23 Reasons to Vote for John Avalos instead of Ahsha Safaí
There is no starker choice on the San Francisco ballot than District 11 for the Board of Supervisors. (Okay, maybe the Presidential election!) Back in 2016, we wrote about 9 Reasons Ahsha Safaí is shady. Unfortunately, he won (by only 413 votes), and he's been just as bad as we feared, so now we have twenty-three reasons to vote him out.
We're excited to support John Avalos, a proven leader with integrity. But because people keep asking us about Safaí, here are all the ways he's proven to be a failure, with plenty of receipts:
Safaí's COVID response has been too little, too late
- The contrast between the response in the Mission versus the Excelsior and OMI is pretty damning. The Mission has conducted groundbreaking studies and offered support for its vulnerable communities, with mass testing at BART stations.
- We're glad community groups have hustled to make testing available one day a week at Crocker Amazon park and on Broad Street in the OMI, but the hard-hit District 11 needs more. Why can't Safaí get large-scale testing at Balboa Park BART or on Mission Street, where vulnerable essential workers need it?
Safaí is shady
- He flip-flopped on 2018's Prop 10 that would have expanded rent control. He told tenant groups he supported it, but then turned around and opposed it. When tenant rights advocates brought him a golden flip-flop, he hid in his office and wouldn't talk to them.
- An ugly alliance of Republicans, billionaires, venture capitalists, and developers are spending millions to elect Safaí and defeat progressive revenue measures. Why? They don't want to pay their fair share, and they trust Safaí to protect their interests.
- He pushed to increase the rents for a two-bedroom at the affordable housing planned next to the Excelsior Safeway from $1,730 to $3,026. That's not affordable!
- In 2016, the leadership of the janitors union Safaí worked for pressured its members to campaign for him, and fined members who didn’t "volunteer" $150 a day. These are janitors who are barely earning a living wage!
- Safaí was an unregistered lobbyist for a real estate developer.
Safaí has been a failure on climate change
- In his role on the SF Retirement Board, he voted against divesting from fossil fuels in 2018 and 2019, and didn't even show up when they voted against divesting again in 2020. Even though in 2017 he voted for a non-binding resolution at the Board of Supervisors urging the Retirement Board to divest from fossil fuels (give him another golden flip-flop!), and even though oil companies have been some of the worst performing stocks on the market the last three years.
- He tried to get the City to pay for his City Hall parking space!
- He failed to support replacing a gas station and parking lot with affordable housing, and has taken at least $7K from gas station companies.
- He pissed off every sustainable transportation group in the City when he attempted to gum-up the City's ability to make transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements.
- No wonder the SF Bicycle Coalition, League of Conservation Voters, and Sierra Club have all endorsed John Avalos!
Safaí is a house-flipper
- Last year he bought a property in probate court, and the real estate company he used turned around and donated $5,600 to Safaí’s campaign a month later.
- He bought a house that was in foreclosure in 2005, and sold it less than a year later for a profit. The woman he bought the house from sued him for fraud, saying she was “frightened and intimidated” into accepting an unfair offer.
- He’s been involved in a number of questionable real estate deals over the years and made most of his money as a consultant for landlords and developers.
- No wonder nearly half of his campaign funds come from the real estate industry!
Safaí is a phony
- Safaí flat out lied to the District 11 Democratic club claiming that he supported June 2018’s “Baby Prop C” to tax office buildings for childcare. In fact, he supported the competing Prop D that had a poison pill to kill off the tax for childcare.
- Safaí 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.
- Back in 2008, Safaí worked for Gavin Newsom, and he talked, dressed, and acted like a mini-Gavin. (Check out his pensive, pinstriped, hair-gelled glamour shot from a Chronicle puff piece). But when he came back to run again in 2016, he switched up his image to be a mini-Avalos! He dressed more casual and talked about working families, but we weren’t fooled.
- When he ran in 2016, he claimed to be a union organizer, but almost all of Safai's income came 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.
Safaí won't stand up to for police accountability
- He was endorsed by the racist Police Officers Association (POA), who contributed $70,000 to an independent expenditure that supported him.
- He rewarded them in 2018 by derailing a resolution to limit the cops’ ability to drag their feet on reforms.
- He also tried to replace one of our strongest Police Commissioners, Petra DeJesus, who the POA despises.
- He was AWOL on June 2018's Prop H, the POA's reckless attempt to remove civilian oversight of the cops use of tasers.
- And now he's proposing legislation to crackdown on sideshows with harsher penalties. WTH? Didn't you get the memo, Ahsha? The Republican-style "tough on crime" approach to non-violent crime is ineffective and immoral.
District 11 is lucky to have a clear choice in November. Vote for John Avalos for a Supervisor who knows the district, has a track record of getting things done, and shares our values. Check out his detailed policy positions on criminal justice, government corruption, climate justice, housing affordability, and many more issues. You can also read all about our take on Avalos in our full voter guide.
We expect this race will be super close, so every vote counts. Can you help share this post and send it to everyone you know in the Excelsior, Outer Mission, and OMI?
- Want to make phone calls to voters in swing states? Check out these rad groups that are also supporting grassroots organizations:
- Want to do something, but not sure what? This amazing doc will guide you to a bunch of great options:
Want to make a difference for California? Prop 15 is the most transformative ballot measure we've ever had the pleasure of voting for. It will make corporations pay their fair share and have a transformative impact on our schools and communities. But they need our help!
- Want to plug into our local San Francisco election? Connect with one of these awesome candidates or campaigns who are out on the streets:
- Want to get some stacks of our voter guide to pass out yourself? Email us and we'll make it happen!
The dude who created a group called "YIMBY Neoliberal" recently published an unauthorized recording of our recent endorsement meeting. We have sent him the following letter and are taking action to protect the privacy of the folks who attended the meeting. What a colossal goddamn waste of time!
Dear Steven Buss,
This letter relates to your Medium post about the San Francisco League of Pissed-off Voters (“the League”) recent endorsement meeting (the “Meeting”). The League’s endorsement meetings have always been open to members of the public. We like getting input from non-members in our discussions. But shit is different in our strange new world of online meetings and Zoom-bombing. "Public" online is different from public in person. So to ensure an environment where our members could freely express and debate views, we expressly required all attendees of the Meeting to agree to not record or screenshot the Meeting. This is not an uncommon expectation for political meetings.
Despite these expectations, you published an unauthorized recording of the Meeting in your Medium post. In the recording, you included unauthorized use of copyrighted materials owned by the League, as well as unauthorized uses of quotes and likeness of our members and other attendees. Whether or not you personally recorded the Meeting is irrelevant. California is a "two-party consent state," and Cal. Penal Code §632 prohibits "willfully disclos(ing) the contents of a telegraphic or telephonic message...without the permission of that person." WTF, man?
While we wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment and critique of the Meeting, it is your First Amendment right to say whatever it is you would like to say about the League. However, your unauthorized uses of our intellectual property, including copyrighted materials owned by the League, and unauthorized uses of quotes and likenesses of our members and other attendees is unlawful.
- Non-members were welcomed to attend, but in order to attend, had to RSVP and commit to not recording, because attendees of the meeting hadn’t consented to being recorded.
- Whether or not you personally recorded the Meeting is irrelevant. You did not have consent from any of the attendees to publish the unauthorized recording.
- You did not have consent to publish the statements by League members and other attendees in the unauthorized recording.
- You also did not have permission to use the Google doc to which the League owns the copyright for, which was also linked to in your Medium post.
- Hey you're really creeping us out with this stalker stuff. Can you please back off?
In order to resolve this, we ask that you (1) publish a public apology to the League on Twitter for recording an endorsement meeting knowing that recording was expressly prohibited and that you used, without authorization, intellectual property owned by the League, as well as misappropriated the publicity and privacy rights of the League members and attendees of the endorsement meeting with the intent to harass and embarrass the League and publicly commit to not do similar actions in the future; (2) immediately take-down the Google doc; and (3) cease any effort to repost or contest the take-downs of the unauthorized recordings on Vimeo and the Medium post because it is replete with unauthorized uses of intellectual property owned by the League and, as published, violates the right of publicity and privacy of our members and other attendees. Please confirm also that you have deleted and destroyed any and all copies of the unauthorized recording and any intellectual property owned by the League. Please confirm in writing that you have done this by close of business Friday, October 2, 2020.
As an alternative option to resolve this, respecting your First Amendment right of free speech, please re-post a corrected version of the Medium post removing: (1) the unauthorized recording; (2) unauthorized uses of intellectual property owned by the League; and (3) unauthorized quotes and likenesses of our members and attendees of the Meeting, with the following disclaimer prominently displayed before the contents of the post:
This is an updated version of this post that is edited to remove an unauthorized recording of the San Francisco League of Pissed-off Voters’ recent endorsement meeting that used, without permission, intellectual property owned by the League as well as used unauthorized quotes and misappropriated of the likenesses, publicity, and privacy rights of the League members and other attendees who were recorded without permission. The views expressed in the post are the opinions of the author.
If you’d prefer this option, please post an updated version by the close of business Friday, October 2, 2020. Similarly, if you select this option, please confirm also that you have deleted and destroyed any and all copies of the unauthorized recording and any intellectual property owned by the League.
San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters
Big thanks to all of the candidates who took the time to respond to our policy questionnaire.
See links to the candidates responses below.
Board of Supervisors
Board of Education
Community College Board
BART Board, District 9
Though the response deadline has passed, we're still game to post candidate questionnaire responses from candidates who didn't answer. It's almost all multiple choice questions, and you can skip any you don’t want to answer. Let our members know where you stand on the issues—get in touch!
A totally foreseeable and preventable tragedy is playing out in our City:
- 91 people at our largest homeless shelter have contracted COVID-19.
- 32 people living in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels.
- And who knows how many people sleeping on our streets.
It was obvious when the pandemic started that our neighbors who lack a private bathroom, bed, or home would be most at risk. Most of our allies on the Board of Supervisors immediately called for moving people out of shelters and SROs and off the streets into the thousands of hotel rooms that are now sitting vacant. It's frigging obvious, right? As the Coalition on Homelessness put it, #HotelsNotHospitalBeds. But the Mayor and Department of Homelessness have stubbornly resisted. Check out Joe Eskenazi's damning piece on how we got to this point.
Six Supervisors (Ronen, Haney, Preston, Peskin, Walton and Mar) have sponsored an emergency ordinance to require the City to rent 8,250 hotel rooms by April 26: 7,000 for unsheltered people, 750 for first responder quarantine, and 500 for other quarantines. Much of the cost would be reimbursed by FEMA. (Info on the ordinance: legislative digest, letter from UC Berkeley public health experts, Budget Analyst report.) But emergency ordinances require eight votes, and the vote is happening Tuesday, April 14th.
Please help us right now to convince our three undecided allies on the Board: Supervisors Norman Yee, Sandy Fewer, and Rafael Mandelman.
- Email them (bonus points for customizing it!)
- Retweet this tweet
- Share our Facebook post
- Call them: Yee: (415) 554-6516; Fewer: (415) 554-7410; Mandelman: 415-554-6968
Our email to the Supervisors:
Supervisors Yee, Fewer, and Mandelman,
The League of Pissed Off Voters has endorsed each of you multiple times, and we're proud of how our members helped get you into office. We consider you allies in our effort to build a progressive governing majority. In these unprecedented times, there is nothing more progressive you can do than vote for the emergency ordinance to secure hotel rooms for San Francisco's most vulnerable. #HotelsNotHospitalBeds
We know you will soon be grappling with how to balance a brutal budget deficit, and we understand it's unclear how much we will be reimbursed for the cost of these hotel rooms. But it is clearly a wise investment to minimize the spread of the coronavirus in our most vulnerable populations. And the moral argument is much more important and unequivocal than any fiscal argument: don't let our unhoused needlessly neighbors die on our streets!
The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters
P.S. The lack of oversight on this failure to care for our homeless neighbors is one more reason we call on you to create a homelessness commission.
Want to watch the election results with us?
Join us at El Rio! We'll be the geeks on the back patio scribbling the election results on butcher paper!
When: Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 8pm - ??
Where: El Rio, 3158 Mission Street, south of Cesear Chavez
No cover. 21 and over (sorry, young folks). Cash only bar.
- San Francisco election results (click on the "Detailed Reports" tab for the latest results)
- Mission Local's ongoing election result coverage
What to Expect in the Results
The San Francisco election results will be reported in four batches:
- 8:45pm: This will be only the absentee ballots that were received and processed before Election Day. These are the people who mailed their ballots in early, and these results are always more conservative than the final results. So don't freak out if they look bad!
- 9:45pm: Initial results from Election Day polling places.
- 10:45pm: Second batch of Election Day results.
- Sometime 'round midnight: The final results from Election Day polling places.
Note that there will still be a ton of ballots left to count after tonight. None of the absentee's dropped off today will be counted for several days. The Department of Elections will post updated results every day at 4pm until the count is finished. You can think of the vote count as being divided into these four batches:
- Early absentee votes: Mission Local reports that about 90,000 votes have been received. These will be the first vote counted reported at 8:45pm, and this will be the most conservative results.
- Election Day polling place votes: These will all be counted by the end of Election Night. In June 2018, there were 90,000 Election Day voters.
- Late absentee votes: These are the ballots that people drop off on Election Day or that are received in the mail anytime between today and Friday. Mission Local estimates this could be as many as 100,000 to 140,000 votes. These will take a week or more to count.
- Provisional ballots: These are people who showed up at the wrong polling place, registered after the deadline, lost their absentee ballot, etc. In June 2018, there were 14,000 provisional voters. God bless this crew, because these are reliably the most progressive batch of ballots!
That means at the end of the night, we will probably only have somewhere around 60% of the vote counted. So any race that is close (within a few percentage points) will probably be too close to call tonight. For the clown car that is the DCCC election, it will probably be several days before we know who wins the last few slots in each Assembly District. Stay tuned, Pissed Off Voters!
Why are we here?
A self-described neoliberal who is running for the Democratic County Central Committee (and, incidentally, chose not to respond to our questionnaire) recently published a “hit piece” on the League. It’s inaccurate, misleading, and silly. It’s also scary because he published stuff about our employers, our housing situations, etc. We initially chose to ignore him to not give any more attention to his campaign, but because the internet has a way of fanning the fake news flames and now other folks are asking questions, here’s a quick rundown on how the San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters works.
As an all-volunteer group, we often get snowed under with all the work it takes to put out our voter guide — especially with the super quick turnaround for this March election — and we don’t do as good a job as we’d like to of reaching out to new members or explaining how we do things. So in the spirit of doing better at that:
Who decides on the League’s endorsements?
Our members vote on our endorsements at meetings that are open to the public and publicized on our website, facebook, and email list. To qualify as a voting member, you have to make a small contribution and volunteer four hours at official League events in the last year. Non-members are welcome to participate in the discussions at our endorsement meetings before we vote. See more details on our endorsement process here.
Who is on the League Steering Committee?
Our completely volunteer-run Steering Committee manages the logistics of the League — scheduling our meetings, bottom-lining getting the voter guide written and designed and printed, hosting bar crawls and other GOTV events, updating our website and social media, etc. The Steering Committee facilitates our processes — it doesn’t decide on our endorsements.
We don’t currently publish the members of our steering committee, because some of us are uncomfortable with being publicly exposed to the hard knocks of SF politics — like getting doxxed by people mad at us because our politics differ. We’ll consider publishing this in the future, but we’re not inclined to do so in response to this hamfisted attempt at doxxing us.
But also, we’re hiding in plain sight. Our meetings are open to the public, there are photos of us on social media, and our members know who we are. More importantly, we’ve built a reputation over the last 25 San Francisco elections that tens of thousands of voters trust. We don’t have any agenda beyond geeking out on local politics and helping educate our fellow pissed-off progressive voters.
Do you only endorse candidates who agree 100% with your questionnaire?
Of course not. Like most political groups, we ask candidates to answer a questionnaire to inform our endorsement process and get them on the record. We always publish the questions and the responses to our questionnaires to help inform the public.
As you can read for yourself on our website, almost all of the candidates we endorsed disagreed with us on some items or left them blank. Also, the League doesn’t even have a position on a lot of the questions we ask — we’re just trying to understand the candidates and how they approach issues we care about. None of the questions are required, so candidates can answer as many or as few of them as they like, and they can provide any context in an essay question at the end.
Who funds the League?
Our funding comes from a mix of contributions from our members and from campaigns. Like many grassroots campaigns, we have a ton of small-dollar donors. For the price of a pupusa, we can print 100 voter guides. Aside from a handful of folks who get paid for a few hours of distributing the voter guide to far-flung corners of the city, we’re an all-volunteer group. Every dime we raise goes into producing and distributing our voter guide.
The League’s Endorsement Guidelines
- Before we make endorsements, we don’t discuss contributions with any campaigns.
- During our endorsement process, we don’t discuss our budget or campaigns’ ability to contribute to us.
- After our members vote on our endorsements, we ask the campaigns that we endorse to contribute to help produce the voter guide. This is a common practice among political groups that need to cover the costs of designing and printing slate cards.
- We do not discuss campaigns’ placement in our voter guide or how much real estate we’ll give them. (Many slate cards base the size of a candidate’s photo on how much they contribute.)
- We do not provide campaigns with advanced copies of our voter guide or any editorial input on what we write.
- If campaigns who donate to us object to what we say about them in our voter guide, we offer to refund their donation. We don’t make edits to our voter guide unless there are factual errors or new shit has come to light.
- We distribute our voter guides mostly hand-to-hand, giving us a chance to meet and interact with San Francisco voters.
- We offer to give copies of our voter guide to campaigns to distribute on their own. For campaign finance purposes, we report the cost of printing these voter guides as an “in-kind donation” to the campaigns. If you look at our campaign finance statements and see us donating to campaigns, we aren’t actually giving anyone money. We only give them boxes of our voter guides, and we make sure that the amount we give them doesn’t exceed campaign contribution limits.
- When campaigns pledge to donate to us, send them an invoice for Ethics reporting purposes.
- All of our financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org in the City and County of San Francisco Public Portal for Campaign Finance, Lobbyist and Campaign Consultant Disclosure database in the Statements section, under the Committee name, “San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters”.
So now what?
We hope that answers your questions. If not, email us at email@example.com and we’ll try to respond as long as you promise not to doxx us or write another asinine hit piece on us. But honestly, if you think we’re full of shit, write your own voter guide explaining why. We would much rather geek out debating policy.
P.S. While hater noise sure gets us down, we LOVE talking to SF voters about the issues we care about in the streets, on Muni, on campuses, and in our neighborhoods. Thanks for the love that so many of you send our way every election — we feel it! If you like what we do and want to get involved, get on our email list or check our website or facebook for pub crawls and other opportunities to volunteer, donate if you can, help us educate voters on local races before the March 3rd primary, and become a member of the League!
Curious what all the fuss is about? Check out our Pissed Off Voter Guide for the March 3, 2020 primary election — an 8,000 word democracy bomb of sharp analysis and inside baseball.
Donate to the League: https://theleaguesf.nationbuilder.com/donate
The League thanks the campaigns who took the time to respond to our policy questionnaire. Our qualified members voted on endorsements on December 17th.
See links to the candidates responses below.Democratic Party County Central Committee (DCCC)
Kelly Akemi Groth
Li Miao Lovett
Mick Del Rosario
So many questionnaires! No joke, there could be more.
Though the response deadline has passed, we're still game to post candidate questionnaire responses from candidates who didn't answer. It's almost all multiple choice questions. Let our members know where you stand on the issues.
Here's who didn't answer our DCCC policy questionnaire: Steven Buss, David Villa-lobos, Austin Hunter, Nima Rahimi, Bivett Brackett, Rick Hauptman, Kristen Asato-Webb, Tami Bryant, Nancy Tung, Victor Olivieri, Vallie Brown, William (Anubis) Daugherty, Kathleen Anderson, Abra Pauline Castle, Jane Natoli, Mary Jung, Nadia Rahman, Ahsha Safai, Paul Miyamoto, Mawuli Tugbenyoh, and Suzy Loftus.
The League thanks the campaigns who took the time to respond to our policy questionnaire. Our qualified members will vote on endorsements on August 14th.
See links to the candidates full responses below.
Board of Supervisors, District 5
Board of Education
Community College Board
While the national attention is on the 2020 Democratic Primary, San Francisco has our own little election coming up November 5, 2019. The League is starting to dig into who and what is on the ballot, and you're invited to join us.
We're having a casual happy hour gathering to go over the ballot, figure out who's researching what, talk about how we do research, what our priorities are, and what we're pissed off about this year. If you're interested in helping with our research process but can't make this event, you can email us back to get involved.
Join us at one of the picnic tables in the back of Thee Parkside. It's all ages, so everyone is welcome.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 17, 6pm to 8:30pm
WHERE: Thee Parkside (map)
1600 17th St at Wisconsin
San Francisco, CA 94107