In his most recent column, your conservative, libertarian commentator Quintin Kopp distorts the facts to suit his opinions.
First of all, Proposition C, which would have banned recalls early and late into a term, was designed to prevent taxpayers from being stuck with a huge bill for a recount (when an election is in the near future or if demagogues attempt a recall early into a term). This saves taxpayers money and prevents the type of abuses of the process we have seen.
A measure simply preventing petition signatures from being paid would accomplish the same purpose but would be subject to lengthy legal litigation by our dissolute “libertarian” elites. The Board of Education recall cost taxpayers $2.3 million. This is money that might have been better spent on teacher salaries, funding for materials (which teachers now have to dip into their salaries to pay for) and smaller class sizes (which would improve outcomes).
Secondly, I do not understand how much Quintin Kopp believes that legislative aides should be paid. He seems to believe that they and the supervisors they work for should work free of charge. There are not too many supervisors but too few, as our population has skyrocketed. Within the context of a $13 billion budget, the salaries are hardly a hardship, and everything is quite expensive here. Especially if they are trying to raise and educate a family.
Ex-Supervisor Kopp makes a good point in that the Board should be given more executive powers and greater power over Commission appointments. Willie Brown’s “strong mayor” legislation took away considerable powers, and he called the Board his “mistresses.” It is ridiculous that the Board cannot amend legislation promulgated by our inflexible, neoliberal mayor: They can only vote it up and down!
Former Supervisor Kopp is correct in believing that tax dollars should be appropriately spent. An ombudsman, an environmental commission, and more supervisors (with five aides each) would be more expensive, yet perhaps prevent innumerable boondoggles (the kobans, the subway to nowhere, the Van Ness project, etc.). But that will only work if plutocrats are somehow prevented from buying elections.
District Elections were designed to provide better input to residents. However, because corporate conservatives have been able to game the system, they have largely failed in that task. We need to rein in and curtail the influence of the tyranny of a few (Michael Moritz, Sachin Agarawal, Arthur Rock, David Sacks, etc.), as well as reform and democratize the self-serving, anti-democratic “nonprofits,” controlled by the wealthy and well-connected, in order to see improvements.
Do not hold your breath!
Harry S. Pariser
Categories: letter to the editor