Friday, May 30, 2003
$3.5 Million

Protests of war in Iraq cost S.F. $3.5 million

City agencies in San Francisco added up the costs of the war protests that disrupted the city in March and came up with more than $3.5 million in expenses and lost revenue.

The biggest bite out of city coffers came from the Police Department, which reported spending $2 million to police the civil unrest, with most of the money paying for officer overtime.

The Sheriff's Department, which staffs the jails, reported $760,872 in extra costs. Public Works, which cleans the streets, said it had spent $194, 840 during the demonstrations that took place March 17 to 22.

The Municipal Railway, which operates the city's public transit service, lost an estimated $55,224 when the protesters and police blockades prevented drivers from making their regular runs. Almost $67,000 more was spent on overtime.

Okay, so we know how I feel about the protesters in San Francisco. Now it's time to divide the cost of their protests, and send them the bill. Arsonists are charged for the firefighting costs of their blazes, right? So how about charging protesters for the law enforcement cost of protecting us, the law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of this country?

Supervisor Tony Hall, who asked the departments for the cost information, said, "I knew it would be high, but not that high. It also doesn't include any of the private-sector costs -- the people who were inconvenienced, the businesses that were shut down."

Hall, who had called for the city to collect protest-related costs from the organizations that planned the demonstrations, seems to have backed down from that notion after his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors failed to come on board and civil rights groups threatened to sue.

Whose civil rights were infringed? Nobody stopped them from protesting within the limits of our laws, but they incurred huge costs on the city and its taxpayers, most of whom had nothing to do with these protests. So what's wrong with charging those responsible for what they incurred? Those pesky civil rights groups love to weild their litigation sword, don't they? The sad part is that cities and companies in this country are so afraid of being branded "civil rights infringers" by these pathetic groups that they actually back down from doing what is right.

And those Board of Supervisors loonies who just got a 300% pay raise? They need to grow some cojones and start taking their city back.

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