News and Reaction, Politics, Testimonials

2008 Election: San Francisco Ballot Propositions

Prop A: San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center Earthquake Safety Bonds, 2008

NO I agree that it is critical to rebuild San Francisco’s lone trauma center and I want to support Prop A. However, the opposition argument raises serious concerns, first and foremost that the new hospital building will be constructed between two brick structures not scheduled for retrofit before 2015, thus “a catastrophic earthquake could crush the new hospital.” The rebuttal does not address what strikes me as a very serious objection. I am further disturbed that the pages and pages of paid arguments in support are mostly underwritten by the same handful of unions over and over, as if the project is being railroaded through by determined interest groups. I believe that rebuilding General Hospital is a critical priority, and in the unlikely event that Prop A fails to pass this year, I hope a better proposal can be offered next year.

Prop B: Establishing Affordable Housing Fund

NO Affordable housing is a laudable objective. I do not see the need to write this priority in to the budget, rather than trusting the city with the flexibility to address budget priorities.

Prop C: Prohibiting City Employees from Serving on Charter Boards and Commissions

NO Avoiding conflicts of interest is a best practice. I can also fathom that a city employee could conceivably act on a board, bringing valuable perspective while avoiding ethical conflicts. The opposition argument is well put: “this is a solution in search of a problem.”

Prop D: Financing Pier 70 Waterfront District Development Plan upon Board of Supervisors’ Approval

This sounds like a good idea but I have no feelings either way.

Prop E: Changing the Number of Signatures Required to Recall City Officials

YES Signature verification may not be strictly necessary but it strikes me as a best practice. Adoption ought to help head off potentially abusive recall petitions in the future.

Prop F: Holding All Scheduled City Elections Only in Even-Numbered Years

YES As a voter who bothers to read through the issues, every election takes some effort. I’m happy to do this every other year, saving me some homework and the city some expense.

Prop G: Allowing Retirement System Credit for Unpaid Parental Leave


Prop H: Setting Clean Energy Deadlines; Studying Options for Providing Energy; Changing Revenue Bond Authority to Pay for Public Utility Facilities

YES While I am wary of the power this invests in the government and PUC to screw things up, I do feel that Global Warming is possibly the biggest threat we face as a species, and taking bold, risky action to set an example in this crisis is worthwhile. The unending barrage of lobbying against this proposition on the part of PG&E implies that municipal power may even be a wise investment, not only for the environment but for city government and utility consumers.

Prop I: Creating the Office of an Independent Rate Payer Advocate

YES This sounds like a sensible check on the powers of a public entity, and a potentially wise investment to have made if Prop H passes.

Prop J: Creating a Historic Preservation Commission

YES This sounds like a sensible proposal with near-universal support. Hopefully such a commission can preserve and improve historical preservation in an iconic, world-class city that receives substantial benefit from tourism.

Prop K: Changing the Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers

YES I am concerned that Proposition K eliminates the funding source for the First Offenders Prostitution Program, which funds diversion for sex workers to leave the trade. I am also concerned that K may allow pimping. I believe these concerns are overshadowed by the possibility that this will empower sex workers to report rape and other abusive situations to police, which I hope will open the system to more effectively target abusive pimps and Johns and ideally investigate and prosecute human traffickers. If Prop K passes I believe the city and private organizations must act to fill in the gap of the unfunded diversion program and work with sex workers to target abuse and trafficking. The comptroller estimates a savings of $1.6 to $3.2 million in annual enforcement costs, some of which could perhaps be redirected to cover the $250k presently available to diversion. The city also has a progressive, tolerant populace and numerous organizations that ought to do a fair job of supporting sex workers and helping them move on to better lives.

Prop L: Funding the Community Justice Center

NO The CJC sounds like a good institution, but this really is a Board of Supervisors issue to maintain funding that does not require voter intervention.

Prop M: Changing the Residential Rent Ordinance to Prohibit Specific Acts of Harassment of Tenants by Landlords

NO San Francisco is very strong on tenants’ rights. I don’t see any pressing need for this proposition.

Prop N: Changing Real Property Transfer Tax Rates

NO While I am sympathetic to solar energy I do not see the need to increase this tax. The solar energy provision sounds like a special-interest sweetener to pass an otherwise non-compelling revenue enhancement effort.

Prop O: Replacing the Emergency Response Fee with an Access Line Tax and Revising the Telephone Users Tax

YES This is a straightforward reform to 911 funding that replaces a “fee” with an equivalent “tax” to avoid a legal challenge, with updates to cover VoIP services and the like. Opposed mainly by Libertarians, so it must be sensible.

Prop P: Changing the Composition of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board

NO This sounds like a pissing match between the Mayor and Everyone Else.

Prop Q: Modifying the Payroll Expense Tax

YES A straightforward tax reform that closes a loophole, raises a tax ceiling for small businesses, increases city revenue, and upsets the Republican Party. Sweet!

Prop R: Renaming the Oceanside Water Treatment Plant

NO Fucking hilarious. But I’d sooner put Bush in the past than saddle critical public infrastructure with such infamy. This honor may be more appropriate to a superfund site or a toxic / radioactive waste storage facility. Nevertheless this cheeky proposition makes me glad to live in a city with a healthy sense of humor.

Prop S: Policy Regarding Budget Set-Asides and Identification of Replacement Funds

YES A sensible appeal by the mayor to have set-asides from propositions “clean up after themselves” after 10 years.

Prop T: Free and Low-Cost Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

NO Substance abuse treatment is a wise and righteous investment, but budget discretion is best left with the Board of Supervisors.

Prop U: Policy Against Funding the Deployment of Armed Forces in Iraq

NO This is a federal issue and a matter of conscience on the part of our elected officials.

Prop V: Policy Against Terminating Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Programs in Public High Schools

YES The military should reverse its self-destructive discrimination against gay service members. The city of San Francisco should reverse its self-indulgent hostility toward the patriotic duty of military service. Just as openly homosexual people should be allowed to serve in our national defense, so to should high school students interested in military service be afforded the opportunity to enroll in JROTC.

See Also: Vincent Lauria

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