While Maine and Vermont are the only two American states that allow all prison inmates to vote, many other states are increasing voting rights for felons. The Los Angeles times reports that the drive to restore voting rights is backed strongly by justice-reform advocates, the African American community, and evangelical Christians. Because one out of eight black men cannot vote due to prior convictions, voting rights can turn into a civil rights issue. Pat Nolan, a leader of the Christian reform group Prison Fellowship, told the newspaper it was a matter of forgiveness: “Why, after someone has paid their debt, do we continue to punish them?” More than five million people in the U.S. cannot vote due to felony convictions.
While the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections saw the web emerge as a powerful force in political campaigns, the 2008 race harnessed the power of the Internet to an unprecedented degree for fundraising, volunteer coordination, voter recruitment and post-election communication. In the 2004 election, Newsdesk.org first reported on the emergence of social-networking services as campaign tools, with more tech-savvy candidates embracing the technology. Today, social media in elections and politics has reached a whole new level, with Change.gov, a website launched by President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, at the forefront. The site is soliciting feedback and ideas from the American public and will document Obama’s transition to the Presidency, according to the BBC. The website also lists Obama’s policy priorities, job possibilities in the new administration, and information on the transition itself.
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. Pier 70 is a 65-acre site along the Central Waterfront, just south of Mission Bay. According to the Port of San Francisco’s proposed master plan — which will be finalized by early 2009 and then released to the public for comment before going to the Board of Supervisors for approval — the redeveloped port would feature retail sites, restaurants, public parks, cultural venues, parking and continued maritime industry (Pier 70 is the oldest continuously operating shipyard on the West Coast for boat building and repair). In fact, many anti-gentrification activists are supporting D because they see it as a way to not only save the historic buildings, but also to insist on more green space and less dense retail-type development. No Opposition?
The San Francisco 2008 Election Truthiness Report is co-produced by Newsdesk.org 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.
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
By Matthew Hirsch, Newsdesk.org/The 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.
By Tim Kingston, Newsdesk.org/The 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 …
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.”
By Bernice Yeung, Newsdesk.org/The 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.
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.