Proposition L on the city's ballot is based on the delusion that there are serious differences between Mayor Lee and the Board of Supervisors on transportation policy in San Francisco. Whether the board or the mayor appoints MTA board members may turn out to be significant some day but it isn't now, which is why passing this charter amendment is of little significance. It's a solution to a non-problem.
Supervisor Yee, the main backer of the measure, makes the tepid pro-L argument in the Chronicle:
Supervisor Norman Yee, who placed Prop. L on the ballot, said it's an effort to bring more diversity to the MTA board and to make the appointment and budget processes similar to city commissions, committees and other city departments. Supervisors have appointment powers over those commissions and committees. "Let's keep it consistent," he said. "Why not?"
"Why not?" is not exactly the argument of someone who thinks he's supporting an important reform measure.
Maybe the real reason Supervisor Yee supports Prop. L is revealed in a recent SF Magazine story:
...formerly tough to pin down but now reliably progressive Norman Yee. The District 7 supervisor has, over time, chafed at what he’s considered to be slights by the mayor’s team. He wasn’t thrilled, for one, to be left off the guest list for a May public safety meeting in his own district with Mayor Lee, then–SFPD chief Greg Suhr, and district activists. And Yee certainly wasn’t pleased to learn that Ben Matranga, an erstwhile mayoral adviser running to unseat him, had been invited. “And guess what?” cackles a longtime city political organizer. “Norman was a swing vote on how many issues on the left?” (In fact, if not for Yee, four measures that reduce mayoral power would not be on November’s ballot.)
More in the Chronicle's story:
Some of the MTA's more controversial steps, like redesigning streets to speed transit or to accommodate bikes and pedestrians, would have been far more difficult to achieve with a board appointed by both the mayor and the supervisors, he[Tom Nolan] said.
Simply not true. There has been absolutely no dissent on the board of supervisors on any important MTA policies.
Once upon a time, when he was running for mayor and looking for issues to use against Mayor Lee, Aaron Peskin criticized the Central Subway project, but he's apparently now reconciled to that boondoggle.
And with the Chronicle, you have to consider the source, since the most important newspaper in the city has never done a story on that UC study that showed the city was radically under-counting cycling accidents (Nor have the Examiner, SF Weekly, SF Streetsblog or the SF Bicycle Coalition). The Chronicle also didn't do a story on this year's bicycle count, apparently because it showed an actual decrease in cyclists counted.
San Francisco is a one-party town, and the Chronicle is essentially the house organ of that party. The party newspaper of course supports the status quo and opposes Prop. L: "Insulating transit planning from political meddling buys a degree of independence. That’s especially needed in a city plagued by traffic wars, jammed transit and costly employees. Vote NO."
Right. Supervisors elected by district are politically meddlesome, while the mayor is above it all and represents "independence"!
I can't remember the last time a mayor's appointment to the MTA board was controversial---or even prompted any discussion. (Alas, I was the only dissenter on this and this appointment.)
I bet few city voters have even heard of any of the present board members. (Go here and click on "members.") This guy was appointed just this year, and I've never heard of him, either before or after his appointment by the mayor.
The main qualification for board membership is anti-carism and the bicycle fantasy. Or, to be more accurate, if you question either policy, you're unlikely to be appointed by either the mayor or a newly-empowered board of supervisors should this measure pass in November.
Labels: Aaron Peskin, Anti-Car, Bicycle Count Report, Central Subway, City Government, Mayor Lee, Muni, Parking, UC Study