June 22 Meeting

Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:59:00 pm

San Francisco for Democracy kicked off its annual officer election meeting with a long-overdue discussion of the Trans Pacific Partnership featuring Daily Kos Activism Director Paul Hogarth and Charlie Furman of Fight for the Future.

Hogarth characterizes TPP as “NAFTA on steroids,” as it will affect a full 40% of the world's GDP. Like most of these corporate sponsored trade agreements, it will be mostly bad news for workers, the environment, and consumer protections, as it provides for the overruling of domestic laws that restrain trade in any way. And of course, the whole thing is shrouded in secrecy – what little we know about it comes from WikiLeaks. If TPP is supposed to be a good thing, why aren't we allowed to know anything about it?

The immediate problem is to prevent the imminent passage of the president's Trade Promotion Authority ("fast-track") which would make it so that any treaty negotiated by the executive branch has to be voted up or down in its entirety by the Congress, without any modifications whatsoever.  Fast-track has been around for some time; this organization played a role in making sure George Bush's was not renewed in 2007 (about the same time the current president began campaigning against pernicious trade agreements).  If it passes now, it would remain in effect for another six years - plenty of time for the next chief executive to cause even more mayhem.

Charlie Furman emphasized that fast-track, since it covers any number of trade agreements, would give corporate lobbyists overwhelming power over how the internet operates. All these battles we have worked so hard to win, such as net neutrality, have the potential to be simply swept away with the stroke of a pen, and without any legal recourse, as the agreements stipulate that trade law supersedes national law.

Hogarth said that the Democratic Accountability Project, which exists to ensure that Democrats vote progressively, has been able to exert tremendous grassroots pressure to get where we are on this issue (particularly the House defeat of TPA on June 12).  As a result of ongoing public pressure, Democrats in general have been moving to the left.  Far right Republicans, who don't want Obama to have more power, have also contributed to holding up TPA.

A Senate vote on TPA will be held Tuesday morning, and only two Senators remain to be flipped to prevent the 60 cloture votes necessary [bad news - cloture passed 60-38, and TPA and TAA (TPP's companion worker assistance bill) passed the Senate on Wednesday.  See this link for ways we can still stop the TPP.].

Not having heard much on the election integrity front for awhile, we brought Brent Turner in to give us an update. Turner's organization, the California Association of Voting Officials, acts as a general advocacy group for open source voting, essentially making sure that the source code being used to record and tabulate votes can be scrutinized by the public. Software should be licensed under General Purpose License 3, says Turner; beware of terms like “disclosed source” being used by companies like Microsoft.

Moving the needle on OSV is no easy task, as most people aren't very familiar with the issue, and voting machine companies are always looking for ways to derail the effort (proprietary voting software is big money). Tom Ammiano was always a big supporter when he was a supervisor, as was Secretary of State Debra Bowen; now those supportive roles are being filled by Scott Weiner and Alex Padilla.

Opportunities currently abound, as outdated voting machines are being replaced all over the country, and districts are looking to save money by switching to publicly owned systems. L A County and Travis County, Texas have recently announced open source systems, but Turner is hoping something will happen here, as “San Francisco is more likely to get it right.”

The "Monster" would be twice as tall as the palm trees currently at 16th and Mission

This being our first voting meeting in quite some time, we were glad that Plaza16's Andy Blue could come by and tell us a little about his organization before we took an endorsement vote. The Plaza16 Coalition came together in the fall of 2013 to oppose the 1979 Mission Street Project, the largest development ever proposed in the Mission – 93% market rate. This is the exact opposite of what the neighborhood needs, stresses Blue – it would replace currently affordable housing with high end units, drive out local businesses, greatly worsen the traffic problem, and create even more of an affordable housing shortage than already exists.

Plaza16 is currently waiting for the project's EIR to be released in the Fall, after which the hearings will start.  In the meantime, they are fighting other projects, such as the "Beast on Bryant," and gathering signatures to put the Mission Moratorium on November's ballot.

After the unanimous vote to endorse Plaza16, Jeff Whittington invited members to attend the big 6/24 DTX rally at City Hall, and called an endorsement vote on the new DISCLOSE Act, AB 700 (also endorsed unanimously).  Then Michael Grafton covered the Fall endorsement process and various items that may be on the ballot.

The current SF4D officers were re-elected by acclamation.

Tags: TPP, TPA, Paul Hogarth, Charlie Furman, Andy Blue, Plaza16, Brent Turner, CAVO


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