Alix’s Voter Guide – SF & CA – March 2020

Other than the Presidential Primary, this ballot is a snoozer. The six ballot measures are mostly uncontroversial, and our congressional and state delegates are largely unopposed. The rest are down-ballot races that very few of you care about… but I do! And that’s why you are here. I’m happy to help you cut through the crap and decide who you will vote for on Tuesday.

Before we begin, I should clarify that the opinions I express in this voter guide are my own, and should not be attributed to my employer, my baby girl, or any of the many Democratic clubs I belong to. Please send all hate mail to me at info (at) votealix.com.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a single mom, a liberal Democrat attorney and a government nerd, whose passions include arts and culture, getting more women elected to public office, and protecting our environment for future generations. I’ve worked on more political campaigns than I can count, including my own, and I also like long walks on the beach.

Here’s the summary, with detailed explanations below:

President of the United States – Elizabeth Warren
*Though, to be clear, I will vote for any Democrat in November

US Congress, D12 – Nancy Pelosi
US Congress, D14 – Jackie Speier
State Senator, D11 – Scott Wiener
State Assembly D17 – David Chiu
State Assembly D19 – Phil Ting
Superior Court Judge, Seat #1 – Maria Evangelista
Superior Court Judge, Seat #18 – Dorothy Chou Proudfoot
Superior Court Judge, Seat #21 – Kulvindar “Rani” Singh

Democratic County Central Committee – AD17 (Central/East side of SF)
Kristen Asato-Webb
Nima Rahimi
Mike Chen
Frances Hsieh
Austin Hunter
Tyra Fennell
Victor Olivieri
Mick Del Rosario
Bivett Brackett
Tami Bryant
Vallie Brown
Steven Buss

Democratic County Central Committee – AD19 (West side)
Abra Castle
Kathleen Anderson
Nadia Rahman
Cyn Wang
Suzy Loftus
Jane Natoli
Seeyew Mo
Mary Jung
Mawuli Tugbenyoh

CA Proposition 13 – YES
SF Proposition A – YES
SF Proposition B – YES
SF Proposition C – YES
SF Proposition D – YES
SF Proposition E – NO

President of the United States – Elizabeth Warren

Wow, they are dropping like flies, aren’t they? On the eve of Super Tuesday, Steyer and Buttigieg just dropped out of the race. That leaves Sanders, Biden, Warren, Klobuchar and Bloomberg. If you are starting to think that Bernie has this thing wrapped up, I refer you to the numbers below, showing that this thing is still anyone’s race.

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 4.57.08 PM

I am supporting Elizabeth Warren because she is the only candidate who gives me hope for America. She understands the struggles of working families, having lived it and breathed it herself, and she has translated that understanding into workable policies that will actually improve people’s lives. She’s thoughtful, fearless and above all, persistent. And her comedic timing is unmatched.

 

“Comedic timing?” You ask. “Why on earth would that matter for a presidential candidate?!” Ask Hillary Clinton that question, and then ask Donald Trump. The candidate with the quickest wit is the one best suited to beat Trump at his own game: on the debate stage and on social media. And that is, to me, what matters more than anything.

I also want to remind you that a candidate only gets a state’s delegates to the national convention if they receive 15% of votes statewide. A candidate can also get delegates in individual congressional districts if they get 15% in that district. I know, it makes my head hurt too. Klobuchar is polling at less than 10%, so if she is your first choice, I suggest voting for someone else to make sure your vote counts. Or, you know, you could vote your conscience. Nothing wrong with that.

But regardless of who you vote for in the primary, I hope you will join me in voting for WHOEVER THE FUCK THE DEMOCRATS NOMINATE AGAINST TRUMP. Seriously. Call voters, knock on doors, donate money, do everything you can to get the Trump criminal enterprise out of the White House.

US Congress, D12 , Nancy Pelosi

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.26.19 PMMadame Speaker is the most powerful woman in American government, and she has wielded that power in favor of progressive values in an extremely challenging political environment. She is partly responsible for wresting the House back to Democratic control in 2018 by supporting the right candidates (including many women!) in swing districts. I also admire her ability to troll President Trump and get under his skin. I am voting for her with enthusiasm.

Several folks are running against her this year, including attorney Shahid Buttar, who ran two years ago claiming that Pelosi isn’t progressive enough for San Francisco. I disagree, and I also think that this is not the year to throw Speaker Pelosi – a woman, a fighter, and President Trump’s political nemesis – out of office. It would be the absolute wrong message to send to the rest of the country.

US Congress, D14, Jackie Speier

Incumbent Jackie Speier has no credible opposition.

State Senator, D11, Scott Weiner

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 5.22.04 PMOver the years I have worked with Senator Scott Wiener in advocating for nightlife and culture and paid parental leave. He is also known for his work in improving public transit and access to housing. He is a tireless and prolific legislator, and in recent years he has been relentless in advocating for the development of housing of all kinds across the state. Because he has been fearless in tackling some of the states’ most intractable issues, he’s also made some enemies – especially among those who oppose real estate development. Personally, I agree with Scott that cities of all sizes need to start making sacrifices to build denser housing and taller buildings – it’s the only way out of our perpetual housing crunch in this state.

Scott has an opponent in this race, Jackie Fielder, an organizer for public banking. Fielder is a political newcomer, but a few high profile progressives have lined up behind her, including current and former Supervisors Gordon Mar, Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, Matt Gonzalez, Eric Mar and David Campos, former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Democratic Socialists, and the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. If you are a Berniecrat, Fielder could be your candidate.

Scott has the support of both moderate and progressive Democrats, including everyone from Speaker Pelosi, Governor Newsom and Senator Harris, to Supervisors Yee, Mandelman, Stefani, Safai, and Walton. Most of the California labor unions support him, as does civil rights icon Dolores Huerta. I agree with them that he deserves a second term.

State Assembly D17

Incumbent David Chiu is unopposed.

State Assembly D19, Phil Ting

Incumbent Phil Ting is virtually unopposed.

Superior Court Judge, Seat #1 – Maria Evangelista

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 5.25.29 PMFirst, I would like to note that there are six candidates for judge on this ballot: all of them women, and five are women of color. This is remarkable. We’ve come a long way, baby!

In the race for Seat #1, both candidates came from humble beginnings. Maria Evangelista was raised by Mexican immigrant farmworkers. Though her parents had no formal education, Evangelista worked hard to become high-school class valedictorian and student body president, going on to graduate from San Francisco State and Vanderbilt University law school. She is a Deputy Public Defender with 17 years of trial experience, and she is endorsed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and all but one of the members of the Board of Supervisors.

Her opponent Pang Ly came with her family on a fishing boat to the United States in 1979 to escape the Vietnam War. She, too, became the first in her family to graduate from college and earned her law degree from the University of Missouri. She is endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle and Assemblymember David Chiu, among others.

Each has received a “qualified” rating from the Bar Association of San Francisco, and I think they both have the experience to be adequate judges. However, I have heard credible evidence that Ly does not have the demeanor to be a fair and impartial judge. In her current role as a commissioner for the SF Superior Court, Ly is widely known to treat parties and their attorneys with disrespect and has bullied litigants into unfair settlements.  A group of attorneys who have appeared before her are actively opposing her candidacy for this reason.

Evangelista is a relative unknown, but she is a mother of two with nearly two decades of trial experience. I am all for electing more hard working mothers into office! She has a broad range of endorsers, which says a lot about her (and, perhaps, her opponent). She is committed to making sure the courts are accessible to everyone regardless of race, income, and primary language, and that’s a mission I can get behind.

Superior Court Judge, Seat #18 – Dorothy Chou Proudfoot

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 5.26.40 PMI see two highly qualified women of color in this race: an administrative law judge and a deputy public defender. Both candidates would bring formidable experience to the Superior Court bench. Proudfoot is a former prosecutor who has presided over more than 200 rent-control cases as an administrative law judge. She spent 16 years as a deputy district attorney, specializing in gang violence and sexual assault. She is endorsed by Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblymember David Chiu and over 20 judges.

Tong has been a deputy public defender for over 16 years, having tried more than 50 cases. She is endorsed by the left side of the Board of Supervisors, and many Superior Court judges.

I am impressed by both candidates’ commitment to their communities. Proudfoot has worked with the Asian American Bar Association to increase diversity in the legal profession and she has trained female lawyers for trial work in a program of the Bar Association of San Francisco. Tong has helped tenant families at the Eviction Defense Collaborative, and domestic violence victims, immigrants and restaurant workers through the Asian Law Caucus.

This might be too nerdy for most of you, but the reason I chose Proudfoot is because she refused to fall for a question posed to her by the San Francisco Democratic Party. In its endorsement process, the Party asks candidates whether, if elected, they will fight for the party’s platform. Judges, however, are specifically required to avoid engaging in political activity that would create the appearance of political bias.  Proudfoot answered no, Tong answered yes. What does it mean that Tong would fight for the SF Democratic Party’s platform as a judge? This goes against everything a judge is supposed to stand for. Proudfoot understands the need for political neutrality in a judge’s robe, so that’s one reason why I’m voting for her.

Superior Court Judge, Seat #21 – Kulvindar “Rani” Singh

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 5.27.49 PMRani Singh is an experienced prosecutor who has appeared in more than 100 trials. She is my choice because she received the rating of “exceptionally well qualified” from the Bar Association of San Francisco, which is very rare to see. Rani is not your typical DA – she leads the Collaborative Courts and Mental Health Units of the DA’s office, working with both victims AND defendants on addressing root causes of crime. She is endorsed by over a dozen Judges including Judge John K. Stewart, whose seat she is running for, Judge Linda Colfax, and elected officials including Senator Scott Wiener, former Senator Mark Leno, Assemblymember David Chiu, Assessor Carmen Chu, and Supervisor Aaron Peskin. That’s a broad coalition of support from both sides of the aisle.

Singh’s opponent is tenants’ rights attorney Carolyn Gold, who has 30 years of experience defending San Franciscans from eviction. She oversees San Francisco’s new Right To Counsel program, which provides free attorneys to tenants facing eviction. She is endorsed by the left side of the Board of Supervisors, as well as the most progressive organizations in town.

Gold’s courtroom experience qualifies her as judge, to be sure. But Rani’s support from a broad spectrum of elected officials and groups is what gives her the edge, IMO. In this polarized political environment, it speaks volumes for Singh that a broad coalition backs her.

Democratic County Central Committee

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 8.53.57 PMThe DCCC is the governing body of the local Democratic party. It registers voters, endorses candidates, and takes positions on issues important to San Franciscans. When I served on the DCCC (from 2010-2016), I was most proud of the work I did to recruit and support female candidates for public office.

You’ll notice that there are several candidates on your ballot who are current or former office holders (see: Supervisors Haney, Mandelman, Safai, Walton, Sheriff Miyamoto). While I am friends with many of these folks, and supported them for the Board of Supervisors or for Sheriff, I am not supporting them for DCCC because I believe that the DCCC seats should be held by everyday folks. In my experience, the elected officials aren’t able to roll up their sleeves and do the work necessary to build the party. They are running because they want to control the party’s endorsement process, and I think that’s not a good enough reason to serve on the DCCC. I also think the DCCC should serve as a bench for future candidates for higher office, as it’s an easier office to run for and therefore a good proving ground for future Supervisors and School Board members. That’s why I’m supporting the non-electeds this time around.

The DCCC is elected by Assembly District. AD-17 has 14 seats and AD-19 has 10 seats, based on their relative population size. The candidates on my list below are progressive and diverse. They are LGBTQ, straight, younger, older, black, white, brown and mostly female.  I chose them because I think they can win, and because I think they will work hard on behalf of the party.

AD17 – Castro, Haight, Marina, Fillmore, North Beach, SOMA, Financial District 

KRISTEN ASATO-WEBB, Environmental Non-profit Manager
NIMA RAHIMI, Transportation Policy Attorney
MIKE CHEN, Data Engineer
FRANCES HSIEH, Immigration Rights Analyst
AUSTIN HUNTER, Nonprofit Policy Analyst
TYRA FENNELL, Director, Arts Non-Profit
VICTOR OLIVIERI, Professor
MICK DEL ROSARIO, Public Health Manager
BIVETT BRACKETT, Commissioner / Entrepreneur / Mother
TAMI BRYANT, Youth Employment Coordinator
VALLIE BROWN, Appointed Supervisor – City and County of San Francisco
STEVEN BUSS, Housing Data Analyst

AD19 – Sunset, Richmond, St. Francis Wood

ABRA CASTLE, Parent/School Volunteer
KATHLEEN ANDERSON, Small Business Owner
NADIA RAHMAN, Digital Communications Strategist
CYN WANG, Small Business Owner
SUZY LOFTUS, Attorney
JANE NATOLI, Financial Crimes Investigator
SEEYEW MO, Civic Tech Entrepreneur
MARY JUNG, Incumbent
MAWULI TUGBENYOH, Chief of Policy

State Prop 13 – YES

Prop 13 will authorize $15 billion in state general obligation bonds for construction and modernization of public schools, including pre-K, elementary schools, community colleges and universities. “Wait,” you ask, “didn’t we just approve a statewide school bond in 2016?” Why yes we did, you nerd, it was Prop 51, and it approved $9 billion in bonds to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges.

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 9.00.03 PMThe revenues from Prop 51 have already been claimed, and unfortunately it was structured on a first-come, first-served basis, so the schools who benefitted were mostly in wealthier and larger school districts who could get their applications in the fastest. Ugh. So here we are, with a LARGER bond measure, specifically designed to prioritize NEED, not SPEED. If Prop 13 passes, the schools in smaller and low-income districts will get the funds they deserve to make their improvements.

It makes me sad that this bond is necessary at all – that the state government isn’t able to dedicate enough of its annual budget to make basic repairs to schools. But I know that California’s structural budget issues are huge and intractable, so here we are… supporting yet another massive loan to the state government to make sure our schools get the upgrades they need.

Part of me wants to vote no, and scream at the legislature to fix the problem at its root. Why don’t they figure out how to fund school repairs without coming to the voters every time?  But the other part of me knows that if this bond measure fails, the poorer schools will simply go without necessary repairs and upgrades, and it will be the children – not the legislature – who will suffer. *Sigh*

When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, the state’s public schools were among the best in the nation. Now that I have a daughter who is approaching school age, it makes me profoundly sad that we are now ranked 37th (!!) for K-12 education. I am voting yes on Prop 13 and I hope that the rest of the state will join me in showing our commitment to public education.

Prop 13 requires two-thirds of the vote to pass. It is endorsed by nearly everybody, including Governor Gavin Newsom, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and every union in California. The only folks opposing it are the folks who hate all taxes.

SF Proposition A – YES

Prop A will authorize $845 million in general obligation bonds to repair City College facilities, including much-needed earthquake safety improvements and improved energy efficiency. The bond will increase property taxes by 1.1 cents/$100 assessed value, and it will sunset in 2053. If you own your home, and your house has $1 million in assessed value, your property tax will go up by $111 per year. This measure requires 55% of the vote to pass.

Are you detecting a theme here? State and local governments aren’t able to fund school repairs through their usual budget process, so they have to come to the voters for massive loans, paid for by property owners.

When I research bond measures, I usually ask a few questions: (1) Does it have a worthy purpose? (2) How do we know the money will go to the right places to solve the problem? (3) Will there be enough oversight and accountability?

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 9.09.15 PM

NOT an actual photo of a City College facility

The answer to question 1 is almost always yes. Here, the bond revenues will go toward desperately needed repairs to City College’s facilities, including dilapidated roofs and walls, outdated heating and plumbing systems, buildings that are seismically unsound. City College is an important piece of the city’s education landscape; it gives San Franciscans from all walks of life the opportunity to remake themselves.

Question 2 is more complicated. City College has been plagued in the recent past by mismanagement and headline-grabbing faculty layoffs. It nearly lost its accreditation in 2012 because of its management issues. However, setting the management issues aside, I believe the bond is well structured to prioritize the highest need. The majority of the revenues will go toward a specific list of repair, renovation and construction projects that have already been identified based on their state of repair and shovel-readiness. About 10% will go toward specific seismically-related improvement projects, and another large chunk will go toward improving disability access, which has been deferred for decades.

As for Question 3 (accountability), Prop A would require the creation of a citizens’ oversight committee to review how the bond funds are spent. This is standard practice, and will help ensure that the funds are allocated in a way that the voters intended. The committee will NOT include district employees, and WILL include a member of a taxpayers association, who will certainly scrutinize the way the money is spent. The committee will also produce annual audits and ensure that none of the money went toward administrator salaries.

I’ll support this one with the same reasoning as Prop 13, above. City government should absolutely have a better way to fund critical education needs like, oh, keeping school roofs from caving in. However, voting no on this measure won’t solve the city’s basic budget problems. I think this cause is worthy – critical, even – and so I’m voting yes.

SF Proposition B – YES

Yep, ANOTHER BOND MEASURE. This one is for emergency preparedness, and will issue $628 million in general obligation bonds. It will increase property taxes by 1.5 cents/$100 of assessed property value, sunsetting in 30 years. If you own your home, and your house has $1 million in assessed value, your tax will go up by $150 per year. This measure requires two-thirds of the vote to pass.

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 9.03.06 PMIs it a worthy cause? Seismologists say there is a 72% likelihood that the next major regional earthquake will strike by the year 2043. YIKES. In 2019, a civil grand jury report warned that some SF neighborhoods are woefully underserved by emergency water supply systems for firefighting, including the Sunset and the Bayview. I absolutely want to know that every neighborhood in the city is prepared when the big one hits. So – yes, it’s a worthy cause.

Will the money go to the right places? Yeah, I think so. The revenues will go toward improving or replacing firefighting and emergency preparedness facilities, including: (1) deteriorating pipes and cisterns that ensure firefighters a reliable water supply; (2) neighborhood fire and police stations; (3) the City’s 911 Call Center; and (4) other disaster response and public safety facilities.

Will there be accountability? Yep. Prop B would require a citizens’ oversight committee to do periodic public reporting, as well as the creation of a website describing bond projects and progress.

The bond’s authors are Supervisors Catherine Stefani and Sandra Lee Fewer, and Mayor London Breed, women who do not normally come together on major policy initiatives. I think this demonstrates the nonpartisan nature of this measure, and explains why a broad spectrum of San Francisco political players are backing it.

Literally every elected official supports this measure, as well as SPUR, the Firefighters Union, the Chronicle, and anyone else who matters. There is no organized opposition. Please vote yes!

SF Proposition C – YES

This is a cleanup measure and it’s fairly innocuous. It amends the city charter to make retiree health care coverage available to certain city employees who used to work for the San Francisco Housing Authority. The City Controller estimates an increased cost to the city of approximately $80,000 spread over many years. The reason it’s on the ballot is because changes to the city charter can only be approved by the voters. It’s annoying that such minutiae needs to be on your ballot, but this is only way to make this change. I’m supporting it because the cost is minimal, and it seems like the fair thing to do.

I haven’t been able to find an organized campaign for it, or an organized campaign against it. So yeah, not a controversial measure.

SF Proposition D – YES

Prop D, if it passes, will impose a new vacancy tax on commercial landlords and tenants who keep ground floor retail space empty for 6 months in certain neighborhoods. The city will use the revenues to support small businesses.

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 9.12.13 PM

Empty storefronts are bad for neighborhoods – they contribute to blight, and they drag down the neighboring businesses. The premise of Prop D is that landlords are intentionally keeping these properties empty while they wait for a higher-paying tenant, to the detriment of all of the businesses around them. And if the city makes it more expensive to keep a storefront vacant, landlords will do more to get the spaces rented more quickly.

The Prop D tax would apply in areas like North Beach, Divisadero Street in NoPa, Taraval Street in the Sunset neighborhood and 24th Street in Noe Valley – all neighborhoods with vital business corridors, and which have been impacted by empty storefronts. According to the SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development, a neighborhood should maintain about 5-10% vacancy rate in retail units to remain healthy. The current citywide average is about 12 percent, and it is much much higher in some commercial corridors.

Greedy landlords are just one of the reasons for vacant storefronts, of course. Vacancies also result from permitting problems, recessions, fire and earthquake damage. Prop D accounts for some of these problems by including a generous grace period (it doesn’t take effect until 2021), and by making exceptions for fire and earthquake repairs. It also gives the Board of Supervisors the ability to amend or freeze it in a recession. It does NOT address other reasons for vacancy including the cost of construction, the city’s permitting processes, the city’s seismic retrofitting requirement, etc.

The elephant in the room is Amazon and other online retailers, which are putting the brick-and-mortar shops out of business. According to SPUR, private sector employment has grown by 32% in SF since 2001, while brick-and-mortar retail employment has declined by 12%. Just as the San Francisco economy is booming by most other measures, storefront retail is hurting, and it’s even less able to pay the rising rents in commercial corridors.

All that said, I am voting yes on Prop D because I think it will actually make it harder for landlords and commercial tenants to keep a storefront vacant. It may mean that commercial rents will also start to come down around the city, and that is a good thing for everyone (except for the commercial property owners). I also appreciate that the authors included the feedback of many stakeholders in the design process, including small business leaders, neighborhood districts and city agencies.

Prop D has the support of the entire Board of Supervisors, Mayor London Breed, and merchant associations. Commercial landlords oppose it, as does the San Francisco Republican party.

SF Proposition E – NO

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 9.18.05 PMProp E would limit the development of new office space by tying office development projects to whether the city is meeting its affordable housing goals. It is true that the city has enjoyed an incredible employment boom (thanks, Big Tech!); however, it has not been able to build housing fast enough to accommodate all the people who are taking those jobs. As a result, a lot of these folks need to live outside the city, and all those commuters are bad for traffic congestion, transit resources, the environment, etc.. The idea behind Prop E is that we need to bring jobs and housing into a better balance – and we do that by requiring that more affordable housing be built BEFORE we build ANY new office space.

In my humble opinion, the answer to the imbalance isn’t SUBTRACTING office space and choking the city’s growth, it’s BUILDING MORE HOUSING. Prop E doesn’t fund or facilitate the building of housing. In fact, by stopping office developments, Prop E would actually rob the city of “impact fees” that developers pay that WOULD actually fund affordable housing. Doh!

The City’s own economist estimates that over the next 20 years, Prop. E would deprive San Francisco of more than 10 million square feet of office space, 47,000 jobs, $114 million in public programs and services, and 8.6 percentage points in economic growth, the equivalent of $23 billion. Office rents will continue to go up, which will hurt smaller, less profitable businesses. Limiting job growth will not make San Francisco more affordable. This is just bad policy.

Prop E is supported by the progressive members of the Board of Supervisors and the SF Tenants Union. Opposing the measure are SPUR, Mayor London Breed, and the moderate Supervisors, as well as SF Housing Action Coalition, YIMBY and State Senator Scott Wiener.

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Thanks for reading! If you found this voter guide helpful, please donate here to help me cover my costs, and share this post on social media to spread the word. Writing voter guides is a labor of love for me, so I appreciate your support.

Ending on a High Note

This was a particularly nasty political season in San Francisco, but it ended on a high note at the DCCC meeting last night. It gives me chills to think about it.

It was the last meeting of the outgoing DCCC – 8 days after the election (in which 11 incumbents lost their seats), 4 days after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and 1 day after some post-election nastiness (that I will write about later). We were all emotionally raw, with some of us feeling very angry and hurt by the actions of others sitting beside us at the table. Some members had asked to cancel the meeting because of lingering resentments and mistrust.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.27.12 AMDemocratic club presidents Lito Sandoval (Latino Democratic Club) and Peter Gallotta (Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club) spoke during public comment and called on us to commemorate the Orlando shooting. It was the largest mass shooting in American history, at an LGBT nightclub, with the majority of victims being Latino. And San Francisco is the capital of gay culture in America, and has a large and vibrant Latino community.

So it hit us all like a ton of bricks. Duh. Yes. Of course we should do something. But we had all been so wrapped up in our intra-party feuds that no one had written a resolution, which is the way we take positions as a group.

Normally, the DCCC is unable to take any action that is not on the agenda, and this was not on the agenda. Resolutions usually take several days of thought and collaboration among members, with debate and wordsmithing. Lots of wordsmithing. In my 6 years on the DCCC, no one has written a resolution in the meeting itself, because it is way too hard to get it right. There is no WiFi or cell service in the room where the meeting takes place, so we don’t have access to important information to include in the document. But – this was our last meeting as a group, so it was worth taking a shot. I volunteered to work with Peter Gallotta to write up something short but meaningful, with everyone’s consent. And yes, there was some editing by the group, but we ended up having a beautiful kumbaya moment where we realized that even though we have bitter disagreements, we also have many shared values.

Here’s what we wrote. The body agreed to add it to the agenda as a last-minute item, and the resolution passed unanimously. It was my final action taken as a DCCC member, and I’m proud to have ended my tenure there on such a positive note.

Resolution of the San Francisco Democratic Party 
Regarding the Mass Shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando

WHEREAS, the members of the San Francisco Democratic Party are horrified by the news of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016; and

WHEREAS, the shooting targeted a well-known LGBTQ nightclub on a night celebrating the Latinx* community, at the height of National Pride Month. Nightclubs are safe havens for LGBTQ people, making this shooting particularly devastating for queer and trans communities, and highlighting the need to protect these community gathering places; and

WHEREAS, the number of mass shootings that take place in the United States signifies a crisis, and it is clear that assault weapons must be prohibited from private ownership.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Democratic Party stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ and Latinx communities in the wake of this terrible tragedy; honors all the LGBTQ people killed and injured by violence, particularly those who are undocumented and may have been denied medical care as a result; and rejects Islamophobic responses to this horrific attack; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Democratic Party calls on state and federal Democratic Party leaders to recommit themselves to passing comprehensive gun control measures, and addressing hate crimes against the LGBTQ community and communities of color; and demands that all who are injured in such events receive medical care regardless of immigration status.

Sponsors: Alix Rosenthal and Peter Gallotta

Co-Sponsors: Joshua Arce, David Campos, Malia Cohen, Petra DeJesus, Matt Dorsey, Bevan Dufty, Zoe Dunning, Rafael Mandelman, Carole Migden, Leah Pimentel, Rebecca Prozan, Francis Tsang, Scott Wiener, Kat Anderson, Joel Engardio, Tom Hsieh, Mary Jung, Hene Kelly, Meagan Levitan, Trevor McNeil, Marjan Philhour, Assemblymember David Chiu, Assemblymember Phil Ting, Senator Mark Leno, Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma

*Latinx is not a typo. The “x” is intentional. 

 

Big Ol’ Voter Guide – June 2016

It’s a very short ballot for the June 7 election! This is a good thing, because the voters are so focused on the Presidential race that they might not notice that there are lots of other important decisions they need to make. These include the US Senate race to replace Barbara Boxer, the State Senate race in SF, a few ballot measures, and ME! I jokingly refer to myself as the lowest-ranking elected official in California, because I hold a seat on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. The DCCC election is every 4 years on the Democratic presidential primary ballot, and there are 14 seats up for grabs on the east side of SF, and 10 seats on the west side. More about that later.

Without further ado, I submit to you my Big Ol’ Voter Guide. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a liberal Democrat attorney with a background in municipal law who currently works for small technology companies, and whose passions include protecting and promoting San Francisco’s nightlife and culture, getting more women elected to public office, and bringing more public art to cities around the world. I’m Second Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, and I also like long walks on the beach.

For those of you keeping track, it took exactly 2.75 bottle of rosé to help me write this guide. No, not in one sitting!

President – #DumpTrump
US Senate – Kamala Harris
US Congress, District 12 – Nancy Pelosi
US Congress, District 14 – Jackie Speier
State Senator, District 11 – Scott Wiener
State Assembly, AD-17 – David Chiu
State Assembly, AD-19 – Phil Ting
DCCC, AD-17 – East side of SF (in order of appearance on the ballot)
London Breed, Francis Tsang, Arlo Smith, Jill Wynns, Scott Wiener, Zoe Dunning, Malia Cohen, Tom Hsieh, Rafael Mandelman, Gary McCoy, Joshua Arce, Leah Pimentel, Rebecca Prozan, Alix Rosenthal (me!)
DCCC, AD-19 – West side of SF (in order of appearance on the ballot)
Keith Baraka, Mary Jung, Joel Engardio, Mark Farrell, Rachel Norton, Tom A. Hsieh, Emily Murase, Trevor McNeil, Kat Anderson, Marjan Philhour
Judge – Paul Henderson
State Prop 50 – Suspension of Legislators – No
SF Proposition A – SF Public Health & Safety Bond – Yes
SF Proposition B – Set-Aside for Park & Rec Department – Yes
SF Proposition C – Allowing for Increases in Affordable Housing Requirements – Yes
SF Proposition D – Investigations of All Police Shootings – YES!
SF Proposition E – Corrections to Paid Sick Leave Ordinance – Yes
Regional Measure AA – SF Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program – YES!

President – #DumpTrump

Chances are good you have already made your decision about Bernie versus Hillary. Maybe you’re already posting articles on Facebook claiming that your candidate’s opponent is corrupt or incompetent, or can’t win against Trump. So I’m not going to tell you how to vote on this one, only PLEASE PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE SUPPORT WHOMEVER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINATES AGAINST DONALD TRUMP. The Donald has said that he wants to deport 11 million immigrants, he has a deplorable history of treating women badly, and his tax plan is a joke. He joyfully encourages violence at his rallies and enjoys the support of white supremacists. Even if you think the federal government is corrupt and incompetent, I beg you not to let a President Donald Trump pick the next several Supreme Court Justices or represent America to the world for the next four years.

US Senate – Kamala Harris

Future Governor Kamala Devi Harris

Attorney General Kamala Devi Harris

When you look at your ballot, you’ll notice that it lists all 34 candidates vying to replace Barbara Boxer in the US Senate, including Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all the third parties too. This is because in 2010 California adopted the “Top Two” primary system for state and federal offices, which eliminated party primaries for these candidates. Top Two pits all candidates regardless of party affiliation against one another in “preliminary” elections (in June) with the two highest vote getters advancing to the general election (in November), even if those candidates come from the same party.

You might find it interesting to note that 44% of California voters are registered Democrats, 29% are registered Republicans, 21% have no stated party preference, and the remaining 6% is divided among the smaller parties. This is why Democrats dominate California’s statewide elections, and it would be highly unlikely that a Republican wins Boxer’s Senate seat. In fact, both of the Top Two candidates who will advance to the November election will almost certainly be Democrats.

Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez are the two candidates who have been getting the most press in this election, and the most likely to advance to November, based on polling data. Harris is my choice – she is the former District Attorney of San Francisco and has been a powerful advocate for consumers and privacy protections, prisoner anti-recidivism programs, victims of mortgage fraud, and same sex marriage. She also brings a fresh perspective to the office, as she is the first African American, the first Indian American, and the first woman to serve as the state’s top cop.

Sanchez represents a Congressional district in conservative Orange County, which should tell you everything about her politics. She is a Blue Dog Democrat who has voted against important gun control legislation and for the tobacco industry. She is… unpolished, and once made a faux Indian war whoop as she flippantly tried to explain the difference between Native Americans and Americans of Indian descent.

I saw them both speak at the California Democratic Party Convention in February, and the difference between the two was stark. Sanchez’s speech consisted of a list of her accomplishments, and she struck a defensive tone about her conservative votes. By contrast, Kamala was luminous. She had the room on its feet when she talked about the divisive politics running though the Republican presidential contest. What they don’t understand, she said, is that America’s racial and ethnic diversity is its strength. You want to ‘Make America Great Again’?” she asked of Donald Trump and his supporters, “AGAIN FOR WHOM?” And finally, Elizabeth Warren stars in Kamala’s newest campaign video, below! Please vote for her. She gives me hope for this country.

US Congress, District 12 – Nancy Pelosi

Every two years I say the same thing: we are lucky to have Nancy Pelosi represent San Francisco. Her accomplishments in three decades in the House of Representatives are far too many to list here. She has stood up for reproductive rights, immigrants, women, LGBT folks and the poor. She fought hard to protect the social safety net when the Republicans in Congress wanted to slash it in 2013 and she helped shepherd Obamacare through the House, which was an incredible achievement in itself. Recently, she has advocated for open military service for transgender folks. If the GOP completely crumbles in the November election and large numbers of Republican voters stay home (fingers crossed!), it is not impossible that the Democratic Party takes Congress back in this election, and Pelosi will be Speaker again. Can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Also: watch this interview of Nancy by her daughter, it’s really great.

US Congress, District 14 – Jackie Speier

I have great admiration for Jackie Speier. She is fearless, thoughtful and smart, and she also has a remarkable personal story. In 1978 she was left for dead on a tarmac in Guyana with her boss Congressman Leo Ryan during the airstrip shootings that triggered the massacre at Jonestown. In her extraordinary career in public service, she has championed consumer protections, banking reform, and increasing federal funding to public transit in the Bay Area, particularly to Muni and for the electrification of Caltrain, an important component of the California High-Speed Rail Project. She has been tough on PG&E for the San Bruno explosion, and she has taken on the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military. I can’t say enough great things about Jackie! Also: she has no credible opposition.

State Senator, District 11 – Scott Wiener

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.03.30 AMOver the years I have worked closely with Supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener, who are running against each other for Mark Leno’s Senate seat. (Leno is termed out). Both candidates have their merits, and it pains me to have to choose one over the other.

Jane has served on the Board since 2010, and she represents District 6, which is mostly in SOMA and the Tenderloin. Jane’s district has felt real estate development pressure more intensely than most in the last 6 years, and so it’s understandable that her office has been focused on land use and development issues. I like what she has said about gentrification (the Tenderloin doesn’t need more market rate housing, it needs more services for the existing residents), and I think she’s been deft at negotiating with developers. Jane was also the sponsor of the controversial “Twitter tax break” that attracted tech firms like Twitter to the mid-Market area, earning her the scorn of many progressives. It’s interesting to see her now backpedaling on her support of tech companies by opposing the City’s commuter shuttle program, calling Google buses “rolling gated communities.” If you hate the Google buses, Jane is probably your candidate.

I have endorsed Scott because I think he will be a more effective legislator in Sacramento, and he is one of the smartest people I know in city government. He has done more than Jane on the Board of Supervisors to support women and families, including his recent legislation to require SF employers to provide six weeks of paid parental leave. He is a fierce advocate for nightlife and culture, and he will continue Senator Leno’s fight for 4am bar closures in the state legislature. And most important – Scott has done most of the heavy lifting in recent years to improve public transit, to fight for improvements and funding, and he will continue to do so in the State Senate. Senator Leno has endorsed him, and that says a lot to me since he knows the job, he knows both candidates well, and has worked with them both. I urge you to vote for Scott.

Also: keep in mind that because of California’s Top Two primary system (see above), Scott and Jane will face each other again in November because they are the only two (viable) candidates in the race. I know, weird.

State Assembly, AD-17 – David Chiu

davidChiuProfileSquareDavid is a close ally of mine, and he has no credible opposition for his re-election to the State Assembly. In his two years in the state legislature, he has authored 11 bills that have been enacted into law, and he has focused his efforts on affordable housing, supporting women, children and families, standing up for workers and immigrants, improving health care, supporting education, and fixing transportation. Just as important, he is a longtime advocate for car-free living, and every year he rides a Burning Man art car in the San Francisco Pride Parade! Awesome.

State Assembly, AD-19 – Phil Ting

Even though he and I haven’t always agreed, Phil Ting has my support. He is doing a great job of representing the West side of San Francisco. He currently serves as the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, and in this capacity he has been instrumental in changing how schools are funded in California through the Local Control Funding Formula. He is a champion of bike safety and incentivizing electric vehicles, and he has also passed through the Assembly one of the most progressive gender-neutral bathroom policies in the country. He is also virtually unopposed. Go Phil!

Democratic County Central Committee – Vote for me! And also these other awesome people.

There are three levels of the Democratic Party: the DNC, which is the national organization that endorses presidential candidates (i.e. Bernie or Hillary), the state parties (which endorse candidates for Governor, US Senate, etc. in each state), and then there are the local parties. The Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) is the governing body of the local Democratic Party, and I currently serve as its Second Vice Chair here in San Francisco. The DCCC endorses candidates in local races, charters Democratic Clubs, registers new voters, and takes positions on issues of local and statewide importance.

The DCCC race happens every four years, and you have to be a registered Democrat to vote in my race. (To check your voter registration, go here) And it’s a crazylondon election this time – there are 39 candidates in my district, and many of them are current or former elected officials who have more name recognition than I do. And some of them have no interest in participating in the critical party-building activities that the DCCC does. (Can you see former Congressman John Burton volunteering at naturalization ceremonies to register new voters? I think not). Which is a shame. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the party will fall apart if all of these famous folks get elected, because there will be no one left to do the work.

I have been a lifelong Democrat, and have been active in countless campaigns at the local, statewide and federal levels, as candidate, treasurer, fundraiser and counsel. As the DCCC’s Second Vice Chair, I am responsible for running the party’s endorsement process for every election. I have worked hard to recruit and train Democratic women to run for office, including serving as a trainer for the Emerge Program, and running a slate of women candidates for DCCC in 2012. In my 6 years on the DCCC, I have dedicated considerable time and energy to the party, and I enjoy the work! I would be honored to continue it for another four years.

progress demsIn the 17th Assembly District (east side of San Francisco), I am running with a slate of folks who are also ready to roll up their sleeves: London Breed, Francis Tsang, Arlo Smith, Jill Wynns, Scott Wiener, Zoe Dunning, Malia Cohen, Tom Hsieh, Gary McCoy, Joshua Arce, Leah Pimentel, Rebecca Prozan, and ME! I’m dead last on the ballot. And even though he’s not on my slate, please cast your 14th vote for Rafael Mandelman, because he’s a good Democrat and has worked hard for the party for 10 years.

In the 19th Assembly District (west side of San Francisco), please vote for Keith Baraka, Mary Jung, Joel Engardio, Mark Farrell, Rachel Norton, Tom A. Hsieh, Emily Murase, Trevor McNeil, Kat Anderson, and Marjan Philhour (in that order of appearance on the ballot).

If you want to know more about all of these candidates, check out the Progress Slate’s website.

Judge – Paul Henderson

Three smart and competent candidates are running for this judicial seat: Paul Henderson, Victor Hwang and Sigrid Irias. Irias is a civil litigator and a past president of the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association. Hwang is a civil rights attorney with both criminal and civil law experience who also serves on the San Francisco Police Commission. Henderson is a former Deputy District Attorney who has dedicated his career to public service and currently works in the Mayor’s Office on criminal justice issues.

A funny thing has happened in this race. The two leading candidates – Hwang and Henderson – have become aligned with the candidates in the State Senate race, and their fates will probably rise and fall with those candidates. Supervisor Jane Kim has endorsed Victor Hwang, who is generally thought to be the more progressive candidate, and is engaged to marry a legislative aide of Kim’s. Supervisor Scott Wiener supports Paul Henderson, with whom he has worked for many years, and both men have served on the board of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.

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Paul Henderson

When the DCCC had to decide on a candidate to endorse, it was a tough call for me because all three candidates are highly qualified. But I am impressed with the number of high powered endorsements that Henderson has been able to earn, and I agree with him that the bench needs to reflect the diversity of the community it serves. Henderson is a black gay man – a constituency that is underrepresented on the bench generally. Given what is happening with the criminal justice system’s unfair treatment of black men nationwide, I think we should put more progressive black men on the bench to help insure that this demographic receives fair treatment from the courts. Vote for Henderson.

 

p.s. If no candidate wins at least 51 percent of the vote in June, the top two vote-getters will face each other in November.

State Proposition 50 – Suspension of Legislators – No

2014 was an extremely bad year for the California Senate: Senator Wright (D-Inglewood) was convicted of voter fraud and perjury for lying to voters about living in his district; Senator Calderon (D-Montebello) was charged with tax fraud, accepting bribes and money laundering; and Senator Yee (D-San Francisco) was arrested on suspicion of soliciting bribes, arms-trafficking and racketeering. The Senate voted to suspend these guys, though they continued to draw a paycheck and receive benefits until their cases were resolved because the current rules don’t allow the Senate to suspend its own members without pay.

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Former Senator Leland Yee is serving time for corruption

Proposition 50 is a reaction to this episode. If it passes, it would explicitly authorize the Legislature to suspend members without pay on a two-thirds vote.

Now I’m not saying that criminals should keep getting paid their full salaries, but I do have concerns about the potential abuses of this law. In the American criminal justice system, a person charged with a crime (even a politician!) is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. This is why I think we should not allow a legislator’s colleagues to suspend them without pay until their case is resolved.

Moreover, I worry that the law could be used for nefarious political purposes against a legislator who is unpopular among his or her colleagues. The ballot measure doesn’t set any standard for what transgressions would justify suspension, and there’s no mechanism to ensure that it would be applied consistently. Eek.

I also wonder whether this is really a problem that needs solving. Before 2014, the Senate had never once suspended one of their members, and they haven’t since. State Senators make $90,000 a year (!), and so we’re not talking about a huge amount of savings for the state budget. I say vote no.

SF Proposition A – SF Public Health & Safety Bond – Yes!

Proposition A would increase the City’s debt by $350 million through issuing general obligation bonds and increasing property taxes to repay the debt. Or rather – it was designed to MAINTAIN the current level of property taxes because this measure will only replace bonds that are retiring this year. So homeowners won’t notice the difference in their property taxes if Prop A passes. Very smart.

The money would be spent like this:

  • $272 million:Renovation, expansion, and earthquake safety enhancement for fire safety and healthcare facilities, including General Hospital and the Department of Public Health.
  • $58 million:The construction of a larger and more modern city ambulance center and the repair and modernization of fire stations.
  • $20 million:Improving homeless care facilities.

Prop A was proposed by the Mayor, and 10 of 11 members of the Board of Supervisors have endorsed it, along with the Chronicle and the San Francisco Democratic Party. From what I can tell, the only people who oppose it are libertarians and people who generally hate taxes.

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Will this building be safe if the Big One hits?

I suppose if you’re a homeowner you’ll do the math and figure out how much your property tax bill would decrease if this measure fails (e.g., $90 per year for a $1 million home). If you’re a renter, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t vote for it, since technically it won’t cost you anything (unless you buy a home in San Francisco in the next 19 years, heh).

Personally, I think it goes without saying that if there are ANY buildings in SF that need to be seismically sound, it’s our fire stations and hospitals. What happens when the Big One hits?? We need our first responders to survive it. Right? What happens if we DON’T approve Prop A? I’m afraid to ask.

Also: given the raging debate about SF’s growing tent cities and why we aren’t doing more to house our homeless population, it would also seem like a no-brainer to put more money into homeless care facilities. Vote yes.

SF Proposition B – Set-Aside for Park & Rec Dept – Yes

It used to be that the parks in San Francisco were better funded. In the year 2000, the city allocated 2.1% of the General Fund to the Rec & Park Department. That percentage has declined steadily over time, and in 2016 that percentage has dwindled to 1.2% (which = $64 million, FYI). That means less money for the parks and playgrounds, and it’s why the Department has been forced to get creative with its funding sources. (See vendors inside city parks. Remember Chicken John’s puke-in in 2011? I do. Ew.)

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Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park

What this ALSO means is, the parks that get the most love are the ones that are revenue-generating (think golf courses, Golden Gate Park, Kezar Stadium). And the ones that don’t generate revenue – like parks and rec centers in poor neighborhoods – are often neglected.

Prop B is sponsored by Supervisor Mark Farrell. It is the first ballot measure that would make the Rec & Park Department look at disparities in funding and service levels in low-income neighborhoods, and provide equitable funding for parks and playgrounds for every neighborhood in the city. I think that’s great!

Prop B would also require a minimum level of funding every year for city parks – set at $64 million, with a $3 million increase every year for ten years (unless the city experiences a deficit of $200 million or more). This is what we call a “set-aside” and I usually vote against set-asides because we already have too many in the city budget, tying the hands of the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors every year when they are making decisions about the city’s funding priorities.

But on rare occasion, it is necessary to institutionalize a priority into the city budget. This feels like one of those times. City government has shown its willingness – year after year – to continue to squeeze revenue out of our parks, in a way that leads to vast disparities in funding priorities. Nine members of the Board support the measure – as if to say “please tie our hands.” I’m voting yes.

SF Proposition C – Allowing for Increases in Affordable Housing Requirements – YES

This is by far the most complicated measure on the ballot, so bear with me.

The City Charter has affordable housing requirements for real estate developments that have 25 or more housing units in them. These developers can either make 12% of their units “affordable,” or pay a fee to the city, or build new affordable units offsite.*

Because these requirements are in the Charter, the only way to change them is to go back to the voters for another Charter amendment, which is an expensive and cumbersome process. Almost everyone agrees that the current requirements are too low, and many developments in process have already agreed to affordable (aka “inclusionary”) housing standards that are higher than 12%.

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Prop C Sponsors, Supervisors Kim and Peskin

Rather than coming to the voters with a new number that’s higher than 12%, the authors of Prop C propose that we take it out of the Charter altogether. Prop C would authorize the Board of Supervisors to change affordable housing requirements by ordinance. Their argument is that with the rapidly changing housing needs of the city, the affordable housing requirements need to be more nimble, to change over time.

AND – here’s the key – Prop C provides that until the Board of Supervisors takes further action, the affordable housing requirement for new developments would go up to 25%, and Prop C would increase the off-site fee and the off-site units required if the developer doesn’t want to build on-site affordable units.**

This would make San Francisco’s inclusionary housing percentage the highest in the nation. Boston is at 13%, San Jose requires 15%, and New York requires that 20% of units be affordable in exchange for making the building much larger than otherwise permitted. Note, however, that there are developments in SF that have agreed to much higher affordable percentages. For example, the new development on the Giants parking lot agreed to 40% affordable. (!) But they did this at least in part because it will be built on City land, and since it’s on the waterfront the project is subject to much more scrutiny.

When they first heard about Prop C, the developers with projects in the pipeline screamed… as you would expect. And they argued that their inclusionary housing percentage shouldn’t change, since they have already made critical decisions about their projects based on the numbers that were in place when they first applied to the city for their approvals. SO – as a compromise, Prop C’s sponsors – Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim – agreed to grandfather in these developers to the old requirements, in exchange for their support of Prop C. (Clever!)

Pro-development activists claim that 25% is way too high, that it will make building new housing too expensive, that development in San Francisco will screech to a halt. That’s the same argument that developers make every time a new requirement is placed on them that will cost them money, so I am not convinced.

I also agree with Prop C’s sponsors that affordable housing requirements should come out of the Charter. 25% affordable seems a little high to me, but this number was determined after many months of conversation and compromise, and it has earned the support of both the Mayor (who is pro-development) and every member of the Board of Supervisors, and that’s saying something. So I say vote yes.

*A rental unit counts as “affordable” if it is affordable to households earning up to 55% of the area median income. A unit for sale counts toward these requirements if it is affordable to households earning up to 90% of the area median income.

**If you want to learn more about the definition of “affordability,” why Area Median Income matters, and what the in-lieu fees are, go here.

SF Proposition D – Investigations of All Police Shootings – YESSSSSS

You have heard the names Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Luis Gongora: black and Hispanic men who have been shot and killed by the SFPD in the last 2 years. Their deaths have given rise to a vocal and passionate #BlackLivesMatter movement in San Francisco. They are protesting every major city event, and five of their members are on a hunger strike.
But Nieto, Woods and Gongora aren’t the only people shot by cops in our city. In the last five years, 31 police shootings occurred, and complaints were filed with the City for eight of them.

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Prop D Sponsor, Supervisor Malia Cohen

The Office of Citizens Complaints (OCC) is the City Hall department that investigates complaints against police officers. OCC is not allowed to look into an incident if no one files a complaint, and this is where Prop D comes in: it would require them to investigate every single incident in SF in which a police officer kills or physically injures someone by firing a gun.

This measure is a good idea for several reasons. Officers are trained to avoid firing their weapons, and this measure will provide further reason for hesitation. If a cop knows that she will be investigated for using her gun – no matter what – she is less likely to use it in the first place. Moreover, an investigation by OCC is usually highly political, and if the office is required to investigate every single incident, it will have the political cover it needs to do its job.

The City Controller said Prop D could require the City to hire additional investigators to serve in the OCC, but estimated a “minimal effect on the cost of government.” The budget for the entire office was about $5 million in 2015-2016 and had 17 investigators on staff.

This measure was proposed by Supervisor Malia Cohen who represents the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods, and has dealt with more than her fair share of shootings in her district. Kudos to her for having the courage to propose it. Vote yes!

SF Proposition E – Amending Paid Sick Leave Ordinance – Yes

I won’t spend much of your time on this measure, because it’s just a legislative fix that no one opposes. No really! Not a single person signed up to write a ballot argument against Prop E in the voter handbook. I have never seen that happen before.

In 2006, San Francisco voters adopted the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSLO), which requires employers to provide hourly employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked in San Francisco. Then, in 2015, the state legislature passed a similar law that does not override the PSLO and in some ways provides broader protections for employees. Employers have to comply with both the PSLO and the state law, which are slightly different from each other. What a pain.

Prop E would just amend the PSLO to make it so that: (1) employers don’t have to deal with separate compliance requirements, and (2) in the future, if there are changes to the state or federal law that provide broader protections to employees, the Board of Supervisors could amend the PSLO to adopt those provisions without having to go back to the voters. Makes perfect sense. Vote yes.

Regional Measure AA – San Francisco Bay Improvements – Yes!

This proposition has a very long name: “SF Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program” – and it’s an easy one to endorse, so I’ll keep it brief.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.30.46 AMThis measure proposes a $12 parcel tax – to be paid by every property owner in the nine counties that touch the San Francisco Bay – to raise approximately $25 million annually for the next twenty years. The money will go towards protecting and restoring the Bay by reducing trash, pollution and harmful toxins; improving water quality; restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife; protecting communities from floods; and increasing shoreline public access. Plus – the $25 million program could help attract even more federal and state funding for these projects! For $12 a year?? Done. Is there anyone who opposes it? Nope. Well, OK, there are people who hate both taxes and the environment. But if you have read this voter guide all the way to the end, then chances are good you are not one of those people. 😉

Unfortunately, because it’s a special tax it is subject to two-thirds approval in all 9 Bay Area counties. Eek. San Francisco and Alameda will pass it for sure, but they will have to carry the other counties with them. Fingers crossed. Vote yes!

For more about my candidacy for the DCCC, please check out the rest of my website or my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Are you registered? Are you sure?

To vote in my DCCC race, you need to be a registered Democrat. Makes sense, right? The DCCC is the governing body of the local Democratic Party, and only Democrats can choose their own leadership. vote image 1

It’s also just a good idea to check your registration to make sure your contact information is current. It would be really horrible to show up on Election Day and not be able to vote.

If you live in San Francisco, you can check your voter registration status here. <- This handy link will also tell you where your polling place is, and what your ballot will look like. Neat!

And if you need to change your registration, you can do that here any time before May 23 to vote in the June 7 election.

Voting is sexy!

I’m Running!

For the last 6 years, I have had the distinct pleasure of serving on San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), the leadership of the San Francisco Democratic Party, and I am excited to announce that I’m running for another term.

Alix & Elliott

My nephew Elliott helped me file my paperwork.

I am one of the party’s hardest working activists. I balanced the party’s books as the DCCC’s Treasurer and have been running the party’s endorsement process for the last four years as its Second Vice Chair.
In 2012, I organized female candidates and helped get them elected, resulting in gender parity on the DCCC. I have taken a stand against bullying tactics in City Hall and have called the media’s attention to the absence of mothers in elective office. I wrote resolutions calling for progressive reforms such as overturning Citizens United and eliminating the personal belief exemption for vaccinations.
Bringing the party together to forge creative solutions to its most vexing problems is my passion and what I am best at on the DCCC. However, this is going to be my toughest race yet since I am running in a crowded field against well-funded candidates. This is why I need your help.
Thanks for your support, and I’m looking forward to keeping you updated from the campaign trail.

Shaking Up the Party

I have just proposed a radical change to the San Francisco Democratic Party.

It used to be that running for the SF Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) was a great way to learn how to run for office. You’d raise ten thousand dollars, get a few endorsements, get your friends to register Democrat and vote for you, and you could win.

Burton

California Democratic Party Chair John Burton and I file our paperwork together.

In the last decade, however, we’ve seen a dismaying trend: with every election, an increasing number of elected officials in San Francisco are running for – and winning – seats on the DCCC. In this election, out of 24 seats, 9 members of the Board of Supervisors (and counting) have filed to run, along with 3 School Board members, 2 Community College Board members, one former State Assembly Member and 2 former Supervisors. Today, Chair of the California Democratic Party John Burton filed. That’s a lot of political juice in one race.

But why do so many heavy hitters want a spot on the party’s board? Because the Democratic Party is the most important endorsement in town, and each of these officials want a say in it. Most of them want to make sure that they secure the party’s endorsement for their own races, or for those of their allies. And – just as important – running for DCCC allows candidates for city offices to get around campaign contribution limits, because they can raise an unlimited amount of money in their DCCC races, and from unrestricted sources.

Each of the current or former elected officials running in June will likely win, because of their existing name recognition and fundraising base. This means there’s less room on the DCCC for party activists who have never held another elective office (like me!). At least forty of us are running in the June election. We have an abundance of Democrats who want to serve the party.

While everyone in local politics admits that this is a problem, very few want to tell our elected officials that they can’t or shouldn’t run for the DCCC. As party leaders, I personally think they should have a say in the Democratic Party’s decisions. And yet we should also make room for the dozens of grassroots activists who want to serve on the DCCC.

To that end, I’ve proposed a bylaws amendment that will radically change the party makeup (text below). It would make the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors each ex officio members of the DCCC, with full voting rights, without needing to run for their seats. This will free up 9 seats for grassroots activists to serve the party. It’s already caused a stir on social media and in the press.

If you want to participate in the conversation, come to our meeting on Wednesday March 16 at 7pm, Milton Marks Auditorium in the State Building, 455 Golden Gate Avenue. I guarantee it’ll be a fascinating debate. For political junkies like me, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Resolution of the San Francisco Democratic Party

Amending the Party’s Bylaws and its Policies & Procedure Manual to Add the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor as Ex Officio Members

WHEREAS, the Bylaws of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (SFDCCC) and its Policies & Procedures Manual allow for registered Democrats who hold state and federal offices who reside in San Francisco to serve as ex officio members of the SFDCCC. These members currently include State Senator Leno, State Assembly members Ting and Chiu, US Senator Feinstein, Congresswomen Pelosi and Speier, and Board of Equalization Member Ma. These members have the same voting rights as a member who is independently elected to the SFDCCC.

WHEREAS, the races for seats on the SFDCCCC have become as competitive as those for any other elective office in San Francisco, in part because current and former elected officials run for – and hold – these seats. This means that the number of DCCC seats available for party activists who have never held another office, and who have the time and energy to dedicate to the party’s activities, is shrinking.

WHEREAS, the members of the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor, as leaders within the local Democratic Party, should each have a voice in the party’s decisions. Giving them each an ex officio membership in the SFDCCC will give them that voice, and will free up several seats for party activists who do not currently hold another elective office. The SFDCCC Bylaws provide that no ex officio member may also hold an elected seat on the SFDCCC.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic Party hereby amends Article II, Section 1(a)(2) of its Bylaws and Article XI, Section 1 of its Policies & Procedures Manual to add the Mayor of San Francisco and the Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as ex officio members of the SFDCCC if they are registered Democrats, as more specifically provided in Attachment A and Attachment B hereto; and hereby corrects Article II, Section 1(a)(2) of its Bylaws to add US Senator to the list of ex officio members of the SFDCCC as more specifically provided in Attachment A hereto.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution will become effective upon the date that the results of the June 2016 election are certified.

Sponsor:  Alix Rosenthal

 

Attachment A

Proposed Bylaws Amendment

New language appears in bold underline. Deleted language appears in bold strikethrough.

Article II: MEMBERSHIP

Section 1: MEMBERSHIP

a. SFDCCC MEMBERSHIP

  1. Ex Officio members shall consist of the following:
    A. Any Democrat who is elected or otherwise designated to serve, or who is serving in the following elected offices representing the City and County of San Francisco in whole or in part:
    i. Assemblyperson
    ii. State Senator
    iii. Congressperson
    iv. United States Senator
    v. Mayor
    vi. Members of the Board of Supervisors

 

 

Attachment B

Proposed Amendment to Policies & Procedures Manual

New language appears in bold underline. Deleted language appears in bold strikethrough.

ARTICLE XI. MEMBERSHIP CATEGORY AND MEMBER LIST POLICY

1.0 The SFDCCC has three types of members. These are elected members, ex officio members and associate members.

a) The elected members are those members elected by the registered Democrats in the member’s Assembly District (AD). They are voting members of the SFDCCC.

b) Ex officio members are elected public office holders from the Democratic Party who are the current members of the California Assembly and State Senate representing San Francisco, U.S. Congressional Representatives from San Francisco, andS. Senators who reside in San Francisco, Mayor of San Francisco, and members of the Board of Supervisors. Ex officio members may each send a designated representative in place of attending the SFDCCC meeting personally. Ex officio members exercise the right to vote, or, in their place, their representatives have that right.

c) Associate members are the chairs or presidents of each of the chartered San Francisco Democratic clubs. Each club has one associate member. The associate member may participate in discussion but does not vote.

1.1 The Mayor and the members of the Board of Supervisors will become ex officio members after the results of the June 2016 election are certified. If this change in membership status creates vacancies on the SFDCCC, the Chair will appoint to those seats the top vote getters in their respective races, in the order of the June 2016 election results. For example, if members of the Board of Supervisors are elected to 4 out of the 14 seats in AD-17 in the June 2016 election, the Chair must appoint to those seats the candidates who came in 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th place in that Assembly District in the June 2016 election. If members of the Board of Supervisors are elected to 2 out of the 10 seats in AD-19 in the June 2016 election, the Chair must appoint to those seats the candidates who came in 11th and 12th place in that Assembly District in the June 2016 election.

 

 

 

San Francisco: Vote for Christensen for District 3 Supervisor

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Supervisor Julie Christensen

In January, Julie Christensen was appointed to D3 Supervisor by Mayor Lee to fill the vacancy left by David Chiu when he was elected to the State Assembly. Christensen is smart and competent, and she is working hard on stopping evictions, promoting neighborhood safety and improving transit. Her opponent, former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, is running for his old seat. He is one of the sharpest minds in SF politics, a prolific legislator, and a ruthless competitor.

Until August of this year, I was genuinely torn – I had a good relationship with each of them, and had good reasons to support them both. But on August 12, the San Francisco Democratic Party was making its endorsement decision, and as a voting member, I needed to make a very difficult choice.

I have spent much of my political career recruiting and supporting women in public office, and I think Supervisor Christensen has the potential to do great things. Peskin is a former mentor of mine; he recruited me to run for the SF Democratic Party board and supported me in my first two races. But in 2012, our interests diverged. I worked hard to get more women elected to the DCCC and he worked hard to undermine my efforts. I understand his perspective – to him, political posture was more important than a candidate’s gender, and many of the female candidates on my slate failed Aaron’s ideological test.

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A fundraiser for the 2012 women’s slate

The main reason why I worked so hard to elect more women is because I thought it would change the tenor at City Hall. If you’ve been watching local politics, you will remember how toxic that environment was just a few years ago. Policy debates often disintegrated into shouting matches and personal attacks, and Aaron was one of the main culprits. My hope – my bet – was that bringing more women to the table would moderate the tone, and maybe more good things could be accomplished.

When it came time for me to vote in the Democratic Party endorsement, I met with each candidate twice. I considered their positions on the issues, their effectiveness as Supervisor, their relative abilities to run a strong campaign, and my personal relationships with them. Both candidates made strong cases for my vote, and they each had several politically influential people call me as well. The folks who called me for Julie emphasized her accomplishments and her qualities as a leader. The people who called me for Aaron told me that I should side with him because he was going to win, and that I didn’t want to cross him. He himself told me that he would “remember it” if I voted for his opponent. It sounded to me like a threat.

I don’t respond well to threats, and fear does not seem like the right reason to vote for someone. And then, a local progressive activist/journalist – who is a close ally of Peskin’s – published some highly sensitive information about me in order to influence my vote. The article attempted to connect me to Ron Conway, the venture capitalist bogeyman of the left, who is working hard to support Christensen. The Conway connection was laughable, but the personal information that was published was truly embarrassing for me. It was clearly an effort to shame me into voting for Aaron, and it had the opposite effect. I won’t be bullied. I voted for Christensen.sellout

The DCCC endorsement went to Christensen, and mine was one of the deciding votes. After the meeting – as if on cue – I received a few dozen angry messages and threats*, including the image to the right that was posted on Twitter. Former Supervisor Chris Daly warned me on my Facebook page, saying “Beware the wrath of Peskin.” That’s right, he substantiated every argument I’ve been making. [If you’re interested, here’s Chronicle columnist Chuck Nevius’s take on the matter.]

This nastiness is exactly why I ran the women’s slate in the 2012 DCCC race, and why I ran for office myself. Today, women comprise 5 out of 11 seats on the Board of Supervisors and the most acrimonious members are gone. We have also achieved gender parity at the DCCC, and Peskin is no longer a member. And I must say, both the Board and the Democratic Party are more pleasant, productive and collaborative places to work. Ask anyone who serves on these bodies.**

All of the news coverage about this race is about Aaron’s personality, and here’s why: the candidates are actually not that different from each other on the issues, but their styles couldn’t be more distinct. If you agree with me that scorched-earth tactics and threats are not the way to do the people’s business, vote for Julie Christensen.

* All from men, go figure

** Don’t get me wrong, there are some truly nasty female leaders out there; we can all think of a few. I recognize that this theory is an over-generalization about gender.