| SF Public Defender Calls Mayor’s Budget Cuts Shortsighted
Jun 13, 2009
SF Public Defender Calls Mayor’s Budget Cuts Shortsighted
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi says the Mayor’s proposed $1.9 million cut to the Public Defender’s Office will cost the city millions more in the years ahead and take an unnecessary toll on low-income people in the justice system.
“The Mayor’s proposed budget cut is shortsighted because it will cost the city millions more in the long run. I do not control the number of criminal cases that are filed. The Mayor has left me with no choice but to outsource thousands of cases to private attorneys,” Adachi said.
Adachi warns that Mayor Newsom’s proposed budget cut would force him to lay off 12-15 attorneys and would require him to withdraw from representing as many as 6,000 clients in the coming fiscal year.
“I estimate the cost of outsourcing these cases to private attorneys at between $3 and $4 million per year, which is more than the $1.9 million the city would save by cutting our budget,” he said.
Adachi’s office of 93 deputy public defenders and 70 support staff handle more than 24,000 cases each year. Individual public defenders handle as many as 200 misdemeanor cases at any given time or 50-70 felony cases. According to Adachi, the office is currently contending with a dramatic increase in the representation of defendants facing serious criminal charges, including a 35 percent increase in homicide and other serious felony cases.
Adachi will appear before the Board of Supervisors on June 18 and 25 to advocate for the restoration of the Public Defender’s Office budget.
SF Public Library Assesses Public’s Use of Library Computers and Internet Service
From June 1 to June 15, San Francisco Public Library will be participating in a nationwide Internet survey to find out how people use the free computers and Internet connections in public libraries. The U.S. IMPACT web survey is being conducted by the University of Washington Information School with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Until now, there has been no nationwide research about how library computer services fit into peoples’ lives. Some believe that library computers are used mostly for entertainment, but librarians report that people use them to find jobs, stay connected with family and friends, or to get health information. The goal of the U.S. IMPACT studies is to collect evidence about the ways computers in public libraries help people and their communities across the United States. This information will be used to improve these services and to inform policy makers about how best to fund and support them. In these hard economic times, this information will be invaluable.
You can access the web survey from San Francisco Public Library Web site at sfpl.org/news/whatsnew.htm from June 1 to June 15. Or you can go directly to the survey at: https://www.uwsrd.org/mrIWeb/mrIWeb.dll?I.Project=IMLSPACVFINAL&i.User1=CA0114
The survey is completely anonymous and takes 10 to 15 minutes to fill out. The researchers at the University of Washington encourage you to take a few minutes to help improve public library computing services across the United States. For more information, visit the IMPACT studies Web site at http://impact.ischool.washington.edu/
SF Food Bank Responds to Recession
The San Francisco Food Bank is launching a television, radio, newspaper and outdoor outreach campaign. The campaign is designed to reach San Franciscans who are facing hunger for the first time to let them know where to get help.
“As the recession deepens, we’re seeing more and more people who have never needed help before and don’t know where to turn. These folks are wholly unaccustomed to using human services and feel reluctant to ask for assistance of any kind,” said Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash. “Through this campaign, we hope to lessen the social stigma and other barriers that are keeping people from getting the help they need.”
With the assistance of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, the Food Bank will open four new weekly farmers’ market-style distributions along major transit lines to help those struggling in the down economy.
With a nearly 20% increase in requests for food compared to this time last year, the Food Bank is sending more food than ever to its existing 192 pantries to meet the increased demand. 27 additional tractor-trailer loads of fresh produce (more than 20,000 pounds each week) will be distributed above the Food Bank’s original plan of 327,000 pounds per week.
The Food Bank encourages people to call 2-1-1 operators, supported by the United Way, who can direct callers to food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more.
Spanish-Speaking Doctor Joins On Lok
Spanish-speaking participants of On Lok Lifeways’ 30th Street center are now benefiting from the medical expertise of Dr. Silvia Arizaga, a geriatrics specialist whose native language is Spanish. On Lok, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive health and social services to medically frail seniors, is committed to providing care in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way. Dr. Arizaga and the team of nurses and social workers at the 30th Street center in the Mission District have developed very close relationships with the seniors, many of whom are first-generation immigrants with little or no English. With Dr. Arizaga on staff, seniors can share their medical concerns in their native language with no need for a translator and no language barrier impeding their communication. She understands them - both linguistically and culturally - and helps to address their medical needs as well as social and functional issues.
In addition to her fluency in Spanish, Dr. Arizaga’s medical background and experience are a tremendous benefit for On Lok’s participants. A geriatric specialist, Dr. Arizaga has specialized in senior care since completing her fellowship at UCLA in 1998. Born and raised in Argentina, she also lived and worked in Mexico for 10 years, including volunteer missionary service at La Carlota Hospital in Nuevo Leon. Her experience in Mexico and understanding of the country’s specific dialect is particularly beneficial to On Lok 30th Street participants, most of whom are Central American.
Considering the severe shortage of bilingual physicians statewide, Dr. Arizaga’s medical expertise and Spanish fluency cannot be understated. UCLA has predicted a physician shortage of up to 17,000 by 2015, and this shortage disproportionately affects underserved communities including low-income, Hispanic seniors. On Lok participants in the Mission District are among a lucky few who have access to a bilingual physician and care team who can best serve their medical and social needs.
1 of 1
This article has been placed in the category(s) below: