The Kate Slate – November 8, 2016

Posted: November 5th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – November 8, 2016

I realize there is only three days until the election and this ridiculously long ballot is just that, so I apologize to be providing you Kate_Slate_squarethis seventeen-plus-page Kate Slate so close to when your ballot is due.

The Kate Slate Backstory

I write my “Kate Slate” for every local election, and have been for almost as long as I have been able to vote. I believe the Kate Slate is now legally voting age. When I voted the very first time, I found myself in the voting booth surprised that I didn’t understand the all issues or know all the candidates on the ballot, even though I was a citizen engaged in civic activities and I followed the news closely. I didn’t have a cheat sheet! The next year I vowed to be more prepared. So, I studied the ballot before the election writing my notes about the slate, and shared the Kate Slate with friends.

Somewhere along the line my pal and co-host Sacha Ielmorini and I began holding election Slate Parties in advance of my writing of the “Kate Slate”. (Our every-election tradition is a mellow, civilized discussion among friends, who agree to disagree, for the sake of feeling confident about our own voting. If you are interested in being invited to the slate parties in the future, let me know.) The Slate Party has been a big informer of the Kate Slate.

For the Kate Slate, I go race-by-race, issue-by-issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley if it has some fatal (to me) flaw. And, I will let you know if I think it does and why.

My opinions in the Kate Slate are my own, and in no way should be thought to represent any views of anyone other than myself. I have thoughtful engaging conversations with well-informed friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered, I get the tacky expensive mailers you get (a record number this election!), and cool people like yourself send me other peoples’ slates. And, I am not affiliated with any party.

Feel free to forward the Kate Slate to friends (and friends, if someone other than me–Kate–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, and I can add you to the email list for the next Kate Slate).

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

Even if you don’t know your polling place, or where you were last registered to vote, you can always go to City Hall on Election Day (November 8!) 7am-8pm to cast a provisional ballot. Though, if you can, it is always best to cast your own ballot at your own polling place.

If you have an absentee ballot, you can surrender your absentee ballot for a live ballot at your polling place. The poll workers will destroy your absentee ballot and give you a live ballot. This assures you that your ballot is read and counted as you intended it. (ie. When you vote absentee, if a machine rejects your ballot, the machine depends on a human to interpret your absentee ballot. I am not trying to be all conspiracy-theorist here, but feeding your own ballot into the machine and hearing it beep is the best way to ensure your ballot is interpreted as you intend it to be.)

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

 

GRAB AND GO: (usually this is short and you only have to bring this part to the polls but it is really long for this election!)

President and Vice President – Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

United States Senator – Kamala Harris

United States Representative – Preston Picus

State Senator – Jane Kim

Member of the State Assembly – David Chiu

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 7 – Victor Hwang

Board of Education – Mark Sanchez, Matt Haney, Rachel Norton, Stevon Cook

Community College Board – Rafael Mandelman, Tom Temprano, Shanell Williams

BART Director – Gwyneth Borden D9, Lateefah Simon D7

51 – School Bonds – No

52 – Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program – No

53 – Revenue Bonds – NO

54 – Legislature – Yes

55 – Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare – Yes

56 – Cigarette Tax – Yes

57 – Criminal Sentences – YES

58 – English Proficiency – Yes

59 – Corporations. Political Spending – Yes

60 – Adult Films. Condoms – No

61 – State Prescription Drug Purchases – Yes

62 – Death Penalty – YES!

63 – Firearms – Yes

64 – Marijuana Legalization – YES!

65 – Carryout Bags – No

66 – Death Penalty. Procedures – NO!

67 – Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags – YES!

A – Repair School Facilities – yes

B – City College Funds – Yes!

C – SF Earthquake Loan and Housing Preservation Bonds – yes

D – Vacancy appointments – no

E – Sidewalk Trees – no

F – 16 year-old Voter Age – yes

G – Changes to Office of Citizen Complaints – yes

H – Create Public Advocate position – no

I – Establish the Dignity Fund – no

J – Create Homeless Housing and Services Fund – YES

K – Increase Sales Tax – YES

L – Change to SFMTA Board of Directors Appointments – no

M – Create a Housing and Development Commission – Yes

N – Allow Non-Citizen Parents to Vote in SFUSD School Board Elections – YES

O – Height Limit Exemption for Candlestick Point – no

P – Requirements for Affordable Housing Projects – No

Q – Prohibit Tents on Sidewalks – NO!

R – Create a Neighborhood Crime Unit – No

S – Use Hotel Room Tax for Arts and Homeless Services – Yes

T – Prohibit Lobbyists from Making Campaign Contributions – No

U – Increase Income Eligibility for Affordable Housing – NO

V – Tax of Sugar-sweetened Beverages – Yes

W – Increase Transfer Tax for Property Sales – YES

X – Require Developers to Replace Production, Distribution, and Repair – YES

RR – BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief – YES!

District 9 Supervisor – 1 – Hillary Ronen, 2 – Melissa San Gabriel

District 1 Supervisor – 1 – Andy Thornley, 2 – Sandra Lee Fewer

District 5 Supervisor – Dean Preston

District 11 Supervisor – Kim Alvarenga

 

President and Vice President – Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

I am not even sure this requires explanation. There isn’t a realistic alternative in this election since there is only one viable candidate who is fit for the position.

 

United States Senator – Kamala Harris

To restate my position from the June primary: I am glad that Kamala Harris asked the courts to allow California to continue to allow same-sex marriages while the courts were hearing the constitutionality of Prop 8, even though they denied her request.

She also walked out of talks with big banks responsible for the mortgage crisis when the deal they were arranging was too lenient. And, Kamala Harris has been strong on gun control, and issue that is important to me.

 

United States Representative – Preston Picus

First, I’ll acknowledge that I don’t believe Mr. Picus is likely to beat one of the country’s most famous politicians. But, his platform is in line with my positions: He thinks money should be taken out of politics and himself is only taking donations less than $540; he supports expanding and protecting women’s rights to healthcare; he supports social justice and immigration reform. So, I am happy to check the box next to Mr. Picus’s name come Election Day.

 

State Senator – Jane Kim

Again, let’s revisit what I said before the June primary:

Jane Kim has done San Francisco right as supervisor. She hosts a listening booth to meet with the people she represents and hear what issues matter to them most. She’s been behind major increases to affordable housing included in new developments during this terrible housing crisis. She has been a champion for Vision Zero in San Francisco, the transportation principle that crashes are preventable and changes to engineering, enforcement, and education are necessary and must be implemented to reduce fatal and severe injuries.

She called for the resignation of Police Chief Suhr after several abuse of force situations led to the murders of San Franciscans at the hands of police officers (amid several other police scandals). And, she worked tirelessly to revive a blighted and unsafe park in her district (that kinda seemed like a lost cause to be honest), Boedekker Park, make it completely awesome, and return it to neighbors and children.

She is a real leader, her work is righteous, and I endorse her wholeheartedly. Yay for politicians like Jane Kim.

And boo for candidates like her competitor, Scott Wiener. He is okay on transportation stuff but he was behind the No Sit and Lie law that permits police officers to hassle people sitting on San Francisco streets, he closed down parks midnight to 5am, and passed a stupid anti-nudity law to prevent specific people in the Castro to be nude (i.e. “the Naked Guy”) while permitting nudity for parades. Though, kudos to him for being one of the rare Supervisors that actually works on legislation. Too bad I don’t really like much of his legislation.

Jane Kim for State Senator.

 

Member of the State Assembly – David Chiu

David Chiu has been good on sustainable transportation issues since he has been in state office (he worked on legislation that allows transit-only lane enforcement in SF and on e-bike legislation). And, I know that he worked on legislation to revise the Ellis Act that allows unfair evictions (his legislation failed but was a valiant effort). I like that he still has his heart in San Francisco and is working for his constituents, so I will vote for him.

 

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 7 – Victor Hwang

Victor Hwang is the only candidate that is qualified–and he is very qualified. Though he is not a member of the Bar Association of SF, he was rated by them more highly than the candidates he is running against in the primary, who are Bar Association of SF members (exceptionally well-qualified vs. well-qualified). In fact, I am not sure why Paul Henderson is running–he is a bureaucrat who doesn’t have the courtroom experience of Hwang. Meanwhile Hwang is a decorated Civil Rights attorney who has worked on issues like domestic violence, human trafficking and elder abuse. Go for Hwang!

 

Board of Education – Mark Sanchez, Matt Haney, Rachel Norton, Stevon Cook

Mark Sanchez is a former teacher, principal, and school board member who has worked hard for social justice. He is progressive and supports affordable housing for educators and higher salaries for school workers.

I endorsed Matt Haney and Rachel Norton in 2012. Matt Haney in part because he has advocated a restorative practice approach to discipline in schools, which ultimately helps keep students in school. And, he proved to be a pro-student voice on the Board. He’s a strong voice working to cut the prison population while creating a pipeline for low opportunity youth to become coders and engineers.

I endorsed Rachel Norton for her work to provide in-classroom breakfast to ensure all students start the school day with a full belly. And, she has the unique perspective of a mother of a student with disabilities to bring to the Board. She also is focused on educator pay as well as reforms to the ever-controversial student assignment system.

I endorsed Stevon Cook in 2014. He is a product of San Francisco Public Schools who gives extra attention to social justice.

 

Community College Board – Rafael Mandelman, Tom Temprano, Shanell Williams

Rafael Mandelman has been fighting the good fight to save City College and I support his efforts to this end.

Tom Temprano is a local leader with lots of great experience and strong ideas for addressing the enrollment issues including stronger outreach and rebuilding the relationship the school has with SFUSD.

Shanell Williams is a badass student who got involved in City College politics as its accreditation was in question and she helped lead the fight to save City College.

You can vote for a fourth candidate, but I am not keen on the others, so I will just vote for these three.

 

BART Director – Gwyneth Borden D9, Lateefah Simon D7

We have had the chance to see all three of these District 9 candidates in action: Dufty as supervisor and homelessness czar, Petrelis as perennial ballot candidate, and Borden in her role as SFMTA Board Member. If we had to rate how well they perform when they are in action, I’d say Borden is the winner. As an SFMTA director she has been a strong leader in support of major system improvements even though I had my doubts about her as a former Newsom aide and executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Frankly, Dufty has had his chance to be strong on transportation issues as a supervisor but was underwhelming. And I am not sure Petrelis is a viable candidate.

I am not in District 7, but a plug for candidate Lateefah Simon. Her leadership inspires me, and she has a smart and clear platform for her campaign to make BART accountable, accessible, and affordable. I wish all politicians were as transparent and clear about their policy objectives and how they hope to achieve them. And Lateefah’s objectives are smart and simple solutions.

 

51 – School Bonds – No

On one hand 51 looks good because it is money for schools. But upon closer examination, the money would be distributed first come first serve. This is probably not equitable since those schools with the most resources would be poised to be first in line. So, I’m going to vote no in hopes that we can get a more equitable funding plan together.

 

52 – Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program – No

 This prop is about a confusing fee. I spent some time trying to figure out the purpose of the fee, and as I was doing so, I realized that I oppose this ballot initiative without understanding the details of the fee.

Here is why: The fee as it exists now has to be reapproved every four years or so by our legislature. Currently it is flexible and can be adjusted by our legislature as needed by a majority vote. If passed, this prop would change the details of the fee, including by requiring a two-thirds majority vote of the people to change it. I don’t see how making the terms of this fee more inflexible improves the situation. I feel like this is just legislators delegating their responsibility to the voters. Maybe they don’t understand the fee either and they are thinking if we just pass this prop they won’t have to think about it every four years. I vote no.

 

53 – Revenue Bonds – NO

This one is actually very problematic. It would require a vote of the people before revenue bonds could be issued. This is problematic because voters in one region could ultimately vote against a much needed infrastructure project planned for another region. It would be a procedural nightmare for capital projects and construction.

 

54 – Legislature – Yes

This requires a bill to be available online 72 hours before it is voted on and requires public meetings to be recorded and posted online within 24 hours. Yes! People have argued with me that bills get changed now up to the final moment. And while that is true, I work for the government, and when policies like this are implemented, the definition of “final moment” simply adjusts and the work continues to go up until that newly defined final moment.

 

55 – Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare – Yes

This extends a tax from 2012 on the wealthiest Californians to fund education and healthcare. The state needs this revenue and this tax is a good way to do it.

 

56 – Cigarette Tax – Yes

This would increase the cigarette tax and include e-cigarettes that contain nicotine in the definition. The tax is steep–$2.00/pack. While it is does disproportionately impact lower income smokers, I support taxing unhealthy products to fund related healthcare, prevention, and research. And, I like that nicotine e-cigarettes are finally going to be included in the definition of tobacco products.

 

57 – Criminal Sentences – YES

Prop 57 decriminalizes nonviolent crime by making inmates with nonviolent felonies and good behavior eligible for parole. It also makes a common sense reform that would allow judges, rather than prosecutors, to determine whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult.

 

58 – English Proficiency – Yes

Right before I started teaching in East Oakland, voters had passed a ban on bilingual education in California. I think people thought they were doing the right thing passing it—the proponents promoted it as “English for the children.” And, why wouldn’t we want our children to have the opportunity to be guaranteed the opportunity to have access to this language of power? But it was frankly bad legislation that was both contrary to how people learn language and frankly mean-spirited.

In fact, multilingual schools have better results for language acquisition than English-only schools. And, I hated that the legislation theoretically prevented a well-meaning teacher like me who taught English and History (core subjects that currently require English-only instruction) from asking a monolingual Spanish-speaking student who was a new arrival to the United States to get out a piece of paper in Spanish. This prop would allow parents to more easily opt for multilingual education. And, it would allow for English-only education to still be an option. So everyone wins. Vote yes.

 

59 – Corporations. Political Spending – Yes

This is a unique policy statement to the state’s public officials advising them to do use their power to overturn the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision. If you recall, the Citizens United decision determined that corporations are guaranteed freedom of speech and political donations are a form of freedom of speech that is protected. Therefore, political donations from corporations were unable to be regulated as they are form of a protected freedom. This is hogwash since we know that corporations are not people who must be guaranteed the freedom of speech; and because that money manipulates elections.

With all that said, the problematic decision was made by the supreme court, and one of the only ways to overturn the decision would be to amend the constitution. So this proposition would advise California’s leaders to do what they can with their powers to overturn the terrible supreme court decision. It is nonbinding. But, I support the overturning of Citizens United so I will vote yes on 59.

 

60 – Adult Films. Condoms – No

This proposition would require actors in adult films to wear condoms and allow citizens to sue porn companies and stars. While public health is important, the enforcement mechanism here is problematic. Porn companies who don’t want to comply can easily work out of state. Also, CalOsha already requires condoms for adult film actors. This prop has too many issues with it so I am voting no.

  

61 – State Prescription Drug Purchases – Yes

This proposition will make state agencies pay no more than the US Department of Veterans Affairs pays for prescription drugs. This seems common sense. This will reduce price gouging by pharmaceutical companies and provide access to needed medications while reducing costs for patients. I don’t buy the arguments that it would negatively impact veterans by causing prices to rise and/or reduce access to medicine. If the pharmaceutical companies were poised to make that happen I am not sure it would be in their interest to make this ballot initiative the most expensive in the country by fighting it. Follow the money. Vote yes.

 

62 – Death Penalty – YES!

End it! Converts everyone in death row to life in prison. This will ensure no wrongly accused will die on your tax dollar. Let’s do this.

Also worth mentioning: If both this and prop 66 pass, the one with more yes votes supersedes the other. And since they are in some respects opposites, I would advise a yes vote on one would result in a no vote on the other and vice versa.

 

63 – Firearms – Yes

This prop would require background checks for ammunition purchases and prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. It is a little weak, but it could keep ammunition out of the hands of some who would do harm with it while allowing hunters access. Though let’s be real: bad people who want to get ammunition will still be able to access it in gun-loving America. So, this won’t solve our gun problems.

I don’t see a strong argument for hunters needing large-capacity ammunition magazines. So, it seems like a way to make some movement on gun control without gun owners having to make much of a concession.

 

64 – Marijuana Legalization – YES!

A yes vote on prop 64 would legalize recreational marijuana in California for people older than 21. Bonus points: it will reduce and waive most marijuana convictions and get records expunged! Medical marijuana would still be available and would require a prescription and a medical marijuana card as it does now. Recreational marijuana would be taxed. It is a two-fer. It legalizes something that probably shouldn’t be illegal, and it is a positive reform to our criminal justice system. Yay!

 

65 – Carryout Bags – No

This is about requiring the $0.10 bag fee charged by stores to go to an environmental fund. You know it is a bad prop when the environmental groups who would ostensibly support an “environmental fund” are against it. But in addition to it not benefitting the environment, it puts the cost of the bags on the retailer since they would no longer be able to use the fee to pay for the bag expense. Also, if prop 65 and prop 67 both win, the one with more yes votes wins. 67 is way better, read below.

 

66 – Death Penalty. Procedures – NO!

As someone who feels like it is problematic to “kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong,” and, as someone who feels culpable for funding a justice system with my taxes that unjustly kills the wrongfully accused, I predictably think that taking steps to speed up the death penalty is also a bad idea. Vote no. It is disgusting.

Again: If both this and prop 62 pass, the one with more yes votes supersedes the other.

 

67 – Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags – YES!

If prop 67 passes it will prohibit stores from providing single-use carryout bags and require them to charge $0.10 for recycled, compostable, and reusable grocery bags. This is an important environmental initiative. Single-use plastic bags are destroying our environment and killing wild animals. And, when San Francisco banned bags it turned out to be no big deal. I noticed that plastic bag trash decreased significantly in the natural places I go. I say YES! 

 

A – Repair School Facilities – yes

This is a relatively small revenue bond to fund repairs to school facilities. Bonds aren’t the best funding source since we end up spending more for than the cost, but it isn’t a huge amount of money and the work is needed. Yes. A 55 percent majority passes this.

 

B – City College Funds – Yes!

Prop B is a parcel tax to fund City College. I don’t think parcel taxes are a great way to levy taxes equitably, but City College is a crucial institution and I think it is worth the investment. City College desperately needs these funds just to maintain current services like keeping libraries open and providing counselors to students. Yes! This requires two-thirds majority to pass.

 

 C – SF Earthquake Loan and Housing Preservation Bonds – yes

This prop repurposes general obligation bonds that we initially set up for earthquake rehab and restoration loans after the 1989 earthquake to also fund purchase and building improvements to create more affordable housing. It is a fairly small amount of money and will hardly make a dent in repairing our affordable housing crisis, but it is better than nothing. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

 

D – Vacancy appointments – no

This one pains me a little bit to vote no on. It would address supervisor vacancies. Right now if a supervisor leaves a vacancy—like what will happen when either Scott Weiner or Jane Kim is elected to State Senate—the mayor appoints a replacement. The replacement may then be accountable to the mayor rather than the constituents they serve. And, incumbents tend to do better when running so it gives the appointed candidate the edge.

This proposition would change the process so that the mayoral appointment cannot run in the election following the appointed term. And, it would shorten the duration until the election to fill the vacancy.

The thing I don’t like about it is that the appointee cannot run in the election following their appointed term. I feel that is a reflection of the current leadership, but we have to think about how this would impact appointments when we LOVE our mayor. And in that case, my perfect mayor doesn’t save the “good” candidate for the next election and appoint the “second best” candidate. No, my perfect mayor appoints the most awesome supervisor who is a coalition builder making San Francisco more awesome and we want this most awesome supervisor to continue their work for the next term.

So, even though I think this prop is in the right vein, I don’t love the legislation and I just can’t vote yes.

 

E – Sidewalk Trees – no

I am a hesitant no on this one. On its surface this initiative does good: it ultimately makes the city responsible for the maintenance of sidewalk trees and is liable for any tree-related maintenance—say, replacing sidewalks that have been broken up by roots. But, what I don’t like about this is that it is funded by a general fund set-aside without a revenue source to fund it (maybe it will have a revenue source if prop W passes, see below). So, it makes our city budget less flexible, and when budgets are tight, these $19 million dollars will be locked into street trees.

The way we manage street trees in this city definitely need to be reformed so I hope they will revise this prop and resolve its funding challenge and bring it back to the ballot at the next election.

 

F – 16 year-old Voter Age – yes 

I’m voting yes for past me, 16-year-old Kate, who would have thought this was so good. This will allow 16 year olds who are US Citizens to vote in San Francisco’s municipal and school board elections. I like this because it engages young people in the system. The hope is that this would increase voter participation. I say yes.

 

G – Changes to Office of Citizen Complaints – yes 

I am not sure this will do much, but it changes the name of the Office of Citizen Complaints to the Department of Police Accountability. It does change some details of its management as well. For example, their budget is approved by the police commission but they are supposed to investigate police misconduct, so that is problematic. This would have the new Department of Police Accountability manage their budget and have it submitted directly to the mayor. Yes.

 

H – Create Public Advocate position – no

This would create a new elected office in San Francisco. This office would have a fairly large staff (larger than supervisors) and be able to introduce legislation at the Board of Supervisors. In theory, they would review policies and conduct investigations and right all San Francisco’s wrongs. But I thought we already had elected officials to do that: they are called supervisors and mayor.

That’s right, in our current system we elect supervisors and a mayor to represent us. They are able to hold hearings and review policies and they even have they administrative authority to follow through on real change. I get that many feel San Francisco has been going in the “wrong direction” and they feel like this position would help create reform. But, I’d challenge that we need to do a better job cultivating candidates that we want to represent us for mayor and supervisor rather than creating this curious elected office.

 

I – Establish the Dignity Fund – no

This would establish a set-aside in the general fund for services that benefit seniors and people with disabilities. While I see that as a real need, there is no reason that this has to be on a city charter amendment rather than going through the regular budgetary process. It also doesn’t identify a funding source. This ballot box budgeting ultimately limits the budget’s flexibility.

 

J –Create Homeless Housing and Services Fund – YES

This would dedicate funds that come in through Prop K to homeless services and transportation system improvements. The funding for homeless services would in part go toward incredibly effective navigation services. The funding for transportation would go toward operations, street repaving, and bicycling and walking improvements. If this passes but K does not, it provides a “kill switch” so that the mayor could kill it before January.

 

K – Increase Sales Tax – YES

And here is the sales tax that would fund J. This sales tax would fund much needed homeless services and transportation system improvements if passed with J, see above. If K passes and J does not the funds would be a general tax without specified uses. I prefer it pass with J also passing, so I will vote yes on both.

 

L – Change to SFMTA Board of Directors Appointments – no

L is the prop that I have thought the most about since it will directly impact my work if it passes (full disclosure: I work at the SFMTA), and it’s anyone’s speculation how it would. It has two parts.

First, it changes how the Board of Directors would be appointed—currently by the mayor, confirmed by the Board of Supervisors. If passed, the seven appointments would be shared with the Board of Supervisors, the mayor getting four and the supervisors three.

Secondly, it would change how the Board of Supervisors reviews the SFMTA budget. Currently they can approve or reject the budget, but not amend the budget; to reject the budget requires 7 of 11 votes. This would lower the requirement to 6 of 11; the supervisors would be required to submit “findings” for rejecting the budget and the SFMTA would be required to submit a revised budget that responds to those findings.

So I spent a lot of time pondering about whether I thought the mayor should share the power of appointments with the supervisors, playing out scenarios in my head. And then I wondered how the supervisors would agree on appointments… But then I thought about the changes to how the budget was approved, and I instantly knew we should all vote no.

 

M – Create a Housing and Development Commission – Yes

I am kind of on the fence about this one. Basically it would combine two of the mayor’s offices—Office of Housing and Urban Development and Office of Economic and Workforce Development—into a new department with a commission. The commissioners would be appointed by the mayor, the board of supervisors and the controller. The commission would be expected to adopt a strategic plan that outlines the city’s goals for affordable housing and urban development. And the best part of this prop is that it also includes a poison pill for both props P and U, which both stink!

I think the accountability is good. I like the transparency it provides these important offices and I love the strategic planning. But I doubt it will change much.

 

N – Allow Non-Citizen Parents to Vote in SFUSD School Board Elections – YES

This would allow non-citizen parents with students enrolled in SFUSD to vote in school board elections. I think it is important for parents to be able to have a say in how their child’s educational system is run, so I vote yes.

 

O – Height Limit Exemption for Candlestick Point – no

This would allow Candlestick Point and Hunters Point Naval Shipyard to exceed San Francisco’s limit on new office development each year. Proponents argue that it will allow quick growth in those areas and will provide housing and jobs. But it doesn’t include the same height limit exception for residential or retail development. Candlestick and Hunters Point deserve to be developed right for the community there that has been so underserved. I am concerned this will lead to that area becoming an office park and not a hospitable place to live and work, so I am voting no.

 

P – Requirements for Affordable Housing Projects – No 

This would require three proposals for affordable housing projects funded by San Francisco on San Francisco property, and other changes. On the surface this sounds good, but there are (at least) three issues: 1) Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development already has a competitive bidding policy. It doesn’t require three bids because some projects are complex and it could be difficult to find three bids (and would slow the process for this sort of affordable housing as well); 2) this change could be passed legislatively and does not have to be on the ballot; 3) if this passes, any amendment would require it coming back to the ballot. No.

 

Q – Prohibit Tents on Sidewalks – NO!

This prop is disgusting. It would prohibit tents on sidewalks. First, there is a 700 person waiting list in San Francisco for shelter beds, so I am not sure where the sponsors of this initiative think these folks should go. This just gives police more ammunition to harass people who have the misfortune of living in a tent on a sidewalk without actually resolving the housing crisis at hand. Also, this could have been passed legislatively and does not require a vote of the people. But, supervisors put it on the ballot instead. Vote no.

 

R – Create a Neighborhood Crime Unit – No 

This would require that the police department establish a neighborhood crime unit made up of three percent of sworn personnel. The idea here is to get more police on the beat to enforce quality of life laws. The percentage is apparently arbitrary and not based on research, reports, or data. Enforcement is not the way a city should address quality of life crimes—these are signs of economic problems and/or mental health issues such as drug addiction. And, I don’t like that this mandate has an arbitrary percentage. I agree that we need to address crime, but I am concerned about this approach and its impact on our struggling communities.

 

S – Use Hotel Room Tax for Arts and Homeless Services – Yes

Currently hotel taxes go to San Francisco’s general fund. When the hotel tax was initially established in 1961, it was to woo tourists with cultural facilities. But, it was amended over time to eventually fund the general fund and the Moscone Center.

If approved, this initiative would allocate the hotel taxes for specific purposes. Technically, it is a set-aside. In this case, the funds would go to support the arts as well as to programs that support the homeless. In particular, this would fund for facilities for the arts (super important since real estate is unaffordable in SF right now) and a new neighborhood arts program. It also includes a small percentage to support families who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness through an allocated fund.

While I am generally wary of set-asides, this case of applying the hotel tax to address issues that are related to tourism makes sense.

 

T – Prohibit Lobbyists from Making Campaign Contributions – No

This is one that I would love if it didn’t have some flaws in the legislation that could be cleaned up and made a righteous prop on a future ballot. This idealistic proposition dreams of taking money out of politics by creating restrictions for lobbyists. Unfortunately, it has a couple flaws. It has a lobbyist reporting requirement that could allow significant fines for minor infractions. Also it does not exclude “gifts of minimal value” (think here Halloween candy or a soft drink at a meeting) which are excluded in a California state version of similar legislation. I’m voting no.

 

U – Increase Income Eligibility for Affordable Housing – NO 

Prop U is problematic legislation at its worse. This would increase the maximum income that people would need to qualify for affordable housing. I am not sure why we would want to do that. We have a housing crisis in San Francisco and we simply cannot meet the housing demand. If we bump up the maximum income for those who qualify for affordable housing, more people will qualify, making it even more competitive for our poorest residents. Vote NO.

 

V – Tax of Sugar-sweetened Beverages – Yes

This came to the ballot in 2014 and a 55 percent of voters approved it. In that prop, the tax was allocated to critically underfunded youth health, nutrition, P.E. and after-school rec programs, which required a two-thirds majority to pass. Now, it is back, this time it goes to the general fund and therefore only requires a simple majority. When a similar law in Berkeley passed, it was successful in a reduction in purchases of sugary beverages which are related to health problems like obesity and diabetes.

The opponents keep saying it is a grocery tax and I was curious why: KQED says the theory is that distributors will pass on the cost of the soda tax to small-business owners, who would in turn raise the prices of the groceries they sell to stay competitive. That increase on prices on everything else would be the “tax”. Anyway, I am voting yes, again, and if the other folks who voted yes do again, it will pass.

 

W – Increase Transfer Tax for Property Sales – YES

This is a great way to generate revenue for the city—it increases the transfer tax by 0.25 percent for property sales valued above $5 million. If passed, it would generate an estimated $44 million per year. This prop does not allocate the monies, so it would go to the general fund. Though, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in July establishing the intent to make City College tuition-free (YES!) and identified this tax as a potential funding source for that. And, later, they expressed intent that this could also help fund the street tree maintenance set aside ($19 million) in Prop E if that passes.

 

X – Require Developers to Replace Production, Distribution, and Repair – YES

Here we are finally at X, and you may have noticed a theme this election how so many props are related to real estate and the current affordability crisis. This last SF prop would require developers who demolish or convert spaces used for production, distribution, or repair, arts activities, or nonprofit community spaces, to replace those spaces. This is addresses the issue of our artists and manufacturers being pushed out of San Francisco. Vote yes.

 

RR – BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief – YES!

We have to approve this one to provide the necessary revenue to maintain BART. Just to keep it running. And, it doesn’t even fully fund the needed investment in maintenance. Apparently BART neglected years of necessary maintenance and the critical regional transportation system is literally falling apart. Since the region vitally needs BART to function, vote YES.

 

I live in District 9, so I will start here. See below for thoughts on districts 1, 5 and 11.

In San Francisco, we require a supervisorial candidate receive a majority of the votes, so we established instant run-off voting a few years back to save on costs of having run-off elections.

District 9 Supervisor – 1 – Hillary Ronen, 2 – Melissa San Miguel, 3 – blank.

In the Mission it seems like there are only two viable candidates. Hillary Ronen (yay?) and Josh Arce (boo!).

I am not particularly wooed by either: Hillary Ronen is one of current D9 Supervisor Campos’s aides, and I have been quite soured on his administration, most recently how the office’s fight against the red Mission transit-only lanes favored the 8,000 cars that travel Mission street over the 65,000 Muni riders (80 percent of whom qualify as low income, by the way) who benefitted from the improvements. They also haven’t been great on affordable housing solutions.

But Campos isn’t running, Ronen is, and she spent 20 minutes on the phone with me trying to distance herself from Campos’s record saying that she has “stood up to the bullies” in the neighborhood that Campos has pandered to.

And, Ronen is certainly better than Josh Arce who is aligned politically with the more “moderate” of SF politicians (Gavin Newsom, Ed Lee, Michaela Alioto-Pier)…yikes.

Because this is instant run-off voting, I only want to vote for people who I would want in office. My second vote will go to Melissa San Miguel. She grew up on my block, and she also called me and talked to me about her positions I mostly agree with her on the issues. She is particularly strong on police reform, which is a serious need in our district.

I wouldn’t want any other candidates to be supervisor of District 9 so I am not voting for any others.

 

Even though I am not in these other districts a little shout out for the top candidates in each race. 

District 1 Supervisor – 1 – Andy Thornley, 2 – Sandra Lee Fewer

First and foremost, my friend Andy Thornely. I have had the distinct pleasure of working elbow to elbow with Andy Thornley at two jobs (SF Bicycle Coalition and SFMTA) over eight years (six and two, respectively). He is a great dude, and frankly the strongest candidate in this district on transportation issues. He understands the tradeoffs and has the will power to do what’s best for the people even if there is some noisy opposition.

Sandra Lee Fewer is also an incredibly strong progressive candidate who has done great work on the school board. The D1 race is hot, and frankly Fewer is more viable than Andy Thornley (lots of support and money behind her), but she isn’t as great on transportation as he is.

 

District 5 Supervisor – Dean Preston

Preston has been a state housing advocate for years and would be great as Supervisor of District 5! Breed, the incumbent will likely win.

 

District 11 Supervisor – Kim Alvarenga

Kim Alvarenga has been working in assembly member Tom Ammiano’s office at the state level. She has been a fierce advocate in the fight to save City College and worked on increasing the minimum wage.

 

Oh hey! You made it to the end. Nice work. Now go out there and vote!


The Kate Slate – June 7, 2016

Posted: May 26th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – June 7, 2016

Kate_Slate_squareHasn’t it seemed like this year’s primary has lasted a gazillion years? And yet, I didn’t seem to know much about the issues on the ballot this time around, even with all the talk and speculations about the candidates. I am ready to vote!

As you likely know, I write my “Kate Slate” for every local election, and have been for almost as long as I have been able to vote. In fact, the Kate Slate may very well be having her 18th birthday (!) come this November. When I voted the very first time, I found myself in the voting booth surprised that I didn’t understand the all issues or know all the candidates on the ballot, even though I was a citizen engaged in civic activities and I followed the news closely. The next year I vowed to be more prepared. So, I studied the ballot before the election writing my notes about the slate, and shared the Kate Slate with friends.

Also, for the past ten (!!) or so years, my pal and co-host Sacha Ielmorini and I have held a Slate Party in advance of my writing of the “Kate Slate”. (Our every-election tradition is a mellow, civilized discussion among friends, who agree to disagree, for the sake of feeling confident about our own voting. If you are interested in being invited to the slate parties in the future, including for the November election, let me know.) The Slate Party has been a big informer of the Kate Slate.

For the Kate Slate, I go race-by-race, issue-by-issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley if it has some fatal (to me) flaw. And, I will let you know if I think it does and why.

My opinions in the Kate Slate are my own, and in no way should be thought to represent any views of anyone other than myself. I have thoughtful engaging conversations with well-informed friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered, I get the tacky expensive mailers you get, and cool people like yourself send me other peoples’ slates. And, I am not affiliated with any party.

Which, this election has some consequences for you, dear reader. Those of us with no party preference may opt to vote an American Independent Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, or nonpartisan ballot for this election (as those parties allow those with no party preference to vote their ballot even if you don’t register for their party). But, these parties’ nonpartisan ballots don’t include their County Central Committee slates, so they are nearly identical to the straight up no party preference ballot (except for, erhm, the Presidential primary).

If you want to vote for the Democratic County Central Committee, you would have had to registered as a Democrat by May 23. I agree that since most SF candidates are registered Democratic, and the party rules who runs, you may want to do that, but that ship has sailed for this election. Which is a long way to say that as a no party preference voter, I don’t have a full slate for the DCCC ballot. But, I listed few candidates who I think deserve a plug at the end.

And, you are on your own this election for President. You may have viable choices at this point if you are registered as either Democrat or Republican, and none of them are very good options in my opinion. Here are the choices: There is a moderate Democratic woman running who is part of the political machine but has done some good things for health care and women’s rights in the past; you have a left leaning Democratic man with some good economic ideas, lots of promises about changes to things he would have no power to change as President, and a terrible record on gun control; and you have a rich, insane Republican man running a reality show rather than a campaign who you deserve if you vote for him, but none of the rest of us deserve him, so please don’t. As I like to say, pick your poison.

Feel free to forward the Kate Slate to friends (and friends, if someone other than me–Kate–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, and I can add you to the email list for the next Kate Slate).

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

Even if you don’t know your polling place, or where you were last registered to vote, you can always go to City Hall on Election Day (June 7!) 7am-8pm to cast a provisional ballot. Though, if you can, it is always best to cast your own ballot at your own polling place.

If you have an absentee ballot, you can surrender your absentee ballot for a live ballot at your polling place. The poll workers will destroy your absentee ballot and give you a live ballot. This assures you that your ballot is read and counted as you intended it. (ie. When you vote absentee, if a machine rejects your ballot, the machine depends on a human to interpret your absentee ballot. I am not trying to be all conspiracy-theorist here, but feeding your own ballot into the machine and hearing it beep is the best way to ensure your ballot is interpreted as you intend it to be.)

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

 

Grab and Go (details below):

United States Senator – Kamala Harris

United States Representative – Barry Hermanson

State Senator – Jane Kim

Member of the State Assembly – David Chiu

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 7 – Victor Hwang

50 – Yes

A – Yes

B – No

C – Yes

D – Yes

E – Yes

AA – YES YES YES

 

United States Senator – Kamala Harris

I’m not super-impressed with any of the many many candidates running for Barbara Boxer’s seat in the Senate. But, I think Kamala Harris is okay. As I’ve said in the past, I was glad that Kamala Harris asked the courts to allow California to continue to allow same-sex marriages while the courts were hearing the constitutionality of Prop 8, even though they denied her request. It was the right thing to do.

And she also did the right thing when she walked out of talks with big banks responsible for the mortgage crisis when the deal they were arranging was too lenient. And I like that she has been strong on gun control. I read about some of the many other candidates and none of them seemed to have the necessary experience for this role like Ms. Harris has.

 

United States Representative – Barry Hermanson

All you Bernie supporters who are excited about his desire to change the Democratic Party should be empathetic to my vote for Barry Hermanson. I don’t want to vote for Nancy Pelosi who is part of the Democratic Party problem. According to NPR, she attended more than 400 fundraisers in 2011–that is more than one a day for the whole year!!! And Politico says she is still doing some heavy lifting with her raising $40.1 million in 2015 at over 205 fundraisers! If you think politics has too much money, or if you think that the political machine as it exists needs to be stopped, I’d again recommend voting for perennial Pelosi opposition Barry Hermanson. As I said last time she was up for election, “It would be fun to get Barry Hermanson on the ballot with Nancy Pelosi, because even though Pelosi will win her seat back, it would be awesome to see Barry Hermanson in debates against Pelosi.”

 

State Senator – Jane Kim

Jane Kim has done San Francisco right as Supervisor. She hosts a listening booth to meet with the people she represents and hear what issues matter to them most. She’s been behind major increases to affordable housing included in new developments during this terrible housing crisis. She has been a champion for Vision Zero in San Francisco, the transportation principle that crashes are preventable and changes to engineering, enforcement, and education are necessary and must be implemented to reduce fatal and severe injuries. She called for the resignation of Police Chief Suhr after several abuse of force situations led to the murders of San Franciscans at the hands of police officers (amid several other police scandals). And, she worked tirelessly to revive a blighted and unsafe park in her district (that kinda seemed like a lost cause), Boedekker Park, make it completely awesome, and return it to neighbors and children. She is a real leader, her work is righteous, and I endorse her wholeheartedly. Yay for politicians like Jane Kim.

And boo for candidates like her top competitor, Scott Wiener. He is okay on transportation stuff but he was behind the No Sit and Lie law that permits police officers to hassle people sitting on San Francisco streets, he closed down parks midnight to 5am, and passed a stupid anti-nudity law to prevent specific people in the Castro to be nude (ie the naked guy) while permitting nudity for parades. Though, kudos to him for being one of the rare Supervisors that actually works on legislation. Too bad I don’t really like much of his legislation.

Jane Kim for State Senator.

 

Member of the State Assembly – David Chiu

I feel like Assemblymembers don’t get a lot of airtime to really shine since there are 80 of them competing for a piece of the spotlight. But, I know David Chiu has been good on sustainable transportation issues since he has been in state office (he worked on legislation that allows transit only lane enforcement in SF and on e-bike legislation). And, I know that he worked on legislation to revise the Ellis Act that allows unfair evictions (his legislation failed but was a valiant effort). I like that he still has his heart in San Francisco and is working for his constituents, so I will vote for him.

 

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 7 – Victor Hwang

Victor Hwang is the only candidate that even seems qualified–and very qualified. Though he is not a member of the Bar Association of SF, he was rated by them more highly than the candidates he is running against who are members (exceptionally well-qualified vs. well-qualified). In fact, I am not sure why Paul Henderson or Sigrid Irias are running–they don’t seem to have the same level of courtroom experience (Henderson, for example is an bureaucrat). Whereas Hwang is a decorated Civil Rights attorney who has worked on issues like domestic violence, human trafficking and elder abuse. Go for Hwang!

 

50 – Suspension of Legislators – Yes

Currently when state legislators do bad stuff (I am thinking of Leland Yee), they can be suspended with a majority vote, but they continue receiving state salary and benefits until they resign or their term ends. This proposition would allow legislators to be suspended with a two-thirds majority, and they wouldn’t be able to collect their state salary or benefits. I think it is a fair piece of legislation because it doesn’t allow naughty legislators to be suspended at taxpayer’s expense and it sets a higher bar for the suspension to pass by requiring a two-thirds majority.

 

A – San Francisco Public Health and Safety Bond – Yes

Apparently SF General, ten neighborhood health clinics, fire stations, and homeless shelters are not seismically safe, and/or are in need of repair and modernization. This is a bond–not the most affordable money to spend–but the work is necessary and there will be citizen oversight. I say yes.

 

B – Open Space Fund Charter Amendment – No

Rec and Park currently receives money from the Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund that expires in 2031, and also receives some from the General Fund. Though, the General Fund amount is not required and varies budget to budget. What this would do would extend the existing fund fifteen years and then require a set-aside from the General Fund.

This is classic ballot box budgeting: first, we have time to come up with a better funding strategy because the existing Park, Rec and Open Space fund won’t expire for fifteen more years; and second, allocating a fixed amount from the General Fund for something makes the budget less flexible and dynamic and budgeting more difficult when the budget is tight. (And, when is the budget ever not tight?) It’s frankly not good legislation and it seems like we have some time to put something better together.

 

C – Affordable Housing Requirements Charter Amendment – Yes

“Affordable” currently means a rental for someone making $46,288/year (55% of median income) or real estate purchase for someone making $75,744/year (90% of median income). Right now developers of new market-rate housing are required to provide affordable housing in one of three ways: pay a fee or build new affordable housing off-site that is equal to 20% of the total units being developed or make 12% units on-site affordable. To change these requirements, it has to be put on the ballot, like this proposition.

And this proposition increases the affordable housing requirements for developments with more than 25 dwellings.  It also authorizes the Board of Supervisors to change the affordable housing requirements by ordinance. I say yes and yes. We should be requiring more affordable housing from developers. And, I am happy to have the Supervisors handle adjusting the requirements to meet the needs of the city rather than the ballot box.

 

D – Office of Citizen Complaints policy – Yes

Prop D would require that the City’s Office of Citizen Complaints that currently is responsible for investigating complaints of San Francisco police misconduct begin investigating any incident occurring in San Francisco in when a police shooting ends with physical injury or death.

I think this is a common sense proposition with consideration for the SFPD’s apparent lack of de-escalation training. We need to hold our police department and officers accountable for their use of force, and this is one step to that end.

 

E – Paid City Leave Ordinance amendment – Yes

First SF required Paid Sick Leave, then California enacted a law to do the same. But, they have slightly different requirements, and this would amend SF’s Paid Sick Leave so that an employer complying with SF’s ordinance would also be complying with the state law. It also allows the Board of Supervisors to amend the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance going forward. This is good legislation. Vote yes.

 

AA – San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration – YES YES YES

This is the most important thing on the ballot this election and I hope you, and your friends and family around the Bay will all vote yes for this parcel tax. This requires a two-thirds majority in each of the nine counties of the Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma) to pass. And we really need this to pass!

San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority doesn’t receive an dedicated federal, state, or local funding for its work to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay. The Bay shapes everything about where we live from our economy to our environment and even our health. And, without restoration work, our lives will be severely impacted if we don’t make very real efforts to restore our bay. For example, restoring the wetlands helps prevent against sea level rise and climate change by acting like a sponge. But, for years and years we destroyed our wetlands and now we don’t have that buffer.

This proposition establishes a $12/year parcel tax with independent citizen oversight that would fund a program that will reduce pollution, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat, provide flood protection and increase shoreline public access. Such a small price to pay for such vital work. Yes! Yes! Yes! And tell your friends in Bay Area Counties! Vote Yes!

 

Democratic County Central Committee candidates that get the Kate Slate thumbs up (you get to pick as many as 14!)

Cindy Wu

Bevan Dufty

Jane Kim

Frances Hsieh

Rafael Mandelman

Sophie Maxwell

Tom Ammiano

Aaron Peskin


The Kate Slate – November 3, 2015

Posted: November 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – November 3, 2015

KateSlateThis year’s slate is San Francisco races only, and this year’s ballot reflects the challenges our City has been facing with new tech companies, regulation, and affordable housing.

I write my “Kate Slate” for every local election, and have been for almost as long as I have been able to vote. When I first voted, I found myself in the voting booth surprised that I didn’t understand the issues or candidates on the ballot before me, even though I was a citizen engaged in politics and I followed the news.

I did the best I could with my ballot leaving several blanks. The next year I would be more prepared. So, I studied the ballot before the election writing my notes about the slate, and shared the Kate Slate with friends.

Also, for the past nine or so years, co-host Sacha Ielmorini and I have held a Slate Party in advance of my writing of the “Kate Slate”. (Our every-election tradition is a mellow, civilized discussion among friends, who agree to disagree, for the sake of feeling confident about our own voting. If you are interested in being invited to the slate parties, let me know.) The Slate Party has been a big informer of the Kate Slate.

For the Kate Slate, I go race-by-race, issue-by-issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley if it has some fatal (to me) flaw. And, I will let you know if I think it does and why.

My opinions in the Kate Slate are my own, and in no way should be thought to represent any views of anyone other than myself. I have thoughtful engaging conversations with well-informed friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered, I get the tacky expensive mailers you get (the most ever this year!), and cool people like yourself send me other peoples’ slates who apparently aren’t waiting until the last minute to write it up like I am. And, I am not affiliated with any party.

Feel free to forward the Kate Slate to friends (and friends, if someone other than me–Kate–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, and I can add you to the email list for the next Kate Slate).

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

Even if you don’t know your polling place, or where you were last registered to vote, you can always go to City Hall tomorrow 7am-8pm to cast a provisional ballot. Though, if you can, it is always best to cast your own ballot at your own polling place.

If you have an absentee ballot, you can surrender your absentee ballot for a live ballot at your polling place. The poll workers will destroy your absentee ballot and give you a live ballot. This assures you that your ballot is read and counted as you intended it. (ie. When you vote absentee, if a machine rejects your ballot, the machine depends on a human to interpret your absentee ballot. I am not trying to be all conspiracy-theorist here, but feeding your own ballot into the machine and hearing it beep is the best way to ensure your ballot is interpreted as you intend it to be.)

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

Grab and Go (details below):

Mayor – Abstain
Sheriff – Mirkarimi
City Attorney – Dennis Herrera
District Attorney – Abstain
Treasurer – Cisneros
Community College Board – Tom Temprano
A – San Francisco Affordable Housing Bonds – Yes
B – Charter Amendment for City and County Staff Parental Leave – Yes
C – Lobbyist regulations – yes
D – Mission Rock Development approval – No
E – Changes to City meeting rules – NO
F – Short-term rental regulations – Yes
G – Renewable energy definition and CleanPowerSF regulations – NO
H – Renewable energy definition and CleanPowerSF regulations – YES
I – Development moratorium in the Mission District – Yes
J – Establish a Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund – Yes
K – Expand allowable use of surplus City property – YES

Mayor – Abstain
With the huge boom and its new technologies, we need a leader that is going to defend the City in the face of these changes on behalf of its citizens. Instead, our Mayor is assisting businesses skirting regulations and taxes, while wavering on affordable housing and transportation issues that we need to manage all these changes in San Francisco. After his first term, I lack confidence in Mayor Ed Lee.

And, since Ed Lee will win with no strong candidate against him, some people are suggesting voters should make a statement by a “Vote 1-2-3” endorsement of alternate candidates Amy, Francisco, and Stuart. But I also lack confidence in these candidates and I take the Mayor’s office seriously. So, in the absence of a qualified candidate I am going to abstain from voting for Mayor this election.

Sheriff – Mirkarimi
Mirkarimi the Sheriff has done some good stuff: He got the Sheriff’s Department certified to assist with foot patrols to help supplement the SFPD’s work, and he made it so that inmates would be housed according to their self-identified gender. This year he has also been criticized because a person who was released from custody according to Sanctuary City policy later murdered Kate Steinle. This is misleading for several reasons; there is not a direct correlation from the sanctuary city policy to the murder, just a shared plot line. And, I proudly support the Sanctuary City policy and it has been a law since 1989–this was nothing new, but the headlines because it related to Mirkarimi.

And of course there is the issue with his legal troubles and domestic violence problems. He isn’t always a great guy all around. I don’t want to dismiss violence and abuse. I also think that people have profound personal failures can still deliver successful work. I think he is the best candidate on the ballot for this office right now.

City Attorney – Dennis Herrera
Dennis Herrera is running unopposed so I won’t spend much time on here, but he’s done great work for the City (he is one of the champions who helped legalize marriage).

District Attorney – Abstain
Gascon is running unopposed and I have never been impressed with his leadership. Right after he was appointed Chief of Police by Gavin Newsom he was a big supporter of the Sit-Lie law allowing police to heckle people who are sitting in public (note that police can heckle people who were breaking the law already, no need to expand their power to heckle law abiding folks who are simply sitting). Some people also think that him moving from Chief of Police to DA is a conflict of interest, and with the current state of the SFPD, I wish we had someone else in this office.

Treasurer – Cisneros
Again, running unopposed, so not too much to say. Progressives like him for making AirBnB pay hotel taxes. He also launched the Bank on San Francisco program that helped thousands of low income families with free bank accounts and financial education.

Community College Board – Tom Temprano
The Community College Board has some serious work to do with City College’s accreditation issues and massively dropped enrollment. Tom Temprano is a local leader with lots of great experience and strong ideas for addressing the enrollment issues including stronger outreach and rebuilding the relationship the school has with SFUSD.

A – San Francisco Affordable Housing Bonds – Yes
$310 Million in SF’s housing market is a joke. This is a drop in the bucket for what we actually need to support affordable housing in SF, but I guess it is something.

B – Charter Amendment for City and County Staff Parental Leave – Yes
Full disclosure: I am a City employee, but not a present or future parent. The City needs to be able to be competitive to attract top talent and parental leave time is pretty low hanging fruit. This is a sensible HR policy that will allow city/county employees who are parents both take up to 3 months of parental leave when establishing their family. We have to vote on this silly HR decision due to the City Charter. Currently two city/county employees starting a family would have to split that leave time. It also allows parents to keep a week of sick time if they go on leave.

C – Lobbyist regulations – yes
More disclosure: I serve on two nonprofit boards of directors that do lobbyist work.

Though I realize that this may mean that these important tiny organizations would have to register as lobbyists and submit monthly reports (read: cost precious resources of time and money that could be going to their crucial advocacy work). The issue for me is that the same goes for the big guys. And if the small orgs that I trust don’t have to file the reports, this also means that the big guys also don’t have to be transparent. And, I want to know what the big guys are up to.

And, our smart and savvy small orgs will figure out quick and efficient ways to file their reports and pretty soon we will forget it is a thing.

So, forgive me, my fellow board members who disagree with me on this one, but I am voting yes.

D – Mission Rock Development approval – No
OK This is on the ballot because voters previously said they wanted to vote on any new building on Port property that would exceed existing height limits. And here we are with a proposal from the Giants that would be built on Parking Lot A.

The development has some cool features. And yes, the affordable housing percentage of 40% is good. But what is not good is a 10-story garage on the waterfront. And worse even is that parking taxes that should go to the City (parking taxes) are split 80-20 to fund transportation work and senior services, the SF Giants will get to use the money as they please on transportation projects. What transportation projects? Parking?! I don’t know about you, but I rather the money go to the City transportation agency so that it can go to where it’s needed on our City’s transportation network, not to the Giants. Stick to baseball, guys.

E – Changes to City meeting rules – NO
This proposition would make a mess out of the public process by allowing pre-recorded and remote public comment to be required for every commission and board. I am imagining a company with a campaign that submits a bazillion comments that don’t reflect actual public opinion. Then combine that with the mystifyingly contradicting part of this proposition that would require that agenda items be time-set. So, for example, the Board will address item C on the agenda at 5:05pm. I have no idea how these two parts of the legislation are supposed to work in concert since allowing prerecorded and remote public comment would make time-set agendas practically impossible, but the moral of the story is that I am voting No on this giant mess.

F – Short-term rental regulations – Yes
Here’s the thing about F: It isn’t great legislation. Here’s the thing about voting No on F: Our city leaders have failed to do their job regulating AirBnB, so here we are voting on regulations for AirBnB and other short term rental companies.

We have a housing crisis and we are allowing a corporation to skirt accountability for its impact on our city, and it is not okay. So I am voting yes even though I don’t like everything about it. For example, I think the restriction on short term rentals of in-law units is silly–especially since there would be a 75-day cap on short term rentals. And, I think the notification requirement to notify all neighbors within a 100’ is a little heavy handed. But, these complaints are not enough.

G – Renewable energy definition and CleanPowerSF regulations – NO
H – Renewable energy definition and CleanPowerSF regulations – YES
G and H go together. A PG&E union wrote G defining categories of “renewable energy” for CleanPowerSF. But then the G proponents negotiated H that was then put on the ballot by Supervisors Avalos and Breed and defines that renewable energy will be counted according to state law. The proposition with more yes votes will win, but everyone agrees that your yes vote should be on H.

I – Development moratorium in the Mission District – Yes
This is another drop in the bucket initiative, wherein I think its actual impact will be minimal but it is a nice thought. It rehashes a Board of Supervisors’ fight over whether or not to have a housing development moratorium for 18 months (unless it is 100% affordable housing) in the Mission District so that a funding plan can be put together for the City to purchase the tiniest amount of available property so that it can be used for affordable housing. Ultimately it won’t save the Mission, but the funding plan and investment in this work is good policy.

J – Establish a Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund – Yes
We already have a legacy business registry, but this would tighten the restrictions slightly and includes a way for these legacy businesses to apply for grants, with priority given to those at risk of being displaced. I like how this will help us keep our old favorite businesses. I do balk slightly that to be added to the registry requires a politician’s endorsement, and that then those businesses would be given public money that could be used on truly public works, but I think preserving the character of the city we love is important too.

K – Expand allowable use of surplus City property – YES
This is smart city policy that will allow surplus city property be allowed to be sold and used for affordable housing. Vote yes.


The Kate Slate – November 4, 2014

Posted: November 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – November 4, 2014

Hello Voters!

Tomorrow is the midterm election we have all been waiting for (or at least the one that I have been waiting for), and as you may know, I write a Kate Slate for every local election, and have been for almost as long as I have been able to vote. The idea for the Kate Slate is to share with friends what I have found out in preparing my own ballot for the election.

For the past eight or so years, co-host Sacha Ielmorini and I have held a Slate Party in advance of the writing of the “Kate Slate”. Our every-election tradition is a mellow, civilized discussion among friends, who agree to disagree, for the sake of feeling confident about our own voting. If you are interested in being invited to the slate parties, let me know.

Feel free to forward the Kate Slate to friends (and friends, if someone other than me–Kate–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, and I can add you to the email list for the next Kate Slate).

For the Kate Slate, I go race-by-race, issue-by-issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley if it has some fatal (to me) flaw. And, I will let you know if I think it does and why.

My opinions in the Kate Slate are my own, and in no way should be thought to represent any views of anyone other than myself. I have thoughtful engaging conversations with well-informed friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered, I get the tacky expensive mailers you get, and cool people like yourself send me other peoples’ slates who apparently aren’t waiting until the last minute to write it up like I am. And, I am not affiliated with any party.

Since voters recently changed how primaries work in California elections for most races, all registered voters can now vote for any candidate running in the primary (this year it was in June, in case you missed it), with the top two vote-getters overall moving on to the general election, regardless of parties of the voter and candidates. For that reason, some of my endorsements from June will be the same for this election, unless my original endorsement didn’t make the cut.

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

Even if you don’t know your polling place, or where you were last registered to vote, you can always go to City Hall tomorrow 7am-8pm to cast a provisional ballot. Though, if you can, it is always best to cast your own ballot at your own polling place.
If you have an absentee ballot, you can surrender your absentee ballot for a live ballot at your polling place. The poll workers will destroy your absentee ballot and give you a live ballot. This assures you that your ballot is read and counted as you intended it. (ie. When you vote absentee, if a machine rejects your ballot, the machine depends on a human to interpret your absentee ballot. I am not trying to be all conspiracy-theorist here, but feeding your own ballot into the machine and hearing it beep is the best way to ensure your ballot is interpreted as you intend it to be.)

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

Grab and Go (details below):

Governor: Jerry Brown
Lt. Governor: Abstain
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: John Chiang
Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
State Board of Equalization: Fiona Ma
US Representative: Abstain
State Assembly: David Campos / Phil Ting
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Goodwin Liu – YES
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar – Yes
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Kathryn Mickle Wedegar – No
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Jim Humes – Yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Kathleen M. Banke – yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: J. Anthony Kline – yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: Therese M. Stewart – yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Stuart R. Pollak – yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Martin J. Jenkins – yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Ignazio John Ruvolo – no
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Mark B. Simons – yes
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Terence L. Bruiniers – no
Superior Court Judge: Daniel Flores
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson
Member, Board of Education, vote for 3: Shamann Walton, Stevon Cook, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe
Member, Community College Board – Four-year term, vote for 3: Thea Selby, Wendolyn Aragon, Brigitte Davila or John Rizzo
Member, Community College Board – Two-year term, vote for 1: William Walker
Assessor-Recorder: Carmen Chu
Public Defender: Jeff Adachi
Proposition 1: Water Bond – no
Proposition 2: State Budget. Legislative Constitutional Amendment – no
Proposition 45: Healthcare Insurance – yes
Proposition 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors – NOOOO!
Proposition 47: Criminal Sentences – YESSSSSS!
Proposition 48: Indian Gaming Compacts – yes
Proposition A: San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond – YESSSSSS!
Proposition B: Charter Amendment to increase amount provided to SFMTA based on population – YESSSSSS!
Proposition C: Charter Amendment to support services for children, youth, and families – Yes
Proposition D: Charter Amendment to make retiree health benefits available to former SF Redevelopment Agency and Successor Agency employees – yes
Proposition E: Tax on Sugar-sweetened beverages to fund health, nutrition, physical education, and recreation programs – YESSSSSSS!
Proposition F: Approve height limits for Pier 70 development – Yes
Proposition G: Additional tax on sale of multi-unit residential properties within five years of purchase – YES
Proposition H: Shall the city be required to keep natural grass at all athletic fields in Golden Gate Park and prohibit nighttime sports – yes
Proposition I: Allow renovations to children’s playgrounds, walking trails, and athletic fields – NO
Proposition J: Increase the minimum wage to $15/hour – YESSSSSSS!
Proposition K: Policy statement to help construct or rehabilitate 30,000 homes by 2020, including affordable housing – abstain
Proposition L: Policy statement to change parking and transportation priorities – NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I am in an odd district so I don’t vote for District Supervisor this election but I endorse Jane Kim for D6. For the rest you are on your own!

The details…

Governor: Jerry Brown
Though he does have the best official gubernatorial portrait hanging at the state capital, he is otherwise lackluster. But, he is better than the Republican alternative.

Lt. Governor: Abstain
For the primaries I noted that I had strong feelings of disdain for incumbent Gavin Newsom, and things haven’t changed much here. I just can’t bring myself to vote for him, and he’ll win anyway.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
I said in June that Alex Padilla was, “Just taking the next step in his political career,” and let’s be real: He is. But, Alex Padilla has been a pretty great state senator representing his district in LA. He has been honored for his work as a champion of our state parks and was behind the bill for the statewide plastic bag ban. He also tried to impose a ban on lobbying during the final 100 days of the legislative session, but it didn’t go anywhere. He is an all around good guy, so he has my vote.

Controller: Betty Yee
I have been referring to the races for Controller, Treasurer and State Board of Equalization the “Chiang-Yee shuffle.” Awesome Controller John Chiang is termed out and running for Treasurer, and termed-out Betty Yee is going for Controller, and Fiona Ma is going for Yee’s vacated Member of State Board of Equalization seat. Here is a race with a talented candidate who is qualified for the job, running against a career politician who is less so. Betty Yee has a strong vision for her new role including top-to-bottom reform. I also have been endorsing her since she ran for State Board of Equalization.

Treasurer: John Chiang
As I mentioned above, and for the primary election, John Chiang is termed out as Controller, where he did well as a watchdog protecting taxpayer interests. Perhaps you recall how the state was closing 70 state parks due to the state’s budget shortfall and then all of a sudden $54 million was uncovered of hidden assets the department had been sitting on? Well, that was John Chiang’s discovery. And it saved the parks from closing. He has my vote for his new role as Treasurer.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris
I stand by my primary election endorsement, even though I have expressed reservations about her in the past: First, Kamala is running against a crazy person (read his statements yourself), so there is that. Second, her leadership impressed me when she asked the courts to allow California to continue to allow same-sex marriages while the courts were hearing the constitutionality of Prop 8, even though they denied her request.

She also walked out of talks with big banks responsible for the mortgage crisis when the deal they were arranging was too lenient. She has stood up to the NRA for gun control when other politicians have waffled. I think she has been good in this position and I hope she is reelected for a second term.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
Again, I will paraphrase my Primary endorsement, which includes a quote from my endorsement of him in 2010: This is a case where there is only one candidate who even makes sense for the office: incumbent Dave Jones. On one hand you have Ted Gaines who is an insurance businessman. (How is HE going to regulate the insurance companies? No conflict of interest there, right?) And then you have Dave Jones who is the incumbent. Here is what I wrote about him in the Kate Slate when he first ran in 2010, “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.” Who are you going to vote for?

State Board of Equalization: Fiona Ma
As previously mentioned, Fiona Ma is doing the Chiang-Yee shuffle, going for the office that termed-out Betty Yee who is running for the Controller’s office vacated by termed-out John Chiang who is running for Treasurer. She served on the SF Board of Supervisors until 2006, and was okay. I picked her because she is running against a Republican, honestly.

US Representative: Abstain
Look. Nancy Pelosi is going to win. But she is one of the big Democrats biggest fund raisers, attending more than 400 fund raisers in a single year in the past, according to this story. And, though I usually lean Democrat when the alternative is Republican, I think the money in politics is gross and wasteful, and me abstaining on this vote is just me keeping a little of the slime off of me.

State Assembly: David Campos / Phil Ting
I feel much stronger about supporting David Campos for State Assembly than I did at the Primaries. The big game changer for me has been the serious conflict of interest of David Chiu presenting legislation to benefit Airbnb (and rip off the city for back taxes owed). Airbnb people are pumping money into the Chiu campaign, and the lobbyist working for Airbnb just happens to be none other than David Chiu’s own campaign spokesperson, Nicole Derse. So gross. That is exactly what I was worried about when I wrote this for the primaries:

Here is the deal: I just don’t trust David Chiu. After he flopped on the mayoral appointment when Gavin Newsom got elected to Lieutenant Governor I felt so deceived, and now we are stuck with Ed Lee as Mayor.

And, Chiu didn’t demonstrate the strong willpower we need at the State Assembly when he let a few loud businesses water down a really great street design for Polk Street that would have made the important corridor safer for everyone using it. I just don’t trust him and I worry that his vote will be bought in the state assembly. So he is a no-go.

I live in Campos’s district and have never been impressed, but I like the race he is running much better and I trust him more. He claims that he will work on important legislation at the state level that could help the dire housing situation in SF. I sure hope so. The lesser of two evils. Big sigh.

As for that OTHER assembly race…Phil Ting helped get physically separated bike lanes legalized in California this year, and has worked on other safety-critical bicycling legislation at the state level. I think his Reset SF thing was a little weird, but I have forgiven him for that thanks to all his great work making California safer for bicycling….

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Goodwin Liu – YES
Progressive, left-leaning who has ruled in favor of social issues I care about including affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and access to abortion.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar – Yes
Cuéllar was a scholar who worked with Obama on immigration reform before being appointed to the Supreme Court by Jerry Brown.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Kathryn Mickle Wedegar – No
Wedegar has some weird conflict of interest on her record where she presided in a case against Wells Fargo when she owned $1million in Wells Fargo stocks, and did not meet financial disclosure requirements. Her office said she, “regrets the error,” but it is enough to sour me.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Jim Humes – Yes
Jim Humes was California’s first openly gay justice when he was appointed by Jerry Brown. Prior he worked for Jerry Brown’s office and worked on Jerry Brown’s Prop 8 briefing stating why the state would not defend the anti-gay measure.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Kathleen M. Banke – yes
Kathleen Banke was appointed by Schwarzenegger which means she is Republican or at least leans conservative. She seems to be very focused on law practice, engaging in all sorts of legal education programs including teaching at Hastings College of Law in SF, and moot court competitions (which is awesomely nerdy).

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: J. Anthony Kline – yes
J. Anthony Kline is involved in all these youth service programs like Youth Service America and the National Association of Youth and Service Corps. He also was the Legal Affairs Secretary for Jerry Brown back in the ‘70’s

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: Therese M. Stewart – yes
Therese has a similar resume as Jim Humes–she is also from San Francisco and has also worked on gay marriage issues in California, though Stewart did so representing the City and County of San Francisco.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Stuart R. Pollak – yes
Back on the day he served on the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. Can’t dig up anything too juicy about him. Though I did find out that he enjoys California legal history trivia, so you may not want to invite him to your holiday party.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Martin J. Jenkins – yes
Originally from San Francisco, Martin Jenkins has worked on Civil Rights law for many, many years. He also has a legal doctrine that deals with copyright law named after him, the Jenkins-Laporte Doctrine.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Ignazio John Ruvolo – no
Another Hastings College of Law professor who has won lots of honors and awards for his work, but liberal judges have dissented from his opinions on issues such as firearms, so I shall dissent as well.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Mark B. Simons – yes
Yet another Hastings College of Law professor! Though his specialty is evidence. He also enjoys working out at the gym, apparently. Sometimes there really isn’t a lot of info about the judges online, and then when you do find something it is about their recreational activities? So weird.

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Terence L. Bruiniers – no
Look. I have my doubts about anyone who was a police officer in Berkeley 1967-1973, served as a US Marshall, AND prosecuted capital cases earlier in his career. He has had a long career already and will probably be elected anyway, so I am not going to feel guilty for being judgmental.

Superior Court Judge: Daniel Flores
This is what I wrote for the primary about Daniel Flores: I find this race important, too. People never pay attention to the judges on Election Day, but they get elected and hold office for ages, never challenged, ruling in our courts for years. This one is important, too, because the person who should win is not paying for ads (or at least none that I got) [note: still true as of 11/3] and I worry that Daniel Flores, a civil rights attorney, will be outspent by Kingsley. What turned me off about his competitor is who endorsed her. I got her mailers and thought, “No, thank you!” (Endorsements from David Chiu, London Breed, Gavin Newsom, and Carole Migden to name a few.) And, Daniel Flores has the endorsements of people and groups I trust (Jane Kim, SEIU 1021, John Avalos).

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson
Still endorsing Torlakson after many moons. Previous endorsement: “I have endorsed Torlakson for many elections. This is what I wrote in the 2010 November Kate Slate, “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.” He still has my endorsement. He is doing a good job in a difficult office.”

Member, Board of Education, vote for 3: Shamann Walton, Stevon Cook, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe
Okay. I have triangulated the endorsements from SF Guardian (we’re still counting on you to rise from the dead, guys), League of Pissed Off Voters, local celebrities like ‘Deep and Broke Ass Stuart, and the slates of friends, like Laura Thomas, friend of Jesse Stout (no link; it was on FB and Jesse sent me the slate in the text of an email}, and Pete from Leftwing, a radical soccer club. And, these three people get the most repeat endorsements. Rafaela-Wood will give trans youth a voice at the BOE, Cook is supposedly an all around good person, young, progressive, and driven, and product of SFUSD, and Walton works with youth in the Bayview.

Member, Community College Board – Four-year term, vote for 3: Thea Selby, Wendolyn Aragon, Brigitte Davila or John Rizzo
City College is so beyond crisis mode–and it is crucial that this community educational resource is protected for San Franciscans. I have been saying this for years, while constantly trying to vote for the College Board candidates that would save City College from losing accreditation, or would save City College from itself, and it just hasn’t happened (yet).

Wendolyn Aragon, Thea Selby, and Brigitte all have the political chops to get it done. John Rizzo is incumbent, and was the only reformer Board Member who seemed to be getting results. But he hasn’t always been trustworthy in his politics, according to some. So, I’d say Aragon and Selby for sure, and then you can pull the trigger on Rizzo if you think experience on the Board matters, or Davila if you think a clean slate will save City College.

Member, Community College Board – Two-year term, vote for 1: William Walker

Everyone seems to think William Walker is the top choice here. I have only heard one person not endorse William Walker and they said he was a loud mouth. Walker served as a Student Trustee on the College Board. And sometimes being a loud mouth gets things done.

Assessor-Recorder: Carmen Chu

It is hard to care about an uncontested race. Carmen Chu is a product of the Newsom-Lee machine and I’m not so into her. But people keep pointing out that she is managing the office well. Whatever.

Public Defender: Jeff Adachi

Jeff Adachi has been doing interesting things around re-integrating recently released prisoners, and other good progressive public defender-type things. He is also running unopposed. Did you know that is an indication of an unhealthy democracy? Even though I like him.

Proposition 1: Water Bond – no
This is frustrating because we need a solution to our water issues (beyond just getting some rain), but the fact is that this is terrible legislation. It is such bad legislation that our state legislators didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole so they pulled the old, “let’s let the voters decide!” tactic. Hmm. It is a hugely expensive bond, it doesn’t actually resolve the issue, and has major environmental flaws. And for those who say, “but we desperately need this right now!” I say what we desperately need is a wet winter and strong, smart legislation to appropriately handle California’s water management.

Proposition 2: State Budget. Legislative Constitutional Amendment – no
Here is another case of just bad legislation. It would lock finances in a so-called “rainy day fund,” but with strings attached that would make the already cumbersome state budget even more restricted. It is also a constitutional amendment, and I find that problematic because there are other, less drastic and permanent legislation that could be done to address our state budget issues.

Proposition 45: Healthcare Insurance – yes
This just closes a regulatory gap allowed by Obamacare by allowing the Insurance Commissioner to regulate health insurance rates as it already does for auto and home insurance. Of course, insurance companies are fighting this like crazy because they don’t want to be regulated, but don’t let them win!

Proposition 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors – NOOOO!
At our slate party this year, Mike said that this just sounded like a pissing contest between doctors and lawyers. And that is exactly what it is. I got permission to use that line. The random drug testing of doctors is unfair and an invasion of privacy. And, is just a malpractice lawsuit ploy by lawyers, anyway. It is also unnecessary.

Proposition 47: Criminal Sentences – YESSSSSS!
I am so excited that there is finally smart criminal justice legislation on the ballot. This would decriminalize nonviolent offenses allowing for people who are serving time for nonviolent crimes (property crimes of $950 or less) to be released from our overly stuffed prisons. And, everyone (who is smart) supports this (including groups that typically are more conservative on criminal justice issues) because it is just smart legislation. Thank you, California for finally putting a decent criminal justice item on the ballot!

Proposition 48: Indian Gaming Compacts – yes
So this is pretty ugly and I don’t feel good voting on it. Here is the thing: There is an Indian tribe that wants to build a casio on land they acquired, but the land they acquired is not on their reservation. Another Indian tribe is fighting it because this acquired land is close to their reservation and casino.

But here is the thing that seems weird: Both tribes are all displaced peoples and the distinction of sovereign reservation land is pretty arbitrary. After all, the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs assigned the plots of reservation land to the various tribes and it has nothing to do with birthright or homeland or any of that. It is based on this social construct we have about sovereign Indian land. And to this end, if the tribe owns the land and they own their reservation, does it matter per se if the casino is not on the reservation? It all seems so arbitrary and odd.

Annnnnd at the same time I hate casinos. So you could just vote no if you hate casinos, and that is that.

But I say vote yes because our federal government already negotiated this agreement under fair terms with the tribe, and as a country we should stop going back on our word with the indigenous communities.

Proposition A: San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond – YESSSSSS!
This bond requires a supermajority to win. I hate bonds, it is an expensive way to fund city and county work, but with the current state of the city budget, there simply is not enough funding to cover some of the basic transportation projects that we need to implement to make our streets safer for walking and bicycling. This is the mayor’s transportation measure and if it doesn’t win a bunch of critical projects won’t get funded. For reals. So please, please, please vote yes on A!

Proposition B: Charter Amendment to increase amount provided to SFMTA based on population – YESSSSSS!
So, this basically says that the City will fund the SFMTA (our City transportation agency) based on population as it grows, which makes sense. I often am against ballot box budgeting but I am for this one because the Mayor had originally said he was going to put a Vehicle License Fee on this year’s ballot to help fund transportation. But then the Mayor got cold feet so Supervisor Weiner put this on the ballot to force the mayor to put the VLF on the 2015 ballot–if the Mayor does get the VLF passed in the next election, Prop B will be nullified. At the same time, I don’t think it is a terrible idea for a “transit-first” city to base funding its transportation agency on they city’s population. So yes.

Proposition C: Charter Amendment to support services for children, youth, and families – Yes
Everyone says yes to this which will extend funding for support services for young people up to 24 years old. I don’t like that it restricts funding from the general fund, but I do like the idea of a rainy day fund for these services.

Proposition D: Charter Amendment to make retiree health benefits available to former SF Redevelopment Agency and Successor Agency employees – yes
This is more about fairness than anything. When the state legislature ended the Redevelopment Agency as we know it, retiree health benefits for its employees also went with it. This would restore these 50 or so city employees’ benefits.

Proposition E: Tax on Sugar-sweetened beverages to fund health, nutrition, physical education, and recreation programs – YESSSSSSS!
Tell the Libertarian in yourself that this is not a tax on sodas, a tax on your god-given soda-drinking civil liberties, but instead as a revenue source for critically underfunded youth health, nutrition, P.E. and after-school rec programs. Then you shouldn’t have any issue voting yes on E because all the money generated from the tax goes to fund good stuff.

Proposition F: Approve height limits for Pier 70 development – Yes
This is actually a positive outcome of last year’s prop B. Voters said that waterfront developments that want to increase height limits have to be approved at the ballot. And the Pier 70 development project planning was well underway when that passed. So with the new law, the Pier 70 developers had to get voter approval for the increased heights for their project, so they took their plans and made them even better so they could win voter approval in this election. Prop F will allow the development to proceed that includes affordable housing, space for artists, and a walkable and bikeable community on the southern waterfront that could really use a little love. Say yes.

Proposition G: Additional tax on sale of multi-unit residential properties within five years of purchase – YES
G would allow a penalty tax for landlords flipping multi-unit residential properties within five years of acquiring it. It is one small step in addressing our housing crisis in SF, but it is a step. Vote yes.

Proposition H: Shall the city be required to keep natural grass at all athletic fields in Golden Gate Park and prohibit nighttime sports – yes
Okay. I hate H and I because H is written in a confusing way and I, if it gets more yes votes will undo H. I hate when SF does this on the ballot! Confusing voters to get what you want is sleazy, and is a mockery of democracy. I’ll get off my soap box now.

This is quite literally a turf war that has been going on about the soccer fields at GG Park for ages. Some people want to install artificial turf and install lighting to allow night games (that would be No on H). But, it is not a good idea because the artificial turf has started to raise health concerns and is not as environmentally-friendly. Also lighting at night is problematic due to the sensitive nature of the ecosystem in that area.

Proposition I: Allow renovations to children’s playgrounds, walking trails, and athletic fields – NO
Even if you disagree with me on H, I hope you’ll consider a No vote on I. Basically this would allow recreational development in the city to trump the public process. Though the public process does have its challenges, the public review process is important and protects the city from special interests. Please vote no.

Proposition J: Increase the minimum wage to $15/hour – YESSSSSSS!
This increases the minimum wage in San Francisco to a whopping $30,000 a year as a full-time job. The fact that people who work and live in this wealthy and expensive city are making under $15/hour is unconscionable when EDD reports the median income of our city to be $90,000/year. As voters we can move towards making it right by voting yes.

Proposition K: Policy statement to help construct or rehabilitate 30,000 homes by 2020, including affordable housing – abstain
One of my favorite SF politicians, Supervisor Jane Kim, worked on this gutsy legislation to take a stab at addressing the affordable housing situation in SF. But, it got watered down to a far less powerful, non-binding policy statement by the mayor. I think if we vote Yes and it passes, Ed Lee will take credit for doing something about our housing crisis when it is really weak, lame policy. But at the same time I do want to encourage our leaders to continue to work on this important issue and a Yes vote would do that. I am on the fence! I’ll probably abstain.

Proposition L: Policy statement to change parking and transportation priorities – NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Lastly is this terrible policy statement that basically says that we should throw out our city’s transit-first policy. This proposition is bad for everyone–it will make traffic more congested, and our streets more dangerous for walking and bicycling. Our city is going to continue to become more congested and the way to ensure we can all get around is to make sure that people have access to safe and efficient transportation options like public transit, walking, and bicycling.

As an aside, the people who are in favor of L have been actually lying and misrepresenting the issue on campaign materials. For example it says 80% of SF households own cars–that is just completely false; in truth only 37% own one car and only 28% of SF households rely on cars for transportation. So, we actually do need our city to have its priorities focused on transit first–because otherwise we will all just be stuck in traffic.

Okay! Thanks for reading! Now go vote!

Best,
Kate


Kate Slate – June 3, 2014 California State Primary

Posted: June 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Kate Slate – June 3, 2014 California State Primary

Hello Again,

Tomorrow is California’s primary election, and as you may know, I write a Kate Slate for every federal, state and local election. The goal here is to share with friends what I have found out in preparing my own ballot for tomorrow.

For the past eight or so years, a Slate Party, co-hosted by pal Sacha Ielmorini, has preceded the writing of the “Kate Slate”. Our every-election tradition is a mellow, civilized discussion among friends, who agree to disagree, for the sake of feeling confident about our own voting. If you are interested in being invited to the slate parties, let me know. (Next one will be in September or October!)

For the Kate Slate, I go race-by-race, issue-by-issue, and sometimes end up voting against something that seems right up my alley if it has some fatal (to me) flaw (see Prop B). And, I will let you know if I think it does and why.

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, and I can add you to the email list for the next Kate Slate).

My opinions in the Slate are my own 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 well-informed friends who sometime shed light on aspects I hadn’t considered. And, I am not affiliated with any party.

Since voters recently changed how primaries work in California elections, for most races, all registered voters can now vote for any candidate running, with the top two vote-getters overall moving on to the general election in November, regardless of parties of the voter and candidates.

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

Even if you don’t know your polling place, or where you were last registered to vote, you can always go to City Hall tomorrow 7am-8pm to cast a provisional ballot. Though, if you can, it is always best to cast your own ballot at your own polling place.

If you have an absentee ballot, you can surrender your absentee ballot for a live ballot at your polling place. The poll workers will destroy your absentee ballot and give you a live ballot. That assures you that your ballot is read and counted as you intended it. (ie. When you vote absentee, if a machine rejects your ballot, the machine depends on a human to interpret your absentee ballot. I am not trying to be all conspiracy-theorist here, but feeding your own ballot into the machine and hearing it beep is the best way to ensure your ballot is interpreted as you intend it to be.)

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

Grab and Go:

Note: This is not an instant run-off election—you can only vote for one!

Governor: Luis J. Rodriguez
Lt. Governor: Eric Korevaar
Secretary of State: Derek Cressman
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: John Chiang
Attorney General: Kamala Harris
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
State Board of Equalization: Fiona Ma
US Representative: Barry Hermanson
State Assembly: David Campos
Superior Court Judge: Daniel Flores
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson
Proposition 41: Yes
Proposition 42: Yes
Proposition A: Yes
Proposition B: No

And now, here is what I was thinking in depth…

Governor: Luis J. Rodriguez

For several races on this ballot, I assume the incumbent is going to make it onto the November ballot regardless how I vote, and I am happy to vote for someone who will very unlikely win the November election, whose values align more with my own. This is the case with the Governor’s race. Jerry Brown will very likely be on the November ballot, and will likely be our next Governor. Luis Roderiguez, on the other hand, is a well-respected community leader from Los Angeles, with a long history of political activism for unions, inner-city youth, peace and justice. And, other than Cindy Sheehan, bless her heart, is the only one whose values come close to mine.

Lt. Governor: Eric Korevaar

I came to Eric Korevaar by eliminating first Gavin Newsom, former SF Mayor, for whom I have strong feelings of disdain. Then, I eliminated all the Republicans on principal. Next, I read the candidate statements from the state’s Official Voter Information Guide. Most the candidates didn’t even submit statements, so I eliminated them on principal, too. (They have to at least TRY to be a viable candidate.) And, that left me with Alan Reynolds, whose statement in the Official Voter Information Guide makes me think he may be crazy, and Eric Korevaar. Since the Lieutenant Governor does almost nothing other than wait for the Governor to die, I think he’ll be just fine.

Secretary of State: Derek Cressman

I am not going to spend my entire ballot playing the elimination game or picking out the lesser of the evils. No, there are actually important races on this ballot and the Secretary of State, for their role managing elections and approving voting machines, is one of them.

Derek Cressman is the right candidate for the job because he has long been working for voting integrity and he is passionate about the issue. He worked at Common Cause that works to keep government open, accountable and ethical. Cressman is running against a termed-out California State Senator, Alex Padilla who is just taking the next step in his political career. Whicd do you want running California elections for the next four to eight years?

Controller: Betty Yee

Here is another race where there is a talented candidate who is qualified for the job, running against a termed-out career politician who is less so, and just doing the political career thing. Betty Yee also has a strong vision for her new role including top-to-bottom reform.

Treasurer: John Chiang

John Chiang is termed out as Controller, where he did well as a watchdog protecting taxpayer interests. Perhaps you recall how the state was closing 70 state parks due to the state’s budget shortfall and then all of a sudden $54 million was uncovered of hidden assets the department had been sitting on? Well, that was John Chiang’s discovery. And it saved the parks from closing. He has my vote for his new role as Treasurer.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris

First, Kamala is running against a few crazy people (read their statements, believe me), so there is that. Second, her leadership impressed me when she asked the courts to allow California to continue to allow same-sex marriages while the courts were hearing the constitutionality of Prop 8, even though they denied her request.

She also walked out of talks with big banks responsible for the mortgage crisis when the deal they were arranging was too lenient. She has stood up to the NRA for gun control when other politicians have waffled. I think she has been good in this position and I hope she is reelected for a second term.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones

This is a case where there is only one candidate who even makes sense for the office: incumbent Dave Jones. On one hand you have Ted Gaines who is an insurance businessman (How is HE going to regulate the insurance companies? No conflict of interest there, right?) On the other hand you have Nathalie Hrizi who is running on a platform to abolish insurance companies. And then you have Dave Jones who is the incumbent. Here is what I wrote about him in the Kate Slate when he first ran in 2010, “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.” Who are you going to vote for?

State Board of Equalization: Fiona Ma

Fiona Ma is doing the Chiang-Yee shuffle, going for the office that termed-out Betty Yee who is running for the Controller’s office vacated by termed-out John Chiang who is running for Treasurer. I picked her because she is running against a Republican, honestly.

US Representative: Barry Hermanson

It would be fun to get Barry Hermanson on the ballot with Nancy Pelosi, because even though Pelosi will win her seat back, it would be awesome to see Barry Hermanson in debates against Pelosi (would that happen?), and, it would be fun for the California Ballot to not have a Republican on it for the seat of the US Representative. Can you tell I am not really into the Republican agenda?

State Assembly: David Campos

This one feels like picking the less unpleasant of two unpleasant options. Here is the deal: I just don’t trust David Chiu. After he flopped on the mayoral appointment when Gavin Newsom got elected to Lieutenant Governor I felt so deceived, and now we are stuck with Ed Lee.

And, Chiu didn’t demonstrate the strong willpower we need at the State Assembly when he let a few loud businesses water down a really great street design for Polk Street that would have made the important corridor safer for everyone using it. I just don’t trust him and I worry that his vote will be bought in the state assembly. So he is a no-go.

And then you have Campos. I am simply unimpressed by the work he has done in office. And when I say “work he has done,” I mean, “sponsored legislation,” which has been like, barely any. I mean, if you are going to talk about the Ellis Act legislation, great. That is one! (I know it is an important piece of legislation and I know he’s sponsored more than one piece of legislation, but you get my point.)

Anyway, this is a dry run for November, and my mailbox is already full of mailers from these two guys so it looks like lots of money is going to be wasted on this race no matter how you vote. But, Campos is the better option.

And I wish they would spend their money on something better for San Francisco.

Superior Court Judge: Daniel Flores

I find this race important, too. People never pay attention to the judges on Election Day, but they get elected and hold office for ages, never challenged, ruling in our courts for years. This one is important, too, because the person who should win is not paying for ads (or at least none that I got) and I worry that Daniel Flores, a civil rights attorney, will be outspent by Williams and Kingsley. What turned me off about the two competitors is who endorsed them. I got their mailers and thought, “No, thank you!” (Endorsements from David Chiu, London Breed, Gavin Newsome, and Carole Migden to name a few.) And, Daniel Flores has the endorsements of people and groups I trust (Jane Kim, SEIU 1021, John Avalos).

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

I have endorsed Torlakson for many elections. This is what I wrote in the 2010 November Kate Slate, “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.” He still has my endorsement. He is doing a good job in a difficult office.

Proposition 41: Veterans housing and homeless prevention act of 2014: Yes

I believe we have a responsibility to care for our veterans, and this bond (read: expensive credit debt, but do you have a better idea for a funding source?) provides affordable housing for our veterans. Vote yes.

Proposition 42: Public records. Open Meetings. State reimbursement to local agencies. Legislative constitutional amendment: Yes

This requires local governments comply with sunshine ordinances and providing meeting access, and eliminates the requirement that the state has to reimburse local governments for doing so. Currently, the state has to pay for the costs associated with local governments complying with sunshine ordinances that are state law, and now it makes it the city’s liability to cover the expense of complying. I think it is reasonable.

Proposition A: San Francisco Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond: Yes

I know bonds are expensive, but I also know that I typically don’t vote against emergency preparedness on this shaky ground.

Proposition B: Shall the City be prevented from allowing any development on Port property to exceed the height limits in effect as of January 1, 2014, unless the City’s voters have approved a height limit increase? No

I thought about this a lot and I haven’t been happy about either side, but I came down on this based on a simple premise: I don’t like to vote for bad policy. Even when I support an issue in concept, I typically won’t vote for bad legislation. And, sadly this is bad legislation.

We have a crappy situation wherein the Mayor appoints commissioners and the commissions get to decide important things. Some of these commissions have been able to reverse the will of the voters (google “Clean Power SF” and “Public Utilities Commission”) with potentially devastating consequences. So, this would prevent any development on port property from exceeding current height limits unless they put the development’s height increase on the ballot.

I agree that the commissioners appointed by our Mayors aren’t doing a great job of representing voter’s interests, but resorting to ballot box planning is not the solution. The solution is to change how our commissioners are appointed.

Our city is changing fast and it seems like wealthy interests are doing whatever they want without the say of every day people like us. And people are trying to find ways to slow the pace of change and preserve the San Francisco we love. I can appreciate that. But I also can appreciate how easily wealthy interests can manipulate an election. So, I am voting no.

Anyway, that is a wrap! Happy voting!