Frogs and junk hop onto San Francisco's agenda

My fascination with watching politics is a constant source of amusement for my family and friends. They don’t see what is so interesting about televised sausage-making, but I think there are gems in every Board of Supervisors agenda. For example, here are some items that are going before the board today.

Question time: Mayor Ed Lee will make his monthly appearance to deliver lengthy, previously written answers in response to lengthy, prescreened questions from certain members of the board. Look for Lee to once again demonstrate his proficiency at the grim art of saying everything and nothing at the same time.

Frogs and putters: In the face-off between frog-huggers and golfers over the fate of Sharp Park Golf Course, it looks like the huggers will win the battle at the Board of Supervisors. Note that the golfers will win the war if Lee decides to veto the legislation. For months, each side of this debate has dispatched an unprecedented electronic Luftwaffe to bombard the email inboxes of supervisors and staffers at City Hall. “Resolve the Sharp Park issue” is on every legislative aide’s holiday wish list. It’s one step closer to coming true.

Refuse: There’s a resolution authorizing an additional $5.8 million for Recology recycling and garbage disposal services. A report on this resolution by the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office says the original four-year contract was for $23.5 million and the proposed amendment would authorize $29.3 million. The problem? According to the report, Recology hasn’t explained why it wants the additional money. Just take a minute with that.

Transit: This law creates a Clipper card section of The City’s transportation code in order to separately track and study the fare-evading skullduggery committed by outlaws using Clipper cards, as opposed to other methods of payment. I included this item because it appears to make sense. We need a glimmer of hope.

Jailed visitors: When a person suspected of being in this country illegally has been arrested, the federal government sometimes says, “Let us know when you are going to release that person, and then hold on to them for up to four days until we can get there to take over, OK?” This request is called a “detainer.” Item 37 is a resolution that says, “It’s cool of the Sheriff’s Department and the Juvenile Probation Department to ignore detainers because we don’t get reimbursed for jailing people for days while we wait for the feds.” When it comes to immigration, our politicians are very fiscally responsible.

Solons: Outgoing Sheriff Michael Hennessey and incoming Sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi will each be honored by the Board of Supervisors. Hennessey will say something kind, dignified and appropriate. Mirkarimi has been waiting for this moment since 2004, so I hope the other supervisors bring water and trail mix  so they can survive while he preaches about his favorite subject. The good news is that sheriff’s deputies provide the security at City Hall, so he’ll undoubtedly make new friends as he causes them to earn overtime.


Madden conviction would save taxpayers cash

‘Why on Earth are they going after this case? What a waste of law enforcement resources!” read an email I received from a reader. He was referring to the recent federal indictment of former San Francisco drug lab technician Deborah Madden. At first glance, it might seem like an unnecessary endeavor to prosecute a woman charged with taking small amounts of drugs, but there’s another side to this story.

Last year, then-District Attorney Kamala Harris turned the case over to then-Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office. Despite the fact that Madden admitted to snorting the cocaine she was supposed to be testing for at the drug lab, Brown refused to prosecute Madden at the state level, citing a “lack of evidence.” That’s a lot like saying there’s no proof that a confessed thief is guilty because all the jewelry is missing.

But without a felony conviction, Madden — whose actions resulted in the dismissal of some 600 criminal cases — will receive her full pension and lifetime retiree health care benefits. Since March 1, 2010, when she was allowed to retire in the wake of the scandal, she has been receiving a $5,485-per-month pension. She’ll continue to collect that amount (about $66,000 per year, plus cost-of-living increases) if the feds are unsuccessful, or if she pleads down to a misdemeanor.

If Madden is convicted of a felony, she will only get the amount of money she paid into the retirement system, with no matching funds.

According to Madden’s attorney, Paul DeMeester, “Someone in the federal government wants to pursue this, but I don’t know why.” Allow me to make a guess: that “someone” is a San Francisco taxpayer.

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