Local ballot measure campaigns reach the finish line

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The deadline for submitting enough valid signatures to quality local initiatives for the November ballot is today (July 6) at 5 p.m., which made for a busy holiday weekend for two San Francisco ballot measures that will be close calls: labor's effort to increase the city's hotel tax by 2 percent and the pension reform measure pushed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

“It's going to be really close,” Adachi told the Guardian on Friday, referring to a measure to increase how much city employees contribute to their pensions and health care costs, which the labor movement is bitterly opposing.

But labor leaders say they have enough signatures for their Hotel Fairness Initiative after an all-hands-on-deck weekend of gathering and counting signatures, and they plan to hold a rally on the steps of City Hall at 1:45 pm on their way to turn the signatures in to the basement Elections Department. That initiative needed at least 7,168 valid signatures and officials say they turned in about 17,000.

Adachi says he's also cleared the 44,799 signature threshold for qualifying a charter amendment and plans to turn them in at 4 p.m. He has yet to formally support the hotel tax increase (which could bring in about $30 million per year) or any of the other proposed revenue measures being considered by the Board of Supervisors, which still has a few more weeks to place measures on the ballot.

“It doesn't deal with the train wreck that we're in,” Adachi said of the proposed revenue measures, noting that they don't come close to reaching the $167 million per year that he says his employee benefits reform measure would bring into the city, which labor leaders say will come directly out of the pockets of city employees and hurt the local economy.

But Adachi counters by telling us, “My message is there's not going to be a city to run in a few years if we don't do something.”

Meanwhile, Sup. Sean Elsbernd last week turned in about 76,000 signatures to remove Muni workers' pay guarantees from the city charter, which would appear to easily qualify. The Board of Supervisors is working on a competing ballot measure that would also remove that guarantee, but include a more comprehensive reform that includes governance and oversight changes and new revenue.

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