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.

The Business of Ballot Booklet Brokering

Campaigner and ex-City Hall aide David Noyola illustrates how insiders spin local elections
By Matthew Hirsch, Public Press
Like many who work in San Francisco City Hall, David Noyola last month was answering two phones, a land line for his official duties, and an iPhone to talk politics. Noyola has since left his position as a legislative aide for Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, and for election 2008 has put his specialized knowledge to use as a professional campaigner. His work in these two capacities illustrates how insiders can have sizable impacts on local elections. In Noyola’s case, his influence is currently most visible in the city’s voter information guide — the thick booklet published before each election that lists all the candidates and initiatives, as well as the official and paid arguments in support or opposition. Working separately as a partisan electioneer and as an aide for Peskin, Noyola placed 22 arguments in the voter guide, collectively supporting of five propositions.

San Francisco Voter Propositions for November ’08

By Greg M. Schwartz, Public Press
Editor’s Note
This overview of the twenty-two propositions on San Francisco’s Nov. 4 ballot includes regularly updated contextual links, as well as reader comments. Truthiness Update
San Francisco Election Ad Annotations
Prop D: Eyeing a Revitalized Pier 70 (Nov. 3)
Prop. V and JROTC: Lessons in How Not to Listen (Oct.

Sidebar: Swaying Voters at $2 a Word

• Main Article: “Invasion of the Policy Pushers”
Here are the most lopsided campaigns in the fall 2008 San Francisco voter information pamphlet, with a well organized group on one side dominating the paid argument pages. Measure A: funding construction and renovations at San Francisco General Hospital
FOR: 39 arguments, submitted mostly by Whitehurst Campaigns
Measure H: promoting public power and alternative energy
FOR: 9 arguments
AGAINST: 30, submitted by a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. campaign committee and Citizens for a Better San Francisco, an affiliate of the San Francisco Republican Party
Measure L: establishing a special court to handle petty crimes
FOR: 17 arguments, submitted mostly by Storefront Political Media, run by a San Francisco mayoral aide
Here are the most evenly matched campaigns:
Measure B: establishing a public fund for affordable housing
FOR: 7 arguments
Measure K: decriminalizing prostitution
FOR: 9 arguments
Measure V: reverse a policy to phase out JROTC, military training program in public schools
FOR: 10 arguments
–Matthew Hirsch