After defunding police by $120 million, San Fran plans to spend budget surplus on illegal immigrants, ‘cultural equity’

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – After slashing $120 million from law enforcement budgets, San Francisco is enjoying a surprise $125 million budget surplus, which it plans to spend on priorities such as illegal immigrants and “cultural equity” in the arts.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, after showing a $116 million deficit three months ago, the city of San Francisco has announced a surplus of $125 million.

This one-time surplus came from “higher-than-expected property tax revenue, increased federal reimbursements and lower expenses.”

This windfall came at a good time for the city, as Controller Ben Rosenfield has projected a potential $650 million deficit over the next two years, “due to lower-than-expected sales, hotel and business taxes.”

Rosenfield’s recent budget report noted that the surplus could reduce the city’s $650 million deficit to $528 million – “unless the Mayor and Board of Supervisors decide to spend it on other priorities in the current year.”

It looks like that deficit reduction is not to be, then, as San Francisco Mayor London Breed did quickly decide that spending on “other priorities” took precedence over deficit reduction.

The city’s new spending plan for the budget surplus is expected to pass next Tuesday, March 23.

Budget Chair of the Board of Supervisors Matt Haney told the San Francisco Chronicle:

“These are urgent priorities that can’t wait, and this supplemental package will help our city recover and help keep small businesses open, support kids and keep tenants in their home.”

He added:

 “The funds are going directly and overwhelmingly to the people who are most impacted during this [COVID] crisis.”

Mayor Breed noted in a press release:

“One year ago today we went into a Shelter in Place that, while saving lives, has impacted our city like nothing I’ve ever seen.” 

Breed continued:

“We’ve had small businesses close, our students have been out of the classrooms for over a year, and people are worried about how they are going to pay rent.”

“People continue to struggle with housing security and addiction, and our arts and culture sector, which is part of what makes San Francisco so unique, is suffering.”

The mayor went on to say:

“While we are working towards our long-term recovery, we know we need this immediate support that will help get our City back on its feet….

“Our goal now is to get this funding approved and out the door and into the hands of those who need it as fast possible.”

As tabulated in the mayor’s press release, of the $125 million surplus, $24.1 million is to go to arts and culture programs, including $11.2 million to “grants for the arts” and $4.4 million to the Arts Commission’s “cultural equity” endowment.

$53 million is earmarked for small businesses, including $11 million in grants and $7.6 million in loans to small businesses.

According to the Chronicle, 

“The intent is to help 1,000 small low-income businesses, with a focus on those owned by women and people of color that were most hurt by shelter-in-place and haven’t accessed state or federal relief. 

“Grants will vary from $5,000 to $25,000, based on how many full-time employees the business has.”

$2 million goes to the Family Relief Fund, which evidently will assist illegal immigrants.  The mayor stated in her press release that this fund:

“will support a continuation of the Family Relief Fund that was established last spring in the early days of COVID-19 to provide relief to vulnerable and undocumented families who were not eligible for other forms of state and federal financial support.”

According to the Chronicle, such families would receive $500 to $1000 per month.

Other spending is to include $10.05 million for rent relief, $10.05 million for affordable housing, and $1.6 million for overdose prevention.

One striking problem for San Francisco that apparently did not warrant a line item in the surplus spending, is the issue of homelessness.

As reported in Yahoo News, the homeless were also directly affected by the COVID epidemic, especially as the number of shelter beds and drop-in centers were greatly reduced.

As if the numbers of homeless on the streets of San Francisco were not already a well-known problem, the news outlet reports that as a result of displacement due to COVID policies “homeless are taking over the streets of San Francisco, impacting the lives and safety of residents.”

According to the Coalition on Homelessness, the San Francisco homeless also have a dangerous lack of access to water, which affects their health and sanitation.  The Coalition has broached this subject with the city and requested assistance with this significant problem, but at this writing the city has not responded.

Also conspicuously, but not surprisingly, absent, is any attention to the economically beleaguered law enforcement budget.

As we previously reported, San Francisco has taken $120 million from the law enforcement budget to use as “reparations” for the black community under a program called “The Dream Keeper Initiative.”  $80 million came from the San Francisco Police Department, and $40 million came from the Sheriff’s Department.

This budget redistribution for “reparations” has come at a time when San Francisco’s crime rate is surging.  Burglaries in the Richmond district alone increased 342.9% this year, accompanied by increases in “robberies, assaults, motor vehicle thefts, and arson.”

The number of nonfatal shooting victims has also increased, to 33 in January 2021 compared to 9 over the same time period last year.

Layoffs of at least 11% of police officers in the face of budget cuts are expected, despite the grim fact of rising crime rates.

Nevertheless, in Mayor Breed’s San Francisco, it appears that “cultural equity” and illegal immigrants take priority over resident safety.

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San Francisco to shift $120 million from law enforcement budget to ‘reparations’ to the black community

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mayor London Breed announced Thursday how the city will spend $120 million removed from law enforcement budgets. Labeled “The Dream Keeper Initiative,” the plan will reinvest the money into the city’s black community.

The Mayor called the initiative “reparations.”

Calling the reinvestment “reparations,” Breed said the transfer of funds from law enforcement to the minority black community was to make up for “decades of disinvestment” in the black community by the city.

The plan calls for the funds to be used for workforce development health campaigns, youth and cultural programs, and housing support with the minority, predominately black communities.

The Mayor said the spending plan includes priorities identified during community meetings and surveys with black residents.

Breed, the city’s first African-American Mayor, said that her motivation for carrying out the initiative was her own life:

“I grew up in poverty. I’ve had to live in poverty over 20 years of my life. And the frustration that came from living like that and then seeing so many of my friends who had been killed or in jail or on drugs — that is my motivation.

Because just imagine if we can change the outcome of African Americans in San Francisco. What an incredible, thriving city we truly will be.”

Funding for the intuitive will come from the budgets of local law enforcement agencies. $80 million will be shed from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) budget over two years, and $40 million is from the Sheriff’s Department.

The cuts were prompted by a summer of protests following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis on Memorial Day and calls by some Democrats to defund police departments across the country.

In June, Breed also ordered the police department to no longer respond to non-criminal complaints.

The actions of the Mayor and city council come at a time when crime has surged in San Francisco. Burglaries have been spiraling out of control, with a rise in property crime of 342.9% in the Richmond District alone. 

As of February 14, there have been 124 burglaries in Richmond this year. Robberies, assaults, and arsons were also rapidly increasing over last year’s numbers.

While the cuts to the law enforcement agencies’ budgets are deep, 6% of SFPD’s budget, the heads of both agencies were supportive when the coming cuts were announced last year. SFPD Chief of Police Bill Scott said in July:

“We knew there would be pain and sacrifice associated with these budget cuts, but we also know they’re necessary to fulfill the promise of Mayor Breed’s and Sup.

Walton’s reinvestment initiative to support racial equality. While the cuts are significant, they are cuts we can absorb, and that will not diminish our ability to provide essential services.”

However, when Mayor Breed asked Chief Scott to try and find places to cut the budget further during a budget meeting, he said doing so was not possible:

“The majority of our budget is personnel staffing, and we’ve cut pretty much everything we can cut.  Which will equate, because we’ve cut everything we can cut, in a reduction and a loss of 210 full-time employees.

“What you see highlighted in red are the stations that will be impacted the most. I am not supportive of these cuts. They will be devastating to the police department.”

The city’s President of the Board of Supervisors said the funds will help improve the black community. Shamann Walton said:

“This initial investment to improve outcomes for the black community and overturn years of disinvestment and inequitable resource distribution is just the first step in righting the wrongs of history.

“We now have to continue to prioritize communities that have never had a chance to build true wealth and this is a first step towards true reparations for the Black community here in San Francisco. We are proud of this work and looking forward to doing more.”

The cuts follow similar measures in Los Angeles, where Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city council voted in July to cut the budget of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) by $150 million.

Councilman John Lee voted against the measure, which passed 12-2.

Lee said LAPD was a model other departments look up to, and pointed out that two-thirds of their officers are black:

“I’m not saying LAPD is a perfect organization. There’s always room for improvement, but … other police departments throughout the nation strive to follow them on their community policing, use of force, de-escalation, and implicit bias training.”

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