Election 2010: Labor and progressives dodge a bullet

SF Labor Council President Tim Paulson was happy about the defeat of Prop. B and other results.
Luke Thomas

Bucking a national conservative, anti-government political trend, San Franciscans stayed with some fairly progressive politics on election night, rejecting a measure to demonize public employees (Prop. B), giving progressive John Rizzo far more votes than his City College of San Francisco board rivals, and taking far more liberal positions in state ballot measures and candidates than California voters, who were already far to the left of national voters.
“We are really happy that Prop. B is going down because it was such a misguided measure. It was not well thought through,” San Francisco Labor Council President Tim Paulson told the Guardian at the party labor threw with the San Francisco Democratic Party at Great American Music Hall. “San Francisco voters are the smartest in America.”
Paulson was also happy to see those voters approve Prop. N, taxing the transfer of properties worth more than $5 million, “because San Franciscans know that everyone has to pay their fair share.”
Another labor priority, Prop. J, the temporary hotel tax increase, lost by a narrow margin after Mayor Gavin Newsom and his downtown allies opposed it, and the online travel company spent millions of dollars to bury Prop. K – a Newsom-created rival measure that would have closed a loophole that lets the company avoid paying the hotel tax.
Rizzo said he was happy to far outpoll Lawrence Wong and Anita Grier as the three incumbents ran uncontested for their City College board seats, which should put him in a leadership position in the troubled district. “There is a tradition at City College that the highest vote getter gets the presidency, so I’m pretty happy,” Rizzo told us on election night.
There were some conservative victories in San Francisco, including approval of Prop. L, which criminalizes sitting or lying on sidewalks, and Prop. G, which will reduce Muni operator wages and change work rules after getting the approval of about 63 percent of voters.
“Ultimately, downtown did well,” progressive political consultant Jim Stearns said, noting how aggressive spending by downtown business and real estate interests ended a string of progressive victories in the last several election cycles, including the likely election of Scott Wiener in D8 and the strong challenge in D2 by Mark Farrell to perceived frontrunner Janet Reilly, who had progressive endorsements.
Stearns said national polls have shown that people are more afraid of big government than big corporations, whereas progressives tend to hold the opposite view. “That national atmosphere definitely had an impact on even races locally,” Stearns said.
But in San Francisco, the progressives retain a strong position in the political debates to come.


Good work Gabriel and the Labor Council!

Here's to our good health!


Posted by marcos on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 10:29 am

As illustrated by Steven Jones. Every issue is either "progressive" or "conservative." No in-between - no nuance. You're either with us or you're against us.

With that sort of attitude it's strange you didn't take more of a liking to George W. Bush because he had exactly the same POV as you.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

Maybe when the Controller elects to stop concealing the new $5 billion unfunded health care liability - bankruptcy will look like a better option than Prop B.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

Prop B was defeated because voters understood that this is was not a fair solution to SF's budget problems. It was simplistic, poorly written, and appealed to the sympathies of tea-party, anti-government types. Wrong for San Francisco, and that was proven tonight. Jeff Adachi is done.

Posted by Hard Working City Employee on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

Prop B was not an attempt to "demonize public workers."

The aim was to deal with our massive and growing underfunded pension obligations to public-sector employees.

The general fund will be in the red by an additional $250 million next year...

...and summer school will be canceled again, and Park & Rec hours will be cut further, and services at SF General will be cut further, and library hours will be cut further, and legal services for the poor by the Public Defender's Office will be cut further. More cuts, and more cuts, and more cuts...

...until one day more voters will see the light.

Posted by Barton on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

There was no policy basis for limiting the City's contribution to dependent health insurance to 50% as a means to save money, the Civil Grand Jury did not recommend that.

The unions already agreed to a 7.5% contribution to pensions effective next fiscal year.

Prop B was a FAILED political ploy and the voters saw through it.


Posted by marcos on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

"There was no policy basis for limiting the City's contribution to dependent health insurance to 50% as a means to save money, the Civil Grand Jury did not recommend that."

Since when was Prop B supposed to be a replica of the Civil Grand Jury report? Nothing about the pension side (increases to 9% and 10%) mirrored the CGJ report. The CGJ report provided the findings but was not specific on policy recommendations to fix structural budget problems. I haven't seen any of these City employees with a scintilla of an idea as to how the $5 billion in unfunded health care is going to be paid. You should read the report some time.

"The unions already agreed to a 7.5% contribution to pensions effective next fiscal year."

Yes, in exchange for a 6% pay raise. This neutral "swap" according to the CGJ (since you seem to be so fond of the report) actually COST taxpayers over $100 million in increased pension liability. Thanks for that. Maybe 7.5% isn't enough when you have to gut the general fund for hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Prop B failed because voters were gullible enough to believe the crap City employees fed them like what we are reading here...

Well after a year where nothing gets done after the unions laughably promised voters they would deal with the problem (after two failed attempts Prop B in 2008 and Prop D in 2010) - let's hope for a Prop B II...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

The Grand Jury said retiree pension and health benefit costs will approach $1 billion in five years, and consume 1/3 of the city's general fund.

That's going to mean a lot of cuts to valuable programs.

But, hey, felicidades, senor marcus!

You only pay $9 a month for full healthcare coverage! Let the Gravy Train continue! You rock!

Posted by Barton on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

I'm so proud of, and grateful for, the heroic and principled campaign that Rafi and his Mandelmaniacs ran in an attempt to stay true to Harvey's vision and preserve the progressive, inclusive and people focused policies of this neighborhood that I have been fortunate enough to call my home for almost 40 years.
I remember when Rafi approached me well over a year ago ( maybe more, I'm getting old and forgetful) and said he was considering running for Supervisor and would I consider supporting him. My response was something like "Maybe, let's wait and see what you've got". Well it took a while to get by radical old corpuscles heated, but he convinced me.
I have thought all along that considering the changing demographics of OUR TOWN, that D8 was probably the most critical bellweather district; well we don't need no stinking weatherman to know which way the wind blows. While there is still a remote possibility that 'absentees' might change the result, I don't imagine Wiener is loosing much sleep over it. I'm glad I waited to post my 2c until after I took some time for reflection, the shit I was gonna spout last night might have made even George Carlin blush.
D8 is a microcosm of the shift we have seen on the national stage. I think it was PT who said something like "you can't go wrong underestimating the intelligence of the American public", I would insert; myopia; selfish self-interest; lack of intellectual curiosity, macro-vision, historical perspective; blah, blah
While I was elated to see a "black man" elected as our leader, I never thought he was "The Great ......Hope". The almost unprecedented quagmire he was confronted with as the result of 8 years of Republican control and corruption probably doomed him from the start. Well now the American public, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to go back and dance with the same partner who screwed 'em before, abandoned them when they got pregnant, denied paternity, and refused to pay child support.
Divided government may not be such a bad thing, god only knows they cant work together when one holds and deals all the cards. The country has 'shifted to the right'; so has District 8. Wiener was NOT endorsed by the SF Democratic or Green Parties, Mandelman was endorsed by both. Wiener was endorsed by SF Young Republicans; SF Old Republicans endorsed 'Anyone But Mandelman'. Well friends and neighbors, it's a respectable republican cloth bed of your own choosing and making, sweet dreams. One thing this particular campaign has highlighted, again, is the incredible challenges a candidate "of the people" faces when his support base is 'regular folks', workers, unions, progressive community front line organisations, and he/she is running against a candidate who benefits from major financial donations from 'downtown' special interests, and republican 'front groups'.
I sincerely hope, for all our sakes, that my scepticism and cynicysm, is proven unfounded and that Wiener does not prove to be the wolf in sheep's clothing that he claims not to be.
I also hope that John Boehner proves to be an effective Speaker, willing to reach across the aisle and craft compromises that help us all
Thank you Rafi.
Keep the Faith.
Tom resurrected and reinvigorated mine years ago, you have helped keep that flame alive

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

For some reason I was an 'anonymous Guest' in the above posting, a handle I despise.
Patrick Monk.RN. Noe Valley

Posted by Guest. Patrick Monk.RN on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

I despise anonymous "Guest' postings. The above is just more of my rantings.

Posted by Guest. Patrick Monk.RN on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

Question to Prop B opponents:

How in the world is a proposition that makes overpaid, upper middle class city employees pay a larger share of their health care costs a bad thing when:

1. The average employee who would have been affected by this proposition makes almost twice what the average person in SF makes;

2. The average person in SF and elsewhere must pay at least 50% of their health care costs, Prop B only asked for about a 10% contribution; and

3. The money that pays for these city employees comes from the pockets and services of those who generally make less money?

I realize that lower level city employees who make less would also have to pay 10%, but that's still a very good deal compared to the average person. And I would have supported this proposition at least as much if it only applied to the workers who are the problem here, which are cops, firemen, and administrators, all of whom make six figure salaries or nearly so. But if average Joe & Jane either have no health care or have to pay 50% towards theirs, why should city employees get a much better deal? And why don't you progressives realize that the money used to pay for these exorbitant salaries and benefits comes from city services that people who make less really need?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

One would think that if Mr. adachi had such a problem with the city's pension system nothing...nothing ever prevented him from going to the treasurer's office on the many occasions he's at city hall, and giving them a check, (since as a "elected official" he was exempt from paying in....secondly, one would also think if he had such a problem why didn't he sit down with the parties and discuss it in a civil manner..As a lawyer, one would suspect that mr. adachi is cozniant of the contract process and arbitration that unions in s.f. engage in vis-a-vis pension bargaining...Having taken the time..energy... to engage in a process with the city over these issues only to have it overturned by a "vote" based on a petitiion drive is reprehensible...hey let's "vote" when jeff represents some client we don't like in court...should our tax dollars be used for that too?...where does the nonsense end?

Posted by rondd5 on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 6:11 am

Yes, a petition drive is "reprehensible."

Ballot initiatives, or "the people's initiatives," (as they were called by Hiram Johnson and Bob LaFollette, the founders of the progressive movement) allow citizens to jump-start democracy, to make their voices heard directly, when the political class won't do the right thing.

The public-sector union leadership has had the local Democratic Party in its back pocket for three decades. This is why we are in this pension mess.

The voters will become more 'cozniant' of the problem as the pensions balloon and public services are reduced year after year gong forward.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 6:25 am

Fair enough...let's put it all on the ballot then...I submit your "stuff" is screwing things up too...let's realease your salary in the chron. and vote on your benefits...let's vote on the salarys on all elected officials and their compensation...let's ovoe on it all...lovely...oh, and anyone who makes a typo loses benefits...

Posted by rondd5 on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 6:47 am

Or so goes the argument as we descend into bankruptcy...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 8:06 am

If Prop. B passed, City -Employees would have paid a HIGHER percentage of their medical costs than the average private sector worker. As a point of reference, PRIVATE-sector employers in California on average pay 72 percent of health care premiums for employees and their dependents, and private-sector employees pay an average of 28 percent, according the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. So how does requiring City employees to pay as much as 62% of their medical costs "fair"? It isn't, but those in support of Prop. B didn't really care, it's about them getting theirs (or at least keeping more of theirs).

Posted by Hard Working City Employee on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 11:58 am

Here we go again...

If you choose the "Cadillac plan" you would indeed pay 62%. But only around 2% of city employees do that. The rest of you would have had to pay $9 (up from $0) for your own coverage and $249 for dependants on the other two plans (the city would still be paying around $1,100). 249/1,100 is not 72%, it is 26%.

Anyway, please do enjoy your free healtchare for life and your sweet premium package (at the bargain monthly price of $000000) until the city declares bankruptcy. I estimate that you have about 10 years.

You people simply do not realize how good you have it now.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

True, I am a private-sector employee and pay about 25% of my monthly premium for Anthem Blue Cross. The premium is $1000 a month, so on top of the recently jacked-up deductibles and co-pays, I'm out of pocket $250 a month for just myself (no dependents).

Cry me a river.

Posted by Peter on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

... for Barton's, Seej's, anonymous Guests', Jamie Whitaker's, Snapples', Moritz's, Adachi's and the rest's sake.

No one should grow accustomed to failure.


Posted by Guest LD on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

Yes, instead, we should all grow accustomed to playing Santa Claus when voting for ballet propositions. That is, always vote "yes" when we can spend money, and always vote "no" when we have to take responsibility and away funding from something, whilst whistling,

"Cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two, the CANDYMAN can."

Takeaways, and fiscal responsibility, are a dire no-no in the ballet box. Keep your rose-colored glasses pinned to your cute little button nose.

You can cry tears later when the city goes bankrupt.

Posted by Barton on Nov. 04, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

I used to have a box at the ballet, but because of spiraling private health-insurance costs, I can't afford it anymore.

Posted by Peter on Nov. 05, 2010 @ 1:01 pm