Commentary: Quentin L. Kopp

Help Make the World Safer

“So, let us not be blind to our differences – let us also direct attention to our common interest and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” 

Thus spoke President John F. Kennedy at the American University in Washington D.C. on June 10, 1963, at its commencement. 

Inescapably true as we confront Vladimir Putin who wants restoration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and lies in claiming Ukraine was historically part of Russia, and that Kyiv and Moscow are sister cities of the same country! His closest American counterpart, Donald Trump, disregards 42 million Ukrainians by lauding Putin’s “genius” in invading Ukraine last month. Having lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan hostilities, I urge readers to divest themselves of any reverence or respect for Trump, a draft-dodger, who could demolish the Republican Party in 2024. 

High-Speed Rail

While local general circulation San Francisco newspapers ignore how wasteful the California High Speed Rail project has become, the High-Speed Rail Authority published last month its latest biannual business plan, admitting a cost of $105 billion to build an electrified route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. 

I’ve publicly and angrily conceded guilt for creating the Authority as state senator in 1996 and chairing the 2008 ballot measure campaign to authorize $9.95 billion for state general obligation bonds to commence construction. I served as Authority board of directors’ chairman from 2006 until 2009 to ensure taxpayer approval, which includes a ballot measure prohibition of any subsidization by taxpayers of operating costs after commencement of service from here to Los Angeles, and thereafter to San Diego to the south, and from Merced to Sacramento in the Central Valley. 

Under successive governors, the Authority’s governing board approved construction from Merced to Bakersfield early this decade without electrification. No track has yet been laid and 10% of land parcels needed for the segment have not been purchased. Moreover, $4.2 billion  of the voter-approved G.O. bonds have not been authorized by the legislature for sale. Former President Barack Obama provided about $3.5 billion for the project. Trump then revoked roughly $1 billion thereof, which has been restored by President  Joe Biden’s administration. Will Mr. Biden throw more money at the project? I doubt Congress will authorize that. 


Locally, voters on June 7 will finally be furnished an opportunity to begin the demise of the Recology, Inc. garbage collection monopoly. I praised Supervisor Aaron Peskin last month for introducing two alternative ballot measures to repeal a 1932 voter-approved ordinance which ultimately enabled Recology’s monopoly. One measure would allow voters on June 7 to repeal the 1932 ordinance and require a competitive bidding process, like all other Peninsula cities do. The other ordinance, supported by all supervisors and the mayor would only repeal the 1932 ordinance, thus allowing the Board and mayor later to effectuate a competitive bidding ordinance. Instead of proceeding with the first such measure, the author elected to proceed with the second, claiming to your faithful writer that otherwise, Recology, with its billions of dollars, would outspend monopoly opponents and simple rate payers who are being overcharged every month. 

The full board of supervisors will vote on March 1, probably by the time you read this column. Supervisor Peskin defensively declared to this columnist that if that ballot measure is approved by voters, the board of supervisors could, as soon as 10 days later, enact an ordinance to require competitive bidding for garbage collection, recycling and so called “organic” pick up. I encourage readers to join the San Francisco Taxpayers Association and me in so advocating after approving the ballot measure. 

Supreme Court

Last month President Biden, a Syracuse University Law School graduate, announced his appointment of a replacement for Justice Stephen Breyer – another distinguished Lowell High School graduate ­– on the U.S. Supreme Court, namely, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. President Biden, an evident expert at “identity politics,” had announced during his presidential campaign that he would appoint an African-American woman to the Supreme Court. That means exclusion of Jews, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics, Whites and males of any type. 

While Judge Jackson, based upon her education at the same law school from which I graduated, and record as a former U.S. District Court judge and presently a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, appears extremely well qualified, it’s regrettable to national principles and history that the president had to make a campaign promise to nominate only a Black woman to the Supreme Court. The Feb. 18 edition of “The Week” magazine described Georgetown Law School students requesting a specific place to “break down and cry” after a lecture questioned the wisdom of President Biden vowing to nominate only a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Black students told the law school’s dean the suspension of the lecturer, Ilya Shapiro, wasn’t enough and that “reparations” should include a crying center. I kid you not.

Natural Gas

Current City Hall staff has a multi-page budget analyst’s report, to satisfy the Board of Supervisors’ claims that homes using natural gas must now be electrified to reduce San Francisco’s gas emissions. The cost to homeowners and other property owners is about $6 billion. Two Richmond District residents, Jeff Wayman, of whom I was once a neighbor, and Brian Adler, have organized San Franciscans To Save Natural Gas In Our Homes, a grassroots organization. They note unavailable “clean” energy sources, infrastructure improvements and physical limitations if such a policy is created, and expose the need for PG&E to provide at least 260% more electricity. Their goal is to provide essential facts to working-class families and develop rational policies about natural gas if City Hall tries to ban it. Contact them at 

Archibald Macleish on May 30, 1960, in an essay in Life Magazine and The New York Times, said:

“There are those, I know, who will reply that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is. It is the American Dream.” 

So stated. 

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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