Thursday, October 24, 2019

Endorsements for the Nov. 2019 San Francisco election

One of the panels from the mural that has shaken up the school board election.
I hate this election.

I wish there was a ballot measure to end San Francisco's practice of scheduling mayoral elections during odd years. We're spending a lot of money on an election when most city officials are running unopposed. Because there's nothing exciting on the ballot, zealots and professional advocates can have an outsize influence, which is why Juul got its scam proposition on this year's ballot instead of 2020.

Philosophically, it's most important to give endorsements in elections like these. You already know who you're going to vote for in next year's U.S. Presidential race and you don't need my advice. But that school board race is a different story.

I want to praise the San Francisco Chronicle for its best-ever endorsements page. If the Chronicle wasn't consistently in bed with developers, I wouldn't need to do these anymore. I also want to praise Tim Redmond for keeping the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Clean Slate endorsements alive even after the print publication disappeared. Redmond is a little far left for my taste, but he does the most work of any journalist in the city in interviewing the candidates and analyzing the issues, and his endorsements are always a must-read.

I don't know that my endorsements are a must-read, but I am going to vote. Here's who and what I'll be voting for.

San Francisco Mayor: London Breed

Breed was the third best of three good candidates for mayor last year to fill the term of Ed Lee after he died in office. Unfortunately Mark Leno and Jane Kim did not run against her this time and she's going to coast to a full four-year term.
Breed has proven to be very good at one aspect of the job: communicating. She has charisma and is a good spokesperson for the city. As one of our previous mayors is now the state's governor, it's worth keeping an eye on her future politically. She's a Democratic machine candidate and the left doesn't like her; that was also true of Governor Gavin Newsom, but Newsom took more initiatives than he got credit for on homeless issues and gay marriage. Breed hasn't done a whole lot, but she also hasn't mucked up the office, and she has no serious opposition.

City Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff, Treasurer, Community College Board Member: Whatever

It sucks that five of the seven city jobs on this ballot are going to go to unopposed candidates. This is the main reason I hate this election. Couldn't somebody have challenged Paul Miyamoto for the sheriff's job, or Manohar Raju for public defender? This is what happens when one party machine has too much sway. You can check their names or not: they're going to win anyway.

Photo courtesy Lola M. Chavez/Mission Local
District Attorney: Suzy Loftus

The most interesting and important choice on the ballot. It's the only race with several good candidates and your decision will depend on your politics. Chesa Boudin, who currently works in the public defender's office, is the left-wing candidate: he seems more interested in investigating cops than crimes. Nancy Tung is the right-wing candidate: she wants more drug sweeps in the Tenderloin.
Loftus, currently legal counsel to the sheriff, has previously been a prosecutor and president of the Police Commission, which has oversight over police procedures. She strikes a good balance between supporting criminal justice reform and actually doing the job of prosecutor.

Member, Board of Education: Kirsten Strobel

Earlier this year, the school board voted unanimously to spend $600,000 to paint over a mural at Washington High School that accurately depicted George Washington's life, including portraying slaves and a dead Native American. The mural was painted in the 1930s by a radical artist who wanted to show what American history really looked like. But the school board didn't think students should see history while being educated.
Jenny Lam, a school board member, first voted to destroy the mural. To her credit, after public outcry she shifted her vote to ... covering it up, so that students shouldn't see it. Sheesh. This reminds me of the white people who complain that Whitney Plantation and Monticello now give too many details about slavery. Sometimes the far left and the far right aren't so far apart after all.
Strobel, an administrator at the SF Film Society, and Robert Coleman, an artist, jumped into the race to oppose Lam because of the mural issue. The Chronicle is correct that the mural isn't the only issue facing the school board. But if Lam's judgment is so poor on the one issue we know about, what else is she preventing students from learning?
The Guardian prefers Coleman, a longtime housing activist. I'm going with Strobel because of her nonprofit administrative experience.

Ballot Propositions

Prop A: No

This proposal to issue $600 million in bonds to finance affordable housing will almost certainly pass, so I'm wasting my time here. My objection is that landlords are allowed to pass along the cost to tenants, so people already struggling to make ends meet will have to pay for it.

Prop B: No

The city would change the name of the Department of Aging and Adult Services, which is fine, but would also impose a quota for board members, requiring the commission to include a person with a disability, a veteran and a senior. While I agree with the goal in general, I'm against quotas.


San Francisco's board of supervisors sensibly voted to ban sales of tobacco vaping products in the city. Tobacco vaping is a crisis for high-school kids. This proposition is funded by Juul, the evil bastards who are putting mango-flavored high-nicotine tobacco in the pockets of teenagers, dooming them to a lifetime of addiction. Do NOT let Juul and its nicotine-fueled cash machine overturn San Francisco's ban.

Prop D: Yes

This would tax rides on Uber and Lyft and give half the money to Muni, and the other half to the County Transportation Agency. Uber and Lyft are the main reasons for a shortfall in mass transit funding, so it's an elegant solution.

Prop E: Yes

Affordable and educator housing could be built on public land. As long as they're not going to build it on Golden Gate Park, I see no reason not to vote for this.

Prop F: Yes

Major political campaigns like Prop C would be required to divulge the source of their funding. There's also a provision that would prevent people who would profit from a land-use decision from contributing to political campaigns for a year beforehand. It's a small hedge against corruption.

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