Election Slate November 2022

Governor: Gavin Newsom
I continue to be pleased with his work as Governor over a very turbulent period. With the challenges of climate change growing ever more intrusive, I want to see as self-sufficient a California as possible. Our economy is the 5th largest in the world and we need as effective a leader as Newsom.

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
Seems to be doing a very good job judging by the state of the state.

Secretary of State: Shirley N. Weber
I like the job she’s been doing.

Controller: Malia M. Cohen
I’ve been pleased with her work in San Francisco and she handled the task of Board of Equalization well.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Another great, solid, long-term performer in the state’s best interests.

Attorney General: Rob Bonta
Done a good job since appointment, and doing an especially nice job at keeping the public informed; let’s keep him at it.

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Seems to be doing a good job; no compelling reason to disrupt things with a change.

Board of Equalization Member, District 2: Sally J. Lieber
Whether California’s Board of Equalization, the only elected tax board in the country, should exist at all is definitely a question. Certainly we need more protections against money flowing as campaign contributions to someone who may make a judicial decision for the donor. But while it exists we need good people elected to it. Lieber has good endorsements.

United States Senator (both term ending Jan 3, 2029 and remainder of current term): Alex Padilla
Easy choice. He was great as Secretary of State for California and it’s good to have him in the Senate.

United States Representative, District 11: Nancy Pelosi
In the primaries I was still in the same place I was two years prior on this. Pelosi served us very well in getting through four years of Trump/Pence/GOP policies without losing more ground than we did. Do I agree with her on everything? No. Is she as effective as anyone could be as Speaker of the House right now could be? Yes. Is there an obvious experienced next choice for Speaker of the House if she doesn’t remain in office? No. We need her insider savvy holding the line and taking the heat as we weather the next two years. (Also, it gives the progressives we’ve elected time to build a little more seniority and have a little bit better chance of important committee positions in any upward shuffle.) When the choice is Pelosi or a Republican, then I’m even more strongly in favor of Pelosi.

State Assembly Member, District 17: Matt Haney
I was impressed by Haney through the primary campaign, and am not a Campos fan.


Judicial positions: Yes
Judicial elections are bad. Judges should not be in the business of campaigning, raising money, and so forth; they should be appointed to life terms by the political branches, removable for cause. But here we are nonetheless. In California, justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are appointed by the Governor, with periodic referenda on whether to “retain” them. Justices are almost always retained.  Between 1934 and 1986, no justice ever failed his or her retention vote. In 1986, three justices of the Supreme Court were voted out (arguably) because of their principled opposition to the death penalty. No Justice has failed a retention vote since then. So, vote yes on retaining appellate judges! The fact that there’s a vote at all is bad, but the least we can do is vote “yes.” Especially for Goodwin Liu who will be excellent.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony K. Thurmond
I’m glad I voted for Thurmond before and will do so again. Great endorsements. I first was drawn to him by his commitment to quality public school education and teaching critical thinking rather than a “teach the test” approach.

Member, Board of Education:
Member, Community College Board:

I’m neither a student nor a parent. Based on the candidate statements for BoE, I’m leaning Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward mainly because of the Scott Weiner endorsement.
Likewise for CCB, I’m voting for Thea Selby, whom I’ve supported in the past, and leaning John Rizzo because of the Scott Weiner endorsement and Murrell Green because of the Eleni Kounalakis endorsement and a strong candidate statement.
(I live in Dean Preston’s district and consider his endorsements a negative point for a candidate; he has not been a great advocate for the neighborhood and did some cruddy campaign stuff in the past when he first ran.)

Assessor-Recorder: Joaquín Torres
Seems to be doing fine.

District Attorney: Brooke Jenkins
Doing fine and good endorsements.

Public Defender: Mano Raju
Doing fine and hard to argue with that list of endorsements.

State Propositions
1 CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM: YES
Enshrine the right to abortion as a personal decision in the state constitution.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL, ACLU, California Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, League of Women Voters, and CA Democratic Party are in favor. Opponents (Republicans, California Conference of Catholic Bishops, Knights of Columbus, other abortion foes) say it’ll cost a bunch of money but current analysis is it will have no direct fiscal effects to the state.

26 ALLOWS IN-PERSON ROULETTE, DICE GAMES, SPORTS WAGERING ON TRIBAL LANDS: NO
Would legalize a bunch of sports betting at California American Indian casinos and racetracks. and tax it at 10%. Opposed by Republicans, existing casinos and racetracks, but also by SF Chronicle, LA Times, and Mercury News and East Bay Times Editorial Boards. There’s apparently been a bunch of lawsuit issues around sports betting and online gambling (see prop 27), and the funds this generates can fluctuate in ways that are risky for local government.
I’m not a big fan of gambling as a government revenue source—it’s exploitative in a way that other recreation isn’t. The immediate negative impact of this is probably going to be on existing card clubs. The long-term impact is probably going to be more money flowing into gambling as business and encouraging more gambling generally, which I don’t think is great for society.

27 ALLOWS ONLINE AND MOBILE SPORTS WAGERING OUTSIDE TRIBAL LANDS: NO
As above, but online which reaches even more people, even more easily, and even more likely to reach those to vulnerable to the harms of gambling. Seems to be an out-of-state gambling corporations power grab. The veneer on this one is funds for relieving homelessness, but best case likely would be less than $500 million per year with regulatory costs in the tens of millions. Opposed by the Democratic, Republican, and Peace and Freedom parties, which tells ya something.

28 PROVIDES ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR ARTS AND MUSIC EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Yes
Sets a minimum source of annual funding for K-12 arts and music education funding. Nobody is opposing this. Gotta love seeing “If you are aware of any opponents or opposing arguments, please send an email with a link to editor@ballotpedia.org”!
Edited to add: One argument I’ve since heard is that this set-aside is fine while the state has lots of money but could lead to tough choices if finances get tight. I personally don’t think that risk is high enough to offset the benefits of the continuity of funding, the employment that comes with that funding, and the creative and inspiring education which kids really need. I’m still a Yes.

29 REQUIRES ON-SITE LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AT KIDNEY DIALYSIS CLINICS AND ESTABLISHES OTHER STATE REQUIREMENTS: NO, for the third time, NO
Back every other year with a crappy proposition, apparently, here’s SEIU-UHW spending about $8 million to try through government mandate to get the big dialysis clinic companies to change their processes and staffing. No other state requires a doctor on site, the patients who come to clinics already have a physician they work with, and this isn’t a matter for the ballot, particularly when there isn’t evidence the current arrangement has harmed patients.

30 PROVIDES FUNDING FOR PROGRAMS TO REDUCE AIR POLLUTION AND PREVENT WILDFIRES BY INCREASING TAX ON PERSONAL INCOME OVER $2 MILLION: YES
Great list of endorsements from firefighters, medical professionals, clean air advocates and other environmentalists. This impacts 0.2% of California taxpayers—that’s 1 in 500, because we’re a rich state. The rich here, as elsewhere, have benefitted from the same economy that helped create climate change and they’re rich enough to pay 1.75% more on the extra money they earn beyond the first $2 million (which should be enough for anyone). Note that Lyft has spent $35 million in support of this, leading Gov. Newsom to oppose it; but even though the state is doing a lot, we need to do more to decarbonize the state and it’s worth it even if Lyft benefits in the short term. LA Times Editorial Board opposes saying “Proposition 30 would push the top-earner rate to 15.05%, which is much higher than other states, most of which have income tax rates in the single digits” as if the other states have it right. I don’t think so, I don’t think we tax the rich enough and climate change is the most pressing problem we have, so let’s get that money to do something about it fast. The clock is running out on being able to make these changes.

31 REFERENDUM ON 2020 LAW THAT WOULD PROHIBIT THE RETAIL SALE OF CERTAIN FLAVORED TOBACCO PRODUCTS: YES
We do not need candy tobacco any more than we need candy asbestos. Will it cost Phillip Morris, ITG, R.J. Reynolds, Swedish Match, and American Snuff money? You know it must because they’ve shelled out nearly $21 million trying to get people to vote no. Big doners in support are Michael Bloomberg, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, American Cancer and Heart and Lung Associations. Fuck the cancer profiteers; vote YES.

City and County Propositions
A Retirement Funding: YES
Tidy up retirement security for people who retired before late 1996. Rubberstamp by electorate on unanimous Board of Supervisors action. No opposition.

B Adjustments to Sanitation and Streets Department Affiliation: YES
Move Department of Sanitation and Streets back under DPW after vote to move it out to a separate department in Nov 2020. (That vote also created a separate oversight commission, which yes on B does not eliminate.) This streamlines government staffing and therefore costs to the tune of around $2.5 million a year ongoing, possibly more. Supported by the mayor, city administrator and lots of the board of supes, but opposed by sanitation workers’ union and related workers. I gotta say, I haven’t seen an improvement in the state of our streets in the past year, so having additional bureaucracy doesn’t appear to be an approach that’s actually creating results. Better to save the money and lean into not having corruption in that department. The opposition arguments are basically all the same argument with a different “we are the [workers] who [do dirty job]” phrasing. There isn’t a nuanced opposition to this which suggests the diverse support is more valid.

C Homelessness Oversight Commission: YES
Creates an oversight committee for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. Minimal fiscal impact. Rubberstamp by electorate on unanimous Board of Supervisors action. Opposed by Republicans and, in an odd combo, SF YIMBY. The latter is concerned it will slow down action and diffuse accountability, but if there were real worries there I don’t think we’d see an unanimous Board of Supes vote, so I stay Yes on this.

D Streamline Approval of Some Affordable Housing (from 80K+ signatures, pushed by YIMBY groups): YES
Fast-tracks multifamily affordable housing and still requires compliance with Planning and Building codes. Also requires certain projects to provide health care benefits to workers and apprenticeship opportunities. Minimal impacts on cost of government. Great endorsements including Habitat for Humanity, Scott Weiner, NorCal Carpenters Union, and SF YIMBY. Concerning opposition from SF Tenants Union, SF Labor Council, and Council of Community Housing Organizations who don’t like its definition of “affordable” and are opposed to building more market rate housing before below market rate. Personally I don’t think it is realistic to expect a ton of new below market rate housing to be build, but that an influx of any housing creates more affordable housing at the bottom of the total housing pool. San Francisco needs 82,000 more units by 2031 to preserve state and federal grants; we need to build and this will increase building.
If D passes with more votes than E, then E has no legal effect.

E Streamline Approval of Some Even More Affordable Housing (Poison pill for measure D; from certain generally anti-building members of Board of Supes in a 7 to 4 vote): NO
Fast-tracks 10+ unit, even more affordable than measure D housing and still requires compliance with Planning and Building codes. Has more requirements than D on compensation, workforce composition, and apprenticeship. Retains veto power of Board of Supervisors which measure D does not. Supported by many very very liberal organizations and individuals. Opposed by YIMBY groups. This promotes a lovely vision of more affordable, targeted to specific worthy groups housing, but suffers from the reality check of what building projects it will actually result in. It’s yet another case where the vision of nearly perfect won’t result in as much good actually resulting in the real world as the compromise with a good chunk of positive requirements. SF extreme liberals—and I chart pretty far left, so these are waaaaay left folks—have a real problem with holding out for ‘perfect or nothing’ and we end up with a lot more nothing.
If E passes with more votes than D, then D has no legal effect.

F Renew Library Preservation Fund For 25 Years: YES
Minimal impact on cost of government, as it just renews existing uses of property tax funds and other city revenues. Rubberstamp by electorate on unanimous Board of Supervisors action. No opposition. Libraries perform an absolutely vital service, even more so in an area like ours with profound income inequality.

G Grants to SF Unified School District: YES
Additional school district money for academic achievement and social/emotional wellness. Programs could include academic tutoring, math and literacy specialists, additional social workers, arts and science programming, or afterschool and summer enrichment. Nice requirements around school/parent/community involvement; it’s not a blank check for the school that gets the grant. Pretty significant fiscal impact, pulling money from General Fund to this allocation to the tune of $11 million next school year, growing to 35 and 45 the following two years, and 60 each year after that through fiscal year 2037-38. Rubberstamp by electorate on unanimous Board of Supervisors action. Widely supported by educators. Opposed by Republicans and anti-tax folks (the Howard Jarvis crowd). School kids got royally screwed by the pandemic; this is the chance to recover from it. We’re a rich city, it’s a solid investment, and it will pay off.

H Streamline Local Election Timing To Even Years, Change Minimum Number Of Signatures To Put Things On Ballot: YES
The election timing thing is a no-brainer; normal things around local office and measures elections don’t move so fast that we can’t do this every other year. Streamlines costs. This would extend the current terms of mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney and treasurer by one year, and I’m fine with that. Currently to qualify for the ballot, a petition must include signatures from San Francisco voters equaling at least 5% of the votes cast for all candidates in the preceding election for mayor. As of July 2022, these petitions require a minimum of 8,979 signatures. That’s a really small percentage of the population to require all of us to research and vote on it. This only changes it to 2% of registered voters in San Francisco, which was 9,948 as of July 2022. Still pretty small, but better, and more tied to potential election participation rather than turnout. (Though it should be noted this will likely increase turnout.) Opposed by Ritchie Greenberg because it “undermines our democratic norms” and by other Republicans because the ballot in those years would be too long and voters would have to think too hard. Six ballot cards! Instead of the 5 we have this election. Oh the pearl clutching! Supported by pretty much everybody else.

I Cars On JFK Drive and Great Highway: NO
Got on ballot by signature drive. There are legitimate disability access concerns yes, but the new dedicated ADA space parking lot and the coming additional accessible shuttles (adding to the current every-15-minutes shuttle) are solving those issues, as well as the reduced traffic making things much more accessible for all. Measure I will also block the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which is just not okay. And it will mess up the lovely alternate weekend use of the Great Highway for non-cars. This is an end run around a two year public process that resulted in a workable compromise plan. Also probably will cost as much as $80 million in increased project costs to change the existing compromise plan. Some disability groups but by no means all, some museum groups, and some neighborhood groups, as well as driving advocates are in favor. SF YIMBY is opposed as are lots of of environmental groups, walking and biking groups, and SF Democratic party.

J People On JFK Drive: YES
This preserves the open spaces added during the pandemic on portions of JFK Drive and certain connector streets in Golden Gate Park, keeping them free from private cars seven days a week. The Mayor, Board of Supes, parks and green space fans, SF Democratic Party, waling and biking advocates, Scott Weiner, health care professionals, Honey Mahogany, nearby small businessfolk, SPUR, Church of 8 Wheels, YIMBY folks, etc. etc.are in favor. The folks who support I are opposed.

L Continue Half-Cent Sales Tax; Transportation Funding: YES
Continue the existing sales tax to pay for transportation projects another 30 years. Rubberstamp by electorate on unanimous Board of Supervisors action. No opposition other than anti-Muni gadfly David Pilpel and local anti-taxation/anti-government folks including of course Quentin L. Kopp.

M Tax Mostly-Vacant Residential Units In Three+ Unit Buildings: YES
Note that this isn’t an empty home tax as it exempts single family homes and duplexes, but it does incentivize getting people into existing housing or at least making some money from it to build new housing. This got to the ballot by petition. SF YIMBY is in favor, not because it will make a huge difference (brings in about $20 million annually since it probably affects about 8,000 not 40,000 units), but because it does something anti-development policymakers spend a lot of energy on and lets the focus move ahead to the real challenge of housing affordability not vacancy. Supported by SF Democratic Party, some housing access advocates, lots of local elected officials, diverse community groups, SF Tenants Union and related organizations, some labor unions, and the Coalition on Homelessness. Opposed by the SF Apartment Association and other landlords, and of course the anti-tax Howard Jarvis folks.

N Public Parking Under Music Concourse In Golden Gate Park Managed By Rec And Park Commission: YES
Placed on the ballot by Mayor Breed because the existing parking is expensive and sits vacant much of the year. Even with some subsidizing of parking for visitors, the City Controller says this may reduce government costs as it could allow refinancing existing debt. Walking advocates, neighborhood groups, SF Democratic Party, and SF YIMBY are in favor. No opposition.

O Additional Parcel Tax To Help Fund City College: Yes
This would not apply to those that don’t have to pay standard property taxes (e.g. certain non-profits) or to those in which one or more owners is 65 that fiscal year. Cheapest increase (one residential unit or for a duplex; or non-residential under 5,000 square feet) is $150 for 2023. Highest is non-residential over 100,000 square feet at $4,000.
This is opposed by Mayor Breed, Supervisors Peskin and Stefani, and (strange bedfellows) public conservative and anti-taxxer Quentin Kopp, on the grounds that a lot of money has already gone to City College, the school has had lots of problems, and there isn’t even a plan for spending the funds. Lots of large apartment landlords and realtors are also opposed (the latter apparently most incensed by the idea that commercial real estate will be “taxed like a taxpayer’s home!” I don’t think they workshopped that to see how it sounds from the outside.)
It’s supported by Board of Supes President Shamann Walton, the City College Faculty and Staff unions, Firefighters Local union 798 (because City College has fire training programs), and many diverse other individuals and groups including lots of educators.
I do see the reasons for a No, but I think there are stronger arguments for continuing to invest in City College as a vital tool in helping address income inequality in San Francisco. City College is a much needed ladder to help people have greater ability to earn a living.

Reduce your front-door distractions!
Once you’ve filled out and mailed or dropped off your ballot, put your “I voted!” sticker on a piece of paper and tuck it under the edge of your doorbell. Saves you from folks pointlessly coming to the door trying to swing your vote.

Election Slate June 2022

Governor: Gavin Newsom
I’m pretty pleased with his work as Governor over a very turbulent period. With the challenges of climate change growing ever more intrusive, I want to see as self-sufficient a California as possible. Our economy is the 5th largest in the world and we need as effective a leader as Newsom.

Lt. Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
Seems to be doing a very good job judging by the state of the state.

Secretary of State: Shirley N. Weber
I like the job she’s been doing.

Controller: Malia Cohen
I’ve been pleased with her work in San Francisco and she handled the task of Board of Equalization well. There are some question marks around Galperin that tilt me to Cohen.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Another great, solid, long-term performer in the state’s best interests.

Attorney General: Rob Bonta
Done a good job since appointment, let’s keep him at it.

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Seems to be doing a good job; no compelling reason to disrupt things with a change.

Board of Equalization Member, District 2: Sally J. Lieber
Whether California’s Board of Equalization, the only elected tax board in the country, should exist at all is definitely a question. Certainly we need more protections against money flowing as campaign contributions to someone who may make a judicial decision for the donor. But while it exists we need good people elected to it. Lieber has good endorsements and I’m not a big Alioto-Pier fan.

U.S. Senator (rest of term and next term): Alex Padilla
Easy choice. He was great as Secretary of State for California and it’s good to have him in the Senate.

United States Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi
Still in the same place I was two years ago on this. Pelosi served us very well in getting through four years of Trump/Pence/GOP policies without losing more ground than we did. Do I agree with her on everything? No. Is she as effective as anyone could be as Speaker of the House right now could be? Yes. Is there an obvious experienced next choice for Speaker of the House if she doesn’t remain in office? No. We need her insider savvy holding the line and taking the heat as we weather the next two years. (Also, it gives the progressives we’ve elected time to build a little more seniority and have a little bit better chance of important committee positions in any upward shuffle.)

State Assembly Member District 17: Matt Haney
I’ve been impressed by Haney through this campaign, and am not a Campos fan.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony K. Thurmond
I’m glad I voted for Thurmond before and will do so again. Great endorsements. I first was drawn to him by his commitment to quality public school education and teaching critical thinking rather than a “teach the test” approach.

City Attorney: David Chiu
One of the elected officials I trust most. He is motivated to work for the common good, and has passed up other opportunities in order to devote himself to public service. I’m glad every time I can vote to keep him working for us.

CITY AND COUNTY PROPOSITIONS:

A YES
Muni Reliability and Street Safety Bond
I’m very excited about the transit and street feature changes in San Francisco. The improvements definitely impact my quality of life and are well worth continuing to fund. Also, in this expensive city, keeping transit working well is the least we can do for ordinary working folks.
(Opposed by anti-Chesa Boudin folks and anti-tax codger Quentin Kopp.)

B YES
Building Inspection Commission
This is a voter rubberstamp on a unanimous Board of Supes proposition with no submitted arguments against.

C YES
Recall Timelines and Vacancy Appointments
Special elections due to recalls are expensive and shouldn’t be held in the same year as a general election for that seat. That makes total sense. It makes even more sense when big money (plenty of it non-San Franciscan) can be funneled into promoting a disruptive recall. (This seems to be primarily opposed by an odd mix of angry parents who want to be able to very quickly throw out the school board if they don’t like them and the anti-Chesa Boudin crowd, Republicans, and Quentin Kopp.)

D YES
Office of Victim and Witness Rights, Legal Services for Domestic Violence Victims
Widespread support. (Opposed by anti-government gadfly David Pilpil, who seems to be often siding with anti-tax folks.)

E NO
Behested Payments (donations solicited by public officials to benefit either a gov’t agency or private organization)
Folks I respect (like Scott Weiner) are opposed to this well-intentioned anti-corruption proposal because of the probable chilling effect on city partnerships with non-profit partners. This proposal needs to be re-written and brought back in a better form before we should endorse it.

F YES
Refuse Collection and Disposal
This is a voter rubberstamp on a unanimous Board of Supes proposition with broad support and only David Pilpil submitting arguments against.

G YES
Public Health Emergency Leave
This is a voter rubberstamp on a partial Board of Supes proposition with no submitted arguments against. This would really help out working individuals and only impacts companies with more than 100 employees worldwide.

H NO
Recall Measure Regarding Chesa Boudin
This is the conservative side of SF using eager Republican dollars to try to remove a progressive from office. The usual suspects are in favor—Republican Richie Greenberg, the anti-tax crowd, and some business organizations—while the opposition includes the ACLU, Sierra Club, SF Democratic Party, a bunch of labor unions, a bunch of Democratic and progressive political clubs, a big list of retired judges, some police commissioners, and some different business organizations. If you have good, solid arguments for a recall, you shouldn’t need to send piles of fear-mongering, glossy mailers, but the backers of this recall piled our mailboxes full of a Boudin smear campaign. NO.

Well. That news really puts the Grrr in the Grrrl.

Meta my ass, you unethical mofos.

Get off Facebook whatever name they call themselves. Get off every Facebook service. Block Facebook. Don’t work for Facebook. Don’t provide services to Facebook. Find every way you can to get them out of your life and support others in doing the same.

Election Slate November 2020

Huge thanks to my pal Fred for his extensive work poring over all these details and good notes. That’s an above and beyond and huge lifesaver move in 2020. 🏆

President and Vice President: Joseph R. Biden & Kamala D. Harris
This is all hands on deck. We need every vote behind this team with the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history. Vote for democracy, vote for science-based policy that saves our lives and livelihood, vote for basic human decency. And—oh can you even remember what it’s like?—vote for the possibility of a dull news day.

United States Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi has served us very well in getting through four years of Trump/Pence/GOP policies without losing more ground than we have. Do I agree with her on everything? No. Is she as effective as anyone could be as Speaker of the House right now could be? Yes. Is there an obvious experienced next choice for Speaker of the House if she doesn’t remain in office? No. We need her insider savvy holding the line and taking the heat as we weather the next two years; they’ll be hard work no matter who is President. (Also, it gives the progressives we’ve elected time to build a little more seniority and have a little bit better chance of important committee positions in any upward shuffle.)

State Senator District 11: Scott Weiner
He’s committed to the hard, iterative work of good governance.

State Assembly Member District 17: David Chiu
Ever since his work for us here in San Francisco I’ve been impressed by Chiu. He is motivated to work for the common good, and has passed up other opportunities in order to devote himself to public service. I’m glad every time I can vote to keep him working for us.

Member Board of Education: Michelle Parker. (only vote one)
This is a complex system and it needs good administrators. Parker has experience with huge budgets and lots of experience in this area. The existing team has made some very questionable, non-data-driven, ideological decisions.

Member Community College Board: Shanell Williams, Alan Wong, (both endorsed by David Chiu whom I trust)
(Friend of friend says consider Aliya Chisti, Anita Martinez, Victor Olivieri, but I have no particular insight on them.)

BART Director District 9: (I’m skipping this one.)

STATE PROPOSITIONS:

14 NO
Authorize Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research Initiative Statute
The federal funding ban was lifted in 2009, so the feds now spend over a billion dollars annually on this research, alongside billions annually in private sector funding; California does not need to be saddled with the interest debt on this.

15 YES YES YES
Increases Funding Sources For Public Schools, Community Colleges, And Local Government Services By Changing Tax Assessment Of Commercial And Industrial Property
Prop 13 in 1978 also largely froze assessments on commercial properties at 1976 levels as well as residential. This proposition will gradually over time get rid of that and bring California back in line with other states. This will raise a huge amount of much needed money (particularly for schools) and undo a huge drag on California.

16 YES
Allows Diversity As A Factor In Public Employment, Education, And Contracting Decisions
Repeals Prop 209 from the late 1990s and allows state entities to use affirmative action. Because Prop 209 amended the state constitution, the only way to undo it is another ballot proposition. The state legislature, by more than 2/3rds majority, put this on the ballot. I’m strongly in favor of this one; we need affirmative action to overcome our legacy of systemic bias.

17 YES
Restores Right To Vote After Completion Of Prison Term
Keeping people from voting after serving their time doesn’t help them reintegrate into society and become productive citizens again. This got on the ballot by legislative referral after passing with more than 2/3rds majority of both houses (because it has to be voted on as a change to the state constitution).

18 YES
Amends California Constitution To Permit 17-Year-Olds To Vote In Primary And Special Elections If They Will Turn 18 By The Next General Election
This is a basic correction to a problem with only being able to vote in November on the remaining candidates without getting to vote in the primary in June on the full slate. There’s not going to be a big change in judgment between being 17 1/2 and 18. This is an easy yes.

19 YES
Changes Certain Property Tax Rules
This changes a lot about “Prop 13” the old California property tax break. Currently (simplifying things) if you’re over 55, when you sell your house if you buy within the same county or one of a few special counties, you can take your low tax rate from your house with you to a new home of equal or lesser value and you can do this once. Proposition 19 makes some changes.
Good: You don’t have to stay in the same county (which may have become waaay less affordable thus “trapping” you in your old house) and can go anywhere in the whole state. It also closes the “Lebowski loophole” which allows someone who inherited from their parents to both keep the low tax rate while not actually living in the house.
Mixed: Changes to allow you to do it 3 times isn’t as good as “can only do again if driven out by disaster”, but it’s better than “if you already used this once and your neighborhood gets ravaged by a wildfire you’re out of luck”.
Bad: This doesn’t include any means testing to prevent folks who don’t need the help from abusing it.

20 NO
Restricts Parole For Certain Offenses Currently Considered To Be Non-Violent, Authorizes Felony Sentences For Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only As Misdemeanors
Creates the ability for prosecutors to charge some property misdemeanors as felonies in a rather unpredictable way. No. Along with other harsher changes, this also alarmingly creates a mandatory DNA database for certain misdemeanors. Hell no! And this seems rife with risk for racial bias. Extra sprinkles of no on top.

21 NO
Expands Local Governments’ Authority To Enact Rent Control On Residential Property
I’m a soft no here. This broadens rent control ability, but we already have statewide rent control options, so communities that want it, have it, thus this will mostly impact places like San Francisco, where I’m doubtful it will have a positive impact.

22 NO
Exempts App-Based Transportation And Delivery Companies From Providing Employee Benefits To Certain Drivers
This is not something that should be decided as a ballot issue rather than in the legislature, particularly when the very interested corporate parties are able to throw $100m+ in advertising to get it to go the way they want. The 2019 legislation this is a reaction to, AB5, was bad, but this NOT the way to fix it.

23 NO
Establishes State Requirements For Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Requires On-Site Medical Professional
Creates a non-medically-based medical recommendation. This does not create good health outcomes. (This proposition is shameful; it’s a battle between the highly profitable kidney dialysis industry and labor. The ballot initiative process is not the way to make staffing decisions.)

24 NO
Amends Consumer Privacy Laws
This is not a “are you pro-privacy or not” proposition, it’s about “do you want to do this in one difficult-to-adjust ballot proposition with some possibly iffy details (a yes vote) or do you want to handle this through the legislature in a more careful and adjustable way (a no vote)?” Vote NO.

25 YES
Referendum On Law That Replaced Money Bail With System Based On Public Safety And Flight Risk
Cash bail as a system generally results in ‘if you have money you won’t have to stay in jail, and if you don’t have money you do’. This is a challenge (funded by the bail bonds industry) to SB10, the abolition of cash bail, which was passed by the legislature. The problem with SB10 is that at the last minute a lot of power was given to judges in the form of ‘risk assessment’ which made the NAACP and other anti-cash-bail organizations pull their support of SB10. The good thing about SB10 is that it has built in things like requiring a re-evaluation of whether this is resulting in more people being kept in jail than before (e.g. from overharsh risk assessment). A yes vote on 25 approves SB10 and abolishes cash bail in California! (A no would throw it out and returns us to cash bail status quo. I think the problems with SB10 are greatly outweighed by the benefits of getting rid of cash bail and I don’t think industries should be able to buy their way out of legislation they don’t like.

San Francisco Measures

A YES
Health And Homelessness, Parks, And Streets Bond
Easy yes. This is just a grouping of municipal bond measures—which in SF replace old bonds that are being retired, so they don’t raise anyone’s property taxes—planned for several upcoming years to provide economic stimulus now and help address the homelessness crisis. Put on ballot by Mayor Breed and a unanimous vote of Board of Supervisors, so it’s the same channels as a normal municipal bond measure. YES.

B YES
Department of Sanitation And Streets, Sanitation And Streets Commission, And Public Works Commission
Weirdly SF doesn’t have a separate department that manages street cleaning and this would create it. This splits that out from the Dept. of Public Works and adds oversight commissions (needed after a corruption scandal with prior head of DPW). It increases costs and makes our big city government bigger, but maybe it will help. Less direct influence of the mayor, more of the Board of Supes, so that’s mostly good? The Board of Supes wants it. A weak yes.

C YES
Removing Citizenship Requirements For Members Of City Bodies
San Francisco has over 100 commissions, policy boards, and other advisory groups. This changes membership requirement from “registered to vote in SF” to “of legal voting age and a resident”, allowing non-citizens to serve. SF is a huge immigrant city and always has been; this permits our approximately 13% non-citizen population to serve. Representing over 10% of San Franciscan opinion in city bodies makes complete sense and this measure is not opposed by anyone credible.

D YES
Sheriff Oversight
Placed on ballot by unanimous vote of Board of Supes and has to be on ballot because it’s a charter amendment. No one credible is opposing it.

E YES
Police Staffing
Placed on ballot by unanimous vote of Board of Supes and has to be on ballot because it’s a charter amendment. Main opposition is unsurprisingly the SF Police Officers Association. If you think probably the Police Commission and elected officials are better at determining good staffing levels than a fixed minimum number picked in 1994, you should vote Yes.

F YES YES YES
Business Tax Overhaul
SPUR has a big explainer on this, but tl;dr Repeal of the Payroll Tax and an Increase in Gross Receipts Tax Rates, Targeted Relief for Certain Industries and Small Businesses. Imperfect but better than how it is now, bringing good changes at a critical time. Also if it doesn’t pass, the city is going to have lay off hundreds of workers and reduce services. Placed on ballot by unanimous vote of Board of Supes and has to be on ballot because it’s a tax measure.

G YES
Youth Voting In Local Elections
This is an expansion of suffrage to 16 and 17 year olds (approx 3% of registered voters if ALL of them registered). I am supporting it because greater engagement in municipal issues is a good thing, and because we are a heavily climate-change-impacted city, I think younger people need a bigger voice. Yay for practical civics lessons, yay for representation. Placed on ballot by unanimous vote of Board of Supes and has to be on ballot because it amends the city charter.

H YES
Neighborhood Commercial Districts And City Permitting
Permitting for small businesses in SF is pretty bad and the Board of Supes hasn’t agreed on a plan to solve it, so Mayor Breed brought this to the ballot. Opposition is led by those opposed to the mayor and to business interests generally, along with some residents near commercial zones worried about noise and traffic. Change is definitely needed and this is better than the nothing offered as an alternative.

I No
Real Estate Tax Transfer
Increases property transfer tax rate on commercial and residential property valued over $10 million (basically apartment buildings and office buildings). Property owners who sell to the city are exempt and those who sell to nonprofits would pay less. Most other California cities have a flat rate rather than graduated like SF and this would increase SF’s already much higher rate than most surrounding Bay Area cities. SF voted to increase this tax rate in 2008, 2010, and 2016. This measure was brought to the ballot by my district supervisor, Dean Preston, (with whom I am deeply underwhelmed overall), but it sure seems likely to reduce new apartment construction. Preston has introduced a non-enforceable resolution to use money from this for rent abatements and city-owned affordable housing, but Measure I seems likely to reduce high-density housing overall—and SF desperately needs high-density housing. If this measure was targeted only at commercial real estate, maybe, but as it has a strong risk of disincentivizing high-density housing development, I say NO.

J YES
Parcel Tax For San Francisco Unified School District
This is a do-over for a June 2018 measure that passed but got challenged. The 2018 measure seems likely to eventually come out in favor of the city, but this will both slightly lower parcel taxes and clear up the legal wrangle. Entirely reasonable.

K YES
Affordable Housing Authorization
Holy crap yes. This is just an authorization for SF to create up to 10,000 units of subsidized affordable housing, something required be on the ballot because of Article 34 of the California Constitution. This measure is not the funding, that might be the dubious Measure I, but if we get this authorization on the books, we won’t have to wait when the city has the budget for it. Unanimously supported by the Board of Supes.

L YES
Business Tax Based On Comparison Of Top Executive’s Pay To Employees’ Pay
Imposes an additional gross receipts tax (starting in 2022) on companies in which the compensation of the highest-paid managerial employee—ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD—is more than $2.7 million and at least 100 times more than the median compensation of its employees based in San Francisco. It’s the anywhere in the world part that’s key. Would likely apply to huge retailers, grocers, and hotel chains. The surcharge is so small it’s not likely to change corporate location choices, falls on large multinational corporations, and is estimated to generate between $60-140 million annually for the city’s general fund. (And it’s revenue generation that’s not a sales tax mostly impacting those with fewer resources.) Yes.

RR YES
Caltrain Sales Tax
Not the ideal way to fund this—given that sales taxes impact the poor more than the rich and a lot of Caltrain riders are doin’ fine—but better than raising fares and pushing people away from mass transit.

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 5: Vallie Brown (1), Daniel L. Landry (2)
There are plenty of us in District 5 who are both progressives AND would prefer someone other than Dean Preston as our supervisor. We remember how well London Breed served us as district supervisor, how she was twice elected to lead the Board of Supes which had previously been divisive to the point of impairing its ability to serve, and we remember how Dean Preston, a white man and self-described progressive, decided that he should try to remove a highly competent and effective female woman of color representative from her position. Fortunately he failed and we’re able to have Breed’s practical talents as mayor to help keep San Francisco one of the safest places in the US to be during this pandemic. Now we’ve had a chance to see these supposedly better skills Preston was trying to replace her (and then Vallie Brown) with, and he ain’t all that. Let’s get someone in this role who has more focus on positive results for our neighborhood than on the next step in their political career.

Election Slate March 2020

It’s been a busy February/March, so my notes are a bit more terse than usual. Thanks for reading!

President: Warren
Best person for the job. We need someone who can effectively restore our government to full functioning after these devastating years of the Trump administration. Whip smart, experienced, rational, inspiring, effective.
There are other candidates I like too—if it’s not Warren, I’m voting The Democrat 2020—but I hope it’s her. I’ll particularly call out Bernie Sanders; he deserves credit for keeping the center from sliding even further to the right than it did.

County Central Committee
I’m going with my pal Fred’s advice here: “if you also think that the housing crisis is our #1 issue and you believe the best way to solve it is to build all the things,” take a look at the DCCC endorsements from YIMBY Action.

US Rep: Pelosi
She’s doing as well as could be done under the present circumstances. I’d rather see her continue to take the heat than move a new Speaker of the House into the front lines to be smeared by Trump/GOP while their partisans are as rabid as they are now. If there was a chance of any liberal bill passing, her individual positions might matter, but that’s not our current reality.

State Senator: Wiener
Committed to the hard, iterative work of good governance.

State Assembly: Chiu
Ever since his work for us here in San Francisco I’ve been impressed by Chiu. He is motivated to work for the common good, and has passed up other opportunities in order to devote himself to public service. I’m glad every time I can vote to keep him working for us.

Judge seat 1 – Ly
Judge seat 18 – Proudfoot
Judge seat 21 – Singh
Endorsements by other good SF judges are the deciding factor here.

Prop 13 – Schools & Colleges Repair, Construction, and Modernization Bonds
YES

Measure A – City College Job Training, Repair, and Earthquake Safety Bond
YES
We need to maintain our investment in public buildings, particularly those which grant us other benefits of a better educated populace, and this is a good way to fund that. (Opposed by Republicans and other anti-tax groups.)

Measure B – Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond, 2020
YES
We’ve been lucky not to have another major quake since 1989. This continues our work from previous bonds to improve our resilience to disasters of all kinds. (No opposing arguments submitted.)

Measure C – Retiree Health Care Benefits for Former Employees of SF Housing Authority
YES
Some federally funded HA employees have been moved to be city employees and this transitions their retiree health coverage. (No opposing arguments submitted.)

Measure D – Vacancy Tax
YES
Establishes a set of fairly detailed rules to discourage landlords leaving ground floor retail and commercial untenanted. Tax is per linear feet facing the street and how long it has been vacant. Owners are only taxed when space empty over 6 months (182 days). There are exceptions, e.g., to protect non-profits, buildings where certain permits have been applied for or issued, after a fire or natural disaster, only applies to certain districts. The revenue is earmarked for a new small business assistance fund. The list of supporting neighborhood and beloved SF businesses is impressive. I think this is very likely to fix the mismatch between landlords expectations of the market and those of local businesses. (One of the opposing arguments weirdly asserts this will deter pop-ups, when it seems very probable to encourage them. Two 3 month pop-ups would protect the building from the tax. Opposed by Republican Party, a real estate broker, and those who feel that there is insufficient data supporting the “common wisdom” 1. that we have a vacancy crisis and 2. that this would help even if we did.)

Measure E – Limits on Office Development
NO
Ties the city’s annual allotment for Large Office Projects (50,000 square feet and over) to whether the city is meeting its Affordable Housing Goals and sets a minimum goal of 2,042 very low-, low-, and moderate-income units per year for this purpose. If goal not met, the next year’s allotment declines by same percentage as shortfall. Very complex thing that did not reach the ballot through process with sufficient adjustment based on different stakeholders. Does not provide any additional funding for the affordable housing it mandates, and thus seems to just guarantee reduced tax revenue and reduction in money for affordable housing which comes from new office development. Also seems very likely to put displacement pressure on other spaces when new office space isn’t available. We’re already limiting office development and we’re not seeing the same kind of “all office, no residential” problems we did during the boom 20 years ago. We do need more affordable housing, but the proponents of this measure’s blind optimism that it’ll all work out and get built despite reducing funding for it is misplaced.

Election Slate November 2019 – San Francisco

Delayed by spending a lot of time this week watching fire news to be ready to assist Sonoma and Mendocino county family if they needed to evacuate (which none of them did and all have power again, yay!), but here’s where I landed for this election in San Francisco.

Mayor: London Breed
She’s doing a great job shifting a lot of things that don’t change quickly; we’ll be reaping the housing growth and homelessness reduction benefits from her tenure for a long time.

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 5: Vallie Brown
Deep local roots and brings powerful experience to the Board, and she’s been doing a good job.
Definitely don’t want to vote for Dean Preston, who seems—based on his actions in elections since 2016—to place his political advancement over the good of the district. That he persistently tries to displace competent women in office is particularly problematic.

City Attorney: Dennis J. Herrera
Doing a really great job.

District Attorney: Chesa Boudin
Brings a new perspective and helps balance out the political viewpoints in city government so it isn’t entirely Breed-backed.

Public Defender: Manohar Raju
Sure. Seems fine. Good endorsements.

Sheriff: Paul Miyamoto
Backed by retiring Sheriff Vicki Hennessey, who I liked.

Treasurer: José Cisneros
Keep a good thing goin’.

Board of Education: Jenny Lam
Sure. Seems fine and more experienced than other candidates. Good endorsements.

Community College Board: Ivy Lee
Sure. Seems fine. Good endorsements.

A, Affordable Housing Bond: YES
Solidly endorsed. Opposed by the Libertarians who pretty much don’t like collective effort for long-term good if it might possibly cost them any money or ever inconvenience them for a minute.

B, Department of Disability and Aging Services: YES!
Important thing on this one isn’t the renaming, it’s the requirement for three of the seven members that (at least) one seat be held by a person age 60 or older, by a person with a disability, and by a person who has served in the U.S. Military.

C, Vapor Products: NO NO NO!
Ok, Joe Camel.

D, Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax: YES
We do not win the fight against greenhouse gases unless people’s behavior shifts and there are a LOT more cars on our streets since Uber and Lyft. Funds from this will help to make public transit more competitive and increase public safety.

E, Affordable Housing and Educator Housing: YES
Opposed by the dang Libertarians again. Selfish fucks; it isn’t even a tax or a bond proposal! It changes zoning to allow more housing—which we super duper need in this city.

F, Campaign Contributions and Campaign Advertisements: YES
Yay, ethics and transparency in campaign funding and ads!


Re: endorsements, if David Chiu endorses someone, I tend to take them more seriously. David Chiu has always carried himself as a thoughtful public servant, in my experience.

Cool stuff to notice in the sample ballot booklet:
p. 4 – info on Enhanced Election Transparency
p. 10-11 – delightfully large print double spread on Accessible Voting and Services
p.13 – reminder that the 2020 Presidential Primary for California will be MARCH 3, 2020. Mark it on your calendar. Make a note, plan to vote!
p.116 – just inside the back cover, after all the actual text of the propositions, is a handy ballot worksheet.

(We have such a great Voter Information Guide.)

Women and babies and time

Continuing my meditations on the oldest (retroblogged) posts on my blog, I visit the month after I was born.

A picture of my mother, 21 but looking 16, with a wiggling, dark-haired infant in her lap. Holding it (me) nervously as if it might give a sudden lurch like a fish and flip out of her lap. Summertime and we’re both warm. I can see bits of her hair sticking to her cheek, damp despite short sleeves and a skirt that stops above the knee.

A magnificent picture of my great-grandmother, seated in her pearls and a sedate blue-and-gray check short-sleeve dress, holding me in her two hands my feet on her legs and my head raised so she can gaze intently at me. I am so new; pale, plump, and pink. I contrast with her skinny, aged arms, spotted by time and sun, but strong enough for this burden. Her gray hair and the outline of the bones of her skull under her skin place her at the other end of life’s timeline from tiny Dinah. (And now I am far closer to her end than to where this little baby began.) What a thing for the first generation to look the fourth in the face! And how many babes had this woman held in her journey from the end of the 19th century through the tumult over the first six and a half decades of the 20th? Did she want children? Not much option not to have them until not long before this picture. And so she became a wife and a mother and a grandmother and a great-grandmother. A great accomplishment. What other things might she have done if she’d been blessed with the options I have?

On the way to the restaurant where I’m having a late lunch with my laptop, I passed babes in arms and strollers. What options will they have that I didn’t?

I return to the picture. Behind her black folding chair, a cinderblock and board bookcase—Ikea has removed most of those from today’s visual landscape—holding books, many of which are likely still to be on the shelves of my mother’s library. At the end of the top shelf a fancy candlestick—perhaps a wedding gift?—which I recall sitting with its mate on the big wooden sideboard in our kitchen.

To her left, behind my head in the picture, a graceful old piece of furniture with a curved front. Drawers below like a dresser, with a writing desk above. I remember this being beside my mother’s side of my parents’ bed, painted a green reminiscent of weathered copper. And I can’t now picture it anywhere else; I wonder what happened to it? I think all of us must have outgrown it and it didn’t move when they retired. They sold the huge, rambling house I grew up in “as is” and so many things stayed there. Released from our lives.

There is in the picture something big and black atop the back of the desk. My 21st century eye reads it as a wireless speaker, but of course it’s many decades too early for such a thing. A dark black box of paper or wood, with a latch on the front. Perhaps for holding letters and bills and stamps. I was born in the time of paper.

White and pale pink leap out from the picture: her shiny handbag, the outline of a book inside pressing against the soft side; my little baby dress (probably closed at the bottom to keep my feet contained); her pearls; the paper of the newer books on the shelf.

My little right hand is captured in a gesture, middle fingers together, pinky and index held out from the others. Cryptic, but emphatic.

And isn’t that just the nature of infants? Cryptic, but emphatic.

One last picture from this month: my mother and I entranced with each other. She is seated in a narrow armchair, hair in an updo that’s well on the way to a bouffant, wearing the long-sleeve plaid dress again. I am in her lap, resting on her legs, her feet tucked to the side together, ladylike. I look up at her eyes and mouth wide, hands raised, excited to exist and perceive. She is probably talking to me, saying my name, perhaps the name I wear now, perhaps the one that will soon be abandoned as not quite fitting this little bundle. She appears more confident about holding me; mothers learn fast.

I smile in appreciation at that love pouring down on me from her face, and now I close the old photo album, marking those posts private.

Why and How I Changed Paths

I was diagnosed with the mildest form of a rare autoimmune disorder in fall of 2017, the first symptoms of which had presented themselves at the end of that July. This was just over one year after my biological father had died and I’d suddenly become executor of his estate, and point person for all matters pertaining to cleaning out and selling his run-down and junk-filled little house.

I was prescribed a short dose of prednisone, a steroid which is highly effective at knocking disorders into submission, if not entirely into remission, but very hard on the body’s systems otherwise. I was a whirlwind of activity that fall—adding significant storage and worktable space to our home office most notably, but active on a great many projects in parallel—and the week of steroids only kicked that up a notch. The meds did their job and my symptoms abated. I felt a huge weight lift also as the estate officially closed and, with the scattering of his ashes, my duties as executor came to an end. I turned my attention with relief and eagerness to my own projects, and somewhere inside I began to give myself permission to stop scrambling so hard

Some of that slowing down was just plain stumbling. It was the fatigue of all the hard work I’d been doing and the shocks I’d been weathering, exacerbated by life under the Trump Administration. The anxiety brought on by the past few years—compounded by perimenopause and (though I didn’t understand it well then) the side effects of my medications for my disease—was showing its fraying edges.

Thanks to my years of practicing Discardia, my instincts in times of overwhelm and low mood are good. I began to create space around myself and turn my attention from that which drains me to that which restores my calm. I unfollowed a large amount of my Twitter list, already quite low, to tune my Twitterstream to a generally more positive mood. I returned to my love of games and began thinking about how to create happy, positive, calming games. But I was feeling very tired.

At the very end of December 2017 and in the first days of 2018 I began having symptoms of the more intense form of my autoimmune disorder and my life changed completely. Because my symptoms I had to change major aspects of my daily routine, even after I very rapidly got a confirmed diagnosis and began taking medication—twice the dose of steroids as before. Extreme sensitivity meant I had to change my wardrobe entirely, not only fabrics but the style and fit of clothes. Massive fatigue transformed me from a “these are the 30 things I want to do today, but here are the most important 10” person to a “it was a good day, I got 1 thing done” person. And increased anxiety and overwhelm (plus being on immunosuppressants) further limited my ability to participate in social and political life. The medications distorted my body over the months, bloating my torso and giving me ‘moonface’. But they did work to put the disorder into submission, possibly even remission entirely, though I won’t know until I fully taper off the medications.

And there’s the real challenge. Prednisone works great to knock disorders like mine into submission, but the hell it puts you through along the way is brutal, so you want to take it for as short a time and as low a dose as is possible while remaining effective. Other immunosuppressants like, the post-transplant medication Cellcept, can maintain that symptom suppression with milder side effects (for me mostly bloating and distortion of my lower torso, plus some fatigue). So as soon as my symptoms abated, I added Cellcept to my regimen and began the agonizingly slow process of tapering off prednisone.

You can’t just quit prednisone, you have to wind it down very, very slowly. And because—at the kind of peak dose I was on (40mg/day)—it says to your cortisol system, “Hey, I’ve got this, go take a vacation” you find that side effects continue to be life-disrupting for months and months. I dropped from 40mg a day to 30mg a day of prednisone on February 13, 2018, after taking that highest dose for just four weeks. My taper reached 20mg a day on March 27, 2018, and 10mg a day on May 12, 2018. But it’s that last part that is the most difficult to wean your body off of as you wait—and wait, and wait, and wait—for your cortisol system to wake up again. It’s May 24, 2019, and I am just next week hoping to bring my tapered dose down to 2mg a day.

Had I known then what I know now, I’d have done my taper differently instead of going too fast last summer and winding up needing to spend three months holding at 5mg a day. Now I taper ridiculously gradually by altering my dose within a week. I was at 3mg a day. Then after at least two weeks at that dose, I started taking 2mg instead every third day: 3/3/2. If that is giving me trouble at the end of the first week, I go back to 3mg a day for two weeks before I try it again. If it’s okay, then after two weeks of 3/3/2, I try 3/2/2. That’s where I am now and it’s going well. Next Wednesday I’ll begin a couple weeks of 2mg a day before I evaluate whether I can proceed to 2/2/1. Best case, which I’m learning is unlikely, I’ll be off prednisone in about three months.

Whenever I do finally break free of prednisone, I need to spend at least another month letting its influence leave my system before I can start to consider beginning my Cellcept taper. I’m hopeful (and pretty confident) that that is not nearly as rough a process. But even so, I can expect that the soonest I’ll be living without my body altered by these medications or the presence of this immune system disorder will be over a year from now.

My life has been radically changed for multiple years. My fatigue and anxiety forced me to bring my world to a standstill; to stop the ride so I could get off and evaluate things. And that evaluation and this experience have brought me new skills (meditation and acceptance, most valuably) and clarified priorities. I am not the same person I was, and for all the difficulty, I feel good about who I am now.

Even if I had my old energy and health back this instant, I would not resume the life I had before. I am closer to center than I was and I like that. I continue to work to regain my strength and vigor, but for new priorities. I feel that I am standing in the early morning sun beside a large field, shovel in hand and ready to continue the slow, satisfying work of turning the earth for a garden.

Redefining the Generations

GenX, the cultural generation I consider myself part of, wasn’t defined for decades. We were just “post-Boomers” or worse, and subject to the same derogatory attitude which has pervaded many headline references to “Millennials”.

But here’s the thing, what even is a “Millennial”? As Pew Research Center defines it, Generation X ended with kids born in 1980. Various lines have been drawn to create a subsequent group, sometimes weakly referred to as “Post-Millennial” or “Generation Y”. But those ‘damn you kids and your selfies and avocado toast’ articles tend to lump everyone under age 40 all together.

The concept of a generational cohort is fuzzy—history draws with blurry lines—but it is useful and points to the forces of cultural change. The breakpoints between the generations indicate our sense of when significant change occurred. We can use someone’s personal connectedness to that marker as a way of measuring how much they will “belong” to that generation. For example, my cousin is only two months older than I am, but because our different life paths (nurse vs. all the many hats I’ve worn) led us to different levels of engagement with internet culture and technology, I think she’s more like a Baby Boomer and I’m more typically Generation X.

So what are the breakpoints we need to be paying attention to after the end of the Baby Boomer generation? To my thinking, GenX is “early years in or after the tumult of ‘the 60s’ but before the fall of the USSR”, thus growing up in the shadow of potential nuclear annihilation plus the political disillusionment from assassinations and Watergate. GenXers were (at oldest) 3 years old when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated—a major cultural pivot point—and experienced their formative childhood years in an era when the same worldwide sociopolitical framework the Baby Boomers experienced was being seriously challenged but had not yet transformed.

I disagree with Pew and think GenX should end two years later, in 1982. I draw the line there because it’s the pivot point when the home computer begins to arise. A kid born in 1982 is fairly likely to reach high school without a home computer or an internet connection (1997: 36.6% and 18% of households respectively). A kid born a year later is part of the rapid wave of both those numbers climbing fast.

The big cultural dividers of the generations after GenX are “doesn’t remember the world before the World Wide Web” and “doesn’t remember the world before pervasive smartphones”. (I am using ‘smartphone’ here as shorthand for ‘pocket-sized computer connected to the internet constantly at hand’.)

Note that this generational signifier shifts from being geopolitical or tied to birthrate, and is instead tied to probability of access to technology. It is thus bound up with economic class and other factors of privilege such as race. That observation goes a long way toward explaining why polling by age group is unlikely to be sufficient to predict probable behavior. Generational boundaries are becoming blurrier with increased lifespan, more personal choice over childbearing, and a host of other changes enabling individuals to self-select their group. That said, there are overall cultural trends which make it still useful to discuss generational cohorts.

If the cohort which Pew calls Millennials and I will call the Computer Generation starts in 1983, where does it end? I could pin it purely based on the rise of the smartphone, but there is another big change to take into account. What else makes the current generation distinct? I think it is growing up under the shadow of impending climate catastrophe, plus the cultural disillusionment of the recognition of how America is tangled up with white supremacy. Climate warnings have been raised repeatedly for decades and it is tough to identify a turning point, so when did the American conversation about race begin to change in the 21st century? Jay Smooth’s vitally important video “How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist” from the summer of 2008 is a good indicator of when it was all over the media (accelerated by Barack Obama’s consideration and nomination as the Democratic candidate). If the generation after the Computer Generation is about 3 years old when that pivot point hits, that would start them in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina.

The Computer Generation 1983 to 2004 then. And after them, our current generation, which I call The Awoken Generation begins in 2005.

We should look back as well as ahead, because there are some similar problems with lumping cohorts together and ignoring major pivots in earlier generational breaks. The term “Silent Generation” for those who survived the Great Depression and formed the core of the major social changes of the 1950s and 1960s is particularly bizarre. The Civil Rights Movement and Rock & Roll weren’t ‘silent’, and it’s unfair to label an entire generation with an epithet about not speaking up against McCarthyism.

So back to technology. I think about conversations I’ve had with my mother, her mother, and her mother’s father. He was born in the last decade of the 19th century and lived into the last decade of the 20th. I recall talking with his daughter, my grandmother, about all the technologies he and she witnessed transforming from innovations to everyday essentials within their lifetimes. Among these the telephone, the automobile, the radio, and the television stand out as extremely culturally significant. (You can see the growth of those along with other household technologies in the “Consumption Spreads Faster Today” chart from the New York Times.) If we want to peg a one-third of households tipping point for these as I did for home computers above (starting our cohort three years before it), we might see generational groups as follows: 1918–1929 (tv, electricity, auto, radio); 1930–1948 (the Great Depression and WWII, radio and the refrigerator); 1949–1965 (TV and the clothes washer).

So, bringing it all together, and filling in a little at the start:

The Breakthrough Generation born ?1880s?–1903
Electricity, the internal combustion engine, sanitation systems, photography, and the airplane all were realized in the late 19th century and the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk took place at the end of 1903. What a time to be alive! Anything is possible!

The Suffrage Generation born 1904–1917
This cohort grew up during the fight for the rights of women and workers, surrounded by the optimistic trends of the generations on either side of them but in a world full of disasters, massacres, bigotry, and military expansionism.

The Modern Generation born 1918–1929
The 1920s and 1930s saw massive change in American households and their connection to the rest of the world. Sometime around 1925 over a third of them had a car, and by 1929 between 35-40% of households had a radio. In this same period, and several years ahead of automobile purchases, the telephone and electricity reached around a third of households. This is also the generation that saw the conversion of a craft-based economy into a mass-market one.

The Survivor Generation born 1930–1948
1933, as one of the worst years of the the Great Depression, is a key pivot point because those hard years massively impacted people’s access to technology. Take a look at the telephone and automobile adoption rates in the NY Times chart linked above to see the impact. Until after World War II, only the inexpensive radio and (in the early 1940s) the life-transforming refrigerator could break through and grow in adoption rates by a large percentage of American households. Many of the later portion of this cohort, who experienced the impact of the Great Depression less directly, and the countercultural elements of the next generation might together be termed The Breakaways for their role in instigating social change in the 1950s and 1960s. (Thanks to my Mum for her suggestion of that name and the reminder of voices raised in protest and song.)

The TV Boom Generation born 1949–1964
There’s a reason the 1950s are associated with television; household ownership of TVs in the U.S. rose from 9% to 90% in that decade, with a big chunk of the growth occurring in the first two years. By 1952, a third of U.S. homes had TV. [Tons of charts on this history can be found, unsurprisingly, on tvhistory.tv] The impact of the shared culture of television in this generation’s lifetime cannot be ignored; even the atypical Americans of this cohort who watched relatively little felt its effects throughout their daily lives. (And that remains true today for a large percentage of Americans, even those more likely to focus on online activities.) The clothes washer deserves a shout-out in changing domestic life for this generation’s childhood too, reaching about half of households by the end of the period.

Generation X born 1965–1982
Kids of this generation had their early years in or after the tumult of ‘the 60s’ but before the fall of the USSR. They grew up in the shadow of potential nuclear annihilation and the political disillusionment from assassinations and Watergate. The younger part of this cohort likely was further shaken by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. For all that, they often had very free childhoods with space and time for imagination and play.

The Computer Generation born 1983–2004
This cohort is likely to have grown up in a household with a home computer and unlikely to remember much about the world before the World Wide Web. The Cold War was over before they could understand the concept and even the youngest had a good chance of getting well into middle school before the magnitude of global warming’s impacts was inescapably evident. For them, school shootings like Columbine in 1999 and the endlessly repeated footage of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack in 2001 are more likely to be the source of their childhood nightmares.

The Awoken Generation born 2005–?
The current generation doesn’t remember a world before people had pocket-sized computers connected to the internet constantly at hand. They don’t remember a world when mass shootings weren’t a regular occurrence in the United States. They don’t remember a world that isn’t experiencing climate change and the various types of natural disasters it amplifies. They’re going to start coming of age soon, but we don’t have to wait until then to hear them beginning to raise their voices in protest of the world we’ve brought them into. It is a good, righteous anger.


WOTICETT companies: worker-owned, tapered-investment, compensation-equal, tapered-time

I’ve been thinking about economic systems and the huge problems with the way we handle work, employment, pay, and profit in the United States. Another way is possible.

The model of work I am here envisioning recognizes that:

• Sustainable societies are built on sustainable economies which are built on sustainable lives of the workers in them.

• Personal time is the key finite resource, not an abstract like money.
(If worker time is treated as the resource of greatest availability, workers are exploited.)

• Extractive capitalism is built on an unrealistic model of eternal growth and payment of ever-growing returns to investors. This is inherently unsustainable as it continually removes value from companies and their workers. Alternatively, worker ownership retains value within the company and among workers, and as a by-product strengthens local economies, which usually helps with long-term company success.

• Investment is still needed to start companies, though, so the initial extractive return on investment must be tapered to allow the company to become sustainable. One possibility: companies start with 52% worker-ownership, 48% investor ownership. Every three years 1% of investor ownership shifts to worker-ownership (dividends shifting to compensation, usually to new workers as the company grows). After 16 years the company is 100% worker-owned.

• Every human deserves dignity in their work and an equal opportunity for time away from work. Early attempts to legislate this fundamental right gave us the weekend and a cap on workday length. The next step is to pry apart compensation from hours labored; we live in a time of great prosperity and there is enough to go around if we divide it equitably. Therefore, this model assumes that the total company amount of compensation to workers is divided evenly among them so that all have at least a livable wage. There are no tiers of pay. All worker-owners benefit from company success or feel the squeeze equally when the business or economy is struggling.

• The minimum time a worker has to spend at work in a given week is the distinguishing difference between workers at different levels. An entry level worker commits 35 hours a week to the company. As they grow in experience and efficiency, this time tapers down. Every two years worked with the company reduces the minimum hours required by 1 hour. Every eighth year this drops an extra hour. Thus, after six years with the company, a worker’s minimum hours are 32. After eight years, they are 30. After sixteen years with the company, a worker only needs to work half-days (or however it makes sense to allocate their 25 hours). After thirty-two years, they’re involved a couple days a week. After forty-eight years, just 5 hours a week. This is enough for their wealth of experience to still benefit the business and for them to still be engaged in public life, but at a level that respects their reduced energy for work at their age. After fifty-six years as a worker, they have no further obligation and pensions kick in.

• Workers moving from one job to another will enter at a time level reflective of their experience with that kind of work AND the age of the new company. For example, a worker who has 20 years experience leaves to join a 10 year old company and instead of working their old minimum of 23 hours a week, they will work a minimum of 29 because the new company is still growing and everyone there works that many hours.

• Workers are incentivized to remain with a company and help it grow because switching to a new, younger company will generally mean committing more hours of time per week and delaying their pension (unless they subsequently switch to a more established company and are able to negotiate recognition of all their experience).

• Workers are incentivized to be more efficient (because they want to work only their minimum hours) and companies are incentivized to right-size their business to match their market (because they want to keep worker compensation good while those workers put in just the minimum hours).

• Some businesses will be more profitable than others as economic factors fluctuate. Their worker-owners will decide how to use those profits, either applying them to the company for improvements or growth, sharing them out to the current worker-owners, or adding new worker-owners to diffuse the compensation across more people (enabling further profit or growth and possibly allowing all worker-owners to commit below minimum weekly hours, thus realizing the benefits of long-term employment sooner).

A common pattern which might emerge under the WOTICETT model is that of workers of medium experience temporarily becoming involved in two companies (or double roles at one company) to increase their resources before dropping back to just one when they become parents or need to be more available for elder care.

For example, Chris started work young and joined a company at age 17. At age 27, with ten years experience and working 29 hours a week, Chris gets invited to participate in a friend’s new company. The first couple years are intense, working 64 hours a week, but then that number begins to drop until at age 37, Chris is working a total of 52 hours a week (23 hours a week at the first company and 29 hours a week at the friend’s company).

Chris’s partner, Devin, is five years younger. Devin helped care for child siblings when young and didn’t join a company until age 22. Now, at age 32, Devin is working 29 hours a week. Thanks to the resources they’ve built up through Chris’s decade of double pay, the couple has enormous flexibility should they decide to have children.

They might choose that Devin will become a full-time parent. In that case, when their kid is ten years old, Chris will be 47 and working 40 hours a week (17 hours a week at one job and 23 at the other), and Devin will be 42 and fully available for parenting and life admin tasks.

Or maybe after all those years of double work, Chris becomes the full-time parent. Then when the kid is ten years old, Chris at age 47 is fully available and Devin at age 42 is working 23 hours a week. They’re living on one income instead of two, but they have a lot of free time to make living cheaper more possible.

Or if they carry on as they had been, when the kid is ten, Chris at age 47 is working 40 hours a week (17 hours a week at one job and 23 at the other), and Devin at age 42 is working 23 hours a week. They still have three incomes and though they still probably need some assistance with childcare, they do have considerable family time.

In those three scenarios, when the kid is twenty, Chris is 57 and Devin is 52, and they’re either:

  • working 27 hours a week (10 at one job and 17 at the other) and not committed to company work, respectively, and living on two incomes;
  • not committed to company work and working 17 hours a week, respectively, and living on one income;
  • working 27 and 17 hours a week, respectively, and living on three incomes.

All of these scenarios—along with the variants in which Chris drops back down to just one job or where one of them returns to work when the kid is 15 or 20 years old—are vastly more appealing than the average options most families are facing today.

They become even more appealing as we roll out the scenarios into later years of life. At ages 67 and 62, Chris and Devin are either:

  • working 14 hours a week (4 at one job and 10 at the other) and not committed to company work, respectively, and living on two incomes;
  • not committed to company work and working 10 hours a week, respectively, and living on one income;
  • working 14 and 10 hours a week, respectively, and living on three incomes.

At ages 73 and 68, they are either:

  • working 7 hours a week (pensioned at one job and 7 at the other) and not committed to company work, respectively, and living on two incomes (or one income plus whatever level a pension is set at);
  • not committed to company work and working 7 hours a week, respectively, and living on one income;
  • working 7 hours a week, each, and living on three incomes (or two incomes plus whatever level a pension is set at).

At ages 83 and 78, they are either:

  • pensioned from two jobs and not committed to company work, respectively, and living on two incomes (or two times whatever level a pension is set at);
  • not committed to company work and pensioned, respectively, and living on one income (or whatever level a pension is set at);
  • pensioned from two jobs and pensioned, respectively, and living on three incomes (or three times whatever level a pension is set at).

That is a healthier life than most have now.

Would a model like this require some major changes from how things currently work? Yes. Is it realistically possible? Absolutely.

The current model has been staggering along for decades with a few exploiters buying IMAX screens for their superyachts (or whatever that decade’s equivalent of gross excess happens to be) while an alarming percentage of people struggle and suffer, working three jobs to be able to pay for childcare.

If we can limp along with this broken system, we can certainly afford a different one which, even if not ideal, lifts millions of people up to vastly better lives.