No surrender, no retreat - Page 3

Bellicose rhetoric masks real differences over budget priorities
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Gavin Newsom and SF Firefighters
Union Local 798 head John
Hanley at a June 16 budget rally

But for now, the political theater is yielding to the detailed, difficult work of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Progressive members of the committee have already signaled their intention to scrutinize city jobs with salaries of $100,000 or positions in each department that deal with public relations.

Among those highlighted in a budget analysts' report is Newsom's public relations team, a fleet of five helmed by a Director of Communications Nate Ballard, who pulls down $141,700 a year. Yet when the Guardian and others seek information from the office — for this story and many others — we are often stonewalled, ignored, or insulted.

During the budget hearings, the disproportionately high number of positions with six-figure salaries in the city's police and fire departments also came under scrutiny. "What has worked in a lot of other agencies is you have employees who care deeply enough about the City and County of San Francisco that they are willing to give back in terms of salaries," Campos commented to Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White during a budget hearing, referring to firefighters' refusal to forgo raises.

Another looming question is whether new revenue measures will be included as part of the solution. While progressive supervisors continue to call for tax measures as a way to stave off the worst cuts to critical services, Newsom proudly proclaimed his budget's lack of new taxes.

A press release posted on Newsom's gubernatorial campaign Web site suggests that since raising revenues doesn't fit with his bid for governor, it's not likely to be entertained as a possibility. "Mayor Newsom crafted a balanced budget on time," a press release notes, "without any new general tax increases, without reducing public safety services."

It's a stand that's certain to yield more political clashes down the line.

"I don't see how we can get out of this budget without bringing additional revenue into the system," Campos noted at the committee hearing. "Once people learn about the situation we are facing, they will understand the need for the city and county as a whole to contribute."

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