San Francisco Pissed Off Voter Guide for March 2024 Election

Finally! The Pissed Off Voter Guide for San Francisco's March 2024 election.

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March 5, 2024:
Don't Feed the Trolls!

Democratic Party Offices

Member, Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC): the Labor & Working Families Slate

DCCC Assembly District 17 (East Side)

Peter Gallotta
Kristin Hardy
John Avalos
Jeremy Lee
Vick Chung
Patrick Bell
Gloria Berry
Adolfo Velasquez
Michael Nguyen
Sydney Simpson
Joshua Rudy Ochoa
Sal Rosselli
Jane Kim
Anita Martinez

DCCC Assembly District 19 (West Side)

Natalie Gee
Greg Hardeman
Frances Hsieh
Leah LaCroix
Connie Chan
Queena Chen
Sandra Lee Fewer
Mano Raju
Hene Kelly
Gordon Mar

Federal Offices

US Senator: Barbara Lee
US Representative, District 11: No Endorsement
US Representative, District 15: No Endorsement

State Offices

State Senate, District 11: No Endorsement
State Assemblymember, District 17: No Endorsement
State Assemblymember, District 19: No Endorsement

Judicial Offices

Superior Court Judge, Seat 1: Michael Isaku Begert
Superior Court Judge, Seat 13: Patrick Thompson 

State Propositions

Prop 1: Money for Behavioral Health and Treatment Beds: Yes 

City Propositions

Prop A: Money for Affordable Housing: Yes
Prop B: More Tax Money for Cops: No
Prop C: Tax Breaks for Downtown Developers: No
Prop D: Tighten City Ethics Rules: Yes
Prop E: More Police Surveillance and Car Chases with Less Oversight: Hell No!
Prop F: Forced Drug Screening for the Poor: Just Say No!
Prop G: Make Algebra Great Again: No

Want to know why we endorsed things this way?
Keep reading for our research and snarky analysis!


Voting Logistics

Register to Vote at the Post Office or online at RegisterToVote.ca.gov. The deadline to register is Feb 20th, but in SF you can register in person at City Hall up until Election Day. You can also register at any polling place on Election Day: just ask to cast a provisional ballot. Call 415-554-4375 for more info. 

Register as a Democrat: Unless you’re registered as a Democrat, you can’t vote for crucial local Democratic party offices (the DCCC). You can switch over before Feb 20th at SFelections.org, or until Election Day at City Hall. (Note: If you’re registered ‘No Party Preference’ you can request a Democratic ballot but it will only have the Presidential race on it. So switch if you can to weigh in on the local stuff!)

WHEN?

February 5th: Early voting starts at City Hall, weekdays 8am-5pm.

February 24th: Weekend early voting starts at City Hall, Saturdays and Sundays 10am-4pm.  

March 5th: Election Day! Polls open 7am-8pm. If you’re in line by 8pm you can vote. You can also drop your ballot off at any polling place on Election Day.

WHERE?

Drop off your ballot early at one of the 34 official ballot drop boxes across the City, from February 5th through 8pm on Election Day, March 5th. 

Mail your ballot if you can't drop it off. You don't need a stamp, but make sure you sign the envelope and that it's postmarked by March 5th.

Where’s your polling place? Check SF Elections' Voting Lookup Tool, call 311, or just go vote at City Hall.

WHAT ELSE?

Did you forget to register? You can still vote! Go to City Hall or your polling place and tell them you want to "register conditionally and vote provisionally!"

People with felony convictions can vote! You can still vote even if you’re on parole. Re-register at Restore Your Vote. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you.

Youth can (almost) vote! If you’re 16 or 17, pre-register to vote and your registration will automatically be activated when you turn 18.

Like our voter guide?

Share it with your friends, and kick us down a couple of bucks so we can keep printing the guide. For the price of a few pupusas, we can print and distribute 100 voter guides. 

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Dear San Francisco,

Here is your Pissed Off Voter Guide for the March primary – an election that’s way more important than it looks.

There’s a primary for President, of course, and Barbara Lee is our hope for U.S. Senator, but the other state and federal primary races are basically uncontested. As usual, the key shit is local.

The DCCC races are crucial. They could swing November’s elections for mayor and the Board of Supervisors, because DCCC members will choose the “official Democratic Party slate” that thousands of SF voters follow. We’re endorsing candidates who will fight for working families and battle City Hall corruption.

Two perfectly reasonable incumbent judges are being challenged from the right. It’s a close race because of unlimited spending by fake “outraged citizen” PACs who are desperate to blame crime on anyone but the mayor and her D.A.

And the ballot measures….are we being trolled? Unpopular Mayor London Breed is facing re-election in November, so she’s veering to the right with a trio of useless and cruel wedge issues (Prop C, Prop E, and Prop F) which would give tax breaks to downtown developers, weaken citizen oversight of the police, and drug-screen poor San Franciscans. Which really is some bullshit. Reverting to these failed strategies would only make the City’s problems worse. 

Cue the troll farms – a well-funded network of astroturf PACs like GrowSF, TogetherSF, and Stop Crime SF. They’re spending millions on this election to convince us that the City is a cesspool run by progressive bleeding hearts and that the only solution is a tough-on-crime, tough-on-drugs, tough-on-schools, tough-on-poor-people crackdown. 

Don’t be fooled, San Francisco – we can’t buy into the doom-loop narrative. Let’s flip the script and get ready for November, when we can vote for solutions to the City’s real problems of wealth inequality, lack of affordable housing, and mismanaged government. In the meantime, don’t feed the trolls!

Love,

The League


Democratic Party Offices

Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC): the Labor and Working Families Slate

Two slates of candidates are competing to control the local Democratic party, and the winner will make official endorsements for the November 2024 election. Many voters turning out to defeat Trump in November will vote the Democratic slate for SF’s down-ballot offices, trusting whatever names are splashed all over the party’s well-funded barrage of election mail. In other words, whoever wins this race could ultimately pick the next mayor, as well as supervisors for Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. 

If the DCCC is hijacked by the “moderate” slate funded by billionaires and real estate developers, they’ll try to sweep away renters, working families, and future district elections.

Fortunately, there is an alternative: the Labor and Working Families slate

Labor and Working Families Slate

This badass team of union organizers, community leaders, educators and activists, is fighting for more affordable housing to address homelessness, more government oversight to tackle corruption, and more economic equality to keep working families in San Francisco. 

Anita Martinez and Vick Chung are elected City College trustees, who ran on their own progressive slate in 2022 to stop class cuts at City.

Jane Kim, John Avalos, Sandra Lee Fewer, and Gordon Mar are former supervisors, all of whom have delivered significant legislation to help immigrants and working families gain economic independence, protect renters and fight for affordable housing, save City College, and help San Francisco transition to renewable energy.

Connie Chan is the current District 1 Supervisor and progressive hero who protected vital City services for renters and families as Budget chair during 2023’s austerity budget cycle, including protecting funds for children, seniors, and the homeless. As Supervisor she has been a champion for immigrants, working families, and small businesses as they work to recover from the pandemic.

Mano Raju, as the City’s elected Public Defender, advocates for supportive services to keep vulnerable San Franciscans out of court and out of jail, while pushing for resources to help people re-enter society and be good community stewards.

Leah LaCroix is a current Vice Chair of the DCCC and has helped deliver Free MUNI for Youth as chair of the SF Youth Commission.

Gloria Berry has fought for reparations for Black San Franciscans on the SF Reparations Committee. 

Jeremy Lee is an affordable housing manager in Chinatown who fought for a fair district map on the 2021 redistricting task force.

Queena Chen and Natalie Gee, daughters of Chinese immigrants, got their start as community organizers in Chinatown. Queena is a transit activist serving on the SFMTA’s Citizen Advisory Committee and co-founder of the Rose Pak Democratic Club. Natalie is a community organizer who has championed language access as a progressive legislative aide.

Greg Hardeman, Patrick Bell, and Kristin Hardy are longtime organizers with their labor unions, representing elevator workers, plumbers, and healthcare workers (IUEC Local 8, UA Local 38, and SEIU 1021). 

Sal Rosselli is president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

Sydney Simpson is a progressive union nurse who organizes with the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club.

Hene Kelly is a retired teacher and current Medicare For All activist who advocates for seniors and people with disabilities.

Peter Gallotta is a current Vice Chair of the DCCC. His leadership and organizing has kept the local Democratic Party progressive and a voice for the people. Peter is an activist for clean energy and LGBTQ+ rights.

Adolfo Velasquez is an educator at SF State who has supported low-income students at State and City College.

Joshua Rudy Ochoa works for the SF Youth Commission and, as a student activist, helped raise SF State’s campus minimum wage.

Frances Hsieh is a labor organizer who champions the voices of immigrants, women and Asian-Americans in city government. 

Michael Nguyen a.k.a. Juicy Liu, is an attorney, LGBTQ activist, and drag queen. Michael uses his performance drag to bridge the LGBTQ and API communities.

Let’s take back City Hall from corrupt downtown interests and build a city that works for everyone. Vote for the Labor and Working Families DCCC slate!

Labor and Working Families Slate

Hey! Remember, only registered Democrats can vote in this super important DCCC election. You can get a Democratic Party ballot by registering as a Democrat with the Department of Elections. See Voting Logistics for more info.

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Federal Offices

US Senator: Barbara Lee

Most folks who know Congressperson Barbara Lee on the national stage remember her now legendary refusal to vote for  the disastrous open-ended authorization of war in Afghanistan in the weeks after 9/11– the only member of Congress to do so. Lee eloquently voiced her argument in favor of decency, patience, and healing, and set the standard for American leadership for decades.

Lee’s political life began as a volunteer with the Black Panther Party’s breakfast program, then as president of the Black Student Union at Mills College. Lee was inspired to vote and enter electoral politics after a 1972 Mills visit by Shirley Chisholm, the political trailblazer who was then running for president, and became the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Lee  joined the staff of Congressman Ron Dellums, a stalwart Black progressive who later served as  Mayor of Oakland. 

In 1990, Lee was elected to the California State Assembly from Oakland; in 1996 she was elected to the California State Senate, and in 1998 she was elected to the U.S Congress, where she has served ever since.

Lee opposes the death penalty, backs reproductive freedoms, and supports shrinking the U.S. military budget. She has worked to decriminalize cannabis and ensure equitable access to the marijuana industry, advocates for Medicare For All, and works for housing affordability. Lee chairs the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, and the Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, as well as many progressive congressional groups. Basically, she’s a badass. Let’s send Barbara Lee to DC!

OMGs we get to vote for Barbara Lee twice! 

As with California’s other Senate seat recently vacated under unusual circumstances, this Senate seat also requires two separate, simultaneous, elections—both on the same ballot. One election will be for the remaining few weeks of Feinstein’s term, and one will be for a full six-year term. Vote for Lee twice in the March primary– but remember you will have to vote twice again on the November ballot.  

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US Representative, District 11: No Endorsement

Look, Nancy Pelosi is gonna win, no surprises here. She doesn’t need our endorsement. Every two years our members debate if we should endorse her: do her national contributions outweigh her lack of leadership back at home and justify the shade she loves to throw at progressives? See our 2018 or 2014 voter guides for more thoughts on that. Her most recent unconscionable move in our book? Her insulting and witch-hunty calls for the FBI to investigate those of her constituents calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying they might be getting paid by Russia—or, as she suggested in October 2023, that they should “go back to China.” 

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US Representative, District 15: No Endorsement

Okay, incumbent Kevin Mullin may be a “proud member of the Dads Caucus” who brags about his high-school past as DJ “Cutmaster Kevvy Kev.” But he’s endorsed by the state establishment, gets lots of mainstream money, and has no serious opponent– so he doesn’t need our endorsement. Side note: it’s such a drag to have nothing but blah candidates for Congress. Until there’s someone we can get excited about, we’re staying out of it.


State Offices

State Senate: No Endorsement

Scott Wiener, foiled in his ambitions for Congress by Nancy Pelosi’s iron grip on office, is reduced to running again for State Senate, challenged only by a handful of hopeless wannabes. Yes, he’ll win, and will bring his pro-cop, pro-business, pro-development agenda back to Sacramento, while touting his “progressive” bonafides nationally as a battler for trans rights. Even though he’s good on some issues like transit, biking, and nightlife, we have serious policy disagreements with Wiener and can’t support him. (See our 2020 and 2016 voter guides for more on that.) Since he’s left for Sacramento, Wiener has personally authored some of the most cynical legislation ever, restructuring state and local government power for the profit of his real estate backers. We’re seriously worried about Wiener’s stumping in San Francisco with Garry Tan for the reactionary DCCC slate especially after Tan’s image has been emblazoned on death threats to a number of politicians. Wiener’s endorsement of real estate and tech millionaire-funded candidates means no endorsement from us. 

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State Assemblymember, District 17: No Endorsement

The League is not endorsing in this race this year. We supported incumbent Matt Haney in his previous runs for the Board of Ed and Board of Supervisors, and he’s even been to several of our meetings. But by the time he ran for Assembly in 2022, he was distancing himself from his previously progressive record. While he’s done some good things in Sacramento for renters like himself, Haney’s 180 toward YIMBY housing doctrine and his willingness to attack former allies have given him a (well-funded) seat at the moderate table. Now he’s getting support from GrowSF, and his endorsement of real-estate funded candidates for DCCC– who just happen to be running against progressives for supervisor in November– is just bonkers. We’re sad that we can’t endorse him this time around– do better, Matt!

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State Assemblymember, District 19: No Endorsement

We didn’t endorse either of the two front-runners in this race. David Lee and Catherine Stefani are the only serious contenders looking to replace Phil Ting in the State Assembly. If Stefani wins, the all-white delegation to Sacramento will underscore the tragic fact that San Francisco is losing its Chinese-American representation at all levels. Supervisor Catherine Stefani, hailing from the northern and eastern-most, (as well as wealthiest) corner of District 19, hopes to bring a politics of bland YIMBYism to Sacramento, as long as it is not applied too aggressively in her immediate backyard, in lockstep with her colleagues from the San Francisco delegation like Haney and Wiener. Stefani racked up endorsements and campaign donations from the field of moderate-leaning politicians, most of organized labor, and a coterie of old-money Pacific Heights donors including most of billionaire Ron Conway’s extended family.

David Lee is making a fourth run for office, this time with the backing of local progressive leaders from the west side and Chinese progressive communities. We didn’t endorse Lee in his three previous runs for Supervisor of D1, because there's always been a stronger candidate in the race. We’re taking another look at him this time, considering our allies backing him like Connie Chan, Jane Kim, Mark Leno, Sandy Fewer, and Norman Yee. We like his focus on public education and uplifting AAPI community voices. But that wasn’t enough to convince a majority of our members to back Lee, so we ended up with no endorsement.

Sacramento Reality Check

Look, outside the Bay Area, politicians like Wiener, Haney, and Stefani are seen as lefty progressives because they believe in gun control and are perfectly glad to be photographed with drag queens. But just because Moms for Liberty doesn’t like you, it doesn’t mean you share our values. If you’re representing San Francisco, not being a bigoted asshole should be the floor, not the ceiling. We need champions for truly affordable housing, police accountability, policies that keep working families in the city, and systemic checks on the wealth inequality that’s destroying our communities. If you look below their surface-level actions and, of course, follow the money, these guys don’t cut it. 

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Judicial Offices

Superior Court Judge, Seat 1: Michael Isaku Begert
Superior Court Judge, Seat 13: Patrick Thompson

Superior Court judges oversee civil, criminal, and traffic courts. We heartily endorse the two incumbent judges.

Judge Michael Isaku Begert

Seat 1: Judge Michael Isaku Begert presides over collaborative courts, which divert San Franciscans charged with minor crimes away from jail and into drug treatment, mental health, and job-counseling services. Begert knows these programs are effective and wants to see them continue. One of the good guys!

Judge Patrick Thompson

Seat 13: Judge Patrick Thompson is relatively new to the bench, currently working in the courts’ pretrial system. We like his take on fairness: “I don’t coddle criminal defendants. I don’t coddle defense attorneys. I don’t coddle prosecutors.” He’s a stand-up judge who won’t be bullied.

Our courts are under attack by conservative PACs looking to blame anyone but the mayor and her DA for the fentanyl crisis and crime. They want to amplify a Fox News narrative in which San Francisco is a lawless hellhole that needs more cops, draconian laws, and hanging judges…but that MAGA-uncle rant-at-Thanksgiving horseshit has no place in our political dialogue.

Our justice system is far from perfect, but these two judges are part of the solution. Vote for Judge Begert and Judge Thompson!

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State Proposition

Prop 1: Money for Behavioral Health and Treatment Beds: Yes

Prop 1 modifies an existing state tax (2004’s Mental Health Services tax of 1% on incomes over $1 million) so the money can be used to address substance abuse, and would require a chunk of the money raised to go to housing and supportive services. This prop also includes a $6.38B state-level bond, put on the ballot by the state legislature, and supported by majorities there and by the governor. If it passes, CA borrows money now to address urgent needs and pays it back over time. The new money from this bond would go to: 

  • County health departments, with grants for organizations that provide behavioral health treatment to create more inpatient and residential treatment beds (about $4 billion)
  • Permanent supportive housing for people with behavioral health disorders who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness (about $2 billion, half earmarked for veterans)

The bond money would provide an estimated 11,000 more treatment beds and supportive housing units, with outpatient services for over 27,000 people.

If you’re running a clean-up-the-streets campaign (and who isn’t? See, for example, London Breed, the mods’ DCCC slate, future President Newsom, or SF’s Prop F) it’s mandatory to rage against all those “homeless crazy people” and “drug addicts” who refuse to get treatment. But here’s the reality: there are nowhere near enough treatment beds for people who need them. Not in San Francisco, with our county hospital’s grand total of 44 acute psychiatric beds, and definitely not in California’s poor rural counties. And any unhoused person lucky enough to get past bureaucratic requirements,and move into short-term rehab is unfortunately out of luck when it’s over: most folks who come from the street are discharged right back to the street

The state desperately needs more clinicians, treatment beds, and housing to help Californians struggling with mental health and/or substance use disorders that aren’t getting what they need from existing outpatient services with limited capacity. Right now their only options are languishing on waiting lists, cycling through emergency rooms—or ending up in jails and prisons, which have become the state’s de facto psych and drug treatment centers. This bond would also allow mental health money to also be spent on substance use disorder treatment and housing so people can stay mentally healthy. 

Dear readers, we do want you to know that this one is a little tricky. While a majority of our members ultimately voted to endorse Prop 1, our discussion was more nuanced. Of course, we  worried about endorsing anything with this much money backed by the supremely slippery Gavin Newsom, whose Prop 1 catchphrase “treatment not tents” (ugh eyeroll) recalls his notorious “Care Not Cash” initiative from way back when he was SF mayor, which helped cause the problem he now decries

More importantly, some in the mental health and disability rights communities are concerned that the facilities built with the bond money from Prop 1 could include forced treatment programs, potentially opening the door to a return to the bad old days of nightmarish asylums (the words “voluntary” and “unlocked” were removed from earlier versions of the legislation). And we agree with mental health advocates that it’s majorly effed up for the legislature to craft these bills without consulting or centering the needs of folks who access these services. This is especially important because Prop 1 changes how money from the long-standing tax should be spent, effectively diverting money from some existing services to expand programs that include substance use disorder treatment and housing support. There are ways to fill these gaps with new funds from Medi-Cal and other sources, but Prop 1 places the burden on local health systems to figure that out.

So yes, this prop has its faults and this isn’t going to single-handedly fix our clusterf*ck of a behavioral health system. But ultimately, we’re going with a yes on this one. The tax funds will still go through local health departments that can determine how to best meet their communities’ needs, they’ll have more resources to address substance use disorder in addition to mental health, and the bond puts money toward a persistent gap in the system. While nobody wants to see a return to draconian institutions, we do need more money for supportive housing, and treatment facilities that offer an alternative to jails.

We say Vote Yes!

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City & County Propositions

Prop A: Money for Affordable Housing: Yes

San Francisco’s affordable housing has mostly been funded by federal and state money. But that’s been cut, so the city needs to rely more on taxes, developer fees, and/or bonds. Unfortunately, the city reduced the amount that developers are required to kick in for affordable housing, and no politician is gonna risk floating a new property tax before an election… but San Francisco still has to  build 46,000 affordable units by 2031 or be penalized by the state. Thus, this bond. 

Most of it— $240 million —is for funding just 1,500 units already in the housing pipeline, but stalled for lack of money. Another $30 million is for preserving sites like those in the Small Sites Program (about 60 units) and $30 million goes to 120 beds of supportive housing for domestic violence survivors. All worthwhile and necessary, in our book.

This measure is supported by the supes and the mayor. It requires a two-thirds vote to pass: As if that pressure weren’t enough, it will also be a predictor for the popularity of future bonds. If it fails (the way the transit bond did last year) despite our obvious need for housing funds and  support from all the players, that would be very bad news for any future affordable housing measures, and for other public infrastructure initiatives. Eeek. So tell all your friends: Vote Yes on Prop A!

Side Plot on Climate Bond Drama

Climate activists pushed to add $50-100 million to this bond for electrification and efficiency retrofits of existing affordable housing, but the Supervisors and Mayor said no, because there isn’t room in the City’s capital plan. The capital plan established a policy that we will only issue new bonds as old bonds are paid off, trying to keep City property taxes at the same level since 2006. We think it’s time to reconsider that policy for key needs like housing and climate. That makes it even more important that Governor Newsom step up on leading a state climate bond for the November ballot. Unfortunately it looks like we shouldn’t get our hopes up. :/

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Prop B: More Tax Money for Cops: No

You know it’s bad when progressives and conservatives agree on anything related to the San Francisco Police Department. And—get ready— the League is on Mayor Breed’s side here!

This is one of two measures on this ballot aiming to turn back the clock on policing reforms (see also Prop E). In the summer of 2020, following George Floyd’s murder, there was a flurry of activism against over-policing, with a focus on alternative community safety strategies. In the November 2020 election, our supervisors unanimously submitted a ballot measure to remove minimum staffing rules for the SFPD, saying; “For the last 25 years, the minimum staffing requirement has handcuffed San Franciscans and our budget, and it hasn’t made our city safer.” Voters agreed at the ballot, and police staffing minimums were removed from The City charter. Yay! Victory! 

So wait, why are we even talking about establishing a minimum again? 

Here’s the background: Supervisor (and former SFPD spokesman and “copaganda” strategist) Matt Dorsey drafted a proposition to mandate more new police hiring and retention without a source of funding, which is policy code for “cut other City services to pay for recruiting bonuses”. Then Supervisor (and mayoral challenger) Ahsha Safaí amended the prop, making police hiring dependent on future new funding, most likely a tax, and the supes voted to put it on the ballot. Breed and Dorsey went ballistic, calling the amended version a devious “cop tax.” Now public-sector unions (which want more public safety hiring, including medics and firefighters) are backing it, and Breed and her allies are urging voters to vote no.  

On top of the minimum staffing nonsense, Prop B would require an expensive new tax, take money away from the city’s general fund, and establish a “Police Officer Staffing Fund” which the department would then have  broad discretion over — i.e. a nice little SFPD recruiting slush fund. What could possibly go wrong? (Dorsey wants to do a pro-SFPD reality show and SFPD recently did recruiting trips to friggin Texas, hunting for new cops!)

We are sticking with the voters’ previous decision, and saying no to more cops. Just like our dear friend London Breed: Vote No on Prop B.

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Prop C: Tax Breaks for Downtown Developers: No

Prop C would give tax breaks to downtown developers who sell their commercial property after converting it to residential use. We can debate the merits of that given our affordable housing shortage, but there’s also a sneaky backdoor clause that could remove the entire property transfer tax entirely. No, thanks!

Backstory: In November 2020, we won a huge victory with Prop I, which increased the City’s property transfer tax on luxury properties sold for over $10 million, generating over $300 million to stabilize the budget and fund affordable housing. (The Supervisors created the Housing Stability Fund to direct Prop I money to social housing, but the Mayor refused to spend that money on housing. WTF?!)

So for decades, the City let developers build gobs of office towers downtown without including enough housing. Now with the work-from-home revolution, downtown is empty, and the office vacancy rate has skyrocketed to 34%. The City desperately needs housing, so, yeah, maybe it makes sense to convert some empty offices to homes.

But do we really need to give fatcats a tax break for what will almost certainly be high-priced condos? And does poor Mr. Moneybags who made a bad investment in office space deserve to be bailed out? Plus, we lose out on tax money that would have gone toward affordable housing? Yuck.

If all that weren’t bad enough, Prop C slips in a clause allowing the real estate transfer tax itself to be changed by the Board of Supervisors, which means a pro-real estate Board could completely eliminate it. And y’all know how we feel about undoing the will of the voters – not on our watch! Vote No on Prop C.

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Prop D: Tighten City Ethics Rules: Yes

The San Francisco Ethics Commission was created by voters in 1993. It’s in charge of everything connected to clean government: anti-bribery rules, election campaign finance, lobbying, preventing conflicts of interest, and so on. It advises City employees on how not to break the ethics rules, enforces the rules, and sometimes pushes for even better and stronger rules.

The Ethics Commission put this prop on the ballot to firm up the City’s lax laws on gift-giving, tighten various loopholes, and make it harder for the Board of Supervisors to monkey around with ethics rules in the future. They started drafting it a few years ago, in response to the bonkers corruption kablooie that put former DPW head Mohammed Nuru in federal prison (and ended the careers of various other City bigwigs and contractors.)  The Ethics Commission tactfully said it wanted to “address demonstrated shortcomings in the City’s ethics laws and help prevent future acts of corruption like those identified through numerous recent investigations into the conduct of City officials and those doing business with the City.”

The details are pretty arcane, and it’s hard to write comprehensive regulations to prevent impropriety without getting too  finicky. For example, the rules specify that City officials can’t enjoy “office courtesies” like tea or bagels at a business more than four times a year, which makes sense… but imagine the recordkeeping!

It’s hard to draw the lines in the right place when you’re regulating the relationship between government employees and the businesses, nonprofit contractors and   individuals they need to work closely with day in and day out.  You want to outlaw sketchy gift-giving, but not accidentally block valid partnerships or make it illegal to invite your next-door neighbor to your BBQ, because the ribs you got were kinda expensive and six months from now the company she works for is going to apply for a permit from a board you sit on. But it’s not that hard to smell when something’s fishy. 

Side note: The Ethics Commission is supposed to be able to advise people about the ethics of sticky situations, but it’s severely understaffed. We think the commission  should receive guaranteed funding in proportion to the City budget, to help our government and our elections stay squeaky clean. 

Ethics rules are complex and tricky to get right. But ultimately, we’d prefer to weed out the corruption that’s plagued City government for years, so we lean toward strictness rather than laxness. And we trust the Ethics Commission. In fact, if recent egregious scandals weren’t enough to convince you that this prop is needed, check this out: The union for highly-paid and powerful City managers, the Municipal Executives Association, was required to have a series of meetings with the Ethics Commission before the commission could submit Proposition D to the voters. The MEA tried to kill the prop by dragging their feet so obnoxiously during the meeting-scheduling process that they forced the Ethics Commission to miss two different deadlines to get it on the ballot? If the people who would be regulated by this prop are already resisting it, it’s definitely needed. Vote Yes on Prop D.

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Prop E: More Police Surveillance and Car Chases with Less Oversight: Hell No!

Prop E would remove citizen oversight of SFPD’s surveillance and technology policies, encourage more dangerous police chases for low-level crimes, and bog down any Police Commission reforms the Chief of Police doesn’t like.  (The Police Commission itself, whose members are appointed by the mayor and the supervisors, has recently been a focus of right-wing misinformation campaigns but remains a super-important check on abuses of power by the SFPD.) 

Currently, the SFPD can only adopt a new technology after filing a request with the Board of Supervisors that explains how it will be used (and, more importantly, how it won’t be abused). Prop E allows the SFPD to use any new technology immediately, as they wish, without formal policy, for a full year. Police drones following people? Arming police drones with bombs? AI-powered facial recognition? The cops could run wild with any of those.

On the “chase” front, Prop E allows police to chase anyone “likely” to commit a felony or violent misdemeanor. WTF does that even mean? Sounds like some Orwellian Thought Police or Philip K. Dick’ian Pre-Crime shit to us. And even Police Chief Bill Scott supported SFPD’s current car chase policy before the Mayor put Prop E on the ballot without even holding a hearing at the Police Commission. Since 2018, 38% of SFPD chases have ended in a collision with 36 injuries and 2 deaths. We don’t need any more of these, thank you.

Hmm, what else? Prop E would allow the cops to delay any Police Commission reforms at the Chief’s request, requiring  a 90-day wait and meetings in all ten police stations before the commission could even hold a meeting to consider the policy. It would also reduce transparency, limiting the time cops are allowed to spend on reporting use-of-force incidents.

This measure, backed by the police union, got a hefty $250,000 from crypto billionaire Chris Larsen, and another $100,000 from notorious billionaire powerbroker Ron Conway. But big-money ads can’t hide the fact that this is the opposite of how police oversight should work. Prop E is a cynical, poorly written, fear-mongering attempt by fear-mongering politicians to appear “tough on crime” by reversing important police reforms and letting SFPD go ham with dangerous car chases and unproven technologies. It will make San Franciscans less safe. Vote Hell No on Prop E!

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Prop F: Forced Drug Screening for the Poor: Just Say No!

Prop F is a hateful piece of tough-love posturing by Mayor Breed that would revive the nastiest and least effective aspects of the failed War on Drugs. It would withhold money, shelter, and meals from any recipient of the County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP) who refuses to be screened for substance abuse or refuses mandatory treatment if found to be using by a “professional evaluation.” CAAP is a lifeline for the very poorest San Franciscans, including immigrants and refugees. It provides a measly $712/month for housed recipients who make under $7,500 a year (homeless adults get $109/month and a shelter bed in return for 12 hours a week of work.) Prop F threatens to take away these benefits in the name of cleaning up downtown. 

It’s a joke to pretend that this proposition would solve anything. San Francisco is already desperately short on staff and rehab beds, and can’t provide help even to those who want treatment for substance use disorders. Extensive research shows forcing people into treatment simply doesn’t work.

Prop F would almost certainly increase homelessness and cost the City money. If housed CAAP recipients lose their monthly $712, they’ll lose their homes, which means more unhoused people on the streets – each of whom would cost the city over $5,000 a month for shelter alone. It’s cruel and it’s stupid. Just Say No to Prop F.

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Prop G: Make Algebra Great Again: No

Aaand rounding out the wedge salad, we have Prop G: a pointless attempt to tell the school district how to teach math. Wait, are we living in a red state somewhere? What’s with these anti-woke school board takeovers and ballot measures dictating curriculum? School politics have felt especially toxic and disorienting in recent years (spoiler alert: the recalls didn’t fix anything), but since we’re here, this is the backstory on the algebra thing: 

For years, San Francisco Unified School District offered Algebra 1 in 8th grade for all students. But in 2014 the district changed its math sequencing to respond to a troubling pattern: Black, Latinx and low-income students were getting stuck in lower-level math classes, while their peers made it to AP calculus and AP statistics. 8th grade Algebra I was the starting point for this  de-facto racialized tracking that carried through high school. SFUSD moved Algebra I to 9th grade to promote racial equity and improve overall learning, while introducing algebraic concepts in younger grades to help students prepare for higher math. While this change was supported by the district’s African American Advisory Council and in line with updates to the California Common Core standards, some parents felt their kids were being “discriminated against'' for being good at math, both sides called each other racist, and it all flowed riiiight into the raging shitstorm of pandemic-era school battles.  

Anyway, THAT happened and now, nearly a decade after Algebra 1 was moved to 9th grade, it turns out results have been mixed. More students are passing algebra, but racial disparities in upper grades haven’t decreased. There are a million possible explanations for this, including huge gaps in resources between schools, flawed testing systems, and the common practice of some families paying out of pocket for extra math classes so their kids still get ahead. To make matters even more confusing, the University of California has updated their requirements for which classes count toward admission, and the state Board of Education has new guidance on this exact same algebra question.

So everyone agrees it’s time to take another look at math sequencing, and guess what? SFUSD has already committed to bringing Algebra 1 back to 8th grade. SFUSD is collecting input from parents and educators on a new math sequencing plan that’s headed to the school board for consideration on February 13th…That’s right, before we even vote on this prop! Astroturf mods knew this change was in the works, but they put this resolution on the ballot anyway to supercharge the rage machine and bait us into (yet another) draining culture-war fight.

How pointless is Prop G? The reason it’s last on the ballot is because it’s non-binding.. That’s right: The City has no legal authority over the school district, so Prop G won’t even do anything if it passes. Now, SFUSD is far from perfect and we’ll be watching to see how their new plan plays out. But at least that process is happening, you know, at the legal body that actually has jurisdiction over how math is taught. 

Voting no on Prop G doesn’t mean you hate algebra or don’t want kids to go to college. It means you trust educators to do their jobs, understand that the City doesn’t actually have jurisdiction over school curricula, and reject dog-whistle attempts to undermine public education in the minds of SF parents and voters.

Ignore the blowhards. Your eighth-grader certainly will. 

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  • SF League of Pissed Off Voters
    published this page in Voter Guides! 2024-02-02 07:30:05 -0800

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