Election Slate November 2018 2018

State Offices

Governor: Gavin Newsom

He’s been working well with Jerry Brown and is ideally positioned to carry on that work. The Governor of California is an internationally significant role—5th largest economy in the world—and Newsom can take the heat. I'd like to see someone less corporate-cosy in this role, but Newsom is vastly closer to what I'd want than John Cox!

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis

Wish Bleich had made it this far because this role’s involvement in state environmental issues makes Kounalakis' and Hernandez' oil money in their campaign coffers leave me a little nervous about who has this seat on the California Coastal Commission. Also gets a seat on the University of California Board of Regents. Of these two, I'm going with Kounalakis because of endorsements by Vote Pro Choice, Emily's List, and the election guide from bay area locals Edie Irons and Janet Cox.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Easy choice here. Glad to have him keep fighting to protect our voting rights.

Controller: Betty T. Yee

Another easy one. Delighted to have her long experience with state financial matters continuing to serve us. Endorsed by MoveOn's membership.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma

Sound financial background and has a seriously impressive endorsement list.

Attorney General: Xavier Becerra

Becerra has stepped in very well since being appointed by Governor Brown in January when Kamala Harris went to the U.S. Senate. He's successfully managed legal challenges maintaining California values and policies against the Trump/Pence administration.

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara

His opponent Steve Poizner’s got the experience, but Poizner's anti-immigrant stance in his 2010 campaign (back when he was a Republican) took him off my list in the primary. Despite some compelling counter-arguments you should consider in the election guide from bay area locals Edie Irons and Janet Cox, I'm going with the Vote Pro Choice recommendation and voting for Lara.

Board of Equalization Member, District 2: Malia Cohen

Whether California’s Board of Equalization, the only elected tax board in the country, should exist at all is definitely a question. Certainly we need more protections against money flowing as campaign contributions to someone who may make a judicial decision for the donor. But while it exists we need good people elected to it. Cohen’s goal for the position is to conduct any remaining business for the BoE as transparently as possible, while rebuilding relationships between remaining staff and county assessors. She can be very beneficial in transitioning the BoE to an improved role.

Federal Offices

U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein

With a different administration in Washington, D.C., and another candidate that offset the potential loss of Feinstein’s experience and Senate rank, I might consider an alternative, but we are fighting for people’s lives against Trump/Pence and we need to keep her power working for us. Remember: if Dems take back the Senate, she will be the chair of the Judiciary Committee, a vital role during any impeachment proceedings in Congress. To my relief, Feinstein has moved left on some issues and has been a strong force for good in the Senate over the past year, so I’m not holding my nose here. (I continue to oppose Kevin de León because of his lack of action against his former housemate, sexual harasser Tony Mendoza.)

U.S. Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi

Again, we need this experienced, powerful woman continuing to fight for us at the national level.

More State Offices

State Assembly Member: David Chiu

Always a delight to vote for Chiu. He was great here in SF; he's been great at the State level. He works hard and smart.

Judges:

Judicial elections are bad. Judges should not be in the business of campaigning, raising money, and so forth; they should be appointed to life terms by the political branches, removable for cause. But here we are nonetheless. In California, justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are appointed by the Governor, with periodic referenda on whether to “retain” them. Justices are almost always retained.  Between 1934 and 1986, no justice ever failed his or her retention vote. In 1986, three justices of the Supreme Court were voted out (arguably) because of their principled opposition to the death penalty. No Justice has failed a retention vote since then. So, vote yes on retaining appellate judges! The fact that there's a vote at all is bad, but the least we can do is vote “yes.”

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California: Corrigan (no vote)

Corrigan dissented in the 2008 same-sex marriage case. In line with the above on whether we should even be voting on retention at all, I'm not voting No, but I am skipping this vote. I'm not a lawyer—I don't know the grounds of her dissent (which may have been purely procedure-related rather than on the issue)—but that sure seems like a no-brainer she got wrong.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California: Kruger YES

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Humes YES

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Margulies YES

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: Richman YES

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: Miller YES!

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Siggins YES

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Streeter YES!

Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Tucher YES

Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Jones YES

(Miller and Streeter get an exclamation point because people I trust respect them as smart, fair, and careful.)

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony K. Thurmond

Good endorsements and solid experience with budgeting and politics, both of which play a big part in the job. I particularly appreciate his commitment to quality public school education and teaching critical thinking rather than a "teach the test" approach. I believe he'll do better than his opponent at laying a foundation for further improvements and adaptations of public education in coming decades.

Regional Office

Member, Community College Board: Selby, Rizzo, Oliveri

Four candidates running, of which we vote for three. The school emerged last year from a risk that it would lose its accreditation (over allowing its financial reserves to get dangerously low). It lost a lot of students while that threat loomed (and with them lost their state funding) and continues to lose students despite the Free City arrangement that offers no-cost classes to San Francisco residents (which expires at the end of this school year).

  • Davila is the current board president and is pushing for more robust vocational and certificate training. That she missed 10 deadlines to file required disclosures for campaign finances and conflicts of interest since joining the board in 2014 is rather concerning and, given the other candidates, that makes her the one I don't vote for.
  • Selby and Rizzo are on board and are both pushing to make Free City permanent (as is Davila) and to build a Performing Arts and Education Center. Selby is pushing a public transit pass for students and Rizzo is pushing building some student and teacher housing.
  • Oliveri is the newcomer and has some smart-sounding structural suggestions to make things more fiscally sustainable. See https://www.sfexaminer.com/ccsf-board-hopeful-challenges-three-incumbents-november-election/

 

City and County Offices

Member, Board of Education (choose up to 3): John Trasviña

There are 7 seats on the board, of which 3 are open this year. No incumbents are running. Hot issues are: whether/how to change school assignment system (currently a lottery which is not working as intended to prevent school segregation); how to house/support teachers in this expensive city; and whether to offer algebra in the 8th grade (con: it raises achievement gap as up to half of students of color failed in 8th and had to retake in 9th grade, where now only 10% have to retake with it introduced in 9th. pro: its unfair to hold back students who are ready for it in 8th grade and force them to squeeze 5 years of math into 4 years of school so that they can get Calculus in before college and not be at disadvantage on college applications. Here's a good article for more on the con side: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/06/13/a-bold-effort-to-de-track-algebra-shows.html and another general article here: https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/politics/squaring-the-circle-eighth-grade-algebra-and-the-school-board/article_5baaac8e-cb2c-11e8-b048-dbcd72b52bba.html )

The first issue was slightly sidelined in late September by two leading members of the current board introducing a resolution to abolish the district's school assignment system: https://www.kqed.org/news/11693522/two-s-f-school-board-commissioners-to-introduce-resolution-ending-lottery-system

I don't have a horse in this race, not being the parent of a student in SF's system and will only be voting for that one candidate I found particularly compelling in my research, but I can identify candidates not worth considering for you if you're diving into these turbulent waters:

  • Zhao: withdrew too late to remove from ballot (also made transphobic and anti-LGBTQ comments, which is totally unacceptable given the many kids in SF schools who identify as such).
  • Kangas: not a serious candidate; hasn't responded to issue questionnaires. Also, and this makes me wonder if he also works as a cab driver (and recently transported me), according to one of the folks at the event Joe attended, he keeps calling one of the public school system legal team with concerns and info about the Kennedy assassination. Moving riiiiight along...
  • House: also no serious response to questionnaires about his issue position and takes no stance.
  • Thompson: little info available.
  • Satya: little info available, wants to keep algebra out of 8th grade.

One last comment: the endorsements for this board which you'll see on various Democratic-affiliated mailers listing a wide variety of elected positions are indicative of the clubbiness of the very local party. These recommendations sometimes seem to be a lot more about "I know you from your long-time activity with our party" and a lot less about the issues or the skills this person is bringing to this particular role. Remember that local positions like school boards are often a candidate's first experience with elected office; this is great for bringing representation up from the grassroots and growing a person's skills, but can also be exploited by political parties to move loyalists up to higher offices. If I were a parent, I'd be making damn sure my school board members were there because they care about that work, not planning to spend their time with their eye on the next stepping stone up.

State Propositions

1: Housing Assistance Bond YES

An easy Yes. California needs to make affordable housing a priority. Every major paper and group supports this, other than the Republicans and tax-haters. Also, this is a legislatively referred bond measure, which means it was approved by the state legislature, which is required to refer bonds over $300,000 to the voters, which means it'd be approved already if not for that rule. (Further note in its favor, when I looked up "who is Gary Wesley", the author of the lone argument against this proposition in the sample ballot, the first result is an LA Times article, "The Lone Dissenter Rides Again", from 1986. This guy just has a 40—FORTY!—year hobby of writing 'No' responses.)

2: Bonds for Housing for Mentally Ill YES

Another easy Yes. This has background relating to past conflict over whether 2004 Prop 63's funds should be used for housing. The legislature put this year's Prop 2 on the ballot for the voters to confirm that creating housing for people with severe mental illness is compatible with the intent of Prop 63. Since there's definitely a huge interrelationship between homelessness and mental illness, this more holistic approach makes good sense. (The opponents fear that people other than the long-term severely mentally ill could be given housing with these funds and that that would overall reduce resources for treatment, but the opponents also seem to be generally opposed to bonds.)

3: Water Bonds YES

Opposed in the sample ballot by people who LOVE dams. Damn, do they love dams. And they hate taxes. Hello, Central Solano supporters of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, who've been messing up California since Prop 13 in the 1970s. Though I've seen some general concerns flying around about oversight on this that started to lean me toward a No, I was flipped back to a Yes by Janet Cox's full-throated endorsement. Decades of experience with California environmental and water policy? I'm listening!

4: Bonds to Improve Children's Hospitals YES

On the one hand this would definitely save lives (both the kids who receive access to better care and through increased earthquake safety), on the other hand this proposition did not go through the legislative budget process and will need to be repaid with interest.  But on a whole bunch of little tiny hands, including many that are poor, brown, or undocumented, recall that children’s hospitals treat seriously ill children regardless of their ability to pay. Plus I tend to support bonds because they put money out into the state economy now and make good things happen sooner rather than later. I say Yes. (Opposed by Gary Wesley! Everybody drink!)

5: Prop 13 Portability NO NO NO!

Prop 13, passed in 1978, required that property taxes be based on the assessed value of the home when it was last sold, not on its market value. And that value goes up only at the overall rate of inflation (under 2% a year) not based on increases in the fair market value of the home. Thus folks who bought a home a long time ago pay a LOT less than their current share of taxes in their area. To solve the problem of (mostly older) people having a disincentive to move to a smaller, cheaper home and having to pay more property taxes than before, in Prop 60 passed allowing homeowners over 55 to carry over the assessed value of their old home to a new home, so long as they buy the new one for less than they sold the old one for.

So what's this new Prop trying to do? Allow home buyers over 55 to keep their old, low assessed value even if they buy a more expensive house (with the delta between the two being paid at the new rate). And if they bought a less expensive house they'd pay even less than under the currently biased deal. AND it removes the limits on how many times they can transfer the taxable value. (And removes some other limitations.)

Who does this hurt? County governments, who will face a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. And we have seen what already-squeezed local budgets mean for parks and libraries; this would be grim.

And the realtors who are the main ones funding this? In this economy? They do not need a damn handout of a bunch of new business as those with the most resources flip around the real estate market. This proposition will not help solve California's affordable housing crisis and will probably make things worse. Vote No on tax breaks for up-sizing, while acknowledging that, yes, this is going to make life more complex for some older folks in areas which have seen massive rises in home prices.

6: Gas Tax Repeal NO NO NO

No way am I supporting this attempt to eliminate vital state transportation funding. Guess who is pushing this? It's our old foes the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, along with various other Republicans. And they're attempting to kill this funding with no plan for what to do instead to make these vital functions work. Hella no.

7: Allow the Legislature to Change (or Eliminate) Daylight Saving Time YES (oh thank goodness YES)

Yes! It's here at last! Your opportunity to get the ball rolling on ending the need to change your clocks twice a year and have your sleep messed with! Federal law says states can opt out of DST, but in 1949 California, in the bill that established DST, said it can only be changed by a vote of the people. This would change that and allow the legislature to change it with a two-thirds vote. The initiative process is not the best way to decide the ideal solution; let's put the legislature on the job of deciding if we should go with DST year-round or with standard time year round, and with that decision eliminate having to change our clocks. (Opponents say "oo, but this'll put us out of sync with other states that still have DST and be confusing"; I say the writing is on the wall for DST and somebody has to start the dominos falling.)

8: Cap Profits of for-profit outpatient kidney dialysis centers NO

I'm going to point you again at Edie Irons and Janet Cox's compelling argument for why this issue is too complex to be solved with the initiative system. The risks of this causing patients to lose access to nearby (for-profit) dialysis centers that keep them alive, while not solving the sub-standard conditions in centers with problems are too big a risk to be worth supporting this measure.

9: Removed from ballot. Skip!

10: Repeal Costa-Hawkins restrictions on rent control YES

Costa-Hawkins is a 1995 law that restricted cities’ ability to enact or expand rent control. As Edie Irons and Janet Cox say: "Passing Prop 10 does not create any new rent control laws. It just allows an incredibly important debate to happen in cities around the state, and hopefully some common-sense legislation will be passed where it’s most needed." Huge number of groups I trust are supporting this and I am a fan of rent control as a backstop against housing being pay-to-play.

Even in San Francisco, with its rent control protections, there has been a wave of people driven out of the city by rising costs every tech boom; we need to make it possible for people who aren't getting rich on the latest boom and who don't own a home to keep their (rented) homes as times change around them. Forcing people with fewer resources to uproot their lives every time the hot light of gentrification shines where they live only increases inequality. (Now, should we have income tests for rent control to weight things differently for folks who do have resources? Yes, and that's the kind of fine-tuning to rent control which I think will start coming out of these incredibly important debates to come.)

11: Prohibits real breaks for ambulance drivers NO

Are we kidding? First responders need to be rested and alert to do their incredibly challenging work and, no, they aren't ignoring calls while they take a Candy Crush break. This law, which was proposed by ambulance companies, is opposed by labor. If they don't have enough staffing, they need to hire some more drivers; jobs are good.

12: Specifying cage sizes for livestock YES

Does one square foot of space per chicken create a happy chicken? No. Is it better than there not being a minimum size? Hell yes!

As Edie Irons and Janet Cox suggest, educating yourself about the conditions of the animals who make up the products you buy seems like a better way for an individual to influence animal welfare than voting no on a proposition because it doesn't go far enough in the right direction.

City and County Propositions:

A: Waterfront Seawall Safety Bonds YES

Critical infrastructure for something that is only going to become astronomically more costly the longer we wait. Only on ballot because the amount exceeds what the city can pay for out of regular operating funds. SPUR, YIMBY, SFBike, League of Pissed Off Voters all support. (Who's opposed? The Libertarians, whose motto seems to be "I wouldn't pay a tax for lifeguards if my own mother was drowning.")

B: City Privacy Guidelines (skip it)

Non-binding guideline that doesn’t actually change anything. It also overlaps with the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act, a real, binding, state-wide privacy measure that goes into effect in 2020. No reason for this feel-good thing that doesn't affect the real world to be on the ballot.

C: Gross Receipts Tax for Homelessness YES

This measure would impose an additional tax on individuals and businesses in San Francisco that earn more than $50 million in gross receipts (total income) per year in order to fund homelessness services and housing. The money raised would nearly double the funds currently spent to address homelessness, and at least half the funds would go to housing people and keeping them housed (rather than to temporary shelters and services). Those who are opposed are concerned about oversight on how the money is spent, but even less-than-perfect allocation of funds is necessary. This is a crisis and a big move like this is the kind of game-changer we need. Also (as was pointed out at the ballot discussion Joe attended), unless fixed, homelessness is probably going to drive away more businesses than this tax will. Wealth inequality is what is causing people to fall through the safety net. I've lived through multiple booms in this city and the crazier the tech wages and fancy condos get, the more people I see suffering on the street. This is an equitable way to address the problem. (Who is opposing C? Republicans, Libertarians, Katy Tang, realtors, business organizations.)

D: Big-Business Cannabis and Ecommerce By Non-SF-Based Companies taxes YES

Neighboring cities like Berkeley and Oakland already have imposed taxes on cannabis businesses. The money raised is intended to assist the city with cannabis-related costs and programs. And the tax doesn’t go into effect until 2021. And it gives the Board of Supervisors the ability to amend the tax to respond to changing conditions. A tax on ecommerce sites that are making more than $500K a year in San Francisco seems like a reasonable thing to level the playing field for local merchants. (Who opposes D? Republicans and Libertarians, who hate all taxes.)

E: Hotel Tax Set-aside for the Arts YES

This doesn't change the hotel tax rate, it just dictates that 8% of that money instead of going into the city's General Fund, would go to arts related projects. Con: It's an end-run to get a budget increase for those things, basically. Forced set-asides for non-essentials which tie the hands of the Board of Supervisors when designing yearly budgets seem counter to the overall goal of representative democracy. Pro: The Hotel Tax has always been associated with funding for the arts since it was established in 1961. This is just restoring funding which has been diverted over the years. This has nearly unanimous support from SF elected officials, arts and community organizations, and even the hotels. Having sat through Board of Supervisors meeting where desperate art organizations were begging to retain a fraction of their funding in leaner years, I'm a Yes.

More City and County Offices

Assessor-Recorder: Carmen Chu

A solid public servant doing really good work for us. Let's keep her at it.

Public Defender: Jeff Adachi

Sure. I've had points of disagreement with him over the years, but he does fine as public defender and his work with reforming the money bail system in SF is great.  


As usual the Sample Ballot booklet has tons of other useful info tucked in between things. A few highlights:

- inside cover: Important Dates including early voting hours at City Hall which began October 9th and weekend voting which begins October 27th and 28th (I love my city!) - page 5 When and Where to vote - page 6-8 How to mark your ballot and do ranked-choice voting

- page 35 Ways to share your subject matter expertise and best thinking to help transform this city - page 40 Info on being a Poll Worker on election day - page 73 an actually great FAQ

- page 93 Voter Bill of Rights

- page 118 an actually useful index

- Page 119-120 Ballot Worksheet

- Back cover Vote-by-Mail application

 


Particularly helpful in my thinking this time around:

– conversation with my wise partner, Joe Gratz, and the info he shared from a gathering of friends which he attended to discuss ballot propositions

– this voter guide from Edie Irons and Janet Cox https://edieirons.ca/nov-2018-voter-guide/

@ Posted on October 25, 2018 at 09:11 AM in Current Affairs, politics & philosophy | Comments (0)

Election Slate June 2018 2018

This is a primary election, meaning for the races I’ve marked with an asterisk below we’re choosing candidates to decide between in November. California has an open primary, meaning we choose among all the options (regardless of party affiliation) and the top two go to the November ballot. Primary elections can seem less important, but they are actually when we have the greatest opportunity to create political change.

 

State Offices

Governor:* Gavin Newsom

He’s been working well with Jerry Brown and is ideally positioned to carry on that work. The Governor of California is an internationally significant role—5th largest economy in the world—and Newsom can take the heat.

 

Lieutenant Governor*: Jeff Bleich

This role’s involvement in state environmental issues puts Bleich in front for me. Kounalakis and Hernandez both have too much oil money in their campaign coffers to make me want them in that seat on the California Coastal Commission. Also, Bleich has served on the board of trustees of California State University, including a year as chairman, so he’s ready for the seat on the University of California Board of Regents.

 

Secretary of State*: Alex Padilla

Easy choice here. Glad to have him keep fighting to protect our voting rights.

 

Controller*: Betty T. Yee

Another easy one. Delighted to have her long experience with state financial matters continuing to serve us.

 

Treasurer*: Fiona Ma

Sound financial background and has a seriously impressive endorsement list.

Attorney General*: Xavier Becerra

Both current Attorney General Xavier Becerra and outgoing Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones would be good in this position. Becerra has stepped in well since being appointed by Governor Brown in January when Kamala Harris went to the U.S. Senate. Jones did a great job protecting consumer interests without driving insurance companies out of the California market as Insurance Commissioner, and has more experience running a state agency. Given the amount of legal challenges to come while maintaining California values and policies against the Trump/Pence administration, I’m going to stick with the jockey currently doing fine on the horse.

 

Insurance Commissioner*: Ricardo Lara

His opponent Steve Poizner’s got the experience, but Poizner's anti-immigrant stance in his 2010 campaign (back when he was a Republican) takes him off the list. Lara's political experience gives him the edge over Asif Mahmood.

 

Board of Equalization Member, District 2*: Malia Cohen

Whether California’s Board of Equalization, the only elected tax board in the country, should exist at all is definitely a question. Certainly we need more protections against money flowing as campaign contributions to someone who may make a judicial decision for the donor. But while it exists we need good people elected to it. Cohen’s goal for the position is to conduct any remaining business for the BoE as transparently as possible, while rebuilding relationships between remaining staff and county assessors. She can be very beneficial in transitioning the BoE to an improved role.

 

 

Federal Offices

U.S. Senate*: Dianne Feinstein

With a different administration in Washington, D.C., and another candidate that offset the losses of Feinstein’s experience and Senate rank, I might consider an alternative, but we are fighting for people’s lives against Trump/Pence and we need to keep her power working for us. To my relief, Feinstein has moved left on some issues and has been a strong force for good in the Senate over the past year, so I’m not holding my nose here.

 

U.S. Representative, District 12*: Nancy Pelosi

Again, we need this experienced, powerful woman continuing to fight for us at the national level. If you don’t want to vote for Pelosi—and I admit she has significant issues particularly around privacy protections and internet freedom—my next choice would be Shahid Buttar. (I continue to oppose Kevin de León because of his lack of action against his former housemate, sexual harasser Tony Mendoza.)

 

One More State Office

 

State Assembly Member, District 17*: David Chiu

Love this guy and always delighted to vote for him. He works hard and smart.

 

 

City and County Offices

Judge of the Superior Court, Office #4: Andrew Y.S. Cheng

Judge of the Superior Court, Office #7: Curtis Karnow

Judge of the Superior Court, Office #9: Cynthia Ming-Mei Lee

Judge of the Superior Court, Office #11: Jeffrey S. Ross

We need to support our existing judges against this bizarre power grab by the public defender’s office. When as eclectic a group as Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, London Breed, Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, Angela Alioto, Scott Weiner, David Chiu, Dennis Herrera, all 50 SF Superior Court Judges, the SF Police Officers Association, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, the SF Republican Party, and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy all agree on an issue (endorsing these four) you know something weird is going on with the other side.

 

Superintendent of Public Instruction*: Tony K. Thurmond

Good endorsements and solid experience.

 

Mayor: London Breed (first choice), Mark Leno (second choice), (no third choice)

You can read my whole statement on why I support London Breed for Mayor of San Francisco (and why Mark Leno's my second choice and I do not support Jane Kim), but the short version is:

London Breed is rational and resourceful in her approach to civic leadership. A very capable administrator, she comes from local experience of achieving progress in a complex, rapidly-changing economic and climate situation. All our options have tradeoffs and she weighs them well. This has been particularly visible in her work on housing, which is the most pressing issue in San Francisco. Breed has been great as Supervisor for my District, and an excellent, level-headed President of the Board of Supervisors. She governed well as Acting Mayor after Ed Lee's sudden death, and will be an excellent mayor.

 

State Propositions

68: Yes

Authorizes Bonds Funding Parks, Natural Resources Protection, Climate Adaptation, Water Quality and Supply, and Flood Protection

California should apply its economic strength to protect and strengthen its resources, particularly its water resources. This is supported by a very wide range of groups from the Nature Conservancy to the American Lung Association in California to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As the Sacramento Bee put it, it's a reasonable ask.

It’s opposed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Republican party, and others who think bond debt is a terrible thing.

 

69: Yes

Requires That Certain New Transportation Revenues Be Used for Transportation Purposes

This locks funds already approved into use on transportation. Basically a tidying up proposition. It seems to just be opposed by a few legislators (who perhaps don't want to be thus locked into where those funds go) or by those who wish that the gas tax generating the funds didn't exist.

 

70: No

Requires Legislative Supermajority Vote Approving Use of Cap-And-Trade Reserve Fund

This is a Republican and oil-industry-backed attempt to make it harder for this already established fund to be spent for its legislated purpose—reducing climate pollution. Some Republicans backing this proposition are particularly hoping to stall high-speed rail projects.

 

71: Yes

Sets Effective Date for Ballot Measures

This is a super smart change to explicitly rule that measures become effective five days after the Secretary of State certifies the election results. As it is now, it could be argued that they take effect the day after the election, but we have too many ballots by mail and provisional ballots to be certain of all election results that night. Rather than risk having to implement and then roll something back when an election result wasn't what was predicted, this eliminates the problem.

 

72: Yes

Permits Legislature to Exclude Newly Constructed Rain-Capture Systems from Property-Tax Reassessment Requirement

This is a great change to incentivize property owners to add these rainwater gathering systems to their buildings, giving them the same tax protections as solar panels, fire sprinklers, disabled access and other improvements. Because it removes a tax penalty it requires voter approval.

 

 

Regional Measure

3: Yes

We need these infrastructure improvements to address the gap between Bay Area transit and highway needs and our current reality, let alone the demands on these systems from the tens of thousands of new residents expected to come to the area in the next twenty years. This measure has broad support across a variety of interested organizations and elected officials, and is primarily opposed by regularly-appearing Sample Ballot arguments character Dr. Terence Faulkner and some guy who owns a stamp and coin company.

(One neat thing about the sample ballot this time is the Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan this measure would approve is included beginning on page 54. This plan will do a LOT.)

 

City and County Propositions:

A: Yes

Public Utilities Revenue Bonds

This is a good bond plan to provide for continuing upgrades to the way San Francisco gets its power. It allows us to take advantage of technological advances, ensure we’re using cleaner sources and reducing our carbon emissions, and protect against damage to these systems from earthquakes or other disasters. This is unsurprisingly opposed by the Libertarians who just don’t like us to all pitch in and buy ourselves nice things like sustainability together. It is also opposed by Angela Alioto and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce who think it gives the PUC too much power, even though all projects would also require approval by the mayor and a supermajority of the Board of Supervisors.

 

B: Yes

Prohibiting Appointed Commissioners from Running for Office

Apparently this has been the unofficial ethical rule for 40 years, since Mayor Moscone’s administration, and this codifies it. The point of it is to keep people who are seeking endorsements in a campaign from conflict of interest when those potential endorsers appear before their commission. The only opposition statements in the sample ballot were from our ol’ pal Dr. Terence Faulkner, though YIMBY Action opposes on the tenuous grounds that having to give up their commission position when running for office would deter commissioners from ever running and thus lower the quality of candidates.

 

C: No

Additional Tax on Commercial Rents Mostly to Fund Child Care and Education

My heart does not bleed for the Building Owners & Managers Association of San Francisco, nor for Shorenstein Realty Services, nor the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, all of which are providing funding in opposition to this measure. And of course the Libertarians and Republicans hate it because it is spending money on collective goods.

However there is one reason you would want to vote ‘No’ on C: the same tax is in question for Measures C and D, so only the one with the most votes would get funded, assuming both win. As important as child care and education is, housing is an even more vital issue in San Francisco. To ensure Measure D’s success, I recommend a ‘No’ on C.

  

D: Yes

Additional Tax on Commercial Rents Mostly to Fund Housing and Homelessness Services

Housing affordability is the critical issue in San Francisco. This will help. It imposes an additional 1.7% tax on some of those benefitting most from SF’s current boom times and uses the funds to help those hardest hit right now. There are specific cut outs so it doesn’t apply to leases to businesses doing PDR (production, distribution, repair), retail goods and services direct to consumers, arts/entertainment, or certain non-profit organizations. 45% of revenue goes to housing homeless, 35% to acquiring or rehabilitating rent-controlled apartments to protect from displacement and to create permanently affordable homes for middle-income households; 10% similarly for SRO (single-room occupancy) and extremely low and very low income people; 10% for permanent rent subsidies to extremely low income seniors in income-restricted developments. The measure has wide support including endorsement from YIMBY Action. This is opposed by an intense supporter of Measure C and by Angela Alioto because she doesn’t want to “throw money at various pieces of the problem”.

  

E: Yes

Prohibiting Tobacco Retailers from Selling Flavored Tobacco Products

Candy-flavored tobacco and smoking products are bad for public health, and that costs us all. Even if you don’t care about kids getting addicted early with these products, vote no to keep us all from bearing the cost of another generation’s cancer care. When you get yet another glossy mailer opposing this measure with “funding from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company” in the disclosure box, you know they’ve got a big corporate profit incentive to work against our public health. This measure is opposed also by retailers who say they vigorously enforce the existing age 21 sales limit, but come on; does anyone remember high school? The smoker kids could always score smokes when they wanted them. Oh and the Libertarians are against it because it’s gonna be like the War on Drugs all over again!! Only about flavored vape smoke, I guess.

  

F: Yes

City-Funded Legal Representation for Residential Tenants in Eviction Lawsuits

The San Francisco Apartment Association in their big argument against this say only 1,657 of 172,000 rent-controlled apartment tenants faced eviction in 2017-2018. When we look at the costs of homelessness, that’s a whole lot of households potentially at risk of displacement because they lacked the resources to fight an unjust eviction. (Yes, some evictions will be reasonable, but we know not all.) The supporters of this measure counter that its been 40,000 tenants facing eviction in five years and over two-thirds of them were without legal representation. From years of observation, I trust the housing advocates and community organizations in San Francisco more than the landlords. In addition to that from big landlords, this measure is also opposed by the Republicans.

Note that there is a version of this legislation already in progress with the Board of Supervisors, so a lot of the ground work has already been done (going back to work done by then-Supervisor David Chiu) and implementing it should go pretty smoothly.

  

G: Yes

Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District

With property values rising in San Francisco, a parcel tax is a super smart way to raise revenue for increasing teacher salaries and benefits, adding staffing, and other improvements to education resources. The measure exempts parcels which are the primary residence of a senior citizen owner. We need to be able to attract and retain educators, and they deserve a wage that gives them a fighting chance of living near their work. This is opposed by the Libertarians because spending money bad.

  

H: No

Policy for the Use of Tasers by San Francisco Police Officers

This is not a vote on the use of Tasers, that’s already been going through a very thoughtful year-long process. This is an attempt by the Police Officers Association to set policy for Tasers which subsequently can’t be altered by the Police Commission or the Police Department. The POA shouldn’t be permitted to overrule the police chief, current and former police commissioners, and the San Francisco district attorney. Specifically, they shouldn’t be permitted to eliminate the requirement that police use de-escalation techniques before Tasers are used on people. As YIMBY Action notes, “Police Chief Bill Scott himself called it the ‘antithesis’ of community-oriented policing as recommended by the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama.”

This measure is very widely opposed, both within law enforcement and among elected officials, and within the communities that keep a critical eye on law enforcement such as the ACLU and homeless and mental health advocates.

 

I: No

Relocation of Professional Sports Teams

This is a bizarre measure apparently attempting to stop the Warriors move to SF because it would be rude to Oakland to steal them. Dude, that ship has sailed. Vote No on this waste of ballot space and our collective mental energies.

 

 

As usual the Sample Ballot booklet has tons of other useful info tucked in between things. A few highlights:

- Page 89 Voter Bill of Rights

- Page 125 Info on being a Poll Worker on election day

- Page 155 an actually useful index

- Page 156 Ballot Worksheet

- Back cover Vote-by-Mail application

@ Posted on May 10, 2018 at 07:37 PM in politics & philosophy | Comments (0)

Deep calming games 2018

After receiving an alarming medical diagnosis mid-month in January*, I've been very actively using computer games to help manage my situation. This autoimmune disease manifests itself in scores of itchy bumps. The initial treatment is prednisone, the main side effects of which have been insomnia and mood alteration (primarily an increase in anxiety). Games have been enormously helpful in managing both, and in lowering my stress levels overall as I deal with this.

While many games can appear soothing in early stages, they are often designed to increase in intensity, which is counter to my goal of calming my system. Below are a few which I've found which do work, and which have interesting side benefits. There are three key patterns I leverage as I (and my meds) work to reduce inflammation.

 

1. Stillness as a Constant Option

The one absolutely vital quality of a deep calming game is that at any moment you can stop the game without penalty to take a deep breath, let your eyes focus on the other side of the room, or otherwise pause not only your hands but your mind. This can take the form of simply stopping doing anything—as in turn-based games where there is no ticking clock—or changing out of the game screen—as in games which pause and retain your exact position when you switch applications. Some games are mostly turn-based with brief sections that don't allow pausing; Another Case Solved is a good example of that non-ideal mix, but it is just calming enough to remain on my list.

 

2. Impulse Interference

It turns out when you're trying not to scratch, it's possible to divert the physical world pattern you shouldn't act on into a virtual pattern where relief is easily available. The game element you want here is a random or semi-random resource which appears and needs to be 'harvested' or otherwise responded to individually. Collecting the magic fountain energy in Sunken Secrets or the tax revenue in Townsmen are ideal examples. I found that my brain slipped pretty easily from "argh! itchy spot I want to scratch!" to "aha! another coin to collect!" and that, amazingly, the act of touching the resource on my iPad screen with my finger took away the urgency of a specific physical itch on my body. This trick was probably the key ingredient to my getting through the initial awful weeks while I waited for the corticosteroids to begin reducing my symptoms. It's highly likely I would have scarring if I hadn't been able to divert that scratching urge.

 

3. Sense of Positive Action

Maintaining an optimistic attitude during very gradual change is a challenge. When my body is less able and my mind is less focused that becomes even harder, especially in those grim grey hours of the night when prednisone wakes you all the way up after three hours sleep. Games offer a space where I can act toward both short- and long-term goals and feel less powerless. The difference with deep calming games is that this needs to take place within a low-conflict (or at least very low-consequences) mood. When managing anxiety and using mental imagery to reduce bodily inflammation are the goals, tough battles against powerful foes are definitely not my friends. Enter, therefore, games of constructive, peaceful acts which build upon each other. These can range from the very simple—growing my fish and expanding my pond in Zen Koi—to the more ongoing and epic—building my farm and improving things for my imaginary neighbors in Stardew Valley. The tough part here is finding a game with the expansiveness that makes it maximally calming and yet which doesn't require fighting off attackers. (I've got enough of that going on with my autoimmune system, thankyouverymuch.) I am a long-time fan of simulation games, particularly old Windows city-builders and economy-simulators like Pharaoh and Cleopatra, but there are very few around which don't involve (or allow you the option of turning off) combat as a major part of the game. Farming and house-building games are the dominant form now, but many of them are tainted by in-app purchase models which render the games less fun as you progress in an effort to make you spend money to make it easier again. That flaw is what led to my abandoning Gardenscapes and Homescapes, neither of which I can recommend anymore despite their fun aesthetic and sense of humor. For the moment, Stardew Valley, and to a lesser extent Townsmen, is best to fully engage my mind in creating and achieving goals.


*Thanks to corticosteroids this diagnosis is not life-threatening, but it is life-altering.

@ Posted on February 11, 2018 at 07:37 AM in games, health, linky goodness, worry vs. clarity | Comments (0)

Why I Support London Breed for Mayor of San Francisco 2018

The greatest impact on the character of this city in the decades to come is going to be who can live here. Getting our housing and affordability crisis under control is essential to keeping San Francisco a  community which reflects our inclusive values.

London Breed has made tackling these interconnected problems central to her platform. She’s already been working on the issues for years and wisely puts her emphasis on making incremental positive change happen sooner rather than later.

Having housing at a wide range of costs isn’t an abstract ideal; I see the benefit of diverse housing in my immediate neighborhood of Hayes Valley. I live half a block from public housing in Breed’s district. Nice housing; good neighbors. There is also new low-income housing being built half a block the other side of my home and that is very welcome to me too. Having affordable housing here means people who work here can live here. We need working class opportunity within San Francisco to keep the city healthy and vibrant!

Breed has been involved in helping make good construction projects like these new ones happen. And she’s been a voice for neighbors fighting for a mix of affordable units being added in market-rate construction.

She’s rational and resourceful in her approach. She comes from local experience of achieving progress in a complex, rapidly-changing economic and climate situation. All our options have tradeoffs and she weighs them well. Despite her deep personal understanding of the issues of housing and income inequality—she grew up here in public housing—she doesn’t sacrifice decent actions we can take now for future pipe-dreams that don’t have the funding or political will to put into reality. Her pragmatism pays off.

All her life experience and the empathy it has rooted in her is something we progressives can leverage if we don’t isolate her by demanding unachievable perfect solutions. I do not believe a fast, uncompromising solution is available on preserving income diversity in San Francisco, but I do think we can turn this behemoth of a ship in a better direction with many smaller, smarter moves. That kind of problem-solving is in Breed’s wheelhouse.

She has a strong base in many San Francisco communities thanks to her working class roots, her direct activity building community resources, and her commitment to housing and tenant dignity (which celebrates and continues the very best of Mayor Ed Lee’s life work).

Another strength of London Breed is that she is a deeply democratically-chosen candidate. Our district elected her soundly defeating an incumbent mayoral appointee. Since then she has twice been chosen unanimously as President of the Board of Supervisors by her peers. Neighborhood support is how we got her strong, skillful representation in office. Her performance is how she's demonstrated the wisdom of that choice.

When the city could have been thrown into crisis at Mayor Lee’s death, she calmly and competently bridged the gap. She skips the drama and focuses on good administration of this challenging city.

That down-to-earth focus on what needs to get done will give us a mayor who spares us from unnecessary distractions during 2018 and 2019 when there is so much else for the people of San Francisco to be focused on changing at the national level. Her even keel will give us a stable foundation from which to support progressive change across the country.

 

Breed has been great as Supervisor for my District, and an excellent, level-headed President of the Board of Supervisors. I am very proud to support her competence as Mayor in June’s election; no “identity politics” required. Yes, she’s a San Francisco native, from a working-class background, and a woman of color—and those are assets much needed in office—but more importantly, she is very good at governing this city. THAT is why I support London Breed as Mayor.

 

 

 

Breed’s statement “An Affordable City for ALL of Us

 

Her campaign website https://www.londonformayor.com/

 

 

 

A couple additional thoughts:

- Why not Leno?

Mark Leno, like Scott Weiner, has already moved on to a larger stage—and that’s a great thing. They’ve done vital, good work at the state level, which we should want them to continue in whatever form they can. Our goal as progressives over the next few years is to bring in a wave of newly elected progressive candidates; we need experienced hands to help them be effective. Leno’s potential as a mentor able to help wherever needed is significant. The more effective the left is, the stronger our message and our tactics are against the fear-mongering and authoritarianism of the GOP.

I’ve lived in Breed’s district in 2002 through 2003, and since 2007. Between, I lived in the Castro so I’ve familiarity with Leno too. I like his work and think he’d be fine as mayor, but I find Breed’s city-level focus likely to achieve better results, sooner, and more consistently.

 

 

- Why not Kim?

Jane Kim’s willingness in the “Sunday Night Shakeup” to hand power to the most conservative member of the Board of Supervisors in hopes of improving her shot at mayor demonstrated clearly that she is not the person for the job. We need a capable administrator who is focused on civic service, not a backroom wheeler dealer focused on growing her own political power.

I once supported Kim (first in her run for Board of Education in 2004), but her positions in recent years have become so rigid as to render her incapable of making the project and policy deals which will create a more sustainable, diverse community here.

I’ve been a San Francisco area resident my whole life. I grew up in the east bay, went to college in Santa Cruz, and lived in the south bay for 12 years before moving to San Francisco in early 2002. As a member of the early Web community I have watched San Francisco react to the various waves of tech boom and bust, with a particular eye to how it impacted building and rental inventory in the city, both commercial and residential.

San Francisco is going to continue to feel the strong pressure of the economic force of corporate interests, and to continue to need to resist the extractive goals of their short-term profit cycles. At the same time. San Francisco will increasingly feel the impacts of climate change, both on the local and wider, particularly statewide, levels. Meeting these challenges is going to require smart planning to create sustainable economies and infrastructure for the future.

What we build, what we incentivize the building of, is going to make or break our city in the century ahead. Jane Kim’s position on the Mission Moratorium was troubling to me for its lack of engagement with these issues. Her attempts to spin State Senatorial opponent Scott Weiner as a corporate tool do a tremendous disservice to his work. Jane Kim has become more focused on political maneuvering than actual positive change. I’m seriously disappointed in her arc as a public servant.


This post also appears on Medium.

@ Posted on January 31, 2018 at 04:51 PM in Current Affairs, politics & philosophy, San Francisco | Comments (0)

a couple pictures for the public domain 2018

These are from the slides I inherited from my great-grandparents, Reed Walker Sr. and Adena Zippora Nordberg Walker, of Beverly Hills, CA.

Reed was the main photographer in their artistic pairing (Adena painted and did fine ceramics), so I'm guessing these are both shot by him. To my eye the Fox Hills Country Club sign looks later than his death in July 1940, but so often a color picture deceives me and reminds me how aesthetically blurry the late 1930s are with the early 1950s.

As the owner of these two images I have released them to the public domain and release all my rights to these two images (effective with my upload of them to Wikimedia in December 2017).

 

Photograph of Fox Hills Country Club sign from the slide collection of Reed and Adena Walker of Beverly Hills (my great-grandparents). At the time of the photo the changing text on the sign read: OPEN TO PUBLIC LUNCHEON DINNERS ENTERTAINMENT NITELY.

Fox_Hills_Country_Club_sign_in_mid-20th_century

 

Union 76 gas station and oil service with tall sign, on a southern California corner with bus stop and billboard adjoining.

76_gas_station_with_tower_sign_in_Southern_California_circa_1930s

 

@ Posted on January 2, 2018 at 11:08 AM in creativity, friends & family | Comments (0)

Self-publishing stats update 2017

I'm just starting to get acquainted with the latest version, but the release of Scrivener 3.0 reminds me to give an update here.

Definitely still a great tool which I love and highly recommend. I use it for non-fiction, at lengths from 200 words to entire books, and fiction. I use it for my daily journaling. I use it as a D&D gamemaster. 

I've used Scrivener for seven years now. Two of the books I wrote using it have been successfully self-published (and sold thousands of copies each, thanks!) in both print and ebook form, with one of the titles nominated for a major award in its subject area. 

 

Back in 2012 I wrote about how I created Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff and in 2013, while working on The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, I added more thoughts on self-publishing.

Here are how the statistics have changed since Discardia's first 16 months:

  • Kindle sales have become an even bigger percentage of revenue, growing from 34% to 65%.
  • iTunes sales have dropped from 16% to 9.5% of revenue. Apple's never treated their shopping experience for books with any seriousness and the bad browsing experience seems is likely a big factor in inferior sales.
  • Physical book sales are only 11.6% by copies sold, but 23.6% by revenue. Createspace represents 20.5% of that.

I need to go back and locate my pre-2013 detailed data before I draw any conclusions about which platforms I wouldn't bother with on subsequent books, but I can say that Amazon is and will remain the core of my self-publishing channels.

 

The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level came out in fall 2013 and I have the full stats for it. It's a beautiful hardcover with high-quality photos, so the breakdown is radically different.

  • Physical sales are 66% of the copies sold, but represent 93% of the revenue. 
  • Ebook sales revenue is 6-to-1 Kindle to iTunes.
  • 44% of physical sales revenue has been through Amazon.com (I use Amazon Advantage to stock them) and 20.5% were through Ingram (before they killed their small publisher program in mid-2016).
  • Small retailers—not only bookshops but specialty retailers with cocktail items—represent just over 15% of revenue.
  • In-person sales—"handselling" and events—represent almost 13% of revenue.

 

As business projects, not including any of the costs of our labor or of the business generally, Discardia is well into the black and Shim is still a loss. The rate of catching up from that loss is getting better since we stopped having to pay for a storage unit to hold all the inventory. The good news is we're finally also getting a lot closer to not having every corner of our apartment full of cases of the book. ;) Would we self-publish a physical book again? Probably not, but boy are we glad we did this one!

@ Posted on December 2, 2017 at 06:17 PM in publishing, tools, writing | Comments (0)

Work to be done 2017

Though this and last year have had 'not getting to do what I'd planned to do' as their main theme, I have not given up my intention of moving this site to new software.

My goal is to integrate all my online output into this one place. As is obvious below, there's a lot to be done for Twitter integration, just for starters.

A big part of the problem is that as ideal as it once was and as fond as I am of that old Movable Type foundation, Typepad as a platform has been sorely neglected for a long time. Another is that I haven't had web design or even web-based product management as my main job for years. That's why making the big switch has become an increasingly challenging task and ever easier to put off. But it's time. I'll start with my other, vastly smaller, sites before I tackle this big beast.

Feels like I'm standing outside a ramshackle mansion and rolling up my sleeves. :)

@ Posted on November 30, 2017 at 07:10 PM in Weblogs | Comments (0)

* 2017



category: tweets

This is a good human. I hope he heals well and quickly. https://t.co/n5wFYhEmjQ
— Dinah Sanders (@MetaGrrrl) February 24, 2017

@ Posted on February 24, 2017 at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

* 2017



category: tweets

So glad I use @1Password, which makes this kind of hassle not so horrid. Time-consuming, sure, but not the worst. https://t.co/3b0TDmntoM
— Dinah Sanders (@MetaGrrrl) February 24, 2017

@ Posted on February 24, 2017 at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

* 2017



category: tweets

Got one more call in, to Dept. of Justice 202-514-2000, to let them know I support protections for transgender youth.
— Dinah Sanders (@MetaGrrrl) February 22, 2017

@ Posted on February 22, 2017 at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

Visit Typepad or Blogger to start your own. (I began with hand coding, then switched to Blogger when it first became available, then to Movable Type when I wanted more control over my weblog and to have it hosted at a place of my choosing (Hurricane Electric). Since 06/2003 I've used Typepad, a hosted service built by the same folks who made Movable Type, which I love because I don't have to maintain the underlying system).

You may write to Dinah @ this domain.

Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.