Got this #Muni themed pillow at Zine Fest today! (at San Francisco County Fair Building)
Tumblr friends: I know this is a longer than normal entry for Tumblr blogs, but the CMS at my blog is totally screwed up and I can’t make direct links to it anymore, so I’m posting here as a backup. Please pardon the longy-ness of the post!
Shocking but true: Mayor Ed Lee will be deigning to ride the N-Judah line, as part of the campaign to pass Proposition A, the $500 billion bond issue for transportation projects in San Francisco. No doubt the Mayor had a trusty staffer to explain just what and where one of San Francisco’s busiest transit lines is located, so when he pulls up in that city-funded car he won’t be late. (Whether the N will be on time for the festivities is yet to be seen).
If you find yourself unclear as to what the bond will fund, or what it is purported to do, do not feel too bad. The campaign committee for this bond issue did not exist until a few weeks ago, and its website did not exist until last week.
If you go to the site and can’t find any information about Saturday’s event, well that’s because you won’t find it there. I was notified of it not by the campaign, but by the SF Transit Rider’s Union via their newsletter. They had a link from the campaign to a Google Doc which had some information about it. So there ya go.
Anyway, the most important thing is that this grand moment in history starts at 10am at Duboce and Church, and presumably ends at 11:30am at Irving and 9th. I would suggest to you, the owners and riders of Muni use this chance if you can to meet up with the Mayor and assorted Supervisors and tell them what your actual experiences, good and bad, are on Muni.
After all some of these people haven’t seen the inside of a Muni vehicle often, for whatever reason. Since it’s rare our leaders mingle amongst The Rest of Us In Public (unless we’re giving money at a fundraiser), this is your chance to put them on the spot.
If there’s a bit of cynicism perceived in this post, you’ve perceived well. That’s because the record of Mayor Lee and his appointed SFMTA board running Muni hasn’t been very good. If you took an informal poll today asking the Actual Riders and Citizens of San Francisco if the SFMTA was doing a great job and should be entrusted with billions of borrowed dollars, I don’t think you’d have a working majority saying so.
Add to this the fact that bonds require a 66% majority to pass, and you can see why the transportation bond is facing a world of pain, just 45 days before an election. One cannot get 66% of San Franciscans to agree on what the weather is like on any given day, so getting 66% to pass a big bond for an embattled agency seems to be tough enough.
Most entities that try to pass a bond spend months, even a year or more to enlist support legally to ensure passage. That was my experience passing bonds in a former life, but don’t take my word for it - go ask the folks who’ve passed trillions in bonds in California for the last 25 years.
That’s what makes this campaign for a bond that is allegedly important to Mayor Lee so strange. The Mayor and his esteemed acolytes seem to think they can do a pole vault over every political reality in Today’s World and get a $500 billion bond passed with no major organization until a week ago, with no significant amount of money in the bank, and with a voting public weary of Muni’s bullshit not inclined right away to say “hey take the money, we trust you!”
In fact, many of the Mayor’s political allies have funded the wing nut “advisory”* measure to basically say “FU” to anyone without a car, without even so much as a hint of outcry from Our Wonderful Mayor.
It doesn’t come as a surprise to those who watch all things transit in San Francisco, however, because Mayor Lee, in the end, doesn’t care about Muni, or transportation, unless it’s the Central Subway. This is the mayor, after all who time and again insists on illegally parking his city-funded car in bus stops and elsewhere, and gets his tickets erased .
This is a mayor who raised fares and insisted on restoring free parking on Sundays. He did so saying this would help earn support for a vehicle license fee (which would have restored the Schwarzenegger cuts of the 2000s). He later withdrew his support because, well I guess Willie Brown told him too or something..
What does that last little bit of babble mean? It means that as of now Mayor Lee is supporting a bond issue (borrowed money) to pay for infrastructure, but doesn’t support the operating money needed to make those things work. Put it another way - it’s like supporting money to build schools but not pay for the teachers, books, and janitors and whatnots to actually operate them.
Sound stupid? It is.
So if you see the Mayor on Saturday, smiling for the cameras with his buddies and apparatchniks, try and ask him a question that he can’t dodge with spin. Hopefully you won’t get pushed or punched by his security detail, and maybe, just maybe, an enterprising member of the so-called “real” news media might catch the moment.
Maybe they’ll even be encouraged to do some Actual Reporting instead of repeating press releases. Maybe citizens will say “enough!” with service that Third World Nations put to shame, and do something, instead of just bitiching on Twitter.
See you all on Sunday!
*If you’re wondering what an “advisory” measure is, it’s a measure that is put on the ballot, the taxpayer-funded election system has to tally up votes for that has no actual ability to have any effect on city laws, policy or the City Charter (our local Constitution). In other words, it is a big waste of time.
Past advisory measures have included many, many anti-war resolutions, a proposal for a New Age Center on Alcatraz, and other such fanciful notions. If you see one on your ballot vote No and maybe we can eliminate these civic equivalents of self-pleasureing from our ballot for good.
The N inbound just now. Hope everyone gets home safe! #muni #njudah #ol2014 #outsidelands #omg (at Mucky Duck)
My official blog has a serious system failure that prevents me from posting. If you can help fix this problem so I can finally move to WordPress, please contact me ASAP!
So the latest in what is going to be several months of misinformation about the SFMTA, Muni and How the City Works exploded this week, thanks to a piece in the SF Examiner by Jon Golinger (he who profits from sorts of stupid crap on the ballot in the past), declaring that SF, in 1993 voted to “require” the Mayor and Supervisors to ride Muni twice a week.
As always, when it comes to ballot measures in San Francisco, you have to distinguish reality from fiction. In this case, when is a ballot measure somethign that has Actual Power to Do Something, versus a taxpayer funded civic feel-good session?
The key is to distinguish between a measure that amends the City Charter (aka our local government’s Constitution) and an advisory measure, which has no power at all to change policy or direct elected officials to actually DO something.
Unlike Mr. Golinger, who wrote some stupid nonsense in a local paper mis-representing the measure, I decided to look it up myself at the library. Upon reading the actual text of the measure it was clear that Prop. AA (1993) was in fact, just an advisory measure. In other words, people voted on this and got a warm happy feeling inside thinking they’d made a difference, when in fact they hadn’t done anything at all.
This fall you’ll hear a lot of chatter about Proposition L, the Cars First measure. Like Proposition AA, it too is an advisory measure. That means it has about as much effect on policy as, say Sean Parker (tech millionaire) and the Republican Party scrawled their declarations on sandwich boards like the crazies downtown, and marched in a circle around City Hall for 40 Days and Nights. In other words, it doesn’t mean squat.
For some reason journalists, bloggers, transit advocates, political activists, and the like keep treating this long winded joke as something serious, up to and including the opponents to the measure. As for me, I don’t take it too seriously, except as a covert attack on the transit bonds (also on the ballot) that would pay for infrastructure and repairs.
That bond measure has an Actual Power to Do Something, so for that reason when anyone asks me at Prop. L, I dismiss it as right wing propaganda by those too wimpy to take on the establishment honestly via the bond campaign.
PS: The one ballot measure we need more than ever is one that banishes these foolish non binding measures, both via ballot measures, and via the Board of Supervisors. They are a waste of time and divert attention from real solutions to problems that actually matter to people. If people want to have their “voice heard” on an issue, go have a demonstration, get a Facebook page, buy some billboards, or whatever. Don’t use the election system to force taxpayers to deal with your bullshit, thought.