My Picks for the 2016 General Election

Yes I did it, I read every ballot initiative and the arguments for and against. Here are my picks. Yours may vary. If you do nothing else please don’t vote based on 30 seconds ads and misleading junk mail.


Hillary Clinton. Duh! I’ve met her, several times, had dinner in her home. She’s smart, capable, knows the issues inside out and backwards, knows how Washington and the world work. She’s the most qualified candidate by an order of magnitude.

Trump is dangerous, he has no coherent positions, he wants to lock up his opponents, he dislikes the 1st amendment, and he can be provoked by a tweet. The 3rd party candidates are both irrational on key issues. This election is too important for a protest vote.


Kamala Harris. I wish she were replacing Feinstein and not Boxer but we can’t have everything.


Nancy Pelosi. I like Nancy, she’s done a good job for San Francisco and for the country.

State Senate

Scott Wiener. Not the most liberal candidate but the most sensible. He’ll do a good job.


Phil Ting

California State Ballot Initiatives

This years crop of state and local ballot initiatives show why ballot initiatives are a terrible idea. Many exist because some past ballot initiative says they have to. Many more seek to end run our elected officials but carving out budgets in response to short term events. Others are plays by industry to mislead the populace.

My default position on Ballots is NO. So it has to be either a really good idea or be something that we’re forced to vote on before I’ll consider voting yes. I don’t like budget carve-outs. I don’t like ballot measures trying to fix short term problems with permanent charter or constitution changes. I don’t like political grandstanding via initiatives (I’m looking at you Gavin Newsom) and most of all I don’t like ballots initiatives funded by people serving their own interest with misleading titles.

I highly recommend Ballotpedia for background information on ballots, who is for and against and who is paying for them.

California Proposition 51, Public School Facility Bonds (2016)

N I’m voting against this one becasue. It’s funded by developers. It gives developers a special break of paying for it. It doesn’t focus the money where it’s most needed

California Proposition 52, Voter Approval to Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal (2016)

Y The legislature keeps raiding a hospital feed meant for MediCAL. This requires it go where it’s intended (where it’s matched by the feds). Yes on 52.

California Proposition 53, Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion (2016)

N If in doubt, follow the money. This one is funded by one rich farmer who believes that public debt is immoral. It’s targeted an infrastructure projects that are funded from user fees.

California Proposition 54, Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote (2016)

Y This one promotes increased transparency by requiring the legislature to publish bills 72hrs before they vote. Some of the worst legislation in history has been rushed through (think USA Patriot Act at the federal level). Yes on 54.

California Proposition 55, Extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase (2016)

Y I’m a reluctant Yes on this. The money goes to the right places but frankly CA needs a complete tax overhaul and this is another bandaid to replace the last bandaid that’s about to fall off.

California Proposition 56, Tobacco Tax Increase (2016)

Y Yes. Tobacco has cost the country billions in healthcare over the years. It’s been demonstrated that increasing price reduces usage.

California Proposition 57, Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements (2016)

Y This one does two things. It puts decisions about who should be tried as an adult into the hands of judges instead of prosecutors. It undoes some of the damage done by the law and order kick voters went on in the 90’s by getting non violent offenders out of prison.

California Proposition 58, Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education (2016)

Y Repeals prop 227 from 1998 which mandatory it mandatory for teachers to teach in English (like that was going to magically make immigrant kids learn).

California Proposition 59, Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question (2016)

No opinion. Citizens United is a federal law decision and white it’s terrible law a vague, feel good, ballot measure asking legislators to work to overturn it is not going to change anything either way. Waste of time.

California Proposition 60, Condoms in Pornographic Films (2016)

N One of the weird things about living in San Francisco is I know half a dozen porn stars. They say no on this one. Looking into it further it’s funded entirely by Aids Healthcare Foundation, who opposed PrEP despite the science. This is more about Michael Weinstein’s crusade to make condoms the only acceptable STI prevention option than it is performer safety.

California Proposition 61, Drug Price Standards (2016)

N This is another one of Aids Healthcare Foundations attempts to micro manage the state according to their worldview. It’s unclear if it will actually save any money and becasue it’s a ballot initiative it will be very hard to undo if it has negative consequences.

California Proposition 62, Repeal of the Death Penalty (2016)

Y The death penalty is a terrible idea. It costs more money than life without parole. There is no way to fix mistakes (and there have been mistakes.) It doesn’t actually deter crime. It’s time to get rid of it.

California Proposition 63, Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban (2016)

N This one is dumb. It will probably pass. Here is why it’s dumb. All it does it make law abiding gun owners jump through more hoops. It won’t reduce criminals access to guns. This initiative plays on a misguided belief that it will somehow make bullets rare. It won’t. What it will do is make it harder for people who want to shoot responsibly to train and maintain skills.

California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization (2016)

Y This one is controversial among pot-heads. The no arguments seem to come down to “it won’t be a free for all any more”. I’m fine with that. There are enough protections for medical pot users to remove my worry there. We should legalize pot and move on.

California Proposition 65, Dedication of Revenue from Disposable Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund (2016)

N This is micromanaging by a special interest at it’s worst.

California Proposition 66, Death Penalty Procedures (2016)

N No. No. No. This one makes it easier for the state to kill the wrong person. It’s supported by Pete Wilson which in itself should be enough to vote no.

California Proposition 67, Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum (2016)

Y The legislature did their job and passed a law, then the plastic bag industry got upset and put this veto measure on the ballot. Vote yes to uphold the free plastic bag ban.

And that’s it for state ballot measures. On to the local ones.

San Francisco Ballot Measures

So we have A through X, really, this is why enacting laws that require a ballot is a terrible idea. It sounds good in theory but in practice all it does is mean those with money can get their issue heard and the rest are SOL.

A) School Bond — YES.
B) Community College Tax Renewal — YES
C) Affordable Housing Bond — YES
D) Temporary Appointments — NO
E) Street Trees — NO
F) Youth Voting — NO
G) Police Accountability — YES
H) Public Advocate — NO
I) Dedicated Seniors Funding — NO
J) Homeless Fund — NO
K) Sales Tax — NO
L) Muni — NO
M)Housing Commission — NO
N) Non-citizen school board voting — NO
O) Candlestick/Hunters Point Office tax Break — NO
P) Affordable Housing Bids — NO
Q) No Tents on Sidewalks — NO
R) Neighborhood Crime Unit — NO
S) Hotel Tax Fund — NO
T) Lobbyists — NO
U) Affordable Housing Qualification — NO
V) Soda Tax — YES (because the “grocery tax” ads are so misleading I’m voting against the ads as much as anything.)
W) Real Estate Transfer Tax — YES
X) Replacement Space — NO

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