The SF Green Party has made the following endorsements for the June 2012 election:
(see longer explanations for the propositions below)
Prop A (garbage contract) - No
Prop B (Coit tower) - Yes
Prop 28 (term limit reform) - Yes
Prop 29 (cigarette tax) - Yes
President. Although the corporate parties have wrapped up their primaries, we still have a close contest between physician Jill Stein and actor/comedian Rosanne Barr. We generally do not make endorsements in a contested Green Party primary, but we hosted a presidential debate on May 12. You can watch the debate below and decide for yourself!
Congress, CD8 - Barry Hermanson (Green Party).
Barry Hermanson is a long-time Green activist, who is perhaps best known for his work on the Living Wage Coalition, and for co-authoring San Francisco's minimum wage ordinance. As a result of this successful ballot initiative, we now have the highest minimum wage of any big city in the US. Barry has recently been actively campaigning for Medicare for All, and for a huge decrease in US military spending (starting with an end to our foreign wars and occupations).
The top two finishers in the June election will be the only candidates on the ballot this November. Let's vote to have Barry face off against Nancy Pelosi on issues like jobs, immigration, medical cannabis, taxes, and public education, rather than some Republican!
No on A (garbage contract). Prop A is a direct assault on San Francisco's role as a leader in recycling and waste diversion. It is couched in the language of competitive bidding and transparency, but it is really another effort to wrest control over public services from the people served and put more power into the hands of big corporations. The long-time waste service company, Recology, is employee-owned and local, two attributes which are both in accord with our Ten Key Values and are key reasons why San Francisco is the city that others want to emulate when it comes to pursuing the goal of zero waste.
Proponents of Prop A argue that San Francisco pays more for garbage service than surrounding cities, forgetting that we demand and receive a higher level of service due to hills and stairways, and mandatory recycling and composting that other cities don't bother with. The cities whose lower costs are extolled by proponents often lack composting or recycling in multi-family dwellings and commercial units. For example, San Jose's multifamily compost collection is mixed with garbage, so although it is composted, the compost cannot be used for growing food.
The big two private garbage companies, Republic Services and Waste Management, have multiple citations for improper waste disposal and dangerous working conditions. They have also faced strikes by disgruntled employees. These compainies fundamentally do not believe in zero waste. They are basically hauling companies. Using their services is antithetical to Green values.
The Green Party normally does not support private/public partnerships; we prefer to provide public services directly through a municipal department. However, that choice is not before us. The current structure for waste collection has been extremely successful and facilitates exporting our model to other municipalities.
Finally, Prop A calls for contracting with the garbage provider for only ten years. It is the stability of the long-term relationship that has made possible the investment in waste diversion and reduction programs, which are now being copied by cities across the country. Recology is regulated by the Refuse Collection and Disposal Rate Board, whose members are the City Administrator, the General Manager of the SF Public Utilities Commission, and the City Controller, not elected representatives. An argument can be made for more stringent oversight, but we should be proud of what we have achieved and not seek to subvert it. Vote No on Prop A.
Yes on B (Coit Tower). Prop B is a non-binding policy statement opposing the increasing use of Coit Tower for private parties. The Green Party views San Francisco's public parks and spaces as the common property of all residents, which should be managed for the benefit of all of us. Under Recreation and Parks' Director Phil Ginsburg, our parks and other common areas have become increasingly more privatized, subject to entry fees and other restrictions on public use. In particular, Coit Tower is frequently closed to the public in order to host private parties for rich people.
Our parks should be maintained through taxes and remain open to all, rather than being viewed as private rental spaces for the 1%. Vote Yes on B.
Yes on 28 (term limit changes). Prop 28 would change the term limits for state legislators. Currently, legislators can serve up to three 2-year terms in the Assembly, and two more 4-year terms in the Senate. Prop 28 would change this limit to a total of 12 years in either house (i.e., up to 6 Assembly terms or 3 Senate terms, or some mix of both totaling 12 years).
Like most Californians, the Green Party agrees that the current system of government in California is broken. Constitutional features such as voter-mandated initiatives with no funding source, and supermajority requirements for raising revenues, make the state virtually ungovernable. As Joe Mathews and Mark Paul suggested in their book, "California Crackup," one necessary step to fix this is Proportional Representation. In other words, if 10% of Californians vote to support the Green Party, Greens should have ~10% of seats in the Assembly and Senate. This would eliminate the "spoiler effect" and other problems with winner-take-all elections, and possibly encourage more Californians who are frustrated with the electoral process to re-engage and participate.
Prop 28 is not the sort of fundamental reform that is needed, but it is a minor improvement over current law. Term limits give more power to lobbyists and political machines, and Prop 28 slightly weakens term limits. It gives legislators more time to govern, instead of constantly thinking about their next step to higher office.
In the grand scheme of things, Prop 28 is just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. But since it's on the ballot, vote Yes to support a slightly improved arrangement.
Yes on 29 (cigarette tax). Prop 29 would raise the cigarette tax by $1/pack, raising more than $700 million per year. This money would be used to support cancer research and anti-smoking campaigns.
California's cigarette tax is currently 87 cents/pack, among the lowest in the US. A $1 increase would bring us more in line with other states that do not depend on tobacco as a major crop. 75% of the funds raised would go to cancer research, providing an important boost at a time when the federal government is slashing research funding with their misguided "austerity" programs. Another 20% would go to anti-smoking campaigns, which (along with the increased prices) would result in reduced rates of smoking, especially among youth.
Prop 29 will reduce public health care costs and provide badly needed research funds. The Green Party strongly supports it.
Other offices. We generally do not endorse non-Greens in primaries, although we may make endorsements for the general election