Mayor Guts Obsolete Office of Neighborhood Services

by Paul Hogarth on July 21, 2011

In what has been a relatively smooth City budget process this year, Mayor Ed Lee has quietly dissolved an obsolete agency that was long a vestige of political patronage: the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services. Starting this fall, three positions at MONS will be transferred to the 311 Call Center. And while MONS Director Joaquin Torres still has a job in the Mayor’s Office, the “Neighborhood Services” line item was slashed from $519,356 to $191,995 – meaning that he no longer has a staff. While Newsom slightly downsized the Office in last year’s budget, Ed Lee’s move confirms what BeyondChron had argued for years. Before the advent of district elections, 311 or the Internet, MONS played an important role at connecting San Franciscans with constituent services. But now when residents have a problem, they call 311 or their district Supervisor – and each City Department has its own website and customer relations. In recent years, as other City services were slashed due to budget constraints, MONS remained as a resting spot for political hires – for example, Newsom aide Mike Farrah ran the Office for much of his boss’ tenure. Under Ed Lee, however, MONS will no longer be a waste of taxpayer money – or a City-funded campaign for higher public office – which is a breath of fresh air.

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