Using the Ballot to Fight Corruption

The Public Press hosted a panel discussion on Oct. 29 exploring how voters can use the ballot box to hold local and state government accountable. Veteran good-government experts provided a break down of the challenges in San Francisco and California, and answered questions from the audience. Our panelists were Carmen Balber, executive director, Consumer Watchdog, and Larry Bush, member, San Francisco Ethics Commission. The discussion was moderated by Bay Area radio journalist Max Pringle.

Former Department of Public Works head Mohammed Nuru was the subject of an FBI corruption probe that became public earlier this year. In response, local lawmakers have proposed Proposition B, which would split the department into two agencies.

With Corruption on the Ballot, San Francisco Could Learn Oversight From Other Scandal-Plagued Cities

When it comes to good government, dysfunction and disgrace can occasionally inspire some of the brightest ideas for reform. And getting the whole community involved in the cleanup — through the ballot box — can be one way to make those changes happen faster. Though the parallels are not exact, the tiny scandal-ridden city of Bell, near Los Angeles, could hold keys to fixing a culture of corruption that has insinuated itself deep in the heart of San Francisco’s massive and opaque bureaucracy.

Jessica Lo Surdo, M.S. (foreground), a staff scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, studies chain reactions in stem cells in an FDA laboratory on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md.

Insider Opposes $5.5 Billion State Bond to Fund Stem Cell Research

Proposition 14 asks California voters to approve a $5.5 billion bond to allow the institute to continue to provide grants for stem cell research, with the goal of creating new treatments for some of medicine’s most intractable problems. Jeff Sheehy has been a lonely voice on the board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he stands in opposition to the state ballot measure that would fund the organization for years to come.

A registered nurse with the Florida Department of Health explains the process of specimen collection to a nursing home resident in Northeast Florida, May 1, 2020.

Senior, Disability Advocates Mobilize to Ensure Care Facility Residents Vote

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed elections, and for people who live in residential care facilities like nursing homes, that may be creating barriers to participation. Last week, organizers with Senior and Disability Action called together advocates and experts to lay out what rights these residents have and how to ensure they are able to exercise them.

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How Proposed S.F. Tax Measures Could Affect Inequality

Among more than a dozen ballot propositions that voters are deciding on in November, several are tax measures, including ones on businesses, property, and purchases. Many have components meant to reduce inequality or fund much-needed services. “Civic” talked with Donnie Charleston for an outside expert’s perspective on the tools local governments have to address income and racial inequities, and on some of the tax measures up for voter approval in San Francisco.

To Fight Apathy, Viewing Electoral Participation as Collective, Not Solitary, Act

President Trump has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election. At all levels, candidates have been responding to this in part by encouraging constituents to vote. But Knight Foundation research into voter participation in the 2016 presidential election found that around 43% of eligible voters did not cast a ballot.

Board of Supervisors, District 11 — November 2020

In this race, we asked candidates: “According to data from the 2012-2016 American Communities Survey, this district has the highest proportion of residents whose language spoken at home is not English, and the second-highest proportions of Asian and Latino residents, among all the supervisorial districts. How will you advocate for these communities at City Hall?”