Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meanwhile, in the People's Republic of San Francisco...

... over 2/3 of our citizenry did not bother to vote in Tuesday's election for Mayor, Sheriff, and District Attorney. Of those who did vote, many did not understand the "Instant Runoff" Ranked Choice Voting used for the first time in the mayoral race.

Before we get to the results, your loyal blogger wishes it to be known that there was something good to come out of this election season. Specifically, the best thing to come out of this election season was rediscovering The Argonaut by way of their current election edition (the image at the top of this post is from the front page of their latest edition).

The Argonaut is a San Francisco institution the dates back in various incarnations to 1877. As near as I can tell, it is published whenever they damn well feel like it. The preface to their election recommendations in this edition is a pitch perfect articulation of my loathing for this election. I can't say it better, so I won't try:
"... let us express our complete and unqualified contempt for the city’s system of ranked choice voting and taxpayer financing of campaigns – to the current (already spent and still climbing to the highest mountain peak) whistle of over 14 million dollars of taxpayer financial underwriting by a bone-broke city of candidates campaigns. Many of them had no business running in the first place – but the city’s idiotic law makes it impossible for them to drop out of the rat race because if they do the practical thing and drop out of a race they know they have no chance of winning, the prudent candidate is has to pay the city back for the taxpayer money received, which most of them can’t afford to do. But if they wait and stay in the race and go ahead and lose as everyone in town including the candidate him (or her) self knows they will. Just how stupid is that? Very."
Exactly. As noted here before, between the Ranked Choice Voting and public funding of candidates, this election was pregnant with disaster. We have no one to blame but ourlselves. As long as we continue to elect these clowns to the Board of Supervisors, we deserve the unconscionable idiocy and incompetent governance we get in return.

Back to the election. Your San Francisco tax dollars at work:
Here’s what we found in our snapshot look at how much each vote cost:
* Ting: $279,668 in public money, 730 votes, $383 each.
* Venture capitalist Joanna Rees: $491,405 in public money, 2,280 votes, $216 each.
*Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty: $682,108 in public money, 6,704 votes, $102 each.
* Former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier: $487,950 in public money, 5,063 votes, $96 each.
* Former Supervisor Tony Hall: $410,056 in public money, 5,164 votes, $79 each.
* State Sen. Leland Yee, $515,869, 10,595 votes, $49 each.
* Herrera, $711,931 in public funds, 15,967 votes, $45 each.
* Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, $562,641 in public money, 12,655 votes, $44 each.
* Avalos, $450,639 in public money, 26,447 votes, $17 each.
Noticeably absent from that roster is Mayor Ed Lee, the current leader in the race, who refused to take public money and seems to have done just fine without it, as more $1.3 million poured into his campaign from private donors. Independent expenditure committees also pumped in money to support his candidacy."
And *deep sigh* this is how it all turned out:
In the big race, after 11 rounds of Ranked Choice Votes were added to the totals [ELEVEN FREAKIN' ROUNDS!], Ed Lee emerged victorious:
"Lee, a bureaucrat and political novice when he was appointed to the mayor's job in January, finished with 61 percent of the vote after the second- and third-place ranked-choice votes were counted, well ahead of the 38 percent for Avalos.

The final result didn't come as easily as Lee and his supporters had hoped. It took 11 rounds of ranked-choice voting, eliminating every candidate but Avalos, before Lee finally moved past the required 50 percent mark.

Avalos, however, isn't ready to concede, despite being more than 25,000 votes behind Lee at the end of the ranked-choice count. "There are still votes to be counted," said Erica Fox, a spokeswoman for the Avalos campaign."
Lee was my second ranked choice. My vote for Lee didn't get counted until my first choice Herrera was eliminated, which is to say it didn't get counted at all since Herrera was third. I think. Or maybe it did. Who knows? I don't.

The big surprise is that Avalos finished 2nd. The city dodged a bullet on that one. Avalos as mayor would have been a complete disaster. It could never happen in a real run-off election between Avalos and almost anyone else, but with ranked choice voting. anything is possible. He could've been mayor without ever securing a real majority of first choice votes just like Jean Quan in Oakland. Look how well that turned out.

We weren't so lucky in the Sheriff's race. No dodging that bullet as Mirkarimi got us right between the eyes:
"Mirkarimi held the lead in the four-person race since Tuesday’s election in which the system of ranked-choice voting was used, allowing voters to pick up to three candidates in order of preference. Mirkarimi did not secure a majority of first-choice votes to win outright, but by Thursday he had 53 percent when the second-pick and third-pick votes were factored in."
Mirkarimi could never win a one-on-one runoff between himself and either Miyamoto or Cunnie, the second and third place finishers. He is only Sheriff because his opponents split the rational vote and voters either don't understand how ranked voting is gamed or don't care enough to think about the consequences of their second and third place votes or just do not understand it at all.

No, Mirkarimi is not one of my favorites either. Who knows what damage he'll do to the Sheriff's Department. We probably should start on the recall petitions now. But - there is a silver lining. Mayor Ed Lee will appoint a replacement to fill out his term on the Board of Supervisors. Anyone will be an improvement on the board, and Lee is likely to appoint a moderate. Mirkarimi will do less damage to the city as Sheriff than on the Board of Supervisors for the next year.

Can you spell "Cluster Fork"? (obviously I can't). Look - if we continue to let our pols fill up the campaign trough with our tax dollars, we should not be surprised when a herd of political pigs come running to feed. What a waste. How much did we spend to have the privilege of choosing from 16 candidates for mayor and the rest of the porkers running for office in SF? $14 Million? More? We've got to fix this.

I don't want my tax dollars paying for candidates I vehemently disagree with and consider incompetent to serve in any capacity in our city government. They can raise their own funds if they want to be on the ballot.

We need to kill all public campaign financing in San Francisco.

We need to kill Ranked Choice Voting in San Francisco.

We can use the money we save from denying Pols access to the public teat to pay for real runoff elections where voters actually cast a vote and choose between two known choices.

We need leaders elected with an unambiguous majority of the vote on a clear and easily understandable choice.

Fortunately there is some hope, even here in the PRSF. Two of our city supervisors are proposing to repeal RCV and return to election ballots that all voters can understand.

1 comment:

Tully said...

Obviously, had I been a SF citizen, my strategy would have been a monetary success.