Guardian Editorial

Saving SF's human services

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EDITORIAL San Francisco stands to get more than $50 million in federal stimulus money designed to prevent cuts to health and human services. That could be a huge help to the city's efforts to close a half-billion dollar budget gap. And the Department of Public Health is counting on its $27 million share to prevent layoffs and program closures.

But the city's Human Services Agency, which ought to be able to spend some $25 million in federal money to keep alive programs for the homeless and the needy, is refusing to include that revenue as part of its budget for next year. Read more »

Save the Chronicle!

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EDITORIAL The San Francisco Chronicle story March 15 on Mayor Gavin Newsom's frequent absence from the city drew comments from many who believe the mayor is out of touch, wandering the state seeking votes for governor at a time when the city is facing a historic financial crisis. The news was really nothing new — we've been reporting for months now that the mayor is disengaged in the business of running the city. Read more »

Newsom's state secrets

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EDITORIAL On January 21st, his second day in office, President Barack Obama announced that he was dramatically changing the rules on federal government secrecy. His statement directly reversed, and repudiated, the paranoia and backroom dealings of the Bush administration.

"The Freedom of Information Act," the new president declared, "should be administered with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails. Read more »

Fisher's Folly threatens the Presidio

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EDITORIAL The latest proposal for developing the Main Post at the Presidio national park shows exactly what's wrong with the privatized, developer-driven planning that has plagued the 1,400-acre site since Rep. Nancy Pelosi took control of it away from the National Park System.

The centerpiece of the new plan, released last week, is the same old monument to the greed and ego of Gap Inc. founder Don Fisher. The octogenarian billionaire still gets his art museum, a three-building, 200,000-square-foot development that has no place at the Presidio. Read more »

Losing the tax argument

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EDITORIAL The lead topic on the local cable TV show City Desk News Hour Feb. 21 was the state budget, and a panel of local reporters were talking about the mix of tax increases and service cuts the Legislature finally passed. After a bit of back and forth, Scott Shafer, host of KQED's California Report, piped up. "Everyone knows it's a bad idea to raise taxes in a recession," he said.

Shafer, who was a press secretary to former Mayor Art Agnos, is hardly a conservative commentator. Read more »

Budget talks, without the mayor

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EDITORIAL The president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, is doing something Mayor Gavin Newsom should have done a long time ago. He's putting the key stakeholders in the budget debate — labor, small business, downtown, nonprofits, etc. — in the same room and talking about solutions.

And while none of the participants want to talk publicly, it's clear that all sides think they are making progress. Read more »

Ma's JROTC bill needs to die

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EDITORIAL With California in a cataclysmic budget crisis and a long list of problems on the agenda of the state Legislature, Assemblymember Fiona Ma has announced a bill that would force the San Francisco school district to bring back a military recruitment program. It's an unusual tactic, and one with questionable legal grounds. It's also inappropriate and bad public policy.

The school board has been debating the Junior Reserve Officers Training Program for years. Read more »

Bad budget ideas

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EDITORIAL There's nothing easy about solving a half-billion-dollar budget shortfall, and most of the people involved in the grisly process of making the numbers add up at San Francisco City Hall know there will be blood on the floor. Labor unions representing city workers know there will be layoffs, salary concessions, or both. Community-based organizations handling critical front-line services know they'll have to reduce staff and curtail their mission-driven operations. Read more »

So what are Newsom's budget plans?

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EDITORIAL In Washington, Rep. Nancy Pelosi — who has never been known as a radical leftist — is proposing that Congress repeal the Bush tax cuts, now, two years before they expire. That would bring $226 billion into the federal till, enough to fund a good part of the stimulus package.

In Sacramento, Democrats are moving toward a special election this spring to allow the voters to approve a tax increase — a move that would prevent disastrous service cuts in this horrible economic climate. Read more »

Don't privatize cab permits

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EDITORIAL In tough times, political leaders with no backbone for making hard decisions tend to look for easy, short-term fixes. And Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposal to auction off taxicab permits to the highest bidder is just that — a quick fix with serious long-term problems. In fact, it amounts to the privatization of a lucrative public asset.

A bit of background: since 1978, when then-Sup. Quentin Kopp authored a measure called Proposition K, San Francisco has issued some 1,500 taxi permits, known as medallions, to working cab drivers. Under Prop. Read more »