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Earlier this week, we encouraged you to attend Tuesday’s MTA “town hall” meeting to discuss Muni’s proposed fare hikes and service cuts, despite the fact that very few Muni officials attended an earlier meeting on the same topic.

Appeal commenters expressed skepticism that public comment from the meetings could actually influence decisions made by MTA officials regarding said cuts, with some going as far to say that the meetings were “entirely for show.”

Well, MTA official turnout was definitely better for Tuesday’s town hall meeting (which was not recorded by SFGTV, so we sadly cannot help you relive the moment). According to MTA spokesperson Judson True, True, MTA project manager Julie Kirschbaum (both of whom attended the Saturday meeting) and assorted colleagues (including senior
managers)” were there, as well as MTA board member Bruce Oka.

However, several attendees say that a MTA employee — described by one as a “tall, slender Asian man,” who was said by another to be “handing out the big ‘what’s going to be changed’ route charts as well as forms to sign up to speak”* — told one that “the decisions have already been made, this is just a chance for you to tell us what you think,” another that “we would be able to speak but that all decisions had already been made,” and a third that “and “all the decisions have been already, this is just your chance to vent.”

We emailed True yesterday afternoon, asking if these attendees had misunderstood this MTA employee — or, had all the decisions about what cuts/increases will be presented to the MTA board on their next meeting on February 16 already been made? He has not responded to our email.

*another reader identified the man as Board member Oka, but we’re relatively certain, from other descriptions we received, that the person in question was not Oka.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • John Murphy

    There are a lot of very smart people in this town. This cannot be so hard. It’s just sad. The smart people are all getting rich working for Google/Apple/etc… or they are getting rich abusing their position in Government.

    Sad.

  • John Murphy

    There are a lot of very smart people in this town. This cannot be so hard. It’s just sad. The smart people are all getting rich working for Google/Apple/etc… or they are getting rich abusing their position in Government.

    Sad.

  • Greg Dewar

    The MTA board has never cared. This is why I didn’t bother attending. While many heartfelt pleas and honest ideas were expressed, the MTA board and well paid management do not give a damn. They don’t ride Muni anyway, so why should they?

  • Greg Dewar

    The MTA board has never cared. This is why I didn’t bother attending. While many heartfelt pleas and honest ideas were expressed, the MTA board and well paid management do not give a damn. They don’t ride Muni anyway, so why should they?

  • kl2real

    SFMTA is not accountable to its riders, just as local, state and federal government is not accountable to the voters. They pay us lip service, giving us moments to vent, then do what they were going to do in the first place. It’s marginal democracy, at best. Orwell would be astonished by his accuracy in predicting the future.

  • kl2real

    SFMTA is not accountable to its riders, just as local, state and federal government is not accountable to the voters. They pay us lip service, giving us moments to vent, then do what they were going to do in the first place. It’s marginal democracy, at best. Orwell would be astonished by his accuracy in predicting the future.

  • Becca Klarin

    I remember speaking with this tall, suited up, slight, Asian dude last Saturday. He was hospitable, and as I recall, very thankful for the common man’s participation; that’s really all that I can contribute.

  • Becca Klarin

    I remember speaking with this tall, suited up, slight, Asian dude last Saturday. He was hospitable, and as I recall, very thankful for the common man’s participation; that’s really all that I can contribute.

  • Becca Klarin

    I’ve got to disagree with you there. We have the power to vote out elected officials. We do NOT have this same ability with Ford and the SFMTA brass (the directors are appointed by the mayor, yes?).

    On a separate note, has anyone thought of organizing a protest?

  • Becca Klarin

    I’ve got to disagree with you there. We have the power to vote out elected officials. We do NOT have this same ability with Ford and the SFMTA brass (the directors are appointed by the mayor, yes?).

    On a separate note, has anyone thought of organizing a protest?

  • John Murphy

    Forget organizing a protest. Organize a slate. Districts 2,4,6, and 10 are up for grabs. Roll 4 candidates into City Hall on a specific MUNI platform – including cancellation of the Central Subway.

    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_McGinn

  • John Murphy

    Forget organizing a protest. Organize a slate. Districts 2,4,6, and 10 are up for grabs. Roll 4 candidates into City Hall on a specific MUNI platform – including cancellation of the Central Subway.

    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_McGinn

  • Alex Zepeda

    A few points:

    • Judson True claimed that the board meeting scheduled for the 16th would not likely involve any action from the board. The negotiations with the TWU were to blame here. True predicted action would be taken in March.
    • Judson True explained that service cuts were the only proposals they were willing to entertain. Any action (such as reorganizing routes) that would require the approval of the Board of Supervisors was not being entertained.
    • While they handouts were reshuffled (seriously, how much time is wasted on reformatting the data?) the data presented on Tuesday were the same as the data presented on Saturday.

    Some opinion:

    I taped the Saturday meeting, and if I had known that they weren’t going to videotape the Tuesday meeting, I would have brought my tape recorder. Despite the presence of more MTA employees, I’d say that the Saturday meeting was of a higher caliber. Much of the audience on Tuesday were spouting off with unrelated (ex: propositions about state budget requirements) or unproductive (ex: TAX THE RICH), or knee-jerk (ex: OMG IF EVERYONE PAID FOR MUNI IT WE WOULD NOT HAVE A BUDGET MESS*) nonsense. Certainly the audience was more disruptive on Tuesday than on Saturday.

    I don’t know what falls under the Board of Supervisors’ jurisdiction, but things like stop reduction and metered hours were barely discussed on Tuesday, if at all.

    @Becca – a protest would be fantastic. I’d love to see a large number of MUNI riders (or, as someone put it on Saturday, victims) stormed next Tuesday’s board meeting. The SF Streetsblog has a post today about a MUNI riders’ union in the works. They’ve got a Google Group. Something to think about anyhow.

    * I sure hope someone brings a large copy of Matt Baume’s graphic explaining how little money is really lost with low farebox recovery. Or perhaps someone could chart how much it costs the MTA to maintain the fareboxes, turnstiles, and six figure salaries and benefits packages for the pop cops.

    P.S. Here’s a picture of Bruce Oka:

    http://www.hokubei.com/files/images/bruce_oka200x222.jpeg

  • Alex Zepeda

    A few points:

    • Judson True claimed that the board meeting scheduled for the 16th would not likely involve any action from the board. The negotiations with the TWU were to blame here. True predicted action would be taken in March.
    • Judson True explained that service cuts were the only proposals they were willing to entertain. Any action (such as reorganizing routes) that would require the approval of the Board of Supervisors was not being entertained.
    • While they handouts were reshuffled (seriously, how much time is wasted on reformatting the data?) the data presented on Tuesday were the same as the data presented on Saturday.

    Some opinion:

    I taped the Saturday meeting, and if I had known that they weren’t going to videotape the Tuesday meeting, I would have brought my tape recorder. Despite the presence of more MTA employees, I’d say that the Saturday meeting was of a higher caliber. Much of the audience on Tuesday were spouting off with unrelated (ex: propositions about state budget requirements) or unproductive (ex: TAX THE RICH), or knee-jerk (ex: OMG IF EVERYONE PAID FOR MUNI IT WE WOULD NOT HAVE A BUDGET MESS*) nonsense. Certainly the audience was more disruptive on Tuesday than on Saturday.

    I don’t know what falls under the Board of Supervisors’ jurisdiction, but things like stop reduction and metered hours were barely discussed on Tuesday, if at all.

    @Becca – a protest would be fantastic. I’d love to see a large number of MUNI riders (or, as someone put it on Saturday, victims) stormed next Tuesday’s board meeting. The SF Streetsblog has a post today about a MUNI riders’ union in the works. They’ve got a Google Group. Something to think about anyhow.

    * I sure hope someone brings a large copy of Matt Baume’s graphic explaining how little money is really lost with low farebox recovery. Or perhaps someone could chart how much it costs the MTA to maintain the fareboxes, turnstiles, and six figure salaries and benefits packages for the pop cops.

    P.S. Here’s a picture of Bruce Oka:

    http://www.hokubei.com/files/images/bruce_oka200x222.jpeg

  • Alex Zepeda

    Good luck with that John. D4, at least, is screwed as long as we have IRV. The Chinese form the largest voting bloc out here and they love love love Ms. Chu. Being Chinese and speaking Cantonese were the two things that got Ed Jew elected despite having no ties whatsoever to the Outer Sunset or Parkside.

    Ms. Chu is, of course, a staunch supporter of Newsom’s policies, the central subway, and cars over pedestrians/public transit.

    You might have some luck with D6, given that the islanders are going to be pretty pissed off when the MTA strands them on the island.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Good luck with that John. D4, at least, is screwed as long as we have IRV. The Chinese form the largest voting bloc out here and they love love love Ms. Chu. Being Chinese and speaking Cantonese were the two things that got Ed Jew elected despite having no ties whatsoever to the Outer Sunset or Parkside.

    Ms. Chu is, of course, a staunch supporter of Newsom’s policies, the central subway, and cars over pedestrians/public transit.

    You might have some luck with D6, given that the islanders are going to be pretty pissed off when the MTA strands them on the island.

  • John Murphy

    Clearly I am not referring to Ron Dudum when referring to D4. There is probably another Cantonese speaker in the Sunset, who gives a shit about MUNI.

    D10 has a zillion people running from what I saw, but I do know this – there are a lot of transit dependent folk in D10 and they were pissed off at how the T was handled – and they lost service in the first round of cuts.

  • John Murphy

    Clearly I am not referring to Ron Dudum when referring to D4. There is probably another Cantonese speaker in the Sunset, who gives a shit about MUNI.

    D10 has a zillion people running from what I saw, but I do know this – there are a lot of transit dependent folk in D10 and they were pissed off at how the T was handled – and they lost service in the first round of cuts.

  • kl2real

    Good luck with that. There’s a sit-in at City College tonight, as long as you think you can change things.

    You gotta give it to Muni, though. Balancing the budget on the backs of senior citizens and the disabled ensures that the majority of riders won’t care enough to join any protests. It’s just reality. I’m not applauding it. I actually think the whole thing is appalling.

  • kl2real

    Good luck with that. There’s a sit-in at City College tonight, as long as you think you can change things.

    You gotta give it to Muni, though. Balancing the budget on the backs of senior citizens and the disabled ensures that the majority of riders won’t care enough to join any protests. It’s just reality. I’m not applauding it. I actually think the whole thing is appalling.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Balancing the budget on the backs of seniors and disabled? Seriously? They’re raising the cost of the senior and disabled passes to the cost of the LOW INCOME pass.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Balancing the budget on the backs of seniors and disabled? Seriously? They’re raising the cost of the senior and disabled passes to the cost of the LOW INCOME pass.

  • kl2real

    They’re doubling the price for seniors and disabled. For them, that’s a severe hit. That was the point of my remark. Since they’re not raising the price for the general public (this time), it’s not going to upset people enough to garner any real protests. Even if it did, the decision’s been made. It’s not right, but it is what it is.

    They’ll probably raise the standard fare to $2.50 to balance next year’s budget. They’ve probably already made that decision, too.

  • kl2real

    They’re doubling the price for seniors and disabled. For them, that’s a severe hit. That was the point of my remark. Since they’re not raising the price for the general public (this time), it’s not going to upset people enough to garner any real protests. Even if it did, the decision’s been made. It’s not right, but it is what it is.

    They’ll probably raise the standard fare to $2.50 to balance next year’s budget. They’ve probably already made that decision, too.

  • DT

    These are all simply shows.

    I went to one a couple of years ago at the Hall of Flowers. Every recommendation I made and stated were previous MUNI practices were met with a “not possible” response.

    Time to outsource the entire mess; the last good year on MUNI was 1967.

    Any takers on when their new insurance policy will be cancelled by the carrier given yesterday’s two pedestrian incidents?

    Has anyone noticed that the Daily MUNI reports are not uploaded daily for about a week before each Board meeting? This started about the middle of December 2009.

  • DT

    These are all simply shows.

    I went to one a couple of years ago at the Hall of Flowers. Every recommendation I made and stated were previous MUNI practices were met with a “not possible” response.

    Time to outsource the entire mess; the last good year on MUNI was 1967.

    Any takers on when their new insurance policy will be cancelled by the carrier given yesterday’s two pedestrian incidents?

    Has anyone noticed that the Daily MUNI reports are not uploaded daily for about a week before each Board meeting? This started about the middle of December 2009.

  • Greg Dewar

    One thing: I’m going to be issuing a Candidate Questionnaire to ALL candidates for Supervisors this year, and unlike other groups’ questionnaires, it will be something that is easy for the public to understand, asks clear and specific questions, and gives candidates the chance to prove they’re really all about the easy to say rhetoric about Muni.

    Once this happens, I’ll publish them all at a separate website where people can read

  • Greg Dewar

    One thing: I’m going to be issuing a Candidate Questionnaire to ALL candidates for Supervisors this year, and unlike other groups’ questionnaires, it will be something that is easy for the public to understand, asks clear and specific questions, and gives candidates the chance to prove they’re really all about the easy to say rhetoric about Muni.

    Once this happens, I’ll publish them all at a separate website where people can read

  • Sue

    There are several ad hoc groups that are now coming together to organize Muni rallies, summits, and members of the general public to testify at the hearings. Everyone is invited to join the Facebook group that I have created, Muni First! (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=255388633423&ref=ts). And you’re invited to invite your Facebook friends to join also — there is power in numbers. I try to maintain up-to-date links on Muni news on this Facebook page — and to keep you all informed about other Muni goings on.

    In addition, the revived Transit Not Traffic Coalition, from the 2007 effort to defeat Proposition H and pass the more dubious Proposition A (it’s now giving us some headaches, but it had an H-killing paragraph in it, had H passed), has created a Google group: Muniriders@googlegroups.com. Everyone is encouraged to join that also.

    Here is the list of upcoming SFMTA meetings and town hall events (and lending credibility to the rumor that the town halls are shams, I’ll note that at the town hall meeting on Tuesday night, the only MTA director who was present was Bruce Oka; the mayor and his other appointees to the Board of Directors were not there. Nor was Executive Director Nat Ford):

    SFMTA Board Meeting, City Hall Room 400
    Friday, Feb. 26 – 9 a.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)

    Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Focus Town Hall Meetings…, One South Van Ness Ave. @ Market St. , 2nd Floor Atrium
    Wednesday, March 10 – 6 p.m.
    Saturday, March 20 – 10 a.m.

    SFMTA Board Meetings, City Hall Room 400
    Tuesday, March 2 — 2 p.m.
    (Tuesday, March 16 — NO MEETING)
    Tuesday, March 30 – 2 p.m.
    Tuesday, April 6 – 2 p.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)
    Tuesday, April 20 – 2 p.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)

    If you cannot attend one of the meetings, visit http://www.sfmta.com for details or send an e-mail to sfmtabudget@sfmta.com. You can also email the SFMTA Board of Directors at MTABoard@sfmta.com and the mayor at gavin.newsom@sfgov.org. You can also call the mayor at (415) 554-6141.

  • Sue

    There are several ad hoc groups that are now coming together to organize Muni rallies, summits, and members of the general public to testify at the hearings. Everyone is invited to join the Facebook group that I have created, Muni First! (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=255388633423&ref=ts). And you’re invited to invite your Facebook friends to join also — there is power in numbers. I try to maintain up-to-date links on Muni news on this Facebook page — and to keep you all informed about other Muni goings on.

    In addition, the revived Transit Not Traffic Coalition, from the 2007 effort to defeat Proposition H and pass the more dubious Proposition A (it’s now giving us some headaches, but it had an H-killing paragraph in it, had H passed), has created a Google group: Muniriders@googlegroups.com. Everyone is encouraged to join that also.

    Here is the list of upcoming SFMTA meetings and town hall events (and lending credibility to the rumor that the town halls are shams, I’ll note that at the town hall meeting on Tuesday night, the only MTA director who was present was Bruce Oka; the mayor and his other appointees to the Board of Directors were not there. Nor was Executive Director Nat Ford):

    SFMTA Board Meeting, City Hall Room 400
    Friday, Feb. 26 – 9 a.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)

    Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Focus Town Hall Meetings…, One South Van Ness Ave. @ Market St. , 2nd Floor Atrium
    Wednesday, March 10 – 6 p.m.
    Saturday, March 20 – 10 a.m.

    SFMTA Board Meetings, City Hall Room 400
    Tuesday, March 2 — 2 p.m.
    (Tuesday, March 16 — NO MEETING)
    Tuesday, March 30 – 2 p.m.
    Tuesday, April 6 – 2 p.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)
    Tuesday, April 20 – 2 p.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)

    If you cannot attend one of the meetings, visit http://www.sfmta.com for details or send an e-mail to sfmtabudget@sfmta.com. You can also email the SFMTA Board of Directors at MTABoard@sfmta.com and the mayor at gavin.newsom@sfgov.org. You can also call the mayor at (415) 554-6141.

  • BigMacAttack

    The same thing happened when the T-line was rolled out and the 15 bus line was eliminated. Most residents had minimal notice (about 1 month) that the line would disappear. They found out through the “Muni Alert” signs posted at bus stops. All those community meetings, etc. were all for show. If people complained, their complaints fell on deaf ears. It’s how Muni rolls.

    I know who the MTA employee is, I hope he is not fired for being candid with the public.

  • BigMacAttack

    The same thing happened when the T-line was rolled out and the 15 bus line was eliminated. Most residents had minimal notice (about 1 month) that the line would disappear. They found out through the “Muni Alert” signs posted at bus stops. All those community meetings, etc. were all for show. If people complained, their complaints fell on deaf ears. It’s how Muni rolls.

    I know who the MTA employee is, I hope he is not fired for being candid with the public.

  • supertamsf

    From SFMTA website:

    “The severe economic downturn that began in the fall of 2008, combined with longstanding budget problems at the state level, has reduced the resources available to provide transportation services including Muni.”

    The economic downturn has not effected Nat Fords salary, however.

  • supertamsf

    From SFMTA website:

    “The severe economic downturn that began in the fall of 2008, combined with longstanding budget problems at the state level, has reduced the resources available to provide transportation services including Muni.”

    The economic downturn has not effected Nat Fords salary, however.