Progressives split on bag ban, ex-cons


A couple of interesting votes at the Board of Supes Dec. 6. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi lost two pieces of legislation -- a mandate that stores charge for bags at checkout counters and a tax credit for companies that hire ex-offenders.

The bag ban went down 7-4. Well, actually, it was continued to February, by which time Mirkarimi will be gone. Sup. Jane Kim said she wanted to see more outreach to minority businesses, and was quoted in the press saying she would support it at a future date, but I suspect the delay marks the end of the bill. Without Mirkarimi around to push it, the measure will probably just die. It's odd because San Francisco used to be on the cutting edge of environmental issues; the bag ban is getting picked up by other cities and will probably be law all over the country in a decade.

Voting for the continuation were three supes who said they supported the "concept" -- Scott Wiener, David Chiu and Kim.

The ex-offender tax credit went down 6-5 -- and on this one, Sup. Malia Cohen, who is not always with the progressives but whose district has the largest number of parolees in the city, supported Mirkarimi. So did Kim, Eric Mar, and David Campos. The swing vote: Sup. John Avalos, the progressive leader in the mayor's race and one of the most solid left votes on the board.

Avalos told me that he doesn't support tax breaks; he's been consistent on that, and I understand. I don't support tax breaks, either. I don't think they're very effective and they cost the city money. But there are two elements that make this unusual -- for one, if anyone actually used the tax credit and hired an ex-offender, the money the city would likely save by keeping that person from going back to jail would greatly exceed the amount of the tax reduction.

Besides, I was waiting to see Lee come up with an excuse to veto the bill -- particularly at a time when more and more ex-offenders are going to be released in San Francisco. I know this is just petty politics and all that, but this was a tough decision involving a very unpopular group (nobody wants to be nice to former criminals) -- and Lee got off easy.


Rewarding those who have committed crimes over those who have not is hardly a great idea. Voters understand that and, apparently, so does even Avalos.

Give it up.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

>Besides, I was waiting to see Lee come up with an excuse to veto the bill...

Me too!! How would he ever be able to explain to the public that he opposed the use of City funds to give ex cons an advantage in the current job market over those without a criminal record. The public would have been all over Lee for blocking that.

Posted by District 3 Vet on Dec. 08, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

You need to start using a better stock photo of Mirkarimi.

He looks like a smiling used car salesman sizing up another sucker-buyer.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2011 @ 8:46 am

SF is the sucker-buyer, the lemon we just got is Mirk as Sheriff in perpetuity

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

I don't see a very deep bench on the Chamber of Commerce, SPUR and BOMA roster for the 2019 mayoral race. Kamala Harris? Mark Leno? Carmen Chu? Mark Farrell? George Gascon? Scott Weiner?

The extended Alioto clan seems to be mostly finished in local politics. Willie Brown got the mayor he wanted and maybe gets a D5 candidate off his short list, but he, Ms. Feinstein and Ms. Pelosi won't be major impact players forever.

It's a ways off, but based on the current players one could imagine a mayor's race in 2019 with Jane Kim and Ross Mirkarimi as the leading contenders. They may be the moderates in the race compared to the candidate the Bay Guardian and its allies rally around, but it appears the city will make some progress to the choices it faced 16 years ago when Roberta Achtenberg, Frank Jordan, Angela Alioto and Willie Brown were the main selections.

But you're mostly right. Ross is sheriff for life - operating above the fray of the always contentious budget battles and those often zany BOS resolutions - but maybe you'll get to enjoy his presence for 8 years as mayor too.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

She will run for reelection in 2014 - she will win and then announce for Boxer's seat when she doesn't run for reelection in 2016. Harris will not run for governor. Kamala sees her path to the presidency as the same as Obama's.

Kamala is relentlessly ambitious. She sees her future in the White House.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

so I don't see much point in offering up the usual sad retreads.

And if anything, the city will be more moderate and less liberal by then, given all the demographic changes. I doubt that Brown is worried either way.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 6:54 am

this likely more about making a statement, and that Avalos is fully aware of.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 09, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

is fully and legally allowed, and I cannot imagine how that could ever change. If someone has stolen money in the past, I'd need a compelling reason to presume that won't happen again.

A tax break is neither here nor there. Why hire a felon when there is a non-felon equally qualified?

The lifelong penalty felons face in getting jobs is part of what should deter them from crime. If it didn't, what does that say about their judgment, ethics and foresight?

How many felons have SFBG hired?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

Meaningless statement, something that foreign policy expert Avalos knows all about, meaningless statements.

Low end jobs are often cashiers and other service people, not the kind of job you want an ex-felon in.

Also the lawsuit lottery is such that hiring a felon could backfire for so many different reasons. The city isn't going to indemnify business for the actions of the felon, so the tax saving hardly outweighs the possible financial problems that might pop up.

The real world is rough on our progressives.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 09, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

all kinds of decent people out of work, and our idiot pols want to give jobs to criminals. WTF is wrong with these idiots!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

I want to hear what all the critics of this ordinance offer as a better solution to deal with the high numbers of parolees is our city, including the approximately 1000 we are about to receive from state facilities.

While there are certainly problems with tax breaks and arguably with granting "special treatment" to those who've performed criminal acts, this ordinance would have kept us safer, prevented future costs related to recidivism, and provided tax relief to local businesses willing to offer someone a second chance.

Shame it didn't pass. I wish Avalos could have been more pragmatic on this one.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 10:30 pm