Wednesday, October 29, 2014

490 MTA employees make more than $100,000

Groundbreaking for the Central Subway

The Vote No on A folks send this message:

Where the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s billions of dollars have gone: Big salaries, overhead, overtime, bad projects and cost overruns, while Muni service is cut in every neighborhood.


While SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) pleads lack of funds, cuts Muni service and raises fares/fees/fines, 490 of its employees make over $100,000 per year---eight over $200,000, including its Director at $305,000. Twenty-five SFMTA managers earn more than the Governor of California. SFMTA overhead alone has doubled in five years, from $55 million to $110 million per year. Vote No on A!


The Federal Transit Administration abruptly changed its independent PMOC (Project Oversight Management Consultant). Unlike past weak reports, the new PMOC Report is forceful---projecting a large cost overrun. Any cost overrun means more state/local funds will be diverted from the Muni system. Vote No on A!

The PMOC Report:
“In the opinion of the PMOC, if the current trends continue, the actual cost of the completed [Central Subway]project would be 11% higher than the cost estimate without contingency. The project cost estimate without contingency is $1,499,086,167. If the project were to exceed this estimated cost by 11%, the total cost would be $1,663,985,645, or $85.7 million over the established budget.”

The Prop A General Obligation Bond was originally touted as a transportation bond. Now, TV/campaign literature’s new pitch is “Prop A will improve pedestrian safety,” even as the SFMTA Board unilaterally issues $89 million of new revenue bonds for pedestrian safety, street improvements and Muni capital projects without voter approval. SFMTA has issued revenue bonds of $170 million in 2011 and $150 million in 2013. Incurring debt without a plan, bonds alone will NOT create a citywide integrated Muni system. Vote No on Prop A!

SFMTA Board of Directors, Tuesday, October 21, 2014 Agenda: 
11. Approving the issuance of SFMTA Revenue Bonds in an amount not greater than $89,560,000 to make improvements to pedestrian safety and transit signals, Muni transit system safety, Complete Street capital improvements, facility and Transit Fixed Guideway improvements and procure Light Rail Vehicles; approving the Official Statement, Bond Purchase Contract form and the Continuing Disclosure Certificate and authorizing the expenditure of proceeds from the Bonds. REVENUE BOND REPORT

Requested by the Mayor, tech companies, developers and corporations have written checks of $200,000, $105,000, $50,000, $49,999, $49,500 for a total of $1,294,391 to the Prop A campaign. Those who got blank checks from the City likely need to return the favor. If bigwigs donated money to Muni every year, we wouldn’t need a bond measure and debt. Vote No on A!

Elimination of buses and bus stops hurts neighborhoods, pushing people into cars, and they are then penalized by rising fares/fees/fines/meters/parking elimination. With bad consensus-building, SFMTA has angered everyone---Muni riders, motorists, taxi drivers/operators, small businesses, seniors, disabled, youth, low-income families and outlying neighborhoods. Without compensation, Muni construction has hurt business in North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, Downtown, SOMA. Let’s get SFMTA’s house in order, focusing on smarter funding allocation, better management, better projects and integrated neighborhood services. VOTE NO ON A!

SFWEEKLY: The Ides of “May”: The Language of the Mayor's Pet $500 Million Bond "May" Alarm You
In legal parlance, “shall” is “prescriptive” language and “may” is “permissive” language. The language in Prop. A is permissive. Everything listed within it is something that “may” be funded, “may” be done.

EXAMINER: “Don’t have faith in Prop A funding direction,” Denise D’Anne

EXAMINER: “Time to tie pay to Muni’s on-time performance,” Jon Golinger

ENDORSEMENTS: Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (45 neighborhood organizations), San Francisco Tomorrow, Chinese American Democratic Club, Irish American Democratic Club, District 3 Democratic Club, District 11 Democratic Club, San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco, Libertarian Party of San Francisco, Black Leadership Forum, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF), SaveMuniSF, Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG), A Better Chinatown Tomorrow (ABCT), Save North Beach Village, North Beach Tenants Committee, SF Gray Panthers, San Francisco Apartment Association, D5 Action, Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF), Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret., Chairman, California Senate Transportation Committee), Bruce Oka (Former SFMTA Board of Directors), Bob Planthold (Disability Advocate)

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An update on the Supreme Court's high-speed rail decision

A message from the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail:

A statement from Mike Brady, a member of the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail Board of Directors, and the lead attorney in the Tos v. Authority lawsuit that is challenging the state's ill-conceived and badly-managed high-speed rail project:

There is a major misperception out there that the recent Supreme Court decision, declining to review an appellate court decision in our high-speed rail litigation, "clears the decks," and that the Authority has no further legal obstacles to overcome and can commence construction whenever it chooses to do so. That is definitely the impression given by a number of recent news stories. However, this impression is absolutely wrong for the reasons set forth below.

The recent Supreme Court decision not to hear the case allows the appellate court decision to stand. All that the appellate court said was that the Preliminary Funding Plan, though the appellate court acknowledged it was inconsistent with Proposition 1A, was meant as a report for the Legislature only, and thus did not have to comply with Proposition 1A's restrictive provisions at that time. BUT, the appellate court also said that when the [High-Speed Rail]Authority seeks to sell the bonds and spend the bond money, the Authority must first go through the rigorous requirements of the Second Funding Plan contained in Proposition 1A and must comply with all the strict provisions of Proposition 1A at that time.

The Authority cannot start construction with Proposition 1A bond funds until it has enough money in the bank to COMPLETE the so-called Initial Operating Segment, a 300-mile segment of the proposed project costing $35 billion or more. What does the Authority actually have to spend? About $6 billion! That is not nearly enough to comply with what Proposition 1A requires.

In addition, the Authority cannot start construction or spend Proposition 1A money until it gets all environmental clearances for the entire 300-mile Initial Operating Segment. At the present time, the Authority lacks clearances for about 180 miles of that segment! Getting the required environmental clearances could take years!

Furthermore, since the appellate court decision, evidence has surfaced from the Authority itself that the entire Southern California route south of Bakersfield is not workable for high-speed rail and will have to be redone. This means that the project cannot be approved at all and must go back to the drawing board to see whether a viable route can be designated.

The opponents of the current project are about to go to trial on several issues that are totally unrelated to the appellate court decision and that are not affected by it. For instance, will the Authority be able to transport a passenger from LA to San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes as specified in Proposition 1A? Will a subsidy be required for operating costs? Does the "blended system" itself violate the promise of Proposition 1A that we will get a genuine high-speed rail system?

If we win on any of these issues, and we think our arguments are good, this project will be stopped dead in its tracks! We are in this fight for the duration. HSR faces insurmountable obstacles if the courts, as we expect, uphold the strict restrictions of Proposition 1A, which the voters enacted to protect themselves against bad fiscal and project management.

See also the Peer Review Group's report and the Legislative Analyst's report.

Kathy Hamilton's story on the decision.

See also Why Cap & Trade Funds Cannot Be Used To Finance High-Speed Rail In California


Jim Carrey parodies Lincoln ads

Thanks to Little Green Footballs.