SFUSD’s Buried Fact: $531 Million

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School Board Vice President Norman Yee asking for support of $531 million Proposition A school bond.

So much for transparency, SF Unified School District board Vice President Norman Yee and Chief Facility Officer David Goldin distributed on August 11 a Proposition A November bond ballot “fact sheet” whose print and online edition (www.sfusd.edu/en/news/hot-topics/2011-hot-topic/08/2011-proposition-a-bond-fact-sheet.html) left a big fact out – the $531 million price tag (excluding interest) for homeowners, landlords and tenants. The key figure was buried also on page 7 of a July 28 document – “SFUSD Proposed Bond for Capital Improvements – November 2011”…During a Chinese American Democratic Club meeting moderated by president and architect Sam Kwong next to Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square, Goldin said the bond was the district’s final step “like painting the Golden Gate Bridge.” He estimated homeowners could pay as much as $21 per $100,000 of assessed value annually…. SFUSD plans to upgrade the last 50 of 140 schools, including a cluster of Chinatown elementary schools: Jean Parker (former educator), Gordon Lau (after the former Supervisor) and John Yehall Chin (former SF College Board member). Goldin said SFUSD has among the state’s “oldest” schools including historic landmarks. Starting in 2002, the district needed $1.3 billion in repairs, with $745 million in bonds adopted in 2003 and 2006…

TELLING TALES FROM THE CRYPT: Can any political insider trust mayoral candidate David Chiu? An “insider” audience of San Francisco’s top business, community and labor leaders, like Ken Cleveland of BOMARev. Amos Brown of the NAACPJames Bryant of A. Philip Randolph Institute watched the Board President take a swipe at Mayor Ed Lee during the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth “question time” debate segment…. Chiu divulged, “About a week or two you [Ed Lee] told the world you were considering running for mayor. You told me that you had looked at yourself in the mirror, you didn’t have the fire in the belly, you didn’t want to run, but that you were having trouble saying ‘no’ to Willie Brown and Rose Pak…. What’s changed your mind over the last couple weeks?”…While Chiu scored points with some of Comcast viewers, he’s burned political allies like Gordon Chin of the Chinatown Community Development Center and Pak of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce by supporting ethics complaints that have bit the legal dust. Whether running for mayor or re-election as supervisor in 2012, payback’s coming to Chiu for violating the political code of omerta….

Nice guys could finish first according to mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty at the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth debate on Aug. 16.

RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT: In contrast to Chiu’s zinger, State Senator Leland Yee did not name names as he proposed an ethics reform package to take on unnamed “powerbrokers.” Yee, pressed about identifying powerbrokers by debate moderator and columnist Phil Matier, would only refer to them as “unregistered and unregulated individuals that are stealing our elections”…

AND DOGGONE IT, PEOPLE LIKE YOU: While Mayor Lee sarcastically replied “Thank you supervisor” to Chiu’s stinger, his honor spread out some positive vibes to fellow rivals, including the only LGBT mayoral candidate in former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, for creating “a civil tone” in the campaign. Likewise, Dufty scored points by becoming the surrogate for the African American agenda and having a love fest with former colleagueMichela Alioto-Pier as they exchanged softball questions on senior LGBT housing and biotech legislation….As Dufty noted: “You got to be cautious by the bricks you throw because they may bounce right back on you….That’s why I like rank choice voting”…Ron Dudum, whose tough second place 2006 ranked choice loss for District 4 (Sunset) Supervisor was vindicated by Ed Jew’s resignation in 2007, downplayed Dufty’s election chances. Dudum noted Dufty’s sunny disposition reminded him of an old Al Franken Saturday Night Live skit character “Stuart Smiley.” But Dudum then added – Franken did after all become Minnesota’s US Senator….Or as the Smiley tagline goes: You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You. Like Assemblywoman Fiona Ma who’s a Bevan backer…

Don't underestimate Public Defender Jeff Adachi's late mayoral entry.

ADACHI CHANCES: Don’t tell Jeff Adachi what his mayoral odds are – whether it’s taking on death penalty cases to unseating Public Defender Kimiko Burton-Cruz, a Willie Brown mayoral appointee and member of the heralded Burton political family in 2002 (father John Burton is California Democratic Party chair). He’s one of the few mayoral candidates who could enter this mayoral race at such a late stage a la Tom Ammiano’s write-in campaign of 1999 or Matt Gonzalez’s in 2003. For one, Adachi already has a campaign infrastructure based on his pension reform plan (Proposition D). While he serves as the city’s Public Defender and chief defense attorney for the indigent, SF has a bias for electing criminal defense attorneys – Willie Brown as Mayor and Assemblyman, Terence Hallinan to DA – the city’s top prosecutor.  In 2000, voters elected Adachi’s former public defender colleagues to supervisor – Geraldo Sandoval and Matt Gonzalez, who nearly overtook Gavin Newsom for mayor in 2003 but lost by only 5 percent. Gonzalez is now Adachi’s chief attorney in the Public Defender’s office. His endorsement of Adachi could win him progressives and Greens while his pension reform crusade and municipal management awards could draw fiscal conservatives to his campaign…

Former District 10 Supervisor candidate Marlene Tran raises concerns about SF Unified School District bond.

AFTER SCHOOL FOR PROP A: CADC opted to delay Prop A consideration. That came after major concerns were raised about homeowner and tenant shares of property taxes, a question raised by former District 10 supervisor candidate Marlene TranAsian American Contractors Association leaders Stanley Chan and Juliana Choy Sommer expressed frustrations about the paucity of local APA subcontractors in past school bonds. “It’s like a slap in the face,” said Chan, a homeowner whose own SF property taxes pay for the bonds….One club member asked if APA firms like Johnny K. Wang Political Consulting could be subcontracted to ameliorate APA community concerns like those raised at the meeting. Wang himself managed the non-binding Prop V victory in 2008 restoring JROTC in the school district. Goldin and Yee said Barnes, Mosher, Whitehurst and Lauterhad no APA political consultants managing the Prop A campaign…

Leon Chow and labor work with SF Chamber of Commerce and business on Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth debate on Aug. 16.

DOMESTICATED PARTNERS – SF STYLE: Talk about odd couples – Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth pairing the city’s most influential labor and business leaders like Leon Chow of the United Healthcare Workers and Steve Falk of SF Chamber of Commerce at the Aug. 16 mayoral debate. Chow, quoting pre-debate Chinese wisdom: “If you want to be big, it will be just like streams flowing to the ocean. If you want to be big, you have to be inclusive”… Former Mayor Willie Brown despaired over possibly ranking three dozen mayoral candidates. To paraphrase Da former mayor, “I don’t think democracy is well served with me having to rank 36 opponents”…Chow contrasted: “We [the Alliance] have three easy choices, jobs, jobs and jobs. That’s the basic choice we have”….

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.


About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.