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October 18, 2011

Open Letter on the November 8, 2011 San Francisco Municipal Election


Dear Friends,

The November 2011 San Francisco election demonstrates how desperately working people need radical change. The recession rages on, unemployment remains at a record high and families fight to keep a roof over their heads. The growing Occupy Wall Street/San Francisco movement is a loud expression of the desire for systemic change. Have the Mayor and Board of Supervisors stepped in to bring solutions we can vote for? Not hardly! This ballot contains nothing but pension take-backs, regressive taxes, and status quo candidates. Capitalism and its political representatives have nothing positive to offer workers and the poor.

Mayor Ed Lee’s Twitter tax break and the City’s decades-long history of decreasing corporate taxes point to the real cause of the local economic crisis—coddling big business. Not surprisingly, though, just as with Greece and other European nations on the brink of collapse, the economic formulas being touted for San Francisco are to villainize public employees and make them pay, while governments bend over backwards to satisfy the profiteers. It is critical this November 8 that voters take to the polls to defeat the attacks coming our way.

For viable economic solutions, see “An answer to the crisis: 10-point program of the Freedom Socialist Party,” which is enclosed.

Candidates for Mayor, District Attorney and Sheriff

This is the first time the mayor’s race will use ranked choice voting. Unfortunately, not a single anti-capitalist candidate is running for any San Francisco office. This means that no one is stepping up to say that working people’s needs are simply incompatible with the thirst for mega-profits by banks and other big business like Chevron and Wells Fargo. And it ensures that City Hall policies favoring big business and the wealthy will continue to be the norm. Shamefully, assaults on workers’ pensions receive the full support of other Mayoral candidates--even “liberal” frontrunner John Avalos and popular Mayor Lee. Green Party candidate Terry Baum calls for reforms we support, but even she considers it is possible to create a kinder, gentler kind of capitalism. We disagree – the system isn’t broken, it was designed this way! Register a protest by leaving your ballot blank for all elected offices.

Measures C and D—Pension Funds Under Attack

In the past, worker pension funds were an investment that actually raised revenue for the city, none of which trickled down to workers. But with the economy in crisis, Democrats and Republicans aim to reduce the city’s contribution to these funds while increasing the share paid by public employees. Shamefully, several SF labor leaders helped craft, and many unions support, Proposition C, touting it as gentler than Proposition D. Both C and D are take-backs, penalizing public employees rather than increasing taxes on the rich. And, imagine how much healthier the fund would be had the city not taken a “pension holiday” for six years during the dot com boom, when it simply stopped paying its share! Measure C also gives the Mayor’s hand-picked appointees control of the Health Services Board, which governs public workers’ medical coverage, to the Mayor’s hand-picked appointees. Along with hundreds of retired City workers in the Service Employees International Union, the Peace and Freedom Party and the Gray Panthers, we urge a NO vote on C and D!

Propositions A, B, and G—We’re tired of being treated like ATM machines!

These measures will take more money out of the pockets of workers for years to come. Proposition A is a bond measure to allow the city to borrow $531 million for school upkeep; Proposition B’s bond would allow the city to borrow up to $248 million to repair streets; and Proposition G proposes a 0.5% sales tax increase to pay for firefighters and more cops, plus services to the elderly and to youth. The two bond measures would be repaid with an increase on property taxes, just what people desperately trying to hold onto their homes don’t need. Along with the Coalition for San Francisco’s Neighborhoods, we recommend a NO vote on B’s regressive taxes that hit the poor and workers the hardest. We agree with the Green Party in voting NO vote on Prop G, to say no to more police, whose history is one of violence and bigotry toward the poor and people of color.

Proposition H—Unequal Education

Dubbed “Quality Schools for all” this would actually do nothing to ensure quality education. It prioritizes placing children in their neighborhood schools, far above any other considerations. Until we have quality schools in every neighborhood, assignments based on geography will only entrench the existing gap in performance between schools in poor and wealthy areas. It will also work against racial integration, keeping Black and Latino children in subpar schools. Along with United Educators of SF (American Federation of Teachers/California Federation of Teachers Local 61) and parents and students throughout SF, we strongly recommend a NO vote.

Proposition E—A Step Back for Democracy

This measure would grant the Mayor or the Board of Supervisors the power to change or repeal certain voter-enacted legislation without the approval of voters, as is currently required. We agree with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Employees Local 21 and the SF Tenants Union in voting NO.

In conclusion, while we urge all voters to head to the polls this November, electoral activism is not enough to stop the wholesale assault on workers’ rights and quality of life currently underway on the city, state and federal level. For that, we need to build on exciting developments like Occupy San Francisco and fight to make them as inclusive as possible. A militant, feminist, pro-labor and anti-capitalist movement is achievable, and we invite you to join with FSP in helping create it! We’re also excited to announce that we plan to participate in the 2012 electoral campaigns to offer a real socialist feminist alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. Volunteers are needed now! Please feel free to call or email me at 415-864-1278 or bafsp@earthlink.net, or visit www.socialism.com, for more information and to discuss your ideas about working together in the fight for a better world.

In solidarity,

Toni Mendicino
Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party organizer


Summary of Ballot Recommendations
November 8, 2011 San Francisco Municipal Election

(You may take this summary with you into the voting booth.)


Candidates

No endorsements

San Francisco Measures

Measure A (School Bonds)…………………………………...…………….......………….VOTE NO
Measure B (Road Repaving and Street Safety Bonds)…………………………..….VOTE NO

Measure C (City Pension and Health Care Benefits)……………………………….VOTE NO

Measure D (City Pension Benefits)……………….…………………………….......…..VOTE NO

Measure E (Amending/Repealing Legislative Initiative Ordinances)……..VOTE NO

Measure G (Sales Tax)…………………………………………………....………......……..VOTE NO

Measure H ( School District Student Assignment)...…………………......……VOTE NO