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Barbara Taylor
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City Hall by the numbers


By Barbara Taylor


March 1, 2006

City Hall is a world chock full of numbers, with statistics the longest running cliché in city government. And so it went this past week.

MUNI conducted a "moment in time" sting operation and revealed to a Supervisors' Committee that between 53 and 73 percent of Metro riders are blatantly evading the fares at downtown subway stations.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin calls it "voodoo economics" and suggests Muni is cooking the books to generate support to hire 50 new inspectors to ferret out cheaters.

Mayor Newsom, on the other hand, is shocked and concerned saying that...yep...those numbers demonstrate why more inspectors are needed.

Holy Cow!!! What's going on here? How can there be so many fare frauds? Should we call Ripley's Believe it or Not? The Guinness Book of World Records? Do we need a gang of vigilante MUNI police to protect our tax dollars from MUNI scofflaws? Does the Mayor really believe that most Metro riders are jumping turnstiles or is he a deep undercover operative in a MUNI "full employment" conspiracy plot?

Whether the numbers are true or false, our local comedian, Supervisor Tom Ammiano wasn't joking when he said, "this is no way to run a railroad."

If you think those MUNI statistics are over the top, consider this: With great fanfare Mayor Newsom has announced that San Francisco's film business, long relegated to the back lot, increased a staggering 500 percent since 2002, especially baffling since there's no visual evidence around town that San Francisco has suddenly become the film capital of the West.

Newsom came up with that astonishing number by comparing a single statistic: the 20 location filming days in San Francisco in 2002 to the 133 location filming days in 2005. It seems that after a two-year drought, three films found there way here last year, Rent, Pursuit of Happiness and Zodiac. And that's good. But it's not the whole picture, in Technicolor or black and white.

What the Mayor conveniently didn't mention until I posed the question is that no movies are scheduled to film here this year, at least not at this point. So does that mean that next year at this time Mayor Newsom could be calling a news conference to announce that film business has plummeted 500 percent?

Don't hold your breath. In Room 200, political spin turns in only one direction.

But the real numbers news this past week was the sudden up tick in the Mayor's love life. Reported both here in the Sentinel and in the Chronicle, it seems that Newsom, after a long dry spell in the romance department, has locked arms.... and possibly other body parts... with the super gorgeous Sofia Milos of CSI Miami (who bears a downright scary resemblance to Newsom's estranged wife Kimberly).

Newsom eyes Sophia Milos at the wedding reception of Joe Alioto-Veronese
and Julie Gilman, 2/19/6

The two met at the recent wedding of Police Commissioner Joe Veronese, son of former Supervisor Angela Alioto, and it seems this past weekend Newsom flew off to Hollywood, the real film capitol of the West, to spend a couple days with the Italian beauty at the super trendy Chateau Marmont Hotel.

Given the sorry state of Newsom's personal life in the past year and considering the way he crunches numbers, that could mean a 1000 percent increase in his sex life.

Finally, a statistic worth reporting.

Barbara Taylor is a senior political analyst reporting live from City Hall.




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