Reading the morning Chronicle today, it looks like the much talked about MUNI reform charter amendment proposed by Supervisor Aaron Peskin may get talked to death behind closed doors today. Or not.
These days it's hard to tell what's going on at City Hall, what with all the shenanigans and whatnots. (For some recent coverage of this issue, check out this piece in the Examiner, and another at the Chronicle.)
The proposal has evolved somewhat over time, but so far, from my read (and that of folks who study these things more than I) is that the measure would stabilize funding for muni and knock a good 25% or more out of that perpetual structural deficit we keep hearing about. It also tries to address the problem of greenhouse emissions - something San Franciscans talk a good game about, but don't always play.
And it does seem to address some issues related to management to try and force some more accountability to the workforce, instead of just treating MUNI like a job-for-life program, regardless of ability, and reward those who are trying their best to make MUNI work for us (which I am assuming is most MUNI employees, right?).
That said, there does seem to be more provisions that would have the effect of having fewer elected officials (who we can demand results from) having a hand in MUNI's affairs. Ever since the 1999 "Proposition E" measure passed, it almost seems to be an article of faith with Those That Know that the less the public, the taxpayers, and those we elect have to do with MUNI, the better it will run. Has that been the case so far? Hmm....
Does anyone else find this strange? We are all apparently too stupid to elect anyone directly to run even a portion of MUNI, but we can vote for BART directors, judges, district attorneys, mayors, and vote on endless ballot measures. (Insert record scratch stop here)
Not too long ago, I commented on Chron reporter Rachel Gordon's overview of MUNI's challenges, and frankly it does not take a rocket scientist or a detailed analysis to know this - business as usual is not working for the people of San Francisco, and to keep doing so will ensure we're all left at the
There's no denying that it's time for some structural fixes to MUNI - if we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we got - which is perpetual unstable money for MUNI, a decline in service, and more people clogging the streets in their cars desperate to get where they need to go. No one is winning with the status quo.
Battle lines are being drawn. SPUR has announced its support, and you can read their reasoning for the measure, as well as their studies on MUNI's future at their site.
Local labor leaders have indicated their opposition in this recent op-ed piece in the Bay Guardian, which outlines their concerns for their membership, but does not give any suggestions on how we improve the performance and funding of MUNI if we toss this measure out, and does not mention much concern for us, the daily MUNI rider/taxpayer/citizen. I think that's unfortunate.
This debate has all the marking of going into choose-up-sider Hell, so I'm issuing a challenge to elected officials, policy folks, labor leaders, and concerned San Franciscans on all sides of the debate to engage in a civil conversation here at the N-Judah Chronicles and talk to us about how they are taking real steps to fix MUNI.
Labor leaders who don't like this measure are invited to offer up constructive, tangible solutions they're willing to support to make MUNI better and more stable if we are to reject this measure. Demonizing labor unions and workers is no solution to MUNI's problems, but neither is automatically rejecting changes in the status quo. MUNI's workers may have some ideas that could help fix it - let's hear about them here!
Likewise, those who support the charter amendment are invited to talk more about how this will indeed, make our MUNI better, and answer questions about the accountability of MUNI, and how to fix this measure if it doesn't work as advertised.
Most importantly, I want Loyal Readers and new readers to weigh in and let these folks know that all of us are tired of talking this issue to death, and are watching closely as to what they're doing not just what they're saying.
We don't ask for much - we simply want to be able to have a reliable way to get around the City and live our lives, without having to make "MUNI Anxiety" a daily routine.
UPDATE: SFist.com has some discussion on the matter, and I've issued a challenge to Mayor Newsom to engage in the discussion on his own site
(Remember, the NJC is non partisan and my appearance on said site is NO ENDORSEMENT of any candidate for Mayor, but instead an attempt to call attention to N-Judah safety issues and invite the Mayor to discuss his views on MUNI here with you, the reader.)