Saturday, November 06, 2010

City voters disappoint progressives---again

Challenging the myth that SF voters are left-wing, Chronicle reporter Heather Knight lists the recent issues that show city voters are more moderate: two years ago they rejected public power, rejected legalizing prostitution, and kept JROTC in city schools. 

Last Tuesday city voters passed the sit-lie measure, voted to make Muni drivers negotiate their contracts like everyone else, and again rejected allowing non-citizens to vote in school board elections. Knight talked to former supervisor Aaron Peskin, who provides a muddled, "progressive" analysis of recent elections:

Aaron Peskin, chair of the city's Democratic County Central Committee, said measures like the sit/lie ban are clear attempts by downtown groups to motivate moderate voters in the hopes they'll elect moderate members of the Board of Supervisors. While it was too early to call the supervisors races, Peskin said it looked like the effort had failed. Progressives were leading in three of the four open races. That happened two years ago too when voters trended moderate on measures, but elected four liberal supervisors.

Of course city voters are more moderate on ballot measures than they are in electing supervisors because of district elections. Liberal districts elect people to the Board of Supervisors who would have a hard time winning a citywide election, including Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi, and even Peskin himself.

Sit-lie had nothing to do with electing supervisors. Like Care Not Cash in 2002---another big defeat for city progressives---the sit-lie measure was designed to address what a majority of city voters clearly think is a serious street punk problem in the neighborhoods. Whenever city progressives lose on a ballot measure, they invoke the wicked, shadowy, "downtown" groups as an explanation. To hear them tell it, they never lose a vote on the merits of an issue.

Peskin makes a disingenuous claim about why important city issues often have to be settled by city voters with ballot measures:

He[Peskin] said the larger lesson is that there are simply too many measures placed on the ballot by politicians who should deal with the issues themselves. "The people of San Francisco would benefit from shorter ballots, and the vast majority of these initiatives should be vetted in the political process without being put before the voters," he said.

Peskin knows that the sit-lie measure was put on the ballot by Mayor Newsom because progressives on the Board of Supervisors refused to do so. Instead, the supervisors (Avalos, Campos, Chiu, Daly, Mar, Maxwell, and Mirkarimi) put poison pill Proposition M on the ballot to counter Proposition L, the mayor's sit-lie measure. City voters weren't fooled, and they passed Prop. L and rejected Prop. M.

Something similar happened with Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash back in 2002. Newsom had to get the measure on the ballot by gathering signatures, while progressive supervisors (Ammiano, Gonzalez, McGoldrick, and Peskin) put poison pill Prop. O on the ballot to counter Prop. N, Care Not Cash. The outcome was similar: city voters, concerned about homelessness and the growing squalor on city streets, passed Prop. N and rejected Prop. O.

Knight also talks to so-called homeless advocates, who continue to conflate homelessness and the sit-lie issue:

Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said her group will likely join others to file a lawsuit against the measure on the ground it levies too steep a punishment (up to $500 and 30 days in jail for repeat offenders) and will be applied by police selectively. "People get frustrated, and they see homeless people and they look for quick solutions," she said. "Unfortunately, we're kind of doing the same thing over and over and over again. It's proven not to work."

The reality is that the street punk problem addressed by the sit-lie measure is not about homelessness at all, and Care Not Cash has had some real success in dealing with homelessness over the years, as both the Grand Jury and the Controller concluded a couple of years ago.

But Paul Boden takes the prize for his succinct statement of the delusional progressive interpretation of sit-lie and homelessness:

Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, agreed[with Friedenbach], saying "The closer poverty is to your face, the less liberal people tend to be. They see the righteous peasant in El Salvador, but it's a bum when it's the person in your doorway, and politicians play off that constantly."

Next time you see a street punk panhandling on Haight Street for money to get drunk/high, try not to laugh when you compare him to "the righteous peasant in El Salvador."

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At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D wasn't really what I would call a "progressive" proposal - it was supported by a wide number of groups including major parents groups - which are generally fomented by richer more moderate people who want to use the public schools but have the money to leave if they get a bad one. We have a lot of ex-pats from the UK/France/etc... in our city who don't have a voice in the school board. And frankly - if they could have voted, we might have gotten rid of Kim Shree-Maufus on Tuesday. Note that you really are only going to get legal immigrants with children voting in said election, and after that you will overlay traditional voter turnout on top of that - which basically means you are going to get extra votes from rich Europeans and Asians.

Wiener is not a progressive by befuddled San Francisco standards. Peskin probably considers Pelosi a moderate - the rest of the nation seems to think she's the reincarnation of Karl Marx. She endorsed Wiener. He's going to be very good for the city - top to bottom. I don't think he'll be any more or less "progressive" than Dufty - just a hell of a lot more decisive. Thank God for that.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the sit-lie law to take effect..and I hope it's rigorously enforced. Maybe now we can walk down Haight st, or Castro without being harassed by these lazy ass punks.

Scott Weiner will make a great supervisor! Congrats!

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Who really voted for sit/lie?

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"D wasn't really what I would call a 'progressive' proposal---it was supported by a wide number of groups including major parents groups---which are generally fomented by richer more moderate people who want to use the public schools but have the money to leave if they get a bad one."

I'm a Democrat and a liberal, more or less, who thinks voting in US elections should be restricted to American citizens. Let immigrants go through the citizenship process if they want to vote in the US. Peskin may think Pelosi is a mere "moderate," but she got nearly 80% of the vote from her constituents, which makes Peskin out of synch with city voters. But that's not news. After all the DCCC opposed sit-lie, endorsed legalizing prostitution and getting JROTC out of city schools. As a Democrat, I'll take Pelosi's brand of moderation over Peskin's leftist ideology any day.

Who voted for sit lie? 132,366 city voters, which was 54.71% of the votes cast. It was even kind of close in the heart of Progressive Land. When you look at the four precincts adjacent to upper Haight Street, sit-lie lost only 624 to 516, not exactly a landslide. Maybe all 516 of those folks were rich people? The vote on sit-lie just demonstrates once again that city voters are more conservative/moderate than the Bay Guardian-type lefties like to think.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thinking on the school board issue is sort of ridiculous. 2/3rd of US Citizens have no children of school age, but they vote for the school board, and people with multiple kids in school cannot. The net result is people without a vested interest in the outcome - and thus don't research the choices - get to vote while people who care dearly about the outcome cannot. So we get... Kim Shree-Maufus.

The school board sets policy but has no capability to tax - non-citizens would not get a voice in setting taxation policy.

I don't see it any differently than a stockholder in Apple getting to vote in shareholder elections.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I don't see it any differently than a stockholder in Apple getting to vote in shareholder elections."

Citizenship is not required to be a stockholder in Apple. Most of us think being a citizen of the US is something special that you have to go through a process to achieve. If you're not a citizen, you can still go talk to the kid's teacher, help him/her with homework, clean erasers, give him a blow job, whatever. But you can't vote in an election in SF without being a citizen. If voting in school board elections is so important, take your kid back to East Jesustan or wherever you are a legal resident and vote.

Progressives don't think being an American is important, since we are the Great Satan, oppressing poor people of different nationalities and religions, etc. Maybe city progs should go to some other countries and try to vote in their elections.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why do we let them enroll their kids in the school?

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Because the city's obligation to educate its children has nothing to do with their parents' immigration status.

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Times change. You used to have to be a natural born US citizen to be President, not anymore. Why not let them vote.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Are you saying that Obama wasn't born in the US? Take a look at the evidence to the contrary.

SF progressives don't value US citizenship in the first place, which is why they don't mind degrading its currency by allowing non-citizens to vote in our elections.


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