Moderates v. Progressives
The last column journalist Alan Saracevic wrote for the SF Examiner before he died in August discussed the deep divide in the Democratic Party that has existed in San Francisco for decades. There have been fights over transportation policies, elections, housing, law and order – almost all of them battles between moderate and progressive Democrats.
Moderate Democrats, who are liberal Democrats just about anywhere in the country except San Francisco, have always been the counterweight to the crazy ideas coming out of the progressive camp. Unfortunately, moderates have been on the losing end of some really important battles.
Progressives are on the far left ideological spectrum, bordering on socialism where city policy dictates what’s best for everyone and it’s their way or the highway. The progressives got organized in the late ’90s and took control of the DCCC, which gives the official endorsements for Democratic Party and supplies money to its candidates and propositions. That, coupled with district elections and the abomination that is ranked-choice voting, gave us what we have – a mayor and a majority of supervisors who couldn’t find their way out of a corn maze.
The City is littered with progressive failures we refuse to acknowledge:
• Rent control, the 800-pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about, which thwarts the construction of new housing and restricts the number of “in-law” units that could be on the market. (Excessive city fees amounting to $150,000 per unit of new construction hurts too).
• Transportation policies that favor a small vocal minority and make life difficult for the 90% or so of San Franciscans who need a vehicle to conduct their lives.
• An obsession with the homeless population to the detriment of everything else in the City, including adequate oversight of city government.
• Energy policies that call for more electric cars and appliances without considering where the energy to power all of these items will be coming from. (Some progressives say we may need “peaker” power plants to fill the gaps, which burns natural gas and takes us back to climate square one.)
• Gaming elections (especially by eliminating minority political parties and diluting the electorate’s vote via ranked-choice voting).
• A school board that cares more about renaming schools than getting our children safely back in class.
I know I’m using a broad brush here due to limited space, but I will share more of our City’s progressive fiascos in future columns.
Some old-line lefties from the Bay Guardian era still think the battle is between city residents and big downtown businesses. Nothing is farther from the truth.
The fight is between the progressives and the moderates fighting for the support of independent voters and those from other political parties.
Until city voters start electing reasonable, moderate candidates, we will continue down wrong roads – to the detriment of the people who live and work here.
Keep Elections as They Are
This month voters will start casting ballots for the Nov. 8 election. As usual, there are several controversial propositions and instances where elected officials are trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. Here are a couple local residents should keep an eye on.
Some members of the SF Board of Supervisors put Proposition H on the ballot, which calls for two years’ worth of votes for propositions and candidates to be crammed onto one ballot – another hare-brained idea.
Prop. H would move the election to select San Francisco’s mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney and treasurer to even-numbered years, so they could compete on the ballot with our state and nationally elected officials, including presidential races.
That’s too much on one ballot. Too much to digest. Not enough focus on our City.
There are always fewer votes on items that are at the bottom of the ballot list. With this super-ballot, half the voters might not get to the bottom. Imagine Proposition ZZ on the ballot and you get the idea.
It’s not good for democracy when the electorate is not as educated about the candidates and issues as it should be because it is overwhelmed with information. It also makes it more difficult for neighborhood organizations to get attention. Voters don’t need a single ballot with hundreds of candidates, 30 state measures and 40 city propositions.
This is an ugly power grab by cynical City Hall politicians who think a larger voter turnout will support their crazy causes.
Vote “no” on Proposition H.
Wait to See Future of Transportation
The SF County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), which is composed of the 11 members of the SF Board of Supervisors, is asking for a 30-year extension of a half-cent sales tax measure to raise $2.6 billion for transportation projects. The current sales tax is not due to expire until 2034, but the SFCTA wants to implement a new long-term transportation plan as part of the deal.
To improve transit, the SFCTA will use the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for many of the projects.
The SFMTA is famous for its Central Subway, Van Ness BRT and Muni Metro meltdowns, but let’s not forget its support for our Geary Boulevard merchants when they tried to tear up the center of the boulevard for bus lanes, and Taraval merchants who were told what was coming for the L-Taraval streetcar project, instead of being made a community partner in the process. Recently, the SFMTA put dozens of barriers on western Sloat Boulevard and Lincoln Way diverting local residents through a maze of obstructions to get home.
Prop. L would also allow the SFCTA to sell up to $1.9 billion in bonds to finance construction projects. That will end up costing taxpayers close to $4 billion after interest is paid – a poor way to run a city department.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, when transportation patterns are drastically changing, we can wait a couple of years to decide whether or not to extend the regressive half-cent sales tax.
Vote “no” on Proposition L.
Restore Park Roads
Despite the contentious issue of closed park roads being on the ballot, the general manager of the SF Recreation and Park Department, Phil Ginsburg, authorized crews to grind all of the roadway markings off of the eastern end of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park and for numerous murals to be painted on the roadway.
It is the height of arrogance for a city department head to spend an estimated $200,000 on actions that may have to be reversed in less than two months when city voters decide the fate of the closed roads.
Last month, I made a case for voting for Prop. I, which would open closed roads in Golden Gate Park and the Upper Great Highway as they were before the pandemic struck. Vote “yes” on Prop. I.
As for Prop. J, the poison-pill proposition four members of the SF Board of Supervisors put on the ballot to confuse voters, vote “no” on Prop. J.
Paul Kozakiewicz is an editor, and former publisher, with the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers.