A Land-Grab Developers Will Love

Breed’s Blank Check:

Re-Zoning Public Lands

Mayor London Breed should be commended for advocating for more affordable housing development.

But she’s playing from State Senator Scott Wiener’s disastrous re-zoning playbook. Wiener’s failed SB-827 and SB-50 involved legislation that would have undermined a long list of local controls over housing development.

Similarly, Breed is trying to override neighborhood input into housing projects by trampling on San Francisco’s local land-use controls.

...when Breed placed the re-zoning measure on the ballot all by herself, she must have understood she would be depriving both members of the public and the Board of Supervisors of any public debate or discussion about the merits — or lack thereof — of her proposal.”

Observers wonder whether she and Wiener are pandering to developers expecting quid pro quo campaign contributions.

Breed is putting three ballot measures on the ballot this November — a $600 million general obligation bond; a Charter change measure to hand 100% affordable housing projects “by-right” status that will deprive neighborhoods of input during public appeals and discretionary reviews, and prevent challenges under CEQA; and an Ordinance to re-zone all public land (except Park and Recreation property) to permit housing where residential housing is currently prohibited.

All three measures have serious problems. This article focuses on the re-zoning measure, arguably the worst of the bunch.

Citywide Re-Zoning of Public Lands

On June 11, Breed staged a press conference about the City purchasing 1515 South Van Ness from Lennar Multifamily Properties. She stated: “We have to be aggressive when it comes to getting more housing in the City. … The other thing that I’m proposing is an Ordinance, which I don’t have to go to the Board of Supervisors [for], thank goodness.

Breed wanted to place the “aggressive” measure on the ballot all by herself so she could sidestep opposition from Supervisors and members of the public. Breed could have introduced the same Ordinance to the Supervisors, and the Board could have approved it without asking voters to weigh in. They’ve done so before.

Clearly, when Breed placed the re-zoning measure on the ballot all by herself, she must have understood she would be depriving both members of the public and the Board of Supervisors of any public debate or discussion about the merits — or lack thereof — of her proposal.

Teacher Housing Project Misinformation

During Breed’s June 11 press conference, she implied delays with the teacher housing project at 43rd & Irving are due solely to zoning issues. Breed claimed: “Everybody is wondering why Francis Scott Key is taking an additional two years. Because the property is not zoned for housing.”

That’s pure nonsense. The delay was caused by multiple factors, re-zoning the least of them.

The Chronicle reported April 24 “developers have yet to break ground, in part because they had to apply to rezone the parcel …On June 21, 2019 the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) admitted the project is still in its “design phase.” Third graders know you can’t break ground and begin building a project still being designed.

The Chronicle mentioned nothing about the three-and-a-half-year delay during which MOHCD has stalled issuing the third and final $92.5 million portion, or tranche — fully 30% — of the $310 million 2015 Affordable Housing Bond that won’t be issued until the Fall of 2019. The delay issuing the bonds may have contributed to the project not having broken ground.

MOHCD issued a Request for Development Proposals for educator rental housing on October 3, 2017. Six months later, MOHCD awarded development rights for the project to MidPen Housing in April 2018. It then took MidPen another seven months before it submitted a Preliminary Project Assessment (PPA) to the Planning Department on November 19, 2018. It took another four months before MidPen submitted additional applications for the project to Planning in mid-March 2019, including an Environmental application (ENV), a Project Profile (PRJ), a Zoning Map Amendment (MAP), and a Planning Code Amendment (PCA).

MidPen submitted a General Plan Amendment (GPA) to Planning for the project on May 1, 2019 to create a Special Use District for the property. So, in reality, MidPen’s re-zoning application for the project has been before the Planning Department for under 60 days since May 2019, not the two-years Breed wildly claims to rationalize her citywide re-zoning of public lands.

On June 17, 2019 the Planning Department reported “No project-specific hearings or re-zoning hearings have taken place, nor have any been scheduled” by either Planning or the Board of Supervisors on MidPen’s various applications.

“Against the Interest of the People”

Against this backdrop, the San Francisco Examiner reported on June 15 that another housing project proposed for Balboa Reservoir is against the interests of the community.

Community members are concerned selling public land to private investors is a bad idea. Labor journalist and City College advocate Steve Zelzter said:

“You are turning public land over to private developers — it’s against the interest of the people of San Francisco. We should not trust developers to take care of our interests and needs.”

Dueling Ballot Measures

News surfaced June 19 that the Elections Department received two competing ballot measures for November dealing with re-zoning of public land: One ordinance submitted by Breed and a second ordinance by four Supervisors (Supervisors Peskin, Fewer, Walton, and Haney). A side-by-sidecomparison sheds some light on their differences.

The Affordable Teacher Housing Program component of Breed’s proposal requires no less than two-thirds of the housing units must be deed restricted for affordable units. The other third can apparently be market-rate units (on public land re-zoned). That’s essentially a giveaway to Senator Wiener’s and Breed’s developer friends and campaign donors, and amounts to awarding public lands to DIMBY’s (Developers Invading Municipal Back Yards).

Inexplicably, Breed’s measure prohibits building both the 100% Affordable Housing and Affordable Teacher Housing components in RH-1 and RH-1(D) zoned neighborhoods, portending no teacher housing would be built on the West Side.

Breed’s measure contains a poison pill titled “Conflicting Measures,” which says in the event her Ordinance and any other measure(s) regarding 100% affordable teacher housing and regulation of Public (P) zoned districts appear on the same ballot, then the other measure(s) shall “be deemed to be in conflict” and her Ordinance will prevail (provided she receives more affirmative votes), and the other measure(s) “shall be null and void in their entirety.”

According to a City Hall source who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Supervisors “only saw the Mayor’s proposal” the night before she submitted it to Elections. The source noted:

“I think the Supervisors were clear in their statements … that they would prefer to do this work legislatively at the Board. But given that the Mayor has refused to sit down with the Legislative branch about any of her [three ballot measure] proposals, this [dueling measure] creates space to negotiate and work toward a compromise.”

Breed prefers to work by fiat.

If a single compromise measure is reached between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors, they have until August 2 to submit a consolidated measure to Elections.

The best course of action would be to withdraw both competing measures from the ballot, and continue the current practice of having the Board of Supervisors hear re-zoning applications on a project-by-project basis, allowing robust public debate on the merits and impacts of housing developments on affected neighborhoods.

Disconnect on Number of Parcels

The Chronicle’s April 24 article noted Breed’s re-zoning measure would affect “about” 500 parcels zoned for public use that currently prohibit building residential housing.

In June 2018, the Planning Department provided a list of 930 parcels zoned as “Public (P)” by various Assessor “Use Types.” Weirdly, the list didn’t include a category for “Recreation and Parks” properties. Well over two-thirds of the 930 Public parcels are not vacant land on which the City can build affordable housing.

Nine parcels are our public hospitals at SFGH and Laguna Honda Hospital, which represent just 0.98% of the 930 parcels that we should reserve for medical facilities, rather than housing, in the future.

If there is going to be a re-zoning carve-out exempting Rec and Park property, there should also be a carve-out exempting “P” parcels with an Assessor’s “Use Type” of hospitals, too.

Laguna Honda Hospital Land Grab

Healthcare advocates placed Prop. D on the June 2006 ballot to re-zone LHH’s campus for only elderly and disabled San Franciscans. Opponents launched a meritless and brutal disinformation campaign, falsely claiming developers were engaging in a land grab to hand over LHH’s campus to private developers. The ensuing hysteria sank Prop. D, which voters rejected.

Ironically, Breed now wants voters to approve re-zoning all public parcels (except parks) to hand over to private developers.

The Westside Observer reported in July 2018 Supervisor Yee began pitching a proposal to MOHCD in March 2018 to build a six-story building with up to 160 units of senior housing on LHH’s campus, with a full spectrum for those who need assisted living, skilled nursing, and independent living options.

MOHCD’s director, Kate Hartley, shot Yee down, flatly claiming LHH’s site “wasn’t big enough.” Hartley also noted LHH’s campus is a Public (P) parcel that prohibits residential housing.

Yee tried again in December 2018, proposing a significantly larger “Life Care Facility” for LHH’s campus. That proposal was shot down, too.

Obviously, if LHH’s site is “too small” it shouldn’t be re-zoned to build market-rate teacher housing on the property!

Secondarily, LHH has worked with community partners to develop hiking trails on LHH’s campus, such that its recreational land should also be exempt. The Laguna Honda Community Trail project sponsored by San Francisco Urban Riders has been improving and restoring over two miles of historic multi-use trails at LHH since 2017, funded in part by Supervisor Yee’s District 7 Participatory Budget.

Vote No!

Breed and the Board of Supervisors need to clean house streamlining other bureaucratic delays besides zoning. Neither of the competing ballot measures will solve the other problems.

Re-zoning should be handled legislatively. There’s no reason for voters to be weighing in on this when the Board currently has authority to do re-zoning on a parcel-by-parcel basis.

Vote “No”!

An expanded version of this article with additional discussion is available at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for SF’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

JULY 2019

Failure to Sufficiently Reconsider

Patrick Monette-ShawHigh Costs of Wrongful Arrests and Convictions

Can you exonerate the truly innocent in a legal system having binary verdicts available: “Guilty” vs. “Not Guilty”? Unfortunately, the answer may be “No.”

I was stuck by this reading Preet Bharara’s book “Doing Justice,” in which he noted “There’s no such thing as a verdict of innocence.”

Bharara was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017, when President Trump fired him. In his book, Bharara recounts several stories of innocent people who had been wrongly accused and forever injured because of a failure to sufficiently reconsider evidence and facts at multiple points in the criminal justice system, leading to injustice against innocent people.

In the end, San Francisco taxpayers will end up forking over well upwards of $53 million because police officers hadn’t gotten it right. A cast of prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, district attorneys, and jurors also didn’t get it right, because of their combined failure to sufficiently reconsider. And the failure to reconsider shattered these innocent men’s lives.

He recounts the case of a man who spent 17 years in Sing Sing prison for a murder he hadn’t committed along with five other defendants who had also been falsely convicted in a second murder. In 2013, the convictions against all six were overturned; the defendants received $3.9 million from the state and New York City paid the wrongfully accused $40 million in 2016.

The Innocence Project reported in March 2016 that between 1989 and 2012, wrongful convictions cost California taxpayers at least $221 million, including $80 million for costs of incarceration, $68 million for lawsuit settlements, $68 million spent on trials and appeals, and $5 million in state compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

That included $12.6 million in San Francisco for 97 wrongful arrests and convictions, and legal settlements and fees during that 23-year period. There’s been additional wrongful convictions and settlements since then.

As the Westside Observer reported last March, San Francisco taxpayers have had to foot the $90.7 million bill for City Attorney time and expenses plus settlement awards in 359 prohibited personnel practice lawsuits brought by City employees involving on-the-job bullying, wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, and other practices between 2007 and 2018.

Wrongful Arrests and Convictions in SF

On April 3 a records request was placed to the City Attorney’s Office seeking settlements awarded to plaintiffs, plus the City Attorney’s time and expenses involved in wrongful prosecution, wrongful conviction, and wrongful incarceration lawsuits concluded in San Francisco between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 2018.

The City Attorney’s Office (CAO) responded on April 29, providing an Excel file listing 366 lawsuits, but excluded one pivotal case, which makes it 367.

The data reveals taxpayers have had to pay $53.4 million, at minimum, in City Attorney time and expenses plus settlement awards for 367 lawsuits against the City for unlawful arrest, excessive force by law enforcement officers, and other causes.

The data shows:

• Of the 366 lawsuits fully settled, 227 (62%) involved unlawful arrest, and comprised $22.6 million (56.2%) of $40.3 million in total costs.

• Among the 366 lawsuits, another 98 cases (27%) involved excessive force by police officers and “Other” types of actions by the police, comprising an additional $15.9 million (40%) of total costs.

• Of the 366 lawsuits, plaintiffs received $15.7 million (39%) in settlements, while the City Attorney racked up $24.6 million in time and expenses, 61% of total costs.

• Adding in the known $13.1 million settlement in the Trulove lawsuit, total costs grows to at least $53.4 million, which will increase when the CAO finally settles Trulove’s case and releases the CAO’s time and expenses.

Had more of Bharara’s admonition to sufficiently reconsider been given before unlawfully arresting people and using excessive force, perhaps taxpayers would not have been on the hook for the $53.4 million (and growing) costs!

Four Cases: Wrongful Incarceration

Among the lawsuits filed in San Francisco, four men were innocent, but wrongfully incarcerated. Costs of their cases involve $30.8 million, and still growing.

• Caramad Conley: Conley was wrongfully convicted in 1994 and sentenced to serve two life-without-parole terms for a 1989 drive-by shooting that left two dead and injured 11 others.

Superior Court Judge Marla Miller ruled in December 2010 that Conley had been denied a fair trial, and was wrongly and unconstitutionally convicted, in part because material information was not provided to Conley’s lawyers. The lead police investigator in the case, Earl Sanders — who later became San Francisco’s Chief of Police briefly — knew a witness had committed perjury, but didn’t correct the false testimony. It wasn’t the only case in which Sanders withheld information from defense lawyers, a Brady offense.

Conley was released in January 2011 after serving 18 years in prison.

• John Tennison and Antoine Goff: Tennison then 17 and Goff then 19, were charged with first-degree murder of Roderick Shannon on August 19, 1989. Police claimed the pair of men had been identified by two teenage eyewitnesses, one girl 14 and another girl 11.

The Court ruled prosecutors and police had information that another person might have committed the crime but did not disclose it during the trial. Tennison and Goff had filed complaints alleging numerous Brady violations.

Prison Legal News reported that two SFPD investigators — Earl Sanders and Napoleon Hendrix — had coached the 11-year-old girl who witnessed the shooting and had suppressed a video-taped post-trial confession by Lovinsky Ricard, the actual killer. In 2002 Sanders and Hendrix were accused of misconduct and colluding with prosecutors in suppressing Ricard’s confession. That confession and other information was also never turned over to Tennison’s and Goff’s defense lawyers.

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken overturned Tennison’s conviction on August 26, 2003.

• Jamal Trulove: In 2010, Trulove was convicted of murdering his friend in 2007 at a Sunnydale housing project. A state appeals court overturned his conviction in 2014. A second jury acquitted him of murder at retrial in 2015, finding that the police had, essentially, framed him.

In 2016, Trulove sued four named SF police officers involved. “A federal jury determined that the two lead homicide inspectors on the case, Maureen D’Amico and Michael Johnson, not only made up evidence against Trulove but withheld evidence that would have helped him.”

CBS News reports Trulove accepted a $13.1 million settlement in exchange for the City dropping its appeal of the $14.5 million in damages a federal jury in Oakland had awarded him last year.

Of note, both the Conley and Tennison/Goff cases involved the same police investigators, Napoleon Hendrix (who has since died) and Earl Sanders, who retired in 2003. The Courts overturned the murder verdicts in both criminal lawsuits because investigators had illegally withheld exculpatory evidence.

In the Tennision and Goff lawsuit, the U.S. District court ruled that the prosecutor had a duty to ensure Brady evidence that came to light after conviction was provided to the defendants. That apparently didn’t happen.

The Brady doctrine is a pre-trial discovery rule based on the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland. The Supreme Court ruled prosecutors are required to disclose any information and exculpatory evidence favorable to the defense, in part because Brady violations send potentially innocent people to prison.

When prosecutors withhold Brady violations they engage in the worst kind of prosecutorial misconduct and violate prosecutorial ethics.

Failure to Reconsider

After Tennison and Goff eventually filed a federal lawsuit in April 2004, it took nearly another six years before they received their settlement awards in July 2010 — 19 years after their belated-justice nightmare began. Strangely, the City Attorney’s Office claims the Tennison and Goff lawsuit was finally “settled” on August 21, 2014 — four years later!

Bharara reminds us people’s understanding of the truth — whether about the correctness of a fact, or the guilt of a person — should never be unalterable. That includes sufficiently reconsidering at every step during an investigation. We need to put ourselves in Conley’s, Tennison’s, Goff’s, and Trulove’s shoes: Combined, they spent a half century wrongly incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit.

In the end, San Francisco taxpayers will end up forking over well upwards of $53 million because police officers hadn’t gotten it right. A cast of prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, district attorneys, and jurors also didn’t get it right, because of their combined failure to sufficiently reconsider. And the failure to reconsider shattered these innocent men’s lives.

An expanded version of this article is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for the Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

JUNE 2019

2015 Affordable Housing Bond Update

Affordable Housing That Wasn’t

In November 2015 voters approved a $310 million Affordable Housing Bond. The Westside Observer has reported on the bond several times. Now’s a good time for another review, because the mayor is proposing a second affordable housing bond, even before the first one is finished.

Mayor Breed wants to increase a new $300 million affordable housing bond planned for the November 2019 ballot by $200 million—to $500 million. Supervisor Matt Haney wants a $1 billion bond.

The Supervisors have until mid-July to approve a bond measure for the ballot.

The November 2015 ballots to approve the bond explicitly stated the question being put before voters was whether the bond would include a middle-income rental program. The legal text of the Affordable Housing Bond clearly stated in the November 2015 voter guide a portion of the bond would be used to create “Middle-Income Rental Housing.”

Problems With Bond Oversight

The slow pace of the 2015 housing bonds is troublesome. The Controller’s Office confirmed that as of April 2019 just $217.3 million — 70% — of the $310 million bond has been issued so far. The first tranche was issued on November 1, 2016 for $75.1 million; the second tranche was issued on May 23, 2018 for $142.1 million, two-and-a-half years after voter approval.

MOHCD claims the remaining third tranche — for $92.5 million, representing 30% — will be issued in the Fall of 2019, four years after voters approved the bond in 2015. Why is it taking so long?

The Citizen’s General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee (CGOBOC) oversees spending of general obligation bonds. Currently $4 billion across 12 bonds.

CGOBOC has done a terrible job so far holding the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) accountable for the bond spending. Successive updates from MOHCD keep shifting planned bond uses, and CGOBOC has done little to reign in MOHCD. Why does planned spending keep shifting so often?

When CGOBOC held its first hearing on the bond in January 2016 it had eight members, five are no longer there. Because the 2015 affordable housing bond is far from over, CGOBOC’s institutional knowledge of bond spending will be severely compromised when the three remaining members are termed out.

Lack of Metrics to Evaluate Bond Spending

When CGOBOC held its first hearing on the bond, several CGOBOC members expressed the need to develop “metrics” to assess bond spending and whether the right allocation decisions had been made.

CGOBOC members in January 2016 suggested several metrics, including the dollar amount allocated per project, the Area Median Income (AMI) targets, number of new units constructed vs. number of existing housing units preserved, household size, demographics targeted (e.g., populations such as the homeless, seniors, veterans, teachers, families, etc.), and the Supervisorial districts in which projects are actually developed.

It now appears MOHCD’s only metric is the number of units produced. To date, MOHCD hasn’t provided CGOBOC members with a breakout on the number of new housing units produced versus existing units rehabilitated or preserved.

Changes in Bond Spending

In 2014 and 2015, prior to placing the housing bond on the November 2015 ballot, successive documents from the Mayor’s office included several proposed programs that were subsequently eliminated, including a $17 million Middle-Income Rental Housing program, and a $25 million Expiring Regulations Preservation category to preserve existing rental units. The two sub-categories were introduced to CGOBOC in January 2016 but were eliminated by July 2016.

The number of units planned in each of four main housing categories have bounced all over the place in successive reports to CGOBOC shown in the table. Didn’t CGOBOC members notice during the past three-and-a-half years the drastic changes in planned bond uses?

Middle-Income Housing Cuts

Despite Mayor Lee’s observation in Time magazine in January 2014 that everybody assumed the middle-class were moving out of San Francisco, uses of the 2015 bond to help middle-income residents have shrank in the number of planned units.

The Middle-Income Housing category planned for 519 units has now dropped to 275 units, a 47% percent change decline from June 2015 projections. And there’s been a massive shift from rental units to ownership units.

There are no state or federal funding sources for middle-income housing. That’s why the middle-income housing category was added to the bond. So, SF took the lead, dedicating $80 million as a local source subsidy for middle-income housing.

The bond included 235 rental units in the Middle Income Housing main category — 85 in the Middle-Income Rental Program and 150 in the Expiring Regulations Preservation subcategories. The Expiring Regulations Preservation was intended to protect existing units with affordable rents from expiring and becoming market-rate units, displacing tenants.

The remaining 284 units — 34 down-payment assistance (DALP) loans and 250 Teacher Next Door loans — were for middle-income ownership purchases, not rentals. Their drop to just 172 loans in 2018 presents a 39.4% change decline.

Although the 235 rental units were eliminated by July 2016, the main category still contains 103 rental units, 82 of which are reserved for teachers. Nevertheless, it represents a 56.2% change decline in the number of middle-income rental units.

How has the Middle-Income Rental
Program Vanished?

The November 2015 ballots to approve the bond explicitly stated the question being put before voters was whether the bond would include a middle-income rental program. The legal text of the Affordable Housing Bond clearly stated in the November 2015 voter guide a portion of the bond would be used to create “Middle-Income Rental Housing.”

CGOBOC members should have known the legal text and question posed to voters mandated the Middle-Income Rental program. And they should have noticed that the Middle-Income Rental program presented to it in January 2016 when they assumed oversight of bond spending was suddenly eliminated seven months later in July 2016. But CGOBOC’s meeting minutes never reported any discussion about why the category vanished.

Given the temporal proximity in time, some wondered whether MOHCD may have decided that after Prop C passed in June 2016 that MOHCD could remove the Middle-Income Rental program from the Affordable Housing Bond a month later. It’s ludicrous. The inclusionary aspects of Prop C didn’t solve or achieve affordable rents designed to be addressed through the Middle-Income Rental program.

When asked to comment about whether Prop C’s passage had contributed to MOHCD’s decision to eliminate the Middle-Income Rental program, MOHCD’s director Kate Hartley indicated on April 23, 2019 “We did not conclude that Proposition C’s tiered income eligibility approach solved the middle-income housing need.

Dialing for Middle-Income Dollars

Successive MOHCD reports to CGOBOC have documented drastic shifts in spending within the Middle-Income Housing category budget.

In June 2015 and January 2016, MOHCD reported to CGOBOC that between the DALP and Teacher Next Door loan ownership programs, a combined $15 million would comprise about 26% of the Middle-Income Housing budget. The Middle-Income Rental and Expiring Regulations Preservation categories — both rental programs — were expected to be awarded a combined $42 million, comprising 74% of the Middle-Income budget.

Between January 2016 and December 2018, the DALP budget for middle-income ownership units jumped by $24.4 million — from $10 to $34.4 million. By December 2018, the DALP and Teacher Next Door loan ownership programs totaled $39.4 million between the two ownership purchase programs, representing 49% of the $80 million Middle-Income Housing budget, a 23% increase.

By December 2018, the remaining $39 million in the Middle-Income category that may be for rental projects represented 49% of the budget, a drop from 74%.

Caveat Emptor

City Hall needs to abandon the belief that the middle-class are fleeing the City, and needs to dedicate more local funding for middle-class rental housing production.

An expanded version of this article with additional discussion, is available at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

MAY 2019

Embezzlement in the Westside ’Hood

The Westside Observer has received an anonymous tip: A San Francisco Police Department incident report, a public record, has come to light indicating that grand theft embezzlement of the Forest Hill Association was reported to the Taraval Police Station on September 24, 2018 after a forensic accountant examined the Association’s billing records.

The case involved Forest Hill Association employee Janette Najar, named in the incident report as a being a potential suspect in embezzlement of over $50,000 from the Association. She had been employed for three years but was quickly terminated when the suspected embezzlement was discovered.

Najar’s job involved booking parties and events in the Association’s Forest Hill Clubhouse community facility and depositing the rental income in the Association’s bank account. Discrepancies between amounts billed to clients renting the Clubhouse, and amounts deposited to the Association’s bank account raised concerns”

Najar’s job involved booking parties and events in the Association’s Forest Hill Clubhouse community facility and depositing the rental income in the Association’s bank account. Discrepancies between amounts billed to clients renting the Clubhouse, and amounts deposited to the Association’s bank account raised concerns among officers of the Association, who filed the police report at Taraval Station.

The incident report noted that Police Officer James Barber, who took the police report, called SFPD’s Financial Crimes Bureau and left a phone message to report the incident. Unfortunately, it is thought PD’s Financial Crimes unit has been reduced to just one employee who may have insufficient resources to pursue the incident. The Association is clearly very interested in reimbursement of its missing funds.

“As a Forest Hills resident, I am shocked and appalled learning about this police report,” says Joe Bravo. “I urge and request that this be investigated to get to the truth; no time should be wasted completing an investigation,” he added.

It’s not known if the incident has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office for restitution. Police Chief Bill Scott; former Police Chief Greg Suhr; and neighborhood officials such as Supervisor Norman Yee, former Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White, and the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Sean Elsbernd should be encouraged to follow up on this case.

Anyone having knowledge of Ms. Najar’s potentially improper activities should contact SFPD’s Financial Crimes Unit at (415) 553-1521, and Taraval Police Station Captain Nicholas Rainsford at (415) 759-3100.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for SF’s Westside Observer newspaper. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com

APRIL 2019

Incestuous Intersection of Politics and Money

Hon. Scott R. Heldfond

Regime Churn of SFERS’ Trustees

Mayor Breed churned one conflict-of-interest-laden incumbent, Wendy Paskin-Jordan, for another conflict-of-interest replacement, Scott R. Heldfond, for appointment to the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) board of trustees?

During the Board of Supervisors March 18 Rules Committee hearing to consider Mayor Breed’s appointment of Heldfond to SFERS, new information came to light. Rules Committee chairperson Supervisor Hillary Ronen noted an elephant in the room: that Paskin-Jordan asserted she was told by Breed that if Wendy met with and had support from the Board of Supervisors, Breed would re-appoint her to SFERS’ board. Instead, the Mayor nominated Heldfond to replace her.

Let’s take this story in reverse cuisine order: Main course Heldfond, followed by appetizer Paskin-Jordan.

Main Course: Heldfond’s Troubled History

Breed had already notified the Board of Supervisors on February 22 she had appointed Heldfond to the SFERS “seat formerly held by Wendy Paskin-Jordan.” Breed’s Chief of Staff, Sean Elsbernd, may have had his thumb on the scale getting Heldfond appointed.

Heldfond’s LinkedIn profile summarizes his background and employment with Aon PLC (Aon Risk Services) as a senior vice president, and as a director of Mendocino Brewing and UBICS, the latter two of which are subsidiaries of Vijay Mallya’s UB Group in India. [Editor: For discussion of Heldfond’s 14-year affiliation with Mallya, see Lou Barberini’s article in this issue of the Observer.]

Heldfond has served on two San Francisco city commissions, first on the Health Service System (HSS) Commission that oversees and manages health benefits for city employees, retirees, and their dependents. He currently sits on the Civil Service Commission.

During its March 18 hearing, the Rules Committee ignored a much larger elephant in the room: Heldfond’s real, and a second perceived, conflict of interest.

When the full Board of Supervisors heard the Rules Committee’s recommendation on March 19, they voted 9-to-2 to approve Heldfond. Only Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer and Board president Norman Yee voted against Heldfond’s confirmation.

Heldfond’s Service on Health Service System Board

Heldfond served for a decade-and-a-half between 1995 and 2010 on the HSS Commission; he resigned from that Commission on September 1, 2011. His resignation letter claimed he was resigning due to a perceived conflict of interest.

In early 2011, the City Controller issued a RFP for actuarial consulting work for HSS. Aon Hewitt’s San Francisco office submitted a bid proposal on May 12, 2011.

The two-highest bidders were invited to oral interviews. The panel interviewers awarded Aon Hewitt the highest oral score. Jay Huish, SFERS’ then-Deputy Director, was one of the two panelists; Huish was clearly involved in awarding Aon the HSS contract.

Then-Supervisor Sean Elsbernd served> simultaneously in 2011 as the Board of Supervisors appointee on both SFERS’ and HSS’ board of directors. Elsbernd had advocated aggressively SFERS hire Huish. Shortly after Aon was awarded HSS’ actuarial consulting contract in July 2011, Huish became SFERS’ Executive Director.

The City Controller reported on March 18, 2019 the total amount of “completed payments” as of March 10, 2019 to Aon Hewitt for the HSS contract totaled over $5 million and had run for a seven-year period through June 30, 2018, not the planned three-year period. Aon benefitted handsomely.

Heldfond’s resignation letter claimed it was just a coincidence he was an employee of a separate division of Aon. He noted “in fact, I had never met the [AON] team that won the business for consulting with HSS.” As an Aon senior vice president, how could he not have met the San Francisco Aon Hewitt team that won the contract with the Commission he served on?

And how could Heldfond not have known Aon would earn substantial fees from his real or perceived conflict of interest?

A Second Conflict of Interest “Coincidence”?

The three Rules Committee members also ignored on March 18, 2019 another larger elephant in the room: Heldfond’s potential second real, or perceived, conflict of interest involving, this time, the Retirement Fund — not HSS.

In January 2016 SFERS issued an RFP to perform investment consulting services for SFERS’ Deferred Compensation Plan. SFERS’ Deferred Comp Committee April 27, 2016 meeting minutes reported seven bid responses were received, including one bid in March 2016 from Aon Hewitt’s Chicago office for SFERS’ DC Plan RFP.

The Chicago office may be a separate location, but it appears to be a sister affiliation with Aon Hewitt’s San Francisco office, the latter of which was awarded the HSS actuarial consulting contract in 2011.

Although Aon Hewitt wasn’t selected for SFERS’ Deferred Comp Plan RFP, the “coincidence” of another Aon Hewitt entity bidding on an investment advisor contract — while Aon’s Hewitt’s actuarial services contract with HSS was still in effect until June 30, 2018 — is troubling.

To the extent various Aon affiliates continue to bid on contracts with SFERS and HSS, doesn’t that pose the same potential conflicts of interest for Mr. Heldfond?

L’Affaire Aon and Hedge Funds

On February 10, 2017 news broke in a Fortune.com article insurance broker Aon PLC agreed to sell its employee benefits outsourcing business to private equity firm Blackstone Group LP for up to $4.8 billion. Aon’s employee outsourcing benefits appears to have been handled by the outsourcing department of Aon Hewitt that was acquired by Blackstone and rebranded as “Alight Solutions.” As a venture capitalist and Aon senior vice president, did Heldfond not know about the sale?

Blackstone, readers may remember, is the first hedge-fund manager hired by SFERS’ board to invest its first $500,000 when it decided to wade into risky hedge fund investments. So now we have a SFERS hedge-fund manager that is also investing in cutting healthcare benefit costs.

During opening comments before the Rules Committee considering his appointment to SFERS Board on March 18, Heldfond asserted he had initiated the San Francisco–Bangalore Sister City Initiative.

He continues to serve as a Board member on the Bangalore Sister City Initiative. Heldfond is joined by other directors and by other Honorary and Emeritus Board members, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Governor Gavin Newsom, the late Mayor Ed Lee, former Mayor Frank Jordan, and by Mayor London Breed as the current Honorary Chairperson.

Hors d’oeuvres Appetizer: Paskin-Jordan’s Troubling 2015 Re-Appointment

Let’s shift to the appetizer of Paskin-Jordan.

Back in March 2015, the Westside Observer published my article on Mayor Ed Lee’s troubling reappointment of Wendy Paskin-Jordan to SFERS’ board. The article noted her many conflicts of interest and fitness to serve as a trustee of the pension fund.

Lee had to have known two conflict-of-interest complaints against Paskin-Jordan had been filed with the City’s Ethics Commission. Luckily, the Board of Supervisors were aware of the two Ethics complaints filed in 2014. Three mainstream media outlets had contemporaneously raised concerns about Paskin-Jordan’s reappointment.

At the time, observers believed Paskin-Jordan’s investments in GMO’s Quality Fund represented, at minimum, a perceived conflict of interest. SFERS’ executive director Jay Huish claimed to the Ethics Commission that she had been given the right to invest in the GMO fund at a lower level of investing before she was appointed to SFERS’ board and it was, therefore, permissible. She didn’t personally invest in GMO until August 30, 2011 after she had already been on the pension board for over a year.

Indeed, she failed to report her investment in the GMO Quality Fund in April 2012 and only got around to reporting it in March 2013, fully 16 to 19 months after acquiring it in August 2011. She should have reported it the same year she acquired it.

As reported in 2015, Mayor Lee noted Paskin-Jordan had served on Barclays Global Investors’ (BGI) board of directors until it was acquired by BlackRock (not to be confused with Blackstone), and she served as a Trustee of various funds of BlackRock Funds. Given SFERS’ involvement with BGI, her affiliation as a Trustee of various BGI money market funds should have been thoroughly investigated — which the Board of Supervisors completely failed to do. BGI was one of SFERS’ currency overlay managers that contributed to a $60+ million loss to SFERS over eight years.

Despite all of the ethical concerns raised regarding her reappointment, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Paskin-Jordan’s reappointment on January 7, 2015 and did so without probing into any of her conflicts of interest.

Paskin-Jordan’s critics in 2015 accused her of having delayed for almost two years SFERS’ divestment from its fossil fuel investments after the Board of Supervisors called for that divestment in 2013. She stalled, saying fossil fuel divestment needed to be done on a “thoughtful, prudent financial” basis (the same gibberish Heldfond regurgitated on March 18). Following her re-appointment, she continued to stall the SFERS fossil fuels divestment, and some observers worried her investments in Jeremy Grantham’s GMO Quality Fund may have slowed SFERS down.

Follow the Money

Beneficiaries of the Employees’ Retirement System and Health Service System — active city employees, retirees, and other beneficiaries — deserve better than having to put up with conflict-of-interest-laden appointees churned to these Boards. Can’t the mayor find anyone without clear conflicts of interest? This should embarrass Breed.

Now that Elsbernd has gotten his way several times, beneficiaries of the Retirement System should probably keep a close eye on now SFERS Trustee Heldfond to monitor how he affects the SFERS hedge fund investments, and SFERS Deferred Comp plan’s infatuation with investing in insurance annuities to the probable detriment of employees trying to save for their eventual retirements, particularly considering the incestuous nature of politics and money in San Francisco.

The regime may churn, but conflicts of interest remain. As the saying goes, follow the money. Follow the politics. And follow the potential incestuous conflicts of interest.

An expanded version of this article with additional discussion, is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

APRIL 2019

$90.7 Million and Counting …

Lawsuit Settlement Costs Escalate

It’s been observed elsewhere that keeping a bully on staff is the equivalent of burning a big pile of money in the back of your building.

By extension, keeping bullies employed in San Francisco City government is like throwing $90.7 million — and growing — of taxpayer funds down the toilet. Will there ever be a taxpayer revolt in San Francisco?

Clearly, the costs of settlements awarded and the costs of City Attorney time and expenses involved in fighting lawsuits filed by City employees that have now reached $90.7 million is just the tip of the iceberg in the total costs of workplace bullying. It’s nearly impossible to estimate the financial costs associated with employees’ lost productivity, lower morale, increased absenteeism, and costs associated with employee turnover, recruitment, and attrition.

City managers and our elected officials cannot afford to ignore the high cost of bullying, nor should taxpayers. After all, in the 11-year period between January 1, 2007 and December 14, 2018 there have been at least 461 lawsuits filed by City employees for violations of various prohibited personnel practices.

… by requiring City employee-defendants found guilty of harassment in a court of law to pay settlement costs out of their own pockets. It would have been the surest and fastest way to stop the harassment if perps knew they’d have to pay the settlements themselves.

The term “prohibited personnel practices” refers to behavior banned by existing federal, state, and local laws as unlawful — unwanted behavior like sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, racial discrimination and harassment, age discrimination, disability discrimination, wrongful termination, and other illegal practices.

This On-Going Series of Articles

Back on April 16, 2013 the San Francisco Examiner carried an article by Chris Roberts reporting $11 million had been awarded to City employees in 103 prohibited personnel practice lawsuits. The $11 million was subsequently confirmed to be even higher, at a minimum of at least $12.1 million.

In May 2013, the Westside Observer published my initial article, “High Costs of City Attorney’s Advice” on the costs of retaliation and bullying of City employees.

Following up to obtain fuller data prior to issuing my first update in July 2016, additional data revealed the $12.1 million had grown to $18.6 million, by finally adding in the City Attorney’s time and expenses trying to stop the lawsuits.

Three years later I published a first update in July 2016, reporting that Dr. Derek Kerr had uncovered the underlying data through a public records request to the City Attorney in October 2012, of which I performed a secondary data analysis.

By the time of my first update (July 2016), the City’s costs had grown to $41.6 million through May 29, 2016. By the second update (April 2017), total costs grew again to $58.2 million through March 8, 2017. By the third update (April 2018), costs had risen to $70 million through December 22, 2017. In this fifth article — the fourth update — costs climbed by another $20.7 million in the one-year period between December 23, 2017 and December 14, 2018 to a total of $90.7 million since 2007 — a whopping 649.6 percent change increase since the $12.1 million was reported in May 2013.

Current Update of Lawsuits

After placing a records request on December 13, 2018 to learn how many lawsuits may have been settled in the one-year period between December 23, 2017 and December 14, 2018, the City Attorney’s Office took 41 calendar days in which to respond with corrected information on February 4, after initially providing clearly flawed and incorrect data on December 31, 2018.

It was shocking learning on February 4 an additional 38 lawsuits had been concluded at an increased cost of $20.7 million in the one-year period over the $70 million Westside Observer last reported in March 2018. That’s the largest one-year increase since first beginning writing this series of articles.

A good chunk of the $20.7 million one-year increase involved a class-action lawsuit filed by Muni drivers against the SFMTA on July 16, 2012 alleging violations of Compensation law, in which the drivers were awarded an $8 million settlement. But that doesn’t include the lawsuit’s total costs.

San Francisco Examiner reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez initially reported on December 25, 2016 that the drivers were likely to earn that award because the MTA had failed to properly pay drivers.

Although the MTA Board approved the $8 million settlement on January 3, 2017, the CAO took its sweet time and didn’t officially close the drivers’ lawsuit until February 28, 2018. More shockingly, when the CAO finally reported the closure of the lawsuit, the CAO revealed it had its spent $746,970 in City Attorney time and an additional $1,884,989 in City Attorney expenses for a total of $2.6 million in addition to the $8 million settlement approved by MTA’s Board.

This single lawsuit cost the City and its taxpayers a total of $10.6 million — half of the $20.7 million one-year increase — because MUNI felt it didn’t need to follow California’s Labor Code!

The Top-Seven Lawsuit Categories

The City Attorney’s Office has 32 separate categories of prohibited personnel practices. As in past year, wrongful termination and racial discrimination lawsuits filed by City employees against the City have accounted for the lion’s share of settlements awards and CAO time and expenses.

Table below illustrates, in part:

• Of the $90.7 million in total costs since January 2007, the 283 concluded lawsuits in the top-seven categories accounted for $77.7 million (85.6%) of the total costs.

• The 57 concluded wrongful termination lawsuits accounted for almost one-quarter of the $90.7 million in total costs, despite representing only 15.9% of the total 359 lawsuits concluded.

• The City spent a staggering $11.1 million trying to stop the 57 concluded wrongful termination lawsuits.

• The 35 sexual discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits accounted for 9.7% of the total 359 lawsuits, but accounted for $11 million (12.1%) of total costs.

Other oddities in the new one-year data include:

• In the first 103 lawsuits Roberts first reported in the Examiner in 2013, we later learned that the highest amount of CAO litigation costs for a single lawsuit had involved just $529,597. Now the City Attorney apparently feels emboldened to run up costs of litigation in the MUNI drivers’ single lawsuit to $2.6 million. Can anybody say “over-litigation”?

• Fully 18 of the new 38 lawsuits concluded during the one-year period between December 23, 2017 and December 14, 2018 received no settlement awards at all, but the CAO ran up $5.4 million in time and expenses in those 18 lawsuits, 59.8% of the total $8.9 million in CAO time and expenses for all 38 cases.

• On February 4, 2019 the CAO responded to a records request about a previously-reported pending case. Amazingly, the CAO admitted that their “final closing processes” are delayed, and often it has to keep a matter open even though the case is otherwise concluded. The CAO admitted that sometimes it fails to report settlement awards and costs of litigation in some matters when a case is finally closed between records requests.

It is not known how many times in the past this has occurred, or whether the CAO has failed to provide accurate data in the past for lawsuits that are formally closed after a records request for a particular reporting period is provided due to its internal processes for coding the dates individual cases are finally closed. It’s not known how many cases have not been included in the running count of 359 concluded lawsuits, and whether the $90.7 million is actually under-reported.

In addition to the oddities noted, there are other problems with the data.

Misclassification of Categories Obfuscates Data

As noted in previous articles in this series, we may never know exactly how many wrongful termination or racial discrimination lawsuits cases have actually been brought by San Francisco city employees, because of the way they are classified by the City Attorney’s Office, which appears to use a different nomenclature to categorize cases than Courts do.

The CAO reclassified a “6035 Racial Discrimination” lawsuit as a “6005 First Amendment Violation” case.

The CAO classified two “6010 Wrongful Discharge” lawsuits as “6080 Disability Discrimination” cases.

• The CAO classified another “6010 Wrongful Discharge” lawsuit as a “6070 General Harassment” case. Another “Wrongful Termination” lawsuit was reclassified as a “6099 Other-Actions” case.

• A lawsuit alleging sex-based harassment by a lesbian supervisor (which would make it a “6060 Sexual Orientation Harassment”) case was classified by the CAO as a “6070 General Harassment” case.

• The CAO classified a “6080 Disability Discrimination” lawsuit as a “9113 Miscellaneous” case.

• The CAO classified a“6050 Sexual Harassment” lawsuit as a “6030 Sexual Discrimination” case.

• The CAO classified a “6055 Racial Harassment” lawsuit as a “6050 Sexual Harassment” case.

Could the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office deliberately be misclassifying various lawsuits into other categories to fudge the actual number of prohibited personnel lawsuits in each category?

San Francisco Taxpayers’ Lost Opportunity

The Board of Supervisors just created a lost opportunity for San Francisco taxpayers.

On December 13, 2018 both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation unanimously in both chambers to reform how sexual harassment lawsuits are handled on Capitol Hill — including holding lawmakers liable for paying for sexual harassment and retaliation settlements out of their own pockets, rather than having U.S. taxpayers foot the bill.

During hearings on amending the City’s existing sexual harassment prevention training Ordinance to cover all forms of harassment against City employees, I urged the Board of Sups to pass legislation similar to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives by requiring City employee-defendants found guilty of harassment in a court of law to pay settlement costs out of their own pockets. It would have been the surest and fastest way to stop the harassment if perps knew they’d have to pay the settlements themselves. Their misbehavior would stop almost instantly.

The Board of Supervisors turned a cold shoulder and failed to consider and introduce amendments requiring defendants to pay settlements themselves.

As Chris Roberts noted in his April 2013 Examiner article, statewide legislation to make workplace bullying illegal had no sponsors, so the legislation was never introduced. And it hasn’t been introduced since 2013. Just ask Melania Trump how her “Be Best” campaign is going to battle on-line bullying of children. Probably not much better.

Burning this $90.7 million and counting in taxpayer funds in San Franciscans back yards is unconscionable. How long will the problem continue to be ignored at City Hall?

An expanded version of this article with additional discussion, is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

March 2019

Shortage of Elderly and Disabled Healthcare Facilities

Supervisor Yee—Step up to the Plate!

Must Prioritize Full Spectrum Health Services

Congratulations to D7 Supervisor Norman Yee on being elected president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors!

However, now, Yee needs to pivot quickly to working collaboratively with Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Ahsha Safai, the San Francisco Public Health Department, and other City leaders to address comprehensive solutions to the full spectrum of facilities that all have severe shortages of in-county capacity to serve disabled and elderly San Franciscans, many of whom have been discharged out-of-county.

Turf Fight Erupts

In its December 2017 issue, the Westside Observer newspaper published an article reporting that a tug-of-war had erupted between members of the Board of Supervisors over the severe shortage of skilled nursing facilities (SNF) throughout San Francisco.

... omissions and shortsightedness in collecting data affects developing public policy. The problem? Missing data. No data is asked for, none collected. The City doesn’t ask for data. No questions, no data.

The tug-of-war involved, on the one hand, Supervisors Safai and Ronen who wanted to focus on the hospital-based SNF and sub-acute shortages. On the other hand, Supervisor Yee wanted to focus primarily only on Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE’s) and assisted living facilities.

Safai held a first hearing before the Supervisors’ Public Safety and Neighborhood Services (PSNS) Committee on CMPC’s proposed closure of St. Luke’s SNF and sub-acute units on July 26, 2017. On September 12, Safai called the matter from the PSNS Committee for a hearing before the full Board of Supervisors sitting as a “Committee of the Whole.”

During the September 12 hearing Safai noted the lack of SNF and sub-acute care beds had been a “crisis in the making over the past decade … as we’ve seen a major, major decrease in the number of skilled nursing beds over the last ten to 15 years.” Then-Supervisor Jeff Sheehy noted that during the rebuild of Laguna Honda Hospital [during 2007 to 2010] “we knew then that [the City] was projecting a shortage [of] skilled nursing beds, and the reality is that instead of building [additional] capacity, we’ve been shrinking capacity.”

Supervisors Safai and Ronen wanted to explore “in-county, in-hospital solutions for San Francisco.”

They were referring to the “Post-Acute Care Shortage” report presented to the Health Commission in February 2016 documenting San Francisco had a loss of 1,012 SNF beds across 14 years. Tack on the loss of another 151 beds in “freestanding” (i.e., non-hospital-based) SNF beds between 2002 and 2014. That brings the total of lost SNF beds to at least 1,163.

The “Post-Acute Care Shortage” report also documented the loss of 16 “board and care” care facilities and 80 RCFE facilities.

Unfortunately, neither the “Post-Acute Care Shortage” report nor Yee’s most recent December 2018 proposal stratified in raw numbers how many beds have been lost in RCFE and board-and-care facilities.

The Observer reported in December 2017 San Francisco has discharged a significant number of San Franciscans out-of-county due to the shortage of SNF and RCFE beds in-county. Between July 1, 2006 and November 20, 2018 at least 1,479 San Franciscans were discharged out-of-county. That number is probably far higher.

Chinese Hospital, St. Mary’s, St. Francis, and Kaiser each failed to provide the Department of Public Health the number of San Franciscans they discharged out-of-county. The 1,479 known out-of-county discharges hasn’t been completely reported and isn’t fully known.

<Yee Threw a Wrench

During the September 12, 2017 hearing, Yee threw a wrench into the proceedings claiming he asked “for a hearing on these issues” last June, ostensibly referring to SNF and sub-acute level of care facilities. He had not.

In June 2017 Yee had called for a hearing to “understand the efforts of City departments regarding institutional housing, particularly assisted living, residential care facilities, and small beds for seniors in San Francisco.”

Yee’s Anemic Efforts

The Observer reported in March 2018 Yee had been first approached to support a 50-unit senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda Boulevard. Before anyone knew it, the developers expanded it to a 150-unit project that was eventually de-funded and scrapped.

Yee’s First Proposal to Build on LHH’s Campus

The Observer reported in July 2018 that in March 2018 Yee’s then-legislative aide, Nick Pagoulatos, began pitching a proposal in March 2018 to the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOHCD) to build a six-story building with up to 160 units of housing for seniors on LHH’s campus, with a spectrum of options for those who need assisted living, skilled nursing, and independent living (presumably including market-rate units).

Pagoulatos submitted a draft document on May 15, 2018 to MOHCD’s director Kate Hartley and Amy Chan, and DPH outlining a proposal to Assemblyman Phil Ting seeking funding for a feasibility study. Hartley and Chang deleted both the 160-unit description, and flatly ruled out building either assisted living or RCFE’s units on LHH’s campus, saying LHH’s site “wasn’t big enough” and was too small.

Yee’s first May 2018 proposal to build on LHH’s campus was essentially dead on arrival.

Yee’s Second Proposal to Build on LHH’s Campus

Undeterred, Yee tried again proposing to build on LHH’s campus. In a draft position paper dated December 18, 2018 on his letterhead Yee pitched constructing a “Life Care Facility” (similar to Continuing Care Retirement Communities) to San Francisco’s new Dignity Fund proposing a spectrum of facilities on LHH’s campus, including 1) An unstated number of independent senior housing units (perhaps including market-rate units); 2) An unstated number of assisted living units; 3) a 30-bed RCFE, several of which beds would be “kept open” for patients discharged from LHH; 4) Ideally, an unstated number of Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) slots for people needing day-care supervision; and 5) Ideally, preschool to foster “intergenerational connections” between the elderly and two- to three-year-old preschoolers.

LHH voluntarily suspended it’s “outpatient” ADHC serving about 60 people daily on March 20, 2009 but continued paying state licensing fees from November 16, 2009 through June 30, 2013. LHH allowed the license to expire on November 15, 2013. At least 91 ADHC clients — including ten with Alzheimer’s — were impacted by LHH’s ADHC closure.

I became a formal whistleblower in January 2009, reporting to the City Controller’s Whistleblower Program and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division that closure of LHH’s ADHC program was a probable violation of a DOJ settlement agreement reached with the City of San Francisco.

Yee’s position paper acknowledges many older adults will eventually need to move to skilled nursing facilities due to increased mobility impairments and chronic medical issues, but his position paper doesn’t discuss increasing the severe shortage of SNF beds in-county by building more SNF units on LHH’s campus or elsewhere in the City.

In fact, Yee’s December 2018 position paper explicitly states in paragraph 5 that the “bleeding of beds continues to this day, without any plans for the City to address this issue.” That’s in the same paragraph in which Yee acknowledges both “low - and middle-income residents are being placed out-of-county.”

Yee’s grand plan for LHH’s campus will be vigorously opposed by the Dignity Fund and the Mayor’s Long-Term Care Coordinating Council (LTCCC), whose shared members vigorously opposed building any more healthcare-related units on LHH’s campus in 2007. Why would they support it now?

Thirteen days later, an Assisted Living Workgroup — a group Yee formed in April 2018 with DPH and the Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) — presented recommendations on January 10, 2019 to the LTCCC. The report primarily recommended Adult Living Facilities (ALF) should be supported by the City in smaller six-bed facilities using subsidies, but not expanding the supply of new facilities.

The Workgroup’s report noted “data to document demand is limited, and systems are typically not set up to document the need” for various services.

Lack of Data No Surprise!

The Observer reported in May 2017 the Board of Supervisors Budget and Legislative Analyst (BLA ) issued a report in July 2016 (“Audit of Senior Services in San Francisco”) highly critical that DAAS has failed for years to conduct meaningful data collection via a gap analysis.

A Gap Analysis estimates unmet needs for particular services — the gap between the number of individuals currently receiving a service and the total population that might benefit from a particular service. Without a robust Gap Analysis, DAAS (and DPH) lack critical information during decision-making.

Ombudsman Benson Nadell’s Concerns

Benson Nadell, a State employee who is San Francisco’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocating for patients, and who investigates complaints of abuse in the City’s SNF’s, assisted living, and board-and-care facilities remains concerned.

On January 2, 2018 Nadell presented testimony about how omissions and shortsightedness in collecting data affects developing public policy. The problem? Missing data. No data is asked for, none collected. The City doesn’t ask for data. No questions, no data.

He noted:

“Data can only flow from existing data. Until the right questions are asked by City and County leaders, long-term care policy will be skewed towards those questions that are asked. Data will always be missing in this context.”

CANHR: Concerns About RCFE’s, Assisted Living Facilities, and CCRC’s Lack Focus on Healthcare

In early January 2018, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) issued a blistering report noting that during the past 20 years residents of RCFE’s are “older, sicker, and have more complex medical and care needs,” and RCFE’s now resemble nursing homes of years past. CANHR’s report notes the outdated “social model of care” (favored by San Francisco’s disability rights advocates, the Dignity Fund, and the LTCCC) has all but ignored the health care needs of RCFE and assisted living clients whose acuity levels have worsened. The CANHR report is very critical of Continuing Care Retirement Communities — such as the “Life Care Facility” Yee is proposing for LHH’s campus — for not focusing on provision of healthcare facilities.

Focus on Data Collection!

Back in 2013, the Department of Public Health and the Planning Department jointly developed a Health Care Services Master Plan (HCSMP). There was no section in the Plan to focus on long-term care healthcare services in the City.

The HCSMP is now being updated.

What these organizations fail to measure, they can’t accurately assess or fix, particularly without gap analyses measuring client preferences.

Yee needs to expand his focus to include SNF and long-term care facilities in addition to RCFE’s and assisted living facilities, and he needs to do so citywide, not just on LHH’s campus.

The Board of Supervisors under Yee’s leadership must mandate that private-sector hospitals report their out-of-county discharge data to DPH.

As Dr. Teresa Palmer, a geriatrician who worked at LHH for over 20 years notes, “If we don’t know how many folks have been forced to leave the county for long-term care, how can we plan for what San Franciscans need if we don’t collect the relevant data?”

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. An expanded version of this article is available at stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

February 2019

Following An Untenable Legislative Track Record …Patrick Monette-Shaw

Mayor Needs to Clean House at DHR

London Breed’s June 5 election as mayor was essentially for an 18-month period to serve out the balance of Ed Lee’s term. She faces a mere 10-month period between December 2018 and October 7, 2019 — the first day of early voting, and the date on which vote-by-mail ballots will be placed into U.S. Mail — to create a track record to justify being re-elected mayor for a four-year term in her own right.

Breed’s inaction while Board president caused a two-and-a-half-year delay, with the whistleblower protection amendments languishing unheard at the Rules Committee.”

Given her dismal legislative track record while a six-year member of the Board of Supervisors, she’s got a lot of work to do.

Legislative Track Record

Leading up to the June 5 election, the San Francisco Examiner published an article comparing the legislative histories of the three leading mayoral candidates. The meat of legislative job duties for City supervisors includes four main categories: Introducing Resolutions (typically non-binding resolutions or commendations honoring constituents), Ordinances creating actual legislation, calling for and conducting public Hearings, and sponsoring changes to the City Charter. Supervisor Breed’s six-year record was weak, compared to candidates Jane Kim and Mark Leno. Of the four categories, Breed had a total of 184, of which 112 (60.9%) were Resolutions. That stands in stark contrast to Supervisor Kim’s total of 445, including 248 (55.7%) Resolutions.

Breed authored 50 Ordinances, half of the 96 Ordinances Kim introduced. Breed called for 22 hearings, one-quarter of Kim’s 96 hearings. While Kim sponsored five Charter Amendments, Breed sponsored zero. And of the 50 Ordinances Breed introduced, only eight (16.0%) were for housing and development, compared to Kim’s 29 housing and development Ordinances, 31.9% of Kim’s total Ordinances.

The Examiner mistakenly credited Breed for strengthening the City’s whistleblower protection ordinance (WPO) for City employees. That’s nonsense. If anything, Breed’s inaction while Board president caused a two-and-a-half-year delay, with the whistleblower protection amendments languishing unheard at the Rules Committee.

San Francisco’s Ethics Commission forwarded proposed amendments to the Board of Supervisors on April 11, 2016. Once Breed got her hands on them she choose to slouch towards Bethlehem and didn’t formally introduce them until June 14, 2016. The amendments Breed introduced retained the provision City employees could file complaints with local, State, or federal government agencies and retain anti-retaliation protections.

The amendments sat in limbo while the Department of Human Resources (DHR), the City Attorney’s Office, the Board of Supervisors, and Ethics Commission staff massaged and edited the amendments, significantly watering them down.

The very first amendment on the cutting room floor eliminated was Ethics’ recommendation to allow City employees to file complaints with state and federal agencies. Several Ethics Commissioners are thought to have potentially been “infuriated” that provision was eliminated without their knowledge.

The Rules Committee scheduled hearing the WPO amendments during its November 28 meeting. We’ll see how long it takes the full Board of Supervisors to pass them.

Breed’s delay on the WPO amendments wasn’t her only failure to marshal legislation through the Board of Supervisors.

File No. 180546 — Harassment Prevention Training for City Employees: This Ordinance was first introduced on May 22, 2018 and assigned to the Rules Committee under the Board’s 30-day Rule.

The first version of the legislation asserted the Department of Human Resources shall accept EEO complaints up to one year, apparently increasing the reporting period from six months (180 days).

The legislation sought to expand the City’s former sexual harassment prevention training program to include all types of harassment, not just sexual harassment. Unfortunately, the legislation doesn’t require all City employees receive the harassment prevention training. Part-time employees working less than 20 hours a week appear to be non-covered employees. Based on the City Controller’s payroll database for FY 2017–2018 ending June 30, 2018, of 42,271 employees in the database, 10,234 — nearly one-quarter, or 24.4% — worked less than 20 hours per week and will not receive the expanded harassment prevention training.

On October 2, now-Board president Malia Cohen introduced a substitute Ordinance bearing a new title, removing the time frame for filing EEOC complaints. The October 2 substitution replaced the provision that DHR shall accept complaints for up to a year, saying the one-year period is uncodified by existing Civil Service rules and DHR’s current policy provides the City will only accept EEO Complaints for up to 180 days.

Now, the Board of Supervisors is merely “urging” or “recommending” that the Civil Service Commission adopt a rule to accept EEO complaints for up to one year.

Both versions of the Ordinance expanded the training to annually, rather than the current policy of biennially.

This legislation was also tentatively scheduled on the Rules Committee “forward calendar” for its November 28 meeting, but when the agenda was posted on-line, the legislation wasn’t listed. It’s unknown when it will be scheduled and heard.

File No. 180630 — Request for Hearing to Consider African-American Workforce Hiring, Retention, and Promotion Opportunities; Workplace Discrimination and Complaints: A hearing request was introduced on June 5, 2018 to hold the subject hearing, and assigned to the Board’s Government Audit and Oversight (GAO) Committee.

The hearing was held at GAO on September 19 but tabled to the “Call of the Chair” where it languished without Breed’s assistance, despite massive problems with African-American discrimination complaints in the Department of Public Health, the SFMTA, and other City departments.

Supervisor Malia Cohen introduced a motion calling the matter from the GAO’s Call of the Chair back for a hearing before the full Board sitting as a Committee of the Whole on November 27.

Breed’s Anemic Record as Mayor

Breed’s efforts to curtail sexual harassment and racial discrimination, and beef up whistleblower protections during the five months since she was sworn in as mayor on July 12 have been anemic.

Breed’s September 18 “Executive Directive”

Breed callously waited to intervene in the sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal until after introduction of the harassment prevention training Ordinance introduced on May 22, and until long after the hearing request on June 5 was introduced regarding African-American workplace discrimination complaints.

Grandstanding, Breed issued an “Executive Directive” on September 18 in a bald attempt to get ahead of the racial discrimination issue before the GAO hearing scheduled for the next day on September 19.

During the GAO hearing on September 19, the Director of the City’s centralized Department of Human Resources, Micki Callahan, asserted Breed’s Executive Directive indicated all City employees would receive the harassment prevention training. Both Breed and Callahan could not have not known that the pending legislation before the Board of Supervisors carved out an exemption for mandated training for employees who work less than 20 hours weekly.

Breed’s directive is almost meaningless, since the issues involve on-going harassment by managers against current and long-time employees.

Breed’s Directive also wrongly claims DHR will expand the City’s current sexual harassment prevention training to all forms of harassment and also to all City employees on a biannual [sic] basis. “Biannual” meansas twice per year, which is not what’s being proposed. Breed appears not to understand that the harassment prevention training amendments explicitly seeks to expand the current limited prevention training from biennial (every other year) to annually, not biannually. Biennial would maintain the status quo.

October 5 Appointment of MTA Ombudsman

On October 5, the Examiner reported Mayor Breed had “hired a new ‘high-level manager’ who will be uniquely empowered to investigate harassment, discrimination and bullying at all levels of Muni.”

Breed appointed Dolores Blanding as the first hire to an “independent ombudsperson” position with power to hold any SFMTA employee accountable. Blanding is not an independent employee, nor a new hire.

Why hasn’t Breed appointed ombudspersons in other notorious City departments, like the Department of Public Health?

“Ombudsman-to-MTA” October 25 E-Mail to SFMTA Staff:

Blanding e-mailed MTA staff on October 25, three weeks after she had been appointed by Breed. Blanding noted “SFMTA is committed to a work environment free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”

Some MTA staff believe Blanding’s e-mail amounted to window-dressing. Blanding’s stated goals contradict what Breed had appointed Blanding to do at MTA: To rout out harassment at the agency. Breed tried to reassure MTA employees on October 5 Blanding would ensure all MTA supervisors and managers receive the anti-harassment training. Shouldn’t Blanding be ensuring all MTA employees take the harassment prevention training, not just supervisors and managers?

The day after Blanding e-mailed MTA staff, MTA issued a press release noting its Director of Transit, John Haley, was forced to retire. Reportedly Haley’s assistant, Sabrina Suzuki, claims she had brought complaints about Haley’s conduct to SFMTA officials, but her complaints were dismissed. Removing Haley won’t solve MTA’s woes.

The City settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by MTA employee Sherri Anderson for $250,000 in March 2018. The man Anderson named as a defendant in her lawsuit, Gerald Williams, remained on MTA’s payroll as of June 30, 2018 and is reportedly still employed. Why wasn’t Williams terminated between March and June 30, 2018?

Anderson alleged in Court records Williams had forced her to perform sexual intercourse and oral sex during working hours to avoid jeopardizing her continued employment.

Part of the duties Breed assigned Blanding was that the Ombudsperson would ensure the appropriate level of discipline is administered. Now two months after Blanding’s appointment on October 5, is she incapable of getting rid of Mr. Williams? Is forcing a subordinate to perform sexual intercourse and oral sex to keep her job not grounds for immediate termination?

Breed Must Clean House at DHR

What might help Breed out is to clean house at DHR, starting with DHR’s Director, Micki Callahan. As the Westside Observer reported in April 2018, the City has racked up over $70 million on 329 prohibited personnel practice lawsuits filed by City employees between January 2007 and December 2017. Callahan — paid $248,499 in FY 2017–2018 — is an albatross around Breed’s neck for multiple, obvious reasons:

First, Callahan was hired on October 24, 2005 and promoted two years later to being DHR’s Director on October 9, 2007. There is a direct correlation between Callahan’s tenure as Director, and the staggering $70 million in lawsuit costs. Breed can’t miss seeing that time frame overlap.

Second, on January 13, 2012 Thomas Willis, an African-American, heterosexual male at San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission (HRC), filed a lawsuit against the City explicitly naming as defendants the City, and both Callahan and the then-director of HRC, transgender celebrity Theresa Sparks, alleging racial discrimination. Willis was awarded a $210,000 settlement signed by Callahan in her role as Director of DHR on March 7, 2013. The City Attorney’s Office racked up another $119,594 in time and expenses trying to stop Willis’ lawsuit, pushing total costs to $329,594. Given her role as a named defendant in Willis’ lawsuit, how is it Callahan kept her job for five years after she signed Willis’ settlement? Do all named defendants keep their jobs?

Finally, it’s easily within Breed’s reach to require an analysis be conducted between how many of the cases involved in the $70 million in lawsuits during Callahan’s tenure had first received a determination from Callahan she had found no merit to, and had denied, their initial EEOC complaints, but went on to prevail in their lawsuits.

What might help Breed establish some credibility for re-election is whether she quickly sacks Callahan, along with forcing the termination of named defendants such as Williams. If Breed was able to force Haley to retire, Breed can force Callahan and Williams to retire, too.

An expanded version of this article with additional discussion, is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

December 2018

Escalating City employee bloat: the new $400K+ Club

Mayor’s Patronage Jobs Alive and Well

The problem keeps worsening, with the advent of a new “$400,000+ Salary Club” beginning in FY 2016–2017 during Mayor Ed Lee’s tenure, and the discovery that some City employees are paid bonuses. Since 2013, I have published five articles about the City’s growing problem with bloat in City employment. This is the sixth article in this series, focusing on the eight City budgets Lee developed, and the patronage job bloat he introduced.

The number of employees earning over $100,000 annually since Lee became mayor has skyrocketed to 15,409 at an annual cost of $2.2 billion, a net increase of just shy of a billion dollars since he took office …It smells like stinky patronage hiring!”

The Long View

The first budget Lee introduced in FY 2011–2012 grew by a modest 4.1 percent change increase of just $266 million. By his seventh budget, it soared to a 68.2 percent change increase of $4.5 billion, to our now $11 billion City budget.

It’s no accident Mayor Lee added 8,288 full - and part-time employees since he took office, a 24.4 percent change increase in staff and a 43.7 percent change increase in the total City payroll, increasing the payroll by over a billion dollars during his eight-year tenure between FY 2010–2011 and FY 2017–2018. During Lee’s tenure, the 8,288 new full- and part-time employees pushed the total number of employees on the City payroll from 33,983 to 42,271 employees on the payroll he first inherited.

5,112 FTE’s and Counting

FTE’s — “full-time equivalent” employees — are calculated by combining multiple part-time employees into an equivalent 1.0 full-time employee. A 1.0 FTE is equivalent to a full-time worker, while a 0.5 FTE is a half-time worker. Two employees working 20 hours per week are considered the equivalent of one employee working 40-hour weeks.

As the Westside Observer has previously noted, each year San Francisco sets its authorized FTE level of employees by adopting an AAO (Annual Appropriation Ordinance, also known as the City’s official budget).

The number of actual full- and part-time employees on the City’s payroll stands in sharp contrast to the headcounts in the AAO’s authorized. There are fully 11,436 more full- and part-time employees (at 42,271) than the authorized FTE headcount of 30,835 in the AAO authorized for FY 2017–2018 (ending June 30, 2018).

Comparing the seven-year period between FY 2011–2012 and FY 2017–2018 (ending June 30 in both ’12 and ’18): Those 8,288 additional full - and part-time positions represent 20% of the 42,271 positions listed in the City Controller’s payroll database as of June 30, 2018.

Somehow, Lee pulled off a “loaves and fishes” miracle, turning 5,112 additional FTE’s in the approved AAO’s during his tenure into the 8,288 additional employees he added.

When Lee first submitted his two-year budget for FY 2017–2018 and FY 2018–2019, the second-year budget for FY 2018–2019 projected adding 103 FTE’s. But when Mayor Breed got her hands on, and submitted, the final budget for the current FY 2018–2019 she padded on an additional 282 FTE’s, resulting in adding 385 FTE’s.

In her first two-year budget for FY 18-19 and FY 19-20, Mayor Breed initially proposed adding another 359 FTE’s to her second-year budget starting 7/1/2019, which will push the 5,112 FTE’s Lee added to a total of 5,471 FTE’s, fully 20.6% of the City’s planned 31,579 authorized FTE’s.

The adopted AAO for FY 2017–2018 showed a budgeted 30,835 FTE’s for the fiscal year. The City Controller’s payroll database for the same fiscal year shows the “calculated” FTE’s for the same fiscal year was significantly higher, by 3,536 FTE’s (a 11.4% increase), totaling 34,360 FTE’s when overtime and additional “regular hours” are factored in.

The $100,000+ Club Keeps Growing

The number of employees earning over $100,000 annually since Lee became mayor has skyrocketed to 15,409 at an annual cost of $2.2 billion, a net increase of just shy of a billion dollars since he took office ($967,209,237). It smells like stinky patronage hiring!

$100,000+ Club Income Inequality

It’s clear there is significant income inequality between the salaries paid to City employees. As of June 30, 2018, 63.5% of the City’s 42,271 employees earn less than $100,000 and 36.5% earn over $100,000.

Of the 8,288 additional full- and part-time employees hired during Lee’s tenure, only 27.2% of the new hires earned less than $100,000, while 72.8% of the new hires earned over $100,000 and earned 88.4% of the $1 billion payroll increase.

As of June 30, 2018, the 26,862 employees who earned less than $100,000 annually earned just $50,873 on average, compared to the 15,409 employees who earned over $100,000 and were paid average salaries of $144,666.

During Mayor Lee’s eight-year tenure an additional 6,031 employees who earn over $100,000 annually have been added to the City payroll at an increased cost of nearly $1 billion.

Of those 6,031, 1,143 earn over $200,000 annually in total pay representing a 428.1 percent change increase.

Taking a longer two-year look back to FY 2008-2009, matters worsen. Adjusting the reporting period to two years earlier than Mayor Lee’s tenure, comparing the ten-year period between FY ’08-’09 and FY ’17-’18 (ending June 30 in both ’09 and ’18):

The number of employees earning over $150,000 in total pay grew by 3,528, from 1,944 to 5,472, a 181.5% change increase since FY 2008-2009. Their total pay (including base + overtime + “Other Pay”) jumped from $338.4 million to just under $1 billion, a 199.5 percent change increase.

The number of employees earning over $200,000 in total pay grew from 211 to 1,410 — a 568.2 percent change increase. Their total pay (including base + overtime + “Other Pay”) jumped from $47.2 million to $322.1 million, a 583.1 percent change increase.

The income inequality between the various salary ranges for only FY 2017–2018 is striking.

The 26,682 City employees who earned less than $100,000 in FY 2017–2018 had average salaries of just $50,873. The 15,409 employees earning over $100,000 annually earned significantly higher average salaries depending on their total salary ranges.

Employees earning over $100,000 annually each averaged $144,666. The 5,472 employees who earned over $150,000 annually in total pay each averaged $185,205. The 1,410 employees who earned over $200,000 each averaged $228,468.

The New “$400,000+ Club”

When Lee inherited former-Mayor Newsom’s final budget for FY 2010–2011, there were zero employees who earned over $400,000 in total pay.

By FY 2016–2017, Mayor Lee suddenly added three employees who earned over $400,000 in total salaries, at a cost of slightly under $1.4 million. Then in FY 2017–2018, in the last City budget Lee submitted, suddenly there were nine city employees who earned over $400,000, at a cost of slightly over $4 million.

Of the nine employees in the “$400,000+ Club”:

Four were public safety officers who earned both overtime pay and “Other Pay” towards their total pay.

Battalion Chief Kirk Richardson’s $148,520 “Other Pay” included a $120,946 payout (81.4%) of his total “Other Pay” for accrued vacation pay, sick pay, and other “cash out” payments when he retired on May 5, 2018 just before the end of the fiscal year. The rest of his “Other Pay” was for additional retention pay and premium payments.

Four were employees of the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS).

Of SFERS’ four employees in the “$400,000+ Club”:

The four were paid at least $760,355 in bonuses, ostensibly for increasing the overall value of the pension fund. Shouldn’t they be doing that, without being paid bonuses?

Adding in the bonus paid to Diane Chui-Justen, bonuses paid to these five SFERS employees is well over three-quarters of a million dollars in bonuses alone.

The City Controller’s Office did not respond by press deadline to a records request asking whether bonus payments are restricted only to Retirement System employees, or whether employees in other City departments are also paid bonuses on top of their regular base pay for doing the jobs they were hired to do.

Where’s the Auditors?

As the Westside Observer reported in “Who’s Auditing Mayor’s Hiring Binge” in February 2017, it doesn’t appear either the Board of Supervisors or the City Services Auditor unit within the City Controller’s Office are interested in auditing the bloat of City employees during Ed Lee’s watch as mayor. Taxpayers deserve such an audit.

An expanded version of this article, with hyperlinks, additional discussion, and tabular data is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

November 2018

There Should Be a Blue Wave In San Francisco, Too

Some Election Recommendations

Once, again, the November 2018 ballot in San Francisco is jam-packed with measures and candidates. There are 12 State propositions on the ballot, 5 San Francisco propositions, 5 district supervisor races, another 5 elected City officials' races, and 14 state and federal elected officials' races, for a total of 41 items on the November ballot. Since San Franciscans can vote only for their own district supervisor, that means voters will face deciding how to cast their votes on 37 issues.

I'm limiting discussing my recommendations to a handful of ballot measures, and three recommendations for elected candidate races.

As of 2014, approximately 75% of all rental units in San Francisco were rent controlled. Only units constructed before 1979 qualify for rent control in San Francisco. That means rental units constructed in the 39-year period between 1979 and 2018 are currently exempt from rent control protections.

The Poison Pill in San Francisco - Prop B

Prop. B is being billed as a "Privacy First Policy," which would be added to the City Charter as new Section 16.130, if passed by voters.

Had the drafters of Prop B stopped at providing privacy protections, I would fully support it. But the drafters introduced a poison pill in the legal text of this City Charter change, so I'm strongly urging readers vote NO. Here's why.

Prop B only sets guidelines for enacting a data protection law and sets a deadline, but the Charter change language is not actually being voted on this November 6. The legal text requires that the City Administrator propose an ordinance by May 31, 2019 for future consideration by the Board of Supervisors to establish criteria and rules the City shall adhere to, to protect privacy.

The intent of Prop B is to provide guidance to the City when considering the adoption of privacy-protection laws, regulations, policies, and practices, mainly involving collection and retention of personal information such as an individual's name, social security number, address, telephone number, driver's license or state identification card number, credit card number, and other categories of personal information.

Prop B would hand the Board of Supervisors authority to develop an Ordinance to implement these privacy principles as it deems appropriate, in its sole discretion, imposing the principles on any or all City boards, commissions, departments, and officials. That means voters won't have a chance to weigh in at the ballot box on the privacy principles eventually adopted.

Unfortunately, §160.130(h) of the Privacy First Policy indicates the underlying principles are not binding on, or self-executing, but rather are intended as a guide to City boards, commissions, and departments. In other words, because the principles are not binding, City boards, commissions and, departments may have an opt out option.

Voter-approved Ordinances should not be subject to Board of Supervisors twisting. If they want amendments to the Sunshine Ordinance, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors should place amendments on a ballot and let voters decide!

Opponents of this ballot measure include: The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter; San Franciscans for Sunshine; the League of Women Voters, SF Chapter, the San Francisco Green Party; the San Francisco Labor Council; the Communications Workers of America; the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521; and others.

Citizens and taxpayers doing business with the City, along with City employees themselves, deserve data privacy protection legislation. That doesn't mean the Board of Supervisors should be allowed to tamper with voter-approved ballot measures via a poison pill.

Keep the fox out of the henhouse. Don't hand the Board of Supervisors this power. Vote No on B.

Prop C: A Funding Scam by Any Other Name

Prop. "C" is officially titled "Additional Business Taxes to Fund Homeless Services." It will create a "Our City Our Home Fund" by amending San Francisco's Business and Tax Regulations Code, adding Article 28, Sections 2801 to 2814. Receipts from the Gross Receipts Tax Ordinance will be deposited to the credit of the Our City, Our Home Fund, to be established in Administrative Code Section 10.100-164

The legal text of Prop. "C" specifically states the additional funding will supplement not supplant what the City is already spending on homeless services, meaning the $300 million annually from Prop C will be added to the roughly $300 million the City is already spending, and the City will end up spending well over a half-billion-dollars annually on services and housing for the homeless.

The $300 million already being spent for homeless serviced more than likely does not currently include the hundreds of millions of dollars in affordable housing construction in the City funded by the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD).

MOHCD has informed the Citizens' General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee that MOHCD typically requires that 20% to 30% of all new affordable housing units be set aside to house the homeless, ostensibly for both voter-approved bonds, and other sources of MOHCD's funding. The value of that set aside is not known, but could easily be in the hundreds of millions of additional dollars annually.

Legal language in Prop. "C" §2810(d) states:"Monies in the Our City, Our Home Fund shall not be spent to supplant existing programs funded by the City for homeless programs, which shall continue to be funded, at a minimum, at the Base Amount."

It still won't be enough, and not too far in the future, the City might be spending $1 billion a year for homeless services, almost one-tenth of the City's now $11 billion budget.

That level of spending will only be a magnet that will draw even more homeless people to San Francisco, and the problems with "street behavior" will only worsen: More poop and pee stinking up the City, and more discarded syringes all over.

If Prop. "C" passes, it will lead to expanding the 124 employees on the City payroll in the City's Department of Homeless Services who were paid a total of $9.3 million in FY 2017–2018. Of those 124 employees, 29 — nearly ¼, 23.4% — were paid over $100,000, plus fringe benefits and eventual City pensions. Nine of those employees were each paid over $130,000 annually.

Vote No on C.

Prop 10: "The Affordable Housing Act"

Prop. 10 was placed on the state ballot after initiative petitions titled The Affordable Housing Act collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. The proponents had requested permission to circulate its petitions with The Affordable Housing Act as the title, and accomplished their goal. They needed 365,880 valid signatures to qualify, and submitted 565,000 signatures, of which approximately 75.8% to 79.9% (451,261) were deemed valid.

If Prop. 10 passes, it will repeal the state's Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies cities may impose. The Costa-Hawkins Act is a state law enacted 23 years ago that placed limits on municipal rent control ordinances. First, it prohibited cities from establishing rent control over single-family homes, condominiums, and newly constructed apartment rental units built after 1995. Second, it prohibited municipal vacancy controls, in effect mandating that cities could allow an apartment owner the right to set rents for vacant units at any amount, typically market-rate prices. Vacancy controls would stop landlords from jacking up rent to market-rate rents between successive tenants.

As of 2014, approximately 75% of all rental units in San Francisco were rent controlled. Only units constructed before 1979 qualify for rent control in San Francisco. That means rental units constructed in the 39-year period between 1979 and 2018 are currently exempt from rent control protections.

If passed, Prop 10 would return power to cities and counties to allow them to enact rent control where they previously couldn't.

Prop 10 would repeal limits on local rent control laws. It would not remove rent control itself, but would allow cities and counties to regulate rent for any type of housing, and would permit cities to limit how much a landlord is allowed to increase rents when a new renter moves in. Prop. 10 does not make any changes to local rent control laws, and it incorporates language from past court rulings into state law to require rent control laws provide a fair rate of return to landlords. Landlords and homeowners should support Prop. 10 for enshrining this into state law, not just case law.

Organizations supporting passage of Prop. 10 include: The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO), Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), San Francisco Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, San Francisco Tenants Union, California Nurses Association, California Teachers Association, SEIU Local 1021, Unite HERE Local 2, United Educators of San Francisco, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, ACLU of Northern California, Senior and Disability Action, and many other organizations. The California League of Women Voters and the LA Times newspaper also support passing Prop. 10.

MEDA, CCHO, and the Tenants Union would not be supporting this measure if it would harm renters. Don't believe the fiction that renters would face eviction if Prop. 10 passes. Vote Yes on 10.

Candidate Recommendations:

As for candidate races, I'm briefly making three recommendations:

Board of Supervisors, District 6: Choose Matt Haney as your first ranked choice. Don't vote for Sonja Trauss, given her focus on market-rate housing over affordable housing.

Board of Education: Don't vote for Josephine Zhao. She has made transphobic and homophobic slurs about gender-neutral bathrooms in Cantonese-language print media and on her Cantonese-speaking radio talk show, and has said the opposite in English-language print media, hoping nobody would translate from Cantonese into English. She has no place on the School Board and if elected, would likely use that seat as a springboard to later run for the Board of Supervisors. Her two-faced statements should not be tolerated! She claims to have withdrawn from the election, but only after it was too late to have her name withdrawn from the ballots.

Assessor-Recorder: Vote for Paul Bellar!

Don't Forget to Vote November 6!

A blue wave hopes to sweep across the U.S. in November. There should be a blue wave in San Francisco, too.

You have four weeks to figure out how to vote for everything on November's jam-packed ballot. Good luck. And don't forget to vote!

See my full election recommendations "Cheat Sheet" at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco's Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

October 2018

 

City Employees Living in Each City District at Risk

Slow-Moving, Stalled, Patrick Monette-ShawLegislation

The phrase “justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim, meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury but isn’t forthcoming in a timely fashion, it’s effectively the same as having no redress at all.

That brings us to local legislation stalled at the Board of Supervisors, and THE effects the delayed legislation has on depriving San Francisco city employees of legal protections.

The Grand Jury wanted genuine anti-retaliation protections enacted. Now 15 years after Prop C was passed, the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance (WPO) has still not been amended adequately.”

 

Additional Campaign Finance Disclosure

During the last election to the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System board of directors held in January 2017, one candidate, Al Casciato, a retired SFPD police captain, bragged during one endorsement meeting that the POA was donating $100,000 to his election campaign, and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 21 was expected to donate an additional $85,000 to his campaign, for a total of $185,000.

A San Francisco Examiner article reported on January 15, 2017 that Supervisor Malia Cohen, who may have heard about Casciato’s bragging of how much he hoped to raise for his election campaign to buy a seat on SFERS’ Board, would submit a “drafting request for legislation” to require campaign finance disclosure statements to provide transparency in elections to SFERS’ Board. Casciato won, buying himself a seat.

Unfortunately, it took six months before Cohen’s legislation was written and introduced on June 13, 2017 and assigned to the Rules Committee. It was expanded to elections to three Boards: SFERS, the Health Services System Board, and the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund Board.

On July 31, the full Board of Supervisors passed the legislation on first reading. Hopefully, it will be finally passed on second reading at the Board of Supervisors September 4 meeting when they return from recess.

This delayed justice should not have taken 21 months.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

On May 22, 2018 Supervisors London Breed, Malia Cohen, Katy Tang, and Catherine Stefani introduced File No. 180546 — Harassment Prevention Training for City Employees, which was assigned to the Rules Committee.

Unfortunately, when the Board of Supervisors went on recess on July 31, 2018 no Rules Committee hearing had been held on the legislation.

The main features of the legislation provides:

The City’s current sexual harassment prevention training will be expanded to include all types of harassment.

The harassment prevention training will be expanded from requiring only employees who supervise, or could potentially supervise other employees, to include all City employees who work more than 20 hours a week. The City Controller’s payroll database for FY 2017–2018 ending on June 30, 2018 listed 42,271 employees, of which 10,234, worked less than 20 hours per week and won’t receive the expanded harassment prevention training.

The training was to begin in FY 2018–2019 starting July 1, 2018 provided the Board of Supervisors appropriated money to fund the training in FY 2018–2019. Otherwise the training won’t be expanded until FY 2019–2020, starting on July 1, 2019, another year-long delay for justice.

As the Westside Observer reported in April 2018, between January 1, 2007 and December 22, 2017 the City spent $70 million to settle 330 lawsuits brought by city employees for a variety of prohibited personnel practices already proscribed by local, state and federal laws, including wrongful termination, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, age or disability discrimination, racial discrimination and racial harassment, and other prohibited practices.

It’s not known if the expanded prevention training was funded in Breed’s FY 2018–2019 city budget. The delayed legislation may contribute to additional sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits.

Whistleblower Protection Ordinance Amendments

The most egregious example of delayed legislation involves whistleblower protections for City employees. The legislation has languished for over three years.

As previously reported in the Westside Observer in July 2015, San Francisco’s 2014–2015 Civil Grand Jury released its report “San Francisco’s Whistleblower Protection Ordinance Is in Need of Change,” dated May 2015.

The Jury recommended that if the Ethics Commission requests the Board of Supervisors amend the WPO and the Board or the Mayor fails to act, that the Ethics Commission should consider submitting WPO amendments directly to the voters.

The Grand Jury concluded the Board of Supervisors failed to carry out a mandate to enact and maintain an ordinance after voters passed Proposition C in 2003 requiring the Board to develop adequate protections for City employees against retaliation for filing complaints. The Grand Jury wanted genuine anti-retaliation protections enacted. Now 15 years after Prop C was passed, the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance (WPO) has still not been amended adequately.

The Jury specifically recommended amendments to the WPO include reporting complaints to any City department, not just the employee’s own department. (The most current version of the WPO proposed amendments continue to restrict complainants to filing complaints with a handful of City agencies, and only to their own City departments, and doesn’t address filing oral complaints.)

The Westside Observer also reported in July 2016, the Ethics Commission held two hearings and forwarded proposed WPO amendments to the Board of Supervisors on April 11, 2016. The Ethics recommendations included allowing complainants to file complaints with any City agency and also allowing complainants to file complaints to county, state, or federal agencies. Ethics stopped short of extending anti-retaliation protections to city employees who contact the media.

It took another two months before then-Board president London Breed finally introduced legislation on June 14, 2016 to amend the WPO, assigning it to the Board’s Rules Committee.

The Ethics Commission provided this author with an updated version of proposed amendments that had been revised on January 17, 2017 (that may not have been submitted to the Board’s GAO or Rules Committees). In April 2017 the Westside Observer published a side-by-side comparison of the March 28, 2016 amendments submitted by the Ethics Commission to the January 2017 revisions. The side-by-side comparison noted the March 2016 amendments from Ethics specifically addressed protecting all City employees and City contractors’ employees from retaliation for filing a whistleblower complaint.

But the January 2017 version deleted from §4.115(a) that retaliation against both City employees and City contractors who had filed complaints with the City Controller’s whistleblower program would be prohibited.

Although Breed filed (tabled) the WPO amendments in File No. 160689 on October 2, 2017, for some reason Breed re-introduced the WPO amendments in new File No. 180317 on April 3, 2018 bearing a new title, which was assigned to the Rules Committee.

One of the legislative aides to now-Board president Malia Cohen noted on August 14: “This file 180317 was introduced earlier this year to address the problems of 160689, which is why Supervisor Breed closed the file on the original.” [Emphasis added] The “problems” with File No. 160689 were not described.

Whistleblower Anti-Retaliation Training

While researching this article, I learned Ethics Commission staffer Jeffrey Pierce had created a presentation on May 17, 2018 that was presented during a City Controller Office’s Whistleblower Department Liaison Training session at City Hall on June 14, which I obtained under a records request. It’s not yet known how many departmental liaisons received this training, and may have been misled.

I became concerned because the training presented indicated the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance does not include as a “protected activity” any First Amendment activities, like whistleblowing to the broadcast media, to the print media, or to the FBI. That the WPO amendments still don’t address First Amendment speech as being a “protected” activity worthy of anti-retaliation protections is troubling.

Paragraph 1(b)(iii) in the anti-retaliation prevention training noted: “Note also: protected activity doesn’t cover First Amendment activity like reporting to the press. An employee can bring a civil action in federal court to vindicate their first amendment rights – and stands to win substantially more in damages.”

The mindset at the Ethics Commission, and likely at the City Attorney’s Office, appears to be that since employees can file civil lawsuits to vindicate their First Amendment rights and may potentially earn more through lawsuit damages, the City can just turn a blind eye towards proactively providing them with any anti-retaliation protections under the WPO. While they may earn more in damages from court-awarded settlements, they earn nothing in the way of anti-retaliation protections.

This delayed justice redress should not have taken over three years to consider adopting.

What’s Next?

Much of the justice-delayed stalled legislation is due to London Breed’s foot-dragging when she was then Board President.

That’s not surprising, since San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force had referred then-Supervisor Breed’s multiple Sunshine Ordinance violations to District Attorney George Gascón for enforcement, a development that will hopefully be explored in the Westside Observer’s October issue.

By report, new Board president Malia Cohen is considering sponsoring the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance amendments and is leaning towards doing so. After two-and-a-half years of the legislation languishing at the Board of Supervisors, Cohen should move the legislation forward rapidly.

The sooner the WPO amendments are adopted, the sooner the number, and costs of, lawsuit settlements and City Attorney time and expenses will begin to drop, along with a drop in wrongful retaliation against City employees and an increase in anti-retaliation protections for them.

An expanded version of this article, with hyperlinks and additional discussion, is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

Sept 2018

Rezoning Public Land for Residential Housing: Follow the Money

Land Grab for Laguna Honda Hospital’s Campus

Rezoning Public Land for Residential Housing: A Land Grab

Monetizing Laguna Honda Hospital’s Campus

News inadvertently surfaced about plans underway to place residential senior housing on Laguna Honda Hospital’s (LHH) property.

Anyone who’s played the Monopoly board game knows you can’t place homes and hotels on utility and railroad spaces — because they are public infrastructure properties.

D-7 Supervisor Norman Yee’s staff contacted MOHCD about placing “assisted living” and/or RCFE (Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly) units on LHH’s campus on March 13, 2018 just six days after MOHCD pulled all funding from the 250 Laguna Honda senior housing project.

As desperately as the City needs senior housing, this plan should be opposed because it rules out either “assisted living” or “residential care facilities,” both of which are in desperately-needed short supply”

Yee’s rightly concerned about the lack of assisted living facilities and RCFE units throughout San Francisco. As the Westside Observer reported in December 2017, after the San Francisco Health Commission ruled September 5, 2017 CPMC’s planned closure of St. Luke’s Hospital’s skilled nursing and sub-acute units would have a detrimental impact on San Franciscans’ healthcare, Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Ahsha Safai introduced a request to hold a hearing on the shortage of skilled nursing and sub-acute facilities in the City.

A week later, the Board of Supervisors held a hearing on September 12 regarding the severe shortage of SNF and sub-acute level of care facilities in-county. During opening remarks Yee threw a wrench in the proceedings claiming he had asked in June 2017 for a hearing “on these issues,” but in fact he had not. Instead, Yee had requested in June to have a hearing to “understand the efforts of City departments regarding institutional housing, particularly assisted living, residential care facilities, and small beds for seniors in San Francisco.” Those are separate issues from the issues of sub-acute and SNF level of care.

Yee's absolutely right that we need more RCFE units in the City to prevent out-of-county patient dumping. Yee shouldn't abandon the need for RCFE beds in favor of the less-politically-messy need to build more senior housing.”

Yee should focus his efforts on the shortage of assisted living and RCFE facilities, because offering senior housing is not a reasonable or humane substitute.

Documents Relating to the Proposed Housing on LHH’s Campus

On March 13 Yee’s aide, Jarlene Choy, e-mailed employees in the Department of Public Health, MOHCD, San Francisco’s Human Services Agency, and San Francisco’s Department of Aging and Adult Services,” writing:

“I wanted to inform you that Sup Yee will be announcing today at the Full Board that he will form an RCFE Working Group and would like each of your Depts to participate in the discussions. The purpose and goals are … to retain and build a more sustainable supply of affordable and quality RCFEs.”

The next day Chan e-mailed Yee’s aide, Nick Pagoulatos, saying Laguna Honda Hospital’s campus “is zoned ‘P,’ so [it will] likely need to re-zone[d] for housing.”

Planning Code § 211.2(c) explicitly states: “Additionally, on property with a P District designation that the City and County of San Francisco owns, any use not otherwise principally permitted in a P district as set forth in Section 211.1 of this Code shall be permitted with Conditional Use authorization, except for: § 211.2(c)(1) Residential uses …” The Planning Code is clear, residential housing can’t be placed on parcels zoned “P – Public,” not even as a conditional use.

Chan also wrote “it’s possible” the 2002 EIR for the entire Laguna Honda Hospital rebuild “can be amended, but only if what is being proposed is the same as what was studied in the previous EIR.” MOHCD may want to avoid having to perform a new EIR, including increased transportation impacts.

Project Seeks Assemblyman Phil Ting’s Help: Pagoulatos authored a draft document on May 15, 2018 titled “LHH Ting Project Description” submitted for feedback to MOHCD’s Director, Kate Hartley and to Amy Chan, MOHCD’s Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Pagoulatos’ first draft proposed:

“The goal is to create a spectrum of housing options for seniors within the footprint of this one project. This means units will serve a range of needs, from those who need assisted living and skilled nursing to those who are capable of independent living. …”

Hartley and Chan proposed revisions to Pagoulatos’ draft. Hartley suggested adding:

“New affordable housing on the hospital grounds could assist in the transition of some Laguna Honda Hospital patients to independent living once their medical crises have abated.”

Hartley’s assuming patients with chronic and progressive medical conditions will outgrow and “abate” their needs for medical-based care. Denying people who can’t access assisted living and RCFE facilities a level of care they may need and prefer — perhaps worsening their morbidity and mortality — is abuse.

Hartley deleted Pagoulatos’ request for a spectrum of housing options, apparently ruling out building either assisted living or RCFE (Residential Care for the Elderly) units on LHH’s campus.

Chan deleted Pagoulatos’ statement the housing project concept was proposing “a six-story building with up to 160 units (a mix of studio and 1-berooms [sic: “bedrooms”]).” How could they pitch a proposal to Assemblyman Ting without knowing how many units are being proposed?

Hartley claimed LHH’s campus isn’t “big enough” :

“This has a big misconception, in that the site itself isn’t big enough to … create a spectrum of housing options for seniors that will serve a range of needs …”

On May 16, Chan responded, ruling out assisted living or an RCFE:

“We want to clarify that MOHCD can only proceed with a feasibility study for independent living for seniors only,” [meaning senior housing]. “We don’t think an assisted living or RCFE model would be feasible.”

On December 4, 2007 San Francisco’s Health Commission adopted a resolution urging acceptance of the August 2, 2007 Anshen+ Allen assisted living report that an RCFE be built on the LHH campus, and that “the buildings should be constructed as [soon as] financing becomes available.”

Hartley also replied June 15 saying: MOHCD has not awarded any funding, the Department of Public Health is not contributing any funding toward a feasibility analysis, MOHCD is prepared to allocate funding for a feasibility analysis “if Senator [sic: Assemblyman] Phil Ting’s Office was likely to award $3.5 million] in predevelopment funding,” and MOHCD may in the future conduct a feasibility analysis for the site.

A response received on June 22 from the Assembly’s Committee on Rules cited language in California’s Legislative Open Records Act (LORA). LORA exempts from disclosure “preliminary drafts, notes, or legislative memoranda,” “correspondence of and to individual Members of the Legislature and their staffs,” and “communications from private citizens to the Legislature.”

The response indicated while LORA provides “a mechanism by which a citizen may inspect an existing legislative record,” LORA “is not a means to request the Legislature to compile information or otherwise create a record …” The Committee on Rules indicated the records request on whether Ting is being asked for a specific supplemental dollar amount towards an MOHCD feasibility study, or whether he is being asked to sponsor some other type of legislation “does not identify or describe any existing legislative record,” so the Committee on Rules is “unbale to respond that part” of the records request.

In other words, Ting is refusing to respond to a basic request of what he’s being asked to do. Why the secrecy? What’s he hiding?

Cart Before the Horse

No feasibility analysis has been conducted for this proposed project. The feasibility study should have been conducted before asking Assemblyman Ting — or any other agency — to shoulder the burden of identifying potential funding sources. Shouldn’t the feasibility analysis be conducted after Supervisor Yee’s RCFE Working Group has concluded developing recommendations on how to address the crisis of the insufficient amount of RCFE facilities in the City? Isn’t all of this the cart before the horse?

On June 4, Hartley noted a feasibility study will ostensibly be conducted, in part focusing on transportation impacts and whether shuttle-bus transportation solutions will be included.

Placing senior housing on the proposed location is even further from public transportation. That would impose an increased burden on elderly seniors to easily access public transportation, because the proposed site on LHH’s campus is far up a daunting, steep slope and hillside, blocks and blocks from the Forest Hill MUNI station.

MOHCD previously indicated affordable housing funding typically cannot be used for on-going operating expenses, such as transportation.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Back in June 2006, when patient safety was severely jeopardized at LHH, patient advocates placed Prop. “D” on the ballot to create an LHH Special Use District to limit new facilities on LHH’s campus to healthcare facilities that provide long-term skilled nursing care and certain types of assisted living facilities.

Paid arguments opposing Prop. “D” in the voter guide included one by former City Attorney Louise Renne, who’s paid argument claimed: “It permits private facilities on public lands … in ALL residential neighborhoods.”

Renne campaigned as a reformer trying to drain the LHH swamp of private developers to prevent privatizing use of public land. Over time, her successors appear to be flooding the swamp to preserve a vibrant life for private developer alligators.

How is this not Renne saying, “Do as I say, not what I do,” as if her successors at City Hall are now considering placing private facilities on public land zoned “P”?

Housing on Public Land Is a Land Grab

“No on D” ballot opponents led an aggressive campaign claiming if Prop. “D” passed, it would amount to a land grab by private developers clamoring to acquire city land. It’s ironic that a dozen years later, it’s now somehow OK to allow a land grab to place market-rate housing on LHH’s campus.

As desperately as the City needs senior housing, this plan should be opposed because it rules out either “assisted living” or “residential care facilities,” both of which are in desperately-needed short supply.

If LHH’s property is re-zoned, it may open the door to place massive housing projects on its campus, including market-rate housing there, and other “P”-zoned properties in the City. That’s not what public land has long been intended for. If this door is opened, what will prevent market-rate housing in Golden Gate Park?

Yee’s absolutely right we need more RCFE units in the City to prevent out-of-county patient dumping. Yee shouldn’t abandon the need for RCFE beds in favor of the less-politically-messy need to build more senior housing.

Between the U.S. Census in 2010 and 2017, San Francisco’s population increased by 78,593 people, to 884,363. By 2050 it’s projected to increase to 993,440, another 109,077 people who will place demands on hospital-based City infrastructure as they age.

The LHH campus should be considered a “rainy-day” resource conserved for when the City needs more land zoned as “P – Public” for hospital and medical-related use types as our population increases and hospital-based infrastructure becomes more critical.

Placing senior housing on the same spot that was supposed to house SNF beds will restrict future expansion and preclude placing additional SNF units on the logical site to link to, and provide access into, the rebuilt hospital. It’s clearly, a bait-and-switch.

As early as May 15, Yee’s office indicated to MOHCD his staff “are working proactively with [some D-7 constituents] to ensure that this project has strong neighborhood support,” constituents who may have been told the project will probably involve market-rate housing.

If the door is opened to placing residential housing on LHH’s campus, it will probably not be long before LHH’s front lawn is sold to the highest bidder to build market-rate housing along its frontage facing Laguna Honda Boulevard.

How is monetizing LHH’s campus by re-zoning it to build market-rate housing any different than State Senator Scott Wiener’s failed attempt to re-zone the entire state for higher-density housing under SB 827? Both attempts at re-zoning are simply wrong, disguising land grabs for what they are.

Supervisor Yee may be seeking a legacy senior housing was developed in D-7 during his watch. He shouldn’t be selling his soul — or legacy — pitting senior housing against the need for RCFE and assisted living facilities, forfeiting public land for market-rate housing. His legacy should be getting RCFE and assisted living facilities built in the City, particularly on LHH’s campus. Perhaps he could enlist former City Attorney Louise Renne to help get this done.

LHH’s campus should not be a spot on a Monopoly board game, or a swamp for market-rate housing developer alligators.

An expanded version of this article, with hyperlinks, and additional discussion is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

July 2018

The $310 Million Housing Bond

Affordable Housing Bond Continuing Oddities

Changes to planned spending have plagued the affordable housing bond ever since voters passed the bond in November 2015. The history of the changes is remarkable.

Housing Bond Purposes Change Again

Between November 2017 and May 2018, the number of affordable housing units in the $100 million “Low-Income Housing” main sub-category is dropping by 246 units, a negative 38.7 percentage change cut.”

As of May 2018, there are even more changes.

On July 28, 2016 the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) informed the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee (CGOBOC) that between January 2016 and July 2016 MOHCD eliminated both the “Middle-Income Rental Program” and the “Expiring Regulations Preservation” subcategories from the “Middle-Income Housing” main category of bond uses. Three new subcategories appeared on July 28 not previously listed in previous documents describing planned uses. The three new categories were “Middle-Income Teacher Housing,” “Middle-Income Buy-in Program,” and “Middle-Income MOHCD Production,” none previously disclosed by MOHCD.

The Westside Observer reported in March 2017 that by CGOBOC’s October 3, 2016 meeting MOHCD had eliminated the “Middle-Income Buy-in Program” rolled out July 28, 2016, a sub-component of spending that existed for a two-month period.

Like the “Middle-Income Buy-in Program” removed in October 2016, the 250 Laguna Honda senior housing project introduced in January 2017 disappeared from bond spending by November 2017.

Planned spending is changing yet again, six months after MOHCD last presented its bond plans to CGOBOC on November 20, 2017.

Between November 2017 and May 2018, the number of affordable housing units in the $100 million “Low-Income Housing” main sub-category is dropping by 246 units, a negative 38.7 percentage change cut.

As well, the “Teacher Next Door” loans program is cutting support to 190 teachers. The reduction from 250 to 60 Teacher loans represents a negative 76 percentage change cut.

The cut from 64 to 21 units in the “Middle-Income MOHCD Production” category represents a negative 67.2 percentage change reduction.

The combined cuts total an overall 397 reduction of affordable units — from 1,785 to 1,388 — to be funded by this bond represents a negative 22.2 percentage change cut within a six-month period.

Fully $18.92 million is also being shifted from the “Middle-Income MOHCD Production” category to the “DALP” (Down Payment Assistance Loans) category to fund an additional 63 DALP loans, averaging $300,317 DALP loans.

Where’s the Metrics?

As the Westside Observer reported in June 2016, the inaugural hearing on the affordable housing bond held on January 28, 2016 was pathetic, as neither MOHCD nor CGOBOC had thought ahead about what sort of reporting requirements — evaluative “metrics” to report and evaluate various and diverse categories within the bond — would be used by CGOBOC to assess progress on the bond. The reporting metrics hadn’t been developed.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, MOHCD stalled developing in collaboration with CGOBOC any meaningful metrics. Here we are two-and-a-half years after the inaugural CGOBOC hearing in January 2016, and metrics still haven’t been developed. Will CGOBOC insist that the metrics must be defined by November 2018?

Ethics Commission Fines MOHCD’s Previous Director

As reported in April 2015, a January 15, 2015 a press release from then-Mayor Ed Lee summarizing his January 2015 State of the City address claimed he would create a new investment fund to launch more affordable housing projects:

“The Mayor will create an accelerator fund, with private and philanthropic partners, to accompany bond financing, seeding public-private partnerships that will enable nonprofits to act quickly and complete [sic; “compete”] on the open market to purchase land for construction of affordable housing and buildings to be improved as permanently affordable units.”

A 2014 report from the Mayor’s Housing Work Group noted that a “Housing Affordability Fund” — ostensibly separate and distinct from the Housing Trust Fund approved by voters in 2012 — would be established via a public-private partnership. The 2014 report stated the accelerator fund would leverage limited public dollars for housing by pursuing development of the Housing Affordability Fund as an “off balance-sheet” fund.

The City launched the “accelerator” fund on February 2, 2016 naming it the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It eventually received a $10 million loan, presumably from MOHCD’s larger Housing Trust Fund, not from the $310 million Affordable Housing Bond.

San Francisco’s Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code prohibits City employees from engaging in activities that their city departments have identified as incompatible in a Statement of Incompatible Activities (SIA).

The Mayor’s Office SIA § III(A)(3)(B) provides that the following activity is incompatible and, therefore, prohibited with duties of Mayor’s Office employees:

“No employee who works in the following divisions of the Mayor’s Office — the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the Mayor’s Office of Community Development, or the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice — may serve on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization that applies for loan or grants administered by the employee’s division.”

The Ethics Commission got wind that when the HAF was created, MOHCD’s then-director, Olson Lee, served on the Board of Directors for the HAF from its inception until his retirement on June 2, 2017.

The Ethics Commission entered a “Stipulation” in mid-April 2018 with Mr. Lee. The Stipulation noted:

“[Mr.] Lee should have obtained an Advance Written Determination prior to serving as a board member for the Housing Accelerator Fund [HAF]. Instead, Respondent Lee obtained an Advance Written Determination from Mayor Lee only after Ethics Commission Staff inquired [in October 2016] whether his service on the HAF Board was an incompatible activity under the Mayor’s Office SIA and after having participated in a decision to make a grant to a non-profit organization for which he served as a board member.”

The Stipulation fined Olson Lee a mere $800 for having violated the SIA. Ethics could have fined Lee up to $5,000 for the violation, but just slapped him on the wrist with the reduced fine. As a Department Head who reported directly to then Mayor Ed Lee, Olson Lee should have been keenly aware of the prohibited incompatible activity in which he was engaging.

Homeowners Didn’t Kill 250 Laguna Honda Project

Forest Hill neighbors have been falsely accused of killing the senior housing project proposed for 250 Laguna Honda Boulevard. That’s a complete lie that deserves to be corrected in the public record.

On March 19, 2018, in response to a follow-up records request, MOHCD’s Director, Kate Hartley wrote:

“The reduced footprint required to accommodate both the church and the unstable hillside meant that 250 Laguna Honda was likely no longer a large development but instead average in size (maybe 70 to 80 units). For this size development … MOHCD determined that its money could be better deployed elsewhere.”

It’s a sad day for journalism when a neighborhood newspaper, the Westside Observer, has to correct inaccurate reporting in San Francisco’s mainstream news media outlets, but is happy to do so as a civic duty.

On April 12, 2018, the San Francisco Examiner published an article by Joshua Sabatini that was both inflammatory and factually incorrect. Sabatini wrongly reported:

“The Forest Hill [senior housing] project was scrapped due to neighborhood opposition amid escalating cost concerns and a geotechnical report finding a nearby slope unstable and in need of shoring up — after a $2 million investment from bond funds.”

In response to a records request placed with Kate Hartley at MOHCD the same day Sabatini’s article appeared, Hartley responded “[MOHCD] did not advance any funds to Christian Church Homes [for the 250 Laguna Honda project], nor did we sign a predevelopment loan agreement. We don’t have records responsive to your request.”

MOHCD notified CGOBOC on November 20, 2017 that the $3 million in Prop. A funding for 250 Launa Honda had been re-allocated to another senior housing project at 1296 Shotwell. MOHCD asserted the main reasons for the funding transfer were “delays encountered at 250 Laguna due to the historical findings on the site, the associated environmental approvals, and the extensive community outreach underway.” MOHCD did not cite on November 20 that neighborhood opposition caused the funding re-allocation.

Sabatini should have known before publishing his April 2018 article that MOHCD had already withdrawn Prop. A funding from the project four months-and-a-half earlier in November.

I spoke with Kate Hartley by phone on April 13, 2018. She confirmed the City had not spent one penny of the Affordable Housing Bond on the 250 Laguna Honda senior housing project, so Sabatini’s reporting was factually incorrect. Hartley gave me permission to quote her. She clearly stated:

“Withdrawing from the 250 Laguna Honda Boulevard senior housing project had nothing to do with the neighborhood’s objections.”

Hartley concluded, saying:

“There would likely be regular deposits of hillside debris onto the housing site, even under static conditions, which would have to be removed regularly. To mitigate against these deposits, the building footprint would have to be reduced, further decreasing the potential unit count at the site.”

Obviously, bond funding cannot be used for on-going maintenance or operating expenses such as debris removal for affordable housing projects.

The only report issued by either MOHCD or CGOBOC in March 2018 that Sabatini may have been referring to was the “Accountability Report March 2018” created and released by MOHCD on March 16, a month before Sabatini’s hit piece. Numbered page 26 of MOHCD’s report directly contradicted Sabatini’s claim $2 million of bond funds had been expended on the 250 Laguna Honda project:

“The project at 250 Laguna Honda is no longer moving forward due to cost considerations. No bond funds [from the $310 million Affordable Housing Bond] will be spent on this project.”

More proof neighborhood opposition had nothing to do with MOHCD’s decision to withdraw funding from the 250 Laguna Honda project surfaced in a new lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court on May 17 (Case # RG18905402, Christian Church Homes vs. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company). All of the public excuses MOHCD has offered to date as to why the senior housing project was eliminated from bond spending appears to have been just a pretext to mask the real reasons.

As the Westside Observer reported in March 2018, the El Bethel Arms, Inc. vs. Christian Church Homes lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court appears to have contributed more than we knew about what really killed the 250 Laguna Honda senior housing project.

The Alameda Superior Court lawsuit alleges MOHCD exerted significant pressure on CCH to resolve the El Bethal Arms lawsuit, or risk losing the 250 Laguna Honda project. MOHCD apparently made it clear that if CCH did not resolve the El Bethel Arms lawsuit, CCH would lose the Laguna Honda project outright. MOHCD hasn’t admittedly so, publicly.

As the new Alameda lawsuit advances, watch this space.

When Will Changes to the Affordable Housing Bond Stop?

Here we are approaching three years after voters passed the affordable housing bond in November 2015. When will changes to planned spending of the bond stop? What types of affordable housing will voters eventually get?

And when will CGOBOC get around to insisting that the metrics to evaluate the bond spending must be developed and fully implemented?

An expanded version of this article, with hyperlinks, and additional discussion is available on the author’s web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

June 2018

Looking at the June 5 Election

My Recommendations

With 15 local, regional, and state propositions and 20 elected officials' contests on the San Francisco municipal and California's primary election ballots, San Franciscans face a minefield determining how to cast their votes on June 5.

This condensed article focuses on a handful of mayoral and Superior Court Judge candidates, and local ballot measures. An expanded version of this article goes into greater detail. Take my clip-and-save cheat sheet to your polling place.

Recommendations for Mayor

I recommend Jane Kim as your first ranked-choice vote and Angela Alioto as your second ranked-choice, for reasons more fully explored in my expanded article. Whatever you do, don't vote for London Breed!

Both measures carry the unfortunate subtitle of "Mostly to Fund" each measure. Instead of Prop D funding housing and homelessness services exclusively, part of the "mostly" conundrum is that the legal text of Prop D says the measure will set aside $3 million, ostensibly to be deposited into the General Fund, for any other public purposes of the City.”

 

Recommendations for Ballot Measures

The "cheat sheet" at the end of this article provides a summary of recommendations. Some discussion is in order.

Regional Measure 3: Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan. This measure is sponsored by the Bay Area [Bridge] Toll Authority. Over a six-year period, bridge tolls in the Bay Area will increase by $3 per bridge crossing, from $5 to $8 for each one-way trip. That's a 60% percent change increase. Assuming a round-trip per bridge increase of $6 dollars per toll bridge for five working days per week for 50 weeks (minus a two-week vacation), drivers will face a $1,500 annual increase in transportation expenses for each round-trip toll bridge crossed. It's not known how many drivers cross more than one toll bridge every day and whether their transportation expenses are even higher.

Background materials posted on the San Francisco Department of Elections web site shows Measure 3 includes $4.5 billion in transportation capital improvements across the region. But a table included summarizing the "biggest investments" account for $1.49 billion in public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian safety improvements, much of it for BART, Caltrain, and MUNI. Another $1.48 billion will be allocated for "traffic bottleneck relief" on various transportation corridors, for a total of almost $3 billion. To learn where the remaining $1.5 billion will be allocated to, you need to read the full 22-page proposal.

The background materials don't indicate whether BART fares, MUNI fares, and ferry service fares will increase. Shouldn't public transit riders help fund the public transit improvements? It will be entirely funded from bridge tolls on the backs of drivers who may have no other transportation alternative options. Vote No on Measure 3.

Prop A: Public Utilities Revenue Bonds. This measure would authorize the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to issue revenue bonds for power facilities; the PUC is currently allowed to issue revenue bonds for water and clean water facilities. The Board of Supervisors would have to approve each revenue bond by a two-thirds vote, along with approval by the Mayor and the PUC Commission. My objection is any of the bonds issued would be subject to ongoing review and oversight by the PUC Revenue Bond Oversight Committee (RBOC). The RBOC has done a terrible job with oversight of existing PUC revenue bonds. Vote No.

Prop B: Prohibiting Appointed (City) Commissioners from Running for Office. Under this City Charter amendment, appointed members who file to run as candidates for state or local elective offices would be required to resign their seats as commissioners. Unfortunately, there is a carve-out whereby appointees to citizen advisory committees would be exempted. Another carve-out would exempt both appointees to the boards of San Francisco's Employees' Retirement System (SFERS), the Health Services Board, and the Retiree Healthcare Trust Fund, along with exempting board members elected by city employees and retirees to these three boards. There are a total of 11 appointees (not elected commissioners) to the three boards chosen by the Mayor, the City Controller, the City Treasurer, and the Executive Director of SFERS; another two are members of the Board of Supervisors who are appointed. One of the two appointed by City supervisors is currently running for elected state office. These 11, and the 8 members elected by City employees and retirees, should not be exempted from having to resign if they choose to seek elected office, while all other commissioners on all of the other City boards and commissions would be required to resign.

The inequity of requiring some board commissioners resign, but exempting others, makes no sense — even if this is San Francisco. I'm personally voting against Prop B because I don't know how commissioners on the three exempted boards can focus on their duties as Commissioners while being distracted for months on end while running campaigns for state or local elected office. With that said, I'm issuing a "No Recommendation" on this measure.

Props C and D: Commercial Landlord Gross Receipts Measures. Both Props C and D would levy additional taxes on gross receipts of commercial property landlords, although some commercial properties for non-profits and other service providers would be exempt from the new taxes.

I'm recommending, very reluctantly, supporting Prop. C for Child Care and Education. Prop C, seeks to raise $146 million annually for child care and education from commercial property landlords. That compares to Prop D, which the City Controller estimates will generate half as much at approximately $70 million. Prop D would be less onerous on commercial property landlords.

Both measures carry the unfortunate subtitle of "Mostly to Fund" each measure. Instead of Prop D funding housing and homelessness services exclusively, part of the "mostly" conundrum is that the legal text of Prop D says the measure will set aside $3 million, ostensibly to be deposited into the General Fund, for any other public purposes of the City.

Worse, the legal text of Prop C would only allocate 85% ($122 million) of the $146 million for child care and education funding, and the other 15% ($22 million) will be deposited into the General Fund for any other public purposes of the City.

The legal text for both C and D provide no clarification, or restrictions, on what the "other public purposes" will include or exclude. Why are both of these measures attempting to fatten up revenue for the City to spend on any "other public purposes"? Why are "other public purposes" being piggy-backed on revenue streams otherwise dedicated to specific purposes?

More concerning, Prop D to raise additional funds for homeless housing and homeless services may not take into account California Assembly Bill 3171, which would allocate $1.5 billion from the state budget to help address the growing statewide homeless crisis if the bill is passed. AB 3171 would also require local jurisdictions to come up with local funds on a matching basis. Where is San Francisco going to come up with even more matching homeless housing funds on top of what the City is already spending, and how much will the local match increase cost? I'm reluctantly recommending Yes on Prop C, and emphatically recommending voting No on Prop D.

Prop E: Prohibiting Tobacco Retailers from Selling Flavored Tobacco Products: The Board of Supervisors passed a measure in 2017 to ban the sale of flavored tobacco in the City. This is more "nanny-state" control of the citizenry. What's next, banning chocolate milk flavored with chocolate? Banning the sale of chicken or baby back ribs, because the meat is "flavored" with sugar-infused barbecue sauce and cooked over potentially carcinogenic coals? Some of my multi-racial family members and former co-workers prefer brands of menthol cigarettes. Banning sale of menthol cigarettes can be seen as being discriminatory to minorities. The City Controller's preliminary statement on the Department of Elections web site indicates the City may well lose sales tax revenue, with people travelling to the suburbs outside the City to buy the flavored tobacco products they prefer. I'm personally voting No on Prop E. But I'm issuing a "No Recommendation" on this measure.

Prop F: City-Funded Legal Services for Residential Tenants in Eviction Lawsuits. This is a no-brainer. The City should help protect all renters and tenants facing eviction lawsuits. The City Controller's preliminary statement on the Department of Elections web site indicates the measure would increase the City's costs somewhere between $4.2 million and $5.6 million, but is subject to decisions made when developing the City's annual budget. Yes on Prop F.

Prop G: Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District. The City Controller's preliminary statement indicates the measure would generate $50 million annually in new tax revenue from the parcel tax to be used principally for teacher salaries and training, and "other" SFUSD purposes. One of those "other" uses would permit the school district to use the revenue for public charter schools. Charter schools are already encroaching on, and competing for, space in public schools.

Teachers in San Francisco were forced to flee to the East Bay, given the City's housing crisis of unaffordable rent. If Regional Measure 3 passes, we'll unleash increased transportation costs of up to $1,500 on teachers annually, assuming they only cross one toll bridge commuting round-trip to teach in San Francisco. Obviously, any salary increase will simply be consumed by increased transportation costs.

This measure could very well set a precedent that parcel taxes can be used to fund salaries of City employees. Who is next? The powerful SEIU nurses' union, Firefighters Local 798, or the really powerful Police Officers Union being inspired by the precedent of a parcel tax for teachers? Who will be the next set of City employees saying "If you can do this for teachers, why can't you do it for me? I need a raise!" Shouldn't the City have to come up with salaries and pay raises from the General Fund? No on Prop G.

Prop H: Policy for the Use of Tasers by SF Police Officers. This Police Officers Association-sponsored measure is ironically titled The Safer Policing Ordinance. Tasers can be just as deadly as bullets from a handgun, so tasers are not "safer." Police officers do not need both guns and tasers. Vote No on Prop H.

Prop I: Relocation of Professional Sports Teams. This is a mere "declaration of policy" that San Francisco will not entice professional sports teams located in other jurisdictions that have previously established themselves for 20 years with community support and fans to relocate to San Francisco. "No Recommendation" on Prop I.

Superior Court Judges

The SF Weekly carried a great article about the Superior Court judges' contests. Public Defenders Phoenix Streets, Maria Elena Evangelista, Kwixuan Hart Maloof, and Niki Judith Solis are running for different seats on the Superior Court, shown on my clip–'n–save cheat sheet to take to the polls with you. I strongly urge you to support all four of them!

Don't Forget to Vote June 5!

An expanded version of this article, with hyperlinks, additional discussion, and the clip–'n–save cheat sheet to take to your polling places is available on the author's web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco's Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com

June 5, 2018 Election Cheat Sheet

Regional Measure 3 Traffic Relief Plan No

Prop. A Public Utilities Revenue Bonds No

Prop. B Appointed Commissioners e

Prop. C Gross Receipts Tax Child Care Yes

Prop. D Gross Receipts Tax Housing &Homeless No

Prop. E Flavored Tobacco Products

Prop. F Tenants Lawyers in Eviction Lawsuits Yes

Prop. G Parcel Tax for School District No

Prop. H Tasers for SF Police Officers No

Prop. I Professional Sports Teams

Mayor Jane Kim (#1) • Angela Alioto (#2)

Superior Court Judge, Seat 4 Phoenix Streets

Superior Court Judge, Seat 7 Maria Elena Evangelista

Superior Court Judge, Seat 9 Kwixuan Hart Maloof

Superior Court Judge, Seat 11 Niki Judith Solis

May 2018

 

Patrick Monette-Shaw

$70 Million in Taxpayer Funds Up in Smoke

When City Employees Violate Bullying Laws, Taxpayers Saddled

Taxpayers funded $70 million in settlement costs for 330 lawsuits filed by city employees against the City during the past 11 years who asserted other employees, supervisors, and managers had been behaving badly.

Taxpayers can't be happy seeing their taxes go up in smoke for entirely preventable behavior involving clearly illegal prohibited personnel practices.

Couldn't that $70 million have been better spent fixing potholes, providing universal pre-school and childcare expenses, preventing the dumping of our elderly and disabled who need skilled nursing care into out-of-county facilities, fixing MUNI, or building more affordable housing?

Public-sector employees behaving badly get away with engaging in prohibited behavior against their co-workers believing that their employer — through the San Francisco City Attorney's Office — will pick up the costs to defend them and pay the settlements”

The term "prohibited personnel practices" refers to behavior banned by existing federal, state, and local laws as unlawful — things such as sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, racial discrimination and harassment, age discrimination, disability discrimination, wrongful termination, and other illegal practices.

Whether or not you care about the 330 City employees whose careers were upended because they were forced to sue the City, you may care about what City services went unfunded due to the $70 million legal costs.

While researching data for my February 2018 article "San Francisco's #MeToo Sexual Harassment Scandal" in the Westside Observer about sexual harassment and sexual discrimination lawsuits filed by City employees, it became clear costs of the larger set of prohibited practice lawsuits needed to be revisited. This is the fourth article in a series.

Public-sector employees behaving badly get away with engaging in prohibited behavior against their co-workers believing that their employer — through the San Francisco City Attorney's Office — will pick up the costs to defend them and pay the settlements to aggrieved employees who are harmed. As a condition of employment with the City, shouldn't they be required to comply with existing anti-discrimination laws?

Rising Costs of These Lawsuits

In May 2013, the Westside Observer published my initial article, "High Costs of City Attorney's Advice" — that focused on retaliation and bullying of City employees — in which I reported the City spent at least $12.1 million.

Revisiting the issue three years later in July 2016, the Westside Observer published the first update, "Bullying Costs Soar to $41.6 Million," revealing that by May 29, 2016 costs had ballooned to $41.6 million.

In a second update in April 2017, the Observer published "Slouching Toward Whistleblower Protections." Costs increased from $41.6 million to $58.2 million.

In this third update you are now reading — the fourth article in this series — costs jumped another $11.8 million to now $70 million. The $57.9 million in increased costs between October 24, 2012 and December 22, 2017 (from $12.1 million to $70 million) represents a staggering 478.5% change increase in costs with which taxpayers have been saddled.

What's Ed Lee Got to Do With It?

Part of former Mayor Ed Lee's enduring legacy will be his failure to reduce the costs of lawsuits against the City during his watch over City Hall. In fact, during Lee's watch the number of lawsuits and costs soared.

Of note, between October 25, 2012 and December 22, 2017 — solely within the 5.2 years of Lee's six-year tenure — lawsuits concluded account for $51.4 million (73.5%) of the $70 million in total costs.

Also of note, since January 2007, the $38.4 million in City attorney time and expenses represents 54.8% of the $70 million, while the $31.6 million paid to Plaintiffs represents just 45.2% of total costs, suggesting perhaps the City Attorney is over-litigating, and driving costs up.

It's notable 158 (48%) of the 330 lawsuits concluded to date were filed after Lee became mayor. And 82 lawsuits remaining pending, costs not yet settled.

The total costs of all prohibited personnel practice lawsuits more than doubled, from $22.6 million to $47.5 million, a 110% increase, suggesting Lee did little to reign in increasing violations of existing laws.

Types of Prohibited Personnel Practice Lawsuits

The top six types of cases of the 330 lawsuits concluded ("settled") to date, Wrongful Termination, Racial Discrimination, "Other Actions," Disability Discrimination, Sexual Discrimination, and Sexual Harassment, notably include:

• 250 cases (75.8%) of the 330 lawsuits accounted for $58 million (82.8%) of the $70 million in total costs across the top-six categories.
• 54 cases (16.4%) of the 330 lawsuits involved Wrongful Termination, accounting for just under $20 million (28%) of total costs. Wrongful Termination is clearly under-reported because the City Attorney's office has a habit of misclassifying Wrongful Termination cases as other types of cases.
• 53 cases (16.1%) involved Racial Discrimination, accounting for over 19% of total costs.

• 36 cases (10.9%) between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Discrimination lawsuits accounted for $10 million of total costs.

• The 90 cases of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Discrimination, and Wrongful Termination account for 27.3% of the 330 lawsuits, but a staggering $29.6 million (42.2%) of total costs.

As the Observer reported in "San Francisco's #MeToo Sexual Harassment Scandal" in February, at least 61.8% of the sexual harassment and sexual discrimination cases specifically alleged in court legal briefs that they had experienced retaliation. And of the Wrongful Termination lawsuits, 50% of the Plaintiffs also alleged they experienced retaliation.

The remainder of the 330 cases are equally concerning. How can these behaving-badly employees not know that disability discrimination, age discrimination, racial harassment, sexual orientation discrimination and harassment, and the other types of cases are prohibited by law?

Do Taxpayers Have Any Recourse?

If California's legislature and the U.S. Congress can adopt regulations that those found to have engaged in sexual harassment should have to pay the settlements and costs of legal proceedings out of their own pockets, San Francisco taxpayers should demand that San Francisco's Board of Supervisors do so, too, for every City employee found to have engaged in sexual harassment.

After all, this is not an issue that requires a meet-and-confer session with the City's labor union partners. As a condition of employment with the City, employees must be told that in order to keep their City jobs, they are required to comply with existing anti-discrimination laws, and if they don't or won't, they're out!

California Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D – Sacramento) introduced AB 1750 on January 3, 2018 to require the State Senate and State Assembly seek reimbursement for any sexual harassment settlements paid by California's Legislature when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing by a legislator.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on February 6, 2018 requiring members of Congress to pay sexual harassment settlements out of their own pockets.

It's time that taxpayers demand that not only should City employees found guilty of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination have to pay the settlement awards and legal costs themselves, employees found to have violated all of the other prohibited personnel practice categories should also have to pay those costs themselves, too.

This shouldn't be limited just to sexual harassment and sexual discrimination lawsuits. City Hall needs to get serious about making these behaving-badly City employees pay for their misbehavior out of their own pockets! That will be the quickest and most effective way to stop these behaving-badly employees dead in their tracks.

An expanded version of this article with hyperlinks and additional tabular data is available on the author's web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco's Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

April 2018

Funds for Affordable Housing Must Be Made Public

Financing 250 Laguna Honda Senior HousingPatrick Monette-Shaw

See March 8 Postscript at end of article reporting breaking news that D-7 Supervisor Norman Yee has withdrawn his support for the senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda.

In addition to concerns about the 250 Laguna Honda location being in earthquake and landslide hazard zones, and the stability of the hill that neighborhood residents have raised, there are serious concerns about the funding for the proposed senior housing project to be built on the site.

San Franciscans deserve a full explanation of this project's financing.

On March 8, after this article was completed, news broke that Supervisor Norman Yee withdrew his support for the senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda Boulevard, primarily due to concerns about seismic safety of the hillside. It's unknown whether Yee's support for the project may have been weakened by the salacious details exposed in court during the El Bethel lawsuit.”

Affordable Housing Bond Financing Awarded

After voters passed the "Prop. A" $310 Affordable Housing Bond in November 2015, bond spending became the purview of San Francisco's Citizens' General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee (CGOBOC), charged with holding hearings on progress of all general obligation bond projects.

The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) suddenly added the 250 Laguna Honda project to planned bond spending, informing CGOBOC on January 28, 2017 it had done so, indicating the project would receive $3 million for pre-development.

Average Costs Per Unit

The proposed 150-unit project budgeted at $73.5 million averages $490,000 for the average 535 sq. ft. units, including both "hard costs" (construction only) and "soft costs" (architectural fees, permits, etc.). The initial proposal indicated it would include 42 studios (28%) averaging 382 sq. ft., 107 one-bedroom units (71.3%) averaging 595 sq. ft., and just one 1,051 sq. ft. two-bedroom unit (0.7%) for an on-site building manager.

"Prop. A" Funds Stripped

Nine months after adding the project to bond spending MOHCD changed its mind, notifying CGOBOC in November 2017 the bond funding had been re-allocated to another project.

Because the Laguna Honda project will not receive bond funding, it won't be under CGOBOCs purview. Financing details will be harder to obtain.

Evolving Financing

On January 19, 2018 MOHCD indicated it expects to fund the 250 Laguna project using other MOHCD affordable housing sources, such as Inclusionary Housing fees and Jobs Housing Linkage fees.

Given the Langan draft geotechnical report describing the dangers of the instability of the hill, MOHCD indicated on January 17 it expects the project size will be reduced by one-third — from 150 to 100 units. Once costs for stabilizing the hillside are determined, CCH will provide a revised budget.

When CCH first applied for "Prop A." bond funding, it submitted a project budget, shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Initial Project Budget Submitted by CCH

Notably, Table 1 doesn't include costs to purchase the property. Table 1 reveals fully $71.5 million (97.3%) of the financing will be funded by sources other than from CCH, and $54.2 million (73.8%) doesn't require repayment.

Lien Orders 4 through 7 totals $35.2 million classified as "forgivable" in terms of repayment.

The $31.5 million tax credit equities (42.8% of funding) is clearly of interest to CCH, just as tax credits for re-development of El Bethel Arms was of great interest to CCH.

About Residual Receipts

Kate Hartley, then-Deputy Director of MOHCD, informed CGOBOC members on January 28, 2016 that MOHCD typically doesn't expect repayment of "residual receipts" — revenues received in excess of operating costs — such that if no residual revenue is left over, repayment isn't expected.

Kiss the $19 million in city-issued residual receipt funding goodbye.

As for the $17.3 million in HCD-AHSC residual receipt funding from the State of California, that loan must be repaid in full at the end of the 55 year term of the loan. If the State can require full residual receipt repayment, why can't the City of San Francisco?

About Tax Credit Equity Funding

CCH's reliance that $31.5 million in tax credit equities will actually be secured for the project is uncertain and may be in jeopardy.

MOHCD's Eugene Flannery confirmed January 29 projects applying for MOHCD funding submit an estimated amount of tax credit equity to be obtained. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program is administered by the IRS and overseen by California's Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC).

Once a project sponsor has a tax credit allocation from CTCAC, the sponsor enters into an agreement with a private investor to purchase the credits at a market price. The tax credit equities aren't loans and, therefore, aren't paid back to the corporation or to CTCAC. They're essentially gifts that only require the developer keep the project "affordable" for 55 years.

Presumably, after 55 years the project can be flipped from "affordable" housing to market-rate units. No wonder they're so lucrative to, and coveted by, developers like CCH.

Flannery indicated that during 2016 the local value of tax credits dropped significantly, from $1.15 to 95ȼ per credit — a 17.4% percent decline in value.

What Flannery didn't mention is competition for tax credits is intense, because the credits aren't restricted just to 100% affordable housing projects, they're available to for-profit developers, too.

For-profit developers who are required to include a percentage of their projects as below-market rate (BMR) units in jurisdictions like San Francisco having inclusionary housing minimum percentages are allowed to submit applications for tax credit equity on the BMR units.

One example of this is Axis Development Corporation, a for-profit developer, which obtained multi-family housing revenue housing bond financing from San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in December 2017 for a 117-unit market-rate project at 2675 Folsom Street. The 2675 Folsom deal calls for 20 percent — 23 units — of the 117 to be BMR units.

Axis received $5.3 million in tax credits from CTCAC.

The 50-unit reduction at 250 Laguna Honda will yield less credits than CCH was banking on. CCH will have to compete for tax credits with for-profit developers. MOHCD indicated CCH hasn't applied to CTCAC for the tax credits.

CCHs interest in the tax credit equities for the 250 Laguna project mirrors CCHs interest in tax credit equities for re-development of another project.

El Bethel Baptist Church vs. Christian Church Homes Lawsuit

Tax credit equites are so lucrative that back in 2012 CCH advocated for re-development of El Bethel Arms, a housing project owned by El Bethel Baptist Church, because CCH stood to receive a $2.5 million re-development fee. The proposal sought to sell the Arms to investors for 15 years under a low-income tax credit program.

A series of six contracts were signed by Lillian Peck, an El Bethel Arms board of director's member in her 80's. Peck was allegedly misled into believing the Baptist Church would retain 51% ownership, when in fact the agreements reduced ownership of tax credits to just 1%.

In 2013 Keva McNeill had become El Bethel Church's new pastor and an El Bethel Arms board member. The new Board voted to halt the redevelopment project in March 2016 and terminated CCH as El Bethel Arms' management company.

The six agreements were subsequently challenged in San Francisco Superior Court by El Bethel Church's new Board of Directors, which had been appointed in the summer of 2014. El Bethel Arms, Inc., et al. vs. Christian Church Homes, et al., filed May 11, 2016 [case number CGC-16-551933], seeks to rescind the agreements under breach-of-contract.

On January 16, 2018 San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer issued his tentative decision in Phase I of the El Bethel Arms, Inc., et al. trial that the six agreements could be, and are, rescinded [case number CGC-15-546236]. Ulmer's tentative ruling noted evidence presented at trial "establishes undue influence at the least [on Ms. Peck], if not outright fraud."

Ulmer's tentative decision stemmed from El Bethel's initial May 2016 lawsuit.

According to a knowledgeable observer, it's thought the partial settlement agreements indicate that El Bethel and CCH have completely severed all of their business relationships.

It now appears all six of the contracts Ms. Peck had signed — the four development contracts and the two owner representative agreements "that were intended to illegally take possession of a 355-unit affordable housing property worth $70 million" — have been rescinded, allowing El Bethel Baptist Church to retain ownership of its two housing projects.

The Project's Undoing

After CCH submitted a Preliminary Project Assessment (PPA) application to the Planning Department on July 6, 2016 for the 250 Laguna Honda Project, Planning issued its preliminary response on October 4, 2016 noting the application was valid for 18 months, would expire on April 4, 2018, and a new PPA will be required.

In response to a records request for financial arrangements between CCH and Forest Hill Church, CCH's CEO, Donald Stump, noted Forest Hill Church is selling its property to CCH for less than full market value.

CCH is looking to acquire the 250 Laguna property for below market price of just $3 million to $3.5 million. The sale hasn't occurred. The minimum fair market value of the property is approximately $10 million.

Stump noted CCH has no knowledge what Forest Hill Church will actually do with sale proceeds but asserted the Church has said proceeds will be used to further the Church's mission. If Forest Hill Church really wants to use sale proceeds to further its ministry, why on earth would it sell for below market value, at less than one-third of the full market value?

After CCH's questionable practices in the El Bethel Arms re-development project Judge Ulmer stopped just short of categorizing as fraud, how can San Franciscans trust CCH's plans to develop the project at 250 Laguna Honda?

Hopefully, the 17.4% drop in tax credit equities value to investors, the yet unknown costs to stabilize the hillside behind 250 Laguna, and the 50-unit reduction will kill CCH's plans to develop housing on the site, penciling the project out as financially unfeasible. Why would private investors snap up tax equity credits knowing the property is in landslide and earthquake hazard zones?

This desperately-needed senior housing clearly needs to be moved to a seismically-safe alternative location, and needs full disclosure of the project's financing.

Postscript: Supervisor Yee Withdraws Support for This Senior Housing Project

"News broke on March 5 that Supervisor Norman Yee withdrew his support for the senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda Boulevard."

On March 8, after this article was completed, news broke that Supervisor Norman Yee withdrew his support for the senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda Boulevard, primarily due to concerns about seismic safety of the hillside. It's unknown whether Yee's support for the project may have been weakened by the salacious details exposed in court during the El Bethel lawsuit. Yee wrote, in part:

"In light of the totality of these concerns and a limited amount of funding available to see it through to the end of a long and uncertain entitlement process, I am compelled to withdraw my support for this project. I do so with a sense of regret and am grateful to Forest Hill Church and CCH for making the effort to bring a much needed resource to our District."

A possibility exists for another project at the same location, but the same geotechnical concerns remain so any developer will face the same challenges that CCH had faced. MOHCD may still try to push the project through, but the likelihood MOHCD would succeed is extremely low. It's also unknown how CCH may respond to the loss of Yee's support.

An expanded version of this article with hyperlinks is available on the author's web site at stopLHHdownsize.com.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco's Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

March 2018

Time’s Up: City Hall’s Dirty Little Secret

Sexual Harassment in City Government

San Francisco City government is no more immune from sexual harassment scandals than other jurisdictions.The Time’s Up and #MeToo movements need to focus on our City government.Sexual Harrassment photo

The sexual harassment bombshell that exploded around Harvey Weinstein and the entertainment business quickly spread to Washington, D.C. ensnaring Senator Al Franken, among others.It spread to our state legislature in Sacramento, where five sexual harassment settlements cost $950,000 over two decades.

 

In contrast, at least 34 sexual harassment and sexual discrimination lawsuits filed by City employees against the City have cost at least $9.1 million since 2007. City Attorney time and expenses fighting the lawsuits cost $5.2 million (57.2%), and $3.9 million (42.8%) was paid as settlements to plaintiffs.Eight lawsuits remain outstanding, so costs will increase.Another five sexual harassment unlitigated claims added another $565,946, bringing total costs to $9.6 million, and total cases to 39.

Why has San Francisco retained at least 22 (52.4%) of the 42 Defendants accused of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination across the 34 separate lawsuits, who are still on the City’s payroll …”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) declared sexual harassment a violation of the Civil Rights Act in 1980.

Why are Civil Rights Act violations tolerated 38 years later in City government? Why has San Francisco retained at least 22 (52.4%) of the 42 Defendants accused of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination across the 34 separate lawsuits, who are still on the City’s payroll rather than being terminated?

“Time’s Up” in San Francisco

San Francisco appears to tolerate sexual harassment. The City has done minimal sexual harassment prevention training.The City must enact a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment.

Back on March 8, 2005 San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources (DHR) rolled out its sexual harassment prevention training program for City supervisors and managers.It was a PowerPoint-based presentation made in live training sessions.DHR upgraded and switched on November 20, 2007 to an on-line-based training program.

Effective October 28, 2013, DHR recommended departments require employees provide copies of their certificates of completion for placement in their personnel files.It shouldn’t have taken another six years for the City to require signed certificates.

Unfortunately, DHR confirmed the sexual harassment prevention training program isn’t required for all City employees; non-supervisory employees aren’t required to take the training.

Data presented below were obtained from public records requests to the City Attorney’s Office for lawsuits since 2007 and the City Controller’s payroll database, which were cross-referenced to public records of lawsuits available on the San Francisco Superior Court’s web site.

That 21 (61.8%) of the 34 cases listed “retaliation” as a “cause of action” is really disturbing.

The 34 cases named 40 Plaintiffs, 17 (42.5%) of whom appear to have retained their City jobs, and named at least 42 Defendants, 22 (52.4%) of whom appear to have retained their jobs.Another 7 of the Defendants (16.7%) retired, collecting City pensions.Fully 69% of Defendants continued collecting City salaries or pensions.

These 34 cases represent the tip of the proverbial iceberg, since many City employees may not have the financial means to file lawsuits, or may choose to remain silent to prevent further harassment and retaliation, and retain their employment income.

At least 31 of the 34 lawsuits were filed after the prevention training program was implemented.

Sexual Harassment and Wrongful Termination Nexus

Although wrongful termination lawsuits don’t generate community outrage as sexual harassment lawsuits do, there are parallels between the types of lawsuits.The nexus is retaliation.

Fully 54 wrongful termination lawsuits have been settled since 2005, at a cost of $17.8 million between settlement awards and City Attorney time and expenses fighting the lawsuits.Another 9 wrongful termination cases remain pending, with additional costs to come.Combined with the 39 sexual harassment and discrimination cases, that brings us to a total of 102 lawsuits between the three lawsuit categories.

Of the 54 wrongful termination cases settled, 27 (50.0%) alleged retaliation as a cause of action.Four of the cases involved “free speech” violations.Eight (14.8%) of the 54 wrongful termination cases settled explicitly named retaliation against whistleblowers.

The number of wrongful termination lawsuits jumped from 23 before Ed Lee became mayor to at least 40 after he became mayor in January 2011.That’s a 74% increase in wrongful termination lawsuits during Lee’s “watch.”

A January 8 Baltimore Sun article by Aaron Jordan noted that for the #MeToo moment to last, we must significantly strengthen whistleblower protections.Jordon observed:“we must mold our laws so that the sexual misconduct whistleblowers of tomorrow have less to fear and more to gain from coming forward.”

The nexus between the 102 sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination lawsuits is that fully 54 (52.9%) explicitly named retaliation as a cause of action.At combined costs of $27.5 million since 2005, these lawsuits cannot simply be ignored, especially not the cases naming retaliation.

Anemic City Efforts

The City’s Whistleblower Protection Ordinance (WPO) is supposed to prevent retaliation against City employees.

In May 2015, San Francisco’s Civil Grand Jury recommended strengthening the WPO.The Ethics Commission developed WPO amendments — including allowing whistleblower complaints to be submitted to external agencies, not just in-house in the City — and in March 2016 and submitted them to the Board of Supervisors, where they have languished for almost two years after Supervisor London Breed latched onto them.The amendments became inactive in October 2017, and Breed had to revive them.The WPO amendments need to be adopted and implemented immediately.

DHR’s “Sexual Harassment Policy” states DHR must submit annual written reports to the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, Human Rights Commission, and Commission on the Status of Women on the number of sexual harassment complaints filed, including the number of complaints pending, and the number of complaints against each City department.

Responding to a records request, DHR failed to provide annual sexual harassment reports.Instead, the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors provided seven DHR annual reports.DHR provided the remaining seven years in quarterly report format, with different data elements in a different format.Some of the data was totally redacted.Piecing the data together shows a staggering 240 complaints were filed across the 14 fiscal years.

Fully 33 (13.8%) of the 240 complaints were filled “externally” with either the U.S. EEOC or California’s DFEH.This is significant because San Francisco’s current WPO doesn’t provide anti-retaliation protections for employees who file complaints with external agencies outside of City government.

Another 41.6% (86) of the 207 internal complaints were classified as “pending.”It’s unknown how pending cases were eventually resolved.And 14.5% (30) of the complaints were classified as “insufficient evidence,” meaning those complaints were investigated, but there was insufficient evidence to establish sexual harassment occurred.And 24.2% (50) of the complaints were classified as “not investigated.”

Most damning, just two — a mere 2% — of the 207 sexual harassment complaints filed internally resulted in terminating the accused.

Separate from its annual reports, DHR asserted it located records of 423 sexual harassment complaints it determined after investigating had no merit and weren’t sustained.

Sadly, although San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSOW) receives DHR’s annual and quarterly reports, it appears CSOW hasn’t held any hearings on sexual harassment of City employees in the past five years.

It’s thought City employees alleging sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and wrongful termination must first submit claims to the City Controller’s Claims Division.Since 2007, the Claims Division received 108 claims across the three categories, and paid just one claim (for sexual harassment).Had the Controller paid more of those claims, perhaps the $26.5 million across the 95 lawsuits filed might have been avoided.

Unfortunately, our Human Rights Commission reported it had no records of DHR’s annual reports.

Zero Tolerance in San Francisco

If the U.S. Congress, State legislatures, broadcast and print media, and entertainment industries can rapidly expel or terminate employees accused of sexual misconduct, why can’t San Francisco, too?

San Francisco should adopt a zero-tolerance policy, and terminate all Defendants found by Courts and juries to have engaged in sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and wrongful termination of other City employees.

We must stand with victims and survivors of sexual assault.San Francisco city employees should start their own #MeToo-SF-City-Employees Twitter campaign to document the magnitude of this problem in City government.

As Oprah Winfrey implied accepting the Golden Globe’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” on January 7, City employees deserve “leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me Too!’ again.”

Or have to say “Time’s Up,” City Hall!

A greatly expanded version of this article with supporting data and hyperlinks is available on the author's web site.

Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU.He operates stopLHHdownsize.com. Contact him at monette-shaw@westsideobserver.com.

February 2018

Patrick Monette-Shaw 2017

Patrick Monette-Shaw 2016

Patrick Monette-Shaw 2015

Patrick Monette-Shaw 2014

Patrick Monette-Shaw 2013

Patrick Monette-Shaw 2008-12

Earlier Laguna Honda Articles by Patrick Monette-Shaw