Transforming a City
Building a Partnership Platform for the City and County of San Francisco
By Heidi L. Sieck, May 2008
Statistically and anecdotally, the City and County of San Francisco (“City”) government is the most powerful and influential organization in San Francisco, directly affecting the daily lives of its residents, businesses and visitors. Not only does the city provide traditional government services – transportation, street maintenance, public safety, etc. – but it carries a rich history of creating social programs for all people. Yet, for all its progress, there is much that needs to be done to ensure that San Franciscans have the opportunity to be safe, healthy and thriving citizens of the world. To that end, this proposal seeks to describe a new paradigm for the city government structure in the context of Cultural Transformation Theory and the four cornerstones of the Partnership Model.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PARTNERSHIP MODEL
The Partnership Model for city government is based on Cultural Transformation Theory developed in the work of Riane Eisler, a social scientist and author who explores the foundational aspects of social and political systems on the individual. Cultural Transformation Theory purports that our society encourages acts of suppression of others as we strive to reach a higher level on a subconscious hierarchy to gain measures of success through power, money or property. Particularly, this social system is deeply rooted in imbalanced gender roles. Men and women are treated differently in social, political and economic structures in ways that allows men to have more power – namely money and authority – than women. This imbalance, defined as the Domination Model, is ingrained at birth and creates a society that compartmentalizes the whole person.
The other side of the Cultural Transformation Theory is the Partnership Model which proposes a social system that nurtures and supports all aspects of a human being from birth to death. The Partnership Model establishes that social and political structures, as manifested in government policies and procedures, have a profound and dramatic impact on the experience of the individual and thus, on society as a whole. The foundations of the Partnership Model rest on four cornerstones:
Cornerstone 1: Childhood Experience and Education
Human beings build societies. Human beings create culture. Human beings hold public office and lead nations. The foundation of a society that values partnership and mutual respect is laid in childhood. From pre-natal care to education, the experience of a child creates a roadmap for the world in which we live.
Cornerstone 2: Gender Relations
The Partnership Model requires that both men and women, and characteristics associated with a particular gender, are valued equally, without one gender having preferential treatment over the other.
Cornerstone 3: Economic Policies and Indicators
An economic system includes the policies, practices and measurement of the exchange of resources in a society. A Partnership Model takes into account all aspects of this exchange – standard market economy, government economy, unpaid work, household economy, natural economy and illegal economy. Most importantly, a Partnership Model values the role and contribution of care giving in the context of children, elders and people who are unable to care for themselves. This cornerstone also deals with the important issue of the environment and way that we use or misuse our natural resources.
Cornerstone 4: Stories and Beliefs
Culture is expressed and reiterated through our stories, art and media. The Partnership Model of caring and equitable society is often absent in media, movies, books, games and art. This includes stories and tales we tell children as well as the entertainment we pursue as adults.
CITY GOVERNMENT OVERVIEW
San Francisco has an estimated population of over 800,000 residents and a projected work day population of 1.1 million. The City is the largest employer in San Francisco with an annual budget in 2007-2008 of $6.08 billion and a projected 2008-2008 budget of $6.2 billion – a budget larger than many countries. The government operates with a workforce of approximately 27,000 employees performing traditional public safety, infrastructure and regulatory functions in addition to a myriad of social programs.
The city government is comprised of approximately 65 departments and hundreds of commissions and advisory boards organized under a “strong” Mayor and an eleven member Board of Supervisors. The organization is somewhat unique for a large U.S. city in that it is a consolidated city and county government encompassing public health, sheriff and criminal justice functions normally under a separate county jurisdiction. City departments include a $1 billion public health organization and a water and power system that span the region from the Yosemite Valley to San Mateo County. The San Francisco Unified School District and San Francisco City College are partners with the City but are separate entities in terms of governance and accountability.
PARTNERSHIP MODEL IN CITY GOVERNMENT
Much has been written about the Cultural Transformation Theory as outlined in the Resources and References list attached to this proposal. Based on the basic Partnership Model paradigm and the Four Cornerstones outlined here, the City has a profound opportunity to transform itself
into a Partnership Model through its role as an employer, a consumer, a service provider, a regulator, a policy maker and a grant funder. In this context, city leaders and policy makers must ask:
- How can the City improve its services to support the experience of children in San Francisco to ensure a foundation of caring and partnership for all people everywhere?
- How can the City ensure that men and women are treated equally in San Francisco?
- Does the City approach its role in the local economy as a consumer, a regulator and a service provider from a Partnership perspective?
- How can the City promote a Partnership language in its role as a service provider, policy maker and grant funder in arts and culture in San Francisco? What stories do we tell our citizens?
Realistic shifts in existing policies and practices could achieve a Partnership Model in a way that is logical, impactful, and beneficial to all people who live and work in San Francisco. All that is needed is political will and a basic understanding of Cultural Transformation Theory by the city’s leadership – particularly, the Mayor, the Controller and the City Administrator. The following sections outline basic changes in existing city programs and ideas for other polices that will lead to a comprehensive Partnership Foundation.
THE CITY AS AN EMPLOYER
As stated previously, the City is the largest employer in San Francisco with over 27,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. Additionally, the City supports 34,060 retirees and their survivors. The City provides exceptional benefits to its employees that include health care, flexible spending accounts for child care, a generous cafeteria plan for managers and life time health care for employees serving five years. All city employees, with the exception of the Mayor’s Office Staff, are represented by one of a host of extremely active labor unions.
The Partnership Model sets forth a view of work as a balanced part of life where people’s lives and families are respected. Contrarily, in the area of life/work balance the City can improve in many areas. For example, time tracking and leave policies are generally very traditional – i.e. 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM at the desk with a one hour lunch break. Personal use of city phone, computers and fax machines (even for family and care giving purposes) is legally prohibited by state law because the Department of Human Resources failed to establish a citywide policy through the Board of Supervisors. Maternity/paternity leave is taken as a portion of accrued sick time or disability. Police, Sheriff deputies and firefighters stretch the limits of overtime taken beyond appropriate work balance. Telecommuting or flex time is allowed at the sole discretion of an individual’s supervisor without a formal program or policy in place. Additionally, the City Charter does not allow pregnant members of the Board of Supervisors to participate in meetings via conference call or teleconference should they be ordered to bed rest during their pregnancy.
Therefore, as an employer, areas where the City can implement better Partnership Model policies and practices include:
- Establish childcare programs for employees beyond flex spending accounts.
- Implement formal flex-time and telecommuting program.
- Institute a citywide personal use policy for phone calls and e-mails relating to family and care giving matters.
- Include Quality of Life goals in performance evaluations – wellness, life balance, work satisfaction
- Create a “New Baby” Leave program that does not require a new mother or father to use disability, vacation or sick leave
- Establish a policy for pregnant Board of Supervisors members to participate in public hearings via teleconference.
- Conduct a pay equity study to ensure that women and men in the same job classifications are being paid at the same step level and rectify discrepancies immediately.
- Include Partnership Model questions in job applications and interview panel rating sheets for new hires.
- Require that all Mayoral and Board of Supervisor appointments be reflective of the population of San Francisco – i.e, 49% women.
- Create collaborative Partnership Model policies with the City’s unions and ensure that collective bargaining agreements include Partnership Model principles.
THE CITY AS A CONSUMER
The City invests its enormous budget and uses it to purchase many millions of dollars in equipment, supplies and services. San Francisco has already made significant social policy statements with its procurement power by requiring that all vendors doing business with the City provide equal benefits to domestic partners creating larger corporate changes. (For instance, this caused United Airlines to begin offering these benefits in order to continue serving the San Francisco Airport). The City recently instituted a policy that prohibits purchasing uniforms and other textiles produced in sweatshops. The City has special programs for minority and women-owned businesses (now called Disadvantaged Business Enterprises due to the Supreme Court affirmative action ruling).
The City also invests carefully, instituting socially conscious investment policies. For example, the City is prohibited by law from any fund or affiliation with Burma or a company that impacts California redwoods. Most of these polices were established by activist members of the Board of Supervisors depending on the ideas of a particular member. Additionally, the Retirement Board manages a separate $16.9 billion retirement fund without a socially conscious investment strategy.
The City is an internationally recognized leader in the area of environmental protection and has instituted a wide array of programs and policies that follow a Partnership Model. Some of the programs include using hybrid vehicles and bio-diesel in the city fleet, extensive recycling and energy conservation practices in city buildings, building a new Public Utilities Commission headquarters that is “off the grid” and entirely sustainable, and prohibiting the purchase of bottled water.
The City can explore additional Partnership practices as a consumer and investor:
- Develop a Partnership Model investment strategy to ensure that the City’s money is invested in partnership enhancing investment vehicles
- Explore additional vendor compliance requirements based on the Partnership Model (i.e., child care credits, environmental preservation actions).
- Change the name of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise to reflect a positive reflection of women- and minority-owned businesses.
THE CITY AS A SERVICE PROVIDER
The City has the most impact on its citizens, businesses and visitors through its direct services. In addition to typical government services – public transportation, infrastructure maintenance, zoning, criminal and civil justice systems, law enforcement, public safety – the City manages countless social programs to serve all areas of the community. Many of these programs align with a Partnership Model, yet many could align more directly with the cornerstones. While the specific areas of service are described below, citywide Partnership Model Strategies for services include:
- Ensure all services are provided in a respectful and appropriate manner convenient for people. For example, use technology and reduce requirements for paper forms as much as possible to alleviate the need to visit a city location during business hours.
- Promote caring and respectful customer service and evaluate city employees based on these requirements.
- Perform a citywide salary evaluation to determine whether caring and care giving positions are being paid pursuant to a Partnership Model. Compare these positions to law enforcement and infrastructure management and balance salaries appropriately.
Coordinated by the massive Department of Public Health, San Francisco provides a myriad of health services to its citizens. Service include: emergency medical care and hospital care at General Hospital, extended care at Laguna Honda, drug addiction and methadone programs, a network of community health and mental health clinics and a home health care program for elders and shut-ins. Unfortunately, these programs are usually the first to get paired down or cut in the event a budget shortfall.
This year, the City also instituted an extraordinary program called Healthy San Francisco as a form of socialized medical care and universal health insurance. Any city resident who signs up for the program has access to primary, preventive and general medical care through the City’s public health system. Further, small and medium-sized businesses are required to offer some form of health insurance to their employees and can buy into the Healthy San Francisco program. Thousands of people have signed up in the past year and it appears to be a huge success. Nonetheless, some areas where Partnership principles can be implemented include:
- Prioritize health care for children, pregnant women and seniors in the Healthy San Francisco Program and expand the Healthy San Francisco program to address these people (mirror Sweden’s Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Program).
- Ensure that health care for children, women and seniors is maintained and expanded based on Partnership Model performance measures. . Maintain funding for health care programs during a budget shortfall.
- Evaluate the pay and training of all caregivers in the Public Health system, especially the in-home supportive health care providers, to ensure they are paid an appropriate and equitable wage.
The Human Service Agency (HSA), with its partners the Department of Adult and Aging Services (DAAS), Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF), offers numerous programs for the more vulnerable populations of San Francisco. The largest program, Care Not Cash, builds supportive housing for the city’s homeless in lieu of cash payments. Additionally, HSA administers state and federal welfare, welfare-to-work and food stamp programs. Thousands of citizens are supported through these programs providing a rich opportunity to shift to a Partnership Model in a powerful way.
- Evaluate all HSA, DAAS, DCYF and CPS programs for Partnership Model policies especially focusing on youth, foster care, child protection and programs for women.
- Explore the connection of the Human Services programs with the youth programs of the District Attorney, Public Defender and Juvenile Probation to create a comprehensive case file and provide collaborative support for children and families in crisis.
- Ensure the Care Not Cash program is equally available to women and women with children. Currently the Care Not Cash program is building supporting housing that primarily serves men
- Implement the Shelter Safety Standard currently proposed by a coalition of homeless advocates.
- Establish additional safe shelters for homeless women, women with children and families who are currently not being served appropriately.
- Connect women, children and families with the Healthy San Francisco system.
- Train all intake workers and caseworkers in respectful and caring customer service. Evaluate and develop these employees based on Partnership Model criteria.
Housing and Planning
The Planning Department, the Mayor’s Office on Housing, the Mayor’s Office of Community Development, the Housing Authority and the Redevelopment Agency all play key roles in the housing policy of San Francisco. Led by the City’s General Plan, the housing policy can be aligned with the principles of Partnership in many ways.
Affordable housing is the most important issue in San Francisco today. Current construction and development practices have created a serious lack of housing for the working middle class, working poor and disadvantaged citizens to the point where most people cannot find housing, let alone purchase a home. Massive reductions in federal and state funds require San Francisco to find ways to support affordable housing developments locally.
The City does provide mortgage assistance and inclusionary housing programs that serve middle and low income citizens which are generally aligned with the cost-of-living. Yet, families, people of color, artists, and the working class continue to leave the city in droves. Yet, more can be done:
- Revisit the City’s General Plan to ensure Partnership Model principles are reflected in the City’s goals.
- Coordinate the entities providing housing assistance based on Partnership Model principles.
- Prioritize women and women with children in affordable housing programs.
- Explore opportunities to establish Partnership Model programs through the Community Benefit District program.
- Examine the Communities of Opportunity Program administered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Development for Partnership Model policies – especially regarding support for childhood development and access to services for women.
Education and Early Childhood Care
The San Francisco Unified School District and the Community College District are separate from the city government structure, therefore, it is difficult for city government leadership to effectuate changes in education. Through incentive programs, grant funding and relationship building, the City can encourage the school district to adopt Partnership Model curriculum and programs.
Additionally, the City provides extensive educational and recreation programs through department such as the Human Service Agency, Recreation and Parks Department and Department of Children Youth and Families. Areas for partnership alignment could be improved in these programs:
- Institute a City – School District Partnership Committee to begin encouraging curriculum changes oriented toward caring and respect.
- Create a Partnership Model training and certification program for childcare workers through the various social service agencies.
- Ensure Recreation and Parks after school program align with Partnership Models with an emphasis on mutual respect and mentoring for young women and girls.
- Require early childhood education and support for all San Francisco children.
Economic and Workforce Development
The Mayor recently consolidated all workforce development programs under the Department of Economic and Workforce Development (DEWD). This department has an extraordinary opportunity to promote Partnership Model principles in its work. The largest DEWD program, called CityBuild, creates opportunities for local residents, usually young people, to gain work experience and apprenticeships on major infrastructure projects. DEWD also supports the international relations and commerce of the City. Areas of Partnership Model development include:
- Begin tracking economic indicators related to Quality of Life and care-related work in the citywide economic analysis reports.
- Create a CityCare program to develop a caring and care giving workforce and potentially serve as the city’s early education and childcare workforce.
- Promote and exchange Partnership Model strategies with San Francisco’s extensive International Sister City network.
Law Enforcement and Justice System
The City supports the criminal justices system in San Francisco which includes the Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, two city jails, Juvenile Probation Department, District Attorney, Public Defender, and Criminal and Civil Courts. The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice also creates and oversees many citywide policies and programs. The DA, Public Defender and Sheriff’s Department have instituted many youth rehabilitation programs as well as “re-entry” programs for inmates released from jail.
- Evaluate Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice polices for Partnership Model opportunities.
- Align Juvenile Probation, District Attorney and criminal courts to a Partnership Model, ensuring that youth in the criminal justice system are assessed and diverted to appropriate caring programs in lieu of incarceration.
- Establish appropriate mental health, health care and social services for individuals in the criminal justice system, especially women and women with children.
- Assess criminal justice system for appropriate treatment of women and women with children, including special programs for incarcerated women.
Arts and Culture
The City sponsors hundreds of cultural and artistic events throughout the year. From the Gay Pride Parade to Chinese New Year, San Francisco celebrates its vibrant culture in the streets and city buildings. As the Partnership Model describes, our stories and art express the foundation of a culture. Therefore, the City can mindfully promote partnership through its artistic expression.
- Re-ignite the project to find a location for the International Museum of Women in San Francisco and provide incentives and benefits for construction.
- In additional to Gay Pride, Carnaval, St. Patrick’s Day, Chinese New Year, New Year’s Eve, Love Parade and Halloween, create major public events honoring women.
- Select books for the “One City – One Book” program that tell a partnership story.
- Develop partnership programs at the Public Library and ensure that Story Time at the libraries use books with a partnership message.
- Place public art created by women artists.
Emergency Response and Recovery
The City is in its more care giving mode during an emergency event. Therefore, emergency planning must take into account all vulnerable populations and ensure that policies and procedures are in place to take these individuals into account. Areas to address for Partnership principles include:
- Review the mass care and shelter plan to ensure that sufficient procedures are in place to address the unique needs of women, children and older citizens.
- Create long term disaster recovery plans that provide for sufficient temporary housing as well as special consideration for families and low income residents.
THE CITY AS A POLICY MAKER AND REGULATOR
Much of the City’s resources are spent regulating the property and activities of San Francisco citizens and businesses. Creating Partnership Model regulatory policies will increase widespread adoption of the model in a citywide manner.
Interestingly, San Francisco adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and established Department on the Status of Women to administer the program. Unfortunately, CEDAW and DOSW have not been successful in implementing the program due to inability to align with existing budget and performance management programs.
Partnership Model regulatory policies could include:
- Invigorate commitment to CEDAW and incorporate the guidelines in all City performance management and budget programs.
- Connect CEDAW compliance and Partnership Model metrics with budget allocation to all departments, vendors and non-profit grantees.
- Create a comprehensive certification, registration and regulation process for citywide child and elder care workers.
- Develop Partnership Model requirements for business licensing and registration.
THE CITY AS A GRANT FUNDER
Every year, the City gives millions of dollars in grants to non-profit organizations – often as the sole support for the organization receiving the grant. Major grant funders include: Human Services Agency, Arts Commission, Department of Children Youth and Families, Department on the Status of Women domestic violence programs, Grants for the Arts, Arts Commission, Mayor’s Office of Community Development, Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice and many others. Clearly, a Partnership Model can be implemented through the assessment and administration of these grants as described:
- Require all grantees to follow Partnership principles in their services.
- Include Partnership Model metrics in non-profit annual reporting requirements.
- Only award grants to arts and culture organizations that support partnership messages.
PRACTICAL PARTNERSHIP IMPLEMENTATION
As stated before, the ability to institute a Partnership Platform begins with the understanding and political will of the city’s leaders. The foundation of the City government is its enormous budget. Thus, the Partnership Model implementation must begin with money, once the leadership is in place. A powerful implementation tool is the extensive measurement and accountability procedures that the City currently uses to ensure programs are meeting the needs of all citizens in a balanced and caring way. Critical implementation steps include:
- Elect a Mayor with an understanding of the Partnership Model.
- Mayor directs the Controller to include Partnership Metrics in its all department performance measures, audits and reports, particularly through the Office of Economic Analysis.
- Mayor hires staff and department heads with understanding of Partnership Model and holds them accountable to the Partnership Model principles.
- Mayor develops a four year Partnership Policy Strategy within the context of the budget collaborating with the Controller’s Office, Board of Supervisor’s Budget Analyst and the Mayor’s Office of Finance and Policy.
- Mayor re-configures the citywide SFStat performance management program based on Partnership Principles to provide monthly tracking and accountability system.
- Mayor maintains a respectful and collaborative relationship with the Board of Supervisors, Legislative Analyst and Budget Analyst to ensure successful implementation of Partnership Policy Strategy.
Clearly, organizational transformation to a Partnership Model is challenging and complicated. Yet, the City and County of San Francisco already has long history and solid foundation for a true Partnership Model in place. Change of this magnitude is entirely possible, if the political will and leadership are aligned with Partnership Model principles. As an international leader in innovate social programs, San Francisco could quite easily take the next step to create a community of caring and respect for all people and influence the transformation partnership policy throughout the world.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
City and County of San Francisco website: www.sfgov.org
City and County of San Francisco. (2008). Proposed Budget and Annual Salary Ordinance FY 2008-2008. San Francisco, CA
Care Not Cash Achieve Its Goals, City and County of San Francisco Human Services Agency, April 30, 2008.
Conti, Isabella and Alfonso Montuori, “The Meaning of Partnership,” California Institute of Integral Studies resource, Winter 2005.
Department of Public Health Market Assessment and Benchmarking Project, City and County of San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis, December 2007.
Eisler, Riane, Building a World of Partnership and Peace: Four Cornerstones. 2007.
Eisler, Riane, The Power of Partnership, Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002.
Eisler, Riane, The Real Wealth of Nations, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2007.
Montuori, A. and Conti, I. (1995, Winter). The Meaning of Partnership. Vision/Action, 7-10.
Office of the Treasurer Tax Collector Review of Statements and Cash and Investments as of September 2007, City and County of San Francisco Controller’s Office, March 28, 2008.