(Skip ahead to “CHEAT SHEET, CITY” for ballot measures)
I’ve been a San Francisco voter for over a decade, and in that time I’ve never been excited for an election. I understood, no matter what I voted for, someone either useless or legitimately low-key evil would enter office, and at least a few terrible pieces of legislation would be made law by way of the ballot initiative. But this election is different. Today, we are not only voting on the recall of a legitimately dangerous District Attorney, there is a chance we might succeed. Incredibly, our vote matters.
I don’t usually draft guides for smaller elections, but we have a handful of ballot initiatives worth looking at, a candidate for governor who could actually help, and of course Chesa, Hugo Chavez’ favorite intern (or whatever).
Let’s get into it.
CHEAT SHEET, STATE
Governor: Michael Shellenberger
CHEAT SHEET, CITY
NO on Proposition A
NO on Proposition B
NO on Proposition C
NO on Proposition D
NO on Proposition E
NO on Proposition F
NO on Proposition G
YES on Proposition H
Governor: Michael Shellenberger
In California, I tend to keep my focus local on account of that’s where I believe attention makes the greatest difference. But a governor who isn’t useless would be a nice assist for many locally-systemic problems, including crime, drugs, and housing, three crises no California politician has meaningfully addressed in my lifetime. Michael Shellenberger has sensible strategy for tackling all three. But first: energy.
FernGully Environmentalism, the cartoonish kind of faith-based nature fetishism popular on the furthest extremes of the political left, is childish, irrational, and dangerous. Our problems are 1) beating back global warming, and 2) generating enough power to keep us all from dying. Ideological fantasy isn’t relevant. Nuclear power is our obvious first step. Shellenberger was a nuclear activist for years, helping drive the conversation that saved Diablo Canyon, which in a state already suffering from rolling blackouts probably just staved off a new literal Dark Age. His rational approach to progressive governance in the face of endless screaming from a small minority of self-hating crazy people is admirable, and I think indicative of how he’ll lead more generally, which is clearly what the state needs.
On the nested problem of drugs, crime, and homelessness Shellenberger believes the state should offer shelter to addicts willing to enter rehab, and we should support addicts on their journey out of addiction — which has to be the goal. He believes things like property crime, fentanyl dealing, and public defecation should simply not be allowed. This is not crazy. The people who believe this is crazy are crazy. Stop listening to crazy people.
People who argue in favor of crime and human misery in the service of “compassion” are either lying to you or dangerously stupid. Such people have been in charge for decades. Look around. Everything is broken.
It’s time to try something new. The new thing is sanity.
My bar for ballot initiatives is high, no matter how compelling the substance. The average voter shouldn’t be focused on the minutia of daily governance. That’s the job of a small handful of elected leaders, who should be greatly-enough empowered to run and improve our city. If they fail in this capacity, it’s our job to vote them out (or jail them for corruption). Copy / paste this strategy until we find a team capable of realizing our bottom-of-the-barrel expectations: reasonably-affordable neighborhoods, schools we can actually send our children to, and a novel new approach to crime, in which it is illegal.
NO on Proposition A. “MUNI RELIABILITY AND STREET SAFETY BOND.” I’m not a libertarian tbh, I believe in well-funded public transit. For 2021/2022, that looks like 1.3 billion dollars. Now, voters are being asked to take on more debt, which is really just a re-up of the 500-million-dollar bonded debt we voted for (well, you maybe, not me) in 2014. I don’t care that debt is cheap right now, given inflation. I can find no reasonably-detailed plan as to how this money will be spent. Phrasing like “equity” is invoked. I do not know what this means. If we need to upgrade MUNI, the funding should be secured as part of the budget. If we can’t manage MUNI with 1.3 billion dollars, I’m not even saying we should cut services. The budget should just be increased. The city’s overall budget has doubled from 6 billion to 13 billion over the last decade. WHERE DID IT GO?
NO on Proposition B. The purpose of this measure is to remove power from the executive in determining the shape of the Department of Building Inspection, and give more power to the Board of Supervisors, which is presently run by a mob-like cabal of anti-housing activists. But high-level, separate from present players involved, anything that further bureaucratizes governance, impeding the ability of elected leaders to actually address our many challenges, has to be a no. Especially where it concerns such critical matters of importance as our housing crisis. If our mayor isn’t able to address this crisis, we can and should vote her out of office.
NO on Proposition C. I’m actually kind of mixed on the question of recall elections. Our state is probably a little too liberal on the institution overall. But Prop C doesn’t just make recall elections harder, it bans replacement candidates appointed by the mayor from running for election, which is just insane and also possibly not constitutional? No.
NO on Proposition D. Prop D sets up a city office to provide victims of crime with new resources, including a right to civil counsel for victims of domestic violence. My rule of thumb on new councils, committees, offices, clubs — whatever — is no. We don’t need new offices, we need our officers to do their jobs. However, given our city has grown hostile to victims of crime, with our District Attorney’s office hostile to victims of domestic violence in particular, and this office would be unusually easy to remove once in place (a simple Board vote rather than another ballot prop), I at least understand a “YES” vote here.
NO on Proposition E. The purpose of Proposition E is to hamstring charitable giving to the city, ostensibly to combat corruption? But we should just be aggressively investigating corruption, and putting offenders in prison. I don’t care about charitable giving to the city. I care about the city funneling money to non-profits to ameliorate problems the city should itself be fixing, like homelessness. Let me know when that’s on the ballot so I can vote “YES, OUTLAW, PLEASE DO YOUR JOB.”
NO on Proposition F. Sets price controls on waste collection, one of the few areas where our city actually seems to function. No. Read a history book. Next stupid question.
NO on Proposition G. Content of the proposition aside, the key thing here is the Board of Supervisors could have voted on this, and passed the law, without a public vote. Why did they bring this to ballot? Because they are cleverly circumventing campaign finance laws, effectively campaigning on the prop with unlimited funds. GrowSF did a great job unpacking this in their (far softer, but nonetheless worth looking at) voting guide.
YES on Proposition H. Okay.
A lot has been said of the fact that Chesa Boudin has a life-long ideological affinity for criminals that seems to have been shaped by his parents being jailed for triple felony murder, and his foster father being a literal famous terrorist. But I don’t think it’s fair to focus on Boudin’s family background. I don’t even think it’s fair to focus on the fact that, separate from ideology and mission, the man is basically incompetent. Almost all of our elected officials are incompetent.
I think we need to focus on the fact that crime is currently legal.
On New Year’s Eve, 2020, Troy Ramon McAlister, drunk and high on meth, sped through a red light in a stolen car and killed two women. He’d been arrested multiple times that month, and Boudin’s office declined to file charges. Chesa blamed Covid.
Right now, in stores around the city, it is possible to walk down an aisle with a trash bag, and steal everything you can reach off shelves you ransacked the day before. Our social contract has completely dissolved.
Last year, on the topic of fentanyl dealers, Chesa publicly encouraged empathy… not for the thousands dead, but for the dealers. It appears his office has instructed investigators to withhold evidence. His office has failed to protect victims of domestic violence. His office has tried to massage data and lie about his record, but Boudin’s resistance to sharing data on case outcomes was finally overcome; he is prosecuting at a lower rate than his predecessor Gascon, who was by the way himself a pro-crime ideologue (now facing his own possible recall in Los Angeles), so I’m really not sure why this was ever the standard. Chesa’s failure to prosecute is a decision rooted in a radical approach to crime, and part of a national strategy to circumvent law by hacking the DA’s office. No thank you.
In recent months, Boudin’s team has dramatically altered messaging to more closely align with city sentiment, which is over all this nonsense. Now, we’re to believe the man who once brought us “think of the drug dealers” is actually Tough On Crime. It’s ridiculous, and had the world not just been on the brink of total calamity it’s the sort of stuff we might have let go. But Covid changed everything. Throughout the pandemic, and in the months that followed, we needed city leadership to keep us safe. We needed stability. Many of us needed help.
The help never came.
As the dust cleared, with damage made beyond repair for families and businesses across the city, we had to face a reality we’d long just suspected, now manifest in daily governance: not only did our leadership not care about us, it actually seemed to hate us. There need to be consequences for such spectacular psychopathy, and at the end of the day we’re really not asking for much.
When a man holds a clerk up at gunpoint? He should simply be arrested and jailed, rather than freed to immediately steal a car, smoke a ton of meth, and kill people.
It’s time to vote.