EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Politics | Baghdad By The Bay - Part 2

Posts Tagged 'Politics'

SF Weekly Web Awards

Ye Gods! My head is still pounding from Friday night. After working for years right across the street from 111 Minna I finally had an excuse to go in. I definitely would have to recommend the place for people to visit if you want to get the hipster vibe of San Francisco.

There is so much going around in my head that I want to cover I hope I get to all of it. First the hip vibe of the place. Two bars with a wide selection of liver degrading beverages to offer. On this night it was open bar on Blue Moon Beer and fair trade Quinoa produced vodka. I started with samples of the vodka and then their goji berry infused vodka. Pretty good stuff I have to say, but since I hadn’t eaten anything yet I definitely started to feel it quickly. Everyone in the place had a smartphone [usually an iPhone] in their hands the entire time.

I ran into Greg Dewar of the NJudah Chronicles and then the Blue Moon started to flow. Greg made me realize that there is a part of social media that we often leave out, that’s the part where you get away from your computer and go outside your house and actually meet the people you tweet/facebook/foursquare with. Greg knew just about every blogger of influence in San Francisco and he introduced me to them [if they were there and not home writing their blogs].

My first introduction was to the most fabulous [and tall] Beth Spotswood. I frequently read her blog at sfgate.com and I think I’ll focus more on checking it out after I’ve met her. She is bubbly and vivacious and when she walks into the room you know she’s there. You don’t have to look for her. I couldn’t even get a picture of her because she always had a crowd around her.

Then I got to meet Broke Ass Stuart. WOW, what can I say. I had never seen a picture of him but he was exactly what I expected him to look like. Rockin’ a suit and tie I had about 60 seconds before a wave of hotties crashed all over him and he was swept away. I didn’t even have a chance to remind him that I was featured as the broke ass of the week on his blog a few months ago when I was a broke ass, but he was definitely the pimp daddy of the evening. Ah I remember the days when I had that kind of mojo. I need to get out more and meet these people.

There was Tom Prete of Ocean Beach Bulletin and Woody LaBounty of the Western Neighborhoods Project who I’ve know for a while. I was a bit honored when Woody referred to me and the local bloggers of the Sunset as his media reps. These are two blogs that people with an interest in the Sunset District and the Old San Francisco should definitely check out. I was sorry that I didn’t get a chance to meet Breanna Lambert of ScoutMob since we tweet back and forth with each other frequently, but it was probably an in/out for her since ScoutMob had their own party going on in the Haight.

Now let’s talk about the food. Inside there was The Heartbaker offering up some yummy desserts and luckily I got to them when it was early and I was their first customer. I tried one of their carmel brownies with sea salt. Now I’ve seen sea salt as an addition to chocolate, but I haven’t had a chance to try it. I have to say, it’s not weird. It’s great. I started to feel like one of the judges on Chopped while I was talking with them about how you’re first hit with the chocolate then the carmel slides onto your tongue adding sweetness to balance the tart of the dark chocolate followed by a salty burst at the end. Just as a side note, I have to say that seeing a group of pretty girls with lots of tattoos that could cook was a real treat. 15 years ago pretty girls with tattoos that I knew couldn’t make a cup of coffee.

Outside was where the real action was. The Bacon Bacon food truck was working the alley and they were a big attraction. Bacon, Bacon and more Bacon. Once again, they had Bacon dipped in chocolate, dredged in toffee. It was very, very good, but I could barely taste the bacon with all the great chocolate that was on it. Just so you all know Bacon should always be capitalized. That is not poor grammar on my part.

The only downside of the evening was the DJ. Not that the music was bad, but I decided to pull out my decibel meter to check and I can give the rating at Motorhead loud. It was definitely past 120db’s which isn’t very good for your hearing in the long term. Plus you pretty much had to scream to talk with anyone or go outside.

All in all it was a fun evening that warranted not just one photo, but a gallery all to itself. I would have taken more pics, but after I started meeting people I had to stop for a bit.

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I WON! I WON! I, what?

I received a very apologetic email from someone who I will allow to remain nameless at SF Weekly that for a whole ten minutes yesterday I was declared the winner of Best Local Politics Blog. This person apologized for their mistake which is why I am leaving their identity anonymous, but said that I am in the top three run off candidates for the position.

Hmmm…maybe we could have a little ranked choice voting here. There are now three people in the running and I am one of them. I am wondering if SF Weekly will go with the person with most votes or if they will do a ranked choice voting method or if they will just say, screw it, this person will make us look the best.

I woke up this morning in my usually morning fog that I get from living out by the beach and started to do my best thinking in the shower [because waking up in a foggy climate and dowsing yourself with water sets the brain in motion quickly]. Why was I announced as the winner prematurely? Could it be because I got the most votes? Probably that is the case, but since we are a Federal Republic and not a true Democracy the voice of the people doesn’t count, but it only suggests who is the winner. My fate is in the hands of  SF Weekly’s illuminati who decide the fate of the world or at least San Francisco which is the major part of the world for those of us who live here.

That being said I would gladly accept the bronze medal and take third place if that is the case and I will definitely be in attendance this coming September 9th at 111 Minna Street [5-9pm $10 ticket charge] to accept my fate. I had planned to have a Baghdad by the Bay meet up party in September and I’m glad that now I don’t have to foot the bill. I encourage all of you to come to to celebrate the power of the pen [or keyboard in my case] with me at the SF Weekly awards. I will be there in full regalia wearing duds from Harry O’s Menswear across the alley, because no one knows dress for success better than Harry O.

Maybe if we’re lucky we can get Public Safety CTO of Xentrans, David Cruise to pour his award winning Virgin Bull for all of us [vote for his drink at http://virginamerica.com/vx/next-top-cocktail to keep him the lead by a long shot right now]. I would love to meet as many of my readers as possible. Let’s all get together and be rockstars for the evening at one of the coolest hangouts in Baghdad by the Bay!

[gmap width=”650px” height=”200px” type=”satellite” visible=”true” static=”true” zoom=”16″ lat=”37.787429″ lon=”-122.399384″]

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Ranked Choice Voting: Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa: latin, “my bad”. I made a mistake in my last post that was quickly pointed out to me by the people at Fair Vote. I made the correction on my last post, but felt that it needed a post of it’s own to explain it. Yes, you can vote for the same person in first, second or third places, but if they are eliminated in the first round your other two votes don’t count because they are considered to no longer be in the race. So while your vote isn’t eliminated you just don’t have a chance at your second or third pick, or so I thought…

I did some further research and it turns out that that according to sfelections.org this is the way it works:

To start, every first-choice vote is counted. Any candidate who receives a majority (more than 50%) of the first-choice votes is declared the winner.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, a process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes begins.

First, the candidate who received the fewest number of first-choice votes is eliminated from the race.

Second, voters who selected the eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their vote transferred to their second choice.

Third, all the votes are recounted.

Once the votes are recounted, if any candidate has received more than 50% of the votes, he or she is declared the winner.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, the process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes is repeated until one candidate has a winning majority.

Now I can see why some people who have spoken out against RCV/IRV [Instant Runoff Voting] don’t like it and it lends a bit more credence to my less than perfectly researched previous argument. If you vote for a losing candidate in the first round your first vote gets passed to the second round. [UPDATE: I did get through to the Department of Elections and they confirmed that if your first choice is eliminated that your second choice is selected. They admitted that the working was bad.]which makes me wonder what happens to your second round vote. Since you can only vote once. That would be invalidated if your first vote gets passed to the second round along with your second choice vote then you’ve voted twice. From what sfelections.org is saying your first choice vote is passed to your second choice which means that making a second choice won’t matter if your first is eliminated. They don’t really say much about your third choice other than if 50% is not reached by a member that all votes are recounted.

If after the second choice no one has 50% then all votes are recounted and recounted again until someone finds the mistake and a winner is declared. This is were I see a flaw in the system and I expect to have lots of comments from fairvote.org on this one correcting me. [and Robert Richie did and I’ve made changes to the article]

Sfelections.org in their FAQ though contradicts itself by saying:

If I really want my first-choice candidate to win, should I rank the candidate as my first, second and third choice?
No. Ranking a candidate more than once does not benefit the candidate. If a voter ranks one candidate as the voter’s first, second and third choice, it is the same as if the voter leaves the second or third choice blank. In other words, if the candidate is eliminated that candidate is no longer eligible to receive second or third choice votes.

So which is it? Well, I think I’ve got the answer now, but the department of elections needs to work over their wording so it’s easier to understand. These contradictions are the main reason I don’t like RCV/IRV. On the sfelections.org website they have a link for more information at http://ww.sfgov.org/election/rcv that when you click on it takes you to a 404 page not found spot. The flash version of their website which I tried first doesn’t work at all. The website is registered to San Francisco Department of Elections so I can tell it is legit, but they seem to have a problem explaining how they work.

Now to be fair, Fairvote.org is run by Robert Richie [no not Kid Rock] and is based in Maryland, so the responses I received  to my last post were not from a San Francisco citizen. I did receive an email from Robert in addition to the comments. Mr. Richie apparently has a lot of clout behind him  having appeared on C-SPAN, NBC, CNN, Fox [I won’t hold that against him] and MSNBC as well as writing articles for a number of high profile magazines and newspapers. He has helped me a lot in getting a better understanding of RCV. SF has never needed to hand count ballots and unless we get something like the hanging chad incident or one of the candidates refusing to accept that they lost there probably won’t be any hand counting used at all.

It always amazes me that baghdadbythebaysf.com has such a long reach that I pull a prominent East Coast political activist to send me an email [he worked for three winning congressional campaigns in Washington State].

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Interim Mayor: When a Temporary Tattoo Becomes Permanent

OK, I like many of you out there have been wondering, scratching their heads or screaming out loudly during public assemblies [Leland Yee] about the Interim Mayor of San Francisco running for being a real Mayor of San Francisco. I decided I should look this up. Here is what I found for the definition of interim. This specifically refers to a person in an interim role:

An interim official is a person who is filling an official role temporarily. This can be in between two other people, or when the normal person is temporarily unable to do it and somebody else must fill in temporarily or without following the ordinary protocol. For example, a school can have an interim principal, or a country can have an interim prime minister. The interim person may also be called an acting principal or acting prime minister, as they do not have the official position, but serve in the same manner. A specific usage of this term is the interim leader in Canadian politics. The Episcopal Church uses interim clergy to support parishes following the departure of a rector (senior priest) to work with the parish on grieving, the development of new leadership, a rebirth of relationships with a Bishop and diocesan staff, and to encourage discernment for the future without the influence of the former rector – the people of the parish being the “Church.” This helps with the call of a new rector.

Source: Wikipedia

So essentially what we are looking at is a person who has been asked to fill a temporary position that will relinquish said position when the time comes. I have to admit that I’ve liked Ed Lee as the Interim Mayor of San Francisco, but he was just that — an Interim Mayor, not meant to run for re-election [are you hearing me Rose Pak? or ????????????] The term Interim is the equivalent of the term temporary. If you went to a booth at a fair and got a temporary tattoo only to find out that people later voted to make it permanent you’d be a little upset wouldn’t you?

Ed Lee was not supposed to run, nor is he supposed to run for re-election. His post was temporary otherwise he would have been called the Mayor of San Francisco, not Interim Mayor of San Francisco. I am at odds with Senator Leland Yee’s demand that Interim Mayor Lee resign if he wants to run for Mayor, I believe he should step out of the race all together and let a Mayor be elected from those who were bound by the title to not continue on past their selected time was up as was originally stating in his choice for being the Interim Mayor.

Then during the next Mayoral election, Former Interim Mayor Ed Lee can make an attempt to run for Mayor without having to feel like he is reneging on his original agreement. Bruce Reyes Chow asked me in response to my endorsement for Supervisor John Avalos for Mayor who my second and third choices will be. While I am still deciding on my second and third choices and I will post them here [especially since I’ve been nominated as one of the best local politics bloggers by SF Weekly] I can say for sure that Interim Mayor Ed Lee will not be either my second nor third choice in this election. When he took the office there was a promise that he would not run again and he has broken his promise. Therefore he will be crossed off my list.

If you haven’t already, please go to SF Weekly and vote for me as the Best Local Politics Blogger. You have until 8/30/2011 and I’ll appreciate it if I only get into the top three.

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Phil Ting for Mayor: My Thoughts

I have tried to post regularly, but now with a crazy work schedule and creeping overtime I have had to pull back a little. Once I get adjusted and settled in this should change. Now onto the article.

When I first heard that Phil Ting was running for Mayor of San Francisco I decided to keep an eye on him. He was the county assessor, so he knew about real estate, finance and taxes. He started off with a great title for his campaign, Reset San Francisco. I kind of liked that idea. He also talked about Muni reform, score again. It wasn’t until I attended my first Mayoral debate that a few questions started to rise.

He stated that while he has been in office that the city has come in under budget every year. OK, then why is our city in the red? Is someone budgeting more funds than we can afford to pay for? In my mind I don’t care whether or not San Francisco comes in under or over it’s budget, but whether or not San Francisco comes in at the end of the day in the black.

His statement that Muni needs to change is something everyone is talking about. When I worked downtown I didn’t have too much problem with Muni. The buses and streetcars I usually get from my house take me downtown in about 40 minutes without much walking. I have other friends such as Greg Dewar [@njudah] who would beg to differ with me, but he doesn’t use the same Muni route as I do so I won’t argue with him on that. Apparently the N-Judah has lots of problems that need to be fixed since it is the busiest muni route in San Francisco.

Where Phil Ting really got me was on his repeal of Prop 13 so that people of San Francisco would be paying the real property taxes they owe. I took offense at this because the comment was targeted at me, even though not only is everyone in California benefitting from Prop 13 and that it is a state law that a Mayor cannot overturn his comment was aimed at those people who purchased a house before the first dot.com boom and have lived in them ever since. It takes about 10-15 years after purchasing a house to notice a difference in your property taxes. That is, if your home value continues to increase. Currently we’re in a down swing so it might take closer to 30 years now.

Phil used this as the excuse for why we are so low in state school ratings for achievement. I suppose he forgot that when the California State Lottery went into effect that a major portion of the profit was to go towards school funding. It was originally specified that it could not be used for teacher pay raises, but that’s where it went at first because the teachers were so underpaid that not too many people wanted to be teachers.

But let me move back to Proposition 13. Currently the taxes on your house can be raised only 1.1% per year. People are saying that is the reason that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities to live in. I did a check of  the top 10 most expensive cities in the US to live in and yes, San Francisco was listed as number five, but out of the 10 cities only two were in California and those were San Francisco and Los Angeles [which according to the report is even more expensive to live in that San Francisco], so can Prop 13 be blamed for the failing of our schools and how expensive it is to live in California? No. New York City, Honolulu, and Miami are the top three. All in states without a Prop 13, but much higher taxes. I have a friend who I am sorry to say that his mother died recently and he received his mother’s house in upstate New York along with her rent controlled apartment in downtown Manhattan. The rental property is a deal since his mother has lived there for many years and due to rent control he doesn’t even pay $1000/month for his gorgeous almost penthouse like view of Manhattan. The two bedroom house on the other hand he has to pay $12,000 per year in property tax as well as $4,000 per year in school tax. His parents have owned the house upstate for many years longer than when my parents purchased our house in the Sunset District back in 1954. My friend has also been unemployed for longer than myself and he has to pay $10 for a pack of cigarettes in downtown Manhattan. This is not a cheap place to live and even though they have no equivalent of Prop 13, it is still the most expensive city to live in. Two bedroom condo’s sell for close to $2,000,000 there not including the HOA monthly fees. My friend has about enough cash to last him a year and half and then he’s in big trouble if he can’t find a job.

So let’s say we repeal Prop 13 like Phil Ting wants to do and say property taxes increased to 5% each year with a reassessment to bring homes benefitting more it being brought up to modern day reality. I could possibly live with that even though it would triple my yearly property tax, but from what I understand, if you home goes down in value the tax doesn’t really, it just doesn’t increase. The idea behind prop 13 was to help residents remain in their homes by not having to pay more in taxes as they got older and on a limited income. This was hijacked by businesses who got added in and they don’t want to sell their spaces they own because they can rent them out for more [rental control doesn’t apply to businesses] and gain more on their investment. Since we have a much higher turnover rate in businesses who are renting their locations in California, not just San Francisco this means that business property owners gain more than homeowners.

Therefore, I think Phil should start by speaking more directly about his plans for prop 13 by trying to amend it to include only homeowners and not businesses. That way some of the businesses that were cheap in say the SoMA area when they were purchased that now charge a fortune to rent out would be paying more into funds of the state so that which would trickle down to San Francisco and San Francisco wouldn’t have to tax businesses to be here like most cities in the US. This would help San Francisco more than a total repeal of a state law that an SF Mayor can’t do, but Phil Ting could work toward that. If prop 13 were removed completely people would start to leave San Francisco, but not by a lot so property prices might drop a bit because of the tax increase. It could also theoretically drop California from it’s current ranking as the 8th largest global economy. Phil, keep this in mind.

Monday, I will announce my official endorsement for the Mayor of San Francisco and my reason why.

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BART Protest: When good ideas go bad

I have to count my blessings that I don’t work downtown at the moment because yesterday’s protest would have done the exact opposite to me of what the protesters wanted. Yesterday was a day when a good idea when wrong and I’m not even sure it was that good of an idea.

There is still a little dispute about whether it was because of the shooting of a homeless man who while being drunk threw a bottle at BART police and then drew a knife and started to come at them or whether or not it was BART cutting off cell phone service last week. There’s a couple of problems with each of these.

First, Charles Hill, attacked police officers. Sure, they probably could have done some TV style police moves and disarmed him and got him to the ground, but TV isn’t real life. He had a knife pulled out and after throwing a bottle at police started to come towards them. I don’t know if he ran, lunged or just stood there stabbing the air in the direction of the cops, but he was a threat. Oscar Grant on the other hand, wasn’t a threat. I can see people protesting that incident, but not this one.

The second is the Guy Fawkes masks protesting censorship by turning off cell phone service underground to protestors. Here’s a couple of things. I actually liked going into the station after work at one of my last jobs because the cell reception was crap. I could barely get 3G service on my cell even in BART so to me if BART and Muni kept their mouths shut no one would have noticed. The second is that most of the protesters probably don’t know that Guy Fawkes came to fame by being a religious fanatic in England who was caught sitting on a number of powder kegs to be used to assassinate King James I and hopefully restore a Catholic Monarchy in England. Fawkes ended up committing suicide at his execution by jumping from the scaffold he was to be hung from before he was to be drawn and quartered. Choosing one pain over a more grisly pain. The Brits back then only hung you until you were almost dead, then dropped you, tied you down, sliced off your genitals, then ripped your guts out and if you were lucky as the last act of mercy beheaded you. Actually, now that I think about it, the people who make V is for Vengence should have done some homework as well.

Many people are calling this a denial of freedom of speech. No one was denying their the right to speak, just not on cell phones which work poorly underground anyway. I’m not even sure why you would need a cellphone at a protest anyway since you’re supposed to make your voice heard to those you are protesting against.

Much of this fell on deaf ears. Yes, there were BART Police there and many of the protesters were arrested, but did they get their point across? In my opinion, NO. When you stage a protest your goal is to bring the people around you into your outrage and join you. What this protest did was anger those people who were trying to get home from work to be with their families. No to have their trip home interrupted by a mass of people angry over the death of a man who attacked police or because they couldn’t use their cellphones in a place where cellphones don’t work very well in the first place.

I think the protesters today need to do a little homework to learn how to be more effective. Perhaps it would have been better to protest at BART headquarters, but that would require more work to get there. People will not join your cause if your only purpose is to disrupt the people. BART and MUNI don’t really care too much about that, but the people do.

 

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Ed Lee breaks his promise

As expected Mayor Ed Lee will announce today that he is running for re-election as Mayor of San Francisco. This is coming from the man who received the position of Mayor all because he is not a politician and because he vowed not to do what he is now going to do. Ed has been a good Mayor in the seven months he’s had to do the job but he has now done the first thing that all politicians should not do — broken his promises to the people.

I would have to say that things could have been a lot worse in San Francisco since he’s been in office, but do feel some ground rules should be set.

  1. He should answer for why he has broken his promise to not run for re-election. A promise that got him the job as well as support from several of the Board of Supervisors to put him in the position in the first place.
  2. His ties to Rose Pak who along with the backing of several Chinese construction companies seeking to serve the Chinese population of San Francisco and not the citizens of San Francisco need to be looked into very closely to make sure that none of the money from the Run Ed Run campaign of Progress for all goes into his coffers.
  3. He needs to be held accountable for trying to save the city money, yet offers candidates a dollar for dollar supplement to run their campaigns. This was a first for San Francisco and is costing the city large revenues.
  4. His exemption of Twitter from having to pay local tax on employees while making the rest of the cities businesses continue to pay. [most cities do not charge local employment tax on businesses.]
Lee himself has declared that he is not a politician and that is why he was chosen as the interim mayor of San Francisco. By not being a politician he was expect not to make any sweeping changes to the city, but more act as a general manager and keep it together. So now the non-politician is going to step it up and run for the real Mayor position and jump into politics.
Perhaps this could be an attempt by Rose Pak who has stated anyone, but Leland Yee to dilute the Asian vote to keep Yee, the front runner from any possibility of gaining ground. If so, I would consider that a bold political move of a high stakes poker game sort of thing. In the long run though, I like Ed Lee and he was a good interim Mayor, but interim is just that. He will be appearing at a panel at the Castro street theater tonight and I urge you all to attend and see what he has to say, but think about what I’ve just written.

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