Divided board moves ahead with MUNI reforms
Supervisors Aaron Peskin (right) and Jake McGoldrick (left), each
had separate competing MUNI reform proposals heard at yesterday's
Board of Supervisors meeting. In a close vote, Supervisors leant
their support to Peskin's reform proposal, but not without contention
By Emmett Berg
July 25, 2007
A coalition led by Supervisor Aaron Peskin beat back challenges
on the Board of Supervisors yesterday to an omnibus charter amendment
seeking wide alterations to how the city Municipal Transportation
Agency operates in conjunction with elected lawmakers.
The proposed charter amendment is the largest transit overhaul
since the approval by voters in 1999 of Proposition E, which created
the San Francisco MTA.
"This charter amendment will allow Muni to move into the
21st century," Peskin said at yesterday's Board of Supervisors
Yet not all lawmakers showed immediate support. Board votes barely
fell short on at least five proposed changes to the Muni reform
plan supported by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Peskin. Two substitute
amendments lost by the slender margin of five votes in favor and
six supervisors against.
The Board of Supervisors next week faces a more consequential
vote on the suggested changes to Muni, reforms that would require
later ratification by city voters.
The changes include transfer to Muni some of the functions now
belonging to the city Department of Parking and Traffic, like
parking rates and fees. It would abolish the Taxi Commission and
fold those responsibilities into Muni. And it would remove from
future supervisors' agendas votes over placement of stop signs,
curb matters or traffic control measures.
Personnel changes would also take effect such as increasing the
number of employees serving at the pleasure of the executive director,
and enshrining performance bonuses that could upend in part the
seniority-based salary system unionized employees now work under.
The agency will spend about $668 million providing service this
The proposed charter amendment would increase by $26 million,
or double, the current yearly amount Muni takes in from parking
taxes. Executive Director Nat Ford said in the news conference
on Monday that the extra funds would be directed toward improving
Peskin, Mayor Gavin Newsom, MUNI Director Nathaniel Ford and labor
union leaders announced Monday they have reached agreement on
moving forward with Peskin's Muni reform package.
Finally the charter amendment would allow Muni for the first
time to float revenue bonds and raise cash to meet agency-specific
priorities. A half-cent portion of the city sales tax flows to
Muni and could be useful for raising even more money.
In a news conference on Monday the mayor was asked to defend
the plan against charges that it might be an abdication of elected
officials' responsibility, even for garden variety decisions over
"It's not a duck by any stretch," Newsom responded.
"It consolidates authority in a very transparent body."
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