Friends, Romans, Republicans:


Welcome to the Granick Slate Card for the November 6, 2012 National Election.  I missed the last opportunity to opine on all things voting because I didn’t have the time to do the kind of analysis I like.  This year is no different, but rather than sitting out, I’ll just be terse, under the theory that one should not let the perfect be the enemy of the Done. So, without further ado, the picks.




Barack Obama: On the issues that are closest to my professional heart — government surveillance and due process – Barack Obama has been just awful.  But I will be volunteering to call voters to get out the vote and I will be voting for him. I’ve come to see that this is no time for complacency, even if your support is lukewarm.  Romney is a disastrous liar and the Republicans are horrific on women’s rights.




Proposition 30. YES

Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding — State of California (Initiative Constitutional Amendment – Majority Approval Required)


Should the California Constitution be amended to (a) temporarily increase sales and personal income tax rates; (b) guarantee certain revenue transfers to local governments; and (c) eliminate state funding of certain mandates to local governments?


If this doesn’t pass, we will have three less weeks of public school next year.


Proposition 31. NO


State Budget. State and Local Government — State of California (Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should the state constitution and law be amended to require government performance reviews and two-year budget cycles, to prohibit the Legislature from creating certain expenditures unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified, and to make changes in certain responsibilities of local government, the Legislature and the Governor?

Proposition 32. NO!!


Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)


Should unions, corporations, government contractors and state and local government employers be prohibited from using payroll-deducted funds, or in some instances their own funds, for political expenditures?


This is an effort to hobble organized labor and other left-associated forces from participating in government.


Proposition 33. NO


Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should automobile insurance companies be permitted to offer a discount to drivers who have continuously maintained their insurance coverage, even if they change their insurance company?


We voted against this before, in June of 2010. Its mostly funded by insurance companies that want more flexibility in pricing.


Proposition 34. YES

Death Penalty — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should the death penalty be repealed and replaced with life imprisonment without possibility of parole when someone is convicted of murder with specified special circumstances?


It’s the moral thing to do, and the money saved will go to solving otherwise unsolved murders and rapes.


Proposition 35. NO


Human Trafficking. Penalties — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)


Should the definition of human trafficking be expanded, penalties for traffickers be increased, convicted sexual traffickers be required to register as sex offenders, and additional training for law enforcement officers be required?


There’s no need to expand the definition of these crimes.



Proposition 36. YES


Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should California law be amended to provide that a life sentence should not be imposed for a third felony conviction unless the third conviction is for a serious or violent felony?


Right now, we incarcerate people for life for stealing and other non-serious felonies.  This would fix that.


Proposition 37. YES


Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should labeling be required on foods containing genetically modified ingredients when such foods (whether raw or processed, plant or animal) are offered for sale to consumers in California?


We have a right to know


Proposition 38. NO


Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should California’s personal income tax rates be increased during 2013-24 to provide funds for public schools, early childhood education programs, and state debt payments?


This is a sloppy measure put on the ballot to interfere with Prop 30, on which you should vote yes.  If both pass, the one with the most votes wins, so make sure to vote no here.


Proposition 39. YES


Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)

Should the California tax code be changed to require multistate firms to pay income taxes based on a percentage of their sales in California, with roughly half of the resulting tax increase to be used to fund clean/efficient energy projects for five years?


This would incentive businesses to locate in and bring jobs to California, as currently companies locate outside the state to avoid the in-state California tax. Half of money goes to renewable energy for 5 years, expected to raise $1B/year.


Proposition 40. YES


Redistricting. State Senate Districts — State of California (Referendum – Majority Approval Required)

Should the current state Senate districts be retained?


A yes doesn’t change anything



San Francisco Propositions:


Proposition A. NO


City College is mismanaged, it doesn’t need more money now. It needs to be fixed first.


City College Parcel Tax — San Francisco County (Parcel Tax – 2/3 Approval Required)

To provide City College of San Francisco with funds the State cannot take away; offset budget cuts; prevent layoffs; provide an affordable, quality education for students; maintain essential courses including, but not limited to, writing, math, science, and other general education; prepare students for four-year universities; provide workforce training including, but not limited to, nursing, engineering, technology, and business; and keep college libraries, student support services, and other instructional support open and up to date; shall the San Francisco Community College District levy 79 dollars per parcel annually for eight years requiring independent audits and citizen oversight?


Proposition B. YES


Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond — San Francisco County (Bond – 2/3 Approval Required)

SAN FRANCISCO CLEAN AND SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS BOND, To improve the safety and quality of neighborhood parks across the city and waterfront open spaces, enhance water quality and clean up environmental contamination along the Bay, replace unsafe playgrounds, fix restrooms, improve access for the disabled, and ensure the seismic safety of park and recreation facilities, shall the City and County of San Francisco issue $195 million dollars in General Obligation bonds, subject to independent oversight and regular audits?


Proposition C. YES


Housing Trust Fund — San Francisco County (Charter Amendment – Majority Approval Required)

Shall the City amend its Charter to: create a Housing Trust Fund that supports affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income households; and change the affordable housing requirements imposed on some private residential developments?


This will direct SF money previously allocated to affordable housing via the state Redevelopment Agency to that same worthy purpose, with more help for middle income families and additional flexibility for developers.


Proposition D. YES


Consolidating Odd-Year Municipal Elections — San Francisco County (Charter Amendment – Majority Approval Required)

Shall the City amend its Charter to change the election cycle for City Attorney and Treasurer so that these officers would be elected at the same time as the Mayor, Sheriff and District Attorney?


Less elections


Proposition E. YES


Gross Receipts Tax — San Francisco County (Ordinance – Majority Approval Required)

Shall the City: create a gross receipts tax designed to eliminate or reduce the tax on payroll costs; and increase business registration fees?


Keeps startups here, though it won’t encourage established businesses to move here from the ‘burbs.


Proposition F. NO


Water and Environment Plan — San Francisco County (Ordinance – Majority Approval Required)

Shall the City prepare a two-phase plan that evaluates how to drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir so that it can be restored by the National Park Service and identifies replacement water and power sources?


$8M for a study that is step one is draining Hetch Hetchy, the marvelous source of our pristine drinking water, brought to the City by gravity, without need for (polluting) electricity or filtration.


Proposition G. I don’t vote on these non-binding things, especially because they are woefully ignorant.  The same theories that give us corporate personhood give us First Amendment rights for unions and NGOs.  When you figure out how to parse that under our law, I’ll read your ballot measure.  Until then, you are wasting trees.


Policy Opposing Corporate Personhood — San Francisco County (Declaration of Policy – Majority Approval Required)

Shall it be City policy that corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as human beings and should be subject to political spending limits?




Sorry I didn’t do picks for School Board or Community College Board.  I did some research and realized that it was hard.  For School Board, I’ll be voting the Chron/Guardian overlap, which is Fewer, Wynns and Walton.




SF Chronicle:


Bay Guardian:


That all, Race Fans!  See you at the ballot box.














President: Obama



Statewide San Francisco
Prop 30: Yes Prop A: No
Prop 31: No Prop B: Yes
Prop 32: No Prop C: Yes
Prop 33: No Prop D: Yes
Prop 34: YES Prop E: Yes
Prop 35: No Prop F: No
Prop 36: Yes Prop G: blather blather
Prop 37: Yes  
Prop 38: No  
Prop 39: Yes  
Prop 40: Yes  






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Slate Card issues before (almost) every California election and may be copied and freely shared for any non-commercial purpose, with author attribution.  Derivative works need not make any attribution.


In my slate card, viagra I mis-copied the SF Bay Guardian recommendations. In fact, pharm the SFBG endorses a YES on all eight city props.

Vote early, vote often,


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Slate Card issues before every California election and may be copied and freely shared for any non-commercial purpose, with author attribution. Derivative works need not make any attribution.


Friends, Romans, Republicans:

Welcome to the Granick Slate Card for the June 8, 2010 California Primary Election. The hot national issues are Drill, Baby, Drill and Arizona checking the IDs of suspected non-Amuricans, in other words “illegal” people. Will we confront these issues in this election? Not so much. Primaries are really about picking our best candidate for the general election and punishing those incumbents who’ve done us wrong. I’m a registered Democrat, so my picks are for those races. Unfortunately, time is short so my explanations are terse, or non-existent, but as usual I have lots of links to other authorities if you want to check my math. So, without further ado, the picks.

Governor (Dem): Jerry Brown

Lt. Governor (Dem): Gavin Newsom
I’m not a huge fan of Newsom’s anymore. I think he started strong and then got personally ambitious and distracted, leaving a lot of San Francisco’s needs on the table. Still, he’s an interesting and smart politician and I think the job of Lt. Governor requires ambition if one is to make anything of it.


Department of Elections Official Results

Hello, Friends, Romans, Republicans:

Here are the election results for yesterday’s balloting, with 15% of the electorate weighing in.

Dennis Herrera is City Attorney
Jose Cisneros is Treasurer

PROPOSITION A: Two Year Budget Cycle: Yes

PROPOSITION B: Board of Supervisor Aides: Yes

PROPOSITION C: Candlestick Park Naming Rights: Yes

PROPOSITION D: Mid-Market Special Sign District: No

PROPOSITION E: Advertisements on City Property: Yes

That is all until next time. Thank you for enjoying and distributing the Granick Slate Card


To subscribe to the Granick Slate Card, visit The Granick Slate Card issues before every California election and may be copied and freely shared for any non-commercial purpose, with author attribution. Derivative works need not make any attribution.

All the ballot propositions went down in flames with the exception of the one limiting legislator pay.  It will be interesting to see what we do now to balance the budget.  See you next time at the polls, mind Friends, health Romans, ailment Republicans…


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Slate Card issues before every California election and may be copied and freely shared for any non-commercial purpose, with author attribution.  Derivative works need not make any attribution.

Friends, Romans, Republicans:

I was surprised to learn that the special election on ballot measures that are supposed to help alleviate California’s chronic budgeting problems is Tuesday.  Thanks, Courtney!  So, quickly, here are the summaries of the six propositions and the official Granick Slate Card positions.

For more information, visit the San Francisco League of Women Voters or the Sacramento Bee editorial page:

The Backstory:  California’s budget process is a mess.  One of the biggest problems is that most of the money is earmarked for particular causes by past propositions and can only be reallocated through another proposition.  This is ok during flush years, because there’s some cash to move around.  But during lean years, it doesn’t give legislators anything to work with to balance the budget or allocate funds where they most need to go.  This is a lean year.  And so we have a bunch of measures placed on the ballot by the Governor and legislature to raise taxes and reallocate money and hopefully balance the budget. It would be nice if our elected officials could do their jobs without involving us, the voters, in this arcania, but that’s not where we are, so on to the voting.  Which is Tuesday, remember.

Prop 1A: Tax hike, spending limit: Yes

• It would extend by one or two years the taxes that lawmakers approved in February on retail sales, vehicles and income. This would generate an estimated $16 billion between 2011 and 2013.

• It would give the governor new authority to make midyear spending cuts during periods when state tax revenue unexpectedly dips.

• Lastly, it would prevent lawmakers from spending surplus tax revenue during good times, so it could be saved for lean years.

This is the measure that will bring the tax-hating Californians out in droves.  But even if you vote no on this, you should vote yes on 1D and 1E.

Prop 1B: Insures more money for schools:  No.

Hello, ballot mandated earmarks are how we got into this mess in the first place.

Prop 1C: No

If Proposition 1C passes, the state would be authorized to borrow now against future proceeds that a revamped lottery would bring.  I think borrowing against pretend future money is also not a sound budgeting practice.

Prop 1D: Would redirect unspent tobacco tax funds slated for certain childhood education programs to the general fund: Yes

Apparently, there’s unspent money obtained from taxing tobacco which has been designated for early childhood education.  As of June 30, 2008, the state commission had about $400 million in unspent funds and the local commissions about $2.1 billion. Proposition 1D amends the California Children and Families Act to allow temporary use of a significant proportion of Proposition 10 funds to pay General Fund costs for existing programs for children up to age 5. This would free up an equivalent amount of General Fund money for other purposes.  In other words, this Prop would temporarily redirect that unspent money into the general fund where it would be spent on similar programs, freeing up other general fund money for allocation to other services.

Prop 1E: Would redirect unspent mental health funds to the general fund: Yes

There’s also tax money from people making more than a million dollars a year that’s designated for mental health services.  This prop is the same idea as Prop D.  It would temporarily transfer funds from mental health programs under that act to the General Fund, where it would be used to cover the general fund’s payments for that same program, thus freeing up money for other services.

Prop 1F: No Pay Raises in a Deficit Year: Yes

This proposition would prevent lawmakers and other state elected officials from receiving pay raises if the state budget was expected to end the fiscal year in a deficit. Populist vindictiveness can make voting on ballot measures fun again.

Thanks for reading, see you next time:


“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.”– V for Vendetta

cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut and vote cut

Prop 1A: Yes

Prop 1B: No

Prop 1C: No

Prop 1D: Yes

Prop 1E: Yes

Prop 1F: Yes

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Slate Card issues before every California election and may be copied and freely shared for any non-commercial purpose, with author attribution.  Derivative works need not make any attribution.

Friends, Romans, Republicans… lend me your ears.

REMINDER: Guess what!  The election is tomorrow.  Remember to vote, and to get your Democratic family members in those important swing states to vote.

UPDATE:  I’m officially endorsing David Campos in District 9.  Upon further research, being reminded that others whom I respect are supporting his candidacy, meeting the man on Cortland Avenue on Halloween, and learning of his outreach efforts and longstanding interest in the District, I recommend a vote for David Campos.

MORE:  There’s a great story in the SF Bay Guardian this week about the legacy of district elections and the progressive supervisors of the last eight years.  Highly recommended reading and very even-handed, honest reporting.  Its called Class of 2000.  I can’t find it on their website, but I will update with a link if/when I do.

Also, some unconfirmed information on the train proposition (1A), which I oppose, is attached below.

See you at the polls.


November 1, 2008

To:  Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances & Associates in California

Subject:  High-Speed Rail Bonds, Prop. 1A  —  As I See It

Dear Friends–

Over the last few weeks an increasing number of people, knowing my background, have asked how to vote on Prop. 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure.  California voters are gaining an increasing awareness that voting for a proposition on the ballot–and supporting the ideals purported to be behind that proposition–are two very different things.

I am in favor of high-speed rail in California.  That said, I must vote AGAINST this bond measure.

As most of you know, I worked for a passenger rail advocacy group the past six years.  As such, I followed the project closely and attended most all of the High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) board meetings held in Northern California. I have many reasons to be concerned.  $80 million dollars has been spent on “planning”, yet with all this money spent on consultant salaries, the route is still a broad, conceptual line.  If the project is funded, there is a high probability that it will never be built.  The official estimated cost for the project is $45 billion.  Some industry insiders I have spoken with believe that it will easily cost $80-$100 billion.

High-speed rail should be as straight as possible, both for speed and energy consumption.  Instead, the line veers in a 42-mile extra-long loop to hit open lands near Mojave to serve KB homes.  The route takes Pacheco Pass to, among other reasons, serve a not-yet-built community on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley near Santa Nella.  It veers 30 miles east from LA before going south because wealthy communities on the coastline don’t want it going through their towns.  Tiny Visalia even managed to get a study commissioned to bend the line east towards them so they could have a stop.

Think about energy for a moment.  Just the extra 42 miles to go through Palmdale means every train, every day, forever, will go 42 extra miles.  Think of the energy that will use.  Is that green?  Besides the other environmental problems associated with Pacheco Pass, it is a higher pass than Altamont Pass, thus taking more energy for every train, every day, to climb over the mountains.  Is that green?

Pacheco Pass was chosen as the preferred route by HSRA and “spun” as more environmentally friendly, even though the route passes through a huge wildlife refuge and opens up huge tracts of land to housing outside present urbanized areas.  To justify the decision, an HSRA board member with ties to San Jose insisted in a radio interview recently that the environmental problems with building Altamont Pass and a rail bridge at Dumbarton were “huge”, while those involved with crossing Pacheco and Grassland Wetlands were “minor”.  Even the group charged to protect the refuge near Dumbarton said it preferred the Altamont route.  Grassland, though you may never have heard of it, is on the Pacific Flyway and is the largest contiguous wetlands in the Western United States.  Using Pacheco would bisect this most important bird sanctuary, not to mention cutting a new transportation corridor through Pacheco Pass where no railroad has ever been built.

Some environmental groups were satisfied by recent legislation that “banned” a station between Gilroy and Merced.  That sounds great, except another law passed in 15-20 years could reverse the ban just as easily as the ban was created.   Why would this happen?  One of the largest greenfield developments, the Villages of Laguna San Luis, is proposed to be built around the banned station. Citizens of this future development will eventually demand a stop on the train running right through their community so they won’t have to drive to work in the Bay Area.  This station, by the way, is on the property of a bankrupt dairy farm owned by a state representative, whom the organization I used to work for found, through a public records request, had a $50,000 contract with the HSRA to “attend meetings”.  When asked for a public records disclosure of worked performed, they were told there was “no written product”.

$950 million of the Prop. 1A money is supposedly for other rail and transit agencies that will someday connect with high-speed rail.  Almost certainly that $950 million for conventional rail is fake, just like the money you voted for in Proposition 1B a couple of years ago was fake (in terms of being an increase in funding for rail transit).  The legislature simply zeroed out the traditional funding source for transit, then backfilled the loss with 1B money.  You the people voted for more rail money and got nothing, except a shell game in which you ending up paying for more bonds that are now paying down the state debt.  With the state budget in shambles, it is highly likely the same thing will happen with the $950 million for conventional rail in Prop. 1A.

Ron Roberts, the president of the Southern California Association of Governments and chairman of the Metrolink Commuter Rail Service (a service which stands to gain tens of millions of dollars if 1A passes) said “The high-speed bond measure only allows $9.9 billion when the actual cost for the first phase from San Francisco to LA is closer to $40 billion. That does not cover phase two from LA to San Diego through Riverside County.  Anyone south of LA will pay the price and never get the rail service if the bill is passed, and if the other $30 billion is not found, no one in California will ever ride on a high-speed train unless they go to a foreign country.”

High speed rail doesn’t currently exist in the US, thus making California the guinea pig of the Western Hemisphere.  Every mile and every town is its own large construction project, with the potential to morph into its own version of Boston’s “Big Dig”, the grand-daddy of transit cost overruns.  The HSRA is even using the same primary consultant that Boston did, which isn’t necessarily a foreshadowing but doesn’t exactly endear me with trust.  As much as you may want to see high-speed rail built “at any cost”, at some point the money simply won’t be there.

I co-wrote an article on the high-speed rail routing in the Central Valley, published in a 2002 edition of the newsletter of the advocacy organization I worked for.  The idea was that the express trains didn’t pass through the Valley towns, which are served by very fast conventional trains, while the express trains run on a straight alignment outside of town, thus saving billions by not having to buy numerous individual private properties, expand overpasses, relocate railroads and utilities, build sound-walls, overhead structures and trenches.  That’s how it’s done in Europe.

But the politicians in the San Joaquin Valley towns all want the big shiny trains stopping in their town, to put them on the map.  It’s like a 21st Century version of the spaghetti western film genre.  “If our town gets the railroad, we’ll grow like a weed, if it goes around us, all we’ll see are tumbleweeds.”  However, when the citizens realize what 220mph trains, a four-track trench, land-takings and years of construction really mean, the townspeople will revolt.  This project will be laden in lawsuits for years to come.

AB 3034 requires that the HSRA submit a financial-level business plan (set to the standards for any large public works venture) by October 1.  They don’t have one; and they won’t have one before the election.  Joe Vranich (whom I often disagree with–but not on this issue) testified recently in a hearing by Senator Alan Lowenthal regarding the lack of this business plan:

The Authority’s projection of 117 million annual riders is so far from reality that I have to call it what it is—science fiction. The Authority’s projection is far higher than what is found on high-speed rail systems around the world. The Authority anticipates an average load factor of nearly 85 percent. The Federal Railroad Administration’s study for California placed the average at 51 percent. The TGV system in France—which I’ve been on and I love—claims a load factor of 71 percent. The Authority’s projected load factor is nearly 20 percent higher than the very impressive French figure . . . The Authority projects intensities that are far above those achieved in Japan, France and the Boston–Washington Corridor.

Among the unreal estimates is that the trains will connect San Francisco with Los Angeles in 2 hours and 42 minutes. For that to occur, the trains would have to operate at an average speed of 197 mph, a feat that has yet to be accomplished anywhere in the world. That combined with routing problems means the trip is likely to take an hour longer.

High-speed rail holds great promise in certain sections of the country. But the work of the Authority is so deficient that if the current plan is implemented it has the potential of setting back the cause of high-speed rail throughout the United States. The Authority has not learned the lessons: What caused Texas high-speed rail to fail? What caused it to fail in Florida? What caused the prior project to fail between Los Angeles and San Diego?  A common element in the failures were high ridership estimates, low cost estimates, disregard for local environmental impacts and the planners losing credibility. The California Authority is repeating all of the mistakes as if they have never read a single page of history.

It is time to dissolve the California High Speed Rail Authority. Give it no more funding than is required for terminating contracts, transferring data and duties to a more responsible agency, and conducting an orderly shutdown.  High-speed rail in California may be salvageable—after all this poor work—but someone else must be in charge. If the Authority is unable to conduct studies that have credibility, then how will they ever effectively deliver a mega-construction project on time and within budget?  (end Vranich quotes)

Only $8-9 billion of the (supposed) $45 billion will be covered by the bond, while none of the other money is secured.  Where will the rest come from?  There are vague ideas about federal dollars, such as a stimulus package that hasn’t been written yet, or pots of cash – one such source mentioned is the CalPers retirement fund.  Then there are all those private investors the HSRA keeps talking about that are waiting in line to risk a billion here and a billion there.  The $650 million annual debt payment on the Prop. 1A bonds will equal half what California spends on ALL public transit annually.  Think about THAT for a moment!  Then realize that debt payment is only for the $10 billion bond, not on the full $45-$100 billion cost!

Unlike Prop. 1A which falls woefully short on project construction costs, the $2 billion from Proposition 116 from 1990 fully funded its rail projects, which are the intercity and commuter trains you see today.  Lacking as they may be compared to European trains, they are among the most successful passenger trains in the nation.  As if to add insult to injury, the Authority has twice in the last year “redirected” money from Prop. 116 for “planning”, by having the money funneled from projects that would have built actual rail infrastructure on California’s current routes.  As someone who campaigned for Prop. 116, I take this as a personal slap in the face.

I know you WANT to vote for this.  So do I, but knowing what I know I cannot.  I’m asking you to trust my judgment on this one.  In 15-20 years, if 1A passes, maybe we’ll have funded pieces of some transit systems, some right-of-way acquisition, a lot of lawyers, politicians, consultants, planners – but not a railroad.  And all this will delay for years many of the real rail projects we need because the legislature will say, “why bother, aren’t we building high-speed rail?”

It breaks my heart to vote against the ideal of a project I believe in so strongly.  Most everything I hear the proponents of this project say about high-speed rail is correct, but those truths are about a real, completed system, not Prop. 1A.  Please join me in shedding a tear for California while voting NO on Prop. 1A.

–Alan C. Miller

Note:  This is a one-time email. I am writing this as an individual, not in association with my past or current affiliations or employers.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.


Friends, Romans, Republicans:

Welcome to the Granick Slate Card for the November 4, 2008 Presidential Election. I know, I know, we’ve been waiting eight long excruciating years for this. So without further ado, here are my picks for the twelve state propositions, twenty two San Francisco propositions and various other offices of varying levels of importance including….

PRESIDENT: Barack Obama!

Finally, someone to vote enthusiastically for. I haven’t been this excited about my candidate for President, ever. Smart, educated, inspiring, honest-yet-pragmatic (you really think that he should have gone for public financing? Ha!). If you don’t already know why you should vote for Obama, you’ve got bigger problems than this slate card can cure, but here’s a reason you may not have thought of: Levi Johnston. Give the redneck boyfriend a break. Out of the spotlight, he may yet be able to avoid an unwanted (yet somehow more sacred than any two gay people’s) marriage.

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, District 8: Nancy Pelosi

I like Nancy Pelosi. She’s smart, powerful, effective and experienced. You can read her biography here: Her most viable challenger in this election is Cindy Sheehan, the mom who’s son died in Iraq and who has made ending the war (and impeaching George Bush for lying to get us into the war) her reason for running. I may disagree with Pelosi about some aspects of getting us out of (an into) Iraq, but I wouldn’t trade someone with power and experience on many issues for someone new who has a single issue.

STATE SENATE: District 3: Mark Leno

Here’s what I said about him during the primary:

He’s been effective, principled and pragmatic. The Chron, which endorsed him, says “Leno’s work in shepherding his same-sex marriage legislation – bringing it from pipe dream to passage in 2005 and 2007, only to be vetoed each time by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – was a textbook example of how an understated tenacity can pay off in the world of politics.” He was also instrumental in passing a state health care bill last year.

STATE ASSEMBLY, District 13: Tom Ammiano

I love Ammiano. He’s the Democrat in the race. Harmeet Dhillon is the Republican. I saw one of her billboards on Gough Street last night. It said, Does Ammiano Really Represent You? Um, yeah, he does.

JUDGE: Gerardo Sandoval

This is a difficult race, because I don’t know that Sandoval will be a good judge, but we do know that Mellon has been one hostile to civil rights and to the attorneys who come before him. He had to be removed from criminal cases for mistreating criminal defense attorneys and their clients. That belies a bigger attitude problem with the justice system, one which makes me think that Mellon should not be presiding over civil trials either.

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER; San Francisco Unified School District

I have never given school board endorsements and just because I have two babies in this district doesn’t mean I’m going to start paying attention now. Actually, I have started paying attention, but not enough to make an endorsement. The big issues seem to be whether SF should continue to have the Junior ROTC program and whether we should have neighborhood schools, i.e. preferences for families who live near the school they apply for. I don’t know enough about the JROTC program to say whether I support having it. I know that for some families, joining the military is an important way to improve the family finances, so I can’t automatically be against this feeder program. I’m for neighborhood schools, but it appears that most of the people running for the board are too. So, I decided to rely on someone more educated than I but with the same principles. My friend went to a forum for the candidates and recommends the following people:

– Norman Yee
– Rachel Norton
– Emily Murase
– Jaynry Mak

BOARD OF DIRECTORS; San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; District: Tom Radulovich

Tom is the incumbent and by all accounts is doing a fine job, so he should keep the post.


Proposition 1A: High-Speed Train: No

$9.95 billion in bonds for high-speed train service linking Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area

I know a lot of environmentalists probably will support this proposition, but it concerns me. The reason why high-speed rail works in Europe and Asia is because there are densely populated cities and not much in between. We have suburban sprawl and exurbs. We are also wedded to our cars. I wonder whether people really will take the train, especially in the numbers that would be required for this venture to break even from year to year. The independent budget analyst says that maintaining the train would cost 1 billion dollars a year, and we have no idea whether passenger tickets would cover the cost. I don’t see how they could. At the $110 round trip ticket price they are telling us a ride would cost, that would mean that more than 9 million people have to ride it every year, which is one fourth the population of California. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Here’s a counterpoint from my colleague here at the EFF Peter Eckersley:

The Bay Area is an urban planning disaster. Life in Silicon Valley requires a
car; keeping a car in San Francisco is so inconvenient and expensive that half
the people here don’t have them. The freeways connecting the two spaces
frequently grind to a halt. A 200-220mph train would shorten the trip from
downtown to Silicon Valley to 15-20 minutes, making public transit between the
two spaces far more feasible. It would get cars off the road, reducing jams
for the same price as the new freeways we’ll have to build otherwise. Aside
from those parochial benefits, it would be the fastest, lowest-hassle way to
get to LA, offer sensible commutes from the Central Valley to the Peninsula
and the City, and give California the ability to move the 20 million extra
people who will be living here in the next couple of decades.

PROPOSITION 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals: Yes

Shall certain farm animals be allowed, for the majority of every day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around?

Its a moral imperative to treat the animals that feed us well. My concern is that this will raise costs of food, and probably more than the penny an egg they say. Still, there could be economic benefits. Currently, the farms that want to do good are at a disadvantage against the ones that don’t care, and this should level the playing field within California, though it will put us at a financial disadvantage vis a vis out of state producers. Still, with transportation costs, we may still find that our farms can compete. The people I worry about are those who are borderline able to afford food now, but we must find another way to address that problem.

PROPOSITION 3: Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program: Yes

Shall $980,000,000 in general obligation bonds be authorized for construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishing and equipping of eligible children’s hospitals?

I support bonds for infrastructure investment.

PROPOSITION 4: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy: No

Shall the California Constitution be changed to prohibit abortion for an unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent, legal guardian, or, in limited cases, substitute adult relative?

People who are pro-choice should not be seduced by these wedge measures placed on the ballot by the anti-choice people.

PROPOSITION 5: Nonviolent Drug Offenses, Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation: Yes

Shall $460,000,000 be allocated annually to improve and expand treatment programs?

Proposition 36, a similar but less comprehensive measure we passed eight years ago, saves 2 dollars for every dollar spent on treatment. Also, it has produced a non-relapse rate of above 30% which is a huge success story when you are talking about dealing with addiction. Prop 5 expands on the success of Prop 36.

PROPOSITION 6: Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws: No
Shall of minimum of $965,000,000 of state funding be required each year for police and local law enforcement?

This proposition and Prop 9 are put on the ballot to (1) build more prisons and (2) send more people there. Incarceration is expensive and wasteful. Plus, here’s what the Bay Guardian says about the main proponent of Props 6 and 9:

One man is largely responsible for both the misguided “tough on crime” propositions on this year’s ballot: billionaire Broadcom Corp. cofounder Henry Nicholas, who has poured millions into the two campaigns. But a funny thing happened to Nicholas on the way to becoming California’s poster boy for law and order. In June, he was indicted on numerous counts of securities fraud and drug violations (including spiking the drinks of technology executives with ecstasy and operating a “sex cave” staffed with prostitutes under his house).

Sex cave.

PROPOSITION 7: Renewable Energy Generation: No

Despite the nice title and lofty goals, this is a poorly written proposition that majory environmental groups join with industry to oppose. The same is true for Proposition 10, which you should also vote No on. For more, visit the Union of Concerned Scientists website here:

PROPOSITION 8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: No

Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry providing that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California?

If you think same sex couples should be allowed to marry, you will vote NO on this proposition, which seeks to amend the state Constitution. A Yes vote means No Gay Marriage.

PROPOSITION 9: Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole: No

See above for Prop 6.

PROPOSITION 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds: No

See above for Prop 7.

PROPOSITION 11: Redistricting: Yes

Shall the authority for establishing state office boundaries be changed from elected representatives to a commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and representatives of neither party selected from the registered voter pool in a multilevel process?

Since representatives come from districts, the composition of the district has everything to do with who gets sent to the state house. Thus, the voice of like-minded voters can be diluted by splitting communities into two separate districts, or magnified, by combining two geographically disparate but arguably sympathetic areas into one district.

Whoever controls the districting has a lot of control over who gets and stays in power. Remember when Texas redistricted in 2003?

So, when people talk about making the system more fair, they are probably the party out of power. Thus, Prop. 11 comes on the ballot to take the power to draw up districts away from the powers-that-be (the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature) and give at least some say to the powers-that-would-like-to-be, a committee that would include half Republicans.

Opponents like the Bay Guardian argue that’s giving too much say to people whom the electorate has already decided we don’t want. Proponents argue that the process has to be fair if voters’ choices are going to matter. I think the choice here comes down to whether you are cynical about democracy, or philosophical. After reading that the League of Women Voters strongly supports Prop 11, and contrary to what I’ve learned from watching politics all my adult life, I’ve decided to be philosophical and vote yes. If Republicans disgust you more than democracy charms you, then vote No.

Here’s another view from guest opinionator Peter, which he wrote to convince me when I was leaning No.:

Gerrymandering is a practice that removes power from a large subset of voters,
and places it into the hands of the institution which has the power to draw
arbitrary or near-arbitrary electoral boundaries. In California and most
other US states, that means the party holding a majority in state government.
Republicans used gerrymandering to keep control of Congress in the 90s, but
with the Democratic party now in a position of political strength,
there is a choice: either play the same dirty game, or change the rules so
that districts are drawn fairly. If you’d like politicians in Sacramento
(Democratic today, Republican tomorrow) to decide who California sends to the
House of Reps, vote no on 11. If you’d like voters to decide, vote yes on 11.

PS – Don’t buy the argument that Gerrymandering protects minorities. Drawing
crazily shaped districts that are 70% African American is a trick by
Republicans to win more seats. Minorities have a fair shot at two
representatives if there are two districts where they make up 35% of the

PROPOSITION 12: Veteran’s Bond Act of 2008: Yes

Shall a nine hundred million dollar ($900,000,000) bond be issued to provide farm and home aid for California veterans?

Continues to make it easier for veterans to buy homes. Important in this market.


* Proposition 1A: Vote YES
* Proposition 2: Vote NO
* Proposition 3: Vote YES
* Proposition 4: Vote NO
* Proposition 5: Vote NO
* Proposition 6: Vote NO
* Proposition 7: Vote NO
* Propostion 8: Vote NO
* Proposition 9: Vote NO
* Proposition 10: Vote NO
* Proposition 11: Vote YES
* Proposition 12: Vote YES
* S.F. Prop. A: Vote YES
* S.F. Prop B: Vote NO
* S.F. Prop H: Vote NO
* S.F. Prop K: Vote NO

Guardian Recommendations:

1: Yes
2: Yes
3: No
4: No
5: Yes
6: No
7: No
8: No
9: No
10: No
11: No
12: Yes

League of Women Voters Recommendations:

We recommend a “YES” vote on Propositions 1A, 3, 5, and 11 and a “NO” vote on Propositions 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.


PROPOSITION A: Bonds for SF General Hospital: Yes

S.F. General is the backbone of San Francisco’s public health system. If you ever get shot, you want to go to S.F. General. Bonds cost money, though. How much would Prop A cost you?

# Based on these estimates, the highest estimated annual property tax cost for the owner of a home with an assessed value of $400,000 would be approximately $197.77.

# Landlords would be allowed to pass through 50% of the annual property tax cost of the proposed bond to tenants as permitted in the City Administrative Code. Based on these estimates, the highest estimated annual cost for a tenant in a unit with an assessed value of approximately $131,000 would be $32.96.

Both the Chron and the SFBG say Yes.

PROPOSITION B: Affordable housing set aside: No

Readers of the slate card know that I oppose set-asides. There are a lot of public needs out there, and we pay our Representatives in the legislature to allocate between them. Set asides tie our representative’s hands, and ours into the future. So I almost never vote for set asides, no matter how much I like the cause.

Prop B would take a portion of property tax and portion of general funds and put it aside for affordable housing. I think housing is a major issue in San Francisco. I have friends who can’t afford rent and who can’t event think about buying here, and those are people with post-graduate education as a general rule. If we want a truly vibrant and diverse city, we need to fix the housing problem. But set asides are not the way. We are going to have a budget shortfall for next year, and this money must come from somewhere. That’s 2.7 billion dollars out of the budget over the next 15 years. This is just not a good year for that.

PROPOSITION C: Prohibiting city employees from serving on committees: No

This proposition, which is supposed to be about keeping city committees representative of the people and not the politicians, is drafted too broadly and would keep anyone paid by the city from serving. Vote no.

PROPOSITION D: Pier 70 Rehabilitation: Yes

Gives the Board of Supervisors the ability to approve a broad land-use plan for Pier 70 instead of approving individual projects and leases. It would also allow tax revenue generated by the new development to be used to pay off bonds issued to build projects like parks and sidewalks.

Who’s for it: San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Democratic Party, Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and others.

Who’s against it: No formal opposition has been filed with the San Francisco Department of Elections.

More information: To learn more about the port’s Pier 70 plans, go to For more on the pier’s history, go to

PROPOSITION E: Signatures for recall: Yes

Change the number of signatures required to recall city officials. From 10% to 20% of registered voters. Makes it harder to recall elected officials, which should be hard.

PROPOSITION F: Election schedule: Yes

Change election schedule so the mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney and treasurer are elected in even-numbered years, rather than odd ones.

On the one hand, grouping city elections into years with Presidential, Senate or House of Representatives elections saves money and means less elections and better turnout. On the other hand, off-year city elections means people can focus on city issues and we won’t have Proposition Overload lettered from A to VV rather than A to V, like this year. I think people are tired of so many elections and that voter turnout is more important than “focus” so I’m voting yes.

PROPOSITION G: Unpaid parental leave: Yes

From the SFBG: “Proposition G brings equity to city employees who started families before July 1, 2003. Currently this group is unable to benefit from a 2002 charter amendment that provides city employees with paid parental leave. Prop. G gives these parents the opportunity to buy back unpaid parental leave and earn retirement credits for that period.”

PROPOSITION H: Energy and public power: No

Here’s how Proposition H would work

— If approved by voters, it would mandate the city to meet the following deadlines for use of clean electric power sources (excluding nuclear power): By 2017, they must represent at least 51 percent of the city’s electricity needs … by 2030, at least 75 percent … by 2040, 100 percent or the “greatest possible amount.”

— The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission would be required to study cost-effective options to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the “costs and benefits of making the city the primary provider of electric power in San Francisco.” The study would be due by May 2009.

— Once the study is complete, the Board of Supervisors would have the authority to acquire, construct or complete the electric system serving the city. Supervisors also could use revenue bonds to finance the takeover of “any public utility” – including, for example, cable television – without a public vote.

Source: Ballot Simplification Committee

I do not mind a study, especially if it can be done cheaply, but I do not approve of letting the Board of Supervisors issue bonds to takeover PG&E or another public utility without coming back to the voters after the study is finished. So I am voting no.

PROPOSITION I: Create Office of an Independent Rate Payer: No

An independent ratepayer advocate would be appointed by the city administrator and tasked with advising the SFPUC on all things related to utility rates and revenue. It is not clear to me why we need this or why it has to be done by proposition.

PROPOSITION J: Historic Preservation Commission: Yes

A reorganization of the city Landmarks Commission. No formal opposition.

PROPOSITION K: Prostitution: No

What it does: Would decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco, deny funds for the First Offender Prostitution Program commonly known as “john school,” and forbid the city from using state or federal funds that involve racial profiling to identify human trafficking victims.

I think prostitution is a demand-side problem, and that the legal system is often the least pernicious way in which these women are victimized. I know there are people who freely and happily choose the life, but most of the prostitution that we see on the streets and in the courts is a result of drug addiction or worse. This story in the New York Times Magazine (The Girls Next Door, January 25, 2004 — changed any libertarian view I might once have had about prostitution. It needs to be policed. The women can’t protect themselves, but its not because they are afraid of the law, they are afraid of their pimps.

All the major women’s groups are against this.

PROPOSITION L: Community Justice Center: No

Fund the Community Justice Center, a Tenderloin court to prosecute misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

This is already funded for 2.6 million dollars, and this Prop would insure 2.7 million. Why is it on the ballot? Mayor Newsom is afraid that Supervisor Daly will try to take funding away. We pay them to work these problems out without us.

PROPOSITION M: Prohibit Harassment of tenants: Yes

Change the residential rent ordinance to prohibit specific acts of harassment of tenants by landlords | Full description

PROPOSITION N: Transfer tax rates: Yes

Double the real estate transfer tax on properties valued at more than $5 million to 1.5%. I’m for taxing expensive real estate.

PROPOSITION O: Access line and phone users tax: Yes

Prop. O would not raise taxes or increase the fees most people already pay. It would simply replace what was a modest “fee” of a couple of bucks a month to fund 911 services with an identical “tax” for the same amount, while also updating the technical definition of what constitutes a phone line from a now defunct 1970s-era statute. The only people who might wind up paying any new costs are commercial users of voice-over-internet services.

PROPOSITION P: Transportation Authority Board: No

Change the composition of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board

Here’s what the SFBG says: Prop. P’s opponents — including all 11 supervisors, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, and the Sierra Club — point out, the measure would put billions of taxpayer dollars in the hands of political appointees, thus removing independent oversight of local transportation projects.

The Board of Supervisors, which currently serves as the governing body of the small but powerful, voter-created Transportation Authority, has done a good job of acting as a watchdog for local sales-tax revenues earmarked for transportation projects and administering state and federal transportation funding for new projects.

PROPOSITION Q: Payroll expense tax: Yes

Require law, accounting and other partnership firms to pay payroll tax based on annual compensation partners receive and increase the number of small businesses that are exempted from paying the tax

PROPOSITION R: Renaming sewage plant: No

What is: The measure would rename the city-owned Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

I think this is an idea that might seem funny at first, but which no one wants to live with, never mind be asked to actually vote on. Why treat waste disposal workers with such disregard? Theirs is an important and socially valuable job. Why have to drive by a building with W’s name on it year after year after year?

Chronicle Related story: Friends come up with idea over beers (7/18/08) Ah, democracy. Still, vote no.

PROPOSITION S: Budget set-asides and replacement funds: No

Require future voter-mandated set-asides of money for particular uses to identify where the money will come from

If there is anything I dislike as much as set-asides, its policy statement propositions. People know that the money has to come from somewhere, and that often no one knows where. Rather than vote for this, just keep that in mind when confronted with a set-aside.

PROPOSITION T: Substance abuse programs: Yes

As you see with my support of Prop 5, substance abuse treatment saves money. Here’s what the SFBG says: “Proposition T would require the Department of Public Health (DPH) to make medical and residential substance abuse treatment available for low-income and homeless people who request it. DPH already offers treatment and does it well, but there’s a wait list 500 people long… Prop. T would expand the program to fill that unmet need. The controller estimates an annual cost to the General Fund of $7 million to $13 million, but proponents say the upfront cost would lead to significant savings later. For every dollar spent on treatment, the city saves as much as $13 because clinical treatment for addictive disorders is cheaper than visits to the emergency room, where many low-income and homeless people end up when their untreated problems reach critical levels.”

PROPOSITION U: Troops deployment money: No

Call for policy against funding of the deployment of armed forces from Iraq
No. We need to fund the people who are in Iraq, and protect those that stay, even as we draw down troops. This proposition is naïve.

Prop. V: JROTC: No

Asks school board to reconsider decision to end JROTC. School board voted it out because of their opposition to military/war.

If you don’t like the school board’s decision, then vote for school board members that will reinstate JROTC, not a pointless ballot request.

Chronicle Recommendations

Proposition A YES
Proposition B NO
Proposition C NO
Proposition D YES
Proposition E YES
Proposition F NO
Proposition G YES
Proposition H NO
Proposition I NO
Proposition J NO
Proposition K NO
Proposition L YES
Proposition M NO
Proposition N YES
Proposition O YES
Proposition P NO
Proposition Q YES
Proposition R NO
Proposition S YES
Proposition T NO
Proposition U NO
Proposition V YES


Seven of the 11 seats on the board are up for election, Three incumbents, supervisors Sean Elsbernd, Ross Mirkarimi and Carmen Chu are running to keep their seats, while four seats are wide open because the previous officeholders are termed out.

These district supervisor races are all about the battle between the left and the left left in San Francisco, and they have all the heat of any internecine warfare. Are you for Newsom or for Daly? If you have a stake in that dogfight, then most of these races are decided for you. If you think that fight is silly, and that the Mayor is right about some things and the more progressive members of the Board about others, then the choices are harder to make. I haven’t followed these races closely, and the only person running whom I know a lot about (and enthusiastically support) is Randy Knox in District 11. So I’ve simply given you the Chronicle’s summary of the races and who supports whom below. I hope this helps.

I list the SFBG endorsed candidate after the blurb. No endorsements on these races posted on the Chron website.

District One: Sue Lee, former planning commissioner and director of the Chinese Historical Society of America; Eric Mar, school board member and San Francisco State University instructor; Alicia Wang, City College instructor. Other candidates: Nicholas Belloni, Sherman D’Silva, George Flamik, Jason Jungreis and Brian Larkin.

What’s at stake: The Richmond District seems certain to elect a Chinese American to the board. The current progressive supervisorial bloc has endorsed Mar; Mayor Gavin Newsom has endorsed Lee.


District Three: Joseph Alioto Jr., attorney; Claudine Cheng, attorney and president of the Treasure Island Development Authority; David Chiu, chief executive officer of an online technology company; Anthony Gantner, attorney and founder of the North Beach Merchants Association; Denise McCarthy, nonprofit executive. Other candidates: Mike DeNunzio, Lynn Jefferson, Wilma Pang.

Major issue: development

What’s at stake: Cheng, Chiu and McCarthy have raised more than $100,000. Chiu is backed by progressives, while Newsom has picked Cheng. The district covers North Beach, Chinatown, Russian Hill and much of downtown.

SFBG: 1. Chiu, 2. McCarthy, 3. Gantner

District Four: Supervisor Carmen Chu squares off against Ron Dudum, a small businessman and perennial supervisorial candidate. David Ferguson is also running.

What’s at stake: Dudum came in second to Supervisor Ed Jew in 2006, but Jew later resigned amid extortion charges and his failure to prove residency in the city. Chu was appointed by the mayor. Now voters will get their say.

SFBG: Ferguson

District Five: Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who faces Rob Anderson, should be able to keep his seat.

What’s at stake: Mirkarimi, who backs a ballot measure to explore public power in the city, will show whether he has coattails. Mirkarimi, who represents the Western Addition and Haight-Ashbury, is rumored to be gunning for board president in January.

SFBG: Mirkarimi

District Seven: Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who faces Julian Lagos, should keep his seat.

What’s at stake: In a last-minute decision, former Supervisor Tony Hall decided not to run against his former aide to reclaim his old seat. He told The Chronicle it would have impacted his retirement benefits too much.

SFBG: Elsbernd, even though they don’t like his politics.

District Nine: David Campos, civil rights attorney and police commissioner; Eric Quezada, director of Dolores Street Community Services; Mark Sanchez, public school teacher and president of the Board of Education. Other candidates: Vern Matthew, Eva Royale, Eric Storey and Thomas Valtin.

What’s at stake: The district, covering Bernal Heights and the Mission District, is a progressive stronghold. Three well-liked progressives with strong credentials are facing off.


District 11: John Avalos, former aide to Supervisor Chris Daly; Ahsha Safai, who worked in the Newsom administration. Attorney and former Board of Appeals President Randall Knox also filed papers, accompanied by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Bevan Dufty. Other candidates: Adrian Bermudez, Mary Goodnature, Eli Horn and Myrna Lim.

What’s at stake: The Excelsior district will likely be the prime battleground between progressive and moderates, with former staffers of archenemies Daly and Newsom squaring off against each other.

Editor’s Note: I support Randy Knox. Randy is a criminal defense attorney, so I’ve known him for many years. He’s a smart guy, gets along well with people, very progressive but not a knee-jerk type of person. I think he’d be great.



Ok, team, that’s all. Before the clip and vote, here are some resources I used in case you want to look deeper into the issues:

SF Chronicle:
SF Bay Guardian:
Smart Voter (find your ballot!):
California Voter Foundation (follow the money!):
League of Women Voters:



PRESIDENT: Barack Obama!

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTITIVES, District 8: Nancy Pelosi

STATE SENATE: District 3: Mark Leno

STATE ASSEMBLY, District 13: Tom Ammiano

JUDGE: Gerardo Sandoval

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER; San Francisco Unified School District

– Norman Yee
– Rachel Norton
– Emily Murase
– Jaynry Mak

BOARD OF DIRECTORS; San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; District: Tom Radulovich


Proposition 1A: High-Speed Train: No

PROPOSITION 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals: Yes

PROPOSITION 3: Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program: Yes

PROPOSITION 4: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy: No

PROPOSITION 5: Nonviolent Drug Offenses, Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation: Yes

PROPOSITION 6: Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws: No (Sex Cave)

PROPOSITION 7: Renewable Energy Generation: No

PROPOSITION 8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: No

PROPOSITION 9: Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole: No

PROPOSITION 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds: No

PROPOSITION 11: Redistricting: Yes

PROPOSITION 12: Veteran’s Bond Act of 2008: Yes


PROPOSITION A: Bonds for SF General Hospital: Yes

PROPOSITION B: Affordable housing set aside: No

PROPOSITION C: Prohibiting city employees from serving on committees: No

PROPOSITION D: Pier 70 Rehabilitation: Yes

PROPOSITION E: Signatures for recall: Yes

PROPOSITION F: Election schedule: Yes

PROPOSITION G: Unpaid parental leave: Yes

PROPOSITION H: Energy and public power: No

PROPOSITION I: Create Office of an Independent Rate Payer: No

PROPOSITION J: Historic Preservation Commission: Yes

PROPOSITION K: Prostitution: No

PROPOSITION L: Community Justice Center: No

PROPOSITION M: Prohibit Harassment of tenants: Yes

PROPOSITION N: Transfer tax rates: Yes

PROPOSITION O: Access line and phone users tax: Yes

PROPOSITION P: Transportation Authority Board: No

PROPOSITION Q: Payroll expense tax: Yes

PROPOSITION R: Renaming sewage plant: No

PROPOSITION S: Budget set-asides and replacement funds: No

PROPOSITION T: Substance abuse programs: Yes

PROPOSITION U: Troops deployment money: No


District One: No Granick choice

District Three: No Granick choice

District Four: No Granick choice

District Five: Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

District Seven: Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

District Nine: All good

District Eleven: Randy Knox

Hello! The Shout has been sick with technical issues for a little while, but now it, and I, am back with the Granick Slate Card for tomorrow’s primary election. You can download the slate card here. Remember, vote early, vote often.

If you like the slate card and want to subscribe, visit here. The Granick Slate Card issues before every California election. The public has permission to use the Granick Slate Card without attribution for any non-commercial purposes, share and share alike.

The Granick Slatecard is out!!!!

Friends, Romans, Republicans….

First, thanks for confirming your continued desire to receive the Granick Slate Card, following our migration to a new, more spam-hostile service provider. As a result of the migration, some subscribers may have failed to confirm and won’t get their own copy of my golden advice. So, please feel free to circulate this far and wide, to reduce the chances that people are left out in the cold. Also, I’ve taken the liberty of copying a few people I think want to receive this, but aren’t on the list. I won’t do this next time, so if you are not subscribed, directions for subscribing are:

To subscribe to the Granick Slate Card, visit The Granick Slate Card issues before every California election and is distributed under a Creative Commons license.

Second, an added feature is that if you click on the Proposition name, and your email client supports this, it takes you to the Smart Voter page for non-partisan information on the ballot measures.

Now, on to business. This is a pretty simple slate card because I’m recommending a “No” vote on every one of the statewide propositions. As in life, in the slatecard, “no” means no. You should get out there and vote, but you should vote no.

The Governor, who thought he had Californians eating out of the palm of his hand, scheduled this multi-million dollar special election to override legislative opposition to three pet measures, legislative redistricting (Prop 77), getting tough on teachers (Prop 74) and making it harder for unions (big Democrats) to raise money (Prop 75). While none of these have much to do with rebuilding California, and all have much to do with increasing the power of Republicans in the state, probably the most dangerous is the redistricting.

Once the election was set, other ballot measures were added and here we are.

One of the problems with California is the referendum process. When I first moved here, I loved being able to vote on everything. Then I realized that this process ties everyone’s hands. The legislators can’t be creative and responsive to state needs because all the budget money is earmarked by referendum, and the voters can’t make wise choices because the advertising is deceptive and because we’re offered these laws as a package deal and not able to pick and choose the wheat from the chaff. Its time to say no to excessive referendums as well as to the Governor’s efforts to get his way despite the concerted and considered opposition of our elected representatives. So I’m voting no on everything.

But read on, and you can see my analysis of the state propositions, as well as recommendations for local ballot measures and offices.


San Francisco Offices:

Assessor-Recorder: Ronald Chun

The three candidates are:

Ronald Chun
Phil Ting
Gerardo Sandoval

Sandoval was a public defender, then a Supervisor. He’s a lawyer with a degree in city planning, but has no tax assessment experience and is probably not going to learn it on the job. He’s a politician, and this is not a politician’s job.

Ting is the current Assessor, appointed by Newsom, who I saw last night at the West Coast premiere of Robert Greenwald’s new movie about the evils of Walmart, to replace Mabel Teng, who suddenly resigned the post for no clear reason. He seems competent enough, though the Guardian rejects him in favor of Sandoval.

Chun is the most experienced. A tax lawyer and former IRS agent, “he actually understands, and thrives on, the arcane details of tax assessment law and can quickly pick up on the ways big businesses use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share. He’s already shown he has some experience fighting downtown � as a member of the Assessment Appeals Board, he wrote the decision that nailed the owners of One Market Plaza for hiding an ownership change (and thus costing the city millions of dollars). And as an assistant to Ward, he came up with a way to prevent same-sex couples who own homes from getting hit with huge tax hikes after the death of a domestic partner � tax hikes that married couples don’t have to pay.” (From the Bay Guardian, which doesn’t endorse him because he’s a little too conservative for their taste.)

City Attorney: Dennis Herrera

Herrera’s the only candidate, so ok, then!

Treasurer: Jose Cisneros

The current treasurer, Cisneros seems to be doing a fine job by all accounts.

State Propositions:

Proposition 73: Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification — No

For me, this has become an interesting issue, though I vote pro-choice down the line. Parental notification is just one more hurdle that choice foes want to place in the way of people seeking to exercise their right to choose, and is a fine point for driving a wedge into the privacy arguments that have at least theoretically protected that right since Roe v. Wade. (Minors don’t have the same privacy rights vis a vis their parents.) So I oppose notification.

But supporters say that both abortions and unwanted pregnancies have gone down in the 32 states where notification laws are enforced. If that’s true, then perhaps parental notification is a Good Thing, and should be considered. So I did some googling to find out the facts about these studies. The only useful thing I discovered was a report on the Heritage Foundation website discussing the studies and potential problems with the data. Pro-choice organizations don’t appear to acknowledge the studies at all, never mind attempt to refute them. Instead, they tout several instances in which girls have either committed suicide or died from illegal abortions in order to avoid the parental notification rule.

I’d like to know how many such instances there are, and be able to consider whether the increased incidence of these tragedies is outweighed by the decrease in unwanted pregnancies. I may well conclude that its not, but its worth considering. Meanwhile, interested people can read the Heritage report, which seems pretty evenhanded. I’d be curious if anyone knows of any more data or analyses.

Proposition 74: extends the time it takes public school teachers to become tenured from two to five years and makes it easier to fire veteran educators. — No

Why are we targeting teachers? Are teachers what’s wrong with California? There’s no reason to believe that the reason California education sucks is that bad teachers are too hard to fire (so-called “permanent” employees can be fired following a hearing), as opposed to that the job sucks and doesn’t attract good people, in which case this measure makes things worse. And why is this a proposition?

Proposition 75: prohibits public employee labor unions from using member dues for political contributions without annual consent from employees. — NO

This Prop doesn’t have any effect on corporations (for example, by requiring shareholder approval every year). This is because corporations tend to support Republicans.

Instead, this measure is designed to weaken the political clout of unions, which tend to support Democrats. Right now, union members can opt out of having their dues spent on politics. This proposition would require members to opt in before their dues can be spent on politics. Its just a strategic tactic to rely on laziness and inertia to reduce union political money.

Proposition 76: restricts state spending increases, gives the governor more budget authority and rewrites part of the minimum school funding guarantee known as Proposition 98 — No

(Proposition 98 guarantees education funding will not be lower than it was the previous year, in the absence of special circumstances.)

I’m generally for for getting rid of 98 and any other proposition that earmarks money for various government services. California’s legislature already finds its hands tied because all but about 10% of the annual budget is non-discretionary spending. But this is a power grab and you should vote no. It allows “the governor authority to declare a fiscal emergency when his or her own Department of Finance determines that state revenues have fallen at least 1.5 percent below the administration’s forecasts.

Once the governor declares an emergency, the Legislature has 45 days to address the shortfall – something critics call unrealistic with the current two-thirds vote threshold for budget cuts or tax hikes.

If the Legislature cannot come to an agreement, the governor then has the authority to cut spending unilaterally, including reducing funding to schools, health and welfare programs that now are protected from such cuts.”

In short, this proposition is deeply flawed.

Proposition 77: Legislative redistricting — NO

This is the most dangerous of all the propositions. It allows the Legislature to appoint three judges to draw all the districts. As you may know from the Texas showdown, ( districting is one of the best legal ways to fix elections. The goal here is to make California more Republican, even though most of us vote Democratic. We are scheduled to redistrict already, in 2011 after the next census. This effort is deeply corrupt and must be rejected.

Proposition 78 and 79: Competing Drug Initiatives — NO! and No

Prop 78 is sponsored by the drug companies, and would establish voluntary discount plans. In what way is a law that says you can volunteer to cut prices a law? I suppose it has legal force in that if it both passes and beats Prop. 79 it stops mandatory discount plans. Vote No.

Prop. 79 is sponsored by consumer groups and would establish mandatory discounts, that is if it ever would get out of litigation. Speaking of litigation, it also includes a prohibition on profiteering from the sale of prescription drugs. The definition of profiteering includes demanding �an unconscionable price� for a drug or demanding �prices or terms that lead to any unjust and unreasonable profit.� Profiteering on drugs would be subject to prosecution by the Attorney General or through a lawsuit filed by any person acting in the interests of itself, its members, or the general public. Violators could be penalized in the amount of $100,000 or triple the amount of damages, whichever was greater, plus legal costs. Is drug profiteering a real problem for Californians and would the danger of these lawsuits help lower drug prices, or just enrich my kind, attorneys?

In my view, the only reason to vote yes on 79 is if you think 78 will otherwise win. A Field poll on these propositions finds that Props. 78 and 79 are currently losing by nine and six percentage points, respectively. So I’m voting “No” on both.

Proposition 80: Electric Service Providers. Regulation — No

This is a complicated topic, energy regulation, which should be managed in a responsive and flexible way, not with a referendum that will lock California into today’s view of how to manage the power problem.

For example, Proposition 80 would lock into state law today’s renewable energy goals, even though we might want to set more aggressive targets in the future. The cap on state renewable energy goals can only be lifted by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or by another initiative. Consumers would be prohibited from choosing 100 percent green energy for our homes and businesses. This is billed as a pro- environment initiative, but it is a deeply flawed approach to legislating in this field.

Local Ballot Measures:

Proposition A: Community College District General Obligation Bonds: Yes

Proponents say the Community Colleges, which educate poorer students and help academically weaker ones get ready for four year schools, need the money. Opponents say the Community College Board is corrupt, and used the last bunch of bond money slated for arts on a gym. I’m going to vote yes.

Proposition B: Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds: No

Streets and sidewalks are not a new capital investment, but a recurring expense. This should be part of the yearly budget, not a bond issue.

Proposition C: Ethics Commission Budget and Outside Counsel: No
Billed by proponents as a measure to free the Ethics Commission from outside influence, this would actually remove the EC from the normal budgeting process and give the Board of Supervisors extra-control over the budget, and reduce the mayor’s usual influence. This is not more independent, its just creating dependency on a different body. Vote no.

Proposition D: Appointment of Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors: Yes

Proposition D would take away three of the Mayor’s seven appointments to the Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors and hand them over to the Board of Supervisors. The mayor opposes this move, but it could make the Muni Board more responsive to voters. I’ll vote yes.

Proposition E: Election Date of the Assessor – Recorder and Public Defender: Yes

Changes the date from June to the November election, when turn out is higher.

Proposition F: Neighborhood Firehouses; No
Micromanages by saying that all 42 Firehouses have to remain open, regardless of budgetary considerations or need. Neither the Guardian nor the Chronicle, which tend to disagree, are for this.

Proposition G: Access to Underground Parking at Golden Gate Park: Yes

Prop. G amends the earlier Prop. J (re: building the park museums) to allow for an entrance-exit inside the park so long as there’s also “a separate entrance-exit outside the Park,” and removes the requirements for dedicated access lanes. It also prohibits the creation of a third lane on MLK for anything other than pedestrians, bicycles, or public transportation. Both the Guardian and the Chron support it as a reasonable traffic plan, so I will too.

Proposition H: Firearm Ban: No
Says you can’t sell ammo or have a gun within the San Francisco city limits. If no one is allowed to have guns, then only cops will have guns. Besides, gun control is more effective at the state or national level. This will result in a lot of lawsuits, but no increase in street safety.

Proposition I: No Military Recruiters in Public Schools: No
This is one of those declarations of principle that won’t actually be enforced, since federal law requires cities to allow military recruiting or lose funding. I’m sure the federal government already knows that most San Franciscans don’t like the military, but I’m not sure the proposition funders know that most San Franciscans are annoyed by symbolic votes. Send a message and vote no!

+++++++++cut, carry and vote+++++++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++++

San Francisco Offices:

Assessor-Recorder: Ronald Chun

City Attorney: Dennis Herrera

Treasurer: Jose Cisneros

State Propositions:

Proposition 73: Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification — No

Proposition 74: extends the time it takes public school teachers to become tenured from two to five years and makes it easier to fire veteran educators. — No

Proposition 75: prohibits public employee labor unions from using member dues for political contributions without annual consent from employees. — NO

Proposition 76: restricts state spending increases, gives the governor more budget authority and rewrites part of the minimum school funding guarantee known as Proposition 98 — No

Proposition 77: Legislative redistricting — NO

Proposition 78 and 79: Competing Drug Initiatives — NO! and No

Proposition 80: Electric Service Providers. Regulation — No

Local Ballot Measures:

Proposition A: Community College District General Obligation Bonds: Yes

Proposition B: Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds: No

Proposition C: Ethics Commission Budget and Outside Counsel: No

Proposition D: Appointment of Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors: Yes

Proposition E: Election Date of the Assessor – Recorder and Public Defender: Yes

Proposition F: Neighborhood Firehouses; No

Proposition G: Access to Underground Parking at Golden Gate Park: Yes

Proposition H: Firearm Ban: No

Proposition I: No Military Recruiters in Public Schools: No

+++++++++cut, carry and vote+++++++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++++

Go get ’em, tigers.

Liberte, egalite, fraternite!


Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right? ~Robert Orben

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