December 2003

The Slate Card is Out!

Friends, Romans, Republicans:

Below are the Granick Slate Card picks for San Francisco’s important Mayoral election, exactly six days from today. Your voting place may have changed, so click here to find out where to vote.�

My picks are no surprise, since the candidates I endorsed are now in the run-offs.�

But I’m fresh from having watched the most recent mayoral debate, and here’s my analysis. In this final debate, I think that both candidates had something to overcome, and succeeded in doing so.

Newsom had to overcome the idea that he was conservative and uncaring and riding on homeless people as a political issue. He looked and sounded like he really cared and had spent a lot of time looking at other cities’ programs for ideas. That is, when he wasn’t smirking and laughing “off” camera.

Gonzalez had to overcome the idea that he is ideological and rigid. He clearly is thoughful and dedicated and not beholden to ideological positions.

My position didn’t change as a result of the debate, but I do feel a little bit better about Newsom. As a result, some readers of the slate card are leaning towards Newsom and one has submitted his 10 Reasons for Considering a Vote for Newsom. Below, I debunk each in turn.�

Green party strength leads to Democratic party weakness. You don’t see an insurgent party to the right of the Republicans, nibbling away at the conservative base. Naderites … were responsible for the election of Bush. A vote to strengthen or entrench the Green party in any way is tangential support for the GOP.

I wholly disagree that a Green mayor promotes the GOP in California or on the national stage, or in anyway weakens the Democratic Party. I don’t even think it will push the party more to the left, since the national stage considers San Francisco something of an out-lier. With a Republican governor and president, I’m not sure a Green will be any more at a disadvantage than a Democrat would.�

Newsom is proposing ambitious plans for the city’s worst problems: homelessness, the lack of low income housing, balancing the budget. They may not be perfect proposals, but at least on homelessness, with Care Not Cash, he dragged the issue back into public discourse. I never understood the argument that this was political grandstanding. The system is broken. Proposing a solution is… wrong?

There’s nothing wrong with a solution that works. There’s everything wrong with a fake solution. I think the homeless issue belongs to Gonzalez. He has accepted the principle of Care not Cash, so long as there’s some guaranteed Care. Without giving people food and shelter, Gonzalez is unwilling to take the money away, and I agree with that. Newsom’s solution was to take the money away first, and then see what services would show up. There was no realistic plan in his proposal to improve or expand services.

Couple this with his cynical placement of the anti-aggressive panhandling prop M on the last ballot, laws which are already on the books in San Francisco, and I doubt Newsom’s “solutions” even more. In the debate, he never answered the question of what was wrong with guaranteeing services before taking away the money. And make no mistake about the amount of money we’re talking about. Its about $400 a month. Could you live on $400/month?

He recognizes SF’s homelessness problem is linked to drug treatment and mental health. Gonzalez feels homelessness is best solved through new housing opportunities. Look at the streets: in in this city, it’s clearly not the whole problem. Were already spending 100 million a year on this and it gets worse and worse.

Difficult economic times and the city’s declining business base require a moderately business-friendly mayor. We need to fill all those empty buildings and restore the revenue tax revenues.

Gonzalez isn’t business unfriendly. He wants to lower business taxes on small business and raise them on richer businesses. I agree with that. Difficult economic times are times for balanced economic policies, not for pro-business ones, like cutting business taxes.

Newsom is in favor of more high rise, high density housing downtown and in mission bay. There are drawbacks to that, of course, but in a city with constrained land mass, there’s only one direction to go: up.

Gonzalez is for this too. He supports less development in the Neighborhoods, with any new housing concentrated around transportation corridors. He’s always supported this. Newsom came to it late, after he lost the support of Walter Wong, a developer who wants more neighborhood buildings. Wong now supports Gonzalez, but Gonzalez hasn’t changed his views.�

Newsom is simply more organized: he presents comprehensive, in-depth proposals on many issues, has a larger staff and more political allies. To me that translates into an ability to hit the ground running if he wins.

I agree that this is a weakness for Gonzalez, and probably the worst thing for his campaign from the recent debate. Newsom, when he wasn’t smirking at the camera, walked over Gonzalez in terms of appearing polished and prepared. He’s also spent 8 times the money on this race as Gonzalez. Gonzalez came to this race late, and Newsom’s been planning it for years. I think Gonzalez is professional and can and will rally organizationally. He’s put this campaign together in short order and on something of a shoestring. I won’t hold lack of money or long-term preparation against him.

Newsom talks about slimming city bureaucracy and improving city agency’s interaction with citizens.

Talks. So does Gonzalez. But Newsom supports business proposals over improving the city. He supports that tourist amusement park/mall up at the Piers, which Gonzalez says will hurt smaller businesses nearby and throughout the city by corralling the tourist dollars, and will bring more traffic to that area, without more transportation services. Gonzalez knows that the city government needs to be small. He’s fashioned two budgets in recessionary times as President of the Board of Supervisors, without super painful cuts.

Newsom received endorsements by Pelosi and Feinstein, elected officials I support.

I like Pelosi, but I don’t like the pro-business Feinstein. And besides, they’re both Democrats, so they are going to support the Democrat.�

Also, what is with that strange little saga of Newsom’s agreement with Angela Alioto in exchange for her endorsement?

Vote Matt!

For those new to the list, or with short memories, here’s what I said last time about my choice for District Attorney, Kamala Harris:

District Attorney: Kamala Harris

San Franciscan’s want a progressive District Attorney, and this time we have a choice. Terence Hallinan, who I’ve endorsed before, runs the office like shit. People are demoralized and disaffected, which actually is a problem, even for a criminal defense lawyer, because the line prosecutors are too inexperience, afraid and uncertain to make tough decisions about when to dismiss and when to pursue cases. Supporters say only Hallinan has the guts to challenge the SFPD, but I don’t think the SFPD is any better now than it was 8 years ago. More, I think the whole fajita-gate scandal, the sloppy decision to charge the higher ups in the police department and the subsequent dismissal of those charges makes Hallinan look ineffective and unprofessional.

So I support Kamala Harris. She’s that rare bird, a prosecutor and a civil libertarian, too. She mentions consequences for crimes and constitutional rights in the same breath, and has a history as a civil rights litigator.


Remember friends, the election is Tuesday December 9. Vote early, vote often and viva la democracia.


Yesterday. I was listening to a debate between the candidates for District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris and Terence Hallinan. During the discussion, Harris accused Hallinan of not having a high enough conviction rate, and Hallinan defended by saying that the way the statistics are counted (no. of convictions per every arrest, not per cases filed by the D.A.) and the number of people sent to diversion programs account for the low number. Though I’m supporting Harris, I appreciated that point. Then he said that the county’s conviction rate for murder cases was 85%. This disturbed me. First, I thought the rate of convictions was generally a lot higher. But even so, that statistic means that 15% of the time, there’s no conviction. That either means that murderers are going free or innocent people are being charged with murder when they shouldn’t be. Any reader of this blog knows that I’m not a “law and order” type, to say the least, but am I wrong that that statistic should be higher?

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