ITHCWY: Robert Ellison's Blog

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.

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.

San Francisco 2014 Ballot Measures

San Francisco 2014 Ballot Measures

My voting guide for the San Francisco 2014 ballot measures:

A: San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond

Yes: This borrows half a billion dollars to improve bike lanes, transit lanes, pedestrian crossings, etc. I walk, drive and bike around San Francisco as well as taking MUNI. We're killing too many people, especially pedestrians, and need to do a better job.

B: Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth

No: More money to MUNI from population growth instead of tax base growth. These seem like they should be related and if not fix the tax base not the funding formula.

C: Fund; Public Education Enrichment Fund; Children and Families Council; Rainy Day Reserve

Yes: Continues existing universal preschool for 4-year-olds and other kids programs.

D: Retiree Health Benefits for Former Redevelopment Agency and Successor Agency Employees

Yes: This fixes a kink in benefits for a few city employees. Seems fair.

E: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

No. I'm somewhat torn on this one. It probably would reduce sugar consumption but is that displaced spending going to broccoli? It's a regressive tax and I'd rather see more effort on education or making healthier alternatives more available and appealing.

F: Pier 70

Yes: Looks like a good development.

G: Additional Transfer Tax on Residential Property Sold Within 5 Years of Purchase

No. Covers way too many sales without many exemptions. Unfair to property owners.

H: Requiring Certain Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields To Be Kept As Grass With No Artificial Lighting

No: H and I are fight over installing artificial turf on the fields by the Beach Chalet. I've played soccer on gopher-ridden grass and it's lethal. I don't want to be responsible for twisted ankles so no on H and yes on I.

I: Renovation of Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields

Yes. See H.

J: Minimum Wage Increase

Yes: It would be nice if more people who work in San Francisco could afford to live in San Francisco.

K: Affordable Housing

No: Not because it's a bad idea to add more affordable housing but it's a non-binding policy statement and doesn't actually seem to change anything.

L: Policy Regarding Transportation Priorities

No: This seeks to change policy to favor cars over other transit options. Nuts.

(previously)

San Francisco 2012 Propositions

San Francisco 2012 Propositions

Following yesterday’s post on the California 2012 Propositions here’s a shorter post on how I’m planning to vote on the San Francisco (PDF) ballot initiatives:

A: City College Parcel Tax

Yes, happy to pay another $79 a year to support City College.

B: Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond

Yes, park improvements for a littler over $50 a year.

C: Housing Trust Fund

Yes, a modest amount of money to include affordable housing in a city that desperately needs it.

D: Consolidating Odd-Year Municipal Elections

Yes, because there are too many elections already.

E: Gross Receipts Tax

Yes, makes more sense than taxing payroll and doesn’t tax businesses until you’re over $1M in revenue (whereas the payroll tax hits pre-revenue startups).

F: Water and Environment Plan

No, this is a study on draining the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Which is just crazy. I might not support building it today but it makes no sense to look at getting rid of it now. Plus that water is really nice.

G: Policy Opposing Corporate Personhood

Yes, because a San Francisco policy will totally reverse hundreds of years of legal precedent. More seriously, corporations are not people and while a policy won’t reverse the malign influence of unlimited corporate spending on elections it doesn’t hurt to whine about it a little.

California 2012 Propositions

My favorite proposition would be one to do away with propositions altogether. We need Legislative Service instead. But there is an election on Tuesday and a fresh slate of propositions for California and San Francisco that need to be decided. My thoughts on the statewide propositions are:

30: TEMPORARY TAXES TO FUND EDUCATION. GUARANTEED LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY FUNDING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

Yes, grudgingly. I hate that Governor Brown has a knife to our throats on this one. If it passes then we get $6 billion of extra annual revenue, largely for education. If it fails then because the revenue is already in the budget we’re looking at further evisceration. The sales tax component is regressive, I prefer proposition 38’s more balanced income tax increases across the board. I actually like that the proposition 30 money hits the general fund – I hate measures that earmark money so specifically that there is no room for maneuver. So yes on 30 and no on 38.

The arguments against proposition 30 seem to be that it isn’t specifically earmarked (which I see as a plus) and that we shouldn’t be raising more money for education and public safety while also building out high speed rail. But as the 8th largest economy in the world California should be able to mange to improve public transport and education at the same time. Both are critical to long term growth and prosperity. There is also the argument that you can’t trust government with any money or decisions and that any problem can be handled by just reducing ‘waste’. I don’t really buy that and if you do you might be better off somewhere like Nevada.

31: STATE BUDGET. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTION AMENDENT AND STATUTE.

No. ‘Local Action Plans’ would allow local government to circumvent state laws and this doesn’t seem like a great idea. Allowing the Governor to make budget cuts without the state legislature smells bad as well. Publishing bills in advance of a vote to help prevent pet projects and pork from being stuffed in sounds good, I wish it had been included as a separate proposition rather than lumped in here (in general Proposition 30 suffers from being too broad).

32: POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BY PAYROLL DEDUCTION. CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

No. It’s just a naked attempt to stiff unions and further increase the corporate money stranglehold on US politics.

33: AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES. PRICES BASED ON DRIVER’S HISTORY OF INSURANCE COVERAGE. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

No. This allows insurance companies to offer a discount based on how long you’ve been insured with another company but also allows them to punish you for a lapse in coverage. If you choose to be without a car for more than a few months you can get a large increase in coverage. It doesn’t seem that the pros outweigh the cons here and the fact that the proposition is funded by the chairman of Mercury further tips me towards a no vote.

34: DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Yes. I don’t care about the cost of the death penalty, or particularly in it’s effectiveness. I’m fundamentally opposed to the death penalty because I don’t think the state has any business taking life in cold blood. I also don’t think you can guarantee that you’re not executing someone who is innocent.

35: HUMAN TRAFFICKING. PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

No. Punishment for specific offenses shouldn’t be dictated by ballot initiative. Most of these crimes are Federal anyway and so any changes in CA law would have a minor impact (KQED reports 18 offenders in CA prison for trafficking). There is a provision expanding the definition of human trafficking to include copying child pornography… sounds great but you’ll probably end up doing 15 years hard time for backing up your teenager’s phone after they’ve been sexting.

36: THREE STRIKES LAW. REPEAT FELONY OFFENDERS. PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Yes. As the law currently stands you can get life in prison for drug possession. The US really needs to stop throwing everyone in jail. Judges should have the latitude to make the sentence fit the crime and not be automatically forced to throw away the key. This proposition makes three strikes a little more humane – I’d rather see it done away with altogether but it’s a step in the right direction.

37: GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS. LABELING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Yes. Personally I don’t really care about eating GM food, but a lot of people care very deeply and it seems reasonable to provide this information. The main argument against is sinister special exemptions but these boil down to alcohol (not labeled the same way as food to start with) and animals that have been fed GM food but are not GM themselves.

38: TAX TO FUND EDUCATION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

No. See 30, above.

39: TAX TREATMENT FOR MULTISTATE BUSINESSES. CLEAN ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY FUNDING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

No. I’m not really sure which way of determining how to tax multi-state businesses is best. Allowing businesses to choose which method they use doesn’t seem the right way to go. If this proposition was just about changing the tax calculation I might be in favor, but unfortunately it also funnels around half of the additional revenue to a new outfit to spend on clean energy projects over five years. As the proposition is sponsored by one hedge fund manager you’ve got to believe that there is a hedge fund posed to benefit from the extra spending.

40: REDISTRICTING. STATE SENATE DISTRICTS. REFERENDUM.

Yes. Approves the outcome of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The backers of the proposition have withdrawn support for it (Republicans trying to throw out the new districts), it’s only on the ballot because it can’t be removed – a yes vote in this case keeps things the same.