Commentary

Commentary: Quentin L. Kopp

End Recology’s Monopoly

“The phenomenon of corruption is like the garbage. It has to be removed daily.” 

So stated Ignacio Pichardo Pagaza, comptroller of Mexico, on April 17, 1987, in the New York Times. 

Because of persistent disregard of the vox populi, the three new Board of Education commissioners were appointed last month by Mayor London Breed who promises implicitly that the San Francisco Unified School District will somehow conquer a budget deficit of more than $125 million. Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, predicts the recall of those commissioners “will have major national repercussions” adding that a cultural rebellion within the Democratic Party has begun. A letter writer then speculated that maybe the recall occurred because of pandemic virtual teaching which showed critical race theory curriculum to parents. 

Public school enrollment continues to dwindle below 50,000, although the City’s population increased from 805,235 in 2010 to 873,965 in 2020. As a knowledgeable San Francisco native, David Cuadro of Midtown Terrace has observed, that there may be more dogs in our metropolis than children. 

As I’ve reminded readers, before busing pupils from neighborhood elementary schools commenced in 1970, enrollment exceeded 92,000! Despite the inanity of doing so the School District continues to waste taxpayer money on busing, using a “lottery” for which parents must express their first five choices for their children’s kindergarten to high school education.

On June 7, voters will decide whether to recall the “fighting” district attorney whose departure from public office may constitute a significant precursor for a November election regarding another Bay Area politician and supporter of criminal justice reforms. Rob Bonta, seeks retention as attorney general after appointment by Governor Newsom. District Attorney Boudin strongly supports San Francisco’s pretrial system despite its deplorable consequences. A comprehensive study by a respected “think tank” showed that 55% of inmates granted release while awaiting trial in San Francisco were arrested for another crime and one in six allegedly committed a violent crime. Bonta faces a competitive race, especially if Sacramento D.A. Anne Marie Schubert, an Independent like me, and well known for locating and prosecuting the Golden State rapist, reaches the November general election. 

Meanwhile, Boudin doubles down on his background, evidenced last month by Bernadine Dohrn’s appearance at his campaign rally at Alamo Square Park. For younger readers, Dohrn founded the Weather Underground of which Boudin’s parents were leaders before their imprisonment for bank robbery and murder of a security guard.

For those interested in recalls, be advised that Supervisor Aaron Peskin sponsored a Charter amendment for the June 7 election, “Proposition C,” which should be labeled The Incumbent Protection Act and rejected. The California Constitution, since 1914, provides a method of enabling voters to remove an elected officer. The late Governor Hiram Johnson, a genuine Progressive, sponsored it. Article II, section 13 of California’s Constitution grants proponents 160 days to file signed petitions by electors equal in number to 12% of the last vote for the office, except for senators, assembly and Board of Equalization members and appellate and trial court judges; signatures must equal 20% of the last vote for those offices. A recall election may be conducted after six months of someone taking office. 

Supervisor Peskin and comrades seek revision of our Charter which contains similar provisions by doubling the time to 12 months for officials to be free from recall and adds a new 18-month period during which they are also exempt! 

Another provision requires recall voting at a regularly scheduled election, which is almost always less than two years away. Therefore, for 42 months of a four-year, 48-month term, City Hall beauties are free from recall. The San Francisco Taxpayers Association and other civic groups oppose Proposition C.

Supervisor Peskin, however, has spearheaded Proposition F which happily begins the process of protecting garbage collection ratepayers by undoing a 1932 ordinance that effectively granted Recology, Inc.’s predecessor a monopoly on trash and recycling. Proposition F is supported by all 11 Supervisors and Mayor Breed. Once it passes and the 90-year-old ordinance is repealed, Peskin and his confederates can pass an ordinance requiring competitive bidding for those valuable city contracts. 

Incidentally, a published letter to the editor in the Sunset Beacon alleges I incorrectly attributed the 2017 Recology rate overcharging to City Controller, Ben Rosenfield. Recology again is wrong. An April 14, 2021, Public Integrity Review by the Controller’s office found errors and omissions in Recology’s garbage rate increase application and approval process, resulting in criminal convictions by the U.S. Attorney, including Paul Giusti, Recology’s government and community relations manager. On March 4 2021 Recology settled a civil suit by paying $100 million in refunds to ratepayers for refuse collection rates through June 2021, resulting in lower rates effective April 1, 2021. The controller recommended impliedly repeal of the 1932 Refuse Collection and Disposal Initiative Ordinance which is “Proposition F.” 

Speaking of roadways built with money from state and federal gasoline taxpayers, Governor Newsom advocates refunding $400 to each such taxpayer while legislators demand limiting the $400 to those earning only $125,000 yearly or less. Refreshing memories, California’s gasoline tax is 51.1 cents per gallon plus 2.5 cents sales tax, while federal taxation adds 18.4 cents per gallon, totaling 72 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation. A few blessed souls at the State Capitol advocate simply reducing the state gas tax in light of California’s surplus. I’ll bet that will never happen. The Wall Street Journal noted on March 24 introduction by three House Democrats, including my onetime State Senate colleague and friend, Mike Thompson of Napa County, of the Gas Rebate Act of 2022 to refund a $100 check in any month this year that the national average gas price tops $4 per gallon plus $100 for dependents. Some rebate! 

“It’s a government check to pay for higher gas prices caused in large part by the government.” And some wag chuckles over “That’s the spectacle of climate-change warriors suddenly trying to subsidize fossil-fuel consumption.”

To readers, I transmit best wishes for Easter and Purim, and happy spring, remembering: “April signifies Aphrodite month, the goddess of love and beauty.”

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

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