Why not just live with Prop. I?

So now we’re wasting time talking about wasting time. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so disdainful of the voters.

In 2004, a long time ago considering the decision-making needs of San Francisco’s business community, city voters enacted Proposition I, creating an Office of Economic Analysis. Working with the controller, the OEA is required to study the economic impact of the supervisors’ legislative fancies.

Those fancies, often diseconomic, have come so fast and furious —

and frequently exacting some cost from local enterprises — that the business community acted out of sheer self-protection to put the ordinance on the ballot. Voters understood the need, passing Prop. I

unambiguously.

Alas, it is fixed nearly as firmly as the second law of thermodynamics that government cannot execute the voters’ wishes as swiftly as, well, business can respond to consumer demand. Add to that pesky obstacle San Francisco politicians’ built-in antipathy to business and you begin to see why all eight of the reports required since Prop. I’s passage were not completed within a 30-day period set down by Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay.

It’s the government, stupid.

Controller Ed Harrington admitted last week The City had been off to “a bit of a slow start,” and we’ll give him that. Hiring staff and a new economist can take time. But this is not akin to planning the Normandy invasion or Apollo 11. Savvy economists can turn around these analyses — provided they don’t expand work to fill unallotted time — in a blink.

By “blink,” of course, we mean what author Malcolm Gladwell in his best-selling book of that title means. Let’s call it informed intuition. If you understand sound economics and solid business principles — a tall order, admittedly, for the supervisors — you would reject, say, a fancy to plunder job-makers’ cash registers in order to pay for everyone’s health care.

So, again last week, Judge Quidachay decided the Board of Supervisors may not fancifully waive a Prop. I-mandated analysis. Somehow the issuecame back to his court because board President Aaron Peskin and the City Attorney’s Office, imaginatively to be sure, reckoned that their power derived from the San Francisco charter, which trumps a mere ordinance.

Uh, no dice, ruled the judge. Whereupon Peskin announced he’d bounce the issue to the Court of Appeals. “This is just going to waste more of their money and more of our time,” he said.

“Their money,” presumably, means the treasury of the Chamber of Commerce and the Committee on Jobs, who filed the lawsuit. If Peskin wants to fuss about “our time,” here’s a novel idea. Just complete the studies. As mandated. On time. We volunteer our services. Such a deal.

General OpinionOpinion

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