Thursday, May 28, 2020

Masonic Avenue: What the "thinking" was

Photo: Jim Herd

Jim Herd wonders what City Hall's "thinking" was on how it "improved" Masonic Avenue several years ago. 

But if you have an ideology---the most infectious virus of all---you don't have to do any thinking, since answers come quickly to mind.

It took the Bicycle Coalition years to infect City Hall with that political virus, but the special interest group was eventually successful: Big Lie on safety to justify screwing up Masonic.

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Public Comment

Mary Miles
Attorney at Law for Coalition for Adequate Review
San Francisco, CA 94102

San Francisco County Transportation Authority ("SFCTA")
Citizens Advisory Committee ("CAC")
1455 Market Street, 22nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103


DATE: May 27, 2020

PUBLIC COMMENT, SFCTA CAC, MEETING OF MAY 27, 2020, AGENDA ITEM 10, OPPOSING Motion to Support Increasing the Amount of the Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Services Contract by $775,000 to $1,475,000, and Extend the Contract Term Through March 31, 2021, for Technical and Communications Services for the Downtown Congestion Pricing Study.

Please distribute this Comment to every member of the SFCTA CAC and place a copy in all applicable files. The SFCTA CAC should reject the Proposed Motion of Support for reasons including the following. 

1. Both the original Contract and the proposed Contract Amendment violate ethics requirements and present a conflict of interest.

The original Contract No. 18/19-17 ("Contract"), dated July 1, 2019, awarding $700,000 to Nelson\Nygaard, violates State and local ethics statutes, ordinances and policies, presents a conflict of interest, and it must be entirely voided. The proposed Motion to Support increasing the amount of that Contract should be rejected by this CAC. 

Sections of the original Contract were signed by Jeffrey Tumlin on August 21, 2019, then a Principal and Director of Strategy of Nelson\Nygaard. (Contract, Exhibit 10-O1.) 

On November 19, 2019, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency ("MTA") Board of Directors approved a five-year contract with Mr. Tumlin as their appointed Director of Transportation for the City at an annual salary of $342,483 plus benefits. (MTA Board Resolution No. 191119-143.) 

Mr. Tumlin, an ardent advocate of congestion pricing, did not disclose his financial relationship with Nelson\Nygaard until January 15, 2020, when he reported on the mandatory Form 700 an income of "more than $100,000" in the past year from Nelson\Nygaard.

SFCTA's Contract and the proposed Amendment to that Contract make clear that Mr. Tumlin, in his role as Director of Transportation for MTA, will now also be a "key stakeholder" in Nelson\Nygaard's proposed Congestion Pricing Study. This presents an obvious conflict of interest that compromises both the Contract and the Amendment with Nelson\Nygaard and Mr. Tumlin's role as Director of Transportation of the City of San Francisco. 

In fact, the proposed Contract Amendment explicitly states, "SFMTA. . .will assist [Nelson\Nygaard] with developing program elements (including development of multimodal investment packages), identifying potential funding sources, and related interagency coordination." (Agenda packet, Task 2.5.) 

To avoid further violation of Conflict of Interest codes, the Contract with Nelson\Nygaard should be voided, and Mr. Tumlin should resign from his City position as Director of Transportation. 

2. The Contract's purpose is improperly intended to promote adopting congestion pricing in spite of overwhelming public opposition, not to make an objective "Study."

The Contract and its proposed Amendment are not for an impartial "study" of the congestion pricing project as implied, but to develop a strategy to get agency approvals and implement the project in spite of opposition of the vast majority of residents and travelers who would be affected, and to dedicate the windfall revenue from penalizing motorists to a "package of local and regional multimodal improvements to be funded with program revenues," including "upgrades to…walking, and bicycling infrastructure." (See, e.g., Agenda packet, Attachment 1, Scope of Services, Task 2.5 and "Task 2.6 ["Implementation Plan"]; and Attachment 2, Amendment, Task 2.3, Task 2.5, Task 2.6, and Task 3.3; see also, e.g. 2016 San Francisco Chamber of Commerce poll showing 72% of public opposed to congestion pricing.

3. The Covid epidemic may end the traffic congestion that is the claimed reason for proposing congestion pricing.

Fallout from the Covid epidemic presents a strong possibility that traffic may no longer be congested. The City should abandon its clear intention of adopting the unpopular "congestion pricing" program.

The SFCTA CAC should therefore reject the Motion to Support Amending the SFCTA Contract with Nelson\Nygaard and increasing the amount of the award by $775,000 to a total of $1,475,000. Moreover, the SFCTA should void the entire Contract and end the "Congestion Pricing Study."

Mary Miles

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