Ammiano: Sacramento says you have the money; City Hall isn’t even sure how many votes it needs
Tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors debate over whether or not to spend about $8 million to save 100 jobs at the Department of Public Health (item 32 on your agenda) shouldn’t be a debate at all, according to the state legislator who helped assure that that money would be available — for the express purpose of preventing layoffs and saving jobs — in the first place.
“(State Assembly Bill 1383′s purpose) was to prevent layoffs and prevent cutbacks, and (that purpose) seems to be ignored as we speak,” said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who, while no stranger to the political circus that City Hall’s big dome can often resemble, expressed frustration with the “same old” games and “personality disputes” between Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board over this particular pot of money. “There IS a solution — everyone just needs to be on the same page.”
There’s the rub.
Last week, an effort to give the Department of Public Health $8 million from the city’s general fund was scuttled when City Controller Ben Rosenfield said he would not certify the funds (meaning, he wouldn’t promise that the city did indeed have the cash in its wallet) if the Board voted it through. Tomorrow, the vote is on a second, separate measure to give $8 million from the DPH’s own general reserve fund — money guaranteed by Sacramento lawmakers, according to Ammiano — that will in turn save about 100 jobs: nurse’s assistants, clerks, mostly women and people of color, according to SEIU 1021, and no spokesmen or high wage-earners among them.
But there’s now division simply over how many votes the measure needs to pass (whether or not it SHOULD is, of course, a separate affair). The City Attorney’s Office said Friday it needs a 2/3s majority in order to pass, and affirmed that position Monday; Supervisor Chris Daly, author of the measure, said in a letter dated Monday and addressed to Board President David Chiu that it needs only a simple majority.
The Appeal was unable to reach Chiu for comment but will keep trying. His opinion could be the deal-maker or breaker: the budget measure is expected to have at least three and probably four nay votes in chamber tomorrow.
So how does all this play out upstairs with Ammiano, whose efforts to help his constituents and local political colleagues may now be moot?
“There’s a disconnect on priorities,” said Quintin Mecke, Ammiano’s spokesman.
“Everyone knows what the realities are… it make sense to postpone the cuts as long as possible, even if it’s for six months to a year… layoffs of front-line (i.e. lowest-paid) workers, predominately women and people of color, makes no sense.”