Friday, May 30, 2008

Downtown's Polling in District 11

It looks like the downtown interests can’t wait any longer and have initiated their campaigning in District 11. I've heard from two unrelated sources, a neighbor and the wife of another D11 candidate who have been polled about the District 11 race.

While many people have asked me whether I will do or have done a poll, polling is simply way out of the price range of a grassroots campaign for it even to be considered, even with the public financing. Why should I bother when when my campaign is really going to be won on people power, neighbors talking to neighbors and people getting involved in their communities, not by the meddling of big businesses who want to shape public opinion to back a candidate who will work for them.

In a text message, my neighbor Emiliano wrote he was asked about three of the leading candidates, what he thought about Newsom, Daly and Peskin, potholes, parks, graffiti, clean streets, parking, and chain stores. He was then asked about whether he would support the creation of a code of conduct for the Board of Supervisors. A similar code of conduct had been proposed by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier and other Newsom allies on the Board of Supervisors.

The type of downtown interests who typically employ polling to help them shape public opinion include the Chamber of Commerce, the California Urban Issues Project which represents some small and but mostly big businesses, the Committee on Jobs, the lobbying and political firm Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter and Partners whose clients include some of the Bay Area’s wealthiest businesses, the Building Owners and Managers Association who represent the high rise office commercial office buildings and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association who represents many of San Francisco’s big name restaurants.

All of these entities and their allies would like City Hall to represent their interests and the interests of their big paying partners. One of their methods is to narrow down the political discussion in the City to address “quality of life issues,” getting people to focus more on the annoyances of garbage and graffiti and potholes. They want to us to back candidates who will talk their talk. They want us to be angrier about garbage rather than the fact that the San Francisco developers are building thousands of luxury condos instead of the kind of housing that working people can afford. That’s because the big business political firms are aligned with and bought and paid for by interests who are making a killing on the luxury real estate market.

And while I do believe litter, graffiti and potholes are problems that a Supervisor should be concerned about and work on, they are only a symptom of more pressing needs in the city and District 11. Our main issues are economic ones. Many residents lack access to better paying jobs and affordable housing. For instance, lack of street parking is only a symptom of the high cost of living and the unavailability of local jobs, not to mention the lack of efficient and comprehensive public transit. As housing gets more unaffordable people have little choice but to double up with other folks to cover the rent or the mortgage. As jobs are found more regionally and regional transportation remains mired in the 1940s freeway mentality, households need more than one car to get around to their various places of work. I’ve lived in District 11 since 1999. Even after the dot com boom and bust housing costs have continued to soar and street parking has gotten more scarce and harder to find.

All the District 11 candidates will talk about District 11 not getting its fair share, but as long as we’re focused on the little things, we’re never going to get it. If we don’t think big we’re never going to get the kind of change that’s going to make our communities safer, cleaner and more affordable to working families. My vision for change is based on people getting involved in the democratic process. If everyday people participate in the political process then downtown would have less of an ability to influence our elections. We'd be more able to care for neighborhoods, shape public policy and hold city hall accountable to our needs. Only through neighbors reaching out to neighbors, through communities planning together are we’re going to be able to create the kind of change that District 11 residents are really yearning for.

Let's not let downtown nickel and dime us on the issues in our district!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

seems like potholes, education, housing and jobs are exactly what small business, large business as well as aspiring politicians like you should be focused on. So what if people are polling to reinforce that?

John Avalos said...

Here's what I said: "And while I do believe litter, graffiti and potholes are problems that a Supervisor should be concerned about and work on, they are only a symptom of more pressing needs in the city and District 11. Our main issues are economic ones. Many residents lack access to better paying jobs and affordable housing."

As reported to me, the poll did not mention education, housing or jobs. As an inspiring politician, these are things I am interested in. Focusing on these and you can have an impact on the litter and the graffiti, no to mention violence.

John Avalos said...

The poll did not discuss these larger issues. The poll is nothing more than a $15K to $20K focus group to craft a message for someone's campaign. Because the poll did not ask about jobs, housing and education, I would say the sponsor paying for the poll was less interested in the deeper issues affecting our city.

Had the poll mentioned housing, education and jobs I'd feel differently about it.

Anonymous said...

so "downtown" the people you claim did the poll are not interested in jobs? Isn't "downtown" another word for business? Isn't it businesses that employ people and provide jobs?

My guess is "downtown" is interested in jobs....

John Avalos said...

Good use of deductive reasoning!

Anonymous said...

What are your views on our military, veterans and the Junior ROTC program? Are you going to continued on the failed policies of the current board of Supervisors? Sanctuary City is one thing, but harboring criminals and using tax payer money in aiding them to escape prosecution is another. What is your position on dealing with undocumented aliens who commit crimes? The Bolognas were gunned down by a known gang member.

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