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Last Week, This Week

by Larry Bush on 11/01/2011

in Paper Trails

We’ve Been Here Before…OccupySF isn’t the first camp set up in San Francisco and no, the precedent is not what was dubbed by opponents as “Camp Agnos” of homeless sleeping in Civic Center.

It was the AIDS Vigil at UN Plaza in front of the federal Health and Human Services offices, started in 1985 to protest the failure of a federal response. Tents went up, signs, and rallies. Federal police repeatedly sought to have the city evict the Vigil, especially when President Bush was coming to San Francisco.

Instead, in April 1990, then-mayor Art Agnos’ administration signed an agreement with the Vigil to allow them to remain and have a tent and public outreach at the UN Plaza site. It lasted until 1995.

In June 2011, Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution to commemorate the AIDS/ARC Vigil (the name change came when the diagnosis was broadened) with a plaque to go up at the site.

Watch for the Board to pass the commemoration of the AIDS/ARC Vigil unanimously, and then work to defeat formal recognition and an agreement today for OccupySF and the resolution offered by Supervisor John Avalos.

OMG, And They Have Guns!…Somehow the Police Officers Association has started a melee with two organizations representing minority police officers. POA President Gary Delagnes is ripped – and ripping back – that the Officers for Justice and the Asian Police Officers Association have endorsed Paul Miyamoto for Sheriff and not Chris Cunnie, the former POA President endorsed by the group.

Delagnes fired off letters to the groups slamming them to the ground, threatening to bar them from using the POA offices for their meetings, and reminding them that they owe their high salaries to the Cunnie negotiations over police pay.

In an October 25, 2011 letter to Officers of Justice President Julian Hill, Delagnes may have inadvertently inflicted a wound to the POA effort to pass a pension reform measure that retains their benefits.

“You will retire with a significant pension and as one of highest paid police lieutenants in the United States,” Delagnes writes Hill in a line that could find its way into Adachi’s campaign for Proposition D. “You will and do enjoy these benefits because it was Chris Cunnie who was the architect of the negotiations and the campaigning that made it happen.” Note to voters: would Sheriff Cunnie reproduce that high salary and pension program for the sheriffs?

The POA president’s attack on minority police officers for endorsing a minority to serve as the city’s next sheriff is in keeping with Delagnes reputation for losing his cool Back in 1990, when San Francisco was hosting the VI Annual International AIDS Conference, there was talk of a protest over the federal inaction. Delagnes told the press that, if confronted with protestors carrying blood, “I may shoot them and I may not.”

At least he’s not threatening that this time. Perhaps figuratively.

Consistency is the Hob goblin of small minds…Apparently some of the leading city employee unions are adopting Ralph Waldo Emerson’s dictum as their motto for this year’s election.

They are deep in the trenches on behalf of the restaurant worker’s health surcharge remaining for the benefit of restaurant worker health (novel idea) rather than as a tip jar for the restaurant owners. The battle gets down to some important specifics, like tackling those restaurants that won’t let the employee health funds be used to pay health care premiums (even for the Health SF plan) or to reimburse for other medical costs.

Those are important issues, not just for restaurant workers, but also for everyone since ultimately the cost of unreimbursed care gets passed back to the city.

Yet many of these same unions are spending six figure sums to pass a measure that takes away from city employees control over their health care plans. That’s a provision in Proposition C added at the insistence of Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who sits on the city’s health plan board and has lost battles when he tried to curtail reimbursable expenses for city workers.

And there’s more: he and some in the mayor’s office want to entirely eliminate some health care plans from those available to city workers.

A few years back, voters approved a measure that sit up the board with strong participation by city workers in determining rates, coverage and eligibility. That goes along with the general principle of participating in the decisions that affect their lives – and nothing affects it more than health care.

But under Elsbernd’s codicil, the power shifts from city workers to city managers deciding what health benefits workers will have, and what they won’t have. Just like the restaurant owners.

In a meeting of retirees and others with Mayor Lee and Chief of Staff Steve Kawa, the poobahs refused to budge even a little and insisted that they, and not employees, should determine what benefits are acceptable.

The decisions in City Hall revolve around budgets; the decisions for city workers revolve around coverage for a grandchild being raised when a parent is unavailable, or adoption costs with a domestic partner, or home health care. In the past, the debate centered on transgender surgery and domestic partner coverage.

Place your bets: if Proposition C passes, sometime next year the unions will be back pushing for a provision that either removes or weakens Elsbernd’s attack on worker empowerment.

Money on the Move…The Coalition for a Safer California has left a money trail that starts with contributions from groups like PG&E and ends with spending to support the SF Neighbor Alliance, the group alleged to be involved in illegal voter assistance in Chinatown on behalf of Ed Lee.

But it had to go through several committees to get there, and along the way grow more money and parceled it out to more local efforts.

This appears to be the debut of the Coalition in San Francisco elections. Last year it was involved in the Oakland mayor’s race with attacks on Quan and support for Perata. It holds up in an office in Sacramento.

It’s kitty of $204,500 (as of October 27) included $64,500 from the San Francisco Alliance for Jobs, $40,000 from GAWFCO (which appears to own a number of “76” gas stations in town), $50,000 from PG&E, $20,000 from the Chamber of Commerce, $20,000 from the POA, and $10,000 from Bo Bo Go Inc.

They spent $20,000 for “Project Complete,” which in turn paid for staffing for the SF Neighbor Alliance. Project Complete was an arm of RDJ Enterprises, headed by Dwayne Jones, a lobbyist with Platinum Advisors and formerly a senior advisor to Gavin Newsom and head of the Office of Community Development.

The Safer California group also spent $5,000 on behalf of SF Neighbor Alliance.

They also spent $20,000 in total to defeat Ross Mirkarimi and support Chris Cunnie.

Some $20,000 in walking around money went to the A. Phillip Randolph Institute to distribute Yes on C, No on D materials.

Ed Lee support got $15,000, and somehow Yes on C, No on D got $10,000 in support and $10,000 in opposition. (Sucks to be their bookkeeper).

Now bounce over to the Committee for Effective City Management, a committee to support Ed Lee for Mayor.  It took in $106,032 and has spent a reported $84,840.

In turn, it paid $18,348 in “salaries” for SF Neighbor Alliance. Most of that was in amounts under $400, which gives rise to the speculation that they paid for the staffers at the Chinatown tabling for collecting votes.

It also paid $13,083 to Left Coast Communication, which is actually Enrique Pearce, who was in charge of SF Neighbor Association.

In addition, it paid $17,500 for “Project Complete,” the Dwayne Jones operation assisting SF Neighbor Alliance. It also paid over $58,000 on behalf of Ed Lee for phone banking.

Who funded them? Wei-Yan Sandy Chau provided $20,000. He heads Trident USA and Achievo, involved in diversified efforts including real estate development. A $9,000 contribution came from McCormack Baron Salazar that has contracts through the Mayors Office of Housing and SFHA to manage affordable housing. Another $5,000 came from the PGA Tour.

When Lawyers Go Bad…Supervisor Scott Wiener who wants to clean up city ballot measures after the voters approve them just found himself the subject of a formal complaint of ethics violations — for how he is urging voters to approve Proposition E and F.

In a newsletter sent to District 8 residents, Wiener pumped for his ballot choices for candidates and measures. The problem: he paid for it from his candidate committee funds, and the law specifically prohibits using candidate funds to support or oppose ballot measures or anything other than the candidate himself or herself.

Friends of Ethics sent Wiener a letter bringing the violation to his attention, and asking that he send a second letter not paid from his candidate funds to apologize for his violation. When a day or two passed without a response, the group — which is opposing Wiener on Props E and F — forwarded a formal complaint to the city’s Ethics Commission.



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