This November, San Francisco voters will be asked to approve a temporary $79 annual parcel tax to support San Francisco City College. I had been informed by those involved in the campaign that a 2/3 vote was required, and told Bay Guardian City Editor Steven Jones this when we discussed it at City Hall. Jones said I was wrong, and maintained his position even after I sent him confirming information. Ignoring the facts, Jones wrote an August 22 story claiming “Shaw said the measure needed a two-thirds vote to be approved, a claim he also made in today’s piece. That didn’t sound right to me, and the Elections Department confirms that it isn’t: Prop. A needs only a simple majority to pass.” Once again, Jones is wrong. And while most of his errors only make him and his publication look bad, this mistake could mislead people into thinking the vital tax will easily pass, potentially diverting money and resources from the campaign.
I try to avoid communicating with the always angry Steven Jones, but we were in an elevator together when he asked me why I thought the Mayor made a good choice in picking Rodrigo Santos for the Community College Board. I replied that even Jones should recognize that Santos will bring key constituencies into the yes side of the City College tax measure, and that this was critical to getting a 2/3 vote necessary for passage.
Jones said I was wrong and that Prop A only needed a majority vote. He sent me email asking for comment on my “error,” following it up with an article (which I am not linking to as it contains additional falsehoods unrelated to City College) whose quotes about my writings on Prop A are excerpted above.
The City Editor of the Bay Guardian had no interest in tracking down the truth about Prop A before writing his attack. When I sent him information from a website confirming the 2/3 requirement and asked for the source for his view, he emailed me the phone number of the Department of Elections.
Why bother pointing out Jones’ falsehood when I ignore so many of his others? Because it will take an all hands on deck campaign to win 2/3 support on a ballot that also has Prop 30 (the Brown tax measure) and a $195 million local parks bond. Add publicity about City College’s past lack of fiscal and administrative oversight and getting to 2/3 becomes even tougher.
The campaign is clearly winnable, but if people think only a bare majority is needed they will put their time and money elsewhere. Let’s hope the Bay Guardian prominently acknowledges its mistake.