Thursday, April 08, 2010

Slow news day for Melissa

The only excuse for Melissa Griffin's latest column in the Examiner is that it had to be a slow news day/week. First she had a strange riff on Jerry Brown's campaign for governor:

On Easter Sunday, I was having dinner with one of the wonkiest people I know. A former elected official, he remains active in politics and shares my love of funky, arcane details. As with most conversations these days among the civic chattering class, the subject turned to Brown’s unenthusiastic campaign. “What if Brown drops out of the race?” I asked. “Oh!” his eyes widened. Here’s what we put together: If Brown stays in the race long enough to win the party primary in June, the field would be clear of gadflys and single-issue activists running for the Democratic nod. 

Once it’s Brown versus some Republican...Brown could drop out of the race. At that point, volunteered my dinner companion, the state Democratic Central Committee would appoint Brown’s replacement, which could be anyone---a moneyed Democrat like Steve Westley, a popular politician like Dianne Feinstein, or even a young lieutenant governor candidate. Democratic groups like Level the Playing Field 2010 are raising money to defeat a Republican candidate (rhymes with Whitman) so a substitute Democratic Party candidate could just as easily benefit from those efforts. “It’s a thought,” he grinned. “Pass the cornbread.”

Unless Griffin knows something we don't know about Brown's health, that's the kind of thought that could only sound interesting after a couple of glasses of wine. Why would Jerry Brown, a career politician who's been Governor of California before, drop out of the race after winning the primary?

In the hard copy of the Examiner---but not in the online version---she had this about Supervisor Mar's proposed legislation banning advertisements that cover windows on Muni buses:

Bored of Supervisors Quote of the Meeting: "Some riders may experience claustrophobia or even nausea if they cannot see clearly out of the windows while in transit."---Supervisor Eric Mar, stating his intent to introduce an ordinance that will ban advertising on the windows of Muni buses. Riders might also experience claustrophobia or nausea if they are subject to increased fares and service cuts because Muni can't maximize its ability to sell ad space.

Until now I'm the only city blogger that's written about this issue, which is an annoyance to regular Muni riders like me.

Why do I get the impression that Griffin isn't a regular Muni rider? I bet the claustrophobia/nausea problem with blocking windows is pretty rare, but what's galling about the practice is that it shows contempt for people who ride Muni. We're not entitled to an unobstructed view of our beautiful city when we ride the bus in this supposedly "transit first" city? 

I do feel nausea, however, when I consider that these ads raise only $1 million for Muni, which pays Nathaniel Ford $322,450 a year and recently hired John Staley for $225,038 per year. After you factor in benefits, that $1 million probably covers what it costs the public to compensate those two guys for a year.

An earlier Examiner article on the blocking-bus-windows issue.

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