The case against Matt Haney

Matt Haney, currently SF District 6 Supervisor, is running for CAs’s District 17 assembly seat. As a career politician, you’ll likely see his name on future ballots as well. In this post I explain why I’ll never vote for him, and why you shouldn’t either. But let’s start with the positives.

Matt is a fresh-faced, Bay Area kid with a law degree from Stanford. He projects a wholesome image of kittens, baseball, and mom, though his aggressive history of deleting tweets and friends when they threaten his political ambitions suggests this is carefully groomed. Still, he seems like a friendly and approachable guy, offering to meet anyone for coffee, for example.

But Matt’s radical, irresponsible views, his capture by special interests, and his history of misguided political actions make him a dangerous liability for San Francisco. Let’s look at a few.

Matt’s leadership of District 6 has been a disaster

Under Matt’s watch, District 6, home of the Tenderloin, has devolved from merely bad, to a crime-ridden hell on earth in parts. Much of that is due to drugs, with dealers selling death in plain sight.

Narcotics dealers, most from Honduras, work openly in Matt’s district

No less than 1,310 people have died of overdoses, mostly in Matt’s district, in 2020-21. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that Mayor Breed has had to declare a state of emergency in Matt’s district.

But Matt’s far-left political views on crime have been an obstacle to cleaning up D6. For example, far from demanding jail time for the dealers above, Matt actually wants those already incarcerated back on the streets!

He’s got an endless stream of tweets like this. There’s no evidence his views have changed recently.

One of the key drivers of increasing crime was the passage of Prop 47, which essentially ends criminal prosecution for thefts under $950. Living in a high crime area, you’d think Matt might have opposed this unfortunate measure. But he gave it his full support.

What accounts for Matt’s views here? You can probably thank his radical father Craig Haney, a psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz who’s devoted his life to fighting against incarceration for law breakers. Like Matt, he never quite explains the deterrent for criminal behavior in a post-prison world.

Matt will argue that much of the decline of his district is out of his control. While that may be true, he does have control over his Twitter account, which he can use to influence policy. And his Tweet history shows a disregard for the rising problems in D6. It’s not what’s there, necessary, it’s what’s missing. While other politicians talk in no uncertain terms about the dire state of his district, Matt blames things like systemic racism and offers no ideas for improving it.

I did uncover a rare statement from Matt accepting the unfortunate state of D6:

That was two years ago. How have things progressed since? Before voting for Matt, head over Larkin and Turk streets, and see what he’s done to the place. Should we elect a politician who wants to fail up?

Matt created SF’s school renaming debacle – a global embarassment

As I type, SF is in the midst of recalling three radical school board members, and one of the main reasons is an expensive effort to rename many of our schools. But it wasn’t the current board who decided to cancel history. It was Matt Haney.

In 2016, Matt decided George Washington High had to be renamed. Sure, Washington had won the Revolutionary War and led the founding of America, but what had he done for us lately? Matt was out having beers with the bros when he decided Washington should be written out of history, for having owned slaves.

Of course, once you burn one witch at the stake, you start to see witches everywhere. Matt decided it was time to rename more schools, and in 2018 co-authored a resolution to decide who to cancel next.

And so began a disastrous effort to rename as many as 40 of SF’s schools that made SF a global laughingstock, culminating in an attempt to cancel even Barbara Boxer, our liberal US Senator until 2016.

Matt is owned by special interests

Over half of Matt’s campaign contributions have come from interest groups:

Much of this is organized labor money. While unions themselves aren’t necessarily bad things, politicians who are bought and paid for by them are. Organized labor is no different from other interest groups – they attempt to influence public officials to direct more resources from the general population to them.

A picture’s worth a thousand words here:

I go into more detail on this topic here, so I won’t repeat myself, but look at the image above and ask yourself – if elected, will Matt be acting in the interests of all his constituents, or of the groups above?

A fine example of the corruption that occurs with this brand of politics: Matt accepted, then had to return, three large political donations from builders with business pending by the city. Vote for pols that avoid capture by these groups.

Matt has no real life experience, and seems to hate people who have

Your elected leaders aren’t going to fight for you if they can’t relate to what you’re going through. But Matt hasn’t had many core life experiences – kids, life, a career – and this results in poor values and decision making.

Take careers, for example. Matt’s never had a job in the real world – he’s always been a taker, never a maker. And he despises anyone who’s done otherwise:

There’s just so much that’s reckless and wrong here. First, most of those evil “millionaires” are older folks who’ve saved money while working, and have no way of earning more.

Second, CA’s top tax rate is 12.3% – already the highest in the country. Tripling that would create a combined state and federal income tax burden of 75%, and that’s before the many other taxes – property, sales, etc. – and fees the government charges. It would hollow out California of the entrepreneurs, entertainment and industry leaders, etc. that drive its growth. Matt imagines that high earners would remain selflessly in California to provide their “billions to unemployed people”. In fact, folks are already leaving for lower tax states.

Matt has no understanding of tax burdens, since he’s never really had to pay them. Compare to Bilal Mahmood, who’s running against him for the AD 17 seat as I write. Some of Mahmood’s ideas are just as unpleasant as Matt’s, but at least he’s achieved real-world success as an entrepreneur and scientist.

The result? Matt refers to Mammood, derisively, as “the millionaire”:

Matt deleted his tweet here (from 2/4/22 at 9PM), after I replied to it, but it was about Bilal bringing up, correctly, Matt’s capture by special interests.

Who does Matt blame for SF’s out of control crime? It’s those awful millionaires again:

Owning a home is another example of Matt’s distain for those with experience. If you’ve ever had to battle to save for a down payment, or accept the adult risks and responsibilities of homeownership, you’re likely going to have a more complete view of life than someone who never has.

Matt, again, doesn’t have this experience – he’s always been a renter. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you respect those who do have it. But Matt sees this inexperience as a badge of pride:

Why? What insight does not having ever owned property buy you? Whereas most people tout their real world achievements, Matt seems to glorify in his lack of them. This inexperience doesn’t make him a better politician – it just gives him an incomplete view of his constituents’ lives.

Matt lacks the balanced views every politician should have

Liberal or conservative, good politicians understand that government is about tradeoffs. Spending has to be balanced against tax burden. The cost of incarceration has to be balanced against the cost of crime. Regulation has to be balanced against the economic dynamism that creates wealth and jobs. Inequality has to be balanced against incentives to excel.

Perhaps Matt’s defining characteristic is his lack of this balance, more than any other politician I can think of. His economic platform is to spend and spend and spend some more, with never a tweet about the cost of these programs. When you do that, you wind up with six million dollar/year toilets, one of Matt’s signature achievements. Here’s another example:

Doesn’t this sound nice? In fact, despite spending more than twice as much per pupil as normal school districts, SFUSD is in a severe financial crisis. Feel good, irresponsible thoughts like this are not what you want to see in elected officials.

Similarly, Matt insists on making everything free, free, free, without noting the cost to citizens. Whether this is a cynical ploy for votes, as he kind of admits here, or he if really feels this way, it’s again an irresponsible way to promote government programs.

When it comes to crime, as I’ve noted above, he takes the same half-blind view of the world. Crime is never the criminal’s fault. It’s always society, or meanie millionaires, or the Easter Bunny, but personal accountability doesn’t exist in MattWorld. There’s no balance, no shades of grey. Someone else is to blame for that bank you robbed. Period.

Matt hasn’t cared about the jobs he’s run for

To outsiders, it may have seemed odd for Matt to run for SF School Board in 2012. He wasn’t a product of SF schools, and he didn’t have kids. But locals understood – he was mainly using SFUSD as a jumping off point for a political career.

And so, between 2012 to 2018, Matt tweeted dutifully about students in SF, as if he actually cared. But the minute he was elected to D6, these tweets stopped.

Maybe things would be different with his election to the Board of Supervisors. Maybe Matt truly cared about improving D6. But skeptics were proven right when, halfway into his term, he attempted to jump ship, for a vacant state CA assembly seat.

To an extent, there’s nothing wrong with political ambition. But few local pols have used elected positions this blatantly as temporary stops toward something else. What job will he be looking for as he serves in state assembly?

It’s time to hold Matt responsible.

Let’s look one more time at that tweet above. Matt’s asked us to hold him responsible for the state of District 6:

It’s time to do just that. In the Feb 15, 2022 special election and on future ballots, give Matt Haney a pass, and focus on candidates with mature, responsible ideas, who aren’t captured by special interests.

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