Theresa Sparks BOS 6 questionnaire

Theresa Sparks BOS 6 questionnaire

Postby Jeff_W on Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:51 pm

Questionnaire for Board of Supervisors Candidates District 6,
November, 2010 General Election
Candidate/Campaign Information:
Candidate name:
Contact person:
Mail address:
601 VAN NESS AVE, Suite E #746, SF CA 94102
415-829-8853 or 415-776-2577
Email address: or
Web address:
Anticipated Budget:
Funds raised to date:
Including public match, approximately $115,000
Percentage of donations under $50
Please write a brief response (less than 150 words) to each question. You will have additional opportunities to address these issues.
1. Why are you running? Why should we vote for you?
I came to San Francisco in the mid-1990s, after making a very personal decision that would alter my life forever. In doing so, I lost my home, family, friends, job, financial security and, to a great extent, even my history. I experienced firsthand the kind of discrimination that leading one’s life down a different path can engender. I felt that I had no choice but to speak up to create change in both people’s attitudes and the laws that adversely affected many disenfranchised communities, with which I now had a special kinship.
I have been recognized as a national leader in the fight for LGBT civil rights and have had the fortune of being honored by groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, Equality California and named Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade, one of the OUT Magazines 100 LGBT Leaders in the United States and named Woman of the Year by the California State Legislature.
The time has come for common sense, rational and real progressive leadership in San Francisco. I am unique as a candidate in this race as I have real experience as a public servant, community activist, civil rights pioneer, clean-tech entrepreneur and successful small business owner. I want to bring those experiences to the Board of Supervisors to help rebuild our economy, put people back to work, put more beat cops on the street, make our neighborhoods livable again and to ensure San Francisco remains a beacon of real progressive values into the future.
2. What sets you apart from your opponents?
I understand business from the inside out having started numerous small businesses and building them into market leaders. I founded Resource Technology Inc, a company that marketed patented technology I developed to recycle used oils, antifreeze and wastewater; Evergreen Environmental, a company that developed numerous innovative recycling technologies and bought them to market in California and internationally; and, Greenfield Environmental, a multi-faceted environmental services company that cleaned up the San Diego Harbor, managed municipal waste from several Southern California cities and counties and serviced the household hazardous waste needs of millions of California homeowners.
I know what it takes to create a prosperous business that contributes to San Francisco’s economy. I have created jobs, balanced the priorities of growth and managed thriving organizations during periods of both economic expansion and market contraction. I’ve also seen firsthand how government policies can either support and sustain growth or (often unintentionally) hinder business development.
I began my formal work as a public servant within City government in 2001, when in recognition of my effectiveness as a human rights activist, I was appointed to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. During my time on the Commission I chaired the Task Force on Environmental Racism in Bayview/Hunters Point, held the first-ever hearings in the US after 9/11 on Violence Against People Perceived of Arab-American Descent and created a task force with members from the SFPD and the LGBT community to discuss how police deal with LGBT people in the criminal justice system, most notably transgender people.
Then, in 2004 after the passage of Prop H -- the police reform ballot measure -- I was appointed to the newly re-constituted Police Commission by the progressive Board of Supervisors. As a member of the Commission, I took positions that embodied my belief that supporting public safety and supporting human rights are not in conflict. I lead the fight for adding more academy classes to get the SFPD to full staffing, addressing our growing homicide rate, particularly in communities of color and bringing more transparency and accountability to the SFPD.
Based on the strength of my leadership and hard work, I was elected President of the Commission -- the first Board appointed commissioner to ever serve as Commission President. My accession to this position was hailed by members of the City’s progressive community as a milestone for more transparency and accountability in the SFPD. I served as President of the Commission for more than two years. As Commission President, I also oversaw the recruitment of a new Chief of Police. After 49 stakeholder meetings, and the development of 15 specific criteria the people of San Francisco wanted to see in their new Chief, the commission recommended and the Mayor selected Chief George Gascon.
In 2009, I was named by Mayor Newsom as Executive Director of San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission, in its 45th year, is one of the oldest government human rights agencies in the United States. It is the City agency that ensures that the City lives up to its promise and does not discriminate in City contracting, manages the City’s minority, woman and local business enterprise ordinances, enforces all local non-discrimination ordinances, mediates intergroup tensions throughout the City and investigates hundreds of housing discrimination complaints annually. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission is the custodian of the San Francisco values we all hold dear and are part of San Francisco’s historic legacy.
As District 6 Supervisor, I will work to ensure San Francisco remains a beacon of hope in this country for people who suffer from discrimination. I will push for legislation that strengthens our ability to serve and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.
I will develop policies and legislation that attract, support and retain the kinds of business that make San Francisco economically viable, to put people back to work and solve San Francisco’s structural budget problems.
I will use my experience as a community activist, business owner and public servant to bring common sense and practical thinking back to City Hall.
3. San Francisco for Democracy is committed to grassroots involvement. Please explain how you are involving ordinary citizens in your campaign?
The overwhelming majority of my contributions have come from residents of District 6. As a Human Rights Commissioner, Police Commissioner, the president of the Police Commission, and Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission, I have a reputation over many years of bringing government to the people. I have chaired close to two hundred community meetings in the last several years. This is how I am campaigning and how I plan to govern. It is imperative that the people of district 6 are a partner in selecting their supervisor and governance of their neighborhoods. I have dozens of campaign volunteers out in the district every day, talking to neighbors and soliciting ideas and suggestions. I want this to be the peoples campaign and a district Supervisor that is committed to the involvement of all segments of the community not just specific interest groups or community activists.
4. San Francisco for Democracy endorses fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates. Please give examples of why you fit these criteria?
I have started-up and ran multiple successful small businesses, primarily in recycling, alternative fuel production, waste-to-energy and CleanTech and shown my ability to manage in both times of prosperity and recession. At a local company that I managed, I instituted a complete socially-responsible management philosophy including using only renewable or recyclable products, I have had oversight responsibility for the SFPD $480 million annual budget and helped optimize departmental policies and spending priorities. In my five years on the Commission, we were able to reduce overtime spending by more than 75%. The current Chief has been effective in reducing it even further. As the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, I was able to under-spend our $6.0 million 2009/10 budget by more than $1.0 million, a 20% savings.
My history in human rights is well known, including advocating for transgender equality in health care, employment and public accommodations, working with organizations to reduce the horrendously high incidence of human trafficking in San Francisco and as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. The HRC enforces all non-discrimination ordinances in San Francisco, the local business enterprise ordinance, the equal benefits ordinance and conducts mediation on issues of inter-group tension in the City.
5. What public safety strategies currently being implemented by the San Francisco Police department do you agree, or disagree with? What will be your agenda regarding public safety, if elected supervisor?
I agree with the deployment of more beat cops in all neighborhoods across the City. The combination of the ComStat resource allocation model, impact zone deployment and targeted response have all contributed to the record drop in homicides and violent crime in the last two years. It is important we maintain the concept of real community contact and policing as the centerpiece of our overall law enforcement strategy. Also, the weekly call-in strategy seems to be reducing gang-related crimes and repeat offences. Assigning detectives to precinct stations also seems to be more effective in solving crimes as evidenced by the substantial crease in violent crime solve rates over the last twelve months. SFPD violence prevention programs such as the PAL program, midnight basketball, community Night-Outs and departmental funding of SFSafe and the many youth-related violence prevention programs are all excellent deterrents to crime.
I do not agree with pretext stops and neighborhood flooding techniques after a violent crime as an effective community response. It promotes the possibility of profiling and distrust in the community.
6. What do you believe is the correct percentage of units to be set aside for affordable housing, when property is redeveloped? Please explain why you believe that percentage is correct?
The percentage of affordable housing unit has to depend on the specific development with a minimum of 15 to 20%. In the future, if we include mandatory working class and moderate income housing, we should increase that percentage by 10 to 15%. Out city is losing its middle
and working class families because they are unable to afford to live and raise their children here. We need to correct that by not only providing affordable opportunities for homeownership and rental units but also by insuring we are creating livable neighborhoods, with schools, parks and safe streets, not just housing developments. It is incumbent on new leadership in District 6 to turn around the policies of the last ten years and promote and encourage balanced development not just that for only one part of our diverse community.
7. Public transportation is dysfunctional in the City and County of San Francisco. Do you agree with that statement? If not, why? If so, what is your analysis of why it is dysfunctional? What will you do to make public transportation functional if elected?
I believe it is dysfunctional, much as I believe our public education system in San Francisco is dysfunctional. The primary reason we have such an inefficient public transportation system is a lack of commitment of our city leaders to infrastructure maintenance and improvements for decades, including MUNI. We need to renew our commitment to making MUNI a world-class public transit system and not be satisfied with 73 to 75% on-time record, raising the fares every time there is a financial deficiency or reducing service to balance the budget. MUNI has to work well before we can truly become a world-class City.
Fortunately, we are now able to finally proceed with our City-wide bicycle utilization plan by adding approximately 31 more miles of bike lanes and bicycle right-of-ways. Up to now, it has only been truly functional and safe on a limited number of streets.
We need to have a sustainable, safe and efficient public transportation system, a functional bicycle plan and a City-wide commitment to a strong transit-first development philosophy.
8. What do you view as the top three issues in District 6? What are your solutions for these issues? Do you believe these issues are consistent throughout the city? If they are not consistent, what do you view as the issues outside your district that should be addressed in the coming years? Do you have solutions for those issues?
First priority is to increase job opportunities for people in San Francisco. It is imperative we put people back to work. To stimulate economic recovery, we need to promote business opportunities and job creation, not penalize it. I would advocate for and strongly support ideas such as the Mayors fee deferral proposal to jump-start major construction projects in San Francisco. I would also strongly support development projects like the new CPMC facility on Van Ness, the expansion of Moscone Center, Trans Bay Terminal, high speed rail and others. I would also support the creation of more Business Development Enterprise Zones to encourage technology development and high tech innovation.
I would strongly support maintaining funding for our public safety agencies to insure we get more beat cops on the street, keep all fire stations opened and manned and fight against any proposal to out-source security, staffing, operation or oversight of our public facilities or jails. We need to maintain strong Police, Fire and Sheriff’s Departments.
I would be very careful in reviewing additional taxing or revenue enhancement proposals. We need to stop increasing taxes on businesses and replace the regressive business payroll tax with a net receipts tax, exempting wages and payroll costs to encourage job creation.
I would put my experience in the private sector as CEO and CFO to work developing proposals to address the structural imbalance of our city finances, both from the revenue and expense perspectives.
I think we need to increase housing opportunities in the City including those for low, middle and working class individuals. In doing so we need to create higher density neighborhoods on public transit corridors while being careful to protect communities of color and maintain the neighborhood character.
I would also make the development of the Market Street corridor a priority during my first three months in office. The mid-Market is a disgrace to this City and needs to be intelligently developed into a vibrant cultural and entertainment part of San Francisco nightlife, not the dangerous, dilapidated embarrassment that it is today.
9. What is your position regarding privatization in the public sector?
I can say without hesitation, I would not support contracting out any sworn public safety positions such as police, fire, and sheriff. To say though that I would not consider contracting any public sector jobs would be incorrect. There may be instances where the private sector experience might bring efficiencies to a function that would be so cost effective that we could not totally ignore the possibility. For instance, some seasonal work could be accomplished by temporary workers instead of hiring fulltime public sector workers. I’m sure there are other instances, such as some of the work currently being done by non-profits, an integral part of our service delivery system, where we could save enough money to better support the current public sector workers already employed.
10. Do you favor the use of Project Labor Agreements in the public sector? Please explain your position.
I am in favor of PLAs. As the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission, and member of the PLA working group, I can only state that I fundamentally support a city-wide policy that would provide a model for project labor agreements in all public works projects. To craft a PLA policy statement that is sustainable, and encourages the greatest number of local workers to be trained and placed on projects, it is necessary that other city-wide policy agreements must also be negotiated. We need to address the issues of small, local, construction-related businesses that may not be union shops and how they could be integrated into the policy, of how we can put the greatest number of local people to work within the context of available capacity within individual trades, of how these agreements can become integrated with our local workforce development policies such as City Build (without encouraging out-of-State competition) and of how these agreements can become real entry points for young workers in the development of long-term careers in the construction trades. Existing PLA’s, such as the one currently in affect with the PUC, could serve as the initial models for a City wide policy statement.
11. What is your position regarding Sit/Lie?
The proposed Civil Sidewalks Charter amendment, otherwise known as the Sit/Lie Ordinance, is merely a tool for the SFPD to manage disruptive behavior of individuals obstructing safe passage of sidewalks during specified times of the day. Although I do not agree with all of the specific elements of the proposed amendment, I do agree in concept with its intent. As stated by the City Attorney, there are no other laws or ordinances which currently achieve the same objective. Similar ordinances have been effect in several other metropolitan areas, including Berkeley, with positive implications and no sustained reports of civil rights violations. As a former business owner and operator in District 6, I know firsthand of the problems of disruptive behavior of sidewalks adjacent to places of businesses and the problems that are caused by business owners trying to deal with the situation without the assistance of the SFPD. Repercussions such as broken glass, intimidation of employees and customers, graffiti and feces on door stoops and on the side of the building have all occurred.
I believe this is a needed and just ordinance that protects the civil rights of business owners, customers, the disabled, children and others with the expectation of the use of public sidewalks without fear of intimidation or disruptive behavior.
12. Do you believe San Francisco should be a Sanctuary city?
The San Francisco Human Rights Agency, of which I am Executive Director, is the City agency charged with enforcement of the Section 12.H of the Administrative Code. In practical terms the amendments that were enacted in early 2010 to the original City of Refuge Ordinance sought to primarily address two issues. One was to differentiate the treatment given juveniles from that given adults and secondly, to not allow City departments, primarily the Juvenile Probation Department, to inquire about or report immigration status of a juvenile to Federal or State agencies based solely on probably cause that a felony had been committed not a conviction. Unfortunately, due to the existence and acknowledgement of Federal law to the contrary, as stated in the final sentence of the amendments, “the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department shall, within 60 days of the effective date of this Ordinance, modify its policies and practices to comply with the provisions of this Ordinance to the extent permitted by state and federal law,” the Ordinance as amended alone
ultimately does not achieve the stated purpose.
But, if the City of Refuge Ordinance, Administrative Code Section 12.H, is taken in context with the existing Administrative Code Section 12.A and Section 33 of the San Francisco Police Code, the desired results may be able to be attained. Section 12.A is the general non-discrimination ordinance of the City and County of San Francisco and
protects protected classes of people from discrimination on the basis of a number of factors including, race, ethnicity and country of birth, to name just three. Section 33 of the San Francisco Police Code addresses the same issues from the enforcement side.
If, in fact, we are able to combine these three ordinances together in a more comprehensive approach, the city of Refuge Ordinance, as amended, might actually be enforceable. If this can be done, I am certainly in favor of this City’s ability to protect the right of juveniles to be treated differently than adults and ensuring their constitutional right of innocence until proven guilty is protected.
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