Newsom officials dodge budget questions

Pub date March 26, 2009
SectionPolitics Blog

By Melody Parker and Steven T. Jones

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee yesterday held a hearing on deep budget cuts proposed for city health and welfare programs and tried unsuccessfully to get straight answers to why the Newsom Administration isn’t planning to use federal stimulus money to offset those cuts.
Congress and President Barack Obama specifically offered economic stimulus money to prevent cuts in things like housing, homeless, and social services that are most needed during hard economic times. San Francisco’s share is more than $50 milllion. As Obama said, “This plan will also help ensure that you don’t need to make cuts to essential services Americans rely on now more than ever.”
But Sups. Ross Mirkarimi and David Campos expressed frustration that the Mayor’s Office has said it doesn’t want to use these one-time funding to cover ongoing expenses and that they’ve refused to engage in a dialogue about that stand. At a press conference before the hearing, Mirkarimi said dealing with the administration has been like pulling teeth: “The Board had received zero word from Mayor Newsom.”
So they pressed Newsom’s Public Health Director Mitch Katz at the hearing, but still made little progress on getting a straight answer. As a lawyer, Campos said he was “familiar with nuanced language” and told Katz that he didn’t feel the administration is being responsive.