Free Opponent arguments for measures on the ballot for the upcoming June election are due at noon tomorrow (thanks, Aubrey, for reminding me of this a couple days ago). I spoke with the Elections Department today and learned that there are three measures slated to be on the ballot -- but only if there IS an election in June, which has apparently yet to be decided! They said they may learn tomorrow whether an election will be held or not.
In the meantime, the three measures potentially to be voted upon and for which arguments are due tomorrow at noon are:
(A) A measure to raise the salaries of School Board members
(B) A minor technical change exempting appointed mayors (read: Ed Lee) from the usual ban on seeking city employment for a year after their term of office expires, providing they do not file to seek election to that office
(C) A "declaration of policy" (non-binding measure) putting the voters on record in support of neighborhood schools
The Elections Department sent me an email with the texts of these measures attached (see below). I agree with Aubrey that the only the first measure is a clear-cut "NO" for Libertarians. In speaking to an Elections staffer however, and as confirmed in their message below, I learned that Supervisor Sean Elsbernd had pre-empted the Opponent argument slot as a member of the Board. Upon learning this, I called his office to ask whether he might be interested in having either myself and/or the LPSF sign on to his argument opposing this measure. He was in a meeting, but a staffer said she would relay the request.
To my delight and surprise, Supervisor Elsbernd himself called me back some time later and said that although he does oppose the measure, he has decided NOT to write an argument against it due to having too much on his plate, and is therefore willing to assign to me the Opponent argument slot! This means that if the election is scheduled, we would not have to take our chances in the official lottery, but would be *guaranteed* the opposition ballot argument against this measure! Sean said he would pick up an argument assignment form and have it at his office tomorrow morning for us to pick up and submit. I asked him if he had any suggestions or ideas for points to make against the measure, and he offered none, but did say that he understands former Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin opposes the measure and might be worth approaching as a co-signer.
While Peskin is no libertarian by a long stretch, as a "progressive" (read: leftist) his co-signing such an argument could be helpful in defeating the measure (in accord with the old adage about only Nixon being able to make a deal with China). However, I don't believe I have Peskin's contact info, and Elsbernd said he did not either, so even reaching him, let alone coordinating the drafting of an argument, could be problematic. I rather doubt he would want to sign onto the kind of hard-hitting, anti-statist argument I would be disposed to write on an economic issue like this! I also can't discount the possibility that if Peskin learned of this and wanted sole control of the argument, that he might contact Elsbernd and use his clout to get the Supervisor to assign the argument to him instead of to me. Such a "dirty trick" being pulled seems unlikely, but theoretically it could happen. Therefore my inclination is to not contact him now, but instead go ahead and draft the argument myself with the input of any other LPSF members who may want to contribute, and have the party sign on if the officers are in agreement, and to wait and approach Peskin after filing tomorrow for collaboration on the Opponent's Rebuttal argument, which is due March 29 at noon. But I'm open to other suggestions.
Meanwhile, of the other two measures, my judgment is that the technical change allowing an appointed mayor to seek employment again if he doesn't seek to retain the mayoral office is largely unobjectionable, as there is no clear libertarian principle at stake, and is likely to be both overwhelmingly popular and minor in its impact, and therefore not worth opposing. My tentative position on the declaration of policy on neighborhood schools, however, is that this measure *is* worth opposing. While I think its immediate aim will tend *on average, though not in all cases* to increase parent/student choice, it contains language that could be interpreted as putting voters on record as supporting a system of assigning students to particular schools (even if a possibly somewhat better assignment system than is used at present). What I think *ought to happen*, by contrast, is the platform I ran on as a candidate for School Board -- stop "assigning" kids to schools period, and let parents and students choose which schools they wish to attend within the district. Short of a separation of School and State, or a true school choice approach that included non-government schools, this seems to me the best way to maximize consumer choice and minimize government control in the matter of who attends what school.
Taking the opponent argument on this measure would allow me (or whoever signs on to the argument, including potentially the LPSF as an organization) to say positive things about neighborhood schools while emphasizing the problematic nature of this *particular* measure and making the larger libertarian points about school choice and getting government out of the education business.
If you have any interest in these matters, please review the attached documents and reply with your thoughts ASAP!
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))
School Board Salaries.pdf (376 KB)
Student Assignment System.pdf (150 KB)