpretations of debate excerpts):

1 Currently, parents of children who want to attend public schools have to list their top seven choices and pray to the gods of the diversity index that they get into one. But it seems like they never do. And even if they do, it’s never the school a block away. And there’s almost nothing parents in San Francisco like to complain about more than this incomprehensible process. So, Supervisor Carmen Chu introduced a resolution urging the San Francisco Unified School District to “reconsider the current school-assignment system to … ensure students a greater chance of attending a neighborhood school.”

Jake McGoldrick: We shouldn’t be dealing with this issue. This is the SFUSD’s turf. At the very least, we should send it to the Joint City and School District Committee.

Sean Elsbernd: Members of the SFUSD and the public already came to the hearing at the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee in August. We’re all fresh out of ways to complain. Besides, the board just gave the SFUSD $60 million from our city budget, which should at least buy us permission to “urge.”

Chris Daly: If we desegregated our neighborhoods, we wouldn’t have this problem of needing to move people around to create diversity. Peace out.

Result: The board ultimately agreed with McGoldrick’s proposal and voted to refer the resolution to the Joint City and School District Committee. Supervisors Chu, Elsbernd, Gerardo Sandoval and Michela Alioto-Pier voted against the referral.

2 Supervisor Daly’s ordinance that would make the San Francisco Zoo into an animal-rescue facility was also considered Tuesday.

Daly: On behalf of the organizational sponsor of this legislation, I’d like to continue this item for two weeks.

McGoldrick: The Office of the Legislative Analyst will be issuing a survey of best practices from other cities on this issue within two days.

Elsbernd: Whatever, y’all. Daly can kiss up to the “organizational sponsor,” whose flamingo-whisperers in Europe and Asia have been sending me e-mails for weeks. But my constituents in District 7 have been clear: They want this voted down. Like right now. I’ll support a one-week continuance so we can see the OLA report, but not two weeks.

Daly: Sheesh, fine. Let’s just say one week.

Result: The rest of the board agreed, so look for it on next Tuesday’s agenda.

3 Last week, I wrote about Supervisor Daly’s proposed smoking ban and the fact that he and three other supervisors pulled it out of the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee to be brought before the full board. When the item came up Tuesday, Daly proposed an amendment. And Elsbernd jumped in:

Elsbernd: There was no good reason to pull this from committee. Daly just didn’t like having his pet project in a committee in which I and Supervisor Chu sit. So, fine. Be a hater. But there is no reason to make the full board deal with amendments and such. This ordinance is completely screwed up and needs the attention of a committee — so Daly should pick one where he can happily oversee the changes and send it back there.

Aaron Peskin: I am the president of the board and I alone possess the godlike power to decide which stuff goes to which committees! I mean, I’ll do what you want, but I’m really not feeling appreciated right now.

Result: First, the board unanimously agreed to Daly’s amendment. Then, in a narrow vote, the board agreed to have the matter referred to another committee (to be determined by Peskin) with supervisors Tom Ammiano, Daly, McGoldrick, Ross Mirkarimi and Peskin voting against the motion.

JROTC could be a force of positive change

The JROTC programs in seven San Francisco high schools will be dissolved at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Proposition V on  November’s ballot would encourage the Board of Education to reverse its 2006 decision to terminate these programs. (You may have heard about a recent issue regarding physical-education credits for JROTC, but that is not explicitly addressed by Prop. V.)

In November 2006, members of the San Francisco Unified School District voted 4-2 to phase out JROTC, in part, because “JROTC programs on campus constitute a form of military recruitment.” (Apparently, JROTC was not viewed as a tool for military recruitment when the district banned recruiters from its schools in 1991.)

Assuming JROTC is a tool for military recruiting, it appears to be doing a pretty crappy job in San Francisco. According to Choice for Students — The City’s JROTC military enlistment rate is 3 percent. The Department of Defense reports that nationwide, the number is about 43 percent.

When the JROTC was first marked for the chopping block in 2006, plans were put into place to create an alternative leadership program. According to a paid ballot argument against Prop. V submitted by the American Friends Service Committee, a program called “Leadership Pathway” is in place at Lincoln and Balboa high schools. And I wouldn’t have a problem at all if students flocked to the new program and the JROTC presence ended due to lack of enrollment. But to just take it away? I’m not so sure.

It seems to me that the very military leaders that would create positive change within the armed forces are the ones San Francisco’s egalitarian JROTC is likely to produce — assuming any even enlist.

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