Commentary – Quentin Kopp

Cast Your Vote in November

By Quentin Kopp

It was H.L. Mencken, the polemicist of my youth and before, who pronounced: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” That’s relevant to the Nov. 5 San Francisco election with six ballot measures and a few contested public office elections. 

The most important is district attorney, and I repeat my even stronger recommendation of Nancy H. Tung, Esq., for that position. The other three candidates show less than stirring dedication to enforcing criminal laws and respecting police officers who perform dangerous tasks in protecting society. These candidates have uttered policies of constraining San Francisco police in their arduous responsibilities and have miscast, like so many media commentators, the constitutional place of bail in criminal law. Moreover, they’ve ignored the subject of City Hall corruption like the incumbent district attorney who secured taxpayer money in 2017 from a compliant SF Board of Supervisors and mayor for his new “Internal Investigation Bureau,” consisting of “six attorneys, six investigators and two support staff” and a $2,918,078 budget! (Have you seen prosecution of even one corruption case by Gascon?)

There’s no contest for city attorney, public defender, sheriff, treasurer or Community College Board. There are three Board of Education aspirants for two seats. None will revitalize a governing board emblemized by disdain for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings. I’ve endorsed Ivy Lee for the Community College Board and recommend Paul Miyamoto for sheriff and Jose Cisneros for treasurer. The mayor is realistically unopposed, although I note Joel Ventresca of the Sunset District and my City Hall past is a candidate. The only supervisoral contest is in the Haight-Ashbury, Inner Sunset and several other neighborhoods. I don’t know the four candidates, two of whom espouse “divorcing” streets from autos so bicyclists can gain complete use!

The most important ballot measure is Proposition F, spearheaded by former Ethics Commission Chairman Peter Keane, Jon Gollinger, Friends of Ethics President Larry Bush and members Charley Marsteller and Bob Planthold. It achieves what two ethics commissioners refused to do last year, preventing 2018 submission of the measure to voters and leading to Keane’s instantaneous commission resignation. It requires reporting of campaign contributions and financial sponsors of campaign advertisements or, piquantly, shedding “sunshine on dark money.” Supervisors Mar, Mandelman, Ronen, Fewer and Haney sponsored the Board of Supervisors submission to voters. Please vote “yes” on F.

I recommend voting “no” on Propositions A, C and E. Proposition A constitutes enormous taxpayer debt in the principal amount of $600 million plus interest for 30 years; that’ll add another 80 percent for general obligation bonds which can’t be sold without approval by two-thirds of those voting. It contains the usual “citizens committee” to watch how the money is spent. Such citizen committees are ineffectual in my decades of observing them. Proposition C represents a voracious effort by Juul, a multi-million dollar “e-cigarette” business to induce youth and adults into addiction. As an opponent of “big tobacco” during my legislative years, I’ve hindered similar efforts and ask voters to do so now. 

I recommend “no” on Proposition E, which benefits, in complex manner, difficult to understand housing entities that constantly lobby City Hall. 

I think Proposition D merits support as a “mitigation tax” on giant corporations to lessen traffic congestion, which we suffer traveling downtown, south of Market, 19th Avenue, Park Presidio or the Embarcadero. So does Proposition B, which reorganizes a City Hall department for disabled people.

Common Sense Party

I’m pleased to report the creation of a new political party in California, namely, the Common Sense Party. Onetime colleagues Tom Campbell, a former Republican, Steve Peace, a Democrat, John Pimentel, a Menlo Park wind energy entrepreneur, Julie Meier Wright, California Department of Commerce director under Gov. Pete Wilson of San Diego; Dan Schnur, an Independent like Campbell and me; and director of the USC School of Public Policy and others secured secretary of state approval in August to begin collecting 66,000 voter signatures to qualify for California elections in 2020. It’s a party based upon fiscal discipline and social tolerance. Campbell is acting party chairman and Debbie Benray, a naturalized citizen formerly from Mexico, is acting vice chairwoman. We’ve amassed more than 15,000 signatures. There’s no deadline, but we aspire to qualify in 2020 to run three or four legislative candidates in districts without incumbents. After qualification, the Common Sense Party will hold a convention, adopt a platform and elect permanent officers. I cordially invite membership at 

As the son and husband of legal immigrants, I laud a July letter to the Wall Street Journal noting that Congress, especially Democrats, appears “determined to provide taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants.” A 2015 Rasmussen Report demonstrated 53 percent of registered Democrats would allow tax-paying illegal aliens to vote. That alarms me because another writer points to local, state and federal government costs of providing education, welfare benefits, healthcare and detention to illegal aliens. To enforce immigration laws doesn’t make us nativists who favor native residents. We support legal immigrants, legal immigration and border control. But, as Henry Adams observed: “Practical politics consist in ignoring facts.”

Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, member of the SF Ethics Commission and a retired judge.

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1 reply »

  1. I’m afraid the “Common Sense” party would be a spoiler. I’m all for common sense. In fact, my slogan for the Democrats would be “Common Sense for the Common Good”, something I’ve been pushing since Matt Bai asked what would make a good Dem. bumper sticker in 2002. But I’d rather see a “common sense” faction within the Dem. party than what you’re doing.


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