Vote your vote away - Page 2

Sup. Wiener seeks authority for the board to change or repeal voter-approved measures


He did the number-crunching and concluded that of the 983 policy ordinances on the books, 207 (21 percent) were policy initiatives. Of those, 102 (about 10 percent) were approved by the voters.

"Not quite overwhelming the ballot," Welch said. "The argument that what is promoting this — the inundation of the initiatives — is not borne of the facts."

Welch believes Wiener is targeting certain landlord and tenant issues that date back to 1978, when San Francisco voters first started adopting rent control measures. "That is what the agenda is all about — roughly 30 measures that deal with rent control and growth control," he said.

Wiener denies this is an attack on tenants, and claims he doesn't have a specific agenda in mind. "This is long-term reform, not immediate gratification reform. To take the big, big step, we would have to change state law. This is just a modest first step."

Welch also took issue with the idea of "election proportionality," calling the measure an undemocratic power grab since many initiatives in San Francisco's history were approved with more than 200,000 votes.

"Mayors don't get 200,000 votes — these measures do," Welch said. "That a body can overrule thousands of voters undermines the election process of San Francisco. Why not limit government actors instead of the people? It's about what Sup. Wiener wants to change."

Budget set-asides have long been a target for legislators, explained Chelsea Boilard, a budget analyst with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. Historically in San Francisco, moderate politicians have mostly honed in on social service programs, not those with a lot of clout and political backing, like police and fire budgets. Although the Children's Fund, which was set up by a charter amendment, would be exempt, other social program priorities set by voters could be eroded.

"The reality is that the police and fire departments don't have to go to City Hall every year to defend their budgets, but health and human services do," Boilard said.

While many on the left would love for the California Legislature to have the authority to make changes in the property-tax-limiting Proposition 13 — like by removing commercial property from being taxed at artificially low levels — activists see real danger in Wiener's measure.

"I think this is bad policy. I know folks are frustrated with Prop. 13, for example, and wish it was easier to amend or repeal. But the way he's going about this is odd to me," political activist Karen Babbitt told us. "For one thing, it appears to apply to retroactively to existing ordinances and policy declarations."

Babbitt also cites legal research indicating that Wiener's proposal might contradict state law and be subject to legal challenge if it passes. Plus, that challenge could come from any direction since it would allow liberal and conservative reforms to be challenged by the board.

One proposition that would fall under Wiener's amendment is Proposition L, the sit-lie ordinance approved last year that prohibits sitting or lying on public sidewalks between 7 am and 11 p.m. After a divisive campaign against the measure, police began enforcing it in April. In three years and with enough votes by the board, the board could repeal a law that Wiener supports.

"It's really interesting," said Bob-Offer Westort, a civil rights organizer with the San Francisco Coalition of Homelessness. "I have a lot of questions. I guess it cuts both ways. We'd like to see the aggressive panhandling law changed. We'd like to see the sit-lie repealed. There are definitely things, with the right composition of the board, we would benefit from. And there are things that we would not want to see changed."


Wiener the Weasel, what an unmitigated disaster, another of his 'baby steps'.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 7:46 am

I completely support this. There is a reason why officials are elected, and sorry, but the vocal minority of SF who push things to the ballot box are provincial and unable to think past their own front noses.
Enough BS!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 8:32 am

Maybe we should just do away with pesky things like elections and appoint a board of business leaders to run things, like the Republicans are trying to do in Michigan?

Who needs this democracy thing anyway?

Posted by Cool to be contrarian on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 10:18 am

Supervisor Wiener justified his proposal by pointing to a political consultant measure that has to return to the voters to change how often consultants file reports. First, there is nothing in the existing law to prevent increased reporting. But more importantly, this is a shadow play because his measure also gives the Ethics Commission to change any part of the political consultant measure as it wishes in the future. Nowhere does he admit that this is an open-ended invitation to our least effective city agency to dumb down the law for political consultants.

It is dishonest on its face.

Posted by CitiReport on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 10:44 am

"The Ethics Commission", now there's an oxymoron.
About as worthless as comments from nameless, faceless 'guests'.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

Can't Wiener get a few of the other supes to put something on the ballot to repeal something he doesn't like?

Posted by matlock on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

This would be the end of democracy, as we know it in SF anyway. This must not pass!!

And, Posted by Guest on Jun. 01, 2011 @ 8:32 am, why not use your real name? I did. (chicken sound)

Posted by GrannyGear/Terrrie Frye on Jun. 02, 2011 @ 10:01 am

Hey don't worry. Weiner said he was tenant friendly when he ran for office.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 02, 2011 @ 10:25 am

Wiener pushes downtown, anti-progressive revisionism on his march to a comfy chair inside the beltway. We're looking at Gavin II, except Wiener has a little more smarts.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 02, 2011 @ 10:43 am

We elect a Board of Supervisors to vote for us! They are supposed to be there representing us... why should the electorate have to vote on complex issues that need to be dumbed-down in order to vote on them by an uninformed electorate? This makes no sense.

Posted by Guest-SF on Jun. 02, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

"We elect a Board of Supervisors to vote for us! They are supposed to be there representing us... why should the electorate have to vote on complex issues that need to be dumbed-down in order to vote on them by an uninformed electorate?"

Why not elect people to think for us too?

And maybe the board of supervisors could come to our homes and wipe our asses after we take a shit, because if San Franciscans are too stupid to open up a voter handbook and decide how to vote on an issue, then maybe we're too stupid to clean ourselves.

Uh-oh... now I've done it. Matlock and Snapples will probably change their minds now that a progressive has said something in opposition. They know the Weinie bill is stupid, but a progressive thinks it's stupid too -now what? Wait, I think I smell burnt circuitry...

To the tech wiz who came up with those particular troll-bots, my sincere apologies for making your Matlock-bot and your Snapples-bot programs crash.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 04, 2011 @ 12:09 am

As long as its the supervisors telling others how to live its fine with you. You elect people who you want "to think for us", when it goes your way.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 04, 2011 @ 12:36 am

See what I mean when I say that you disagree just for the sake of disagreeing? Good to know that the bot program is still running.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 04, 2011 @ 12:46 am

Your opportunism is so interesting.

I think Weiner's idea is a bad thing, especially since a few supes can get together and put something on the ballot.

You on the other hand love it when they are doing our thinking for us, when it goes your way. Cracks me up that when it might not go your way you complain about state power.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 04, 2011 @ 1:13 am

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