Have you received your 300-page ballot information pamphlet? When it landed with a thud, did you think: “Yay, democracy?”
Do you remember The New York Times’ legendary review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant in Times Square? The one that was all questions and included stumpers like: “Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are? … And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?”
Would it be helpful if someone who works in politics did an homage to that literary jewel, pointing out the items on our ballot that, like Fieri’s food, are unappetizing, bloating or just plain donkey parts?
Shall we start with Proposition D — Vacancy Appointments?
Did you ever wish your supervisor could be less accountable to you?
So when vacancies happen on the Board of Supervisors, the “democratic” thing to do is have the mayor appoint someone who will never face the voters? And that person gets to vote on legislation, appoint commissioners and allocate city money without any accountability to anyone except the mayor? For up to six months?
Is there any reason the mayor wouldn’t choose his bestie as your neighborhood supervisor? Have you ever wondered how Supervisor “The Mayor’s College Roommate” would do on the job?
And then we’ll have a special election with nothing else allowed on the ballot, meaning voter turnout will be abysmal? And that’s more “democratic” too?
Did you know the current system requires appointed supervisors to face voters in the very next election? And that Ed Lee has appointed three supervisors, two of whom lost in the next election? Can Prop. D also lose please?
Proposition H — We need a Public Advocate?
Do we really need to spend $4 million each year to make up a job for one politician? Can we just pass around the hat and buy him a watch or something?
Eighteen elected politicians in this city, plus an independent controller and whistleblower office, aren’t enough?
Don’t we already have 11 Public Advocates, called the Board of Supervisors? Didn’t we make them full-time and add a third staffer specifically so they can focus on advocating for constituents? Isn’t that what I spend most of my day doing?
Did I mention the Public Advocate gets a six-figure salary, 25 staffers, a guaranteed office in City Hall and can dole out contracts to — or subpoena — anyone he wants? Can you really blame a politician for wanting that more than a watch?
Proposition L — MTA Appointments and Budget?
Have you ever gotten on a Muni bus and thought, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, can we slow this thing down?”
Do you remember when politicians had carte blanche to meddle with Muni’s budget? Remember the “Muni Meltdown?” Were the voters just kidding when they overwhelmingly passed Proposition E in 1999, reforming Muni and creating an independent budget process?
While certainly not perfect, hasn’t Muni gotten a lot better since then, adding 10 percent more service citywide and 700 new drivers in the last couple years, building two new Bus Rapid Transit lines and the Central Subway and replacing its entire fleet?
Do you really want a politician driving your bus again?
Proposition M — Housing and Development Commission?
Isn’t it frustrating how it takes two to three years to build affordable housing in this city? Any chance we could make it four or five instead?
Do you ever yell: “The rents are too damn low!”?
Is there something the Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Building Inspection Commission, Housing Authority Commission, Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, Board of Appeals, Treasure Island Development Authority Board, and Board of Supervisors are missing? We need another commission?
Does anyone really think we need more bureaucracy and delay in the way of affordable housing?
Proposition X — Preserving Space for Neighborhood … Businesses … words … a bunch more words?
Shouldn’t highly complicated zoning regulations be worked out as legislation at the Board of Supervisors? Why is this on ballot when there is such legislation at the board right now?
Can anyone explain this proposition in under 9,000 words? If so, are you interested in being Supervisor “The Mayor’s College Roommate’s” Chief of Staff, because he certainly won’t be reading any of these complicated things?
Seriously, why is this on the ballot?
All in all, Props D, H, L, M and X, did you wake up and say, “I want more bureaucracy and cost, less accountability, and a slower Muni?
“Hey, I’m a solution — has anyone seen my problem?”
(Was this article too snarky? Can’t we all use a little levity these days?)
Conor Johnston is chief of staff to Board of Supervisors President London Breed, and co-founder of the East of Twin Peaks Neighborhood Association. The views here are his own.