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Campaign notebook

More goofs from S.F.'s elections whizzes: In the race for secretary of state, both state assemblymember Kevin Shelley and rival Michaela Alioto have had trouble with crucial campaign paperwork – and the problem is apparently with the San Francisco Department of Elections.

First, a local politico (who asked not to be named) noticed that the date on papers authorizing signature gatherers to collect names to put Shelley on the ballot was one day later than the dates on the pages of signatures. If Shelley really messed that up (which would be ironic, considering he's running for the state's top elections position), those signatures would be invalid, and he'd have to pay a $2,000 filing fee. But Shelley's office insists that the snafu wasn't the fault of the campaign and that San Francisco election officials screwed up when stamping the dates on the papers.

Meanwhile, Alioto received notice from incumbent secretary of state Bill Jones that she had failed to pay her filing fee – fortunately she has a canceled check to prove that she did pay it, at the Department of Elections. Officials there just forgot to inform Jones's office.

Elections chief Tammy Haygood acknowledged the screwups. "We're a customer service-oriented organization," Haygood said. "When we see there's a problem, we get right on it and fix it. And that's what we did in [these] cases.''

Shelley is now saying the department is so hopeless it should be "put into receivership" and taken over by the secretary of state. Alioto's spokesperson, Amy Wakeland, told the Bay Guardian the screwups mean that the public can't tell whether a candidate is following the rules. "There are reasons there are deadlines," said Wakeland, who noted that one of Shelley's qualifying papers was stamped at 8 p.m. – three hours after the deadline and after official office hours. "We need to [have them] to make sure the process is fair to all.''

Given the complexity of the March ballot and the large number of candidates running, more "whoopsies'' don't bode well for department head Haygood and her team. (Savannah Blackwell)

Project Bob: Ronald Chun, a staff assessor in Doris Ward's office who is challenging the incumbent on the March ballot, has quietly put together a plan that could win him some support in the queer community. He rolled out the idea at the Jan. 19 meeting of the Harvey Milk Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Democratic Club. His idea: Give domestic partners who share ownership of a house the same ability as married couples to maintain a Proposition 13 tax break if one of them dies. Currently, the surviving domestic partner gets hit with a new tax bill on any jointly owned property. Chun, a certified public accountant and tax lawyer, has figured out a perfectly legal way to set this up and would promote it as assessor, he told us.

It's a great idea, but it took him a while to discuss it for the record. Chun said he was afraid of offending conservative religious groups. (Blackwell)

Getting nasty: Based on endorsement interviews we had last week with school board member Dan Kelly and Sup. Leland Yee, it sounds like the race for the District 12 state assembly seat is going to get low-down dirty soon.

First, Kelly requested phone and travel expense records from Yee's office, presumably to see if the supervisor was wasting public money. Thanks to the city's Sunshine Ordinance, he got them quickly, although we hear there's no smoking gun in the records.

Just to even the playing field, Yee's campaign director, Jim Stearns, requested the same records from Kelly's school district office, but the Sunshine Ordinance doesn't cover the school district. The documents are still a matter of public record, but only the weaker state Public Records Act applies, which means the district can take several weeks to turn the documents over. So Yee will have to wait.

But even if the phone records turn out to be a dud, Kelly is likely to resurrect questions about Yee's personal finances that were raised in an SF Weekly story during the 2000 supervisors race. (Yee already has denied the article's charges, insisting that the story amounts to nothing.)

Don't these guys have real issues to talk about? (Blackwell)

Phillips on the phone: Former school board member Steve Phillips is jump-starting his campaign against Harry Britt, Sup. Mark Leno, and Holli Thier for the state assembly seat representing the city's 13th District. Last week he sent out a paid recorded phone call saying that his is "more than a political campaign" and mentioning the school district's reduction of class size and the hiring of new superintendent Arlene Ackerman. In the phone call he says he wants to "continue improving on our schools and give more people a chance to own their own home." One problem: Phillips doesn't seem to realize that many voters haven't even figured out that there's a March primary. He never mentions when the election will be held. (Blackwell)

Herrera starts strong: City attorney Dennis Herrera is going to join Attorney General Bill Lockyer's lawsuit charging Pacific Gas and Electric with cheating consumers out of more than $4 billion or file a separate lawsuit on behalf of the city. (Blackwell)