Even This Close to the Deadline, We Might Be Able to Save the Inner Sunset at City Hall

Watching the twists and turns of the San Francisco Redisricting Commission as they create new district maps for the Board of Supervisors has been like watching several well-meaning people play ping pong all at once, on meth in the dark. Things happen so fast, and change so dynamically, usually with no MSM coverage, by the time you think you know what’s going on, things have changed. Again. And again. AND…well you get the idea.
It was just about a week ago when I looked at what was the latest map, and it partially corrected the injustice committed on residents of the Inner Sunset by partisan progressive interests 10+ years ago-forcing part of the neighborhood into District 5, while cutting out many of the blocks of the Inner Sunset and put them into District 7. This injustice had the following effects:
– Many of us were forced into a district that elected Matt Gonzalez and Ross Mirkarimi, both “progressives,’ who paid more attention to more politically correct parts of the district. It also ensured that anyone from the Inner Sunset would have a harder time getting elected, since people in say, the Western Addition probably regard the Inner Sunset as they do the Farallon Islands – far, far away.
– The residents of the Inner Sunset were divided into two districts, making contact with the appropriate Board member confusing. Also, as I’ve stated before, this meant trying to get two busy Supervisors to attend a neighborhood meeting to express concerns. In Allegedly Sophisticated and Smart San Francisco, this is stupid.
Just recently there seemed to be a fix in the works that would have at least contained more of the Inner Sunset in District 5, thus solving at least part of the problem. Unfortunately just a few days ago, the Commission decided to roll back the borders, citing the ‘traditional’ borders from 2002.
NEWS FLASH, Commissioners: that “historical” border was a partisan gerrymander hack designed by partisan progressives to jam a few precincts in to try and “help” narrow progressive itnerests, the residents be damned. Relying on this precedent is, for all intents and purposes, bullshit.
There are two remaining meetings of the Commission – one is tonight at 6pm at City Hall, Room 406. The other is this Saturday, April 14th, at 10:00am in Room 400. Both should be televised at SFGovTV online and on cable, but you never can tell if it’s going to be live or just taped it seems. UPDATE: Our Friend Paul Hogarth says the live link should be this one at SFGOVTV online.
I am going to try and attend tonight but it is a close call since I have to go spend most of the day out of town and given the commuting foibles of going from county to county, might not make it.
However, there’s nothing stopping you from going. The one good thing about the Commission is that they will listen if people show up, and will try to do their best to accommodate people, without worrying about what a few political bosses think. So that’s a good thing.

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.

Japan Invents a “Shut Up” Gun and I Want One NOW….

shutupgun.jpgGod bless The Awl. Without this in my RSS reader I might have missed out on the news that scientists in Japan have invented what is informally called a “shut up gun” – a device to silence people who talk.
Using the same effect when you talk into a cell phone that relays back your own voice on a delay, only on a larger scale, it’s fairly effective at, well, shutting people up.
I can think of about a million uses for this in San Francisco, and when these become available, I’m buying one. Muni, Supervisors, Mayor, annoying people on the street (to start) : consider yourself warned.

Interesting Quote from the PBS Documentary on President Bill Clinton

While watching the second half of PBS’s documentary on the Clinton years, this line popped a bit. Seems relevant to just about anyone in politics:

“You can never blame your enemies for doing what your enemies will predictably do.
You can only blame yourself for what you’ve given your enemies.
If you have given them absolutely nothing, guess what they’re going to be able to do?

-Lawrence O’Donnell, from the American Experience documentary on Bill Clinton

A Modest Proposal for Campaign 2013-Onward: End Public Subsidies for Partisan Primaries

Regardless of what political party you may belong to, one cannot escape the conclusion that “primary” elections, particularly at the national level, have been devolving into epic, money-fueled “sh*tstorms” for the last few decades. Every year it’s the same thing – a few small states suddenly become “important” for a few weeks, other states play games moving their primaries to be important, some states still have party caucuses and so on.
It’s hard to believe that it really wasn’t that long ago when primaries were not the main method of selection for delegates to the national party conventions – much less choose in advance who said nominee would be. I’ll skip a long history lesson and simply say this – it’s time to ask if primary elections are effective anymore in a post-partisan era, and more importantly, why cash-strapped states should be forced to pay for what is essentially an exercise by private entities to decide matters related mostly to internal governance.
Having lived in a caucus state in the past, I can tell you that while party caucuses can be a bundle of crazy in and of themselves, they do attract people who are genuinely interested in what’s going on, and supporting a certain candidate or political ideal. In the last few presidential years, participation has increased in caucus states, and I believe even more people would attend if they simply knew where to go (in this example I’m excluding Iowa for obvious reasons).
More importantly, people of a particular party should be the ones to decide their nominees – not lazy sometime voters who only vote based on junk mailers and obnoxious Super PAC TV ads. If they want to let in non-members that’s the party’s choice – but again, I don’t see why the taxpayers need to pay for it (and in the case of caucuses, they do NOT since it’s a party function. Heck Iowa’s GOP makes money off their straw poll!).
But beyond that, regardless of how parties want to conduct themselves, I still have yet to hear a solid answer as to why the state needs to spend millions to conduct an election that’s really just a private organization’s decisionmaking apparatus.
If a party wants to have us use county and state resources so they can have a poll about who they’re supporting as their presidential nominee (or whatever), they can simply raise the big time cash they raise anyway, and write a check to pay the costs. So to be clear – I don’t necessarily want to abandon them altogether – but the subsidy has to be reconsidered.
Heck, why not open up the voting booth to any private group that wants to poll their members? Maybe this is a money maker counties and states are passing up?
Seriously, it’s time to end the public funding of these moneybombed storms of tv ads, mailers, and more. It’s fine if the Democrats and the Republicans want to have their fistfights and their precious primary elections – they can simply reimburse the taxpayers so it’s one less burden on us when we really can’t afford it anymore.

A Modest Proposal for Campaign 2012: Signed Pledges to Serve Full Terms in Office!

This year we have a lot of elections this year – everything from President down to Supervisor here in SF. You can expect the usual avalanche of junk mail, advertising, and whatnot everywhere you go. Today I’m making a modest proposal for Campaign 2012 focused on our local elections – a signed pledge by every candidate running for Supervisor in San Francisco stating that they intend to actually serve the full term of the office they claim to be seeking in 2012.
This may seem superfluous, but look back to just last year. We had several candidates for office who got elected in 2008 saying they wanted to serve as Supervisor or in some other capacity, but within a few years were spending most of their time running for Mayor. Not only did this mean they spent a lot of time not doing the job they were elected to do (and well paid for) but also spent taxpayer money to get that other big job.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people who are filling our boxes with junk mail and ads saying how they’re going to do all sorts of wonderful things as Supervisor to sign a pledge saying that they will actually do said job.
Obviously there’s nothing legal binding anyone to said agreement, but anyone breaking it sure would look shady, that’s for sure. Likewise, those who did honor it would restore some integrity to CIty Hall.
Here’s a suggested pledge:

I (state your name) am running for Supervisor in 2012. If elected by the voters of my district, I hearby pledge to serve the entire term in office.
I will not run for higher office during my term, nor will I raise money to run for another office during my term.
I will serve the people of San Francisco to the best of my abilities and will stay at City Hall during my four year term.
SIgned (state your name)

It’d be curious to see if anyone signed this pledge. I certainly would like to know if I vote for someone or volunteer on their campaign that they’d actually follow through, and not just use City Hall as a campaign office for another gig.
If you have suggestions for this proposed pledge, leave a comment in the section below. Thanks!

Why Is The Inner Sunset SF’s Perennially Politically Abused Neighborhood?

Here we go again.
As you may or may not know, after every census, legislative districts at all levels are redrawn to better reflect a growing and/or shifting population. Other times it’s to reflect the decline in population of an area. No matter what, how those districts are drawn are important, especially in a city like San Francisco. However, once again, it seems the Powers That Be at the Redistricting Task Force want to once again gerrymander the Hell out of the Inner Sunset neighborhood at the Board of Supervisors.
For ten years a strip of the Inner Sunset was tacked on to the former District 5, which was represented by Matt Gonzalez, and later Ross MIrkarimi. From what I’ve been told, this was a way to “ensure” the district was progressive. Never mind the fact that it created a strange division in a neighborhood, or disempowered community activists – it was serving the “Progressive” needs that came first. Whenever local leaders wanted to organize an event with local Supervisors, they had to find a time when both Supervisors Elsbernd and Mirkarimi could attend, since both represented the area. I remember moving literally across the street and down a block and finding myself in another district.
The proposed changes make things worse. Now, it’s proposed we divide the neighborhood into three districts. I’ve posted a zoom in view of the map, but you can go to the Redistricting Task Force websiteFour Corners (but with three districts!) as you step from one to the other.
The Inner Sunset has traditionally been identified as a westside neighborhood, and its interests align themselves with other contiguous neighborhoods. The political gerrymandering of this area to serve shallow interests that could care less about our neighborhood has to stop. I would hope that some adults would intervene and make some changes. In the meantime, email the commission and the politicals at City Hall and let them know you’re tired of seeing our neighborhood cut to pieces to serve the politicians’ needs, not ours.

OccupySF Continues to Disappoint. Maybe It Should be Called CampingSF Instead?

occupysflogo.jpgWTF, OccupySF?
Seriously. First I read this story where the “brave” Occupy Army went and harassed a locally owned business based on totally false information that made them look like complete idiots. Wow! Way to show solidarity with the 99%, gang! What’s next, beating up hot dog vendors in the Mission?
Second, I read a story in the Chronicle about the increasing number of homeless kids in SF public schools. (the story doesn’t mention the number of kids who may have a roof over their head, but still live in poverty). This, in a city of billionaires and innovation? Really? Even worse, these kids have to compete against kids in wealthy suburbs (who have all the advantages necessary) on standardized tests. You’d think that would inspire some direct action, perhaps at a billionaire party, or a corrupt fundraiser for the “Mayor” or one for Supervisors, or for anyone in the Political Establishment? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Instead, there’s just more infighting about whether to camp in the Mission, or whatever. Fortunately, the disorganization at City Hall is about the same at OccupyCampingSF, so no raids are forthcoming. Thank goodness the camping can continue.
I don’t disagree with some of the points the Occupy movement is supposed to be making – it’s a sick world we live in whereby profitable banks like Wells Fargo are getting huge tax rebates (and bailouts from taxpayers) and meanwhile I’m fighting off illegal charges to my dead dad’s estate by similar banks and the like, charged in the hopes I’m either too dumb or too frustrated to fight them. It’s even more frustrating to see needed projects get held up in bureaucratic limbo – but a stadium for billionaires gets a pass on CEQA and a billionare yacht race is being subsidized by a broke city.
Unfortunately once you leave echo chambers like blogs and IndyBay and other said media, the message ain’t getting through to the people who really are part of the true 99%. Anecdote: During the holidays I was at a suburban pizza place and the news was on some of the TVs. When the latest footage of Camping SF came on, I couldn’t help but overhear comments by folks, most of whom wrote the whole thing off as a bunch of kids playing protester. However, these people are also folks who are getting screwed over by a tax burden shifted from the wealthy to the 99%, who are paying more in taxes and getting less in services, and so on. They should be joining the movement (if they do in fact feel it’s in their interests) but they won’t because who wants to be around a bunch of smelly protesters bent on God Knows What?
In the end, this is becoming a clusterf*ck on all sides, and like most “protests” on the left, will go nowhere. That’s too bad , because another loud, unruly lot, the Tea Party folks, have practically “occupied” the GOP to the point where a joker like Herman Cain was considered a real candidate for President.
WTF, indeed.

#Occupy is No Longer About Important Issues We Need To Deal With, It’s About Camping

occupysflogo.jpg(This is an expanded version of a post I did earlier this week.)
The #Occupy movement, be it in San Francisco, Oakland or elsewhere insists on having “no leaders” to distinguish themselves from The Man, Wall Street, etc. That’s lovely. However, this leaderless movement has created an unintended consequence: we’re no longer talking about issues of economic inequality, democracy, corporate accountability or other Really Big Problems, and how to fix them.
Instead, we’re mostly talking about a movement centered on camping in parks.
While there’s a core group of people who are committed to an Actual Cause, there’s a growing part of the encampments that are only about people wanting to camp in parks and be allowed to do whatever they want, laws and civility and cleanliness be damned.
Mike Aldax’s day with #occupysf made this clear – and that the growth of the “camp” has less to do with people working to bring up issues, and more to do with transients taking advantage of the situation for their own selfish needs (drugs, booze, etc.) Needless to say, this isn’t doing much to expand the people involved to include more of the Actual 99% they claim to represent.
I support the Occupy movement bringing up their issues and forcing people to confront what they’ve been in denial about, but it’s time to apply some creativity. We don’t have to have people camping in crappy tents in a park to continue to force local and national government to deal with the issues mentioned above. They also need to do some (gasp!) self-policing and tell those who are there to cause trouble to fuck off, and work with the police to keep the peace if they want to keep claiming the moral high ground.
The “shock and awe” movement of the initial Occupy movement is over – its time for Act II. Be creative. Don’t repeat the past like a Civil War re-enactment (looking at you, 21st century hippies). Blow minds, not with your funk, but with something that really shows why financial abuses by the few at the top harm the many, and why we who aren’t hipsters, hippies, or Those Not Part of the Left should give a damn.
Oh, and that “human microphone” thing? Cute, but the joke’s over. At this point it just sounds like a Protestant church overrun by angry white kids.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s some additional insight from those who’ve seen this all before, and make some suggestions, which of course will be ignored by Occupy.
Final thought: How many of ‘em went to vote in the SF Mayoral election, where LITERALLY the “1%” bankrolled a campaign to protect their tax breaks and elect our “Mayor” ?
Oh, right. They were at the camp site.

Why I Like #OccupySF but Don’t Like the Symbolic Resolution A Certain Candidate for Mayor Proposes

I’ve made no secret in the past that I am a true “law and order” kind of guy, in that I believe both the state and the people need to abide by rules, created by the people, and enforced by the state, to ensure than tyranny by the mob does not rule.
That said, I don’t disagree with most of what the #occupysf folks are out there for. Even as a capitalist who technically should be on the side of those shi*tty big banks who bankrupted the world economy, I cannot abide by them. That is because at heart, I am a true capitalist, and I think those who manipulate government to allow for so-called “investments” that would not meet the standards of the shadiest Las Vegas Casino, much less what the SEC should allow, need to seriously STFU. Also, those shithead “banks” are fucking over real capitalists and have shit interest rates. So, yes, the #occupysf movement is making a point, and if it means some days in the park, whatever.
Today, however I talk about talk vs. action. In San Francisco we have a member of our Board of Supervisors (A county legislator for the rest of you outside our fair City and County, a unique blend of government in California), who is trying to ride the #occupy movemenet to City Hall as Mayor. That is his right, of course, but what I find offensive is the use of the most impotent weapon out there: the Non Binding Resolution.
What this means to you, the #occupy supporter in San Francsico, and to the millions of you outside of San Francisco who are ticked off at income inequality and at a political system that makes money #1 and the people #230002893203020320302 is that despite all the heat and light discussed tomorrow, at the Board of Supervisors meeting is that, no matter what, not a goddamned thing will change.
Yes, you’ll have a nice piece of paper with the City’s name on it supporting La Causa. A failed candidate for Mayor will have something to slap on some cheap dead tree in the last 7 days of the race. The Temp Mayor, who is truly the mayor of the 1% will have to either go nuclear in his response or save it for November 9th, post election. In the end, the “politics of feelings” will have won and a chance at stopping the localized version of corruption will be swept away, a la Oakland last week.
There is another option.
That option is to tell all the self-serving politicians who show up and talk liberal platitiudes at #occupysf and tell them to fuck the Hell off unless they do the following:
-They renounce Ed Lee, a puppet of the corporations who is doing what he is told and is well paid to do so
-They renounce things like a billionaire yacht race that gives away the City to the Billionaire 1% while they pay not a dime, all in the promise of “trickle down economics”
-They stop giving billionaires like Sean Parker tax breaks, while small businesses in our neighborhoods shutter because they can’t make payroll.
-They stop supporting a plan that kills public transit for the pathetic needs of a few so-called “non profits” and steers money away from the N-Judah, the 5-Fulton, the 38-Geary, the L-Taraval, the M-Ocean View and more.
It’s up to you #OccupySF and up to you, Liberal San Francisco. Don’t be bullshitted by dead tree mail or empty actions. It’s the votes that count and if after 10+ years of So-Called Progressives running the legislative branch of City government you can’t stop it?
It’s time to admit you lose.
And you and John Avalos can take your “symbolic resolution” to the nearest impotence clinic, as that is the best it will be.