Living in San Francisco can be wonderful. The city is not without its problems, but its magical heart still beats strong. And then there are the moments in which I feel sickened by the extent to which we’ve become the caricature that Tucker Carlson paints of us. I felt this way when the SFUSD board spent its precious time in earnest, ignorant, ahistorical debates about renaming 44 schools (“Lincoln,” “Washington,” and “Feinstein” were not okay) while the children sat at home (do you want to do right by children of color? You do? Then educate them, for Pete’s sake!) Yesterday brought yet another example in its wings.

According to Mission Local, John Arntz, our legendary Elections Director, is not having his contract renewed. The reason? The color of his skin. Joe Eskenazi reports:

“Our decision wasn’t about your performance, but after twenty years we wanted to take action on the City’s racial equity plan and give people an opportunity to compete for a leadership position,” reads an email sent from commission president Chris Jerdonek to Arntz. “We also wanted to allow enough time for a fair and equitable process and conduct as broad a search as possible.”

The article is the gift that keeps on giving–read it in its entirety to get the full scope of this inanity, the uniform support Arntz gets from all city quarters, the feebleness of the excuses–but I didn’t need to be told that our elections are fantastic. I worked as a poll inspector for the city three times. Each time I was blown away by the marvel that is the San Francisco election. The training is thorough and complete. The technology works without fail. There are hordes of professional, competent people at the beck and call of each precinct to solve problems (which are rare and easy to sort out.) Free, fair, and functional voting is accessible to everyone, rich or poor, young or old, abled or facing difficulty (how’s that for “equity?” That’s the very definition of equity.) Every question gets an answer. Our election is the most inclusive one, language-wise, that I know, and has a wonderfully high percentage of poll workers who speak additional languages. Drivers drop poll workers at the doorstep of where they need to go. Everything is packed and labeled to perfection. The COVID-19 guidelines are eminently sensible and geared toward facilitating voting in every possible situation. I am proud to work in the SF election because it is the only thing in the city that works like a Swiss clock.

Behind this huge enterprise of professionalism and competence stands John Arntz, who runs his department so smoothly that everyone is kind, efficient, and supportive of each other–including their boss. All twelve of his underlings, unbeknownst to him, have sent a letter supporting him.

What the hell is wrong with these council members? Do they want to get sued? Did they get so much half-baked DEI training and smoke so much bad weed rolled in pages from Ibram Kendi and Robin DiAngelo’s books that they forgot that the U.S. Constitution forbids discriminating against people based on the color of their skin? Has it not occurred to them that the inclusivity of the SF election, the crown jewel of city administration–all to Arntz’s credit–is in itself a huge accomplishment from a DEI perspective?

As a friend of mine wryly commented yesterday: Every time a board or council in SF votes, a Trump voter gets his wings.

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