Commentary: Quentin Kopp

Mixed Election Results

By Quentin Kopp

On election eve, Nov. 3, 1952, the Democratic candidate for president, Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois declared: “Looking back, I am content. Win or lose, I have told you the truth as I see it. I have said what I meant and meant what I said. I have not done as well as I should like to have done, but I have done my best, frankly and forthrightly; no man can do more, and you are entitled to no less.”  

As many Americans cogitate whether President Donald Trump (who was thumped) will appear on Jan. 20 for the installation of Joseph Biden as president, we should be satisfied with a customary American national election, ignoring the pollsters and mainstream media who diminish elections.

In San Francisco, every tax increase (real estate, transfer tax, parcel tax, half billion dollar [with interest] bond issue) succeeded, together with an attack on police, entitlement of illegal aliens to membership on 127 local commissions and two additional commissions for City government.  In District 7, despite Joel Engardio accruing the most first-place votes for supervisor, the third-place finisher, Myrna Melgar, employed ranked choice voting to win.  RCV, as wags call it, fosters rapacious results without saving money from the customary runoff between the top two candidates if no one gets 50%. It doesn’t lead to a concession candidate, and fringe candidates run to manipulate the election and not to win. 

In 2011, 16 San Francisco mayoral candidates caused 12 rounds of elimination to produce the winner. In a four-candidate race, the fourth-place finisher can, with his/her second choice votes, push the first or second candidates to victory, while poor number three is ignored. Burlington, Vermont, hometown of its former mayor and current Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, adopted RCV in 2009. Voters repealed it in 2010. 

A runoff produces a winner with a majority, not a plurality of voters.  District 7 is now plagued with a supervisor who supports disbanding the Police Department, abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and, of course, a district attorney (Chesa Boudin) who’s a public defender by experience and spirit. 

Reiteration of Government 101 should remind readers the state and federal gasoline taxes we pay are user fees, funding construction and maintenance of city streets, county roads, state and federal highways, not summer work programs, bicycle lanes or road closures.  Banning cars from the Upper Great Highway means more automobiles and trucks on nearby neighborhood streets and consequent accidents, fines and damages. City Hall, beginning with Dianne Feinstein in the 1980s, uses its state gas tax revenue for summer work programs and non-street City Hall projects. There isn’t a single supervisor who cares that gas taxpayers subsidize such government spending. Certainly, the Municipal Transportation Agency doesn’t, while confessing to ineptitude. Last month its director admitted the Central Subway Project, which commenced in 2010, won’t finish until 2022! That 1.6 mile boondoggle, created by the rapacious Rose Pak and Willie Brown, won’t cost just $1.6 billion.  The cost is now about $4 billion.  

The Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project, commenced in 2012, possesses no completion date to justify its promised result, namely, saving five minutes on Muni bus rides.  

San Francisco isn’t alone in ravaging taxpayers. Honolulu doesn’t have money sufficient to finish a $9.1 billion 20-mile rail line which broke ground in 2011 to operate from Waipahu to downtown unless it secures $423.5 million in this decade for the final four miles.

City College of San Francisco is not the City and County of San Francisco, although the supervisors and mayor apparently believe city government taxpayers, not the federal government, are responsible for City College’s voracious disregard for generic higher education.  Last July, its governing board approved a new degree in “cannabis studies,” bragging that it’s the first in the United States. Students majoring in the Cannabis Studies Associate of Arts degree will undergo three cannabis classes and additional electives like drug wars, magic, witchcraft, religion and criminal justice under the Behavioral Sciences Department.  The trustees obviously count on President-elect Biden to provide the money. Mark P. Mills, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow, on another subject observed: “How long taxpayers tolerate such scale of subsidies is the pernicious question of the decade.”

State ballot measure results, however, furnish me hope for California. Proposition 15 (changing assessment of commercial and industrial property as a foundation to repeal Proposition 13 protection for homeowners and tenants) lost. So did Proposition 16, 57% to 43%, which would have reinstated preferential treatment and discrimination on account of race, sex or national origin in public education, public employment and public contracts. State usurpation of local rent control (Proposition 21) was rejected, U.S. and Constitutional criminal bail rights were resoundingly approved by voters who rejected Proposition 25, despite the legislative one-party nature of California. It reminds me that Rosa Luxemburg, a Polish Marxist, in January 1919 proclaimed: “Freedom … only for the member of one party, is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.”  

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy New Year to all.

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

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