Redbeardedguy - Posted on 29 March 2011


The Controller is the Shadow Master of the Senior and Adult Services Agency, part of the Commission On Aging and Adult Services, managing the budget of seniors, the disabled, and Welfare recipients.

The budget that you see is actually conceived three years before it is fought over in public and made policy.  Tweaking, adding or subtracting taxes, goes on while the back-door pulling of hairs out of heads happens.  If you want something done, you go to the Controller's office as soon as a budget is signed into law.

This poverty scholar has been in the Shadow Master's lair.  It's like being in Charles Dickens' universe back in the day.  Buried in the catacombs of City Hall are row after row of accountants.  They don't wear green eyeshades and sit hunch-backed over ledger books, they have computers destroying their eyesight. 

You make your way through a maze of office workers sitting at cubicle-less desks to get to Mr. Controller.  Once there, after greeting him you say, "We need X, Y and Z.  What can you do with the budget to get this?"

No beating around the bush, you'll either get a "Yes", a "No", or a "Get the hell out of my office!"  If you ask why he can't do something for you, he may give you TMI (Too Much Information), but it won't be said in million dollar wordage requiring a 20lb dictionary to decipher what he meant. 

Maybe that's why he isn't a Supervisor, or Mayor?  He's too honest.  He may tell you to go see a Supervisor to get this or that city ordinance changed, to get what you want if he had to say "No!"--and he'll tell you not to use his name when doing so or he'll having spoken to you at all.

An example.  In 2005 Elder San Franciscans needed extra money for food, medical care, and other necessities.  The Controller suggested taking 25% of the money that parking lots are taxed and transferring that to the part of the budget subsidising elder needs.  This was a "scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours" plan, which would include setting up a mechanism for figuring out how much money the parking lots actually gross and net annually, since there wasn't a set-up for that then and any figure the parking lot people stated was taken for truth. 

The result:  for two years there was new money going to senior needs.  Other city departments, including the SFPD, went to court challenging the legality of the deal because they were looking for money to put in their budgets.  The SFPD has been sucking money out of MUNI's budget, via over-time and other tricks, thus they figured out their own back-channel means for beefing up their budget.

What you hear about the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors running the City of San Francisco is partly true.  The powers behind thrones produce the blueprints for the structure of our lives.  Sometimes heroes, sometimes villains, they are rats in The Amazing Race to keep the city from falling apart completely. 

This poverty skolah concludes this chapter of CrumbWatch.  We're always watching the people who trickle down the crumbs.  We always will.



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