Tag Archives: Leland Yee

An Independent City Hall?

Do you think the SFMTA President should have received a $384,000 golden parachute for walking off the job 6 months after he signed a new contract?

Is it acceptable that the San Francisco Ethics Commission is appointed by the same politicians it is supposed to be policing?

Does it help the city that unregistered lobbyists, representing downtown interests, spend hours in City Hall bending the ears of our leaders?

No way. But that’s what’s happening right now. Help us stop it.

This past weekend, we are released our plan and petition for an independent City Hall direct to the voters via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Will you join me and let the insiders know you won’t take it anymore? Read the plan. Sign the petition.

For 23 years, I have been a champion of open government and a proud independent voice — independent of the downtown interests, of the city hall insiders, and the political powerbrokers.

Join me in creating an independent City Hall and let the insiders know you won’t take it anymore. Read the plan. Sign the petition.

Recently, the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote about the tight-knit group of shadowy powerbrokers that run City Hall.

“They desperately fear that Yee will win the mayor’s race and clean house, kicking out…all of the…cronies, greatly reducing their power in San Francisco.”

It’s time to create an independent City Hall. Here’s what I’ll do:

  • Create a Citizen Ethics Commission. No longer will city politicians appoint the very people assigned to watch them and monitor ethical violations.
  • No more golden parachutes. Insider appointees get special treatment. It’s not fair to the taxpayers and it’s bad for the city.
  • Crackdown on unregistered lobbyists. Powerful, political insiders are gaming the system to their advantage. It’s time to stop them.
  • Increased enforcement from Ethics Commission. Without sufficient enforcement, shadowy outside groups break campaign rules without fear of punishment, hurt our democracy and impact key policy decisions.
  • Improve sunshine ordinances. Our open government and sunshine laws have become toothless. We need to create a faster more accessible way to make records available to the public for review.

Will you join me and let the insiders know you won’t take it anymore? Send them a message that it’s time for an independent City Hall. Sign the petition.

Commuter Benefits: How a bill with bipartisan support turned into a partisan fight

(Cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

At the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), we often know early on what bills will be contentious in the legislature. We plan ahead and work on securing votes of legislators who are on the fence. But at other times, good bills seem to be sailing through. This was the case with SB 582, which would establish a commuter benefit pilot program. Unfortunately though, the key word here is “was”.

The pilot program would allow metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) and local air districts to jointly adopt a regional commute benefit requirement. Employers in these regions would have the following options:

  • Give employees the option to pay for their transit, vanpooling or bicycling expenses with pre-tax dollars, as currently allowed by federal law;
  • Offer employees a transit or vanpool subsidy up to $75 per month;
  • Provide employees with a free shuttle or vanpool operated by or for the employer.

What's great about commuter benefits is that they benefit both employees and employers, especially if employers choose the first option. As someone who has participated in commuter benefit programs as an employee and administered a program for a non-profit I used to work for, I can attest that allowing employees to pay for transit expenses with pre-tax dollars saves money for employers and employees.

Sounds pretty non-controversial, right?

Well, it was at first. Republican Senator Bill Emmerson introduced the bill early this year and it quickly earned bi-partisan support. The Senate passed the bill in May with a 36-2 vote.

SB 582 continued to sail along in the Assembly. As late as June 20th, there was no registered opposition to the bill, which made sense to us since the bill doesn't cost the state or employers any funds and helps reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gasses related to transportation.

But at the last moment, as the bill was headed to the Assembly floor, the California Chamber of Commerce and California Taxpayers Association came out against the bill. Yes, the Chamber, which is supposed to support business interests, and the Taxpayers Association, which is supposed to support taxpayer interests, came out against a bill that would save businesses money and cost nothing to taxpayers!


Opposition by these groups entirely changed the dynamic in the Assembly. All of a sudden many legislators back off of supporting the bill. Senator Emmerson, while still supporting the bill, pulled out from being the bill's author, and Senator Leland Yee stepped in to sponsor the bill.

Our friends at TransForm started reaching out to swing assemblymembers to secure their support on the bill and we offered to help by generating calls into the swing districts. Here's what our Member Action Campaign Associate Bekah Barnett wrote about our part in this campaign:

Part of my role at CLCV is to manage the Membership Action Campaigns Program. This is when we determine which representatives are going to be the key swing votes on an issue, and then we call CLCV members in their districts and pass them through directly to leave a message for their representative. Recently, we were asked to help out with the passage of SB 582, with only one day to make calls before the vote. We were able to get 8 pass through calls to Joan Buchanan and 9 to Dr. Richard Pan. The next day, when the vote came up, they both voted in favor of the bill! That’s a 100% success rate! It feels great to be able to contribute to the passage of a bill that would so favorably impact people and the environment, especially when it’s a program that I have personally benefitted from and know would make a big difference for the state.

Because of our work and the work of several other environmental groups in the few days leading up to the vote, the Assembly passed the bill with a narrow margin of 47-28 votes. The vote was split entirely along party lines, despite the bipartisan support the bill had enjoyed in the Senate.

Clearly, the opposition of the Chamber and Taxpayers Association had scared many assemblymembers – particularly Republicans – from voting for this win-win bill. This influence was made even clearer when the bill returned to the Senate for a concurrence vote (since the bill had been slightly amended in the Assembly). The 36-2 vote in May turned into a 24-14 vote in July, and it split entirely along party lines, except for Senator Emmerson, who maintained his support for the bill.

The fate of SB 582 rests with Governor Jerry Brown, as the bill now sits on his desk awaiting a signature. If you want to see more commuter benefit programs – that save money for employers and employees and improve our air quality – implemented in California, call the Governor and urge him to sign SB 582: (916) 445-2841.

California’s Violent Video Game Legislation Falls to First Amendment Jurisprudence

Given the recent first amendment jurisprudence, especially this doozy of a decision protecting the rights of corporations to doctors’ individual prescription history, the decision to strike down California’s violent video game legislation should come as no surprise.  Yet, I’m sure that won’t soothe Sen. Yee (the author of the legislation) all that much.

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.

In a ruling closely watched by other states and the entertainment industry, the court in what amounts to a 7-2 ruling determined that California’s 2005 violent video game restrictions violated free speech rights protected by the First Amendment.

“Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. (SacBee)

While I do admit to being a nerd, I’m not all that much of a gamer.  Yet, I was never a huge fan of this legislation.  Penalties were rather harsh, but a strong argument could be made on both sides.  Sen. Yee and Gov. Brown, however, did support the measure quite strongly.  Brown, as Attorney General, pressed the case to the Supreme Court.  And now, well, we lost.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing on this particular issue, but it raises other questions.

So what have we learned from this episode? Well, it certainly confirmed that the Supreme Court believes that the First Amendment is really First. It has become monumental in its authority.  It now controls political funding to medical data, “speech” that the founders would never have envisioned at their time of the drafting of the Constitution.  I do not really care to psycho-analyze Madison and Hamilton, the Court already has that covered far too well, but how are we really to address the issues of the nation if we have a view of the Constitution that is so inflexible for modern times.

Perhaps you like this decision, or perhaps you don’t.  But when speech related issues come before the Legislature again, you can bet they will be chastened by this decision.

Amazing News from Last Night! – The Sierra Club Endorses Leland Yee for Mayor

Last night, the Sierra Club endorsed Leland as their choice for the next Mayor of San Francisco.

The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest environment organization in the country with over 30,000 members in the San Francisco Bay Chapter alone.  We could not be more honored to have their support.

Will you make a contribution right now to help us get the message out on the big news.

Every contribution to the campaign is matched 4 to 1 – so a $20 donation today is worth $100 to the campaign.  Please donate.

Last year in the State Senate, Leland was one of only two Senators to receive a 100% rating from the Sierra Club, League of Conversation Voters, and Clean Water Action.

Recently, Leland authored and passed legislation to stop offshore oil drilling, protect the Farollon Islands, build the Devil’s Slide Tunnel along Highway 1 and respond to the 2007 San Francisco Bay Cosco Busan oil spill.

That’s why John Rizzo, Political Chair of the Sierra Club – San Francisco Bay Chapter, said “Leland’s vision will help San Francisco lead the nation in environmental stewardship.”

As the race for mayor starts to heat up, you can make a big difference.

Will you make a contribution to help us get the message out about the Sierra Club endorsement?

We have many environmental successes in our city but there is much more we can do.  That’s why Leland’s goal is for San Francisco to have 100% clean energy and recycle 100% of our waste by the year 2020.

Help Leland get to City Hall so we can turn these goals into realities.

If you can, please make a contribution today and help San Francisco become the greatest city in American by 2020.

Thank you for all your help and support.


Jim Stearns

Campaign Manager

Yee Social Media Question Time Volume 2 – Small Business

We’ve got a lot going on at Yee campaign headquarters these days with our official kick-off event this Saturday, May 7 at 10:30 AM. Click here to RSVP.

Our social media question time topic this week is small business.  What do you think we should do to improve the climate for small business growth in San Francisco?  What questions do you have for Leland about his policy positions on small business?

Enter your questions or ideas in the comment thread and we’ll respond to three of the questions next week.

Health Care Question Time Answers

Last week, we started social media question time, taking your questions on health care for Senator Yee to answer. Below, you’ll find three questions from our community this past week and Senator Yee’s response. Thanks to everyone for submitting questions. We’ll post a new topic next week!

Joanne M. Maerklen – Why is it so hard to find a doctor to take Medi-Cal?

ANSWER:  You’re right, Joanne, it’s incredibly difficult.  It’s mostly because reimbursement rates are often lower than the cost of providing services, so the number of doctors that take Medi-Cal patients is low.  That’s why a single-payer universal health care system is still such an important goal in the long term.  And that’s why we must look at ways to expand our health care network in San Francisco – HealthySF is a great model to provide services for the uninsured, but we also need to provide a robust network for patients who use Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and Healthy Kids.

Cesar Manuel Escobar – Why are the hospitals that make outrageous mistakes not liable for their shortcomings?  Meaning: Why is everything so hush-hush?  Shouldn’t their mistakes be public record?

ANSWER:  I agree. I’ve been a staunch advocate for open records and transparency for years – I’ve worked hard to improve transparency at the UC, and have supported efforts to increase transparency in hospitals. I’ve authored and passed legislation that requires public release of audits, a bill which stemmed from a problem at UCSF Medical Center in which the University tried to hide the results of the audit to the public. But there’s more we can do, and I’m already talking with the Nurses about how we can improve transparency in San Francisco’s health care system.

Tamara Ching – Please bless the public health clinics … without them, S.F. would be a doomed city. remembers getting her polio shots in Chinatown, and vaccinations from DPH to travel oversees. Plus our immigrants get their initial checkup and medications through our public health clinics.

ANSWER:  San Francisco has been a leader in providing safety net healthcare services – our public health clinics are absolutely essential to providing services through HeathySF, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families.  City funding keeps them afloat, and in these tough budget times we cannot sustain any further cuts to these essential services. That’s why I helped save funding for non-profit community health centers like the Women’s Community Clinic when I was Finance Chair on the Board of Supervisors; it’s why I’ve stood against these types of cuts at the state level; and it’s why I’ll make funding public health clinics a priority as Mayor.

Yee Social Media Question Time

In honor of the Mayor meeting with the Board of Supervisors for the first-ever question time this week, the Yee campaign has decided to start social media question time.  Each week, we’ll post one topic for Senator Yee to take questions on from our social media community!

Leland and the campaign team will select three questions to answer from the questions submitted and we’ll post the answers to those questions the following week.

This week’s topic is health care.

So it’s time to submit your questions!

Here’s what to do.  We will be taking questions in three places:

1.  On our Facebook page.  Make sure to like our Facebook page and look for the appropriate comment thread.

2.  On Twitter.  Make sure to hashtag your question with #LelandYee.  You can direct the question @LelandYee if you want.  But they MUST have hashtag #LelandYee.

3.  On our Calitics and DailyKos blog.  These will be the only posts that we’re taking questions in, so if you post it in the forums or comment another blog post, we won’t consider it.

We close for questions on Friday, April 15th at 6:00 PM (PDT).

Making it official. I’m ready. Are you?

Six months ago, I walked into City Hall with my family and announced my exploratory campaign for Mayor of San Francisco.

Today, I’m making my campaign for Mayor of San Francisco official.

You’re invited to join me at our special launch event on Saturday, May 7th at 10:30 AM. RSVP.

Since that day six months ago, I have held 37 coffee conversations and attended hundreds of community meetings in neighborhoods across the city to hear your ideas for our shared future together in San Francisco.   We’ve heard from thousands of San Franciscans eager to see our city continue its leadership on health care policy, economic innovation and the environment.  And people have asked the hard questions of how we will reform education, make it easier to raise a family in the city and improve Muni.

My commitment to you is no will work harder to help San Francisco reach its full potential but I need your help.

Will you join me at our special launch event on Saturday, May 7th at 10:30 AM? RSVP.

Everything I am today, I owe to San Francisco.  I came here as an immigrant at the age of 3, went to local public schools and got a chance to go to college.

I raised my family in San Francisco.  I want my kids to raise their families in San Francisco.  But most of all, I wan to make sure we leave them a San Francisco that reaches its full potential and leads the nation.  Together, I know we can do this.

I hope you will join me out our special launch event on Saturday, May 7th at 10:30 AM. RSVP.


Leland Yee

The latest from the Campaign Trail

I wanted to give you a quick updated from the campaign trail.

Help us build our online community – share this note on Facebook with your friends

Nurses Endorse Yee

Leland received the sole endorsement of the California Nurses Association – the bigges endorsement in the race to date.  “His record in areas such as mental health service, HIV funding, children’s health and hospital disclosure should make every San Francisco proud.”  Press release. Bay Citizen Story.

Building a clear vision for San Francisco’s future

And having a lot of coffee along the way!  This week, we held our 35th 20/20 coffee conversation about our shared future in San Francisco.  It feels great to see so many of you out on the campaign trail so early.  If you have not joined us for a 20/20 coffee conversation – come meet Leland and share your thoughts.  Upcoming coffee conversations.

Showing our civic pride…Go Giants!

We’re excited for the Giants season and really enjoyed being able to connect with other Giant fans and show our civic pride through the campaign.  Congratulations to our winners Zach Austin, Katrina Lezcano and Jonathan Louie and a special thanks to everyone who participated in our Facebook sweepstakes.  Join Leland on Facebook.

New team members

We’re pleased to announce several new members of the Yee campaign team – Anthony (Field Director), Laura (Field Organizer), Nate (Field Organizer) and Vince (Volunteer Coordinator)!  Help keep the campfires burning late at the Yee headquarters.  Donate.


Campaigns – especially in San Francisco – are won with an army of volunteers and supporters.  If you want to lend a hand, we would love your help.  We need phone bankers, canvassers and folks to answer the phone, Facebook captains, food for volunteers and staff working late and more. Can you lend a hand?


Jim Stearns

Campaign Manager

Keep the Momentum Going!

Just a few minutes ago, the California Nurses Association (CNA) endorsed my campaign for Mayor of San Francisco!

The endorsement from CNA, which has over 5,000 members in San Francisco, follows major endorsements in the last few weeks from the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)and Communication Workers of America Local 9410.

I am deeply honored to have their support.

Will you help us build on the momentum by joining our 20/20 advisory group today and donation $20 or volunteering 20 hours of your time to the campaign?  Donate.  Volunteer.

I will continue to work to ensure San Franciscan has affordable health care.  Our city has led the nation with important health reforms.  As insurance companies across California continue to raise rates and limit care – it’s essential that we do more, especially for our children and families.

To make these policy goals a reality, we need your support.

I’m inviting you to join our 20/20 advisory group.  Here’s how it works:

We are asking supporters to volunteer 20 hours of their time or donate $20 to help build a clear vision for San Francisco’s future.  Donate. Volunteer.

You’ll be invited to a small coffee conversation with me to discuss issues we all face as San Franciscans.  How do we improve our schools?  Make it easier for people to raise a family in the city.  What are the best ways to grow our economy?  How do we improve Muni?

Will you help us build on the momentum of the last few weeks and join our 20/20 advisory group?  Donate. Volunteer.

Thanks for your time and support.  I hope to see you on the campaign train for a cup of coffee!


Leland Yee