The Kate Slate – June 8, 2010 Primary

Posted: June 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Tags: | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – June 8, 2010 Primary

I have gotten a little heat that my Kate Slate is late for this election. I will feel especially bad tomorrow when not enough folks vote, and the sneaksters who purposely put initiatives in low-turnout elections (like tomorrow) pass said initiatives by launching a terribly misleading and expensive media campaign. And, you see the problem there.

So, even if you aren’t planning on voting, lost your ballot, don’t know where your polling place is, or whatever, here is what to do:

Alright. For this primary, I don’t have the, erhm, honor, of voting Primary party tickets–but I MIGHT, if in the future, if 14 passes (no no no), but we will get to that later. At any rate, I am just going to cover the basics of what any independent voter would get to vote on tomorrow in San Francisco.

Thanks, as always, for reading and forwarding, and let me know if you do. I keep doing it (even at 11pm the night before the election) for you. Have a good night and a happy vote tomorrow.

The Kate Slate

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson

Judge of the Superior Court, Seat #6 – Linda Colfax

Judge of the Superior Court, Seat #15 – Michael Nava

Prop 13 – Limits on Property Tax Assessment – Yes

Prop 14 – Elections – No

Prop 15 – California Fair Elections Act – YES

Prop 16 – Imposes New Two-Thirds Voter Approval Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers – NO NO NO

Prop 17 – Allows Auto Insurance Companies to Base their Prices in Part on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage – NO

Prop A – School Facilities Special Tax – Yes

Prop B – Earthquake Safety & Emergency Response Bond – Yes

Prop C – Film Commission – yes

Prop D – Retirement Benefit Costs – yes

Prop E – Budget Line Item for Police Department Security for City Officials & Dignitaries – YES

Prop F – Renters’ Financial Hardship Applications – yes

Prop G – Transbay Transit Center – no


Here goes, in depth:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson

I am going to lean towards the teachers on this one, most of whose unions endorsed him over his opponents, none of whom work in education. Boo. (Though Tom taught high school before his now-termed-out political career.) The biggest issue that seems to set him apart is that he does not support a school district “choice” model, which would allow parents to send their kids to whichever district they choose. It would give further advantage to children with more mobility while the students with fewer resources would continue to get the short end of the stick.

A better idea? Working to ensure a child can get an excellent education no matter which public school they attend. Wasn’t that the idea of public education in the first place? Judge of the Superior Court, Seat #6 – Linda Colfax Linda Colfax was a Board Member for the ACLU, and she supports opening the courts more to press. Basically that and she interviews a lot better (and looks slightly better on paper) got her my vote.

Judge of the Superior Court, Seat #15 – Michael Nava

Michael Nava’s story is a good one. Nava is taking on the Republican incumbent who was appointed by the Governator. Then he realized, oh shit, SF is in my district and has a lot of votes, and moved to SF changing his party from Republican to independent. Then Michael Nava came along and thought, wow, I could bring a new perspective to the Courts as a gay son of Mexican immigrants, and decided to run against the incumbent. And, he is down for transparency in the courts, too.

Prop 13 – Limits on Property Tax Assessment – yes

This modifies the current way they assess property values just slightly. It is all horribly boring, but basically currently you are required to reassess the value of the property after renovations or improvements are made, unless you are excluded because you have a brick building or the improvement was required by local law. This removes the two exclusions so all buildings with renovations or improvements would be required to reassess the value for property taxes.

This is pretty fair and consistent policy, yes.

Prop 14 – Elections – NO

Woah, this would change California elections so much, and make it such a longer, and potentially uglier, process. It is a wacky idea to allow all voters to vote for all candidates (regardless of party) in the Primary Election. Then, the top two vote winners–regardless of party–would go to the second round, the final election. Hmmmm.

While I like the idea that the political parties wouldn’t get to nominate their douchey candidates, the primary election could potentially wipe out all of one type of candidate just based on the population of the voters. Say for example there are two conservatives and two liberals running for the same office in the primary, 50/50. If the voter turnout is, say, 80% conservative in the primary, they could wipe out the more liberal options, and the general election would decide between one of two conservatives.

Other concerns I have are about the long, painful, drawn out shitstorm of this type of election. And you thought Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner were already exhausting. And on the flip side, what about all those potential voters who aren’t really informed until the general election? What if people don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision?

We do need to reform the electoral process, but this isn’t the answer.

Prop 15 – California Fair Elections Act – YES

This is a cool little trial to test out ending the current ban on publicly-funded political campaigns and allow publicly-funded campaign funding programs to be established by the state legislature. The trial is one program that impacts only one office, the office of the Secretary of State, who oversees elections, just for 2014 and 2018. Perfect, right?

The details for the trial for these two elections for the Secretary of State is that they would be able to voluntarily sign up to be publicly-funded and collect $5 from a certain number of registered voters to run, and they could not mostly not accept other donations. There would be funding limits for the public-funded candidates, but they would be allowed extra matching funds when outspent by a privately-funded candidate. And, if the program funds weren’t enough, the publicly-funded candidates would be allowed to make up the difference with private funding.

While I am not sure the proposed solution is going to be the best solution in the long run (or even have an impact since candidates for those two elections could completely opt out of the program), I really like the idea of doing a small test on one office and tweaking it from there.

This is a small pilot program for election reform, and it is worth a shot.


Prop 16 – Imposes New Two-Thirds Voter Approval Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers – NO

Currently, a local government can only use public funds if approved by the local government or a simple majority of the voters. This would require a 2/3 vote by the people (very difficult) for a local government to use public funds to start up or expand electricity service.

This is a big power grab by private energy to lessen the chance local governments would invest in the energy market, challenging their current dominance. They have issued one of the most misleading and pricey campaigns to sway the fewer voters they need to convince for this primary election. It is gross, and it is greedy, and it is totally unnecessary. NO.


Prop 17 – Allows Auto Insurance Companies to Base their Prices in Part on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage – NO

Another scheme from another big company. This was sponsored by an insurance company to profit by a policy change. Basically if you had a lapse in insurance (say, like me, you forewent a car) it would allow them to levy fees for having a break in insurance coverage.

I pity the soul who ever has to pay car insurance after living car-free. (The naughty me kinda wants people who do go back to cars after being car-free to get that added penalty.) But, since it benefits another one of those sneaky businesses sneaking policy through a low-voter election, it is much better to vote no. No, no, no.


Prop A – School Facilities Special Tax – yes

This Prop extends and modifies a 1990 property tax that needs to be re-approved by 66% of voters in the district. It would maintain funding for repairs and improvements at 150 San Francisco Schools. Seems logical to fund maintenance for earthquake and fire safety at schools, especially since it essentially renews a tax that has been in place for 20 years.


Prop B – Earthquake Safety & Emergency Response Bond – YES, yikes!

Our fire department is reliant on a 1906 emergency water system. This has to pass with a 2/3 vote for the city to be able to issue bonds to pay for improvements for earthquake, fire & emergency response.  I normally don’t like paying with credit because it costs a lot more than it seems, but based on what I have heard about the unfitness of our fire response system in the event of an earthquake, we just need to make a move to improve the situation.

Renters, if passed, landlords are allowed to pass off 50% of the tax to you. A place that has a value of $131,000 would be taxed about $12 for a year ($6 for renters) at the highest estimate. It is worth it. Even if you add a zero to your property’s value, it is still worth it!


Prop C – Film Commission – yes

Changes the criteria by which the Film Commission, which approves permits for filming in San Francisco, is selected. All eleven now are selected by the Mayor, and if this passes, he would select only 6, the others selected by the Board of Supervisors. Both the Mayor and the Supervisors would be required to select these people based on specific criteria , like professional experience in the film industry or being from the district impacted by the film permits. It also requires them to be residents of SF. Why not?

Prop D – Retirement Benefit Costs – yes

Ewwww, this is the booooring wonk that generally makes me fall asleep. Prop D is basically a happy compromise reached about how a pension could be calculated. This suggests it should be based on the final two years pay, not the current standard of just the final year pay when often there is an extra little bump. In the end it is a cost-saving measure for the cash-strapped city. Yes.


Prop E – Budget Line Item for Police Department Security for City Officials & Dignitaries – Yes (duh)

This simply allows the Police Department to add a budget line item for the expenses related to providing security (that they already are providing) to City officials and dignitaries.

For me, as someone who has worked on budget spreadsheets for the past 13 years of my life (I know, exciting, right?), I like more line items in a budget because it provides me greater transparency on where all the money is going to and coming from.  I like this kinda thing, though it can sure make a for a beastly budget spreadsheet. On the other hand, I imagine the Police Department’s budget is already pretty burly, and I wonder how they currently account for those expenses.

I hate those big mushy line items called things like “general” or “miscellaneous supplies,” and I bet this would make one currently mushy line item a little less mushy by breaking this expense out.

Prop F – Renters’ Financial Hardship Applications – yes

Currently renters in SF have rent control, limiting the amount that landlords can raise the rent annually to 10% to account for increasing taxes and property improvements. This would allow renters with financial hardships to file an application to limit the increases even further, though not completely, and only if approved at a hearing.

Prop G – Transbay Transit Center – no

UGH it is a policy statement–I hate that!! It is like using the ballot to declare it is my official policy to enjoy artichokes at dinners.

It means nothing, binds nothing, trivializes the democratic process into the not-getting-shit-done train wreck in slow motion that it is.

And at the same time, you might think it is a lovely idea for the train from LA to end at the Transbay Transit Center. And it might be. In fact, that is what current Transbay Terminal planners are planning for.  But I think I will exercise my right not to vote on this one out of my general belief that policy statements are a waste of time and stupid.

Man, they sure do love those policy statements in SF. Gotta love SF.


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