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SF Supervisors Report Card 2018

How Green is Your Supervisor?

This is our report card for the SF Board of Supervisors in 2018. It shows the most important votes in 2018, from a Green Party perspective, and whether each supervisor supported or opposed our position. Some of the votes are on amendments to legislation. Compare to our 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 report cards.

 

Key:

Supported Green Party position
Opposed Green Party position
Absent (Excused)
New Supervisor

 

  D 1: Sandra Fewer D 2: Mark Farrell / Catherine Stefani D 3: Aaron Peskin D 4: Katy Tang D 5: London Breed / Vallie Brown D 6: Jane Kim D 7: Norman Yee D 8: Jeff Sheehy / Rafael Mandelman D 9: Hillary Ronen D 10: Malia Cohen D 11: Ahsha Safai
Interim Mayor MF - MF LB - MF MF LB/MF MF LB LB
Oppose "Pay to Play" Y Y Y N N Y Y N Y N Y
Secret POA Negotiations Y Y Y - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Real "Question Time" Y N Y N N Y Y Y Y Y Y
Oppose Citywide Rezoning Y Y Y N N Y Y N Y Y N
Oppose Bribery Y N Y N N Y Y N Y N N
Wiener Conservatorship N Y N Y Y N N Y N Y Y
Police Commissioners N Y N Y Y N N Y N N Y
MTA Budget N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Support Prop 10 Y N Y N Y Y Y Y Y N N
MTA Ad Contract Y Y N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Eliminate Parking Minimums Y N Y Y Y Y N Y Y N N
Free City College Y N - - Y Y Y Y Y - Y
Overall Score 77% 0% / 17% 75% 9% 0% / 60% 69% 62% 13% / 60% 69% 25% 23%

 

Details about the votes we scored

 

1) Interim Mayor (1/23/18).

 

After the death of Mayor Ed Lee in early December, Board of Supervisors President London Breed temporarily became "Acting Mayor." According to our City Charter, Breed would keep the job until the Supervisors appointed an "Interim Mayor," who would then serve until the next election.

 

According to our City Charter, the Board of Supervisors could have chosen any registered voter from SF - not just a member of the Board - to be Interim Mayor. Under the somewhat bizarre rules adopted by the Board, any Supervisor wishing to be considered for Interim Mayor had to recuse themselves from voting. However 6 votes were required to make the Mayoral appointment, rather than a simple majority of the non-recused members.

 

As both Jane Kim and London Breed were declared candidates for Mayor at the time of the vote, many progressive groups advocated that a "caretaker" mayor who was not running for office be appointed, so that neither Kim nor Breed would have the advantage of incumbency. This would avoid the mistake Supervisors made in 2011, in which Ed Lee was appointed Mayor based on a pledge that he would not run for a full term, which Lee then reneged on when he filed for re-election. In both 2011 and 2018, the Green Party called for an open debate on Mayoral succession, to avoid the sort of back room deal that resulted in Lee's appointment.

 

London Breed's conservative supporters on the Board had a big advantage going into the vote: as long as no Interim Mayor candidate could get the necessary 6 votes, Breed could continue to hold two powerful positions in City government (Acting Mayor and President of the Board) indefinitely. Thus, there was no incentive for them to seriously consider any other candidate, and it appears that they did not. In order to round up 6 votes needed to oust Breed, the progressive faction made a deal with the most conservative member of the board, Mark Farrell, that resulted in his being appointed Interim Mayor. Mark Farrell represented the most wealthy part of SF, and is the only supervisor to maintain a perfect 0 for 63 record of opposing the Green Party's position on every single vote we scored throughout his tenure.

 

We gave every Supervisor a "0" for this display of institutional racism, and for not holding a real public debate on the issue. As we predicted at the time, the elevation of Mayor Farrell backfired, allowing London Breed to run for Mayor in June as an outsider and as a victim of a racist back room deal. This allowed her to pick up just enough progressive support to ensure her victory (which will almost certainly lead to another 10 years in power for the Willie Brown Machine).

 

2) Charter Amendment on Appointees Running for Office (1/30/18)

 

This was a vote to put Prop B on the June ballot. Prop B, which passed with 70% in favor, prohibits appointed commissioners from running for office without resigning from their commission first.

 

As we wrote in our endorsement:

Prop B is a basic "good government" measure that would require appointed members of SF's Boards and Commissions to resign from those positions in order to run for office. Currently, candidates are allowed to retain their seats, which enables them to perform political favors for potential donors. Prop B would shut down that potential source of corruption, so we enthusiastically endorse it.

 

The four Supervisors who tried to block Prop B from the ballot (Breed, Cohen, Sheehy, and Tang) favored a continuation of SF's "pay to play" politics.

 

3) Secret Police Contract Negotiations (2/27/18)

 

For the first time in 10 years, the City negotiated a new contract with the SFPOA, our ultra-conservative police union. Many members of the public, representing the "no justice, no deal" coalition, urged the Board of Supervisors to negotiate this deal transparently.

 

Instead, the Board voted unanimously to negotiate in closed session, and to not release any details to the public. These secret negotiations do not serve the public interest.

 

The police union essentially sets their own policing priorities, rejecting any kind of democratic oversight by the Board of Supervisors. They have come out against foot patrols, community policing, and release of police disciplinary records. In exchange for the very generous pay raise they received, the POA should have been forced to accept some reform and oversight.

 

4) Real "Question Time" (4/3/18)

 

In 2006, SF voters passed a ballot measure to create a monthly "question time" at Board of Supervisors meetings, in which Supervisors could openly debate policy with the Mayor. This process is based on a process used by Parliament in the UK, where "question time" is about the only time it is possible to get straight answers out of government leaders. SF Greens strongly supported creating a similar process for our local government.

 

In SF, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom was too "chicken" to show up, until voters passed another ballot measure in 2010 that legally required the Mayor to do so. But by the time that ballot measure took effect, Newsom had flown the coop for Sacramento, leaving Ed Lee in charge. Mayor Lee's allies on the Board, led by Board President David Chiu, set rules for "question time" that required all questions to be submitted one week in advance, in writing, with no follow-up questions allowed. This format appeared to be designed to allow the Mayor to duck any tough questions.

 

In April 2018, Supervisor Peskin proposed changes to the rules that allow follow-up questions from both the Mayor and Board members. This measure passed with 8 votes, with only Supervisors Breed, Stefani and Tang remaining in opposition to the will of the voters.

 

5) Oppose Citywide Rezoning (4/3/18)

 

SF Supervisors took a stand in formal opposition to State Senator Scott Wiener's SB 827, a bill that would effectively re-zone the entire City to allow 8-story buildings to be built everywhere. SB 827 was a give-away to developers, who would have been allowed to build and sell new luxury condos throughout SF, then run away with their profits before City services collapsed under the demand of all the new residents.

 

Up-zoning everywhere would also increase the financialization of the real estate market and exacerbate the misery of income inequality. Real Estate Investment Trusts, corporate landlords, and institutional investors largely funded by the <1% have gobbled up significant chunks of prime real estate since the subprime mortgage meltdown that crashed the global economy. Standardizing density statewide would give these super-rich investors the ability to move buckets of money around to maximize profits and continue reinflating the bubble by trading entitlements for new construction and further driving up land values.

 

Although the final advisory measure passed 8-3, we scored Supervisor Peskin's amendment to the original legislation, which made it a more clear statement in opposition rather than just requesting changes. On this vote, Supervisors Breed, Safai, Sheehy and Tang voted to keep the original watered-down language.

 

6) Oppose Bribery (4/3/18)

 

In an effort to reel in SF's infamous "pay to play" culture, Supervisor Peskin tried to amend our campaign finance laws to prohibit campaign contributions from people with decisions pending before a land use body (such as the Planning Commission), or up to 1 year after such a project is approved.

 

For years, these "donations" have been legalized bribery that is required for most people wanting to get a project approved quickly. However, the majority of the Board happily accepts these bribes, and they voted to keep their gravy train rolling. Supervisors Breed, Cohen, Safai, Sheehy, Stefani and Tang all came out in favor of "pay to play" politics on this vote.

 

7) Wiener Conservatorship (4/24/18)

 

Scott Wiener wrote a bill, SB 1045, to give counties more authority to hold homeless people against their will in order to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment. SF Supervisors voted 6-5 in April to support the bill, although the measure failed because it needed 8 votes. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-supervisors-fail-to-lend-support-to-Sen-12862143.php

 

Greens opposed SB 1045, because it gives police too much power to decide which homeless people can be locked up against their will. Most homeless people want treatment services, and Wiener's bill wastes money on policing, rather than actually helping anybody. We therefore urged a NO vote on this legislation at the Board of Supervisors.

 

Wiener's bill ultimately passed, although it will apply to fewer than 10 people living in SF.

 

8) Police Commissioners (5/15/18)

 

In May, Supervisors voted to reject Mayor Farrell's re-appointment of two long-time police commissioners, Joe Marshall and Sonia Melara. Greens supported this decision. Both commissioners frequently sided with the police union and against the public. Both supported arming police with more deadly weapons, such as Tasers. Marshall even voted against a ban on police using "choke holds" on suspects.

 

After losing this vote, Melara dropped out of consideration for the position. Marshall tried again, and was rejected twice more by the Supervisors. Mayor Breed finally filled both positions with different people.

 

9) MTA Budget (7/31/18)

 

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is a City agency that has authority over SF's roads, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, parking, taxicabs, as well as Muni. Since 2007, a supermajority of 7 out of the 11 Supervisors is needed to reject the Mayor's proposed budget for the agency.

 

The SFMTA's primary function has always been to provide City contracts to politically connected businesses. Muni service, fixing potholes, and other voter priorities have always just been given the lowest priority. As Willie Brown's friends say, "MTA = ATM".

 

In 2019, only one Supervisor, Sandy Fewer voted to reject the MTA's budget. She did so in objection to the MTA's refusal to reimburse taxi drivers for the purchase of medallions, after City leaders screwed over those drivers by allowing their competition, fake-taxi companies like Uber and Lyft, to operate with virtually no regulation or oversight.

 

Greens believe other Supervisors should take their responsibility for SFMTA budget oversight more seriously, and refuse to approve future budgets until the SFMTA really puts transit users first.

 

10) Support Local Rent Control (9/4/18)

 

This vote was a resolution to support the statewide ballot initiative, Prop 10. As we wrote in support of Prop 10:

Prop 10 would allow cities to enact rent control on newer buildings (built after 1995) as well as on condominiums and townhouses. Currently, we have a limited supply of rent-controlled housing, which can only shrink as older apartments are replaced or converted to condos. Prop 10 would give tenants a much better selection of places to live.

Even more importantly, Prop 10 would allow cities to vote to enact "vacancy control" to limit the amount by which rents can increase on new tenants. The lack of vacancy control currently gives landlords huge incentives to evict long-term tenants, leading to many illegal evictions.

 

Even though 7 of 11 supervisors voted in favor, this symbolic resolution failed because it needed 8 votes.

 

11) MTA Ad Contract (10/16/18)

 

In October, Supervisors extended their contract with Intersection Media, the company that sells ads on Muni. The contract guarantees SF only $32 million over 5 years, which is nothing for a system that costs $1.2 billion each year to operate.

 

As we said when the contract was first approved in 2014, we object to the "full wrap" bus ads, which make it harder for riders to see out of buses, thereby discouraging Muni ridership. As service has deteriorated even further in the last 5 years (due largely to Uber and Lyft, and Scott Wiener's defunding of Muni in order to pay off the developers who elected him), the wraps are a further insult to riders and should go.

 

12) Eliminate Parking Minimum (12/11/18)

 

In December, Supervisors voted to eliminate development rules that required a minimum number of parking spaces to be built for each new unit of housing. This has been a long-standing Green Party priority. As we wrote more than a decade ago in the Transportation plank of our local platform:

Space used for the storage of private automobiles amounts to vast areas of pavement and building space that could be used for parks, natural areas, public recreation, housing, retail, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, transit lanes, or many other public benefits. With 210 million square feet in San Francisco dedicated to car parking, even a reduction of 10 percent in the amount of space we need to store our cars would free up 21 million square feet! Providing so much parking also subsidizes car use by San Francisco residents and visitors and discourages use of transit, walking, and bicycling. Parking also reduces population densities, requiring people to travel greater distances to meet their needs, and obstructs efficient and safe travel by walking, bicycle, and transit.

 

Greens not only call for eliminating parking minimums, we also want lower limits on the maximum amount of new parking that can be built.

 

13) Free City College (12/18/18)

 

Greens have always advocated for all education costs to be paid for with public funds rather than tuition and fees. Eliminating all student loan debt has also been a central part of many Green Party campaigns. Greens were part of the grassroots movement in SF to make City College free, and we've scored this issue as important on previous report cards.

 

In December, Supervisors voted to put a measure on the November 2019 ballot to continue the program. We think Free City College has been a great success, and would like it to continue.