Following up on the issue of the Election Department placing blue and red footprint stickers in the vicinity of the polling station in City Hall as reported below. Since then I've contacted and spoken with members of the Green Party, the media, and the Ethics Commission about the matter. Last week after early voting began, I called the Elections office again and a staffer confirmed that the footprint stickers had indeed been put out once more as John Arntz stated they would be. I also spoke with Greg Slocum(?) of the department, who claimed that he'd looked at the election code, and that they did not meet the definition of electioneering. I again requested a written response from the department and suggested he include that info in the response, but like the director he didn't commit to sending any response, and I've seen nothing from them.
I'm pleased to report however, that as I discovered when I went to City Hall yesterday, the original issue has been alleviated somewhat. while the footprint stickers have been put out again for this election contrary to our request, they are now placed differently than they were before the primary election as seen below. Now they appear in pairs – two blue footprints together, then two red footprints together, then two blue footprints, and so on. In keeping with the tendency of those in power to never admit either to wrongdoing or to changing course as a result of protests or public pressure unless forced to do so, the Elections Department director never admitted to me that there was any problem or issue with the previous display, or said anything to me about making this change.
I still feel the red and blue footprints are inappropriate, given what I believe was the original intent to subtly promote the Democratic Party and its candidates by visually portraying the election as being about blue and red, left and right, pick Team A or Team B. They should either affirm their non-partisan status by adding footprint stickers of other colors, or just abandon the stickers and simply have some neutral signage directing people to the polling area. Since there was no acknowledgement of a mistake having been made, there's also no guarantee the original deployment of the stickers or some similarly objectionable action won't be repeated in a future election!
In any case, I testified about the issue at the Ethics Commission during public comment at their meeting yesterday, and was promised by staffer Jessica Blume that they would look into the matter and decide whether or not the Commission has jurisdiction in the matter, and inform the commissioners accordingly, probably before the election. The meeting can be viewed online via SFgov.tv (note that the video is not quite as long as it appears, as it includes times during which the commission was meeting in closed session or was in recess). My presentation on the issue appears near the end of the video, at 3:33:55:
Some of the proceedings earlier in the meeting that took place before I arrived are also worth watching, as there are some fireworks with outspoken members of the public including Ray Hartz of San Francisco Open Government, and local muckraker and BART Board candidate Michael Petrelis (who I have personally endorsed) taking the commissioners to task over First Amendment issues. Great to see members of the public being so outspoken in standing up for their rights!
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))