The SF Board of Supervisors overturned their own 2016 ban on doing business with states who’ve passed anti-LGBTQ legislation, restrictive abortion laws, and engaged in voter suppression, concluding the ban did more harm than good.
If you followed the months-long $1.7 million Noe Valley toilet saga, you may recall that the way SF supervisors lowered the cost of the project was by taking a donated, pre-fab outdoor toilet from a manufacturer in Nevada. That was technically a violation of the supervisors' own 2016 ban on doing business with “states that discriminate against LGBT people, restrict the right to choose, or suppress voting rights,” known as Chapter 12X, and the supervisors effectively blew off that ban by taking the cheaper toilet.
That was the sign of a larger tide shift. Just one week later, the supervisors voted to strike down the ban on travel to and conducting business in those states, according to KPIX. This means that the growing list that now included 30 states San Francisco was not allowed to conduct business in will be moot going forward.
“The evidence is that, as a strategy, this does not work and has not worked,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the author of the overturning of the ban, said before the board’s vote. Mandelman added that that ban “raises the cost of government in San Francisco, and reduces the amount of good work that our government can do.”
The ban’s overturning was guaranteed passage, considering the measure had seven co-sponsors on the board, guaranteeing a majority. All of the supervisors who were not co-sponsors voted against overturning the ban: Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Dean Preston, Connie Chan, and Shamann Walton
“There can be so many unintended consequences with this repeal,” Walton said before the vote. “States are now doubling down on their discriminatory laws and practices. I’m not comfortable with even giving the inclination that we are not still fighting against these discriminatory practices and laws.”
But Supervisor Matt Dorsey countered, “We haven’t changed a single state law,” and added, “We have made competitive bidding much less competitive.”
Former supervisor Scott Wiener had originally authored the 2016 San Francisco ban, but even he agreed with overturning it.
"We believed a coalition of cities and states would form to create true consequences for states that pass these despicable, hateful laws," he said in a statement to KPIX. "Yet, as it turned out, that coalition never formed, and the full potential impact of this policy never materialized. Instead, San Francisco is now penalizing businesses in other states — including LGBTQ-owned, women-owned, and people of color-owned businesses — for the sins of their radical right wing governments."
Wiener is now in the state Senate, and the California legislature is also considering overturning their similar state-level ban on doing business with those states. One driving reason behind the push is that the ban prevents using state money to pay for women to come to California to get abortions.
Trolls will interpret this as a “go woke, go broke” parable, but on a state level, subsidizing travel so women can get abortions is a very hard-left flex. Getting rid of the ban will facilitate subsidizing that travel, and provide abortions to those in need. But on a San Francisco level, cutting costs during deficit times is a direction we need to take, though it remains to be seen if overturning this ban helps at all in that department.
Image: Instagram @jameslandau