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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