The politics of City budgets in liberal cities *UPDATED*
I’ve noted before that San Francisco (consistent with Democratic-run cities and states everywhere) is terribly cash-strapped. But politics will always trump practicality. Exactly one month ago, despite the fact that the school district is pretty much broke, the Board of Education voted, not just to cut education programs quite drastically, but also to put into place a brand-new, expensive gay rights program.
Now, despite trembling on the verge of fiscal bankruptcy (I think it’s already crossed the verge into moral bankruptcy), the city is planning on sending good money after bad by keeping afloat a LGBT community center that has been a money loser since the day it opened:
Eight years after opening with great fanfare, San Francisco’s city-subsidized, $12.3 million Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center is on the verge of foreclosure – and is asking the cash-strapped city for a $1 million line of credit to help bail it out.
And from the looks of things, the center will probably get it.
The thinking: The city has already spent about $5.7 million on the building at Market and Octavia streets and needs to “make sure it doesn’t go under,” said Supervisor David Campos, who along with fellow gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty is seeking approval of a $1 million “mortgage relief” fund.
Even that, however, might not be enough to save the center.
According to a new report by the Board of Supervisors budget analyst, the center could need even more public funds to cover the nearly $3 million that it still owes on its mortgage.
“Clearly, it’s unprecedented,” Campos said of the bailout proposal. “But I do believe there is something unique about the role the LGBT Center plays – not only in the life of the community, but the entire city.”
Located at the gateway to the Castro district, the LGBT Center and its staff of 24 offers everything from counseling and job training to HIV prevention and arts programs. Of its $1.8 million budget, $777,000 consists of city contracts.
But the center has never made the money it expected from renting out rooms to community groups, and with the recession there has been a drop-off in contracts and in contributions from foundations and individuals.
This is the difference, of course, between the real world and the tax payer supported political world. In the real world, if something doesn’t work, even something beloved and symbolic, the person in charge of finances (whether household or business) bids that something, whatever that “something” is, a reluctant farewell. In the world of politics — or, at least, the world of liberal politics, which sees every taxpayer as an endless money spigot — finance-draining programs just keep going on going.
We see the same thing in the protests regarding cuts at the University of California. Unlike the protests in the 1960s, which were at least draped in vaguely altruistic colors (never mind that the college boys were mostly trying to avoid the draft as they opposed the “imperialist” Vietnam War), the current round of protests has simply seen a lot of spoiled kids whining that less government money will flow to them. They seem unperturbed that there is, simply, less government money to flow anywhere. These kids have been raised with their mouths firmly latched on to the government teat, and they’re going to be damned before they stop demanding an unending flow. That the animal attached to the teat is dying from being over-milked is a petty inconvenience.
UPDATE: Per the Wall Street Journal, we learn that those college kids would have done better to picket union headquarters.