Friday, July 03, 2009

Mirkarimi grandstands on the budget

Supervisor Mirkarimi is posturing on the city's budget deficit, as reported in the SF Examiner:

Mirkarimi requested to put on reserve about $1.3 million for 50 percent of The City’s public information officers, $2 million for the 311 call center and $900,000 for the Community Justice Center. In addition, he requested setting aside funding for the salaries, each in excess of $100,000, of high-ranking mayoral staffers, including Kevin Ryan, the Mayor’s director of criminal justice; Wade Crowfoot, director of climate protection initiatives; Hydra Mendoza, director of education; and Astrid Haryati, director of greening.

I agree on some of these questionable expenses, especially Crowfoot, who's paid more than $162,000 a year for, as far as I can tell, advancing the Bicycle Coalition's agenda from the mayor's office, a function that organization does pretty well on its own. But Mirkarimi's posturing includes only employees and programs favored by the mayor. What about his favorite programs, like the Bike Program in MTA, where there are eleven (11) full-time employees (what do they do all day?).

And then there's Critical Mass, which, as Channel 5's Joe Vazquez reported last month, city taxpayers pay more than $10,000 a month for an escort of city cops on overtime. Vazquez got a classic bit of Mirkarmi flab-gab in response to his question about that expense:

But one of Critical Mass's biggest supporters, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, says they're not getting a pass. "Any kind of traffic enforcement, especially when it's mobile and rotating like that, costs the city money for a police escort," Mirkarimi says. "So the police department needs to provide us their budget to determine if that is an applicable use."

So how exactly is Critical Mass "not getting a pass," and why do we suspect that the Murk will find the expense "an applicable use"? Only because there's no organization that takes responsibility for the illegal monthly, traffic-disrupting demo.

The reponsible thing for the Murk to do: disavow Critical Mass and urge the city's cyclists to discontinue the illegal demonstration. Of course he won't do that, since the city's bike people---he always gets the SF Bicycle Coalition's endorsement---are among his most important constituents. And the Bicycle Coalition, in spite of its mealy-mouthed disclaimer, supports Critical Mass by listing it on its online calendar. 

The coaliton's executive director, Leah Shahum, had her life-changing bike epiphany at the first Critical Mass demo she attended. Critical Mass is thus both a recruiting tool for her organization and a way for them to keep in touch with the young rads in the great, planet-saving bicycle movement.

Mayor Newsom might have been able to call out Mirkarimi for being a hypocrite on the expenses surrounding Critical Mass, but since he too now endorses Critical Mass he's in a poor position to do so.

Seems like an issue Jerry Brown could use against Newsom in the campaign for governor.

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At 10:25 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

The fact of the matter is, Mirk couldn't stop Critical Mass if he wanted to. It's a monthly fact of life in cities across the world, and, being a leaderless and unorganized demonstration, is particularly difficult to put a halt to, short of trying to arrest everyone involved (which is even more expensive than the existing police escort).

Whatever your opinions about CM (mine are pretty tepid), there's really not that much that can be done about it, so expecting a politician to grandstand and Put an End To It is expecting the unrealistic. It's been tried, and it didn't work.

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous kwk said...

So Mirkarimi thinks tax money spent on police to provide security for Crit Mass is a "good thing" while at the same time he works himself into a frenzy investigating the cost of police provided security for the mayor.

Sounds about right. Even if he learns the cost of Newsom's security what's he going to do? That's what it costs. It would be the same even if Ross Mirkarimi was mayor.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You miss the point once again, Michael, which is that Mirkarimi thinks Critical Mass is a Good Thing. If he was a responsible public official---which he isn't---he wouldn't support this monthly imposition on the people of the city and even call for it to end. That's what the Bicycle Coalition should do, too, but of course Critical Mass serves their purposes.

Supporting Critical Mass serves the political interests of both the Murk and the Bicycle Coalition. The only losers: people stuck in traffic on the last Friday of the month and city taxpayers, who have to pay the bill for this orgy of self-indulgence by the bike people.

At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but what does normal traffic cost the city?

Nobody is asking that question.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Yeah" is your only response to the substance of the post? Typical that you bike people always want to change the subject when inconvenient facts are presented. Is that $10,000 a month justified or not? Does it make sense to have 11 people working on bike projects in the MTA in a deep recession? Is Mirkarimi a demagogue or not?

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""Yeah" is your only response to the substance of the post?"

Don't pretend that you engage in fair debate, shithead.

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What's unfair about it? Aside from the intellectual deficiencies of you bike people, that is. Bring it on, Anon. I only reject the most personally abusive comments. Since you're anonymous, there's no personal risk to you for speaking truth to the powerless.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is... hundreds of cars decide to meet in one place and drive through the city every day, disobeying traffic laws and flaunting their power in an orgy of self-indulgence.

But once a month it is bikes.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

People in cars, trucks, and buses are in fact all going to and coming from different places---work, visiting, the doctor, shopping, etc.---but the cyclists in Critical Mass are simply indulging themselves at the time and the expense of the larger community, many of whom are simply trying to get home after work. You have to face it: you're just a bunch of assholes.


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