Fix Newsom's bad budget - Page 2

A progressive city should not be pandering

Ross Mirkarimi (a progressive who is strong on public safety and even clashed with Daly over the issue) was right to recently challenge the terrible contract that Newsom negotiated with the cops, which gives them a 25 percent pay increase and asks almost nothing in return.

Newsom's housing budget would move about $50 million from renter and affordable-housing programs into initiatives promoting home ownership, which is just not a realistic option for most residents and represents a shift in city priorities that serves developers more than citizens. Some of that change is specific to a couple of big owner-occupied yet fairly affordable projects in the pipeline for next year, but the budget also does little to address the fact that we are steadily losing ground in meeting the goal in the General Plan's Housing Element of making 62 percent of new housing affordable to most residents, when we should be expanding these programs by at least the $28 million that the board approved but Newsom rejected. Similarly, the board should keep pushing the Housing Authority to apply for federal Hope VI funds to make needed improvements to the public housing projects rather than supporting Newsom's Hope SF, which purports to magically turn a $5 million expenditure into $700 million in housing — as long as we accept the devil's bargain of 700 to 900 market-rate condos along with the public housing units.

Finally, there are lots of little items in Newsom's budget that could be cut to find funding for more important city priorities. Don't give him $1.1 million to hassle the homeless in Golden Gate Park or $700,000 for his New York–style community court in the Tenderloin.

The bottom line is that a progressive city should not be pandering to the cops, punishing the poor, and polishing up its streets when so many of its citizens are struggling just to find shelter and make it to the next month. Newsom has forgotten about the ideals that the Democratic Party once embraced, but it's not too late for the Board of Supervisors to correct that mistake. *