Friday, February 13, 2009

Mayor's office on the economy and Black History Month events

Mike Farrah, Director of the Mayor's Office of Community Services, briefed the Southeast Community Facility Commission last night, focusing on the response to the economic downturn.

February 20th and March 1st are the scheduled dates for layoffs and position eliminations. Over 400 city workers will be layed-off, and another 300 unfilled positions will be eliminated.

Farrah also raised the issue of mortgage foreclosures. There have been 1,300 to 1,400 foreclosures in San Francisco, about half that of other counties in the region.

"Since I've been in government," Farrah said, "I've never seen a time when people were so filled with hope and fear at the same time."

Commission President Willie Kennedy said that her concern was with the workers, and suggested that workers might rather have the chance to take unpaid leave "which is better than losing a job altogether."

Commissioner Churchill commented on the revenue enhancement part of the response to the crisis, saying that "raising taxes is just adding to the fire."

"Absolutely," Farrah responded. He pointed out that increasing the cost of doing business in San Francisco is especially worrisome, citing the potential loss in convention business as an example.

The city's assumptions about the economic downturn, which are driving many of the recommendations and decisions, include two scenarios. The "best case" forecast is that we will see a gradual economic recovery beginning in the summer of this year. The "worst case" is that such a recovery will begin mid-year 2010 or early 2011.

Farrah and the Commmissioners also discussed the location of the recent Black History Month celebration. Two views emerged. The Mayor supports moving cultural celebrations to the neighborhoods, including the Black History Month event which he hoped would happen in Bayview Hunters Point. Event organizers preferred a Civic Center celebration so that all neighborhoods would feel included. Comments from the Commission reflected both viewpoints.

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