Monday, May 2, 2011

Paying Mayoral Candidates to Run in San Francisco

We could eliminate this tomorrow and still not come close to fixing the city's $306 million budget deficit, but today brings another little reminder of how San Francisco has yet to take its insolvency seriously: taxpayer funding for the upcoming mayoral election.

As reported in today's Chronicle, San Francisco just passed the $1 million mark in taxpayer cash handed out to candidates in the November mayoral election. Per the city's law for public financing of mayoral elections, the city gives $4 for each dollar over $25,000 a candidate raises; once a candidate has amassed $125,000, the city matches donors dollar for dollar. Thus far, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty has received over $452,000 in public funds for his campaign, followed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera ($423,000) and state Senator Leland Yee ($246,000). Since the filing deadline for the election isn't until August, the city ultimately expects to award $6-$8 million in taxpayer dollars to mayoral candidates.

Again, these amounts are a drop in the bucket in the context of San Francisco's overall financial turmoil (though it's probably fair to say that similar drops in the bucket have added up to the situation the city finds itself in now). But the candidates' breezy attitude about taking these funds at a time when severe cuts to public services are on the horizon does tell you something about how seriously they're taking the city's budget problems.


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