Hello, happy Monday and good morning. Welcome to Room 200.
Anyone wishing to watch the proceeds live can visit http://tr.im/lo7x. The Mayor’s Office is adept with tinyurl, it would appear.
So what are we to expect today, when Mayor Gavin Newsom rolls out a 2009-2010 fiscal year budget with $438 million of red somehow balanced? Uh, well — cuts. Lots and lots of cuts. Unless, of course, Newsom has some insanely-lucrative revenue-generating ideas in store for us…
…which, he probably does not. In recent years, Newsom’s leaked portions of the budget to the press in the days leading up to June 1, when he must present a balanced ledger to the Board under city law. But not this year, leaving it up to speculation, and speculation has been rampant: privatization of city jobs; changing the condominium conversion laws; creating a run on TICs; announcing a new worldwide corporate partnership between GM, PlumpJack and Google. That last one, of course, is false, but probably might not work too bad.
11:50 a.m. Newsom is in the room in front of the press. We’re waiting to begin.
Another fact to ponder will be how many city departments received 12.5 percent in cuts, how many hit 25 percent, and what the long-term cuts are.
11:51 a.m. Newsom is working the room, cracking some jokes, clapping his hands. Looks relaxed — amazing what a Saturday in Fresno can do.
11:52 a.m. What’s interesting about budget day is how every member of the City Hall family — department heads, reporters, elected officials — are all more or less equal, in that they don’t have any clue what’s about to happen and all want to know. That is to say, maybe some department heads got the scoop ahead of time, but if they did, they’re not acting like it. Fire chief, head of DPW, public defender — all sitting around in chairs, waiting for IT to happen.
11:55 a.m. Newsom’s office was his second choice for his budget unveiling: he wanted to do it at Sunset Reservoir, but it’s “more convenient” to have it at City Hall. Nice of him.
11:57 a.m. Newsom looks forward to working with the Board of Supervisors on the budget, but it’s going to be “controversial and challenging.” The budget, that is. Working with the Board — well, that might be a pain in the rear, too.
12:05 p.m. This is going to be a “living document,” Newsom has now said twice. Meaning, hopefully, it can get its ass to work and make us some money.
12:06 p.m. Hey hey, Newsom says we’ve dug up some new money — $17 million in new revenue, in fact! Only $421 million to go!
12:08 p.m. Newsom says the budget he’s submitting today will have nine different consolidation of functions — uh oh. “Police [functions], fire department [functions], sometimes you have two departments doing the same thing,” he said. Some $9 million’s been saved by combining fire and police jobs… layoffs? Firings, too? We don’t know yet. It’s all been in exposition thus far.
12:10 p.m. “Efficiency and consolidation,” folks, that’s what we have in the budget right here. Also, “layoffs are in the budget,” Newsom just said. 1,603, in fact — about a 6 percent cut in the City workforce. But there are 26,180 city workers still. Could be worse, right?
Who has lost their jobs, though? Uh, we don’t know yet.
12:14 p.m. Newsom is such a tease. “Wait until I get to the conclusion of my presentation today,” Newsom said, “because I will conclude with uncertainty.” Uncertainty, because we don’t know what the state budget picture will look like — the city could lose millions more.
12:15 p.m. Hey, hey, more good news — this budget “does not come close to balancing on the backs of DPH and HSA,” i.e. Department of Public Health and the Human Services Agency. Well — we guess not, because out of a total combined budget of $2.11 billion between those two agencies, Newsom has proposed we slash $70.6 million, or 3.3 percent…
…that’s not so bad, is it?
“We haven’t destroyed the corpus of our public safety net,” the Mayor declared.
12:18 p.m. So, let’s add it up thus far — $70.6 million out of DPH and HSA, and $17 million from the treasurer — so, $87 down, and about $350 million left to go.
This should make the progressives happy, as cuts to public health was perhaps the stickiest sticking point and the one everyone rallied around… of course, as soon as we learn exactly where those cuts came from.
“People are going to be upset, but I hope people understand the rationale,” Newsom said. “I know you’re looking for controversy…” and yes, we’re also looking to finish the quote, but you lost us. We think you told us to blame Dr. Mitch Katz, director of DPH, for a lack of controversy. Or for creating the controversy. Also, wasn’t a bad Prince album. Controversy, that is.
12:23 p.m. Newsom’s budget plan includes selling off the gas-fired peaker power plants in Potrero Hill. $10 million from there. Wait, weren’t they never built? Uh, clarification to follow.
12:24 p.m. Another $80 million in budget savings, thanks to federal stimulus dollars.
Ok, $10 million from peakers, $10 million from renegotiating the Convention and Visitors Bureau contracts, and $80 million from Uncle Sam — another $100 million, $250 million left to go.
12:27 p.m. San Franciscans now have another thing in common with France — many city employees now enjoy a 37 1/2 hour workweek. “HSA did that,” Newsom said. In addition to the Planning Department and the Department of Building Inspection. He didn’t mention this before — and what will be even more interesting is to see how many of these new part-time workers — i.e., the same workers we had before, who will now be paid for 37 1/2 workweeks — there are. Everyone, someone, what what what?
12:30 p.m. “If anyone deserves a round of applause, it’s Nani Coloretti,” Newsom said. Huge round of applause for Nani Coloretti, the Mayor’s Budget Director. Give it up for Nani.
12:33 p.m. The budget problem wasn’t so bad; “At the end of the day, it’s a math problem,” Newsom said. “But now the biggest math problem of all”: that the governor “may revise” the state budget, slashing SF a further $175.2 million. Whee.
We’re pausing now to realize we may have missed something in the preceding 45 minutes — i.e. about $250 million in budget savings/revenue. Sigh… the perils of live journalism. We’ll snag a copy of the budget as soon as we can and tell you what we missed. Unless, of course, Newsom’s laid off an awful lot of rich people.
12:35 p.m. The general fund balance will go from $70 million to $39 million… the city can’t and won’t drain the general fund further because doing so would ruin its bond rating.
12:40 p.m. Jail health, what’s that? Like, jail health care? Whatever it is, “we pay twice as much for the same service as our peer counties… we’re going to use those dollars to offset these other cuts.” $5-8 million saved.. whee.
12:42 p.m. Good news: no teachers laid off, no new taxes, no new borrowing, no cops laid off. Oh — but there were layoffs in the Public Defenders’ Office. Jeff Adachi will be so not happy.
Also no mention of 311, the Tenderloin Community Justice Center, Redevelopment, plenty of stuff. We wonder.
12:43 p.m. “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the budget, and we look forward to working with you all.”
We also look forward to getting you revised numbers later in the day, but to recap: 1,600 layoffs. $70.2 million in public health cuts. 37 1/2 workweeks in the Human Services Agency and the Department of Public Health. There’s got to be more; we’ll get back to you soon.