Commentary: Quentin L. Kopp

Recapture Board of Education

In 1874, House of Commons member Benjamin Disraeli declared: “Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.” In the Nov. 9, 2021 Wall Street Journal, columnist Gerard Baker contemplated “sanity re-asserting itself” in the United States.  He identified “lunacy” in our country as:  “The capture of the public discourse by the lunacy of righteous wokery, in which math is racist, logic is a tool of white supremacy, merit is privilege and mothers are ‘birthing people.’”

On Feb. 15, 2022, San Francisco voters will have the opportunity to recapture the Board of Education by recalling Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, and Faauuga Moliga. A stirring campaign to do so is led by such eminent San Francisco public school graduates as former University of San Francisco School of Law dean and Harvard College alumnus John Trasvina and Autumn Looijen who, with others, deserve plaudits for their unsung demonstration of civic pride and rectitude in the face of elected officials who display lack of fealty to the law.  

I refer to all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors who enacted an ordinance, signed by the mayor last month, allowing non-citizens to vote in recall elections regarding members of the Board of Education. These are the same supervisors who represent only 1/11 of City and County residents but are paid $140,000 per year by taxpayers and are rarely found in their offices. They also, despite the paucity of residents in supervisorial districts, hired at taxpayers’ expense, five so-called legislative assistants who receive $129,000 per year from the same taxpayers who, if telephoning a supervisorial office, must leave their name and contact information by voicemail because the aides, like their bosses, are rarely at City Hall or elsewhere available to local taxpayers. The aides incidentally did not qualify through civil service regulations but garner retirement and health benefits like civil service employees who must pass examinations and demonstrate prior good conduct.

Additionally, more criminal charges were brought last month in the U.S. District Court by the U.S. attorney against a Department of Building Inspection commissioner and former building inspector because the misplaced district attorney (Chesa Boudin) won’t do it.  His misconduct as a prosecutor contributes to surges in burglaries and car break-ins and he will also face irate voters for recall from office on June 7, 2022.  More than 83,000 San Francisco voters signed petitions this year to do so. The recall is led by Mary Chung, former Democratic County Central Committee chairwoman, and Andrea Shorter, a Democratic Party worker and former chair of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.  

At press time, justice has still not been done concerning the woman arrested on June 26 by Taraval Station police officers for battery, terrorist threats, malicious mischief, and vandalism on St. Francis Boulevard and San Leandro Way while the female victim was collecting voter signatures to recall the “fighting” D.A. Because the deplorable incident occurred in pursuing the recall, Boudin referred the prosecution to the California attorney general. The requisite preliminary hearing in San Francisco Superior Court for alleged felonies occurred has not happened yet, which may be a blessing because assuming a judicial finding that the aforementioned crimes all or in part were committed, the trial date may occur before the recall election. Even the left-wing Chronicle and Examiner might then publicize the trial. A conviction would aid recall activists on June 7.  

Taxpayers, be advised the State of California now possesses a $31 billion surplus, exceeding the amount permitted by California’s Constitution, which will result in rebates to taxpayers under Article XIII of the State Constitution.  After Proposition 13 was passed by voters in June 1978, a government spending limitation was also enacted by taxpayers in 1990, requiring 50% of all revenues received by the state in excess of the amount which may be appropriated be returned by a revision of the tax rate or fee schedules within two subsequent fiscal years. Can you imagine the consternation at the State Capitol?  

California isn’t alone. Last month, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment to reduce individual and corporate tax rates and simplify the tax code. A certified public accountant in Florida notes in a letter to The Wall Street Journal that a Florida county generated a $100 million surplus which will be returned as a tax credit in some percentage to taxpayers who can spend it locally.  That’s a better return on the money (compare sales tax) than stagnating in a “governmental-controlled money-market fund, making 1/10th of 1%.”  Another magazine writer observed in September that earmarks in the “infrastructure” Congressional bill include deduction of union dues from members’ income, a 15% tax credit for buying an electric bicycle, a $7,500 credit for buying an electric car, a $2,500 credit for buying used electric vehicles (meaning a tax break when you buy a Tesla and then when you sell it) and exempting “local news journalists” from the employer’s payroll tax (every other worker must pay the payroll tax).

Incidentally, Alabama, Iowa, and Louisiana are the only states allowing taxpayers to deduct 100% of their federal income tax payment from state taxes.  California’s state sales tax is the highest in the country. So is the gasoline tax at 67 cents per gallon. California business taxes are the third highest in the nation.  

I’m reminded of President Thomas Jefferson’s 1808 letter to a friend:  “The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects forbids it in the dispensation of the public monies.”

Note that last February the Oregon Department of Education told teachers to take the course “Dismantling Racism in Mathematics.”  The course counsels teachers that the “focus in getting the ‘right answer’ and require students to show and work” are “toxic characteristics of white supremacy outlier.”  Moreover, teachers must not “perpetuate objectivity” by “upholding the idea … there are always right and wrong answers.”  That reminded me of the ACLU in October deciding that “women” should be replaced by the word “people” because it’s a “bad word.”  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has adopted such degenderizing, calling pregnant women “pregnant people,” “persons” or “individuals.” A medical doctor wag informed readers that in 50 years delivering more than 10,000 babies he’s “yet to see one born to a biological male ….” As president of Princeton University in 1907, Woodrow Wilson stated at a time I thought was different from 2021:  “We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its role but even of its direction.  There are  … few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose.  We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.”  

As I conclude my humble but not always obedient 2021 commentary, I do so hoping that Chanukah, then Christmas and then 2022 will be happy, healthy, spirited and vigorous with New Year freshness to alleviate our troubles and restore respect for our nation’s history and future.

Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, member of the SF Ethics Commission and retired judge. Find an archive of Quentin L. Kopp’s columns at

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