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    SF Library News, Wiener to the Senate, D8 Supervisor Speculation, and Presidential Election Challenges

    Zoe Dunning

    Zoe Dunning

    By Zoe Dunning

    New Amnesty Program for SF Library Users

    If you are one of 155,000 library patrons with overdue items from the San Francisco Library, I have good news for you. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved an amnesty program for SF Library users who owe money. Under this program, all fines will be forgiven if books are returned between January 3 and February 14, 2017.

    As a Library Commissioner, I supported this program to encourage residents of SF to come back to the public library, and take advantage of all it has to offer. More than 55,000 library users have had their check-out privileges revoked because they owe over $10 in fines, and typically these are the residents who most benefit from all the free services and programs the library offers. This amnesty program means the city won’t collect the revenue from some outstanding fines receivable, but historically the library doesn’t end up collecting them anyway—the patrons just stay away instead. I’m excited that we’ll be able to welcome them back with a clean slate.

    Scott Wiener Heads to the State Senate

    In local political news, Scott Wiener has officially won the race to replace outgoing Senator Mark Leno as our District 11 Senator in Sacramento. It was a hard-fought race, with millions of dollars thrown into the campaign on both sides. I believe strongly that Scott will be an outstanding Senator. No one works harder than Scott. You may not agree with his positions on every policy issue, but I respect his reasoning and courage to take a stand on tough issues. I know he will represent San Francisco well.

    Speculation Over Who Will Be the Next District 8 Supervisor

    Which brings up the question of who his replacement will be on the Board of Supervisors in District 8 (D8). There have been many names rumored, myself included. As I indicated in my last column, I will not pursue nor accept an appointment to the open D8 seat. I don’t have any inside scoop on who the Mayor will select, but fellow Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club members Alex Randolph (another San Francisco Bay Times columnist) and Conor Johnston have been rumored and certainly appear eager to be considered. With two of the Mayor’s three past Supervisor appointments failing to retain their seats when up for election, it will be a critical appointment for Mayor Lee.

    The problem with Mayoral appointments, and one of the reasons I am not interested, is that any appointee needs to carefully consider the Mayor’s position on any matter before the Board, and will really face difficulty being truly independent. I mean, you owe your seat to the Mayor, likely with the assumption you will align with him. In prior years when Supervisor seats opened up, the appointee had to run the following fall to defend their seat. This means the appointee, upon taking office, must immediately start campaigning to retain their seat.

    In my opinion, the city and the constituents from that district suffer while the new Supervisor is focused on their campaign, rather than legislation and community engagement. This year, the D8 seat situation is different because there is no city-wide election in 2017 (now that they have been realigned to the same cycle) and therefore the D8 appointee retains the seat for nearly two years until November 2018. That gives them a good 22 months or so to establish themselves, giving them a better chance to serve their district and provide a track record of legislative votes before coming up for election.

    Presidential Election Results Challenged

    On a national level, the presidential election results continue to be challenged, on all sides. Jill Stein and the Clinton campaign are starting to fund and support recounts in three battleground states that had razor thin victories for Trump: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Meanwhile, Trump is claiming “millions of illegal votes” were cast and the he actually won the popular vote. There is absolutely no evidence to support his claim; just his own wild assertion. So, hang onto your hats as this continues to get debated.

    Personally, I have not yet progressed to the “acceptance” stage of the five stages of grieving, but I am at least resigned to the terrible outcome of Donald Trump being our next President, appointing our next cabinet, and possibly nominating our next Supreme Court justice(s). I dearly hope recount efforts prove Hillary will be our next President, but for my own emotional sanity, I’m not contributing much energy or effort toward the recount effort, or efforts to change the electoral college vote later in December. I am too devastated by the election night results to be let down again.

    Stepping aside from the current political environment, here’s wishing you a happy holiday season. Express your gratitude to those you love, and be good to one another this season and all year long.

    Zoe Dunning is a retired Navy Commander and was a lead activist in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She served as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and as an elected Delegate for the Democratic National Convention. She is a San Francisco Library Commissioner and is the former First Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.