City Hall had last week off, but The Agenda for this week is full. Let’s start with the cops:
On Nov. 17, the Board of Supes approved on first reading a contract with the Police Officers Association that most of them agreed was a bad deal. Sup. Aaron Peskin made clear that he wasn’t happy with the lack of reforms in the deal, but he also said he thought the POA was changing, and the by the time the measure came back for second reading – on Dec. 1 – the association would have agreed in writing to some critical provisions. At the top of the list: A plan to shift responsibility for calls involving homelessness and mental illness away from police and onto social workers and mental-health professionals.
The POA has demanded to “meet and confer” with the city on a long list of reforms, delaying some for more than a year. This one could wind up reducing the number of cops the city needs – and Sup. Hillary Ronen, who has been pushing that plan, demanded that the POA agree to it without any delays.
So as of last week, the Department of Human Resources and the POA were talking. As of now, they have announced no public agreement. If there’s nothing in writing Tuesday/1, it’s going to be hard for the supes who agreed to essentially put the final decision off while the two sides talked: Can they vote to approve the deal if nothing has changed?
At the very least, we will see whether the POA is really changing, and whether the Breed Administration is putting full pressure on the organization.
From the cops to cannabis: Also on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting is a proposal by Board President Norman Yee to ban indoor smoking in apartment buildings with more than three units.
Smoking, that is, of anything. Including weed.
According to Yee, it’s all about preventing the health impacts of second-hand smoke – and when it comes to tobacco, pretty much everyone agrees. But cannabis is a different story.
On the most simple level, tobacco smokers can walk outside – the way they have in offices, where smoking has been banned for more than 30 years – and get their fix on the sidewalk. But under state law, you can’t smoke pot in public.
So if you have a back yard, and the landlord lets you use it, you can light up your joint or pipe or bong there. And of course, if you live in a single-family house or a duplex, fire it up. But a lot of lower-income people, in particular, don’t have that advantage.
The bill exempts people with a medical marijuana card – but seriously, nobody over 21 gets those anymore. Why pay $100 for a card when the stuff is legal anyway?
So this is in part an economic issue: For a lot of people, this is medicine. Under the measure, poor people who live in small apartments in big buildings can’t smoke, but rich people with private houses and backyards can.
I get the second-hand smoke issue. And I am not a chemist or air-quality expert. But I think it’s pretty clear that the problems of second-hand tobacco smoke come not just from people exhaling smoke but from the cigarettes burning – and emitting horrible stuff – between puffs. That doesn’t happen, for the most part, with weed, since it goes out pretty quick when you stop inhaling (tobacco cigarettes have additives that keep it burning.)
And people who smoke week generally smoke a lot less of it than people who smoke tobacco – particularly these days when the stuff you can buy is so strong you only need one small hit.
And while it’s true, as Yee says, that you can ingest it in ways other than smoking, some people, for good reason, prefer to smoke. (You know the old joke about edibles? “Nothing’s happening I’m going to have another. Nothing’s happening, I’m going to have another. Nothing’s happening I’m going to have another. Nothing … whoops, I need to go to the Emergency Room.”)
Cannabis advocates are organizing, and there’s a move to amend to exempt weed from the ban.
Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer has proposed a measure that could be one of the most important housing reforms in years: She wants to set up a rental registry and require all landlords to report each year on the number of units they own, the rent they charge, and whether the unit is currently occupied.
That data would be invaluable.
There are, by some estimates, as many as 20,000 vacant apartments in the city. But nobody knows for sure; the landlords don’t have to say. So it’s impossible, for example, to have a functional tax on vacant units (which would encourage landlords to rent them out). We know that a large percentage of the so-called owner-move-in evictions are a fraud; the city still has no way to track them.
The landlord lobby is furious and complaining about extra bureaucracy, but really this is pretty simple: Fill out a form, submit it, and you’re done. Don’t cheat and wrongfully evict tenants or keep usable units off the market, and nothing bad happens. Berkeley has had a rental registry for years.
The bill has nine sponsors, so it’s going to pass with a veto-proof majority. (This is why, by the way, the progressives have worked so hard to keep eight or more seats on the board. We have no idea if the mayor would veto this if she had enough votes to uphold it.)
The San Francisco taxpayers, both tenants and landlords, agreed to tax themselves to the tune of more than $1.2 billion to rebuild San Francisco General Hospital. Then along comes Mark Zuckerberg, who gave $75 million to help equip the new trauma center – and he gets the place named after him.
Quick math: The San Francisco taxpayers came up with about 94 percent of the cost of the rebuild. But it’s not called the San Francisco Taxpayers General Hospital.
Some medical staff have been unhappy about this for a while. And since Facebook’s involvement with unethical data collection and empowerment of the white supremacists radical right, a growing number of activists have called on the city to change the name.
Now the issue is before the supes.
The Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hear a resolution Thursday/3 condemning the naming of the hospital and calling for a change in the way the city decides to name public buildings. (This one was all about money, nothing else: Zuckerberg agreed to give the money in exchange for his name on the place. And everyone signed off on the contract.)
The resolution contains a long list of reasons why the city shouldn’t be celebrating the founder and CEO of Facebook. Just a few:
WHEREAS, Facebook has allowed paid advertisements making false claims about the risks of proven AIDS prevention medication while simultaneously preventing advertisements promoting these public health tools; and
WHEREAS, In September 2019 Facebook removed a fact-checking disclaimer from a medically inaccurate video from an anti-abortion organization, which remains up; and
WHEREAS, In October 2019 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company would allow politicians and political parties to openly lie in their advertisements, meaning that Facebook holds paid political advertisements to a lower standard than all others, which prompted a public outcry from Facebook employees; and
WHEREAS, According to Facebook’s own internal audit, the Facebook platform in Myanmar was used by bad actors to spread hate speech, incite violence, and coordinate harm, and posts on Facebook were linked to offline violence; and
WHEREAS, In India, according to a study by Equality Labs, hate speech targeting Indian caste, religious, gender, and queer minorities is rampant across Facebook; and WHEREAS, Facebook’s refusal to address long-standing concerns about its policies that have allowed hate, lies, racism, and disinformation on its platform has provoked more than 1,000 companies to boycott advertising on Facebook in July 2020 as part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign …
You get the picture.
Two supervisors, Gordon Mar and Matt Haney, are asking their colleagues to send a message that the image of the city’s public-health infrastructure shouldn’t be for sale this way.
The hearing starts at 10am.
Sup. Walton is asking the city to create an African American Reparations Advisory Committee that would develop a plan that:
1) chronicles the legacy of American chattel slavery, post-Civil War government-sanctioned discrimination against African Americans, and ongoing institutional discrimination; 2) determines the scope of and eligibility for a citywide reparations program; 3) improves education, housing, workforce development, economic opportunities, financial stability, small businesses, transit access, and food security, while reducing violence, health disparities, and over-criminalization, experienced by Black people; and 4) examines current and historic structural discrimination within the City and County of San Francisco and proposes institutional reforms to guard against the need for future redress.
All members would be appointed by the supes.
This is, of course, part of a long-overdue national conversation; the wealth of the United States was built on stolen land and slave labor.
The measure comes before the Rules Committee Monday/30 at 10am and will most likely go to the full board the next day.