Fourth of July week is supposed to be slow; when I worked for a daily newspaper, we used to do long stories on the fireworks displays just to fill space on the pages. Not here. There’s so much going on it’s hard to keep track of it all, but here’s a quick rundown on what San Francisco is facing this week:
A bill that would lift a veil of secrecy hanging over police misconduct cases is stuck in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety and Fiona Ma is one of those holding it up. Ma is a protégé of John Burton, who wasn’t easily intimidated, but she’s acting as if she’s terrified of the police lobby, which has mounted a major effort to kill the bill. It’s crazy Ma has a fairly safe seat, and unlike some Democrats in marginal districts, she doesn’t have to fear that the cops will back a Republican against her. This is one of the worst moments in her career in Sacramento thus far, and she needs to get off the fence and back the bill when it comes up for reconsideration.
The long-awaited draft environmental impact report for the Eastern Neighborhoods zoning project just came out, and it says just about what I and many others had expected: following the proposals that the City Planning Department is putting forward would wipe out a fair number of blue-collar jobs and would not provide anywhere near enough affordable housing to meet the city’s stated needs. This ought to be a central issue in the mayor’s race (if there ever really is one); I’m not willing to accept as inevitable the loss of working-class San Francisco, and neither should the mayor.
Mayor Gavin Newsom finally signed the Community Choice Aggregation bill (see page 10) but not with the sort of fanfare you’d expect for a program that could profoundly change the city’s energy future. Sen. Carole Migden has come forward with a bill to ensure that the power from city-owned renewable-energy projects is available to the city and doesn’t have to go into Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s maw.
Speaking of Migden: who exactly is paying for all those billboards with her face on them, touting her leadership? As we discuss on the www.sfbg.com politics blog, it’s a fascinating question. Michael Colbruno, a spokesperson for Clear Channel, which owns the billboards, refuses to say. He insists that the ads are simply "issue advocacy," which means nobody has to disclose who paid the tab. I’m not going argue campaign law with Clear Channel, but I suspect that Migden knows who gave her this nice present, worth tens of thousands of dollars. Perhaps she’ll share that information with the rest of us.
In the meantime, the folks at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce those great champions of open government who love privatization and refused to support the Sunshine Initiative have a sunshine measure of their own. They want the supervisors to hold hearings before placing anything on the ballot. That’s a direct attack on some recent ballot measures the chamber didn’t like.
I’m all for hearings. Hearings are good. But the law would require that the hearings be held 45 days in advance of the ballot, and that would be a serious drawback for progressives who want to get measures that couldn’t pass the board on the ballot. Frankly, I’m dubious about the chamber’s motives.*