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
STREET REPAVING BOND
There are few more basic functions of government than maintaining the streets. This $248 million general obligation bond would fund improvements to benefit drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users. And if San Francisco doesn't make this investment now, it will cost even more later to fix the roads once they've begun to degrade, so this really is a no-brainer. Some — particularly the right-wing, anti-tax scolds — might argue that keeping the roads in good shape should be part of the city's annual budget rather than being paid for with borrowed money repaid by increased property taxes and rents. We might even agree, if the wealthy were being fairly taxed and the city was bringing in at least $248 million in additional annual revenue. But in this era of declining government resources, this bond is desperately needed. Most of it, almost $150 million, goes to resurfacing the streets, while $50 million goes to new improvements (including improved bike lanes) and $22 million each go to signal upgrades and sidewalk and ramp improvements. Leaders from across the political spectrum support it. Vote yes on B.
We'll admit to a bit of political crankiness on this one: Our initial instinct was to oppose both of these measures. Sure, there are abuses in the city's pension system (particularly among public safety employees). Sure, since the stock market crash, the cost to the city of funding the pension system has risen to levels unsustainable in our current fiscal environment. And at some point, the supervisors were going to have to deal with it.
But there's a basic unfairness about all of this that bothers us: The city workers are being asked to give up part of their pay — but the wealthiest individuals and big corporations in San Francisco are giving up nothing. It's part of the national trend — the poor and middle class are shouldering the entire burden of the economic crisis, and the rich aren't suffering a bit.
That said, there's political reality here — both of the pension reform measures will probably pass, and the one that gets more votes will take effect. And there's really no choice between them — Prop. C, the measure written with the input and support of the mayor, the supervisors and labor, is the better option.
The two proposals are complicated. Both would reduce the city's obligation to pay into the employee pension plan, particularly in years when the economy is bad, the stock market is down and the pension fund portfolio is shrinking. Both require city employees to work longer for lower pensions. Both have complex formulas for how that would happen.
Prop. D, written by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, has a slightly better formula for allocating the pain: Under his plan, employees making lower salaries would pay less than employees at the high end of the scale. His is also stronger on pension "spiking" — pensions would be based on the average pay of an employees last five years. Under the City Hall plan, that would be a three-year average.
But overall, Prop. C is a better measure — in large part because it reflects a legitimate process of collective bargaining. Adachi did his plan all by himself, with no input from labor or others at City Hall. Prop. C was hammered out in a series of meetings with members of the board, the mayor, and representatives of the city employee unions that will actually pay for the changes. That, generally, is how the process ought to work.
We would have demanded tax reform before we supported any pension reform, but given the options facing us, we're going Yes on C and No on D.