December 07, 2006
A Thrifty Jew Takes Office - Thanks To IRV
A fiscally conservative local merchant (of Chinese descent) named Ed Jew has been elected and - as the SF Chron reports this a.m. - sworn in to the badly distracted San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Jew explains in this post-election cable TV interview with host Arthur Bruzzone of San Francisco Unscripted, how he won a narrow victory in a conservative outlying city-county district (#4, including Outer Sunset) thanks to his campaign's public education efforts on "ranked-choice voting." It's known elsewhere as "instant runoff voting" or "IRV." Voters mark second and third choices on their ballots; if the first-round balloting produces no majority choice, the lowest-finishing candidate is tossed out and the votes counted again, and possibly once more after that. Ex-Nirvana bassist and civic activist Krist Novoselic of Seattle has long been advocating for IRV in Washington state. Pierce County voters last month approved IRV for county elections starting in 2008; Minneapolis, Oakland and Davis, California voters also approved IRV last month.
In today's Chron profile, the Republican turned Independent Jew talks about saving SF taxpayers money.
"I think we really need to look at how our money is spent," Jew said Wednesday, the day after Mayor Gavin Newsom swore him in at a crowded City Hall ceremony. "Our city budget is greater than that of 20 states in the Union. I understand the need for social programs, but I think we should be looking anywhere we can to cut the fat."
The nutbar majority on the Board Of Stupes will thwart his aims, of course; but it's outstanding to see some political diversity in SF.
Posted by Matt Rosenberg at December 07, 2006
10:27 AM | Email This
1. Everyone wants to cut fat; the question is what's meat and what's fat. Comparing a city budget with a state budget is meaningless without considering their relative sizes and responsibilities. And while I have no idea about SF's budget, the city must be doing something right, since it's consisnetly near the top of the list of desirable places to live (as measured by what people are willing to pay) and visit.
"Willingness to pay" and getting value for your money/taxes are 2 different animals. A fool & his money are easily parted, says Aesop.
I agree one’s fat is another’s basic. Example—I’d cut diversity expenses to zero. Have private charities/org’s teach it on their dime. I’d stop funding illegal alien benefits—period. Legal, paying people deserve it first. You might disagree.
The solution? Independent performance audits of all government programs and departments, with mandated implementation of recommendations. Goring someone's ox is the required cure. SF (or any city) can't be everything to everyone, even if taxpayers are foolish enough to pay for it or claim it’s heaven on earth. We all do it with our own personal budgets.
And “doing things right?” well, your opinion. I think they are too kooky in SF. Like wasting time on nuke-free zones and hate-free and other silly “inclusion” causes without substantive value to citizens’ & taxpayers’ real, practical needs.
Jimmie, how do you value real estate if not by market value (= willingness to pay)? As a true conservative you should understand that.
I doubt any city spends much on diversity programs. They are a fun target for the right, sometimes deservingly so, but "diversity" is more a principle (which you may still question, of course) than a program with dollars attached.
Illegal alien benefits are typically given for practical reasons that have nothing to do with "deserving". So your criticism would be more enlightening if it were more specific.
Independent performance audits seem like a great idea within reason. I don't know why you think we all do it with our personal budgets, but we certainly should. I would be happy to audit your personal budget anytime...
But since I know nothing about the SF budget, I won't try to defend it any further.
In regard to real estate = market value, how much of those high market valuations are the result of government (municipal, county or state) regulations which add costs to housing, either directly (development fees for "infrastucture") or by reducing the availability (growth management acts,etc)? San Fransisco, like Vail Colorado, or Seattle, has raised the cost of owning a house past the ability of working people to afford them.
Of course, the fact that the median house costs 750,000 is blamed on greedy builders, and not on the restrictions placed by previous forward looking councils.
Pyotr, housing prices are based on supply and demand, not on costs. A rational seller (and builders are highly rational) will charge as much as he or she can get, regardless of cost. Regulations affect supply only if they raise costs so high that there is no demand at that price, or if they limit availability. But cities like San Francisco and Seattle are long since built out; the housing supply is mostly constrained by bodies of water rather than regulations. Of course, the supply of apartments and condos is more complicated, since existing buildings can be torn down and replaced with those if there is sufficient demand.
In areas that aren't fully developed, the dynamics are different. But this thread is about the city of SF; save your anti-regulation tirades for a more relevant discussion.
Those interested in better voting methods should consider a simpler and substantially better method than IRV, called "range voting". See how it compares to IRV at
And enjoy an online mock 2008 US Presidential election, using range voting, at:
As a Seattle liberal and a long-time defender of "the fat," I'm amused to see another standard politician with standard noncomittal verbage celebrated here.
"I understand the need for social programs-" sounds like the words of any of the council members of our own fair city.
The election of Mr. Jew will probably be surprising to those whose entire understanding of SF politics comes from Bill O'Reilly, but anyone who knows the city knows that, like Seattle, SF is home to a wide variety of people who cannot be easily categorized.
The city is more segregated by neighborhood than Seattle, which is why the district that elected Mr. Jew is one of the most conservative, while the districts that include the Castro and the Mission are probably the most liberal.
I wonder if people like Rush Limbaugh who so simple-mindedly pigeonhole the entire city of San Francisco using the words "San Francisco Values," know that they are talking about people like Mr. Jew, and the folks who founded Google, Apple and Intel."
P.S.: Kudos to SP for finally supporting a possible solution to voting problems rather than constantly bitching about them without suggesting alternatives.
8. Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) as passed in Pierce County is a dramatic improvement over our current pick-a-party primary. King County and the rest of the state would do well to adopt Pierce County - style reforms to the election system.