The ‘Deep Slate: November 2014 Edition

Ed. Note: In a shocking turn of events, I’m going to get this November’s slate out well in ADVANCE. This might mean I’ve been replaced with a pod. Hmmmm…This also the most work I’ve put into a slate – I really hope you like it. (Also big props to my amazing wife for proofreading & putting up with my mental/physical/emotional absence this month!)

You can find all the online ‘Deep Slates here, but note that before 2013, I only sent them out via email.
Updates:

  • Nov 3: A friend sent me a good LA Times article about Prop 48.  I’ve reconsidering my tepid no & am going tepid yes – see below for details.
  • Nov 4.  My friend Kate McCarthy’s excellent voter guide is out & so I added that to the OTHER section.
  • Nov 5.  Added the new improved logo (better for Facebook) & added this link to the results (not final.)

DeepSlateCompact3

FOR NEWBIES: Every San Francisco election cycle, I put out my “‘Deep Slate”: my endorsements for that election. If you know who I am, you know how I skew, but regardless, I recommend you read the “MY VALUES” section below to understand where I’m coming from. THE LIST section is just the no-frills list of how I’ll be voting (for printing!) & THE DETAILS section is the longer explanation of how I arrived at each vote.

First, the most important thing: WHERE YOU CAN VOTE: You can find your polling place in SF HERE or for the rest of CA HERE.

Next, if you don’t want to read my blather & just want to know my recommendations: Here’s just the LIST. But, the blather really is the best part, so you can see what I think & how you may agree & disagree. But you should agree 🙂

Thanks, as always, to the number of folks who have asked me for my opinions. I know I say it every time but it is quite true: I really am honored by your interest.

The past two months has been fairly insane for me, mostly because of my political shenanigans: as president of the SF League of Conservation Voters (SFLCV), this ballot is a big deal, and I’ve been guiding our new board through the endorsements process, as well as hitting the streets for Yes on Props A & B and especially No on L; as an SF Bike Coalition board member, I’m busy with our hunt for a new ED; and at work, we’ve been putting out a big new release of our software. So yeah – CRAZY. And I still need to work on my Halloween costume! Eeek.

So without further preamble – let’s just get this all taken care of. My recommendations!

GO VOTE!
‘deep

.ps If you like what you read, please do let me know! Also questions, criticisms, comments welcome!

The format of this post is simple:

  1. The LIST: the simple list of my endorsements for this election
  2. The DETAILS: the whys and wherefors of each endorsement.
  3. My VALUES: a brief explanation of my values and sources, to help make sense of my opinions.
  4. Other Sources: a collection of other resources & ballot slates put together by friends or organizations that I value.

THE LIST:

The key is as follows:

US:
United States Representative: Nancy Pelosi

STATE:
Governor: JERRY BROWN
Lt Governor: gavin newsom
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla*
Controller: Betty Yee*
Treasurer: John Chiang*
Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones*
Board of Equalization: Fiona Ma*
Assembly D17: David Campos
Assembly D19: Phil Ting
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Thomas Torlakson*

Prop 1: Water Bond: No
Prop 2: Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund: Yes
Prop 45: Notice for Healthcare Insurance Rate Changes: Yes
Prop 46: Medical Malpractice Awards Cap & Drug Testing of Doctors: No
Prop 47: Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes: YES
Prop 48: Indian Gaming Compacts Referendum: yes

JUDICIAL:
Supreme Court: Approve All
Court of Appeal: Approve All Superior Court: Daniel Flores

SAN FRANCISCO:
Board of Education: Shamann Walton*, Stevon Cook*, Emily Murase*
Community College Board (4 yr): Wendy Aragon*, JOHN RIZZO, THEA SELBY
Community College Board (2 yr): William Walker*
BART Director: NICK JOSEFOWITZ

Assessor-Recorder:carmen chu
Public Defender: Jeff Adachi

Board of Supervisors:
D2: Juan-Antonio Carballo
D4: Katy Tang
D6: Jane Kim, Jamie Whitaker
D8: SCOTT WIENER
D10: tony kelly

Prop. A: Transportation Bond: YES YES YES
Prop. B: Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth: YES YES YES
Prop. C: Children’s Fund etc. Renewal: Yes
Prop. D: Retiree Health Benefits: Yes
Prop. E: Soda Tax: YES
Prop. F: Pier 70 Development: Yes
Prop. G: Additional Transfer Tax on Residential Property Sold Within 5 Years of Purchase: YES
Prop. H: Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields Should Be Grass With No Artificial Lighting: YES YES YES
Prop. I: Renovation of Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields: NO NO NO
Prop. J: Minimum Wage Increase: Yes
Prop. K: Affordable Housing: Yes
Prop. L: Transportation Priorities: NO NO OH HELL NO

If you want these as a handy, printable list, just click here.

THE DETAILS:

US:
United States Representative: Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi is practically unopposed and she does really pretty well at the Federal level. No, she doesn’t completely represent my values, but if you spend twenty minutes considering how much CRAY CRAY is in Congress these days, you’ll thank your yoga mat that someone who thinks even vaguely similar to San Francisco has any power in our nation’s capital. Done, move along.

STATE:

Governor: JERRY BROWN

I’ve really liked Jerry Brown as our Governor. I can’t say that I follow the State stuff as closely as I’d like, but his work on our budget has been really good, his focus on climate change has been really good & the California League of Conservation Voters gives him a lifetime 89%. 

Lt Governor: gavin newsom

I find it hard to support Gavin after his crappy all-press-release-no-progress 8 years as our Mayor. My friend Todd nailed it in his slate:

“Newsom talks a great game on a variety of issues. Talking is about the only responsibility Lieutenant Governor has, so Newsom has been perfect for the job.”
– Todd Berman

But he’s the only Dem we’ve got, and that counts for a lot in Sacto.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla*
Controller: Betty Yee*
Treasurer: John Chiang*
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones*
Board of Equalization: Fiona Ma*
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Thomas Torlakson*

I don’t know a lot about these candidates, but the California League of Conservation Voters and the Bay Guardian all say yes. These are pretty much the straight ticket Dems.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris

I haven’t followed Kamala’s career closely, but she’s widely respected in various circles that I appreciate. For example, my friend Alix Rosenthal, on the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee, says in her slate:

“Kamala is a rockstar. She has been a powerful advocate for consumers and privacy protections, prisoner anti-recidivism programs, victims of mortgage fraud, and same sex marriage in California.” – Alix Rosenthal

Assembly D17: David Campos

This is the toughest race on this ballot. I’ve been flip-flopping for days, but finally decided. Both of these two would make a good choice for State Assembly. Both are really smart & really capable. The truth is that if either of these two get elected, they’ll do well at the State level.

David Campos is the idealist’s choice, I’d say. He’s the more likely of the two to stick to a belief or a core principle and defend it or advance it for its own merit. He’s been a strong voice on the Board for the progressive left here in San Francisco & I’d expect him to be a lot like Tom Ammiano (who’s been great at the State level) when he gets there.

David Chiu is the pragmatist’s choice, I’d say. David is a very capable legislator & much more likely to wheel & deal into getting the things he wants accomplished. This is a valuable, valuable skill as a legislator. On the upside, this makes him perhaps a better fit for the real-world, chock-full-o-Republicans place that is Sacramento. On the downside, this also means he’s also much more likely to look for political cover rather than to take a principled stand.

In the end, I’ve decided to go with Campos. This is a tough call for me, as David Chiu is a friend, but I’m OK with the decision for the following reasons:

  • Tom Ammiano, who is being termed out, has shown that a real SF progressive can be very effective at the State level & so I’m more comfortable with “Campos in Sacramento” than I was before (& Tom has endorsed David Campos)
  • The way David Chiu folded under political pressure when dealing with the Polk Street bike lanes reminded me why I prefer candidates who stick with their principles more often than not. Chiu really annoyed me with Polk St.
  • Chiu has been saying that Campos is soft on domestic violence because of his votes in the very complicated Mirkarimi affair. That’s just lowball, negative & frankly offensive. This was the final straw for me.

So Campos. DONE. 

Assembly D19: Phil Ting

Phil is running unopposed, is a good guy & a smart and capable public official. He’s also a friend & a person I genuinely like. I can’t really get excited about his campaign though, ever since his politically motivated “let’s reduce parking tickets, because who cares if Muni needs funding” stunt of a few years ago. But Yes, nonetheless.

Prop 1: Water Bond: No

This is another tough one, but I’ve been swayed into thinking it’s bad news. As we all know, we’re in a horrible drought & water is California’s life blood. This measure is a whole bunch of water projects wrapped up in a big, fat, bond. There are complex pluses and minuses to the bond & so it is a tough call (causing the Sierra Club to go neutral – a worthwhile read.)

But for me, while the bond throws in some good stuff, like some watershed restoration & river/groundwater protection, it also has a lot of potentially disastrous stuff ($2.7 billion dollars for water storage – which could easily become more habitat crushing megadams) for Big Agriculture. It also has been stripped of a lot of great water conservation stuff by Republicans in Sacramento (“No! I’m shocked!”)

To be fair, the environmental community is split on this one, but I really liked the take of the Center for Biological Diversity:

“We need to… prioritize investing in water conservation, efficiency and recycling strategies, not just throw money around to build dams for powerful Big Agribusinesses.”
– Center for Biological Diversity

and also that of my friend and uber-water-smarty-pants Joel Pomerantz:

“There is not enough water no matter what you spend on infrastructure. While encouraging household conservation, the state continues to allow cotton, rice and other wasteful water uses… by major campaign donors who are growing for export. They can take most of the water and not even commit to conservation basics.”
– Joel Pomerantz

Vote No – even though it’s likely to pass.

Prop 2: Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund: Yes*

A mostly-straightforward fiscal responsibility measure, this would create a “rainy day” fund for vital social services. Money would be set aside when the state budget was doing well, to help cover costs when it wasn’t. Important, sensical. Yes.

Prop 45: Notice for Healthcare Insurance Rate Changes: Yes

This measure is a complicated one & I’ve read two conflicting stories as to which way to vote. Basically this measure would make health insurance rate changes require approval by the State Insurance Commissioner. Arguably, this would make it harder for insurance companies to gouge patients & focus so much on profit. This is good.

On the other hand, the Chronicle makes a reasonable argument that the Obamacare insurance marketplace is starting to work & that should naturally provide a good downward pressure on insurance costs. Normally, I’d say screw the Chronicle & go with the California Democratic Party & the Guardian, but I can’t figure out why so many doctor’s associations seem to be against it, too. So I pause. But I haven’t found an answer…(any medical typess out there know?)

So, anyway, in the end, I’m going with the Dems, the Nurses, and importantly AGAINST all the big health insurance companies who are pouring money into this. Yes on 45.

Prop 46: Medical Malpractice Awards Cap & Drug Testing of Doctors: No

A classic of the “mix some decent stuff in with some noxious, but politically popular stuff” school of legislation which invariably leads to really BAD legislation that might very well pass!

The decent stuff: Increasing medical malpractice limits (stuck at $250K for a long long time legislatively)

The noxious stuff is random drug testing of doctors: invasion of privacy; arbitrary notions of what is a drug and what isn’t; general mean-spiritedness.

No.

Prop 47: Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes: YES

YAY! Something to be excited about at the state level! If you haven’t noticed, our state spends a RIDICULOUS amount of money on prisons – more than higher education. And they have become a human rights cesspool and a “hardening” process that makes small time crooks into career criminals. In short, they are a moral failure, and a fiscal nightmare. A big part of the problem is the overly harsh sentencing laws we are stuck with.

This measure reduces felonies to misdemeanors for various “non-serious, non-violent crimes” & will allow for resentencing of current inmates effected. That helps the moral part. The fiscal part is that this is expected to save use between $150 & $250 million. Oh and these funds will be shoveled into safe neighborhoods and schools funds, anticrime programs, mental health treatment, truancy and dropout prevention and victim compensation. More moral win. DO IT. YES.

Prop 48: Indian Gaming Compacts Referendum: yes

Another tough one & one I just can’t get behind in the end. Look, Native Americans were shafted and given crappy lands (the remnants pile of the Great American Land Grab!). At best, they were systematically & violently disenfranchised, at worst, it was genocide (before we called it that). So I have a great deal of sympathy for Native Americans. But this measure is political jockeying between two Indian tribes over who gets what lands to put up what casinos. Casinos suck & are basically a form of taxing the dumb & the poor, who, frankly, have more than enough problems as it is. I just can’t get excited about ratifying more Indian casinos. No.

UPDATE: 11/3 – My friend Hardie sent me a link to this LA Times article as to why this is actually worth supporting.  In a nutshell:  The Indian tribe who wants this, is playing by federal rules & is doing so because where they want to build their casino is more remote & in environmentally sensitive lands.  They’ve applied to move their casino to other lands in a legal fashion, but another tribe doesn’t want to lose revenue.  Yes, casinos still suck, but if they are going to happen, by all means don’t add roads into environmentally sensitive areas… fine. yes.

JUDICIAL:
Supreme Court: Approve All
Court of Appeal: Approve All

Once or twice in the history of these “races,” voters have decided to remove some judges for various reasons, so there is a point to having them on the ballot I guess. But those are the rare, rare, RARE exceptions & not the rule. And this isn’t one of those “throw the bums” out times. So not much to say.

Superior Court: Daniel Flores

I don’t know tons about this race, other than the fact that Daniel is working his butt off on the campaign trail & seems to be a nice guy. Judicial candidates can’t really discuss what their political views are, so there isn’t much to “judge” him on. But the clincher is that he is widely endorsed by nearly everyone who’s opinion I have any respect for. So he’s the guy.

SAN FRANCISCO:
Board of Education: Shamann Walton*, Stevon Cook*, Emily Murase*
Community College Board (4 yr): Wendy Aragon*, JOHN RIZZO, THEA SELBY
Community College Board (2 yr): William Walker*

Normally, I would have interviewed all the Board of Ed & Community College candidates with the SFLCV and would have cogent things to say. But this year, our Board decided not to endorse in these races & so I’m going with the SF Bay Guardian’s recommendations as above. The two exceptions are Thea Selby & John Rizzo for Community College Board. I’ve worked with Thea a lot as of late on the transportation measures (Yes on A & B / No on L) and she’s smart, thoughtful & committed. John Rizzo is a long-time environmentalist workhorse, who has improved his “plays-well-with-others” skills over the years.

BART Director: NICK JOSEFOWITZ

After years of the dumb, casually sleazy, inept Republican James Fang as one of our BART directors we finally have a chance to elect someone smart, passionate, and dynamic to the other BART Board seat for San Francisco. Nick Josefowitz is committed to bringing BART into the 21st century, with a focus on clean energy & reinvestment in core BART service as opposed to expensive boondoggles in the suburbs. This is a no brainer.

Assessor-Recorder: carmen chu

I’ve never found any particular reason to be impressed with Carmen Chu, but she’s running unopposed & the Guardian says she’s running her office ably enough. That’s a low bar, but that;s what we got. meh.

This ballot is way the hell too long. I’ve been writing for days. Time for a break. Here’s 42 seconds of random cuteness from my dog & wife – you deserve it:

Puppy interlude

Public Defender: Jeff Adachi

Jeff Adachi has been really good as a public defender & has been a champion of real progressive causes. This is an easy one.

Board of Supervisors:
D2: Juan-Antonio Carballo

There has yet to be a District 2 Supervisor I thought much of & Mark Farrell seems to be more of the same. I’m told he plays-well-with-others & he seems approachable enough. That being said he doesn’t seem to care much for environmental causes or many progressive ones. Juan-Antonio Carballo seems great – full of fresh ideas, a commitment to sustainability & a lot of enthusiasm. He’s a bit of a political newcomer & sadly, he’s unlikely to win – but I hope he makes a good showing & keeps at it.

D4: Katy Tang

Another classic MEH. Tang is Supervisor in one of the more conservative regions of SF. I’m told she’s doing some good work with Vision Zero (the citywide push to reduce pedestrian fatalities & make for better walking & biking in SF) & she’s moving the ball on Prop A which is a good thing. But she’s not a progressive or environmentalist by any San Franciscan measuring stick. So all that plus the fact that she’s running unopposed adds up to a resigned yes for her.

D6: Jane Kim, Jamie Whitaker

I really love Jane Kim as a person. She’s a friend. She came to my wedding. She’s smart as hell, thoughtful, dynamic & driven. As a Supervisor, she’s too politically calculating by half, so it’s hard to know how she’s going to vote – you don’t know if she’ll vote her principles or her calculation. (No on the Soda Tax, Jane? Sigh.) She really could be a great force for good in our City. I still believe in Jane Kim – I hope she does too.

Jamie Whitaker is a smart and passionate mensch of guy who is really interested in environmental justice issues in District 6 & San Francisco. I really applaud him for his passion and dedication. He’s not going to win, but I hope he does well & comes in second in D6.

D8: SCOTT WIENER

I’ve gotten some flack for this from some of my progressive friends, but I’ve become a big Scott Wiener fan. I certainly don’t agree with him on several important things & am sure that will happen again. But on the other hand, two big things:

  • He’s been heroic on transportation in San Francisco which is one of the most critical pieces of our urban fabric. Transportation (especially Muni) is something that most Supervisors talk about and do little about (esp. when it comes to fixing Muni) because it is politically fraught & difficult to move the ball on. Scott, on the other hand, has taken a lot of really courageous stands to begin the process of fixing Muni & for that I’m in with both feet.
  • Even on the things I disagree with him on, I appreciate his thoughtful & straightforward approach. As the Guardian said “We’ve also found him to be honest and accessible even when we don’t agree with him. “

D10: tony kelly

When Oh When will D10 get a great Supervisor? Not this time around either. Of the two main candidates for D10 supervisor, Tony Kelly & incumbent Malia Cohen, I have to say Tony has a stronger grasp of the issues and a more analytical mind. He’s laudably concerned about things like privatization and affordable housing. So normally I’d recommend him, but he’s also been dangerously close to the “ENUF” anti-environmental movement idiots that have put Prop L on the ballot & for that I can’t recommend him enthusiastically. That being said, D10 will probably be better served if he wins. To be clear, I like Malia, she’s a friend & a really good person, but Tony would probably make a more accomplished Supervisor. 

SFLCV Yes on A & B (send this to your friends!)

Prop. A: Transportation Bond: YES YES YES

This is one of the four ballot measures that make me excited about this election, and one of three that I’ve been working on. Prop A is our best chance to start to fix Muni, in a long, long, long time – we haven’t had a Muni bond since the 60s & even that one didn’t pass.

Proposition A is a $500 million general-obligation bond for critical transportation infrastructure improvements, the kinds that we’ve been neglecting for years and years. It will literally make life better for everyone who travels in San Francisco whether they walk, drive, take transit, or bike. About 2/3 of the money goes to transit, for long-term capital improvements (like upgrading Muni’s aging repair facilities so busses & trains can be repaired & returned to service quicker.) The other 1/3 will go to street safety improvements, wider sidewalks, better signals, better crosswalks, and better bikeways.

Why do I care so much about transit? Because I care about climate change. A lot. See my comments below about B.

JUST YES.

Prop. B: Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth: YES YES YES

This is also one of the four measures I’m really excited about (& have been working on) because they represent a once in a VERY long while’s chance to START (just start) investing in our transportation system after years and years of neglect, at best, and disinvestment at worst (thanks Gavin!).

Proposition B complements Prop. A and will help our transportation system keep up as San Francisco grows. Prop B adjusts the City’s budget for transportation to account for population growth. It will fund needs like MUNI fleet maintenance, new buses and trains, and street safety improvements. Prop. B funds day-to-day needs, while Prop A funds long-term capital projects.

Why do I care so much about transit? Because I care about climate change. The inconvenient truth about climate change in San Francisco is that private automobiles create one-third of our city’s carbon pollution, so giving San Franciscans better options than driving is key to doing our part to fight climate change. To meet our City’s climate goals, we need to reduce car trips from around 60% today, to 50% by 2017 and to 20% by 2030. The only way we can pull that off is if we start investing in our transportation system so people will choose to walk, bike or take transit instead of drive. 

THUS A & B YES, OH HELL YES.

.ps The knock on B is that it takes money away from City Services for the poor & blah blah blah blah. Bite me. In its “worst” year it will be LESS than a quarter of 1% of the City’s budget and in all other years it will be even lower. That’s just crap, and a false dichotomy anyway – transportation is a KEY part of affordability. The majority of folks who rely on transit are POOR. The actual valid critique of B is that everyone shouldn’t have to pay for transportation improvements: drivers should pay the most since they wear the road most & require the most infrastructure. One really good way to do that is through a Vehicle License Fee – so drivers are charged directly. We had one in this State until butthead Schwarzenegger killed it for political gain. This election, we were ABOUT to vote on a new one, just for San Francisco, but Mayor Lee got cold feet. Yes, a VLF would be better, NO we don’t have a way to get one for at least a few years, YES we need the $$$ now. If the VLF eventually passes, Prop B goes away, anyway.


Tell me again about how Prop B will be a budget problem?

Prop. C: Children’s Fund etc. Renewal: Yes

It’s for the children. How can you turn that down? It’s for the children!!! Well, the good news is that this is pretty damn good policy, even with the dangerous “for the children” emotional appeal :-). This measure renews three set asides for badly needed children’s services in San Francisco. This will ensure the Children’s Fund (youth services), the Public Education Enrichment Fund (enrichment programs in schools – librarians, art classes, P.E. etc) & the Rainy Day Fund are funded for the next 25 years. Everyone thoughtful is supporting this & it looks like a well crafted piece of legislation. Make it so. YES.

Prop. D: Retiree Health Benefits: Yes*

Utterly boring measure that in the end, brings one group of city employees up to the same set of retiree benefits as all the others. Simple fairness Issue. Yes.

Prop. E: Soda Tax: YES

You can’t turn over a rock in San Francisco today without finding some money – in the form of a a slickly produced flier or a paid campaign worker all stumping for NO on the Soda Tax. This already the second most ever spent on an SF election (& it’s not over yet). Where is all this money coming from? Yep, big soda companies, namely Coke & Pepsi, because they are afraid of the fact that this tax will be unfair for poor people. Bless their hearts.

No. They’re just scared that we in San Francisco may do my favorite SF thing: Lead. That we will be the first domino. I really hope so. This is us at our finest & it is another measure I’m, excited about.

The science is pointing to sugary beverages as a disproportionately large health risk – a much more potent health risk than sugar taken by other means. The combination of soda advertising focused in low income communities & poorer food access has led to an explosion of obesity & type-2 diabetes along class lines. Thus, San Francisco has joined the small but growing number of attempts to tax soda like we, as a nation, did with cigarettes. Our soda tax would be $0.02/ounce and would plow ALL the money into things like health, fitness & nutrition programs, especially in communities of color.

This is so right it hurts. It’s a long shot… (so. much. money!)

.ps

About the whole “this is a regressive tax” thing – Supervisor Malia Cohen put it best when she responded “Type-2 diabetes is a regressive disease.”

Prop. F: Pier 70 Development: Yes

I really disliked Prop B on the last ballot, which basically means that developers have to get taller waterfront projects voted on by the public before the City planning apparatus gets to weigh in and work with them to make for presumably better projects. But here we are. B passed. Prop F is the first project to come through this new process & thus we have to vote on it & essentially decide whether we think it is a good project. Great. Let’s figure out complex planning issues at the ballot. So dumb.

But that’s not Prop F’s fault. This is actually a really good project by all I’ve heard & the developer has done a lot of really good work working with stakeholders to make this a model of how to proceed in a post B world. Hate the Game, but respect the Player. Yes on F

 
Prop. G: Additional Transfer Tax on Residential Property Sold Within 5 Years of Purchase: YES

Prop G is an attempt to stop quick flipping of housing stock in San Francisco by adding a big penalty tax if you do it within five years. Why is flipping a problem? Because given SF’s sky high real estate values, a LOT of people are buying up apartment buildings, kicking the tenants out, & then selling them as TICs. BIG PROFIT. STRONG INCENTIVE. At the cost of a lot of people losing their homes.

Prop G makes it so that if you flip a large building within five years you pay a big penalty (the larger penalty the quicker you flip). If you hold onto a property for longer than five years, there is no penalty. There is a long list of the types of buildings & situations are exempted (single family buildings etc etc).

Housing is not just a commodity, it is central to the fabric of a city. Who lives in it, what kind of diversity, what kind of ethos. There are big social ramifications of what is happening to renters in SF & it needs to be stopped. This isn’t a perfect measure, and I have friends argue that it is unfair to building owners (say who own four units and can’t sell them immediately) my answer to them is if someone has to get shafted a little, let it be the rich: Wealthy folks can get by & always do. It is the little guys who need the protections of the law. YES on G

Prop. H: Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields Should Be Grass With No Artificial Lighting: YES YES YES

Prop H would ban using artificial turf at the soccer fields near the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park and also ban the construction of any nighttime lighting for these fields.

There are many reasons I think this is a good idea but the biggest three are:

  1. While it is true that these fields will be better for people playing soccer & the like, this approach completely ignores that fact that the area is heavily used by wildlife, from migrating birds, to all manner of small mammals & other local fauna. According to the Audubon Society, the large scale lights could have serious impact on migratory birds on this important part of our coastline… As humans, why must we always think only of ourselves?
  2. While it is true that these fields do not require watering, they also capture a ton of water from rain and this water does not seep in and replenish the aquifer – it should be treated because it is leaching chemicals off a synthetic surface.
  3. The health risks of these synthetic turf fields is an open question, but what I’ve read doesn’t look good.

Yes on H, because I’m pro-bird.

Prop. I: Renovation of Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields: NO NO NO

I was going to lump this together with H above, because in a small sense, this is the anti-H but I realized that even if you’re against H, you should vote against I, too. I is BAD.

I does two things:

  1. If it passes it nullifies H, even if H also passes – this is known as a “poison pill”
  2. It makes it MUCH MUCH MUCH easier for Rec & Park to put artificial turf and lighting systems wherever they want as long as they can show that it will double park attendance. So much for community input.

The first part, the “poison pill” for H, is just bad politics. The second part is a horrible power grab for Rec and Park and a large scale disenfranchisement of communities who use parks. BAD BAD BAD. No on I.

Prop. J: Minimum Wage Increase: Yes

San Francisco is rapidly becoming a city of the rich and the poor. That is incredibly sad. Obviously this is a really complex, multifaceted issue, but one thing that will definitely help is raising the minimum wage. We have one of the highest costs of living in the country, we should have the highest minimum wage. Yes

Prop. K: Affordable Housing: yes

This was a good measure attempting to boost affordable housing production but was watered down by the mayor into an empty cheerleading approach: let’s set some goals! Goals are nice!”. Well, at least it is a nice goal… yes.

Prop. L: Transportation Priorities: NO NO OH HELL NO

This is the last really big measure for me. I’ve been working so hard fighting this thing that I’m not even sure where to start talking about it; there’s so much “dumb” & “bad” obscenely masquerading as “fair and balanced” here.

First the basics: you can watch me explain some of this here in this SFLCV video, or just skip it & read on below…

SFLCV No on L (send this to your friends!)

Prop L is a Republican-backed measure designed to rollback our city’s “Transit First” policy by prioritizing driving over transit, walking & biking. Among other things, it demands the City:

  • Start building many many more garages all over the city
  • Increase traffic speeds to favor automobiles flow
  • Reduce parking meters anyways it can, essentially.

The reality is that no matter what form of transportation you use every day, (drive? walk? take transit? bike?) Proposition L will actually make your life worse. Really.

If you drive, you realize that our streets are already plenty crowded. We have the same size streets as we ever had but the number of drivers in San Francisco has increased over the years fairly significantly. This means our streets are pretty full. Proposition L will encourage more driving by building many more garages (more parking leads to more driving) while simultaneously making other forms of transportation worse (more on that in a second). This means many, many more drivers clogging the lane ahead of you, and taking up your parking space.

If you take Muni, your life will be worse because Proposition L will be diverting large amounts of funds from transit to building garages, and because there will be so many more cars on the street, Muni will run much, much slower anyway.

If you walk or bike, you’re screwed. Proposition L says traffic flow must be as high a priority as other things like pedestrian safety when designing streets.

So why is this thing on the ballot if it’s so bad? Well, the people who put it on the ballot (a bunch of parking-at-all-costs neighborhood groups, the Republican Party and Sean Parker of Facebook/trash-a-state-park wedding fame), are angry. Angry that Muni doesn’t work well enough. Angry that we are working so hard on traffic calming & widening sidewalks (yes, they talk about how this clogs things up) and angry that there are bikes (really their pieces tend to focus on the evils of the SF Bike Coalition) on our streets. Largely they come from a generation of people sold on the car as the ultimate piece of transportation & they are angry that things are changing. They have a small sliver of a point regarding our collective failure to make Muni what it should be, but their angry, emotional response is medicine worse than the disease.

The scary thing is that it might win. If you drive & if you only spend 30 seconds thinking about this, it can seem pretty appealing: More parking spaces? Less parking meters? Sounds pretty good. But if you think about the broader effects, the problems apparent with this measure start to pop up. And that’s just in the here and now: San Francisco is expected to grow by a whopping 150,000 people over the next 20 years. What happens if a large fraction of those folks drive? What happens if we defund Muni now?

The small good news is that this is just an advisory measure, so if it passes things won’t change immediately. But the proponents have made it widely known that if it passes, their coming back with a Charter amendment and lots of actually policy work. This is their opening salvo.

Join everyone sane in town (SF Democratic Party, all the enviros, all the Supes who have endorsed, all the major Democratic clubs, The Guardian, the Chronicle, the Examiner) & let’s shut this thing down NOW.

MY VALUES:

I recommend reading all of this (it won’t take that long!) to understand how I think. That way you’ll have a sense of how to asses my recommendations for yourself.

  • I’m basically an idealist, an optimist, and a humanist.
  • My opinions come from my experience in local politics over the past 19 years & the tons of candidate interviews I’ve done as President of the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters (SFLCV) & on the Board of Directors of the SF Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) & all the lobbying I’ve done at City Hall, etc etc…
  • I don’t get a dime for this, I’m a software engineer by day and a political activist in my spare time.
  • The three biggest “norths” of my political compass are environmentalism, social justice issues & good government (reform type) issues.
  • While my views are definitely shaped by my activities in the SFLCV & the SFBC, my endorsements do NOT represent the views of either of those organizations.
  • I use the term “progressive” a lot, as something I value. In SF, that has historically meant a combination of classical liberal Democratic politics (equity – social, gender, racial, diversity, a sense that government can & should play an important role in solving society’s problems) plus environmental values (sustainability, long-term systematic thinking ) and neighborhood level populism (tenant’s rights, ethnic and socio-economic diversity, populism vs. corporatism.)
  • I try to be aware of my biases, here are few that come to mind: 
    • Poorer before richer when considering fairness issues: it’s best if something is fair, but if someone has to get screwed make it the rich person, because society always favors the richer.
    • The more money a local campaign has, the more questions that should be asked of it: If a campaign has a lot of expensive media ads, mailers, and etc – why? It might be fine, but the more money, the more questions as to why.
  • In some of these races it is a matter of picking between flawed options…
  • Ballot measures are REALLY a bad way to govern. Most of the things done in ballot measures SHOULD be done in the normal legislature, where they are easier to fix if they turn out wrong. Another problem is that you have to boil complex issues down to yes/no votes – which rarely is a good idea. But this is what we have, so keep in mind that some good ideas make bad ballot propositions & a lot bad ideas can be made to be sound like good sense in ballot initiative form because the devil is often in the details. And also note that these measures are often grey – there is often a lot of balancing going on…
  • 90% of my experience & knowledge is about local issues – so understand that state issues are a little greyer for me unless I say otherwise. Thus, some of the endorsements (as marked) above are taken from compiling what the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV)the SF Bay Guardian, and the Sierra Club have had to say.
  • Just like you, some of my opinions come from listening to those I trust, or tend to trust, organizations like the ones listed above get more credence as well as politicians I support and believe in. Obviously this is dicey, nothing beats first hand knowledge and analysis, but that just gets us back to why I think ballot measures suck…

Other Sources:

Here are some other slates & resources I liked reading while I was writing this:

5 thoughts on “The ‘Deep Slate: November 2014 Edition

  1. One other thing about Weiner is that he’s been good on planning stuff too. Wasn’t he the one key to in-law legalization?

  2. Thanks for the time and effort to provide a thoughtful take on the ballot. Plus your other work on local issues.

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