The Truthiness Report

The San Francisco 2008 Election Truthiness Report is co-produced by and The Public Press, and funded through small donations using the Spot.Us “crowdfunding” Web site. • Staff & Credits
• SF Election Ad Annotations: Mouse over these scanned ads for pop-up text boxes that reveal the truthiness of it all! November 3, 2008
“Prop D: Eyeing a Revitalized Pier 70”
By Bernice Yeung
Although development is a perennially hot-button topic in San Francisco due to concerns about gentrification, Proposition D, which would facilitate Pier 70 revitalization, is a seemingly controversy-free measure that has garnered wide support from neighborhood groups, environmentalists, city officials and developers. October 31, 2008
“Proposition V and JROTC: Lessons in How Not to Listen”
By Tim Kingston
The spat over JROTC is really more about a case of two alternate worldviews. On the one hand there is the moderate/conservative “leave politics out of schoolyard” view, which is focused on saving a local program that teaches leadership skills to youth.

Poll Smarter

The San Francisco Election Truthiness Report fact-checks the ads and arguments around local voter propositions — Junior ROTC, affordable housing, property and business taxes, clean energy, hospital rebuilding, ballot-book spin doctoring, and more.Photo: BTobin

Prop. A: The Specter of a City Without a Lifeline

By Matthew Hirsch, Public Press
The Truthiness Report: No. 10 in a series on election advertising. The proponents of Proposition A want voters to believe that the Nov. 4 election is a matter of life or death for San Francisco’s main public hospital. The measure has an enormous list of supporters, including elected officials, newspapers, community groups, and the local Democratic, Republican and Green parties.

Prop M: The Latest Battle in San Francisco’s Rent Wars

By Tim Kingston, Public Press
The Truthiness Report: No. 9 in a series on election advertising. Rancorous is always a good way to describe tenant-landlord relations in San Francisco, and the debate over Proposition M — an anti-harassment initiative put on the ballot by tenants’ rights activists — is no exception. The inelegantly dubbed Changing the Residential Rent Ordinance to Prohibit Specific Acts of Harassment of Tenants by Landlords attempts to do just that — at great length, and has spurred an exchange of pro and con arguments around free speech and the role of lawyers. Proposition M replaces a simple one-paragraph definition — “any act or omission …

Proposition V and JROTC: Lessons in How Not to Listen

By Tim Kingston
The Truthiness Report: No. 11 in a series on election advertising. • Sidebar: “Moderate vs. Progressive?” For a measure that is completely nonbinding there is much sturm und drang around the “Policy Against Terminating Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in Public High Schools.”

Prop L: Political Maneuvering on Community Justice Center

By Bernice Yeung, Public Press
The Truthiness Report: No. 8 in a series on election advertising. Proposition L, which would guarantee funding to San Francisco’s new Community Justice Center, is supposedly an initiative that would “stop efforts to play politics with community justice,” according to advertising paid for by proponents. However, given the heated debate among city officials — rooted in a longstanding feud between Supervisor Chris Daly and Mayor Gavin Newsom — that surrounds the creation of the court, the measure appears to serve a political purpose itself. Modeled after successful programs in New York City, the CJC is a “problem solving” criminal court that would provide social services instead of incarceration for defendants who commit misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies.

Proposition B: ‘Chump Change’ or ‘Massive Budget Hole’?

By Tim Kingston
The Truthiness Report: No. 7 in a series on election advertising. The battle over public power and the hospital bond have vacuumed up much of San Francisco’s attention and political capital this season. But there’s an equally significant, if under-the-radar, item up for grabs: Proposition B.
The “Establishing [an] Affordable Housing Fund” measure mandates that 2.5 cents out of every $100 in property taxes go to create what is essentially a dedicated San Francisco affordable housing account. Proponents and opponents alike agree that it would raise roughly $2.7 billion over its 15-year lifespan — in fact, that’s about all they agree on.

Brass Tax: Propositions N and Q Levy Businesses, Property

By Tim Kingston
The Truthiness Report: No. 6 in a series on election advertising. Propositions N and Q, which would increase and modify San Francisco’s property transfer and payroll expense taxes, were the product of intense negotiations between different business groups. Not surprisingly, the winners and losers in those negotiations define the pro and con election advertisements. The laws are simple enough: N would increase the property transfer tax from 0.75 to 1.5 percent on properties worth over $5 million, while Q ensures that partners in law firms have to pay payroll taxes.

Prop. K: Untested Theories Drive Prostitution Debate

By Bernice Yeung, Public Press
Proposition K, which seeks to decriminalize prostitution in San Francisco, has spawned a heated debate over how to curb human trafficking and protect the lives and health of sex workers. A close look at campaign advertising around the proposition reveals sharp disagreements between supporters and opponents over what the local impacts of the law would be, as well as a schism in feminist circles over prostitution itself. Drafted by the Erotic Service Providers Union (ESPU), a local sex workers’ alliance, Proposition K would require San Francisco law enforcement to disregard state laws prohibiting prostitution. The measure also calls for the estimated $1.6 million to $3.2 million currently spent on prostitution-related arrests and prosecutions to be directed toward other crimes, including violence against prostitutes. Despite an impact that would be purely local, the dialogue surrounding the proposition reflects the increasing globalization of the sex industry.

More Than Clean Energy

San Francisco’s Proposition H, a clean energy mandate that may take a commercial power utility public, has attracted $5.4 million in influence ads. The Truthiness Report looks at bond exceptions, “blank checks,” rate increases, municipalization and more. Photo: jfraser