UPDATED: The Stealth Appointment to the SFMTA Board AKA “Gavin C. Newsom Will You Please Go NOW!”

Student Body President Gavin Newsom is about to ascend to the dubiously useful job of Lt. Governor. And yet, like the guy who graduates from high school yet keeps coming back around visiting the teachers and hitting on the girls still in school, and never quite leaving, ASB President Newsom is doing the same.
He’s already planning to extend his term for various reasons relating to the ongoing political shenanigans being engineered by members of the Board of Supervisors about who will be Mayor for a year, etc. However, what no one seems to be talking about is that the Mayor wants to have one last appointment (aka an FU) to the SFMTA board who, while a wonderful human being, isn’t really qualified to be on the board. The Rules Committee of the Board of Supervisors is set to approve or disapprove of the appointment on Monday, January 3rd.
Newsom’s appointee, Leona Bridges is touted as having a background in “finance” and there was endless talk from the PR machine that this is what the MTA “needed.” But Ms. Bridges’ career, while very impressive, has nothing to do with municipal finance or any experience with the myriad of complex funding sources for the MTA/Muni. More to the point, Muni’s financial problems are not simply a matter of shuffling the pennies around better – it’s about replacing the huge hole put in its budget by Gov. Schwarzenegger, Gavin C. Newsom, and the Democratic Legislature with a stable, local, fair funding source.
There’s no indication that Ms. Bridges has any experience at all with Muni other than riding the 38 (for which she should get some sort of award because the 38 Geary can be a pain in the ass to use sometimes). That’s nice, but after waiting 7 months to appoint someone to fill this vacancy, the Mayor could have done better. As always, however, he has shown his contempt for Muni and its owner/riders.
We can only guess at how much ASB President Newsom will want to interfere with City Hall in 2011, since he doesn’t plan on moving to Sacramento anytime soon. And like the ASB President who can’t seem to get that he’s no longer the big dog in charge in highschool, but instead a freshman at the university, Newsom proves once again why at his core, he’s just not that ready for the big time.
Go to Sacramento, President Newsom. You wanted the job, and you wanted to leave this one early. You got what you wanted. Now GO, and leave the running of San Francisco to a new class of leaders.
PS: Not a word from any of the so-called transit rider unions, from what I can see in the email box, and not a lot of talk from the so-called “progressives,” who are too busy playing games.
This is an opportunity for some of our new members of the Board, particularly those like Mark Farrell, Scott Weiner, and Jane Kim who did very well on the Muni Rider Voter Guide questionnaire, to put the brakes on politics and put Muni owner/riders first.
UPDATE: The PR offensive at the Rules Committee is pretty intense, but the complete sellout by so-called “progressives” is even more intense. Ms. Bridges’ testimony showed she really doesn’t understand what Muni’s financial problems are – we can’t audit our way out of all of the mess we’re in, and it’s clear no one on the Committee or the nominee realized that.. When asked about her position on Prop. G, she said she had “no position” on it, and gave a long winded answer about labor relations. In other words, she’s both for it and against it at the same time. Or not. Or something. (David Campos didn’t help matters much by misleading the public about the nature of the issue as well, but what “progressives” don’t know about Muni could fit in a warehouse or 10).
Score one for President Newsom, and another demerit for so-called “progressives” and the so-called “moderates” who not only capitulated to Newsom one last time, but proved once again that when difficult decisions regarding the running of Muni come up, they simply aren’t up to the job. If people like David Campos really lived up to the rhetoric they spouted last year, they’d have recommended a pass.
Instead, they’ve just shown that they’ll always get taken in by well-scripted rhetoric, and don’t understand what the true current status of Muni really is, or what it takes to make it work.

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