Can we all just hold hands for a minute and agree that there is a limit on what we can afford to pay public employees? On the generosity of tenure and work rules? On their retiree health care and pensions? Because I wonder if some public employee unions even understand the concept of finite resources. Read More
With the overwhelming voter endorsement of pension reforms in San Jose and San Diego, folks here in San Francisco might be thinking, “Thank goodness we passed our own reform — Proposition C — last November.” Well, as was pointed out in this column and in public statements by Jeff Adachi and even mayoral candidate Joanna Rees, Prop. C was founded on the fanciful notion that we could continue to assume a 7.75 percent return on pension fund investments. Read More
California has 53 congressional representatives, and right now 34 are Democrats and 19 are Republicans. Implementing the “top-two” primary and following district lines drawn by fellow citizens didn’t produce total chaos, but it certainly shook things up for current representatives who were getting cozy.
Ballots are still being counted and anything can happen between now and the November runoff, but here is how the numbers look in light of the June primary: Democrats 28, Republicans 14 and 11 seats still in play. Read More
When I cast my vote about 6 p.m. Tuesday, I was only the 62nd person to do so at my precinct. Less than 10 percent of registered voters in our fair city actually went to the polls. Combined with the vote-by-mail ballots, that brings us to a total 23 percent voter turnout. The last time participation was that low was November 2009, when City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Treasurer Jose Cisneros each ran unopposed for re-election. Read More
With a $16 billion deficit and facing draconian cuts to basic services even if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax proposal passes, Californians are fearful and angry at our state government.
A recent poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California showed that only 17 percent of likely voters approve of the job being done by the Legislature and 88 percent believe that “some” or “a lot” of the money we give to the state government is wasted. Read More
In 1986, San Franciscans were presented with Proposition F, which “prohibited any person from contributing more than $500 to a candidate for municipal office.” In the voter information pamphlet from that election, backers of Prop. F called on residents to, “Tell the special interests that the voters will no longer tolerate the influence-buying which comes with large campaign contributions.” And tell them we did! Prop. F passed with more than 56 percent of the vote and has been the law ever since. Read More
California has a “single-subject rule” limiting ballot propositions to just one issue. This is to reduce confusion and prevent massive proposals from being enacted.
Thus, it’s no surprise the tax increases on this November’s ballot do not also contain government-reform measures. But there’s nothing stopping the backers of these proposals from endorsing companion legislation designed to soften the burning revulsion that so many people feel for state government, at least enough to allow one or more of the measures to pass. Read More
California state law guards the confidentiality of records and proceedings when peace officers face disciplinary investigations. Read More
It’s a phenomenon some of us have experienced: Loved ones call in the dead of winter saying they need money because their heat is about to be turned off. Of course we agree this cannot happen and set off to wire the money. On the way to the bank we realize that we’re not paying for the heat; we’re really paying for whatever that person bought with the money that was supposed to go toward the heating bill. Afraid to ask for money for a new television, our friend instead presented us with a very sympathetic emergency. Read More
Hooray! The City Controller’s Office has released its nine-month budget status report and it shows there is $43.3 million more in The City’s general fund than we thought we’d have. Just three months ago, in the cleverly titled six-month budget status report, the general fund was supposed to have a surplus of $129.1 million at the end of fiscal year 2011-12, which ends June 30. Now it appears there will be a $172.4 million “available balance.” Read More
The San Francisco June ballot promises to be drab, featuring elections for the Democratic and Republican parties’ central committees and two ballot measures — one involving whether to have competitive bids for The City’s trash disposal services. As one Democratic County Central Committee candidate told me, “It’s humbling to run for an office that no one has heard of and is down-ballot from the garbage proposal.” Read More
The City Charter says the Ethics Commission has to conduct a hearing and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors whenever an elected official is suspended from office for misconduct. But, there is no formal process in the charter that dictates how to conduct such a hearing. Read More
Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was at the Ethics Commission on Monday, where the five commission members agreed on the procedure for deciding the procedure that will govern the hearing on whether to recommend his removal. Read More
On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement agencies can strip-search anyone who is arrested and put in the general population of a jail. The case is called Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the petitioner is a man who was pulled over in 2005 for a traffic stop. He wasn’t ticketed, but a search of his name mistakenly showed a warrant for his arrest for failure to pay a fine in 2003. Read More
The 10 precincts that make up the Portola neighborhood have become ground zero in the latest row between San Francisco moderates and progressives. As the Redistricting Task Force attempts to draw new supervisorial districts that will remain in place for the next 10 years, everyone is looking to keep and gain an advantage.And how this skirmish plays out could determine which faction controls the Board of Supervisors in the coming decade. Read More