Though the polls say he’s back on top in the governor’s race, Arnold Schwarzenegger last year made a near-fatal mistake. He called a special election so that voters, not the Legislature, would approve his multi-initiative reform package. After a seemingly interminable campaign, the merits of his reforms no longer mattered to voters.
They wanted legislators to do their jobs, resenting the clear implication the politicians were handing off the hard work to them.
So why would San Francisco supervisors make the same mistake? First, Gerardo Sandoval made noises about asking voters if they wanted The City to host the 2016 Olympics, an enthusiasm of Mayor Newsom and assorted business interests (an enthusiasm we share).
Though bidding for the games is not strictly the supervisors’ charge, the impulse to politicize the issue, and at considerable taxpayer expense, is a headache The City should be spared.
Now Supervisor Chris Daly proposes an initiative that would require businesses to pay employees, family members and other designees for sick days. It’s an apple pie issue, and though small businesses might cringe yet again, it’s hard to imagine it failing a citywide voter test.
To be sure, the governor thought his reform package enjoyed wide support, and we know what happened. He also thought a victory last November would transform his re-election bid into a juggernaut. You have to wonder if Daly has fallen into the same trap.
So let’s ask ourselves: Can’t Daly’s pet proposal be taken up, debated and voted on by the supervisors themselves? After all, the board felt perfectly competent to midwife the mayor’s far more controversial health care plan.
Not that we’d want to impute cynical motives, but the initiative process is a perfect way to lead a political campaign and build up name recognition, all the while bypassing the campaign finance restrictions. Let’s keep this one at City Hall, shall we?
Sure, municipalities across the country own and operate golf courses, and nobody raises ideological questions about them. But the report that The City’s greens have been flooded with red ink gives us pause.
Really now, is it truly progressive to own and operate recreational venues for a sport widely understood as the preserve of the rich and the upper-middle class? We know, theoretically, they make the ancient activity accessible to everyone.
But somebody’s not paying the greens fees. Or maybe there’s too much competition out in Napa Valley or down on the Peninsula. Whatever explains the problem, the Recreation and Park Department laments that the courses are recording an estimated shortfall of $1.9 million for last fiscal year. And they haven’t paid for themselves since 2002.
So let’s sell them off, privatize them. The new owners can even point to a built-in wellness plan.