Six aren't enough - Page 3

The Board of Supervisors' new progressive majority won its first big vote, but rougher roads lie ahead

"We can't put a Band-Aid on the problem," Elsbernd told the board last week. "This is not just about San Francisco now, but about San Francisco 20 years from now. We need to think about the next generation."

Mirkarimi agrees with Elsbernd, at least in terms of the enormity of the problem.

"We cannot be incrementalist. We can't dance around the edges," Mirkarimi told his colleagues, shortly after making the surprise announcement that he's expecting a child in April with Venezuelan soap opera star Eliana López, who he's dated since meeting her last year at a Green Party conference in Brazil. Elsbernd and his wife are also expecting their first child.

Progressives strongly argue that such a large budget deficit can't be closed with spending cuts alone, so one of Peskin's final acts was to create legislation calling a special election for June 2 and having supervisors hold hearings over the next month to choose from a variety of revenue measures, but Newsom and the business community opposed the move.

"Basically, it's not fully baked. It will take a citywide coalition (à la Prop. A) to win something like this and the coalition just hasn't been built yet," Ballard told the Guardian. Even Mirarimi echoed the sentiment, telling the Guardian, "I'm not opposed to a June election, but you can't put something on the June ballot that's half-baked because I doubt we could win in November if we put something half-baked on in June. My preference is that we work harder to create alliances to assure a healthy chance of getting something on the ballot and delivering a victory."

Yet many progressives and labor leaders say it's important to bring in new revenue as soon as possible, particularly because the cuts required by the current budget deficit would slash about half the city's discretionary spending and devastate important initiatives like offering health coverage to all San Franciscans.

"For Healthy San Francisco to survive, the Department of Public Health has to have a minimum level of funding," said Robert Haaland, a labor representative with the public employee union SEIU Local 1021. "Given the cuts that have been proposed, it's not going to survive."

While Peskin was criticized for acting prematurely, the City Attorney's Office memo indicated that he couldn't have waited and still allowed supervisors to play the lead role in determining what ended up on the June ballot. The memo was requested by Daly.

"In response to your specific inquiry about maximizing the amount of time a committee could deliberate the underlying measures and ensuring that the Board would have enough time to override a Mayoral veto, the emergency ordinance and the resolution calling for the special election should be introduced today," the City Attorney's Office wrote Jan. 6, the day Peskin introduced his revenue package.

Even then, supervisors would need to vote to waive certain election procedures, such as the 30-day hold for proposed ballot measures, and to move expeditiously forward with hearings, selection of the tax measures, and preparation of findings related to the special election and declaration of fiscal emergency.

The City Attorney's Office wrote that the package needs final approval by Feb. 17. "We recommend that to meet this deadline, the Board adopt the resolution at its January 27 meeting and that the Mayor sign the resolution no earlier than February 2," they wrote.

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