Ballot Simplification Committee Update

On July 30, 2012 a small committee met at City Hall to start preparing the Voter Information Pamphlet for the City elections scheduled for November 6. The Ballot Simplification Committee is charged with preparing a fair and impartial summary of each local ballot measure that will appear on the ballot in this election. These summaries must be completed no later than 85 days before the election. The BSC works in public meeting rooms at City Hall and members of the public are invited to attend these meetings and to ask questions during the question period.

The first measure considered by the Committee today was the “Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks” Bond issue. (None of the titles used by the BSC are official. The Director of the Department of Elections assigns a letter and title to each measure after the summaries are complete.) This Bond Measure proposes that the City be authorized to borrow up to $195 million by issuing general obligation bonds to fund repairs and improvements to City parks and public open spaces.

Committee discussion of this measure centered around clarifying which specific parks would receive these funds and how the bonds would be paid for—through an increase in property taxes allowing 50 percent of the increase to be passed on to tenants. Representatives of the Parks and Recreation Department and the Port Authority were present to explain details of the plan to the Committee and to suggest some changes in wording.

After a discussion lasting about an hour and a half, the Committee approved a digest of the measure. Requests for reconsideration of the way the digest is worded can be sent to the Committee and will be considered at Thursday’s meeting.

The second ballot measure considered today was a Declaration of Policy with the working title of “Policy Opposing Corporate Personhood”. This proposal, submitted by three members of the Board of Supervisors, would make it City policy that corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as human beings and should be subject to political spending limits. This measure, if passed and implemented, would urge the Representatives and Senators in Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision.

There were no speakers either pro or con who spoke to this measure. Any requests for reconsideration of the wording of the digest must be sent to the Committee within 24 hours.

Committee meetings will continue for the rest of this week and for at least the beginning of next week. Agendas for the meetings are posted at www.sfelections.org/bsc . All meetings start at 9:00 AM. Materials relating to the meetings are also available at that website.

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