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

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.

Invasion of the Policy Pushers / Interest Groups Spin SF Ballot Arguments

By Matthew Hirsch, Public Press
• First in a series fact-checking 2008 election ads in San Francisco
• Sidebar: “Swaying Voters at $2 a Word”
For the November 4 election, San Francisco’s voter-information booklet will be packed with dozens of paid arguments around hot-button topics such as housing and public power. Many of these ballot ads are signed by community and small-business leaders and appear to reflect widespread participation in the public debate. Yet the people who sign the paid arguments don’t always pay for or submit the ads themselves. San Francisco legislators changed the election rules in 1997 so voters could find out who was footing the bills. But most voters don’t know that paid arguments are often bundled by professional campaign consultants whose aim is to manufacture a showing of broad support for particular ballot issues, and who sometimes have their own, undisclosed interests.

SF Election-Ad “Truthiness” Campaign and The San Francisco Public Press are teaming up with the Knight Foundation-supported Spot.Us project to fund *nonpartisan* investigative coverage and fact-checking of San Francisco-focused election advertisements. Our goal is to raise $2,500 by Labor Day, and with a bit more than a week to go, we’re at 80 percent. Help us take it over the top! Please pass this along to your San Francisco friends … and if you haven’t made a pledge, we welcome your support.