Two Items - One Stupid - The Other Even Stupidier - Thanks To Newsom and Ammiano

Dear Everyone;

The SF Chronicle had these two articles in todays newspaper. The first is about the new proposed City budget of $6.06 Billion. The other is Tom Ammiano proposed legislation to bar oil company owned gas stations to get cheaper gas.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian

For the first time, city budget to top $6 billion
5.4% bigger than this year, mayor calls it 'back to basics'
Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, June 1, 2007

San Francisco's budget next year would for the first time exceed $6 billion under a proposed spending plan unveiled Thursday by Mayor Gavin Newsom, which he called a "back to basics" budget.
Newsom said his $6.06 billion budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year, which represents a 5.4 percent increase from the current year and a more than $1 billion increase from the first budget he balanced after taking office in 2004, addresses pothole-ridden streets and panhandling, a troubled public transportation system and a shortage of police officers.
In a meeting he requested with The Chronicle's editorial board, Newsom offered highlights of his proposed budget, which by city law must be submitted to the Board of Supervisors today. The final budget must be approved by the board by July 17.
"It's a get-back-to-basics budget, that's our message," Newsom said.
There also is a proposal to spend $5 million in general fund money to help kick off his plan to restore public housing in the city through Hope SF, his local initiative modeled on a national program that has largely lost its funding under the Bush administration. Newsom said the money could be used to leverage millions -- including a $95 million bond issue to replace hundreds of units of decrepit housing.
He also wants to spend $700,000 on his idea to establish a new community court that would prosecute quality-of-life offenses like public drunkenness, graffiti and panhandling and direct people to services.
Though he did not provide a copy of the proposed budget to reporters, Newsom said the overall spending increase is supported by rising property and payroll tax revenue -- and noted it is less than spending increases seen at the state and federal levels.
"It's defensible," Newsom said of the growth.
While Newsom's previous three budgets, after some debate in City Hall, ultimately received unanimous approval from the board, this year's battle comes amid the mayor's re-election campaign and increasingly contentious relations between Newsom and his rival Supervisor Chris Daly. Daly is the chairman of the board's Budget and Finance Committee and has said he might run for mayor against Newsom in November.
At the center of the battle is Newsom's refusal to spend $33 million the board recently appropriated at the close of the current fiscal year to acquire, construct and rehabilitate affordable housing for families, seniors and homeless youth -- legislation proposed by Daly.
On Thursday, Daly said his only question about the mayor's proposed budget is whether Newsom will spend any of that money.
"The big question is whether he stole the affordable housing money to fund his priorities," Daly said. "If he backs the $33 million out, I will say, 'Stop! Thief!' "
Daly said he was not impressed by Newsom's stated budget priorities.
"I don't comment about his smoke and mirrors," Daly said, who had not yet seen the actual budget. "I'm only interested in his numbers."
Newsom said his budget, which balances a projected $25.4 million deficit, includes the elimination of a workers' comp clinic and a reduction in beds for mentally ill patients at San Francisco General Hospital -- two cuts that will likely prove to be controversial. He said there will not be major fee increases for city services.
Last year, Newsom's critics accused him of pandering to labor unions after his budget carried $286 million in new payroll costs that he said mostly fulfilled commitments his administration made to city workers who did without salary increases in past years when the city faced tough economic times.
Newsom is scheduled to formally announce his budget today during a speech at the city's new 311 call center headquarters -- a new telephone hot line residents can use to get free, round-the-clock information about all nonemergency services in the city.
Though he offered few details, Newsom said there would be $217.5 million set aside for housing needs, $56.7 million for crime prevention, that the number of city-funded homeless outreach workers would jump from 18 to 36 and that there would be money to pay for five new Police Academy classes.
There would be 35 additional custodians for city parks and 15 more gardeners. There also is funding proposed for 12 new park patrol officers to monitor Golden Gate Park, where Newsom and others have complained about the growing number of homeless encampments.
The mayor said he hopes to improve Muni's lagging on-time performance by adding 135 new bus and cable car operators and 18 new supervisors to the fleet. His budget, he said, also contains funding for environmentally friendly hybrid buses, as well as money to complete the NextBus system, an automated tracking program that lets riders know when the next bus is scheduled to arrive at certain stops. San Francisco has been experimenting with the program for nearly a decade.
Newsom also said there would be $5.4 million more for street repair projects, part of a promise the mayor made in his State of the City speech last year to get "back to basics" and focus on such issues as potholes and clean streets. Officials say the $36.4 million dedicated to street repairs in the proposed budget would meet the city's annual paving needs.
"We're doing more capital (improvements) than we've done in decades," Newsom said.

City budget
1998-99: $3.9 billion
1999-2000: $4.2 billion
2000-01: $4.5 billion
2001-02: $5.2 billion
2002-03: $5 billion
2003-04: $4.8 billion
2004-05: $5 billion
2005-06: $5.3 billion
2006-07: $5.7 billion
2007-08: $6 billion
Source: City Controller
Chronicle staff writers Wyatt Buchanan and Rachel Gordon contributed to this story. E-mail Cecilia M. Vega at cvega@....

The gas station proposal is by Tom Ammiano.
Plan to bar oil firms from owning S.F. stations
Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, June 1, 2007
San Franciscans are being gouged at the pump and the best remedy is for the city government to stop oil companies from setting fuel prices in the city, independent gas station operators told a Board of Supervisors committee Thursday.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano is drafting legislation to bar oil companies from operating gas stations in the San Francisco, which has some of the highest fuel prices in the country, and to stop them from setting up different price zones in the city.
"Refineries are hiding behind the umbrella of the free market," Ammiano said at the hearing. "The free market does not mean gouging, and it does not mean holding people hostage."
Ammiano said the legislation would be ready in about two months, as his office is still working with the city attorney to ensure the proposal does not run afoul of federal laws.
The head of the California Service Station & Automotive Repair Association testified that it makes no sense that different stations in the city would sell the same fuel, which came from the same truck, at prices that differ by as much as 28 cents per gallon.
"If that's not price manipulation and market power, I don't know what is," said Dennis DeCota, executive director of the association.
DeCota's proposed solution consists largely of what is called "divorcement," or forcing oil companies to lease their stations to others instead of operating them themselves. That would create competition between the refineries and drive down prices, he argued.
But the spokeswoman for the Western States Petroleum Association said the issues at play are international and that gas prices would not decrease through local action, but would do the opposite.
"If implemented, it would impede competition and raise prices for consumers," said Anita Mangels, the spokeswoman.
The Board of Supervisors considered a similar proposal 10 years ago, but ultimately did not approve it after a furious lobbying effort by Chevron.
E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at wbuchanan@...