Proposition B - District Staff for Board of Supervisors (keep 3rd aide)

Voter Guide
November 1, 2000
This measure appeared on the November 2000 San Francisco ballot.

 

What it does

The city charter currently provides that each of the eleven members of the Board of Supervisors has two staff members. This proposed charter amendment would increase that number to three.

Why it is on the ballot

In 1997, the Supervisors adopted an ordinance authorizing a third aide, called a “constituent liaison,” for each supervisor. The ordinance authorized these eleven positions until January 2001, when the Board of Supervisors will have been elected by district rather than at-large. In 1998, then-Senator Quentin Kopp authored Proposition G, an initiative to eliminate one of the three aides allotted to each supervisor. Supervisors Kaufman and Newsom were strong opponents to this measure, which did not pass.

Pros

Those who support this measure state:

  • District elections will not decrease the workload of supervisors, thus they will continue to need three aides.
  • The supervisorial staff members are essential to support good policy work by our elected officials. The work of our elected officials is important and we should support it with adequate resources.
  • SPUR’s direct working relationships with all of the city’s supervisorial staffs have demonstrated that these positions tend to be staffed by idealistic, hard-working, highly qualified people. The added expense for eleven people is extremely modest and we are more than getting our money’s worth.

Cons

Those who oppose this measure state:

  • Supervisors have the authority to pass an ordinance continuing the third aide, and they should vote on it themselves. Detailed administrative matters of government organization should not be handled by a vote of the people and certainly not locked permanently into the charter.
  • This measure will mean an additional ongoing cost to general fund.
  • When the voters agreed to provide a third aide, they did so based on the idea that the position would go away with a return to district elections.

SPUR's analysis

The city will return to district elections November 7, so the third aide position will no longer exist as of January 2001. Prop. B would provide that each member of the Board of Supervisors would have a third aide, called a “district aide.” This measure was put on the ballot by eight supervisors, with Supervisors Kaufman, Newsom, and Yee opposing. The third aide currently earn between $36,000 and $44,000 per year, plus benefits. According to the Budget Analyst, the permanent addition of the 11 district aides would cost the taxpayers between about $520,000 and $630,000 per year at 2000-2001 rates, to be paid out of the existing general fund.

We believe this small government expense is well worth the added value we get in the form of supervisorial productivity. In essence, we are buying better constituent services and more thoughtful policy work. While even 10 aides per supervisor could not guarantee effective political leadership, it seems a modest investment in helping the supervisors to do their jobs well. Eliminating these eleven positions would not be an effective place to cast a fiscally conservative vote for smaller government.

SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition B.