Prop. H closes contribution loophole

The Examiner recommends a yes vote on Proposition H, which would ban a recently uncovered loophole in The City’s already-tight campaign contribution rules.

Existing law bans large-scale city contractors from contributing to local candidates, elected officers or their committees while contract negotiations are pending. Proposition H would subject candidates or elected officials who solicit contractor contributions to the same potential criminal penalties as the contractors. Mayor Gavin Newsom placed this ordinance onto the June 3 ballot because elected officials or the committees that support them havebeen accused of soliciting contractor contributions.

Proposition H would be better legislation if it required The City to maintain a list of firms currently negotiating contracts with local agencies, so politicians cannot use ignorance as an excuse. However, this ordinance should make it harder to influence San Francisco politics with pay-to-play donations. So we recommend voter approval, with the caveat that an updated contractor list should be an added requirement in the near future.

No on Props. E & D

Proposition E seeks to make it easier for the Board of Supervisors to block the mayor’s appointments to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. It is just the latest tug of war in the seemingly endless power struggle between Newsom and the supervisors, and it would dilute necessary accountability over The City’s vital water delivery system and hydroelectric energy resources.

Specifically, Proposition E lowers the number of supervisors needed to veto a mayoral SFPUC nominee from eight to a simple majority of six. It would require all current commissioners to resign in August; an entire new commission would have to be seated. This needless disruption would set back SFPUC administration while the agency is in the midst of a $4 billion upgrade of the regional Hetch Hetchy water network.

To be fair, Proposition E does also require specific areas of commissioner expertise, an idea that does has some merit. However, these qualifications are so rigid that they could well disqualify current commissioners who are doing a good job. This ordinance is too blatantly meant as payback against the mayor for replacing SFPUC General Manager Susan Leal. The public should reject it.

Proposition D is another waste of the public’s time. It tinkers with the City Charter to add “types of disabilities” to the diversity criteria for municipal boards and commissions; it demands that all such bodies reflect every diversity regulation; and such diversity must be verified by (for some reason) the Commission on the Status of Women.

Existing city and state laws already set effective mandates for appointment diversity, and piling on extra requirements makes it harder to fill these volunteer posts. Proposition D offers an unnecessary solution for a nonexistent problem.

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