Bad faith - Page 2

Newsom and his business allies work to kill proposed revenue measures by any means necessary

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu speaks at a July 6 rally for labor unions seeking an increase in the hotel tax

That measure would have created a transfer tax on sales of properties over $875,000 and generated approximately $50 million annually for affordable housing (funds that were drastically reduced in Newsom's proposed 2010-11 budget) while cutting in half the current requirements and fees on market-rate developers to create below-market-rate units. The plan would have stimulated both types of housing and created desperately needed construction work — an approach those involved called an elegant solution to several problems.

"To me, this was a win-win, solving two problems that are each a big deal," Metcalf told us. "I don't know what his reasons were for not supporting it. I was surprised."

But Welch said, "It collapsed straight up because the mayor didn't want to support a tax." Although Newsom told the Times it was because there wasn't broad enough consensus yet, "the mayor's reason is whole-cloth bullshit," Welch said, noting the role of the Mayor's Office in brokering the deal. "The mayor walks away from it because everyone wasn't in the room? Well, it's your room, motherfucker. Show some leadership."

Newsom Press Secretary Tony Winnicker refused to discuss these issues by phone, responding to our written inquires by noting that Newsom opposes taxes and thinks the best way to address budget deficits are privatizing city services and pension reform (although he opposes Public Defender Jeff Adachi's initiative, the only pension reform measure on the fall ballot).

"The mayor is opposed to the Board of Supervisors' proposals to increase taxes because they're not needed to balance the budget and they will strangle our still young economic recovery," Winnicker wrote, refusing to answer follow-up questions or support a statement about Chiu's measure that the OEA concludes is not accurate.

Like many political observers of all stripes, those from downtown and progressive circles, Welch criticized Newsom for his lack of engagement with city business and its long-term fiscal outlook, contrasting him with former Mayor Willie Brown, who met regularly with former Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano even as the two ran a bitter campaign for mayor against one another in 1999. "They dealt with the city's business like two adults who cared about the city," he said.

Welch acknowledged that there was still work to be done building political support for the transfer tax measure. He and other progressives would have had to win over city employee unions who wouldn't like the budget set-aside aspect, and Erickson and Metcalf would need to placate some of their downtown allies who oppose taxes on ideological grounds. But given how downtown groups are behaving right now, that might not have been an easy sell.

"There are members of the small business community that are averse to any taxes," said Regina Dick-Endrizzi, director of the city's Office of Small Business and staffer to the Small Business Commission, which was withholding a recommendation on the Chiu measure but planned to meet again to consider it July 12 (look for an update on the Politics blog). She said the small business community is having tough times and "they are just not sensitive to keeping city workers employed."

Larger commercial interests are being even more forceful in opposing the revenue measures. While a parade of workers, social service providers, and progressive activists testifying at the July 9 Budget Committee hearing implored supervisors to place all the proposed revenue measures on the ballot, representatives from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and San Francisco Chamber of Commerce were the only two speakers urging supervisors to drop the measures and focus instead on creating private sector jobs.


Calvin Welch gets rolled again and it is not he who suffers, he still gets paid.

What kind of record of failure would he need to pile up in order for the community to revoke whatever confidence it has in Welch and ask him to move on?

"Poorly needed construction jobs" in San Francisco are our own equivalent to "poorly needed deep water drilling jobs" in the Gulf. Ill advised reliance on both have led to economic catastrophe, because both are unsustainable and bring unacceptable risks.

The risks in the gulf are apparent, but the risks of housing fetishization locally are the front end of the real estate speculative bubble that crashed the economy. San Francisco is too small, even in the most optimistic upzoning scenarios, to support construction sustainable, just as the Gulf of Mexico is too deep to support drilling sustainably.


Posted by marcos on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 10:43 am

Welch had no credibility in any event but what is much more interesting here is how the city deals with the impending fiscal crisis. You have only to look at the dire mess Oakland is in, laying off cops, to see our future writ large.

You can cut and cut but eventually fire and cops consume 75% of your budget, as in Oakland.

You can pass parcel taxes, if the voters let you, and nickle and dime folks on fees, but eventually the people will rebel.

Such issues take the highest quality of leaders and sadly we don't have them. The NIMBY activists like Welch, Shaw and Hestor are already discredited. The BofS fiddles while Rome burns. And the mayor, while competant, has his eyes elsewhere.

Who will save us? Nobody we can see right now. And it doesnt help that those senior entities that might otherwise bail us out, e.g. the State and the Feds, have their own horrific debt issues.

Home prices? Ha!

Posted by Folly on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 11:27 am

Newsom lead us to where we are right now. He negotiates the contracts and dictates the budget and the Board gets to chip away at the edges. Newsom is not competent.

That said, neither progressives nor conservatives are doing a very good job of articulating a vision for reconciling municipal government with the 21st century economy. Our institutions of government, tax structure, schools bureaucracy and labor unions are vintage 1930s political infrastructure which might have worked once but no longer function under different circumstances.

The contest should be over what values and priorities drive that transformation. A good first step would be to marginalize those who led us into this mess. But if practice holds, they will be rewarded with promotions. If we can't help but kick the demonstrably incompetent upstairs, then we don't deserve better than we get.

Those interests which have outsourced or not been politically capable of stopping the outsourcing of good jobs are not competent. We need to be setting the economic standard for solutions based on the early 21st century economy to diverse, sustainable job generation, access to affordable health care, for delinking speculation and land use, and guaranteeing retirement security and dignity.


Posted by marcos on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 2:37 pm