Mayor Gavin Newsom at one of the tables.


Mayor Gavin Newsom from time to time likes to dabble with technology and get as close to his constituents to find out about all the babble that is going on at City Hall. This time around it is the Budget and the Priorities facing San Francisco.

Free transportation was provided for those that needed it and rides given all the way to the SF State University where we all met at the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Once there we had to register ourselves armed with a package full of useful information and were sent to various conference rooms. Once there we all met in small groups and were each assigned a Facilitator and a Transcriber who enter all the pertinent information on a lap top.

The wireless lap tops all courtesy of Apple sent the information to a "Collaboratory" where all the participant priorities and strategies were duly noted. Later all the information was projected on huge screens and armed with a small gadget every priority was tabulated instantly to the utter amazement of the audience and reflected upon for all to fathom.

The priorities were Homelessness and Human Services, Housing, Public Safety, Economic and Community Development, Education and Youth, Quality of Life and City Greening, Transportation and Public Works, Healthcare and Government Reform and Customer Service.

In our small group people saw the need for Parking, Affordable Housing, Accountability and Transparency within the Civil Service, fine tuning our Housing Element and the Transportation Document, Civility and the use of the 311 system to better streamline our City's Services.

We all know the Budget Process in a cumbersome one and the same folks visit City Hall about this time to shout and scream about the $2.4 billion of the $5.3 billion that is the City and County of San Francisco's budget. Even within the $2.3 billion many line items have a base line that cannot be touched. It is this process that demands a lot of patience and those that swim against the tide and swim again and again much like the dying salmon end up getting a small pie of the budget some 16 cents or on every dollar. Then there is an amount 5% that goes to build the rainy day account and then you have some extra ordinary line item expenses that only those that balance the budget know how that works.

Right now as much transparency as the Budget offers the constituents there is a lot of waste. Again and again Public Safety, Civil Service with 1 City employees representing 28 City Constituents and many other City Departments defy the budget and constituents with waste, over time, and simply being lethargic and testing the patience of the constituents of San Francisco. Too many outsiders work for the City and leach on our vital resources.

SFlistens brings people together and that is good. In future we should endeavor to bring the disenfranchised for the simple reason many feel compelled to talk about the Seniors, the indigent, and those on limited budget without getting any substantial input directly from these targeted groups. 64% of those that participated lived in San Francisco for over 20 years.

The organizers announced that the selection of the participants was random. I got a telephone call picked it up and some how decided to take my chances and participate. I do not think I wasted my time because I am keen to understand at close quarters - more up close and personal the inner most feelings an aspirations of those that love San Francisco.

I have known Mayors from the past and I know Mayor Gavin Newsom and he saw me and asked me if I was chosen randomly. I was and he must have been surprised because I call a spade a spade but this time it was the peoples turn to advice him and prod him as Mayor to look into certain aspects of City Government that is not working. And of course to applaud that which is working. There was agreement about defining affordable housing and informing folks how to access good housing. There was a cry to help the Mentally ill and improve Public Safety by enforcing Community Policing. The constituents want Clean Energy programs and better Education for our students.

As you may imagine every one wants the best for our City but again and again we do not have the money. And when we have the money there is little fiscal responsibility. One could not brush this SFlistens as an exercise in futility - it was an eye opener to those that wanted to learn a little, the amount of quality information and home work that goes to run a vibrant City and address Quality of Life issues.

The City will work better if the constituents participate and towards that end it is vital that the constituents be allowed Public Comment a full 3 minutes and more at various meetings. We have members of the Board of Supervisor spew diatribe and verbosity but fail again and again to permit the constituents Public Comment. This must stop and those that endeavor to take on the Public unnecessarily and adversely impact them must be removed from office.

On another table better discussion.


top - back