Sunday, February 20, 2011

MUNI Chief May Leave... Good Riddance

So San Francisco's Muni head may be getting a new job. Reports are that he is in the running to take over the Washington D.C. airport authority.

Guess what? Let him.

Let him go under-perform somewhere else. Let him go mess up and overspend in another locality.

Above all, let him go so that we can try someone new in the position. Someone who might have the gumption to stand up to the unions without the rest of the city having to get involved. He's been inadequate since he started in 2006.

Under his watch, he failed to take the steps necessary to bring Muni into compliance with its mandated targets. He failed to keep service from being cut. He failed to make sure the fares got collected.

In short, he has failed.

However, and I'm sure that some out there want to, if you want to look at his accomplishments, he brought the city together. That happens when you increase fares twice in five years. That happens when you slash service across the board because he and his staff could not get it together to do more than "limp along." And he succeeded in bringing down the approval of Muni to its lowest levels since 2000.

A list any bureaucrat would be proud to brag about, I'm sure.

But his proudest accomplishment, I am sure, is ending the program that cracked down on fare cheats. Apparently, Mr. Ford agreed with special interest groups who complained that being forced to pay the fare was "classist" and "racist".

If I had the power, he would have been out of a job the first time the system had to cut service to the people of San Francisco. Let's hope the Washington D.C. airport people are as snowed by his resume as the SFMTA has been. Unfortunately for us, the Washington transit people weren't, otherwise he'd have been gone by now.

With Mr. Ford hopefully going, things need to change at Muni. First off, the Muni employees need to be brought back to reality and that means the next contract needs to bring their salaries in line with the economic realities, not the fantasies of the union heads. Second, the $315,000 salary for the head of Muni needs to go. If it stays, it has to be conditioned on performance. We are letting our City's department heads fail with no repercussions. That needs to change. Muni is the poster child for San Francisco's failure right now (though wait a week and I'm sure that will change).  It needs to be rehabilitated, from top to bottom.

We want to be a transit first city? Fine. Then we have to have a transit system that makes that goal. Right now, its not. That must change.

1 comment:

Leonardo said...

Unfortunately SF Muni is not alone in their efforts to balance their budgets. I believe most municipalities face similar dilemmas including our local transit system. There is insufficient state and federal funding available to sustain the present system. The San Luis Obispo RTA has also raised fares and is considering terminating Sunday service and reducing service, by one hour on Saturday. It seems to me, most cuts on the federal and local level are aimed at the poor, the people that depend on federal and local governments to exist. What a sad state of affairs; the rich get richer and fuck the have not’s!