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Politics & Policy

Supervisors to close out year by scolding Twitter, grilling Breed on drug crisis

Mayor London Breed speaks at a press conference in San Francisco City Hall on Aug. 4, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

This week’s Board of Supervisors meeting will be the last of an eventful year. When it returns in January, the board will look a bit different: It’ll have a new member, and will elect a new board president and form new committees. 

This week’s kitchen sink session will have an appearance by Mayor London Breed, who will field pointed questions over drugs and homelessness. Supervisors will also dive into yet another Recology settlement, a brewing fight over the Police Commission, a call to rein in a wayward Elections Commission. They’ll also take the opportunity to admonish Elon Musk for his treatment of Twitter’s remaining workers. 

As usual, the wonks can check out the whole kit and caboodle in the agenda

Question Time: Drugs and Homelessness

Supervisor Dean Preston will likely have tough questions for Mayor Breed on the recent closure of the Tenderloin Center and current gap in services while the Department of Public Health works to stand up replacements.

The Tenderloin Center, formerly called the Linkage Center, closed on Dec. 4 after barely 11 months of operation. There are fears that, without it, those who frequented the de facto safe consumption site will return to open-air drug use in public spaces. 

Preston has pressed the Breed administration on either creating replacement safe consumption sites, or keeping the Tenderloin center open. That culminated in a resolution from the board, which passed 6-5 on Nov. 8, urging that the center be kept open. 

Meanwhile, the center has attracted a plethora of complaints over crime and behavioral health incidents in the adjacent area. 

The health department is planning “wellness hubs” to replace the Tenderloin Center, but they appear to be delayed by legal, logistical or political concerns. The Standard reported last week that the health department drew up a plan for 12 such sites across several neighborhoods, all of which would offer safe consumption. After deadline, however, the Mayor’s Office contacted The Standard to say that opening 12 such sites is not the city’s plan.   

Additionally, Supervisor Myrna Melgar will quiz Breed on alternative responses to behavioral health street incidents, including the Compassionate Alternative Response Team (CART), a plan favored by the supervisors and local nonprofits.

More Supportive Housing Contracts

Supervisors are expected to approve management and lease agreements for new supportive housing sites in the Mission, Tenderloin and SoMa.

They include contracts of $11.6 million and and $7.4 million to Dolores Street Community Services for to run the former Mission Inn and Eula Hotel; $16.7 million to Five Keys to manage a facility at 835 Turk St., and $20.1 million to the South Bay-based organization Housing for Independent People for a site at 333 12th St. 

Another Recology Settlement

A Recology driver arrives at Recology on Tunnel Avenue on Jan. 31, 2022. | Camille Cohen | Source: Camille Cohen

Also on tap is approval of a deal made back in mid-November between the city controller and recalcitrant refuse contractor Recology to give ratepayers a $25 million credit to offset rate increases and inflation via a “balancing account.”

It’s yet more blowback from investigations inspired by the probe into the Department of Public Works under its former Director Mohammed Nuru. As part of that, the city found that Recology had consistently overcharged customers by miscalculating rates since 2017. 

Police Commission Fight

Police Commission President Cindy Elias attends at a Police Commission meeting on June 6, 2018. | SFGovTV

One contentious issue to be heard Tuesday is the confirmation of another term on the Police Commission for President Cindy Elias

Rules Committee Chair Aaron Peskin has moved up the vote on this item from when her term is scheduled to end in April, sparking accusations of political meddling in the commission process. 

The assumption is that an early vote to reappoint Elias will be more favorable, given that Joel Engardio, who is viewed as an ally of Mayor Breed and more sympathetic to police, will assume the District 4 seat in January, replacing the progressive Gordon Mar

Both Breed’s office and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman have already voiced qualms about the move, while the advocacy group Safer San Francisco sent out a mass email urging people to contact supervisors and ask them to reject the early vote. 

The email from Safer SF calls the move “a disgusting, crass political move that is designed to disenfranchise all of us who voted for public safety this year,” recalling concerns about crime driving electoral victories for Engardio and District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey.

And let’s not forget: The second reading on the amended police equipment use policy legislation, minus killer robots, is also happening Tuesday. 

Shadowboxing With the Elections Commission

Christina Chow (L) moves mail-in-ballots into bins from an organization machine at San Francisco City Hall ahead of the Nov. 8 elections on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

The drama over the wayward Elections Commission’s attempt to basically fire Elections Director John Arntz for what many regard as dubious reasons continues Tuesday, as the board will again consider a resolution to refuse to fund the search for his replacement. 

The resolution was continued last week, pending the outcome of any decisions made at a special meeting of the Elections Commision to be held Monday evening. 

Peskin has signaled a compromise may be in the works to allow funding a search to replace Arntz after approval of another five-year term. Arntz has held the job since 2002.

Addressing Twitter’s Hotel Hell 

But who's committing the crimes? Supervisors might beg to disagree

It seems like Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has given flight to an online Revenge of the Twits, where Musk and various (usually right-wing) lackeys repeatedly troll the Tweeps who had made the online platform a relatively safe space for alternative voices, with a wide range of expression permitted as long as you weren’t spewing outright hate speech. 

Musk has also been trolling more than a few regulatory agencies in San Francisco’s meatspace. He’s ordered layoffs without required notice, including of janitors—allegedly telling one of them that he would be replaced by a robot.

Employees who remain may prove their Extremely Hardcore status by sleeping over at the offices between marathon shifts, for which the company has provided ersatz accommodations

The city’s Department of Building Inspection is investigating Elon’s Hotel California, and the supes, led by Ahsha Safaí, are expected to urge Twitter to comply with local laws, and provide opportunities for janitors and security guards to continue working there—should they really want to.