By NICHOLAS KUSNETZ
Campos was at the top of his game this week, speaking out for minorities and children at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting and trying to make sure next year’s massive budget cuts do the least harm at a committee hearing the next day.
The city’s decision last year to inform federal immigration officials when an undocumented juvenile is accused of a felony came up early on Tuesday. A motion to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was the scene, and Supervisor John Avalos introduced an amendment that would assure due process of law before any referral. Amid the proceedings, Campos took up the cause.
“We cannot be talking about supporting the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the District 9 Sup said, “if we ourselves are not willing to look inward and look at what’s happening in our very own city.”
In other words: Who are we to get all high and mighty when we’re not looking out for our own kids?
“We need to make sure that children have basic human rights,” he said.
The motion was sent back to committee after the board passed Avalos’ amendment.
But the real drama came the following day at the ever-juicy Budget and Finance Committee meeting. The committee was expanded to five supervisors from three for budget season, and Campos wasted no time speaking out from his new spot.
The final item on the marathon six-hour meeting was a hearing on budget proposals from three health and human services departments. The department cuts could have a huge impact on the city’s most vulnerable people, potentially cutting services to thousands. Director of Public Health Mitchell Katz had the unenviable position of presenting the committee with more than $70 million in reductions to his department’s budget (that’s cuts and increased revenue).
Campos focused on cuts to HIV prevention that he said will disproportionately hurt the Latino LGBT community, asking Katz why they would choose to cut such critical programs.
“What kind of message are we sending to the LGBT community, especially the LGBT community of color, as a city, in the year 2009? It is pretty scary,” he said.
Despite it being Campos’ first Budget and Finance Committee meeting, he was one of the most vocal members. We can hope for the same over the next few months as the committee tries to help shape the mayor’s budget for next year. Mayor Gavin Newsom must submit his budget to the board in June, and the Sup clearly wanted to put his own priorities into the process.
“I think that as we look at these numbers,” he said, “it is especially important to us that we provide a process for the most disenfranchised communities to actually be able to tell us what these numbers mean to them. And I can tell you that even though the cuts are going to have a pretty disproportionate impact on communities of color, even within those committees of color … there are some communities that are going to be more affected than others.”
In response to these concerns, Avalos said he’s willing to have discussions with different communities about the budget process. We’ll keep an eye out to see if those meetings actually happen.