URGENT - Ballot arguments for June election - good news! [4 Attachments]

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 )))


City Employment for Appointed Mayors.pdf (266 KB)

School Board Salaries.pdf (376 KB)

Student Assignment System.pdf (150 KB)

Hi Starchild,

So, you are saying that Supervisor Elsbernd gave you the slot that had been assigned to him? Also, are you saying that you would be willing to write an argument? If that is so, I can't think of a happier thing for our group. If you have the slot, you would not have to make the 200 copies, and all the other chagrin you always go through?

My personal vote is any argument of any length that floats your boat is fine with me.

Are you inclined to post an argument under your name or under LPSF's name? If under LPSF, would one of the officers need to come with you? If so, please let us know. If I need to come, I will need to change an appointment I have for tomorrow morning as soon as possible.




  Yes, that's what I'm saying. I can scarcely believe myself that such
a thing should occur so suddenly and with no strings attached! And
yes, I indeed plan to write an argument and put my name on it as a
former candidate for School Board. I'm totally open to having the
LPSF's name on it as well, if we can agree on language (my guess is
that agreement among ourselves shouldn't be difficult in this case).
If there is anyone on our list who has a child or children in
government schools in San Francisco and wants to sign, that could be
helpful too.

  Yes, one of the officers would need to sign for the LPSF, as
previously. I think someone could come to me and sign (I have a stack
of blank forms here from last year, consisting of stapled packets
containing Ballot Argument Control Sheet A, Ballot Argument Control
Sheet B (for additional signature authorizations if there is more than
one author's name appearing on the argument), and Consent Form for
Ballot Arguments (for any individuals or groups you mention in an
argument as supporting your position to sign off on it), or someone
could meet me tomorrow at City Hall.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

P.S. - Anyone have any suggestions/thoughts on the School Board salary
measure, including possible collaboration with Aaron Peskin or anyone
else, or either of the other measures?

Hi Starchild,

If all works out, and you place LPSF name, and you need an officer to sign, I can meet you at City Hall. Earliest I can be there is around 11:00 am.


Dear Starchild;

Could you copy me on the legal text of the pdf of the school board measure or
send it in general to lpsf activists or better yet place on the files section of
the activists yahoo groups.

I can not get the Dept. Elections school board PDF to open as there is some
adobe connection missing or some broken url on the dept elections pdf.

I also am having dsl connection problems which keeps cutting on and off which
doesn't help plus general desktop hiccups. aaarrrgghhh...

FYI for everyone IF and that is a big IF - Jerry Brown gets 2 republicans in the
senate and 2 republicans in the assembly to agree there will be a special
election on JUNE 21 NOT June 7.

The county dept elections around the state need at least 88 days to shape up
polling precincts and get voter handbooks published and the 88th day is
literally now.

The problem is if those 4 republicans sign on they are most likely going to be
targeted for replacement and district fights. This is especially true with the
new method of electing with the open primaries.

Ron Getty

Hi Starchild! Thanks for getting all this going--you did a lot in a very short
amount of time! I will also write an argument against the school board salary
increase as soon as I'm done with this email and send it to you to incorporate
into your argument. I'm sure you won't miss any points (just want to get my two
cents worth in)--I remember your ballot argument against the fee (read tax)
increase a few years in the ballot booklet, and you said all the things I would
have wanted to say (and a few more). This will be no time for diarrhea of the
keyboard, since they really adhere to that 300 word limit and have 300 rules
about counting words (San Francisco counts as one word but San Franciscans
counts as two words).

Thanks also Starchild and Marcy for arranging to schlep over to City Hall
tomorrow morning and file the papers on time. I was happy to do that if need
be, but tomorrow is busy for me, so I appreciate you guys doing it this time.

As for the other measure for neighborhood schools, I have mixed feelings about
that one, and my son having attended a government K-5 school just a few years
ago, I have some thoughts about that one that you might want to use in your
argument against that measure. I will get the school board member argument off
to you first, since that one is more important, and then send you a separate one
about the neighborhood schools.


Hi Starchild! Here is my argument against the salary increase. (What could
those numskulls have been thinking?!) This is not copyrighted, so use
whatever makes it a better and convincing argument; if you use nothing at all,
that's OK too--we just want a resounding note for common sense in the ballot

Now, I will try to collect my thoughts on the local school ballot and give you
some input on that, though I think your approach is right. I won't spend as
much time on this one because it's not so clear cut. Will send you something
before I go to sleep.

Thanks again for making this happen!!


  Sorry I had to go out and see someone earlier and didn't take the
time to try to send the text of the measures by email, but I did post
the School Board salary measure to the Files section of this list --
hope you saw that and were able to check it out that way. I'm going to
post the School Assignment System policy declaration measure as well.

  I'm going to take a stab at writing up language for both tonight, if
I have time & energy before I sleep. I'll send what I have before
hitting the sack in a few hours, so if you are up before me (likely),
you'll have some time to come up with proposed edits.

  When I get up I'll probably have just a short window before heading
to City Hall to go by Supervisor Elsbernd's office and then the
Elections Department by noon -- so hopefully yourself and the other
officers will be available during those hours to look at the finished
language so we can get the LPSF name on at least one measure -- I'll
leave room in the word count for that.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild,

I will not be available to look at the argument, but given that you have filed 95 million arguments in the past, I think that will be alright.

Like I said, I will be away most of the day. If you need me to sign anything at City Hall, please use my personal e-mail address (so I can see the e-mail in my Blackberry), and give me around 45 minutes for me to reach City Hall.


Hi Aubrey,

  I like what you wrote on the School Board salary measure! Thanks for your excellent work on that. I'm going to try to blend your comments with some thoughts of mine and see what can be crammed into 300 words. Did you send something on the School Assignment measure as well? If you did, I don't think I received it. Please feel free to give me a call if you are still up -- (415) 625-3733.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild! Here are my thoughts, such as they are, on the local schools
ballot measure. I think it's a silly measure and won't accomplish anything. In
the public domain, it is impossible to please all the people--which is the
problem with all governmental solutions.

I don't believe in public education--people should pay the full cost of their
own children's education, no different than paying for their food, clothing, or
toys. (If they had to pay the true cost of education, they might think twice
about having children, to begin with.) I see no fair reason why people who
don't have children should have to pay to educate their neighbor's children.

That said, SF actually has a reasonably "fair" system, once you're stuck with
public education. In most cities, the area you live in--that's where you are
assigned. If you're poor, you live in the lousy areas and your kids go to poor
schools. The rich or better off live in better areas, so of course their kids
attend better schools. This story is as old as the hills. However, in SF, the
poor actually have an excellent chance of getting their kids in a decent school,
if they take the time to go on tours and petition for the better schools. My
experience when I was looking at schools for my son is that not many of the
poorer people bothered with this process and hence just took whatever bones the
school district tossed them. I actually believe the school district people bend
over backwards to assign the poorer kids to the better schools, if their parents
take the time to apply (and it's not a very difficult process either). One
mother I knew who worked for the school district told me a few years ago that,
even though the system was a "lottery" because of course the best schools had an
impossible list of applicants, they looked at surnames and zip codes to "help"
the lottery along. So much for real fairness.

Then in the last few years there have been rumblings about how this
system discouraged people from sending their kids to neighborhood schools--hence
the back to neighborhood schools movement. So, for this upcoming school year
starting in August, they changed the nature of the lottery to try and
encourage parents to choose their neighborhood school as their first choice.
Last weekend I read that school district officials were shocked that such a low
percentage of parents (around 23%) chose their neighborhood school as their
first choice, and schools like Clarendon (where my son went) received 1,700
applicants for 88 slots (many of which automatically go to siblings of kids
already in that school). Furthermore, a young mother who I work with applied
for their neighborhood school for her oldest son--and she did not get it, but
rather was assigned to a school she was unfamiliar with and not close to their
home. She was also extremely upset that the appeal process is now very limited
and living close to your school of choice cannot even be used as an argument in
the appeal process. (I advised her to make a big stink about it--those who
scream the loudest still get the best results--that will never change!)

So, it's a mixed bag. I support your efforts to make the schools truly
accountable and have the money flow to the good schools (and teachers) and away
from the lousy ones to maximize parental choice. Your ideas will not
necessarily find a receptive audience here in this city that loves
government--but remember over 13,000 people voted for you in the last election,
so you're not that farout! By all means, if you have time, promote the idea of
real choice in your arguments against this measure that's just a bunch of
hooey. Sorry for the late night ramblings.


Hi Starchild! Thanks for all your work--mine was minor in comparison to yours.
I think my first piece of work was better, but maybe you can find something in
my ramblings that might be of use in the school assignment measure. Most
important, please be sure to get that stuff in by noon--it would be a shame if
something went wrong and you missed their deadline by a few minutes. I work in
South City (work number is 650-872-6528 ext. 205), so if you get into some kind
of bind with time (or this weather), I can leave work for a short while and pick
you up and drive you to City Hall, if need be. The show must go on! Don't
forget to get some sleep, too!


P.S. I did look up those facts on the salaries--I didn't pull them out of thin
air. I think they came from some type of civil service commission chart.


  You appear to be quite familiar with the school assignment system --
and all your comments sound right on the money. I hope you can help
write an argument on this. I think what you wrote on the School Board
salary measure was excellent, and has made my task a lot easier (I'm
basically editing and adding to what you wrote -- hope you don't
mind!). When I've got a draft I'll post it to the list, but if you're
still up, please give me a call -- (415) 625-3733.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Okay, here's what I've got for the School Board salary measure -- MS
Word counts it as 302 words, but I'm hopeful it will be at least three
fewer than that based on the Election Department's word counting method: