Move On Dot Supes

June 9th, 2010

Lost in all the election coverage last night was the 46%-54% defeat of Proposition C, a charter amendment splitting appointments to the Film Commission; six members would be appointed by the mayor and five by the Board of Supervisors. Currently all members are appointed by the mayor.

Proposition C had barely any opposition; the only argument filed against it was a screed by Republican Central Committee member and perennial ballot-argument-writer Terence Faulkner. Even the mayor’s staunchest allies on the board supported the measure.  And yet this nearly-unopposed proposition went down to defeat by eight points last night.

The message couldn’t be clearer: San Franciscans aren’t interested in expanding the powers of the Board of Supervisors over city boards and commissions.  While such measures have sometimes succeeded in he past, if a split-appointment measure, for a commission hardly anyone pays attention to, can’t win, it’s clear the public is no longer in mood for this sort of thing.

Recently, several supervisors proposed a charter amendment which not only splits appointments to the SFMTA Board, but expands the supervisors’ power over Muni in whole slew of ways beyond the split board.  It should be obvious from last night’s election results that, if such a measure is placed on the November ballot, it’s dead on arrival with the electorate.  Voters who won’t let the supes appoint a minority of commissioners on the barely-noticed Film Commission aren’t about to give them a whole Christmas tree of new powers over a high-profile agency with which San Franciscans interact almost every day.  A doomed campaign to pass such an amendment would serve only as a prolonged distraction from the pursuit of real, viable solutions.

It’s time for the supervisors to read carefully the results from last night and shelve the Campos/Chiu/Avalos amendment.  Voters already rejected—by a 29-point margin—one effort in 2005 to split SFMTA Board appointments 4-3 between the mayor and supervisors respectively; the idea that they’ll approve a grossly overreaching, wide-ranging takeover of the agency by the supervisors is fantasy. Whatever the SFMTA’s problems, increased control by the Board of Supervisors is not among the solutions, and even if it were, the public clearly isn’t buying.

It’s time for supervisors and transit activists alike to stop this pointless tinkering with how the SFMTA Board is appointed and divert their time and energy to constructive solutions which put SFMTA on a sound financial footing to preserve and make reliable existing Muni service, and to grow the system into the one envisioned by the Transit Effectiveness Project.

Share on facebook

SFMTA Audit: Work Rules Costly, Inefficient

May 11th, 2010

SFMTAIt shouldn’t be a surprise to long-time observers of the agency, but today’s audit of the SFMTA by the Budget Analyst of the Board of Supervisors highlights some of the most inefficient work rules raising Muni’s costs. Specifics include strict limits on the use of part-time employees, daily instead of weekly overtime, and financial incentives to call in sick or otherwise take time off, causing the SFMTA to have an extremely high rate of unscheduled absences (15%). And, though it does not take a position on the Fix Muni Now amendment, the report highlights the Prop A wage floor that makes it impossible for the agency to bargain wages for work rule reforms.

SF Streetsblog has a detailed analysis, as does the SF Weekly. You can read the full report on Streetsblog, and the SFMTA’s response on its website.

Share on facebook

Vote on budget (including service cuts) TODAY

April 20th, 2010

The SFMTA Board is expected to adopt next year’s budget, including deep service cuts, today.  Please show up and let them know how you feel.

Many budget solutions to prevent service cuts involve long-term cost controls and revenue measures; we’ve written about a number of those here.  In the short run, we think the most immediate solution to prevent budget cuts is to raise money through extended parking meter hours and higher parking meter rates.  Many cities with less of a transit orientation than San Francisco run their meters on weeknights and Sundays.

Right now, today, the choice the SFMTA Board faces is one between raising more money at parking meters and cutting Muni service.  Please show up at City Hall, Room 400, at 2:00 p.m., to let the board know which you prefer.  Even with the unexpected injection of funds from the state, Muni is looking at a deep service cut which will do grievous damage to the notion of San Francisco as a Transit First city.

Extending parking meter hours and bringing meter rates into line with garage rates isn’t the solution to all of Muni’s problems, but it’s the best solution to the dilemma we face today.  Please let the SFMTA Board know that.

Share on facebook

SF Weekly on “Muni’s Death Spiral”

April 14th, 2010

Today’s SF Weekly has a very detailed article on the problems facing the SFMTA, including very expensive work rules, micromanagement by the Mayor, lack of implementation of the SFTEP, extremely slow service (average 8.1 mph!), problems with the MTA board, and more.

The authors correctly call out the City Charter’s provision that establishes minimum pay for Muni operators as the average of the top two transit systems in the country. However, the article neglects to mention that this provision is only three years old. Proposition A (2007), which we supported at the time and now regret supporting, changed this provision from a maximum to a minimum, and the result is the annual “bonuses” given operators when workers in other departments and elsewhere in the MTA are taking cuts. Promises were made in 2007 that this change would provide incentives for the Transport Workers Union and the MTA to trade cash for work rule concessions, but as recent experience has shown, no such trades have been forthcoming.

This is the provision that the Elsbernd amendment (now at Fix Muni Now) attempts to resolve.

Elsbernd Amendment hits the streets; general meeting 4/27 to discuss it

April 8th, 2010

first-choice.JPGThe proposed charter amendment to remove the wage floor for MTA operators and make some additional work rule changes is now on the streets. (Our board has voted to support it.) Supervisor Elsbernd was out at West Portal to collect signatures today.

Meanwhile, please mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 27, at 6:30 pm, when we will hold a general meeting to discuss the amendment. We have invited both Supervisor Elsbernd and a representative from the Transport Workers Union. Further details to follow including location.

Update: SF Streetsblog has a detailed report.