Rescue Muni Vows to Fight Supes' Muni Power Grab:
Rescue Muni, San Francisco's transit riders' association, vowed to fight a proposed charter amendment to increase the Board of Supervisors' control over the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), which runs Muni. The measure, placed on the November ballot by supervisors, would split the appointment of MTA Board members between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.
"We Won't Turn Back the Clock"
In 1999, voters passed Proposition E, a Muni reform charter amendment backed by Rescue Muni, SPUR, and environmental organizations. Proposition E created an independent MTA Board to govern Muni; previously, supervisors had more authority over the agency. "We won't turn back the clock to days of excuses and finger-pointing. Proposition E created an independent, clearly accountable agency; this new charter amendment divides authority over Muni, and divided responsibility for Muni is how we got into this mess in the first place," said Rescue Muni chair Andrew Sullivan. "It's outrageous that the supervisors would gut such a critical part of Muni reform. And for what? This is a naked power grab."
Rescue Muni pointed out that Proposition E already balances authority between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. "Every single MTA Board member must be confirmed by the Board of Supervisors to take office. This new charter amendment disrupts the balance and puts all the power in the hands of the supervisors. They would not only appoint three MTA Board members on their own, but retain the ability to reject the mayor's four," Sullivan said. "If that's not a power grab, I don't know what is."
"Why should San Franciscans trust the supervisors to run Muni again?" Sullivan asked. "Just this past year, the supervisors voted to cut Muni maintenance and block improvements in Geary service reliability. People who have to get to work every day can't afford to have the Board of Supervisors messing with the Muni service they depend on to get to work."
Sullivan emphasized that, while Muni isn't yet fully fixed, "the system is much more reliable than it was in the days of the Metro Meltdown, when political meddling by City Hall caused huge delays and reliability problems. Why would anyone want to go back to the bad old days?"
Right now, the MTA is engaged in a nationwide search for a new executive director to replace Michael Burns, who resigned this month. "So right now, when we're trying to attract an experienced transit professional to the city to run Muni, we're saying to potential candidates 'Oh, by the way, this coming spring we may or may not dismiss the board that hired you, and replace it with a new board. Do we really expect a world-class transit manager to make a major career change with this kind of uncertainty about who he or she works for?" Sullivan asked.
"The question for voters is simple," Sullivan said. "Will more medding from the Board of Supervisors make service better or worse? We think the answer-based on recent experience-is obvious."
Rescue Muni is a transit riders’ organization for customers of
Muni. It was founded in 1996 by Muni riders seeking to improve
the system’s reliability, service, and safety. The organization
conducts an annual riders’ survey, serves as a citizens’ watchdog group
for Muni, and promotes expansion of transit service in San
Francisco. Rescue Muni co-sponsored November 1999’s Proposition E
for Muni reform after circulating its own charter amendment earlier
that year and participating in City Hall negotiations. Rescue
Muni is an independent, nonpartisan group run by volunteers and
supported solely by its members’ dues.
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