June 22, 2009
Few events reflect the priorities of elected officials more vividly than a budget crisis. It is during a budget crisis that policy-makers are forced to choose between the interests of powerful or popular constituencies and the needs of the less powerful and most vulnerable citizens. Presently, this drama is being played out in San Francisco, where social and legal services to the poor are being slashed while Police and Fire Department budgets are being protected. This Faustian bargain is displayed in Mayor Newsom’s proposal $1.9 million cut to the Public Defender’s budget, while adding $18 million to the Police Department budget.