The ‘Deep Slate: June 2018 Edition

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UPDATE: A lawyer friend got me to change my mind about one of the Superior Court judges & made me clarify my opposition to judicial races. See below.

Whew. Another election where I’m caught behind the eight ball trying to get this done. The June primary was supposed to be a snoozer locally, until Mayor Lee died & things just got nuts. C’est la guerre. (Also, my condolences to Mayor Lee’s family. He seemed a decent man regardless of anything else.)

Anyway this is a big election, both for SF and for California. There’s a lot here, so I’ll just dive in.

Regardless, GO VOTE!

‘deep

.ps: Let’s start a new tradition: #votingstickerselfie AFTER YOU VOTE: Take a pic with your voting sticker on your nose & hashtag it as #votingstickerselfie! [WHY?]

.pps If you…

  • like what you read, or have questions, criticisms, comments – please do let me know! I appreciate the feedback!
  • want to know where to vote, jump to the Extras below
  • want to get an email when I post the next ‘Deep Slate, just email me!

WHAT IS THIS?:

Every San Francisco election cycle, I put out a “‘Deep Slate”: my endorsements for that election. Here’s how it’s laid out:

  1. The LIST: the simple list of my endorsements for this election.
  2. The DETAILS: the whys and wherefores of each endorsement. This is how I arrived at each position.
  3. My VALUES: a brief explanation of my values and sources, to help make sense of my opinions.
  4. Sources: a collection of my sources and a tiny bit about how I arrive at my endorsements.
  5. Extras: If you want to know where to vote, or want to find older ‘Deep Slates.

Also note that a few days after the election, you can come back & check the RESULTS by clicking here.

THANKS:

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

And big props to my lovely wife, for being Editor in Chief of this Slate and for supporting my efforts, meetings & involvements!

So without further preamble, let’s dive in!

THE LIST:

Note: Here is a handy, printable text version of this list.

STATE:

Governor: John Chiang
Lt. Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
Sec. State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Insurance Comm: Ricardo Lara
Board of Equalization: abstain
State School Superintendent: Tony Thurmond
US Senate: Kevin de Leon
US Congress D12: Nancy Pelosi
US Congress D14: Jackie Speier
State Assembly D17: David Chiu
State Assembly D19: Phil Ting

(Note: the more CAPITALS the stronger I feel about it)

Prop 68: Drought Relief, Water & Parks Bond: YES
Prop 69: Transportation Funding Protection: Yes
Prop 70: Vote Requirement for Cap-n-Trade: NO
Prop 71: Effective Date for Ballot Measures: Yes
Prop 72: Rainwater Systems Tax Exclusions: YES

JUDICIAL:

Superior Court Judge 4:Andrew Cheng Phoenix Streets
Superior Court Judge 7: Curtis Karnow
Superior Court Judge 9: Cynthia Ming-mei Lee
Superior Court Judge 11: Jeffrey Ross

SAN FRANCISCO:

Mayor #1: Mark Leno
Mayor #2: Jane Kim
Mayor #3: London Breed
Supervisor 8: Rafael Mandelman

(Note: the more CAPITALS the stronger I feel about it)

RM 3: Regional Transportation Funding (from Bridge Tolls): YES
Prop A: PUC Clean Power Bonds: YES
Prop B: Require Apptd. Commissioners to Step Down before Running: Yes
Prop C: Universal Childcare and Commercial Rent Tax: YES
Prop D: Gross Receipts Tax for Homeless Services: no
Prop E: Uphold Flavored Tobacco Ban: YES
Prop F: City-Funded Legal Representation for People Facing Eviction: YES
Prop G: Parcel Tax for Teacher Pay: YES
Prop H: SFPD Use of Tasers: NO
Prop I: Relocation of Sports Teams: no

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

THE DETAILS:

STATE:

Governor: John Chiang

Siiiigh. I want to be excited about the Gov race, but don’t think much of Gavin Newsom. After seeing him up close for so long, he was all flash and no substance: so many amazing press conferences & so little good policy. The LA Times nailed it (in their endorsement of Villaraigosa):

Critics, however, describe Newsom as a whirlwind of ambition, lacking in core values and meaningful accomplishments, with little demonstrated ability to build alliances and coalitions.

It’s a pity too, because I think he has the charisma, intelligence, and instincts to be a great leader… but he just doesn’t deliver.

So how to vote?

The facts are:

  1. This is a an open-primary race, which means that regardless of party, the top two candidates will face off for November’s general election (the one that counts.)
  2. The polls strongly suggest Newsom will be #1.
  3. It is also increasingly likely the climate-change-denying Republidiot du jour, John Cox will be #2.
  4. Villaraigosa, the 2nd place Dem has an outside shot. While my sense is he’s more capable than Newsom, he’s also shown even worse judgement.
  5. The remaining two sane candidates have real positives, but no chance:
    1. Delaine Eastin’s website reads like the progressive future of my dreams, but she provides *zero* information about how to pay for it.
    2. John Chiang says all the right stuff and is probably the smartest and most capable (unlike Eastin, I think he knows how to pay for plans) but his campaign is nowheresville.

    And while they are both closer to where I want, I don’t think either can get it done: Eastin seems to lack the pragmatism to balance her idealism, and Chiang doesn’t have the charisma to lead. Sigh.

I think in November I’m going to be pushing for Newsom to win, but for now I’ll vote Chiang. Sigh.

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Lt. Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
I don’t know a lot about Kounalakis, but as Newsom has ably shown, you don’t have to do much as Lt. Gov., so why not give the former Ambassador a shot? Amirite? 😬

In all seriousness, in the right hands, the position can be a bully pulpit to raise issues from. All three of the major Democratic candidates (Bleich, Hernandez, & Kounalakis) have gotten good endorsements. As the only woman, I went with Kounlakis (who was endorsed by the CA League of Conservation Voters.)

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Sec. State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Both Padilla & Yee have done a good job (incumbents) by all reports & are also running practically unopposed. Done.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Ma was a really poor SF Supervisor but has improved to “reasonable” in her time in Sacramento. She did good work rooting out corruption and other ills at the Board of Equalization during her stint there & thus I expect she’ll do a reasonable job as Treasurer.

Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Both the top two Democratic candidates, Dave Jones and Becerra, have strong bonafides & are viable choices. Becerra’s excellent Trump Resistance on sanctuary city stuff & the fact that he is a candidate of color tilt my vote to him.

Insurance Comm: Ricardo Lara
State School Superintendent: Tony Thurmond
I don’t know much about these two but they both have impressive endorsements, including Sierra Club & the CA League of Conservation Voters, which is good enough for me.

Board of Equalization: abstain
After years of being duplicative of the Franchise Tax Board at best, and a nest of corruption and nepotism at worst, the Board of Equalization has been reduced to doing almost nothing. It needs to be dissolved & so I suggest you abstain from voting for it. If you’re curious, a good place to start is the Chronicle’s editorial.

 

DeLeon

 

US Senate: Kevin de Leon
Our incumbent Senator, Diane Feinstein is smart, capable & understands how to work in Washington. I’ve not liked her politics much, but she’s solid and tested. That said, Kevin De Leon’s politics are far more progressive, and unlike several of the “better-politics” challengers to Democratic incumbents on the ballot, he has real experience as State Senator & has done good work there.

Additionally, since there is no credible Republican threat, it would be great to see a race between Feinstein and De Leon in November. I imagine DiFi would win, but De Leon could make her shift to the left.

 

Pelosi

US Congress D12: Nancy Pelosi
I write literally the same thing about Pelosi every 2 years:

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.

All that seems more true than ever to me. This year, the Guardian (and several friends of note) are supporting a young, smart challenger, Shahid Buttar. I appreciate that he probably more closely represents my values…but he’s never held an elected office. Congress is too important to be a cut-your-teeth gig, especially now, with the Evil Cheeto in the White House. Shahid, if you’re reading this – start closer to home & show us what you can do!

US Congress D14: Jackie Speier
I don’t know tons about Congresswoman Speier but the Sierra Club and others have endorsed her. Good enough.

 

NewImagePhilTing

 

State Assembly D17: David Chiu
State Assembly D19: Phil Ting
Both are running fairly unopposed, are good votes in Sacramento & should return. I really should do both these guys a better write up, but there’s a lot to write still & …. both the Sierra Club & the CA League of Conservation Voters are on board. Done.

 

(Note: the more CAPITALS the stronger I feel about it)

 

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Prop 68: Drought Relief, Water & Parks Bond: YES
A reasonable bond to improve parks, flood protection, and river and waterway improvements. Widely supported with no major oppposition. Done. (You can read more here.)

NewImageProp 69: Transportation Funding Protection: Yes
Democrats in Sacramento are attempting to protect the “12-cent gas tax for transportation” (passed last year) from efforts to repeal it. I like this brief synopsis from the Sacramento Bee:

The 12-cent gas tax increase passed last year by California lawmakers was the first in 23 years, and, gauging from the number of potholes in need of filling, it was way overdue. This companion measure would ensure that $5 billion in new revenue only gets spent on transportation projects. While most transportation revenue is already constitutionally earmarked, some of the new funding falls outside those protections, so this is just common-sense cleanup, endorsed by a long list of good government groups.Nonetheless, some anti-tax hardliners and talk radio chatterers oppose this measure, largely because they hope to repeal the whole gas tax in November. They’re wrong. Few states rely more on highways than California. Safe roads are a basic government function. And the gas tax is a bargain, costing most Californians little more than the price of a beer a month.

Agreed.

Stop70

Prop 70: Vote Requirement for Cap-and-Trade: NO NO NO
Short version: One of the things that makes me proudest to be a Californian is our cap-and-trade bill to fight Climate Change. Is enough? Nope. Is it great? Nope. Is it the best response our country has come up with so far? Yep. I’m just happy we Californians are at least “in the fight”, even if it is a modest effort.

That all being said, the politics of fighting climate change are fraught even here, because, as usual, Republican opposition. Prop 70 is a case in point… take it away, Sacramento Bee:

Proposition 70: No. In the last-minute deal-making that extended California’s landmark cap-and-trade law regulating greenhouse gas pollution, Brown gave Republicans this gift in exchange for their critical votes. Proposition 70 would set up a 2024 showdown in which the allocation of cap-and-trade money would be put to a two-thirds vote of Legislature, thus giving the minority party more control over the fruits of the program. By law, cap-and-trade revenues – paid by oil companies, factories and other greenhouse gas emitters – can only be used for programs that reduce climate pollution. A good-sized portion goes straight to high-speed rail, and Republicans don’t like that. But if Californians want to change the way cap-and-trade money is spent, they have an easier fix: elect Republicans and put them in control of the Legislature. This measure is an attempted end run around a much-needed public works project that a lot of Californians want and that the majority of voters approved, at the behest, by the way, of a Republican governor.

 

Prop 71: Effective Date for Ballot Measures: Yes
Simple. Boring. Necessary. Right now when ballot measures appear to pass on election night, they take effect the next day, even if the results aren’t certified. Then weeks later, when the results are certified, if they didn’t pass, things have to be rolled back.This measure closes that kinda dumb procedural loophole & makes it simple: things take effect five days after the results are certified. Easy. Yes.

Yeson72

Prop 72: Rainwater Systems Tax Exclusions: YES
Simple greeny goodness. Encourages people to install rainwater capture systems by preventing them from getting dinged on their property taxes for doing so. Yes.

 

HOORAY – YOU MADE IT THROUGH THE STATE STUFF!  Let’s relax for a minute with this fabulous Bollywood video!