In November 2012, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco encouraged voters to vote “NO” on Proposition C, The Housing Trust Fund. Our statement on the Voters’ Pamphlet expressed our concerns:
“Proposition C would commit San Francisco to increasing payouts through 2042 and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that won't be available for other priorities like schools, parks, infrastructure, or health care, plus an open-ended authority to issue bonds without voter approval!”
Proposition C passed by 65.15%. However, two years later in 2014, Mayor Ed Lee issued the “Findings and Recommendations by the Housing Work Group 2014,” which stated,
“When San Franciscans adopted the Housing Trust Fund two years ago, they put in place the most aggressive local funding stream for affordable housing in California. But given the steady decline of federal and state funding for affordable housing, the loss of Redevelopment, and the increasing cost of producing affordable housing, it became clear to Working Group members that our existing funding streams are still not enough.”
So, we are telling you once again, it will never be “enough,” because market forces simply cannot be legislated away. All that will happen is San Francisco piling up debt that will encumber our children and grandchildren for decades to come. This in addition to squeezing all that is possible from residents and businesses doing business in the City. Noted in the Working Group recommendations is the following,
“The Capital Planning and Budget Offices should examine the potential for General Obligation bonds for affordable housing development and rehabilitation over the next several years…The City should examine how best to use tax increment financing to provide affordable housing to a range of income levels, using tools such as the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District recently enabled by the state…” “To leverage limited public dollars for housing, the City should pursue the development of an off balance-sheet Housing Affordability Fund…”
Wall Street high jinks pale in comparison to these plans, and as we noted in 2012, voter approval is not necessary.
A few statistics can clarify our point that there will never be enough. Median household income 2009 – 2013 is $75,604. Of those in the bottom half, 13.5% are below the poverty line. Average rent for a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,800. We ask, as we did in 2012, what distortion and damage are needed to keep pursuing the notion of “housing for all” in the most expensive city in the nation.
Our interest in City College of San Francisco has not waned since our campaign against 2012’s Proposition A, an annual tax of $79 per parcel, which voters passed by a margin of 72.9%.
Our concern in 2012 was expressed in both our “Argument Against” Proposition A as well as our “Rebuttal to Arguments For;” both appeared in the November 6, 2012, Voters’ Pamphlet. The Rebuttal indicated:
“Proposition A proponents threaten voters that 'without additional funding City College will have to deny thousands of students access to education.'
Meanwhile, City College of San Francisco:
* Spends 92% of its budget on salaries and benefits
* Has run deficits the past three years
* Fails to conduct financial audits
* Allows department heads to influence their own salaries
* Pays trustees for meetings they fail to attend
Fiscal mismanagement, not state budget cuts, is the reason for CCSF's financial woes. All 112 of California's community colleges have been impacted by the state government's own fiscal mismanagement, yet only three --CCSF among them--are threatened with losing accreditation.”
We reasoned that there was no point throwing good money after bad as far as City College was concerned. We predicted that all stakeholders, except taxpayers, would fight tooth and nail to keep things exactly as they were – an inefficient system of shared governance, unsustainable pensions, a dearth of courses students needed to graduate, ancient technology, and a perpetual budgetary crisis. The recommendations in our Argument Against Proposition A were straight forward:
“City College leadership needs to face the new economic realities that we are all experiencing. It needs to remove barriers to effective and sometimes painful decision making. Or it needs to step aside and allow a reconstruction team to save CCSF.”
Today, two years after the passage of Proposition A, City College of San Francisco is still in crisis and still fighting reconstruction tooth and nail. The latest chapter entails a decision probably in January 2015 from Judge Curtis Karnow’s whether to give City College another two years to shape up, order another accreditation review, or close. Our bet is that CCSF is way too big to fail, so we might be looking at a new request for another parcel tax very soon.
Private citizens and legislators alike expressed horror and outrage at the National Security Agency when the agency’s phone surveillance practices were revealed. Although the NSA continues to be much maligned, it is still operating and still snooping. We predict the same pattern of much talk and no meaningful action will emanate from the recent revelations that local police in many cities throughout California, including San Francisco, are using phone surveillance equipment. Not only are police using this equipment, but they are keeping quiet about it, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Northern California reported its director of technology and civil liberties as saying,
“Local law enforcement has been taking advantage of millions of federal surveillance dollars streaming into California to sidestep the normal oversight process of city councils and boards of supervisors and keep the public in the dark about important community decisions.”
Maybe the issue here should be that the feds are footing the bill for this equipment at all!
However the issue was reiterated as surveillance is just fine, we just need more legislation regarding it when San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos called for passage of legislation, presumably to provide transparency and accountability in the acquisition and use of surveillance equipment.
The ACLU drafted a clear four-page “model legislation” that requires discussion of the costs and benefits of surveillance equipment, which is a good thing. Those of us who are concerned not only with the use of such equipment, but also with the strings that come attached to the federal dollars pouring into local communities will want to get involved in making sure the costs part of the discussion is forcefully articulated.
Article on ACLU website:
Legislation drafted by the ACLU:
The renovated Nourse Theater and building art at the old Commerce High School.
Libertarians favor individual action over government involvement. Government involvement removes individual initiative and accountability, often producing poor results. We are following this logic when we recommend “No” votes on proposals to implement or expand most government programs.
This logic is evident, for example, in school systems. Parochial and charter schools, often serving disadvantaged children, are known to achieve better results with less money than traditional public schools. An interesting and colorful piece of history of the San Francisco School District illustrates our point.
Teachers old enough to remember call it “the old Commerce High School.” Commerce High was established in 1883 as the business department of Boys High School. Its original location was on Nob Hill, but it relocated to Market Street just before it went up in the flames in the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was rebuilt at Grove and Larkin streets, only to move again to Franklin and Fell Streets in order to make way for the Civic Auditorium.
In its new and as it turned out permanent location on Franklin and Fell, the school received a loftier name, High School of Commerce. In 1927, a magnificent 1,800-seat student auditorium was built in the school site. The Nourse Auditorium, named to honor educator Joseph Nourse, was used for assemblies and other school events.
In 1951, High School of Commerce closed. However the splendid auditorium, with its Beaux-Arts design and grand hanging chandeliers became a coveted destination for special events and fine arts performances. In 1985, this jewel of San Francisco and revenue generator unceremoniously fell victim to San Francisco Judge Ira Brown.
Libertarians have always failed to see why the end of Alcohol Prohibition is seen as a good thing while the war on drugs is tolerated. December 5, 2014, marks the 81st anniversary of the end of Prohibition, a good day to wonder why a colossal failure such as the idea of prohibition won't go away.
The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, establishing alcohol prohibition, came about thanks to the temperance societies concerned about drunkenness in the family, factory owners wanting to increase workers’ productivity, and progressive reformers. “Progressive reformers also took to Prohibition for they saw it as a continuation of their efforts to improve society in general. Temperance societies and Progressives alike saw the need for more governmental control and involvement in citizens' lives.”1
The Amendment prohibited the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol, and it worked – it first. Alcohol consumption fell by 30%! However, all was not well. “The intensity of the temperance advocates was matched only by the inventiveness of those who wanted to keep drinking…The illegal production and distribution of liquor, or bootlegging, became rampant.”2 Bootleggers fought for turf and profits. There was no shortage of recruits, “Jobs were scarce and people needed to provide for their families, gangsterism was dangerous but provided an easy way to make money.”3