Kate Slate: SF Election June 2012: Better late than never

Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Comments Off on Kate Slate: SF Election June 2012: Better late than never

So…

You say there is an election tomorrow…wait, in seven hours…(or maybe we’ve caught you completely unawares. It is okay. You can still vote, too. If you don’t know your polling place, head to City Hall.)

The goal of the Kate Slate is to provide you with some basic info about what is on the ballot while I navigate the ballot myself. This is a crazy tradition I have been sharing with my friends ever since I have been able to vote, and you are receiving this because you have RSVP’d for a Slate Party I have hosted, or I consider you a real life friend, and thought you might want this info.

When it comes to the ballot, I go issue by issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley, since I tend to have a radical left perspective on social issues. I hate poorly written legislation, and tend to vote against it, even if I support the basic premise. I also tend to run from ballot box budgeting (inflexible!) and bond measures (though not always). And, I think policy statements are a waste of time and money since they are non-binding, and allow for a “foot in the door” for future binding legislation. Feel free to forward it to friends (and friends, if someone other than me sent this to you feel free to drop me a line if you end up reading it, I like to hear who this made its way to).

Finally, my Slate is fully independent of my employer in every way and in no way should be thought to represent any views of anyone other than myself. No one lobbies me for a specific endorsement, though I do have thoughtful engaging conversations with friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered.

You probably won’t agree with me on everything, and that is okay.

Finally, I am not affiliated with a party! Which means that I don’t get to vote on the DCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC (extra C’s intentional). See below for who I say yes on, I’d leave the rest blank. If you trust the other voters. Otherwise I’d feverishly search facebook for anything incriminating.

As always, thanks for reading, bonus points for voting!

Thanks,
Kate

The quickie (see below for details)

State Propostition 28 – Yes
State Propostition 29 – Yes

Prop A – City Waste Management Contracts – No
Prop B – Coit Tower Policy Statement – No
US Senator – Diane Feinstein
US House Representative – Nancy Pelosi
State Senator – Mark Leno
State Assembly – Tom Ammiano

DCCC – District 17
John Avalos
Joaquin Torres
Alix Amelia Rosenthal
Rafael Mandelman
David Campos
David Chiu

DCCC – District 19
Eric Mar

The Details

State Propostition 28 – Limits on Legislators’ Terms in Office, Initiative Constitutional Amendment. – Yes

Currently, you can serve three two-year terms in the State Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate. This bill would change it so you could serve up to twelve years in either house, in any combination of terms. The idea here is that politicians wouldn’t be jockeying for their next office, and potentially less vulnerable to lobbyists who don’t have to change office every couple years.

State Propostition 29 – Imposes Additional Tax on Cigarettes for Cancer Research. Initiative Statute. – Yes

After a little research, via the Controller’s report in my vote information pamphlet, I discovered that when we passed Prop 10 in 1998, the number of smokers decreased significantly. Prop 10 added a $.50 cigarette tax on all packs of cigarettes, some of which was for cancer research. When the number of smokers decreased, so did the amont of money generated to fund that cancer research. This would help make up for some of that funding, and then some. Though, they better start taxing other things that cause cancer, too, otherwise this is just a temporary solution, too. At any rate, aggressive taxing has had a positive impact on reducing smoking, which I also think is good.

Prop A – City Waste Management Contracts – No

Basically A states that the City will go a competitive bidding process for permits for five types of waste management in San Francisco, from trash to compost, business and residential, all of it. Aaaaaand San Francisco would have to own all the processing and transfer facilities, which it currently does not (which means buying it from the current owner, um, Recology, who um, holds the current waste management permits, or build one. So, while the competitive bidding process sounds awesome, so does one business handling it all (rather than five companies trying to manage five different aspects of it and trying to, um, collaborate). And, also Recology does a really great job. I mean a state of the art job. Cities are jealous of our trash management system, and that isn’t something cities always get jealous about. And, if that doesn’t satisfy you, Recology currently has a 10-year contract with the city that goes to a competitive bidding process when it is over. So, no real strong reason to vote yes, for me.

Prop B – Coit Tower Policy Statement – No

Since I generally vote No on policy statements, it should come to no surprise to you that it has come to this. And yet, while I agree that fancy pants soirees should benefit the public sector when on public land, I don’t like the idea that all the money generated from one park would go to only that park. Since, of course, some of our parks are more glamorous than others, and get all the glitz and glamour, while our other beloved public spaces don’t generate a penny, yet they deserve funding too! So, beyond just it being a policy statement, it is also a foot in the door…if this passes wait for a future binding piece of legislation that refers to the “will of the voters”…”in June 2012” who voted strongly in favor of such a policy. Do I seem paranoid? I really love my parks. Vote No.

US Senator

Well, voters, we effed this one up, by establishing open primaries. What that means is that every party candidate is on the ballot, and the two biggest vote earners show up on the November Ballot. Nice. May the richest candidate win. Now look what you are saddled with. Are you going to be all idealistic, and stick it to Di Fi once and for all, and vote a 9th or 10th party candidate? Or, are you going straight for safety and sticking to the only two candidates you might actually live with (enter Di Fi–Diane Feinstein to those who love her. I won’t judge you.

US House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi… I mean look at your options.

State Senator – Mark Leno
He’s been fairly amicable, and I endorsed him in 2008, too.

State Assembly – Tom Ammiano

One of my favorite politicians, was the first San Francisco Supervisors to ride his bike in San Francisco. I enthusiastically endorse him for a second term, as I did for his first.

DCCCCCCCCCC
District 17
John Avalos
Joaquin Torres
Alix Amelia Rosenthal
Rafael Mandelman
David Campos
David Chiu

District 19
Eric Mar….

Sorry I can’t find a District 19 ballot otherwise I would tell you about more people!

Okay, I promise better next time! And earlier!

Kate Slate – November 8, 2011

Posted: October 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Comments Off on Kate Slate – November 8, 2011

Well, SF elections never cease to get weird, do they? This year is filled with scandal and MC Hammer and Brian Wilson ads, not to mention politicians vying for the spotlight at the Occupy SF protests, never a dull moment.

As I do every year, I present my Kate Slate. This is all me. This slate is independent of any employer past or current, friends or family and should not be mistaken for or misrepresented as anything but the humble opinions of me and only me. I write it as I study the ballot and I share my slate with friends.

As always, I hope you find it useful. Let me know if you found it helpful, it always motivates me for the next election when the slate could go on for miles, like last year. Don’t forget that if you don’t know your polling place you can always vote at City Hall, as long as you are registered, even if you moved!

Happy voting!
Kate

Mayor – #1 David Chiu #2 John Avalos #3 Dennis Herrera
District Attorney – #1 David Onek, #2 Sharmin Bock
Sheriff – Ross Mirkarimi
Prop A – yes
Prop B – YES YES YES
Prop C – Yes
Prop D – [Blank]
Prop E – NO WAY DUDE
Prop F – NO
Prop G – yes
Prop H – no

Mayor
#1 David Chiu
#2 John Avalos
#3 Dennis Herrera

Full disclosure: I have flip-flopped on this race since the beginning. Damned you, ranked-choice voting!  Since there are so many candidates to split the votes, it is hard to know if your ballot would be exhausted before any candidates got more than 50% of the vote.

And, if we hadn’t voted to move towards Ranked-Choice Voting, then we would probably have run-off elections into the foreseeable future with a pool of candidates so large. At the same time, if we had had run-off elections, you know I would vote in each of them. Hence the dilemma of wanting to make all my votes count, while also wanting the best candidate to win.

I found this voting simulation very helpful: http://www.baycitizen.org/data/rankedchoice/bay-citizen-usf-mayoral-poll/. Basically, you have two chances to vote for your gut, and then you have your third vote to select a front runner–say, the lesser of two evils–if your first two choices aren’t already the front runners. Let’s face it folks: with so many candidates and a new scandal every day the polls can hardly keep up, so it is any one’s guess who the true front runners are. My third choice comes down more to who I wouldn’t want to win rather than voting who I do want to win.

So the candidates. Chiu has been my favorite since I knew he was going to run, which was back before Gavin Newsom vacated the mayoral seat allowing for the Supervisors to appoint an interim. Until that moment, Chiu was awesome for us progressives, especially those big on sustainable transportation. He won our heart as Board President, and when we’d see him pedaling on Market Street. He was an easy choice for me. He made a lot of strong moves as Board President and I felt very confident.

Then the mayoral appointment happened, when Gavin won the Lieutenant Governor’s seat. It seemed clear that Chiu had made some backroom deal to support Ed Lee for Mayor (remember this is when Chris Daly famously shouted that it was “on like Donkey Kong”).

Now I speculate that Chiu flipped his vote and went against the progressives for Ed Lee because he had made a deal with certain political power brokers that he would support Ed Lee for interim Mayor in exchange for their support for Chiu as Mayor in November 2011, the current election. And I further speculate that Chiu was duped! Those same power brokers seemed to have perfectly planned for Ed Lee to run as incumbent for Mayor, allowing his first six months in office to serve as a platform for his candidacy, while said power brokers launched a “Run Ed Run” campaign. At this point, Lee almost completely squashes Chiu’s chances of winning.

So. I was really mad about Chiu flipping his vote during the appointment process. And so is basically every hard core progressive. They won’t even run a ranked choice agreement for their Mayoral campaigns (too bad for both) because they are so mad at Chiu. I could see this happening like watching a slow motion train wreck.  Alas.

But, next to Avalos, Chiu’s actions as a leader (Board President) really speak louder than Avalos’s words. Yes, Avalos does come out on paper as the most progressive, and he does hang out with the Occupy folks, but to me he hasn’t come off as bold a politician as Chiu as he has served as supervisor–he doesn’t put his neck out for bold legislation (and yes, he will vote on others’ legislation in a progressive manner, but that isn’t my point). So, I’ve decided to rank Chiu first, then Avalos. It is a tough call, and I have to vote tomorrow, so give me a break.

As for numero 3. I have been trying to find all the latest and greatest polls. I don’t really see anything new or provocative. But, doing this has me really looking at who I don’t want to win with an “anyone but that one for #3” mentality. Which leaves me with only one viable choice (unless I want to exhaust my ballot too say “fuck you!” to the world by picking Terry Baum or writing in Mat Honan, but I kinda don’t see the point of doing that. I mean, who am I even saying “fuck you” to, anyway?)

So anyway, the remainder is: Dennis Herrera. Could I live with him as Mayor? Probably. I don’t think he has strong political will (see why I chose Chiu over Avalos), which is required to be a good politician, but he also probably won’t make too terrible a mess of anything. Or so I hope. #1 David Chiu, #2 John Avalos, #3 Dennis Herrera.

District Attorney
#1 David Onek
#2 Sharmin Bock

Onek has a really unique approach to justice that seems pretty great–and when he was a police commissioner he advocated on programs focused on youth and limiting repeat offenders. Good.

A drawback is he doesn’t have courtroom experience, but neither does Gascón (who was just appointed by Newsom before gallivanting off to Sacramento as Liutenant Governor) has a major conflict of interest being former police chief (watch crime shows much?) So Gascón absolutely gets none of my ranked-choice votes, which brings us to Bock.

Bock has experience, and I imagine plenty, at the Alameda County DA’s office where she was on the team that took down the Oakland Riders.

Also, I won’t vote for Fazio because he is all over the place: used to support the death penalty (1999) though he now says it is a terrible mistake, and said that prosecuting the cops in Fajitagate was ridiculous (kind of a red flag for a DA).

Anyway, #1 Onek, #2 Bock, #3 [blank]

Sheriff – Ross Mirkarimi

I am a fan of Ross Mirkirimi, the orator. So, I was surprised to find out that he actually has decent credentials for the office of Sheriff, like going through the SF Police Academy while working as an investigator for the DA’s office. And, he both has a unique opportunity as a police force outsider and the endorsement of Sheriff Hennessey, and a set of cost-saving ideas, too.

Prop A – yes

Apparently many schools in the southeast sector of the city are in dire need of repair. And since there are no alternate funding sources to secure a similar amount of money, and the type of projects are fairly clearly defined, I say yes.

Prop B – YES YES YES

Is this a bond measure? Yes it is. Why am I supporting a bond measure (or should I say another one, see Prop A)? Because it would take years for SF to go through the bureaucracy it would take to establish a sustainable funding source for road maintenance and repair (which, by the way, it should still be doing, regardless if this passes), and we just simply cannot wait any longer for there to be money to fix our broken streets. Have you seen our streets?! They are terrible. They cause wrecks and injuries.

This Prop requires a super-majority–66%–to pass. So I am hoping everyone and anyone who votes sees the imperative nature of Prop B passing and votes yes.

Prop C – Yes and Prop D – Blank

Props C and D are competing measures and contain poison pills for the other. What this means is that if both C and D pass, the one with more votes actually wins. This means that you first need to figure out if you want pension reform or not. If you DO want pension reform so that the city doesn’t go bankrupt (that is a YES for me), then you want C and/or D to pass.

Then it comes down to C or D, and which is better; whether you would settle for either, or if you really prefer one over the other. Both come with a sort-of-silver lining in that they are both likely to face a legal battle in court that will in some way adjust, if not improve its version of pension reform. For me, C is the obviously better one.

Prop C came about from consensus-based approach and it more comprehensively addresses the pension issues. D was put together privately without the input of key stakeholders, but isn’t tremendously different–it actually saves more money but is less comprehensive.

Since I favor pension reform, and I prefer C pass, I am going to vote yes on C. And since, I prefer C over D, but I wouldn’t be unhappy if D passed, I am going to leave D blank rather than vote no on it.

Prop E – NO WAY DUDE

This allows for Supervisors to appeal or amend initiatives approved by voters, which right now can only be done by a vote of the people. For me this is “we like democracy, kind of” legislation. I get the idea of initiative reform, but this one I think is problematic.  Say a super-awesome Board member puts something on a ballot and it is great, and then a super-evil villain Board member later amends it? Not so great.


Prop F – NO

The problem with this one is that while it changes some reporting for political consultants, it also makes it so that the Ethics Commission can make further changes without voter approval. And since the Ethics Commissioners are appointed and therefore don’t serve the voters, my thinking is that they would be more loyal to the politicians that appoint them, and to the political consultants that get those politicians elected. So, I wouldn’t want to give them power to make further changes on political consultant policy without voter approval. Vote no.

Prop G – yes

This raises the sales tax back up .5% after the California State Sales Tax just dropped to 8.5% and allocates it to SF specifically. It was just at 9.5% before the state dropped it to 8.5%, so it will still be less than it was just a few months ago. Some people are worried that in 2016 when the state can restore the 9.5% sales tax, SF will be paying too much at 10%. At the same time, I support sales tax as a taxing method that is pretty egalitarian, and I support tax-funded city services.

Prop H – no

I really hate policy statements because they give special interest groups a foot in the door on legislation: pass a policy statement this year, use that policy statement next year as a way to indicate voter support for real binding legislation that sucks for everyone but your special interest group.

So it is not surprising that this one was brought about by some disgruntled parents right after the SFUSD implemented a brand new school placement methodology in 2011. The new methodology takes into account many variables and was researched for years before implementation. Besides it not really having a chance to succeed or fail (yet), this policy statement doesn’t really DO anything it is just a statement of policy that the school district “should” assign students based on specific criteria–not that it has to. Vote no.


Kate Slate – November 2, 2010

Posted: October 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Tags: , | Comments Off on Kate Slate – November 2, 2010

Dearest Kate Slate reader,

I am really happy to share my research and thoughts on the issues, especially when you send me a quick thank you and let me know that it matters to you that I did it. This year I even got to read a spin-off from a Kate Slate reader–and I am proud that others have been motivated to write their own slate. That is why I continue to do it. Feel free to forward it to friends (hi friend, please say hi back if you end up reading or using this to help you navigate the ballot).

I am increasingly frustrated that it takes more and more time to wade through the ballot, and every election my community seems to be more and more alienated from the process, and the issues and the way they are written on the ballot more and more convoluted. Now more than ever it seems imperative for me to research the issues just so people can figure out what will happen when they vote for or against “Rainbow flying bunnies bond initiative to fund tsunami retrofits.”

So here is the drill: The top part is just the items on my ballot and how I plan to vote, and then below that I go through each candidate and issue, one by one. Operative word: plan. I keep flip flopping on 21, and I was absolutely tortured over the past weeks on 19, but I think I am settled now.

The goal of the Kate Slate is, while I navigate the ballot myself, for me to provide you with some basic info about what is on the ballot, and taking you through my thought process. I tend to lean towards the radical left on social issues, but when it comes to the ballot I go issue by issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley. I hate poorly written legislation, and tend to vote against it, even if I support the basic premise. I also tend to run from ballot box budgeting (inflexible!) and bond measures (expensive!). And, I think policy statements are a waste of time and money since they are nonbinding.

Finally, my Slate is not a product of my employer’s endorsements, and no one lobbies me for a specific endorsement, though I do have thoughtful engaging conversations with friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered.

In the end, we have to think for ourselves. You probably won’t agree with me on everything, and that is okay. In fact, that’s what my high school government teacher had me convinced democracy was.

Thanks for reading, bonus points for voting!

Kate

Candidates

State

Governor – Jerry Brown

Lieutenant Governor – Gavin Newsom

Secretary of State – DEBRA BOWEN

Controller – John Chiang

Treasurer – Bill Lockyer

Attorney General – Peter Allen

Insurance Commissioner – Dave Jones

Member of the State Board of Equalization, District 1 – Betty Yee

United States Senator – Barbara Boxer

United States Representative – Nancy Pelosi

Member, State Assembly, District 13 – TOM AMMIANO

State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson

California Judicial Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Tani Cantil-Sakauye – yes

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ming Chin – NO

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Carlos Moreno – YES

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1 Kathleeen Banke – skip

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1 Robert Dondero – yes

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2 James Lambden – yes

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3 Martin Jenkins – yes

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3 Peter Siggins – no

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4 Timothy Reardon – yes

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5 Terence Bruiniers – skip

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5 Henry Needham Jr – skip

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District 8 – Bert Hill

County of San Francisco

Judge of the Superior Court – Michael Nava

Board of Education (vote for three) – Margaret Brodkin, Kim-Shree Maufas, Natasha Hoehn

College Board (vote for three) – John Rizzo (yes, I only picked one)

City of San Francisco Assessor Recorder – Phil Ting

Public Defender – skip

District 2 Supervisor – Janet Reilly

District 4 Supervisor – Carmen Chu

District 6 Supervisor – Debra Walker

District 8 Supervisor – Rafael Mandelman

District 10 Supervisor – Eric Smith

Propositions

State

19 – Legalizes Marijuana under State but not Federal law – Yes

20 – Redistricting of Congressional Districts – No

21 – Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to help fund State Parks and wildlife programs – Am I an asshole if I say no?

22 – Prohibits the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment or local government projects and services – NO

23 – Suspends implementation of air pollution control law (AB32) requiring major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gases emissions that cause global warming until unemployment drops to 5.5% or less for a full year – NO NO NO NO

24 – Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to lower their tax liability – YES

25 – Changes legislative vote requirement to pass budget and budget-related legislation from 2/3 to a simple majority, retains 2/3 vote requirement for taxes YES!!!

26 – Requires that certain state and local fees be approved by a 2/3 vote NO NO NO

27 – Eliminates state commission on redistricting – NO

County of San Francisco

AA – $10 vehicle registration fee to fund transportation projects – yes

City of San Francisco

A – Earthquake safety retrofit deferred loan and grant program general obligation bonds – no

B – Increase City employee contributions to retirement benefits, decrease health benefits for employees, changes rules for arbitration proceedings about City collective bargaining agreements – No

C – Require the Mayor to appear monthly at Board of Supervisors’ meetings – no

D – Allow non-citizen residents of San Francisco who have children living in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in School Board Elections – YES

E – Establish Election Day voter registration for municipal elections – yes

F – Reduce Health Service Board elections to two elections every five years instead of four – no

G – Eliminate minimum Muni operator salary formula, instead set by collective bargaining and binding arbitration, adds rules to bargaining proceedings, and changes terms of employment for MTA employees – No

H – Prohibit City officials from serving on San Francisco political party county central committees – no

I – Open polling places the Saturday before the November 2011 election if private donors fund it – no

J – Increase the hotel tax rate from 14% to 16% for next three years and define permanent resident – no

K – Keep the hotel tax rate the same and define permanent resident – yes

L – Prohibit sitting or lying on a public sidewalk from 7am to 11pm – NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

M – Require the Police Commission to adopt a community policing policy and establish a comprehensive Foot Beat Patrol program, and not prohibit sitting or lying on sidewalks – YES YES YES

N – Increase its real property transfer tax rate to 2% for sales and longtime leases valued at $5 million to $10 million, 2.5% for those valued above $10 million – Yes

Candidates

State

Governor – Jerry Brown

One of the worst decisions to ever have to make: Meg Whitman, former E-bay CEO, versus former Governor-Mayor of Oakland and State Attorney General Jerry Brown. Our choices are so dismal.

I would go for a third party if Meg Whitman hadn’t totally undermined the concept of democracy by dumping millions of her personal wealth into her campaign, increasing the possibility she might actually win. She is corrupt, has a horrible record as a CEO, and wants to strengthen penalties for illegal immigration after having employed a maid who was “illegal”.

She sucks so bad, I have no choice but to save us all from her by voting for Jerry Brown. He is no gem himself, a lackluster, unproductive, career politician. Though, he does have the best official gubernatorial portrait hanging at the state capital. But I digress.

Lieutenant Governor – Gavin Newsom

San Francisco is so ready to say goodbye to our Mayor, I’d like to pawn him off to the state in a position where he can do as little as he does here in San Francisco. That is, as long as there is no “Do Not Resuscitate” Order for Jerry Brown. Oh, that was mean.

Secretary of State – DEBRA BOWEN

She has been super awesome doing tough research on the security of electronic voting systems, and has been working to ensure integrity of California ballots. Hallelujah!

Controller – John Chiang

He is the incumbent and has had a lot of success uncovering corruption by our fine state politicians, standing up to the Governor for what is legal and right (like when Arnold said he would only pay legislators minimum wage until they passed the State budget, but that was actually a little bit of illegal bull). Seems like he is doing brave work that other politicians aren’t willing to do, and I am feeling pretty good about him.

Treasurer – Bill Lockyer

Another incumbent and career politician. He has done some okay environmentally-friendly work, though, especially on funding for climate initiatives.

Attorney General – Peter Allen

Peter Allen is a post-partisan die hard with a good head on his shoulders: supports the end to the dealth penalty, is a massive supporter of public education, and believes that automobiles should bear the true cost of driving to fund public transportation. YES!!!

Insurance Commissioner – Dave Jones

Dave Jones is another champion of environmental causes and introduced the Green Insurance Act of 2010 that establishes environmental standards and protections in the insurance business, and provides incentives and tax credits for offering green insurance and making green investments. And, he is endorsed by John Chiang, which, if he emulates Chiang’s T.C.B. (takin’ care of business) attitude to being a politician, would be exactly who we want to be insurance commissioner.

Member of the State Board of Equalization, District 1 – Betty Yee

She is the incumbent, and a native San Franciscan who has enacted property tax equity for registered domestic partners, among other decent things any good member of the State Board of Equalization would do. Currently, she serves on the Board as a Democrat with only Republicans.

United States Senator – Barbara Boxer

I actually have been pretty okay with Boxer as Senator, but the threat of Fiorina, a fired H-P executive (because she was corrupt), has me underscoring just how important it is to vote for her again.

United States Representative – Nancy Pelosi

I am less impressed with Pelosi, but she isn’t going anywhere this election, whether you love her or not.

Member, State Assembly, District 13 – TOM AMMIANO

I feel embarrassed to admit that I am a fan of a politician, but… One of my favorite all-time politicians, my former District Supervisor, and the first San Francisco Supervisor to bike to work on my biggest project, Bike to Work Day. I really do love him. Go Tom, with your bad-ass self.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson

I endorsed him in the June primary, and I still think he has the right idea about the public school system. I like that he is ready for the fight for funding, that he favors neighborhood schools, and supports a healthy school environment including access to healthy foods, physical education and health care. While that might not seem like a primary educational focus, I promise you that after four years of teaching middle school in East Oakland, I discovered they are crucial social justice issues to address in education.

California
Judicial (yeah, I did research on all these people so you don’t have to!)

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Tani Cantil-Sakauye – yes

She would be the first Filipina Supreme Court Justice and establish a female majority for the first time ever. And though she is a moderate Republican (she WAS appointed by Schwarzenegger, c’mon), she leans liberal on women’s issues, which I like.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ming Chin – NO

He was in the DISSENTING minority in the 2003 decision legalizing same-sex marriage in California. Boo.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Carlos Moreno – YES

The antidote to Chin, he was a DISSENTING vote on Strauss v. Horton, aka when our dumbass Court ruled that the Prop 8 vote (that banned same sex marriage) was valid. He stood by his decision when he was nearly nominated to the Federal Supreme Court, and Obama got scared and nominated someone else. Moreno has a strong record on LGBTQ rights.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1 Kathleeen Banke – skip

I mean, she is going to be approved no matter what I say. But, I could find only very little information about her, except her facebook page says she loves jesus, and that being in a church no more makes you a Christian than being in a garage makes you a car. It’s not enough to compel me one way or the other.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1 Robert Dondero – yes

Former San Francisco Deputy District Attorney, he has won awards for investing his time in legal outreach and social needs for the community.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2 James Lambden – yes

He left his role as a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America (after 35 years!) because he felt his professional ethics were in conflict with the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy of discrimination, and he seems reasonable and sound.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3 Martin Jenkins – yes

A former federal judge who returned home after his mom went ill, he seems to stick to the letter of the law, trying to do what is right by it. He is heavily involved in the community and even coaches high school football (and is a former Seattle Seahawk).

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3 Peter Siggins – no I just read a paper that he wrote that ultimately said that we all have to get used to increase government intrusion and invasion of privacy for the sake of national security. Ummm, no thanks, dude.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4 Timothy Reardon – yes

This guy is supposedly a justice without ideology (huh? doesn’t everyone have a personal bias?) whose “opinions are seldom flashy or intellectual; they just state the facts and the law and reach a conclusion.” Sounds like what he should be doing.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5 Terence Bruiniers – skip

I can’t find enough info on this guy from the interweb. How do you get nominated to the bench without having a ton of info all over the internets?! Seriously.

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5 Henry Needham Jr – skip

I can find almost no information about Needham, either. Except that he was part of a majority opinion denying the appeal of a gang member who shot someone in a car because of the color of that person’s hat. Not enough for me to make a decision.

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District 8 – Bert Hill

(Full disclosure: I know Bert personally) Bert is an all-around good guy. He is the face that launched 1,000 bicyclists as one of San Francisco’s most dedicated bicycling educators. I think that his sustainable transportation voice will be great to add to the BART Board of Directors.

County of San Francisco

Judge of the Superior Court – Michael Nava

An advocate for diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary and he wrote a book about the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

Board of Education (vote for three) – Margaret Brodkin, Kim-Shree Maufas, Natasha Hoehn

Margaret Brodkin has a community approach to education and established San Francisco’s $50 million dollar children’s fund.

Kim-Shree has been effective on the school board, changing the high school requirements for graduation so all San Francisco public school graduates will meet the requirements to attend the University of California, among many other accomplishments.

Natasha Hoehn was an eighth grade teacher (my former job, too) with sound ideas about how to provide a good education to children, including experiential education, for which I am a proponent.

College Board (vote for three) – John Rizzo (yes, I only picked one)

Why can’t we get an awesome College Board? Because we only have three candidates for three open spots. Puh-lease. Anyway, John Rizzo is the only one worth voting for. He has made green jobs training a priority and worked on City College’s first LEED certified building, its only recent building project that was both on time and on budget.

City of San Francisco

Assessor Recorder – Phil Ting

Phil Ting is leading the fight to close the “Prop 13 loophole” that allows corporations and commercial property owners to skip out on paying their fair share of taxes, also called the “third rail of politics.” He also rides his bike every year on Bike to Work Day, and his wife is on my organization’s Board.

Public Defender – skip

Why bother? He is running unopposed and he is behind Prop B that would decrease health benefits for City employees.

District 2 Supervisor – Janet Reilly

Man, Alioto-Pier’s district isn’t looking like we are going to get much of an improvement now that she is termed out. Like the gubernatorial election, this is just picking the lesser evil.Alioto-Pier endorses Farrell, which is all the endorsement I need not to support him. And, dummy-head Simmons supports Sit-Lie.

District 4 Supervisor – Carmen Chu

She has been a champion of Sunday Streets. While I didn’t love her initially, she seems like she is “getting it” while she matures in office. But, it is admittedly a slow process. I wonder what she will do if/when Newsom is Lieutenant Governor since she almost always seems to support his views.

District 6 Supervisor – Debra Walker

I would say it is between her and Jane Kim, but Jane Kim moved to D6 after saying it would be easy to win. In the press! And, Debra Walker seems just as good, if not better. As an artist in a city of artists, I think her voice will be great on the Board of Supervisors. Just this morning I had the opportunity to watch her interact with her constituents. We happened to be outside an SRO (Single Resident Occupancy–or hotels that are used to house homeless and/or recently incarcerated folks). She interacted with folks so genuinely and with such kindness, I was in complete awe of her humanity.

Since this is rank choice, I would go Debra, then Jane, then Glendon Hyde. Beware of Theresa Sparks.

District 8 Supervisor – Rafael Mandelman

(Full disclosure: I know Rafael, too, and he even hugged me today.) Rafael, besides being a really nice guy, is also a great progressive. He supports tenants rights, immigrant rights, bicycling, and the environment. He is my favorite San Francisco candidate this election. I told him today that he better win. And, I hope that if you can, you will help him win. He could be the best representative for the Castro since Harvey Milk. Seriously.

District 10 Supervisor – Eric Smith

Eric Smith is behind all sorts of green efforts including green jobs, converting San Francisco’s auto fleet to biodiesel, and he is on the Board of one of my favorite community organizations, Literacy for Ecological Justice. He also has a very loud voice.


Propositions

State

19 – Legalizes Marijuana under State but not Federal law – Yes

I am torn on this one, even as a hardcore supporter of the legalization of marijuana. I wonder if this is a “step in the right direction” when our Governor just decreased possession of small quantities to an infraction. I worry that since regulation is in the hands of local governments, it could make it so small growers will still face the same penalties they do now, while granting permission to those growers who can afford it, commercializing our pot industry in the wrong (read: corporate) way.

I also worry about the Federal government’s promise to continue enforcing their “drug” policy in California even when/if it passes. On the other hand, the more legislation that passes in favor of legalizing marijuana across the country, the more likely it will come, too, on the federal level. At least I hope so.

20 – Redistricting of Congressional Districts – No

This would do the redistricting to federal districts what votes did in 2008 to state districts, giving the redistricting commission established in 2008 the power to redistrict the federal districts as well as the state districts. While I like the tenor of this proposition, the redistricting commission was just barely established and we haven’t had time enough to see if it was an effective reform. I don’t want to overburden this same redistricting commission with another big job, redistricting federal districts, until they have had a chance to demonstrate effectiveness with the state redistricting.

Also, see Prop 27 that would actually eliminate this redistricting commission before it even really gets a chance to start.

21 – Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to help fund State Parks and wildlife programs – Am I an asshole if I say no?

I hate this one.

If we say yes to this, State Park funding could be cut from the General Fund. Items in the General Fund are perennial, and even if their overall funding is decreased, they are still in the budget to be considered for funding year after year. I worry that this vehicle registration fee will be used to replace our state parks’ important place in the General Fund, which this proposition allows. Why do I worry about this? Because this sets up our parks funding in the long term to be reliant on car consumption, which is in massive decline everywhere but China. And, if another Governor like Schwarzenegger comes along again (like maybe Meg Whitman) and eliminates the vehicle registration fee, what will we do to fund our parks then?!

And, this also allows most California-registered cars into the parks free, which sets them up as an automobile destination, and I personally like to be in places “where no cars go” (as Arcade Fire would say). I think limiting car access to parks is important, but what happens if parks are tied to cars? Do they build more roads to accommodate more cars? In our parks?

On the other hand, our parks DID get underfunded in the General Fund, and now they are being shut down, and services limited, and it sucks! Even though cars are on the decline, they aren’t going away any time soon, and this is a quick fix to a problem I see as dire.

But isn’t there a better way? And isn’t this just the usual ballot box budgeting? What if I vote yes, secretly hoping voters aren’t lamenting about this as I am, and just pass it, because parks rule. And then, what if they don’t?! What happens to our parks then?! The dilemma is driving me crazy!!!

22 – Prohibits the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment or local government projects and services – NO

Don’t be fooled. This one is tricky, and it is bad. It would have dire consequences on school funding. Right now, property taxes raised by the local government but the state has the authority to allocate them. It’s like when you were a kid baby-sitting or mowing lawns, and you raised the money, but your mom tells you to buy something more sensible than saving up for those ridiculous yet awesome shoes.

One of the main things these property taxes are allocated for by the state government with the local government’s property taxes, is public school funding. So, if the state cannot “borrow” from the local government, where is the cash-strapped state going to get the money for our local schools?

23 – Suspends implementation of air pollution control law (AB32) requiring major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gases emissions that cause global warming until unemployment drops to 5.5% or less for a full year – NO NO NO duh

I kind of love that they actually put what will happen in the title, since it is so obviously a bad idea! We need to decrease our emissions no matter what the unemployment rate is. This is stupid stupid stupid. It was initially backed by Meg Whitman, and now she is even trying to distance herself from this extra-dumb proposition.

24 – Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to lower their tax liability – YES

Repeals loopholes for big business that are starving California of tax revenue it so desperately needs!

25 – Changes legislative vote requirement to pass budget and budget-related legislation from 2/3 to a simple majority, retains 2/3 vote requirement for taxes – YES!!!

Yayyyyy, it will make it easier to pass a budget with our stubborn legislators. Also, if those guys at the capital don’t balance the budget by the deadline, they forfeit their pay until it is passed! Their problems with the budget are causing statewide furloughs and impacting the whole state. It is their job to balance the budget on time.

PS 2/3 majority requirements are a trick to keep the majority in control and the minority powerless, but a simple majority is still democracy, people. The 2/3 vote requirement was a conservative trick put in place years ago to limit taxes. Thanks guys, but I thought some government services were important to fund through taxes.

26 – Requires that certain state and local fees be approved by a 2/3 vote – NO NO NO

See my PS above? Not only is a 2/3 majority usually a trick, this is a conservative trick to expand the definition of a tax and then require a 2/3 vote to make it really hard to pass any new fees.

27 – Eliminates state commission on redistricting – NO

As I mentioned in Prop 20 above, this eliminates the redistricting commission that voters supported in 2008 before it has had a chance to prove its effectiveness. The redistricting commission was established to redistrict for state elections, and has clear definitions of who can be a part of the commission in order for redistricting to be done in a fair, non-partisan way (hopefully).  Since it just barely was established and I voted for it, I sure hope it gets a chance to succeed or fail before getting scrapped.

County of San Francisco

AA – $10 vehicle registration fee to fund transportation projects – yes

This basically kinda restores what Schwarzenegger undid with his first executive order as Governor abolishing the vehicle license fees–rather than a state-level fee, though, it is a local fee.

They have these already locally all over the Bay Area, and this is the least-strong legislation in the Bay Area, but it still generates some good hard cash for sustainable transportation projects. Yay.

City of San Francisco

A – Earthquake safety retrofit deferred loan and grant program general obligation bonds – no

This pulls at heartstrings, whenever you hear about Earthquakes and low-income housing. But, this isn’t cheap money–it is bonds–which are very expensive and dig us deeper into a hole. And, this isn’t PUBLIC low income housing, it is privately owned low income housing that the government already subsidizes. So, we are going to go in more debt to give private landlords who happen to offer some low income housing loans so they can retrofit? Ummm, I thought that was what banks were for.

B – Increase City employee contributions to retirement benefits, decrease health benefits for employees, changes rules for arbitratrion proceedings about City collective bargaining agreements – No

You know, when we are trying to get to a better spot wherein affordable healthcare is available to all, it is really awful to think we would take this giant step backwards and force middle class workers to cover their potentially financially prohibitive health insurance costs. This is not a way to balance the budget. Why do we always put the onus of saving the budget on the middle class?

C – Require the Mayor to appear monthly at Board of Supervisors’ meetings – no

This is the third time us citizens have voted for this (once a policy statement–non binding–that we supported, the second was when Gavin launched a huge well-funded campaign against it, so it lost). Should the mayor appear at Supervisors’ meetings? Yes, he should. But not because it is a law, because the Mayor should occasionally do it anyway, because that is what a good mayor should do.

Of course, this is rooted in the battle between the Gavster and Supervisor Chris Daly. The Gavster never showed up to Sups’ meetings, and Chris Daly is accused of pushing for this legislation for the sake of political theater. But, with both on their way out–the Gavster to Lieutenant Governor, and Chris Daly termed-out, it is up to you. Do you want to require the mayor to attend the Sups’ meetings monthly? Historically, we managed to make it this far without this law, and with these two guys and their little spat on the way out, I am not sure we do need it.

D – Allow non-citizen residents of San Francisco who have children living in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in School Board Elections – YES

If you are a parent of a child in the SFUSD, you should be able to vote in their Board Elections. In fact, it is more important for parents with kids in the school district to be voting in a School Board election than me, since I don’t have kids.

E – Establish Election Day voter registration for municipal elections provisionally – yes

Progressives seem to like this a lot. Since I have spent about 20 hours so far on this election learning the issues so I am prepared to vote (it really shouldn’t be this convoluted), I feel wary about people who aren’t actually prepared to vote voting (ie. didn’t manage to register by the deadline two weeks prior to the election). But, I am now thinking of a few of my friends who maybe didn’t put registering to vote at the top of their to-do list, and they are smart folk. And what if they read this slate and were just stricken that they hadn’t registered and it was too late. It doesn’t apply to state or federal elections. And, their votes aren’t counted until their eligibility is confirmed.

F – Reduce Health Service Board elections to two elections every five years instead of four – no

The less regular elections are, the more detached voters become from the issues. It won’t actually save much money to decrease the frequency of Health Service Board elections, so I say no.

G – Eliminate minimum Muni operator salary formula, instead set by collective bargaining and binding arbitration, adds rules to bargaining proceedings, and changes terms of employment for MTA employees – No

This won’t end Muni’s funding problems, and it would impact only one type of MTA employee–Muni operators, and their salaries. This isn’t the holistic funding solution we actually need.

H – Prohibit City officials from serving on San Francisco political party county central committees – no

This was introduced to limit the influence of City officials in the political parties. But, politicians should be able to participate in their party county central committees and have influence in them–after all, they are elected officials representing their political parties!

I – Open polling places the Saturday before the November 2011 election if private donors fund it – no

Anyone can vote any day they want right now if they vote absentee, including Saturday. I do. I can vote in the bathtub if I want to. I highly recommend the luxury of absentee voting.

At the same time, other countries have elections on weekends and have far higher voter turnout. But, I have concerns about ballot security and how exit polls would be done if this passes, and there doesn’t seem to be any plan outlined to address those concerns in the proposition. Furthermore, even if it passes, private donors would have to fund it, which remains to be seen, and it is only a one year trial anyway. Eh.

J – Increase the hotel tax rate from 14% to 16% for next three years and define permanent resident – no.

K – Keep the hotel tax rate the same and define permanent resident – yes

Both Prop J and K would end the travel website loophole (wherein they pay a hotel one rate for the hotel room, pay the taxes on that rate to the hotel, then charge consumers a higher rate, collect taxes on that higher rate, and pocket the cash). But, J increases the hotel tax rate for the next three years and K does not. I was going to vote yes on J, and stick it to the tourists to generate some tax revenue for the city, until an event organizer reminded me that when conferences are considering where to host their event, a 14-16% increase could be thousands of dollars that would be the difference between them choosing SF and going to another city with their event.

I realize that the Gavster added K to the ballot after J was put on, but the city really depends on the revenue from these big conference events, and I think it is important for us to be able to continue to benefit from them coming to SF to create and maintain jobs, and give us money, rather than in some other city.

L – Prohibit sitting or lying on a public sidewalk from 7am to 11pm – NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

I really cannot believe it could be made illegal to sit outside on a sidewalk. REALLY????

Almost every behavior I can think of that is done on a sidewalk that is annoying is pretty much already illegal. Smoking crack is already illegal. Aggressive panhandling is already illegal. Assaulting someone is already illegal. Even disturbing the peace is already illegal. They just aren’t enforced. Don’t make sitting illegal.

Proponents even suggest that profiling will be used to determine whom to apply this law to. Really? I thought there was general agreement that profiling is bad.

Please, I beg you. This won’t actually change whether cops will enforce laws more, it will just increase the number of people they can harass at their whim. NO NO NO NO NO NO

M – Require the Police Commission to adopt a community policing policy and establish a comprehensive Foot Beat Patrol program, and not prohibit sitting or lying on sidewalks YES YES YES

Yay for Community Policing, which actually works! And yay for foot patrols that allow you to build rapport with your local cop and change the community dynamic. Also, this is a poison pill for Prop L so if it passes, I don’t have to worry about getting harassed for sitting in public. YES YES YES YES.

N – Increase its real property transfer tax rate to 2% for sales and longtime leases valued at $5 million to $10 million, 2.5% for those valued above $10 million – Yes

Only affects the very wealthy, and will generate money for the budget. Yay.


The Kate Slate – June Primary Results

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Tags: | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – June Primary Results

Well, this election was a bit of a bummer.  Though, everyone seems pretty excited that 16 did not pass, and I am glad that dropping money into a misleading campaign doesn’t always pay off.  And yet, with the passing of 14, I am worried about the implications of private campaign funding, as well as turning the General Election into a run-off election of the top two vote recipients from the Primary.

If the new change in the election process has inspired anything, it is an earlier Kate Slate (at least two weeks in advance?) and to ensure I host slate parties again for upcoming elections.  Stay tuned for a General Election slate party in October.

Here are the results of candidates and issues  from the Kate Slate:

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson: Torlakson & Aceves to run-off in the General Election

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

Judge of the Superior Court, Seat #15 – Michael Nava: Nava & Ulmer to run-off in the General Election

Prop 13 – Limits on Property Tax Assessment – Yes: Passed

Prop 14 – Elections – No: Passed

Prop 15 – California Fair Elections Act – YES: Rejected

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

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

Prop A – School Facilities Special Tax – Yes: Passed

Prop B – Earthquake Safety & Emergency Response Bond – Yes: Passed

Prop C – Film Commission – yes: Rejected

Prop D – Retirement Benefit Costs – yes: Passed

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

Prop F – Renters’ Financial Hardship Applications – yes: Rejected

Prop G – Transbay Transit Center – no: Passed


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.