The People’s Voices
• • • • • • • • • • January 19, 2024 • • • • • • • • • •
Thomas Jefferson supposedly declared: “Democracy is cumbersome, slow and inefficient, but in due time, the voice of the people will be heard, and their latent wishes will prevail.”
This constitutes an extraordinary year in which the people’s voice must be heard, from the California primary election on March 5, 2024, until the general election on November 5, 2024, in all 50 states. It appears that the battered Republicans must pledge allegiance to one of the most crooked men ever to hold public office, whose allegiance to the United States of America can be best formulated by his draft evasion tactics during the Vietnam War in which his corrupt doctor claimed Trump had a bone spur, which precluded military service and his fraudulent income tax returns, state and federal, together with his caterwauling on January 6, 2021 about November 2020’s federal election results. Your local self-appointed sage hopes Trump is barred from his presidential candidacy by high courts such as the Supremes. (And I don’t mean the singing group!)
The Democratic Party is stuck with Joseph Biden from Delaware, who was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29 (he didn’t take the oath of office until after his 30th birthday, November 20, 1972.) Compared to Trump, he’s a virtuous fellow. Still, his son Hunter has been implicated in unlawful financial episodes, which may result in criminal action and may also ensnare our president (If I weren’t 95, I’d make myself available.) Mr. President must show unwarranted deference to his party accomplices like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the Socialist, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her comrades constituting “The Squad” in the House of Representatives and increasing American distaste for “sanctuary” states (like California) and cities (like San Francisco). If Trump is convicted of insurrection and barred by law from The White House. In that case, that’ll confer a chance for former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley (whom I like) or other “regular” Republicans to proclaim their knowledge, honesty, patriotism and mental acuity to lead our country.
Your local self-appointed sage hopes Trump is barred from his presidential candidacy by high courts such as the Supremes. (And I don’t mean the singing group!)”
Meanwhile, California and San Francisco continue to lose residents (and rental office space downtown), with the state population declining for the third consecutive year while 42 other states increased their population, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on December 19. San Francisco inhabitants decreased to 807,000 from a 2019 high of 880,000. That hasn’t altered Board of Supervisors’ behavior. Those gaudy City Hall second-floor denizens who occasionally answer their taxpayer-financed phones are now paid $156,101.80 per year for their “service to the people.” But wait! Their “public service” as “district” supervisors representing approximately 78,110 residents also brings entitlement to four staff employees regularly paid $136,159.24 unless they’re part-time. (In 1982, supervisors were still elected citywide, were paid $9,324 per year, and allowed one legislative aide and one secretary!)
Help is on the way for taxpayers. The city attorney has written a summary for November 5 voters of a ballot measure initiative that restores at-large voting for the Board of Supervisors who, because of 2002 state law, must live in 11 different districts. Such Charter amendment requires almost 50,000 of S.F.’s approximately 400,000 registered voters to sign ballot measure petitions by July 8, 2024. Former Mayor Frank Jordan has joined the campaign as co-chairman, with Robert Guichard (415-661-7000) and me. The campaign headquarters is 45 West Portal Ave., thanks to Paul Barbagelata.
Besides the five-page resolution denouncing the exercise of the constitutional right of two first-rate San Francisco trial lawyers to run against two “weak on crime” Superior Court judges on March 8, our Board of Supervisors also will hear this month a resolution implicitly aimed at Israel and introduced by two of the five Jewish members of such Board: Dean Preston, the Socialist, and Hillary Ronen, who seem to believe they were elected (by only a few San Francisco district voters) to participate in foreign affairs. They weren’t! That’s for the U.S. Congress and President Biden. But what the heck else can keep you occupied at $156,101 per year in salary plus health and retirement benefits?
Both resolutions will be heard by the Rules Committee this month on a date not yet established at press time. I encourage readers to join me in testifying against such time-wasting abuses of supervisorial responsibility as those two examples and demanding these geniuses act to stop homelessness, vacant office buildings and highrise housing units in the Richmond, Sunset, Marina, Pacific Heights, Ingleside Terrace, Midtown Terrace, Glen Park, Bernal Heights and the Excelsior.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Ahsha Safai proposes a Charter amendment for the March 5, 2024, primary election, which perpetuates the folly of enshrining otherwise laudatory police policy in our Charter rather than enacting a simple ordinance that saves taxpayers money and can be altered speedingly if so desired, rather than the costly and dilatory process of waiting until another election. Safai’s proposal amends an unwise 1996 concept of deciding the number of police officers by Charter provision (section 4.172) rather than a simple ordinance. Safai espouses minimum staffing of 1,700 with minimum increases after the budget year 2024-2025 of 100 police officers each of the next four years to a 2,074 minimum, contingent upon a future tax increase not passed by voters until November 5, 2024! The type of tax is presently unknown even by Safai’s office and there is no current proposal! That’s how the public’s business is done at City Hall.
I conclude with Theodore Roosevelt’s observation in “The City in Modern Life” in 1895: “We cannot afford merely to sit down and deplore the evils of city life as inevitable when cities are constantly growing, both absolutely and relatively. We must set ourselves vigorously about the task of improving them ....”
Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, SF Ethics Commission member, president of the California High Speed Rail Authority governing board and retired Superior Court judge.
January 19, 2023