Endorsements 2010: San Francisco ballot measures

|
(26)

PROP. AA

VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEE

YES

Proposition AA would add $10 to the existing annual fee for vehicles registered in San Francisco, which would bring in about $5 million a year in desperately needed funds for public transit and other environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Proceeds would help to fund new bike infrastructure, pedestrian crosswalks, and transit reliability projects. Some would also be spent on street repairs — with top priority given to streets with bikeways and public transit routes. Unless Muni and bike infrastructure improves, it's hard to persuade drivers to leave their cars at home and choose greener ways of getting around. Prop. AA is in line with the city's transit-first goals, and it will be a step toward reducing traffic congestion and helping public transit. Vote yes.

 

PROP. A

EARTHQUAKE RETROFIT BOND

YES

This $46.15 million general obligation bond to support seismic upgrades for wood-framed buildings is an important means of protecting San Franciscans in an earthquake and preserving affordable housing. A 2009 report by the Department of Building Inspection found that 151 buildings that received government affordable housing support — 8,247 units in all — could be destroyed in the next big earthquake.

Unfortunately, most of these buildings are break-even ventures for their owners, who have no incentive to put the money into needed seismic upgrades. This measure would fund those improvements with grants and deferred loans, which would accrue interest but would only need to be paid back if the owner makes a profit or tries to convert the building to another use, providing further guarantees that the housing will remain affordable even after an owner's obligation to the state or federal governments ends. Vote yes on Prop. A.

 

PROP. B

CITY RETIREMENT AND HEALTH PLANS

NO, NO, NO

Back when the great national health care reform debate was raging, the Guardian advocated for a single-payer system, which would have cut out health insurance companies altogether. What we got instead was a bill that requires everyone to buy health insurance. Now endlessly rising health insurance costs pose a problem for the city — in years of financial stress, it must make ever-larger payments to cover public employees' health benefits. The blame for this dysfunctional system should be pinned on health insurance companies, not public employees. After all, the industry spent millions lobbying federal lawmakers to preserve a system in which they are solidly guaranteed to make millions off the backs of taxpayers.

But Prop. B, introduced by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, asks public employees to bear the brunt of these ballooning costs. It would also require them to contribute up to 10 percent of their pay to fund retirement benefits. One of the most compelling arguments against Prop. B was articulated by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano in a recent Guardian editorial: "A single mother will be forced to pay up to $5,600 per year for her child's health care — in addition to the $8,154 she already pays." That cost would be the same whether the employee earns $40,000 or $100,000 annually — and that's just unfair. Prop. B would deal the greatest blow to the people who have the least. But there's a broader consequence, too — take this kind of money out of the pockets of working people and you've done just the opposite of stimulating the economy.

Comments

city workers have already promised to pay their own retirement contributions in full, which is to commence July 01, 2011 [nine (9) months from now]. they did this when they ratified their most recent contract earlier this year. it should be noted that regarding pension reform and prop b; very little money will be saved by forcing city workers to contribute their fair share a mere six [6] months prior to schedule.

So apparently then, the "big savings" hoped for by passing such a brilliantly thought out piece of agenda must come from the lesser emphasized "healthcare" component of this poorly thought out piece of written scapegoating and bullying. in exchange for continued health care provisions to children or other needy legal dependant of the hard working city employee, the wealthy authors along with greedy bankroller venture capitalist-billionaire backers of this divisive proposition have opted to use this "hidden" aspect to boost their "savings" figure which they shamelessly tout knowing full well that such drastic cuts will not only displace the most vulnerable, namely children and retirees needing healthcare who cannot otherwise afford it but to also undermine the overall universal healthcare concept, which most San Franciscans recognize as smart and cost effective

--all in an effort to gain a certain amount of esteem and notoriety for its author to run as a mayoral candidate in the 2011 local election with the support of the powerful wealthy. people, please see this for what it is and not for what it is not! cuts to preventive healthcare at minimal savings to the city fund will end up costing us tax payers double, triple and quadruple -when urgent care and emergency services at skyrocketing rates and exuberant medical industry costs and fees are factored in as the only remaining viable options for those no longer able to qualify for any other type of reasonably priced medical coverage!

please vote NO on B.

Posted by Honest Abe on Oct. 05, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

The SFBG deserves credit for providing an open forum on all topics Prop B and posting Adachi's editorial - but let's be clear, this publication has demonstrated no fundamental understanding of the City's finances with regard to benefit costs nor the language of Prop B.

Take this statement:

"But Prop. B, introduced by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, asks public employees to bear the brunt of these ballooning costs."

This statement is not even close to being correct. Benefit costs are increasing another $800 million a year by 2015 (Controller's office). The Controller's office also estimated Prop B would generate $120 million in savings in 2015 or 15% of the ballooning costs. Since when does 15% equal "bearing the brunt?" If it actually forced employees to bear the brunt, I'd be against it too.

It then cites Ammiamo's argument as "the most compelling." Ammiamo's argument doesn't even make sense. The health plan he is cites is the City's cadillac plan ("City Plan") in which less than 5% of City employees participate let alone has nothing to do with the City's "low-paid" workers who are in Kaiser and Blue Shield plans.

No crime in being ill-informed. Yes on B.

Posted by CJ FLowers on Oct. 05, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

CJ Flowers aka CJ Roses,
I'm convinced you are Jeff Adachi (or his wife). Your constant misinformative spamming is deplorable. Prop. B is not the answer to the City's past irresponsible spending. As Ammiano stated, crippling the middle class with high health care costs will not stimulate the economy. Should this proposition pass, its effects will be far worse than if it is defeated. The Mayor and the BoS have already agreed to negate all the previous concessions and the past year, costing city residents almost a quarter of a billion dollars.

You frequently attack unions as parasites. The union leaders fought hard to earn descent salaries and benefits for their members (I know less than ten years ago, SF had the highest cost of living yet the SFPD was the 3rd lowest paid department in the state) and have made considerable give backs to the tune of $250 million in the last year alone. Unions and public employees have not bankrupted the City. Reckless investors and short sighted politicians destroyed the economy. Adachi's legislation is spiteful, short sighted, and assumes voters are too ignorant to recognize the truth. His scare tactics are reminiscent of Republican "the sky is falling" rhetoric and will not fool the voters.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 4:46 am

Misinformation?? The post you are responding to was backed up verbatim by the SF Weekly after it was posted (as well as the Bay Citizen)- are they spammers too? Maybe you should call the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Business Times and tell all of them they are deplorable people since our three most prominent newspapers are all endorsing Prop B.

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/10/guardian_prop_b.php

"You frequently attack unions as parasites...." No, that is just your talking point that Prop B is about "attacking" employees as opposed being about math which is what it is about.

Why would any resident care what Tom Ammiamo says, the guy's back pockets are stuffed with money from organized labor...

You want more "sky is falling rhetoric?"...The Pacific Research Institute released a study last week that stated the unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities of the City and County of San Francisco is $37,000 per household. Northwestern University issued a widely reported study this week that SF's unfunded pension liability alone is $30,000 per household.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/801-economy/123905-new-study-shows...

Not sure who you think you are fooling with your "don't worry, be happy" stuff. People read newspapers. I'll take it as a badge of honor that you are singling out my advocacy of Prop B.

Yes on B.

Posted by CJ FLowers on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 9:49 am

The fact that you refer to the Chronicle, Examiner and B.T. as prominent newspapers shows how out of touch with reality you are. Pick up a legitimate periodical and see what kind of useful information you learn

"Why would any resident care what Tom Ammiamo says, the guy's back pockets are stuffed with money from organized labor... "

Why would any resident care what Jeff Adachi says, the guy's back pockets are stuffed with money from organized foreign venture capitalists. Doesn't Adachi live in St. Francis Wood? How many public employees live in St. Francis Wood.

Prop B is more about political grandstanding than math. The fact that you refuse to recognize this exposes your bias and renders you irrelevant and silly. Go get a job.

Posted by Recall Adachi on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

Thanks for chiming in again from the suburbs- we'll handle it from here...

Posted by CJ Flowers on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

There are city workers who have no choice but to be on the most expensive healthcare plan because they live in areas where Kaiser and Blue Shield are not available. San Francisco runs the Hecht Hechy water system that provides water for 2.4 million bay area residents. Many city workers who maintain that system live outside of the city limits in very rural areas. Prop B does not take that into account. Don't punish the people who provide us with clean water, Vote No on Prop B!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

FACEBOOK DEBATE ON PROP B

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
David Elliott Lewis:
We will see what truth is spoken when our city heads towards bankruptcy because of unmanged and excessive pension demands, demands we could have addressed but failed to because we were too afraid of offending certain union special interests. I plan to vote Yes on B.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Christopher Cook:
Prop. B is a disaster--both politically and as policy. It goes after all public sector workers, many of whom make far below the much-touted public-sector average. Respectfully, it's narrow-minded to try to pull public employees' benefits do...wn to the private sector standards--we need to lift up, not down. It's also robbing Peter to pay Paul. Seriously: you're going to cut public worker's health care accessibility in the name of, um, enhancing public services for the poor? Absolutely the wrong approach to the deficit and pension/health care costs. Please reconsider, this a political and policy disaster.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
David Elliott Lewis:
Dear @Christopher, I respectfully disagree with your assessment and your conclusion. The fact is that right now, the average city worker earns more than the average private sector in San Francisco. Sure you can site examples of poorly paid civic works and highly compensated private sector workers. You can prove anything by individual example. I am talking statistical averages, however. In a rational analysis, that should carry more weight than your examples.

Who knew that the civil service would pay so well? Its funny how that worked out. But that is how it worked out. The current pension system is just unsustainable. Until the systemic revenue shortfalls stemming all the way back to Proposition 13 can be rectified, something has to give. Prop B helps to correct this situation and also moves our society to more parity in compensation between the public and private sectors. This is not a policy disaster. Quite the opposite. This is a policy necessity. Without it, there will be a disaster. Guaranteed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Christopher Cook
Hi David--even if your facts are accurate, don't you think it's a mistake to pursue the race to the bottom instead of the top? It's really short-sighted--we're saying hey, those guys get stuff I don't get, so times are hard, they shouldn't ...get it. We should be pressuring and militating for more aggressive progressive taxation and revenue, and chopping from the top instead of scapegoating public sector employees for our fiscal mess. As Redmond pointed out today on Forum, the pension fund is suffering right now b/c of the stock market, not greedy workers. And: even if some pension reform is called for, Prop B so clearly isn't it--it's going to create a whole new set of needs for folks who can't afford healthcare for their dependents, and just going to shift costs--ultimately still paid for by taxpayers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
David Elliott Lewis:
@Christopher, you do raise some good points. Unfortunately, in some ways, we all seem to be in this race to the bottom. How low we will ultimately fall, no one knows.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Christopher Cook Thanks for the dialogue. Please -- please -- vote No on B. There are better approaches. Let's reject the race to the bottom, right here and now. We need to proactively build a path up for the rest, and keep public sector as a model to build up to, not to tear down. Thanks for listening.

------(end of thread)------

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

Wow, a reasoned, civil discussion on a difficult issue. I didn't know that was allowed anymore!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 22, 2010 @ 9:51 am

Well, what do you know...?! Looks like someone else called out the SFBG for parroting organized labor's misinformation on Prop B:

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/10/guardian_prop_b.php

Good to see there are actual journalists in this town who care about the facts of the matter and whose publications are not progaganda arms for organized labor. Prop B is an important matter for the future fiscal health of this City and people should take the time to understand it.

Yes on B folks.

Posted by CJ FLowers on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

So, CJ, when the SF Weekly parrots your talking points and borrows your data, that's admirable independence, and when we cite the same example that labor has, we're nothing but their propaganda arms. Hilarious. BTW, considering how mad some local unions are that we didn't endorse their slates, I'm sure we'd be fired from the job as their communications team if that was really our role.

Posted by steven on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

CJ's/SF Weekly's talking points and data are accurate while labor's example is not accurate.

Posted by The Commish on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

Steven-

I'll let this one go - sounds like you guys had a tough day...

Peace

Posted by CJ Flowers on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

Let's see... SF Weekly is a rag owned directly by a reclusive right-wing billionaire (who for some reason doesn't get along with Sheriff Joe in Phoenix... so I guess that's one positive thing to say about him.) They were sued by the Guardian on antitrust grounds and thrashed.

Let's use them as a definitive source on whether the Guardian is to be trusted or not. What a good idea!

Most of the refutation, by the way, is taken up by 'well, sure, that's true but it would only affect a few hundred people, and we can deal with only a few hundred people starving to death'. Which, while a popular right-wing viewpoint, certainly isn't something that usually flies in San Francisco.

Posted by Fred Fnord on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

"We're all for reviewing the city's pension and health care costs."

Heary Yee! Hear Yee!

The Guardian is in favor of a review. It is in favor of forming a committee that can formulate some prospective inputs for achieving equitable realities, etcadnaseum.

The reviews have been running for years...

...while pension costs have been rising by $300 million annually and forcing the Board of Soups to cut library services, cut emergency medical care services, cut street cleaning, cut after-school care programs for students, etc.

Public-sector pension/healthcare costs now consume nearly one-fourth of the entire city budget, and their share is rising annually.

It's either reform, or bankruptcy down the road. You choose. Vote Yes on B.

Posted by Barton on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

Please vote NO on Prop B. I think many people when they think of City employees they think of the Muni driver that pulled away when they were running for the Bus, or the three guys standing around a manhole one working and two watching. But the truth is there is also nurses, social workers, caregivers, teachers etc. who take care of the poorest individuals in the City and they did not get in to this line of work to get rich or because they don't like sharing. They have families, mortgages, rent and bills to pay like all of us. Please don't penalize them for some rich guy who has way too much time on his hands, to consider the consequences. Like what someone earlier mentioned, it doesn't matter how much you make and the lowest paid City employees will suffer the most. Say no to those who say "are we our brothers/sisters keepers". Working class people we are all in this together... Thank you

Posted by Guest Vote No on B on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

It's nothing against you. It's a public policy issue: the city has a math problem. It can't afford the pensions and benefits that it promised to the tens of thousands of city employees. And cops/fire make a lot of money, get rich pensions, and retire early. This isn't about muni drivers.

Vote yes on B or consider how the city's Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing will affect you.

Posted by The Commish on Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

Prop B doesn't target those receiving 6-figure pensions. Why not reduce payouts for those receiving pensions that have obviously way more than is needed to live on? And get everyone contributing to the pension program. But leave health care alone--just seems like bad karma to me. You don't really know the effects you'll have on individuals with this kind of a proposition. Most of those in support of Prop B seem to refuse to acknowledge they will be hurting some people, (or even to see them as people) or if they do, are ok with it, because it's not them. In my opinion, Adachi made a mistake including the health care part--even the increases in the lower cost plans might be a breaking point for some single parents.

Posted by Validated on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

How could Prop B responsibly leave health care out? It's about employee benefit reform and sustainability. Health care is in just as bad a shape as the pension system. The unfunded health care liability is $4 billion and climbing to $5.5 billion by 2013 and escalating still further after that. These are gigantic numbers. There will be no health care for retirees at a point in the future at the current pace.

As the previous poster said, Prop B is about public policy as the Mayor of San Jose is here today to attest.

Why do you think police officers earning $200,000 a year in wages pay the same amount now for health care as an employee who earns $40,000? It is because it is in the City Charter that health benefits be applied equally to employees. It's not an option to make some employees pay more and some pay less depending on wages (Section 12.200) just as Prop B is limited to increasing employee pension contributions (except for police and fire) to 10% in accordance with a ceiling in the Charter.

It was certainly not a mistake to include health care. It actually would have been negligent to leave it out of a charter amendment to reform employee benefits when the health care system's outstanding liabilities and its ability to pay them is in a state of disaster...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 11:16 am

i love this election guide, as all i have to do is vote the opposite of the sfbg endorsements and feel fairly sure that i've made the common sense call. thanks!

Posted by restore the sanity on Oct. 17, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

...and I suggest you watch Fox News as you will be able to follow this program religiously...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 17, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

...and I suggest you watch Fox News as you will be able to follow this program religiously...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 4:58 am

You're not alone - our elected official's heads are buried as well:

http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-10-20/news/let-it-bleed/

Math warning: the above link contains a lot of math if you are allergic.

This City has a precarious future. WHAT A MESS.

Go Giants!

Posted by CJ Flowers on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

Way to appeal to swing voters!

Posted by marcos on Oct. 20, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

In the last paragraph of your views about Prop G, you say:

"Earlier this year, progressive supervisors tried to craft an omnibus Muni reform measure that removed driver pay guarantees from the charter while also trying to get it more money and make critical changes in how the system is governed, an effort the TWU supported but that the supervisors ultimately abandoned."

Any idea why the supervisors ultimately abandoned this? If they've already spent the time talking to those involved and have studied the issue, they ultimately should be making this decision. We voters are locked into a "yes" or "no" and can't make nuanced judgements or alterations to this, a very important issue.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

Yes, while we as a city, state and country are not in good times financially, it seems incredibly harsh to make those making the least amount of money to pay for it, versus those with the most amount of money.

While the average salary of public-sector employees might be higher, it really says nothing of the distribution of salaries or what work is being done for these salaries. If public-sector jobs were so notorious for much more pay for much less work, why is there not a huge demand for workers to chose to work in public sector versus private sector? I don't know about you, but I don't know many private sector employees vying for a public sector job because they would get a pay increase or easier job.

And even if this notion were true, private sector employees should not come to the conclusion of "well, I don't have it, so they shouldn't." Instead, the private sector employees should be demanding from their employers "they have it, so why don't we?" The people and companies who's definition of a bad year is making only $25 million instead of their usual $35 million should be bearing most of the brunt of our debt, not the people who are just making it by as it is.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2010 @ 10:21 am