Employees working for the city and county of San Francisco have squandered $375,000 in salaried work hours over the last 12 months reading San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier & Ross, time that could have been spent finding cheaper ways to provide a police presence at political demonstrations and repaint parking garages located at far-flung BART stations, according to a new report by Controller Ed Harrington.
"Our analysis shows that City Hall staffers spent precious work time reading about how wasteful they are when they could have been figuring out how to make the board's chambers ADA compliant for less money or more quickly dispatch frivolous and costly lawsuits against the city," Harrington said.
The report shows that overpaid City Hall staffers in particular devoted seemingly endless salaried hours reading about how they and their colleagues have burdened San Francisco's already bloated $338 million budget deficit and how Jerry Brown's recent office redo in Sacramento cost a whole lot of taxpayer money.
"Dude, I'm totally expensive," said one City Hall insider after reading about how much it cost for him to have a big title but few actual tasks. "And holy shit, did Don Perata's new taxpayer-subsidized car really cost that much? No wonder we're laying off teachers."
The veteran reporters, Phil Matier and Andy Ross, have helped the Chronicle keep its Web traffic consistently high with their hard-nosed analyses of municipal spending. But according to the report, they've done so at a massive expense to taxpayers, even while the daily newspaper still manages to lose tens of millions of dollars a year, observers say to bankroll former editor Phil Bronstein's semi-retirement and new foray into sex advice, explain to readers how cool wine is, send glossy but ill-conceived inserts only to enormously wealthy subscribers, and give privileged babies and their Noe Valley moms a place to co-mingle.
"Look, I like reading about rich, beautiful people, too," Harrington said. "But is paying a near-elderly man to chat with a punk sex columnist really any more cost efficient than making sure there were enough city personnel at last year's all-star baseball game? I'm not sure. Besides, tattooed intimacy educators are sooooo 1999."
*This is obviously a joke, folks. We run stories about bureaucratic largess, too, but M&R have elevated it to an art form these days.
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