Justice delayed is justice denied

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EDITORIAL Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who try to identify with both the progressive movement and business-oriented Mayor Ed Lee — most notably, Sups. David Chiu and Jane Kim — engaged in a strange bit of self-congratulations during their June 10 meeting, patting themselves on the back for a trio of "progressive" reforms.

Yet in each case, the measures are weaker than they should be and too long overdue — and they have their full implementation delayed for years, while the needs of the people they aim to serve are immediate. What Kim and Chiu presented as a demonstration of political effectiveness on behalf of needy constituents is actually just the opposite. It is political cowardice and not political courage.

The best of the trio of approvals was a measure by Sup. David Campos that finally closes the loophole that allows employers to satisfy their employee healthcare mandate by creating healthcare savings accounts, which they make difficult to use and then pocket the money that remains.

This should have been enacted three years ago when Campos first won approval for it, only to see Lee veto it and Chiu sponsor a watered-down alternative that didn't address the problem. Even now, in order to win over Sups. Mark Farrell and London Breed to attain a veto-proof majority, Campos had to delay full implementation until 2017.

"I also want to commend Sup. Campos for finding compromise," Chiu said before joining the inevitable majority, a snide dig at his Assembly race opponent that only served to reinforce Campos' campaign trail points that Chiu's compromises are often just sellouts to downtown interests. This watered-down version, albeit better than the last watered-down version, also won unanimous approval.

Another kumbaya moment came with the introduction of a consensus ballot measure for increasing the minimum wage in San Francisco, with the Mayor's Office and business community finally agreeing with the campaign by labor and progressive groups to increase the minimum wage to $15 — but delaying that implementation to 2018. How much displacement and economic hardship will San Franciscans experience between now than then?

Chiu and Kim also sang the praises of Lee for finally agreeing to finally keep his word and support a local increase in the vehicle license fee to fund safer and smoother streets and more money for Muni. But rather than this year as promised, that measure will be on the November 2016 ballot, pushing it back from prosperous to uncertain times.

At the June 12 Guardian community forum, Sup. Scott Wiener said he may still move forward with his proposed charter amendment to give Muni more general fund money until the local VLF is approved, and we strongly urge him to so do.

"Justice delayed is justice denied" is a legal maxim that this board full of lawyers is certainly familiar with. Their delays of crucial reforms are disgraceful and damaging to the city, and for them to congratulate themselves for doing so is insulting.