How Lisa Rein's Voting On November 4, 2003

Explanations From Tom Ammiano About SF Propositions for November 4, 2003

Updated 9:30 am, November 4, 2003

Note: This page goes with this easy voting table.

These are all endorsed by Tom Ammiano except for Terrence Hallinan. (Tom is abstaining from endorsing a DA)

YES (Bold and in Caps) = Important to vote "yes" on
Yes (no bold or caps) = Can't hurt, but may not make that much of a difference
NO (Bold and in Caps) = will hurt San Francisco if it passes

Note that Prop M and Prop N are the only ones to be sure to vote "NO" on.

New! 3:40 pm Monday, Nov 3. I just added some brief descriptions from a flyer I picked up from the Youth Vote Coalition. Every one of their recommendations matches up with what Ammiano recommends, so I thought it would help flesh out the issues a bit to include what they say about the propositions in the explanations below (and on the table of how I'm voting).

I took advantage of having access to Tom Ammiano in person Friday to ask him about the other propositions on the ballot. What he said makes sense to me. I hope it will be helpful to you in making your decisions about tomorrow's elections.

Mayor: Tom Ammiano (Why Tom's Better Than Gonzales   Why Tom's better than Newsom   Why Tom's better than Alioto)

A  B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N  



School Bonds

Allows money for school renovation and maintenance.

Link to video of this answer (2 MB)

Tom Ammiano Says:

"I think one of the most import ones to me is Prop A, which is the School Bonds. The new Superindendent, like her or not, has really cleaned up the act of the school district. The clearance of the state in terms of honest finances. So Prop A would really help our schools a lot. In San Francisco, we like public schools. So I would say hooray for Prop A."


Safety employee retirement benefits

Grants retirement benefits to a wider range of government employees.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop B (1 MB)


City Services Auditor

Would create an official auditing division for the City under the Controller's office. Also sets up a hotline system for citizen complaints related to problems with City services.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop C (3 MB)

Lisa: "So what about C? About having Controller monitor city services?"

Tom: "You know, Jake Mc Goldrick is going to kill me for this. I'm not real happy with this one. They cleaned it up quite a bit and, ya know, I'm OK with it. But personally, if it didn't pass, I wouldn't kill myself. It's one of those things where a conservative group, called S.O.S., wanted to, in their words "have more open government and honest government," but it really is a little more self-serving than that. I think Jake Mc Goldrick did a really good job of cleaning it up and making it palatable. It will give the Controller of our city the ability to audit independently, and I think that's a fine idea. However, I think there are better ways to do it. We could have a General Manager that's elected. The Controller is appointed by the Mayor for 10 years. We have a very good controller. However, I still think there'd be a better way to do what this measure is supposed to accomplish. But I will vote for it."

Lisa: "You will vote for it?"

Tom: "Yeah. But it's not one of my favorites."


Small Business commission

Improve function of commission and representation of local businesses within Commission.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop d (2 MB)

Lisa: "What about D? Something about a small business commission?"

Tom: "Eh. You know, it takes the commission that now exists and makes it a charter commission, and people who are involved in small business feel that it would give them more status and a little more juice. I think the jury is out about whether or not that could happen, because a lot of times things are just very decorous. But perhaps it could work, and I'm not against small businesses so, ya know, fine."


Ethics Reform

Will increase enforcement of the ethical responsibility of our local government.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop E (6 MB)

Lisa: "E. It just says "ethics reform."

Tom: "Oh. This is good. I sponsored this with the Ethics Commission. Basically, it's about conflict of interest. A lot of times, people will be in city government such as a department head, or a commissioner, or the mayor, or a supervisor, and then they no longer do that. But, because their faces are recognizable. Because the juice is still there, even though they're gone, they have undue influence on decision making, and they also get more access, and they can also bring people in. So this really tightens that and says if you were a mayor or supervisor or commissioner or department head or have been involved in any way on that level, you can not come back and lobby for issues. In otherwords, giving you an insider's advantage. If we're really gonna have honesty in government, we need a lot of campaign reform and we need a lot of ethics reform. And Prop E addresses that, and I think it's great. We should be very proud of it."

Lisa: "Can you give an example of when that kind of thing happens?"

Tom: "Well let's say Mayor Willie Brown will, after 8 years, no longer be the Mayor, but he certainly will have juice with certain commissioners because he appointed them, and their term goes beyond his. And so it wouldn't be (can't make out exact word) of him currently to give them a call and say 'I want to introduce you to this developer' etc. and so forth. There's been a number of supervisors, Michael Yahi comes to mind, who, after they were not voted back in office, you start to see them in the halls, using some of the connections they had with the different departments to lobby for certain issues."

Lisa: "So it would make that illegal?"

Tom: "Yes."

Lisa: "Isn't that just going to drive it 'behind close doors' so to speak?"

Tom: "No, actually, it's going to flush it out. This comes on the heels of the disclosure and the Sunshine that we also sponsored. So, some people would say 'alright, I will disclose that I, as a previous supervisor, went and talked to so and so. So what?' So alright fine, now you disclose it, and now we say because of the position that you held before, it's a conflict of interest defined by the State, and particularly by San Francisco, in a very stringent manner. You can't do it. But the average citizen should be able to come in and have the same kind of access that you're trying to say you have because you used to be a super or mayor. So it really does level that playing field."


Targeted early retirement

Offers seasoned city employees the CHOICE to retire early in effect allowing both old and new employees to avoid lay-offs.


Rainy Day Fund

Would create a fund from the surplus of a good local economy to help out at times when our local economy is in future slumps.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop G (3 MB)

Lisa: What about "G," the "Rainy Day Fund?"

Tom: "Yeah, I think that's really good. Of course, it's mine. But the interesting thing is that you have broad support for it from the business community, from health advocates, from progressives. It's just a matter of fiscal prudency that doesn't hurt anybody. When you're in good times, you take some of that money and put it away, so when you're in bad times, the "boom bust cycle" or "spend and purge" as we call it, doesn't mean laying off people, doesn't mean cutting services, doesn't mean, gee what about this Sophie's Choice that we usually have to face with our social services. You take that money that you put away during good times and you withdraw it for the bad times and it's just a great equalizer. It's a great budget device. I mean there's a lot more to having a effective budget for all people, but this is a very significant way to do it. We should have done it years ago. So I'm hoping that it will pass quite handily."


Police Commission/Office of Citizen complaints

Would give the Office of Citizen Complaints more power and access to police records so that the people can better fight police misconduct and brutality.
Link to video of this answer (1 MB)

Tom Ammiano Says:

"Prop H is very important. Not just cause I wrote it. But it is about police reform. People are hungry for that across the class spectrum and across the political spectrum. People want police reform. It's being spun as being anti-cop. It's being spun as a political power grab. That's nonsense. We really need Prop H."


Child Care For Low Income Families (aka Smart Start Initiative)

Will catch about 1,650 San Francisco children who slip through the cracks and give them access to the preschool programs they shouldn't miss out on because their parents don't make enough.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop I (4 MB)

Lisa: "How about 'I'? Child care for low income families."

Tom: "I think it's a very good concept, but I also think this was put on the ballot as an opportunistic measure. It doesn't really talk about how it's gonna be done or where all the money is gonna come from. It's like, you know, alright, I'm gonna put something on the ballot like "be nice to old people," "don't beat up the disabled," "let's have childcare." Well, who's gonna vote against that? But the real proof in the pudding is how are you gonna make it happen, and what was your background? Now everyone has religion lately about public schools, because it's the mayor's race. Alright fine, we don't need purism and motivation. I'm the person in terms of public education with my background in education as a Board of Education member. My own kid went to public schools. My late lover taught for fifteen years. I don't feel proprietary, but I certainly feel prepared. And what we have proposed is a 60 million dollar set aside from the city government rewriting its mission for universal preschool, for arts and music for libraries in health, and for PE and sports, and that's going to be a charter amendment I hope to see on the ballot in March. And I think the buzz out there is that this is really a good thing for our public schools in San Franciso. So in terms of Prop I, I think it's a nice gesture. Again, pass or fail it's not going to make that much of a difference."

Lisa: "So you would say No? To vote No on it?"

Tom: "No! I would say "fine."

Lisa: "To go ahead and vote for it?"

Tom: "Yes. But understand that it's not always going to meet with the promises, and that it's a Mayoral election device too."


Facilities for the Homeless

Policy to require San Francisco to provide safe, decent and sanitary temporary shelter for homeless seniors, youth, families and disabled individuals that is separate from that provided to the general population.

Link to video of this answer (3 MB)

Tom Ammiano Says:

"Prop J, you know. I really think it's unnecessary. I think, for Angela, it was a way to attach herself to a ballot measure so she could get some mileage out of it. It's an old trick. We all do it from time to time. If it fails, I don't really see any great consequences for San Francisco, because we already have that political will in and around the homeless -- and again, (the bill is) just trying to capitalize on that without really trying to come up with solutions that are verifyable. Like my ability to get six million bucks from the Bush government two weeks ago, so we could have supportive housing and services for the mentally ill and homeless. Now that's real, and that's happening as we speak.

(from later in the interview)

Lisa: So getting back to J. Would you say "No"? Or would you say go ahead and pass J?


I'd say go ahead and pass J. It's not going to hurt anything. I just think that you don't want to make any empty promises.

Lisa: But it's not crucial?

Tom: Yeah.


Sales Tax for Transportation

Would maintain 1/2 cent sales tax and renew 30 year plan directing use of these funds toward local transportation improvements.

Video clip - Why Yes On Prop K (1 MB)

Tom Ammiano Says:

"Let's see, Prop K. That's a little bump in your sales tax that you've been paying for the past 20 years. If you've been around long enough. And it really has been helpful to the Muni, to ladder(?) crosswalks, more traffic signs, traffic calming, bicycle paths. You name it. If it deals with transportation, Prop K will take care of it. So I would really urge a strong vote for Prop K."


$8.50 hour minimum wage

Would increase SF minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.50!!! This would increase money spent in SF businesses by increasing personal wages by $4,000 a year and allow people currently earning minimum wage to afford more and need public assistance less.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop L (6 MB)

Lisa: "How 'bout Prop L. The minimum wage."

Tom: "Very very good. I championed "living wage" as a supervisor. It took me two years and I got it done, along with providing health benefits for people who do contracting work for the city. I think that Prop L is a very logical next step. It's the brainchild actually of Barry Hermitson, whose a small business man who understands the market in a way that doesn't rip people off. And he knows that if you pay people more than the minimum wage, which is a ridiculous amount of $6.50, that they'll have a few extra nickels in their pocket, and that they'll tend to spend that in the neighborhoods they live with. And I will say this about Gonzales, he sponsored it with Barry. And they both make a very very good point which is "hey, when there's a downturn in the economy, it's not just Chevron that hurts." It's the janitors and the people who are waiters and waitresses and the people doing physical labor, and "hello?" what are we going to do about them?"

So this is a very very reasonable minimal step to at least improving the quality of life issues for working people so they don't always have to choose "should I get some medicine? or should I put food on my table." And yes it gets that dramatic for some people.

Lisa: "And just to play devil's advocate. What about the argument that it would somehow put business out of business and blah blah blah."

Tom: "It's an old saw. And if you were paying what you should be paying in the beginning, you wouldn't even be thinking that way. You get better worker morale. You get more productivity if people are making a more decent wage. And we... give exemptions to smaller businesses. The deal is that when people have more money to spend that actually revitalizes the economy. So the argument that it would hurt business is really only coming from a very small sector who's really not interested in sharing any kind of profits. That's mostly the restaurant association and some of the businesses who back Newsom, and it's a phony argument."


Aggressive Solicitation/ATM Solicitation Ban

Meant to ban "Aggressive Panhandling," Prop M would give the police the power to arrest the homeless for little or no reason at all. Using upwards of $900,000 per year in costs and manpower.

Video clip - Why NO On Prop M (2 MB)

Tom Ammiano Says:

"M is bad. M is bad medicine. M is the same one trick pony that Newsom has propelled himself into the public eye with. It's criminalizing poverty without any solutions to poverty. It just simply sweeps. It's mean spirited. It's shallow. There are already laws on the books. And I find that this one note Johnny (Newsom) is getting very very tired. I mean, that should really indicate why he's unfit to be Mayor of San Francisco."


Taxi Permit Holder Disability

Would allow taxi drivers to keep a limited number of city issued permits/medallions possibly taking advantage of very loose definitions of "disability" and preventing drivers on the lengthy waiting list from receiving benefits paid to medallion holders.

This is another great example of why I think Tom Ammiano would be a great Mayor.

He has great reasons for not wanting N to pass, and an excellent alternative to it: providing health benefits and disability benefits for all taxi drivers (not just disability for only drivers with medallions - as N proposes). More details below.

Video clip - Why YES On Prop N (5 MB)

Lisa: "What about N? For taxi permits..."

Tom: "You know, my father was a cab driver in the 50's and 60's before he died. There were no benefits. There were no health benefits. When he died, we had to practice an Italian-American custom called La Boost (sp?) where people actually come to the funeral, which you don't pay for yet, and they make a donation. And I thought 'ya know, nobody has to go through this.' Particularly Taxi drivers.

However, this is a very self-serving avaricious measure that I think is very dishonest. In the world of taxi drivers there are people with permits and then there are people without permits, and this is a way to get the people with permits only some kind of disability benefits. It really shuts the door on anyone else, and I don't like that. And I tried to get something on the ballot that would encompass not just the permit (medallion) holders, but the other drivers too. To me, there was a way that we could have done it for everyone.

So I'm not supporting N because I think it is dishonest. I don't want to deny disability to people, particularly with my personal background, but there is another way to do it. And by the way, my office worked with the waring parties, and their very very very angry with each other and don't talk to each other a lot. Within the taxi industry there are three or four factions and we are moving towards providing health benefits for all taxi drivers. And if it ever passes, and we get the cooperation of everyone, I'd like to call it the "Joe Ammiano Law," because that was my dad.

Lisa: "So that one you're stronger about. You think it's a big NO on that one."

Tom: "Oh yes. It's going to be very harmful. And we'll just leave it at that."