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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bus-ted: David Chiu Triggers Supes-Mayor Showdown Over Muni Budget

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Supervisor David Chiu gives Muni budget the whammy...
  • Supervisor David Chiu gives Muni budget the whammy...

Whatever David Chiu needs in life -- a faster bike, a more stylish helmet -- he doesn't require assertiveness training. The rookie supervisor and president of the board last month audaciously engineered a motion that would allow the supes to shoot down the Municpal Transportation Authority's budget. Yesterday, he audaciously carried it off -- and he notes that, yes, he has lined up the seven votes required to send MTA's budget back to the bus barn for tinkering.

The political ramifications here are obvious: In essence, Chiu and a majority of his colleagues have pulled a Twisted Sister on Mayor Twitter -- no, they're not gonna take it anymore.

Mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard's comments in the Chronicle today painted a doom and gloom scenario: "The supervisors are failing to grasp the big picture. ... If the board rejects the Muni budget, it will result in cuts to health and human services and public safety -- cuts that nobody wants."

Fair enough -- the millions of dollars other city departments have attempted to pillage from Muni via "work orders" will have to come from somewhere -- likely the general fund -- which is the scenario Ballard is foreshadowing. But the spokesman appears to be justifying the wholesale sacking of Muni's finances with the "Save the children, save the children!" defense.

Chiu earlier told SF Weekly -- and reiterated yesterday -- that the current budget was not acceptable because of the unholy trinity of increased fares, decreased service, and ballooning work orders allowing other departments to use Muni as a till. Yesterday he called it a "triple-whammy." In my family, we have a less polite expression: "You can't shit on my head and then tell me to wear it like a hat."

But, really, it's worse than that. Muni's budget not only shat upon our heads and then told us to wear it like a hat -- it demanded compensation for the hat. 

Gavin Newsom likely didn't make friends on the other side of the issue either when he was quoted yesterday as saying, "I hate the idea of raising fares. I don't want to cut Muni service. But I ask [critics], 'What ideas do you have that do not eviscerate public safety and health and human services?'"

Wow, really? Doesn't the mayor have David Chiu's cell number? Because while there's no magical solution that would solve all of Muni's woes -- and without getting into suffocating public transit details less enticing than the floor of the 38 Limited -- qualified transportation advocates have, for months and months, offered metric shitloads of suggestions more equitable than the solutions put forward in Muni's mortally wounded budget.

Unless Muni Chief Nat Ford can take up Chiu on his offer to retool the budget in the next week, the supes appear poised to shoot it down. Earlier this week, we pondered who would be thrown under the bus as a result of this looming showdown. It appears it was someone who has experience with bus casualties

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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