A new progressive agenda

A series of community forums helped us craft a platform for the next mayor

New construction in Mission Bay: Are we building a community -- or building a city for rich people?

Over the past three months, the Guardian has been hosting a series of forums on progressive issues for the mayor's race. We've brought together a broad base of people from different communities and issue-based organizations all over town in an effort to draft a platform that would include a comprehensive progressive agenda for the next mayor. All told, more than 100 people participated.

It was, as far as we know, the first time anyone tried to do this — to come up with a mayoral platform not with a few people in a room but with a series of open forums designed for community participation.

The platform we've drafted isn't perfect, and there are no doubt things that are left out. But our goal was to create a document that the voters could use to determine which candidates really deserve the progressive vote.

That's a critical question, since nearly all of the top contenders are using the word "progressive" on a regular basis. They're fighting for votes from the neighborhoods, the activists, the independent-minded people who share a vision for San Francisco that isn't driven by big-business interests.

But those of us on what is broadly defined as the city's left are looking for more than lip service and catchy phrases. We want to hear specifics; we want to know that the next mayor is serious about changing the direction of city policy.

The groups who endorsed this effort and helped plan the forums that led to this platform were the Harvey Milk LGBT Club, SEIU Local 1021, the San Francisco Tenants Union, the Human Services Network, the Community Congress 2010, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, San Francisco Rising, Jobs with Justice, and the Center for Political Education.

The panelists who led the discussions were: Shaw-san Liu, Calvin Welch, Fernando Marti, Gabriel Haaland, Brenda Barros, Debbi Lerman, Jenny Friedenbach, Sarah Shortt, Ted Gullicksen, Nick Pagoulatos, Sue Hestor, Sherilyn Adams, Angela Chan, David Campos, Mario Yedidia, Pecolio Mangio, Antonio Diaz, Alicia Garza, Aaron Peskin, Saul Bloom, and Tim Redmond.

We held five events looking at five broad policy areas — economy and jobs; land use, housing and tenants; budget and social services; immigration, education and youth; and environment, energy and climate change. Panelists and audience participants offered great ideas and the debates were lively.

The results are below — an outline of what the progressives in San Francisco want to see from their next mayor.




Background: In the first decade of this century, San Francisco lost some 51,000 jobs, overwhelmingly in the private sector. When Gavin Newsom was sworn in as mayor in January 2004, unemployment was at 6.4 percent; when he left, in January 2011, it was at 9.5 percent — a 63 percent increase.

Clearly, part of the problem was the collapse of the national economy. But the failed Newsom Model only made things worse. His approach was based on the mistaken notion that if the city provided direct subsidies to private developers, new workers would flock to San Francisco. In fact, the fastest-growing sector of the local economy is the public sector, especially education and health care. Five of the 10 largest employers in San Francisco are public agencies.

Local economic development policy, which has been characterized by the destruction of the blue-collar sector in light industry and maritime uses (ironically, overwhelmingly privately owned) to free up land for new industries in business services and high tech sectors that have never actually appeared — or have been devastated by quickly repeating boom and bust cycle.

Instead of concentrating on our existing workforce and its incredible human capital, recent San Francisco mayors have sought to attract a new workforce.


We of course, cannot do that, because if all savings were mandated to go to consumers, there would then be no funds available to maintain the system, and to do capital improvements in order to expand the system and incorporate renewables and efficiency.

I'm fine with a mandate that keeps all of the savings out of the City general fund, and that instead all revenues would have to be kept within the utility itself, but mandating that all savings go to ratepayers would undermine the whole system by underfunding infrastructure.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

Obviously PG&E makes a profit (well, maybe not, they went bankrupt, but let's ignore that for now).

That profit is what's left after the costs you cited have been deducted from the revenues.

So, if PG&E make, say, a thousand a year net profit on each household, then each household gets a thousand off their bills. It should be "revenue neutral" for the City - not a cash cow for their favorite pork project and subway to nowhere.

The formula might be more complex than that, but those computations are already made in determining the utility rates and what's a fair profit for PG&E. We're already doing the sums - the only difference is that we the people get the money, and not Chris Daly.

Do it that way and you have my vote. As long as you can also borrow the capital to buy the utility at a fair market price, funded by revenue bonds that won't touch the general fund.

But not a penny to the politicians. They can't be trusted.

Posted by PaulT on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

Now that you have clearly established that you are completely out of touch with reality by hilariously claiming that PG&E might not be making a profit, I think we're done.

And the San Bruno explosion shows that PG&E infrastructure is under capitalized showing that we need to ensure the ability to fully capitalize a municipal system.

Now, go ahead and get in the last word, last word boy...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

My guess is that we are both right. Before he was on the SFPUC Sklar was apparently pro municipal power. But once Newsom appointed him to the SFPUC that definitely changed.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 11:42 am

I hope all the voters out there read both pension measures and once you get over your outrage vote no on both C and D. There are nothing progressive about either.

Posted by Guest Brenda Barros on Sep. 22, 2011 @ 7:15 am

Prop D:

-Prop D has a sliding scale for contributions while Prop C asks the same of a 50k worker and a 100k worker.

-Prop D exempts < $50k workers (Prop C copied this.)

-Prop D doesn't touch anyone's health care while Prop C seeks to reduce employee and retiree health care by flipping control of the Health Services Board. City retirees loathe Prop C.

So yes, if you believe no reforms are needed you vote for neither. If you are voting for the more progressive one, you vote for Prop D. City employees who earn less than 100k and are convinced one of the two will pass, will be voting for Prop D.

No one will "read" Prop C - it's 285 pages....

Posted by Guest on Sep. 22, 2011 @ 10:13 am