Supes vote to suspend public health layoffs for two months


By Rebecca Bowe

Department of Public Health employees who are affected by budget cuts have reason to breathe a temporary sigh of relief after today's Board of Supervisors meeting. Eight supervisors, the two-thirds majority needed to pass the item, voted to spend roughly $1.8 million in the Department of Public Health to push back pending layoffs until the end of January. Sup. David Campos suggested the compromise move, emphasizing that job loss is particularly bitter when it strikes during the holiday season.

Although the supervisors -- excluding Sups. Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd, and Michela Alioto-Pier, who all voted no -- have expressed their intentions to keep the public health workers in their jobs for now, many questions still remain.

The biggest one: What will Mayor Gavin Newsom do? He could veto the move, or, he could simply decide not to appropriate the money, as Sup. Elsbernd made very clear during the meeting.

In the corridor just outside the Board Chambers, City Controller Ben Rosenfield told the Guardian that he believes the layoffs will still go into effect. “Everything the mayor has indicated to me is that they do not intend to spend the funds,” he said. “This could be seen as partially an academic exercise.”

But several feet away, SEIU spokesperson Carlos Rivera sounded more optimistic: “Right now, we are just going to celebrate this, and hopefully the mayor will come around and not be the Grinch who Stole Christmas,” he said. “I know he has a big heart.”

The mayor’s discussions with the controller’s office would presumably have been in reference to the roughly $8 million that the board was scheduled to vote on today, not the $1.8 million that eight members did end up voting to spend. Even as Rosenfield spoke with reporters outside the board meeting, a delegation of SEIU Local 1021 members were reportedly meeting with Mayor Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff, Steve Kawa.

The discussion before the Board’s vote was impassioned and emotional. Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier chided members of the Budget & Finance Committee for not doing enough to prevent salary cuts and layoffs earlier in the year, when the budget was under review, and criticized them for revisiting spending decisions that were already made. “We are not living in a fantasy land,” she said. “In the future, we have to take responsibility.”

Sup. John Avalos, chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, shot back, saying he kept possible revenue measures in play as long as he could until it was clear that there would be no support for placing them on the November ballot.

Sup. Campos, meanwhile, framed the whole debate as an issue of fairness: “The question is, with the little money that we do have, what is the fairest way of allocating it?” Campos said. “It isn’t fair to say to one group, ‘you have to sacrifice more.’”

Sup. Sophie Maxwell’s comments seemed to speak directly to those who’d piled pressure upon her in the weeks preceding the vote. “This is a very, very difficult decision,” she said, referencing the vote on the full amount that was meant to prevent layoffs and reverse demotions entirely. “I know these women -- I am these women. When I make a decision, it will be because I think it’s the right decision,” she said. When it came time to vote on the $1.8 million that would push back layoffs for two months, Maxwell’s “yes” vote prompted a round of applause from SEIU members in attendance.

At Sup. Chris Daly’s request, the Board voted 7 to 4 to continue discussion about whether to spend the remaining amount, roughly $6.2 million, till Dec. 15 (Sups. Chu, Alioto-Pier, Elsbernd and Avalos dissented). By then, Daly reasoned, there may be more information in hand about when San Francisco can expect to obtain funding generated by recently passed state legislation, which has to go through a circuitous approval process before the city gets the cash.

At the end of the day, the Supes sent a clear message to the mayor about their priorities by voting to extend the jobs of these city workers at least through the holiday season. For now, the ball is in Newsom’s court.


If government needs to shrink during slack times then the shrinkage should not occur by cutting jobs across the board, rather by cutting hours across the board.

Yeah it sucks, but everyone will get to keep their jobs and some degree of local stimulus effect will be preserved. Its not like these workers stash away their paychecks. They spend it largely in the local economy. Take that away and you spite small business along with SEIU. If you have a better idea than Keynsianism, other than liquidate, liquidate, liquidate, then I'd like to hear it.

In general, we need government to scale with the size of the problems it needs to address. So long as there are gargantuan corporations we need a government strong enough to challenge them.


Posted by marcos on Nov. 25, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

marcos, again the entertainment value and hypocrisy of liberals are an enjoyment.

Marcos you will note that we are posting on the message section of the Bay Guardian, a paper as ridiculous as Fox new has ever been. I read the articles before I post.

Your next point in your no wrong answer style of the progressive will be...

I don't know if you can top your back peddling on the shrinking government thing ?

Posted by glen matlock on Nov. 25, 2009 @ 8:01 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... to Gray651 ... to answer your question regarding how many people has SF General mamed ... please read ( and there you read how SF General broke the law, TESTILYIED IN FEDERAL COURT to have my case dismissed, then sign a settlement agreement with the Office of Inspector General admitting fault and guilt yet no restitution, contrition, NOR humanity for its victim. Please don't ask me who my doctor was at the time ... could it have been the current Director of Public Health? Your comment is right on regarding Public Health, accountablity, and lack of humanity. Please read the article and KNOW that you are not alone; however, just as in my case the other side would have taken NO PRISONERS, used SCHORCHED EARTH tactics and then told you that they cared unless of coarse they are busted ... then they HAVE NO CONTRITION, HUMANITY or desire to investigate to truly fix ... it is all an illusion so's that they can retire to live the good life on your taxes and mine and never be accountable. Read where I won, was left for DEAD and even after vindication ... no JUSTICE since the game was set up that way ... delay, deny, deflect and most importantly deceive.
Regarding fairness ... would you like a copy of my paperwork to the Mayor's Office, BOS, or any of the countless agencies that I have been to with a signed confession requesting an investigation with me telling the truth all along and pointing it out in the paperwork? Well at least I still hear how much they care ... NOT TO CHANGE ANYTHING, CONTINUE THE ILLUSION, and naturally GET THEIR PAY that is.
DEAD RIGHT, LEFT FOR DEAD and the LIVING DEAD since right and the oath "TO DO NO HARM" are meaningless at SF General, DPH, and CCSF.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Nov. 25, 2009 @ 7:47 am

I just couldn't get past the part about "Glen Beck," "Orange County" and "too liberal."

You defame the memory of the sex pistols.

Come back when you realize that FoxNews is comedy.


Posted by marcos on Nov. 25, 2009 @ 4:45 am

"Liberals" are so entertaining, the opinion piece doesn't say to give up unions, it says to stop giving the state away to them.

It mentions such unpopular unions to the liberals as the ones for law enforcement. I would think such an innovative, change inspired, thinker from outside of the box, who organically constructs valuable insights into the paradigm of new thinking would be all for limiting loop holes.

It's interesting that SF progressive seem to think that if another liberal asks for something, and is also hopefully "outraged," and maybe a minority, they should get it.

Posted by glen matlock on Nov. 25, 2009 @ 12:17 am

When I recently appeared on Glenn Beck’s TV show to discuss California’s dreadful fiscal situation, I mentioned that in Orange County, where I had been a columnist for the Orange County Register, the average pay and benefits package for firefighters was $175,000 per year.

Isn't OC a rib rock conservative example of fiscal discipline?

We'll give up the unions just as soon as you give up the corporations.


Posted by marcos on Nov. 24, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

how your tax dollars get burned off

“chief’s disease,”

Posted by glen matlock on Nov. 24, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

Hey Gray what does that have to do with this posting?
Do you even understand the concept of progressive discipline or even due process?

Posted by Kaden K. on Nov. 24, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

I can't speak for anyone but myself. Two summers ago at San Francisco General I had to remind the staff who I was, they were ready to operate on the wrong person, me. I say get rid of workers like this. Had I been operated on as planed, I'd own the hospital. SF General: get your records straight before you do, and how many people have you mamed oe injured because of faulty bookwork? And some of the health clinics run by the city are staffed by idiots and I personally backed out after seening how the clinic was being run. Some health workers are only interested in holding a job, qualified or not.

Posted by Gray651 on Nov. 24, 2009 @ 5:24 pm