More money has supervisors doing less

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, board President David Chiu told Mayor Ed Lee about his recent experience with community budgeting, whereby citizens get to decide how to spend a certain amount of money from city coffers. He asked whether Lee would “join me to make San Francisco a participatory budgeting leader in the United States.”

Because what this town needs is more community input.

Lee’s response was, basically, this: Last year, each supervisor got $100,000 in the budget to spend however he or she wanted, and your decision to spend yours that way was fine. Please, oh, please, leave me out of this.

OK, I made that last part up, but that was the gist.

Another $100,000 budget item that each supervisor got last year was funding for an additional legislative aide. Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu refused the aide and gave the money to their districts. Now that it’s been a full year with three aides per supervisor, I checked the legislative action to see whether the third aide resulted in more activity.

Turns out, in 2012, the board passed fewer resolutions and ordinances than in the preceding 10 years.

I was explaining this to a friend who offered, “If we give them another board aide, do you think they’ll do even less? I’m all for that.”

A proposal for consideration by Chiu’s citizen accountants.

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