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Kopp is wrong choice for Ethics Commission

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Quentin Kopp, pictured in his San Francisco office on July 25, 2016. (Ryan McNulty/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)

“‘Brazen’ effort to oust ethics commissioner Kopp is obvious political payback,” On Guard, Feb. 21

“An independent City Ethics Commission is key to upholding the integrity of San Francisco’s campaign finance and ethics laws.” Common Cause wrote those words more than 20 years ago, in support of 1993’s Proposition K, which created the Ethics Commission.

We have remained a voice for robust ethics laws and enforcement in San Francisco. We campaigned for 2000’s Proposition O, which created The City’s public campaign financing program, and 2016’s Proposition T, which restricted gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists, among other important reforms that collectively make San Francisco’s ethics laws some of the strongest in the nation.

To protect these reforms, we adamantly oppose the reappointment of Quentin Kopp to the San Francisco Ethics Commission. Whatever his other contributions to this city and state, Kopp has taken the wrong side on too many of these issues — particularly public campaign financing, which is at the heart of San Francisco’s campaign finance reforms. To name a few:

— He opposed Prop. K: If voters had followed his advice, the Ethics Commission would not exist.

— He was an author of 1988’s Proposition 73, which would have prohibited public campaign financing in San Francisco.

— As a named plaintiff, he fought The City in the 1992 lawsuit that authorized San Francisco’s public financing program.

In 2016, when he applied to a partial term on the Ethics Commission, Kopp portrayed himself as open-minded on the issue of public campaign financing, despite his long history opposing it. But his subsequent actions show that he intends to continue undermining it.

Only three days after his appointment to the Ethics Commission, Kopp wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to veto an Ethics Commission-supported bill on public campaign financing. After Gov. Brown signed the bill, Kopp personally joined a lawsuit to challenge the bill.

Contrary to claims published in the Examiner, Common Cause never sought for Kopp to remove his name from the lawsuit. On Dec. 22, our staff spoke with Friends of Ethics’ Larry Bush to discuss our concerns about Kopp’s reappointment. Bush voiced surprise that Kopp had filed the lawsuit and stated that he would ask Kopp to withdraw. We did not request this, and we did not indicate that Kopp’s withdrawal would affect our position on his reappointment. This latest lawsuit merely illustrates Kopp’s continued opposition to needed reforms.

For nearly 30 years and continuing today, Kopp has placed himself at odds with the Ethics Commission and its mission to implement San Francisco’s public financing program. If the Board of Supervisors were to reappoint Kopp to the Ethics Commission, it would be turning its back on public campaign financing and The City’s ethics system.

Helen Grieco
Northern California organizer, Common Cause

“The Proof is in the Pudding: San Francisco’s Commuter Shuttle Program works,” Opinion, Feb. 19

Commuter Shuttle Program needs work

Bruce Agid cites the (welcome) reduction in the number of buses on small residential streets as evidence of the “success” of the program.

What he fails to mention is the increased traffic at both peak and off hours on the main transit routes, notably on 24th Street, Valencia and Castro, resulting from the changes. These corridors now experience much higher volumes of commuter traffic, clocking between 40 to 60-plus buses an hour at prime commute times.

Before declaring success, Mr. Agid should speak to the people now suffering from the disruption, delays and noise caused by the lines of shuttle buses. The problem has been relocated; it is far from being resolved.

Phoebe Cutler
Noe Valley

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