Mayor London Breed made an announcement today that demonstrates the deep problems with the move by Sup. Matt Dorsey to lock police spending into the City Charter.
But the more conservative Democrats are trying to use the bogus concept of a “cop tax” to change local politics.
Dorsey wanted to guarantee funding for 2,300 officers, a prospect that would cost as much as $300 million a year.
His measure was amended to link that goal to a funding source—something that Dorsey and others have described as a “cop tax.”
But Breed just announced a series of preliminary cuts that will get much, much deeper as the city faces what could be a $1 billion deficit.
I have asked Dorsey what existing services he would cut to add $300 million to the police budget. He’s usually pretty responsive to the news media, including me, but he never answered that question.
And now the whole “cop tax” thing is going to be a big issue in the spring elections and in the supes race. Dorsey, who is part of a more conservative slate running for Democratic County Central Committee, sent out an email today including this:
I meant every word of my 2022 campaign slogan, which committed to keep “fighting for a Safer San Francisco” — including the word “fighting.” In fact, you may have seen that once again over the last week as I’ve stood up to an obstructionist Board of Supervisors majority whose cynical “Cop Tax” scheme is delaying needed progress on police recruiting and public safety imperatives. I’m not backing down on fulfilling the promise of a fully staffed police department, and you can expect to hear more from me and my allies about that soon.
But to make progress on everything we’re trying to accomplish, San Francisco will need the full partnership of a strong, effective and unapologetically mainstream Democratic Party.
The problem is that the Police Department is only part of the city’s public-safety system, and much of the rest is also deeply underfunded.
More than that, the city has an existing tax structure based so deeply on downtown real estate that in the next year or two, we need either to radically overhaul the way we raise revenue (including new taxes, not just for cops but for all basic services) or face dramatic and crippling cuts.
Never mind the reality, though: The concept of a “cop tax” is going to be a talking point for the Right in San Francisco this spring. We are already seeing that happen—and we are not seeing the major news media do anything to counter it.