I get just as crabby and cynical as any other political reporter, but the truth is, on the index of basic competence and lack of corruption, San Francisco city government is doing way better than it was a decade ago.
We're far from perfect: the Raker Act scandal still sours everything at City Hall, and the mayor hasn't done much of anything in the past three years. I could go on.
But the reformers have made some tremendous inroads. I don't know of anyone running a critical department at City Hall who is too drunk to make it back from lunch on a regular basis. Most of the senior staff actually shows up to work instead of spending the day at Nordstrom. The school district has gotten back to educating students, and the public schools improve each year. The supervisors are overall a remarkably smart, progressive bunch. I haven't seen the FBI raid a local government office in a couple years.
And then there's the community college district.
The board and the administration that run City College are, I think, one of the last bastions of the kind of inbred, secretive, corrupt rotten boroughs that used to dominate our dear city. Take Lance Williams's fascinating City College story on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle on April 6.
Williams showed how a college official, assistant vice chancellor James Blomquist, allegedly steered $10,000 in rent money owed to the school into a campaign fund for a 2005 community college bond act. If that's true and nobody's denying it the deal was not only inappropriate but blatantly illegal. There should have been outrage all around but so far only the three dissident members of the community college board have said a word. "Nobody else has said anything," said board member John Rizzo, who with Julio Ramos and Milton Marks III has called for a special meeting on this.
Perhaps that's because what Blomquist allegedly did isn't all that unusual at City College, where bond money is moved around and treated like personal scrip by the administration and some of the board members. Remember, these are the folks who promised the voters that they'd build a performing arts center, then turned around and spent the money on a gym and later agreed to rent out the new pool to a private school across the street (see "Field of Schemes," 9/22/04).
This is the crew that has resisted sunshine, that has run roughshod over neighborhoods and pissed off thousands of people for absolutely no good reason.
The district attorney needs to investigate this latest scam and ask, among other things, which board members knew about it because I suspect this wasn't just a junior official operating unilaterally.
This shit has got to end, folks. The chancellor, Philip Day, needs to go. The board members who have been involved in these past shenanigans (Natalie Berg, Rodel Rodis, and Lawrence Wong) all need to go. The progressives have to make this a priority; City College is a civic gem and a crucial part of the city's future. It's infuriating to see it run by political hacks.
And as long as this crew is still in charge, I hope they know better than to come around with their hands out, asking for more of the taxpayers' money. *