American West Briefing Tour: Meeting with San Francisco City Supervisor
By Kelly O'Keefe
SAN FRANCISCO, California: Scott Weiner , a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, met with tour participants today about the local initiative process in California. Weiner was elected to represent District 8 in 2010.
Weiner likes the direct democratic process because it gives a strong voice to voters, but he does think the process could be better. He says that trivial items (for example, San Francisco Alcatraz Peace Center, Proposition C (February 2008)) can often get on the ballot, and that the system can be too rigid. Weiner is currently sponsoring San Francisco Board of Supervisors Allowed to Amend or Repeal Voter Initiatives, Proposition E (November 2011). This initiative would allow the Board of Supervisors to make changes to initiatives after they are passed.
Weiner said his job can be difficult due to the amount of unfunded liabilities the city carries. He says that one consequence of local direct democracy in San Francisco is that voters have permanently dictated budget choices through "ballot box budgeting." He said that suggesting any budget changes is a huge political risk that is "the equivalent of World War III." Politicians shy away from budgetary issues since talking about the budget is often perceived as an attack on children, parks, libraries, firefighters, and other public services.
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