'Die-in' staged at City Hall due to crisis

July 1, 2009 6:43:25 PM PDT
The city and county of San Francisco has been grappling with its budget crisis. And with the start of the fiscal year, it appears San Francisco is close to reaching a deal.

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Supervisors and the Mayor's Office are working the final details. They worked on this all day, and there were supposed to be announcements made this afternoon, but they say they are close to reaching a deal.

A die-in at San Francisco City Hall may be the last act of the political theater surrounding the budget. There have been weeks of heated debate over how to solve an unprecedented financial crisis.

Mayor Gavin Newsom had to close a $437 million budget gap. He proposed solving it by reducing department budgets, slashing health, human services and Rec. programs as well as laying off city workers. Finally there was word of a compromise.

"I know it's difficult for everybody, but we can't do magic. I have absolute confidence when the details are announced, those cuts will have been substantially resolved," said Mayor Newsom.

In fact, the head of the board's Finance Committee says about $45 million in cuts are being restored. More than $13 million are going to public health -- for example one HIV prevention program gets back $214,000 and at least $6 million is restored to human service programs, including a homeless family shelter.

"It's not ideal, but it's something that we can live with to restore a lot of key services for senior citizen and people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, families. I can live with it," said San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos.

On this day when most of the talk was about the pain of cuts, the mayor presided over the grand opening of a center to help homeless medical patients and alcoholics recuperate.

More than $4 million is being spent on that, but another of his pet projects faces an uncertain future. Supervisors have stripped funding for the Community Justice Center that prosecutes low-level crimes in the Tenderloin.

The agreement that may be reached tonight still has to go through a legislative process.

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