Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Free Will Endorsements: San Francisco Initiatives

It's endorsement week here at Free Will. We'll start with the San Francisco ballot, move on to the California ballot, and then move on to the big ticket items (Republican Congress, Senate and Governors nominations). San Francisco mostly has ballot initiatives on the ballot this June. These might strike out-of-towners as being excessively local, but they should give you an idea of what sort of niggling issues come up for a vote when you have direct democracy:

Prop. A: SCHOOL PROPOSITION. would renew an (admittedly small) annual levy that is supposedly used to "improve earthquake and fire safety and implement critical capital maintenance" with an appropriation limit of $ 16 million. It's For The Children. Someone should ask the school district why it is their concern for the children has caused any and all San Francisco parents who can afford to do so to either move to the 'burbs or pay for private school when the time comes for their kids to go to school. NO.

Prop. B: EARTHQUAKE SAFETY. a $400 million bond to pay for updating the fire department's infrastructure to protect it from damage during an earthquake, including the construction of a new command center. I hate these proposition bonds. The voters have absolutely no idea as to the fiscal condition of the government, so it's impossible for them to know whether the City can afford this. Meanwhile the politicos who put this on the ballot don't want to have to make hard budget choices. Plus, everyone knows that the first thing destroyed in any earthquake will be the "earthquake proof" command center. NO.

Prop. C: FILM COMMISSION. would amend the City Charter to make the Film Commission a city agency, rather than a part of the mayor's office. Are you kidding? NO.

Prop. D: RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR CITY EMPLOYEES. would make minor changes to the city pension system including (1) using the average salary for the two years prior to retirement to determine retirement benefits and (2) increasing the employee's contribution. Sounds good, too bad it only applies to new employees. YES.

Prop. E: SECURITY LINE ITEM. would add a line item to the police department's budget showing how much the SFPD spends on security to City officials and visiting "dignitaries." This isn't a line item now? YES.

Prop. F: RENT CONTROL AMENDMENT. you can't have a San Francisco election without a ballot measure about rent control. This one would let tenants to petition the Rent Board to delay rent increases if they are unemployed, experience a 20% or more reduction of wages or do not receive COLA on their government benefits. Yes! Please! Let's give a city department more power to interfere with a contractual relationship between adults. The sad fact is there is a dearth of low-cost housing in SF precisely because rent control has so distorted the market. Rent control really is a curse. NO.

Prop. G: TRANSBAY TERMINAL AS HIGH SPEED RAIL TERMINUS. would designate the City's Transbay Terminal as the terminus for the SF-LA high speed rail. A high speed rail station in downtown San Francisco?? God help us, I think they're serious. NO.

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