The votes are in and political partisans are either celebrating or mourning the election results.
The only item that hangs in the balance is one of the more controversial measures: Proposition H, a policy statement asking the school board to give all students the right to go to neighborhood schools (as opposed to a lottery in which geography is just one of several factors).
Prop. H was one of the only issues upon which candidates for mayor disagreed. As I recall, Michela Alioto-Pier and Joanna Rees (the moms) were the only candidates in favor of the proposition.
Together with Proposition A, a ballot measure that authorizes the sale of $531 million in bonds to repair local schools, this election gave us an interesting peek into how San Franciscans feel about our schools, neighborhoods and otherwise.
Several thousand ballots remain uncounted, but "yes" votes on Prop. H have remained steadily ahead of "no" votes by about 200. On Wednesday, the Department of Elections released neighborhood data for as many as 160,000 votes.
Did voters tie their unhappiness with the current student-assignment system together with the bond measure? It turns out that even in neighborhoods where Prop. H passed, people weren’t giving up on our public schools. Prop. A needed 55 percent of the vote and handily got more than 55 percent in every single neighborhood.
The Sunset district was the only neighborhood where Prop. H received more support than Prop. A (63 percent and 57 percent respectively) but in West of Twin Peaks and Lake Merced it was close, with support for Prop. A ahead of Prop. H by only a few percentage points.
One of the arguments against Prop. H was that neighborhood schools lead to gentrification of the school system. So how did Prop. H support map against lower-income families? The Department of Children, Youth & Their Families recently released a Community Needs Assessment 2011 that lists neighborhoods and the number of children that live below the poverty line.
In trying to ensure equal opportunities for all children, these seem like the very kids that the current school placement system is supposed to help. Of the 10 neighborhoods with the highest percentage of children in poverty, four of them showed serious support for Prop. H. A majority of voters in Chinatown, South of Market and the Tenderloin/Civic Center area endorsed Prop. H. And while it wasn’t winning at last count, 43 percent of voters in the Bayview endorsed Prop. H.
At least one member of the school board has confirmed that Prop. H won’t amount to a hill of beans; The Board of Education is a state body and plans to promptly ignore the policy statement. So why should anyone care if it passes? Next November, four seats on the Board of Education will be up for election. If Prop. H passes and the board does nothing, the new hopeful candidates can hammer the incumbents for ignoring the express wishes of San Francisco voters.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi may have lost his bid to become mayor, but he did a great service to The City by keeping his pension reform on the ballot and running for mayor to keep the measure in the spotlight.
Some cynical people claim that pension reform was Adachi’s ticket to becoming mayor, but I disagree. Having observed almost as many debates as the candidates themselves, it is clear to me that Adachi ran for mayor to support pension reform, not the other way around. At one debate in Noe Valley, Adachi actually finished his remarks by saying, "Therefore, I encourage you to vote for Proposition D on this November’s ballot."
Not "Vote for Adachi," but, "Vote for Prop. D."
By the deadline to declare one’s intent to run for mayor, the big checks from billionaires had been spent gathering signatures to put Prop. D on the ballot and there wasn’t much money left to campaign for the proposition itself. Suddenly, Adachi jumped into the race, availing himself of the megaphone afforded to candidates to talk about pension reform.
He did not take public financing and, according to recent campaign filings and election results, only spent $9.98 per first-choice vote. Compare that to other candidates, such as Bevan Dufty, who did take public financing and spent a total of $117.08 per first-choice vote.
Finally, while backers of rival pension measure Proposition C might deny it, Adachi’s refusal to remove Prop. D from the ballot ensured that the "City Family" did not remove Prop. C or phone it in with a supremely lame pension measure of their own.
Supervisor Scott Wiener’s legislation to prohibit nudity in restaurants and bare bottoms on public transportation has now become law. One letter recently addressed to the Board of Supervisors lamented the ordinance because "public nakedness laws must require full animality, otherwise [nudists] are frauds of a sort.
"I think naked in public people should be prohibited by law from using any apparel or utensils or facilities. And above all, a law should be passed requiring them to walk or remain on all fours at all times.
"In addition, urination, defecation, menstruation and copulation should be public while naked because not to do so detracts from their desired animality!"
But the best part of the letter? The author.
"Samuel A. Nigro, M.D., Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatry."