Proposition A-Public Health & Safety Bond ($350 million). With an annual budget of $9 billion (larger than some states), The City continues its fiscally irresponsible habit of paying for maintenance and upgrades of the buildings it owns through the issuance of expensive bonds. The fact that buildings need periodic repairs should not shock anyone, so why isn’t City Hall putting a small portion of its bloated budget aside each budget period as a reserve fund for the repairs and upgrades that will be needed? By the way, one of our activists who is into animal adoptions was in a very lowly attended public meeting several months back when this bond was being planned (before the animal shelter part of the bond was replaced with homeless people centers), and the public official admitted that the “public health and safety” promotion of this ballot measure was all “window dressing” to whip up support for the bond. Had he known that there was a Libertarian activist in the room, he probably would have kept his mouth shut, but we thank this nameless public servant for his honesty. We recommend a NO vote on this measure.
Proposition B-Park, Recreation & Open Space Fund. Who doesn’t like parks, but why create a huge set aside for them for the next 30 years to the exclusion of other items in the city budget? Who knows how this city will look financially for the next 3 decades, and when things get tough—as they inevitably will—it would be nice to have the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. This measure locks in $4.5 billion over the next 30 years and guarantees it to the Park & Rec bureaucrats to spend as they see fit. Even Ben Rosenfield (City Controller who is not always as critical of city spending as he should be) has noted about Prop B: “As funds are shifted to meet the proposed baseline established in the amendment, other City spending would have to be reduced or new revenues identified to maintain City service levels.” In addition there is no list of specific projects to be done with the earmarked money, so giving all that taxpayer money to Park & Rec with almost no oversight is a recipe for massive waste. We recommend a NO vote.
Proposition C-Affordable Housing Requirements. This measure will make The City less affordable. By mandating that developers build a higher percentage of subsidized housing, this proposal will push up the prices of all other housing—including used homes. While a few lucky families will benefit from the low cost, every other house buyer and renter will pay more for their housing. The higher the mandated percentage of the subsidy, the less units that end up getting built. This measure will give the Board of Supervisors the power to mandate even higher percentages of subsidized housing, and they will be increasing the mandate—the only question is how high. The current 12% mandate is bad enough, but letting the Board of Supervisors increase the mandate even higher will only add to The City’s housing woes. We recommend a NO vote.
Proposition D-Office of Citizen Complaints Investigations. A police officer killing or injuring a citizen is nothing to be taken lightly. It should be a rare event in which there was no other alternative when life or property were threatened. This measure ensures that all such incidents are investigated by the independent Office of Citizen Complaints, not by the police themselves, regardless of whether a complaint was filed or not. Police officers who justifiably kill or injure while performing their duties in a professional manner should have nothing to fear as they will be exonerated after an OCC investigation. However, overzealous, overreacting, and overreaching police officers may find themselves in hot water after an OCC investigation, and that’s how it should be. Police officers should not be above the law just because they’re in a position of authority and have a difficult job to do. Because this measure will help to keep the spotlight on police behavior, we recommend a YES vote.
Proposition E-Paid Sick Leave. First San Francisco “led the nation” with the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance of 2006 by mandating paid sick leave for all people employed in San Francisco. Then the State of California upped SF one by enacting The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Now The City is back to ensure that it “leads the nation” once more. The damage to small businesses has already been done since all employers of 9 employees or less must provide 40 hours of paid sick leave, and employers of 10 or more must provide 72 hours (9 days) of paid sick leave—and not just when the employee is sick but when relatives or a “designated person” is sick. Bigger companies can absorb the extra costs of paying absent employees, but for smaller companies just trying to survive, mandated additional fringe benefits are the kiss of death, and each mandate kills smaller businesses a little more. For a city that prides itself on promoting small and local businesses, mandates like paid sick leave are the height of hypocrisy. However, since the state passed their own version of the mandate which pretty much mirrors SF’s version, this measure should have left bad enough alone by simply adding in the workplace requirement of one document being sufficient for The City’s and the state’s notice requirement. Instead it went further by adding in employee goodies like starting sick leave accrual on the first day of employment, rather than the 91st day, and also adding in ridiculous uses of paid sick leave like domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking suffered, and organ donation. Indeed if there is an employer out there heartless enough to make an employee report for duty immediately after an organ donation operation, maybe it’s time to find another job! Lastly this measure permits the Board of Supervisors to increase the mandate for paid sick leave in the future—as it and future politicians pandering for votes surely will do. We recommend a NO vote.
Proposition AA-San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention & Habitat Restoration Program. “Save The Bay” for only a buck a month—that is how this measure is being touted. In fact a gang of appointed bureaucrats currently with no funding want to get hold of half a billion dollars of taxpayer money over the next 20 years to dole out to their cronies. If this “historic” measure passes (needs 2/3 of all votes cast in the 9 counties of the Bay Area—it doesn’t go county by county but disregards county lines and we are all one “district” now), this will give the go-ahead for similarly-planned “district” taxes for the future. Check out what Ezra Rapport, Executive Director of ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments), had to say about it being unrealistic to expect the public to approve the kind of money regional bureaucrats are looking for, so they are pushing regional taxes like Prop AA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtVriL9A6Ng&feature=youtu.be. We thank Mr. Rapport, at least for being honest. Other problems associated with this measure are: where are the price tags for the projects to be done with the half a billion dollars, do we really need another bureaucracy around when we already have the Santa Clara Water District and the Army Corps of Engineers to deal with flood control, and why allow bureaucrats to incur public debt without a vote of the taxpayers? (“The Authority shall have the right, power and authority to pledge Special Proceeds to the payment of bonds of the Authority or another public agency.”-Section 7) Furthermore those of us who fought against the implementation of Plan Bay Area (adopted by ABAG and MTC in July of 2013) got a quick lesson in how regional government really works during the “public comment” hearings: they listen politely and then go about unfettered with their own plans. Since this measure is more about a power and money grab than true environmentalism, we recommend a strong NO vote.
Proposition 50-Suspension of Legislators (California State measure). This one was a bit tricky because it does change one thing in a positive way: the California legislature can currently suspend legislators who have broken the law but not stop their pay, and this measure would allow the legislature by a 2/3 vote to stop their pay. That part is an improvement. But why not just expel them in the first place? The law already allows that now, so no change is needed. In fact, this measure raises the bar from majority to 2/3 to suspend, so it might be possible for legislators to claim that they could not get rid of a legislator who broke the law because they could not raise the 2/3 vote to suspend him/her. The higher bar might cause a disgraced and convicted legislator to remain on the job and still collect his/her pay. We think expulsion is a better choice if the legislator has gotten into that much trouble, and the expulsion option is available now and not affected by this measure. Suspending a legislator also means that the constituents back in his/her district have no representation since a suspended legislator cannot vote on anything. When necessary, expulsion is the better option. We recommend a NO vote.
Libertarian Candidates: With the Top Two Rule still firmly in place, there aren’t many Libertarians running in this election, but we would like to give our nod to the few who have thrown their hats in the ring. Gail Lightfoot and Mark Matthew Herd are both running for the US Senate. Gail, a retired nurse, has been on the ballot many times over the years keeping our name out there, and we appreciate her tenacity, so we recommend her highly. In the South Bay, we have John Inks running for the State Assembly from the 24th District, and Kennita Watson running for Congress from the 17th District. John has been very active in the Mountain View community for many years and has served as Mayor and Council Member. John is quietly Libertarian focusing on fiscal conservatism and cutting back on unnecessary regulation when possible. Kennita takes a more brash Libertarian approach on a range of issues. Out in Solano County we have Brian Thiemer running for the Fairfield City Council. Brian has been busy during the last year serving as the Northern Chair of the California Libertarian Party. We salute all of our candidates for taking time out of their personal lives to try and make this world a little more freedom-oriented. We wish them success.
Some people feel that voting is a waste of time, since The Establishment will do what it wants to do regardless. But who is The Establishment? Well, it’s a moving target, so who knows. It used to be the powerful Republican left-leaning East Coast led by the Rockefellers, but the East Coast looks pretty Democrat nowadays. The Illuminati? The Council of Foreign Relations? Or maybe current think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute. Whoever The Establishment is, in order to cause damage, its lackeys still need to be voted into office and their legislation needs to be approved. There is only one entity that has the ultimate power of the vote: We the People, Voters, no one else.
Ah, but if a voter is liberty-leaning and even holding their nose will not allow the voter to cast a vote for the lesser of two evils, should that voter just stay home on Election Day? Here is some food for thought: Is it better to accept a pre-determined future or to help invent that future by taking positive action?
Voters who stay home on Election Day give up their chance to weigh in on how things turn out. Voters who do not take some time to inform themselves of the pros and cons take the chance of voting against their best interest.
We will post our recommendations on local measures soon; meanwhile allocate some time to read the voters’ pamphlet. There is a PDF version on the San Francisco Department of Elections website, and the DOE will post an online version towards the end of April. The pamphlet contains pretty good information on what is going to be on the ballot. Stay tuned!
The Libertarian Party of San Francisco lost a friend. Sergio Klor de Alva, an enthusiastic and affable 24-year old already a veteran of political campaigns of several local office holders, was killed in a car accident on April 26. Several of us at the LPSF had the pleasure of knowing Sergio, and were uniformly impressed not only by his efficiency but also by his friendliness.
At the time of his death, Sergio was the campaign coordinator of Joel Engardio’s Board of Supervisor’s campaign. Engardio had the sad task of advising those of us involved with Sergio’s campaign work of the tragedy. He said, “I’m devastated to announce that Sergio Klor de Alva, our campaign coordinator, was killed early Tuesday morning in a car accident. This is a tragic loss for me personally and for our campaign.”
Indeed, a loss for all who knew Sergio. Friendship crosses political and partisanship boundaries. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to his family.
We have written a lot on this website about the incremental loss of control over our lives that comes with the rise in regionalism, when unelected bureaucrats take over the duties of elected officials. Voters are now being asked to give up control over their pocketbooks as well. On June 7, voters will decide the fate of Measure AA, the Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Measure, a proposal by the bureaucrat-let San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. This measure is first of its kind not only because it will appear on the ballot of all nine Bay Area counties, but also because it establishes the precedent of a regional agency composed of unelected officials having the power to tax and spend.
Around 100 organizations purporting to be “saving the Bay” in one way or another stand to receive the largess flowing from the parcel tax Measure AA would implement. Thus we see much support for the proposal. However, opposition is rising from groups concerned about the spread of regionalism, opposing the ever growing implementation of parcel taxes, arguing against loss of local control over environmental challenges. Here is a sample of the opposition:
o 46-second video clip posted by Save Marinwood, in which Association of Bay Area Governments Executive Director Ezra Rapport speaks on April 6, 2016 to the ABAG Regional Planning Committee of how going to voters for tax money is “just not realistic,” so the idea of Measure AA is to “raise money regionally.” https://youtu.be/saving ABAG
o Article by Linda Koelling, former Foster City Mayor, Big Bay Area Government Costs Voters Big Money, explaining how Measure AA is “the camel in the tent.” Article is on a new website developed by Nine County Coalition. http://nine-county-coalition.squarespace.com
Gerald Cauthen and Thomas Rubin are fountains of knowledge and experience, and we are grateful that they gave so freely of their time and talent as our panelists. At this event, they also proved to be resourceful when the projector we were provided refused to work! Even though they had prepared PowerPoint presentations, they promptly switched to analog and gave excellent talks without a single prop. Speakers can only do that when they really know their stuff!
The panelists covered solid material on the subject of local transit systems.