San Francisco's State of the Union
In the majority of the conservative towns I visited over the past six months, I found state and local politicians who want to ban gay marriage, close Planned Parenthood clinics, further blur the lines between the separation of church and state and cut funding for education. I rarely heard anyone talk about plans to improve the lives of their citizens. The following list of initiatives announced by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is refreshing. The said thing is, most of the average people I met would greatly benefit from expanded health care clinic hours and teacher loan forgiveness, not a gay marriage ban.
Health care: Expand the operating hours at the city's public health clinics with the intent of making them more accessible for residents who lack health insurance.
Clean technology: Create an advisory council that focuses on positioning the city as a leader in the emerging sector of clean technology, such as wind and solar power and green-building practices.
After-school for all: Partner with the schools to find local and state money to expand after-school programs so they are available to every child who needs them by 2010.
Teacher loan forgiveness: Commit up to $375,000 a year to help 25 teachers pay their student loans. Qualifying teachers must agree to teach full time in the city for four consecutive years
Homes for teachers: Help teachers buy their first home by offering down-payment assistance of up to $100,000, financial counseling services, matching savings accounts and mortgage-credit assistance.
Community benefit districts: Increase the number of these business-improvement districts, in which property owners agree to pay a special assessment fee to fund neighborhood improvements, such as street cleaning and storefront beautification projects.
Citybuild: It started last month as a pilot job training and employment program that gives residents a chance to work on city construction projects, such as the rebuilding of the Hetch Hetchy water system and Laguna Honda Hospital. Up to 50 percent of new hires in each trade should be city residents.