EXAMINER: Booting crazy measures takes all the fun out of San Francisco ballot


Booting crazy measures takes all the fun out of San Francisco ballot
By: Ken Garcia | Columnist | 08/04/11 4:00 AM

University New Mexico football player Deshon Marman was arrested in June over his allegedly inappropriate low-hanging pants on a US Airways flight, sparking debate over freedom of fashion. (AP file photo)San Francisco’s supervisors have been so busy lately they didn’t have time to draw up a resolution supporting saggy pants.

As it turns out, that might have been the only measure voters would pass, since at least 40,000 people have come out in favor of one’s constitutional right to wear extremely low-slung trousers.

I didn’t get a chance to join the protest over University New Mexico football player Deshon Marman’s arrest in June over his alleged inappropriate dress on a US Airways flight. But I did witness the complete meltdown this week by the so-called progressive wing of the Board of Supervisors, which recalled all the ballot measures they so hastily threw at the electorate recently.

I make it a point to never interfere with politicians who insist on making fools of themselves. Yet I must object when city leaders take all the fun out of an election.

After all, who wouldn’t want to weigh in on a ban on birthday parties and other celebrations in otherwise empty recreation centers? Or block the leasing of Candlestick Park? Or stop popular, mobile concession stands throughout The City? That would have been just a few of the impacts of a proposed measure aimed at punishing the Recreation and Park Department for raising money from public facilities as a way to cover lost revenue.

That was just one of several initiatives that were pulled without comment by the five left-leaning supervisors who thought they might drive their supporters to the polls in November. Instead, the measures were so poorly conceived that they would have resulted in a voter backlash rarely seen in these parts.

“I think they realized that they would have been political piñatas for the next three months,” said Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who was planning to campaign against the proposals. “It’s too bad that they didn’t read them before they decided to push them on the ballot.”

Otherwise, how could a measure designed to block the future development of Parkmerced not result in that building plan, but instead freeze many others? Readers of the measure discovered that Parkmerced’s development agreement with The City prohibited it from being overturned, yet it apparently could have stopped the planned $2 billion development of the new California Pacific Medical Center Hospital on Van Ness Avenue.

It seems the San Francisco Tenants Union is a good place to go for rental advice but the wrong outlet to seek out for writing legislation. When the details emerged that the measure was chock full of unintended consequences, jittery nerves settled in among the supervisors backing an anti-demolishment plan that would still demolish the buildings they had targeted.

At the time, supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, Eric Mar and Ross Mirkarimi also proposed gutting the wildly popular Care Not Cash program, which was seen as a smart ideological move to drive their constituents to the polling booth. That was until they discovered that the move infuriated the 70 percent of voters who approved it.

Politics is a moveable feast and the menu changes quickly. Mirkarimi, a candidate for sheriff, was running all but unopposed when the measure was introduced. A few weeks later, former police union leader Chris Cunnie jumped into the campaign and now Mirkarimi is running for his life.

You almost have to wonder if the supervisors are in cahoots with the town’s political consultants because so many of them were poised to make money from the campaigns surrounding the wayward legislative moves.

“It’s almost too bad that all the measures were removed because we were looking forward to the campaigns,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell.

But as quietly as the plans were introduced, this week they departed. No one wanted to take the credit or the blame for them. Parkmerced will be rebuilt, homeless people will receive housing and services, recreation officials can rent out clubhouses for birthday bashes and taco trucks can still park near City Hall.

And Marman can wear his saggy pants — on most flights out of San Francisco International Airport, anyway. He just needs to realize he can’t run in them.

Order has been restored. That may not always seem fashionable in our wacky municipal zoo, but in most parts of The City, it still wears well.

Ken Garcia appears Thursdays and Sundays in The San Francisco Examiner. Email him at kgarcia@sfexaminer.com.


Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/08/mad-measures-booted-ballot-what-fun#ixzz1U72Q3hFH