City Democratic Club Endorsements – November 2016

The City Democratic Club met on Thursday, August 26, 2016, to consider the issues and offices on the November 2016 ballot.

These are the official results of that membership vote. To receive the club’s endorsement, candidates must have received at least a 60% vote of the membership.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

D1 – Marjan Philhour
D3 – No Endorsement
D5 – London Breed
D7 – 1) Joel Engardio, 2) Ben Matranga
D9 – Joshua Arce
D11 – Ahsha Safai

Local and regional offices

Board of Education: Matt Haney, Trevor McNeil, Rachel Norton, and Jill Wynns (in alphabetical order)

Community College Board: Amy Bacharach, Rafael Mandelman, and Alex Randolph (in alphabetical order). No other candidate reached the 60% threshold.

Superior Court, Office No. 7: Paul Henderson

BART Board, D7: Lateefah Simon

BART Board, D9: Gwyneth Borden


CA Senate D11: Scott Wiener


President: Hillary Clinton

US Senate: Kamala Harris

US House of Representatives: D12- Nancy Pelosi, D14- Jackie Speier

Local Measures

Prop A: School Bond – YES
Part of the City’s capital plan, this bond would provide $744 million to complete seismic safety and modernization projects, improve information technology systems, build new schools, support the development of a new SFUSD Arts Center, maintain and expand the Green Schoolyards program, and explore methods for building or developing affordable housing for SFUSD teachers.
Pro: Not every school can be updated or repaired in every bond issued, so many of our schools have been waiting their turn. Additionally, some of SFUSD’s buildings are the oldest in California. This bond will help address those needs as well as help the district prepare for the projected SFUSD student population growth of as many as 14,000 new students in the next decade. Historically, management of these funds has been excellent – always on time and under budget.
Con: There is not much bad to say about this. The City rotates in new bonds only when old ones sunset, so the fiscal impact is minimal.

Prop B: City College Parcel Tax – YES
Increases from $79 to $99/parcel, and extends the parcel tax that would otherwise expire in 2020.
Pro: This is a renewal of an existing tax that provides stable funding for an education resource and cannot be raided for other uses by the state.
Con: As a parcel tax, it is regressively applied to property regardless of its assessed value and disproportionately affects homeowners.

Prop C: Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing – YES
Expands the permitted use of this 1992 bond program that already allocated some funds to the strengthening and retrofitting of affordable housing units to include the acquisition, improvement and rehabilitation of “at-risk” multi-unit residential properties, and to convert such properties to permanent affordable housing, and to finance the cost of needed seismic,
fire, health and safety upgrades or other major rehabilitation for habitability on such
Structures. No new bonding capacity would be created.
Pro: Allows the City to create more affordable housing with existing loans in an inadequate housing market.
Con: Not clear arguments against, other than perhaps a shrinking pot to be used for the original purpose, which isn’t too far off the proposed one.

Prop D: Vacancy Appointments – NO
Amends the Charter to require a special election when there is a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors unless a regularly scheduled election will be held within 180 days of the vacancy; provides that the Mayor shall appoint an interim Supervisor, who would be ineligible to run for election; and requires the Mayor to fill vacancies in all local elective offices within 28 days of the vacancy.
Pro: Stops the use of appointments as a stepping stone. Also mandates that the special elections have only the supervisorial contest on them, specifically barring any ballot measures from being added to the contest. One could argue that this is a move toward good governance; ballot-packing with partisan measures is a classic way for interest groups to sway the turnout in their direction.
Con: Makes it impossible for the Mayor to make a supervisorial appointment with an eye toward the future. Could makes the interim supervisor slot unappealing to the best who could serve. And as with GOP threats to ban the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, this measure presumes the continuance of the current power structure – “we” own the board and “they” hold the Mayorship – and underscores this by leaving intact the current provision that the President of the Board of Supervisors would take and hold the Mayor’s office, with no special election and no restrictions on running for continued occupancy, should the office of Mayor become vacant.

Prop E: Responsibility of Maintenance for Street Trees and Surrounding Sidewalks – YES
Transfers responsibility for the maintenance of street trees from homeowners back to the City and establishes a tree maintenance fund, requiring the City to contribute $19 million annually, adjusted for changes in aggregate discretionary City revenues.
Pro: Makes good common sense for this duty to be the responsibility of the City that is best equipped to handle the ongoing tree trimming.  Unanimously supported by BOS.    
Con: No significant arguments against.   

Prop F: Youth Voting in Local Elections – NO POSITION
Lowers voting age to 16 for municipal elections and the second draft specified that they could vote for Community College representatives and for Board of Education members.
Pro: Intended to increase democracy by getting people engaged at an earlier age.
Con: Only affects a very small percentage of potential voters, 11,000 out of 450,000 enrolled. Potential monetary consequence in administering – e.g. having to print special municipal-only ballots and ensure that juveniles don’t vote in federal elections. Viewed as a slippery slope by some who believe it will result in more juveniles being seen as and tried as adults in the criminal system.

Prop G: Police Oversight – YES
The Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) presently only investigates police misconduct when there is a complaint. This measure renames the OCC as the Department of Police Accountability (DPA), gives it direct authority over its proposed budget that now is overseen by the Police Commission, and requires the Department to perform an audit every two years of how the Police has handled claims of misconduct and use of force.
Pro: Gives the department greater autonomy over its budget that must otherwise be approved by the same “independent” body to which the department must present police misconduct cases for opposed disciplinary decisions.
Con: Feels like a bait-and-switch since the original language of this measure would have required the OCC to investigate any and all police-involved shootings. Also, no evidence that the OCC or the DPA is uniquely qualified to perform audits.

Prop H: Public Advocate – NO
Creates a new office of Public Advocate with authorization to review the administration of City programs, including those for transmitting information to the public, and to receive, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints regarding services and programs, and other powers.
Pro: The office would offer the public a central place for complaints, suggestions, and oversight. It would create greater transparency and independent oversight at City Hall.
Con: Former Mayors Dianne Feinstein, Frank Jordan, Willie Brown, and Gavin Newsom have joined forces in opposition to the creation of a Public Advocate. This charter amendment would removal the mayor’s direct oversight of the city’s housing and economic development departments, eroding a mayor’s ability to manage city government. City government is already too big and expensive.

Prop I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities – YES
Charter amendment to create a $38 million set-aside for seniors and adults with disabilities, increasing to $44 million after the first year, then up to $62 million over the following 9 years with annual adjustments over the next 10 years. Renames Commission on Aging to Aging and Adult Services Commission and makes it the overseer with an 11-member created advisory committee.
Pro: Intended to address gaps in service to a growing disabled and aging population.
Con: Set-aside that limits budget flexibility and may not be needed given that S.F. already places great value in having abundant senior and disability services.

Prop J: Funding for Homelessness and Transportation – YES
Charter amendment to establish two new budget set-asides – a Homeless Housing and Services Fund, appropriating $12.5 million in fiscal 2016-2017 and $50 million annually for the next 24 years; and a Transportation Improvement Fund with $24.5 million this fiscal year and $101.6 million for the next 24 years.
Pro: Long term funding streams for long term problems.
Con: Expensive charter amendment using budget set-asides.

Prop K: General Sales Tax – YES
Increases local sales tax by .25% at a time when state tax decreases by the same amount.  
Pro: Intended to fund a popular issue of homeless services with 50% of the revenue. 
Con: It is a regressive tax because everyone, regardless of their income, must pay it in an already very expensive city with some of the highest sales tax.  

Prop L: MTA Appointments and Budget – NO
This measure would split the power to appoint SFMTA directors between the Mayor (4) and the Board of Supervisors (3) instead of the existing appointment power held solely by the Mayor with BoS approval required. It would also reduce the number of votes needed for the BOS to reject an MTA budget from seven votes to six and also would require the Board to adopt findings to explain any rejection. Also adds language that the directors will reflect the diversity of SF and must ride MUNI (or use paratransit) with four being “regular riders.”
Pro: Reduces autonomy previously granted to MTA by the voters by allowing the BoS to override MTA’s budget with six rather than seven votes. Also gives the BoS more power in selecting board members.
Con: Could be viewed as a solution in search of a problem. The BoS presently has ample input via Mayoral appointments that require BoS approval, and the BoS may directly appoint to vacant or expired seats after a designated period of Mayoral inaction. Also, voters previously granted MTA full budget authority and now the BoS, including the author of the previous measure, seeks to chip away at its own previously submitted and passed law.

Prop M: Housing and Development Commission – NO
This measure would create the Housing and Development Commission, to oversee the newly proposed Department of Economic and Workforce Development, and the Department of Housing and Community Development, which would replace the current Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. This would require the Commission to hold hearings and make recommendations regarding proposals to adopt or change inclusionary housing requirements for housing developments; and to adopt rules creating competitive selection processes for the Department of Housing and Community Development’s expenditure of affordable housing funds and for the development of affordable housing on City-owned property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Pro: Ensures both offices would be overseen by a commission. The commission would also have to propose a 5-year strategic plan.
Con: This measure seems like a power play between some sitting board members and the mayor. Both new departments would replace two offices currently under the mayor and would require that the Board either name or approve all members of the commission.

Prop N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections – NO POSITION
Would authorize voting-aged parents, caregivers, and legal guardians who have children in SFUSD to vote in Board of Education elections and allows the Board of Supervisors to adopt rules to implement and govern the program. Establishes a 2022 sunset that the BoS could override.
Pro: Promotes democracy by allowing those with a direct interest in the outcome to participate.
Con: May dilute the value of citizenship by allowing non-citizens to vote. Potentially undisclosed costs involved in administering.

Prop O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point – YES
A 1986 initiative set an annual limit of 950,000 square feet of office space (Prop. M). In 2008, Prop. G established a mixed-use development for Candlestick Point and Hunters Point with 330 acres of parks and open space, up to 10,500 homes, 885,000 sq. feet of retail and entertainment (including a mall), and up to 5.15 million square feet of office space. Redevelopment plans require that the City place a higher priority on 800,000 square feet of office space in the project area over most other areas of the City.

This initiative would exempt the Candlestick/Hunters Point project area from Prop. M’s 950,000 square feet annual cap and, consequently, preclude the preemption of other office space proposals elsewhere in the city. This exemption would shorten development time and afford more certainty to the developer, subject to approval by the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, the successor to the now-defunct Redevelopment Commission. It would also accelerate job creation in construction and ancillary businesses that would serve the project area. Lennar Corp., the Bay Area’s fifth-largest land developer, has nearly 12 million square feet in pipeline for construction and would benefit from the measure, as would other developers who would otherwise be delayed by the project’s priority under the existing cap.

Pro: The Bayview/Hunters Point district has been among the most distressed areas in San Francisco, if not the most. This measure would afford a quicker infusion of much-needed jobs and businesses serving its residents. The U.S. Navy’s abandonment of the Naval Shipyard was not a consideration when Proposition M was adopted 30 years ago.
Con: The exemption constitutes an end-run around planning policy. San Francisco’s traffic and housing problems derive in no small part from an emphasis on office development over housing. A wholesale exemption can only further exacerbate such problems.

Prop P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Projects – YES
Requires Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH), which funds developments on City-owned property, to publish their solicitations and bids, to review at least three bids before granting a project, to choose the best value bid, and to require prevailing wage and local hires.  
Pro: This measure is intended to increase transparency and make bids more competitive.    
Con: Deemed an exercise in futility because the developers can just collude on who should get which projects and bid them as such. Additionally, it does not need to go to the ballot because the MOH could simply modify its process. In a worst-case scenario, the new requirements would just delay building these desperately needed projects.   

Prop Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks – YES
Current law prohibits willful obstruction of sidewalks, including sitting or lying on sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The law also permits the removal of public nuisances, including unsanitary structures. It does not, however, explicitly prohibit placing tents on public sidewalks. This measure would require a permit for a tent to be placed on a sidewalk and allow for non-compliant tents to be confiscated. Before a tent’s removal, the City would be required to 1) offer shelter to all tent residents, 2) offer to pay transportation costs for all tent residents to live with family or friends outside of San Francisco, and 3) provide 24-hour advance written notice. After removal, the City must post a notice near its prior location stating where and why the tent was removed, where it is now stored, that the City is not charging for the tent’s and personal property’s storage and retrieval, and that the City will discard the property after 90 days if not retrieved.
Pro: Sanitation, security, crime prevention, and promoting tourism in a humane way.
Con: This is a political ploy (per Supervisor John Avalos) because the City lacks shelter for all people now in encampments.

Prop R: Neighborhood Crime Unit – YES
Creates the Neighborhood Crime Unit in the SFPD to be activated when the Controller certifies that the Department is at full staffing as mandated by the Charter and sets minimum staffing levels for and assigns duties to the unit.  
Pro: No significant arguments in favor.
Con: Sets a dangerous precedent to micromanage how a department head deploys their resources.  Also, this program already exists in SFPD’s daily practices.

Prop S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds – YES
The City imposes an hotel tax on the operation of hotels in San Francisco. The hotel tax consists of an 8% base tax and an additional 6% tax surcharge on the rental of hotel rooms. The City spends spends half of the base tax revenue on maintaining, improving, and operating the Moscone Center. The remainder of the money supports advertising of San Francisco, tax administration, and the City’s General Fund. This measure would require the Board to allocate annually the money raised by the 8% base tax to the Arts Commission, other arts funding, the Moscone Center and a newly established Ending Family Homelessness Fund. Until a few years ago, a portion of this fund was allocated to the arts.
Pro: Without raising taxes, the Allocation for the Hotel Tax Fund measure restores allocations of hotel tax revenue to arts funding, to improving access to arts experiences citywide and to ending family homelessness, in line with the original intent. Roughly 75% of the increased allocations would be dedicated to the Arts Commission for neighborhood arts groups, artists and arts groups reaching underserved populations, and to a fund to help homeless families find housing. The City Controller estimates the hotel tax to increase significantly over the next few years, which would mean that the impact on currently funded areas would be minimal.
Con: There may be a small impact on City budget line items currently being funded with this revenue stream, if the purposes of the Fund are defined as above. Although there is a designated revenue stream, this is essentially a budget set-aside.

Prop T: Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists; Lobbyist Contributions and Bundling – NO
Existing law requires lobbyists to register with the City’s Ethics Commission but does not require disclosure of the agencies they intend to persuade. Lobbyists are prohibited from contributing more than $500 but they are not banned from collecting and delivering contributions from others (“bundling”) to city officials and candidates for office. Lobbyists are generally prohibited from delivering gifts or payments through third parties to obviate this limit.

This measure would prohibit a lobbyist from making a contribution (or bundling) to the city official or candidate if the lobbyist is registered with the official’s agency, something that state law already prohibits for state officials. It would also prohibit lobbyists from making any gift of value to city officials, with a concomitant prohibition against using third parties to circumvent this law. Lobbyists would have to give notice to the agency (or agencies) he/she intends to influence before doing so.

Pro: Makes “pay to play” political practices slightly more difficult for lobbyists. It stands as a rebuke to certain campaign strategies attributed to Mayor Ed Lee’s recent re-election campaign (three quarters of the $235,124 lobbyists contributed in 2015 went to Lee’s campaign).
Con: Adds more complications to a legal and regulatory landscape rendered all but impossible to effectively regulate by the 2010 Citizens United ruling and the resultant use of ostensibly “independent” committees that are unlimited in their contribution amounts. This measure may infringe on lobbyist free-speech and association rights. More significantly, the law’s complications constitute a trap for the unwary initiates to San Francisco’s complicated and ruthless political environment.

Prop U: Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Projects – YES
Doubles the income limit for participation in the BMR lottery for rental units, from 55% Area Median Income to 110% AMI (higher than the 90% AMI limit on for-purchase properties) and caps rent for BMR units at 30% of household income. Makes no change to developer BMR requirements.
Pro: 55% AMI cap is unrealistically low and excludes any resident who could be considered middle-class, including City employees in education and public service who are above the current limit but often cannot afford market-rate housing. Significant City benefits to having such workers eligible for BMR.
Con: In doubling the income limit – and setting it higher than median income – this measure expands BMR eligibility to the point where it no longer serves the at-risk population originally intended. The 110% limit for rentals is higher than the 90% AMI limit for new condo development, suggesting that this measure is a weather vane that could be followed by subsequent measures to increase that and other income limits.

Prop V: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages – YES
Creates a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, levied on distributors rather than at point of sale. Characterizes the tax as an excise tax, not a use or sales tax. Creates a 16-person committee, with each seat assigned to an agency or role, for oversight. This committee would sunset in 20 years. Similar to a previous measure, which received majority support but failed to reach the Proposition 13-mandated 2/3 supermajority.
Pro: Deterrent to overconsumption of soda, with the intent of pushing people toward healthier alternatives. (Fruit juices, which contain a lot natural sugar, are specifically exempted from this tax.) The negative impacts of soda consumption are well-documented.
Con: A sales tax by any name is regressive; moving the tax back to the distributor level has the same price effect on the consumer.

Prop W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million – NO
Would increase the real property transfer tax rate from 2% to 2.25% on properties with a consideration or value of at least $5M and less than $10M; from 2.5% to 2.75% on properties with a consideration or value of at least $10M and less than $25M and from 2.5% to 3% on properties with a consideration or value of at least $25M. The funds go to the General Fund, though the Board of Supervisor seems to already have intentions with the money including assisting SF city college students with tuition and paying for street tree maintenance.
Pro: Increases our tax base by raising the rates on those most able to pay.  
Con: It just raises the costs of doing business in S.F. home sales.  

Prop X: Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods – NO
Placed by Board of Supervisors (7-4); Avalos, Breed, Campos, Kim, Mar, Peskin, Yee in favor; Cohen, Farrell, Tang, Weiner opposed

Prop RR: BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief – YES
Placed by BART Board of Directors


State Propositions

51: School Bond for K12, CC – NO POSITION
This first-ever citizen-initiative school bond would authorize $9 billion in general obligation bonds: $3 billion for new construction, and $3 billion for modernization, of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities. Bars amendment to existing authority to levy developer fees to fund school facilities until new construction bond proceeds are spent or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.
Pro: Intended to create a dedicated fund for schools infrastructure.
Con: Gov. Jerry Brown opposes this special-interest measure to raise money at the state’s general fund expense as fiscally reckless. Local school bond measures are generally considered more effective.

52: State Fees on Hospitals – YES
This measure makes permanent a fee imposed on hospitals that goes into a fund earmarked for Medi-Cal. If passed, it would require a 2/3 vote for the Legislature to raid the fund for other purposes, as has been done imprudently in the past.
Pro: Protects money that should be used for uncompensated care provided by hospitals to uninsured patients and for children’s health coverage through Medi-Cal. Projected to save the state at least $500 million and potentially over $1 billion annually, and qualifies California for federal matching funds.
Con: This fund is, in theory, a “set-aside” that limits budget flexibility, but the money comes from a dedicated source and is returned to that source to fill an identified need and would still allow diversion of the money with a 2/3 majority vote.

53: Revenue Bonds a/k/a “No Blank Checks Initiative” – NO
Requires voter approval for projects that cost more than $2 billion, funded by revenue bonds that would require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment. While some bonds do appear on California ballots for voter approval, bonds paid for out of state revenue do not currently require voter approval. State and local fiscal effects are unknown.
Pro: Currently, other state bonds for water, school and transportation projects require voter approval. But a loophole in state law allows politicians and unaccountable state agencies to circumvent a public vote and borrow billions in state revenue bond debt for massive state projects without voter approval. The primary supporter is Business Executive, Dean Cortopassi.
Con: This could impact local control and community infrastructure improvements negatively, negatively impact water supply and drought preparedness, and inhibit California’s ability to repair outdated infrastructure.

54: Transparency Requirements for Legislature – NO
Requires that a bill be in print and available on the internet for at least 72 hours before it is eligible for passage, except in limited cases of public emergency. Requires video recording of all proceedings, except for executive session. Requires that all such proceedings on the internet within 24 hours, available on the internet for at least 20 years, and archived forever. Places private party caucuses, that aren’t official executive sessions, under the recording rules. Strikes rules that prohibit the use of Legislative video recordings for campaign and commercial reasons. Estimated $2-3 million cost to state in first year and $1 million annually thereafter.
Pro: Though pushed by Republican Charles Munger, Jr., Munger’s previous championing of California redistricting blunts arguments that this is a purely partisan measure, although it reads like one.
Con: In striking the “not for campaign use” restriction, would allow lobbyists and campaigns to troll for video quotes that can be taken out-of-context in opposing campaigns. The text of the measure is poorly written, introducing grammatical and legal errors into the Constitution. One could argue that the measure is a Trojan horse written by a campaign consultant just to get access to State video under the guise of “transparency.”

55: Tax Extension for Education and Healthcare – YES
This measure extends by 12 years the temporary tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250K for single filers or over $500K for joint filers to be used for education and healthcare.
Pro: Increases state revenues annually from 2019 to 2030 in the $5B to $11B range continuing to tax the highest earners at a higher rate to be spent on Democratic priorities. Prevents schools from making big cuts to their budgets that are just beginning to climb closer to 2007 levels.
Con: Voters were promised a sunset, yet, here it is again, even if the Governor as the original sponsor isn’t the one to put it on the ballot.    

56: Cigarette Tax – YES
Increases taxes on cigarettes and other nicotine-delivery vehicles. Cigarette tax would increase from 87 cents per pack (35th in the U.S.) to $2.87, with e-cigarettes now subject to the tax. Would increase funding for research and healthcare.
Pro: Covers e-cigarettes, which are often targeted at youth by candy-flavored vapes; reinvigorates anti-smoking programs; increases funding available research and treatment. Taxes nicotine users directly without impact to non-smokers.
Con: Alleviates existing tobacco-related costs that insurers have already anticipated. Is administratively inefficient and does not focus enough attention on anti-smoking education. Makes funding for anti-smoking programs dependent on the very activity they purport to discourage and decrease.

57: Criminal Sentences for Juveniles – YES
This measure allows parole consideration for persons convicted of nonviolent felonies upon completion of full prison term for primary offense and authorizes the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to award sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, or educational achievements. It also requires the Department to adopt regulations to implement new parole and sentence credit provisions and certify that they enhance public safety. This measure requires that juvenile court judges shall make the determination as to whether juveniles age 14 and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as adults, instead of the prosecutors as is done currently.
Pro: Prosecutors are increasingly charging youth in adult courts despite plummeting youth crime. This moves the decision of youth or adult court to the judge. It also allows for justice reforms that incentivize rehabilitation over punitive, ineffective, and lengthy prison sentences, potentially creating more opportunities for incarcerated people to return to their communities less likely to reoffend.
Con: Good-time credits and earlier opportunities for parole would allow people who commit serious offenses to serve only a fraction of their original sentence. These is also some dispute over what qualifies as a non-violent offense. There are conflicting assertions that past sentencing reduction measures for nonviolent offenses resulted in increases in crime.

58: Multilingual Education – YES
Repeals the previous, restrictive Prop. 227 that limited language choices in schools and created liability for schools when the child did not learn English. This initiative removes that liability as well as removing a requirement that parents sign an annual waiver to allow dual language programs.
Pro: Makes California kids more competitive in the global workforce and promotes awareness of other cultures.
Con: Students from other countries may not learn English as fast if they are not forced into English-only immersion, which could be a disadvantage in acclimating to U.S. culture and prolong language barriers for newcomers.

59: Campaign Finance – YES
Advisory measure that seeks to overturn the Citizens United ruling by calling on state elected officials to use all powers to overturn the act and having the Secretary of State communicate it to the Feds.
Pro: Sets a priority for our elected officials to take aim at the definition of corporations as people for the purposes of making unlimited campaign donations to super-PACs and may encourage other states to take a similar stance.
Con: As an advisory-only measure, it does not actually do anything but state a position, which the Legislature and public officials can do without a costly ballot measure that some may consider grandstanding and wasteful.

60: Adult Films Health Requirements – NO
Initiative to require the use of condoms in all pornographic films featuring sexual intercourse produced in California. Imposes liability on producers for violations, on certain distributors, on performers if they have a financial interest in the violating film, and on talent agents who knowingly refer performers to noncomplying producers. Permits state, performers, or any state resident to enforce violations.
Pro: Voter sentiment favoring safer sex in adult films is clear: unlike most politicians, voters are not squeamish about this issue, seeing it as a means to protect the health and safety of performers working in the industry. It’s only fair that adult film performers be afforded the same safeguards as other Californians in their workplaces.
Con: The San Francisco Democratic Party, Supervisor Scott Wiener, and many performers in the industry publicly opposed the measure, arguing that it would not protect performers but would drive the production of pornographic films underground. It could reduce state and local tax revenue by millions or tens of millions of dollars per year. Likely state costs of a few million dollars annually to administer the law.

61: State Prescription Drug Purchases – NO POSITION
Prohibits state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Exempts certain purchases of prescription drugs funded through Medi-Cal. Fiscal impact: It is the opinion of the Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance that the measure, if adopted, may result in a substantial net change in state or local finances.
Pro: Pretty obvious – ensures that the state doesn’t pay more than the Federal government for prescriptions, and in pegging to the VA price, avoids expensive individual negotiations between the state and the drug companies.
Con: Risk that state will have to litigate anyway to preserve the price peg. The Legislative digest pointedly says that there could be a “substantial net change” in government expenses, but does not specify whether that’s lower or higher.

62: Death Penalty – YES
Repeals capital punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole and applies retroactively to those on death row.  Affirms requirement that this prison population work while imprisoned and raises to 60% the portion of their wages that may go to victim restitution fines or orders against them.  
Pro: Estimated to save government $150 million annually within a few years.  Also does away with an inhumane practice that very few other free nations allow.  
Con: No significant arguments against.

63: Firearms – Ammunition Sales – YES
Prohibits knowingly sharing or transferring ammunition to persons prohibited from owning guns or who will sell or transfer ammunition to such a prohibited person. It also requires face-to-face transfer of ammunition, presumably to prohibit mail-order, internet, and other third-party circumvention. It makes such transfers a misdemeanor.
Pro: Large-capacity magazines have no legitimate personal-protection use. Once in possession of a gun, a felon or other prohibited person can obtain all the ammunition desired. California support for more stringent gun control measures is now favored 57% to 38%.
Con: The complexity of this measure and its interplay with California’s existing and stringent gun control laws make this a more appropriate subject for the Legislature, but the measure bars amendment except by a new initiative. Casts a broad net disproportionately affecting law-abiding citizens while having a limited effect on public safety. Impinges on civil liberties.

64: Legalization of Marijuana – YES
This measure legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law and designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry. This statute imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. It exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. The statute establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. It also allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana and prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Finally, it authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. Most of the revenue funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment.
Pro: Despite decades of prohibition and aggressive enforcement of criminal laws, marijuana remains widely consumed and universally available. The prohibition of marijuana and the war on drugs are both widely recognized as failures. Regulating marijuana through the policies of this measure will bring this booming and unregulated market under the rule of law to protect the most vulnerable in the state. Marijuana purchases will be moved into a system with strict packaging, labeling, and advertising standards protects consumers and youth. Additionally, it reduces and eliminates criminal penalties for marijuana offenses which will reduce the detrimental impact of discriminatory criminalization.
Con: This measure does nothing to prevent advertising and marketing to children and teenagers near parks, community centers and child-centric businesses. It may not significantly change the black market.

65: Carry-out Bags Fund Use – NO
Requires that money presently collected by grocery stores for sale of recyclable plastic or paper bags be turned over to the Wildlife Preservation Board to be used for environmental projects such as clean water, drought mitigation, wildlife habitat mitigation, beach cleanup and litter removal.
Pro: Consumers have a right to see the money they spend on bags be used for an environmental purpose since the law change was sold to shoppers as environmentally motivated but the extra money goes to the stores.
Con: The original justification for the bag charge was that it would motivate shoppers to bring their own bags, which it has. Now that grocers have grown accustomed to the extra income for bag sales, stores may raise their prices to compensate for the lost revenue.

66: Death Penalty Procedures – NO
This pro-victim measure would speed up the time it takes from conviction to putting a prisoner to death and attempts to save the state money by doing away with basic legal rights such as assertion of certain defenses deemed “frivolous.” It would eliminate special housing for death row, require inmates work to pay restitution to families and require cases be assigned to any attorney rather than those who specialize in capital punishment cases.
Pro: Intended to bring speedy justice for families of victims and save the state potentially tens of millions of dollars annually.
Con: In stark contrast to Prop. 62, which would eliminate the death penalty and save the state $150 million a year, Prop. 66 makes an inhumane practice even more so by reducing due process rights for capital prisoners who face the ultimate punishment.

67: Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags – YES
Note: This is a referendum. A “yes” vote is to uphold the law to ban plastic bags. A “no” vote is to reject the new law banning plastic bags, allowing their continued use.
A referendum on Senate Bill 270 (2014) that banned plastic bags. This is a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The challenged law must then be approved by a majority of voters at the next statewide election to go into effect. The law prohibits grocery and certain other retail stores from providing single-use bags but permits sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags. A “yes” vote is a vote in favor of upholding or ratifying the contested legislation banning plastic bags that was enacted by the California State Legislature under the name Senate Bill 270. A “no” vote is a vote in favor of overturning Senate Bill 270.
Pro: The enacted legislation helps to protect the environment and reduce litter, without hurting low-income consumers or decreasing job creation.
Con: This would ban a 100 percent recyclable product and also put fees on consumers for other bag alternatives. It’s an orchestrated cash grab by members of the California Grocers Association to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees, none of which goes to a public purpose.

SAVE THE DATE: Endorsement meeting, Thursday 8/25

Mark your calendars for the endorsement meeting for the 2016 general election. We’re expecting to meet at the Chancellor Hotel. New members need to have joined by July 28 to be vote-eligible, with more relaxed rules applying to people who’ve been members in the last two years.

More details and a confirmation are forthcoming.

Endorsements: June 2016 primary election

City Democratic Club endorsements: June 2016 primary election

About 40 voting members participated in our endorsement meeting last Thursday evening on March 31. Lots of energized members and friends in the room, with speeches advocating candidates for offices ranging from POTUS to DCCC.

The ballots have been counted, and the City Democratic Club announces its endorsements for the June 2016 primary election. Congratulations to all:


President: Hillary Clinton

US Senate: Kamala Harris

US House of Representatives: D12- Nancy Pelosi, D14- Jackie Speier


CA Senate D11: Scott Wiener

CA Prop 50: Yes


Superior Court Judge: No Endorsement

Club bylaws require a 60% majority to endorse. No candidate reached this threshold.


Joshua Arce, London Breed, Malia Cohen, Zoe Dunning, Shaun Haines, Tom Hsieh, Gary McCoy, Leah Pimental, Rebecca Prozan, Alix Rosenthal, Arlo Smith, Frances Tsang, Scott Wiener, Jill Wynns


Kat Anderson, Keith Baraka, Joel Engardio, Mark Farrell, Tom A. Hsieh, Mary Jung, Trevor McNeil, Emily Murase, Rachel Norton, Marjan Philhour


Prop AA: Yes


Prop A: Yes
Prop B: Yes
Prop C: Yes
Prop D: Yes
Prop E: Yes

Other business

We also voted on club officers and are pleased to welcome Kat Anderson as our newly elected club president! Congratulations as well to all winning officers.

Kat Anderson, president
Michael Ho, 1st vice-president
(open seat), 2nd vice-president
Steve la Plante, treasurer
Michelle Parker, recording secretary
Clay Harrell, corresponding secretary
Michael Breyer, member-at-large
Heidi Machen, member-at-large

As we welcome officers for 2016, we also say goodbye to outgoing president, Mike Ho, and outgoing 2nd vice-president, Jim Reilly. Thank you both for your years of outstanding leadership and service to the club.