The ‘Deep Slate: November 2007 Edition

[Ed. Note: 10/31/2015: This “post” was originally a pair of emails (“LIST” & “DETAILS”) I sent to my friends on 11/5/2007. I have posted it today in 2015, and backdated for archival/search purposes]

LIST:

Seriously people if you go to the polls for no other reason tomorrow, go to Vote NO on H! (more info on my DETAILS email!)
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(my apologies if you get this multiple times & if you don’t want to get this type of stuff from me, just let me know)

Hey folks –
So here is my ‘Deep Slate for the Nov 2006 elections.
– This email contains the endorsements in a super-simple list – easy to print!
– The whys & wherefores are in a second email entitled: “DETAILS:…”. I’ll send that out shortly.
– Please feel free to forward this far & wide…. IF YOU GOT THIS FROM A FWD & want more details – send me an email deepATdeeptroubleDOTcom
– NOTE: Not all your ballots will contain all these candidates – it depends on where you live

To find your polling place:
http://tinyurl.com/yfbsg9
OR
415 554 4375

Go Vote TOMORROW!

The key is as follows:
• the more UPPERCASE – the more strongly I feel
• exclamation = don’t get me started!
• * = I don’t know a lot about it & went with the Guardian or California League of Conservation Voters

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Mayor:
QUINTIN MECKE

D.A.: Kamala Harris
Sheriff: Michael Henessey

A: YES
B: Yes
C: yes
D: Yes
E: Yes
F: Yes
G: Yes
H: NO! NO! HELL NO!
I: Yes
J: Yes
K: Yes

DETAILS:

(my apologies if you get this multiple times & if you don’t want to get this type of stuff from me, just let me know)

These are the details of my ‘Deep Slate endorsements – to see it in simple list form see the other email entitled: “LIST:…”.

Thanks again 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. Any questions or flames can, of course, be addressed to me….

Ok – so to figure out how to value (or devalue :-)) my opinions you should know the following:

• My opinions come from my experience in local politics over the past 12 years & the tons of candidate interviews I’ve done with the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters & all the lobbying I’ve done at City Hall, etc etc…. As you know I don’t get a dime for this, I’m a software engineer by day, and a political activist in my spare time.
• The 3 biggest “norths” of my political compass are environmentalism, social justice issues & good government (reform type) issues.
• I’m basically an idealist, an optimist, and a humanist.
• 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 & also that there is often a lot of balancing going on…..
• I’m President of the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters & on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. While my views are definitely shaped by my activities in these organizations, my endorsements do NOT represent the views of these organizations.
• 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) below are taken from compiling what the California League of Conservation Voters, the SF Bay Guardian, and the Sierra Club have had to say.

The key is as follows:
• the more UPPERCASE – the more strongly I feel
• exclamation = don’t get me started!
• * = I don’t know a lot about it & went with the Guardian or California League of Conservation Voters

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Mayor:
QUINTIN MECKE
Although it is less than a million people, San Francisco is a city that serves as a model for the rest of the country. We are a grand experiment in a country that at its best should be one. That is why it is so disappointing to have a Mayor, who, while charismatic, has accomplished so very little despite his grand talk. And the failures of his policies (or of his forsight) have often ended requiring poor solutions to tractable problems (like Halloween in the Castro – more on that soon on my blog). Near as I can tell, he did one good thing: the Gay Marriage stand (bold, risky, right) on the national stage & since then has done nothing major. Is Muni better? Is crime better? Homelessness? What has he done?

As an environmentalist, Gavin’s politics are maddening. He talks a great game “green this, eco-that, low carbon – blah blah” but again and again, has failed to back up any of his talk with real action. He has wrapped himself in this “Green Mayor” banner, but in actuality has done very little that was hard. For example, he makes a lot of talk of his Climate Action Plan for San Francisco – which in so far as it goes is pretty good. But he neglects to mention that his “Plan” has no teeth, and has never been made into law even though when it was created that was supposed to be the next step. Its easiest recommendations are being pushed along by the Department of Environment, but what of its heavy lifting, the kind of stuff that requires a “Green Mayor” with charismatic leadership? Well let’s just say, Gavin hasn’t been too interested in the work part. It is just a very nice bit of Green window dressing. Thanks Gavin. Luckily, Supervisor Mirkarimi’s office is introducing it (a few years later) as binding policy (Tom Radulovich & I have been working on this legislation with him – mostly Tom!)

So that gets us to choices – who *should* we vote for? Well, when I look for someone I’d like to be mayor, I’d go for smart on policy, driven to make the city better, and someone who has integrity. And that leads me to my friend Quintin Mecke. Quintin has a very sharp policy mind, and a serious commitment to making this city better as evidenced by his long work on the Civil Grand Jury studying and attacking the City’s homeless problem. Quintin has been active in mental health and homelessness policy for a long time now & has also been involved in numerous progressive campaigns including Ross Mirkarimi’s campaign and Matt Gonzalez’s policy team.

I’m tired of San Francisco failing to meet its promise as a grand and visionary city! For 8 years we had Willie Brown, who did very little except let his friends get rich & now we’ve had four years of Gavin Newsom, less corrupt, but just as ineffectual. We can do better. We need to do better! I think Quintin is the only candidate on the ballot who has a shot of transforming San Francisco into the kind of city it should be.

D.A.: Kamala Harris – no opposition

Sheriff: Michael Henessey – the Sheriff’s office has a well earned reputation for being less draconian the SFPD as well as better run. That starts with Henessey I’m told.

Ballot Measures:

A: YES
Prop A is an attempt to address structural issues with Muni’s governing body, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) which should have the effect of streamlining Muni operations and enabling better service on city streets. Additionally, it will allocate more funding for Muni (to come from an increased percentage of EXISTING parking tax revenue), force MTA to begin to implement the Climate Action Plan (mentioned briefly above) and gut some of the worst parts of the incredibly heinous Prop H (see below). Frankly, it is a complex measure & I’m sure there will be unintended consequences, but by and large I think it will be a BIG step forward for Muni.

B: Yes
B is a basic good government measure that closes a loophole Willie Brown exploited to make City Commission members more beholden to the mayor & less independent. Basically it means that when your time is up on a City Commission, you have to either be re-appointed or you have to step down. You can’t be held in limbo. Brown used that limbo (& the threat of appointing someone else) to gain undue influence over various City Commissions.

C: yes
C is a government reform measure intended to create more public input over ballot propositions that are put on the ballot at the last minute by the Board of Supervisors or the Mayor. Right now, ballot measures can get put on the ballot by two means:
– if the public (by means of ballot signatures) puts a measure on the ballot
– if 4 members of the Board of Supes or the Mayor decide to put a measure on the ballot.
The problem is that the measures put on the ballot often haven’t been vetted by the public and often times can contain errors that make bad policy out of otherwise good ideas. This measure is an attempt to fix that by making measures that come from the Board of Supes & Mayor have to face public scrutiny before they are placed on the ballot. This is a good thing in that it allows that errors can be detected early. But it also has problems in that it could be used to allow monied interests greater time to attack the often progressive measures coming out of the current Board of Supes. That being said, I still think it is a step in the right direction & given that the Board of Supes might get a lot less progressive next cycle, it could become even more important. If we could do something like this with all proposed ballot measures (even the public signature ones) it would be much fairer – but nonetheless I think C is a start. The Guardian says No, I say yes – but I can see either way.

D: Yes
Renew the Library Preservation Fund. Yes – it has been a big help to our Library system.

E: Yes
Last election, voters approved “Question Time” as a non-binding declaration of policy. That is to say the voters said “We want the Mayor to have to appear before the Board of Supes ever month so they could discuss issues”. Unfortunately, the mayor has ignored this declaration & has still not appeared. This measure would make it mandatory. I’m all for things that create more smart public discourse and debate & while this is no doubt a bit of political theater (a standoff between Daly and the Mayor) about political theater (“Question Time” would involve a lot of grand standing by all sides) itself – I think the end result would be good for democracy in SF: there would be more PUBLIC (accessible & open) debate about issues that matter by the people who can change things.

F: Yes
As much as I’m annoyed at various things about the SFPD, this is a fairness issue – airport police should get the same benefits as regular police.

G: Yes
G sets up a matching fund for contributions to restore the Golden Gate Park Stables. Public park facilities, capped as a small expenditure. Sure.

H: NO! NO! HELL NO!
H wow. H.

H is EVIL EVIL EVIL on many levels. The fundamental precept of H is that PARKING is more important than anything else about planning a city. Seriously. If H passes, parking can be used to take down street trees. Parking can be use to open up Muni stops. Parking structures will be mandated to be built in various neighborhoods regardless of the wishes of the neighborhoods! And even if you feel like San Francisco could use more parking, think long and hard about what 20,000 more cars will look like on the street in our already bumper to bumper rush hour traffic (that number comes form the city’s planning dept). And then think how well Muni would function if there were that many more cars clogging SFs’s streets? How safe would pedestrians or bicyclists be? And what about global warming – could 20,000 have any impact on greenhouse gas emissions – I think so, but Don Fisher, the Bush-donating Gap-owning Republican who put this on the ballot doesn’t think that’s a problem evidently.

Then there is the WAY H is being done. H adds 60 some pages of planning code language to the City Charter. This is changing the Constitution of the City to enshrine parking code minutiae. That is a really really bad idea. – those are the kinds of things that should be changeable if they don’t work. They should not be enshrined in the Charter which is much more difficult to change.

The laundry list of what is wrong with this measure goes from the basic, to the procedural, to the Kafka-esque (Hummers & Escalades & the like would get unlimited parking as “low emission vehicles” – really? WTF!)

Fundamentally, H is a an devious attack on years and years of trying to make San Francisco a Transit First city & if it passes many of the best efforts by groups like the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, the Bike Coalition etc etc will be undone in one fell swoop. Seriously people, if you go to the polls for no other reason tomorrow, go to Vote NO on H!

I: Yes
I creates a small office to help small businesses deal with City regulations. Again, this is a good thing & small expenditure. Sure.

J: Yes
J is a non-binding declaration of policy that essentially says that free public wi fi access would be a good thing for San Francisco. Yes.

K: Yes
K is a non-binding declaration of policy which states that the amount of outdoor advertising is San Francisco (billboards, kiosks & the like) should stay about the same as it is now. I say Yes.

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