San Franciscans decry Newsom's public health cuts

People lined up down the hall to testify about the myriad negative impacts of the proposed public health cuts.
Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

By Alex Emslie

More than 100 concerned citizens, mental health providers, SRO hotel representatives, and clients of San Francisco's community behavioral health programs spoke to the Board of Supervisors yesterday at a Beilenson hearing, which the state requires of counties that slash public health services, decrying crippling cuts in the mayor's proposed budget.

Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed cutting the Department of Public Health's funding by close to $31 million in next year's budget currently before the Board of Supervisors. The board can choose to add funding back into departments that were cut before approving the final budget by the end of July.

“These are all services that we value,” DPH director Dr. Mitch Katz said following nearly four hours of public testimony. “We have to make difficult choices because of the state of the city's budget. We recognize that it is never desirable for us to make cuts.”

Sup. John Avalos, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, said the city Budget Analyst's Office was examining cost savings within the police and fire departments to free up money for the DPH. “I, as budget chair, am working with my colleagues to prevent these cuts that you are concerned about. We have to find cost savings in our budget across other departments.”

Avalos added that cutting other departments wouldn't solve San Francisco's looming deficit for years to come, and that taxation must be part of San Francisco's budget solution. “If we don't find a significant amount of revenue, looking at progressive forms of taxation, we'll be in the same boat next year, but even worse, because we don't expect to have the authorization of federal money [that the city received last year] to help us out.”


While I am glad the SF Guardian is reporting on resistance to Newsom's draconian budget, I find it troubling that there has been no similar report of the other key reason that the Board of Supervisors meeting went from 2pm to 12 midnight - the hours of testimony from various viewpoints in public comment, on Supervisor Maxwell and Avalos' resolution to condemn Israel for its violent, deadly and illegal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Why has there been absolutely no mention of this issue in the Guardian for three full weeks?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 11:10 am

I think the SFBG knows that the right side of the issue is the one the whole world is on, but they're afraid to piss off some powerful folks. The minute you start criticizing Israel in even the mildest of terms in the US, you get all sorts of insults hurled at you.

But as Israel's actions become more egregious, those days are coming to an end. The discourse is changing, but of course it takes people who are willing to engage in that discourse and take a stand for it to change. John and Sophie have done that. I think the SFBG should have their backs, rather than go on pretending that the issue doesn't exist.

Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 11:52 am

Other than brief mentions because perhaps, in one of their few moments of lucidity, the writers and editors of The Guardian realize this is a toxic issue which brings forth absolutely no benefit to either side and only causes destruction and chaos wherever it's brought up - like in the ludicrous debate on a meaningless resolution this week at the Supervisor's meeting.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 11:55 am

Have to disagree there, Lucretia. I know a lot of people hate it when the supes take on issues that are technically beyond their jurisdiction, but it's important for public officials to take stands. It helps change the course of the debate, and we do need that.

Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

But there is no unanimity on this one within the city. As someone who has lived in an Arab country and who speaks Arabic I am aware of and sympathetic to the Arab opinion on this. But as someone who is gay I know for a fact that on a scale of democracy and pluralism Israel is light-years ahead of many of its neighbors and indeed, of the United States. Whereas the city can rightly condemn the regime in Burma with no dissension on this issue there is a huge amount of dissent - because neither side has clean hands on this.

I don't want my city taking a side on an issue which has no direct bearing on our lives here and which only causes frustration and chaos (as in the meeting this week) when it's aired.

Or perhaps the city could, as a compromise, wait until an international commission has finished its inquiry into the matter.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

Once there's unanimity, there's no need for people to take a stand, and at that point it's no longer courageous.

The arguments that people make about Israel are the same ones they made about South Africa... that there's democracy (flawed as it is), that the oppressed minority lives better than they do in other countries, that the other side commits acts of terrorism, etc.

But all of these arguments miss the point. It's not that everything the Palestinians do is good. It's that their cause -the end of the occupation -is fundamentally just.

And we in America have a special responsibility around this issue. I wouldn't care so much about the discourse around Israel/Palestine in America, if America wasn't supplying Israel with the means to continue the occupation. But we do, and as such, resolutions like this matter.

Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

You WANT them to be the same because that helps your cause. But the fact remains that they ARE NOT the same. They don't have the same legal backing nor the same moral backing. And to claim they are misrepresents everything the global anti-apartheid movement stood for.

And being "courageous" means standing up for something that is hated and despised by most people for morally obtuse reasons. Demonizing Israel and cheering on the Palestinian movements is most certainly not "courageous" in any large city and even in most small ones.

And you need to be reminded of the fact that Israel hasn't occupied Gaza since 2005. Screeching about "the occupation of Gaza" ignores the fact that it is no longer occupied.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

It angers progressives that their tax dollars are going to something that they find terrible on the federal level, to make up for this the progressives think it is OK to use local tax dollars to pass meaningless resolutions.

In the 50's and 60's moderates and liberals rightly complained about city councils taken over by Bircher's, Klansmen, Minutemen and other right wing groups. Now that the progressives have the upper hand in some areas the goofy left have replaced the revealed world view of the goofy right with the revealed world view of the left.

It bugs you that federal dollars go to Israel against your views, so to make up for it all it's OK for local dollars to go the other way?

Not to sound like a right wing David Horowitz kook, but in Israel there are real personal freedoms, while in Islamic states you have the personal freedom to kill off your relatives who bring shame on your family. The zero sum game of hating America and Israel utterly fail here on various levels.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 6:01 pm