Don’t have faith in Prop. A funding direction

B : sfexaminer – excerpt

Randy Shaw, in a Sept. 11 op-ed piece in The San Francisco Examiner, lauds Proposition A, the $500 million Transportation and Road Improvement Bond that funds desperately needed public-transit infrastructure improvement. Shaw says while voters know how Prop. A funds will be spent, that is not the case with Proposition B.

I beg to differ. Shaw reveals the hidden agenda of Prop. B’s surreptitious $22 million transfer of funds from needed services, police, parks, street cleaning, homeless programs and mental health service, while the language of Prop. A reveals less of its hidden agenda. Prop. A will cost more ($500 million plus $350 million in interest) in the long run than Prop. B.

Prop. A should be called the faith-based proposition because it does not specifically say how the funds are to be spent or what part of the funds will be allocated to the number of specific measures outlined in the bond. For instance, instead of using the more legally binding language of shall or will, the bond language is riddled with maybes. Ironically, the only time the words shall is used is in Section 10, page 8 when it comes time to pay off the bond. Part of the language: “For the purpose of paying the principal and interest on the bonds, the Board shall, at the time of fixing the general levy … collect annually each year until such bonds are paid.”

Examples of past propositions indicate how important the word shall is. These are state propositions 116 (1990 $2 billion state rail bond), 1B (2006 $20 billion state transportation bond) and 1A (2008 the state high-speed rail bond), as well as San Francisco Prop. B (2011 road and street maintenance bond). All of these bond measure not only used the term “shall be allocated,” but also made specific fund or parentage allocations to well-defined projects or programs.

As Shaw says in relation to Prop. B, “Why should voters approve a ballot initiative that raids other city department to give [the] SFMTA more money?” Ditto for Prop. A. Why should homeowners and their tenants pay over a 30-year period for a vaguely worded measure where the money might be spent for other projects other than the listed ones in the proposition (the overbudget cost for the Central Subway could be one).

Denise D’Anne is an environmentalist and political activist on the board of San Francisco Tomorrow and San Francisco Gray Panthers as well as the president of the Dance Mission board... (more)

The Case Against Prop A

Prepared by Save Muni – savemuni.com

Proposition A, a $500 million General Obligation transportation bond issue, will be on
the November 4th San Francisco ballot. The cost of Prop A including interest
payments would exceed $1 billion. This huge bond measure should be rejected.
Here’s why:

It Imposes a Large Tax Burden on San Francisco
taxpayers: Prop. A could result in significant hikes of property taxes and rents.

It Provides No Effective Oversight: There is no indication
in the Prop A Ordinance of who would be running the program or who would be
assuring effective oversight. Neither management nor oversight is defined.

Weasel Words: Unlike most bond issues, Proposition A does not allocate
dollar amounts to identified projects. Instead, the measure lists every transportation
category imaginable and then tells us that the projects “may include but are not
limited to the following….”. This language gives the SFMTA a virtual blank check.

Has the SFMTA Earned such Trust?

crowdedMuni
Throwing billions of dollars at this agency hasn’t worked in the past. Why should
things be any better this time?
In 1999 Prop E called for the SFMTA to keep its buses and trains on schedule at least
85% of the time. Today’s compliance rate is 60.6%. Despite the SFMTA’s sky high
annual budget ($978 million in 2013), Muni service has deteriorated. Since 2006, the
SFMTA has eliminated or reduced cross-town runs, slashed neighborhood and night
time service, eliminated 7 bus lines, shortened 22 lines and deferred vehicle
maintenance. If Prop A passes, its “Transit Effectiveness Program” (TEP) would make
additional cuts to pay for new service in selected “high-use” corridors.

SFMTA’s Cost-Control System is in shambles:
This is nothing new. In 2011 the SF Supervisors’ CRG Report concluded that the
SFMTA has been historically unable to meet its capital budgets. The cost of the
Central Subway has already soared from $647 million in November, 2003, to $1.6
billion today. According to a courageous whistle-blower and the Fed’s Oversight
Consultant, the SFMTA’s cost control system remains in disarray and its Central
Subway is headed for a major, as yet undisclosed additional overrun.

Slapped Together by Amateurs: Prop A’s “plan” is not a plan
at all. Instead of putting the most important things first, Prop A’s promoters promise to
spread funds around in response to the clamor of assorted special interest and
benefiting groups. Virtually no attention has been paid to:

  • bringing Muni service and vehicle maintenance up to standard
  • dealing with SF’s anticipated growth and the resulting strains on Muni
  • easing the peak period crush in the Market Street subway
  • putting SFMTA’s financial house in order
  • proceeding based upon an integrated citywide transportation program

A Better Way: San Francisco should tackle its serious transportation
problems seriously. $500 million in new transportation capital, if allocated prudently
and spent effectively, could result in many significant improvements. Before
launching a huge new spending program, let’s get it right. Vote No on Prop A. Tell
City Government to get its priorities straight and come back with a plan that works.
For more information, see: http://noontransportationbond2014.com

Prepared  SaveMuni

Download flyer: http://sfenuf.net/Media/NoOnA.pdf