By Tom Temprano
NOVEMBER 14, 2014 — As the game of backroom baseball to decide who the Mayor appoints as a replacement for the Sacramento-bound David Chiu carries on in earnest, I can’t help but think back to July when this Board of Supervisors had a chance to bring the decision out of the backrooms and into the open.
Many of you may recall the close 6-5 vote to strip the Mayor of his power to appoint his legislative check and balance — and now we can see exactly why Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials was so necessary.
Instead of speculating about who might be running in an open election for the District 3 seat, and why a district full of voters might support/not support that person, we are instead speculating about which City Hall power brokers are pulling for which potential appointee. There’s Rose Pak pushing for Planning Commission President Cindy Wu, there’s Ron Conway going to bat for Christine Pelosi and there are, to quote the Chronicle, some in the Mayor’s “inner circle” going all out for Julie Christensen. Apparently we even have a challenger to the will-be appointee in Jon Golinger, already lined up!
This sort of power-broker puppeteering may be fun fodder for journalists and good gossip for political barflys but it’s the sort of stuff that really turns off an already-turned-off electorate. Wouldn’t our local democracy be a whole lot more democratic if all the aforementioned people had to go to the voters and run for the seat?
Unfortunately, our Board of Supervisors didn’t think so — and so here we are going through another round of the anointment (a more appropriate term than appointment given how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent) circus without a pathway for a democratic election in sight.
Or is there? It was quite clear that the Mayor was applying a lot of pressure on members of the Board to stop Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials from reaching the November 2014 ballot. Supervisor Malia Cohen, who just easily won reelection with the mayor’s strong backing, waffling on her vote at the last minute to kill the measure is pretty clear evidence of that.
It stands to reason that an idea that nearly got out of the Board chambers and onto the ballot might still have some legs and could be particularly fun to have before voters on the November 2015 ballot – at the same time the mayor is running for reelection. Watching him have to defend his Pope-like power to undemocratically anoint as he pleases might give an extra wedge issue to would-be challengers like Mark Leno or Tom Ammiano.
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The board, which will now have an additional mayoral appointee sitting on it no matter who the power brokers choose, is unlikely to come up with the 6 votes to put it on — but collecting the signatures necessary to get it on the ballot could certainly be an option.
Another School Board election another loss for LGBT candidates – and the LGBT youth in our schools. One of my many disappointments on Election Day was the inability of our electorate to add a much-needed LGBT voice to our city’s Board of Education. If there’s anywhere that LGBT perspective and leadership is need it is in our city’s public schools.
Despite many of us adult gays feeling like San Francisco is a 24-7-365 queer acceptance utopia, the LGBTQ youth in our public schools have a much different experience. A look at this 2011 survey of 5,000 SFUSD middle and high school students demonstrates just how difficult public school can be for LGBT students in this city.
One of the saddest findings shows that one out of every three LGBT students attempts suicide every year – a number that goes to one out of two for transgender students. Additionally more than half of queer students said they were sad or depressed, they were twice as likely to do things like smoke cigarettes or do drugs than their straight counterparts. And 40% of LGB and 66% of trans students said they had been bullied at school.
All of these statistics point to a really serious need for a more LGBT-friendly SFUSD. Now, this isn’t to say the administration and elected board isn’t working to help our queer students – they most certainly are. But having an LGBT commissioner like Jamie Rafaela-Wolfe or Mark Murphy sitting at the table would undoubtedly have helped to turn up the heat on efforts to make sure our queer students are taken care of.
Nobody knows how to have a good time on a picket line like nurses. This week’s picket outside of Kaiser demanding higher staffing ratios and better safety precautions for nurses came complete with a full sound system pumping out danceable, yet appropriately thematic, songs like ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ as well as one of the most decked out food tables this side of a ‘Looking’ shoot. Here’s to hoping that the good folks at CNA can party their way to a victory against the profit-flush Kaiser Corporation, which could apparently afford to spend $15 million to defeat Prop 45 and protect their right to gauge us patients but can’t afford to hire enough nurses to keep us from sitting in gurneys in hallways for days on end.