Endorsements 2011 - Page 9

Avalos for mayor. Mirkarimi for sheriff. Onek for district attorney. Yes on C, No on D, E, and F ... complete endorsements for the San Francisco election

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The Guardian endorses Ross Mirkarimi for San Francisco County Sheriff
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY KEENEY + LAW


CHANGING VOTER-APPROVED MEASURES

The right of the people to directly reform government laws when their elected representatives fail to do so is one of the most cherished and effective electoral reforms of the Progressive Era, when the initiative, recall, and referendum were established. But this measure would have the people voluntarily give up some of that power by allowing the Board of Supervisors to alter or repeal voter-approved ballot measures. Supervisor Scott Wiener, who pushed this measure with support from the big business community, never really explained why it was necessary or what legislation he was targeting — but among the potentially vulnerable measures are tenant protections and the city's transit-first policy.

Wiener argued that this was just about not cluttering up the ballots with minor administrative tweaks. Do you see anything like that on the ballot? No, neither do we, and we aren't buying that this is a problem in need of such a radical solution. The deck is already stacked against grassroots groups forced to resort to gathering signatures or persuading progressive supervisors to sponsor a ballot measure. Supervisors shouldn't be able to undo what voters decide, not with a simple majority vote (after seven years) or even a two-thirds vote (after three years), particularly when they have plenty of power to place new measures on the ballot to address problems unintentionally created by voters. Vote no on E.

 

PROPOSITION F

 

NO

 

CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT RULES

 

Proposition F contains some straightforward, housekeeping-style changes to the city's ethics rules governing the activities of campaign consultants. But it also includes a provision that's fundamentally disempowering to the voters.

On the positive side, the measure would allow the Ethics Commission to accept reports from political consultants electronically, which makes sense, and it would require reports to be filed monthly rather than quarterly. But this is one of those cases of the bad outweighing the good. The definition of a campaign consultant would change from an individual earning $1,000 per calendar year on campaign activities to an individual earning $5,000 per year, effectively dimming the concept of sunshine in open government and making it harder for members of the public to learn of activities that affect local government.

More importantly, F flunks the smell test when it comes to accountability to voters, since it would make it possible for politicians, not just voters, to change the law governing campaign consultant activity. This is a departure from the current system, which requires the voters to weigh in on any change to campaign consultant law. This effectively grants elected officials greater control over the rules their own political consultants must follow, eliminating an important safeguard. Vote no.

 

PROPOSITION G

 

YES

 

SALES TAX INCREASE

San Francisco desperately needs new tax revenue to slow the steady decline in government funding and services over the last 10 years. We'd like to see a variety of options for voters to choose from, particularly options that primarily hit the richest individuals and corporations in the city (such as a local income tax, a commercial rent tax, transit impact fees, etc.). And if there were better options, we might not support Mayor Ed Lee's plan to maintain the current sales tax rate rather than letting it drop by a half-percent as the state rate sunsets.

Sales taxes are regressive, hitting the poor harder than the rich, and not the best funding mechanism. We're also not fond of this measure's provisions to set that money aside to fund public safety programs and services to seniors and children, which is clearly a gimmick by tax-averse politicians to sell this measure to voters.

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