This week, we asked candidates what they thought about the elimination of the so-called district allocations, which were $100,000 lump sums that used to be given to district supervisors for their use within the district.
The City Attorney recently deemed that the funds were illegitimate because they gave supervisors too much power in allocating public money, a fact brought to our attention by local blogger and activist Michael Petrelis.
We thought we’d ask the supervisors what they thought about this change.
What do you think about the elimination of the district allocation? Do you want to see another revenue source for district-specific spending?
Respuestas en español aquí.
Melissa San Miguel, education advocate
I am for supporting the residents of District 9. Having funding for emergency relief and other similar situations can be acceptable uses of these allocations. Government was set up to help people afterall. However, I can see the ways these allocations could be abused, most especially when a sole Supervisor makes the spending determinations and these funds are all discretionary. These dollars shouldn’t go towards paying for Christmas parties and the like, which can happen. Elected officials can use this money to help themselves get ahead instead of actually helping the constituents in their district. There should be full transparency in the decision-making process for spending allocations that includes community input.
Joshua Arce, community liaison for Laborers Local 261
At recent candidate forums we have become accustomed to hearing current District 9 legislative aide Hillary Ronen rattle off a list of non-profits that she has helped direct money to through the district allocation as “proof” of her qualifications. The district allocation was not intended to be a patronage system, and the inability of Ronen to deliver more than these meager crumbs relative to the City’s $9 billion budget is a major reason that the Mission and the neighborhoods of District 9 are in such a tailspin.
The status quo has failed to deliver the resources our community-based organizations and community initiatives need to avoid even further decline. We should be thinking much bigger, working beyond discretionary allocation and the insufficiency of the add-back process to deliver maximum funding and services into our community.
I will do this by negotiating increased funding for District 9 needs from every City department, because as past president of the Environment Commission and leader of years of successful housing, jobs, and environmental initiatives, I enjoy collaborative and productive relationships with nearly every department, untainted by the toxicity and ineffectiveness that exists in the current District 9 office.
The Mission cannot survive with more of the same. Small thinking equals small results.
Iswari España, training officer with the San Francisco Human Services Agency
I am very concerned with the ban of district allocation by the City Attorney’s office. When the funds were available, at least the public could cross-reference the City Controller or the Ethics Committee for transparency and accountability. I hope that the city will provide another revenue source for district specific spending with an oversight fund soon. I am concerned that now lobbyists will have an open door policy. In D9 for instance, lobbyists have been knocking the door of our representatives and they have answered it. They have met with lobbyists representing cold-hearted developers with anti-community agendas for projects here in the Mission. These folks represent Nick Podell and the Grocery Outlet Store. (Public Data at the Ethics Committee) These lobbyists have even made contributions to my competitors’ campaigns. (See link)
Hillary Ronen, chief of staff for Supervisor David Campos
I would like to see a return of the $100,000 discretionary spending for the district. In the three years when the discretionary pot of money existed, the District 9 office spent:
- $75k on a gun buy-back program that removed 157 guns from the streets of the Mission.
- $25k on deep street cleaning in the district.
- $45k for a neighborhood planning project to enhance the garden character of the Portola.
- $30k to restore the mural at the Bernal Heights branch library.
- $25k to stipend formerly homeless individuals to engage in peer outreach to improve public safety at the 16th Street Bart station.
- $25k to support community outreach when the homeless navigation center was built in the Mission.
- $35k to begin implementing the neighborhood garden identity plan in the Portola.
- $40k to subsidize rents to rehouse tenants displaced from the 22nd Street fire in the Mission.
All of these projects were neighborhood priorities that arose outside the regular budget process. There is no other source of City funds for unexpected community priorities.
43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to email@example.com and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked.
I’m curious about the $80k spent on the Portola “garden identity plan” and “enhanc(ing) the garden character of Portola. What is that exactly, what’s the plan, who’s benefiting, etc?
$75k on a gun buy-back program that removed 157 guns from the streets of the Mission.
WOrst money spent ever! Thank you Hilary Ronin for that easy to read list of the expenditures. Almost $500 per weapon!
And we know for sure that this program prevented a shooting right?
I like the 100K being at the discretion of a supervisor. It’s a rare case in government where it’s clear where the money is going and who is accountable.
If only they did this at the school level. Can you imagine the school improvements if Principals were given the cash to do what is necessary vs being forced to purchase new math books that are not needed.
As far as I know, Mission Local is the only outlet to pick up on what I discovered from the City Controller: that the City Attorney banned the $100,000 annual slush funds the Supervisors used to receive. Very pleased to see Joe Rivano Barros asked the candidates for their views on the end of the funds and it’s fascinating to read their responses.
Thanks, Joe, for the credit and link!