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Propping Up the Propositions

by Larry Bush on 11/01/2011

in Paper Trails

Election “October surprises” traditionally involve candidate politicking, but there are more than a few surprises to be found on the follow-the-money trail in the eight ballot propositions on this year’s ballot.

  • Mayoral candidate Joanna Rees has pumped $125,000 into Proposition H, the measure that affects how children will be assigned to schools.
  • Proposition C, the “city family” pension re-do, is funded two-to-one by city unions with just one-third from businesses and CEO’s despite the fact that downtown claimed veto power over the provisions. Even within the unions, those whose members have the highest salaries and who are protected from any income loss by side deals — police and firefighters — contributed the least compared to lower-paid city workers in Local 1021 and others.
  • Proposition E, the “good government” measure billed as a “clean up the ballot”  fix-it, is funded entirely by downtown’s special interests, including the Association of Realtors, the Committee on Jobs, the Chamber of Commerce, Building Owners and Managers the Shorenstein company and the highly controversial Republican entrepreneur Ron Conway. The measure transfers ultimate authority over voter-approved measures back to the Board of Supervisors that would now be authorized to amend or repeal the voters’ decision in most cases. While Supervisor Scott Wiener offers no examples of laws he wants rewritten, the list of contributors is suggestive.
  • Proposition G, to replace an expiring state sales tax with a slightly lower local version, is heavily financed by the city’s unions, pitting potential union job losses against a regressive tax that falls most heavily on low-income households.
  • Proposition B, the city streets bond measure, is bankrolled largely by companies that stand to benefit from payments for street repairs paid out of the bond revenues.
  • Independent expenditures committees, including one at the state level, are spending more heavily on San Francisco’s propositions than the ballot measure committees themselves.

Here’s a rundown, measure by measure:

Proposition A:

Two committees support this measure and none have filed to oppose it.

State Senator Leland Yee’s “One California for All” has spent $8,500 and still has about $8,000 in the bank.

ReBuilding San Francisco’s Schools” has raised $285,623 and spent $257,142. Doris Fisher ($25,000) and Aecom ($15,000) are the top two contributors, but a fair amount has come from unions(Carpenters: $10,000) and architects and others who might be involved in any rebuilding.

Proposition B:

“Fix Our Streets” is the only supporting committee and no opposition committee has filed.

It took in $116,,700 and spent $80,000. In late reporting, it took in another $10,000 with $5,000 each from Aecom and PG&E. About $29,000 came from construction worker unions, and other large contributions include Recology ($10,000), Lennar ($5,000), Webcor ($5,000), and a list of companies involved in road construction.

Proposition C:

There are a half-dozen committees raising and spending in support of the “city family” pension rewrite.

The largest is “San Franciscans United” and by its last reporting period had raised $842,437 and spend more than that — $897,786.  After the reporting period it pulled in another $10,000 from Local 21,  $15,000 from Municipal Executives, Golden Gate Restaurant for $10,000, SEIU 1021 for $50,000, $2,500 from the carpenters. Before that, Local 21 contributed $129,000,  the Chamber $12,817, and Municipal Executives $12,162.

“Standing Up for Working Families” has raised $222,932 but spent $641,161,

Meanwhile “Protect Our Benefits” is the opposition committee, and has raised $42,943. With carry-overs, it has a cash balance of $75,000 after spending about $29,000.

Of all the committees in this year’s election, the contributors to “Protect Our Benefits” shows the heaviest concentration of ordinary citizens contributing $100 or $200 each. There are no significant large contributions.

Proposition D:

Yes on Proposition D has raised $636,734 and spent $572,296, leaving it about $67,454 at the end of the reporting period.  Major donors include George Hume $200,000),

Proposition E:

Yes on E has raised  $38,900, including  $15,000 from the Committee on Jobs, $10,000 from BOMA and $2,500 from Shorenstein Realty. $18,772.43

“Friends of Ethics” No on E and F has raised $11,501, including $4,999 from CitiReport editor Larry Bush and $1,000 from former Ethics Commissioner Bob Dockendorff.

Proposition F:

There is no committee in support of Proposition F, and Friends of Ethics opposed to Prop E is also reporting as opposed to Prop F.

Proposition G:

Proposition G replaces a state sales tax that is ending with a slightly lower local sales tax.  It has raised $11,008, with SEIU Health Care West contributing $52,007 in staff time. Cash has come from AT&T ($5,000), Lennar ($10,000), Recology ($5,000), TMG Partners ($5,000) and three unions for $5,000 each (Carpenters, Local 21 and the Firefighters). There is a late $50,000 contribution from the California State Council of the SEIU.

The No side is funded through Committee of a Fair and Better San Francisco with $85,150 in its kitty. It’s major contributors are from the business side of town: Google Chair Eric Schmid ($15,000), Stiffel’s Thomas Weisel ($10,000), Sequoia’s Michael Moritz ($25,000) and Capitol Group’s Gregory Wendt ($10,000).

Proposition H, a measure dealing with assigning students to schools.

Two committees are in support:  Leland Yee-backed Students First ($19,696) and Joanna Rees’ Support Quality Neighborhood Schools ($131,700 with $125,000 from Rees).

No! Let Parents Decide has raised $75,000, spent $93,303, with the funding coming from unions (United Educators $85,000 including $20,000 in late contributions; SEIU 1021 $5,000).



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