There is so much shady, awful, and downright illegal shit going on in this election, we're all struggling to keep up. With Donald Trump threatening the very fabric of our democracy, misleading political commercials dominating the airwaves, and Scott Wiener spending millions trashing Jane Kim, we're concerned the critical races for the Board of Supervisors aren't getting enough attention.
The race for District 11 (the Excelsior, Outer Mission, OMI) is one of the most contested. We're 100% supporting Kimberly Alvarenga, who is awesome. The big business slates are all supporting Ahsha Safai, who is hella shady. But if you haven't been obsessively reading every local paper and blog, you wouldn't know how shady. So here is a quick summary of nine reasons why we can't let Ahsha Safai anywhere near the Board of Supervisors:
- Safai is supported by the Police Officers Association, the biggest bullies in town and the biggest impediments to reform of the SFPD.
- He's supported by the Mayor, who has done several press events and press releases with Safai in the last few months.
- He’s a house flipper. He bought a house in foreclosures in 2005, and sold it less than a year later for a profit.
- Safai was kicked off the Housing Authority board after Executive Director Henry Alvarez was fired for gross mismanagement, discrimination, and intimidation, and the Authority was found to be in disarray. At the time Safai said Alvarez had “done a great job.”
- On the ballot he claims to be a union organizer, but almost all of Safai's income comes from being a consultant for landlords and developers. In 2012 and 2013, he earned less than $10,000 as a consultant for the janitors union, but more than $100,000 from his consulting firm.
- The leadership of the janitors union pressured its members to campaign for Safai, and fined members who didn’t "volunteer" $150 a day. These are janitors who are barely earning a living wage!
- Safai claims that he "saved St. Luke's Hospital," but the California Nurses Association and others who led that campaign say he had nothing to do with it. Check out this damning video.
- Safai is benefiting from at least $700,000 in independent expenditures from real estate and big tech companies. That is being funneled through the dubiously named Robert F. Kennedy Democratic club to pay for tons of TV commercials. TV commercials on CNN for a district supervisor election?? Why do LinkedIn, Facebook, and Airbnb care about District 11? They don’t. They care about electing Supervisors who will keep their taxes low and favor big business and developers over workers and tenants.
- Safai is an unregistered lobbyist for a real estate developer. Mayor Lee and the Chronicle recently trumpeted a press release about a new development that would be half rent controlled and half affordable housing, and they credited Safai as a “family friend” of the developer who came up with the idea and negotiated it with the Mayor’s office. But the thing is, the developer paid Safai as a consultant, which means his negotiations with the Mayor are lobbying. Safai has never registered as a lobbyist. And the developer’s promise of new rent control housing is hella catfish. There is nothing in writing to describe how it will work or to hold the developer to their sketchy campaign promise. Their announcement sounds awesome, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Wow, that's a lot of bullshit!
We're excited to vote for Kimberly Alvarenga, a queer Latina mom who worked in Tom Ammiano’s Assembly office, where she played a significant role in the campaign to Save CCSF, the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and Seth’s Law, which protects children who are bullied in California schools. She’s currently the political director for SEIU 1021, the most progressive union in San Francisco.
We also endorsed Francisco Herrera as our #2 choice, and we've heard from some allies who are also including Berta Hernandez (a socialist who seems to share our values, but didn't respond to our questionnaire) on their ballot. With ranked choice voting, you get to vote for up to three candidates. It's fine to include Herrera and Hernandez anywhere on your ballot, but this election will come down to Alvarenga vs Safai.
That's why it's critical to vote for Kimberly Alvarenga and to leave Ahsha Safai off your ballot! Can you please help us out by sharing this and forwarding it to all your friends in the Excelsior, Outer Mission and OMI?
A lot of people have been asking us why we’re not supporting London Breed. We love the idea of supporting a sharp, young African American woman who grew up in public housing in the Western Addition. But when she ran four years ago, we wrote a letter expressing our worry that the folks bankrolling her campaign were people we just couldn’t trust. We hoped she would prove us wrong, but we think her record shows she doesn’t share our values. Part of the League’s promise is to pay attention to politicians’ actions between elections.
Breed has been good on some issues, and she’s proven to be a savvy politician. If she were representing a more conservative district (like the Marina or West of Twin Peaks), we would probably support her. But her politics are simply out of line with District 5, which is one of the most progressive parts of town. District 5 shouldn’t have to wonder when their Supervisor will be siding with the Mayor or developers or the Police Officers Association. District 5 deserves a Supervisor who will stand up for the progressive values the League has been championing for over a decade.
Here are seventeen of London Breed’s most disappointing votes and actions.
Sides with landlords, realtors and developers over tenants:
- Proposed amendments to water down TIC/condo legislation which would permanently remove rent controlled apartments from the market.
- Opposed 2014’s Proposition G, the anti-speculator tax, which would have stopped speculators from evicting tenants.
- Voted repeatedly against regulating Airbnb, making rent-controlled homes in the city more scarce. She has only supported stronger regulations after Preston got in the race.
- Tried to weaken tenant protections by giving less relocation compensation to people being evicted through the Ellis Act.
- Voted against regulating “tenant buyouts” which have displaced thousands of San Franciscans.
- Voted against a small increase in the fee developers of office space pay to fund transit impacts.
Sides with the Police Officers Association over police reform:
- Voted against holding the Police Department accountable for implementing reforms by putting a small chunk of their budget on reserve.
- Refused to call for former Police Chief Suhr’s resignation amidst police killings and racist text scandal, despite community demands.
- Voted against post-Ferguson resolution recognizing racial bias in Police Departments, calling the resolution “divisive.”
Sides with Mayor Ed Lee over good government reforms:
- Voted against Prop H that will create an Office of Public Advocate, an independent watchdog over the Mayor and City Hall.
- Voted against Prop D that will let the people decide who should represent them when there’s a vacant Supervisor seat, making sure the Mayor kept the power to appoint successors.
- Voted against Prop L that will split appointments to the MTA Board between the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor, which would continue the Mayor’s ability to bully the MTA Board into failed policies (rescinding Sunday parking meters, bad bike lanes on Polk, allowing median parking on Dolores, etc.).
Other bad votes:
- Voted against a 1% wage increase for nonprofit health and human services workers!
- As Board President, handed control over key board committees to the most conservative supervisors and shut out progressive leaders.
- Was the only supervisor to vote against sunshine legislation requiring supervisors to keep and release work calendars.
- Endorsed Mayor’s candidate for District 3 Supervisor (Julie Christensen) over Aaron Peskin, and endorses Scott Wiener over Jane Kim
- Supported and was a member of the realtor-backed slate for conservative control of the SF Democratic Party that would have made endorsements the opposite of our voter guide.
We know that Dean Preston will be rock solid on all of those issues. Before Dean founded Tenants Together, there was no statewide tenants rights group! They’ve kept thousands of people in their apartments. We’ve gone to Sacramento with Dean to fight for repealing the Ellis Act and protecting rental deposits, and we can all thank Dean for helping save rent control back in 2008! So please join us in voting for him and telling all your District 5 friends about Dean Preston!
(Note: Big thanks to Jennifer Fieber and the San Francisco Tenants Union for their research that we used in this post.)
Dang, Mark Farrell sure does hate homeless people. Though apparently the District 2 Supervisor has no problem using them as fodder to propel his fetid political career. He authored this Prop amending the police code to make it illegal “to place an encampment on a public sidewalk.” SFPD would have the authority to remove an encampment after giving just a 24-hour notice and offering ‘shelter options’. As we know, though, the options are pretty limited. Authorities would either bus folks out of the City via the Homeward Bound program or give them housing for 24 hours in a temporary shelter if housing was not available at the Navigation Center. But, seriously, one night is not even 24 hours of housing. They could also could toss homeless people’s seized property after 90 days - but eep! right now there are reports of people's belongings being tossed right away.
San Francisco has approximately 6,686 homeless residents according to the 2015 count, though many advocates say that is an undercount as families and youth are underrepresented. About half of them sleep on the streets every night. The City estimates there are 500-700 homeless residents in tents. There are only about 1,300 adult shelter beds - with a huge waiting list for 90-day beds (~900 on the waitlist any given night). There simply aren’t enough resources. Even great efforts like the Navigation Centers suffer from a fundamental problem. To quote Street Sheet: “The problem with the Navigation Center model is that it is not particularly successful in linking homeless people with long-term permanent housing because there is no housing to be linked up with.”
Prop Q isn’t just cruel, it’s arguably unconstitutional. In August 2015, the Department of Justice announced that these types of ordinances criminalize the status of being homeless and violate the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.
People for True Homeless and Housing Solutions released a short video on Proposition Q, which breaks down Prop Q, and really highlights the absurdity of it.
Ultimately, this isn’t about helping homeless people. It’s about getting Mark Farrell’s name out there as a “homeless advocate” so that he can run for Mayor, similar to how Gavin Newsom did with 2002’s “Care Not Cash”. But it's more than just Farrell that deserve the blame: Prop Q was sponsored by Supervisors Wiener, Tang, Farrell ("Team WTF") and Cohen. Shame all four of them. We say fuck no.
What might be most frustrating about the fight over Prop Q is that it's distracting all of us from the measures that will actually fund housing for the homeless: Prop J, Prop K, and Prop S. Please vote yes on those three for real solutions to homelessness.
Prop Q: Demonize the Homeless for Political Gain - Fuck No 😡
In a recent debate with Jane Kim, his opponent in the race for San Francisco’s seat in the State Senate, Scott Wiener said he respects Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. But while he’s served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Wiener has repeatedly voted against police reform.
Wiener has had multiple chances to stand with people of color in San Francisco calling for police reform. But every time there’s been a contested vote on police reform, he’s voted on the side of the Police Officers Association against reform:
- July 20, 2016: Wiener voted against a proposal to put a portion of the SFPD budget on reserve until the department demonstrated that it was making progress on several reforms including its Use of Force policy, and its processes for hiring and disciplining officers. Wiener continued to oppose this even after John Avalos reduced the amount of the budget reserve from $200 million to $20 million!
- April 19, 2016: Wiener voted against a resolution in support of Mark Leno’s bill to give the public access to records of police misconduct. The ACLU says the California Police Officers Bill of Rights is one of the most restrictive in the country. Even states like Texas, Kentucky, and Utah make records of police misconduct public!
- June 23, 2015: Protesters literally turned their backs on Wiener and his resolution to prioritize hiring more police over funding education, jobs, and housing.
- December 16, 2014: Wiener opposed a non-binding resolution calling for police reform in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown and the protests in Ferguson. The Examiner later reported that the lobbyist for the SF Police Officer Association threatened to break off ties with any Supervisor who supported the resolution.
As Mark Leno’s failed attempt to make modest reforms to the Police Officers Bill of Rights shows, any meaningful police reform efforts in California will require state legislators who are willing to stand up to the law enforcement lobbyists. Leno has been a champion for police reform, and this November voters will decide whether Jane Kim or Scott Wiener will replace him.
Here in San Francisco, there is a growing consensus that the Police Officers Association is the biggest barrier to police reform. Wiener has been endorsed by the POA in every election he’s run, and every time there’s been a contested vote on police reform, he’s voted with the POA against reform.
So it’s great that Wiener respects Colin Kaepernick’s protest calling for police reform. But Scott Wiener's actions as an elected official disrespect Kaepernick and everyone else who is working on the reforms needed to address the crisis of police shootings of unarmed black and brown Americans.
And hey, @kaepernick7: if you’re serious about making police reform happen in California and San Francisco, then we need you to support Jane Kim for State Senate! Jane has a track record of standing up to the Police Officers Association. She voted for all of the reforms listed above. Will you join us in standing with Jane?
What's up, Leaguers!
Are you ready for this crazy November election? Because there are sooo many propositions on the ballot, 17 state and 26 (we think) local ones, we're starting earlier than ever this year and splitting our endorsements into two batches. Join us on August 6th for our first of two endorsement meetings!
We'll be discussing the state propositions and some of the local propositions for this election, then voting on the League's official position. If you've donated (which you can do on the spot) and volunteered four or more hours in the last year, you can vote for your favorites...but even if you can't, this is a fun opportunity to learn about the big races and get ready for the election. This meeting is also your chance to sign up for election volunteer opportunities, like pub crawls!
Saturday, August 6, 2-5pm
1600 17th Street at Wisconsin
RSVP on Facebook or at:
We'll be on the patio. Thee Parkside is kid-friendly. Bring cash for drinks and food. The carne asada tater tots are the bomb.
And mark your calendar for August 20th for our second endorsement meeting. We'll be tackling all of the local candidate races and the rest of the local propositions.
Saturday, August 20, 2-5pm
The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics
RSVP on Facebook or at:
A NOTE FOR CANDIDATES & CAMPAIGNS!
We do not have speakers for ballot measures or candidates at our endorsement meetings. We present our research, discuss the contests, and conduct a member vote. You are welcome to grab a beer with us and participate in the discussions at the endorsement meeting, but we ask that any candidates or paid campaign staff leave the room during the discussion of their contest.
Ed Lee’s “Transportation 2030” Ballot Measure Is Meaningless, Hypocritical, and Divisive at the Same Time
UPDATE: On Friday, February 26, the Mayor removed the ill-conceived Transportation 2030 from the June ballot! Thank you, Mayor Lee!
ORIGINAL POST: Mayor Lee: it’s not too late. Please take this measure off the ballot, and let’s all work together on a real transportation funding ballot measure for November.
On the same day that Mayor Ed Lee vetoed the Bike Yield ordinance, he announced a ballot measure for the June 2016 election about transportation funding called “Transportation 2030: Smart Investments for a Better Future" (PDF). It’s less than three pages double-spaced, but it manages to be simultaneously meaningless, hypocritical, and divisive. Here’s the tl;dr version:
- It’s meaningless. It’s a non-binding declaration of policy.
- It’s hypocritical. It purports to implement the “recommendations of the “Transportation 2030” Task Force, but the Mayor already fell two years and $140 million behind on implementing those recommendations when he blocked attempts to put the Vehicle License Fee restoration on the ballot in 2014!
- And it’s divisive. It says no new transportation revenues should be used for Muni’s operating expenses for the next fifteen years! Why? Because the Mayor wants more leverage to push back in labor negotiations with MTA workers. This artificial separation of the MTA’s capital and operating budgets also threatens to pit Muni advocates (that require both capital and operational money) against bike and pedestrian advocates (mostly capital expenses).
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?Read more
What the SF League of Pissed Off Voters’ Wants from Tech Commuter Buses
(Photo by Sean Rea.)
Ten months ago, the League weighed in on tech buses with our post “Hey Tech Buses: Just Pay Your Fair Share, Please.” The SFMTA and City ignored what we felt like were reasonable requests. Since then, the pilot program has gone on to litigation. The judgment is slated for mid-December. [Note: The League is not part of the lawsuit.]
On Tuesday, November 17, the SFMTA Board will vote on the proposed permanent program, and we want to weigh in with our position and call attention to a few points we feel are really important and have been omitted by the press reporting on the final pilot findings.
The TL;DR version is this:
- The pilot has not achieved its goal of eliminating safety and traffic issues.
- The City is not receiving the data it needs to manage this program.
- The City is not collecting fees that correlate to the impacts of the commuter buses.
- The City is expanding the program before the pilot has concluded.
- The City is not being completely transparent on the study conclusions.
On March 3, 2015, Julie Christensen was the swing vote against giving low-paid workers at non-profits providing City services a small cost-of-living raise. These non-profits provide vital services like mental health care, staffing homeless shelters, and violence prevention. Their workers are struggling with the skyrocketing cost of living in San Francisco. Meanwhile because of the economic boom, the City budget has never been larger. This is a real world example of why the League of Pissed Off Voters supports Aaron Peskin for District 3 Supervisor!
Read more about this vote in this Examiner article.
One of the key ways we try figure to out what’s going on with San Francisco is by following the money. And in the race for District 3 of the Board of Supervisors, the lobbyist money is going in one direction: for Julie Christensen. The Ethics Commission Campaign Finance Dashboard shows that lobbyists have contributed $32,350 for Christensen compared to only $2,000 for Peskin.Read more