Good riddance to Bay Area’s transportation czar

By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards : mercurynews – excerpt

Replacement for MTC’s Steve Heminger should bring vision for region’s transportation and housing

Steve Heminger, the executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, announced Wednesday that he will end an 18-year reign by retiring early next year…

The region’s freeways are gridlocked. Public transit systems are in disarray. Commute times continue to increase. Heminger touts his agency as “action-oriented and project-based,” but that has translated into piecemeal construction, pathetic planning and a lack of long-range vision. The agency merely hands out money for one politically popular project after another with little sense of where it will all lead.

Meanwhile, Heminger flew around the world on top-priced airline tickets at public expense; deceived the public and flouted the law to use bridge toll money to fund his badly overbudget quarter-billion dollar regional government building on prime downtown San Francisco real estate; and masterminded his agency’s hostile takeover of the staff of the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The Bay Area deserves better in what is arguably the most important job shaping the region’s transportation and housing. The time for a road project here, a rail extension there and tax increases wherever they can be found is over….

He’s leaving now. It’s time for the commissioners to step up, to show leadership — to make one of the Bay Area’s most critical government hires. For the sake of Bay Area residents and the region’s economy, they need to get it right… (more)