SAN FRANCISCO RACES
Superior Court Judges
Seat 1: Albert “Chip” Zecher (Challenger)
Seat 13: Jean Myungjin Roland (Challenger)
Despite what the incumbents seem to believe, San Francisco judges are elected, not appointed. Perhaps the reason their noses (and the nose of Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin) are so out of joint is that in nearly every election, incumbent judges run unopposed. It’s high time some commonsense challengers came forward, and we have them in Roland and Zecher. Despite the mainstream media’s attempts to go back in history and dig for dirt that is totally irrelevant in the courtroom, it’s time to tell San Francisco Superior Court judges that we want repeat felons and fentanyl dealers held accountable. The best way to send that message is by booting the incumbents currently occupying Seat 1 and Seat 13 and replacing them with their highly regarded, no-nonsense challengers.
Election consultant Richie Greenberg points out, “to vote for delegates of S.F. Democratic Party leadership committee, there are two districts and two lists of candidates. If you live in Assembly District 17, you must select exactly 14 candidates, no more, no less. If you live in Assembly District 19, you must select exactly 10 candidates, no more, no less.” The slate candidates I recommend are as follows:
DCCC ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 17
DCCC ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 19
That said, my top picks from those slates are as follows:
DCCC ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 17
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, Nancy Tung, Laurance Lem Lee, Peter Lee, Trevor Chandler, Lily Ho, Cedric Akbar, Michael Lai
DCCC ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 19
Jade Tu, Marjan Philhour, Michela Alioto-Pier, Lanier Coles, Supervisor Catherine Stefani
There are also slates for the RCCC which feature some bright young candidates — a new generation of Republicans who, in most any other states not on the Left Coast or the East Coast, would be considered moderate to fiscally conservative Democrats. I find it silly that many other voter guides ignore them because they have an “R’ rather than a “D” in front of CCC. Here are my top RCCC candidate picks:
RCCC ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 17
Page Chamberlain, David Cuadro, Jennie Feldman, Christian Foster, Bill Jackson, Christopher Lewis, William Shireman, Josh Wolff, Jamie Wong
RCCC ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 19
Nick Berg, Jeremiah Boehner, Martha Conte, Jan Diamond, Jay Donde, Peter Elden, Grazia Monares, Tom Rapkoch, Deah Williams, Jennifer Yan
Proposition A: Affordable Housing Bond
Whenever voters ask my advice on propositions involving handing a city with a budget of $14 billion (larger than most small countries) even more money, 99 percent of the time I say “Vote NO.” Proposition A means $300 million in bonds with an estimated payback of nearly $545 million. San Francisco officials are hungry for more taxes, because they have driven out businesses and residents due to their inability to solve escalating crime, homelessness, and open-air drug sales and use. Another big problem is a lack of housing — both affordable and market rate — but the problem exists because the Board of Supervisors has a long track record of denying development for reasons both silly (“a shadow will be cast on a nearby park”) and political (John Elberling of the “affordable-housing” operator TODCO, who frequently opposes projects like the infamous Nordstrom valet parking lot, uses a shell company to make donations to favored officials). Vote NO on more money for a city that doesn’t know how to efficiently spend what it already has.
Proposition B: “The Cop Tax” (Police Officer Staffing Levels Conditioned on Amending Existing or Future Tax Funding)
As the No B.S. Voter Guide notes, Proposition B requires 18 additional months to even begin fixing this shortage — that means even starting now it will take “a few years for more than 600 needed cadets to get through the Academy.” You may recall, Proposition B is a harebrained idea from District 11 supervisor and mayoral wannabe Ahsha Safaí. At an Oct. 30 hearing of the Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee regarding bringing the San Francisco Police Department to full staffing, Safaí along with District 10 supervisor Shamann Walton and labor organizers whined about $300 million over five years to bring SFPD to minimum levels, suggesting “a tax” should pay for it. Safai’s amendments would make the staffing mandate contingent on that “future tax,” leading to the best line of the night from District 6 supervisor Matt Dorsey. “This is making San Francisco into the Spirit Airlines of municipal governments. I think it would be funny if it weren’t so harmful,” said Dorsey, who earlier compromised by reducing the minimum staffing level from 2,182 to 2,074. Dorsey also reminded his colleagues that a fully staffed police force “is part of the baseline obligation of what a well-functioning city government should do.” I agree. Vote No on Proposition B “Cop Tax.”
There also may be a constitutional argument against Proposition B — here’s how one attorney friend explains it:
- Proposition B only requires a majority vote of the electorate to pass.
- Part of what Proposition B does is state that if a local general tax is passed that would generate sufficient funds to support police staffing at increased minimum levels, the city would be required to set aside those funds for police staffing.
- Under the California constitution, a local special tax that is placed on the ballot by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors requires a 2/3 vote of the electorate to pass.
- A special tax is basically a tax that is earmarked for specific purposes.
- Proposition B is an attempted end-run around the 2/3 requirement, because it only requires a majority vote of the electorate to pass but it earmarks future local general taxes (which can be passed by a majority vote of the electorate) for a special purpose.
It may not be a slam-dunk, but it’s certainly enough to keep Proposition B tied up in court for years.
Proposition C: Real Estate Transfer Tax Exemption and Office Space Allocation
Proposition C is a pie-in-the-sky idea to convert unused office space into residential space, but it’s really about waiving taxes with zero precedent to know if it will even work. It takes power from voters and allows the notoriously antidevelopment Board of Supervisors to make the decisions. Vote No on Proposition C.
Proposition D: Changes to Local Ethics Laws
As the reporter who broke the City Hall corruption stories, no one knows better than I do that big adjustments are needed to the City Family’s longtime method of business as usual devoid of any moral compass. They have no fear, because for decades no one challenged them — from mayors to supervisors to the local media. Proposition D would strengthen San Francisco’s rules and enforcement around campaigns and governmental conduct in a number of ways, including expanding rules prohibiting bribery . . . wait. WHAT? Officials already know that bribery is prohibited, and the Ethics Commission is toothless. The best way to send a message to existing employees and officials is for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the FBI to keep investigating and arresting their corrupt colleagues. Proposition D is smoke and mirrors. Vote No on Proposition D.
Proposition E: Police Department Policies and Procedures
Mayor London Breed (whose greatest asset arguably is being a superb talker) said it best: “We need to give our officers the tools necessary to keep our communities safe and not leave them stuck behind a desk when they can be out on the street helping people. There has been too much focus on adding bureaucracy to the work our officers do and putting up barriers to new technologies that can help improve policing in San Francisco. It’s time to change that.”
A yes vote on Proposition E would mean:
- limiting the amount of time a patrol officer may spend on administrative tasks to 20 percent of on-duty time;
- requiring written reports for use-of-force events only when a physical injury occurred or if a firearm was removed from an officer’s holster;
- allowing body camera footage to satisfy reporting requirements;
- allowing use of drones along with or instead of vehicular pursuits; and
- allowing installation of surveillance and facial recognition cameras without approval from the police commission or board of supervisors.
SFPD needs all the tools it can get to keep up with increasingly tech-savvy criminals and reduce desk time. That means using drones in dangerous high-speed chases and installing automated license plate readers — used in many other counties — which are free with a state grant. Those who worry about “privacy issues” need to check the whiner boards on the Nextdoor app, where neighbors post pictures of other neighbors caught on their Ring doorbell camera not picking up their dog’s poop and license plate closeups of vehicles rolling through stop signs. Vote YES on Proposition E to streamline the complex jobs of police officers.
Proposition F: Illegal Substance Dependence Screening and Treatment for Recipients of City Public Assistance
San Francisco’s budget for homeless services is a whopping $1 billion annually (and growing), with most of it going to “harm reduction” and “housing for all” nonprofits that aren’t audited. Judging from San Francisco’s streets, all of them would fail a performance audit (something I have advocated for nearly two decades, both as a resident and as a reporter). Proposition F would require individuals receiving cash assistance to participate in drug screening and substance abuse treatment in order to continue receiving money. Contrary to what critics say, the measure won’t impact housing assistance funding and will only suspend general assistance funding for 30 days if someone screens positive and refuses treatment. The cost of $4 million for startup and running the program for the first year and around $2 million a year after that is a drop in the used-needle bucket compared to what nonprofits receive to keep the situation the same (which, of course, keeps those millions flowing to their coffers). I would take it a step further and implement District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey’s plan to check for residency — most of the people living in encampments are here from other cities, counties and states as “drug tourists,” because the fentanyl is cheap and the Coalition on Homelessness sued San Francisco to keep it that way. (It gives Coalition founder Jennifer Friendenbach and the rest of her trust-fund baby activists something to do, and keeps those millions flowing to their coffers and the coffers of their cronies). Vote YES on Proposition F.
Proposition G: Offering Algebra 1 to Eighth Graders
This measure is a nonbinding resolution to ensure that the San Francisco Unified School District understands how the majority of its parents feel, but Proposition G is a no-brainer — to compete with kids in other districts around the state, the country, and the world, kids need to be offered algebra. I’m terrible at math (hence the writing gig), but some of the smartest people I know found their jam doing algebra. In fact, many of my friends who are successful in the tech world are where they are because of it. Vote YES on Prop. G to give San Francisco public school students the same competitive edge other kids have.
State of California: Proposition 1
The State of California has spent more on homelessness than the entire budgets of most small countries (and probably a view medium ones). Governor Gavin Newsom clearly hopes to run for president, so he has a very small window to clean up the crisis. Unfortunately, as mayor of San Francisco, lieutenant governor of California, and now as governor of the state, Newsom’s 20-year track record is abysmal, and the proof is on the streets. Vote NO on California Proposition 1 — Newsom has spent billions over the past 20 years as a city and state leader, and homelessness is worse than it’s ever been.
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