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Friday, July 22, 2011

San Francisco to Vote on Whether It Votes Too Much

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge THOMAS NAST

San Franciscans vote on too much stuff. Do we agree? Let's vote on it.

This is the epitome of Supervisor Scott Wiener's potential charter amendment, which six of his colleagues on Tuesday agreed to place on the ballot. But wait, there's more. Wiener says he hopes his legislation would reduce the volume of material placed on the ballot with the approval of just four supervisors.

So, we the voters are not only set to vote on whether we the voters are voting too often, we're also meant to adjudicate whether the supes -- elected by we the voters -- are abusing the process of placing material before we the voters.

"There is a bit of irony that we have to vote on this," says Wiener. A bit?

Wiener's potential charter amendment would give the supes the ability, after three years, to amend ordinances placed on the ballot by the board or mayor (charter amendments or measures placed on the ballot via signature-gathering are not affected). Currently, only more voting can alter these voter-approved laws.

Progressive elements claimed this was an attack on years of progressive legislation -- a more nuanced version of progressives' dismissal of every attempt at civic reform: They're trying to turn San Francisco into Walnut Creek!

As a sop, Wiener's proposal has been altered to only apply toward legislation taking effect in 2012 or thereafter. "I initially wanted it to be retroactive," says Wiener. "I ended up amending it because, you know, I had to get six votes."

Incidentally, Wiener couldn't have sneaked a proposal onto the ballot aiming to curtail the number of proposals sneaked onto the ballot with just four supervisorial votes. Four ayes is all well and good for an ordinance -- but only a charter amendment could alter the amendability of all future ordinances. And you need six votes to put a charter amendment before the voters.

The supervisor says he's proven that he didn't have a grocery list of San Francisco ordinances he wished to dismantle by his move to drop the retroactive portion of his charter amendment. "It was one of the compromises. It's San Francisco politics. People are sometimes cynical and skeptical."

Really? Wanna take a vote on it?

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more

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