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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.