The Kate Slate – June 7, 2016

Posted: May 26th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Kate Slate | No Comments »

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!


The Kate Slate – November 5, 2013

Posted: November 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Kate Slate – November 5, 2013

Nothing like procrastinating…Luckily this election has a pint-sized ballot so this should be done before the rice is ready.

The slate is pretty easy: vote no on everything, but skip the policy statement. Skip the candidates, they are unopposed.

An important note about leaving items blank on your ballot at the end of the slate (your vote may not be counted unless…).

A – Creates Retiree Health Care Trust Fund rules – no
B – Allows the city to issue building permits for a project at 8 Washington that violates City Planning Code – NOOOOOOO
C – Allows the City Supervisor’s approval of the 8 Washington project take effect – NO!
D – Policy Statement about reducing the cost of prescription drugs – blank

Here is why I am skipping the “candidates”: Carmen Chu for Assessor-Recorder, Dennis Herrera for City Attorney, and José Cisneros for Treasurer. They are all incumbents running unopposed, so save yourself the trouble. Then you can feel smug later when they do stupid things because you didn’t vote for them. Just kidding, kinda.

This topic actually sends me into a rant about democracy because candidates running unopposed is a symptom of an unhealthy democracy and this is just one more symptom. (Fist shaking!) But I will be saving you my rant for now.

A – Creates Retiree Health Care Trust Fund rules – No

Voters created the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund in 2008. Now, this proposition would create rules about how the money is handled. The how and the why is confusing and boring (you can read all about it here on the SPUR Voter Guide), suffice to say it is ballot box budgeting that would lock down the budget for a specific cause, which limits budget flexibility. Even though it seems good that it would make sure money allocated for retiree health care is used for retiree health care, it is problematic to budget at the ballot box because it creates inflexible budgets when budgets need to be able to adapt over time.

B – Allows the city to issue building permits for a project at 8 Washington that violates City Planning Code – NOOOOOOO

We should start with C because the signatures were gathered first to put C on the ballot–to overturn the Board of Supervisors terrible approval of the 8 Washington project. Why was it terrible? They make an exception to SF Planning Code for one property–8 Washington–luxury housing on the waterfront by the Ferry Building. The main exception you hear about is the height increase. But, they also made an exception for parking, which is problematic because the area is already serviced by ample public transit and some of the best walking and bicycling facilities while at the same time the area is plagued by some of the cities worst traffic jams. We cannot afford to make exception to city planning code for luxury apartments. In this democracy, everyone has to play by the same rules for this to work.

So that was all about C… What about B? Once the developers of 8 Washington caught wind of the signature campaign to overturn the Supervisors’ decision, they put B on the ballot that creates a special district for the project that allows the development all the exceptions to the rules that they want. Since I don’t agree with them making this exception to the rule–especially not for luxury homes–I am voting no on B.

One argument for Yes is that the developers have to give $11 million towards low income housing. That money for affordable housing is required by law for developments of that nature, to attempt to counter the problematic impacts that developments like this have on affordable housing, that ain’t charity. And, it is a problematic bandage solution for affordable housing, at that. Don’t buy it.

C – Allows the City Supervisor’s approval of the 8 Washington project take effect – NO!

If you didn’t read B above, start there, because that is where I started talking about C. A yes vote for C means that you agree with the Board of Supervisors and make the exception to the Planning Code for the 8 Washington Project and you want the city to issue the building permits. A no vote means that you want to overturn the Board of Supervisors’ decision and oppose the development. I am voting No as I said before because I don’t think they should make this exception. Now, if B passes and C doesn’t, the proposition with the most votes wins.

D – Policy Statement about reducing the cost of prescription drugs – blank

This is a non-binding policy statement saying something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be nice if the city could actually do anything about the insane prices of prescription meds? But too bad we can’t so let’s just say that we OFFICIALLY think it would be nice if the city could actually do something about the insane prices of prescription meds.” I don’t waste my time voting on policy statements. Something in SF compels people to put these stupid non-binding policy statements on every ballot wasting money and time.

Now that thing I must tell you about leaving parts of your ballot blank!

Luckily my friend Sacha (and Slate Party Co-Hostess) did a bunch of election research and let me know that the only way to ensure your vote is counted if you leave items blank on the ballot is to vote at your polling place.

When you vote at the poll, you insert your ballot into a machine and if there are blanks, the polling place official asks you if you intended to leave blanks. If you say yes, they press a button and your vote is tabulated.

But if you drop your absentee ballot with blanks on it in the mail, drop it in an official election box, or drop it off at the Elections office at City Hall YOUR BALLOT MAY BE NOT COUNTED. When the vote counter who opens the absentee ballots comes across a blank, they are supposed to determine whether or not the voter intended to leave that item blank. I do not know how they do this–crystal balls? tarot cards? tea leaves? But I know if someone is guessing whether or not I intended to leave blanks on my ballot, they could guess wrong. And if they guess wrong and decide not to count my ballot, then NONE OF MY VOTES on that ballot would be counted!

So what do you do about this if you want to be able to leave ballots blank AND ensure your vote is counted? Bring your absentee ballot to your polling place and tell them you want to surrender your absentee ballot for a live ballot. They destroy your absentee ballot and give you a live ballot. Then you vote and leave blanks, feed it into the machine–it beeps–and you tell them you intended to leave it blank. If this sounds like a lot more work than you wanted because you are a lazy voter, you could always for no for D and vote for the three unopposed candidates.

Tah-dah! You voted. Now put on that shiny red Ya Voté sticker already!