Open Letter on the June 5 California Primary Election

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Dear Friend,

A year and a half into the Trump presidency, we’re witnessing the worst reversals in years for working people, the environment, women, immigrants, LGBT folks and people of color. At the same time, those targeted are joining together to fight back.

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to render decisions undercutting unions’ ability to organize and collect dues, teachers have waged statewide wildcat strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, and Colorado to demand living wages and increased school funding. Buoyed by the strike wave, three unions at all campuses of the University of California walked out last week to maintain strong pensions and healthcare, higher pay, and a halt to privatizing campus jobs through outsourcing. The teachers and UC workers are pointing the way forward for everyone under attack. Strikes are the working class’s strongest weapon. When services and production are shut down, with the support of the community, the bosses and the government have to back down.

But labor can go a step further to increase its political clout, especially when elections come around. By bringing both unionized and non-unionized working people together to form a labor party that runs candidates, we can fight back both at the workplace and at the ballot box.  To counter Trump’s ugly nationalism, a labor party could promote international labor solidarity and call for slashing the Pentagon’s budget to meet our needs here and stop exploiting and massacring people in other countries.

Unfortunately, most labor union leaders are taking working people into a dead end by their unceasing support for the Democratic Party. Democrats claim that the answer to Trump is to vote for them, but they continue to sell us out. That’s why we support openly socialist candidates running on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket in California. And, at the national level, it’s why the Freedom Socialist Party is running Steve Hoffman for U.S. Senate from Washington State. Steve’s campaign directly challenges the monied interests represented by both major parties in Washington, D.C.  He supports strong unions, expansion of women’s rights, stronger laws against discrimination, and ending U.S. military occupations abroad. If you would like to donate to Hoffman’s campaign or learn more about it, go to VoteSocialism.com.

In the June 5 primary election, voters will determine the top two candidates for statewide offices and adopt or reject several ballot propositions.  In San Francisco, we are choosing a new Mayor and have the opportunity to vote for measures that establish free universal childcare and provide lawyers for tenants facing eviction. Please see our recommendations below for more details.

If you would like to discuss any of the recommendations in this letter, or to organize with the FSP, please call me at 415-864-1278, or come by New Valencia Hall, our Bay Area headquarters.

In Solidarity,

Bob Price

Bay Area Organizer

California Statewide Candidates

The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP), is the only left party with ballot status in California.  Their platform states that they are “committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism, racial equality, and internationalism.”  PFP candidates are not bound to their platform, and some have not run on a socialist or anti-capitalist program.  However, this year six PFP candidates have announced that they are running as socialists for statewide offices and we recommend voting for them.   

Gloria La Riva for Governor.  La Riva blames the capitalists for the crises faced by the working class and proposes radical change; housing for all; free universal healthcare and mental healthcare; free childcare, senior care, and education. She calls for not just taxing the corporations and banks but expropriating them. She opposes the undemocratic voting system and the domination of the two-party system in our elections.   

Nathalie Hrizi for Insurance Commissioner.  Hrizi states that healthcare is a right, and privately-owned health insurance companies must be abolished.  She calls for single-payer healthcare and urges the creation of a new system where our health and wellbeing are not commodities sold at a profit, but a central priority of society. 

La Riva and Hrizi are members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL).   Although their candidates have good platforms that provide socialist solutions, we must endorse PSL’s campaigns critically due to their unwillingness to endorse other socialist candidates. Instead, in the 2016 presidential election, PSL urged registered Democrats in New York to vote for Bernie Sanders rather than rejecting the parties of capitalism. We also disagree with PSL’s support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad on the false grounds that he is “anti-imperialist.” He is a capitalist dictator who oppresses his people.  The U.S., Russia, and all other countries should get out of Syria and let the Syrians resolve their issues.

John T Parker for U.S. Senate.  Parker is a member of Workers World Party.  He has a strong program for immigrants, Blacks, LGBTQ and working people. He also calls for no tolerance of white supremacy, sexism, misogyny anti-LGBTQ violence & discrimination.  John says, “In these days when the Trump administration is trying to divide and weaken the working class, solidarity in each other’s struggles is our most important weapon.”  His platform states: “End capitalism – don’t enable it.”  Workers World’s position on Syria is similar to PSL’s, and we have the same criticism of it.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is running David Moore as a “no party preference” candidate for the U.S. Senate on a socialist, anti-war and anti-capitalist program. However, we do not recommend him over John Parker.  SEP is dangerously sectarian. They have repeatedly dragged other left groups into the capitalist courts, oppose affirmative action, and pay lip service to the rights of people of color, women and queers, while abstaining from the actual movements.

CT Weber for California Secretary of State.  Weber blames bipartisan election laws, private money, and the corporate media for denying representation for many of us, making democracy an illusion.  He calls for proportional representation in elections where parties and candidates win seats in proportion to their number of votes. 

Kevin Akin for California State Treasurer.  Akin advocates forming a publicly-owned California State Bank to keep money out of the hands of the profiteers.  He wants to revise the tax code to lift the burden from the workers and poor and make those who benefit the most from this economy pay for social needs. 

Mary Lou Finley for State Controller.   Finley advocates reducing the tax burden on working people and shifting it to the wealthy. She has been active for many years against police brutality, for freeing Leonard Peltier and other political prisoners, and for social justice issues.

San Francisco Local Candidates

In San Francisco, there are no good choices. We can’t recommend voting for Democrats, no matter how progressive they sound, as they are beholden to business interests and will inevitably serve their masters to betray needs of working people. Nor do we support independents like Amy Weiss, running for mayor, who propose important reforms, but fail to be up front enough to say that ultimately, the whole system must be replaced. Therefore, we recommend leaving your ballot blank for local positions.

Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition 68 (Bond funding for parks, natural resources and water quality)—Vote NO  
This measure authorizes the state to sell $4.1 billion in bonds for the above purposes as well as climate adaptation, water supply, and flood protection. While all of these improvements and safeguards are essential, working taxpayers, struggling to make ends meet, would be on the hook for the $8 billion to repay bondholders. Instead, tax the biggest corporate polluters to pay for these services.

Proposition 70 (Requires legislative supermajority for spending cap-and-trade reserve funds)—Vote NO
This proposition requires a legislative two-thirds supermajority vote to approve the expenditure of cap-and-trade Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund revenue starting in 2024. After the spending is approved one time by two-thirds, all subsequent expenditures will be by simple majority.  This convoluted mechanism was a concession by Gov. Brown to secure Republican votes needed for an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program. Under this, oil companies and other air contaminators must pay a fee to continue polluting. The revenue is used for programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming.  This proposal gives a minority of conservatives and climate change deniers the power to limit spending on crucial environmental protections. The real solution is to prohibit industrial CO2 emissions in the first place.

Proposition 72 (Permits exemption of rain-capture systems from property tax reassessment—Vote YES

Rain capture systems collect, store, and use otherwise wasted rain water for landscape irrigation and similar uses, saving more conventional water for personal use.  In a drought-plagued state, collecting rain water makes sense. This measure is a first step to protect homeowners who do the right thing. Even better would be tax rebates for such water-saving devices and government-funded programs to install them in poorer neighborhoods.

San Francisco and Bay Area Regional Ballot Measures

NO to regressive parcel taxes. NO to regressive toll and rate increases.

Often, local politicians put regressive tax and fee increases on the ballot to pay for sorely needed programs and infrastructure improvements. While we’d like to support better transportation, development of clean power, and higher teacher salaries, it’s wrong to pay for them with taxes and fees that eat into the subsistence wages and pensions of many San Franciscans. For the most vulnerable, creeping tax rates and fee increases can mean there’s only enough left to pay for food or medicine, but not both. Instead of squeezing workers for overdue improvements, elected officials need to tax corporate profits and investments of the very rich. With 31 billionaires in San Francisco, and profits from the likes of Uber, Wells Fargo, and Twitter, there’s plenty of wealth to draw on.

Proposition G (Parcel tax that increases teacher pay, but funds charter schools)—Vote NO

San Francisco Proposition G implements a $298 tax on each parcel of property in San Francisco to increase teacher and paraprofessional (classroom aide) salaries and enhance technology in the schools. Worthy goals, but the tax also supports “public” charter schools, managed by profit-making corporations. Add to this the fact that the tax bill is the same for a retired home-owning grandmother in Hunters Point as it is for Salesforce, and we have to reject this measure.

Regional Measure 3 (Raises bridge tolls by $3 over next three years)—Vote NO

This proposal raises bridge tolls on nearly all Bay Area bridges by $3 over the next three years to pay for needed highway and mass transit improvement. Why arbitrarily penalize only bridge commuters who already suffer through long lines and slow traffic just to get to work! Instead, tax the big companies who depend on roads and transit to bring in employees and send out products.

Proposition A (Public utilities revenue bonds)—Vote NO

San Francisco Proposition A issues revenue bonds to build and improve clean electrical power facilities. Such bonds are paid back with funds received from electricity consumers’ bills. That’s better than bonds that draw payments from taxpayer general funds, but there is still a danger of increasing electricity rates on some of San Francisco’s most struggling working people.

YES to a tax on the rich to fund childcare

Proposition C (Additional tax on commercial rents mostly to fund childcare)—Vote YES

This measure increases taxes on the gross receipts of commercial landlords bringing in $1 million or more annually. 85 % of the income generated pays for childcare for low- to middle-income families. Childcare, its costs, and the near impossibility of finding affordable quality care falls primarily on mothers. That’s why we, as socialist feminists, believe in free, public, universal childcare. This measure takes an important step in that direction, paid for by those who can most afford it. We join with the Children’s Council of San Francisco, Chinatown Community Development Center, and the SF Labor Council in urging a YES vote.

Beware of cynical political maneuvering

Proposition D (Additional tax on commercial rents mostly to fund housing and homeless services)—Vote NO

Proposition C got to the voters as the result of a grassroots initiative petition campaign. Upon learning of it, a group of pro-business SF Supervisors placed a measure on the ballot to compete with C. Their Proposition D goes after the same source of funds, but at half the tax rate, and designates the funds to help the homeless and provide housing for low- and middle-income households. If both C and D pass, only the measure getting more votes takes effect. This cynical, dastardly political ploy must be roundly condemned! Elected leaders should not be pitting the need for childcare against the plight of the homeless and poor, just to give landlords a lower tax rate. Instead, Supervisors should be raising corporate taxes to fund both necessities. We reject the political shenanigans behind this measure by urging a NO vote.

No to prohibition of tobacco products

Proposition E (Prohibiting retailers from selling flavored tobacco products)—Vote NO

Throughout history, prohibition has been used with the stated intent to protect people from harm and perceived danger associated with commodities like liquor, marijuana, and other drugs. In every case, the results have been disastrous, leading to disproportionate arrests, conviction and imprisonment of people of color who have not harmed anyone. While it is true that youth are targeted by sellers of flavored nicotine products, the solution to protecting children’s health is more effective health education, access to nutritious foods, and increased CalWORKS food vouchers. Tobacco companies are against this measure to protect their bottom line; we are against it for the harm it will do to already-marginalized people by giving cops another excuse to step up their presence in neighborhoods like the Bayview, Mission, and Fillmore.

No tasers for the SFPD!

Proposition H (Policy for use of tasers by San Francisco police officers)—Vote NO

This measure is sponsored by the Police Officers Association, the cops’ union, because they want tasers now, without any precautions and rules that the Police Commission and Chief seek to impose before issuing the weapons. We are against cops carrying tasers, even with guidelines. Tasers are not the nonlethal alternative they’re being sold as. Arrestees have suffered great bodily harm and have died from being tased according to studies carried out by UCSF. We should not be adding another lethal weapon to the arsenal carried by SFPD. We really can’t trust them or any other police force with lethal weapons of any kind. Along with Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4 Mario Woods, the ACLU, Bar Association, and Coalition on Homelessness, we ask you to vote NO.

Yes to publicly funded lawyers for people threatened with eviction

Proposition F (City-funded legal representation for residential tenants in eviction lawsuits)—Vote YES

Proposition F is a worthy attempt to protect tenants from eviction in a city where rents have skyrocketed while the Mayor and Supervisors have catered to high tech corporations. Third and fourth generation Black and Latinx San Franciscans are being forced out of a city they built and infused with rich cultures. Landlords eager to make a killing on higher rents employ all kinds illegal maneuvers to evict long-term tenants. Typically, 90% of landlords have attorneys, while only 10% of renters do.

What we really need is guaranteed housing for all, with subsidies for those of modest means.. But Proposition F is a reform that will bring relief to working San Franciscans in the meantime. We urge a YES vote along with the SF Tenants Union, La Raza Centro Legal, and the United Educators of San Francisco.

Please see the reverse side of this page for a summary that you may take with you to the voting booth.

Summary of Recommendations for June 5, 2018 California Primary Election

Candidates for Statewide Office

U.S. Senate John Parker, PFP, WWP*

Governor Gloria La Riva, PFP, PSL*

Secretary of State CT Weber, PFP

State Treasurer Kevin Akin, PFP

State Controller Mary Lou Finley, PFP

Insurance Commissioner Nathalie Hrizi, PFP, PSL

Candidates for City and County of San Francisco Office

Leave your ballot blank—there are no candidates running who advocate replacement of the failing, anti-working-class capitalist system

California Ballot Measures

Proposition 68 (Bond funding for parks, natural resources and water quality) Vote NO

Proposition 70 (Requires legislative supermajority for spending cap-and-trade reserve funds) Vote NO

Proposition 72 (Permits exemption of rain-capture systems from property tax reassessment) Vote YES

San Francisco and Bay Area Regional Ballot Measures

Regional Measure 3 (Raises bridge tolls by $3 over next three years) Vote NO

Proposition A (Public utilities revenue bonds) Vote NO

Proposition C (Additional tax on commercial rents mostly to fund childcare) Vote YES

Proposition D (Additional tax on commercial rents mostly to fund housing and homeless services—opportunistic ploy that competes with Proposition C) Vote NO

Proposition E (Prohibiting retailers from selling flavored tobacco products) Vote NO

Proposition F (City-funded legal representation for residential tenants in eviction lawsuits) Vote YES

Proposition G (Parcel tax that increases teacher pay, but funds charter schools) Vote NO

Proposition H (Policy for use of tasers by San Francisco police officers) Vote NO

*PFP: Peace & Freedom Party, PSL: Party for Socialism and Liberation, WWP: Workers World Party

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