San Francisco Board of Supervisors didn’t change it reputation in 2012

Among other important supervisorial business this year

Among other important supervisorial business this year

In this dangerous world of apocalyptic predictions and government showdowns,  where even Elmo was forced to resign amid scandal, it’s nice to know that some things never change. As we reflect on the 38 meetings of the Board of Supervisors in 2012, you’ll be comforted to know that supervisors’ penchant for printing powerless sentiments continues to override any commitment to conserving trees. This year, they passed resolutions opposing the U.S.  Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, commemorating Armenian Genocide Day and urging the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to allow strollers on Muni vehicles. That last one has been the subject of study by the geniuses at Muni since April; apparently its strategy is to stall until all your kids are grown up.

The board did outdo itself in one respect this year. On Oct. 9, supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim and Christina Olague voted to reinstate a man to the position of sheriff who admitted under oath that he had committed a violent act against his wife. October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

But supervisors have other responsibilities, like accepting grants from state and federal government and other folks who are concerned that we won’t be able to scrape by with our $7.3 billion budget. This year, on behalf of The City, the board accepted more than $120 million in grants. In addition to HIV research and parks improvements, there also were items such as $863,100 from the state to fund a High-Efficiency Toilet Installation Program and $3,8834 from the state for our own local Egg Quality Control Program. Then there was a $668,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to fund the  vague and ominous-sounding “emergency management and preparedness planning for catastrophic incidents.”

The board also approved the payment of $29 million  in legal settlements, including more than $67,000 to a couple whose home was damaged when it was hit by a speeding police car. One whopper was $7.5 million paid out to a contractor because its proposal to build a cargo facility at San Francisco International Airport was rejected by the Board of Supervisors back in 2003. A jury found that the airport did not do enough to secure and promote the deal.

If only the promoters had called it the “Tech-Cycle Transit Terminus/Tree Frog Memorial,” it would have sailed right through.

Melissa Griffin’s column runs each Thursday and Sunday. She also appears Mondays in “Mornings with Melissa” at  6:45 a.m. on KPIX (Ch. 5). Email her at

While the Board of Supervisors’ meetings do tend to go on forever, they are punctuated by gems. Here are a few of my favorites from meetings in 2012:

  • “For me, creating jobs in San Francisco is a much higher budget priority than creating urban farms.” — Termed-out Supervisor Sean Elsbernd on June 19 to Supervisor John Avalos, who had proposed an urban agriculture program after shooting down a payroll tax break for small businesses.
  • “I’m gonna miss you come January.” — Supervisor John Avalos’ response.
  • “I also love this mechanical pony named Buttercup.” — Supervisor Eric Mar, describing his deep love for the Toy Boat Dessert Café while declaring July 23 to be “Toy Boat Dessert Café ?Day.”
  • “I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Mayor question time has become a total waste of the supervisors’ time, the mayor’s time and, most importantly, the public’s time.” —  Elsbernd on why he hasn’t submitted a question for mayoral question time since January 2012.
  • “If the board is so upset at how the 49ers left San Francisco, you don’t do to Oakland what was done to you.” — Alan Jones, public commentator at the June 5 meeting. At that meeting, board President David Chiu had proposed legislation allowing The City to begin negotiations to bring the Warriors to San Francisco.
  • “You’re the Michael Jordan of San Francisco city government.” — Supervisor David Campos to Ed Harrington, retiring general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, at the Sept. 18 meeting.
  • “St. Francis has endorsed me.” — Former mayoral candidate “Annapoorna” during public comment ?on July 24.
  • “Please support a great Y. Also, and please join me in the Jacuzzi and sauna when you can, or the weight room one of these evenings. … I’m serious about joining me in the Jacuzzi sometimes, you guys.” — Mar at the April 3 meeting, plugging the 90th anniversary of the Richmond District YMCA.
  • “And I thought Supervisor Mar was healthy because he wasn’t eating Happy Meals.” —    Chiu’s response to Mar’s hearty endorsement of the YMCA.

Worth Noting

“Mr. Speaker, why did I sort of smell smoke when I heard this debate? It’s reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. The American people are waiting for us to get the job done here, not to make a myriad of excuses about why stuff hasn’t been done.” — U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, on the floor of the House of Representatives on Dec. 12, demanding a vote on the middle-income tax cut as a start to avoiding the “fiscal cliff.”

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas,  began his droll response with,

“With great respect to my dear friend, the gentlewoman from San Francisco and minority leader, I’m delighted that she came down to engage us on this very important issue.”


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