OPINION: Why political money should be a top issue in the mayor’s race

By Larry Bush : 48hills – excerpt

Hidden money seeks to control SF politics

Pay to Play belongs at the top of the issues in the mayor’s campaign if for no other reason the hundreds of thousands (soon to be a million plus) that pour into independent expenditure committees to elect or defeat candidates.

What do these big-money donors want, why do they think they can get it, and how will they get it?

Point one: the past is not prologue. Once, we could track the source of funds going to a candidate, and it could signal what the candidate didn’t say him or herself. Tobacco money, casino money, realtors, energy companies, and others were flashing signals.

Point two: officials now have many routes for money to play a role beyond direct contributions. Well-heeled backers pick up airfare, hotel and travel expenses for officials. Corporations banned from making campaign contributions instead give in response to a candidate’s request, often to pay for the official’s own project. In the past eight years or so, more than $22 million flowed at the request of the mayor, various supervisors and others. Often it came in checks for $1 million or more. Officials sometimes establish nonprofits, and the next mayor could pay for a big-time inaugural with that money.

Some officials and many donors don’t want you to be able to follow the money, or even for you to know if they are meeting with money men and women.

Contributors hide through a thicket of committees, sending money through one that then goes to another that in turn pays into a third or even a fourth. Ann Ravel, past chair of the FPPC, sued over that tactic when unnamed sources poured millions into a California ballot fight — but we couldn’t get to the first original before it flowed through back channels….

That’s what is at issue in this election: a status quo that we can see rewards those with the most and requires those with the least (including middle-income residents) to pay the share that others aren’t paying… (more)

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Campaign trail: Leno, Kim issue joint endorsement ad

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

For the first time in history, two major San Francisco mayoral candidates are running a serious, all-out ranked-choice voting strategy—and the outcome of the election will test whether that system works.

In a press conference this morning, and a newly released ad, the two candidates appeared together to call for a fundamental change at City Hall….

“This is an historic moment,” Kim said. “We need to stand together if we believe in change.”…

It’s no secret that RCV could determine the next mayor; in fact, it’s likely that the second-place votes of the third-place candidate will decide the election…(more)

This is not the first time this strategy was tried. The 1-2-3 concept was introduced at a cakewalk at City Hall in 2015. And we have the video to prove it.

Joining ranks is a no-brainer in the world of ranked choice voting. Look at the number of dual endorsements. It is important to choose at least two if not three candidates. To better understand how ranked choice voting works and why teaming up makes sense, watch this video from ABC 7 News: San Francisco has been using ranked choice voting since 2004. Here’s how it works.

 

This campaign has brought out some important information, raised good questions, stretched the candidates in new ways, and introduced us to some new ideas that we hope will inform the next Mayor, regardless of who that is. Pretty much everyone agrees on the goals. They just differ in their methods to reach them. May the best candidate win!

Resolution Opposing SB 827

April 21, 2018

Open Letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors:

Re: Resolution Opposing SB 827

Thank you for supporting the resolution opposing Senator Wiener’s SB 827 that would take control of development decisions from local communities and allow the state legislature to remove the options of opposing inappropriate controversial development projects and eliminate the possibility of improving them.

There are many reasons to oppose this bill, but, the major concern shared by opponents is the loss of local control over development decisions. This power must remain in the hands of local authorities. SB 827 establishes a policy of state control over local communities that is dangerous and unwelcome by citizens concerned about the centralization of an overly aggressive state government. At a time when our state policies are threatened by the national government it makes no sense for the state to use similar tactics on our local communities. In plain English, the state needs to leave us alone and protect our interests, not disrupt our lives.

A one-size-fits-all development policy does not work in California. Our state contains a wide range of natural geographic features and natural treasures that need to be protected not exploited. The California deserts, snow-capped mountain peaks, dense redwood forests, and sweeping ocean views have drawn world-wide attention and visitors for over a century. Travelers come for the unparalleled views, not the sports arenas. Taming this land is not in the best interest of our state or humanity. As grand as the land, it is unstable and we have limited resources for unlimited population growth. Some areas are best left to growing crops and raising livestock, not building dense cities.

No one wants to be disrupted or have their lives turned upside down by people whose goal in life is to suck the gold out of the land in a quest for wealth based on changing society. We have seen the results of allowing disruptive industries to grow and thrive unchecked, and we are now trying to reign them in. We cannot make that mistake by overdeveloping the entire state.

Thanks to our local government officials for helping the concerned citizens of California opposing SB 827 and all the other bills that remove local power and hand it over to the state. We appreciate you more than you know.

Sincerely,

Concerned citizens of San Francisco

UPDATE on SB 827: Thanks to the unprecedented opposition to this bill by city and county leaders and citizens all over the state that are now aware of the attempts to undermine the balance of powers by some state representatives in Sacramento, it appears that SB 827 may be dead this year. We understand that the Transportation and Housing Committee members received thousands of letter and requests to oppose the bill. Thanks to everyone who helped kill SB 827. There are more of those coming. Find out about the methods our state representatives are using to push these bills through and how you can stop them.

Come to the SB 827 and Beyond event sponsored by CSFN. Find out how your can protect the sunset from up-zoning by state edict.

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Saturday, April 28, 10 AM, in the Koret Auditorium at the Main SF Library at 100 Larkin Street. Next to Civic Center BART stop.

The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods will sponsor a forum on the Scott Wiener legislation that is shaking up the state of California. This will be a great opportunity to learn the real facts behind SB 827 and other controversial attempts to change the way California cities are developed.

Find out why people want to protect the local planning process now controlled by our local communities. Speakers: Art Agnos, Former SF Mayor; Zelda Bronstein, Former Berkeley Planning Commissioner; Calvin Welsh, Affordable Housing Advocate; Sophie Maxwell, Former SF Supervisor.

Co-sponsors include: West of Twin Peaks Council, Stand Up for San Francisco, Noe Valley Neighborhood Council, SF Neighborhood Network, Van Ness Corridor Neighborhoods, Livable California.

Due to recent events there may be other speakers and new information on the efforts our state legislation that our representatives are pushing in Sacramento to override our local planning processes.

RSVP : http://evite.me/Cepn64gPT6

RELATED:
Letters to the Editor: California Legislature was right to reject transit-housing bill

City Hall firebrand Larry Bush quits Ethics group after leading quarter century of reforms

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez: sfexamminer – excerpt

Larry Bush, 72, who helped create the San Francisco Ethics Commission and guided numerous ethics reforms since the 1990s, is calling it quits…

The trailblazer of ethical derring-do announced his resignation from the citizen group he co-founded in 2010, Friends of Ethics, in a lament-laden email blasted with fire from the fingertips following a joint Board of Supervisors and Ethics Commission meeting. It was such a grand, spectacular failure that it surely caused some city policy wonks to weep…

The two bodies were poised to pass a sweeping package of ethics reforms April 3, intending to shine light on housing developers seeking to influence politicians to pass their projects, speed up the revelation of big-money backers funding local Super PACs, disclose money behind social media political campaigns and curtail you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours favors for politicians in the form of “behested payments” to pet causes…

The effort did not completely fail, and portions of it will be revisited at a further Ethics Commission meeting.

However, none of those reforms will come in time to root out political favors in this mayoral election, as they would have, had they been considered two years ago when supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim, who offered different elements of the package, first proposed them… (more)

RELATED:
Ethics chair resigns over failure to place campaign finance reforms on June ballot

We don’t need to destroy the Sunset to save San Francisco

By Jane Kim : medium – excerpt

State politicians have been rushing forward a “transit oriented” housing proposal that will allow virtually unlimited construction of luxury condos throughout San Francisco.

The proposal is Senate Bill 827 (SB 827) and it allows developers to build up to 8 stories of luxury housing in areas that meet “minimum levels of transit service.” 96% of San Francisco’s parcels, including the Sunset, Richmond, Excelsior and Chinatown meet this standard. And the proposal upzones our entire City without increasing developer contribution to transit, parks, schools or other services critical to sustaining our neighborhoods. This is not how we build housing or grow livable cities…

Meanwhile, the cities who refuse to invest in public transit aren’t required to build any new housing. In fact, SB 827 rewards bad actors who refuse to build public transit or housing — sorely needed throughout the region. The Sierra Club California opposes this “pro-environment” bill writing, “While infill development near transit is the most desirable option, we believe that [SB 827] is a heavy-handed approach to encourage development that will ultimately lead to less transit being offered and more pollution generated, among other unintended consequences.”…

This plan is a failure. We can build more housing without destroying our neighborhoods...(more)

 

In San Francisco, Newsom policy reported undocumented youth to ICE

By Casey Tolan : mercurynews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — During his run for governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he’s proud to represent a “sanctuary state,” sparred publicly with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over immigration, and vowed he’d go to jail to protect undocumented immigrants.

But a fight over sanctuary policy a decade ago when Newsom was mayor of San Francisco suggests that he wasn’t always as strident a defender of immigrant rights…

In July 2008, Newsom imposed a city policy that reported undocumented youth arrested for felonies to federal immigration authorities. That decision — made the week after a father and his two sons were killed by an undocumented immigrant — meant that some kids were put at risk of deportation even if charges against them were later dropped.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to overturn Newsom’s policy in 2009, mandating that minors could only be referred to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement if they were convicted of a felony. But Newsom’s administration simply ignored the board, continuing to turn juvenile arrestees over to ICE for the rest of his term… (more)

SF mayoral hopefuls, minus Breed, hold heated housing debate

One candidate in the San Francisco mayor’s race wants to shake out the pockets of real estate developers. Another wants to sue speculators who he said are putting people out on the street. A third called for a rigorous analysis of the city’s housing stock… (more)

The mayoral candidates have some good ideas to share. Let’s hope that whoever wins, these ideas are considered for development. Please comment on the source if you can.

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