San Francisco November 2016 Propositions

San Francisco November 2016 Propositions

The voter guide for November 2016 reminds me of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. You've got propositions A, B and C, D, E and F, G, H and I, J, K and L, M, N and O, P, Q and R, S, T and U, V, W and X. Y is missing and so is the microscopic and invisible little proposition Z. We do get an RR for BART though.

Also missing is the Voom, the magic powder that makes all the mess go away. Really this slate of city propositions is the government failing to do it's job and punting to the voters. I'm tempted to send the Board of Supervisors a week of my work to handle while I struggle through theirs. Maybe the supervisors should be limited to whatever they feel the most important one is?

As much as I hate it I have to do the best job I can. This is shorter than my state guide because after slogging through that I'm losing my will to live. Here goes:

Proposition A: San Francisco Unified School District Bond Issue

Yes. Necessary funds to fix and build schools.

Proposition B: San Francisco Community College

Yes. We need to continue to resuscitate City College.

Proposition C: San Francisco Affordable Housing Bond Issue

Yes. Repurposes unspent seismic upgrade bonds to housing.

Proposition D: San Francisco Vacancy Appointments

No. This one is just weird - someone appointed to a vacant supervisor spot can’t then run for election? Makes no sense.

Proposition E: San Francisco City Responsibility for Street Trees and Sidewalks Amendment

No. Ring fences money for tree maintenance. This was shifted to property owners and should probably stay there. I’m also generally opposed to untouchable money in the city budget.

Proposition F: San Francisco Youth Voting in Local Elections

No. Students shouldn’t be voting for the school board.

Proposition G: San Francisco Police Oversight Amendment

Yes. SFPD clearly needs more supervision.

Proposition H: San Francisco Establishment of a Public Advocate Office Amendment

No. We don’t need to pay for someone to write reports. Seems like a recipe for pointless infighting. If we get fed up with the Mayor we can elect a new one.

Proposition I: San Francisco Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities Amendment

No. Should be funded by the city without needing any special ring fencing. I don’t want to be involved in setting the right level.

Proposition J: San Francisco Homeless Services and Transportation Funds Amendment

Yes. Spends the money from Prop K on transportation and homelessness.

Proposition K: San Francisco Sales Tax Increase

Yes. I don’t love it because it’s regressive but it’s a small increase for a couple of good causes (see K above).

Proposition L: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Governance Amendment

No. Leave the Mayor in charge of the MUNI board.

Proposition M: San Francisco Housing and Development Commission Establishment Amendment

No. Doesn’t need a new body of politicians.

Proposition N: San Francisco Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections

No. Only citizens should get to vote.

Proposition O: San Francisco Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point

Yes. Allows more office space to be created in a much needed development project.

Proposition P: San Francisco Minimum Three-Proposal Requirement for Affordable Housing Projects on City Property

No. Makes it harder to get projects going. Most projects have multiple bidders already.

Proposition Q: San Francisco Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks

No. Focus on more shelter space instead. Speeding up the process of kicking people into non-existent services isn’t helping anyone.

Proposition R: San Francisco Neighborhood Crime Unit Creation

No. Not that I’m a fan of graffiti or other neighborhood blight but forcing SFPD to allocate offices to it full time means that more serious crime might not get the attention it needs.

Proposition S: San Francisco Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds

No. The money should continue to go to the general fund and not be locked down for a specific purpose.

Proposition T: San Francisco Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists

Yes. More constraints and time in the sunshine for lobbyists.

Proposition U: San Francisco Income Qualifications for Affordable Housing

No. Not enough to go around as it is so it doesn’t make sense to make it easier to apply for.

Proposition V: San Francisco Soda and Sugary Beverages Tax

No. Regressive and of dubious value. And I only just voted on this in 2014.

Proposition W: San Francisco Real Estate Transfer Tax

No. This tax is already higher than other bay area cities and the funds raised would be ring fenced.

Proposition X: San Francisco Replacement Space Requirement for Development Projects

No. Should be part of the regular planning process and not a proposition.

Measure RR: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District

Yes. BART desperately needs the upgrades.

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California November 2016 Propositions

California November 2016 Propositions

Stopping Trump is the easy part. We have seventeen statewide propositions to decide this year (and 25 city and district measures in San Francisco). Here is my guide to the California propositions:

51 School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. Initiative Statute.

Yes. This is around $1,125 per student to help fix up run down schools. Pretty modest impact on the state budget.

52 Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Yes. Ensures that California continues to get four billion dollars in Federal matching funds for Medicaid.

53 Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

No. I’d like to see fewer propositions on the ballot. This is asking for a referendum on every medium to large project. What a nightmare. I want to elect representatives to handle this for me and then vote them out if they seem to be making a mess of it.

54 Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Yes. Would require advance notice of legislation and also preserve video of proceedings for twenty years. Might stop some bad bills from getting through and will certainly provide many hours of footage to the Daily Show.

55 Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Yes. I grudgingly supported Prop 30 back in 2012. I actually preferred Prop 38 back then which seemed more balanced across income brackets and I hated the regressive sales tax component. This extension keeps the tax on the wealthy while allowing the sales tax to expire.

56 Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Yes. About time California taxed tobacco more. I’d rather see the funds raised be unrestricted but this is a good cause.

57 Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute

Yes. Stops throwing away the key on some prisoners who could be rehabilitated. Our prison population is ridiculous. Also makes it harder to send kids to adult court.

58 English Proficiency. Multilingual Education. Initiative Statute.

Yes. Makes it easier for schools to establish bilingual education programs.

59 Corporations. Political Spending. Federal Constitutional Protections. Legislative Advisory Question.

Yes. Corporations are not people. This proposition will do close to nothing to reverse that Supreme Court decision but it doesn’t hurt to complain about it.

60 Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.

Abstain. Don’t really know or care.

61 State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute.

Yes. It’s a tough one because there is risk that VA pricing would increase and some drugs may not be available at the discounted rate. But if that happens the answer is going to be more draconian action against the drug makers not less. The current system where Medicare is banned from negotiating prices while bad actors send costs into the stratosphere has to end. Also, they’re spending $100M to defeat this which makes me inclined to see it as a great idea.

62 Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Yes. I disagree with the death penalty for a bunch of reasons. Primarily that the state should only use violence in life or death situations and should not have the power to kill in cold blood. The risk that we execute the wrong person is too high. Practically the cost and complexity is a waste of time. Life without the possibility of parole should be the ultimate sanction (and can be reversed in the event of a miscarriage of justice.

63 Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute.

Yes. The only thing that can stop a bad toddler with a gun is a good parent with no ammunition. More seriously this solidifies a ban on large capacity magazines and remove more guns from more bad guys. All for it.

64 Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.

Yes. Make it legal and tax it already. I’d do the same for all drugs. See also #57. We could have more tax revenue and fewer people in jail.

65 Carry-Out Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute.

No, see #67.

66 Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute.

No, see #62.

67 Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags. Referendum.

Yes. Banning plastic bags has been a big success in San Francisco. Reusable bags are way more popular. This is an attempt by the disposable bag industry to fight back. Brace yourselves - other wasteful disposables must be next. Yes on 67 and no on 65.

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Scott Adams

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Scott Adams

Dilbert creator Scott Adams recently endorsed Donald Trump. I could take it if this was just our daisyworld politics in action. But it's a horrible post that boils down to money and rationalization.

"I don’t know the best way to defeat ISIS. Neither do you. I don’t know the best way to negotiate trade policies. Neither do you."

The first plank of the argument is that he can't make a call on most issues and so he's not qualified to weigh in. Welcome to democracy. The job is to make the best choice that you can with imperfect information. If you can't do that then do the rest of us a favor and abstain.

"You can argue whether an estate tax is fair or unfair, but fairness is an argument for idiots and children."

The second plank is that he might be less well off if the estate law changes.

So now the lack of an opinion on any other issue makes sense. If you had to think about ISIS or trade (or walls or Muslims or women) then maybe a dent in your income would have to move down a position or two or fifty. But if, aw shucks, you're just not smart enough to make those calls then it's a conveniently self-serving single issue election.

All of this is true even if raising the estate tax is a bad policy. But at the risk of coming across as a child or idiot maybe there's something in it:

"Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income of the top 1 percent of U.S. earners exploded by over 256 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 16.7 percent increase from 1979 to 2014."

I don't know the best estate tax policy. But Scott, neither do you.

Updated 2016-10-12 20:28:

So over the weekend he switched his endorsement to Gary Johnson. Maybe:

"You might enjoy my book because you’re not sure if I’m really endorsing Gary Johnson or just saying so to protect my brand."

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Save Mount Davidson

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Save Mount Davidson

I just learned that San Francisco's Recreation and Parks department plans to cut down thousands of healthy trees because they are non-native. I really don't understand this nativist movement. At one point San Francisco was part of Gondwanaland. A while before that it was a sea of super-heated plasma. We need more trees even if they were originally Australian. It's a city of transplants anyway.

San Francisco Forrest Alliance seems to be the main hub to try and shut this down. If you live here and like trees please do something. 

Here's a letter I just sent to my Supervisor:

Dear Supervisor Yee,

I am writing to voice my opposition to the plan by the Recreation and Parks Department’s Natural Areas Program to cut down 1,600 trees on Mount Davidson. I have lived in San Francisco for over sixteen years and in your district for a little over two. I regularly walk my dog and take my children to Mount Davidson. We greatly value this park for its views and forest.

Beyond Mount Davidson specifically I am horrified by the thought of felling thousands of healthy trees because they are considered to be non-native. The mission of Recreation and Parks should not be to return San Francisco to its original state. As a taxpayer and homeowner I expect to see a focus on the needs of residents and a management plan that preserves our forested areas rather than denuding them.

Maybe some of the NAP budget could be diverted to fixing up the dilapidated West Portal playground or to pay for maintenance of neighborhood trees rather than their current plan?

Yours faithfully,

Robert Ellison

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Methyl L-α-aspartyl-L-fucking-phenylalaninate

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Methyl L-α-aspartyl-L-fucking-phenylalaninate

Every time I go back to the UK now I experience some sort of culture shock. A couple of years ago it was the matryoshka of Marks & Spencers. This trip, post-Brexit, I was expecting a J.G. Ballard style post-apocalyptic wasteland. But it was even worse - it's nearly impossible to buy tonic water without sweetener.

I'm unlucky (or maybe lucky) enough to be sensitive to aspartame and anything made with the stuff tastes foul to me. I can no longer have a gin and tonic in a pub because the full-fat tonic is as tainted as the diet stuff. It's not just tonic water, many other drinks are laced with the stuff. And kids in the UK now live on Fruit Shoots which are short on fruit and long on chemical warfare.

Is this some sneaky anti-obesity move I haven't read about? More likely the vile artificial stuff is just cheaper than actual sugar and it's a cost saving measure.

Oh, and I saw a crew of motorway workers washing traffic cones. In the rain.

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Bredo

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bredo

If David Cameron really cares about the future of the UK he needs to call an election instead of handing the reins over to (presumably) Boris in a few months.

A party which campaigned on a platform of ignoring the referendum and sticking with the EU would have a legitimate mandate to do just that. Especially if they bring back the good Miliband.

I can't think of anything else that works.

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California and San Francisco June 2016 Propositions

State

50: Yes - makes it harder so suspend a legislator but provides a more impactful sanction when this does happen. I don't think legislators should be suspended unless the circumstances are extreme. 

San Francisco

A: Yes - mostly hospital and fire station upgrades.

B: No - I like parks, but the city should decide how much to allocate to them. I generally don't like measures that carve out specific areas for funding.

C: I have no idea. Abstain. I don't have the time to untangle this one.

D: Yes, clearly more oversight of lethal force by SFPD is needed.

E: Yes, brings San Francisco sick leave in line with State rules.

AA: No, regressive per-parcel tax. Should be funded in a better way.

(Previously)

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GGNRA Dog Management Round 3

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

GGNRA Dog Management Round 3

Today is the last day to comment on the latest version of the dog management plan for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I've just squeaked in under the wire. My main concern is that the National Park Service is sneaking in provisions that will allow them to further restrict access over time. The specific pros and cons of the rules for each site are less important than preserving the GGNRA as a recreation resource for everyone over time. I'm not a militant dog person - I think that there should be dog free beaches for people who prefer to not have dogs around for instance. Much of what is in the plan is reasonable. I just don't trust the NPS to stop here.

If you agree check saveoffleash.com to see what you can do to help push back on this.

Here's my full response to the NPS:

Dear National Park Service

I am writing to provide my feedback on the latest version of the proposed rule changes for dog walking in the Golden Gate National Recreation area (RIN: 1024-AE16). I also commented extensively on the first and second round and so will limit myself here to a few key points.

My primary concern with the new rules is the provision for the superintendent to further limit or remove access based on the following language:

"If primary management actions do not sufficiently address the problem, the superintendent would implement secondary management actions. Examples of secondary management actions may include, but are not limited to increased buffer zones, and additional use restrictions (e.g. limiting the number of dogs off-leash at any one time with one dog walker, requiring tags or permits for accessing Voice and Sight Control Areas, or short or long-term, dog walking area closures)."

I feel that the tone of the proposed rule changes suggests that the National Park Service would just prefer to have the same set of regulations system wide and shut down off leash access to the GGNRA. Regardless of how reasonable or unreasonable the new rules are initially it feels like excuses will be found to whittle down access over time. Enforcement should be limited to individuals who violate the rules and not to shutting down access for everyone. I cannot support the rule changes while it contains this provision.

My family lives in San Francisco and we regularly visit Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Rodeo Beach and Hill 88 (Marin Headlands) with our well behaved dog. We occasionally visit Ocean Beach, Sweeney Ridge and other GGNRA locations.

Given our use of the GGNRA I feel that the plan has improved considerably compared with the previous two versions. My chief remaining concern is the Sand Ladder trail at Fort Funston. Unless you are contemplating improvements to the trail I do not feel that this is safe for on leash walking and it should be maintained as an off leash trail for the safety of dogs and walkers alike.

In the Marin Headlands we often walk the loop up the Coastal Trail to Hill 88 returning to Rodeo Beach via Wolf Ridge and the Miwok Trail. The proposed leashed access to a portion of the Coastal Trail and Old Bunker Road is much shorter. I would love to still be able to hike the Hill 88 route with our dog (preferably off leash, but on leash would be better than nothing).

Sincerely

Robert Ellison

(Tracking number 1k0-8pu0-jdnh)

(Previously, Previously)

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Prior Artist

Alexander Reben is automatically generating all possible prior art. Which will probably take a while.

Instead, why not stop examining patents altogether?

(via Boing Boing)

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New Scientist on Immigration

New Scientist on Immigration

The April 6 issue of New Scientist has a special focus on immigration. All worth a read, but here's an assessment of the horrible cost:

"A meta-analysis of several independent mathematical models suggests it would increase world GDP by between 50 and 150 per cent. “There appear to be trillion-dollar bills on the sidewalk” if we lift restrictions on emigration, says Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington DC, who did the research."

And the uncontrollable hordes:

"Niger is next to Nigeria, Nigeria is six times richer and there are no border controls, but Niger is not depopulated. Sweden is six times richer than Romania, the EU permits free movement, but Romania is not depopulated."

Time for open immigration?

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