Exclusive to the Westside Observer

Ruminations of a former citizen Supervisor

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Quentin KoppThe last 30 days represent one of the most politically turbulent and tumultuous periods in our nation’s history, if I can be that bold, and surely in my adult lifetime. Born in 1928, and reaching a cognitive condition in time to hear parental conversations about the Great Depression, and reading voraciously the three daily newspapers in my hometown of approximately 210,000 people, (can you image three daily newspapers for such a relatively small population?) I possess beliefs which therefore may not be founded on informational or factual accuracy, or at least I possessed such beliefs until the current financial turmoil fell on us.

My steadfast hero was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States; my developing creed emanated from his public and political policies. My father owned and operated a neighborhood drugstore, from about 10 in the morning until 10 at night, and if the soda fountain was doing a good business, he wouldn’t lock up the store until about 11 PM. My mother, an ace secretary, left high school after her junior year to work and contribute money to her two younger brothers’ higher education. She managed the household, except for a brief time in 1936 when she served as secretary to the local WPA administrator until forced to depart because she recommended non-Democrats for jobs.

Until recently, I didn’t realize the full implication of WWII’s effect on the national economy. I knew of hobos, tramps and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). I didn’t, however, know that the stock market never returned to 1929 levels until 1954 or that national unemployment continued to hover around 15% until our entry into WWII. Compared to 2009, we were a much smaller nation of 130,000,000 people; yet President Harry Truman’s post-WWII commitment to reducing unemployment to 6% failed to convey to me the significance it contained for elders, who knew the pre-war plight of those Americans trying arduously to secure jobs. After all, from the time I was 11 years old I was employed in my father’s drugstore, starting at 25 cent per hour and rising by the end of the war to 65 cents an hour.

It is against that background and as Chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority that I observe intensely the efforts of our President and other national leaders in government and private business to cure our economic debility and replenish our productive thrivingness and spirit. Now that California voters authorized issuance of $9,000,000,000 of state general obligation bonds to form the financial foundation of the California High Speed Rail Project’s first phase from San Francisco to Anaheim through San Jose, Merced, Bakersfield, Palmdale and downtown Los Angeles, the appropriation of $8,000,000,00 in the government stimulus bill by the Congress and President supplemented my confidence in eventual funding for that entire project first phase which costs approximately $33,000,000,000 . Although U.S. Department of Transportation eligibility guidelines regarding applications for funds from such appropriation will not be issued until May 17, 2009, the High-Speed Rail Authority will be ready, as indicated to our United States Senators, to request nearly $2,000,000,000 for various parts of the project’s first phase which either possess environmental approval already or can obtain it in order to commence various public works prior to the requisite end of the federal fiscal year 2012.

It may be my 1930’s teachings, but I believe governmental “priming the pump” functions as a genuine means of restoring economic confidence and financial improvement for our citizens. An ex-boxer family friend of the 1930’s often proclaimed to me, “keep it in circulation” meaning money. In that context, I nevertheless retain my concern that tax dollars be spent carefully, judiciously, without waste and in a manner that creates taxpayer confidence. I think it important that taxpayer institutions and officials confer good examples for the people who pay taxes.

I am thus especially troubled by non-payment of income and property taxes by nominees for high office. I am troubled also by the avowed intent of our local Department of Public Health to grant priority of taxpayer funds to immigrants, legal and illegal, and so-called “homeless” residents or transients on the theory they deserve such beneficial treatment more than citizens and impoverished, but working, families who are not homeless or even illegal immigrants. Such acts and statement give evidence of a distorted sense of principles that reduce the respect every public official and employee should receive. Even worse is San Francisco’s prosecutorial refusal to pursue criminal cases against deported aliens by notifying Homeland Security.

As a retired Superior Court Judge sitting on assignment by the Administrative Office of the Courts in San Mateo and other counties, I have encountered practices by financial and credit businesses which vex parties who are sued on mortgages or credit cards or other forms of debt . In 1990 as a State Senator, I successfully introduced a bill that requires a copy of a contract to be furnished by a bank, a builder, a credit card company, every type of business, to a person who signs a contract of any sort. Opening a bank account may seem straightforward, uncomplicated, but the document you sign to do so constitutes an enforceable contract. Until my measure took effect on January 1, 1991, many, if not most, people bestowed little attention, or thought to secure a complete copy of such a binding document. The importance of doing so is reflected on a regular basis in various civil lawsuits in California courts and throughout the nation. I have seen examples. If a credit card company sues a cardholder for non- payment of debt, the law requires the original credit card agreement to be introduced in evidence at any trial. The same applies to a mortgage, which consists of a promissory note and a concomitant deed of trust, signed by the borrower. We all know that mortgages, for example, have been sold and re-sold, collated as securities and then bought by corporate or individual investors. You would be surprised (and perhaps cheered) by the number of cases in which the plaintiff lender cannot produce the original note, or credit card agreement, deed of trust, or installment agreement. I have personally rendered judgment against banks, collection agencies and other entities, which sue on an alleged mortgage note or purchase contract, but cannot produce the original document. Instead, such entities rely on an administrative employee who testifies in a hearsay fashion about the custom and practice of maintaining copies of the document or “storing” them in a sophisticated computer system. For those who confront such claims, the lesson should be clear: Insist on your legal right to compel introduction in evidence of the original agreement, not an alleged copy from an employee who relies on hearsay documents, which are not admissible.

Finally, I record bemusement over contemporary political media, and cultural changes which may have contributed in an unnoticed way to our present financial dilemma and could continue to do unless checked by a stout grammarian instinct, which once formed the hallmark of American education, both secondary and higher. You need not listen even closely to cable television and radio “reporters” and announcers to realize that phrases once associated only with adolescent girls in the San Fernando Valley now blanket those airwaves. The most widely used (and abused) words are “like.” which serves as a feeble transition to another thought, “amazing” which Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines as “to fill with wonder,” “incredible,” defined by the same tome as “too extraordinary and improbable to be believed,” and “you know,” which acts as an insipid delay tactic caused by lack of vocabulary. Then, we note now- clichéd phrases most often associated with politicians and their “spokespersons” such as “going forward” which probably means “in the future,” “move on,” which probably means “forget it” and “transparency,” which supposedly means taxpayers can obtain otherwise-secret records or documents that are clearly subject to California Public Records Act or the U.S. Public Information Act. The word itself is defined as “saving the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that bodies lying beyond are entirely visible.” A synonym is “pellucid” “open” or “public,” as words to describe public records won’t do anymore. If it’s “transparent” you can probably bet a sawbuck it won’t be “open” or “public” as the law in simple words mandates, rather than “transmitting light without appreciable scattering….”

To ensure that we no longer need comprehend the language facility of John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, or Winston Churchill, our current President, aspiring perhaps to eclipse his predecessor, the “decider” advises a nation that his putative selection of a non-taxpaying ex-Senator for Secretary of Health occurred because he (the President) “screwed-up.”

March 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

My wife Mara and I enjoyed the pleasure of attending our first presidential inauguration, departing San Francisco on Friday, January 16th and returning Wednesday, January 21st. We were afforded seats at the January 20th Inauguration of the 43rd or 44th President, depending on method of calculation, through the offices of United States Senator Dianne Feinstein and her San Francisco Chief of Staff, and retired San Francisco Police Department detective Jim Molinari.

Through the kindness of such luminaries as my former State Senate colleague and current Chairman of the California Democratic Party, the Honorable Art Torres, Congressman (and former State Senate colleague) Jim Costa of Fresno, Congresswoman Jane Harmon of Los Angeles, my fellow California High Speed Rail Authority Commissioner and former legislative colleague from Costa Mesa, Orange County, the Honorable Tom Umberg and David Dean, Executive Director of the Texas High Speed Rail Authority, we were guests at numerous functions, including the California State Society Luncheon on January 18th, the so-called “California Bash” that night, and the Texas State Society “Black Tie and Boots” Ball featuring approximately 12,000 participants on Monday night, January 19th. We were fortunate to enjoy the hospitality of a 95 year-old cousin in the Northwest neighborhood of Washington. We relied primarily on Washington’s Metro system for daily journeys to and from events and the inauguration itself.

For the benefit of readers, let me recommend that no matter the manner in which you do so, please try to attend a presidential inauguration in your lifetime. Irrespective of your party affiliation (or in my case, no party affiliation) we are Americans, and there is no more breath-taking, felicitous and sentimental moment than the installation of a president for a four-year term. I was tearful, thinking of my immigrant WWI father, Mara’s Latvian roots and her two-year residency in a displaced person’s camp after WWII in the British sector of Germany and the educational, social and economic benefits our country has bestowed on all of us. Moreover, I heard not an unkind word during our entire 5 days in Washington. Instead, we were uniformly greeted by friendly strangers and Metro employees who exercised devoted care to ensuring proper Metro service for us every day. The experience was extraordinary. Reflect on the fact that not a single arrest was recorded at the inauguration, that about one million rides occurred on the Metro that day, all without incident or injury. Now, we convey our warm wishes for, not simply improvement of economic conditions, but the good and welfare of all Americans, based upon the wisdom, the patience, the endurance and the intellectual honesty of our new President and his appointees.

Although one wouldn’t know it from the daily newspapers, administration of criminal justice and law enforcement appears to have suffered in San Francisco in the post-election era. Sadly, on January 4, San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Parish was defaced. A spray-painted message was discovered the next day leading the Chief of Police to urge vigilance concerning threats, suspicious packages and other “hate-based acts.” No apprehension of responsible persons has occurred. There has, however, occurred baffling efforts by the City’s Assessor to contrive inter-Archdiocese transfers of various real estate holdings as “change of ownership” so as to impose on the Roman Catholic Church high levels of reassessed property taxation. As an almost singular supporter in 1978 of Proposition 13 among all then-elected public officials in San Francisco, and a one-time State Senator who devoted legislative effort to ensuring proper rules respecting true changes of ownership of real property, I was struck by the Assessor’s effort almost as if it represented financial punishment of the Roman Catholic Church arising from election activity. As readers know, Proposition 13 protects homeowners from the ravage of “paper profits” on their residences, residences whose value has suffered in the past year sizeable diminution, unless a residence is actually sold. Proposition 13 also expressly provides for reassessment of property to its sale price in the event a residence is actually sold to a different party. The legislature extended the benefit of Proposition 13 to the purchase of property in other counties after sale of a residence, depending on whether a county desired to grant such benefits. San Francisco, for example, grants such benefits; thus, if you sell your home in SF, and buy a new home, the assessed valuation of your former home applies to your new home. Paper transfers occurred among Archdiocese properties. The inevitable result of the City Assessor’s transparent punitive action will be litigation. Litigation costs money. Taxpayers sustain the cost of litigation if the Assessor loses, as seems likely. Pity also the City Attorney who will represent the non-prevailing Assessor in such law suits.

Another sad disregard of history occurred during January. In November 2007, Board of Supervisors and Mayor submitted to voters a Charter Amendment consolidating transit and transportation activity under the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA). That meant the Taxicab Commission would be merged in the MTA. As a matter of history, in June 1978 as a member of the Board of Supervisors, I effectuated a ballot measure, commonly known as Proposition K, which reformed the issuance of taxicab permits. In short, it treats taxicab permits as the public assets they represent, establishes a requirement that only a genuine taxicab driver can obtain a permit, charges that driver a modest fee based strictly upon the cost of processing his application, bars corporate ownership of a taxicab permit and imposes minimum annual driving requirements on all owners of permits.

In response to the expressed concern of many taxicab drivers and interested persons, on October 3, 2007 the Mayor and the then President of the Board of Supervisors stated in writing, that “the will of the voters” on taxicab issues, meaning Propositions K’s provisions, would be respected. In fact, Mayor Newsom stated in writing that while his intent was “to put all forms of public transit (including taxis) in the hands of professionals, it is also the goal to respect the will of the voters on Taxi issues.” He added: “we are not supportive of an effort to merge the Taxi industry unless proper guarantees are made to protect Proposition K.” He added in an letter to the executive director of the MTA and the executive director of the Taxi Commission: “Please keep our desires not to tamper with the intent of Proposition K in mind as you examine ways to streamline operations and develop a strategic business plan for this merge (sic).” Yet, some 15 months later, Mr. Newsom proposes that taxicab permits be auctioned by the City for $100,000 or more, claiming that taxicab permit buyers would still be subject to the annual driving requirements of Proposition K and its consequent ordinances. How many taxicab drivers can afford to buy a permit at $100,000 or more? Yet, an elected public official who memorializes a promise and then attempts to eviscerate it under the guise of an “auction,” would return the taxicab permit process to pre-1978 venality and allow doctors, stockbrokers, financial consultants, lawyers, business executives and corporations to own taxicab permits and lease such permits to plebian drivers? Apparently history means nothing compared to expediency.

Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco Supervisor, State Senator and currently Judge.
Feb 2009


A Little Perspective

AS 2008 CLOSES, SOME HISTORICAL EVENTS DESERVE PERSPECTIVE. One of those involved the self-serving aggressive attempt by the City of Daly City and unidentified developers to grab the land of California Agricultural District 1-A, better known as the Cow Palace. Comprising approximately 70 acres and located in Daly City and, to a minimal extent in San Francisco, for almost three- quarters of a century the venerable Cow Palace has represented to San Franciscans an entertainment forum of first rank and high quality. Besides the annual Grand National Rodeo and Junior Rodeo for young and old farmers, the Cow Palace has hosted championship basketball, boxing, ice hockey and wrestling, garden, dog and automobile shows, fish and game exhibitions, musical concerts and the annual Dickens Faire, which unfolds as the holiday season approaches.

Early in 2008, Daly City persuaded a state senator to introduce Senate bill 1527 to require the Cow Palace, which is managed by a nine member Board of Directors, appointed by the Governor, to sell its entire acreage to Daly City. After an outpouring of support by Cow Palace adherents, the bill was changed to require the sale of a 13-acre parcel to Daly City, the Cow Palace governing board having already for over a year attempted to negotiate with the Daly City Redevelopment Agency for the leasing of such premises on a 60-year basis. SB 1527 was subsequently changed further to require the Director of the California Department of General Services to enter into negotiations to sell that 13-acre parcel to any interested third party, except that the Daly City Redevelopment Agency had the right of first refusal, thus binding the discretionary power of the Department of General Services. Because of the compelling sentiment of Cow Palace supporters, the Governor vetoed SB 1527 on September 30, 2008, noting correctly that the measure ìcircumvents the stateís current competitive bid process and would potentially limit the stateís financial return for the sale of state-owned land without creating any added value for the surrounding community.î Meanwhile, the Cow Palace had begun and signed a letter of intent to lease such 13 acres to Cypress Development Company a nationally renowned firm whose principal is former Navy and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach. The lease term will be 60 to 66 years. The lease will enable the Cow Palace to remodel and improve with gusto its current structure, and thereby increase entertainment events, even beyond those loyal boosters who persisted in saving the Cow Palace despite an unremitting publicity campaign against its historical place in San Francisco and the Peninsula. The development project includes a supermaket, other stores and middle class housing.

Some readers may recall the efforts of religious and educational organizations along Brotherhood Way, respecting a proposed 182-unit development commonly referred to as 800 Brotherhood Way. That effort began four years ago. I participated because development adversely affects my synagogue at 625 Brotherhood Way and my residence in Lakeshore Acres. (The Lakeshore Acres Improvement Club initiated community reaction to the proposed project.) The Brotherhood Way Coalition asked for an Environmental Impact Report by the developer.

Brotherhood Way possesses a history perhaps unknown to many readers. Until 1957, it was known as Stanley Drive and all but one parcel was owned by the City. Impelled by then Mayor George Christopher and others, the City sold individual parcels to religious entities, including Holy Trinity Greek Church, the Church of Christ, the KZV Armenian School, the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church, the Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, the Brotherhood Masonic Temple, and the then Temple Judea (now Congregation Beth Israel-Judea). Holy Trinity Church thereafter built the George and Tula Christopher School. The Church of Christ rented premises to Bridgemont Academy. The Brandeis-Hillel School was built on land of the Brotherhood Way Jewish Community Center and Congregation Beth Israel-Judea. Stanley Drive was renamed Brotherhood way fifty years ago in action by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor which identified it as a location for religious, educational and brotherhood institutions exclusively.

Notwithstanding that historical background the SF Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors rejected the Brotherhood Way Coalition requests for an environmental impact report, instead allowing the project to proceed with merely a mitigated negative declaration as to any adverse environmental effect. Disregarding neighborhood pleas for a full Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act, the Planning Commission imposed conditions for the issuance of a building permit as a conditional use authorization. (That means the development does not conform with the residential mixed low-density zoning for the site.) One of those conditions was the acquisition and maintenance of publicly accessible pedestrian paths from Brotherhood Way through the project site to Municipal Railway routes in Parkmerced. That is, the project owner needs an easement through Parkmerced. It is now revealed that the project owner failed to obtain such an easement. The space for which Stanley Drive was changed to Brotherhood Way may yet be treated as intended. The space which features a Benny Bufano ìPeaceî statue may yet be preserved.

A final historical note involves the SF Taxi Commission. After the insolvency collapse of the Yellow Cab company with its hundreds of taxicab driving permits (often called medallions) in 1977, I twice introduced an ordinance to render unlawful the sale of taxicab permits, require return of existing permits to the Police Department, authorize reissuance of such permits only to proven taxicab drivers to have a fee covering actual city government expenses in the issuance process.

After the then mayor vetoed each ordinance, I decided to enact such law by an initiative. (It was known as Proposition K.) Voters approved it overwhelmingly in the June 1978 election. Thereafter, the then permit holders, who were corporations, lawyers, real estate brokers, even doctors and nurses, many of whom lived out of state, and few of whom actually ever drove a taxicab, but instead made tens of thousands of dollars annually by renting the permits to actual drivers, pursued in state court and federal court suits to overturn Proposition K. They even sought United States Supreme Court intervention. They failed. At the same time, and thereafter, they tried on nine occasions to abolish Proposition K or dilute its provisions. The voters rejected such subterfuge nine times. During the era I was a California State Senator, the present Mayor introduced a law to replace Police Commission administration of Proposition K with a Taxi Commission. He did so against my advice. Taxi Commission membership included old and some new permit holders, the later of whom, have constantly tried to retain permits after the cessation of their driving career. The Taxi Commission is now dominated by those special interests, to wit, corporate executives and individuals angling to use medallions illegally. A recently-adopted charter amendment authorizes a Board of Supervisors’ ordinance to consolidate the Taxi Commission with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, operator of the Municipal Railway. Both the Mayor and the President of the Board of Supervisors have stated publicly that the intent of such consolidation is not to change or repeal the taxi driver and permit protections of Proposition K. Skeptics believe otherwise and blame the true motivation for such an ordinance as authorization of the sale of these governmental permits on a private asset basis and an elimination of the current legal requirements that a permit holder must drive a taxicab personally a minimum number of hours per year. An MTA official recently declared: “when it comes to changing Prop K, raising fees, or adjusting how medallions are allocated, I can’t say that it’s not on the table ... I think that policy question will probably come post-merger.” It will be interesting to watch the Municipal Transportation Authority after we all enjoy a peaceful, healthy Chanukah and Christmas, with victories for USF basketball.

December 2008

History Repeats Itself

If you live long enough, you do indeed watch history repeat itself in one form or another. On November 4, California voters command the opportunity to approve Proposition 1A, a $9,950,000,000 State general obligation bond to enable construction of the California High Speed Rail Project. Proposition 1A, which you will find in the slim Supplemental State Voter Information Guide, constitutes the financial foundation for the first phase of the Project from San Francisco to San Jose across the Pacheco Pass to Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield in the Central Valley, then to Palmdale, downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station (in 125 minutes) and Anaheim’s new transportation center (in another 20 minutes) at a cost of $33,000,000,000. With voter approval of Proposition 1A, design and engineering can be completed in 2009, construction begun in 2010 and the 220-mile-per-hour high speed train will be ready for usage to Los Angeles and Anaheim by 2018, with the possibility that segments such as San Francisco to San Jose in 30 minutes and Los Angeles to Anaheim in 20 minutes may be opened earlier.

As Chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, I am convinced that starting in 2009 the Congress and President of the United States will enact legislation providing at least $11,000,000,000 and perhaps as much as $17,000,000,000 to defray the first phase’s cost, with private investors (including pension systems such as the California Public Employees Retirement System) furnishing the balance of capital expenditure. Already, in early October President Bush signed a rail transportation bill which includes $1,500,000,000 for high speed rail. No state has achieved California’s status regarding high speed rail development for an eventual system extending to San Diego in the south and Sacramento in the north at an additional cost of approximately $12,000,000,000. California voters possess the power now to ensure federal and private funding by establishing the financial underpinning of Proposition 1A.

While opposition to Proposition 1A appears scattered and idiosyncratic, present-day vicissitudes in financial markets 3,000 or more miles from California cause some professional naysayers and even a few self-appointed journalistic sages to question affordability of Proposition 1A. A few iconoclastic critics, even in good faith and without the ideologue tenor of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (which succeeded in subverting the public’s best chance of reforming governmental eminent domain powers in last June’s statewide election) have expressed concern over whether the State’s general fund can sustain repayment of bond holder investments in the Proposition 1A bond measure. To that concern, State Legislative Analyst Liz Hill and Treasurer Bill Lockyer conclude that Proposition 1A would not exceed the State’s debt-service limitations under generally accepted public accounting practices that allow a maximum 6.5% of the State’s general fund expenditures for annual bond payments. The so-called debt-service ratio currently stands at 4.4% for infrastructure bonds like Proposition 1A and is expected to increase to a maximum 6.2% in 2011-2012 as currently authorized bonds and the Proposition 1A bonds are sold. Therefore, California can afford Proposition 1A.

Secondly, and equally as important, at a time of economic need Proposition 1A represents the very best governmental policy to invigorate the economy. The California High Speed Rail Project will create approximately 160,000 construction-related jobs and about 450,000-460,000 permanent new jobs thereafter. The multiplier effect upon the economy will be prolific. History so teaches us, not just nationally in terms of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 establishment of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Grand Coulee and Bonneville Dams, the Tennessee Valley Authority and similar public structure projects establishing employment for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Commentators and economists dubbed such projects “priming the pump”, as in giving life and energy to the economy. So, too, our forbearers in the Bay Area acted boldly and no differently. Reflect upon the fact that construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, based upon general obligation bonds supported by the counties of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Del Norte and, of course, San Francisco, began in 1933 and culminated with the bridge opening in 1937. In that era of the same 1929 Wall Street collapse and later economic depression, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was built. Think too about the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in November 1962 when a $792,000,000 general obligation bond was approved by 60% and more of voters in Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco Counties. Those projects all confronted skeptical critics, plus the inevitable self-appointed experts who claim knowledge superior to recognized professionals. Yet the people of San Francisco, the Bay Area and Northern California persisted. Consider for a moment our transportation predicament if BART had not been built. Some 46 years later Santa Clara County clamors for inclusion and extension of BART to San Jose. It’s axiomatic that every year of high speed rail delay produces an additional $1,000,000,000 cost. An October 2008 study sponsored by the Bay Area Council forecasts 55,000 high speed rail project-construction related jobs in the Bay Area alone. The proper question is: can we afford NOT to build high speed rail?

Additionally, the project contributes mightily to California’s legally-required mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25% in 12 years, by 50% in 22 years, pursuant to 2007’s Assembly Bill No. 32, enthusiastically signed by the Governor for good environmental reasons. High speed rail operates electrically, eliminating about 12,700,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, using one-third the energy of air travel, one-fifth the energy of automobile travel and reducing foreign oil imports by 22,000,000 barrels per year. That’s a reason the Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, California League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Endangered Habitats League and Greenbelt Alliance, among others, support Proposition 1A.

Demographers predict California’s population in 2030 will comprise approximately 50,000,000 people. To absorb the transportation demands that high speed rail will satisfy by 65,000,000-105,000,000 rides annually, would require building 3,000 new freeway lane miles, 91 new airport gates and five new runways at a cost of two-three times the high speed rail project, which will remove nearly 70,000,000 passenger trips from our highways each year and attract millions of airline passengers, thus reducing airport delays. The economic benefits of the project constitute one reason for the support from the Greater San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council, the Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce, the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the North Bay Leadership Council, the Orange County Business Council, the California Alliance for Jobs, the California Labor Federation, the California Nurses Association, the San Francisco Labor Council, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the San Mateo County Central Labor Council, the California Professional Engineers in Government, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the California Transportation Commission, the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the North Coast Railroad Authority, the League of Women Voters, San Francisco Planning & Urban Research, the American Lung Association, California Federation of Teachers and the Kern County Taxpayers Association and Sacramento City Taxpayers’ Rights League, together with federal, state and local elected officials from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to the mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, San Diego, Bakersfield and political organizations such as the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee. Forty years from now our descendents will thank us for finally producing a high speed rail system like those in 11 other nations, starting with Japan for the 1964 Olympic Games. Like California’s Argonauts of the 19th Century, our cry for Proposition 1A is “Excelsior.” Vote accordingly.

November 2008

Domestic Violence

Since becoming a judge on February 1, 1999, I have learned that one of the most vexing aspects of modern society and the administration of criminal justice emanates from domestic violence. As the Honorable James P. Fox, San Mateo County District Attorney, has stated it is “often defined as a pattern of behavior in a relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.” In San Mateo County Superior Court, in which I continue to preside over criminal and civil trials as a retired judge in the Assigned Judges Program (which means on assignment by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court), about 1,000 domestic violence cases are prosecuted annually. Prosecution culminates a lengthy, costly and time-consuming process which commonly commences with a 9-1-1 call to a police department or, in 57 counties, to the Sheriff. (The Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco performs custodial duties only, either in the county jails or in courtrooms.) The report of a complaining victim of domestic violence is investigated either immediately upon a telephone call to the dispatcher, or soon thereafter as possible. Often the investigation involves interviews with many persons, not just the victim. Sporadically, it involves further violence aimed at a responding law enforcement officer or percipient witness. It invariably results in a police report which, in turn, requires time and concentration by a responding law enforcement officer. Occasionally, a supplemental investigation and police report result.

If the facts warrant it, the domestic violence complaint is transmitted to the county district attorney. A deputy district attorney reviews the written police report(s) and interviews investigating officers and witnesses before filing a complaint. Domestic violence can be treated as a misdemeanor; more often, it constitutes a felony, necessitating a preliminary hearing in which the district attorney’s office offers testimony of the investigating officer and perhaps one or more other witnesses to convince a Superior Court judge, acting as a magistrate, that a public offense has been committed and there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant guilty. The judge then orders the defendant to answer within 15 days to an information which must be prepared anew by the district attorney, filed with the clerk of the Superior Court and delivered by copy to the defendant’s attorney. In 90% of domestic violence cases, the defendant claims financial inability to engage an attorney. Under constitutional law, the court must appoint an attorney to represent him or her at the defendant’s first appearance in court. In San Francisco, that means the public defender; in San Mateo County it means a private lawyer from a panel of lawyers maintained by the county bar association. In any event, it entails more taxpayer expense.

The prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney then exchange pertinent documents and other information before a trial scheduled by a judge. Further trial preparation by both the district attorney and public defender occur. The court’s jury commissioner sends letter notices to numerous citizens, summoning them to the Hall of Justice on the date of trial. (All citizens, except law enforcement officers, are subject to jury service in the case. That includes judges, doctors, carpenters, technicians, professors, students, childcare workers, counselors, candlestickmakers.) The jury commissioner then assigns approximately 60 such citizens to the courtroom in which the trial occurs.

The courtroom clerk calls the roll of all prospective jurors and administers their oath to answer truthfully the questions asked by the judge and respective attorneys. Jury selection is tedious, requiring careful, sometimes repetitious, questioning of potential jurors and alternate jurors. A jury of 12 objective, impartial citizens is eventually selected and sworn in, together with one or two alternate jurors who will be available for substitution if one of the 12 is unable to serve to completion of trial. As can be easily understood, considerable public expenditures have already been incurred. The district attorney then presents the victim for testimony. In some cases, the victim decides not to testify or otherwise cooperate with the prosecutor. Various reasons exist for such refusal, including embarrassment, fear, loyalty. On the one hand, a victim wants cessation of the violence. Prosecutors normally inform the victim that she or he is not the person proceeding with the accusation and cannot order the district attorney to dismiss the case.

If, after all the time, money and effort invested in pursuing the case a victim refuses to testify, since 1991 California law flatly prohibits a judge from ordering incarceration of the victim even if the judge finds the victim in contempt of court for not testifying. In all other types of cases, refusal of a witness to testify, unless constitutionally protected by the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate one’s self, evokes the power of the court to hold the witness in contempt of court and immediately order county jail confinement for a period not exceeding five days, which can be renewed until the witness does testify. That is, however, not the law with domestic violence victim witnesses. With a domestic violence victim witness, the court cannot order imprisonment; instead, the court commonly refers the victim to 72 hours of domestic violence counseling. Victims of domestic violence are often reluctant to testify because of incomplete information about court process and possible consequences of the criminal case. As noted, they may also fear retaliation by the defendant, but victim advocates can furnish accurate information about court process and aid the victim in establishing a safety plan, which enables the victim to assess realistically the consequence of testifying.

The court can alternatively require the victim to perform a maximum of 72 hours of appropriate community service. If, and only if, the court issues a second finding of contempt of court for refusing to testify, the judge may order county jail confinement for up to five days. Any such order is, however, automatically deferred or suspended for three days to enable the person held in contempt of court the second time to appeal to the California Court of Appeal. As noted by the staff analysis of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, “...the current system seems to be working and has the necessary checks and balances necessary to provide justice.”

Nonetheless, without any data to provide a foundation for the contention that domestic violence victims are commonly imprisoned as a result of refusing to testify against a batterer, a witless local state senator introduced a bill (Senate Bill No. 1356) to abolish entirely the power of a judge to hold in contempt and eventually confine in county jail for up to five days a complaining victim who refuses a court order to testify against her or his batterer. The bill also removes the salutary legal provision of first referring the victim to 72 hours of domestic violence counseling or community service before a victim is called to testify a second time and refuses to do so, thus incurring the possibility of jail confinement for contempt of court.

Noting the abject failure of the bill’s sponsors to produce examples of judicial abuse of the ultimate confinement authority, the California District Attorneys Association surveyed all 58 California district attorneys and found but three instances of actual confinement to county jail of a domestic violent victim who refused to testify against her batterer. Note that the domestic violence victim counseling or community service provision of law was enacted in 1991. In my tenth year as a Superior Court judge, I’ve presided over numerous domestic violence cases and encountered reluctant victim witnesses. I’ve never utilized the incarceration power; I know of no such instance in the various courts to which I’ve been assigned by the Chief Justice, from San Diego to Riverside to Los Angeles to Santa Cruz to Sonoma, to Napa to Humboldt. I’ve never heard of any such instance in those or other courts.

Moreover, I served for nearly 30 months on the California Judicial Council Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure Task Force, whose January 2008 report was approved by the California Judicial Council this past February. At no time during literally tens of public hearings was any testimony received concerning judicial abuse of the confinement power or the possible sanction of incarceration for refusal to testify. I remain a member of that continuing task force which was appointed on September 6, 2005 by the Chief Justice to recommend ways to improve court practice and procedure in domestic violence cases. The task force mandate is to recommend fair, expeditious and accessible administration of justice procedures for litigants in domestic violence cases; yet we received not a single

Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp retired from the San Mateo Superior Court in 2004, but has continued to exercise judicial responsibilities in San Mateo and other California counties as a member of the Assigned Jud ges Program. He is a former State Senator, 1986-1998, and San Francisco Board of Supervisors member, 1972-1986

July 2008

Rod and Gun Club Endangered?

By Quentin Kopp

For long-time San Franciscans certain institutions possess historical and cultural values which apparently command no respect, much less even understanding of history, by modern day zealots and architects of revision. One such example involves the storied Cow Palace, which began operation in 1941 and has been the venue of musical, sporting, artistic, social and other entertainment events and conventions for 67 years.

Another blazing example relates to ill-disguised efforts to terminate the Pacific Rod and Gun Club use of facilities at Lake Merced. As an honorary member of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club and its neighbor since 1973, I believe I can comment upon the benign and useful presence of my neighbor, which has leased from the City and operated for nearly three-quarters of a century a modest portion of the western side of Lake Merced. Although the scheme to destroy the Cow Palace receives rather constant publicity, as surely befits an institution attracting over 500,000 visitors per year, the sly aspiration of ill-motivated city government and allied interests to abolish the Pacific Rod and Gun Club escapes attention.

In early April, The San Francisco Chronicle showed good sense in alerting San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents to the ill-disguised attempt to eliminate my neighbor, the Rod and Gun Club. That was almost immediately met by protestation from three of the ambitious perpetrators, who, describing themselves as “long-time advocates of restoring Lake Merced...” professed to work “collaborately with members of the gun club and their affinity groups and respect their point of view.” Notice the last phrase, to wit, “respect their point of view.” While extolling in a self-serving fashion their alleged personal efforts to bring “good health” to Lake Merced, they degrade the use of the Club’s 14-acre leasehold and the number of persons using the premises for sport shooting and social events. The purpose, however, of such self-proclaimed servants of the public at large appears clear to this long-time neighbor and admirer of the Club.

Here’s a rapid summary of recent history: approximately four years ago the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission began a study of Lake Merced. The professed theme was maintenance and improvement of Lake Merced. A so-called “Lake Merced Task Force” was organized. People who rarely visited or used Lake Merced and don’t live in our neighborhood comprise “task force” members. Moreover, the task force consultant just happens to work for San Francisco State, an identified potential Club predator. As authors of the aforementioned expiating article, San Francisco Beautiful’s executive director, a Golden Gate Audubon Society Conservation Committee member and a California Trout Program Director condemn the Club with faint praise, but their “open forum” article in The Chronicle gives them away. They confess to examining such uses to replace the Club’s leasehold as a “launching facility for local high school and adult rowing programs; a facility for recreational boat rentals; a nature and environmental center; a children’s play area; a restoration site for dune and wetland habitats; and a youth fishing program.” They then declare that the “suggestion” from unidentified persons of “room for a compromise where the gun club would share the site with other users raises serious questions.” (Emphasis added.) That’s the predicate for launching a diatribe urging that so long as “shooting continues to be the focus of the club’s program, only the rowing facility is even remotely likely to be compatible with it.” They exclaim that “safety around live shooting is a concern no one seems to be talking about” and invoke the imaginary allusion of a “small child enjoying the nature center” and being “accidentally shot.” Also highlighted are alleged issues of noise, residual impact from lead and broken clay targets that impact the birds and wildlife. . .” Use of inflammatory language by self-appointed experts about Lake Merced constitutes evidence of their true ambition and enterprise.

As a 35-year neighbor of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club and as an honorary member, I reject the fallacies of people who are not neighbors, who do not utilize Club premises, who probably do not use Harding Golf Course and have never fished in Lake Merced and who are not competent witnesses in any legal sense, but instead rely upon hearsay and speculation. These destroyers of the Club might turn their attention to the history of San Francisco Police Department youth fishing programs. Why don’t these critics of the Club restart one with all of their institutional resources and the tax and rate payer moneys of the Public Utilities Commission? Next, why don’t they resuscitate the boat rental operation which existed for more than 50 years at Lake Merced, an operation used by all three of my children during the 1960’s and 1970’s. If critics actually live near the Rod and Gun Club, they know that any noise from recreational skeet shooting is de minimus . I hear it occasionally; it is more than bearable. In fact, it signifies recreation and instruction to youth on the safe, proper operation of a weapon. In 35 years of membership in the Lakeshore Acres Improvement Club, I’ve heard no complaint about the Rod and Gun Club. To the contrary, Club members devote time and attention voluntarily to teaching young people (and adults) safe, proper skeet shooting. Its membership, which hasn’t just been “generous in allowing occasional use of the property by others” (as attested by the “task force” members), has affirmatively opened the Club leasehold for regular use by others, including the marvelous barbeque and dining room facility. It’s a club which has, as a San Francisco Examiner reader observed in an April 28 letter, support from “preteen girls, disabled people, women, school teachers and others from all walks of life.”

And, if more evidence is needed then the hundreds of club supporters who appeared at an April “task force” public meeting, then the sinister intent of such “task force” aspiration to eradicate the club becomes more transparent. Contrary to the “task force” members who charge in The Chronicle that “things aren’t as simple as The Chronicle suggests”, thing are inescapably simple. Here’s the situation in a nutshell: The task force wants to cause closure of the Club and forfeiture of a relatively small portion of the 200-acre Lake Merced shoreline because task force members don’t like guns, even if used for recreational purposes.

As with most subtle and hidden attempts to change history and substitute heralded activity, vigilance to protect neighborhood history and the Club is required. Do not allow another San Francisco neighborhood tradition to be ruined by City Hall. The Rod and Gun Club today, the fly-casting pool and archery range in Golden Gate Park tomorrow.

June '08

California's High-Speed Rail Dilemma

While it’s almost hackneyed to comment upon California’s failure to develop systems to accommodate a surging population, now over 37,000,000 people and expected to reach 50,000,000 people by 2030, the hand-wringing cannot be dismissed summarily. Through robust economic times and feeble economic times, the Golden State continues to entice citizens and aliens alike. Nowhere has California (and America) fallen so far behind the rest of the developed world as in the field of high speed rail transportation. I’m not talking about conventional 50-60 mile-per-hour (or less) trains; I’m talking about 200-220 mile-per-hour systems which began 44 years ago in Japan with the Shinkhansen system, spread in 1981 to France with the renowned TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) high speed train from Paris to Lyon and in 1991 to Germany with the highly-regarded ICE system, and has since spread to England, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan. Taiwan’s newly-inaugurated high speed train transports riders from one end of the nation to the other in 90 minutes. Argentina is building the first Western Hemisphere high speed rail system between Buenos Aires and Cordoba, scheduled for completion in 2010. Africa and the Middle East are forging routes connecting the Moroccan cities of Tangiers and Marrakech, with lines to CasaBlanca and Rabat; South Africa plans a Johannesburg-Durbin line; Russia promulgates high speed lines from Moscow to St. Petersburg and Moscow to Helsinki, including high speed rail to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

To state the obvious, California’s economic vitality depends upon capitalizing on electrically-powered high speed rail. Meeting the needs for a safe, reliable travel alternative, which delivers predictable, consistent travel times and reduces air pollution without an operating subsidy from taxpayers, is critical for the sturdiness of our regional and statewide economy. Using proven, steel wheels-on-steel tracks train technology, first constructed by Japan for the 1964 International Olympics, a California high speed rail system will contribute to satisfying forecasted intercity travel demands in 2020 at 2-3 times less the cost of trying, against environmental odds, to build airports and freeways.

Since introducing the legislation creating the California High Speed Rail Authority as a State Senator in 1996, I have actively emphasized the most logical transportation option for Californians, carrying passengers about 425 miles in its first phase of development from downtown San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles in two and one-half hours, with an additional 15 minutes to Anaheim and its glorious new transportation center. Subsequent second phase extensions of service to San Diego and Sacramento will produce a nearly 800-mile system spanning not just San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the Central Valley cities of Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento as well as San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Palmdale. While the entire statewide project contains an estimated construction cost of $42,000,000,000, the first phase from Anaheim and Los Angeles to the Bay Area will cost approximately $30,000,000,000.

Appointed to the California High Speed Rail Authority by the State Senate in June 2006 and elected and still serving as Chairman since August 2006, I have presided over an evolving financial plan, encouraged by the Governor, his Authority appointees, enthusiastic legislators and business leaders, which generally rests on a one-third contribution from California, one-third from the federal government and one-third from private investors. That’s right: private investors. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer advises that approximately 37 funds devoted to investment in public structures now exist, ranging from Wall Street firms to the California State Teachers Retirement System and the California Public Employees Retirement System.

In 1994 an act of Congress, sponsored by then Congresswoman Lynn Schenck of San Diego, now a member of the High Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors, identified 11 high speed rail corridors in the United States, including Southern California to the Bay Area. Last November, Congressman Jim Costa of Fresno County introduced legislation establishing a National High-Speed Rail Authority and companion legislation to provide money to build such systems throughout the United States. No other state has progressed in high speed rail development to the extent of our Authority. On November 4, 2008, for example, California voters can approve a $9,950,000,000 bond measure to commence construction of the project’s first phase and establish a predicate for matching federal and private dollars. If approved by voters (a late February 2008 poll demonstrated a 58% “yes” vote), we will begin construction by early 2010, using bond proceeds to complete the engineering design which has been delayed by insufficient annual state general fund appropriations. Actual construction will require approximately 8-10 years for completion.

The second phase of extension to San Diego and Sacramento will cost in future dollars another approximate $12,000,000,000, but require only an additional five years for completion. A one-way fare for the electrified, 150-minute ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, will cost $55 in future dollars. Thus far, no organized opposition to the bond issue exists.

Moreover, so-called “clean up” legislation, introduced by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a distinctive high speed rail system advocate, and 15 coauthors, removes any legal impediment to private investment, prohibits no more than 10% of the bond proceeds for environmental studies, planning and engineering activities, requires our Authority, prior to awarding a construction contract for each segment of construction, to present a detailed funding plan for that segment and identify the full cost of segment construction and the sources of all money needed to complete such segment. It mandates priority in segment selection to those segments which require the least amount of bond funds as a percentage of total construction costs. The Authority must also consider the utility of that segment for other passenger rail services and ensure that any other passenger service provided on such segment won’t result in any operating or maintenance cost to the Authority. To preserves grasslands, the bill also bars any station between Merced and San Jose.

Even with improvements in automobile fuel efficiency, high speed rail will save 22,000,000 barrels of oil per year by 2030. Comparing the energy required to transport a passenger one kilometer, the high speed train needs but one-third of the energy of an airplane and one-fifth of an automobile trip. High speed rail regenerates about 20% of its electrical energy by consumption banking. It decreases air pollutant statewide and in all regional air basins by approximately 17.6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year by 2030. Those reductions in carbon dioxide emissions increase with higher ridership such as the estimated 100,000,000 trips by 2030. With fully grade-separated tracks, and a 50-foot right-of-way, most of the system will be at-grade alongside existing rail and highways.

California would need construction of nearly 3,000 miles of new freeways, plus five airport runways and 90 departure gates in the next 22 years, at a cost of $82,000,000,000, to match the capacity of California’s high speed rail project. Ridership engineers forecast annual gross revenue of $2,600,000,000 to $3,900,000,000 by 2030 and net operating revenue of approximately $3,000,000 annually to repay bondholders and private investors. Moreover, no existing steel wheel-on-steel tracks system in the world requires an operating subsidy from taxpayers.

Based upon tedious preparations since 1996, the time is now for Californians to protect their transportation future with passage of the high speed rail bond issue this November. Do it for our children and grandchildren.

(Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp retired from the San Mateo Superior Court in 2004, but has continued to exercise judicial responsibilities in San Mateo and other California counties as a member of the Assigned Judges Program. A former State Senator, 1986-1998, and San Francisco Board of Supervisors member, 1972-1986, he was reappointed by the State Senate to the California High Speed Rail Authority for a four year term commencing January 2008.)

Superior Court Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Retired) lives in Parkside District of the West of Twin Peaks

May '08

Life in the Fast Lane

In January, one of our daily newspapers which occasionally, like a blind pig finding an acorn, identifies taxpayer waste and abuse, reported that the Board of Supervisors engaged in fewer meetings while receiving vastly higher compensation than ever before the relatively recent imposition of election by district. Specifically, in 2002, Charter section 2.100, establishing the compensation and salary of the 11 Board of Supervisors members, was rendered obsolete by a Charter amendment that essentially delegated to the Civil Service Commission the power to set Board of Supervisors compensation based upon supervisoral salaries in other counties, larger and smaller in population. I am bemused and also reminded of the history of supervisoral compensation, a history which even under the constraints of the Code of Judicial Conduct, I believe I am permitted to recite.

For the unenlightened or newly born, I was a Board of Supervisors member for nearly 15 years. At the time of my election in 1971, the annual compensation was $9,600. Board of Supervisors members were not allowed membership in the San Francisco Retirement System, and no term limits existed for service on the Board. The 1932 reform Charter had provided annual compensation of $2,400 per year and in essence mandated voter approval of any change. Not until 1956, did voters increase the salary to $4,800. That was then increased by voter approval in 1964 to $9,600 per year.

Several attempts to alter and eliminate requisite voter approval of compensation increase were thereafter in the early 1980’s thwarted by voters. One such effort attempted to make the salary of the then (and present) part-time supervisors the same as a Superior Court judge. Other gimmicks were assayed, but voter perception acutely rendered them unsuccessful. I opposed them all as subterfuges.

In 1982, having become president of the Board of Supervisors by virtue of the Charter Initiative Amendment mandating the supervisoral candidate receiving the highest number of votes be selected as president, I proposed an increase in salary from $9,600 yearly to $23,924, based solely and simply upon the increase in the Bay Area Consumer Price Index from 1964 to 1982, compiled by the United States Department of Labor. That index increase was certified by our always-reliable budget analyst, Harvey Rose. The charter salary increase was then easily approved by San Francisco voters. It was a system voters manifestly understood, because it made sense and maintained taxpayers decisional power.

All of that changed with the 2002 charter amendment which divested voters of any power or control. In the voter information pamphlet for that 2002 ballot measure, the then-supervisors claimed that historically “. . .the board was made up of wealthy aristocrats who visited City Hall once a week to check in”, a flagrant campaign distortion and untruth. In the era of the 1970’s and the 1980’s, every supervisor worked for a living except Dianne Feinstein whose then-husband was a doctor, certainly not a “wealthy aristocrat.” Supervisors were not members of the Retirement System. Notwithstanding the salary, supervisors met 52 Mondays a year, served on three committees each and were present in their offices actually answering the telephone at least half of every working day, all without impersonal “voicemail.” Some tenacious supervisors took the time to read calendar item files even on a Saturday or Sunday to prepare for the weekly Monday board meeting. There were “no vacation” or “holiday” meeting cancellations. If Monday was a legal holiday, the board would meet on Tuesday. It was called civic duty and public service.

Then, as now, the board of supervisors, as the legislative branch of government, possessed no administrative authority. All such authority under the Charter reposed in the Mayor, designated as the chief executive officer of the City and County, whose compensation was understandably fixed in accordance with the Salary Standardization Ordinance and who was required to devote his entire time and attention to the duties of office and not to any other occupation or business activity. No similar provision existed then (or now) for supervisors, who are understandably not obligated to devote their entire time and attention to the duties of office, because a mayor is obligated to do that. Unlike the 57 other counties in California, San Francisco, as a city and county, elects a chief executive officer. In the other 57 counties, no elected chief executive officer exists and supervisors serve not only legislative functions, but also act as administrators.

Prior to 2002, voters had also in the 1990’s enacted a Charter provision limiting supervisoral service to two four-year terms. Thereafter, in a peculiar twist, voters approved a charter amendment allowing Board of Supervisors members eligibility in the generous San Francisco Retirement System, notwithstanding the maximum eight-year permitted service.

While many of the supervisors from the pre-1982 era are no longer alive, those citizens familiar with the foregoing history should be forgiven for scratching their collective heads over the present day annual supervisoral salary of approximately $100,000 per year, together with fewer meetings, all resulting from the grant of supervisoral compensation authority to the Civil Service Commission. Some might comment that it has certainly produced a predictably different result.

March 2008