When we posited the idea of Muni adopting a revenue-generating mascot, Katz was receptive. "What I would say is 'sure.' We're always open to anything that'd increase the profile of animals and the need to adopt shelter animals," she said. "We would consider it, yeah. If it encourages the need of animals to be adopted and encourages people to ride Muni, it seems like a win-win to me."
In fact, adopting out a cat to a San Francisco city department is hardly a new idea. Katz' predecessor, Carl Friedman, notes that the city's Central Shops -- which repair municipal vehicles -- adopted a kitty years ago. Naturally, they named him Shops. "He's going on 16 or 17 and they love, love, love him," says Friedman, who ran ACC from 1989 until January. "He's got a good life.I think [a Muni cat] would be a great idea."
When we made our pitch to Muni spokesman Judson True, however, he was far less enthusiastic.
"Every idea that seems like a revenue generator isn't necessarily one," he said. "Sometimes there are hidden costs."
Say what? This is a feline, not a fare inspection program. What are the hidden costs of cat ownership that would be so prohibitive to an agency with a budget approaching $800 million?
"There's administration," notes True. "Someone has to help with the mascot. You've got to pay for food, you know."
Heh. Not if it dines on rodents living in Muni stations. But if the fraternity boys across the street from my college apartment could take care of a German Shepherd, I think Muni could handle a cat.
A cat, by the way, also does something we only wish Muni vehicles could do: It constantly cleans itself.