The Original Westside Observer Quentin Kopp 2015

Ruminations of a Former Citizen Supervisor

Former President Herbert Hoover responded to a 1964 interview: “Honesty is not the exclusive property of any political party.” We don’t elect local officials in California on the basis of a political party, but Mr. Hoover’s answer applies federally with an incumbent president confronting certain articles of impeachment and a predictable U.S. Senate trial January 2020. (Mr. Hoover’s opinion is undoubtedly irrelevant in California, which has only one political party for all intents and purposes.)

Besides personal pleasure over strong passage of Proposition F, which exposes name, rank, and amounts of contributions to so-called “independent expenditure” committees for city offices, the most arresting election result was the contest for district attorney. A 39-year-old radical Deputy Public Defender was elected. His name is Chesa Boudin. His antecedents are intriguing: Both parents were active members of the Weather Underground, convicted and imprisoned for felony murder in driving the getaway car for accomplices who shot dead two police officers and a security guard while robbing a Brinks truck of bank funds in 1981. He is also the grandson of a deceased New York City lawyer, Leonard Boudin, who represented many, if not most, of the Communists in metropolitan New York and other Eastern areas during my public school years, college, law school, Air Force, and beginning practice of law in California.

My concern with Mr. Boudin will also be his alacrity and consistency in pursuing corruption criminality in city government, which his elected predecessor (Gascon) utterly failed to do ...”

Our new District Attorney, who has tried to jury verdict numerous criminal cases at the Hall of Justice, unlike two of his opponents and establishment favorites, gives expression to pursuing “corporate landlords” and prosecuting Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents should they “kidnap” San Franciscans. The Police Officers Association expended about $700,000 in those tricky capital expenditures to defeat Mr. Boudin. A respectful relationship with police officers is indispensable for public protection. My concern with Mr. Boudin will also be his alacrity and consistency in pursuing corruption criminality in city government, which his elected predecessor (Gascon) utterly failed to do after seeking and obtaining from a compliant Board of Supervisors and Mayor an appropriation of $2,918,078 three years ago for an “Internal Investigation Bureau,” consisting of six prosecutors, six investigators, and two support staff. (The unopposed City Attorney similarly secured taxpayer money for a “Special Integrity Unit,” which has produced no court civil actions regarding corruption.) The Ethics Commission constitutes a similar waste of taxpayer funds emblemized by its inaction and burying of misconduct complaints from private citizens. I hope for aggressive action by Mr. Boudin, who will have the benefit of recommendations and aid from retired Assistant Public Defender and Ethics Commission Chair Peter Keane, Friends of Ethics leader Larry Bush, former Common Cause area president, Charley Marsteller, and others.

After adopting a foolish resolution by Supervisor Catherine Stefani last September instructing us to change our vocabulary in describing criminals, criminal proceedings, convictions, and jail and prison sentences emanating from the Hall of Justice, the Board followed with another Stefani resolution declaring the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization and urging other cities, states, and the federal government to do the same.” The resolution also urged San Francisco to “assess the financial and contractual relationships our vendors and contractors have with this domestic terrorist organization; . . . and take every reasonable step to limit those entities who do business with (San Francisco) from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization.” After filing a suit attacking the resolution, the NRA decided to save its money by dismissing the case.

San Francisco Supervisors manifestly know nothing of free speech law reflected in a 27-page order by the United States District Court, Southern District of California, in a suit by a gun show operator at Del Mar Fairgrounds, the State Agricultural Association in San Diego, after Del Mar’s board of directors voted a one-year moratorium at the Fairgrounds in September, 2018. The moratorium was to study potential “safety concerns.” The suit was based upon violation of the First Amendment. The court enjoined the moratorium, declaring it accorded “preferential treatment to shows featuring speech on all issues aside from these gun-related subjects.” The court noted that attacking the content of a gun show which includes lectures, demonstrations, safety training, target shooting, gunsmithing, appreciation of guns as technological artifacts and study of historical objects, plus exchange of products related to lawful use of firearms. The Fairgrounds failed to appeal the injunction, and I predict the court early next year will grant judgment to the gun show operator.

Continuing City Hall antics, Supervisor Sandra Fewer, practitioner of public language vulgarity on election night at Mr. Boudin’s headquarters, has introduced an ordinance to establish a San Francisco “public bank.” Never mind that only one public bank (North Dakota) has successfully existed in over 100 years in the United States. City government does so well with the Municipal Railway, the Central Subway Project, the reconstruction of Van Ness Avenue, and emergency fire protection supply in local reservoirs, it surely can operate a profitable public bank. No wonder 30 people have started a recall, however futile it likely will be, of Supervisor Fewer, the lady with the potty mouth.

Enough already. Let’s hope for the best in 2020, and a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah for all.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

December 2019

Upon his August 19, 1977 death, commentators recalled comedian Groucho Marx’s alleged observation: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Local taxpayers experience the dysfunction of 11 Supervisors (each paid over $140,000 per year) and one Mayor (paid nearly $336,000 annually) unable to enact an ordinance “reforming” an allegedly ineffective mental healthcare system. Instead, each wants to force voters to enact an ordinance by two competing ballot measures next March. A Charter amendment requires voter approval by a ballot measure; an ordinance does not. Instead, Supervisors Matt Haney and Hillary Ronen eschew an ordinance in favor of passing the buck to voters. So does Mayor London Breed. What do we pay them to do?

…a police sergeant in Fresno exclaimed that it’s useless to issue a citation or arrest a person who would undoubtedly be released immediately from county jail (that’s certainly true in San Francisco). Bear in mind stealing anything less than $950 is now a misdemeanor, not a felony, usually resulting in no punishment.

Additionally, city government already contains 122 boards and commissions. I don’t just mean the Planning Commission, Fire Commission, Police Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Recreation and Park Commission, and Civil Service Commission of the 1932 Freeholders Charter revision. I mean continuing establishment of costly commissions. Last month, Supervisor Shamann Walton proposed a March 2020 Charter amendment to create a Sheriff’s Commission. The same Supervisor Haney plus Supervisors Walton, Hillary Ronen, Gordon Mar, and Aaron Peskin espouse a “Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing!” Why? Maybe because it makes them feel better to add bureaucracy.

As I write, local election results are unknown, including the sickening process of replacing the former district attorney who resigned last month to take his prosecutorial ignorance to Los Angeles County to oust a two-term incumbent, Jackie Lacey, who’s actually tried and convicted hundreds of criminals in her stellar career. We do know more public funding has been given San Francisco politicians, which Columnist Dan Walters noted three years ago is the “holy grail for Common Cause and other political reform advocates.” No study has ever shown public financing reduces private campaign contributions, or those understandably bewailed “independent expenditure” committees whose identities mystify voters. In 1988, two other California legislators and I successfully sponsored Proposition 73, banning taxpayer money for state and local elected office candidates. The California Supreme Court later ruled that charter cities like San Francisco are exempt from such prohibition. (Six California charter cities have adopted public financing.) In 2016, legislators passed a bill to allow non-charter cities and the state itself to adopt public financing despite a Legislative Counsel opinion that doing so “would require voter approval in order to become effective.” The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and I thereafter sued to invalidate that legislation. We won. I’m confident the California Court of Appeal will affirm that Sacramento County Superior Court decision. Instead of litigating and trying to undermine the initiative system, why doesn’t Common Cause and its allies present a ballot measure to voters next year and demonstrate belief in the rule of law?

That’s a rule repeatedly ignored by the legislature. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill 225 by Senator Maria Elena Durazo, D.-Los Angeles, which astonishingly makes illegal aliens in California 18 years of age or older eligible for appointments to state boards and commissions. Consider that such persons can’t vote (yet!) and dodge federal immigration officers in this “sanctuary” state, but can now implement laws enacted by the legislature and governor. Simultaneously, a police sergeant in Fresno exclaimed that it’s useless to issue a citation or arrest a person who would undoubtedly be released immediately from county jail (that’s certainly true in San Francisco). Bear in mind stealing anything less than $950 is now a misdemeanor, not a felony, usually resulting in no punishment. On the other hand, the political sophisticates and “progressives” who advocate death of the bail system illuminated this past summer their hypocrisy and ignorance after a San Francisco Superior Court judge released from jail without bail a man accused of battery, attempted robbery, and false imprisonment by attacking a woman entering her apartment building on Beale Street. Such hypocrites ignore the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which grants the accused criminal the right to a speedy public trial, and the Eighth Amendment, which declares that excessive bail “shall not be required . . .,” and the California Constitution, which establishes in Article I, Section 12 the right to release on bail which must not be excessive and in an amount considering the seriousness of the accusation, defendant’s previous criminal record and defendant’s probability of appearing at trial or any pretrial hearing. When the stupidity of such no-bail release was revealed regarding this defendant who has no local address, the Mayor and several Supervisors condemned Superior Court Judge Christine Van Aken. The most “progressive” district attorney candidate last month characterized the money bail system as morally, fiscally, and intellectually bankrupt, implying “. . . wealth determined criminal justice outcomes . . .”. Contrary to that deputy public defender, the wealthy defendant doesn’t buy his/her “way out of jail regardless of how dangerous they [sic] are.” Every judge I know conducts a hearing regarding a defendant’s constitutional entitlement to release with or without bail. As Earl Newsom noted in 1963, however: “Today’s public opinion, though it may appear as light as air, may be tomorrow’s legislation – for better or for worse.”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

November 2019

It was H.L. Mencken, the polemicist of my youth and before, who pronounced: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” That’s relevant to the November 5 San Francisco election with six ballot measures and a few contested public office elections. The most important is District Attorney, and I repeat my even stronger recommendation of Nancy H. Tung, Esq. for that position. The other three candidates show less than stirring dedication to enforcing criminal laws and respecting police officers who perform dangerous tasks in protecting society. These candidates have uttered policies of constraining San Francisco police in their arduous responsibilities and have miscast, like so many media commentators, the constitutional place of bail in criminal law. Moreover, they’ve ignored the subject of City Hall corruption, like the incumbent District Attorney who secured taxpayer money in 2017 from a compliant Board of Supervisors and Mayor for his new “Internal Investigation Bureau,” consisting of “six attorneys, six investigators, and two support staff” and a $2,918,078 budget! (Have you seen prosecution of even one corruption case by Gascon?)

...they’ve ignored the subject of City Hall corruption, like the incumbent District Attorney who secured taxpayer money in 2017 from a compliant Board of Supervisors and Mayor for his new “Internal Investigation Bureau,” consisting of “six attorneys, six investigators, and two support staff” and a $2,918,078 budget!

There’s no contest for City Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff, Treasurer, or Community College Board. There are three Board of Education aspirants for two seats. None will revitalize a governing board emblemized by disdain for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings. I’ve endorsed Ivy Lee for the Community College Board and recommend Paul Miyamoto for Sheriff and Jose Cisneros for Treasurer. The Mayor is realistically unopposed, although I note Joel Ventresca of the Sunset and my City Hall past is a candidate. The only supervisoral contest is in the Haight-Ashbury, outside the purview of this newspaper’s mission. I don’t know the four candidates, two of whom espouse “divorcing” streets from autos so bicyclists can gain complete use!

The most important ballot measure is Proposition F, spearheaded by former Ethics Commission Chairman Peter Keane, Jon Gollinger, Friends of Ethics President Larry Bush, and members Charley Marsteller and Bob Planthold. It achieves what two Ethics Commissioners refused to do last year, preventing 2018 submission of the measure to voters and leading to Keane’s instantaneous Commission resignation. It requires reporting of campaign contributions and financial sponsors of campaign advertisements or, piquantly, shedding “Sunshine on Dark Money.” Supervisors Mar, Mandelman, Ronen, Fewer, and Haney sponsored Board of Supervisors submission to voters. Please vote “Yes” on F.

I recommend voting No on Propositions A, C, and E. Proposition A constitutes enormous taxpayer debt in the principal amount of $600,000,000, plus interest for 30 years that’ll add another 80%, for general obligation bonds which can’t be sold without approval by two-thirds of those voting. It contains the usual “citizens committee” to watch how the money is spent. Such citizen committees are ineffectual in my decades of observing them. Proposition C represents a voracious effort by Juul, a multi-million dollar “e-cigarette” business to induce youth and adults into addiction. As an opponent of “big tobacco” during my legislative years, I’ve hindered similar efforts and ask voters to do so now. I recommend “No” on Proposition E, which benefits, in complex manner, difficult to understand housing entities that constantly lobby City Hall. I think Proposition D merits support as a “mitigation tax” on giant corporations to lessen traffic congestion, which we suffer traveling downtown, south of Mission, 19th Avenue, Park Presidio, or the Embarcadero. So does Proposition B, which reorganizes a City Hall department for disabled people.

I’m pleased to report creation of a new political party in California, namely, the Common Sense Party. Onetime colleagues Tom Campbell, a former Republican, Steve Peace, a Democrat, John Pimentel, a Menlo Park wind energy entrepreneur, Julie Meier Wright, California Department of Commerce director under Governor Pete Wilson of San Diego, Dan Schnur, an Independent like Campbell and me and Director of the USC School of Public Policy, and others secured Secretary of State approval in August to begin collecting 66,000 voter signatures to qualify for California elections in 2020. It’s a party based upon fiscal discipline and social tolerance. Campbell is Acting Party Chairman, and Debbie Benray, a naturalized citizen formerly from Mexico is Acting Vice Chairwoman. We’ve amassed over 15,000 signatures. There’s no deadline, but we aspire to qualify in 2020 to run three or four legislative candidates in districts without incumbents. After qualification, the Common Sense Party will hold a convention, adopt a platform, and elect permanent officers. I cordially invite membership at

As the son and husband of legal immigrants, I laud a July letter to the Wall Street Journal noting that Congress, especially Democrats, appears “determined to provide taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants.” A 2015 Rasmussen Report demonstrated 53% of registered Democrats would allow tax-paying illegal aliens to vote. That alarms me because another writer points to local, state, and federal government costs of providing education, welfare benefits, healthcare, and detention to illegal aliens. To enforce immigration laws doesn’t make us nativists who favor native residents. We support legal immigrants, legal immigration and border control. But, as Henry Adams observed, “Practical politics consist in ignoring facts.”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

October 2019

An anonymous wit declared: “Capital punishment is when the government taxes you to get capital so that it can go into business in competition with you, and then taxes the profit on your business in order to pay its losses.”

Government is surely in the rail transit business, which essentially disappeared in the post World War II era with the advent of capacious air transportation. Examples abound in California and in San Francisco, which last month endured illogical action by the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) on a 4-3 vote of naming the Central Subway station at the end of the line nearly in Chinatown after now deceased “insider”Rose Pak.

Last month, the Assembly Speaker, and other legislators, announced that remaining funds should best be given to Caltrain for its electrification and the Los Angeles Basin commuter train, Metrolink, for similar improvements. He proposed legislative action, ignoring the fact that the approximately $4,500,000,000 of California taxpayer-approved general obligation bonds remain from the November 2008 action of California voters, and that the law requires voter approval of diversion of such money from the high-speed rail bond issue. The legislature and governor cannot ignore voters.”

MTA did so in the face of adopting two years ago a policy of naming stations only for geographical location, which is logical because, for example, who besides political “insiders” can identify Rose Pak? She was a San Francisco Chronicle reporter in the 1970s who was arrested by police after attacking physically a man whom she interviewed for a story after he failed to provide responses suiting her “storyline.” As announcer in the 1990s for the Chinese New Year’s Parade, she regularly insulted parade participants passing the reviewing stand, usually political adversaries. She violated the law regarding eligibility for low income tenant treatment in securing a nifty condominium apartment in a city project near Rincon Annex. She actively aided the People’s Republic of China in its cruelty to disfavored groups such as Falun Gong, a spiritual movement in China and now the United States, whose body parts are used by Communist China imprisonment of Falun Gong members after they’re executed. At the MTA hearing last month, written evidence was circulated that non-English-speaking Chinese people testified in support of the Rose Pak station renaming in return for lunch, beverages, and $25!

MTA’s action could be reversed by an initiative ballot measure, which I’ll happily support. Meanwhile, the Central Subway project itself won’t be completed this year and is overspending available funds, both local and federal. Hardworking Examiner reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez noted the project’s federal financing appears precarious, and the MTA continues to purvey false information that is three years old about the project costing $1,600,000,000, or $1,000,000,000 per mile. The true cost estimate now appears over $2,600,000,000, but the bureaucrats stonewall taxpayers even after the resignation last month of MTA’s General Manager who will ravish Oakland taxpayers as Assistant City Manager. The project’s general contractor, Tutor-Saliba Corporation, is infamous in California and San Francisco for gouging projects with change orders and other tactics in recondite fashion, while the Rose Pak MTA avoids action to stop it.

Simultaneously, the now-misnamed California High-Speed Rail project, unelectrified, purveys its false information. It hasn’t laid a single foot of track between its alleged first segment from “Merced to Bakersfield”, which genuinely is only from Madera to Wasco, 30 miles or so north of Bakersfield, where you’d transfer to a shuttle bus. The U.S. Department of Transportation three months ago demanded return of $2,500,000,000 from the Federal Rail Administration and canceled a $929,000,000 grant for failure to perform. Last month, the Assembly Speaker, and other legislators, announced that remaining funds should best be given to Caltrain for its electrification and the Los Angeles Basin commuter train, Metrolink, for similar improvements. He proposed legislative action, ignoring the fact that the approximately $4,500,000,000 of California taxpayer-approved general obligation bonds remain from the November 2008 action of California voters, and that the law requires voter approval of diversion of such money from the high-speed rail bond issue. The legislature and governor cannot ignore voters. (That’s the subject of a pending suit by taxpayers in the California Court of Appeal on 2017 legislative diversion.)

The District Attorney’s race is the most important November 2019 ballot item. I’ve withdrawn my endorsement of Leif Bautch II after he disclosed he opposes use of tasers (instead of guns) by police officers, and believes holding police “accountable” is his highest brochure priority. (The Police Officers Association also withdrew its endorsement of him.) Our Police Department, like other cities, can’t recruit enough police officers. We have about 300 fewer police officers than our Charter requires. The last Police Academy class graduated less than half the recruits who began. Simultaneously, the establishment candidate, Suzy Loftus, as one-time president of the Police Commission, reduced public comment from three to two minutes. As author of 1996 legislation requiring public comment at local commissions on each item and at commencement of each meeting, I’m repulsed by such treatment of San Franciscans. Additionally, as legal counsel to the Sheriff, she failed to stop abusive treatment of jail inmates by deputy sheriffs. I reiterate my strong recommendation of Nancy Tung, a former San Francisco Deputy District Attorney and current Alameda County Deputy District Attorney, for election. Unlike the incumbent, Nancy Tung has tried scores of criminal cases to juries. It shouldn’t be a close choice.

Thomas Jefferson, in a November 1802 letter, declared: “If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.


Poet Paul Valery declared in the Los Angeles Times last month: “Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.” San Francisco voters face an important election regarding the rule of law on November 5, 2019. The incumbent District Attorney, a 2011 political appointee who, while admitted to the State Bar of California, has never tried a case in a courtroom, won’t seek another term. There are now four choices: the two best with genuine experience in criminal law and belief in law enforcement are Leif Dautch and Nancy Tung. The two worst are Deputy Public Defender Chesa Boudin, a champion of illegal immigration which results in more work for public defenders at taxpayer expense, and Suzy Loftus, the City Hall establishment favorite, weaned on the public trough as the Sheriff’s attorney, who doesn’t prosecute crimes.

DA Candidates: Chesa Boudin, Leif Dautch, Suzy Loftus, Nancy Tung

Dautch, a four-year veteran of the San Francisco District Attorney’s office and Harvard Law School graduate, is now a Deputy Attorney General in San Francisco, trying cases the State Attorney General must prosecute because of a conflicted county prosecutor. Tung, a one-time San Francisco Deputy District Attorney, has been an Alameda County Deputy District Attorney for several years, realizing that office constitutes the second best district attorney’s office in the nine-county Bay Area, exceeded in results only by the San Mateo County District Attorney, Steve Wagstaffe. Dautch neatly observes about prosecutorial failures of the incumbent District Attorney and the candidacy of a Deputy Public Defender, that San Francisco “doesn’t need two public defenders.”

Public financing doesn’t shrink the influence of large campaign contributions through independent expenditure committees. It doesn’t reduce campaign spending (see Mayor London Breed’s 2018 expenditures of $2,251,065).”

Loftus last month wrote a mind-boggling column in The San Francisco Examiner that she would reverse the sorry record of the current District Attorney in failing to pursue sexual violence cases like rape and assault. Her bromide includes mental health, social services, and “crisis lines . . . community-based services, and protective orders.” She eschews “increasing rates of conviction” as solving an asserted sexual violence epidemic in San Francisco. She is afraid to identify the inept incumbent District Attorney as responsible for failures to prosecute sexual violence cases. She informs people she was president of the San Francisco Police Commission. That’s true; ask San Francisco police officers their opinion of her tenure. Proof is in the pudding: the Police Officers Association refuses to endorse her candidacy.

Meanwhile, the forgiveness of gross receipts taxes of billion dollar technology companies on Market Street has resulted in more wealth for corporate executives, but hasn’t changed upper Market Street to a desirable place to walk. Now customary homeless persons still occupy sidewalks and illegally cross Market Street, deposit excrement, and beg for alms from those brave enough to traverse the area. Every generation of politicians, including the current bunch of majority “progressive” Board of Supervisors members, has to learn you don’t build a desirable city (or county or state) by cutting deals with business barons to abolish or decrease tax responsibilities in return for locating here. It’s not only San Francisco; three months ago, New York City’s leaders finally decided not to give Amazon $3,000,000,000 in corporate welfare and billionaire socialism for building a new headquarters across the East River from Manhattan in Long Island City. The San Francisco tax cut for billionaires ends this year, fortunately. As noted in The Wall Street Journal, such political giveaways are based upon “a pernicious theory of civic welfare that presumes private development is New York’s primary goal, the truest measure of urban vitality and health, with money the city’s only real currency.”

This year also resulted in City Hall, through the Ethics Commission, changing San Francisco’s public financing system by using a 6-to-1 “matching rate”, meaning taxpayer money to candidate-raised money from private sources. Spending over $1,000,000 of your tax money this year on worthless candidates (and more next year) represents a failed proposition, namely, giving fervent politicians tax revenue to propagate their campaigns reduces overall campaign spending. Public financing doesn’t shrink the influence of large campaign contributions through independent expenditure committees. It doesn’t reduce campaign spending (see Mayor London Breed’s 2018 expenditures of $2,251,065). It doesn’t reduce advantages of incumbency. It’s false public policy at taxpayer expense. Yet San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other charter law cities in California pursue the Holy Grail. Fortunately, state law because of a voter initiative written by the late State Senator Ross Johnson, a Republican, Senator Joe Montoya, a Democrat, and me, an Independent, in 1988 prohibits all 460 general law cities from public financing of local campaigns for public office.

Remember late Louisiana U.S. Senator Russell D. Long’s 1986 wisdom: “A tax loophole is something that benefits the other guy. If it benefits you, it is tax reform.”

Former Supervisor and Judge, Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

JULY 2019

The late James Byrnes, a United States Senator from South Carolina and later Secretary of State under President Harry S. Truman observed in the 1940s: “The nearest approach to immortality on earth is a government bureau.

In 1931, San Francisco voters approved a new Charter which reduced Board of Supervisors membership from 16 to 11, elected citywide, and paid $2,400 per year, without membership in the Retirement System but with membership in the publicly-funded Health System. The Charter also barred supervisors from interfering in administrative matters or trying to influence votes of city boards and commissions. Only the voters could increase the supervisors’ salary. Voters did so by doubling it to $4,800 in the 1950s and then $9,600 in 1964. All supervisors but one in my 15 years of service from 1972 until 1986 worked in a business or profession because it was a part-time responsibility, because a Mayor and a Chief Administrative Officer devoted full-time to managing San Francisco government.

A nonprofit Los Angeles group investigation showed that in his 2016 campaign for the State Senate, Wiener accumulated $574,276 from almost 700 donations from developers, real estate attorneys, brokers, architects, lobbyists, and other real estate insiders. Should he ever be elected to the U.S. Congress, I’d expect Wiener to foster legislation granting the United States Government control over local zoning and planning processes!”

After failed supervisorial efforts to remove voters/taxpayers from setting salaries the second time I was President of the Board of Supervisors in 1982 dollars, I asked Budget Analyst Harvey M. Rose to advise me what cost of living increases since 1964 would amount to in 1982. His answer was $23,924 per year. I immediately introduced a Charter amendment to increase the salary accordingly. Voters easily approved it that November. In the 1990s, after I left the Board, a should-be-forgotten supervisor trumpeted Charter “revision,” including voter approval of supervisor salaries. The Civil Service Commission, which would supposedly survey comparable legislative entities in the Bay Area to ascertain a “prevailing” salary. Unfortunately, voters were induced to approve such nostrums.

Since that time, voters unwisely created district election of Supervisors. Instead of answering to approximately 850,000 San Franciscans, presently our heroes represent about 77,000 people, and are term limited. Nevertheless, they’re now members of the Retirement System, and last month the Civil Service Commission ignored staff recommendations and granted Supervisors a 12% salary increase to $140,000 annually, plus a yearly cost of living increase the next four years thereafter. Marvelous! Try to reach any of them or their 3 aides on a Friday afternoon

For those interested in the “land grab” legislation proposed by State Senator Scott Wiener (Senate Bill 281), be advised the bill was not heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee, and, therefore, cannot be considered until next January, at which time it’d need approval by both that committee and the whole State Senate to reach the Assembly. A similar “land grab” was attempted 10 years ago by the ignominious Leland Yee and Daly City, which obtained an appraisal of the market value of Agricultural District 1-A’s 68 acres. Over 11 years ago, it was already $149,000,000. As amended, Wiener’s measure would require payment of current market value to the state, which owns the property, by San Mateo, Daly City, and San Francisco taxpayers. Daly City, whose Historical Society fiercely opposes the bill, is reputedly near insolvency. Simultaneously, Wiener’s Senate Bill 50, which would override local zoning to encourage high-rise apartment buildings in single family housing neighborhoods, was “parked” in the Senate Appropriations Committee for 2019. A nonprofit Los Angeles group investigation showed that in his 2016 campaign for the State Senate, Wiener received $574,276 from almost 700 politico donations by developers, real estate attorneys, brokers, architects, lobbyists, and other real estate insiders. Should he ever be elected to the U.S. Congress, I’d expect Wiener to foster legislation granting the United States Government control over local zoning and planning processes!

A beleaguered Dolores Heights neighborhood taxpayer invites attention to a City Hall effort to establish a “Green Benefit District,” as a so-called “community benefit district,” levying an assessment on neighborhood property owners to fund cleaner sidewalks, streets, common areas, plus improved public safety. Each property owner will be assessed accordingly, whether residential or commercial. The 2019-2020 prospective San Francisco budget exceeds $11,500,000,000. The assessment would raise $1,000,000, of which 33% would be spent on overhead. A Green Benefit District was formed covering Dogpatch. The executive director, appointed by ex-Mayor Lee to a Board of Supervisors vacancy covering Telegraph Hill and North Beach, Julie Christensen, then promptly defeated for election by Aaron Peskin, receives $120,000 per year as the Dogpatch District Executive Director. Don’t Dolores Heights residents, who can’t deduct from their income taxes the proposed “assessment,” unlike business owners, already pay taxes for the services respecting sidewalks, streets, common areas like parks, and police and fire departments?

Let’s hope the City Hall “family” doesn’t attempt to organize a “Green Benefit District” in Richmond, Sunset, or West of Twin Peaks neighborhoods.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

JUNE 2019

H. L. Mencken in The American Mercury in May 1930 declared: “The legislature, like the executive, has ceased to be even the creature of the people; it is the creature of pressure groups, and most of them, . . . are of dubious wisdom and even more dubious honesty. Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation . . . The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle - a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game . . . If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of chiropractic, astrology, or cannibalism.” That applies to State Senator Scott Wiener, who aspires to destroy our historic Cow Palace.

Wiener’s intent is to transfer it to wealthy land use developers under the guise of solving the “housing crisis.”

Last year, Wiener prosecuted legislatively a measure to ban gun shows in the Cow Palace. His bill emanated from pressure by people espousing gun control and disdain of the Second Amendment. He was thwarted by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., who vetoed his legislation, observing that the Cow Palace Board of Directors is composed of people from the community, consisting of San Mateo County and San Francisco residents only. This year, the same politician introduced Senate Bill 281, not just to render gun shows illegal in the Cow Palace, but to abolish the Cow Palace by transferring its valuable 68 acres to a “joint powers authority” composed of Daly City, San Francisco, and San Mateo County. This land grab contained no payment to state taxpayers for such real estate conveyance. All but two acres of the Cow Palace are in San Mateo County, which last month declined to pass a resolution supporting S.B. 281 despite entreaty by the Board of Supervisors member from Daly City, D. J. Canepa. (S.B. 281 was amended by the State Senate Government Organization Committee to require payment of market value by Daly City, San Francisco, and San Mateo County, one of whose supervisors observed to me that there isn’t an acre of unimproved land in San Mateo County worth less than $1,000,000!)

The legislative author has disseminated such falsehoods as “the bill is not controversial” and that the Cow Palace board members don’t represent San Francisco or San Mateo County residents. In fact, one member resides in Daly City, which has always been involved with the Cow Palace. Its police department, fire department, and “SWAT” team, plus the California Highway Patrol, the Muni, and American Medical Response all train at the Cow Palace.

A historical refresher needs recitation. The Cow Palace constitutes California Agricultural District 1A; there are 54 agricultural districts in California and another 23 county fairs and expositions. Ten years ago, the state budget, because of economic conditions, ceased funding agricultural districts. The Cow Palace, constructed under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and opened in 1941, had to generate enough revenue to cover operating expenses. It has done so brilliantly, now possessing over $4,000,000 in cash reserve. It has hosted political conventions, circuses, ice hockey, basketball, track and field, and boat shows. It now generates rent from the traditional Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock Show, the Junior Livestock Show, 4H shows, the Great Dickens Fair, dog shows, a reptile show, flower shows, a circus, auto exhibitions, AIDS Lifecycle fundraising weekend, Salesforce and Facebook corporate events, and cannabis events.

Despite denial that his bill would result in destruction of the improved Cow Palace and surrounding animal stalls and space, Wiener’s intent is to transfer it to wealthy land use developers under the guise of solving the “housing crisis.” Despite language in S.B. 281 which states it isn’t a precedent for other agricultural districts or county fairs, such language is precatory, easily overcome by subsequent legislation grabbing other state and county agricultural exposition properties for developers. Except for the naked land grab, S.B. 281 is moot as to its original purpose: On April 16, 2019, the Cow Palace Board voted unanimously not to re-lease the premises in 2020 to the gun show operator, whose lease expires December 31, 2019.

Those gun shows have never resulted in sale of a firearm used in a reported assault, much less a death, because state and federal laws control purchases, meaning scrupulous background checks and prevention of possession of a purchased gun at the Cow Palace for 30 days or more, without any physical transfer of a weapon at the Cow Palace.

Finally, the Cow Palace is engaged in negotiations with an adjoining private property owner and Daly City to develop jointly approximately 15 acres west of the Geneva Avenue entrance for housing and a supermarket. Wiener’s destructive approach, including another bill (S.B. 50) usurping local control over zoning ordinances by California cities, would abolish a history of not just rodeos and 4H events, but availability of the acreage for emergency shelter and rescue after earthquakes and other physical disasters, as well as legendary appearances by President John F. Kennedy, the Reverent Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Beatles!

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

MAY 2019

In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson wrote a friend: “If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.” That emblemizes San Francisco’s most wasteful (and unhappy) current transportation project, the Municipal Railway’s Central Subway Project, now 10 years in length.

MUNI tax-eaters publicly represent the current cost as $1,600,000,000, which is more than half a billion more than the original proclaimed cost. A better sobriquet is the “billion-dollar-per-mile subway” since it’s only 1.6 miles long from south of Market to Chinatown’s border through Union Square. MUNI chose California’s worst taxpayer enemy, Tutor Perini Co., to build the Central Subway. Its completion is broadcasted as December, but I’ll wager it’ll be 2021 after revelation last month of contract disputes between Tutor Perini and MUNI following revelation last year of 3.2 miles of construction using the wrong type of steel track. The time-saving over use of the #30 bus, assuming the Central Subway one day opens, is a reputed matter of a few minutes.

San Francisco is not the only repository of taxpayer abuse. Honolulu snagged about $9,000,000,000 from federal, state, and city taxpayers for a 20-mile train from suburbs west of Honolulu to downtown, with an original estimate of $5,000,000,000 in 1991. It imposed a surcharge on Oahu business receipts after the elevated train project needed more money. Federal transportation gurus concede only a 65% chance of completion by 2025. Work commenced before environmental studies and planning were completed, about 100 contracts were signed before final approval from the Federal Transit Authority occurred, and now must be re-written.

I am reminded of probably the worst Bay Area public transit project in history, propounded by Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) over 30 years ago to institute trolley car service through San Jose. From commencement, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission staff knew VTA rail was unjustified, but was forced to recommend it to the U.S. Department of Transportation for federal funds by San Jose politicians oblivious of taxpayers. (Unfortunately, I was in the State Senate and didn’t have a vote anymore at MTC, of which I had been chairman in the early 1980s). Fare box recovery ratio measures proportion of operating expenses covered by ridership fares, typically expressed as a percentage. BART service to San Francisco International Airport, for example, obtains fare box recovery of over 70%, the highest of any public transit service in the Bay Area. In 2016-17, Caltrain reached 65% fare box recovery ratio, but MUNI’s fare box recovery was but 28%, and VTA was 10%! That means taxpayers subsidize 90% of VTA riders’ service. While BART currently has many problems resulting from homelessness, fare box cheating, broken escalators and elevators, its fare box recovery in fiscal year 2016-17 remained over 70%.

I don’t know the author, but someone claimed: “There is one fixed rule in government: the less it’s worth, the more it costs.

As California’s new Governor prepares for his first state budget, let’s remember that about 1% of state income tax payers pay nearly half of the total, based upon our country’s highest state income tax rate of 13.3%. As Fresno State Professor Victor Davis Hanson pointed out last month, new federal income tax law limits deductions for state and local taxes to $10,000, which constitutes an incentive for California’s 1% to move to states without a state income tax, like Nevada or Florida. Hanson further reminds us that during the drought, politicians alleged global warming meant snow and rain would be decreased and that low-elevation reservoirs for retaining water during wet years like 2018-19 were unjustified. That’s now resulted in millions of acre-feet of snow and rain flowing to the ocean. Suppose the drought returns next year. Hanson further identified California as “facing a perfect storm of homelessness.” Generous welfare benefits and warm climates attract the homeless, so nearly one third of the country’s welfare recipients live in California, where vagrancy and public health laws aren’t enforced.

Last month, three S.F. Supervisors announced planned introduction of an ordinance to close Juvenile Hall based upon declining juvenile crime and inmates. Not a word was publicly uttered by any of our three heroes about using such land to build housing for the homeless, assuming closure is justified. Instead, there were references to a park, landscaping, and “public spaces.” I wouldn’t be surprised if tuberculosis and typhus from people on the streets and sidewalks of San Francisco and other large California cities occur because health code enforcement seems politically incorrect.

I don’t know the author, but someone claimed: “There is one fixed rule in government: the less it’s worth, the more it costs.”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

April 2019

H. G. Wells in The Outline of History in 1921 observed: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” Last November, a flurry of articles about the sorrowful assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk 40 years ago encouraged various theories and alleged facts. Some were educational; others were revisionist. Concurrently, another book on that subject was published. Its author, Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, wrote Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco, but couldn’t secure a book review from any San Francisco newspaper. (Maybe the content wasn’t politically correct for liberal San Francisco.)

It’s time to record genuine history rather than historical debasement books like Season of the Witch. San Francisco’s first experiment with district election of supervisors was voter-enacted in November 1976, resulting in election of Harvey Milk in the so-called Castro Street area (he had run unsuccessfully citywide) and Dan White in the Portola in 1977. Previously, custom and practice, although not law, resulted in the highest citywide vote-getter being unanimously elected Board president for two years. With district supervisorial elections, that practice was abandoned. I secured the highest number of votes in our district, unopposed. Dianne Feinstein of Pacific Heights received about half my 20,000 total votes. Based upon my closest political friend retiring supervisor John Barbagelata’s suggestion, I agreed to allow her to be elected president in return for endorsing me in 1978 for mayor. (She never did.) She induced new district supervisors to provide her a majority. For White’s vote, she agreed to support his opposition to a zoning change in Roman Catholic Archdiocese property on University Mound to convert a home for unwed prospective mothers into a facility for delinquent boys. Most residents of that district objected to that, and appealed the Planning Commission rezoning to the Board of Supervisors.

Why should private corporations use taxpayer money to increase their customers, like the local property tax exemptions granted wealthy technology companies for Market Street office buildings? I think commercial property-owning businesses on Taraval Street and Geary Boulevard would like similar treatment.”

I publicly opposed the rezoning. White told me Milk would oppose the rezoning. Knowing Milk’s predilections, I expressed skepticism to White. The following week, the neighborhood appeal failed, Milk voting against it, White, Supervisor Lee Dolson, Feinstein, and I voting for the appealing neighbors. White then ruefully admitted to me I was correct in predicting Milk’s vote.

Later, White voted against a Milk-sponsored ordinance banning discrimination in employment of homosexuals. I supported it. It passed.

Subsequently in 1978, White, a former fireman, was inveighed by the Pier 39 developer to open a potato skin food business on Pier 39. It proved difficult for his wife and him to operate the business successfully while he was a supervisor. In November, before Thanksgiving Day, White delivered his resignation to Mayor Moscone. Downtown businesses and public employee unions persuaded White to change his mind. (Additionally, state law required resignation of a county supervisor to be filed with the Board of Supervisors clerk, not the mayor.) Milk urged Mayor Moscone not to allow White’s return. White learned of such effort. As Flynn notes in a November 26, 2018 magazine column, White’s assassinations weren’t based on Milk’s homosexuality; they occurred because of his desired reappointment. Those are facts, not political revision.

* * *

Unnoticed in San Francisco and California, last summer a Pennsylvania township with surplus from increased property tax collection disgorged itself for taxpayers’ benefit. Middletown Township conveyed 14,361 checks for $68 each to all owners of improved property. It resulted from controlling expenditures and delinquent tax collections. Hallelujah. Now, abolition of taxpayer business subsidies and use of taxpayer money to settle sexual misconduct cases by state and national legislators and public officials could correct injustice to taxpayers. The Independent Institute notes that California legislators, public universities, and state agencies “secretly settled sexual misconduct claims using taxpayer money – about $11.3 million over the past three fiscal years.” Settlements ranged from $500 to $10,000,000; seven exceeded $500,000. Over the last 25 years, the Legislature has paid over $2,800,000 in 2017 taxpayer dollars.

Meanwhile, taxpayers continue to subsidize electric vehicle buyers. The federal government gives buyers a $7,500 subsidy. That began under President Obama in 2009. The Pacific Research Institute discovered from 2014 Internal Revenue Service records that 79% of federal electric car tax credits were obtained by households with adjusted gross income exceeding $100,000. California bestows $15,000 per electric vehicle on purchasers in state income tax credits. Moreover, last month the Wall Street Journal noted total carbon dioxide emissions from electric vehicles can exceed conventional vehicle emissions. Why should private corporations use taxpayer money to increase their customers, like the local property tax exemptions granted wealthy technology companies for Market Street office buildings? I think commercial property-owning businesses on Taraval Street and Geary Boulevard would like similar treatment. Maybe that’s why Lord Bryce in London in 1921 declared: “A political career brings out the basest qualities in human nature.”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

March 2019

“We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road, but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much . . . feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.”

That’s not the mandate of contemporary political commentators and philosophers, but Woodrow Wilson, speaking at Princeton University June 9, 1907. Once upon a time, presidential campaigns were relatively short. Not now in the era of Trump, especially for Democrats like an unknown congressman from Texas who was vanquished two months ago for U.S. Senate, or another similar type unknown except in Alameda County and the San Francisco Chronicle, and rookie U.S. Senate members, including one from San Francisco.

Forgotten is Kamala Harris’ conduct 16 years ago. Before election as San Francisco’s District Attorney in November 2003, she benefited from appointment to the $97,000-per-year California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board by then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1993, and the next year to the even higher-paying California Medical Commission. The February 23, 2003 San Diego Union-Tribune observed that those two state boards were frequently condemned by taxpayers for “allow[ing] politically connected people with no expertise . . . to earn large salaries for jobs that are less than full-time.” The erstwhile Bay Guardian’s Savannah Blackwell noted that Harris had no experience at the age of 30 to “qualify her to oversee the work of 15 staff members who negotiate Medi-Cal reimbursement rates with state hospitals.” Additionally, she was paid by taxpayers as an Alameda County Deputy District Attorney. In 1998, her California Medical Commission salary soared to $99,000 a year. Given a six-figure job by then-District Attorney Terence Hallinan as a San Francisco deputy prosecutor, she rewarded her benefactor by running against him in 2003 after San Francisco adopted public financing with clear eligibility rules, including a maximum amount of campaign spending. In her case, it was $211,000.

After spending $1,150,000 compared to Hallinan’s $362,000, she was the subject of an Ethics Commission complaint (that wasn’t a new experience: in 2000, she was paid $8,000 to manage the unsuccessful reelection campaign of Amos Brown and failed to notify the public of the mailing of two political brochures within the time legally required). Eventually, in 2003, Harris was charged by the Ethics Commission with violating her promise not to spend more than $211,000 on her District Attorney’s campaign. Her violation of the public financing law was clear, but instead of fining her the maximum penalty of $275,000, the Ethics Commission assessed her a mere $34,000. The law also permitted her disqualification. As Savannah Blackwell wrote in September 2005 for the former “By law, Harris should not even be the city’s District Attorney.”

Most recently, taxpayers funded the December settlement of a harassment suit against a top aide in her U.S. Senate office for $400,000. As California’s most knowledgeable political commentator, Dan Walters, wrote in Cal Matters on December 18, after Harris claimed ignorance of the suit or settlement, “it seems incredible that Harris would have been kept in the dark about a harassment allegation against one of her closest aides, and the secret payoff that made it go away. That’s especially true since Harris has made sexual harassment a touchstone in preparing for a presidential run.”

As a U.S. Senator, of course, Harris is eligible for Washington elite access to an obscure, lucrative Social Security alternative under which one monthly payment ($11,334) equals a whole year’s sum of ordinary Social Security payments. That’s ten times over the average Social Security payment. Including Al Gore, about 351 former congressmen and congresswomen collect such benefit. Deployment of taxpayers’ money also occurs locally. The California Fair Political Practices Commission last month fined BART a modest $7,500 for failing to file campaign expenditure statements in 2016 for a $3,500,000 bond. Public agencies a

Forgotten is Kamala Harris’ conduct 16 years ago. Before election as San Francisco’s District Attorney in November 2003, she benefited from appointment to the $97,000-per-year California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board by then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1993, and the next year to the even higher-paying California Medical Commission.”

re prohibited from using taxpayer funds for political campaigns. Unfortunately, FPPC authority doesn’t include whether such activity was legal in the first place because it can only apply sanctions for undisclosed public agency campaign spending. BART spent $7,791 of taxpayer money to produce videos and send texts to promote the bond measure, which won easily. Meanwhile, local district attorneys and the State Attorney General declined to sue agencies that use public money for political campaigns criminally. In my 27 years in elected public office, I witnessed one such criminal action by the San Mateo County District Attorney, the best prosecutor’s office in the nine Bay Area counties. State Senator Steve Glazer of Orinda has requested the Attorney General to investigate the violation and promises legislation to expand FPPC power. Last month, the FPPC also decided there’s probable cause the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors spent over $800,000 of taxpayer money to campaign for a 2017 homeless services ballot measure. The lesson? Pity the poor taxpayer.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

February 2019

In the aftermath of last month's elections, I'm reminded of the unusually effected scare tactics presented to local newspaper readers who expect accuracy in reporting and opinion-writing. As observed by a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Constitution Day this year, Thomas Jefferson in 1789 wrote: "Wherever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Bear in mind, however, 71% of Americans can't identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, according to a 2012 Xavier University report, and 10% of college graduates, according to a 2015 American Council of Trustees and Alumni poll, thought Judith Sheindlin (aka Judge Judy) is a U.S. Supreme Court justice, while only 32% of college graduates could name all three government branches, and 33% can't name a single branch, according to the 2018 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey.

New York City granted Amazon $1,500,000,000 in cash and property tax credits ... Kansas and Missouri spent $500,000,000 in tax incentives for companies, thus taking money from schools and infrastructure. Once government grants corporation A property tax forgiveness, why shouldn't it grant the same exemption to corporation B, and C, etc.?”

As I have previously reminded readers, California's gasoline tax was instituted in 1922 as a user fee for the specific and sole purpose of employing proceeds to build and maintain state highways, county roads, and city streets. That's good government. Instead, the California legislature and governor last year collaborated to enact a 12-cents-per-gallon tax increase, the proceeds of which would also be used for public buses and other forms of transportation, which will be paid for by vehicle drivers and certainly not as a user fee. The California Attorney General wrote as deceiving a summarization of state Proposition 6, which would have repealed the use of gasoline taxes for non-highway, road, and street purposes. That summary is by law the Voter Information Pamphlet information presented to voters. California courts have been reluctant to interfere in litigation to stop the falsifying of the Attorney General's summarization. Proposition 6 opponents spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat it because they're the road construction, engineers, designers, and unionized workers who receive the taxes paid by drivers.

Regarding transportation, on August 8, 2018, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that California spends ten times more on electric car subsidies than on clearing dead trees, which result in flammable groundcover – $335,000,000 for electric car subsidies and only $30,000,000 for clearing 60,000 acres of forests. Similarly, governments use taxpayers' money to confer on massive corporations like Amazon billions of dollars, as New York City did last month for a "second headquarters" for Amazon. San Francisco waived property taxes for technology corporations on Market Street. New York City granted Amazon $1,500,000,000 in cash and property tax credits. As pointed out in The Week, Kansas and Missouri spent $500,000,000 in tax incentives for companies, thus taking money from schools and infrastructure. Once government grants corporation A property tax forgiveness, why shouldn't it grant the same exemption to corporation B, and C, etc.? It's the antithesis of good government.

So is San Francisco city government behavior. Last week, one Supervisor declared intent to establish yet another new office for curing alleged "racial" inequality. She'd call it the "Office of Racial Equity", avowedly to end alleged discrimination in employment practices at City Hall and housing policies. That means more office space, more city employees than even the current 30,000, and more taxpayer subsidization.

On the state level, legislators henceforth needn't live in the district each represents. Senate Bill 1250 enables politicians to claim residences outside their district. While the U.S. Constitution contains no residency qualification for House of Representative members, Governor Jerry Brown signed such bill after pardoning a former legislator who was elected in a district outside his residence. The honest method to effectuate such a policy, contrary to the California Constitution, would be a constitutional amendment for voters to approve. That, however, means the rule of law in a "sanctuary state" which refuses to recognize illegal immigration in jails and prisons.

As a new governor commences his responsibility next month, people ask me what to expect. I'm not a soothsayer. I can't answer. I know California has the highest poverty rate in the country, laws benefiting criminals and illegal aliens, releases of criminals from detention, erasing criminal records. That's the incentive for native San Franciscan Nina Salarno Besselman of Crime Victims United announcing institution of a 2020 initiative to reverse the public safety damage of alleged "criminal justice reform." That includes restoration of the money bail system instead of a computer-based "risk assessment" which is plainly defective. California possesses over 4,000,000 illegal aliens, and the National Economics Editorial estimates they can pay $3,500,000,000 in taxes, but cost California about $30,300,000,000 yearly. That's 17.7% of California's annual budget, with welfare, food stamps, meals, free immunization, low-cost housing, in-state tuition fees, and, potential 2019 legislation to permit candidacies for elected public offices.

Meanwhile, the Festival of Lights (aka Hanukkah) begins December 2 for eight days, and Christmas still occurs on December 25. Jingle Bells to all. Have a Happy New Year.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

December 2018

In 1921, H.G. Wells declared: “Human history becomes more and more erased between education and catastrophe.” Some readers may still be puzzled by the wealth of ballot measures and candidates, even in this one-party city and one-party state. I think it’s important to vote against Proposition 3, which was qualified for the ballot by a distasteful system of its author raising money from entities and individuals who will benefit economically if it passes. If state legislators acted in such fashion with ballot measures, they’d be denounced and maybe prosecuted for bribery. The California Court of Appeal, however, in the 1990s, decided it was constitutionally permissible for a private citizen to practice “pay to participate” in invalidating legislation sponsored by me and signed by then-Governor George Deukmejian. Also dangerous to housing construction incentive is Proposition 10, which merits a similar negative vote, and again, I recommend strong support for Proposition 6, repealing a 12-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and increased registration fees. I do so not because a gas tax increase isn’t warranted; it is warranted, but I do so because the proceeds will be spent on projects other than highways, roads, and streets. It’s a distortion of the reason we’ve paid gas tax since 1922, and it’s financed by the construction companies, engineers, building trade unions, and others who will benefit from its billions of dollars.

He … marched in parades, and spoke at nearly 150 meetings in the Klan uniform. He was also FDR’s first nominee to the Supreme Court and championed the Bill of Rights against the states.”

As a lawyer and retired judge, I was keenly attentive to last month’s confirmation proceedings respecting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Neither his opponents nor Justice Kavanaugh demonstrated good judgment and appropriate conduct. The concealing by Senator Dianne Feinstein of the accusatory letter from a woman alleging Justice Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school gathering in 1982 when he was 17 and she was 15 resulted in the most vicious set of public hearings and closed door maneuvering in decades. Forgotten by the commentators and journalists was the case of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. On August 12, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Democratic Senator Hugo Black of Alabama to the Supreme Court. He served over 30 years and was hailed as a supporter of civil liberties and the First Amendment. Forgotten by the “talking heads” and Democratic leaders is that Justice Black, after his appointment, was exposed as a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. He joined it in September 1923, and resigned in July 1925. In September 1926, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Justice Black was given a life membership in the Klan, which was anti-black, anti-Catholic, and anti-Jewish. Justice Black later claimed he joined to prevent the Klan from being too extreme. He was a man who never graduated high school, but graduated the University of Alabama Law School Phi Beta Kappa, marched in parades, and spoke at nearly 150 meetings in the Klan uniform. He was also FDR’s first nominee to the Supreme Court and championed the Bill of Rights against the states. Now, will Justice Kavanaugh be another Justice Black? I wasn’t overly persuaded by his accuser referring to events 36years previously, but if I had been a U.S. Senator, I would’ve had a difficult time voting to confirm him. Why? His display of anger indicated a non-judicial temperament. As pointed out by a Wall Street Journal reader, he was belligerent, hostile, intemperate, self-pitying, insulting, and political (recall his reference to the Clintons). I don’t care about his political background. I care about his judicial record and temperament. I was a fierce trial lawyer with a temperament to match, but as a judge, I was temperate. Some lawyers who knew me as an opponent were surprised. I can’t imagine using the phrase “what goes around comes around” as Justice Kavanaugh did during one of the public hearings. Let’s hope that he performs as a protector of the First Amendment and other constitutional provisions and accumulates the proud record of Justice Hugo Black even to the point of carrying a copy of the Constitution in his pocket.

Last fall, San Franciscan historian Ken Maley from Telegraph Hill asked me if I realized November 11, 2018 would be the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. An immigrant from a farm in Russia (now in Belorussia), my father immigrated legally to the U.S.A. in 1912 as a 15-year-old. By May 1917, he’d finished Brooklyn School of Pharmacy, then a two-year course, and enlisted in the U.S. Army. Shipped to France with the American Expeditionary Force, he was naturalized that fall and, after the Armistice, was one of 100 soldiers selected for the American mission to Armenia in January 1919, a 90-day investigation of the Armenian genocide in which over 1,000,000 Armenians were murdered. World War I means much to me. I’m delighted to be Co-Chairman of the World War I Armistice Centennial Commemoration at the War Memorial Veterans Building, which will culminate November 11 after the 11 AM Veterans Day parade from Fishermans Wharf to Civic Center, bell ringing at 11 AM (the time of the World War I Armistice in 1918), a memorial service at Grace Cathedral Church on Nob Hill, and a reception at the War Memorial ending at 6 PM. San Francisco was chosen by the U.S. World War I Historical Commission as one of 100 recognized commemoration cities. With retired Marine Corps Major General Mike Myatt as Co-Chairman, citizens have raised $100,000 for poster, banner, and photographic World War I displays since May in the War Memorial lobby, which will remain through 2019 to commemorate the centennial of the establishment of the American Legion. Besides General Myatt and Ken Maley, retired Lieutenant Colonel Wallace Levin, a War Memorial Board of Trustees member and director of the Veterans Day parade, the Committee consists of American Legion leaders, history professors, and World War I historians. Few San Franciscans realize that the War Memorial Veterans Building and the Opera House on the land between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street, Hayes and Grove Streets resulted from World War I after transfer of such land by the University of California to the City and County of San Francisco in 1921. Thereafter, the War Memorial opened in 1931, the Opera House in 1932, with proceeds for construction from a general obligation bond approved by San Francisco voters circa 1922. San Francisco wanted to honor World War I veterans and did so in perpetuity. God Bless America.

Former Supervisor and Judge Quentin Kopp lives on the Westside.

November 2018

Dr. Charles Krauthammer, an extraordinary man, who trained as a psychiatrist, later a political commentator, and, lastly, a paraplegic, observed in May 1982: "If we insist that public life be reserved for those whose personal history is pristine, we are not going to get paragons of virtue running our affairs. We will get the very rich, who contract out the messy things in life; the very dull, who have nothing to hide and nothing to show; and the very devious, expert at covering their tracks and ambitious enough to risk their discovery." I thought of that in connection with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy of Sacramento, who was the best protector of the First Amendment since Justice Louis Brandeis. (As I write, confirmation by the U.S. Senate is pending, but may be concluded by our publication.)

…the Transbay Terminal Authority approved a contract with the builder of the sinking Millennium Tower, requiring the Transbay Terminal Authority to pay the legal fees of the wealthy Millennial Tower builder in lawsuits by condominium purchasers whose property value is adversely affected by the leaning structure – and, no, it's not in Pisa!”

Last month, I mentioned the self-congratulatory dedication of the Transbay Terminal, another San Francisco project years behind schedule and tens of millions of dollars more expensive than represented to taxpayers for over a decade. I noted with approval Supervisor Aaron Peskin's astute observation that without Caltrain or California high-speed rail using the Terminal, it'll be the most costly bus terminal in California history. Subsequently, we learned that under the administration of an unqualified executive director, the Transbay Terminal Authority approved a contract with the builder of the sinking Millennium Tower, requiring the Transbay Terminal Authority to pay the legal fees of the wealthy Millennial Tower builder in lawsuits by condominium purchasers whose property value is adversely affected by the leaning structure – and, no, it's not in Pisa! Millions of dollars of attorneys' fees will be borne by taxpayers, not the owners of Transbay Terminal adjacent structures, such as Salesforce. Ineptitude and deceit of taxpayers emblemize this sorry saga about such real estate project which will never honor the promise to taxpayers that tracks would be extended 1.3 miles from Fourth and King Streets to the Terminal. Finally, on September 25, those transportation wastrels closed the bus terminal completely because of cracked beams.

Last month, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed a dangerous bill which effectively eliminates California's bail system for accused criminals. A defendant's right to bail is guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Sections 12 and 28(e) of the California Constitution. Governor Brown has now eliminated bail in favor of relying upon pretrial assessments of an accused's propensity to threaten public safety and alleged victims and appear at all required criminal court hearings, using a flawed algorithm from a wealthy Texas foundation of a man who garnered billions from the Enron collapse. The legislation was so drastically amended that prior supporters like the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Defender Jeff Adachi opposed it, along with the Alliance of California Judges and California District Attorneys Association. The proponents typically know nothing about criminal court practices. Since I was a Board of Supervisors member in the 1970s, San Francisco's Superior Court has operated a pretrial diversion program, evaluating an accused likelihood of law-breaking and fleeing before trial for purposes of release without bail, usually subject to reporting by telephone every 24 or 48 hours to that office. The same system exists in 45 other counties. Judges conduct hearings every day, receiving sworn testimony from defendants, family members, and friends, as well as reviewing prior records of arrest and convictions, plus information about residency and employment in San Francisco or the Bay Area. Defendants' court-appointed or privately-employed attorneys and prosecutors can argue about bail amount or release without bail before trial. So-called "bail reform" advocates are mostly amateurs who don't appear in criminal court every day like lawyers and judges. Moreover, Governor Brown's action will require millions of dollars of taxpayer money to implement.

Precluded by Ethics Commission rules from furnishing opinions about city ballot measures or candidates, I express recommendations for state measures and candidates only. I'll vote "Yes" on Propositions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12. Propositions 1 and 2 represent bonds to facilitate housing construction. Propositions 3, 4 and 8 address health, namely, a safe water supply, hospital care for children, and kidney dialysis for Californians. Proposition 5 ensures protection for grandparents and parents in transferring residences to children without incurring exorbitant property tax increases. Proposition 6 repeals the 2017 distorted 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase of the Legislature, which foolishly enables the money to be used for activity other than building and maintaining highways, roads, and city streets. It's not the money which motivates my Proposition 6 endorsement, it's misuse of the money we would pay as motorists. Proposition 7 authorizes maintenance of Daylight Saving Time in California. (Proposition 9 was removed from the ballot.) Proposition 10 merits defeat. It ends over 25 years of rational rules controlling rent upon tenant departure, thus permitting San Francisco landlords to charge "market" rent upon a lease's end. Propositions 11 and 12 enhance human life by assuring availability of ambulance service at all hours and guaranteeing animal protection.

Finally, I'm excited about electing Steve Poizner, Insurance Commissioner, and Marshall Tuck, Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this one-party state, all Democratic candidates from Governor to Assembly are assured of success. Like me, Steve Poizner is an Independent whom I've known for 20 years, a person of integrity and business accomplishment. Tuck is a competent Democrat, independent of the education establishment and teacher union. Another U.S. Senator, Daniel P. Moynihan, observed: "The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it's so rare" and Edwards R. Murrows' observation in 1954: "No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are his accomplices" constitute useful thoughts as you mark your election ballot.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

October 2018

Deceased one-time U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York observed on March 7, 1976: "Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from life what conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth, namely, a healthy skepticism of the power of government agencies to do good." On the November 6, 2018 ballot will be an initiative (Prop 6) to repeal a 12-cent 2017 gas tax increase by the Legislature and Governor. The last state gas tax increase resulted from my 1989 Senate legislation, raising the tax by 8 cents per gallon by 1993. That money was used as intended for building and maintaining highways, roads, and streets. The 2017 increase renders California's gas tax the highest in the nation and flaunts the 1922 legislative decision to finance highways, roads, and streets by a "user fee." Such user tax revenue should be deposited in the State Highway Fund, not the General Fund, not used for public transit, the DMV, or California Highway Patrol. Before 1922, highways were funded by general obligation bond issues three times, which meant borrowing money and repaying it with twice the principal in interest debt. In 1988, to avoid a gas tax increase, a Republican governor attempted another state bond issue, which voters rejected. Within the last decade, however, state politicians have used gas tax revenue for purposes other than highways, roads, and streets, including state general fund spending. Caltrans cannot be trusted with efficiency; California's highway construction costs per lane mile are 62% over the national average, engineering costs 42% more, and maintenance workers obtain a third more than the national average. The 2018-19 state budget shows motor vehicle-related taxes and fees of $30,800,000,000, of which the Legislative Analyst estimates only $8,600,000,000 for streets, roads, and highways, including $1,100,000,000 on transportation bonds, some of which were used for non-highway purposes, like a new Orwellian category named "active transportation," whatever that means. Legislators last year diverted $1,000,000,000 from gas tax revenue to the General Fund, thus stealing more than $400,000,000 annually from city streets and county roads, and transferring much of it to "cap-and-trade." Bear in mind the Legislative Analyst four years ago concluded that Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 full-time employees costing more than $500,000,000 per year.

The vaunted Transbay Transit Center, usable only by buses, constitutes essentially a real estate project for big names like Salesforce, with an underground "train box" that bled state taxpayers $400,000,000 from the 2008 High-Speed Rail Authority general obligation bond issue and will never be used.”

The vaunted Transbay Transit Center, usable only by buses, constitutes essentially a real estate project for big names like Salesforce, with an underground "train box" that bled state taxpayers $400,000,000 from the 2008 High-Speed Rail Authority general obligation bond issue and will never be used.

Last month's homeric political event was opening the Transbay Terminal, originally represented to taxpayers as a modern facility for Caltrain and high-speed rail, plus buses. Past and present politicians celebrated with vanity a project begun over a decade ago, which far exceeded its public cost representations. The general manager of the Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) conferred upon morning newspaper readers a polemic about our public transit systems, with the usual pap. The vaunted Transbay Transit Center, usable only by buses, constitutes essentially a real estate project for big names like Salesforce, with an underground "train box" that bled state taxpayers $400,000,000 from the 2008 High-Speed Rail Authority general obligation bond issue and will never be used. Why? Extending Caltrain tracks 1.3 miles underground from Fourth and Townsend Streets will cost over $4,000,000,000 in non-existing money, never mentioned by MTA's justifiably embattled general manager because of embarrassment. His other bloated project, the Central Subway, peddled as a $1,600,000,000 undertaking, which The Wall Street Journal five years ago dubbed the billion-dollar-a-mile subway, will cost $2,500,000,00, an unspoken truth.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin correctly notes that without high-speed rail and Caltrain, the Transbay Terminal "will go down as the most expensive bus terminal in the history of humankind." The so-called high-speed train under construction near Madera to Wasco in Kern County (not Bakersfield) isn't high speed; it's conventional diesel rail from state government, which deludes the public and media. Moreover, state law now prohibits tracks dedicated to genuine high-speed rail on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Los Angeles Basin. State taxpayers have been deceived. The emperor has no clothes.

Many citizens have complimented me upon suing the U.S. Secret Service for refusing to comply with my February request for public records demonstrating the amount of taxpayer money spent on agents who devoted over a week to Donald Trump, Jr.'s trip to India to foster purchases of Trump properties there. As a taxpayer, I resent spending federal revenue on Trump, Jr.'s private business. Obviously, obtaining those records will enable taxpayer litigation to recover for the Federal Treasury money wasted on private business activities in India. I'm informed records of other taxpayer waste on Trump, Jr.'s business trips will expose more disgraceful misuse of tax extractions. Consider also former President Barack Obama's business deals at taxpayer expense. The Obama Presidential Center was originally publicized as funded with private money. No more. Illinois taxpayers will expend over $174,000,000 for reconfiguring roadways and public transit. Illinois politicians want $139,000,000 more in federal money. The Obama Center won't be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. Presidential archives won't even be deposited there. The Obama Center paid the City of Chicago $1 for "rent" of 19.3 acres of city land. It's no wonder William Randolph Hearst opined: "A politician will do anything to keep his job, even become a patriot."

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

Sept 2018

A wag once opined: “Some politicians are elected because of their gift of gab, and then defeated because of their gift of grab.” I trust that won’t apply to three statewide candidates whom I recommended last month for your thoughtful consideration and were chosen under California’s unusual system of sending to the November 6, 2018 general election the highest two qualifiers, rather than by respective parties. In order of ballot appearance, retired Superior Court Judge Steve Bailey of El Dorado, a Republican, runs this fall against incumbent Democrat Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Steve Poizner, like me an Independent, runs for Insurance Commissioner, and Democrat Marshall Tuck faces Democrat Tony Thurmond, another Democrat, for Superintendent of Public Instructions, a non-partisan office. It may be early, but I reiterate my recommendations for November 6, and I’ll later analyze other state and federal campaigns.

... last month’s announcement that the incumbent supervisor in the Sunset District indicated that she would not run for re-election in November. Within one day, an aide declared her candidacy. The aide registered to vote in San Francisco only on March 27, 2018 and was raised in Los Angeles.

The state system of disregarding political parties for the November run-off reminds me of San Francisco’s “ranked choice” voting for Mayor and Board of Supervisors. The latter will, I fearlessly predict, result in corruption accusations sometime in the future because human nature invites unsavory arrangements between candidates who exchange second and third place votes. San Francisco is also manifestly disserved by a practice of anointing political successors. I note last month’s announcement that the incumbent supervisor in the Sunset District indicated that she would not run for re-election in November. Within one day, an aide declared her candidacy. The aide registered to vote in San Francisco only on March 27, 2018 and was raised in Los Angeles. Such event, labeled as favoritism by some commentators, will be tested by six other eligible candidates who timely filed declarations of candidacy. Supervisors are limited to two four-year terms. The policy theory was that such system would encourage everyday citizens, not aspiring politicians, to lead San Francisco legislatively. That’s a fallacy.

Meanwhile, the annual state Budget Act was enacted last month, together with so-called “trailer” bills. Those are allegedly intended to implement spending purposes of the Budget Act. Such custom and practice is gravely abused by the Legislature, which achieved passage of non-budget-related bills with little or no public hearings. There’s a depressing example in the 2018-2019 Budget Act which contains a 17-word trailer bill that would allow local public officials to suppress disclosures to voters about how their property taxes will be affected by bond measures on the ballot between now and 2020. The best political commentator in California, Dan Walters, accurately calls it “sneakiness.” As readers know, bonds constitute loans to public entities which are repaid by property taxes, usually over 30 years, with principal and interest that generally double the bond expense.

Meanwhile, local Assemblymember David Chiu introduced last spring legislation to restore the failed Redevelopment Agency in cities and counties. Redevelopment is a pseudonym for eminent domain, taking private property allegedly for public benefit. Begun over 60 years ago in California, it allows a board of supervisors or city council to decide an area is “blighted” for purposes of buying or seizing the neighborhood properties from owners, then reselling same to developers for better-appearing 20th Century housing. It was a “do-gooder” theory which instead resulted in seizure of private property and its resale at bargain prices for such purposes as automobile row, high-rise office buildings, shopping malls, and even country clubs. Those uses produced not only property taxes, but sales taxes. Meanwhile, school districts suffered loss of property tax revenue in the process. Assembly Bill No. 3037 was approved by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, but stopped in the Committee on Appropriation – for now. Note that Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. accomplished three years ago legislation abolishing redevelopment agencies, but facile developers, politicians, and nonprofit housing entities continue to proclaim the wonders of a system which enabled government to seize private property and deliver it to wealthy City Hall favorites at prices as low as a dollar per parcel (yes, that occurred during redevelopment’s legal status in California).

I note Independence Day for all Americans and encourage leaders to think of forebearers who declared and fought to sustain this independent, democratic nation of legal immigrants. I’ll be speaking at a Lutheran church in Pacifica led by Reverend Tom Nibbe, a Marine Corps veteran, and praying for our future well-being in tumultuous rhetorical times, which include President Donald “Bone Spur” Trump and his perpetual mainstream media critics. (Note: Independence Day reminds me Mr. Trump obtained five draft deferments during the Vietnam War because of those pesky bone spurs!)

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

July 2018

... last month’s announcement that the incumbent super-
visor in the Sunset District indicated that she would not run for re-election in November. Within one day, an aide declared her candidacy. The aide registered to vote in San Francisco only on March 27, 2018 and was raised in Los Angeles.

Was it Diogenes who declared: “If a man carries his own lantern, he need not fear darkness”?

Reiteration appears inevitable in the face of the June 5 California election. Therefore, I reiterate my three most-prized recommendations: I urge readers to vote for retired Superior Court Judge Steve Bailey for Attorney General, Steve Poizner for Insurance Commissioner, and Marshall Tuck for Superintendent of Public Instruction. That gives you a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent, thereby covering all bases. Judge Bailey was principally a criminal defense lawyer for 25 years before election to the El Dorado County Superior Court and is unmistakenly the most experienced and balanced of three other candidates. Steve Poizner, a registered Independent like me, served as Insurance Commissioner in 2007 until 2011, accepts no campaign donations from insurance carriers or brokers, and represents integrity of the highest nature. Democrat Marshall Tuck is free of obligation to the California Teachers Association or charter school proponents and is not a career politician, unlike the incumbent or his principal challenger.

The myth that SPUR is a “think tank” conceals its membership roster of contractors, architects, and recipients of taxpayer and toll payer dollars. Stop their rip-off by rejecting Regional Measure 3.”

Absent from last month’s recommendations was my feeling about Regional Measure 3. It constitutes unfair governmental taxation, flying in the face of logic, history, and fair treatment. It proposes toll bridge increases from $5 to $8 on six of the seven bridges crossing San Francisco Bay owned and operated by the State of California and a Bay Bridge increase to $9 during peak hours, $8 on weekends, and $4 all other times by 2025. Tolls, like gasoline taxes, constitute user fees, paid by users of the public transportation facility. In fact, motorists at the time the Bay Bridge and others were opened received governmental promises that tolls would cease once the bonds used for construction were paid. That was untrue. Regional Measure 3 now proposes to use an estimated 4.45 billion dollars to pay for 35 projects not constituting maintenance or improvements of the seven State-owned bridges. About 70% would finance mass transit projects, 25% would foster roads and highways, and 3% would benefit bicyclists, who pay no tolls or other fees, and pedestrians. A user fee, it is not.

The State Legislature and Governor already last year bastardized the gasoline tax with increases not simply for highways, roads, and streets, but for public transit and other non-user purposes. California three times in the early 20th Century used general obligation state bonds to pay for motor vehicle facilities before political leaders recognized that was unfair to those not using streets and highways. Thus, in 1922, the Legislature and Governor enacted a 2-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax upon the clear principle that those who use streets and highways, not the rest of society, should pay for their construction and upkeep. That’s the principal reason an initiative to repeal the politicized gas tax increase has been circulated for the November 2018 statewide election. Note that the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and SPUR, which falsely proclaims itself as an “urban-planning think tank,” support Regional Measure 3. They’re contributing vast amounts of money to its passage. Why? Because their membership builders, engineering firms, and designers will obtain most of the contracts for the contemplated projects. The myth that SPUR is a “think tank” conceals its membership roster of contractors, architects, and recipients of taxpayer and toll payer dollars. Stop their ripoff by rejecting Regional Measure 3.

One other election highlight warrants comment. By a small majority, San Francisco voters approved a 2016 measure which allows aliens to vote in Board of Education elections this November. Some of those aliens may be illegal residents. Under state law, it’s possible that local aliens’ names and addresses could be obtained by federal authorities like Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to detect illegality. Only aliens with children under 19 can vote in those elections. Afraid of detection of illegal aliens by federal immigration officials, the Board of Supervisors approved legislation last month, compelling the Department of Elections to warn all such aspiring alien voters that illegality of presence could be discovered. Laws sometimes boomerang on those who are supposed beneficiaries. The same Board of Education also began a process of removing public school names no longer politically acceptable, authorizing an alleged panel of experts to investigate and submit recommendations this fall. By this month, such proposal may have received approval. In 2016, Board of Education member Matt Haney tried to promulgate abolition of the name of George Washington High School. In the face of riveting opposition from the Washington High School Alumni Association and others, he turned tail. One of the targets identified last month by a colleague is Fairmount Elementary School in Glen Park, which faces identity extinction in favor of politically correct Dolores Huerta. In today’s San Francisco political climate, nothing is safe from revision to suit those who abhor history. The orthodoxy of San Francisco politics sometimes interferes with Diogenes’ observation.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

June 2018

Even though my First Amendment rights have been lost on city elections as an Ethics Commission member (and now Vice-Chairman following retired Golden Gate University School of Law dean and Chief Deputy Public Defender Peter Keane's resignation after a vote double-cross by the current Chairman), I still retain such right regarding state and federal elections. A savant once observed: "It's useless to try to hold some people to anything they say while they're madly in love, drunk, or running for office," and, don't forget: "Everybody makes mistakes. That's why we keep having political elections."

Unlike the local ballot, there's only five state ballot measures. Proposition 68 authorizes $4,000,000,000 of general obligation bonds for state and local parks, so-called climate adaptation projects, natural resources, water quality, and flood protection projects, while reallocating $100,000,000 of unused general obligation bonds for the same purposes. I'll vote against it, because only $1,300,000,000 is actually specified to improve parks in an unequal geographical manner, lacks sufficient funding for critical deferred park maintenance, and relies upon a state department which bamboozled citizens in 2012 with a threatened closure of 70 parks, for which there was sufficient money to operate. Interest costs will double the $4,000,000,000.

I will, however, vote for Proposition 69, which shouldn't be necessary, but requires expenditure of gasoline taxes for transportation projects. I don't believe in utilizing the gas tax, a user fee, for public transit or bicycle lanes (bicyclists pay nothing for roads built by motorists); my vote represents a compromise to preclude more misapplication of gasoline tax revenue.

Proposition 70 deals with the so-called "Cap-and-Trade program," constitutes an arcane procedural issue and mandates a two-third majority legislative approval for spending Cap-and-Trade revenues. It shouldn't be in the State Constitution, and it authorizes over $730,000,000 for a high-speed rail project, which isn't even electrified high speed and violates 2008's Proposition 1A. Even the League of Women Voters opposes it. So does the California League of Conservation Voters and Coalition for Clean Air. Reject it.

It's useless to try to hold some people to anything they say while they're madly in love, drunk, or running for office," and, don't forget: "Everybody makes mistakes. That's why we keep having political elections.”


Proposition 71 is a procedural constitutional change respecting a later effective date for voter-approved ballot measures. I'll support it.

Proposition 72 amends the Constitution to allow the Legislature to exclude the value of a new rainwater capture system from a property's taxable value. There's no argument against it in the Voter Information Guide and no vote against submitting it to voters by the Legislature.

Now, let's get to candidates, starting with the U.S. Senate. My candidate is a Los Angeles civil rights lawyer friend, Pat Harris. Friendship is thicker than water. For Governor, I'll vote for Republican John Cox. (Maybe someone can explain why neither Newsom nor Villaraigosa nor Chiang is in the Voter Information Guide!) I'll support Libertarian Tim Ferreira for Lieutenant Governor, not the Socialist Gayle McLaughlin, Democrat Alex Padilla for reelection as Secretary of State, Democrat Betty Yee for reelection as Controller, and Democrat Vivek Viswanathan for Treasurer. I'm an early endorser of Republican Steven Bailey, a fellow retired Superior Court judge from El Dorado County for Attorney General, and fellow Independent Steve Poizner for Insurance Commissioner. Finally, I endorse taxpayer advocate Mark Burns for Board of Equalization, an entity which should have been abolished 20 years ago in favor of a California Tax Court, and Marshall Tuck of Novato for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Staying with state issues, beware of Assemblyman David Chiu's Assembly Bill 3037. It wrong-headedly restores redevelopment agencies under the guise of solving California's housing needs. Even renowned California musician David Crosby understands redevelopment enables big government to seize private property and deliver it to wealthy, city government favorites at prices as low as a dollar per parcel. San Francisco's Recreation and Park Commission foolishly eliminated a now-deceased San Francisco redevelopment agency's chief executive's name from a downtown plaza because of what redevelopment did to the Western Addition and South of Market. During its heyday, redevelopment was used to foster golf courses, automobile rows, at least one country club, and hotels and restaurants by big shots under the rubric of replacing "blight." "Blight" was in the beholder's eyes, namely, city councils, or in our case as a city and county, the Board of Supervisors. Crosby observed last month "the little guy doesn't stand much of a chance . . ." under redevelopment. Governor Jerry Brown should be proud of his abolition of redevelopment. He mustn't allow its rebirth under AB 3037.

Finally, all four incumbent San Francisco Superior Court judges should be reelected. Their opponents from the Public Defender's office are simply trying to create false impressions about the performance of these Superior Court judges and should be rejected in such effort.


Transportation Expenditures

Prop 69 YES


Prop 70 NO

Date of Effect

Prop 71 YES

Rainwater Capture

Prop 72 No Recommendation


U.S. Senate Pat Harrris

Governor John Cox

Lt. Governor Tim Ferreira

Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Controller Betty Yee

Treasurer Vivek Viswanathan

Attorney General Steve Bailey

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner

Board of Equalization Mark Burns

School Superintendent Marshall Tuck

May 2018

An anonymous wag once declared: "While living in a democracy, you can say what you think without thinking." Another savant observed: "Freedom not to listen is just as precious as freedom of speech." I concur. If those declarations remind readers of any public figure from Donald J. Trump to the ex-mayor of Burlington, Vermont, now a United States Senator, I fully understand.

Pointing out that American males' participation in the labor force "is at Depression-era lows," the authors identified widespread opioid abuse, inner city homicides, half of all American children born out of wedlock, and more than half are raised by single mothers. The column caused letters, statements, and petitions from students and professors at Penn and elsewhere attacking the column as racist, white supremacist, xenophobic, and hate speech. ”

With my eldest grandchild in college, and past service on my alma mater's Alumni Council, I am increasingly saddened by the state of academic freedom in today's America, together with the diminution of history, Western civilization, and English language concentration in high schools, colleges, and universities. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) surveyed 1,100 such institutions last year and concluded that only 81% of the surveyed institutions required students to take a single course in composition, only 3% mandated an economics course, 85% required undergraduates undergo a basic science class, 58% required a college-level course in mathematics, and 12% didn't compel students to undergo a single course in any of those subjects.

Then, the problem exists of allowing unpopular speakers at college campuses. Astonishingly, student protests at Brandeis University caused cancelation of the world premiere of a play based on the life of comedian Lenny Bruce. Protesters attacked the play's portrayal of the Black Lives Matter movement. The theater professors agreed, announcing that the play "may cause discomfort, including the legacy of Lenny Bruce" and additional educational programming must accompany such play. Last November, Knox College, a liberal arts institution in Illinois, canceled a production of Bertolt Brecht's play The Good Person of Szechwan, proclaiming any performance should not result in "the emotional distress of students" agitated by perceived racial insensitivity. ACTA's President wrote in the Boston Herald that both Bruce and Brecht were once attacked by right-wingers. Bruce was prosecuted in 1961 for "obscenity"; Brecht was summoned before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947 because of the radical content of his writing. Brandeis University is named for Justice Louis Brandeis, historic guardian of the First Amendment!

The National Association of Scholars claims that hatred of America is now instilled in American schoolchildren from an early age, not as "hatred" itself, but in words such as "social justice," "multiculturalism," "resistance," or similar language suggesting aversion to people who exploit everyone else. Probably, the best and most courageous analyst of free speech on American college campuses is Professor Amy Wax at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In the Wall Street Journal last February, she reported the reaction to a column she wrote with a University of San Diego Law School professor for the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9, 2017, entitled "Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country's Bourgeois Culture." Pointing out that American males' participation in the labor force "is at Depression-era lows," the authors identified widespread opioid abuse, inner city homicides, half of all American children born out of wedlock, and more than half are raised by single mothers. The column caused letters, statements, and petitions from students and professors at Penn and elsewhere attacking the column as racist, white supremacist, xenophobic, and hate speech. Five law school professors accused the authors of praising the 1950s. Later, 33 professors recommended students report any "stereotyping and bias" they might perceive from Professor Wax. She reminds us: "The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner. We should return to doing that on our college campuses and in our society at large."

Like San Francisco, California is now a "sanctuary" jurisdiction. Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed such legislation last year. How times change. In 1975, his first year as Governor, Brown opposed immigrants entering the U.S. as refugees, despite federal approval. South Vietnam and Cambodia were defeated by Communists in April, 1975. Hundreds of thousands of refugees sought entry. Mario Obledo, founder of the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund and Brown's Secretary of Health and Welfare, tried to prevent refugees from landing at Travis Air Force Base and explored suing the Federal Government to stop such immigration. Supporting Brown were U.S. Senators Joe Biden of Delaware and the late George McGovern of South Dakota.

As always, the truth about aliens is malleable, and politicians are trimmers; they love illegal aliens as part of their politics. As the son of a legal immigrant and husband of another legal immigrant, I scratch my head in dismay.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

April 2018

An anonymous writer once observed: "Maybe we were better off when charity was a virtue instead of a deduction." Another writer observed: "Real charity doesn't care if it's deductible or not."

Ethics Chair, Peter Keane

Friends and acquaintances have mostly ceased asking me about my experience and opinion of service on the San Francisco Ethics Commission since September 2016 as an appointee of the Board of Supervisors. I refrain no more because of failure of a necessary four-fifths majority of the five-member Commission to approve restoration of anti-corruption laws which were approved by voters in 2000, then repealed by Board of Supervisors action in 2003. Bear in mind that the Charter law over 20 years ago requires a four-fifths approval of Commissioners to submit a proposed strengthening of ethics requirements to the Board of Supervisors for submission to voters or submission to voters by the Commission itself.

The nonprofit entities succeeded in stopping the prohibition of behest payments in the proposed ordinance in favor of simply a disclosure of "behest" donations by contractors, planners, architects, and developers to designated charities. As I stated last December, how many citizens possess an interest in reading City Hall ethics forms? Not very many, in my long experience.”

One of the major provisions of the high-sounding Anti-Corruption and Accountability Act propounded last year for Commission adoption barred so-called "behest" donations to a local elected or appointed official's favorite charity in return for favorable treatment to the donor on a permit, a license, or other city government benefit. That incited nonprofit entities to bombard Ethics Commission members and staff with catastrophic objections, claiming they (the nonprofit corporations) never tried to exercise undue influence and such act by the Ethics Commission would diminish donations substantially. I can recall the venerated pastor of Glide Memorial Church in the 1980s pleading with his chosen candidate for mayor to withdraw from the run-off in November, 1987, against future Mayor Art Agnos, based upon fear that Agnos' election would cause termination of taxpayer money flowing to the Glide Memorial Church.

Friends of Ethics, a volunteer city organization receiving no taxpayer money, discovered as of February 13, 2018 $798,566,250 has been paid to nonprofit entities for fiscal year 2017-18, that $191,790,256 remains to be paid by June 30, 2018, a total of almost $1,000,000,000 from taxpayers, and that the estimate of the percentage of San Franciscans working for a nonprofit entity is 17%, according to the Mayor's Workforce Office, and the number of grants annually is 2,277, with the number of recipients much lower because many receive a large number of grants.

The infestation of nonprofits is remarkable. Friends of Ethics through its President, Larry Bush, reported the most recent Internal Revenue Service filing for 2016 of the nonprofit "Friends of City Planning" included Peter Cohen from Council of Community Housing Organizations, who testified repeatedly at the Ethics Commission against a prohibition on "behest" payments, S. Osborn Erickson, major developer and behest donor, and Larry Nibbi, another major "behest" donor are just three of the nonprofits' members who regularly need permits from the Planning Commission. Cohen's organization doesn't even provide benefits in the form of housing or medical treatment or recreational activities; it's an association of nonprofit housing entities which supposedly do provide direct benefits to San Francisco residents.

The nonprofit entities succeeded in stopping the prohibition of behest payments in the proposed ordinance in favor of simply a disclosure of "behest" donations by contractors, planners, architects, and developers to designated charities. As I stated last December, how many citizens possess an interest in reading City Hall ethics forms? Not very many, in my long experience. Moreover, the same nonprofits succeeded in deleting a clause conferring the ability of a citizen to sue for such ethics and conflict of interest violations if the City Attorney or District Attorney refuses to act after 90 days of a complaint to the Ethics Commission. It's called a "private right of action." Over 10 city ordinances bestow that power upon taxpayers if city officials fail to act and allow recovery of their attorney fees and court costs. State law contains numerous such provisions, but the nonprofits were able to claim that unidentified but well-heeled entities and individuals would find ways to harass charities with frivolous lawsuits. Thus, there's no private citizen empowerment to enforce the now-insipid Anti-Corruption Act.

The culmination occurred February 16, 2018 at the Ethics Commission meeting, with two Commissioners voting against even conveying a weakened law to the Board of Supervisors, after one had told Chairman Peter Keane he would support him. That led Peter Keane to resign from the Commission immediately, a saddening event. (Mr. Keane was Chief Deputy Public Defender for 25 years, a law professor, and then Dean of the Golden Gate University School of Law, still teaching at Hastings Law School.)

Best laid plans have gone awry.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

March 2018

Albert Camus predicted the death of Europe in 1957 in a lecture at the University of Uppsala, Sweden: "My conclusion will be simple. It will consist of saying, in the very midst of the sound and the fury of our history: 'Let us rejoice. Let us rejoice, indeed, in having witnessed the death of a lying and comfort-loving Europe and it being faced with cruel truths.'"

The California High-Speed Rail Authority exists because of legislation I sponsored as a State Senator in 1996, and then approval by 52% of California voters in November 2008 of a $9,950,000,000 state general obligation bond issue to build it. High-speed rail began operating in 1964 in Japan in time for the Olympic Games. It's an electrified system on steel rails with steel wheels. In 2008, California taxpayers were promised a genuine high-speed rail system as exists in 11 nations in Asia and Europe, with the first segment from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours 40 minutes, a system which couldn't be operationally subsidized by taxpayers. That was realistic. Most high-speed rail systems in France, across the English Channel, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and China operate in the black. Most were built with private investors, together with public funds. One essential is operating on track dedicated only to high-speed rail, not shared with commuter or freight service.

Construction of the Central Valley's non-electrified segment began last year with the typical political ground-breaking ceremony to misrepresent the bastardization of high-speed rail. It began even though all the right-of-way by eminent domain from farmers and ranchers was not secured. It still isn't. Yet the Governor in his State of the State message last month rhapsodized over the project, with the fiction that it's true high-speed rail, ignoring "cruel truths.”

After a term of four years on the Authority governing board, I departed as Governor Jerry Brown returned to the State Capitol in 2011. The Authority board had decided the first segment would travel the San Francisco Peninsula, then over the San Luis Pass to Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Los Angeles, using the U.S. Highway 99 trail, rather than Interstate 5, which possesses no cities with potential ridership for revenue to pay operating expenses. That meant acquisition of an additional 50 feet of right-of-way on the Peninsula to avert sharing the Caltrain right-of-way. In the aforementioned countries, to cover costs, high-speed rail must operate 10-12 trains during peak hours of 7:00-10:00 a.m. and 4:00-7:00 p.m. It's impossible with Caltrain now needing four trains per hour during those periods.

In 2011, with Brown appointees, including its chairman, the Authority changed the plan presented to taxpaying voters in 2008, deciding to build a diesel energy service from Merced to Bakersfield with approximately $3,600,000,000 from President Obama's "stimulus" legislation, and a total estimated cost of about $6,900,000,000. In 2008, the Authority board contemplated funding from the state bond, plus federal and regional funds from areas along the route which wanted high-speed rail for commercial development and consequent employment increases. The estimated cost was about $32,000,000,000. Now, the non-electrified segment actually from Chowchilla to Wasco, about 30 miles north of Bakersfield (the Authority will bus passengers to downtown Bakersfield) is over $10,100,000,000, the remaining state bond money is approximately $7,000,000,000, federal funds are expressly barred by Congressional legislation, dedicated right-of-way is barred by state legislation, no regional investment exists, and private equity firms are absent.

The estimated current cost to reach Los Angeles from San Francisco is over $69,000,000,000. Governor Brown has diverted "cap and trade" state revenue to the project and, now, it's revealed the cost of the state bond (principal and interest) is being paid from gas tax revenue in the State Highway Fund. (Because of interest, those costs reportedly are about $18,000,000,000.) Construction of the Central Valley's non-electrified segment began last year with the typical political ground-breaking ceremony to misrepresent the bastardization of high-speed rail. It began even though all the right-of-way by eminent domain from farmers and ranchers was not secured. It still isn't. Yet the Governor in his State of the State message last month rhapsodized over the project, with the fiction that it's true high-speed rail, ignoring "cruel truths." Moreover, 2017 legislation increasing the gas tax and motor vehicle registrations for roads is the subject of a proposed initiative ballot measure for repeal in either June or November, 2018. While the Governor accurately minimized litigation against high-speed rail, which occurred mostly on environmental grounds, a suit set for hearing on February 8 in Sacramento County Superior Court alleges unconstitutionality of 2017 legislation which rips, without voter authorization, $715,000,000 from the 2008 bond issue to donate to Caltrain for its $3,000,000,000 electrification project, having ripped in 2016 $400,000,000 from the 2008 state bond measure to build a $400,000,000 "train box" in the San Francisco real estate project known as the "Transbay Terminal," which will be for buses, not railroads. Oh, those cruel truths!

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

February 2018

Some wag once declared that if a man carries his own lantern, he need not fear darkness. That pithy statement seems appropriate as I end another year of musings about the state of affairs in country, state, and city.

(Please note that because of membership on the San Francisco Ethics Commission, I am legally precluded from commenting on local candidate, ballot measure, and similar campaigns because Commission responsibility includes enforcements of conflict of interest, public meeting, public record, campaign financing and spending, and similar San Francisco ordinances and Charter laws.)

Unfortunately, the Legislature and Governor for the past two decades have tended to divert gasoline tax revenue to public transit and other non-road spending. California's gasoline tax hasn't been increased since 1991, despite cost of living increases. I support a gasoline tax increase, but only if it isn't diverted from streets and highways.”

Currently, two statewide voter initiative petitions to repeal a 12-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax increase, plus other fees, enacted in September by the State Legislature and Governor to provide money for transportation structural improvements, are securing signatures to qualify for the June 2018 state ballot. Both initiatives would repeal such legislation. Most people don't understand how and in what manner California, its counties, and its cities have developed a motor vehicle transportation system. In the first two decades of the 20th Century, California lawmakers and Governor relied upon borrowing to build and maintain streets and highways. General obligation bond measures were submitted three times to California voters for such purposes and approved. The problem with bonds is they constitute a borrowing of money which must be repaid with annual interest over, typically, 30 years. The interest payments generally amount to nearly as much as the principal amount borrowed. In 1922, then-Governor William Stevens and legislators recognized that charging users of the highway system was a justifiable method of obtaining such money. The result was enactment of the first state gasoline tax of two cents per gallon, truthfully dubbed a "user fee." It remains the most logical and equitable method of building and repairing roads and streets by modernizing that user fee to tax electric vehicles and bicyclists in some fashion. Note that bicyclists' increased use of local streets involves no user or other fee for them. Contemporary politicians are plainly afraid of the strident bicycle lobby. Unfortunately, the Legislature and Governor for the past two decades have tended to divert gasoline tax revenue to public transit and other non-road spending. California's gasoline tax hasn't been increased since 1991, despite cost of living increases. I support a gasoline tax increase, but only if it isn't diverted from streets and highways.

As a Board of Directors member of the California First Amendment Coalition, I embrace Ben Franklin's statement: "Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government. When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved." A Brookings Institution survey published last September at the advent of the university academic year revealed that American college students lacked knowledge of the First Amendment's meaning. The September 20, 2017 Wall Street Journal reported a survey of over 1,500 undergraduates demonstrated that a majority don't know that so-called "hate" speech is protected under the First Amendment, that about half agree it's legal to silence by shouting down a speaker with views disagreeable to them, and nearly 20% believe it's proper for a college student group opposed to a speaker's opinions to use violence to silence such speaker. Such collegiate ignorance emanates from the high school and higher education teachers and professors who preside over what now passes for American history, political science, and civics instruction. Additionally, elite American universities such as U.C. Berkeley provide mental health services to students claiming psychological abuse usually from conservative campus speakers. That's in addition to "safe spaces", claims of "micro aggression" and that certain words constitute violence. Yet, a recent book by social psychologist Jean Twenge asserts that a large scale mental health crisis may develop in the generation born between 1995 and 2012, which arises from smartphones and social media, not campus speakers. North Dakota State University Professor Clay Routledge reminds us that mental illness represents a human problem, not a political issue. If only academic leaders, most of whom come from the "school of resentment," would abrogate anti-intellectual academic policies, our country, state, and city would be better places for all.

Having completed last week a legally-required "course" in sexual harassment, employment retaliation, and proper conduct in City employment for Ethics Commission members and supervisorial employees (a two-hour exercise in 225 Internet pages), I opine upon one of the least-emphasized parts of the continuing revelations of sexual and related misconduct by elected public officials, federal and state. Some reports result from settlements by the United States Congress or California Legislature of sexual harassment claims of female employees in the tens and, occasionally, hundreds of thousands of dollars. What's the source of those payments by the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, State Senate, and Assembly? It's not the personal funds of the offending politician. It's taxpayer money! In 1986, as a State Senate candidate for the first time, I was offended by a Senate Rules Committee action. State Senator John Schmitz, Orange County Republican, was sued by a woman whom he had attacked orally at a State Senate Committee hearing because of her liberal and, probably, "feminist" views on civic issues. Schmitz was a John Birch Society member. The lawsuit was settled. The Senate Rules Committee voted to pay the woman $15,000, which meant expenditure of taxpayer funds. At a press conference in San Francisco, I denounced such payment from the public's money. After my election to the State Senate, I attempted unsuccessfully to change such custom and practice. It's insulting to use taxpayer dollars to pay for damages from sexual or similar mistreatment by elected state and federal officials. Despite the usual protestations and demands for "accountability" (there's a genuine cliché word), I perceive no statement or bill introduction from Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Scott Wiener, Phil Ting, David Chiu, or Jackie Speier about enacting a law or legislative rule to prohibit such misuse of our money. Perhaps that'll be one of our heroes' successful New Year's resolutions.

Meanwhile, stay the course and enjoy a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a healthy, satisfying 2018.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

December 2017

Every man (and woman) has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong about the facts, according to an anonymous writer. Another such anonymous bard once declared: "It is easier to believe a lie that one has heard a thousand times than a fact no one ever heard before." In an era of flagellation of the media by a President who believes issuance of often-weird and usually bellicose and depreciating comments on Twitter constitutes an executive order worthy of legal enforcement, those perhaps pithy sayings are relevant. (Note that a Twitter message does not constitute a legal Executive Order.) A better description of journalistic negligence could be "inaccurate news," rather than "fake news." Last month, the Chronicle boasted of conducting a debate with four leading gubernatorial candidates, namely, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, State Treasurer John Chiang, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and one-time Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, who had a "cup of coffee" in the State Assembly before term limits gracefully removed her. Among the subjects discussed was the so-called California High-Speed Rail Project, embraced in its current bastardized plan by Governor Brown to his future embarrassment. Chiang stated the project needed, in the Chronicle's words, another viable funding source to be successful. He claimed knowledge of an unidentified potential "American investor." That's a joke, almost as laughable as Bay Area media's ignorance and obliviousness to accuracy about a project I sponsored legislatively as a State Senator in 1994 and 1996 before serving as its governing board chairman upon concluding my judicial career in 2008. Its present plan violates my legislation. I deplore it. Do you blame me – or other voters?

Construction of a fake high-speed rail system began months ago in the Central Valley and state politicians proclaimed its worth in a hyperbolic press conference, but such construction doesn't include electrified rails, and runs from Chowchilla in Merced County to Wasco in Kern County.

Its construction of a fake high-speed rail system began months ago in the Central Valley and state politicians proclaimed its worth in a hyperbolic press conference, but such construction doesn't include electrified rails, and runs from Chowchilla in Merced County to Wasco in Kern County. (That isn't even Merced to Bakersfield). In Wasco, a rider could board a bus for Bakersfield, some 30 miles south! I'll leave readers to speculate on the number of people who want to ride conventional diesel rail from Chowchilla to Wasco, bearing in mind that the 2008 voter-approved state general obligation bond issue of $9,950,000,000 includes a bar against any taxpayer subsidy of operating expenses.

Now, state legislation prohibits a dedicated high-speed rail corridor from San Francisco to San Jose, which means theoretical high-speed electrified trains could operate a maximum of four trains per hour during peak hours (7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) because Caltrain, which owns the right-of-way, would take precedence in operating six trains per hour in those time periods. The bamboozling High-Speed Rail Authority claims it possesses $21,000,000,000 to build an initial operating portion from San Jose to Merced (actually, Chowchilla). The Authority has spent about $3,000,000,000 already from the bond issue, leaving a balance of only $6,800,000,00 and garnered $3,200,000,000 from the 2009 economic stimulus legislation of then-President Obama, plus $5,300,000,000 from the so-called California "cap and trade" fee system through 2024. It asserts it'll receive $5,200,000,000 more from bonds issued against such fees after 2024. The last named source has been characterized by a University of Southern California public finance expert as an unreliable source of revenue which wouldn't stimulate a rational private investor. (That's what makes Chiang's statement to the Chronicle so laughable.) The High-Speed Rail Authority asserts the entire Los Angeles-San Francisco run through Palmdale, Bakersfield, and Fresno will begin operation in 2029 after a 1.3-mile tunnel from the San Francisco Caltrain station at Fourth and King Streets is moved to the Transbay Terminal, another 36 miles of tunnels are constructed under Tehatchapee Pass, and other southern California mountains, with a 13.5-mile tunnel in the Pacheco Pass (think State Highway 152) to reach from Gilroy to Chowchilla en route to Los Angeles. Bear in mind that tunneling 1.3 miles from Fourth and King Streets to First and Mission Streets in San Francisco is not a $2,000,000,000 project, as Transbay Terminal executives have falsely claimed to taxpayers, but rather a project currently estimated to cost over $4,000,000,000. David Baker, in a Chronicle resume of future Bay Area transportation, reports inaccurately that the first segment of high-speed rail is being built between Bakersfield and Fresno, not Chowchilla or Merced, and iterates the same incorrect myth that service between San Francisco and Los Angeles can start in 2029. Maybe it's not "fake news," but it certainly misleads readers.

One more example: the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission generated denunciations from all liberals because it enabled corporations to donate in support of, or opposition to, candidates for elected federal office. The Supreme Court decision is based upon the rule of law which holds that corporations, like persons, are protected by the First Amendment. The California Corporations Code specifically declares corporations are "persons" under California law. That didn't affect the denunciation of such rule by the liberal intelligentsia, including a New York Times editorial predicting the decision would "thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th Century" by enabling corporations "to overwhelm elections." As the instigator of San Francisco's first campaign contribution and spending limitation law in 1974, I, too, thought corporate political donations would overwhelm and distort elections. (The Chronicle characteristically notified us that "voters should prepare for the worst: cash-drenched elections presided over by free-spending corporations.")

Since 2010, there have been two presidential and four congressional elections. The Federal Election Commission has received and filed as public records federal campaign spending and contribution reports which show corporate money has not been the leading source of donation or expenditures by candidates for federal public office. In 2015 and 2016, $1,040,000,000 emanated from individuals, $242,000,000 from unions, trade associations, politically active nonprofits (like those in San Francisco which succeeded last month in weakening proposed Ethics Commission strictures applicable to these self-appointed saints), and other organizations, while only $85,000,000 was donated by corporations, not including corporate political action committees which usually receive money from company employees, not from corporate funds. The top donor in 2015 and 2016 was Democratic billionaire Thomas Steyer ($89,544,744). The Service Employees International Union donated $23,274,845, the Laborers Union $21,530,385, George Soros $19,239,693, Michael Bloomberg $43,561,624, and the teachers (National Education Association) splurged at $23,773,966 from union dues. Have you heard that from purveyors of daily news? I hadn't, until reading an article by the best First Amendment lawyer-specialist in the land, Floyd Abrams, Esq., of New York, who will publish next year a book entitled "The Free Speech Century."

I end with praise for Governor Jerry Brown restoring some sense of political sincerity, not hypocrisy, by vetoing State Senate Bill No. 149 last month. Brown, who declined to release his state and federal income tax returns as a candidate for Governor in 2010 and in 2014, stopped enactment of an unconstitutional "showboat" measure aimed at Mr. Trump by requiring any presidential candidate desiring placement on the California ballot in 2020 to reveal publicly five years of federal and state income tax returns as a condition precedent. Maybe elected officials can be intellectually honest.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

November 2017

The Prime Minister of Ghana once observed: “I don’t like hypocrisy – even in international affairs.” I don’t think voters and taxpayers like it either. By the time you read this monthly diatribe, we’ll probably know the hypocrisy level of Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. The State Legislature last month enacted Senate Bill No. 149 by Senators Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Mike McGuire of Healdsburg. That both of those worthies are Democrats is relevant. The proposed law would require Presidential candidates to make public five years of their federal and state income tax returns as a condition for placement on the California ballot for President in 2020. The impetus for the bill arises from our blithering President’s refusal to provide prospective voters and the needy media with his New York and United State tax returns before the 2016 election. (He must have some “beauties,” because New York State in its wisdom allows, unlike California, cities to add a local income tax to that demanded by the state. A San Francisco income tax supposedly to sock commuters, incidentally, was in Senator Dianne Feinstein’s platform the first time she ran for Mayor in 1971 against Mayor Joseph L. Alioto and Harold S. Dobbs, even though California in 1964 had expressly prohibited local income taxation.)

…because of pressure from the July 2016 California Bar Examination passage rate of 43%, the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California recommended to the California Supreme Court that the passing score on the bar examination be lowered. A State Bar survey of California lawyers generated 34,000 responses, with the majority of lawyers favoring retention of the current score standard.”

Similar measures have been attempted this year in other legislatures because disclosure publicly of income tax returns by Presidential candidates has been custom and practice for some 49 years. Such legislation emanates from that precedent. The fact that the current President has his hands and those of family members in a variety of businesses creates strong possibility of conflicts of interest which could taint his actions as our President. That the Democratic candidate lost the election constitutes unspoken motivation for Senate Bill No. 149.

Under the California Constitution, Governor Brown has until October 30, 2017 to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become effective without approval or veto. The Governor provided California in 2010 with the second act of his glorious career in elected public office. That time, he refused to release his state or federal income tax returns. He was elected. He successfully sought reelection in 2014. He again refused to disclose those pesky income tax returns. Senate Bill No. 149 is probably unconstitutional. That’s the opinion of the Legislature’s lawyer, the Legislative Counsel. A President under the U.S. Constitution must be a natural-born citizen, 35 years of age or older, and a U.S. resident for at least 14 years. That could be Democratic Governor Brown’s veto escape hatch. Otherwise, we needn’t rely on an African nation’s prime minister if he allows such a law to satisfy the anti-Trump hordes.

It’s not exactly hypocrisy, but it is an another astonishing lack of understanding of constitutional law by California’s senior U.S. Senator, the aforementioned Dianne Feinstein. In early September, Feinstein, Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, accused U.S. District Court Judge Amy Barrett, whom Trump nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago of allowing her Roman Catholicism to influence her District Court decisions. Feinstein commented that some such decisions seemed to reflect “dogma,” as in Roman Catholic dogma. Her Democratic Committee colleague, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Roman Catholic, evidently trying to exceed Feinstein’s insinuations, asked Judge Barrett if she’d ever been an “orthodox” Catholic! As Tom Myse of Oakland points out in a letter to The Wall Street Journal, what shades of Catholicism exist? Is there a “lukewarm Catholic” or a “cafeteria Catholic”? (Catholicism isn’t Judaism, which contains three theological branches, namely, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed Judaism.)

Forgotten or ignored by the two critical U.S. senators is Article VI, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, which declares that all members of Congress, members of state legislatures, executive officers of the United States and several states, and judicial officers shall be bound to support the Constitution, “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It’s puzzling, if not amusing, to reflect upon the fact that Feinstein’s parents were Jews from Russian immigrant families, and she graduated from San Francisco’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, a prestigious private Catholic high school, pursuant to her mother’s wishes, according to the Jewish Women’s Archive, after attending “a Jewish religious school.” (She evidently never attended public schools although a Sunset grammar school bears her name, courtesy of the Board of Education.)

Finally, in this age of “inclusiveness” and “diversity,” catch-alls for much collegiate and educational agitation, a recent Princeton University study measuring the effect of race and ethnicity upon admission to college by using Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores revealed that African Americans received a so-called “bonus” of 230 points and Hispanics a bonus of 185 points. Asian-Americans, however, were penalized 50 points. The study’s author, Ann Lee, co-founded HS2 Academy, a college preparatory business which assumes racial bias represents a factor in college admissions and advises students accordingly. HS2 Academy teaches countermeasures to Asian-American college applicants. At the same time, society lowers standards in general. For example, the West Virginia Board of Education last month proposed lowering teacher requirements by exempting education degree holders who meet minimum grade point averages from a basic knowledge test. In California, because of pressure from the July 2016 California Bar Examination passage rate of 43%, the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California recommended to the California Supreme Court that the passing score on the bar examination be lowered. A State Bar survey of California lawyers generated 34,000 responses, with the majority of lawyers favoring retention of the current score standard. It won’t be long before the California Teachers Association attempts to lower standards for aspiring California public school teachers despite a U.S. Department of Education finding that there exists a glut of over 3,800,000 public school teachers and the California student population has increased from 6,220,000 in 2010 to only 6,230,000 in 2016. The canard of a teacher shortage in California and elsewhere is concocted by the teachers’ unions, state and national. Pity the pupils.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

October 2017

With the baseball season ending, football beginning, basketball looming, and daily sports writers devoting space and adoration exclusively almost to professional athletes, with an intermittent reference to Stanford and Cal football (never to U.S.F. or City College teams), it's instructive to the body politic to observe the tribulations of Santa Clara taxpayers and their elected and appointed officials dealing with the Santa Clara 49ers, as The Examiner sports editor appropriately dubs them. There's no greater takers from the public treasury or taxpayer assets than professional sports owners. Having thus hired a new (and supposedly "tough") City Manager at over $415,000 a year, the city of only 20,000 residents is trying to collect over $1,800,000 for police services since the sorry stadium opened in 2014. Meanwhile, the 49ers demand a $4,500,000 rent reduction for a stadium built principally with public funds after proponents represented it would not cost taxpayers a red cent, including debt payments. Three months ago, The Chronicle's editorial page chief, John Diaz, ruminated that in November 2016, four city council candidates supported by the 49ers and allies were defeated while 90% of city voters approved a ballot measure requiring voter approval of the professional football team acquisition of city-owned youth soccer fields for game parking. Diaz noted that in a face-to-face meeting, he asked the team president whether 49ers contributed to the "preferred" (and defeated) council candidates with "dark money" and the team president wouldn't answer! For Santa Clara taxpayers, it's fortunate Mayor Lisa Gillmoor has stood steadfastly for them, uncorrupted by potential 49er blandishments.

…the city of only 20,000 residents (Santa Clara) is trying to collect over $1,800,000 for police services since the sorry stadium opened in 2014. Meanwhile, the 49ers demand a $4,500,000 rent reduction for a stadium built principally with public funds after proponents represented it would not cost taxpayers a red cent, including debt payments.”

Meanwhile, Oakland watches the Raiders, having cost taxpayers over $50,000,000 for an Oakland Coliseum addition which isn't used because nobody wants to sit there, cut and run for Las Vegas, and a $1,900,000,000 stadium which includes $750,000,000 from taxpayers. The Athletics will be next. Taxpayers will nevertheless continue for 20 years to pay Coliseum bondholders.

As if a well-rehearsed show, Recology was awarded a garbage rate increase in August estimated by Tracy Thompson of the Sunset District as 300%. Larry Bush, President of Friends of Ethics, pointed out in May that Recology invests in local political campaigns, about $85,000 since January 2016. Because San Francisco law prohibits contractors from donating to campaigns for elective office, it contributed to public officials running for the Democratic County Central Committee, which doesn't limit contributions to $500 per donor. The Garbage Rate Board is composed of the City Controller, the General Manager of the Public Utilities Commission, and the City Administrator. Coincidentally, the PUC General Manager and the City Administrator are married to one another. The rate increase was assertedly based upon employing more people to educate residents on sorting rubbish, landfill charges, and general costs. Bush calculated an average increase of $60 per year for each household, meaning an approximate $21,000,000 increase annually in Recology revenue from an average of 350,000 city households. The last rate increase was just three years ago, a nice piece of business for a monopoly which needn't endure competitive bidding unlike every other large city and most small jurisdictions in California.

In July, we witnessed the spectacle of preening politicians at the Millbrae BART station "breaking ground" for the electrification of Caltrain. That's a meritorious project. Its estimated cost is $2,000,000,000. The money supposedly emanates from federal and state grants. Forgotten by Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier, and Anna Eshoo, our blissful Mayor, and other politicians at the event is that $715,000,000 of the $2,000,000,000 is money from the California High-Speed Rail 2008 state general obligation bond voters authorized for high-speed rail, not a regional commuter train service. Without voter approval, Assemblyman Kevin Mullen introduced a bill in 2016, which passed and was approved by Brown to seize $715,000,000 from the remaining high-speed rail bond money of about $8,000,000,000 and donate it to electrify Caltrain, thereupon prompting a suit in Sacramento County Superior Court to declare such legislation unconstitutional because it was effectuated by the Legislature, not California voters. As a sponsor of that bond measure in 2008, I'm one of ten plaintiffs, including transit organizations and Kings County. The case is set for trial on December 8, 2017. An important constitutional issue is at stake, irrespective of the worthiness of electrification. It's called the rule of law. It's time the Governor and legislators learn the concept.

Disregarding the rule of law also resulted during the summer hiatus of San Francisco taxpayers paying almost $200,000 to an illegal immigrant, who was transferred by San Francisco Police to federal immigration agents after reporting a stolen car. San Francisco law prohibits police from assisting in enforcement of critical immigration laws. Now, such insult to the rule of law by this "sanctuary city" costs the public treasury money after the illegal immigrant sued San Francisco for violating its ordinance. This illegal immigrant even alleged his right to due process was violated by telling federal immigration authorities that he was in police custody. So it goes in our politically correct city, which might not be in such profligate circumstances if the Indians had adopted stricter immigration laws.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

September 2017

In an era of regrettably diminishing newspaper readership, I'm grateful to the Westside Observer, Richmond Review, the Sunset Beacon, Ingleside Light, Marina Times and other neighborhood newspapers which enlighten readers. Walter Lippmann, a New York Times columnist, once observed in 1920: "For the newspaper is in all literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which people determine its conduct. It is the only serious book most people read. It is the only book they read every day." Although our current President and conservative media members have seemingly popularized the notion of "fake news" in the last two years, that's not a new concept. A. J. Liebling was a famous journalist who wrote chiefly for The New Yorker from 1935 until his 1963 death. He also in 1956 wrote The Sweet Science, named by Sports Illustrated as the greatest sports book of all time (it was about boxing). He was, nevertheless, a press critic who declared: "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news" and "the function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money." About the First Amendment, he noted: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

Although our current President and conservative media members have seemingly popularized the notion of "fake news" in the last two years, that's not a new concept.”

In that respect, an anonymous writer stated: "We're thankful we have free speech here in America – and equally thankful that there's no law requiring us to listen to it." The last month or so has reminded me of that useful bromide. In early May, the San Francisco Chronicle featured a front page story by Heather Knight designed to pull a reader's heartstrings. She alleged that a young African American woman in San Francisco was cited for fare evasion on a MUNI bus, with a resultant $75 fine, which a year or so later had ballooned to $2,500! The following day, in fine print at the bottom of Page 2, the Chronicle admitted the story wasn't true, and blamed the Tax Collector's office as the source of Knight's "fake news." The MUNI cheater was in a vehicle accident and was sued successfully for about $2,500 in damages which appeared on her credit report. No governmental Grinch had turned $75 into $2,500, and Knight's sorrowful, untrue story has been conveniently removed from Chronicle records.

There's more. San Francisco State's alumni magazine for Spring/Summer 2017 discusses and wrings its hands over the current President's ability to bash the media. A Professor of Journalism, John Funabiki, notes: "The major hurdle facing journalists is their inability to understand the true diversity of people in this country. Journalists aren't really able to get down to the grassroots level and understand what people are interested in, what they're concerned about, and what they want from their journalists." The magazine notes that the public "has been losing trust in the media for years and that fissure deepened during the 2016 election after many mainstream news outlets failed to foresee a Trump victory." It added: "Many people mistrust the media because they don't feel represented ..." admitted Associate Professor of Journalism Venise Wagner. Assistant Professor of Journalism Laura Moorhead reported that community newspapers are disappearing, so there's a growing disconnection between the media and communities they're supposed to serve.

Along the same line is a bulletin from the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys about a witness testifying in support of State Senate Bill 620 on April 25, 2017, which described to Public Safety Committee members a robbery case purportedly showing the unfairness of mandatory increase of a criminal conviction sentence for using a gun. Not under oath, Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition represented to State Senators that one Travis Manning was a 19-year-old without any arrest record who entered a store, asked for a $100 game while holding a BB gun, and then returned the game to the store a month later. McGill alleged the trial court judge announced he couldn't lower the sentence under California gun law because of the defendant's cognitive disabilities or lack of a criminal record. PBS NewsHour repeated such statements, and made the defendant Manning a "poster child" for Senate Bill 620, which would reduce sentences for using a gun in a crime. McGill lied, and so then did PBS. Manning was a 23-year-old convicted felon. He pointed a real gun in committing the robbery, didn't demand a "$100 game," but robbed the store of a Wii console, games, accessories, and $600-$700 in cash. He didn't return the same game to the store. Instead, he sold some stolen items to another such store. McGill also lied about the sentencing judge's remarks. Defendant Manning was on probation for a prior robbery. That's why Manning received a sentence based on being a felon who used a gun in an armed robbery. There's more. The Association of Los Angeles District Attorneys contacted the PBS NewsHour reporter to request a correction, but was informed that the Senate author of SB 620 repeated McGill's lies about defendant Manning. PBS never corrected its fake news.

Michael Goodwin, Chief Political Columnist for The New York Post, former political columnist for The New York Daily News, and New York Times City Hall Bureau Chief, and Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, delivered a speech April 26, 2017 in Washington, D.C., sadly concluding: "I've been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn't always like this. There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year's election gave us the . . . revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale – that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility." The jury's out on whether the media can reestablish its credibility.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

July/August 2017

In June, 1901, at his family residence at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, Long Island, then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt declared to visiting college undergraduates: "The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency." Can you imagine that as a truism nationally in 2017? I can't, and I've been imbued with politics since my late father ran for Treasurer of Onondaga County in Upstate New York in November, 1935. Of course, for vanishing readers of The Chronicle, there's the daily schedule of political events, 95% of which consist of anti-presidential ranting, if not raving, to already-converted California and Bay Area "resisters."

Since I've lost virtually all my First Amendment rights as a San Francisco Ethics Commission member to comment upon City Hall indignities, like a forthcoming second garbage rate increase in two years…"

Thus far, free speech seems to survive in San Francisco, unlike many college campuses, including my own alma mater, Dartmouth College, at which last fall a cadre of students invaded the library at night and demanded exodus by all the studying students for the purpose of embracing a "Black Lives Matter" parade. We've seen it at the University of California, we read about it at Middlebury College in Vermont after author Charles Murray, an invitee of a respected (and liberal) professor, was silenced by students accusing him of espousing racist views. It's happened at UC Davis, Brown University, New York University, DePaul University in Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin. According to a former president of Colgate University (Jeffrey Herbst), a liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York, and head of a Washington entity defending the First Amendment, college students now believe free speech doesn't apply to language which they think offensive to minorities or other groups. A 2015 Pew Research Center poll disclosed that 40% of people ages 18 to 34 support censorship of statements offensive to minorities, while only 24% of those who are 51 to 60 agree. I think we all realize the irony of speech suppression and dilution at UC Berkeley, generally viewed as birthplace of the "free speech movement" in the 1960s. I do, and I deplore it, as a Board of Directors member of the California First Amendment Coalition, which I proudly joined at the invitation by my old friend and founder of the late Bay Guardian, Bruce Brugmann.

Since I've lost virtually all my First Amendment rights as a San Francisco Ethics Commission member to comment upon City Hall indignities, like a forthcoming second garbage rate increase in two years, I invite attention to a state matter. Pending legislation (Assembly Bill 42 and Senate Bill 10) endanger public safety and will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe even $2,000,000,000, as claimed by opponents. The linguistic staple of those who would weaken public safety is "reform." The aforementioned legislation as "bail reform" would radically alter the bail system in California courts and violate the California Constitution, specifically the Victim's Bill of Rights, approved by 83% of California voters in 1982 and Proposition 8, which the Legislature authorized later for voter approval with only one dissenting vote and declares in Article I, Section 12: "In fixing the amount of bail, the Court shall take into consideration the seriousness of the offense charge, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at the trial or hearing of the case." In 2008, voters added Article I, Section 28: "In setting, reducing, or denying bail, the judge or magistrate shall take into consideration the protection of the public, the safety of the victim, the seriousness of the offense charge, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at the trial or hearing of the case. Public safety and the safety of the victim shall be the primary considerations. A person may be released on his or her own recognizance in the Court's discretion, subject to the same factors considered in setting bail." The California Constitution guarantees the right to bail. Releasing a defendant on his or her "own recognizance" means releasing that person without bail. The bills' rationale is to eliminate a bail system which affects people with different income and assets differently by effectively abolishing the authority of judges to set bail in most cases.

Since the 1970s, San Francisco's Superior Court has operated a pre-trial jail release or "OR" office. So has nearly every other California county. Those offices evaluate defendants for not constituting a danger to the victim or other persons or a significant risk of not appearing in court for arraignment, plea, trial or other required court appearances. If a defendant doesn't appear, a judge must issue an arrest warrant and the sheriff must locate and return the accused to jail. That costs money – often a lot of money. Similar systems in New Jersey and D.C. have depleted court appropriations and shocked taxpayers and judicial officers. The proposals reflect a national movement based upon the premise that bail is unfair to most defendants. I will testify from 10 years as a judge in criminal courts that judges evaluate carefully recommendations from pre-trial screening officials, defendants' lawyers (most of whom are Court-appointed because of defendants' poverty and paid by taxpayers) and prosecutors as to whether someone accused of crime should be released from jail without bail pending trial. Keeping in jail someone who isn't a public safety threat and who'll comply with court appearances doesn't make taxpayer sense. Judges know that and release accused defendants accordingly. Forcing them to do so without justification will deplete already inadequate court funds and increase crime. Just watch and see.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

June 2017

These are tumultuous days in the history of our country, created mostly by the election of President Donald J. Trump and the so-called “resistance.” As I read and hear that word and the biased mainstream media, I remember a genuine “resistance,” namely, the French Resistance to the Axis Powers led by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany during the period 1940-1945. What a difference and what a bastardization of the word. Nevertheless, I am reminded of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting in Myers v. United States (1926) 272 U.S. 293, who observed: “The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the Convention of 1787, not to promote efficiency, but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy.” In a relevant but different vein, H.L. Mencken, wrote in 1921: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” If that reminds the reader of President Trump, I wouldn’t be surprised, although the worldwide and national issues upon which President Trump opines by “tweets” (which ought to be outlawed) are frightening to this columnist who lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and those which have followed without a Declaration of Congress. Maybe it’s better to end the paragraph with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Republican Lincoln Day dinner on January 28, 1954, in which he properly declared: “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”

…the District Attorney has over $1,000,000 budgeted at his request for prosecuting corruption? He has pending but one corruption case against City employees hired during Willie Brown’s mayoralty, and I’ll freely predict no conviction will occur …”


For those who insist upon predictions, I think I’ll adopt that of my friend and one-time State Senate District Office Chief of Staff, who opined last month that Mr. Trump will not survive two years as President. I adopt that prediction, not based upon impeachment, which is too convoluted, difficult, and “messy,” but resignation from office to pursue his business transactions.

I acknowledge the many San Franciscans on West Portal Avenue, at civic functions, social events, and elsewhere who ask me the natural question of: “How is the Ethics Commission?” I owe a published reply, inhibited by laws and rules which govern confidentiality of Ethics Commission proceedings until presented to the Commission at a monthly public meeting in Room 400, City Hall. (I’d exclaim: Y’all come, except you don’t have to because it’s on the City’s television station with all its boring but occasionally exciting moments.) Based upon my eight months of service thus far, I’m encouraged and pleased I adopted my friend Peter Keane’s implicit suggestion and applied for appointment by the Board of Supervisors to a vacancy last summer. He is now Chairman of the Commission, having been appointed by the City Attorney (the other members are appointed by the Assessor, District Attorney, and Mayor, respectively, probably to ensure independence. The Vice Chairwoman is Assessor Carmen Chu’s appointee, the Honorable Daina Chiu, a resident of the Sunset District close to West Portal Avenue). The Ethics Commission is about 23 years old. Some like me question its need. After all, we pay prosecutors millions of dollars and the City Attorney’s deputies and other staff cost us millions more. Why shouldn’t they enforce ethics in San Francisco government, criminally and civilly? I’ve learned the reason is the voluminous amount of paper forms and statements required by City and State law, public office candidates, ballot measure committees, City Hall lobbyists, independent expenditure committees, and public office holders who must file economic interest statements annually. I don’t want to pay a public attorney $150,000 per year, more (usually) or less, for honest work by lesser-paid City employees. Until 2016, the Commission’s Executive Director and Members pursued a course of inaction, leading to cynicism and loss of trust by taxpayers and other interested persons. That Executive Director finally resigned under pressure by then-Commissioner Peter Keane after his appointment in 2015. Happier days are here again since the appointment of Ms. LeeAnn Pelham, a San Leandro native, Georgetown University graduate, and 10-year Executive Director of the much larger Los Angeles Ethics Commission, who had just retired at the age of 50-something (as a gentleman, I won’t be explicit on age). The Commission has been revitalized with inspirational assistance from a citizens’ association, Friends of Ethics, led by Larry Bush, ex-aide to Mayor Art Agnos, and ex-Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Housing during President Bill Clinton’s administration. An enormous backlog of complaints, caused mainly by the feckless District Attorney’s insistence of claiming he was investigating a complaint and, therefore, the Ethics Commission should wait for him to authorize it to proceed, and some one-and two-year-old complaints arising from inaction by the City Attorney has now been reduced substantially. The Commission adopted two months ago a rule that if the District Attorney (or City Attorney) requests we suspend investigation until he has finished his investigation, the Commission will honor the request for 90 days only. If there’s been no action by the District Attorney (or City Attorney), the Commission will proceed. Incidentally, did you know the District Attorney has over $1,000,000 budgeted at his request for prosecuting corruption? He has pending but one corruption case against City employees hired during Willie Brown’s mayoralty, and I’ll freely predict no conviction will occur because two superior defense lawyers, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and John Keker represent the defendants.

Next month, I think I’ll be able to relate the story of a Planning Commissioner, who is the Executive Director of the vaunted San Francisco Planning and Urban Renewal Association (SPUR), which claims to be a “think tank,” but is nothing more than a building and development organization which gained nonprofit status years ago and spends money to support or oppose ballot measures which affect benevolently or adversely the business interests of its architects, engineers, contractors, real estate tycoons, City Hall lobbyists, and other members. I promise you’re going to like it, and by next month there will be more titillation to report. The Ethics Commission is alive and baring its teeth!

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

May 2017

…the District Attorney has over $1,000,000 budgeted at his request for prosecuting corruption? He has pending but one corruption case against City employees hired during Willie Brown’s mayoralty, and I’ll freely predict no conviction will occur …”

It’s tax time. A double dose awaits us this month. One half of the annual property tax must be posted or received by the San Francisco Tax Collector by April 10, 2017; the annual federal and state income tax payments must be postmarked or received by the Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board, respectively, by April 15, 2017. Taxation has long been a subject, not just for taxpayers and politicians, but by wits. For example, some unknown observer observed that the taxpayer is a person who has the government on his (or her) payroll. In 1986, retiring United States Senator from Louisiana Russell B. Long recalled: “[a tax loophole is] something that benefits the other guy. If it benefits you, it is tax reform.” And, another nameless student of government defined federal aid as “a system of making money taken from the people to look like a gift when handed back.”

With wonderment, if not fear, San Franciscans learned last month that Assemblyman Phil Ting, former San Francisco Assessor, and Supervisor Aaron Peskin of Telegraph Hill and North Beach fame are collaborating to allow San Francisco to add an income tax of its own to that levied by United States and California. Peskin secured Board of Supervisors government and Audit Committee approval of a resolution asking the California Legislature and Governor to change state law which since 1963 has prohibited any city or county, or San Francisco as a city and county, from imposing an income tax on residents or San Francisco workers. There are a few cities which levy a local income tax. New York City is the most notable. In 1971, campaigning for Mayor, then-Supervisor Dianne Feinstein touted a San Francisco income tax as a means of taxing employed commuters, ignoring the California Revenue and Taxation Code prohibition. Peskin and Supervisor Jane Kim voted for Peskin’s resolution; the third Committee member, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, voted against it, and wisely observed that city government should eliminate wasteful expenditures and that “…there is a lack of accountability on so many different levels.” She added: “Part of our role should also be to look at how we are spending money now and where is the accountability for those who receive money from The City, from the departments that waste money.”

Peskin’s “wish list” local income tax would, to be sure, apply only to local residents, business owners, and workers with $1,000,000 or more annual income at 0.5% tax. (Our Controller estimates that would produce $62,000,000 per year.) The problem is that politicians won’t be satisfied with applying a local income tax only to annual income of $1,000,000 or more. The human impulse to levy on lesser incomes, once granted such power, will overwhelm prudence and fiscal discipline. Note that in 2008, a similar effort by then-Assemblyman Mark Leno failed. So did an attempt by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors linked to funding homeless services. Should we be surprised? Probably not at a time that our Board of Supervisors contemplates creation of yet a new city department, a cannabis department.

It may be appropriate for a short examination of property taxation, which represents California’s historical means of financing, not state or federal government, but local government. Every tax should possess a rationale. Property taxation collects money to defray costs of such general governmental services as police, fire, education (in San Francisco that means public schools and the Community College District), welfare, and public health. Property taxes aren’t collected by the State. State government relies mostly on the state income tax and sales taxation for its general fund. Local government may also charge such sales tax as the voters authorize. Property taxes on California homes, offices, or stores don’t finance state government. Property taxation doesn’t support city streets, county roads, or state or interstate highways. Those are funded by motor vehicle users through the gasoline tax, currently 36.8 cents per gallon from state and federal legislation. That’s a levy predicated on the logical theory that those who use streets and roads should pay for construction and maintenance. The California gasoline tax hasn’t been increased since 1993. Legislation to do so is pending. It’s justified, and, bicycle owners should pay comparable and lesser fees for the streets and roads they use because of the beneficence of motor vehicle owners.

Retired homeowners existing on pensions or other fixed income endured soaring assessments and property taxation from an asset whose increasing value couldn’t be obtained without selling that asset, their home.”

In almost every California legislative session, prolific-spending politicians and fiscal wastrels will decry Proposition 13. Its history is in order. California voters adopted Proposition 13 on June 6, 1978 as Article XIIIA of the California Constitution by a 65-35% margin. Residential real estate prices have been increasing continuously for several years. Retired homeowners existing on pensions or other fixed income endured soaring assessments and property taxation from an asset whose increasing value couldn’t be obtained without selling that asset, their home. The Legislature and Governor disregarded the plight of homeowners, especially senior citizens whose home value increase represented nothing but a paper profit. Proposition 13 is as valid today with spiraling home prices as it was in June 1978 for pensioners and fixed income homeowners. Proposition 13 allows reassessment of a home or other real estate upon a “change in ownership,” an act which, except for transfer to spouses and children, causes reassessment at the sale price. That’s logical. So too would treating change in a majority of a corporation real estate owners’ stock as “change of ownership” would be. Common stock represents the nature of corporate ownership of an office or retail store building or manufacture plant. I tried to effectuate such a “change of ownership” concept during State Senate service. It will require a state constitutional amendment. Ting, Peskin, and Kim should devote their time and energy in achieving that equitable and forget taxing income at any level.

Finally, consistent with Supervisor Breed’s observation about spending waste in City departments, consider San Francisco’s Legacy Business Program, which spends taxpayer money on alleged “legacy” businesses under decisions by the Historic Preservation Commission. It allows businesses to receive $500 of tax money annually for each full-time employee and grants real estate owners who extend such business leases for at least a decade to secure taxpayer money. It was created in 2014 by hoodwinked voters. The latest hoodwinking is the March action giving Boudin Bakery $500 per year for each of its employees. Besides its bakery in the Richmond District, Boudin operates a retail business on two floors of a city building at Fisherman’s Wharf. It thrives. It doesn’t need taxpayer money. It now, however, receives plenty of taxpayer money, another wasteful expenditure for Supervisors Peskin and Kim to ponder as they lobby in Sacramento for a local income tax.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

April 2017

William Howard Taft, as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1916, wrote: "The President can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced to some specific grant of power . . . in the Federal Constitution or in an act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof. There is no undefined residuum of power which he can exercise because it seems to him to be in the public interest." With multiple executive orders and statements of rule, President Barack Obama acted regularly without regard to any act of Congress or the United States Constitution, simply because the United States Senate and House of Representatives wouldn't pass his desired legislation and it seemed to him to be in the public interest. President Donald J. Trump has already displayed willingness similarly to use power which "cannot be fairly and reasonably traced . . ." to the United States Constitution or any Congressionally-passed statute. While it's difficult, if not impossible, in San Francisco and the Bay Area to receive objective reportage from the so-called "mainstream" media, it's apparent that Mr. Trump will emulate Mr. Obama in a dizzying display of executive orders and rules by administrative agencies of the Federal Government. Two wrongs don't make a right.

It significantly means, for the present, ignoring the Federal Constitution and statutes respecting illegal immigration to the United States, and even in many instances bestowing privileges of citizens and legal aliens upon illegal aliens.”

A favorite local, statewide, and even national subject in coastal jurisdictions is "sanctuary." It significantly means, for the present, ignoring the Federal Constitution and statutes respecting illegal immigration to the United States, and even in many instances bestowing privileges of citizens and legal aliens upon illegal aliens. In California, for example, an illegal alien can obtain from the Department of Motor Vehicles a driver's license. In the San Francisco Community College District, an illegal alien will now be enrolled without any tuition requirement, as if a citizen or legal immigrant. The rule of law has become a cliché, to be preached and not practiced.

As a Burlingame resident pointed out last month in The Daily Journal, a United States President said in his 1995 State of the Union speech: "All Americans are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold would otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That's why my Administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders . . . by deporting criminal aliens . . . by cracking down on illegal hiring and by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigrations laws . . . and we must do more to stop it." That President manifestly wasn't Donald J. Trump. It wasn't George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan. It was President William Jefferson Clinton, and his remarks were followed by a standing ovation from Democratic members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (Mr. Clinton even bespoke the currently politically incorrect term, "illegal aliens," and not the contemporary linguistic cover-up, "undocumented immigrant").

For the son of an immigrant father and immigrant maternal grandparents, who were one-time legal aliens (my father at the age of 15) in the early 20th Century, it is discouraging to contemplate the vastness of illegal immigration in this century and the demonstrated disdain of the law.

That's also true in other areas of public policy. Last September, I was appointed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to the five-member Ethics Commission to replace a resigned appointee. The unexpired term ended last month. I filed the application for reappointment. A heretofore superficially respectable organization called Common Cause delivered opposition to my reappointment on the ground that I opposed public financing of political campaigns, and public financing is a core of election to San Francisco public offices. (I am pleased that entities such as Friends of Ethics led by Larry Bush, the California First Amendment Coalition, Ethics Commission Chairman Peter Keane, Mayor Art Agnos, and other San Franciscans on their own appeared at the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing on their own volition to testify in support of my application, consistent with unanimous Rules Committee action for my reappointment.) The reason for the opposition has never been publicly exposed. In 1988, as a State Senator I sponsored with two other legislators a statewide initiative to limit state public office contributions, prohibiting the transfer of money contributed to one candidate or officeholder to another and bar public financing of campaigns for office. The legislative leadership fought the initiative and with outside entities qualified a similar but weaker initiative. California law provides that whichever ballot measure on the same subject matter receives more votes, that one prevails and becomes law. My initiative prevailed. Most of its provisions were the subject of partisan party lawsuits in federal and state courts. Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles adopted a public financing ordinance. Like San Francisco, it's a charter city, of which there are only six in the State. I sued in Los Angeles Superior Court to prevent enforcement of such ordinance and lost finally in the California Supreme Court, which ruled that a state law of this nature could not govern a charter city. Fair enough. Public financing of political campaigns remained unlawful in California general law cities, of which there are approximately 460 in California. In 2016, Common Cause sponsored a bill in the State Senate to place on the next statewide ballot a measure repealing the public financing ban in general law cities. In late April 2016, the San Francisco Ethics Commission adopted a motion to support such bill. That was a legally proper way to change the law. In late August 2016, however, that bill was altered to remove the requirement of voter approval of repeal of the law against public financing in general law cities, school districts, community college districts, and special districts. That was inappropriate. It was unlawful. It demonstrates lack of adherence to the rule of law. The Governor, who should know better, but apparently doesn't, signed the altered bill. Thereafter, I was asked to be a co-plaintiff with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in Sacramento County Superior Court to bar application of the law on the ground that a voter initiative can only be changed by a subsequent vote of a majority of California voters. The case is set for trial on August 27, 2017. A preliminary injunction will be sought so that matters cannot be changed until the Superior Court rules.

Meanwhile, what about my responsibilities as a member of the Ethics Commission respecting public financing of San Francisco campaigns? As a trial lawyer for over 45 years and a trial court judge for 10 years, I believe in the rule of law, whether I agree with the policy embodied in the law or disagree. Public financing is but one of several subjects (open meetings of governmental bodies, access to public records, conflict of interest prevention, campaign donation and spending reports) which the Ethics Commission must, and does, administer. The suggestion of Common Cause that I will somehow subvert campaign public financing in San Francisco is insulting and ignorant. The San Francisco Ethics Commission, incidentally, has never acted to support the repeal of the 1988 initiative clause banning public financing in general law cities without statewide voter approval. I conclude Common Cause cares less about the rule of law than it does achieving its ambition respecting what "seems to (it) to be in the public interest" and, that's in addition to three of its leaders informing the President of Friends of Ethics that it would remove opposition to my reappointment if I withdrew as co-plaintiff in the above-mentioned lawsuit! Sic transit public affairs in City Hall.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

March 2017

Walter Lippmann was a New York Times columnist in the 20th century, who wrote mostly about national issues and politicians. In 1935 he published "Essays in the Public Philosophy." One essay applies nationally, if not locally and statewide, today: "In government offices which are sensitive to the vehemence and passion of mass sentiment public men have no sure tenure. They are in effect perpetual office seekers, always on trial for their political lives, always required to court their restless constituents. They are deprived of their independence. Democratic officials rarely feel they can afford the luxury of telling the whole truth to the people. And since not telling it, though prudent, is uncomfortable, they find it easier if they themselves do not have to hear too often too much of the sour truth. The men under them who report and collect the news come to realize in their turn that it is safer to be wrong before it has become fashionable to be right."

The announced taxpayer cost is $1,600,000,000; the "sour truth" as calculated by the County Transportation Authority's own consultant means at least $2,100,000,000 and an August, 2019 opening, not 2018. Moreover, the same geniuses want to close Union Square to motor vehicles.”

A concomitant of shielding the public from "the sour truth," a delicious phrase, is the muddling of words and speech. It starts with innocuous words such as "like" and "you know." It includes beginning every sentence with "So." A letter to the Wall Street Journal on February 12, 2004 made the point: "Anyone who thinks 'like' has its place in business conversation ought not to be teaching English in public schools, universities or anywhere else." That raises at least one issue akin to "the sour truth": what is in fact taught in public schools? One answer may be found in a study by University of North Carolina professor Bruce VanSledright who discovered that 88% of elementary school teachers consider teaching history a low priority, that there was some 'holiday curriculum as history instruction," but little or nothing else. (See New York Post, January 23, 2016). A New York Post writer reported her third grade daughter in one of New York City's allegedly best public schools was taught about only one historical figure, Martin Luther King, Jr. The writer (Karol Markowicz) wonders about teaching King's history without the history of our Founding Fathers, the U.S. Constitution or Abraham Lincoln. A Brooklyn teacher told the writer that teachers decline to do so because: "They don't want to offend anyone."

"Mom Chung," one of two massive boring machines that are digging the Central Subway.

The "sour truth" also eludes the progenitors of the Central Subway Project, a subway from Fourth and Townsend to Stockton and Washington Streets, 1.7 miles. The announced taxpayer cost is $1,600,000,000; the "sour truth" as calculated by the County Transportation Authority's own consultant means at least $2,100,000,000 and an August, 2019 opening, not 2018. Moreover, the same geniuses want to close Union Square to motor vehicles. Only New York City, with its Second Avenue subway 1.6 mile extension and three new stations and one renovated station at $4,451,000,000 can now claim the most expensive train track in history. That surpasses even San Francisco's $1,250,000,000 per mile subway project and there's 31 months left to cost taxpayers more money in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the Transbay Terminal Project, promising to move the Caltrain Station form Fourth and Townsend Streets to a new Transbay Terminal, 1.3 miles over a crowded road for about $2,000,000,000 conceals the "sour truth" of a probable $4,000,000,000 or more cost to taxpayers. The Transbay Terminal is in fact a real estate project for corporate builders and wealthy occupants. A train "box" was built with $400,000,000 from 2008's Proposition 1A, a state general obligation bond issue of $9,950,000,000. It will never receive either high-speed trains or Caltrain commuter trains. Even promised federal funds of $650,000,000 from Obama days won't occur.

On June 7, 2016 Mayor Ed Lee toured the Transbay construction site with members of a delegation of Chinese officials and business leaders. The delegation was led by Chinese Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang. The images in this gallery show the delegation meeting with members of the construction crew and touring the Transit Center's future rooftop park. photo:

One last "sour truth": from his installation as mayor in 2011 until 2016 Mayor Lee added 5,090 city employees; taxpayers now pay for 30,636 employees, a new record. Has the mayor been "deprived" of his independence, to use Walter Lippmann's 1935 phrase?

I conclude with a sorrowful notation of the January 13, 2017 death of Professor Kevin Starr, a graduate of St. Ignatius High School, University of San Francisco, and Harvard University (a doctorate in history), City Librarian, State Librarian, University Professor at the University of Southern California and foremost historian of and in California's history. He was beloved and respected by all who knew him and admired his extraordinary qualities of heart and mind.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

February 2017

The announced taxpayer cost is $1,600,000,000; the "sour truth" as calculated by the County Transportation Authority's own consultant means at least $2,100,000,000 and an August, 2019 opening, not 2018. Moreover, the same geniuses want to close Union Square to motor vehicles.

Since this is my last 2016 column, it’s time to reflect and enter 2017 with a proverbial “clean slate.” I ruminate on popular culture and the nature of “flexible” politicians. I also scratch my head over the adoption by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors of a budget for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, which was based upon receiving approximately $127,500,000 (over the two year budget period) from a sales tax increase not approvable by voters until November 8, 2016. And, as you know, voters rejected the San Francisco sales tax increase. Now, the Mayor must figure out how and in what manner he will reduce City Hall spending to maintain a constitutionally and Charter-required balanced budget. With a virtual $10,000,000,000 budget, perhaps it will be easy.

Now, another lawbreaker benefits from a romantic, costly City Hall idea to subsidize private businesses.”

As promised, I wrote my own name in for President. So did a college classmate in Northbrook, Illinois. I needn’t ask if anyone else did, because the California vote for President was already assured by our one-party status as solidly Democratic as Alabama and other southern states were before 1968. Speaking of elected officials reminds me not only of the President-Elect, who changes his positions on issues every two days, but also California stalwarts like Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who supported California High-Speed Rail until two years ago, when he announced his understandable opposition to the mangled abandonment of the “high-speed” part of the true plan approved by California voters with a $9,950,000,000 state general obligation bond issue in 2008. But last month, Newsom declared in a Sacramento Press Club speech that he would “100%” try to obtain a public funding source for the now-worthless, illegal project if he’s elected Governor in 2018. (The sorry deception of California voters and taxpayers by the California High-Speed Rail Authority since 2011 will be the subject of a future column after the new Congress and President of the Untied States are sworn in next month.) Maybe Newsom’s “flexibility” is catching on, because our Governor signed a bill in October amending the Political Reform Act of 1974 to allow taxpayer funds to be used by state and local elective office campaigns (it’s commonly called “public financing”) under specified circumstances. As introduced, that bill had properly required voter approval of such use by Californians in 2018. The Political Reform Act was passed by California voters in 1974, with the present Governor’s much ballyhooed fostering of it as part of his winning campaign. Because it’s a voter initiative, the Political Reform Act can only be amended by voters. The Governor, now a flexible politician able in his last term to ignore voters, signed the bill, which in August 2016 had been amended to remove voter approval as a condition to becoming law and added a baseless legislative finding characterizing the measure as “furthering the purposes” of the 1974 voter initiative. Now, that’s a flexible politician of the highest order. Everyone has his or her post-Presidential election stories. I like the one from the Boston Public Schools, which announced the day after the Presidential election last month that counseling in public schools at taxpayer expense would be available not only for pupils, but their families and staff, concerned by Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. The Superintendent of Schools referred to the need to remember “…our Culture of We as we continue our vital work…and ensure that our students feel safe…” He added: “…we want to demonstrate compassion, empathy and support to students and colleagues.” Can you top “Culture of We” as a new cultural idiom?

Two other subjects merit attention. Last June, San Francisco voters were inveighed to pass a ballot measure establishing a “legacy business registry” and entitling any so-called “legacy” business to qualify for taxpayer funds if it needs taxpayer money to operate. On October 19, 2016, the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to accord such status to Luxor Cab Company, with its 162 cabs and corporate shareholders. As a “legacy” business it means an annual taxpayer donation of $500 per employee. I’ve know Luxor Cab Company since my days on the Board of Supervisors, just as I knew Veterans Cab Co., De Soto Cab Co., Yellow Cab and others similarly situated. Luxor was at the head of the line in litigating against Board of Supervisors and eventually voter-adopted reform of the venal taxicab permit system, which allowed cab companies like Luxor to profit from the sale of government permits to operate a taxicab in San Francisco. In 2014 and 2015, Luxor Cab Company was successfully sued for violating state labor laws on overtime pay, meal breaks and working hours. It secretly settled those justified damage claims. Now, another lawbreaker benefits from a romantic, costly City Hall idea to subsidize private businesses. (Did I hear “crony capitalism?”)

In my lifetime, never have police officers endured criticism, attacks, and second-guessing like now. That’s true in San Francisco, with a disrespectful District Attorney, whose record speaks for itself, and the media. Nationally, under oblivious U.S. Attorney General leadership, police officers are victims of murder and personal injury from gun assaults. So-called demonstrators and “activists” stop traffic to vent hatred of the police not seen since the 1960’s. Yet, in October, a Gallup Poll found that 76% of Americans declare “a great deal” of respect for police officers in their neighborhood, an increase from 64% in 2015. Only 7% stated they have “hardly any” respect for local police, and another 17% answered “some respect.” In 2015, 53% of surveyed non-whites expressed great respect, but in the October 2016 poll, that figure increased to 67% with 80% of whites expressing great respect for local police. The largest increase in respect for police was discovered with political liberals, who in 2015 numbered only 50% in respect, but in 2016 soared to 71%. Try to find those poll numbers in local or most national media.

Finally, since the Presidential Election involved conflicting ideas on illegal immigration, I am reminded of President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1907 statement: “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. This is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…we have room but for one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language.” With a wife born in Europe to two parents, my own father and maternal grandparents born in Europe, President Roosevelt’s ideas command embracement and adherence, not just by me, but all Americans.

I wish all of you a happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

December 2016 / January 2017

I begin by announcing abridgement of my First Amendment rights! Having been appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the San Francisco Ethics Commission early last month (I attended my first meeting on September 26, 2016) I'm barred by City law from participating in local candidate and ballot measure elections, plus any contest involving a City official, such as the BART Board of Directors and San Francisco Superior Court, races in which City commissioners are candidates. I'm complimented by fellow citizens who request my election recommendations or inform me they like receiving them, but I'm now limited to State ballot measures and candidates and Federal office elections. State ballot measures, however, constitute a political feast, since there are 17, most of which could've been legislatively processed.

Jacob Fuchsberg, former President of the American Trial Lawyers Association, observed in 1969: "The average juror…wraps himself in civic virtue. He's a judge now. He tries to act the part and do the right thing." That's my expectation of San Francisco voters and Westside Observer readers, so let's get at it.

Proposition 51 authorizes $9,000,000,000 in State general obligation bonds for construction and modernization of public and charter schools, vocational education facilities and junior college campuses. It wasn't even placed on the ballot by the legislature. Governor Brown opposes it as a creation of the construction industry! It'll cost taxpayers almost twice that amount for principal and interest payments over 35 years, or $17,600,000,000. It's worth recalling voters' approval since 2001 of $146,000,000,000 in state and local general obligation bonds for such purposes. The construction industry has already raised over $6,000,000 to pass it. I'm voting "No."

Proposition 52, an initiative constitutional amendment and statute, extends a law imposing fees on hospitals for MediCal, uninsured patients, and children's healthcare. The reliable State Legislative Analyst declares the fiscal effect could be little, with possible annual State general fund savings of about $1,000,000,000 and increased money for public hospitals in the low hundred millions for years. I'll vote "Yes."

Proposition 53, an initiative constitutional amendment sponsored by Stockton farmer and philanthropist Dean Cortopassi, requires voter approval for any state revenue bonds exceeding $2,000,000,000, and prohibits the trick of dividing projects into several smaller ones to avoid voter approval. Revenue bonds are paid by income from the constructed project, such as fees or bridge tolls. I long have espoused the notion that revenue bonds ultimately constitute taxpayer debt, so we should approve or reject them. Presently, neither voters, nor the Legislature must approve a State revenue bond. Remembering the Bay Bridge $6,400,000,000 replacement cost, originally estimated at $1,000,000,000 (!), I'm voting heartily for Proposition 53.

Proposition 54 merits approval. It prohibits the Legislature from enacting any bill unless it's been in print and published for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in a public emergency.

Proposition 55 represents another reason people don't trust government or politicians. Four years ago, a ballot measure increasing the state income tax on earnings over $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for a couple was sold to voters as "temporary," meaning expiration in 2018. It's now only 2016, but those same proponents, including the Governor, seek extension by 12 years. The word "temporary" contains no meaning for such people. Vote against Proposition 55 and teach the Governor and others the meaning of "temporary."

Proposition 56 increases the cigarette tax by $2 a pack. Tobacco companies will probably spend over $100,000,000 to defeat it. Let's pass it.

Proposition 57 represents another gubernatorial attempt to diminish law enforcement, allowing parole for those convicted of nine non-violent felonies, more sentencing credits, and judicial (instead of District Attorney) determination of whether juveniles 14 and older should be prosecuted as adults on major charges. I'm pleased that two of my favorite law enforcers, San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe, and San Francisco Police Officer Marty Halloran, have written the main Voter Information Guide argument against Proposition 57. I urge defeat. Vote "No" on 57!

Proposition 58 undoes an initiative statute effectuated by California voters in 1998. Opponents characterize it as "A DISHONEST TRICK BY SACRAMENTO POLITICIANS." They note that for decades millions of Latino children were forced into classes using almost only Spanish under the guise of "bilingual education." Some called it an "educational ghetto." Since 1998, immersion in English has been educationally successful. Why foster regression? It's bilingual education sycophants who now try to stop English assimilation. Reject Proposition 58.

Proposition 59 is a "feel good" piece of ballot trash, lacking legal effect and claiming to compel a U.S. constitutional amendment prohibiting corporations and labor unions from making independent expenditure in federal elections. The principle is justifiable, but a federal constitutional change requires a constitutional convention requested by at least 34 state legislators or two-thirds of each house of Congress approving the amendment, followed by 38 states approving such amendment. Legislators who put this on the ballot show little regard for the poor voter trying to read and understand every ballot proposal this November 8. My answer to them is rejection of Proposition 59. Stop cluttering the ballot.

Proposition 60 constitutes another unnecessary initiative. It requires sex movie performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse and producers to pay the cost of vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Why couldn't the Legislature pass such as statute without bothering voters and causing campaign expenditures in the millions? Moreover, the Legislative Analyst predicts reductions in tax revenues because some in the "industry" will relocate to other states! Others will evade the law. Performer pay and producer income will decline, which means reduced state and local revenues "by several million dollars per year." Implementation costs to the State "could exceed $1 million annually," concludes the Legislative Analyst. I've changed my original predilection to support Proposition 60 and I'm voting "No."

I also recommend a vote against Proposition 61, another initiative that could have been enacted by the Legislature, if meritorious. It prohibits the State from buying any prescription drug for more than the lowest price paid for that drug by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, while exempting managed care programs of MediCal. People more knowledgeable than I predict pharmaceutical companies will simply increase their prices to the Veterans Administration. I will vote "No" because I'm tired of abandonment of responsibility by the Assembly, Senate, and Governor, and because of opposition from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion, AMVETS, the California Medical Association, and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Proposition 62, a repeat initiative, would repeal the death penalty for persons guilty of murder and replace it with life imprisonment without parole. It applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. I'm strongly against it and hope it loses again. Relevant to 62 is Proposition 66. I do support Proposition 66, a serious initiative to eliminate unconscionable delays in State court appeals of murder convictions and death penalty sentences. It establishes specific time limits for appellate court review, expands the number of court-appointed attorneys for death penalty appeals, and increases that portion of convicted murderers' wages usable for victim restitution. Proposition 66 must be enacted. Proposition 62 must be rejected.

Proposition 63 represents yet another wasteful initiative. Most of its provisions were already enacted this year by the Legislature and Governor regarding removal of firearms from prohibited felons and certain misdemeanants, and licensing or possession and sales of ammunition, but our current Lieutenant Governor (and aspiring Governor), U.S. Senator, and other savants insist upon their own publicity-driven duplicative initiative. Tell them to stop grandstanding by defeating Proposition 63.

Proposition 64 legalizes marijuana use and sale to those 21 and older. If you like marijuana and think it's good for society, I imagine you'll vote for it. As a State Senator at the time medical marijuana was approved for pain and suffering, I suspected that would be a step to legalization. I'm proudly voting against Proposition 64.

Proposition 65 is yet another initiative which could've been done by the Legislature and Governor if it was so salubrious. It requires "single-use plastic carryout bag" (a thin plastic bag not intended for continued reuse) revenue be deposited in another new State special fund for various environmental purposes rather than retained by stores. Consider Proposition 65 with Proposition 67, which prohibits stores from providing single-use plastic or paper carryout bags to customers at point of sale and allows the sale of recycled bags to customers at 10 cents or more per bag. Propositions 65 and 67 conflict. If both pass, the one with more votes becomes effective with complicated results, which surely will create more bureaucracy, confusion and litigation. The simple answer to both initiatives is rejection. That's my recommendation.

There are two other matters of state and federal implications on the ballot, the race for President of our country, and the campaign for U.S. Senate. One U.S. Senate candidate, Attorney-General Kamala Harris, has been accused in a pending federal court lawsuit by Prime Healthcare of corruption in effectively preventing the sale of Seton Hospital in Daly City. Her refusal as District Attorney to prosecute an illegal alien who killed three San Franciscans for capital punishment renders her particularly unequipped for such office. I'll vote for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, daughter of legal immigrants who voted against the Iraq War and Wall Street bailouts. That's good enough for me, and it should be enough for Californians to elect her. For President, I'll exercise my ego and write myself in. So there!

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

October 2016

"I contend that for a nation to try and tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." That emanates from the great Winston Churchill, whom I haven't seen replicated in my lifetime. One of the continuing wasteful City Hall projects is the Central Subway. Others and I proclaimed its demerits, futilely, five years ago, but the ponderous $1,600,000,000 plus project survived with funding primarily from our tax payments in the Federal Transit Administration. The inconvenience caused to Union Square, bicyclists and motorists speaks for itself. Motor vehicle access from Geary Street to Market Street on Stockton Street has been barred during construction, and the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority (SFMTA) announced during this newspaper's summer "recess" the notion of stopping such access permanently to motor vehicles, much to the consternation of several Union Square businesses and the embrace of other such businesses. During our "recess," the City Controller reported that an architectural consultant for the Central Subway overcharged taxpayers thousands of dollars, which MTA doesn't care about recovering until project completion, whenever that occurs.

…let's consider the plight of San Diego taxpayers, who'll be asked in the November election to raise San Diego's hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5% to pay for a $1,800,000,000 new football stadium and convention center … although the Chargers will contribute, even with $300,000,000 from the National Football League, a mere one third of the total cost. Billionaire professional sports team owners continue to use taxpayers to subsidize their moneymaking toys…”

Additionally, a virtual last-minute amendment of Assembly Bill No. 1889 will seize $1,100,000,000 illegally from the High-Speed Passenger Train Bond of 2008 for Metrolink commuter train service in Southern California and defraying the $1,000,000,000-plus cost of electrifying the Caltrain commute rail system from San Francisco to San Jose. Not only does that measure, probably signed by an eager Governor before this journal reaches readers, constitute a perversion of such bond measure, but it represents yet another violation of using taxpayer obligated bond borrowing that already allocates over $60,000,000 from the high-speed rail bond issue to the Central Subway project, which abolishes connectivity of the Central Subway to the fanciful proposed high-speed rail station at the Transbay Terminal.

While I'm discussing battering of taxpayers, let's consider the plight of San Diego taxpayers, who'll be asked in the November election to raise San Diego's hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5% to pay for a $1,800,000,000 new football stadium and convention center. The San Diego Chargers qualified an initiative to do that, although the Chargers will contribute, even with $300,000,000 from the National Football League, a mere one third of the total cost. Billionaire professional sports team owners continue to use taxpayers to subsidize their moneymaking toys, just as the once-beloved 49ers did to Santa Clara taxpayers. There are exceptions: The Golden State (San Francisco) Warriors basketball team and the Los Angeles Rams football team, which is building its own stadium on its own property, the former Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, California.

One of the more perplexing (and vexing) examples of City Hall spending bloat involves a lawsuit by a former chief trial deputy in the City Attorney's office who sued the City and County in 2015 for wrongful employment discharge and treatment, alleging the firing followed her reporting of improper payment of sewer claims by the City Attorney's office. Instead of defending the case with its own attorneys (and there are 180 of them in the office), the City Attorney hired private downtown attorneys, who are competent, but expensive. Taxpayers have now been charged over $2,000,000 (!) for defending against such alleged wrongful conduct by the City Attorney's office. The City and County's motion for summary judgment was denied, and the case awaits a case management conference on October 12 at which time the case will be set for trial by jury. One wonders why the City Attorney's office retains outside attorneys, and secondly, why the case hasn't been settled for less than the $2,000,000 already paid private attorneys, much less the additional taxpayer money to be spent for a trial.

Finally, amidst the sorrowful turmoil of anti-police behavior across the country, including San Francisco, The San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal reported during the summer a Reuter's story that the Dallas Police Department experienced a notable increase in applications after the July ambush killing of five Dallas police officers. The Dallas Police Department had 136 applications during a 12-day period in June, but received 467 applications during the 12 days after the July 7, 2016 killings. Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of "The War on Cops," published this past summer, has noted that a "deadly force study" by a Washington State University researcher in 2014 found police officer participants were biased "in favor of black suspects over white or Hispanic ones in simulated threat scenarios." In 2015, a U.S. Department of Justice study found that white police officers "were less than likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects" in the Philadelphia Police Department. Finally, a July 2016 analysis of racial differences in police use of force by a Harvard College economics professor found, in Mac Donald's words, "zero evidence of racial bias in police shootings." I agree with Mac Donald: it's time to stop the demonizing of police.

I end by reflecting on the life of a West Portal native, the late Warren Hinckle, who enlivened the lives of not only his daughters Pia and Hillary, (and his son Warren Hinckle IV), but also other family members and all who knew this genuine San Franciscan. As the late Arthur Godfrey said on radio after Franklin D. Roosevelt's passing, "God bless his gaudy guts."

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

September 2016

The incomparable Winston Churchill once observed: "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery." That aphorism may not be as relevant now that U.S. Senator Bernie "The Bern" Sanders has lost the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States, but it nevertheless constitutes a reminder as we approach the Presidential campaign in earnest. (I'll let you, the readers; calculate its application on a day-to-day basis!)

… 46 years ago the abolition of automatically assigning children to their neighborhood school was abolished in favor of busing them to other neighborhoods to achieve racial balance, one reason the San Francisco Unified School District contains 40% fewer pupils than it did in 1970-71, despite an approximate 100,000 or more increase in San Francisco's population to 850,000.”

One of the sagas unmentioned by local media is the effort of two Board of Education Commissioners, Emily Murase and Jill Wynns, to effectuate a complete reestablishment of the Junior ROTC programs in seven San Francisco high schools. Over eight years ago, the then Board of Education abolished JROTC after 70 years of operation. San Francisco voters swiftly qualified a ballot initiative resolution, legally non-binding but morally a mandate, to restore JROTC. The initiative was approved overwhelmingly in November 2008, as I have heretofore reminded readers. The Board of Education reinstated JROTC, but omitted three essential elements. Early this year, Commissioners Murase and Wynns introduced a Board of Education resolution to restore those elements. Despite the voters' November 2008 action, their quest has been difficult. Finally, on June 14, 2016, the Board of Education narrowly on a 4-3 vote approved two of the three resolution mandates, namely, reinstating the ability of high school students to obtain State-required physical education credit for hours spent in JROTC, and a policy permitting JROTC instructors to teach physical education, as authorized by the California Commission on Teaching Credentials.

The "heroes" on the Board of Education in addition to Commissioners Murase and Wynns were Commissioner Rachel Norton and Board President Matt Haney. The miscreants who refused to obey the voters' direction were Commissioners Sandra Fewer, Hydra Mendoza, and Shamann Walton. Left hanging was the third element, which authorizes money from a so-called "central fund" to be used to match federal funds for JROTC, as required by federal law. Haney refused to vote for such measure, although in his winning campaign for the Board of Education, he used JROTC high school students to distribute his campaign literature! Walton, another ultimate hypocrite, insisted at the June 14 Board of Education meeting that he "supports" JROTC. Not supporting use of central fund appropriations will, however, probably result in the end of JROTC at Galileo and Mission High Schools for lack of compliance with federal matching fund requirements.

There is hope, however, on the horizon. Three Board of Education seats are on the November 8, 2016 ballot. Commissioner Fewer will vacate her seat because she is a candidate for election to the Board of Supervisors from District 1, which to old San Franciscans means the Richmond District. A worthy candidate who pledges to restore central fund appropriations for JROTC is Trevor McNeil. Mr. McNeil is a middle school teacher with ten years' experience in a Peninsula school and a resident of the Outer Sunset. Incumbents Wynns and Norton seek reelection. They deserve it. Incidentally, on June 7, 2016, the Board of Education again rejected a proposal to render neighborhood schools as the second factor in pupil assignment, after the factor of whether a sibling attends the school requested for your child to attend. The vote was 4-3 against restoring the neighborhood school to its rightful priority. Commissioners Norton and Fewer were the champions. History repeats itself because 46 years ago the abolition of automatically assigning children to their neighborhood school was abolished in favor of busing them to other neighborhoods to achieve racial balance, one reason the San Francisco Unified School District contains 40% fewer pupils than it did in 1970-71, despite an approximate 100,000 or more increase in San Francisco's population to 850,000.

By your leave, I abandon local matters to discuss the law, and particularly the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The President has nominated a successor. The U.S. Senate under leadership of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declines even to schedule a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on whether to give its advice and consent to the President by confirming (or not-confirming) his nomination. Democrats condemn McConnell and his cohort, claiming, "The sky is falling." The historical facts belie that contention.

Since World War II, there have been 15 lengthy periods in which the Supreme Court had only eight justices. Justice Robert H. Jackson was absent on leave in 1945 to serve as the Chief Prosecutor at the post-World War II Nuremberg (Germany) trials; Justice Abe Fortas, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, resigned from the Supreme Court in 1969, and wasn't replaced for one year. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. retired in 1987, and his replacement, Justice Anthony Kennedy, wasn't confirmed until eight months later. During the 15 extended periods in which the Supreme Court consisted of only eight justices and split evenly on a case, it affirmed the lower court in 25 cases without an opinion and ordered re-argument in 54 after its complement of nine justices was full. A Supreme Court vacancy, thus, delays rulings in a small number of cases. Don't let the egotistical "commentators" and partisan politicians convince you otherwise. The republic will endure.

Finally, I invite attention to a May 3, 2016 Washington Post article (reprinted in the Police Officers Association newspaper) which discussed a laboratory project at Washington State University that used realistic police simulators, real guns modified to fire infrared beams rather than bullets, and set up simulations to observe the reactions of police confronted by white suspects or black suspects. Researchers found that police officers took significantly more time to fire weapons at a black suspect. The Washington State University academics declared: "These findings call into question the validity of the widespread assumption that implicit racial bias is the cause of the disproportionate number of racial minorities in officer-involved shootings." The research leader concluded that the cause was the reverse racism "rooted in people's concerns about the social and legal consequences of shooting a member of a historically oppressed racial group . . . paired with the awareness of media backlash that follows an officer shooting a suspect." The researchers tested 116 police and 66 non-police participants with the same results each time. A subsequent study published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology on May 22, 2016 and based upon more than 300 interviews of police officers by researchers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis resulted in the same findings.

I wish all a healthy, but vibrant, summer and safe return to Westside Observer literacy after Labor Day.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

July 2016

Von Bismarck, the German unifier of the 19th Century, supposedly stated, "If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made." Not knowing the results of the June 7th election as I write, I can only surmise, based upon hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign spending by so-called "independent expenditure committees" originating from corporations like Airbnb, Uber, PG&E, and other tax dodgers, they will secure ballot approval for an annual earmark for the Recreation and Parks Department in the yearly San Francisco budget, together with a parcel tax on homeowners to benefit giant corporate property owners (Measure AA).

Not knowing the results of the June 7th election as I write, I can only surmise, based upon hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign spending by so-called "independent expenditure committees" originating from corporations like Airbnb, Uber, PG&E, and other tax dodgers, they will secure ballot approval for an annual earmark for the Recreation and Parks Department in the yearly San Francisco budget, together with a parcel tax on homeowners to benefit giant corporate property owners (Measure AA)”


The Board of Supervisors, however, isn't through. Instead of forcefully regulating and preventing Airbnb from overwhelming our neighborhoods with tourist property rentals and facilitating federal enforcement of laws against illegal immigration in favor of law-abiding immigrants, the Board of Supervisors has already embarked upon further city government arrangements which will cost taxpayers even more money, create more bureaucracy, and encourage more direct campaign contributions to politicians and "independent expenditure" committees for purposes designed to win corporate affection from incumbent Supervisors. One example is a charter amendment to create an Office of the Public Advocate. He (or she) would allegedly review administration of city programs, effectiveness of certain city agencies, responsiveness of city agencies to requests for data or information, management and employment processes of city officers and departments, and contracting procedures and practices. It would put the Public Advocate in charge of the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, Office of Citizens Complaints and the alleged Whistleblower Program. The Public Advocate could directly introduce legislation at the Board of Supervisors, with a salary set as the average of salaries of the Mayor, City Attorney, District Attorney, Public Defender, Assessor-Recorder, Treasurer, Sheriff, and Board of Supervisors. Note that Supervisors, at over $113,850 per year, are the lowest paid of the aforementioned City officials. The Mayor is the highest at about $265,000 (without counting benefits). The Public Advocate's salary will exceed $150,000 annually. This proposal is disgorged by Supervisors David Campos, John Avalos, Jane Kim, and Eric Mar. The measure would also earmark a 0.3% minimum of the City's total budget for the new bureaucracy and require appropriation of an amount equal to the annual budget of the Office of Citizen Complaints, or the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, or the Whistleblower Program, whichever amount is largest by fiscal year for each of those three entities.

Nice piece of work for supervisors elected by districts on the theory they would be better able to act as advocates for district residents and businesses. They could take the rest of the day off; as it is, you can't find them at City Hall on non-meeting days. Avalos, Campos, and Mar are lame ducks; they'll need new jobs (surely not in private business) on January 8, 2017. If this depraved charter amendment passes, guess who would try to become the Public Advocate? Not just former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who proudly participated in drafting this insulting-to-taxpayers measure, but Avalos, Campos, and Mar (Kim, running for State Senate, has two more years before saying good bye). Every district supervisor is now elected to perform the same responsibilities they would impose on a new bureaucrat who could also introduce legislation as if he or she were a Supervisor! That's like creating a twelfth Supervisor. The estimated annual cost of the new bureaucracy will exceed $13,000,000 without cutting Supervisors' salaries or the aforementioned departmental budgets. But then, with an annual budget over $9,600,000,000 that's chicken feed.

Speaking of Supervisors, Mark Farrell, fined $191,000 in December 2014 by an unanimous Ethics Commission for illegally coordinating election activity with an "independent expenditure" committee during his 2010 campaign, filed suit against the Ethics Commission and City and County taxpayers last month to stop, by court order, collection of the fine. First, the fine should have been $225,000 based upon the financial wrongdoing by Farrell and his "independent expenditure" committee to win election. Secondly, Farrell's campaign consultant received two donations (in the total amount of $141,000) and was fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento for managing the "independent expenditure" committee for Farrell's benefit. (Note that City law on illegal intercourse between a candidate's campaign and an "independent expenditure" committee is tougher than State law; the candidate may be held personally viable for such illegal communication and transactions whether the candidate knew about it or not under our law.) That's not all. Farrell is currently Chairman of the Budget Committee of the Board of Supervisors, which will vote on the Ethics Commission's budget this month. The Commission's proposed budget request is higher than this fiscal year because finally, with a new and competent Executive Director, it now possesses motivation for investigating city government corruption. Farrell must be recused from participating in any vote on the Ethics Commission's requested budget. If he doesn't and votes to reduce the requested amount, that could result in yet another complaint to the Ethics Commission and/or a Superior Court suit requesting the Court to bar Farrell from participating under State and City conflict of interest laws.

Speaking of the Ethics Commission, note that last month it also fined District Attorney George Gascon, his Chief of Staff and an Assistant District Attorney for soliciting donations from City employees for his campaign in 2014. That's illegal, and the fighting Gascon had attended ethics training classes confirming it. This is the same District Attorney who's never tried a criminal or civil case in his life and who appoints, without benefit of law, a biased trio of judges lacking power to administer oaths or issue subpoenas, dubs them a "blue-ribbon panel," presents unsworn testimony to them, and then proclaims the integrity of their report that our Police Department is a failure.

I register disappointment with Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, who after five months in office purports to reverse the crazed policy of her predecessor prohibiting the Sheriff's Department employees from notifying the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) of scheduled release of illegal aliens wanted for deportation. For months, Sheriff Hennessey represented that she had drafted a new policy that was under review by the City Attorney, which would abolish her predecessor's policy of not informing I.C.E. no matter its desire to deport the convicted criminal. Let us never forget Kathryn Steinle, who was killed by an illegal alien last July, after the lawbreaker's release from jail by the Sheriff although wanted for deportation based on a prior criminal record. Instead of a new policy simply notifying I.C.E. and honoring its request, the new Sheriff compromised with the Board of Supervisors to allow notification only with illegal aliens who have committed violent or serious felonies in the past five years, have been booked into County jail on a felony and only when authorized by a Superior Court judge on a "probable cause" finding. Can you imagine that plethora of obstacles to I.C.E. deportation proceedings? It's a policy that would not even have prevented the murder of Kathryn Steinle, whose family last month sued the preceding Sheriff personally and City and County taxpayers for the wrongful death of their daughter. That'll cost the taxpayers a million dollars or more.

On November 8, 2016, voters in District 7 elect a supervisor. There is an incumbent, although he's rarely seen and seldom acts as a public advocate for voters. I've endorsed and unreservedly recommend Michael Young, a Parkmerced resident for the office. He's a graduate of Roosevelt Junior High, Lowell, Cal, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He was in the Foreign Service for 10 years, U.S. Army Reserve as a paratrooper captain and three years as a budget analyst in the Mayor's office. He's terrific. I also endorse John Farrell, Jr., son of my 45-year friend, ex-City Controller John Farrell, who just decided to run and who possesses ample credentials. I'll discuss it more in the fall, but be receptive to those candidates now.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

June 2016

It was Harry L. Hopkins, Administrator of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, better known as the WPA, who declared in September, 1938: “We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect.” A concomitant observation by George Bernard Shaw in 1944 noted: “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” With those perhaps pithy reminders, I address the June 7, 2016 municipal, state and federal elections.

Five local San Francisco measures confront voters. Propositions C and D justify support. Propositions A, B, and E demand rejection.

Proposition A asks voters to incur $350,000,000 in bonded indebtedness to finance construction, acquisition, improvement and seismic strengthening of various sorts, including community health and animal care facilities, General Hospital (once again), a new ambulance deployment facility, and homeless shelters and service sites. As Controller Ben Rosenfield, one of the few dependable sources of financial information at City Hall, notes, the estimated annual costs of: debt service,” meaning annual interest and principal payments over the 30-year existence of the debt would amount to $10,400,000 annually for five years, then $30,700,000 annually for the remaining 25 years. That’s a total of $757,500,000 to borrow $350,000,000 for 30 years! The only honest man to vote against this proffered indebtedness in February was the supposed left-winger, Supervisor Aaron Peskin. For my tax money, he’s a reliable guide to fiscal discipline, even if he endorses U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States, whom I intend to vote for in the Democratic Party primary for simple reasons I’ll explain later. (The Republicans don’t allow Independents like me to vote in their presidential primary.) The ordinance-submitting Proposition A to voters omits any reference to the 30 years of interest and principal payments on the debt. So, too, has the so-called Legislative Digest and even the Controller’s required analysis of costs. A general obligation bond, of course, causes an increase in property taxation. For all you renters, be advised that 50% of those costs will be, under the Board of Supervisors submittal ordinance, passed to renters as rent increases.

Proposition B violates a 2008 ballot measure the Board of Supervisors unanimously submitted to voters with recommended adoption. That November, 2008 ordinance found that only 18% of revenue to the General Fund of the City and County is available for discretionary spending for any lawful city government purpose and thus “impairs the capacity of the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors” to allocate “the City’s limited resources to best serve the public interest.” The voters overwhelmingly proclaimed they wouldn’t approve any new earmarking (or “set aside,” in City Hall language). Proposition B, using the current Recreation and Park Department general fund allocation of $64,000,000 earmarks non-negotiable funding which increases to at least $94,000,000 in 10 years and continues thereafter for another 20 years. It also extends the unreasonable Open Space Fund, which separately this year amounts to $47,800,000 from property taxation, until 2046. The asserted justification for this example of imprudent fiscal management is that General Fund support for the Recreation and Park Department has declined from 2.1% of the General Fund in 2000 to 1.2% in 2016. That’s, of course, misleading because they don’t tell you that in 2000 General Fund revenue was $1,900,000,000 and has grown to $4,800,000,000 in 2016. Thus, 1.2% of General Fund revenue in 2016 amounts to $57,600,000, which far exceeds 2.1% ($39,000,000) of the General Fund in 2000. The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 to submit this example of maladroit public administration to voters as a Charter amendment, claiming it provides over $1,000,000,000 “in new…park funding…without raising taxes.” That’s nonsense. If park funding has genuinely been inadequate, whose fault is that? I’ll answer my hypothetical question: Those same nine Supervisors who dodge responsibility for satisfactory Recreation and Park Department funding and now ask unwitting voters to reward their laziness regarding the Department with spending on “automatic pilot.” Proposition B also authorizes the issuance of revenue bonds, a form of borrowing money without voter approval. Moreover, the Board of Supervisors “would not have the power to adopt, reject, or modify the [Department’s] plans.” The unelected Recreation and Park Commission and Mayor would establish the department budget; elected Supervisors would not, but then, the nine supervisorial slackers who put Proposition B on the ballot don’t care if tax dollars are handled by political appointees and career bureaucrats. Finally, Proposition B eliminates a requirement that new revenues from outside sources like a grant or donation from a foundation be used “only for enhancement of park and recreational programs.” As emphasized in the official voter handbook argument against Proposition B, that allows such donations to be spent “on salaries, perks, or other overhead, rather than on Park improvement!” Let it be noted that the only two Supervisors who saw through this scheme to avoid fiscal responsibility were Supervisors Peskin and Katy Tang of the Sunset District. Need I say more? Vote “No” on Proposition B, as also recommended by the Coalition For San Francisco Neighborhoods, Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, San Francisco Taxpayers Association and League of Women Voters. Force these nine supervisors to rectify any funding debility in the Recreation and Park Department, not pass the buck.

Proposition C I suggest a vote for Proposition C simply because it rightfully deletes from the Charter and substitutes an ordinance respecting so-called “affordable housing” obligations on developers. That’s good government. The percentage of desirable “affordable housing” units in a housing development can vary from year to year. Amending the San Francisco Charter is more time consuming and difficult than acting by ordinance to meet changing circumstances. We can argue about the proper percentage of affordable housing, but it shouldn’t be in the Charter.

Proposition D I also recommend a vote for the City’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to conform to comparable state law on the same subject matter. This should be accomplished by Board of Supervisors action, but now voters must approve it because in November 2006, an initiative ordinance on the subject was submitted to and adopted by voters, probably due to Board of Supervisors inaction, or characteristic supervisorial laziness.

Proposition E Another example of Board of Supervisors abandonment of responsibilities and passing the buck to voters is Proposition E, an initiative ordinance presented to voters by Supervisors to amend the Administrative Code to require the Office of Citizen Complaints to investigate all incidents in which a San Francisco police officer “discharges a firearm resulting in the physical injury or death of a person, even if the discharge is accidental.” Proposition E arises from recent shootings by San Francisco cops, all of which have been found justified. The Office of Citizen Complaints is another unnecessary City Hall bureaucracy, created in 1974 by an unholy deal between a then-Supervisor and then-President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association. The Police Department has always used its Bureau of Internal Affairs to investigate and make recommendations to the Chief of Police and Police Commission on police officer misconduct. In my early Board of Supervisors years and before, the Bureau was directed by Assistant Chief Mort McInerny with honesty, integrity, and efficacy. For higher pension benefits, the police union agreed to the establishment of the Office of Citizen Complaints, which now costs us $5,600,000 annually, with 17 civil service employees and increases to $5,900,000 in fiscal year 2016-2017. The shootings, which instigated this duplicative, costly proposal, are already under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the District Attorney. Now, oblivious City Hall officials add yet another entity to duplicate existing efforts. Don’t let them do it. Vote “No” on Proposition E.

Proposition AA Also on the ballot in San Francisco and eight other Bay Area counties is a parcel tax by the newly created San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to fund water quality, habitat, shoreline access, and pollution reduction on San Francisco Bay. Proposition AA slaps a parcel tax of $12 for 30 years in those nine Bay Area counties. Since 1964, taxpayers have funded the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments. Now comes a new entity with a tax scheme that would charge Facebook, Salesforce, Chevron, Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, Twitter, Uber and Airbnb the same amount you and I would pay for our residential parcel. The parcel tax would last for 30 years. The parcel tax collected could be granted to a private property owner like a gift of public funds. Of all taxes, a parcel tax is probably the most unfair, unless you like paying the same amount of tax as the aforementioned billion-dollar corporations. Vote “No” on AA.

Proposition 50 There’s only one state ballot measure, Proposition 50, which amends the California Constitution to allow by a two-thirds vote of the California Assembly and California Senate the cessation of a suspended legislator’s pay and benefits. The California Constitution, contrary to arguments in the official Voter Information Guide, allows the legislative houses on a two-thirds vote to suspend a legislator who then continues to receive a salary and benefits. That’s what allowed one-time State Senator Leland Yee to receive over $95,000 a year in 2014 despite suspension from office. I’ll vote yes on Proposition 50.

State Senator Because of expiration of his two terms in the State Senate, Senator Mark Leno concludes his legislative service December 1, 2016. On July 7, our area of San Francisco will vote for a successor. The two primary candidates are Supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener. As President of the Korean War Memorial Foundation Board of Directors, I wrote two letters to each supervisor and the Mayor’s office in an effort to secure a contribution from the City and County of San Francisco for the memorial at the Presidio. Supervisor Wiener was the only Supervisor who responded immediately to my request. (The Mayor and other supervisors wouldn’t reply to the letters.) His efforts were responsible for securing in 2015-16 from the $9,000,000,000 City budget $100,000 for the Foundation. I naturally intend to vote for Supervisor Wiener for the State Senate. (Incidentally, the Memorial is under construction and will be dedicated August 1, 2016 at 10:00 AM at the site across from the National Cemetery at the Presidio in San Francisco. You are invited to attend by me, on behalf of the Foundation Board of Directors.)

Superior Court Judge Because of the retirement of Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith, three San Francisco lawyers seek to replace him. The most qualified candidate by far is Victor M. Huang, Esquire, who lives in the Inner Sunset and has been a practicing trial lawyer since 1992. I heard the three candidates last month. Mr. Huang has tried over 80 jury cases to a verdict, beginning in 1992 as an assistant public defender in Los Angeles, continuing in 2007 as an assistant district attorney in San Francisco, and in operation of his own law firm since 2014. His two opponents, one a City Hall insider, the other a long-time downtown attorney who seems not to understand campaign competition practices, lack Huang’s remarkable experience in our trial courts. He’s a University of California, Berkeley and University of Southern California Law School graduate, married with three young children, who represents the most meritorious of the candidates. I recommend him unqualifiedly on June 7.

Federal Elections There are also two federal elections on the ballot, one for the United States Senate, and the other for President. As noted, I intend to vote for Sanders in the Democratic primary for President, because I abhor his not-even-to-be-identified opponent. Unlike his opponent, I’m confident of his honesty and independence from Wall Street. I also endorse for the U.S. Senate Duf Sundheim, Esq., another honest lawyer, who’s a mediator and whom I’ve known for over ten years. I admire his measured qualities of knowledge and beliefs.

May the foregoing comments assist you in exercising your rights and duty to vote.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

May 2016

An understated President labeled "Silent Cal" by 1920's media, and whose birthplace in Plymouth, Vermont, now a national shrine I visited in the 1990's, declared in his inaugural address on March 4, 1925: "I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be some much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form." plan exists for the Host Committee or NFL to reimburse even the Sheriff's Department for providing additional security at City Hall for the NFL owners' sumptuous dinner the night before the game!"

San Francisco's government, with its annual budget of approximately $9,000,000,000, should constitute an exquisitely relevant subject for application of those commonsensical statements. On January 15, 2016, the Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst Harvey M. Rose, at the request of Supervisor John Avalos and in accordance with a Board of Supervisors motion adopted on January 12, 2016, issued to the public and their elected supervisors an 18-page report revealing that general fund expenditures for services provided to the National Football League's "Super Bowl 50" public events would cost city taxpayers $4,881,625. The unimpeachable Mr. Rose also reported that city departments had been requested by Mayor Lee to identify $4,375,765 of surplus in their budgetary allocations, and redirect that money, staff time, and other resources from planned projects to support the NFL billionaires and their league, which incidentally, pays its Chief Executive Officer (Roger Goodell) approximately $45,500,000 per year. Mr. Rose further noted the lack of any written agreement between city government and the NFL or the so-called "Host Committee," an entity formed locally for promotion of the Super Bowl, which raised about $50,000,000 for its activities!

Our Budget Analyst also noted the City of Santa Clara, unlike San Francisco, obtained a written agreement with that same Host Committee to reimburse all Santa Clara expenses associated with Super Bowl 50, namely $3,597,300, to pay all additional Santa Clara public safety and other governmental services. Mr. Rose recommended the Supervisors request the Mayor immediately enter into an enforceable written agreement, subject to Board of Supervisors approval, with the Host Committee to obtain full reimbursement of the taxpayer expenditures of $4,881,625, and iterated that failure to secure such agreement "would result in a subsidy to the NFL and the Host Committee…" (Mr. Rose also noted the NFL reported 2013 profits of $9,200,000,000, larger even than the aforementioned 2015-16 City Hall budget of about $9,000,000,000.)

After a flurry of pronouncements by Supervisors Jane Kim, Avalos, David Campos, and Aaron Peskin over introduction of non-binding resolutions to urge our reluctant Mayor to do so, with resulting publicity, no such resolution has been heard in any Board of Supervisors committee and no plan exists for the Host Committee or NFL to reimburse even the Sheriff's Department for providing additional security at City Hall for the NFL owners' sumptuous dinner the night before the game! How about that, sports fans?

Meanwhile, the California First Amendment Coalition and San Francisco Taxpayers Association have transmitted a California Public Records Act demand for production of all records relating to Super Bowl 50 and San Francisco government, the Host Committee, and the NFL. City Hall predictably has requested a two-week extension of the state-mandated ten days within which to produce all such documents. Stay on alert for public exposure of such documents and resultant revelations of the gouging of taxpayers.

Some ten years ago, certain members of the Board of Education successfully abolished the Junior ROTC program at San Francisco's public high schools. Among abolition leaders were then-Commissioners (now Supervisors) Eric Mar and Norman Yee. Supporters of Junior ROTC literally revolted, qualifying as voters an initiative on the 2008 November ballot, Proposition V, and then securing its passage. The measure requires the Board of Education to restore the Junior ROTC program as it previously existed, which included physical education credit for student participation and so-called "central funding" from School District headquarters to defray those costs not covered by the Department of the Army. A majority of the Board of Education has for eight years defied the voters' will. As a result, the School District supports only one JROTC instructor at several schools in which the Federal government requires two (one instructor supervises over 100 Junior ROTC students). Board of Education Commissioner Emily Murase, a Merced Manor resident and product of San Francisco public schools, now leads an effort to restore physical education credit for Junior ROTC participation and central funding, noting that graduation, suspension and expulsion rates of Junior ROTC students are better in all respects than such rates for students not in Junior ROTC. Commissioner Murase is joined by Commissioner Jill Wynns, the senior member of the Board of Education and devoted public school advocate, and Commissioner Rachel Norton. The Board of Education Budget Committee on March 7, 2016 referred Commissioner Murase's proposal to the full board with "no recommendation." On April 6, 2016, that same Budget Committee will hear the resolution again. On April 19, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the Board's headquarters, the matter will be presented to the full seven-member elected Board of Education for decision. I urge people to communicate to the other four members of the Board of Education support for complying with Proposition V, the voters' will in 2008. I intend to testify personally. Incidentally, Junior ROTC is available at Lowell, Washington, Burton, Balboa, Lincoln, Galileo and Mission High Schools.

There will be two contested Board of Supervisor elections involving incumbents in November. One will occur in our own District No. 7, presently represented by Supervisor Yee (not Leland). Three non-incumbent aspirants have already met with me, namely Michael Young, Ben Matranga, and Joel Engardio. Andy Lee, a prior candidate, has also filed his candidacy. In due course I expect to endorse one of the non-incumbents for good reasons.

Supervisor Yee canceled his appearance at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council on March 28, 2016 claiming a "conflict." On March 17, 2016, he announced he would "convene a working group to reduce chronic absenteeism in San Francisco schools." That's strange. The School District, as noted, is governed by an elected seven-member Board of Education whose responsibilities are not those of the Board of Supervisors or any of its members. Yee's activities will waste taxpayer money and duplicate administrative time and efforts as he attempts to perform duties of elected Board of Education members. A salutary action by Yee would consist of assisting Commissioner Murase in her efforts to restore all Junior ROTC program features to their prior status as required by Proposition V in 2008. Will Supervisor Yee do that? I doubt it. (The other incumbent with a well-qualified opponent is Board President London Breed, opposed by Dean Preston, a Yale graduate.)

If it hasn't already died a deserved ending, the effort by Supervisors David Campos, Kim, Avalos and others to declare a "homeless emergency" and install homeless shelters in such location as the public parking lot in the 200 block of West Portal Avenue, at property adjacent to Lake Merced Boulevard, and a space on Claremont Boulevard will be a subject of next month's column. Meanwhile, I still await from the newly elected Sheriff her order revising the edict of her predecessor forbidding Department employees from notifying federal immigration personnel before releasing from county jail any illegal alien who is wanted by the I.C.E. for deportation. On March 23, 2016, I was informed by her Chief of Staff that City Attorney approval of the alleged revised policy would occur any moment. Let's see if it occurs this month and in what form, or if this is just another empty gesture to lull the public.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

April 2016

In 1928, Justice Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting from the majority decision in Olmstead et al. v. United States, wrote: “Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously.” Many applications of that unforgettable principle apply in today’s world of government, local state, and federal.

In 2005, then U.S. Senator Obama tried to prevent a U.S. Senate vote in a filibuster against President George W. Bush for the nomination of present U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.”

In 1992, as Chairman of the State Senate Transportation Committee and member ex officio of the California Transportation Commission, I introduced successfully legislation to begin establishment of high-speed rail transportation in California, meaning an electrified system capable of achieving 220 miles per hour on tracks dedicated solely to high-speed trains. The measure was passed by the Senate and Assembly. Governor Pete Wilson vetoed it on the ground that it was unneeded. In 1995, I sponsored a bill to form the California High-Speed Rail Authority with nine members (five appointed by the Governor, two by the State Senate, two by the State Assembly) with the explicit responsibility of building a true high-speed rail system between Northern and Southern California. A bond measure was approved by the legislature for voter approval after I became a Superior Court Judge. It expressly provided for a system capable of traveling from here to Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes and from Sacramento to Los Angeles in two hours and 20 minutes, with a maximum of 24 stations and no taxpayer subsidies. That resulted in a November 2008 ballot measure embodying those requirements and authorizing $9,950,000,000 of general obligation bonds, of which $950,000,000 would be allocated to connecting other state railway systems, local and regional, to the high-speed rail system.

On November 4, 2008, voters approved the measure by about 53% to 47% despite organized opposition.

The broadcasted business plan was to build the first segment from San Francisco to Anaheim, and the second segment south to San Diego and north to Sacramento. Having retired from the Superior Court, I had been appointed in 2006 to the Authority board by the State Senate and elected board president three years. My term expired in 2010. A new Governor was elected, and the business plan was changed by the force of Peninsula politicians, namely Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, of Palo Alto, and then-State Senator Joe Simitian, also of Palo Alto, to prohibit acquisition of 50 feet of right-of-way for dedicated track, usable only by high-speed trains to achieve voter-mandated speeds. The cities of Atherton, Menlo Park, Burlingame, and Palo Alto succeeded through Eshoo and Simitian in changing the high-speed rail system in violation of the 2008 bond measure by requiring high-speed trains to share the existing Caltrain tracks on the San Francisco Peninsula with Caltrain, the commuter system. In order to obviate taxpayer subsidies for operating expenses, the High-Speed Rail Authority knew it must operate at least 10 high-speed trains per hour from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and again from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM, to achieve sufficient ridership and consequent revenue to pay operating expenses. Contrast all 28 public transit agencies in the nine-county Bay Area and others in California, which require taxpayer subsidies, ranging from 90% of expenses to 40% of expenses, as is the latter case with BART. It outperforms in fare box revenue all other public transit systems in the state. That means high-speed trains on the existing Peninsula right-of-way, even as electrified, would share the tracks and be limited to four trains per hour in peak hours, with Caltrain commuter service of six trains in the same periods.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has now lost many, if not most, of its historical supporters. The United States House of Representatives enacted legislation two years ago prohibiting any federal funds for California’s now-bastardized system. In February, the High-Speed Rail Authority announced it was changing the first section from Los Angeles to Northern California in favor of San Jose to Bakersfield, thereby trying to represent to Californians that the project was still extant and viable. It is not. Only the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, and San Diego Union Tribune devote space for accurate reporting on the project. Local press ignores it, except for public relations announcements from Authority “tax eaters.” On February 11, 2016, in Sacramento County Superior Court, the most devastating of the numerous environmental and other lawsuits against the present plan was heard and taken under submission by the trial judge. Kings County and two ranchers alleged eight distinct violations of the November 2008 ballot measure by the current Authority board. State law requires a court decision by June 12, 2016. I predict a decision for Kings County.

Meanwhile, again without any mention in local daily press, a voter initiative was released by the California Attorney General on January 30, 2016, for voter signature collection and submission to California voters this November. The initiative allocated some $10,700,000,000 for statewide water storage and amends the California Constitution to provide that drinking water and irrigation shall be primary water use priorities under an elected board from eight districts in our state. The initiative redirects $8,000,000,000 from the remaining unspent high-speed rail bond fund and $2,700,000,000 in previously authorized (2014) water bond funds for such purposes. The initiative creates no new debt or tax burdens on the state or taxpayers. A Golden State Poll – Hoover Institution poll shows that 53% of Californians would vote for such ballot measure, and water storage construction ranked as the first state priority by 62% of probable voters. The initiative must qualify by May 1, 2016. It will.

Last month, I referred to the District Attorney’s January announcement that he will pursue corruption cases against city government and other related actors. Previously, text message exchanges among 10 San Francisco Police Department officers were revealed during a federal investigation, which contained comments indicative of bias and racial and homophobic prejudice. To address the alleged corruption the fighting District Attorney formed without Board of Supervisors or mayoral action a so-called “Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement” (“Panel”). He appointed three former judges, namely, Judge Thelton Henderson, U.S. District Court retiree, Judge LaDoris Cordell, Santa Clara County Superior Court retiree, and recalled one-time California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso. He asked the Mayor for taxpayer funds for such panel and its proceedings. The Mayor refused, having requested and secured a United States Department of Justice investigation of those allegations about the police officers. That investigation should be more than enough, but there are further inherent defects in the District Attorney’s publicity stunt. The District Attorney was Chief of Police at the time some of the police officer messages were exchanged! As the assumed presenter of evidence to the Panel, he has a conflict of interest. He convened the Panel, which will investigate conduct occurring while he was Chief of Police. If the Panel finds bias in the San Francisco Police Department at such time, that finding will presumably implicate him as Chief of Police. The perception that he is investigating himself undermines Panel credibility. He should recuse himself and ask a district attorney from another county to appoint and oversee any such panel, a body clearly superfluous in light of the U.S. Department of Justice investigation. Additionally. Judge Cordell must recuse herself. If she were still an active judge assigned to such a matter, her public comments would disqualify her from hearing the case. On December 23, 2015, for example, she tweeted, “Ten racist texting cops in SF get their jobs back?” That refers with an apparent opinion on her part upon the same matter ostensibly by the Panel. Commenting publicly about a matter before her would cause a judge’s disqualification under California law. Federal law would also require disqualification because her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” While Cordell is no longer an active judge, her comments substantially undermine public confidence that she would be objective and impartial in her role on the panel.

Finally, one notes the controversy over replacement of U.S. Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia by President Barack Obama. The expected U.S. Senate Republican demand that the President submit no replacement for confirmation during his remaining term of office sounds unjustifiable and even unprecedented. It’s not. In 2005, then U.S. Senator Obama tried to prevent a U.S. Senate vote in a filibuster against President George W. Bush for the nomination of present U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. He was in good company. So did U.S. Senators Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and “Chuck” Schumer. There is an expression in politics and life: “What goes around comes around.”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

March 2016

On January 26, 1799, Vice President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Elbridge Gerry: “I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.” With the revelation by San Francisco Budget Analyst Harvey M. Rose in his January 15, 2016 report to the Board of Supervisors, uncontradicted by the City Controller, that San Francisco taxpayers will subsidize billionaire National Football League owners in the amount of at least $5,000,000, one discerns no Jeffersonian atmosphere in the Mayor’s office or city government. Set aside the impossible traffic conditions on lower Market Street, the Embarcadero, and nearby neighborhoods. Bear in mind, however, that the Super Bowl Host Committee, which has voraciously raised from corporate Bay Area over $50,000,000 in tax-deductible donations and that the small City of Santa Clara obtained some $3,600,000 from the NFL to pay its Super Bowl-related expenses and hold harmless Santa Clara taxpayers. On January 26, 2016, Supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim, and Aaron Peskin introduced a non-binding resolution asking the benevolent Mayor to renegotiate San Francisco contractual relations with the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee. The resolution is late because our devoted Supervisors canceled their January 19, 2016 meeting because Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was the day before and Supervisor Mark Farrel thwarted enactment by causing its referral to a February 11 committee hearing! Since the tardy resolution won’t be acted on until after the Super Bowl and its passage can’t be assured, the Mayor should be charged with taxpayer malfeasance. We can’t expect action by the NFL or the multi-million dollar Super Bowl Host Committee. (For Super Bowl XIX in January, 1985 at Stanford Stadium, with over 86,000 spectators, not the lesser 65,000 at Levi Stadium, the Bay Area Super Bowl Task Force, which I organized and chaired, raised and spent $175,000 without taxpayer cost.)

...San Francisco taxpayers will subsidize billionaire National Football League owners in the amount of at least $5,000,000 ... however, that the Super Bowl Host Committee, which has voraciously raised from corporate Bay Area over $50,000,000 in tax-deductible donations.”

Additionally, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, employing about 5,500 people, asked employees to volunteer three hours of service during their working hours to the Super Bowl Host Committee and NFL. Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin claimed that doing so wouldn’t cost MTA any money, meaning no supplemental Board of Supervisors appropriation would be needed. Reiskin, responsible for a five-month delay in completing the Central Subway Project, ignores the expected absence from work of MTA employees from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between January 20 and February 9, 2016, requiring the filling of approximately 250 shifts, or 1,000 working hours, added to San Francisco taxpayer costs.

Meanwhile, a District Attorney who in five years of holding office hasn’t pursued a single corruption charge involving city government, audaciously represents to San Franciscans in a January 6, 2016 speech that he will pursue elected officials “and the politically powerful.” He analogizes himself to San Francisco’s 1906 District Attorney who successfully prosecuted the infamous Abe Ruef. Having disregarded requests in 2011 and thereafter for prosecution of those responsible for mayoral campaign contribution “laundering” antics involving Recology employees, the “fighting” District Attorney actually filed a criminal complaint alleging bribery and money laundering by former Willie Brown Human Rights Commission personalities, one an exCommissioner, one a former employee, as well as a one-time Board of Education member already convicted in U.S. District Court of attempted bribery of an undercover FBI agent. In April 2012, Human Right Commission Contract Compliance Officer Zula Jones was tape recorded by the FBI agent, stating in reference to Mayor Ed Lee: “Ed knows that you gave $10,000 . . . he knows that . . . he knows that you will give another $10,000. He also knows that we had to break the $10,000 up. . . . Ed is aware that you’re the one who’s a big donor.” The Mayor’s memory is “hazy” regarding a subsequent meeting with such undercover FBI agent. The problem for the District Attorney is that Jones is represented by a premier defense lawyer, John Keker. If you like to bet, consider doing so on Keker showing the newly-invigorated corruption-fighting District Attorney how to try a criminal case!

Last September, I wrote about the devastated killing of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 on July 1, 2015 by an illegal alien convicted ten times of crimes in the United States before his unjustified release from County Jail on April 15, 2015 by the then-Sheriff, assertedly pursuant to Board of Supervisors and mayoral legislation first adopted December 23, 1985, then reaffirmed four times later under Mayors Dianne Feinstein, Frank Jordan, and Ed Lee. The last Sheriff embroidered those measures by ordering his staff on March 13, 2015 not even to furnish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “information or access” to public records about County Jail inmates, having declared in May 2014 the Sheriff’s Department wouldn’t honor requests to detain County Jail illegal alien inmates for deportation without an actual arrest warrant or court determination of probable cause. In the aftermath of such killing, Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced a resolution supposedly requesting that the Sheriff “abide by San Francisco’s City Policy and federal law” and rescind his order barring communications with federal immigration authorities. That motion was tabled on a divided vote by the Board of Supervisors. A moment later, a rival resolution reaffirming the current San Francisco policy consistent with the then-Sheriff’s aforementioned order was adopted unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, including a vote for it by Supervisor Farrell, the ultimate hypocrite. We now have a new Sheriff, the Honorable Vicki Hennessy. Although reluctant during last fall’s campaign to announce publicly a reversal of her opponent’s disgraceful order, Sheriff Hennessy’s leading assistant assures me Sheriff Hennessy will abolish that policy once she obtains legal approval to do so. We will follow that repeal and report accordingly to readers next month. Meanwhile, Kathryn Steinle’s family has sued the City and County of San Francisco for her wrongful death. Her Burlingame lawyer, Frank Pitre, as capable a trial lawyer as John Keker, was forced by Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to abandon his hosting of a Hillary Clinton for President fundraiser, featuring former President Bill Clinton. It was changed from his home to a Congresswoman’s Hillsborough home, presumably because it’s politically incorrect to sue San Francisco over its “sanctuary city” policies. In any case, San Francisco taxpayers can expect another sizeable bill due to such policy later this year. Ah, Mr. Jefferson, where are you?

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

February 2016

Except for continuing exposure of the inept, greedy, destructive activities of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and Bay Bridge chicanery by a reporter named Jaxon van Derbeken, the San Francisco “Comical” and other media outlets have ignored the questionable conduct of important public officials. One example is California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, an ambitious candidate to replace Barbara Boxer in the United States Senate. Not a word has been uttered in the local media about a 63-page complaint filed against Harris personally, and in her official capacity as Attorney General of the State of California by Prime Healthcare Services, Inc. (“Prime”) in the United States District Court in Sacramento. The complaint charges Harris with “illegal and corrupt conduct…” The case arises from the financial need of the Daughters of Charity Health System (“DCHS”) to sell the six California hospitals it owns and operates, including Seton Hospital in Daly City, once known as Mary’s Help Hospital on Guerrero Street, San Francisco. In early 2014, with a financial crisis looming, DCHS, a Catholic nonprofit entity, decided to sell Seton, Seton Coastside, a skilled nursing facility in Moss Beach, O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy, St. Francis Medical Center in Lynnwood, and St. Vincent Hospital in Los Angeles. After a competitive 13-month bidding process and evaluating over 200 bids, the Daughters of Charity selected Prime as the only bidder whose $843,000,000 offer for those hospitals best ensured its continued existence.

It alleges she participated in a corrupt scheme … because Harris is beholden to the union for campaign money. It constitutes the most damning lawsuit against a state elected official I’ve ever personally seen … Maybe, just maybe, local media, so in love with the “allegedly corrupt” Attorney General, will enlighten readers”

Under California charity law, the California Attorney General must review Prime’s offer and decide whether it is in the best interests of the people of California to permit the sale of any nonprofit hospital, exercising reasonable discretion and without other limitation or governing standards, or explaining or justifying her decision. The sale to Prime was opposed by two unions representing California hospital workers. On October 10, 2014 the Daughters of Charity selected Prime as the successful bidder based upon its history of restoring financially distressed hospitals and its commitment to maintaining Seton Hospital in Daly City and the other five Daughters of Charity hospitals.

Unions have for six years or more engaged in labor disputes with Prime because Prime refused to require all its employees to join unions. Harris last February “approved” the transaction, but with conditions so onerous Prime was effectively prevented from consummating the transaction and then managing Daughters of Charity hospitals with its financial problems. Harris’ list of over 300 conditions consumes 77 pages and required Prime to operate all but one of the Daughters of Charity hospitals in its current state for 10 years without regard to operating losses, or whether all the hospital services were essential. The conditions would facilitate unionization of all of Prime’s 28 hospitals, including its 10 in California.

In suing Harris, Prime minces no words. It alleges she participated in a corrupt scheme with the United Health Workers Union unlawfully to preclude Prime from buying such hospitals, because Harris is beholden to the union for campaign money. It constitutes the most damning lawsuit against a state elected official I’ve ever personally seen. The case won’t be tried until spring 2016. Maybe, just maybe, local media, so in love with the “allegedly corrupt” Attorney General, will enlighten readers.

But that’s not all daily media has suppressed about Harris. In the wake of Prime’s lawsuit against Harris, a subsequent offer to buy the Daughters of Charity hospitals occurred, this one by a hedge fund, Blue Mountain Capital Management. According to the San Francisco Business Times, Harris has strangely delayed decision on a “system restructuring and support agreement” that would confer effective control of the Daughters of Charity hospitals on this $20,000,000,000 hedge fund, changing the system’s name to Verity Health Service, and eliminating its connection to the Daughters of Charity Catholic order, with an option for the hedge fund to buy the hospitals in three years at about $250,000,000. Daughters of Charity must repay or refinance a $125,000,000 loan by December 15, 2015. Bankruptcy is the only other option. Remember that Prime offered $843,000,000 nine months ago. About 7,000 jobs are at stake. It’s asserted by “experts” the hedge fund could make millions in tax benefits from its proposed transaction. Many readers of this estimable newspaper and their families and friends use Seton Hospital. The alleged conduct of Harris is sickening.

There are other omissions in daily media reports to readers, listeners, and watchers, much less editorial condemnation of the transformation of college campuses into restricted free speech zones. My alma mater, Dartmouth College, is one. In the fall semester, institutions such as Cal, Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth and Williams all suffered the shattering of free speech law. I’m prejudiced. I’m on the Board of Directors of the California First Amendment Coalition. I’m the author of the revision of the California Brown Act, guaranteeing open meetings of all public bodies in California, the strengthening of the California Public Records Act, and a 1972 San Francisco charter provision prohibiting City Hall conflicts of interest. On many college campuses today, mini-mobs denounce, even suppress, students who disagree with mainly liberal, radical pronouncements by other students, and invade libraries and other academic buildings and spaces to suppress opponents. Supine academic presidents, deans (whose ranks soar every year with resultant tuition increases), and student leaders permit such desecration of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Wall Street Journal on October 23, 2015, published an extract from the then-forthcoming November, 2015 issue of The New Criterion, stating: “Williams College (Tuition and fees: $63,290) has undertaken an ‘Uncomfortable Learning’ Speaker Series…to provide intellectual diversity on a campus, where like most campuses, left-leaning sentiment prevails…How is it working out? The conservative writer Suzanne Venker was invited to speak…But when word got out that an alternative point of view might be coming to Williams, angry students demanded her invitation be rescinded. It was.” The article rightfully observes that Venker joined a long list of people who were first invited and then disinvited to speak on a college campus, concluding: “It’s been clear for some time that such interdictions are not bizarre exceptions. On the contrary, they are perfect reflections of an ingrained hostility to free speech-and beyond that, to free thought-in academia.” (Williams College is an elite school in Williamstown, Mass.)

I conclude with the latest example of City Hall hypocrisy. Amidst hullaballoo, Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced a resolution last fall urging the now-defeated Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to “Immediately rescind his department-wide memorandum of March 13, 2015,” which ordered Sheriff’s Department employees to stop communication with any federal immigration employees except in very limited circumstances. That is the infamous memorandum which led to the death of Kathryn Steinle on July 14, 2015 by an illegal alien. Last October, Farrell’s resolution was tabled 6-5 by the Board of Supervisors. What happened then? Another resolution, introduced by Supervisors Campos, Avalos and Mar, confirming Board of Supervisors support for so-called “sanctuary city policies” which violate federal law and bar city employees from transferring illegal aliens in law enforcement custody to federal immigration authorities, was immediately presented for vote and passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, including the chest -thumping Supervisor Farrell! That resolution additionally rejects the federal “Priority Enforcement Program,” which U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (who as mayor in 1985 approved the first San Francisco law undermining detection and deportation of illegal immigrants despite my negative vote), had publicly urged the Sheriff and San Francisco to adopt. The Board of Supervisors resolution characterized the federal “Priority Enforcement Program” as “yet another mass deportation program that separates families, undermines community trust in law enforcement… and has been shrouded in similar misinformation and lack of transparency.” False assumption of virtue continues to exemplify the Board of Supervisors, and there was no media comment on Farrell’s hypocritical acquiescence in reiteration of the law-defying San Francisco policy which he supposedly had sought to change. It’s little wonder people don’t trust government or that the November, 2015 election turnout in San Francisco was merely 29% of all registered voters.

Happy Hannukah (December 6th), Merry Christmas (December 25th), and Happy New Year (January 1, 2016).

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

December 2015

Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress. But, I repeat myself. That’s not my creativity; it’s attributable to Mark Twain. Meanwhile, we have survived yet another municipal election, with the usual clamor (and disgust) about campaign spending and those single issue or special interests who generate most of it. My favorite example is Proposition F, an effort to tame the voracious appetite of Airbnb to forfeit integrity of our neighborhoods by motivating homeowners and tenants to become hotel owners. Another example is the contributions to the Mayor’s $310,000,000 to benefit the subsidized housing and high-rise residential developers, together with their sycophantic architects, engineers, contractors, public relations operators, and so-called nonprofit entities like SPUR, whose special interest bias has never been exposed.

…Mayoral flunkies were charged with the same acts of fraudulent activity in completing absentee ballots for elderly Chinatown voters and then delivering them to the Department of Elections. Gascon conducted a superficial investigation that led to no criminal charges being brought.”

It also involved the supervisorial election in North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Polk Gulch, Chinatown, and Russian Hill, contemporarily known as “District 3,” between my friend, Aaron Peskin, and the Mayor’s appointed and dutiful lackey, plus a perpetual neighborhood candidate. Astonishingly, more money was spent by the two major contenders for a Board of Supervisors election than ever in history, including at-large supervisorial elections in a bygone, but sorely missed era. At the end of the campaign, one of the incumbent Mayor’s obedient clubs (Asian Pacific Democratic Club) claimed that the Chinatown Community Development Center, an asserted nonprofit entity which probably couldn’t exist without City Hall money, had collected under false pretenses absentee ballots from elderly Chinese-speaking voters, marked the ballots for Peskin and then deposited them illegally. The District Attorney’s office declared it was “looking into” the allegation emanating from a mayoral organization political consultant. Let’s contrast District Attorney George Gascon’s attention to a matter in 2011 after the newly-chosen (by the Board of Supervisors) Mayor had appointed him our City and County Prosecutor. Mayoral flunkies were charged with the same acts of fraudulent activity in completing absentee ballots for elderly Chinatown voters and then delivering them to the Department of Elections. Gascon conducted a superficial investigation that led to no criminal charges being brought, which would have affected his benefactor, the Mayor, adversely. Let’s see what happens now.

Despite the bumbling tactics of the campaign manager, one Michael Terris, the San Francisco Giants prevailed in persuading voters to approve Proposition D, enabling construction of hundreds of housing units, parks, and stores at Mission Creek, presently a parking lot owned by the Port of San Francisco. Political campaign managers are historically suspect in their tactics and truthfulness; the Giants happily prevailed despite their ill-advised retention of one of the worst practitioners in today’s San Francisco.

Finally, one notes the eagerness of the San Francisco Department of Elections to purvey ballots in languages other than English. Simple logic informs us that a voter must be a citizen. A citizen must demonstrate proficiency in English and understanding of our governmental system. Nevertheless, the Department of Elections spends money on a mailer happily informing voters they can use three versions of the ballots, Spanish, Chinese, and now Tagalog.

Unknown to most San Franciscans, the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans’ Building at Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street no longer can be identified as a resultant of honor to our World War I veterans and thereafter World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, despite the 1921 conveyance from the University of California Regents to San Francisco to honor and provide a structure for World War I veterans. Unfortunately, the War Memorial Trustees, appointed entirely by the Mayor, includes but one veteran, and he has scolded the American Legion Post for objecting to reduction of space for veterans to approximately 8% of the entire building following a renovation completed in August. The building instead is consumed by the Arts Commission and similar entities. Swords into Plowshares,founded by Vietnam War veterans for employment and other services to Vietnam War veterans, is excluded. So is the Korean War Memorial Foundation, of which I am President. The American Legion Post, however, sued the mayoral-appointed trustees for a court order confirming entitlement of patriotic organizations to office and other related space in the War Memorial Veterans’ Building. The case was heard in San Francisco Superior Court on November 2, 2015, and is under submission to the probate court judge for decision.

Two short items merit expression: (1) The City of Los Angeles is the largest employer in a population of over four million people, with 41,000 full-time employees, averaging $78,139 per year in salary before overtime or bonuses are added. San Francisco, with some 840,000 people, employs almost 35,000 full-time employees, without a peep from the media or almost all neighborhood associations. (2) I thought, and maybe you did too, that redevelopment agencies in California had been eliminated and there’d be no more taking of one person’s private property or transfer to another entity or person for such needed works as automobile row, golf courses, or entertainment arenas. We were all wrong. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown, who had led and advocated ending redevelopment and its eminent domain powers four years ago, signed Assembly Bill No. 2, which allows cities to create new such entities and to issue bonds (at taxpayer expense) for claimed affordable housing, economic revitalization, and infrastructure, using eminent domain and thereby restoring power to destroy one person’s property rights in favor of another. The new law, of course, uses soothing language such as “community revitalization investment authorities,” another way to describe corporate welfare and destruction of private property rights, all under the guise of helping the poor. The law exempts any public property from acquisition for redevelopment without consent of the public entity (in helping the poor, California now treats private property as fair game, while exempting governmental property).

In 1764, the French philosopher and author Voltaire wrote: “The art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.” Or you may rely on humorist Will Rogers, who declared: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the acts.”

>Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

November 2015

H. L. Mencken, the literary sage of the 1920s, accurately observed: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

That old chestnut, often repeated over the past 90 year or so, characterizes the November 3, 2015 Municipal Election, which features no contest for Mayor, District Attorney, City Attorney, or Treasurer. To dispose of those anointments, I declare resolutely to vote for Dennis Herrera as City Attorney and Jose Cisneros as Treasurer. The Mayor and District Attorney have cleverly concealed basic facts from San Franciscans, including the rising crime rate attributable to policies of the California Attorney General and San Francisco District Attorney, if not the Mayor, who may soon be in a public “tizzy” over alarming crime statistics of which he has knowledge. Here’s a disclaimer: I am internally discouraged from endorsing any of the three candidates for Sheriff because my criminal defense lawyer son, the estimable Shepard S. Kopp II of Los Angeles, represented the incumbent Sheriff successfully four years ago in thwarting the Mayor’s attempt to secure the incumbent Sheriff’s impeachment at the Board of Supervisors.

The Mayor and District Attorney have cleverly concealed basic facts from San Franciscans, including the rising crime rate attributable to policies of the California Attorney General and San Francisco District Attorney, if not the Mayor, who may soon be in a public “tizzy” over alarming crime statistics of which he has knowledge”


No such family inhibitions attach to my evaluation of 11 ballot measures.

Proposition A is yet another borrowing “doozy” from the Mayor and his political allies. It’s a $310,000,000 bond issue for “housing.” It follows wise rejection in 2002 and 2004 of similar debt. The ballot measure is vague; it lacks specificity on how and in what manner $310,000,000 of debt will be spent. It uses the phrase that money “may be allocated” to certain uses; it avoids promising voters that millions of dollars “shall” be spent on specified types of housing. In June, 2014, the Civil Grand Jury reported an abysmal record of new housing, not just “market rate,” but so-called “affordable” housing. Borrowing $310,000,000 by floating general obligation bonds means repaying the $310,000,000 plus about an additional $275,000,000 in interest. I strongly recommend a “No on A” vote on this “blank check” to City Hall which will otherwise donate our money to its favorite developers.

Proposition B increases the municipal budget and taxpayer cost by providing 12 or 16 weeks of paid leave for City employees after the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. It’s a tempting idea for decent taxpayers to do so, but it’s a benefit generally not duplicated in private employment at a time in which San Francisco’s City employees exceed a record 28,500. I’m voting “No” on B.

Proposition C Thanks to former Chief Deputy Public Defender, ex-Golden Gate University School of Law Dean, and Ethics Commission member Peter Keane, Proposition C closes a loophole created by the Board of Supervisors in 2010 when our heroes repealed a law requiring public disclosure of lobbyist spending to influence City Government decisions, directly or indirectly. (In establishing the Ethics Commission by a charter amendment, voters bestowed on the Commission the power directly to submit any tightening of ethics rules at City Hall directly to voters without first obtaining Board of Supervisors affirmation. That’s how Proposition C made the ballot.) Proposition C will apply the same requirements to nonprofit entities that are required of all other lobbying practitioners, namely, reporting all money in excess of $2,500 spent monthly to influence government decisions. Talk about howling like a “stuck pig.” Nonprofit entities under Proposition C can no longer conceal their expenditures to obtain financial and other emoluments from City government under the guise of immunity based upon nonprofit status which enables such entities to pay their administrators salaries in six figures or more. That’s why many nonprofit corporations (and their lawyers) oppose Proposition C. Voters should pass it.

Proposition D is a large building project of the San Francisco Giants on the waterfront near AT&T Park for hundreds of rental units, offices, retail stores, and eight acres of parks on a cheerless City government waterfront parcel now used only for parking. I’ve endorsed it, despite its raising of height limits, because it is now zoned for a park with a zero height limit, and under voter-adopted law, any waterfront building project exceeding current height limits on the waterfront needs voter approval. The Giants competed against four other organizations to rent the parcel for 75 years at current market value and develop it. There’s no public subsidy, and sales and other tax payments to the City should constitute about $25,000,000 per year.

Proposition E is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It sounds innocently as a measure to increase “civic participation” by requiring live remote dissemination of Board of Supervisors meetings and all City commissions, committees, and boards, with enormous electronic technology expenditures. It purports to increase painlessly electronic display of all their public meetings with citizen testimony from remote locations, while pretending to require minimum expenditure. In fact, however, open meeting and public record champions oppose it. The California First Amendment Coalition opposes it. Bruce Brugmann, the long-time publisher of the Bay Guardian and singular advocate of public access to meetings and government records, opposes it. The Ethics Commission does not support it. City government already spends nearly $3,500,000 to broadcast board and commission meetings. This would increase the length of already unduly long hearings. It’s not fair to those who take time to attend a hearing or even to board and commission members who would need to delay debate and votes. It’s sponsored as an advertising promotion by a man who intends to run for Supervisor in the Richmond District in two years. As a State Senator, I sponsored State and City law permitting public testimony at every Board and Commission meeting. That’s been effective and economical. Proposition E would be an expensive, unnecessary time-waster. Vote “no” on E.

Proposition F represents an effort to protect single-family housing neighborhoods. The practice of renting extra rooms in single-family residences is based upon units illegally converted to serve as hotels. This is an Airbnb specialty with about 60 other entities promoting use of illegal units for commercial purposes, and doing it without paying the City hotel tax much less registering such “short-term rentals,” as legally required. Proposition F requires quarterly reports of each such unit’s address and nights rented with a maximum 75 nights per year after registration and payment of the hotel tax. I resent the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by Airbnb to bamboozle voters. As of September 23, it reported donations of $7,965,000 plus non-monetary contributions of $381,000, a total of $8,346,000! Vote “yes” on Proposition F and thwart the lawbreakers who destroy residential neighborhoods, including those west of Twin Peaks.

Propositions G and H now constitute ballot “litter.” G is sponsored by Electrical Workers Local 1245, which is in bed with PG&E in trying to delay so-called “clean” energy like sun and wind power. The union abandoned Proposition G a month ago, and Proposition H is now the favorite of City Hall. You can play their silly games by not voting on either or voting for Prop H and against Prop G.

Proposition I is essentially in the same “silly” league. It’s an effort by the most left wing San Francisco Supervisors to stop housing construction in the Mission District for 18 months. I’m voting against it.

Proposition J sorrowfully is an “only in San Francisco” measure. It establishes a Legacy Businesses Historic Preservation Fund, which will cost taxpayers $3,700,000 this year, rising to as much as $94,000,000 annually by 2040. It allows businesses and even their landlords, once nominated by any supervisor or the Mayor to obtain taxpayer money. Not even the “People’s Republic of Berkeley” gives away taxpayer money to pay landlords and keep certain (but remember, not all) businesses in existence. Proposition J enables City Hall-chosen businesses and their landlords to secure annual taxpayer grants even though, as the Libertarian Party of San Francisco notes, they “make a lot of money on their own . . .” As many as 300 businesses will be eligible annually for taxpayer money. Grants to landlords could reach $63,000,000 annually by 2040, says the City Controller. Businesses open and close. Businesses are successful and unsuccessful. Businesses like the City of Paris, W. J. Sloane, the Flytrap, Hungry i, and Capp’s Corner come and go. If an enterprise is genuinely “healthy,” to use City Hall’s ballot argument, it will continue to exist. Why should taxpayers subsidize landlords and businesses like Boudin Bakery or Recology, which are the largest donors? I’m voting “no” on Proposition J. I strongly urge readers to do so, too.

Proposition K Lastly, Proposition K signifies yet another City Hall effort to control who receives the benefit of taxpayer assets, in this instance taxpayer-owned real estate deemed surplus by City Hall bureaucrats. It establishes a percentage quota for the always-clamoring subsidized housing parasites instead of simply selling taxpayer-owned assets for market value. The city budget for 2015-2016 is almost $9,000,000,000. It exceeds Los Angeles, which has a population of approximately 4,000,000 people, by several million dollars. That’s chiefly due in our city of 850,000 residents to financial disregard and catering to special interests, whether technology billionaires or nonprofit City Hall regulars. Proposition K is yet another instance in which “pork barrel” projects will be enriched by the proceeds of surplus public land sales. Taxpayer-owned land should be sold at market value, not for subsidies. That’s why I urgently recommend a vote against Proposition K.

To summarize, it’s “Yes" on Propositions C, D and F and “No” on A, B, E, I, J and K. Don’t waste your time on G and H.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

October 2015

Maybe it’s summer and “the living is easy.” At least, the living seems to be easy for high elected officials who feign innocence and operate hypocritically with virtually no critiquing, less condemnation, from “mainstream media.” During The Observer’s summer absence, a Mexican national accused of killing 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 on July 1, 2015 was exposed as an illegal alien convicted ten times before his unjustified release from county jail on April 15, 2015 by the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff, however, is but one of many elected San Francisco officials who are complicit. The illegal alien’s past crimes include four narcotic felonies (heroin possession, drug manufacturing) and three illegal reentry convictions after deportation to Mexico. Starting in 1991 in Arizona, the illegal alien had been deported five times and in federal prison approximately 15 years for illegal entry to the United States. The illegal alien (Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez) was arrested in December, 1995 by San Francisco police officers on two charges of trafficking in marijuana. He was released without bail pending trial and thereafter fled. A $5,000 warrant for his arrest was thereupon issued in San Francisco Superior Court. Subsequently, the illegal alien continued to enter our country illegally, was arrested by federal law enforcers and served a 46-month sentence in a federal prison near San Bernardino. That ended in March, 2015. Still trying to enforce the San Francisco Superior Court arrest warrant of December, 1995, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department on March 23, 2015 requested the illegal alien be detained (or “held”) by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons so the Sheriff’s Department could obtain custody of him. That occurred on March 26, 2015, the Sheriff paying a private firm with taxpayer money to take custody of LopezSanchez. On March 27, 2015, the 20-year-old marijuana-trafficking case against Lopez-Sanchez was unsurprisingly dismissed at the Hall of Justice for lack of witnesses and other evidence.

…the incumbent Mayor Lee approved an ordinance barring San Francisco police officers from detaining any illegal alien on the basis of a federal civil immigration detainer after the illegal alien becomes eligible for release from custody, except for an illegal alien convicted of a violent felony within the previous seven years who is currently charged with a violent felony and poses a public safety risk. Mayor Lee even helped write that law.”

Instead of notifying U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) so it could deport the illegal alien for yet a sixth time, as requested by I.C.E., the legal division of the Sheriff’s Department condoned the illegal alien’s release April 15, 2015. Two-and-a-half months later, Kathryn Steinle was shot to death.

The incumbent Sheriff, the San Francisco Mayor, supervisors, and even a U.S. Senator all tried to avoid responsibility for the calamity. In May, 2014, the Sheriff by press release had publicly declared he wouldn’t honor I.C.E. requests to detain County Jail inmates “unless . . . supported by judicial determination of probable cause . . .” or an actual arrest warrant. In a memorandum dated March 13, 2015, he ordered Sheriff’s Department staff not to furnish I.C.E. personnel “information or access” to public records about County Jail inmates, such as status, citizenship, court arrest papers, or jail release dates. The Sheriff claimed publicly that a 2013 city ordinance adopted unanimously by the Board of Supervisors and signed, of course, by Mayor Edwin Lee, required discharge of the illegal alien once the marijuana trafficking accusations were dismissed. The Mayor, who detests the Sheriff, claimed the ordinance doesn’t bar the Sheriff’s Department from notifying I.C.E. agents on its own before a jailed illegal alien is released.

Then, to elevate the “hand washing,” U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein on July 7, 2015, after the so-called San Francisco “sanctuary” law became a national scandal, wrote the Mayor a two-page letter expressing her “deep concern about the release of convicted felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an action that led to last week’s tragic death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco.” She blames the Sheriff for not notifying I.C.E. before the criminal’s release and recommends “participation in ICE’s Priority Enforcement Program, . . .”

Now, let’s examine the history of San Francisco’s virulent sanctuary law. When do you think it began? Would you be surprised that the local sanctuary law began in 1985, with a resolution urging Mayor Feinstein to declare San Francisco TO BE A CITY OF REFUGE. It recited the Geneva Convention, ratified by the U.S.A. in 1956, and the Refugee Act of 1980, referred to an estimated 100,000 Central American refugees in San Francisco and resolved that “city Departments . . . shall not jeopardize the safety and welfare of law-abiding refugees by acting in a way that may cause their deportation.” (Emphasis added.) It passed on December 23, 1985, 8-3, by the Board of Supervisors and was approved on December 27, 1985 by Feinstein as Mayor. (Voting against the declaration of San Francisco as a sanctuary city were Supervisors Bill Maher, Wendy Nelder, and me.)

By October 24, 1989, the Board of Supervisors unanimously, including Maher and Nelder, had enacted an ordinance affirming that San Francisco is “a city and county of refuge.” (I had been elected in November, 1986 to the State Senate.) It also prohibited any city department, commission, or employee from assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration law or disseminating information about the immigration status of anyone “in the City and County of San Francisco, unless such assistance is required by federal or state statute, regulation or court decision.” It forbade assistance or cooperation with any Immigration and Naturalization Service “investigation, detention, or arrest procedures, . . . relating to alleged violations of . . . federal immigration law.” In 1992 and 1993, then-Mayor Frank Jordan approved further ordinances which, among other things, reiterated the “serious concerns” of the Board of Supervisors (and him) about cooperation between San Francisco and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Elected San Francisco public officials weren’t through. In 2009, yet another ordinance was enacted with different supervisors, some of whom are still in office. Aimed at the immigration status of a juvenile convicted of a felony as an adult in Superior Court, the ordinance emphatically states: “However, no officer, employee, or law enforcement agency of [San Francisco] shall stop, question, arrest, or detain any individual solely because of the individual’s . . . immigration status.” Finally, on October 8, 2013, the incumbent Mayor Lee approved an ordinance barring San Francisco police officers from detaining any illegal alien on the basis of a federal civil immigration detainer after the illegal alien becomes eligible for release from custody, except for an illegal alien convicted of a violent felony within the previous seven years who is currently charged with a violent felony and poses a public safety risk. Mayor Lee even helped write that law. No wonder San Francisco merits the embarrassing national denunciation of policies protecting illegal alien lawbreakers as part of City Hall’s continued disregard of national immigration laws. For 30 years, San Francisco City Hall elected officials celebrated refuge and sanctuary status, scorning federal law and those federal officials responsible for enforcement. The result is an unspeakable calamity.

Along with the malignant civic conduct described above, in August, lawyers representing the infamous “Shrimp Boy” (Raymond Chow) in a federal prosecution for racketeering in San Francisco, filed a motion to dismiss the case based upon doctrine of selective prosecution, meaning the failure of federal authorities to prosecute Mayor Lee for alleged illegal acts while charging their client, Chow, with similar such acts. The FBI used undercover agents in 2011 and 2012 and conferred over $10,000 on Lee’s 2011 election campaign through two San Francisco Human Rights Commission officials. The FBI employed wiretapping to record statements from them. One told undercover FBI agents: “Ed Lee knew he was taking money illegally.” In a wiretapped telephone conversation, a former commissioner declared: “Ed knows you gave the $10,000 . . . he knows you will give another $10,000.” In a separate wiretapped conversation, a one-time commissioner observes: “You pay to play here . . . we are the best at this game . . . better than New York . . . He [Lee] was pretty much trained and developed by Willie Brown and the same as myself, and were trained to get the job done.” Once the recorded statements were publicly disclosed in U.S. District Court, and subjected to reporting by The Examiner and even The Chronicle, Brown denied even knowing such Human Rights Commissioner. Let’s assume that’s accurate! Even so, the recorded statements demonstrate to San Franciscans the sordid attitudes of City Hall and squalid transactions underlying City government. (The Mayor, trying to cover the money-laundering allegations, donated $1,500, presumably to the City’s general fund, representing three separate $500 contributions from the two aforementioned Human Rights Commissioners.) While the “Shrimp Boy” motion to dismiss the case against him for selective prosecution was denied, the wiretapped conversations and allusions to the Mayor cannot be denied and are now public record.

It’s saddening that San Franciscans’ indignation doesn’t seem to exist, much less any action from a supine District Attorney, disrespected by police officers who must depend upon him for prosecution of lawbreakers they sometimes risk their lives to arrest. The District Attorney, once a Republican, owes his promotion to City Hall and runs for reelection unopposed, as does Mayor Lee, practically speaking. Perhaps the FBI can somehow preserve civic virtue; City Hall surely cannot.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

September 2015

Do you have any feelings about the term “public service” or the term “public servant?” If government employees are public servants, they enjoy a high degree of, if not complete, freedom. Think of such public servants as the Bushes and the Clintons.

The Mayor of San Francisco, for example, has presented taxpayers with a 2015-16 budget, which amounts to almost $9,000,000,000. The City of Los Angeles, with almost 4,000,000 residents, in May enacted a budget of nearly $8,600,000,000. San Francisco’s population is about 840,000, or about 18% of Los Angeles’s residents. (It’s not a true comparison because San Francisco city government assumes responsibility for a sheriff’s department with only custodial duties, public health, and public welfare, unlike California cities in general.)

…last month that San Francisco’s arrests decreased 42% the last five years, including serious or violent crime arrests, while on the other hand, the first five months of this year serious or violent crime rose 16% and property crimes 20%, including arson, which increased 48% from 2014.”

Often when people hear the term “public service” they are likely to conjure a state of selflessness and sacrifice to the persons who suffer taxes for government employees’ pay and pensions, and do not hold a government employee in servitude! Professor David Barash of the University of Washington discussed altruism in the Wall Street Journal last month. The word was derived from a Latin word, “alter.” Professor Barash quotes an author who declares altruism leads to the increase of success of another, and concludes that it exists throughout our natural world and history, while selfishness “is at the heart of most of the problems we face today; the growing gap between rich and poor, the attitude of everybody for himself which is only increasing, and indifference about the generations to come.”

City Hall last month lavishly celebrated the 100th anniversary if its existence, with “goodies” financed by huge corporations such as Wells Fargo Bank, Twitter, and PG&E. That’s one way to foster influence at City Hall. Another way is through a donation to Mayor Lee’s favorite activities and projects. There’s a name for that kind of sly favor seeking; it’s now called “behested payments.” That means PG&E contributes a payment to some favorite activity, public or private, of Lee’s at his behest, and PG&E then will do just fine on that pesky contract it wants. It’s not altruism as the motivator. With few exceptions, the San Francisco media remains mute on that type of usurpation of pathways to influence city government.

I thought I was alone in detecting and inviting attention to a district attorney without court or jury trial experience who supported capital punishment as a police officer, then changed his mind as an appointed district attorney facing liberal San Francisco voters. I’m not. The San Francisco Police Officers Association has published further instances of his effort to gain political power. It is common knowledge at the Hall of Justice that the Public Defender’s Office performs far better than the chameleon District Attorney. (Upon appointment as San Francisco Police Chief, the District Attorney proclaimed he was a Republican, then re-registered as a Democrat.) Public Defender Jeff Adachi must be pleased by the District Attorney’s lack of performance; he has endorsed the District Attorney for reelection and co-sponsored a fundraising party for him. No opponent has sought to contest such reelection.

Information showed last month that San Francisco’s arrests decreased 42% the last five years, including serious or violent crime arrests, while on the other hand, the first five months of this year serious or violent crime rose 16% and property crimes 20%, including arson, which increased 48% from 2014. The District Attorney sought unsuccessfully in June an appropriation for a panel of three hand-picked, famously liberal retired judges to investigate the possible dismissal of about 3,000 convictions on the premise many resulted from “racism” by San Francisco police officers, regardless of whether the convicted were guilty.

The common current mantra of civil liberty speakers is mandating body cameras for all San Francisco police officers on the streets. The Police Department must write a policy on usage. Guess what? At a public hearing on June 17, 2015, people complained that the same cameras could violate the privacy of private persons, which reminds one of the hoary adages “you can’t have everything” or “be careful lest you get what you asked for.”

A June 1, 2015 interview in The Dartmouth Review (Dartmouth is my alma mater) raised a question about academic “studies” programs as follows: “Is there a reason to have Asian, Black, Gay, Women, Hispanic, Native American studies other than to segregate and foster the tribal anti-intellectual? They aren’t math, science, language, or history; they are racial and sexual as their names clearly demonstrate. This isn’t higher education; this is lower education and the lowest and crudest of the low…Does progress come from the free association of the individual or forced association of the group? The reason for success and progress around the world is liberty, and that has zero to do with racial identity, sex, sexual preference, or anything else that lies completely outside the intellectual or the hard work of the individual.”

That says it all for my reflections from now until September, when I will have the pleasure of iterating, neatly but not gaudily, the reasons I hope one-time Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin is elected to the Board of Supervisors in November by voters in North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, Polk Gulch, and Chinatown, now known as District number 3. I heartily endorse Mr. Peskin, even from our refuge six or so miles away, because, among other qualities, he is altruistic.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

July/August 2015

Henry Ward Beecher, in a sermon on December 3, 1882, presciently stated: “Any law that takes hold of a man’s daily life cannot prevail in a community, unless the vast majority of the community are actively in favor of it. The laws that are the most operative are the laws that protect life.” Some might characterize that statement as a truism. So be it. It still reflects the lessons of experience and morality.

In a decade which features constant denunciation of those who protect us from the criminal, pertinent news is regularly distorted by elected officials and so-called “activists.” (That, incidentally, is one of several lazy, contemporary media words which deserve a holiday. Regular participation in civic issues should not an “activist” make!) San Francisco, unsurprisingly, reflects the excessive use of unelected committees, with members not sworn to protect life, as experts and arbiters of law enforcement conduct.

The result is preordained by the District Attorney’s decision to upstage the Police Commission, the Chief of Police, the Bureau of Internal Affairs, and even the Mayor. Yet, not a single member of the Police Commission possesses the independence and integrity to object, let alone comment, on such interference and self-aggrandizing by this district attorney, who also faces the voters November 3rd.”

Two months ago, in the aftermath of allegations of San Francisco sheriff’s deputies encouraging, even compelling, county jail prisoners to assault each other, a daily San Francisco newspaper reporter claimed a rising movement existed to establish yet another “civilian” San Francisco committee, this one to advise and probably order the elected San Francisco Sheriff and such department how and in what manner to execute its duties. It doesn’t matter that the Sheriff is elected by San Francisco voters and can be turned out of office by those same voters if he or she is incompetent. As I reminded readers last month, in the 1970s the Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor allowed the establishment of the Office of Citizen Complaints to issue pronouncements about behavior of San Francisco police officers who function under direction of a Chief of Police selected by a five-member Police Commission answerable to the elected mayor, and to some different degree, elected Board of Supervisors members. The Office of Citizen Complaints usually duplicates efforts of the Police Commission and now contains a staff of 35, spending approximately $5,162,717 just this fiscal year as part of an ever-swelling City budget.

Coincidentally, the incumbent Sheriff is running for reelection on November 3, 2015. Two other candidates, including the former Chief Deputy Sheriff, who has retired, will contest his reelection. If voters believe the incumbent Sheriff incompetent, they can act accordingly in five months with their ballots. They don’t need a costly committee to decide whether the Sheriff should be deposed.

Similarly, last month the San Francisco District Attorney, a man without any criminal trial personal experience as a lawyer, after announcing in April he would investigate San Francisco police officer bias, decided to appoint three retired judges to constitute his means of interfering and usurping the Chief of Police, the Police Commission, and even the limpid Office of Citizen Complaints.

He selected three non-San Francisco judges. Let me tell you about them. One is a one-time California Supreme Court Justice, Cruz Reynoso. He is a pronounced liberal from Southern California who has the distinction of being one of only three California Supreme Court Justices ever recalled from office by California voters. That was in 1986. A second appointee is a one-time Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge, described in some circles as a “feminist” who, while a Superior Court Judge, openly opposed the so-called “three-strikes law” adopted by California voters fed up with repeat criminals in 1994. She resigned as leader of the Sierra Club’s vaunted Legal Defense Fund on the grounds of inadequate effort for minorities affected by environmental matters. Astonishingly, she was appointed later as San Jose’s Auditor of Police, denying bias against police officers. (I don’t believe it!) The third is a former U.S. District Judge in Los Angeles who three years ago as a member of the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence condemned the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

If you’re a San Francisco police officer, do you rest easy with a prosecutor who chooses three well-known historical adversaries of police officers to investigate bias in San Francisco police officers by reviewing thousands of arrests and decide whether such arrests culminated in unjustified convictions? Their report could even result in guilty criminals, whom these three “worthies” believe were convicted by reason of bias, being released from confinement after sentencing! The result is preordained by the District Attorney’s decision to upstage the Police Commission, the Chief of Police, the Bureau of Internal Affairs, and even the Mayor. Yet, not a single member of the Police Commission possesses the independence and integrity to object, let alone comment, on such interference and self-aggrandizing by this district attorney, who also faces the voters November 3rd.

More than 35 years ago, as a Board of Supervisors member, I advocated that all negotiations of city employees’ collective bargaining agreements be conducted publicly, and not behind closed doors. That concept had been advocated by a Yale Law School Professor of Labor Law who had been a law school classmate of mine. The concept should apply to all government worker labor contracts. (Note that the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that pay of public employees nationally has increased 21% over the past 15 years, while private employee pay has risen only 9% in the same period.) My Board of Supervisors colleagues, with the exception of John Barbagelata, rejected the notion.

Times, however, are changing. In April, Idaho enacted a law requiring public negotiations of all state labor contracts. Colorado passed a similar bill for public school district contract negotiations. Similar laws are pending in Washington and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Senate passed a bill, which requires independent cost estimates of state government employee union contracts be publicly disclosed before adoption. A second measure requires state public employee union contracts to be placed on government websites at least two weeks before gubernatorial ratification. A similar bill has been passed by the Nevada legislature. The Wall Street Journal reports that 12 states provide some degree of public access to public employee union negotiations. Public employee union officials in Pennsylvania have denounced such laws as “anti-labor, anti-worker legislation.” But, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation supports public contract meetings on the theory it enables the public to better understand the positions of the teachers union. There’s no question that conduct of collective bargaining openly and publicly is in the public interest. It’s good government and common sense, because taxpayers pay those salaries, pensions, and health benefits. Their elected representatives, on the other hand, solicit and receive campaign contributions from the very employee unions whose pay agreements they approve.

Speaking of the November 3 election, voters can pass judgment on a project of the San Francisco Giants called the “Mission Rock Affordable Housing, Parks, Jobs and Historic Preservation Initiative.” The initiative is required under Proposition B, adopted by San Francisco voters last year, since it allows construction of buildings on a 28-acre waterfront site that will exceed the present height limit. Since the site is now used as a parking lot, and zoned only for a park, the height limit is zero. The project includes between 1,000 and 1,950 housing units, mostly rentals, with one-third affordable to low and middle-income households, together with about eight acres of parks, pedestrian plazas, and rehabilitated public piers and wharves. Pier 48 will be renovated. The three housing structures will rise 240 feet each. Obviously, new housing is desirable and the tax benefits through the new businesses, temporary construction jobs, and thousands of new permanent jobs are persuasive of approval. That’s why I have endorsed the initiative and have signed the petition to qualify it for the ballot.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

June 2015

In 1948, Carl Sandburg wrote in the epilogue to Remembrance Rock: “If she (America) forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then we’ll begin the rot and dissolution.

Sandburg’s words apply to the now-numerous instances these past months of protests protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the California Constitution, destroying and damaging personal property of non-participants and injuring many persons, mostly peace officers. Forgotten frequently, if not entirety, are the rule of law, the judicial system, and the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt regarding those accused if violating laws, even police officers.

With legislative bodies throughout California, and particularly San Francisco, allowing crude, disruptive behavior at their public meetings, today’s society finds no boundaries for behavior, eventually resulting in hostile attitudes towards peace officers.”

In California, a few public officials, none of them elected, have condemned such heartbreaking unlawfulness, notably the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol and Sheriff of Alameda County. The Governor, state legislators, mayors, supervisors, councilmembers, and most other Bay Area elected officials have been mute.

San Francisco is fortunate to escape the kind of destruction that Oakland emblemizes, as go media “regulars” like Baltimore, New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. It continually saddens me that relatively few people, including most journalists and electronic media reporters, possess scant knowledge of fundamentals of the American system of law. It shows in their reporting.

Even more sadly are revelations about a relatively few San Francisco Police Department sworn peace officers engaging in racist, derogatory comments. Besides the police officers’ union (the San Francisco Police Officers Association), not one elected local official has publicly reminded us of the burdens of protecting the public’s safety, and enforcing the California Penal Code and other governmental rules on conduct.

Bear in mind that a San Francisco police officer’s conduct is subject not only to investigation by the Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau, which I’ve respected ever since the era of then-Captain Mort McInerney; the Office of Citizens Complaints, an always-growing bureaucracy arising from a political deal in the late 1970s by a then politically-motivated union president and a now-forgotten San Francisco Supervisor; the District Attorney on the prowl for reasons to reelect him; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and even the Federal Department of Homeland Security. With legislative bodies throughout California, and particularly San Francisco, allowing crude, disruptive behavior at their public meetings, today’s society finds no boundaries for behavior, eventually resulting in hostile attitudes towards peace officers. Legislative bodies are premised upon the deliberative process, not the signage, chants, and vulgarity of easily identifiable members of vox populi. Those adverse conditions won’t change without attention by elected officials, legislative and executive.


The Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) was established by the State legislature and then-Governor Goodwin Knight in 1957. It consisted of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties (Santa Clara County was in the original legislation, but requested deletion). By 1961, BART directors were ready to submit their final engineering plan to the five remaining counties for approval, but in December 1961, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, under pressure from the largest shopping center developer in the county, withdrew from the District. Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco realized the District-wide tax base would thus be so reduced that the cost of Marin County service across the Golden Gate Bridge could not be supported. Marin County departed the district in early 1962. In November 1962, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco voters approved a $792,000,000 general obligation bond to build about 72 miles, including 31 miles of aerial construction, 24 miles of grade construction, 11 miles of subway, 5 miles of tunnels, and 4 miles of sub-aqueous tube. The bond was approved in all three counties by 61.215% of approximately 750,000 voters (the founding legislation required but a 60% voter approval, not the customary 66.7% for general obligation bonds.) The original system was partially opened on September 11, 1972, with service from Fremont to North Oakland. By 1973 all sections were complete, including service to Daly City, in non-District member San Mateo County, one of 33 stations; trans- bay service didn’t commence until September 16, 1974, after operational safety was certified by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Subsequently in the 1990s, BART service was extended in San Mateo County to stations in Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno and Millbrae. (BART now consists of 104 miles.) Thus, San Mateo County residents have received BART service without participating in the original indebtedness of taxpayers or the extra half-cent sales tax imposed upon Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco by the Legislature in April 1969, after the original $792,000,000 bond proceeds proved insufficient to pay for the original 72 miles.

A recent column by the Regional Policy Director of TransForm, an Oakland nonprofit “that promotes transportation choices and walk able communities to help connect people to opportunity,…and address our climate crisis” informed readers that BART needs almost $5,000,000,000 for track replacement, repairs, new cars, and other improvements. He advocates a property tax increase for taxpayers in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco to support a $4,500,000,000 general obligation bond in 2016.

Since the extension of BART to Millbrae, BART, with financial contribution from Santa Clara County, has also decided to extend service in the East Bay to San Jose. Santa Clara County will defray some of that $1,000,000,000 expenditure. Therefore, if the ever-increasingly used BART system submits a 2016 general obligation bond to its three membership counties, it is time for San Mateo County and Santa Clara County taxpayers to participate fully. That should be the message to the San Francisco BART directors. San Francisco taxpayers are tired of subsidizing San Mateo County taxpayers. Present any general obligation bond to all five of the counties, not just Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco.

Taxpayers should also know of an obscure but separate taxpayer- supported transportation entity, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (“WETA”). Ever hear of it? I didn’t think so. It was calculatingly established after I departed the State Senate in 1998 at the instigation of the developer of a project on Alameda Island to enhance selling points for his condominiums. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, having repaid its original bonds, went into the transportation business in the late 1960s, not just with buses, but by buying ferry boats, thereby requiring the continuation, and steady increase, of tolls to subsidize passengers.

Ferry boat transportation represents a glittering reminder of times preceding the 1936 opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but requires tremendous subsidization by toll payers and taxpayers. After many years, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District began to recover about half of the ferry service expenses from fares (commonly called “fare box recovery ratio”). Except for the Vallejo ferry service (54% fare box recovery), other such services from the East Bay have either failed completely (Richmond and Berkeley after the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake) or consumed enormous amounts of taxpayer subsidy. By comparison, the Alameda/Oakland ferry operates with a 56% fare box recovery rate, but the Harbor Bay service is still struggling, only showing a 40% fare box recovery rate. The South San Francisco ferry service however, which never should have begun after major South San Francisco employers like Genentech declined to participate monetarily, after three years still requires 86% of its operating costs from taxpayer subsidies, a 14% fare box recovery ratio, according to its fiscal year 2014-15 budget. In that same budget, $275,000 will be spent on the South San Francisco terminal (at Oyster Point) “Mitigation Study,” whatever that means.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission was established by the Legislature in 1969 as the planning and programming agency for all Bay Area transportation operators. No sound reason exists for allowing the (“WETA”) to exist, with its multimillion dollar administrative budget from federal funds, state funds, even bridge toll revenues, other local funds, and fare box income to the tune of over of over $2,252,000, plus the tax subsidies of over $22,660,000 for riders. Wouldn’t it be nice to see one governmental entity eliminated in the Bay Area? Don’t hold your breath.

Expanding ferry boat service willy-nilly, as advocated in an article last month by the president of the Bay Area Council, comprising large Bay Area corporations, constitutes a foolish way to put taxpayers in more debt and extract more money from them. Commuting by ferry is an acquired taste which needs temperate encouragement, not reckless throwing of money at it which occurred with tolls from the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District from the 19780s until the early 1990s, or the Berkeley and Richmond services which simply shut down for insolvency. It must be done carefully, slowly and under the rubric of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, not another unneeded bureaucracy.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

May 2015

In September 1952, Adlai E. Stevenson, then governor of Illinois and Democratic Party candidate for president of the United States against retired General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, stated at the Los Angeles Town Club: “Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensible to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.”

That may explain polling results, which show dwindling faith in the federal government, whether it’s the 40% or so who think President Obama executes his responsibilities laudably, or the 11% or so who evoke favorable reviews of the Congress. Similar poll statistics evolve from voter surveys about the state legislature, although Governor Jerry Brown, whose loss of his beloved older sister Cynthia Brown Kelly of Magellan Avenue saddened all who knew her, receives majority approval.

Shame on Schwarzenegger and Nunez for abusing the power of their offices to prove to the (victim’s) family that there is one system of justice for the rich and powerful and another for everyone else.”

One example of why we disrespect public officials is Vice President Joe Biden, a favorite target of conservative radio and television commentators. In her October 23, 2014 column, New York Post writer Michelle Malkin observer about Biden’s youngest son: “Everything you need to know about Beltway nepotism, corporate cronyism and corruption can be found in the biography of Robert Hunter Biden…” who made news last week after The Wall Street Journal revealed he’d been booted from the Naval Reserve for cocaine use. His drug abuse was certainly no surprise to the Navy, which issued him a waiver for a previous drug offense before commissioning him as a public affairs officer at the age of 43.

Despite the disgraceful ejection from our military, Hunter’s Connecticut law license won’t be subject to automatic review. Because, well, Biden!

Or, let me remind you of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger distorting and disgracing our criminal justice system in 2010 before they left office. Nunez’ son was convicted of killing Luis Santos in San Diego County in 2008. Schwarzenegger, the Republican flash, commuted young Nunez’ state prison sentence to but two years, leading Kern County’s public defender to allow that the story “leaves me sick” and a Los Angeles Times reader to disclaim: “Shame on Schwarzenegger and Nunez for abusing the power of their offices to prove to the (victim’s) family that there is one system of justice for the rich and powerful and another for everyone else.”

Meanwhile, an erstwhile San Francisco District Attorney, now California Attorney General but looking for the more powerful pasture of the U.S. Senate, Kamala Harris, falsely accused an impeccable professional United States Attorney (Melinda Haag) of “unethical tactics” and “bias” while representing as a private attorney (without charging a fee) an accused murderer in Los Angeles County in 2006. Late last month in an appellate court document Harris, a sworn officer of the court, admitted her accusation had been “improvidently filed” and her “spokeswoman” (don’t you love these taxpayer-supported shields of elected public officials?) refused to explain while Harris uttered no apology to a genuinely non-political prosecutor, the only one in San Francisco.

Another example is the current local district attorney, George Gascon, former police chief and lawyer, who’s never tried a criminal case in any court, but whose appointment served the interests of this mayor, former mayor Willie Brown, and Chinatown’s vituperative Rose Pak, the puppet-mistress. After revelations of misconduct by deputies at the County Jail (encouraging inmate fist-fights), police officers exchanging racist and homophobic e-mails, and police department laboratory personnel failing DNA testing, the putative DA, seeking re-election this November, proclaims formation of a “task force” to investigate such allegations. He wants to upstage our Police Chief, Greg Suhr, whose Internal Affairs operation had already begun probing the e-mail episodes. A retired policeman and ex-police union president appropriately characterized Gascon “an ambitious lunatic.” It’s common knowledge at the Hall of Justice that the Public Defender’s Office, led by St. Francis Woods resident Jeff Adachi, runs circles around Gascon’s office in criminal cases. Gascon’s election year foray represents another abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Finally, amidst all the staged agitation nationally, regionally and locally by the usual forces of victimhood over tragic shootings of blacks from New York City to California by mostly white police officers, no attention is bestowed on a study published online in the Journal of Experimental Criminology on May 22, 2014. Interviewing over 300 police officers, the academic researchers found the cops felt more threatened by black men but were less likely to shoot black or female suspects than white or Hispanic suspects. One researcher, a University of Missouri at Saint Louis professor, David Klinger, stated: “I’ve had multiple officers tell me they were worried in the wake of a shooting because they shot a black person, and I’ve had multiple officers tell me that they were glad the person they shot was white, because then they knew that weren’t going to have to be subjected to the racial harangue.” That study demonstrates just the opposite of racial bias, but did you ever read or hear of it in San Francisco or Oakland? Heck, no!

Finally, let’s extol City Attorney Dennis Herrera for suing, for money, Port Commission member Mel Murphy who allegedly, while a Building Inspection Commission member, violated multiple City ordinances on three different parcels and committed fraud with respect to permits and other official documents. Maybe there is a beam of integrity in City Hall. Let’s call it “Herrera integrity” and venerate it as a beacon of repentance for Biden, Harris, Gascon and Murphy.

April 2015

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) published in 1893 The Kingdom of God Is Within You. He observed: “The good cannot seize power, nor retain it; to do this, men must love power. And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but quite consistent with the very opposite qualities –pride, cunning, cruelty.”

Last month, I mentioned the continuing financial craftiness of Board of Supervisors members who, with easy acquiescence from the Mayor since 2012, have controlled directing $1,100,000 of tax receipts within his/her district to chosen entities or persons. You won’t find that $1,100,000 in the Board of Supervisors budget itself. Instead, my inquiries reveal the Supervisors appropriate such money to themselves through the Controller’s Office! That facilitates political support from constituents associated with various activities to which each supervisor distributes our taxpayer money. It’s not quite the practice of New York’s legendary Boss Tweed, but it’ll do as an approximation. The Supervisors in their role as the 11-member governing board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority also have effectually doubled the ante with another $100,000 for each supervisor to direct under the rubric of “neighborhood-based transportation planning.” You won’t find that money in the Board of Supervisors budget either. Not a whisper about such obvious Board maneuvering arises from a complacent local media or elected holders of the public trust.

... a charter amendment introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener to decrease voter ability to qualify an initiative for the ballot. It requires voters to present any proposed initiative to the Board of Supervisors before collecting signatures. It increases the number of citizen signatures to qualify an initiative.”

Additionally, the BART Board of Directors on February 12 countenanced lawlessness by adopting a motion requesting the Alameda County District Attorney cease any effort to recover $70,000 taxpayer/fare-payer damages stemming from a November 28, 2014 closure of most of the BART system by 14 lawbreakers previously charged by the District Attorney with criminal trespassing on BART property. The law enables any crime victim to recover damages arising from criminal conduct as part of the criminal case prosecution. BART estimates it lost approximately $70,000 in revenue on November 28, 2014 from such unlawful conduct. Yet, five directors voted to abandon damage recovery; two of the four who voted “no” did so only because they wanted to instruct the District Attorney to dismiss all cases entirely! Yes, “love of power is inconsistent with goodness.”

Meanwhile, the Chronicle and it’s readers flagellate Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for instructing church school teachers to follow church doctrine publicly. I’m not Catholic, but I do understand the United States and California constitutional doctrines of separation of church and state. Eight California legislators and a couple or more San Francisco Supervisors have publicly criticized and issued demands on Archbishop Cordileone, manifestly symbolizing government intrusion in religious affairs. If the Archbishop’s execution of his responsibilities offends the beliefs, religious or otherwise, of these intrusive legislators, I recommend they reread the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article XVI, Section 4 of the California Constitution. Our nation and state were founded on separation of state and religion.

I alert readers to a charter amendment introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener to decrease voter ability to qualify an initiative for the ballot. It requires voters to present any proposed initiative to the Board of Supervisors before collecting signatures. It increases the number of citizen signatures to qualify an initiative. The California Constitution and our City Charter require 5% of voters in the last gubernatorial election or San Francisco mayoral election to sign, and thus qualify, an initiative for placement on the ballot. Wiener concocts his own formula from voter registration figures. Henceforth, initiative efforts to limit campaign contributions, increase governmental transparency or protect our waterfront from unnatural high rise development of luxury condominiums, sports arenas, and the like would be limited. Wiener will undoubtedly persuade power-loving colleagues to present his anti-democratic measure to November 2015 voters; I invite all readers to join efforts to stop the silencing of voters by voting “No” on Wiener’s sly scheme this November.

Lastly, let’s burst a professional football balloon. As founder and chairman of the Bay Area committee which secured the 1985 Super Bowl at Stanford Stadium, I claim modest credentials to forecast taxpayer subsidies in Santa Clara County for the February 2016 Super Bowl at the 49ers stadium there. In 1985, my committee raised privately and spent but $175,000 to sponsor that Super Bowl. The National Football League paid for night lights at Stanford Stadium and other expenses. An economic study thereafter estimated about $116,000,000 of visitor spending before and after the game. In 2008, the small city of Glendale, Arizona lost more than $1,000,000 from Super Bowl XLII. Glendale’s mayor predicted this year Glendale would lose more than $3,000,000 in taxpayer money on the 2015 game. It lost more. All that glitters is not gold in contemporary America, which Santa Clara will find true next year.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

March 2015

Carl Bernstein is a longtime journalist, known for collaboration with Bob Woodward in the Washington Post in 1973 and 1974 to expose Richard M. Nixon’s shoddy conduct in the 1972 presidential campaign with White House staff which the media dubbed “Watergate.” Bernstein was quoted last year in The Dartmouth Review writing this truism:

“We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.”

Hybrid and electric car usage has also caused declining revenue for the building and maintenance of roads. You don’t pay for roads from income, sales, or property taxation; it’s illogical to abandon a proven user fee. With surprise and approval, I thus note two Republican Congressmen have proposed consideration this year of increasing the federal gas tax. The state legislature must also act. Both should include bicyclists who use the gas tax products (roads, streets, and even highways), but pay no fee. Our battered streets and highways need repair and augmentation now.”

Proof of Bernstein’s observation exists across our Bay Area tableau. The University of California Bears graduation rate for football players is the lowest among all National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I institutions. Other Bears athletic team graduation rates are mainly in the lower tier nationally. The Board of Regents last month considered imposition by U.C. President Janet Napolitano, ex-Arizona governor and federal Homeland Security director, of new team eligibility requirements based on higher grades. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor demanded even better academic performance and graduation results. Ultimately, elevated standards were postponed indefinitely, but not before a regent named Eddie Ireland declared openly: “A college degree is not the goal of every athlete who comes to the university.” I kid you not! That’s an ignoramus’ manner of disregarding the taxpayer subsidy of Cal football players and other university athletes. Does the University of California purpose include financing future members of professional sports teams? And remember, regents such as Ireland are gubernatorial appointees for 12-year terms. Pity the taxpayers.

In July 2012, the Board of Supervisors and mayor combined to add over $1,000,000 to the 2012-13 San Francisco Budget Ordinance to enable each of 11 supervisors to distribute $100,000 within his/her district. Thereafter, for example, Supervisor Mark Farrell conferred tax money upon a treasure hunt at Aquatic Park! Each fiscal year since 2012-13, the practice has continued. Former Board member and president Aaron Peskin, who will run again in North Beach and Telegraph Hill this November, stated in 2013: “It is the most preposterous piece of public policy…giving themselves $100,000 to hand out in little tidbits to buy political support? It’s like a TV game show.”

These same supervisors are paid over $100,000 annually without voter approval needed. Moreover, they receive compensation from membership on a plethora of regional and local government boards, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation Agency, the Peninsula Rail Corridor Joint Powers Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Maintenance District, the California Coastal Commission, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and the Transbay Terminal Authority. They qualify for the City’s Health Service System and Retirement System. And they call it “public service” to induce taxpayers to believe elected officials are somehow sacrificing themselves for all San Franciscans. A favorite term of City Hall figures is “political family,” which evidently begins with City Hall and operates like family members who protect each other. It’s supposed to convey togetherness. Maybe it does, but it surely doesn’t include taxpayers. Others rightly label it the “political class.” These days, district supervisors represent only about 75,000 people, unlike citywide supervisors of yore. Yet they drew voters a decade ago into granting them a third aide at up to $100,412 per year; and I defy you to telephone a supervisor’s office and be greeted by any human being, let alone a living supervisor.

My last example of the accuracy of Carl Bernstein’s observation is the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)’s impending surrender of $70,000 in taxpayer and fare payer money. Last November 28th (Black Friday) the BART system was unlawfully forced to close by protesters of events in Missouri and New York. Police arrested 14 lawbreakers. BART asked the Alameda County District Attorney (Nancy O’Malley) to recover its damages ($70,000) as restitution in the criminal prosecutions. Left wing demonstrators demanded BART dismiss such claims. Last month BART director Rebecca Saltzman introduced a motion to do that, seconded, of course, by San Francisco director Tom Radulovich. BART’s board will vote on the motion February 12. It will tell the Alameda County prosecutor to forget our $70,000 in costs and damages. Such stupidity will thus invite more law-breaking and BART closures in this era of the “idiot culture.”

A Los Angeles Congresswoman (Janice Hahn) last December declared that an alternative to the gasoline tax, namely a tax on miles driven, should be considered. I agree. The gasoline tax constitutes a user fee. Many people don’t realize that commencing in 1922, California’s highways, freeways, county roads, and city streets were funded from national and state gasoline tax revenue. The federal rate hasn’t been changed since 1996; the state’s hasn’t since 1994. Current politicians are afraid to increase gasoline taxation because most lack knowledge of history. They look for legislative “gimmicks” (usually borrowing through bonds) to avoid a user fee increase. Hybrid and electric car usage has also caused declining revenue for the building and maintenance of roads. You don’t pay for roads from income, sales, or property taxation; it’s illogical to abandon a proven user fee. With surprise and approval, I thus note two Republican Congressmen have proposed consideration this year of increasing the federal gas tax. The state legislature must also act. Both should include bicyclists who use the gas tax products (roads, streets, and even highways), but pay no fee. Our battered streets and highways need repair and augmentation now.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

February 2015

It seems always appropriate (and even inviting) at the end of a calendar year to reflect on vagaries. One of those vagaries is the monopoly possessed by Recology, Inc. on San Francisco’s garbage collection and recycling service. In my decades of public office and private experience, I know of no other major city not utilizing competitive bidding for such major local responsibility. Once upon a time, a garbage monopoly could be “sold” to captive customers as a genuine small, locally-owned and operated business. That can’t be done now, and no better example of why it can’t be done now was presented last month in Daly City. While it excoriates any effort to open San Francisco garbage collection and recycling to competitive bidding, Recology, Inc. bids competitively throughout the nation and specifically in California, including, most recently, Daly City. There, the City Council on November 21, after reviewing intensively bids from two other companies and Recology, Inc., voted 4-1 to reject the City Manager’s recommendation of Recology, Inc. (perhaps influenced by her former Public Utilities Commission managerial position in San Francisco) and awarded a 15-year contract to a Recology, Inc. competitor. The City Council did so despite concerted lobbying efforts of such San Francisco political hotshots as Willie Brown, John Burton, and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, together with Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Instead of utilizing their political positions to ensure a favorable (to Recology, Inc.) City Council vote, our political luminaries offended at least four of the five council members with their meddling.

Meanwhile, a whistleblowing former em-ployee lawsuit against Recology, Inc. in San Francisco Superior Court for cheating San Francisco and California taxpayers in recycling activity, which resulted in a $1,800,000 jury verdict last July in San Francisco Superior Court against Recology, Inc. and for the benefit of taxpayers, continues. The trial judge granted Recology, Inc.’s. post-trial motion to set aside such verdict, a highly unexpected act after a tedious four-week trial.”

Meanwhile, a whistleblowing former employee lawsuit against Recology, Inc. in San Francisco Superior Court for cheating San Francisco and California taxpayers in recycling activity, which resulted in a $1,800,000 jury verdict last July in San Francisco Superior Court against Recology, Inc. and for the benefit of taxpayers, continues. The trial judge granted Recology, Inc.’s. post-trial motion to set aside such verdict, a highly unexpected act after a tedious four-week trial. The whistleblower, who was fired by Recology, Inc. after reporting such cheating to the Brisbane Police Department, has appealed that court order, and his wrongful termination case proceeds to trial against Recology, Inc. next month in San Francisco Superior Court. Recology, Inc.’s obvious hypocrisy in preventing competitive bidding in San Francisco while participating in it elsewhere should be lesson one in any Good Government course.

Meanwhile, the Bay Area Toll Authority, composed of no Bay Area public officials of whom you’ve ever heard, announced its plan to build a bicycle lane on the Bay Bridge from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco at a cost of approximately $500,000,000! We know the new eastern bridge span has cost about $6,500,000,000, approximately $5,500,000,000 more than its 1997 estimated cost before Oakland’s then-Mayor (Jerry Brown) and San Francisco’s (Willie Brown) caused lengthy delays on construction commencement, and subsequent Chinese-supplied (and flawed) steel was added to costs. Included in the bill to tollpayers and California taxpayers in general was an expenditure of over $100,000,000 for a bicycle lane from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island. We know bicyclists pay no registration or license fees, unlike motorists and truckers. Their exclusive lanes and the roads and streets they use are provided by motorists and truckers through gasoline taxation. Although the Toll Authority identified no source of the proposed $500,000,000 new bicycle lane on the western span, it revealed it was paying a “consultant” $10,000,000 to speculate on financial sources for (1) an additional $10,000,000 to comply with the California Environmental Quality Control Act and (2) the chimerical $500,000,000 for construction. Upon its 1936 opening, Bay Bridge tollpayers were promised tolls would cease once bonds for construction were fully repaid. Ha! Ha! Tolls on the Bay Bridge were raised over 15 years ago to furnish approximately half the money (with State gasoline tax revenue providing the other half) to build the new eastern span. Now the Toll Authority embarks upon a bicycle project, which, I fearlessly predict, will trigger higher tolls within three years.

The last transportation item to contemplate is the revelation last month that the Peninsula Joint Powers Board (that is, Caltrain) electrification project is already $200,000,000 over its original budget, with anticipated completion more than a year behind schedule. The electrification cost was originally fixed as $1,200,000,000. It’s now about $1,500,000,000, of which some $750,000,000 is supposed to emanate from the California High-Speed Rail general obligation bond of $9,000,000,000 approved by California voters (for high-speed rail, not Caltrain) in 2008. There’s a problem, however: Caltrain’s Environmental Impact Report on such electrification uses the present San Francisco Caltrain station at Fourth and King Streets as the San Francisco terminal. The always-grasping Transbay Terminal Joint Powers Authority uses its pending First and Mission Streets dream as its San Francisco terminal, having already obtained and presumably spent $400,000,000 from President Obama’s vaunted 2009 stimulus bill to dig a big hole in the ground, which may resemble that infamous Alaskan “bridge to nowhere.”

Now, let’s apply ourselves to the happier notions of Hanukkah, Christmas, and a New Year called 2015. I wish all readers and their families, AND our esteemed publisher, Mitch Bull, a healthy and joyous celebration of those respective events.

In that same vein, let’s convey warm best wishes and congratulations to B’nai Emunah in the Outer Sunset District upon its 65th anniversary, replete this month with special dinners, religious services, entertainment, and parties, parties, parties!

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7 x

December 2014

In the aftermath of last month’s local, state, and federal elections, I began to read a remarkably insightful book by a Fordham Law School professor (Zephyr Teachout) entitled Corruption in America. (I purchased it from our wonderful West Portal Bookstore.) Corruption in the years of the founding of our Republic and promulgation of the United States Constitution was considered in a more stalwart manner than contemporary law, society, and politics have transformed it today. Of the same genre is a 2013 book by Peter Schweizer, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, entitled Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, And Line Their Own Pockets. (It’s also available at the West Portal Bookstore).

…today in an era in which independent expenditure committees and newly-minted billionaires in San Francisco, in California and throughout the United States flood our mailboxes, televisions, radios, and internet with their propaganda.

In September, a former Virginia Governor (Robert McDonnell) was convicted after several weeks of trial of extortion, based upon expensive gifts and even cash loans from a businessman. The prosecution convinced the jury that the Governor bestowed benefits upon the businessman, such as hosting benefits for him at the Governor’s Mansion to extol the business in return for the businessman’s largesse. Under the law, the prosecution was required to establish a specific relationship between the cash loans and expensive gifts to the Governor on the one hand, and the Governor’s deed for the businessman on the other hand. That was not always the rule in American law. As Professor Teachout reminds us, the United States Supreme Court in 1991 reversed the criminal conviction of a West Virginia legislator seeking campaign contributions in return for introducing a bill on the ground the legislator’s receipt of money was not “made in return for an ‘explicit promise’ to do (or not do) an official act.” The legal standard now renders it much more difficult in every state and county to prosecute a public official for corruption.

That wasn’t the case in 1787. Article I, Section 8 if the Constitution of the United States declares explicitly: “no Person holding any office for profit or trust…shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Why? In 1785, two years prior, the French King Louis XVI conferred a diamond-studded snuffbox containing the King’s portrait on Benjamin Franklin upon conclusion of Franklin’s service as our Ambassador to France. Public indignation ensued. Professor Teachout observes the public was indignant despite the fact that Franklin was not a member of the Continental Congress and had not granted any monetary or non-monetary favors to King Louis XVI or France. A corrupt intention was not necessary to finding a public official’s independence had been weakened or annulled. The mere gift riled the populace. Constitutional Convention Delegate George Mason of Virginia declared at the 1787 Constitutional Convention: ”If we do not provide against corruption, our government will soon be at an end.” That’s not merely a truism; it remains a reflection of human behavior today in an era in which independent expenditure committees and newly-minted billionaires in San Francisco, in California and throughout the United States flood our mailboxes, televisions, radios, and internet with their propaganda. Particularly searing local examples were the attacks upon Supervisor David Campos, for not voting to impeach the Sheriff in 2011, to secure his opponent’s election to the California Assembly, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to subvert Proposition H.

Professor Teachout details the development of lobbying in the United States. Paying lobbyists was prohibited or declared contractually void in state constitutions and appellate court decisions in the 19th Century. An 1874 U.S. Supreme Court opinion regarding lobbying stated: “If any of the great corporations of the country were to hire adventurers who make market of themselves in this way, to procure the passage of a general law with a view to the promotion of their private interest, the moral sense of every right-minded man would instinctively denounce the employer and the employed as steeped in corruption …” That changed. Commencing in 1890, state legislators enacted lobbyist-registration statutes. Lobbying contracts were enforced by courts from 1927 to the present. Two U.S. Supreme Court cases in 1946 characterized lobbying as free speech.

In 1974, as a Board of Supervisors member, I successfully secured passage of an ordinance establishing campaign expenditure limits for Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. For Mayor, it was approximately $121,000; for a Board of Supervisors campaign (at-large, not by district), it was approximately $46,000. That ordinance applied to the 1975 mayoral and supervisorial campaigns and would probably endure to this day with limits increased by the cost of living index increases for San Francisco. In 1976, however, the United States Supreme Court invalidated a New York state campaign expenditure limit law, asserting it violated First Amendment free speech rights. Since then “reforming” campaign spending has been a losing proposition with failed experiments, including taxpayer financing, which provide work for lawyers, accountants, and other specialists, but no respite for the body politic or our republic (or city). My 1974 ordinance was, thus, invalidated by the United States Supreme Court decision. The law now allows only a limit on contributions, not on expenditures, and permits “independent” expenditures of the sort witnessed in last month’s elections. As Professor Teachout asserts, citizens must reassert what she calls the “anti-corruption principle” of public officials honoring civic welfare, not just private interests.

I’m reminded of that in the recent campaign for the BART Board of Directors. One candidate, the 24-year incumbent, was a Republican; the other a Democrat. Nevertheless, the Republican was endorsed and supported in glaring ads by such Democratic luminaries as House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and even California Democratic Party Chairman John L. Burton. The answer can be found in campaign contribution records since 1999, demonstrating the incumbent’s family contributions to such Democratic worthies, including even Democratic presidential candidates. It is, therefore, easier to understand why the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee voted “no endorsement” in such election, thus showing a lack of integrity in committee endorsements. Perhaps a future president can use the “bully pulpit” to restore the values and principles of the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention where James Madison declaimed: “Are we not struck at seeing the luxury and venality which has already crept among us?”

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

November 2014

Having last month recommended, convincingly or otherwise, positions on the 12 San Francisco ballot measures confronting voting readers on November 4, 2014, I now pronounce judgment on the six California propositions designed to improve life for all citizens, if not elected public officials. Of the six State measures, three constitute voter (or special interest) initiatives, one is a State general obligation bond issue inspired chiefly by the Governor and massaged by industry, environmental, and governmental entities, one constitutes a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature, and one is a bona fide referendum from various gambling and other special interests. (Contrary to most media reporters and analysts lacking language integrity, a referendum represents submittal to popular vote of a statute passed by the Legislature, while an initiative represents a procedure enabling a specified number of voters by petition to propose a law for approval by the electorate.)

To reiterate, on San Francisco ballot measures, I recommend as follows:

Proposition A: No

Proposition B: No

Proposition C: No

Proposition D: Yes

Proposition E: Yes

Proposition F: Yes

Proposition G: No

Proposition H: A big “YES”

Proposition I: An even bigger “NO” to another City Hall trick upon voters

Proposition J: Yes

Proposition K: No

Proposition L: Yes

Proposition 1, the State general obligation bond proposal, asks voters to approve $7,500,000,000 of indebtedness to build structures and facilities improving Californians’ access to water, whether for drinking, bathing, growing crops, fishing, boating, drilling, or otherwise. A general obligation bond represents borrowing money and repaying it with interest. Assuming a 30-year loan at about 3.5% interest, Californians will repay the $7,500,000,000 bond with accumulating interest of at least another $8,000,000,000. Is it worth it? I think so. Included in purposes for which bond proceeds will be spent are construction of reservoirs, thus holding water otherwise escaping to the sea or elsewhere because of insufficient containment facilities. Proposition 1 arises from a compromise between California interests who need water, including local governments, farmers, and industrial entities. I’m voting for it without hesitation.

Proposition 2 is arcane. Don’t try to read the text—your eyes and mind will rebel. It requires annual transfer of revenue from California’s general fund to a “budget stabilization account.” Half the money will be allocated to repay state debt, and the remainder will be spent only on emergencies or prospective budget deficits. It will also cause smaller local reserves for some school districts, but on the whole, it requires expenditure of a minimum amount each year to pay pension and retiree health benefit debts and local government and state debts. A minimum of $800,000,000 annually must be spent for repayment of existing state debts (the law requires no such payment presently) and if capital gains tax revenues are high, $2,000,000,000 must be applied to repay state debts annually. Proposition 2 enhances state fiscal responsibility, which is my goal in supporting it. Vote yes on Proposition 2.

Proposition 45 constitutes an initiative spawned by a consumer group in Southern California. It grants the California Insurance Commissioner power for the first time to approve (or disapprove) health insurance premiums, just as the Commissioner has done since 1988 with automobile and homeowner premiums. It also prohibits health, automobile, and homeowner insurance companies from setting premiums based on lack of prior coverage or credit history. California’s present Insurance Commissioner is extremely partial to the insured (and plaintiffs’ tort lawyers). One wants to believe he and successors will administer the Proposition 45 power fairly. I’m willing to do that, having never understood why the sponsors of the 1988 initiative which conferred such power regarding automobile insurance premiums on the Commissioner didn’t include health insurance at that time. Proposition 45 is opposed by health insurers, the California Chamber of Commerce, and insurance defense lawyers, because it does bestow much power over health insurance premiums and benefits to an elected Insurance Commissioner. (I tried unsuccessfully as a State Senator to effectuate repeal of the 1988 constitutional initiative clause which made the Insurance Commissioner an elected office, rather than appointed by the Governor.) On balance, I believe Proposition 45 is justified, despite possible political overlay.

Proposition 46 should have been a simple initiative to amend the 1975 legislative statute which established a maximum of $250,000 in a medical malpractice suit for general damages, commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.” Proposition 46 should have merely adjusted the $250,000 for inflation, the cost of living index change since 1975. Proposition 46’s sponsors have tried three times to persuade the Legislature to do so, without success, and have unsuccessfully challenged the $250,000 limitation in the courts, but, for reasons known to Proposition 46’s sponsors, the initiative includes a detailed provision about drug and alcohol testing of doctors and requires doctors to report any other doctor suspected of drug or alcohol addiction, claiming that numerous doctors have caused deaths and injuries to patients because of their own drug or alcohol addiction. Sure, pilots, bus drivers, and some other vocations must submit to random drug testing, but that problem, assuming it exists, should have been addressed in a specific proposal to the Legislature, not tied to increasing the $250,000 limitation on medical malpractice pain and suffering damages. I represented victims of medical negligence as a lawyer, and I sympathize with such lawyers and their clients’ frustration with that general damage limitation, but I must vote against Proposition 46 because it’s an unnecessary attack on the integrity of medical doctors, intended as a guise for the unfair damage limit.

Proposition 47 is anything but “The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Tax.” As the California District Attorneys Association points out, it “unfairly misleads the public into believing that the Act will strengthen criminal laws to protect neighborhoods and schools.” It does the opposite. It reduces a plethora of crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It allows release of imprisoned felons with serious or violent criminal records. It ignores the costs of its provisions and costs of recidivism to our cities and counties. It changes the burden of proof on resentencing convicted criminals; it requires a judge to resentence an imprisoned convict unless the convict is found to pose “an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.” Currently, under the 2012 revision of the so-called “three strikes” law, a convict can be resentenced as a “second strike” offender if the convict’s “third strike” was nonviolent and non-serious, and the convict, through his lawyer, must bear the burden of so proving. Proposition 47 switches the burden from the convict to the prosecution and lessens judges’ exercise of discretion. It also allows a convict who has completed a felony sentence that would be a misdemeanor under Proposition 47 to file a written application to have the felony designated as a misdemeanor without a court hearing, which violates the victim’s constitutional right to be present in court and be heard by a judge. Theft of most handguns will become a misdemeanor under Proposition 47. It’s no wonder district attorneys and police chiefs oppose Proposition 47. I’m voting “no.”

Proposition 48 would override a bill passed by the Legislature in June 2013 allowing gambling for the North Fork Rancheria (Mono Indians) and the Wiyot tribe and exempted certain gambling projects from the California Environmental Quality Act. I have always opposed gambling legalization in California, beginning with the state lottery in 1985. California voters in 2000, however, amended the California Constitution to allow Indian tribes to operate slot machines, card games, and lottery games. Proposition 48 entitles the North Fork tribe to build a casino in Madera County and introduce gambling, not on tribal lands, but also off of reservations. I say a “pox on all their houses.” It’s a fiction that gambling improves the lives of California’s American Indians. It doesn’t. It’s a sham for the benefit of casino professionals. (There are presently more than 60 casinos in California.) I’m voting “no” on Proposition 48; I hope you’ll do so, too.

I’m only genuinely interested in a couple of statewide candidates because most of the races are one-sided. I don’t know him, but I think Pete Peterson would be a responsible Secretary of State. He will not use the office as a stepping stone for some other office. I also believe strongly that Marshall Tuck should be elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, a non-partisan office. He’s not a captive of the California Teachers Association and he’s a leader in establishing nine successful public charter schools in Los Angeles’ most difficult neighborhoods, increasing graduation rates by 60%.

If you’re in that Assembly district, please vote for David Campos for the Assembly. Be sure to vote for Nick Josefowitz for the BART Board of Directors, so we can benefit from a vibrant, conscientious, honest businessman instead of a 24-year incumbent who leaves the meeting room to avoid controversial votes after participating in the unions’ picket line during last year’s strike against BART, which left tens of thousands of San Franciscans high and dry. Finally, I recommend Daniel Flores, Esquire unreservedly for San Francisco Superior Court. He is an experienced trial lawyer; his opponent is not, as noted by the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7.

October 2014

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.” That’s attributed to the English author, George Eliot, in a book first published in 1866. Or, as an anonymous wit decried in a manner certainly attributable to contemporary America, “The cheapest way to have your family tree traced is to run for public office.” With that foundation, I fearlessly approach the November 4 Municipal Election, containing 12 ballot measures. One is an extremely expensive General Obligation Bond issue, three are proposed Charter Amendments, six are proposed ordinances and two are non-binding Declarations of Policy. Since absentee voting commences on October 3, 2014, I carefully furnish my recommendations and the reasons therefor.

In 55 years of reading general obligation bond measures, City and State, I’ve never seen a vaguer measure. ‘Nuff said'.”

Proposition A was submitted by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor. It constitutes a $500,000,000 borrowing by taxpayers, if approved by two thirds of votes cast November 4. With interest over the 30-year life of the proposed bonds, at a likely 3.50% interest rate, taxpayers will pay $17,500,000 annually in interest or $525,000,000 over the life of the bonds, thus costing about $1,000,000,000! For what? Read the ballot measure and you still won’t know. Buried in the gobblygook is a statement that said bond proceeds will be spent on an undefined S.F.M.T.A. “Transit Effectiveness Project” not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act because Proposition A constitutes “Establishment of a governmental financing mechanism that does not involve any commitment to specific projects to be constructed with bond funds …”! Proposition A merely proclaims that a portion of bond proceeds “may” be applied “to constructing improvements,… that will improve Muni service reliability and reduce travel time on Muni.” It declares that a “portion” (without specifying any amount) may be allocated “to deliver pedestrian safety improvements at locations throughout the city where the majority of pedestrian injuries and fatalities occur.” City Hall doesn’t build anymore; it “delivers.” Voters and taxpayers are not informed of location of any such expenditure. Proposition A further declares that an unspecified portion of bond proceeds “may be allocated to more effectively manage traffic congestion…, improve the overall reliability of the transit system and improve pedestrian safety by replacing obsolete and deteriorating signal infrastructure.” Again, no identification of cost, amount or location of improvements is specified. Proposition A states: “ A portion of the Bond may be allocated to fund the City’s share of needed improvements to CalTrain’s infrastructure.” CalTrain is the Peninsula commute rail system, used by few San Franciscans. Santa Clara and San Mateo County residents comprise about 88% of its ridership, but Atherton, Hillsborough, Palo Alto and Woodside property owners won’t defray this $1,000,000,000 bond issue’s cost.

In other words, Proposition A represents a “blank check” to city bureaucrats. It mentions a “citizens’ oversight committee;” it doesn’t, however, establish one. It weighs undefined administrative code time requirements. It contains no specific purpose, contrary to the California Government Code, and is probably vulnerable to legal challenge. Contrary to City Hall assurance, it contains no prohibition against selling the bond before a comparable amount of General Obligation bonds are repaid by taxpayers. If you’re a tenant, don’t think you’ll receive a “free ride” if A passes. The ballot measure requires half the principal with interest to be repaid by tenants! In 55 years of reading general obligation bond measures, City and State, I’ve never seen a vaguer measure. ‘Nuff said.

Proposition B amends our Charter by increasing Muni funding as population increases. It’s another example of diminishing the City’s General Fund by automatically taking money for a special purpose. The aim may be noble; the method constitutes a common bane of responsible governance. I’m voting against it.

Proposition C amends the Charter to prolong another bit of special funding called the “Children’s Fund.” The same pernicious policy exemplified in Proposition B impels my vote against C.

Proposition D provides health benefits for former Redevelopment Agency employees who were discharged after Redevelopment Agencies were eliminated by Governor Brown and the Legislature. It probably adds a slight amount of unfunded health liability for future taxpayers. I’m still inclined to vote for it.

Proposition E imposes a tax on “sugar-sweetened” soft drinks. Battling over E are “nanny government” lovers and the giant corporate makers of beverages which sensible people eschew. The blustering tactics of the soft drink industry are repulsive. Their paid political operatives have figuratively bought endorsements from bastions of “progressivism” (whatever that word means), while virtuous would-be dictators of proper food and drink ingestion minimize the financial effect on low-income consumers. I’ll vote for Prop E while risking slanderous accusation as a “nanny” because I’m offended by corporate opposition tactics.

Proposition F arises from successful enactment last June of Proposition B, requiring voter approval of any project which exceeds existing waterfront height limits. Pier 70 comprises a conglomeration of dilapidated structures and emptiness, except for one existing building 90 feet high. Forest City, Inc. will build 300 housing units, public parks, office space and retail stores. Forest City needs voter approval for any structure exceeding the current 40-foot limit, while planning to build no higher than the current 90-foot structure, which will be retained as a historical landmark. I strongly support that project; so do all the other initiators of last June’s Proposition B. I know of no opposition!

Proposition G proposes an additional transfer tax on residential property, with minor price exceptions, sold within five years of its purchase. Put on the ballot only because of a Charter provision, which allows four supervisors to submit an initiative to voters, it avoided, for example, the arduous voter approval represented by Proposition H. Proposition G was submitted by Supervisors Avalos, Campos, Kim and Mar. The transfer tax has always lacked logic in my strong view. I opposed the original transfer tax as a Supervisor in the 1980’s. If government wants to charge a fee for servicing the transfer of real estate, charge the amount of money it costs to process a real estate transaction, not an arbitrary tax. Why shouldn’t people possess the right to buy and sell real estate with all of the transactional cost without government demanding a tax? Proposition G attempts to punish people who buy and sell residential property as a business. That’s not justified. I’ll vote “No.”

Proposition H constitutes a true citizen initiative, qualifying for the ballot with about 15,000 voters signing a measure circulated by volunteers West of Twin Peaks and elsewhere. Proposition H stops violations of law, namely the assiduously-promulgated Golden Gate Park Master Plan and the Western Shoreline Area Plan. Both were scrupulously adopted to protect natural values at the western end of Golden Gate Park by requiring the city to maintain all athletic fields therein as natural grass and barring night time field lighting in such areas. To subvert Proposition H, Supervisors David Chiu, Katy Tang, Mark Farrell, Eric Mar and Scott Wiener (remember these names) submitted an initiative, Proposition I, as a “poison pill” intended to confuse voters and defeat H. Proposition I arguably denies the Recreation and Park Commission discretion to consider other city policies before approving a project, clearly limits the powers of citizens and their Board of Supervisors and perhaps prohibits future voter initiatives on the subject matter. The proposed Beach Chalet soccer complex project would remove seven acres of living grass, removes over 55 trees and inserts an acre of concrete paving in our historic park. It’s a trick. I don’t like politicians’ tricks. I’m voting “yes” on H and “no” on I.

Proposition J increases the minimum wage governing San Francisco workers from $10.74 per hour to $15 by 2018. I’m voting for it.

I’m voting against Proposition K, another meaningless housing statement by City Hall.

I’m voting enthusiastically for Proposition L. It’s a policy declaration, which contains therapeutic value in demanding restoration of balance in San Francisco’s transportation policies by simply proposing that traffic laws should be enforced equally for everyone using San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks. Do you realize that San Francisco taxpayers, through their Federal, State and regional taxes and fees, pay nearly half of the vaunted Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s annual budget and motorists pay most of those taxes and fees. Muni riders pay only 22.42%, another 4.90% emanates from traffic fines, rentals and advertising. Bicyclists pay 0.0%. The U.S. Census, in its latest five-year estimate (2008-2012) concludes that of the 409,015 San Franciscans who work outside their residences, 164,017 drive alone to work, 142,350 utilize public transportation, 43,363 walk and only 14,833 ride bicycles to work. Although bicyclists’ constitute just 3.6% of San Francisco commuters, eliminating traffic lanes and street parking is seemingly the priority transportation objective of city government. I know Proposition L won’t mandate the force of law, but its passage should affect City Hall decisions and establish equality of treatment for taxpayers who pay the bills.

Finally, I note my vigorous endorsement of Supervisor David Campos for Assembly and a fine San Franciscan, Nicholas Josefowitz, for BART Board of Directors representing most of San Francisco. Next month, I examine State ballot measures and candidates.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

September 2014

A bane of civic engagement and democracy, whether local, state or federal, is a lack of accurate information. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne, once observed, “Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy of dishonesty.” San Franciscans have historically depended upon a strong, usually accurate press, since the 1920’s on radio, since the 1940’s upon television, and in the 21st century on the Internet. With two small exceptions, all those sources of accurate information patently failed San Franciscans last month.

Did you read anything about this case in the Chronicle, Examiner, even the Guardian or San Francisco Weekly? I didn’t. No one did. Gone are the investigative reporting days of Charles McCabe, Dick Nolan, Russ Cone, Bruce Brugmann, Tim Redmond, Lance Williams, Arthur Caylor, much less Ambrose Bierce or Mark Twain.”

We have all been subjected to regular utterances from Recology, Inc., the monopoly garbage collecting multi-corporation, and City Hall-approved proclamations of recycling excellence, which serve the commercial purpose of Recology and the puffery of City officials from the Mayor to the City Environmental Health Office. If you believe those sources, San Franciscans recycle over 80% of our collective waste and will soon achieve 100%! There is one problem: It isn’t true, and city government perpetuates such inaccuracy. It remained, however, for one honest citizen and two supremely stalwart lawyers to put the lie to such City Hall and Recology misrepresentations. Brian McVeigh is a native San Franciscan, once employed by Recology, Inc. at its recycling operations on Tunnel Road near Brisbane and Pier 94. Because of his vigor, diligence and competency, he was promoted to supervisorial responsibility in 2008. He observed dishonest labeling of contents and quantities of containers delivered by Recology, Inc. from San Francisco to California’s Redemption Value Program in return for State taxpayers’ money. He observed removal of cement at Recology’s Tunnel Road facility for inclusion in recycling material and its subsequent repaving. He’s a “whistleblower.” He’s honest. He reported such overpayments to the Brisbane Police Department. He was admonished to eschew such activity, and then fired.

Obtaining legal representation from David Anton, Esq. and John Scott, Esq., he sued Recology for wrongfully discharging him. He also sought permission from the California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, to file a qui tam legal action for City and State taxpayers under California law. Harris refused to act on his request, which was supported by a plethora of facts, for over one year. (By law, Harris could have pursued such suit herself or, failing that, authorized McVeigh, as a taxpayer, to proceed.) Finally, in 2010, McVeigh was permitted by Harris to proceed.

Despite numerous pre-trial delaying motions by Recology’s attorneys, a Washington, D.C.-headquartered firm of 1,000 or so lawyers, Mc Veigh’s qui tam action was tried to a San Francisco Superior Court jury last month. (His wrongful discharge suit against Recology, Inc. will commence before a San Francisco Superior Court jury on September 8, 2014.) Besides cheating California of taxpayer money, Mc Veigh’s suit involves fraudulent payments by San Francisco’s Environment Health Office of $1,300,000 to Recology, Inc. in 2008 as a recycling “bonus.” Recology’s contract, awarded, of course, without competitive bidding, authorizes a bonus payment for any year in which citywide recycling supposedly surpasses a predetermined amount. After three weeks of grueling trial, and seven days of jury deliberations, on June 9, 2014, an honest whistleblower and his dogged attorneys achieved success. The jury found that Recology, Inc. had defrauded San Francisco taxpayers in 2008 regarding recycling quantities, and awarded damages of $1,300,000 to McVeigh, who is entitled to receive some of such money for having the guts to bring legal action, and the remainder to city taxpayers. Under California law, Recology, Inc. must pay interest at 10% per year from 2008, the year of its false bonus claim, on $1,300,000, or about $780,000 more, and attorneys’ fees of Messers. Scott and Anton, which will be considerable. Moreover, California law mandates trebling of the $1,300,000 fraudulent payment to Recology, Inc. by the Environment Health Office, which means a verdict of $4,900,000, plus interest and legal fees.

Regrettably, the jury decided in Recology’s favor on the charge of cheating the State. McVeigh’s lawyers intend to file and pursue a motion for judgment on that charge notwithstanding the jury verdict; Recology’s attorneys will surely file a similar motion to upset the verdict against their client. Such motions will be heard on July 24. 2014 by the same judge who presided over the trial.

Did you read anything about this case in the Chronicle, Examiner, even the Guardian or San Francisco Weekly? I didn’t. No one did. Gone are the investigative reporting days of Charles McCabe, Dick Nolan, Russ Cone, Bruce Brugmann, Tim Redmond, Lance Williams, Arthur Caylor, much less Ambrose Bierce or Mark Twain. While interviewing Mc Veigh’s lawyers, I was vexed by the assertion that the City Attorney “could have helped (Mc Veigh’s lawyers) but didn’t.” I also note that under the business-as-usual atmosphere at City Hall, ratepayers will probably foot the bill for Recology, which in its next rate increase will include this judgment of nearly $6,000,000 against it in its cost of operation. The Director of the Department of Public Works routinely grants Recology its costs plus about 10% as profit.

Meanwhile, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors are on their way to enacting by July 31 an annual budget of $8,600,000,000! On June 23, the City Tax Collector reported that the payroll tax exemption conferred by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors upon Twitter and similarly situated companies in Mid-Market resulted in revenue decrease of $4,200,000. In 2011 and 2012, total payroll tax not collected from Twitter was $1,900,000. In 2011 the estimated uncollected payroll tax from Twitter was $22,000,000 over the six-year exemption period, exclusive of payroll tax on stock options. A CPA last year estimated such tax break as $56,000,000 if stock options were included. As some readers may recall, for years on the Board of Supervisors, I tried to eliminate the payroll tax, which represents illogic, meaning every time you hire an employee you pay city government a tax for doing so. Consider businesses not located Mid-Market who pay the payroll tax while Twitter et al do not. Because of litigation against the City, the payroll tax has been abandoned as part of the resuscitated gross receipts tax. The point is that “tax breaks” for businesses inevitably create disparity between businesses favoring politicians’ business du jour, and not others. It’s political expediency, for which City Hall politicians, beginning with the Mayor, are obviously experts.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

July/August 2014

In early 1998, the late Babette Drefke, a Potrero Hill leader for decades, Peter Byrne, an investigative journalist, and I sponsored an initiative measure known as the City Hall Cost Saving and Good Government Act of 1998. In November 1996, San Francisco voters had approved a ballot measure which the Board of Supervisors represented as a "cost-saving and good government measure." That measure's proponents justified such assurance by declaring the city would "save money by moving rent-paying departments into space formerly used by the Courts on the 3rd and 4th floors of (City Hall)." The San Francisco Ballot Simplification Committee, which exists because of my 1972 ordinance inspired by a suggestion from my late father, disseminated a similar assurance by stating in the Voter Information Pamphlet: "The City plans to use this money to convert space formerly used for courtrooms to office space." The ballot measure presented a General Obligation Bond for approval by 1996 voters, who did so.

On May 26, I requested an investigation by City Attorney Dennis Herrera as to the number of years that such illegal expenditures of taxpayer funds have occurred since 1999 and the total amount of such expenditure, noting that his office should recover all such expenditures of taxpayer money and direct the Mayor and San Francisco Airports Commission to cease such expenditures immediately. I await his response.”

By early 1998, however, it was apparent from published rehabilitation plans for City Hall that San Francisco voters had been misled. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors intended to convert much of City Hall into yet another venue for politicians and wealthy supporters to stage parties for San Francisco's elite. City Hall would no longer be the principal place of business of city government. Hence, our initiative was prepared so as to require all city departments which occupied City Hall before the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 17, 1989 to return unless a department could demonstrate to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor a financially compelling reason not to occupy City Hall. In that event, a three-fourths majority vote of the Board of Supervisors would be required to exempt any such department from returning to City Hall. Additionally, a new $1,500,000 appropriation of taxpayer money for nine new civil service employees for the Mayor's Protocol Office would be repealed and abolished because at the time of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and until July 1, 1997, the Mayor's Office of Protocol operated effectively with voluntary contributions and financial assistance. Section 4 ( c ) of the City Hall Cost Saving and Good Government Act of 1998 provided expressly that the positions and appropriations of the Office of Protocol were abolished, and that all operations of such office would be conducted in accordance with the practices and laws existing as of October 17, 1989, the date of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

With thousands of San Francisco voters signing the Initiative measure petition, the initiative easily qualified for the June 1998 Municipal Ballot and was convincingly approved by San Francisco voters. The purpose was plain, namely, to stop the use of taxpayer funds for private parties. I almost completely forgot about that law, adopted 16 years ago by San Francisco voters, until last month, having been informed by an online report that the Mayor, the City Administrator, the General Services Department and the Airports Commission have colluded to evade the law through concealed use of two supposed non-profit entities named the "San Francisco Host Committee" and "San Francisco Special Events Committee." City Controller records show that at least $760,000 in taxpayer dollars have been handed during the last three years alone to such entities. One Matthew Goudeau, who possesses a job classification as Director of Protocol (in the Mayor's office) and whose salary of approximately $113,900 per year is paid from funds of the San Francisco Airport Commission, evidently presides in a City Hall office as Director of Protocol, in violation of the City Hall Cost Saving and Good Government Act of 1998. Moreover, the San Francisco General Services Department, under a "grant agreement", has conferred the past three years upon the San Francisco Host Committee $250,000 per year. For the fiscal year 2013-2014, which ends June 30, such amount was increased to $260,000. The General Services Department presumably oversees such grants. In March 2014, a San Francisco citizen filed a complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Taskforce over non-adherence to another law which requires non-profit entities receiving $250,000 per year or more from City Hall to conduct two open and public meetings each year. The same person leads the San Francisco Host Committee and the San Francisco Special Events Committee, and the person identified as the contact for purposes of each entity's Internal Revenue Service required annual form, one Pam Miller of Menlo Park, manifestly isn't even a San Franciscan. The complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force arises from an alleged refusal of the two peculiar entities to respond to public records law requests from a San Francisco citizen. On May 26, I requested an investigation by City Attorney Dennis Herrera as to the number of years that such illegal expenditures of taxpayer funds have occurred since 1999 and the total amount of such expenditure, noting that his office should recover all such expenditures of taxpayer money and direct the Mayor and San Francisco Airports Commission to cease such expenditures immediately. I await his response.


Assembly Bill 2372 is noteworthy. It cures a weakness in Proposition 13, which has been exploited by countless corporations and some limited liability partnerships since 1978. Proposition 13 was added to the California Constitution by voters in 1978 to save homeowners from the tax appetites of elected City, School District and Special District officials. Before Proposition 13, homeowners, many of whom subsisted on fixed incomes or were retired or earning modest wages, were taxed increasingly every year on their homes, which produced no income unless and until the home was sold. A residential property is a non-cash asset. The assessed value of homes produces nothing by way of income to the property tax-paying owner. Yet assessments and property tax rates were constantly raised. That was why people passed Proposition 13 enthusiastically. Proposition 13 logically provides that if a home is sold or otherwise transferred to a non-spouse or child, the Assessor can legally reassess its value as the sale price. A corporate property owner, however, differs, from individuals. As a State Senator, I tried twice unsuccessfully to effectuate a Proposition 13 amendment which would declare the transfer of real estate owned by a corporation or limited partnership occurs if stock ownership of the corporation or partnership changes by 50% or more. Then, the property could be legally reappraised by the county assessor. Assembly Bill 2372 uses a different formula than my legislation, but the principle is the same. That's the reason the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association doesn't oppose AB 2372; it's the reason other homeowners and I support AB 2372 while also, understandably, continuing to support the logic of Proposition 13, despite the caterwauling about it from local politicians and media who couldn't even vote in 1978 as homeowners faced huge assessments and property tax increases every year. Proposition 13 has preserved the financial survivability of millions of California homeowners and will continue to do so.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

June 2014

Remember the elevated Embarcadero Freeway? It annoyed hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans and Bay Area residents and visitors for over 25 years, obstructing views of San Francisco Bay. On October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the environmental monstrosity, thus leading within two years to its demolition and the 1990 voter-adopted height limits upon Embarcadero buildings. Those range from zero to 130 feet.

SPUR’s policy positions are conspicuously guided by contributors and current law doesn’t require developers, contractors, engineers or lawyers to disclose donations to that organization.

For example, the San Francisco Giants’ intended project of five high-rise buildings, at least one of which would rise about 370 feet high, is presently zoned for park use with a zero height limit. Recognizing their dismal chance of violating those height limits, the Golden State Warriors last month abandoned their notion of blocking the Bay at Piers 30-32 in favor of purchasing private property in Mission Bay from Salesforce Inc. and constructing a new arena and the usual conglomeration of fancy shops and similar accoutrements to attract “the Yankee dollar,” to paraphrase a popular World War II song. The Warriors promise to eschew taxpayer money. Let’s ensure that our Mayor, whose “legacy” has vanished, and pliant supervisors, enforce such promise, because the Warriors’ plan, with Mayor Lee’s embrace, at Piers 30 - 32 would have included about $250,000,000 from taxpayers, including annual interest on a loan to city government at 13 percent per year. (In any private transaction not involving a public entity, such usury would be illegal in California.)

That decision underscores the importance of enactment of Proposition B at the June 3 election. Proposition B, as voters increasingly know, simply requires that any project on the waterfront which would exceed the 1990 voter-adopted height limits must be presented to San Francisco voters for majority approval. Developers with justifiable waterfront projects, like Forest City Enterprises at Pier 70, have nothing to fear from voters, and thus, don’t oppose Proposition B. Other parties, like those who tried unsuccessfully to obtain a court order eliminating Proposition B from the ballot, will show their stripes this month with encouragement from the Chronicle’s fatuous columnist, C.W. Nevius, who makes arrogance a fine art. Proposition B warrants strong support. I recommend it unqualifiedly. Also on the Municipal ballot is Proposition A, a $400,000,000 General Obligation Bond issue for cisterns, pipes, tunnels, other earthquake safety measures and police stations. It requires a super majority two-thirds approval. I intend to vote for it.

A noteworthy race involves the 17th Assembly District, geographically relevant to voters in Forest Knolls, Twin Peaks, and Miraloma Park. Two contestants, Supervisor David Campos and Supervisor David Chiu, are the favorites because of their name recognition and campaign funds. Under current law, if neither obtains 50% of the votes on June 3, the two top candidates must run again on November 4, 2014. For those interested voters within ambit of the Westside Observer, I recommend Campos, despite his leftish philosophy and one glaring hypocritical act. Campos rightly condemns the property tax exemption for Twitter and other technological businesses located in the mid-Market area, engineered by the superficial Mayor. (Who can, or should, forget his promise not to stand for Mayor if he were appointed Acting Mayor after Gavin “Hair Boy” Newsom’s departure for Sacramento?) Property tax favoritism to one local business and not another represents an erroneous public policy, which eventually causes ill feelings from unfavored businesses. Throughout our history, however, facile politicians have subsidized chosen businesses with taxpayer dollars. Campos now declares opposition to it. Campos, however, sponsored in 2011 an ordinance to exempt from San Francisco’s one-time payroll tax the stock options conferred upon technology “hotshots” by their employers, usually as part of a public stock offering. Chiu, on the other hand, has developed a reputation in his several years of Board of Supervisors membership as unreliable and untrustworthy. (See below) Both candidates are “politically correct” politicians; I find Campos more dependable. He is my choice.

More important is electing to the Superior Court Daniel Flores, a tested, experienced civil and criminal trial lawyer. A Marine Corps reservist, Mr. Flores is endorsed by 29 other local judges besides me, and even the Democratic County Central Committee and the Republican County Central Committee! He’s a “straight arrow” who works hard and stays late. Vote for him.

In July 2013, almost one year ago, City Attorney Dennis Herrera requested from Chiu, as president of the Board of Supervisors, introduction of an ordinance to amend the San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code in significant respects. Herrera’s sponsored legislation requires so called “permit consultants” and “expeditors” to register with the Ethics Commission and file regular reports about their consequent contacts with officers or employees in the Department of Building Inspection, the Entertainment Commission, the Planning Department and the Department of Public Works. It would also require major developers to disclose donations to non-profit organizations. It would limit the attorney exemption to communications regarding potential or actual litigation, thus compelling attorneys who lobby city supervisors, officials and employees to report quarterly all communications to and from those supervisors, officers and employees. Permit expeditors at the Building Inspection Division are infamous for their stealthy, concealed exercise of “influence.” At the request of a former Board of Supervisors’ president, I testified at a hearing on the proposed ordinance on February 28. So did Herrera, whose ordinance would also require project developers for which the Planning Commission has certified an environmental impact report to disclose the identity of any non-profit corporations to which a developer has transmitted cumulative donations of $5,000 or more in the one year before application for environmental review was filed with the Planning Department. Instead of acting on the ordinance promptly, Chiu caused the committee to postpone action indefinitely, claiming amendments proposed by ordinance opponents needed analysis and discussion. It’s now May, and Chiu refuses to set the ordinance for action in a committee which he chairs. The reason is influence of non-profit organizations like the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the Chinatown Community Development Center and the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition which exist principally because of financial contributions from developers, contractors, engineers, public relations “consultants”, lawyers and others for whom the ordinance represents a threat of public exposure. City Attorney Herrera is powerless to advance the salutary, needed law. Only Chiu, its author, can do so. SPUR’s policy positions are conspicuously guided by contributors, and current law doesn’t require developers, contractors, engineers or lawyers to disclose donations to that organization. Other City Hall influence exerters like the San Francisco Human Services Network, the HIV/AIDS Providers Network and the Council of Community Housing Organizations oppose the ordinance. All of them regularly seek taxpayer money, lobbying without public disclosure. Maybe Chiu can be shamed into scheduling the ordinance for hearing and action forthwith. Those of you in the 17th Assembly District can send him that message before June 3 – or on June 3 by voting for Campos.

Finally, I note one of the most inexcusable expenditures of public money this year. Using ratepayers money, the Mayor authorized the Public Utilities Commission to pay a Yale University and Harvard Law School graduate $310,000 over three years to analyze and report the cause of declining African-American population in San Francisco. Theodore B. Miller, who uses “Theo” as a first name, receives taxpayer money as Senior Advisor on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Office of the Mayor, and as Manager for Policy and Government Affairs in the PUC. Maybe the Mayor and the PUC should hire a Hibernian to explain the reasons San Francisco’s Irish-American population has declined. (In the late 19th century, approximately one-third of our residents were Irish. Now it’s about 5%.) Perhaps the Mayor and PUC can waste money on the decline in Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans and German-Americans the past 60 years. It’s appalling, but that’s the way of City Hall wastrels.

P.S. On June 3, I also intend to vote for Propositions 41 and 42 on the Statewide ballot, and for Pete Peterson for Secretary of State and Betty Yee for Controller.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

May 2014

For lovers of the venality in government, March was a dazzling month. In the state legislature, an attempt partially to repeal a foundation of the state constitutional amendment (Proposition 209) adopted by California voters in 1996, by bestowing preferential treatment because of an applicant's race in admission to state institutions of higher learning, stalled in the Assembly because of Chinese-American legislators, including two of our local "heroes." Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA5), sponsored by a Southern California Senate Democrat (Ed Hernandez), had received the minimum super-majority 27 votes, all from Democrats, required by California constitutional law, to present a proposed California Constitutional Amendment to voters. (All Republican members of the Sate Senate voted against it.) Included in the affirmative votes was State Senator Leland Yee, who represents part of San Francisco and half of San Mateo County. The San Francisco Chronicle pontificated editorially about the desirability and need of SCA5, claiming " a so called color-blind system is not providing equal opportunity for Californians." The professed rationale for SCA5 was the alleged decline of African-Americans on University of California campuses, and the failure of the Latino student population to increase more than slightly despite status as California's most prolific increasing minority, while the percentage of Asian-American students had risen strongly. Suddenly, in the middle of March, Mr. Yee and Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco abandoned SCA5. The Chronicle, in a second editorial, condemned Yee and Ting (invoking the word "shame") "for their roles in the demise of the measure." The Chronicle noted that Yee and Ting "insist they favor affirmative action-just not right now." (As "situational politicians" their reason for deserting SCA5 is understandable; if our taxpayer-supported higher education system functions on merit and non-preferential principles based on race [or gender or ethnic or sexual orientation], which are then changed to prefer applicants because of race, of course Asian applicants [and Caucasian applicants, God forbid] will be disqualified from admission. I care less that our high school beacon of academic excellence, Lowell, boasts a student body over 50% Asian! They're qualified.)

Proposition B is logical and will pass in June, unless the Giants, construction unions and real estate developers spend millions to thwart voters.”

Prior to 1996 and Proposition 209, any California state and local governmental entities financed by all taxpayers used "quotas" in government hiring, promotion, contract awards and higher education admissions. "Affirmative action" was the rage at the expense of qualified students. Proposition 209 demonstrates that a color-blind system creates equal opportunity for California students because the word "opportunity" means an even chance for admission to a California State University and UC because of demonstrated ability, not racial identity or "identity politics." I'm pleased SCA5 was shelved by the Assembly Speaker utilizing the expedient ruse of forming a committee to "study" the issue for three years. Meanwhile, on March 28, Yee and 25 co-defendants were charged in Federal Court in San Francisco with some 147 counts of gun-running, legislative extortion and other serious felonies. One of the co-defendants, Keith Jackson, is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Education - if you can imagine. And, Yee was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for California Secretary of State until shortly after his arrest. Wonders never cease.

Last month, I mentioned the June ballot measure, Proposition B, which requires any construction project exceeding voter-adopted 1990 height limits on the Embarcadero to obtain approval by voter majority. I mentioned the filing of a lawsuit to force removal of the measure from the June ballot. The case was argued in San Francisco Superior Court on March 18, and three nominal plaintiffs (fronting for developers and unions), financed by the San Francisco Giants and construction industry unions lost their effort to deny San Franciscans the vote. They then sought to overturn the decision in the California Court of Appeal, which on March 27 rejected their claims. Proposition B is logical and will pass in June, unless the Giants, construction unions and real estate developers spend millions to thwart voters. Only then will it be close.

The San Francisco Ethics Commission, with the exception of Commissioner Peter Keane, former dean of Golden Gate Law School, former Chief Deputy Public Defender, trial lawyer par excellant and still a law school professor at Golden Gate and Hastings Law Schools, showed its impotence again. On March 24 Keane introduced a resolution for the dismissal of Public Utilities Commission Deputy General Manager Juliet Ellis, who was found guilty of awarding a $200,000 taxpayer-funded contract to a non-profit operation called Green for All, supposedly to obtain jobs for minority people. At the time, Ellis actually ran Green for All! Ellis' violation of conflict of interest laws was thereafter exposed. She admitted her unlawful act, the $200,000 contract was terminated and she was fined a record (for the Ethics Commission) $8,500. But she kept her $145,000 PUC job. At the March 24 Ethics Commission meeting, Keane's resolution was attacked by Ellis' superior, PUC General Manager Harlan Kelly, former Supervisor and NAACP president Reverend Amos Brown, Charlie Walker, a notorious shakedown felon with a Federal extortion conviction, and CNN television commentator Van Jones, who founded Green for All and is infamous for having been forced to leave the Obama Administration as "Special Advisor for Green Jobs" for the White House Council on Environmental Quality after his alleged near-Bolshevik views and public statements were published by the media. Reverend Arnold Townsend, who ought to know better, even analogized Keane's resolution to "another black lynching."

In introducing the resolution Keane remarked he had previously expected the PUC to dismiss Ellis for her "corrupt conduct" by which she had "disgraced herself." Eventually Keane was forced to withdraw his resolution. Even the Commission President, Ben Hur, who is a partner in a law firm with a high reputation for probity, criticized Keane for his principled resolution. It's events like that which appall and destroy the morale of San Franciscans who expect honest government, intellectually, financially and otherwise. Maybe spring will restore ideals and ethics in city government and the State Capitol. Wanna' bet?

April 2014

Probably the most significant measure on the June 2014 San Francisco Municipal Election ballot protects the right of San Franciscans to authorize any vertical desecration of our waterfront.

In the post-World War II era of waterfront devastation and general freeway spread throughout the state and nation, San Francisco political leaders and businessmen, together with the California Department of Transportation, facilitated the construction of the so-called Embarcadero Freeway. For about 30 years, many (if not most) San Franciscans clamored for removal of that waterfront impediment. The best that such like-minded people could accomplish was prevention of a freeway through the Panhandle near Golden Gate Park, and another one through the Marina to the Golden Gate Bridge.

No sooner last month was the measure certified for the June election than special interests filed a lawsuit to prevent San Francisco voters from voting on it. The suit is financed by the San Francisco Giants and big Labor Union organizations. It is scheduled for hearing in San Francisco Superior Court on March 13th.”


On October 17, 1989, however, the world changed for the Bay Area in the form of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which expunged a portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (that will always be its name, notwithstanding venal politicians and their lackeys) and damaged other local freeways. Eventually, the Embarcadero Freeway was demolished and the real property upon which it was constructed was transferred to San Francisco by a State Senate Bill I introduced. Previously, the Port of San Francisco's administration had been divested by the State of California to San Francisco under the so-called public trust doctrine, which essentially signifies that San Francisco must utilize all port properties for public benefit, and not simply to make money.

Last November San Franciscans rejected an effort by high-rise condominium developers to construct a skyscraper commonly called 8 Washington Street. That parcel was across the road from the water, not on the Bay itself. Almost all the political "big shots" attempted to enable such a view-hindering structure's construction. The vote against it was approximately 66.6%. In the aftermath, many sincere citizens promulgated an initiative ballot measure for June 2014 with a simple requirement, namely, any future development on the Embarcadero which exceeds the current limits of approximately 50 feet must be expressly approved by a majority of voters at an election.

The signatures required to qualify such initiative ordinance were collected in a majestic three weeks. No sooner last month was the measure certified for the June election than special interests filed a lawsuit to prevent San Francisco voters from voting on it. The suit is financed by the San Francisco Giants and big Labor Union organizations. It is scheduled for hearing in San Francisco Superior Court on March 13th. I expect that regardless of the Superior Court ruling, the losing parties will seek review and reversal by the California Court of Appeal in expedited fashion. The principle is clear; it's mystifying to believe California law stops voters from adopting a local ordinance, despite the opponents' claim that the state statute transferring the Port to San Francisco only allows the mayoral-appointed Port Commission to set rules for waterfront land use. I predict the initiative, led by Jon Gollinger of Telegraph Hill, former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, former Mayor Art Agnos of Potrero Hill, and Sierra Club President Becky Evans, will pass with as much as a 70% affirmative vote, (barring court rejection).

Last month, 12 California legislators revealed they had formed a "Jewish Caucus," even if three of the asserted members are not Jewish. That reminded me of history; it also reminded me of the continuing degradation of American culture (does anyone remember the "melting pot"?). On my election to the California State Senate in 1986, I discovered existence of a "Jewish Caucus"; I qualified as a Jew to attend uneventful meetings. The chairman was a non-Jewish Assemblyman from Los Angeles, whose wife was Jewish and a conspicuous Democratic Party fundraiser. There were perhaps eight members, including a Republican Assemblyman from Marin County who decided in 1988 to seek election to the United States House of Representatives. The Democratic chairman of the "Jewish Caucus," covertly and unknown to the other members of the group, lent his name to a Primary Election Campaign flyer for the Republican Assemblyman, proclaiming his status as "Chairman of the Jewish Caucus." Upon discovery by other caucus Democratic members, indignation raged. The late Senator Leroy Greene, a Sacramento Democrat, demanded a meeting at which the offending chairman was excoriated for unauthorized conduct, and the "Jewish Caucus" was, thankfully in my strong opinion, dissolved on Senator Greene's motion and my second. Senator Greene properly observed that a "Jewish Caucus" represented separatism, not the unified American culture the California Legislature should signify. We know that history repeats itself, whatever the professed motivation, in a legislature which I discovered already contains a Black Caucus, A Women's Caucus, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus, an Outdoor Sporting Caucus, a Republican Women's Caucus, a Latino Caucus, an Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, an Animal Protection Caucus, an Environmental Caucus, an Inland Empire Caucus, a Rural Caucus, and a San Gabriel Valley Caucus, plus a Mental Health Caucus with but two members! One expects in a legislature a Democratic Caucus and a Republican Caucus. That's logical. (As the Legislature's only Independent during most of my 12 years, I didn't have a caucus.) Those do exist and employ at taxpayers' expense numerous staff members. Now taxpayers' increasingly must support additional state employees for proliferating special interest caucuses. That's foolish and contributes to disrespect of the California legislature.

Here's how progress overcomes history. In 1987, I organized, qualified for the ballot and secured passage of a San Francisco initiative ordinance forbidding imposition of San Francisco's infamous utility tax on any residential utility consumers. (Commercial ratepayers can claim an Income Tax deduction). After passage, the initiative ordinance was challenged in Superior Court unsuccessfully, then in the California Court of Appeal unsuccessfully. Last month I noticed on my mobile telephone bill a "San Francisco Telecom Utility Tax." Outraged at first, I discovered upon investigation that our cell telephones are not considered residential telephones and are, therefore, subject to the San Francisco Utility Tax, unlike our "landlines." Is that progress? Why didn't I cover that in 1987?

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

March 2014

Amidst disagreements between motorists and bicyclists in San Francisco and other California entities and pundits in local newspapers, biased in favor of bicyclists, or less so, annoyed by bicyclist behavior, one quintessential fact is overlooked. If you purchase gasoline in California, you pay an 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax and a 39 cents-per-gallon State of California gasoline and sales tax. The proceeds of the federal gas tax are deposited in the Highway Trust Fund, created by the United States Congress and then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to pay costs of construction and maintenance of the Interstate Highway System. That same financial mechanism has been utilized in California since 1922; thus, all proceeds of the California gas tax are deposited in the State Highway Account. The purpose of that account is similar to the federal gas tax concept; the State Highway Account money is applied to pay costs of building and maintaining the State Highway System.

Both the federal and state gasoline tax highway funds have, outrageously, been raided and distorted to finance uses unrelated to streets, roads, or highways…spending over $105,000,000,000 in fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 for “surface transportation programs” which are not just roads and bridges, but also include “transit, bike and pedestrian” projects.”

Additionally, California vehicle owners pay a registration fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles, proceeds of which are used to support the expenses of the DMV and the California Highway Patrol. Furthermore, the possessor of a California driver’s license, whether for trucks, motorcycles or automobiles, must be licensed by the DMV and pay a driver’s license fee. Proceeds of the driver license fee are utilized for, among other purposes, defraying the costs of the California Highway Patrol. To the contrary, however, owners of bicycles do not need to register such ownership with any entity, state, county or city. Bicyclists, additionally, need not possess a license to operate bicycles. Nevertheless, bicyclists use the city streets, county roads, and even state highways, which have been built by motor vehicle owners and drivers, both trucks and automobiles. (Would you call that a “free ride?”) Gasoline taxation of motorists, both owners and drivers, has, additionally, been stripped of its original user fee status, a philosophy based upon the concept that those who use a public or governmental structure such as a street should pay for its construction and upkeep. Both the federal and state gasoline tax highway funds have, outrageously, been raided and distorted to finance uses unrelated to streets, roads, or highways. One example federally is the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” enacted by the Congress and President in July 2012, and spending over $105,000,000,000 in fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 for “surface transportation programs” which are not just roads and bridges, but also include “transit, bike and pedestrian” projects. As Lawrence J. McQuillan of the Independent Institute in Oakland has noted, “Walking is now a Surface Transportation Program.” Approximately $800,000,000 of Federal Highway Trust money was appropriated to the OneBayArea Grant Program dealing with housing, transportation, and land use in the nine-county Bay Area through 2040 after approval by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments in July 2013. About $10,000,000 of such money was routed to “priority conservation areas,” which represent city and county purchases of land for “long-term protection.” Thus, taxes from motorists are blatantly diverted to general government uses. Gasoline taxes will finance parks, bicycle paths, pedestrian walkways, scenic overlooks, viewing areas and even parking lots in the nine Bay Area counties, not better or more (God forbid!) streets, roads, or highways. Potholes be damned. Bicyclists be revered; they must be exempted from paying to use streets, roads, and highways.

And then there exists the problem of stolen bicycles. The San Francisco Police Department recovers thousands of stolen bicycles annually. The owners can’t be located because they don’t need to register their bicycles or obtain a license for their (sometimes) unsafe operation of bicycles. Motorists subsidize bicyclists, and no elected or appointed official demonstrates the integrity of rectifying such illogical public policy. Logically, bicycle owners should be compelled to register bicycles in the owner’s city or county of residence or business. Bicycle operators should be required to possess a license. Violations of safety ordinances and statutes, local and state, by bicycle owners and operators should be treated as owners and operators of motor vehicles are treated for asserted violations of law. To do otherwise constitutes unequal treatment of those who pay for public structures which bicyclists use without tax or fee. If the gasoline tax is abolished as a user fee (which has occurred in large part) and continually spent not for road-building and repairs, but for current societal fads, it becomes a regressive tax similar to the sales tax, meaning that it is paid in greater proportional amount by those less able to do so than a progressive income tax which is levied on one’s financial ability to pay the costs of government.

Retired former Supervisor, State Senator and Judge
Quentin Kopp lives in District 7

February 2014

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