Circling the Drain With the MTA, The Board, and The Mayor: Today's Nonsense...
The rebellion against the MTA budget continues, and as this drama gets extended over time, we begin to enter the "circle the drain" cycle of City Hall shenanigans. Sadly, while the student council that run City Hall has its time in the spotlight, it's you, the owner & rider of MUNI who will lose in the end.
There's going to be another hearing today at noon (!), and there are earnest efforts by people who mean well to try and at least un-screw up some parts of the budget. But with no real leadership on any one side, we're devolving into piecemeal policy, which means that in the end, what we'll end up is something that serves the politicians and the MTA, but not you.
It's interesting to note that recently the MTA announced some service increases on certain lines (even in this time of "no money no money"), but upon further inspection, it turned out it was one line in each Supervisorial district. And people say the current MTA doesn't use politics in its decisions? Ha! Of course, there's no dent in those phony baloney work orders the Mayor's Office used to raid MUNI with.
Likewise, Supervisor Avalos has been trying to fight the good fight, complete with dramatic marches to the MTA offices with a band of ticked off people. But when you look at his proposals, you find plenty to like if you're poor, or a senior citizen, which is fine. What you do not see are any serious revenue proposals to make up for the tens of millions of dollars in cuts issued by Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Democratic Legislature. Remember, 66% of the big MUNI budget hole was caused when the Gov. and his Democratic allies nuked all funding for transit statewide via the Transit Assistance Fund.
Any proposal to save MUNI has to address this massive gap in funding that MUNI was not expecting. To instead make up these "fiddle with the margins" proposals, such as the MTA and Sup. Avalos have proposed, do not address the real issue. And that lack of funding means no money for maintenance (ensuring your N trails parts if it makes it past 19th) and the kinds of things that a system needs to work properly. Likewise, we have to at least be glad the "cut MUNI funding" faction on the board has been reduced by at least one, so far.
And today, there's more proposals to change how the MTA is governed. Every time this has come up, there's a flurry of activity to "change" the MTA, but by election time, proponents raise no money and don't talk to voters, the Mayor's allies downtown drop some junk mail, and it goes down. Personally I always thought it odd I was trusted to vote on "Gay Marriage," the state budget, judges, Supervisors, Mayors, Presidents, BART, and Comptrollers, but not anyone associated with MUNI. Hmm.
At this point, the governance of the MTA has been reduced to a pissing match between Acting Mayor Nathan Ballard, and whoever at the Board is on the phone that day. That's fine for political theatrics, but it does nothing for you, or making your daily life any better.
I've often said that the prism of MUNI policy is a great way to look at how San Francisco really operates, in the past and today. The fact that much of what I wrote a year ago still applies today says a lot. We have plenty of people who love to play games at City Hall. We do not have many people that want to go to work. There was nothing stopping us from heading off the worst of this some time ago. But instead, folks chose to goof off, and sadly, we pay the price.