Education to Police Accountability Discussed at Assemblymember Phil Ting’s “Coffee Break” Session

Photograph by Neil Ballard for the Ingleside-Excelsior Light

California Assembly member Phil Ting held a community “coffee break” at Ingleside Presbyterian church on January 9 to inform constituents about legislation changes pertinent to them and hold a forum where community members could ask questions.

“We try to get to all different parts of the district every year, we want to make sure that we are finding different opportunities to update constituents and let them know what’s going on,” Ting said.

The meeting was well attended, with about 50 community members who raised many issues during the hour and a half question and answer session.

Allan Lei, a sophomore at Lowell High School and supporter of Donald Trump, said that while he respects Ting, he disagrees with the assemblyman’s positions, and is against the idea of public education.

Lei asked why Calfornia’s public education performance is so low with a fifty billion dollar state education budget.

Ting countered that the state does not spend enough on education. “Our spending per pupil throughout the state is about nine thousand dollars; the national average is about twelve thousand,” Ting said.

After the question and answer session, Lei opined that the biggest challenge facing California’s education system is not underspending but that “we have a lot of poor quality teachers.”

Brigitte Davila, a City College of San Francisco trustee, thanked Ting for “supporting the Fair Accreditation for Community Colleges Act.”

“This accreditor has treated our city college extraordinarily unfairly,” Ting said, referring to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. “I think there have been significant issues at City College, but many of them have been dealt with.”

An attendee brought up homesharing regulations. “I think the big challenge for us in San Francisco is that we have a limited amount of rent controlled housing,” Ting said. “If you’re a small landlord, you have absolutely no incentive to rent to tenants” if homesharing is an option.

For the most part, the question and answer session was civil. The discussion did become testy when an audience member asked about the proposed Assembly Bill 887. Introduced by Ting, AB887 would allow for overseas military personnel to receive ballots via email. The audience member who raised the issue was concerned about the security of email transmission.

“We put in protections with the secretary of state that said that no vote could be cast through the internet unless security protocols were approved by the secretary of state,” Ting said.

Martin MacKerel brought up the Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights, a California law that MacKerel said was “the major barrier to police accountability” in cases of misconduct. MacKerel said he would love to see whether that law could be repealed, to which Ting responded that his office was “open to ideas” but said that repeals are challenging, before shifting the topic to gun control.

After the question and answer session ended, MacKerel said Ting’s response to his question was “OK.” MacKerel said he disagreed with the idea that issues of police misconduct are always a consequence of gun crime, as national rates of violent crime continue to decline.

Jeanie Scott, a resident of Park Merced, said that she was “really pleased” with the legislation Ting has supported, especially in regards to gun control. With gun ownership, “there needs to be more discussion about safety,” Scott said, also stating that she is displeased with those who resort to the language of the Second Amendment to end all discussion on gun violence.

Another audience member raised concern about heroin deaths, and asked that the Assemblymember look into the availabilty of the drug Naxolone, which counteracts overdose, for pharmacies and first responders.

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