Wiener, Transit Activists Raid Nonprofit Funding

by Randy Shaw : beyondchron – excerpt

If Supervisor Scott Wiener and transit activists get their way, San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents will face millions of dollars in budget cuts next year. Wiener’s Prop B raids $22 million in annual funding for nonprofits and sends the money to that bottomless funding pit known as the SFMTA—with no money earmarked for MUNI service.

How is such a mandated money grab possible in progressive San Francisco? How could Wiener, who came to office backed by real estate speculators and only supports tenant measures he has no power to enact, get progressive transit activists, five other supervisors and the San Francisco Democratic Party to raid $22 million annually from already underfunded nonprofit services?

It is a cynical story. It involves Wiener betraying nonprofits, putting the $500 million transit bond at risk, and backstabbing Mayor Lee all for the goal of giving no-strings money to an SFMTA that has failed to translate a decade of steep budget increases into improved MUNI service.

Wiener’s War on Nonprofits

I understand why Wiener backs Prop B. Wiener is the Board member most opposed to nonprofits. He fought to eliminate the nonprofit exemption on Transit Impact Development Fees.  Wiener pushed for the proposed Vehicle License Fee to go 100% to transit, though it had originally been intended to be partially available for human services. He has never led efforts to increase annual cost of doing business funding for the nonprofit sector.

Wiener knows that Prop B takes money from nonprofit budgets. That’s why he recently voted against the David Campos resolution to put the Board on record backing a supplemental appropriation for nonprofit worker salary hikes if the city’s budget is doing well mid-year. Wiener knows there won’t be a dime left for nonprofits if Prop B passes; otherwise he would have backed Campos’ resolution (which got seven votes)..

What’s troubling is that after progressive Board members allowed nonprofit workers to get stiffed in the recent budget process, they then joined Wiener’s plan to take an additional $22 million from nonprofits each year… (more)

We were asked who is fighting Prop B and this is what we found. We were aware of the struggle between non-profits for funding, but Mr. Shaw gives us more details than we anticipated. If you care you should read the entire article and comment at the source.

The SFMTA Has a New, Friendly Blog, and Readers Seem Suspicious.

By : sfweekly – excerpt

Did you know that the SFMTA has a new blog, Moving SF? Seemingly timed with the recent 25-cent fare increase, the parent agency of Muni has decided its image problem has grown dire, and wants to give the everyday commuter (that’d be you!) insight into the workings of one of the most disliked government bodies.

“We want to start telling your our story,” says the Aug. 28 inaugural post.

As SF Citizen already so poignantly put it: That’s just bull shit. But as just as every powerful actor needs a good foil or two, Moving SF’s comments section has already become very lively. Looking beyond the acrimonious debates over the merits of the GBUS TO MTV and its fellow corporate shuttles, it appears that any official attempt at propagandizing the beleaguered strap-hanging populace with the SFMTA party line will at least be matched by well-informed opposition down below.

A subsequent post brought it all out. An introduction to a new Q&A feature about city streets, it solicited inquiries from readers and got a mouthful in reply:…

Could it be that SFMTA and Muni are attempting to curry favor with ordinary San Franciscans in order to get half a billion dollars at precisely the moment when tenants are feeling the squeeze more than ever? Time will tell. If Moving SF doesn’t want to volunteer its motives, its vivacious commenters just might wring it out of them… (more)

The least trusted city agency, that has the gall to blame the public for it’s failures, now wants to “play nice” to convince us to allow them to float another $850 million plus of public debt. (after you add in the interest on the bonds) And the Fed just downgraded Muni bonds this week.

They must think we are dumber than we do.

We say No on A and B (no more money without accountability) and Yes on L: Restore Transportation Balance (demand accountability)

REALATED:
The SFMTA’s New MUNI Blog Urges You to Raise Your Rent by Voting YES on the Half Billion Dollar Prop A, More or Less

 

Muni Tests New App to Pay Fares

By Sarah Medina : 7×7 – excerpt

In the age of the Clipper card, it amazes me when I still see someone whip out cash to pay for their Muni ticket. I guess the Municipal Transportation Agency feels the same way, because they’re working on a new smart-phone app that will allow riders to pay their fare sans bills and change.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the six-month pilot program will roll out early 2015 and offer single-ride, cable car, special event tickets, and visitor passports. However, it will not include fast passes.

.. (more)

Developers seek massive tax break at Transbay Center

By Tim Redmond : 48hillsonlilne – excerpt

SEPTEMBER 9, 2014 — The Board of Supervisors will vote today on an item that seems incredibly dense and bureaucratic, and it took me almost two days to figure out what the controversy is about. But at stake in this deal are hundreds of millions of dollars in public money for transportation projects.

Here’s the language of the item:
Public hearing of persons interested in or objecting to the proposed Resolution of Formation for Special Tax District No. 2014-1, establishing the Transbay Transit CFD and determining other matters in connection therewith; Resolution determining necessity to incur bonded indebtedness for the CFD; and Resolution calling for a special election in the City and County of San Francisco to submit the issues of the special tax, the incurring of bonded indebtedness and the establishment of the appropriations limit to the qualified electors of the CFD.

There are a couple of other related items, but the bottom line is this: The city wants to move forward with a special tax district that will hit the developers of new highrise buildings in the Transbay Center area with an annual levy to cover $1.4 billion in news bonds.

And the developers who would pay the taxes are now balking… (more)

Will the Supervisors turned down hundreds of millions of  dollars from wealthy developers while asking the voters to take on an additional $500 ($850 with interest) million in debt?  The No on A and B crowd should appreciate this.

The downgrading of Muni bonds by the Fed can’t help much either.

More Workers Means The Worst Commute In Bay Area History

by Mike Sugerman : CBSlocal – excerpt

AN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— With more people working in the Bay Area than ever before, one of the biggest strains it’s having is the impact on traffic.

The commute to work and back seems to be getting worse every day and it’s not just on the freeways. KCBS’ Mike Sugerman started driving to work in 2011 after three decades of taking public transportation and he doesn’t like it.

It’s not just freeways either. The construction going on in San Francisco’s SoMa, where many of the people funneling into the city from the East and South Bay end up, is mucking up the works… (more)

Who do you blame for gridlock?
We blame the SFMTA. They put people in charge of traffic who hate cars and have vowed to make drivers miserable. It is up to the SF residents to vote against them by voting No on A and B (No more money without accountability) and Yes on L. Restore Transportation Balance. http://www.restorebalance14.org

 

Local: In The Mission In The Mission – Local News, Information, Events and Photos Harassment on MUNI and BART? Oh Yes

By Laura Wenus : sfgate – excerpt

BART and MUNI records of catcalling, groping, rape and other types of sexual harassment on stations and vehicles indicate that this public nuisance is rare. Only twelve incidents have been recorded in the past two years. BART’s numbers are even more impressive, with no incidents whatsoever in the Mission since 2012, and only 20 incidents in all of San Francisco.

Talk to women on the streets, however,  and it quickly becomes clear how misleading the official numbers are. In only 19 interviews, Mission Local turned up six victims of sexual harassment – half the official number reported in two years. Extrapolate out and it is likely that among the 700,000 boardings a day on Muni and 117,000 on BART, sexual harassment incidents number in the thousands.

A MUNI spokesperson said the SFMTA and SFPD work closely together to try to make transit as safe as possible. “Muni is an extension of San Francisco’s city streets,” she wrote. “The same care and attention one takes on the street should be taken on Muni as well.”

Except, on the street, women aren’t crushed up against men… (more)

Jersey City moves toward closing parking authority

AP : sfgate – excerpt

Jersey City is moving closer to realizing Mayor Steven Fulop’s goal of abolishing the city’s autonomous parking authority.

Fulop announced Friday that New Jersey’s Civil Service Commission has granted his request to have parking authority employees given civil service status.

The approval allows the city to move forward with its plan to abolish the authority and have its functions absorbed by other departments.

Fulop plans to present an ordinance to the City Council on Sept. 10.

The parking authority’s enforcement functions would come under the Department of Public Safety, while administrative functions would be handled by city staff who already perform these duties.

Fulop says the dissolution of the parking authority will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

(more)

There’s an idea on how to save Muni money. Abolish the SFMTA by repealing Prop E. What voters create they can dismantle.

Pelosi, Lee tout Central Subway as model economic development project

By sfexaminer – excerpt

The yearslong creation of the Central Subway is a prime example of how large infrastructure projects in cities can boost the economy, create local jobs and increase commerce in the U.S., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

Amid the roar of construction of Muni’s future Yerba Buena-Moscone station, Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Transportation Director Ed Reiskin touted The City as a key pillar of the Middle Class Jumpstart agenda launched by House Democrats last month to ensure “good-paying jobs” for workers nationwide… (more)

If incumbent Democrats claim that controversial projects like the Central Subway are a good way to generate jobs around the country they are in trouble.

They will have a hard time convincing transit riders faced with higher fees and cutbacks in Muni services and maintenance.

Forget counting on any further support from California motorists who are being gouged by higher fines, fees and an increase in the state gas tax, (unless a bill now running in Sacramento passes in time to save them).

Everyone who is trying to get anywhere on the jammed streets in San Francisco, LA, and elsewhere in California cities where local authorities have implemented restricted parking and traffic policies before establishing workable alternative transit systems.

The major benefactors of these projects are the land owners along the transit corridors who have all their building height limits lifted and the banks and bond holders.

And some of the young, fit, cyclists who demand more bike lanes but refuse to stay in the ones they have.

Transportation imbalance: City taxpayers support the Bicycle Coalition

A reader writes : district5diary – excerpt
A reader writes:

Rob,

City agencies collect tons of data that is available in many databases at http://data.sfgov.org. I’m experimenting with it for the first time today. Takes some time to understand how to search for data, gather, organize, and sort the information. Looks like other cities in the US are using this Open Data system to be transparent with residents.

You can look at various crime statistics, payments to vendors. Data is collected from 2007 on.

The Bicycle Coalition gets lots of money from Dept. of Public Health, the MTA, Neighborhood Development, and the PUC in the form of grants, continuing projects, operating costs.

The database on Vendor Payments lists all the money paid in vouchers to SFBC. Don’t know what the vouchers are for.

I added up how much was paid to SFBC for these fiscal years:

2007: $ 54,088
2008: $ 143,537
2009: $ 127,700
2010: $ 120,103
2011: $ 180,459
2012: $ 202,407
2013: $ 239,427
2014: $ 223,460
2015: $ 7,992

The fiscal year just started for 2015, and the SFBC is already on the payroll!

 

Rob’s comment: The city gives the Bicycle Coalition $49,000 every year to stage Bike to Work Day, and it even hires people from that special interest group: here, here, and here. And the city pays $188,000 a year for a police escort for Critical Mass.

 

Our comments: Taxpayers Subsidize the SF Bicycle Coalition. The Bicycle Coalition, along with other political action non-profit 501(c)4’s, sucks up bond money (voters approved to fix potholes and expand Muni services), and uses it to write anti-car legislation against drivers.
Related article describes one of the bills they passed.

City agencies hire SFBC to conduct studies that show the need for more bikes lanes and traffic calming. Then they design streets that remove parking and traffic lanes.

 

If you want to change the way things are going, vote NO ON A and YES ON L. If you really want to send a message to the city officials to let them no what you think, sign the Stop SFMTA petition.

RELATED:
California Has Officially Ditched Car-Centric ‘Level of Service’
California will no longer consider vehicle delay an “environmental impact.
Now, thanks to legislation passed last year and a yearlong effort by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), California will no longer consider “bad” LOS a problem that needs fixing under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) . This won’t just lead to good projects being approved more quickly and easily, but also to better mitigation measures for transportation impacts. – sfstretsblog

Arguments against MUNI infrastructure improvement bond

Letter to barbarycoastnews – excerpt

Arguments against MUNI infrastructure improvement bond

What does the ballot measure do:

Raises property taxes and rents (50% pass-through) to pay for General Obligation Bonds of $500 million, with $350 million in interest payments, for a total debt load of $850 million.

Funds “may be allocated” for transit and roads—carte blanche authority for unspecific projects.

If the Bond is rejected by voters, property taxes and rents would be reduced for everyone—not just for rich companies and the wealthy.

To read the Ordinance’s legal language is to oppose the Bond Measure.

http://www.sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/ElectionsArchives/Meeting_Information/BSC/agendas/2014/November/1-B%20Transportation%20Road%20Improvement%20GO.pdf

The Ordinance’s legal language makes no definitive commitment to any specific work:  “Projects to be funded under the proposed Bond may include but are not limited to the following: 

Then, for eight project types, all eight begin with:  “A portion of the Bond may be allocated to…” 

In financial decisions, never sign a contract when the terms and deliverables are ambiguous.

Throwing billions of dollars at bad Muni projects hasn’t worked... (more)

Are San Francisco voters likely to raise their property taxes and rents to pay for more Muni projects?