He closed a tax loophole exploited by the big airlines that put up flight crews in local hotels.
He also convinced local banks and credit unions to accept consular identification cards to allow immigrants to open accounts and has pushed those institutions to offer "second-chance banking" to people with past credit problems. During his tenure, more than half of the 50,000 households in the city that lacked bank accounts have been able to get away from predatory check-cashing outfits and open legitimate accounts.
As an elected official, however, he could be doing a lot more. The city still keeps all its short-term accounts in one bank Bank of America, which isn't even local. Cisneros has promised to open that deal up to competitive bidding, but doesn't have a timeline. And although nobody knows better than the treasurer how unfair and regressive the city's tax codes are, he has never spoken out or offered any solutions. Cisneros says he wants his office to be apolitical, but city money is, by its nature, a political issue, and we'd like to see a little more leadership from the person who handles it. But overall, he's a professional money manager who's done a decent job and deserves another term.
We're a little nervous about Prop. A, which would institute a two-year budget cycle for the city. Sup. Chris Daly, who opposes it, points out that the city controller's budget projections are often wrong badly wrong and trying to plan 24 months ahead when economic conditions (and thus the city's revenue stream) can change so quickly and unpredictably is a dangerous game.
But on balance, the approach in Prop. A makes sense. The budget debates would still take place every year, and the supervisors would still have to approve an annual budget although the budget would be a rolling two-year projection. So next year, the board would approve a budget for 2010 and 2011, the following year for 2011 and 2012, and so on leaving plenty of room for adjusting to meet economic changes. And two-year cycles might make it easier for nonprofits that rely on city funding to do some serious long-term planning.
Equally important, Prop. A requires the police and firefighters to negotiate their union contracts the same time the other unions do before the budget deadline. The current system allows those unions to make demands that are unrelated to and often outside the current year's budget realities.
Every progressive on the board except Daly supports this, and Sups. Alioto-Pier, Elsbernd and Chu oppose it.
Board of Supervisors aides
This one's a no-brainer. The City Charter mandates that each supervisor be allowed to hire two aides. The requirement dates back to a long-ago era when city budgets were far smaller, problems were less pressing and complex, and the supervisors worked part-time. It makes perfect sense to take such an archaic law out of the City Charter and allow the supervisors to set their own budgets and staffing levels the same way the mayor does. Vote yes.
Candlestick Park Naming Rights
You have to give Sup. Bevan Dufty, the author of Prop. C, credit for trying. He's looking for any angle he can use to help keep the 49ers in town, and allowing a corporate sponsor to pay for naming rights might possibly help cover the immense cost of substantially renovating aging Candlestick Park. And, like Prop.