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November 4th, 2008 Election

Page history last edited by Jonathan Mayer 11 years, 9 months ago

This is an experiment in attempting to decide my current election choices in an open, transparent way.  Maybe my thoughts here will be useful for others making up their mind on this multitude of complex measures on this year's ballot.


I have already voted.  Feel free to email me your comments, but it is too late to change my mind on any of these issues.  ( views)

Cheat Sheet:

 CA Propositions:

  YES on 2, 3, 5, 11, 12

  NO on 1A, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

SF Measures:

  YES on A, D, E, F, G, L, N, O, P, Q, S, T, U, V

  NO on B, C, H, I, J, K, M, R

California Propositions: 





Proposition Vote Explanation Endorsements Result

1A: High Speed Passenger Train Bond Act


Efficient transportation infrastructure is, in general, a good thing.  The question is: is this the an effective way to spend money to improve public transit?  What is the economic benefit of the LA-SF link?  Is the project technically and economically feasible?


Despite widespread support, Kevin Drum and James Mills convinced me that this is a boondoggle.  To make the case for the project, the proponents of 1A seem to be fudging the numbers.  They cite a travel time that is about half of what can reasonably expected.  They assume a ridership of 100M/year, when the busiest line on the excellent French rail system sees only 15M riders/year.   It structures investment risk so that private investors get a guaranteed payout while the state gets left holding the bag. 


Jim Mills, who is probably the biggest advocate for rail in California, calls this proposition "badly conceived" and is actively campaigning against it.


Let's spend the number of fixing local transport infrastructure first.  Better intracity rail lines will be cheaper and have larger economic impact than this project.  Once we get local public transit ironed out, then lets come back and revisit this inter-city project.

LWV-yes  DEM-yes  GOP-no



PASS 52%
2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals Yes

What finally won me over on this issue was the long litany of distortions and untruths on the no-on-2 websites. Opponents of this proposition have mischaracterized it as banning  factory farming and forcing all egg production to be cage-free.   If they are unwilling to honestly characterize the proposition, how am I to have any faith in their economic impact analysis? 


In my view, the requirements of this measure are humane, moderate, and reasonable.  I see little evidence to support the histrionics about economic impact produced by the proposition's opponents.


This is one of those cases where I have to vote for what is just, regardless of what is "smart."




PASS 63%
3: Children's Hospital Bond Act YES $980 million in bonds to fund regional health care centers that provide health services to the majority of low-income kids.  Done.  




PASS 54%
4: Parental Notification for Abortion Hell no

I strongly support a woman's right to control her own body.  I believe a fetus is a human potentiality, and not an actual living human imbued with rights.  I believe reproductive rights are a fundamental component of enlightened, rational society.  


In particular, I find measures such as this to be particularly hateful.  Rather than take on the issue of women's reproductive rights directly, this bill only deprives the most vulnerable and voiceless of our society of their rights.  Shameful.





FAIL 48%
5: Nonviolent Drug Offenders Sentencing Reform YES America's draconian anti-drug laws have flooded our prisons with non-violent offenders, destroyed lives and families, and punished kids whose only real crime was being curious and dumb enough to get caught in a manner far disproportionate to their harm to society.  It's time to turn the clock back on America's reactionary, destructive drug policies.  Fuck you, CCPOA.  


DEM-yes CCPOA-no

FAIL 40%
6: Law Enforcement Funding No  Diverts $1B annually from the general fund and earmarks it for law enforcement and the prison/parole system.  No thank you: I prefer the legislature to set our fiscal priorities for the general fund.  Fuck you, CCPOA





FAIL 31%
7: Renewable Energy Generation No 

Right idea, wrong law.  Will force small renewable energy companies out of the market.  May actually be a maneuver to divert more state money into the hands of a small number of industry interests.  Not the right way to advance renewable energy in California.   


Decreased environmental review of proposed power plants.  Possibly a "poison pill" bill designed to head off real reform.




FAIL 35%
8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Marriage Hell no 

Prince Gomolvilas says it all.  I strongly support and defend civil rights for everybody, including the LGBT community.  Prop 8 is about denying homosexual couples rights and respect.  


I've already given $1000 to the No On 8 campaign, but the current poll numbers still predict Prop 8 will pass, largely thanks to large out-of-state contributions from organisations such as the Mormons, and an extraordinarily dishonest and sleazy ad campaign.  Make a difference.  


Late update: the "Yes on 8" campaign just sent out a mailer threatening to publicize companies that give to "No on 8."  They are demanding a "Yes on 8" contribution to avoid being "outted."  Wow, just: wow.  Those fucking idiots can put my name right at the top of their McCarthyite list of "Suspected homosexual sympathizers."  I'd wear it like badge.




PASS 52%
9: Victim's Rights Blah Blah Blah No  Fuck you, CCPOA.  We have enough of our population in prison already.  





PASS 53.5%
10: Alt Fuel Vehicles / Renewable Energy No  Yet another bill the sounds on the surface like a progressive, pro-environmentalist measure, but is actually a sop to a very small group of special interests.  $5B in bonds to subsidize the purchase of private property?  I don't think so.  I'd rather see my state bonds used to fund Children's Hospitals (see Prop 3)..



FAIL 40%
11: Redistricting Reform YES 

The GOP and the Dems both don't like this measure because both stand to see their "safe haven" districts softened and made competetive.  It doesn't matter if this shifts the balance of the legislature to the left or the right: the important thing is that by making districts competetive again, we'll start to see more centrist representatives from both parties.


The reason we have gridlock in Sacramento now is that the districts are so heavily gerrymandered that each district is essentially a one-party contest.  As a consequence, the representative who wins tends to be the one who caters the most to the party's "base," thus producing the most radical, extremist representatives.  These extremists have no political incentive to compromise.


We need to change this fundamental element of our political ecology if we are going to put together a legislature capable of making the hard choices and difficult compromises necessary to put the needs of the people of California ahead of partisan ideology.


If California is ever going to get out of the budgetary mess we've built for ourselves, this has to change.  This is the first step, of many, to resuscitate our dead-on-arrival state government.   This measure is strongly endosed by LWV.


Late update: This prop seems to be unpopular among progressives.  One common criticism is the idea that the GOP will be "over-represented" in the redistricting commission.  By "over-represented," these critics are referring to the fact that Republicans will get equal representation, even though they are not 50% of the popular vote.  I disagree with this objection: the whole point of this prop is to make redistricting non-partisan.  The only way to acheive that is to evenly balance the partisan interests so they cancel each other out.  There is no better way.  It's time for voters to grow up and realize the advancing the common good in California means putting away our partisan knives for a few minutes.

LWV-yes PASS 51%
12: Veteran's Bond  Yes 

$900M in bonds to help vets get loans to purchase homes?  Okay.


Yes, this is more debt for the state, but it's well-spent debt that puts people in homes, pushes money into the economy from the bottom up, and supports our war veterans.  We're looking down the throat of a long and deep depression: now is the time to spend on our economy.


Late update: I didn't realize this when I endorsed the measure, but historically speaking the state always makes their money back on these sorts of home-ownership measures.  I can't really think of any reason not to vote yes here. 



PASS 63%




San Francisco City Measures:


YES: A, D, E, F, G, L. N. O, P, Q, S, T, V

NO: B, C, H, I, J, K, M

Who cares: R, U

Measure Vote Explanation Result
A: SF General Hospital Earthquake Safety Bonds YES  The city needs SFGH.  As a homeowner, I am willing to shoulder the burden of an extra ~0.04% property tax to ensure that SFGH stays open. PASS 84%
B: Affordable Housing Fund No 

I am against propositions that put hard requirements on the use of the general fund.  This produces inflexible policy.  There are better ways to advocate for low-income housing.

FAIL 49%
C: Prohibit city employees from serving on boards and commissions No I'm not sure why this is on the ballot, but it smells like a weird behind-the-scenes maneuver to get someone in particular bounced off a particular committee.  I don't understand the upshot of this measure, so I'm nixing it. FAIL 37%
D: Pier 70 Development Yes  Additional development in the city grows the city's revenue base, making San Francisco healthier.  PASS 68%
E: Recall of City Officials Reform Yes  I'm not a big fan of the recall process, and I think this measure will help head off potential future abuse.  PASS 60%
F: Even-numbered elections only Yes  This change will encourage broader participation in our local political process, and save $3.7M per election cycle. FAIL 55%
G: Retirement Credit for Unpaid Parental Leave Yes  I'm not really enthusiastic about using a city measure to change city compensation, but this change seems pretty minor and low-cost. PASS 63%
H: Green Municipal Power in SF No.  This one is complex.  The first component is about asking the city to evaluate replacing PG&E with a city-controlled public utility, possibly requiring the expenditure of billions of dollars to build new power-generating infrastructure.  The second component then hamstrings the first component, by making specific requirements about the kinds of green power the city is allowed to develop.  These two pieces taken together are potentially an energy suicide pact for San Francisco.  We should attempt to acheive the goals of greener energy by other means. FAIL 40%
I: Add Independent Ratepayer Advocate to CPUC. No A counter-proposal to measure H.  I don't see much positive or negative benefit to this plan, so I reject it as an unnecessary additional beauracracy. FAIL 36%
J: Establish Historic Preservation Commission No 

The new Historic Preservation Commission would be able to make arbitrary judgements, and there are insufficient checks on its power.


I've lived in cities with overzealous Historic Preservation laws, and I've seen how those well-intentioned laws can impede basic maintenance and growth, creating "historic slums."


If a historic landmark is worth fighting for, let's fight for it the old-fashioned way.  This ones-size-fits-all solution is too broad. 

PASS 56%
K: Stop enforcing prostitution laws No.

I'm for legalising prostitution in a rational manner: by licensing sex workers, exercising taxes, enforcing health code standards, preventing coercion and abuse, setting up guidelines to promote health and safety within the industry.


This bill doesn't do it.  This bill simply prohibits enforcement of anti-prostitution laws, creating protections for the most destructive elements of the sex trade: the immigrant sex-slave brothels, pimping, human trafficking, street prostitution, disease, etc.


On the other hand, this bill might be the best that can be done at the city-level.  The city does not have the option of legalising prostitution in violation of state law.  And, this bill would protect sex workers from violence and extortion.  I'm conflicted.  I take seriously the notion that San Francisco is a sanctuary city for people who are ostracized or persecuted elsewhere.  But I'm not sure what the consequences of being this inclusive will be.


On balance, I have decided to vote against Measure K.  However, I hope there will be an improved version of this Measure on the 2010 ballot.  A more limited form of Measure K with better oversight would get my vote.

FAIL 42%
L: Fund the Community Justice Center Yes 

The CJC will get funded anyway, regardless of this measure.  This measure is really a referendum of voter support for Newsom's CJC initiative.


The CJC is a step toward replacing incarceration with rehabilitation and services.  I support that, and can tolerate a little political grandstanding along the way if necessary. 

FAIL 41%
M: Tenant Harassment Ban No 

Tenants already have sufficient legal protection in San Francisco.  This measure implements one more landmine in the escalating arms race between the worst landlords and the reactionary, draconian tenant's union. 


Preventing landlords from performing credit checks on renters is stupid and unnecessary, and sets the stage for more tenant-landlord conflict.  Landlords will be forced to raise rents to compensate for the increased risk associated with renting. 


The upshot of this measure will be more private landlords throwing their hands up in disgust, and turning their properties over to strong-arm management companies such as CitiApartments. 


I don't want to live in a city where everything is controlled either by CitiApartments or the Tenant's Union.  This measure is bad.  Everybody loses.  It's time for a new direction in addressing San Francisco housing, and this isn't it.

PASS 60%
N: Sales Tax on Real Estate > $5M Yes  The SF budget needs help, and this appears to be a reasonable, progressive way to increase city revenue by $30M/yr in an equitable fashion, without cannibalizing industry.  PASS 68%
O: Revise Telephone User's Tax Yes  Close a loophole in the existing collection of the emergency response fee, preserve $80M/yr in city revenue.  Forces commercial interests who were dodging this fee to pay their fare share.  This one is endorsed by everybody, and is a no-brainer.  PASS 66%
P: Transportation Authority Board changes Yes  I'm not so sure about this one, and it feels like a political maneuver to shift control of the Transportation Authority away from the city council towards the Mayor's Office.  However, on balance, I think I trust Mayor Newsom more than I trust what I've seen of the Supes.  So, hesitantly, I'm voting for this one.  PASS 32%
Q: City payroll tax change Yes  Closes the loophole that exempted "partnerships" from the city payroll tax.  Makes taxes less regressive.  Raises $10.5M/yr for the city. PASS 74%
R: George W Bush Sewage Plant No.

This one is fun but frivilous.  I don't see why we should waste taxpayer money and deface a perfectly good sewage plant with this guy's name.  One of the joys of the 2008 election will be never having to hear from this buffoon again.

FAIL 30%
S: Set-asides of City Revenue Yes  The good news about this measure is that it might make it harder to pass future set-aside measures, slowing the "bread and circuses" aspect of direct democracy.  The bad news is that this measure would be hard to enforce and therefor largely ineffectual.  On balance, I think this measure is progress in the right direction, so I support it.  PASS 54%
T: Substance abuse treatment services Yes

Would increase city spending on low-income substance abuse treatment programs from $50M/yr to $57-$63M/yr.  The city budget is in trouble, but drug treatment programs are a bargain compared to the societal cost of untreated drug addicts (emergency room visits, crime, broken families, destroyed lives).  I'm not sure this is really the right time, or the right way, to get better drug treatment services, but I'm going to go out on a limb and support this one anyway.

PASS 62%
U: Withdraw troops from Iraq Yes  But who cares?  This is a frivilous measure with no real impact.  PASS 60%
V: Re-instate JROTC Yes  The city's resistance to JROTC seems immature and reactionary to me.  I think that SF's youth are best served by opening as many doors as possible.  For some low-income kids, military service is the only viable path to college and a career.    PASS 53%


Political Offices: 



Vote Notes
El Presidente Barack Obama and Joe Biden

In the most important presidential election of our generation, this one is a no-brainer.  The brain-damaged GOP policies of the past eight years have failed spectacularly.  And Obama is a startlingly good candidate: eloquent, moderate, smart, informed, tough.  We need change anyway, but we're damned lucky to have Obama as a viable alternative.


Only we can save America.  But Obama will help.

US Representative Nancy Pelosi

I think it's probably in SF's interests to keep our Speaker of the House in place.  I know some folks don't feel Pelosi has been strident enough in her opposition to the Bush administration.  I think she's been sticking up for us in all the right places, and I'm willing to give her the real politik benefit of the doubt in other cases.


Politics is complex and full of compromise, but I remain convinced that Pelosi's heart is in the right place.  I don't really see how the naive and inexperienced Cindy Sheehan could do better.

State Senator, D3 Mark Leno  
State Assembly, D13 Tom Ammiano  
Supervisor, District 9

ranked choice:

1. Eric Quezada

2. David Campos 

Supervisors get their own District 9 Supervisor Worksheet.


David Campos is the candidate endorsed by the Democratic party.  


Eric Quezada is a local community organiser who has done a lot of work addressing homelessness, immigrants rights, AIDS, etc.  My friend Sasha speaks highly of Mr. Quezada as a reasonable, rational, inclusive and collaborative politician.

Superior Ct Judge, Seat 12   Not enough information to judge.
Board Of Education Sandra Fewer, Norman Yee, Rachel Norton, Jill Wynns Very shallow analysis here: just trying to weed out the obviously crazy people, and pick the ones with the most appropriate experience. I tended to follow the judgment of local politicians who I respect, and picked the candidates they explicitly recommended.
Community College Board   No judgement yet.
BART Director Tom Radulovich

I'm happy with the incumbent.  


His adversary claims to know a lot about BART because he rides it all the time.  Hmm.  Kinda like knowing a lot about Russia because you live in Alaska, eh?





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