Commentary: Quentin L. Kopp

Ballot Recommendations, II

In 1866, a joker noted: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” 

The California legislature adjourned Sept. 30, but the condescending SF Board of Supervisors reconvened after Labor Day, ready to repudiate good government at taxpayer expense and act imperialistically with its six-figure annual salary plus pension and medical benefits. 

One current example of its repudiation of civil behavior occurred June 24 with Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton who, after refusing to remove his belt while entering City Hall (like all other City Hall entrants for decades), berated Sheriff Cadet Emare Butler, asking Butler if he knew who Walton was (!) and poking at the glass window between them while loudly proclaiming “. . . its n—as like you who look like me that’s always the problem, it’s always my own people ….” After a deputy sheriff tried to stop Walton’s conduct by explaining the history of the rules, namely, Dan White’s 1978 assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall by a firearm, another deputy sheriff told Walton he was free to go. Walton repeated his City Hall status and threatened assault upon the cadet.

There are lessons, all bitter. It’s socially acceptable for a Black to use the so-called “N” word about another Black; Walton’s Board of Supervisors associates and San Francisco’s governing board refused to relieve his as board president or criticize him. Supervisor Aaron Peskin informed me by voicemail he would never vote to expel Walton as president and later criticized the unfortunate cadet as “applying the rules selectively to one supervisor.” Supervisor Myrna Melgar refused to condemn Walton while stating he should apologize to the cadet. Supervisor Matt Dorsey refused to comment substantively and declared everyone should “maintain a harassment-free workplace.” Only Mayor London Breed demanded Walton apologize for the slur. Did he? No. Instead, he threatened to “take legal action.” That’s local leadership for you. (Did I hear “double standard”?)

Meanwhile, the Nov. 8 general election looms. I’ve already noted in these pages last month endorsements of District Attorney Brooke Jenkins for election, Ann Hsu for Board of Education and John Rizzo for City College Board of Trustees re-election and “yes” on San Francisco ballot measures A (Retiree Supplemental Cost of Living Adjustment); B (Consolidation of Sanitation and Streets Department and Commission with Public Works Department); I, restoring vehicles on the Upper Great Highway and JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and N (Golden Gate Park Underground Parking Garage transfer from a private entity to the City and County). 

I also advocate strongly a “no” vote on Propositions C, another new bureaucracy, a Homelessness Oversight Commission, to add to 309 (!) existing unelected local board and commissions (our Board of Supervisors would abolish one commission, then add another); D (an initiative from Habitat for Humanity Greater SF opposed by Race and Equity in All Planning Coalition); E (Affordable Housing by the Board of Supervisors opposed by Grow SF), F (Library Preservation Fund which means taxation); G (Student Success, which seizes City and County money for the feckless School District and its union); H (City elections in even-numbered years), a Democratic Socialist act which would diminish voter concentration on mayoral, district attorney, city attorney, sheriff, assessor-recorder, supervisorial and treasurer-tax collector elections); J (a trick to bar reopening JFK Drive and the Upper Great Highway on weekdays to vehicles – see Proposition I); K (increasing gross receipts taxes again); L (a regressive sales tax on those least able to pay), unlike an income tax, for example, this tax has been misused since origination as Proposition K in 2003 for boondoggles like the 1.6-mile Central Subway, which was promoted as costing $647 million with only $126 million from local sales taxpayers and now five years late on the promised completion date. There exists about 25 million square feet of vacant downtown office space with market value thereof declining about 43% since 2020. The entire Central Subway cost is now almost $2 billion and the Geary Boulevard project constitutes a fallacy. Prop. L requires a 66-2/3% affirmative vote to pass. The farebox recovery ratio, of the Muni, which measures efficiency and usage, hasn’t been calculated since 2019 by the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Ridership has dwindled. It is premature to renew this tax for 30 years. Vote “no” on L! Proposition M, a tax on vacant residential units, represents “only in San Francisco.” Don’t blame City Hall; it’s an initiative from tax lovers and merits rejection. Prop. O imposes continuation of an additional parcel tax for mismanaged City College. The current parcel tax hasn’t even expired; a parcel tax is devilish, imposing the same charge on a residential lot as on a commercial lot, which comprises money-making real estate. Vote “no.”

Statewide ballot measures present lesser head-scratching. More emanate from special interest initiatives than wily legislators. I’ll vote “yes” only on Proposition 1, a state constitutional amendment to enshrine existing statutory abortion rights approved by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970. I oppose Prop. 31, a referendum to repeal the 2020 statute prohibiting retail sale of specified flavored tobacco. I recommend voting “no” on Propositions 26 and 27 allowing gambling on Tribal Lands (26) and online and Mobile Sports Wagering Outside Tribal Lands (27) under our State Constitution. (In 1987, then-Gov. George Deukmejian and I led the opposition to casinos on Tribal Land); Prop. 28, which would require the legislature to appropriate $1 billion annually for arts and music in public schools (another special fund initiative); Proposition 29, a two-time loser in previous election, which requires on-site medical doctors or assistants to be present for treatment at an outpatient dialysis clinic. It’ll run up patient costs unnecessarily and lacks any physician support. Proposition 30 raises the top tier of the state income tax, basically to subsidize for 20 years electric vehicle buyers and charging station users in a state with already the highest income tax rate in the U.S.A. It benefits Lyft, a special interest which has donated more than $15 million to the initiative campaign. Vote “no.” 

 Of interest to me as a longtime registered Independent (now called “No Party Preference” per legislation by the apprehensive Democratic-controlled state legislature with Republican assistance), I find relevant a national poll last month which found 68% of Americans don’t believe they have a say in their government, and 62% of Americans believe a new political party is needed with a fresh perspective.

To conclude my last month’s report of another Board of Education illegal act last August creating two school holidays based upon Muslim holy days, the demand by Paul Scott, Esq., representing the S.F. Taxpayers Association, for repeal of such action led the School District to save face by deciding to delay any implementation this school year. I also confess error in representing public school enrollment at 38,000. Commissioner Ann Hsu informs me enrollment is about 48,000 in a city of approximately 815,000 residents.

I conclude with the late George Bernard Shaw’s 1930 observation: “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” Vote early and often on 8 November.

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

5 replies »

  1. Oh come on Quentin, you are quoting a national poll without providing the source. Which poll? Are you cherry picking or just being careless with your words?

    Then you spend nearly 3 paragraphs talking about how supervisor Walton was upset because he perceived that he was getting frisked more often then other people who did not have his skin color. Whether that is true or not really doesn’t matter, because that was the reason he reacted the way he did, not because he felt entitled, which is why the board of supervisors didn’t vote to expel him. They knew the back story. And you probably do too, but of course, both you and London Breed have to play politics and ignore the back story.

    Funny how you pretend to be an independent. Co-opting the word liberty just like every moniker of the Republican brand that pops it’s head up with drivel about freedom and good government. Liberty or freedom is whatever you declare to be in the best interests of the tax-payers — uhm I mean wealthy donors and their hired minions who give you the political talking points that you and your ilk endlessly spew trying to convince the rest of the non-wealthy that you have principles. Which is why you ignore Miss Brooke’s $150,000 plus payment by the non-profit branch of the LLC that orchestrated the recall — and instead focus on how Supervisor Walton used the N-word because he had emotions.

    Last I checked, getting upset over emotions is not the same thing as being upset about corruption. You seem confused on that point Mr. Kopp and then you pretend to care about “good” government. But that’s been your entire career. A front man with a brand name behind which the wealthy donors hide and their hired typesetters provide the contrived talking points.

    A joker inquired, “No person’s liberty is safe while the charlatan’s are given free reign to gaslight the people with specious derelict balderdash” ~ Me.


  2. Mr. Kopp was always a good public servant and well respected. His voice always carried a well thought out responce to the need of the people. He happen to be very conservative, yetI happen to be liberal.


  3. Oh so when Quentin Kopp stole all of the Guardian papers when someone dared to publish a criticism of his hypocrisy back in the day — because he cannot stand criticism — I suppose you think that’s because he’s just a good public servant, rather than a charlatan that is irritated when other’s remind him of his shadow.

    This has been a constant theme of Mr. Kopp throughout his years.
    “A little over a year into my tenure at The Chronicle, I’d been initiated. For journalists, receiving an angry handwritten letter about usage from Quentin Kopp is a rite of passage, badge of honor and battle scar. Some of my colleagues have accumulated a whole stack of Kopp’s furious epistles.”

    What I said about Kopp’s 2 paragraphs on the Walton incident and lack of anything about the $150,000 plus payment to Miss Brooke still stands untarnished. If you want to call carrying tropes “a well thought out responce (sic) to the need (sic) of the people” — okay that’s cool. But I beg to differ, and I explained why.


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