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An Amended Modest Proposal: Reform "Public Financing" of Campaigns The Easy Way

There's a whole cottage industry revolving around "campaign reform," and for the most part it's produced a lot of nonsense, locally and nationally. However, I am daring to get in the game and make a few modest proposals of my own, not for the sake of helping one partisan side over the other, but instead to give voters a clear choice and to be able to understand for whom or what they are voting for.

Earlier this year, I proposed that anyone running for office in San Francisco in 2012 be asked to sign a pledge saying simply that if they won election (or re-election) to the office they campaigned for, they'd actually serve the full four year term they asked voters for.

This may sound a bit nitpicky, but look at what happened in 2008 - we had several people run for Supervisor who asked the voters to send them to serve as Supervisor. Halfway through their terms, these newcomers then decided they'd had enough, and ran for Mayor. So did a lot of other elected officials.

Not only did they spend a lot of their time away from their six-figure salaried jobs, they asked for taxpayer money to finance piles of junk mail. In fact, we had so many people last year running for Another Office, things pretty much shut down at City Hall, all at a time when we needed people on the job. Add to the fact that taxpayers subsidized most of the Mayoral races (and yet the guy with the Super PACs funded by the 1% won anyway) and it's clear something is wrong here.

Today I amend my suggestion that candidates running in 2012 sign a pledge to serve out their full terms in office and not run for another during said term with this:

Any candidate that takes taxpayer money in 2012 to run for office in San Francisco should serve out their full term. If they do not, they should be forced to return the tax money they used in 2012 to run for office if they decide to run for another job (Assembly, State Senate, Dogcatcher, Sheriff, etc.)

I don't think this is an unreasonable request. I'm sure the politicians will ignore it, as they do anything that demands accountability or gets in the way of taxpayer dollars to finance their career advancement. It'd be interesting to see who, if anyone makes such a pledge. San Francisco voters would certainly be the beneficiaries though, since now they at least can figure out who's telling the truth when they say "vote for me in 2012" and who is not.

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