History made

Nov 10, 2011

Ed Lee emerged triumphant as the first Chinese American ever elected mayor of San Francisco, a city whose intriguing and entertaining political battles are eclipsed only by those of New York.  Lee's victory culminates yet another volatile SF campaign with a crowded field and mud aplenty.


From the Chronicle's John Wildemuth and Rachel Gordon: "Ed Lee claimed victory Wednesday as San Francisco's first elected Chinese American mayor, finishing ahead of Supervisor John Avalos, the progressive standard bearer, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera when the ranked-choice votes were tallied."


"Appointed District Attorney George Gascón won a full four-year term in office, while Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is on his way to becoming San Francisco's new sheriff."


"While the preliminary ranked-choice count is unofficial, the results have typically held up in the past. About 32,000 late-arriving ballots remain to be counted, said John Arntz, the city's election director. He said he expects final results in 10 days to two weeks."


"But the candidates aren't waiting for the final figures."


The city's use of ranked-choice voting -- the same electoral method in which voters across the Bay chose Jean Quan over Don Perata as Oakland mayor -- is getting a close look, in part because many believe it damages progressives.


From Heather Knight and John Cote: "Under San Francisco's ranked-choice voting system - in use for the first time in a competitive mayor's race - Lee won with less than a third of first-place votes."


"Ironically, it's Lee's supporters who are calling for the end of ranked-choice voting. And Avalos and his backers believe it's a beneficial system that should continue.

It's a pattern that's generally held true since the system was first used to elect supervisors in the city in 2004. Moderates have fared better under the system, but hate it. And progressives haven't done as well, but believe in it."


"Ranked-choice voting, pushed by progressive supervisors and adopted by voters in 2002, allows voters to rank their top three candidates in a race. If nobody secures a majority of first-place votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated and voters' second and then third choices are counted instead. It's repeated until somebody has more than 50 percent."


The never-ending, upward spiral of college fee increases continues, this time with the California State University saying that tuition hilkes of 9 percent are looming unless the state gives the system more money.


From the LA Times' Carla Rivera: "The tuition hike would mean an additional $498 annually for full-time undergraduates, raising the yearly tuition bill to $5,970 from $5,472. With average mandatory campus fees of $1,047, the cost of attendance would rise to $7,017, not including books and housing."

"The tuition increase, which would raise about $138 million, would be avoided if the state grants the university's full funding request. Cal State leaders are seeking approval now to give students and parents as much notice as possible, officials said."

"This gives us some sort of foundation of what our budget is going to be so that we're looking at some predictable funding, hopefully," spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp said."

"The budget request includes nearly $155 million for 5% enrollment growth — about 20,000 students, $85 million for faculty and staff raises, $72 million for technology, maintenance and equipment upgrades, and about $26 million for mandatory health, energy and other costs."


Speaking of education money, California's schools have indeed used almost all their federal stimulus dollars, despite earlier reports that the funds were unspent. Tom Chorneau, writing in Capitol Weekly and the subscription newsletter Cabinet Report, has the story.

"State auditors drew widespread media attention in August with a report suggesting that tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money for schools had gone unspent and were at risk of reverting back to the U.S. Department of Education."


"But newly released data  from the California Department of Education shows that only a small percentage of that money is at risk of reverting and more than likely, virtually all of the stimulus funds given schools in California have already been expended."


"For instance, of the nearly $4.9 billion dollars given local educational agencies from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund – schools have expended all but $1.3 million, or 99.97 percent."


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