The new board committes: Not great news

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Board President David Chiu has released the new committee assignments for 2012, and they aren't a whole lot different from last year's -- except in a few areas. And they aren't exactly an indication of progressive power.

The three most conservative supervisors -- Mark Farrell, Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu -- all were named to chair committees. Supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos also are committee chairs, although David Campos was relegated to the joint City and School District Select Commitee, which is important but takes no votes and has no role in the legislative process.

Word is, however, that Campos may wind up chairing the Transportation Authority.

The Budget and Finance Committee is run by Chu, but Avalos and Jane Kim are also members, giving a majority to the progressives. But during the budget season, that panel expands to five members -- and the additional two, Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen, are both decidedly on the moderate side. That means progressives will not have a majority on the panel that plays the central role in setting the city's budget.

The Rules Committee is improved from last year -- Kim is the chair, joined by Campos and Farrell. But Land Use and Economic Development -- possibly the second most important committee after Budget and Finance -- is dominated by moderates; Mar is the chair but Cohen and Wiener will have a 2-1 majority.

State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano told me he's concerned that the two openly gay members of the board, Campos and Wiener, aren't in more prominent roles. "It seems like there are two very hardworking people who were slighted here," he said.

But Chiu disagrees, saying that the assignments "reflect the diversity of the board and the city." He added: "Last year (when conservatives were given key posts) everyone thought the sky would fall, and it didn't."

The sky falling is pretty dramatic; I suspect it won't. But there's a difference between the sky falling and the progressive agenda moving forward.