Zelda Bronstein’s article on 48 Hills of March 29, When City Planners Treat Us Like Infants, gives an excellent account of the “public input” techniques trending with City planners. First, the fact that public engagement occurs after projects are significantly underway, puts the newly-advised and often surprised public at a disadvantage. Secondly what planners call public engagement amounts to a high-school-type science fair, where the public is invited to view pictures and graphs hanging on walls or propped on tables. A pat on the public’s head, a check mark where it says “public comments” and a project goes forward.
Those who opposed Plan Bay Area as presented, and tried to inject some accountability to voters in the Plan, were consistently met with either science fair-type events or City officials who could not have looked more bored. Plan Bay Area sailed through without ever appearing on any election ballot or carrying any future accountability to voters. (See,Plan Bay Area Adopted Under the Cloak of Midnight, Literally!)
Plan Bay Area seems to have established the precedent. Significant changes to our way of life are planned and implemented at the will of bureaucrats.
The “public engagement” offered by planners of one such change is discussed in the afore-mentioned article. Zelda Bronstein notes that the Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Feasibility Study (RAB) includes “a proposal to take down I-280 and re-route the former freeway traffic on a boulevard through the neighborhoods.” She points that although the infrastructure changes “are massive and controversial,” what is even more debatable is the manner in which public input has been sought. The community was offered a chance to comment on this infrastructure change two years into the planning, via the science-fair technique.
Although all these measures may have some beneficial impact, they also carry negative consequences that proponents wish voters to ignore. The LPSF has consistently served as the “loyal opposition,” ensuring that all sides of issues are examined. For example, in the case of Proposition AA, was the California Legislature even minding the state constitution when granting taxation power to an “authority” whose board members were not elected for their spot on that board? Are voters aware of the long list of “non-profits” related to “conservation” lined up to receive taxpayer cash if Proposition AA passes? Are voters aware that their taxes are already supporting several government agencies tasked with protecting the Bay and surrounding areas? Might it not be a better alternative to coordinate already existing agencies, rather than fund an additional layer of government?
Please stay tuned and hear the whole story. The LPSF will have recommendations, as always expressing not only positions but also the “why” behind the positions, closer to June 7th. For information on all the ballot measures, visit the S.F. Department of Elections at http://sfgov.org/elections/local-ballot-measure-status
“There is no obvious alternative on the right to Mr. Trump, but Republicans believe that an existing minor party, like the Libertarian Party or the Constitution Party, could serve as a viable vehicle, allowing crestfallen Republicans to show up on Election Day despite their distaste for him.”
Welcome to the “minor party” fold. If disaffected Republicans are serious about finding a “viable vehicle” outside of the top-two parties, they will certainly meet some karma. While Democrat and Republican candidates are automatically placed on general election ballots, Constitution, Green, Peace & Freedom, and Libertarian candidates have constantly to fight tooth and nail for ballot access. What the New York Times article means by “There is no obvious alternative on the right,” is that there are no existing conservative-leaning political parties with ballot access in enough states, and starting a new viable party or introducing a new candidate this late in the game are options fraught with impediments. Reason.com named a few on March 1:
o The Tea Party movement helped elect a lot of Republicans to Congress, but so far has done nothing to turn the tide of government growth.
o Much talk about how the economy is rebounding has failed to mask a deep dissatisfaction within the American “working class.” Workers want work not programs, services, or political correctness. Workers are willing to get behind a presidential candidate who might prove to be a loose cannon, but who himself has provided jobs for thousands (even if forced by unions and Labor Department rules to seek H-2B visas to run highly seasonal industries).
o The Founding Fathers established a Republic not a Direct Democracy in hopes that the wisdom of elected statesmen would protect the people from rash voting decisions. Is this what we are witnessing today on the part of conservative Republicans, or are we witnessing protection of a status quo that benefits the establishment class?
The first set of debaters tackled health care. Progressives rallied behind a single-payer system under which everyone would be insured, overhead necessitated by competition would be eliminated, robust negotiation with drug companies by government would be possible, costs to individuals would decrease because out of pocket expenses would be eliminated. Libertarians argued that cost estimates of a single-payer system are unrealistic because government would need to absorb costs now borne by private employers, government’s track record running Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA would predict equally poor outcomes in a government-run health care system, competition and accountability which are principal means of quality control would disappear, and voluntarism would be further discouraged.