Here we go….today it’s reported that our green-tie wearing Mayor and allegedly Greener Than Thou Supervisors are starting to feel the heat regarding the proposed parking ticket fine increases, and are threatening to kill the MTA budget to stop it.
Techinically the MTA board is free of political influence (because, you know, you can vote for judges but not MTA board members), but in an odd twist, a supermajority of our Beloved Board and our Mayor can override the entire budget and send it all back with notes.
The Mayor, as usual, always floats out bold “talk” when the issue comes up first, but in the face of any opposition or controversy, backs down, and instead is now talking about screwing the Transit Effectiveness Project he’s been promoting, ad nauseum, for a year now.
As I’ve said before, I was never really comfortable with the idea of relying on parking ticket fines as a stable source of revenue, and have tried, unsuccessfully, to get our Dearly Elected Leaders to realize that these half-assed, fiddle-with-the-margins solutions to MUNI’s financial woes will never get us out of the hole and on track to a service that generally works, and is financially secure.
However, once again lost in all these reports and chatter is that once again, our Board of Supervisors, our Mayor, and even our state representatives all seem to be dedicated to cutting as much funding out of MUNI as possible, and never seem to come up with new, stable, fair ways to pay for a system – or even dare audit the MTA and determine just how much money it really takes to run the system, and go from there.
After all, we’ve had so-called “progressive” leaders actually call for cutting MUNI revenues for certain people, we’ve had our state Assemblymembers vote to cut MUNI funding from MUNI, BART and every transit district in the state, and our Mayor pushed through big pay raises for certain city employees, blowing out the budget (as well as dipping into MUNI funds to pay for political staffers).
They do manage to slap a picture of the Earth or drive in a Prius in a piece of election junk mail, and the masses are calmed. The out-of-town press comes to town and fawns over Green SF becuase some elected has a hybrid terlet or whatever, and yet, reality collides when a sooty bus arrives 40 minutes late.
So, for fun, I’m going to propose a few “common sense” ideas for the Big Kids at City Hall to consider as they fight amongst themselves and all those special interests at City Hall. I’m sure it’ll be ignored by both “progressives” and the Mayor’s Voting Bloc, but hey, at least we’re converting negative energy into positive, right?
Anyway, let me get my hippie crystals and come up with the following:
1. First, figure out what is necessary in terms of personnel, equipment and annual costs to make a MUNI that actually runs on time for the people of San Francsico. No BS, no silliness, and no bloated management and paying for political aides. I mean what it really takes to run a real system, not this toy train we have now.
2. Next, figure out how much it really costs, cutting out the BS as much as possible, but for the love of Our City, don’t cut things like training and maintenance. We’ve done that, and seen the results (millions in lawsuit payouts and vehicles trailing parts). This is not that hard, electeds, use your chess club brains and figure it out.
3. And now for the hard part – stable, reliable ways to pay for MUNI. Don’t buy in to some hippie rhetoric about endlessly taxing only businesses – that is as unfair as jacking up fares to $10 on “the poor.” Don’t buy into right-wing rhetoric about cutting out transfers – even the Federales agree that transfers are necessary to keep people using mass transit. Instead, start from scratch and don’t rely on things like sales taxes all the time – find some stable, fair ways to pay for it instead, to support a real workable system ,not the 7 headed Hydra of BS we have now.
4. Finally, really take a look at where you’re investing the money for the future. The Central Subway is a multi-billion dollar Train to Nowhere that has been cloaked in political correctness/shenanigans for years. It will not help Chinatown, it will cost a fortune, and will do more damage to the system than the T-Third on a bad hair day. Take the Central Subway files, burn them, and put long term investments into things that will make the system work better for everyone (including Chinatown and North Beach who suffer on the infamous 30 Stockton), not worse.
These are just some thoughts I’ve had for awhile now, but encourage folks to post other ideas in the comments. I’m not paid to be a transit expert, nor would I want to be one. All I know is that as of now, my chances of getting stranded late at night thanks to MUNI is higher than ever, and the proposed silliness by our Board and Mayor are going to make things worse. (Don’t even get me started on how pricey and sucky our cabs are.)
However, it’s more important we get our so-called greenie electeds to wake up and stop debating these issues via soundbite and press release, and start coming up with better ideas. Every single one of these people is going to be asking for re-election or a promotion to the state Assembly, Senate and the Governor’s Mansion in the future – maybe they should earn that promotion instead of just having it handed to them because they peddle feel-good rhetoric instead of actually getting something done.
UPDATE: I saw this link to a “bold speech” by Our Mayor on “environmental justice” via his Facebook profile.
Talk certainly is cheap. But it sure sounds great!