On behalf of all San Francisco voters, I demand an apology for the 25 local initiatives suffocating my ballot. If anyone crowdsourced The City’s top 25 problems, this list wouldn’t be it. My only consolation is that we are not voting on whether the Armenian genocide actually occurred, as in 1997, or if we should eat horses, as in 1998. There has to be someone more qualified to decide this stuff.
The abundance of propositions is not because of political gridlock — our grid is not any more locked than usual. Progressives want to harness the more favorable electorate of a presidential year, while mods want wedge issues to advance their future ambitions (cough, Mark Farrell).
Proposition V is another soda tax the soda industry wants to bury before this good idea catches on, and Proposition O is whereby Lennar wants more special deals to develop Hunters Point, even though it haven’t done what it was supposed to when they first received special deals in 2008.
Otherwise, there are really only eight controversial measures on the ballot: four good-government measures from progressives, and retribution in four acts from the corporate class.
The mayor’s triggerman, Tony Winnicker, is running the “No” campaigns for Propositions D, H, L and M. These are electing the electeds, public advocate, split appointments for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and a Housing Commission. Proposition D could rightly be called the “No Mas Ed Lees Act,” so that our chief executive is chosen by voters instead of six supervisors and Gavin Newsom.
You would think FBI investigations leading to prosecutions of multiple public servants would result in social searching about curbing government corruption, and perhaps a wave of reform. Ta-da! Proposition H, the public advocate. Maybe if there weren’t bottomless campaign spending advocating against the public all day long, we wouldn’t need extra advocacy.
Proposition L creates split appointments for the SFMTA between the mayor and the Board of Supervisors. Several years ago, we adopted split appointments for the Planning Commission, and the cranes filling our skyline are a daily reminder that development ground to a halt as a result of it.
Proposition M would bring the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development under one Commission and away from the mayor. Proposition M would cancel out Propositions P and U, which seem to be the Realtors’ hissy fit over new affordable housing requirements. Prop. P and Prop. U are intended to squash actual affordable housing development. Various Realtors PACs paid for EVERY ballot argument in support of Prop. P and Prop. U, and the entirety of the Yes campaigns. Did the Realtors suddenly experience a moral conversion and decide to spend a million dollars against their own financial interest to promote affordable housing or is something fishy going on?
Meanwhile, supervisors Scott Weiner and Farrell are using the ballot to advance their personal agendas by scapegoating the homeless with Propositions Q and R. Prop. Q makes tents on the sidewalks illegal — they already are — and wastes money on policing instead of housing people. Why would the supervisor from Pacific Heights know better about homelessness than all the civil servants and service providers that have devoted their entire careers to this issue? Why would Ron Conway, venture capitalist Michael Moritz, the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups care about homeless people?
Here’s a tip for reading your ballot: You can figure out pretty much whatever you need to know by following the money. Realtors never want affordable housing. If the Tenants Union doesn’t support it, it’s not for affordability. If businesses are on one side of a homeless issue and Christian charity groups are on the other side, trust the people who took a vow of poverty.
Maybe there is too much on the ballot, but these measures will hurt actual humans, unlike the progressive good government measures that will, at worst, lead to more meetings. Pick your poison.
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based standup comedian and writer. See him live-mocking the movie “Blade” for Riffer’s Delight at the Alamo Drafthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 26, or not live @natogreen.