Good Government

Our goal: Support local government.

Publications

Blog Monday, May 21, 2012

As the deadline approaches to submit measures for the November ballot, the City and County of San Francisco is moving ahead aggressively with its effort to reform the city’s business tax. While the city has made significant progress in recent weeks, there are some signs that the complexity and commitment to reform are being further complicated by increasing calls for a tax that would not just replace revenue from the existing payroll tax but bring the city additional funds.

Voter Guide Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SPUR provides in-depth analysis of the two City of San Francisco measures on the June 2012 ballot: Prop. A, an ordinance that would require competitive bidding for garbage collection and disposal, and Prop. B, a policy statement proposal for protecting the murals at Coit Tower.

Blog Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For the last decade, businesses in San Francisco have been adamant that the city’s payroll tax is holding back job growth. First, companies must pay the tax when they reach $250,000 in payroll, which discourages new hiring. Second, they must pay it when employees exercise their stock options — a strong incentive for any company considering an IPO to leave the city.

Blog Monday, April 2, 2012

This June’s primary election will bear little resemblance to the contentious ballot San Franciscans considered last November. Gone are the competing pension reform measures, sales taxes and bonds. We’re left with two measures, both placed on the ballot by voter petition.

Blog Thursday, March 22, 2012

This year at our 32nd annual Good Government Awards, SPUR honored Ed Harrington with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the City and County of San Francisco, including unparalleled fiscal leadership and managerial excellence through five mayoral administrations.

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Our priorities for Good Government

BUILDING AN INFORMED, ENGAGED CITIZENRY

SPUR serves as a watchdog for the public interest. We analyze each ballot and provide recommendations on how to vote. We try to help the City make wise decisions in budgeting. We monitor capital spending, civil service reform and changes to contracting rules. And we do all of this with a goal of improving outcomes and raising public awareness.

PROMOTING GOVERNMENT AS A FORCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

SPUR believes in our local government as a positive force for social change. But it is not enough to simply want an active public sector. The practical challenges of operating a large, complex public organization are enormous. SPUR works to ensure that government has the appropriate policies and tools to make the most of our investment in government and provide the highest quantity and quality of public services to San Francisco residents with the resources at its disposal.

CREATING AN EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SECTOR

SPUR's approach is to be constructive about changes that need to be made, from the perspective of an ally of government, rather than an adversary. SPUR believes that government can be effective and efficient at what it does to continue to carry out indispensable functions for the quality of life of the city. From parks, to public transit, to street cleaning, to public safety—and the list goes on—there is simply no way for San Francisco to be a good place to live unless local government is well-funded and well-managed.


Good Government projects

BALLOT ANALYSIS

Before every local election, SPUR's Ballot Analysis Committee and Board of Directors investigate all local and some state ballot measures, and prepare an analysis for the public. Our analysis includes the background behind the measures, pros and cons, and a recommendation on how to vote. This is widely regarded as the single best source in San Francisco for citizens to get an understanding of the issues they will face in the voting booth. Because we typically complete our analysis in advance of other election observers, we share our ballot analysis with community organizations and local media to help them make their own recommendations on the ballot.

THE MUNICIPAL FISCAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

The Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee—now a part of SPUR—serves as the coordinating body for many efforts to help government work better. Through public/private collaboration, MFAC helps strengthen the City's ability to manage its operations, maintain essential services and manage revenues. We usually work closely in partnership with City departments as we bring outside expertise to help solve City problems. Occasionally, we will identify a volunteer to help a City agency or department resolve a specific problem. Our committee may also produce independent policy analyses and go directly to legislators or the ballot box to achieve policy reform.

ANNUAL ECONOMIC OUTLOOK BRIEFING

Each year, SPUR's MFAC organizes an economic briefing to the Controller's Office and the mayor's budget director. The focus of the briefing is to bring experts from key industry sectors - real estate, retail, hotels and banking—to discuss economic trends that will affect the City and County of San Francisco budget. This information helps validate the assumptions made by the controller's staff as they form revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. The outside guidance also strengthens the acceptance of the budget projections by the Board of Supervisors.

GOOD GOVERNMENT AWARDS PROGRAM

SPUR holds an annual awards event to honor exemplary city managers who are models of good public service. This is the only citywide awards program for exemplary management in the city's public sector. Managers are nominated by their department heads and are reviewed by a panel that includes City staff and members of MFAC. Over nearly three decades, this event has honored hundreds of nominees and winners, of whom many have gone on to become department heads.

BALLOT REFORM TASK FORCE AND COALITION

In reaction to the plethora of poorly conceived ballot measures on the San Francisco ballot, SPUR has founded a task force to study and recommend ways to assure that each go through the proper process of public review before being placed on the ballot. Future projects will include additional measures to help increase meaningful public participation and voting. SPUR is also leading a coalition of organizations looking at ways to improve and reform process by which ordinances appear on the local ballot. These reforms require changes to the City charter.