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Ruminations of a Former Supervisor / Quentin Kopp

Bicycling downtown

Bureaucrats, Bicycles & Taxes

• • • • • • • • • • June 2024 • • • • • • • • • •

Quentin Kopp
Quentin Kopp

Honoré De Balzac aptly proclaimed in “The Works of Honoré De Balzac” in 1901: “And thus Bureaucracy, the giant power wielded by pygmies, came into the world.” And, with approximately 38,000 employees, do we have such preponderant dynasticism at City Hall and elsewhere in our 49 square miles, at SFO and other lands and buildings that teem with such regiments? It’s not just the Muni, aka Municipal Transportation Authority, which wants taxpayer money from the “feds” to extend Caltrain from Fourth and King Streets to the Transbay Terminal in one of the nationally ranked boondoggles of this young century; it’s other bulwarks of illogic.


Did you know San Francisco’s Budget finances the SF Bicycle Coalition, a private entity? I just learned last month of such beneficence from City Hall.”

While gasoline tax-paying automobile owners finance the streets of San Francisco, others in city government opine about limiting vehicle use. Did you know San Francisco’s Budget finances the SF Bicycle Coalition, a private entity? I just learned last month of such beneficence from City Hall. Meanwhile, one Chronicle reader advises its idiots and his diminishing congregants on configuring our streets to force public transit use and discourage motor vehicles. Martin Vatis reminded us that “the high price of” Muni, BART, Golden Gate Transit, Caltrain, and other operators renders driving the sole method practically of moving around our conclave. I join Mr. Vatis in identifying this 95-year-old and him in advocating for streets without jaywalkers and others who don’t look both ways “because their heads are buried in smartphones” and streets without “double-parked trucks and other vehicles.” Wouldn’t I laud (with him) “streets where bicycles stop at red lights and stop signs … causing drivers to slam on their brakes.” How about buses blocking driving lanes rather than “pulling over to the curb for passengers.” Mr. Vatis wants to render driverless vehicles “a thing of the past.” Thus far, I haven’t seen such vehicles make mistakes, but seniors like Mr. Vatis and me will watch carefully for gasoline taxpayers safety. I’ll watch City Hall’s love affair with the tax-dependent Bicycle Coalition.

The pinnacle of nerve was on display last month in Denver, where illegal immigrants at an encampment sent 13 written demands to its Democratic Mayor to effectuate before they move into indoor shelters financed by Denver taxpayers. They demand medical visits by doctors regularly, referrals to medical specialists as needed, and cooking their own food with fresh ingredients that are “culturally appropriate” and provided by the city, asserting: “We are not in the military, we are civilians.” They want free lawyers and city “transportation to relevant court dates,” plus transportation for all their children to and from schools, but no law enforcement may monitor them, claiming they’re not criminals. (What are they if they’re illegally in the USA?) Meanwhile, Denver’s Mayor stated publicly last February that the city must eliminate $18,000,000 per month from public services this year to furnish illegal alien services after they arrive in Denver. The mayor, a real beauty, told the Epoch Times in early May that such spending on illegal aliens would aid those he euphemistically entitles “newcomers” and taxpaying citizens! Even as a “sanctuary city” with a policy of condoning illegal immigration, SF hasn’t sustained such demands on our mayor.

Matters in California would be worse for property taxpayers than in New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy, another politician who rarely sees a presidential promise as one that can’t be broken, promised no new taxes in the Garden State upon nearly losing re-election in 2021. The property tax rate has been 2% since 2010 in New Jersey’s statutes, not its state constitution, while in California, where since 1968, it’s been embedded in our Constitution ((Article XIII A, Section 1 (a))) at 1% of the full cash value. Murphy, however, last month signed legislation authorizing some school districts to increase local property tax to as much as 9.9% per annum this year. (New Jersey pays the highest property taxes in the country.) No voter approval is required.

California reparations legislation (SB 1331) has not yet passed the legislature but could still do so and cost taxpayers a ton of money. Its constitutionality is questionable. US Supreme Court case law allowed vote-based payments only to remedy recent systematic discrimination by a governmental entity that wants to atone for such discrimination, and California never was a slave state. It has not engaged in any modern discrimination against blacks, irrespective of slavery. San Francisco’s history is the same.

The late Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota wrote in “A Colony of the World”: “When a country has no control over its borders, its culture or the economy, it then becomes a colony of the world and this is what is happening in the world today.” Gene McCarthy (probably unknown to this generation) was recognized as the conscience of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He was not a racist, bigot or xenophobe, unlike others who believe in the rule of law, immigration law enforcement and are attacked by Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of today’s US Congress or even a Sanctuary City Board of Supervisors.

I remind that it was Mao Tse-Tung, the dictator, who concluded a speech on November 6, 1938 to the sixth plenary session of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party: “Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

I prefer to remind summer vacation readers: “Q. Why do bakers work so hard? A. Because they need the dough!” More next month as the Mayor’s race looms larger in our foggy environs.

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. 

June 2024

Quentin Kopp
Quentin Kopp

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