Look, we know local politics is a bore. If it were exciting we'd probably be in the middle of a revolution. Our eleven supervisors would be replaced by eleven champions chosen for their worthiness on the field of battle and the grand staircase in City Hall would be a waterfall of blood pouring forth from the People's Chambers. Sorry, what were we saying? Oh yeah, Question Time with Temporary Mayor Ed Lee is incredibly boring.
As this thing kicked off just after roll call in today's meeting, President Chiu acknowledged the idea originally came about during more tense times in City Hall - pretty much letting everyone in the audience know this was just going to be a game of softball. Chiu then turned the floor over to Mayor Lee so he could thank everyone for inviting him to the meeting and let us know he was looking forward to an "open and meaningful dialogue." He must have meant "meaningful dialogue" as in "stuff I'm going to read off of this sheet of paper in front of me" because that is exactly what went down for the next half hour.
Letting Eric Mar lead off the questioning didn't help spice things up either. Mar's question was so flat we kind of spaced out for a moment. Some platitudes were exchanged about making sure the community would be involved in revitalizing the Central Market area and Lee managed to talk through his allotted 5 minutes before getting the buzzer to move on. Much to our delight, it's the same buzzer used in public comment. Much to our dismay, no one actually cuts out Mayor Lee's mic at the end.
President Chiu's question about the various levels of cuts to city services that will be necessary to balance the budget elicited a response about protecting core city services to make sure the city was "safe", followed by an elementary school career day version of how balancing the budget works: There's no "magic formula" to decide what gets cut and some city services have an easier time of hitting their goals than others. It was basically five minutes of: "Shucks, balancing the budget ain't easy, ya know."
In response to Ross "Potentially Sheriff" Mirkarimi's question about what the city plans to do when Gov. Brown's AB 109 bill shifts inmate populations from state facilities back to local municipalities, the Mayor had a decent, by-the-numbers answer: San Francisco's rehabilitation programs mean the city sends fewer criminals to state pens. Currently, his office reckons we'll get about 700 new inmates, but they don't have a clear idea of how much that's going to cost yet. Overall, it sounds like Mirkarimi is the only one who's currently worried about the issue. Lee didn't get the time limit buzzer though, so there's that.
Supervisor Elsbernd's question asked for Lee's thoughts on Pension Reform. Which was silly because the Board went in to closed session with the Mayor to discuss Pension reform immediately after.
Finally, for Supervisor Avalos' question about revitalization of the Balboa Park Station area, Lee basically agreed that the maintenance yard is pretty gross and they should totally turn part of that in to some affordable housing.
Still, Lee managed to show some liveliness by thanking Supervisor Campos for his question. Which was a joke. Because Campos didn't submit a question. Good one, Mayor Lee!
As usual, full board meeting recap to follow on Wednesday.