Commentary

Commentary – Quentin Kopp

Vote Judiciously in March

By Quentin Kopp

As the March 3 primary election looms large – or small, depending upon your outlook – my voting recommendations clamor (in my mind) for expression. It was once observed: “An election year is when a lot of politicians get free speech mixed up with cheap talk.” 

The local measures and candidacies in our “one-party” jurisdiction include three judgeship elections without incumbents. I’ve interviewed and endorsed three candidates whose credentials justify success. 

Pang Va Ly, Esq., is a remarkable woman, Chinese-American, born in Vietnam. Her parents succeeded through Lutheran church sponsorship in escaping Vietnam by water for Springfield, Missouri with their five children. Ms. Ly graduated from the University of Missouri and then Missouri School of Law. She practiced law in the county prosecutor’s office, then a national law firm in St. Louis before getting married, and moving to San Francisco. Her husband and she live in Dolores Heights. After a stint as an assistant district attorney, she was appointed by San Francisco Superior Court judges as a court commissioner. For more than three years, she has presided in Small Claims Court, Traffic Court and special courts at 400 McAllister St.

Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, Esq. constitutes the far better candidate for a second vacant Superior Court office, with strong experience as a Marin County prosecutor and Rent Board administrative judge. 

Kulvindar “Rani” Singh, Esq. merits support for the third vacant judicial office. She was promoted to supervising attorney in the district attorney’s office, compiling about 20 years of trial experience. I recommend Ms. Proudfoot and Ms. Singh unreservedly. (If you practice “diversity and inclusion,” Proudfoot is Chinese. Her husband, Mr. Proudfoot, is from a Scottish family. Singh is Indian.) 

The remaining legislative offices on the ballot aren’t worth attention except perhaps to ensure Republican John Dennis succeeds in attaining general election status in November by placing second behind Nancy Pelosi to thwart a radical Democratic candidate who would deprive voters of any realistic choice in November.

Of four local ballot measures, only one warrants affirmation, namely, Proposition C, which provides retiree health benefits for former San Francisco Housing Authority employees. Proposition A is a City College $845 million potpourri bond for “job training, repair and earthquake safety.” With interest over 30 years, taxpayers, including renters, would pay $1.5 billion or more, depending on interest rates. I don’t trust the  City College administration or board of trustees, except Ivy Lee, to spend taxpayer money judiciously, without waste. I’m voting “no.” 

Proposition B is in the same category as an “earthquake safety and emergency response” $412 million bond, which means more than $720 million with interest, payable by taxpayers to bond owners. Lacking confidence in City Hall administration, I recommend a “no” vote. Let’s see City Hall complete the vaunted Van Ness Avenue Muni Railway and Central Subway projects before authorizing additional debt. 

Proposition D emblemizes the most illogical tax of all, assessing a levy on commercial property owners with empty space for more than 182 days per year, starting at $250 per linear foot in 2021, increasing to $1,000 in 2023. It applies to 40 neighborhood commercial districts, including Lakeside Village, Geary Boulevard and Noriega Street. I don’t know landlords who purposely allow commercial vacancies for more than 182 days annually. The legality of this proposed tax is doubtful after a California Court of Appeals decision involving the city of Rialto in Southern California. Reject Proposition D, which requires 66.7% vote to pass. 

Proposition E, sponsored by Tenants and Owners Development Corporation, effectively continues a policy enacted by voters in 1986. I supported that policy then; I do so now. Vote “Yes” on E. 

Besides presidential and legislative candidates, there’s but one state ballot measure, cutely labeled Proposition 13, which authorizes $15 billion in state general obligation bonds for public education facilities. It will cost about $740 million per year, including interest, to repay over 35 years. That means more state general fund taxes. Hidden in the language is a doubling of allowable local education bonds to increase that borrowing by more than 60% to qualify for money from this unworthy state bond. As stated by opponents: “Unlike the original Proposition 13 from 1978, this Proposition 13 puts all taxpayers at risk of higher taxes.” Thanks to former-Gov. Jerry Brown, the state possesses a $22 billion surplus, which could be used for the same purposes without borrowing. Vote “no” on Proposition 13.

One last note: After the incumbent supervisor from the Richmond District announced she wouldn’t seek reelection, the “city family” struck again. A political aide to a San Mateo assemblyman who’s only worked for government as a City College, then Recreation and Park Department flack and aide to a former supervisor, a present supervisor, and a former district attorney, announced her candidacy, endorsed by the incumbent, her boss. Another City Hall tax-eater, defeated in 2016 for the same office, and a “senior advisor” to the mayor, considers running as I write. District election of supervisors, an ignoble idea, supposedly was intended to produce everyday citizen candidates, not government hacks. It’s farcical. Thomas Jefferson wisely stated: “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes, the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

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


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