Mayor Lee Asks the City to Cut its Budget and Gets Accused of Corruption

By   : sfweekly – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee asked the city to cut its budget, and the Ethics Commission just plain said no.

In fact, it was closer to “hell no.”

San Francisco is looking at a projected $100 million shortfall next fiscal year, and another $240 million hole the year after, so the mayor’s office directed all city departments to trim their budgets 1.5 percent. This is a far cry from 2014, when Lee’s administration adopted a “let the good times roll” policy and told everyone not to worry about cuts. 

A representative from the mayor’s office came to this morning’s special meeting of the Ethics Commission to helpfully explain that department’s obligation to cut back. (Actually, he ended up explaining the budget process from start to finish, because Chairman Paul Renne kept prompting him to continue, and when Renne asks you for something in his soothing, James Garner-like voice, it’s basically impossible to say no.)

Once they’d reviewed the entire procedure, Commissioner Benedict Hur posed a deceptively simple question: “What if we don’t do it?”

Yep, the mayor asked for cuts — ordered them, really, to the degree that he’s allowed — and the first response he got was, “What if I don’t feel like it? What are you going to do ?”

At first it sounded like the mayor’s man was honestly stumped by this query, but after a couple seconds of cringing contemplation, he replied that the city had a legal obligation to pass a balanced budget. Which you’ll notice doesn’t actually answer the question….

“At a time like this, doesn’t the city need a more robust watchdog, not less?” Hur asked. “Investigations have to be done. The revenue has to be there. For us to compliantly cut out 1.5 percent when, if anything, we should be adding? Unacceptable.”

This segued into a potentially awkward line of questioning: Just where did all that money go?…(more)

Maybe it is time for the Department heads to listen to the public and quit spending billions of dollars on the most expensive solutions when there are much more popular options that cost a lot less.

The SFMTA and Rec and Park are overblown and out of control. They spend more money every year on new capital improvements that they cannot support or maintain. Someone needs to convince them that they need to pull back and do a lot less. They should drop their planning department and go back to running the public transit system. We are hoping that the Board of Supervisors will figure this out.

The cheapest solution is to managing the streets is to LEAVE THEM ALONE. Leave the parking meters open for public and quit cooking the books by moving money from one budget year to another. The bulbouts everyone hates costs a lot more than the simple street repairs everyone wants. The curbside BRT options favored by the public are a lot less costly than the middle of the road designs SFMTA wants. We dont’ need to replace any street trees or light posts. 

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