Yee infuriates his colleagues at times, particularly when he refuses to vote for a budget that nobody likes but everyone knows is necessary to keep the state afloat. He's done some ridiculous things, like pushing to sell the Cow Palace as surplus state property and turn the land over to private real estate developers. But he's always good on open-government issues, is pushing for greater accountability for companies that take tax breaks and then send jobs out of state, has pushed for accountability at the University of California, and made great progress in opening the records at semiprivate university foundations when he busted Stanislaus State University for its secret speaking-fees deal with Sarah Palin.
With a few strong reservations, we'll endorse Yee for another term.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 12
A clear hold-your-nose endorsement. Ma has done some truly bad things in Sacramento, like pushing a bill that would force the San Francisco Unified School District to allow military recruiters in the high schools and fronting for landlords on a bill to limit rent control in trailer parks. But she's good on public power and highly critical of PG&E, and she has no opposition to speak of.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 13
Ammiano's a part of San Francisco history, and without his leadership as a supervisor, we might not have a progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors. Ammiano was one of the architects of the return to district elections, and his 1999 mayoral campaign (against Willie Brown) marked a turning point in the organization, sophistication, and ultimate success of the city's left. He was the author of the rainy day fund (which has kept the public schools from massive layoffs over the past couple of years) and the Healthy San Francisco plan.
In Sacramento, he's been a leader in the effort to legalize (and tax) marijuana and to demand accountability for the BART Police. He's taken on the unpleasant but critical task of chairing the Public Safety Committee and killing the worst of the right-wing crime bills before they get to the floor. He has four more years in Sacramento, and we expect to see a lot more solid progressive legislation coming out of his office. We enthusiastically endorse him for reelection.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 14
Skinner's a good progressive, a good ally for Ammiano on the Public Safety Committee, and a friend of small business and fair taxation. Her efforts to make out-of-state companies that sell products in California pay state sales tax would not only bring millions into the state coffers but protect local merchants from the likes of Amazon. We don't get why she's joined with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to try to get rid of Kriss Worthington, the most progressive member of the Berkeley City Council, but we'll endorse her for re-election.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 16
Swanson's a good vote most of the time in Sacramento, but he's not yet the leader he could be — particularly on police accountability. The BART Police murdered Oscar Grant in Swanson's district, yet it fell to a San Franciscan, Tom Ammiano, to introduce strong state legislation to force BART to have civilian oversight of the transit cops. Still, he's done some positive things (like protecting state workers who blow the whistle on fraud) and deserves another term.