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Politics & Policy

Supervisors to push for safe consumption funding with opioid payouts, Twitter blue ‘ban’

The logo of Twitter is reflected on buildings surrounded Twitter HQ on Market Street in San Francisco on Nov. 18, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

This week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hear from Mayor London Breed on next steps for reparations for Black residents, and is set to codify remote public comment as the New Normal. 

They’ll also likely approve a settlement deal with two big pharmacy chains for a multimillion-dollar payout to the city, but continue to press the issue of using the cash to fund safe drug-consumption sites that are currently illegal under federal law. And they’ll ban Twitter, sort of. 

As always, the wonks can survey the whole kit and caboodle in this week’s agenda

Breed on Reparations

Supervisor Shamann Walton attends a Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

Mayor London Breed will be making one of her regular appearances before the board Tuesday, fielding a question submitted by District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton. The subject: reparations. 

Supervisors reviewed and accepted the Human Rights Commission’s draft Reparations Plan on March 14. Details of the final policy are yet to be hashed out, but the draft’s more “moonshot” proposals, such as paying $5 million in cash to every eligible Black San Franciscan, have generated controversy in the local and national press. 

Walton has followed up with legislation appropriating $50 million for an Office of Reparations, which he introduced on March 21. Meanwhile, the committee responsible for the draft plan is expected to issue a final report in June for supervisors to further review in September. 

Breed is also expected to use her appearance before the board to speak to other issues.

Opioid Settlements Cleared

Supervisors Hillary Ronen (left) and Rafael Mandelman attend a Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

Last week, District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen moved to postpone accepting legal settlements from Walmart and CVS of up to $19 million over their roles in exacerbating the opioid abuse crisis. She and other board members want to use the proceeds to help fund privately run overdose-prevention sites, something that City Attorney David Chiu says can’t be allowed

Ronen originally sought to have a closed session with Chiu this week on the matter, but he wasn’t available—so it will be held at next week’s board meeting. 

In the meantime, Ronen informed The Standard in a phone call over the weekend that she’ll support accepting the settlements this week, to keep the city from “being left behind” in the nationwide litigation efforts against drug makers and pharmacies whose negligence may have contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic. 

Remote Public Comment Rules (Really, It Does)

The board is also set to approve new rules of order regarding public comment. The rules will formalize the ability of members of the public to comment remotely via telephone or the internet. It’s a “new normal” that came about as a result of Covid pandemic lockdowns. 

The “new normal” has been a boon to everyday people who wish to share a piece of their mind with local government without having to attend meetings in person. But it can also rob supervisors and commissioners of peace of mind when it’s “weaponized” to disrupt proceedings, as was the case during redistricting last year.

Those concerns prompted District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to suggest changing the rules back to something closer to a pre-pandemic state, where opportunities to comment remotely would be more limited.

It didn’t go over well. First heard in committee Feb. 6, it generated over two hours of hostile public comment—much of it phoned in. District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey then offered amendments restoring the post-pandemic status quo. 

Passage is expected Tuesday, so feel free to keep phoning it in. 

Concerning Twitter

Since its purchase by Elon Musk last year, many users of Twitter have been finding things—to use a word Musk himself uses frequently—“concerning.”

Much of the concern comes from Musk’s own erratic behavior, including a kitchen sink’s worth of pranks ranging from random doge images to defacing the company’s own marquee sign. The social media firm also reportedly stopped paying rent and other bills

Musk has simultaneously nerfed and monetized the platform’s user verification system, introducing a paid “Twitter Blue” option that makes the blue check mark less of a status symbol and more insignia of willingness to pay Musk $8 per month. Some prominent media outlets are avoiding the new “Twitter Blue” like the plague

Some supervisors want city officials and departments to do the same. Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Hillary Ronen, Myrna Melgar and Shamann Walton introduced a resolution declaring city policy not to pay for the verification service, which will be voted on this week. 

Last week, the board approved an ordinance that allows for better enforcement of city laws against instant layoffs of employees, inspired by Musk’s locking out of janitors at Twitter headquarters just three weeks before Christmas last year.

The disdain between the tech titan and members of city government is apparently mutual.

Following the high-profile stabbing of tech executive Bob Lee, Musk has waded into discussions of Downtown street conditions, queried District Attorney Brooke Jenkins on her plans to incarcerate repeat offenders and mused about who is responsible for the city’s fentanyl crisis. 

Finally, Ronen, a co-sponsor of the new resolution, told The Standard in a text that she plans to erase her Twitter account, and tweeted the same message on Monday.

“I’m going to stop using Twitter and erase my account,” Ronen told The Standard in a text.