The Latest Updates on Corruption in California: Garbage, Redistricting, and Gas Taxation

March 30, 2022 Updated: March 30, 2022


“The phenomenon of corruption is like the garbage. It has to be removed daily.” So stated Ignacio Pichardo Pagaza, Comptroller of Mexico, on April 17, 1987, in The New York Times.

Board of Education

Because of their persistent disregard of the vox populi, three San Francisco Board of Education commissioners were recalled a few weeks ago. Their replacements were chosen by Mayor London Breed, who promises implicitly that the San Francisco Unified School District will somehow conquer a budget deficit of over $125,000,000.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan has predicted that the recall of those commissioners “will have major national repercussions,” adding that a cultural rebellion within the Democratic Party has begun. A letter writer then speculated that maybe the recall occurred because of pandemic virtual teaching, which showed critical race theory curricula to parents.

Public school enrollment continues to dwindle below 50,000, although the city’s population increased from 805,235 in 2010 to 873,965 in 2020. As a knowledgeable San Francisco native, David Cuadro of Midtown Terrace has observed that there may be more dogs in our metropolis than children.

As I’ve reminded readers, before busing pupils from neighborhood elementary schools commenced in 1970, enrollment exceeded 92,000! Despite the inanity of doing so, the school district continues to waste taxpayer money on busing, using a “lottery” for which parents must express their first five choices for their children’s kindergarten to high school education.

District Attorney

On June 7, voters will decide whether to recall the “fighting” district attorney, whose departure from public office may constitute a significant precursor for a November election regarding another Bay Area politician and supporter of criminal justice reforms, Rob Bonta, who seeks retention as Attorney General after appointment by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

District Attorney Boudin strongly supports San Francisco’s pretrial system despite its deplorable consequences. A comprehensive study by a respected think tank showed that 55 percent of inmates granted release while awaiting trial in San Francisco were arrested for another crime, and one in six have allegedly committed a violent crime.

Bonta faces a competitive race, especially if Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert reaches the November general election. Schubert is an Independent like me and well known for locating and prosecuting the Golden State rapist.

Meanwhile, Boudin doubles down on his background, as evidenced last month by Bernadine Dohrn’s appearance at his campaign rally at Alamo Square Park. For younger readers, Dohrn founded the Weather Underground of which Boudin’s parents were leaders before they were imprisoned for bank robbery and murder of a security guard.

Proposition C

For those interested in recalls, be advised that Supervisor Aaron Peskin sponsored a Charter amendment for the June 7 election, Proposition C, which should be labeled “The Incumbent Protection Act” and rejected. The California Constitution since 1914 provides a method of enabling voters to remove an elected officer. The late Governor Hiram Johnson, a genuine progressive, sponsored it.

Article II, section 13 of California’s Constitution grants proponents 160 days to file signed petitions by electors equal in number to 12 percent of the last vote for the office except for senators, Assembly and Board of Equalization members, and appellate and trial court judges; signatures must equal 20 percent of the last vote for those offices.

A recall election may be conducted after 6 months of someone being in office. Supervisor Peskin and comrades seek revision of our Charter, which contains similar provisions by doubling the time to 12 months for officials to be free from recall and adds a new 18-month period during which they are also exempt!

Another provision requires recall voting at a regularly scheduled election, which is almost always less than two years away. Therefore, for 42 months of a 4 year, 48-month term, City Hall beauties are free from recall. The San Francisco Taxpayers Association and other civic groups oppose Proposition C.

Proposition F

Supervisor Peskin, however, has spearheaded Proposition F, which happily begins the process of protecting garbage collection rate payers by undoing a 1932 ordinance that effectively granted Recology, Inc.’s predecessor a monopoly on trash and recycling.

Proposition F is supported by all 11 supervisors and Mayor Breed. Once it passes and the 90-year-old ordinance is repealed, Peskin and his confederates can pass an ordinance requiring competitive bidding for those valuable city contracts.

Incidentally, a published letter to the editor in the Sunset Beacon alleges that I incorrectly attributed the 2017 Recology rate overcharging to City Controller Ben Rosenfield. Recology again is wrong.

An April 14, 2021 Public Integrity Review by the controller’s office found errors and omissions in Recology’s garbage rate increase application and approval process, resulting in criminal convictions by the U.S. Attorney, including Paul Giusti, Recology’s government and community relations manager.

On March 4, 2021, Recology settled a civil suit by paying $100,000,000 in refunds to rate payers for refuse collection rates through June 2021, resulting in lower rates effective April 1, 2021. The controller recommended Proposition F.

Gas Tax

Speaking of roadways built with money from state and federal gasoline tax payers, Governor Newsom advocates refunding $400 to each such taxpayer while legislators demand limiting the $400 to those earning only $125,000 yearly or less. To refresh your memory, California’s gasoline tax is 51.1 cents per gallon plus 2.5 cents sales tax, while federal taxation adds 18.4 cents per gallon, totaling 72 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation.

A few blessed souls at the State Capitol advocate simply reducing state gas tax in light of California’s surplus. I’ll bet that will never happen.

The Wall Street Journal noted on March 24 the introduction by three House Democrats (including my one-time State Senate colleague and friend Mike Thompson of Napa County) of the Gas Rebate Act of 2022 to convey a $100 check in any month this year that the national average gas price tops $4 per gallon and $100 for dependents. Some rebate!

“It’s a government check to pay for higher gas prices caused in large part by government,” the Wall Street Journal opinion article states. And chuckles over another quote from the article mentioning “the spectacle of climate-change warriors suddenly trying to subsidize fossil-fuel consumption.”

To readers, I transmit best wishes for Easter and Purim, and Happy Spring. April is the month of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Quentin Kopp
Quentin Kopp is a retired former San Francisco supervisor, California state senator, and judge. He lives in San Francisco, District 7.