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San Francisco June 2022 Ballot Measures

San Francisco June 2022 Ballot Measures

How I hate all the propositions. Here's the ITHCWY official (hastily scratched together and possibly idiotically wrong) voter's guide to the June 2022 batch:

A - MUNI Reliability and Street Safety Bond

Yes. I hate that the largest line item is bus yard upgrades rather than more frequent and reliable service but they make a good case for it - i.e. being able to repair broken equipment faster and not in a century old earthquake prone death trap of a building. Hopefully this is all true and they're not just installing hot tubs and keg fridges. But sure, MUNI, take my money.

B - Building Inspection Commission

Yes. Because it seems widely supported, not because I have a strong opinion here.

C - Recall Timelines and Vacancy Process

No. I hate recall elections (foreshadowing H below) but this is too restrictive. We shouldn't recall politicians for doing what they said they were going to do when we elected them. We should consider their performance when deciding if they deserve another term. But if they are egregiously bad it doesn't make sense to prevent the recall process for two full years, and I don't see any reason why an appointed successor shouldn't get a crack at the next election either.

D - Victims and Witness Rights

No. Creating a department for Victims is within the power of the city government. Doing this by ballot measure will mean they can't stop if it doesn't make sense or needs reform or turns out to be a bad idea.

E - Behested Payments

No. A majority vote of supervisors seems enough to modify the rules here.

F - Refuse Collection and Disposal

No. Replaces the City Controller with an appointed 'ratepayer representative' who is not really going to be able to represent all ratepayers. I think I'd rather stick with the Controller.

G - Public Health Emergency Leave

No. Sick leave should cover this and should be set at the state level. We don't need more businesses leaving San Francisco right now.

H - District Attorney

No. I don't think Boudin has done anything that rises to the level of recall, and he should be judged at the next election. He's unlucky enough to be holding the hat during a post-pandemic crime surge, but mostly it's a surge back to pre-pandemic levels. Murder is up, but is everywhere. I generally support locking fewer people up and a consequence of this is more unlocked up people. Hard to see how you can have this both ways. The fentanyl situation in the city is a tragedy. I don't think recalling Boudin fixes this. I think we need legalized, safe, tested drugs and treatment rather than criminalization.

(Related: San Francisco November 2020 Ballot Measures; California November 2020 Propositions; Legislative Service)

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I would do anything to reduce gun violence, but I won't do that (an open letter to Joe Manchin)

End the Filibuster, Joe

Dear Senator Manchin,

You are not my Senator, however despite the 'all men are created equal' concept your vote is more than 20 times more powerful than the Senators who do represent me. I therefore feel compelled to write and ask you to reconsider your position against ending the filibuster.

In The Hill this week you are quoted as saying:

"You all know where I stand; I’ll do anything I can."

But then, unfortunately:

"The filibuster is the only thing that prevents us from total insanity. Total insanity."

I believe that you hold this position out of principle. I also know that you have previously worked (and failed) to strengthen background checks. We can't make any progress solving this problem without you. Please take an evidence based approach to the actual danger involved in allowing the Senate to legislate with a simple majority. Consider as a starting point the rest of the G-7.

Canada only requires a supermajority to pass a constitutional amendment. Those trucker protests got a little out of hand, but Canada is not insane.

France does not require a supermajority. It is not insane.

Germany does not require a supermajority. It is not insane.

Italy uses a supermajority for early rounds of presidential voting but otherwise not. Also not insane.

Japan needs a supermajority to amend their constitution. Again, not insane.

I'm not in love with the House of Lords, but the United Kingdom manages to pass laws without a supermajority and is not insane.

Our inability to control gun violence and our inability to allow the duly elected government to legislate are the same problem. Insanity is doing the same thing (in this case nothing) over and over again and expecting different results.

Thank you for your consideration.

(Related: Legislative Service; Intelligence Squared Two-Party Debate; Episode Four)

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What is the San Francisco Rent Board Fee?

Updated on Sunday, March 13, 2022

SFRB

I got a Rent Board Fee Annual Notice for the first time this year which says:

"The owner of each residential unit in San Francisco, as specified in Administrative Code Chapter 37A, shall pay annually to the City and County of San Francisco a Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board fee."

Which sounds like they really want you to pay. They go on to say that from the 2021-2022 tax year the Rent Board has to collect directly from the property owner rather than being bundled on the property tax bill.

This seems crazy. Not that I'm advocating kicking off another recall election but it must be a monumental waste of resources. Suddenly you're sending me letters and wasting my time as well as paying extra credit card / check processing fees all for $59 which is a pretty trivial fraction of my property tax.

It turns out that I don't even need to pay - owner occupied units are exempt. This made me wonder if I have been inadvertently subsidizing the Rent Board for years but as far as I can tell this has never been included with my property taxes. It certainly isn't broken out like other special fees (and San Francisco feels like it needs to let me know that 0.05% of my tax is going toward restoring the bay). You can opt out of the tax on a sumptuous new Rent Board portal, which can't have been cheap to build.

So what gives? I haven't seen any press on this. Please let me know if I missed something. My best guess is that whatever records were used to add the tax to the property bill were thought to be incomplete and so the Rent Board is trying to expand its tax base to all of the undeclared in-law units and casually rented rooms in the city. Less charitably they might be hoping that a lot of property owners pay the new bill without checking the details. Regardless, if we need a Rent Board can it not just be paid for out of city funds instead of wasting trees and time and money on an elaborate separate payment system?

(Related: San Francisco November 2020 Ballot Measures; Even Shitier - Citibank Remortgage Scam; California November 2020 Propositions)

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Build Back Betterer

Build Back Betterer

ITHCWY has obtained an exclusive transcript of the speech that President Biden should have given the other week. We can’t reveal our source in the West Wing, but have made every effort to verify that the country would be on a completely different course if Biden had picked up the right draft on his way out the door.

THE PRESIDENT: Like many Americans I’ve wondered why we can’t get the basics done. Basics that the majority of Americans support and that most other developed countries take for granted. Basics like education, healthcare, childcare, and stewardship of the environment for future generations.

I’ve been having these quiet conversations, mostly with Senators Sinema and Manchin, whose names I would barely know if Americans’ votes counted the same. I’m tired of being quiet! (Applause.)

Folks, I’m the Commander in Chief of our nation’s great amed services. The 107th Congress passed an irresponsibly broad and open ended Authorization for Use of Military Force which I am today using to declare war on American Mediocrity. (Applause.)

In 2005 I cried as Howard Plummer died at the hands of Serbian rebels And then laughed as Navy SEAL lieutenant Shane Wolfe took care of his family. The Pacifier left me with a conviction that our youngest children are best handled by special forces. I hereby task the SEALS, Rangers, Delta, and the rest of SOCOM with establishing universal pre-K and free childcare so that hard working Americans can focus on their vital missions. (Applause.)

F-35s are cool, when they’re not spontaneously combusting, and I love a presser on an aircraft carrier as much as the next President. But the Pentagon has determined that climate change is a threat to national security. We need to be equipped to fight the current war, not the last one. All current Pentagon procurement programs are canceled. We must protect our world beating defense industry and so General Dynamics, Raytheon and other contractors will immediately pivot to solar, wind and carbon capture and storage technologies.

Our great intelligence community will play a role as well, by infiltrating deep behind enemy lines and then planting a tree or two.

We can’t fight this war on mediocrity if we’re sick. That’s why I’m directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to start providing healthcare for any (and I mean any) potential future veteran in addition to our existing veterans. (Applause.) And we can’t fight this war if we’re dumb. The Military, Naval and Air Force academies will start to offer free university education to every American, in exchange for a year of national service in uniform or otherwise. (Applause.)

Our seniors deserve better as well. The Coast Guard will develop a new generation of Cutters that include thousands of staterooms. We will protect our maritime borders while providing accommodation, community and a diverse range of entertainment to retired Americans.

These programs will pay for themselves as we stop wasting money on expensive boondoggles and our forces will be too exhausted for any misadventures overseas. The only part of Build Back Better that won’t get done is reversing the SALT tax rise and folks, I’ve had second thoughts about that anyway. (Applause.)

May God bless you all.

2:22 P.M. EST

(Related: Episode Four; San Francisco November 2020 Ballot Measures; California November 2020 Propositions)

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Home of the Whatevers

Home of the Whatevers

We have tried Common Core, Race to the Top, Charter Schools and No Child Left Behind. The US ranks #37 in math according to PISA, behind China, Russia, and Estonia. And we're not making any progress:

"Test scores on the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress—known as “the Nation’s Report Card—have been stagnant for the past decade. The scores of the lowest-ranked students declined."

Of course poverty, ideology and unions all play a role here. But none of these challenges are unique to the US. I think the problem is sports.

Something that has always bothered me as I travel around America is that most schools primarily identify themselves by their sports team. Home of the Tigers! Or whatever. What must that do to the majority of non-Tigers turning up for school every day. Nice work on the math test but the only thing we're actually proud of is the football team.

Sports are important of course, to build teamwork and for exercise and as a future career for a tiny minority of students. Nearly everything else the school does is far more impactful.

An important and easy (although likely unpopular) Federal education reform would be to force schools to promote all extracurricular activities equally. Schools could choose to promote nothing and just be a school (like the vast majority of the rest of the world). Or they could give each activity, club and society an equal share of their jumbotron to represent the full diversity of the student body.

(Related: NailMathAndScienceFirst.org; California November 2020 Propositions; San Francisco November 2020 Ballot Measures)

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Links for September 2021

Updated on Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Snap Out of It, America: Give Kids the Right to Vote

So I disagree with this but it's interesting and well argued. A better idea is my life expectancy weighted voting plan.

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The ease of mail-in voting may increase turnout in California’s recall election.

NYT finally twigs.

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A woman is suing S.F. for $50 million over a parking ticket, saying tire chalk is unconstitutional

In one of the cases, filed Sept. 4, plaintiff Maria Infante seeks $50 million and class-action status after a San Francisco parking enforcement officer wielding chalk on a residential street gave her a $95 ticket.
The second case, filed the same day against San Leandro, demands $5 million for class members whose tires were chalked to financially benefit the city.

Civilization continues to collapse. I had my tongue in my cheek for this proposed constitutional amendment but I'm not so sure any more...

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How to Call Customer Service and Actually Get What You Want

Wired has this generic article on getting support with some insights that might have been cutting age a decade ago. I'm still waiting for CAPTGUAs.

(Related: California November 2020 Propositions; San Francisco November 2020 Ballot Measures; San Francisco June 2022 Ballot Measures)

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2021 California Gubernatorial Recall

2021 California Gubernatorial Recall

I just voted no to recalling Gavin Newsom. He probably shouldn't have had that mid-Pandemic party at The French Laundry, but I don't think that rises to the level of getting kicked out of office. I think we can wait for 2022 to pass judgement on his tenure.

The polling seems fairly tight right now, which is a little surprising given the Democratic lean of the state. I was tempted to leave the tedious second question unanswered, or write something stupid in, but it's possible that Newsom loses and we have to pick a new Governer. I backed Kevin Paffrath because he's going to fix homlessness in 60 days and he's the leading Democrat in the polls (and I don't believe he's going to fix homlessness). I don't want Newsom to lose but if he does I'd rather avoid the bear renter or talk radio climate skeptic.

The New York Times says:

"The vote is expected to come down to whether Democrats can mobilize enough of the state’s enormous base to counteract Republican enthusiasm for Gavin Newsom’s ouster."

But everyone is getting a postal vote. You don't even need a stamp. "Mobilize" is a bit of a stretch. If Newsom ends up sacked it's because he partied while the rest of us were bleaching our broccoli.

(Related: 2020 Results; I'm with Her; Thinking about the UK referendum on AV)

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Open Democracy

Open Democracy

I just listened to Ezra Klien interview Hélène Landemore on her idea for political reform: open democracy:

"One in which we let groups of randomly selected citizens actually deliberate and govern. One in which we trust deliberation and diversity, not elections and political parties, to shape our ideas and to restrain our worst impulses."

This is very similar to what I've called legislative service, where a random jury of citizens would replace the Senate. In my vision you still have elected representatives who propose legislation and the panel of citizens acts to approve or deny. In open democracy you retain the benefit of a random selection of citizens presumably immune to corruption but they are debating and proposing laws as well. That's the gist I got from the interview, there is a book as well which I will read at some point.

Ezra raises some good objections, like voters feeling alienated from the decision of a panel that they didn't elect (less of an issue for legislative service than open democracy I think) and also the role of experts in the system (lobbyists as a positive force). I think he gets it wrong on California though:

"We have a pretty robust proposition process here. And I think the broad view is that it has been captured. Special interests get whatever they want on it whenever they want."

The problem is that Uber (or whoever) can pour money into marketing their proposition to the point where you feel you'd be letting down the puppy-saving firefighters if you vote against it (I'm possibly mixing up my ads here). With an adversarial jury style system you'd at least have a group of citizens looking at the actual pros and cons.

The interview is worth a listen, and I'll report back on the book when I read it.

(Related: Legislative Service; Intelligence Squared Two-Party Debate; House of Lords - time for Legislative Service?)

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2020 Results

46

There is going to be a grown-up in charge. Maybe a little too grown up, and maybe not in charge of the legislature but what a relief.

This is a historic election for me. It's the first time the party I voted for (either in the UK or the US) has ended up in power. After a lot of shopping I rather fear I finally bought something.

It's more than a little shocking to me that more than 70 million Americans looked at this choice and voted for Trump. It's also shocking that out of a couple of hundred million possibilities that this is the choice we ended up needing to make. Biden was pretty far down my list in January but I held my nose and voted for him. I have to be charitable and assume that the same is true for many Trump voters. But still. FFS. He's literally killing you.

A decade ago I compared US politics to daisyworld and it's still true. We have guaranteed two party rule and neither party is particularly attractive. This forces people to pick a team and it's why we got the tribalistic result that we did. You're going to keep rooting for your side even if you don't particularly like the team this year. We need more like twenty parties and some genuine choice and some power sharing that results in compromise rather than deadlock.

On the subject of deadlock in practically every other democracy when the government can no longer govern then it falls. I do not understand why we go years with an imponent leader. I know that there are many people who think that this is a feature rather than a bug. That having Biden in the White House but Mitch McConnell saying no in the Senate is the kind of checks and balances that gave the hallowed Founders wet dreams. But I'm sick and tired of minority rule or near rule. Obama at least got two years to legislate, Biden might be facing zero and that's a crazy outcome for a majority of four million and counting. We need a National Popular Vote and we need to do something to fix the Senate.

$14 billion was spent on the 2020 election which is eye-watering. We're on track to spend $6.6 trillion this year though so we can afford to word on getting the money out of politics. It's crazy that Congresspeople face election every two years and are basically just fundraising the whole time. Let's have longer terms and Federally funded campaigns and term limits. Let's have independent redistricting that allows voters to choose their candidates and not candidates to choose their voters.

I'm not holding my breath.

(Related: Thinking about the UK referendum on AV; I'm with Her; Intelligence Squared Two-Party Debate)

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I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.

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