Saturday, October 25, 2014

"The battle will go on for the rest of our lives" 3

This is his jihad

As a great American once said, "War is the health of the state." But so are epidemics, natural disasters and terrorism, all of which will continue indefinitely into the future. We can only expect to live in a more or less constant state of emergency from now on, which is why liberals whining about NSA surveillance is futile. It's here to stay, and there will also be more cameras recording our public life. There's no longer any reason to think that you have any privacy, public or private, in a world that's in a constant state of emergency.

What should be evident to all by now: Our social arrangements are very fragile. One man with a gun can shut down the government of a major city in Canada.

It's pathetic to hear news readers on TV reciting the same old bullshit after another violent attack by an adherent of "the religion of peace," as if whether the lunatic had ties to jihadist groups here or overseas is at all relevant. Or whether such violence is really "Islamic"or not. The fact is that the terrorists themselves think it is, which is the reality we have to deal with, not sorting out quotations from the Koran or other Moslem holy books.

Alternet provides a good example of the latter foolishness: this article cites some ugly stuff from the Bible, the smug conclusion we're supposed to draw is that all religions have some violent passages in their holy books and Islam is no different than the others. That ignores the reality we are now seeing in the news almost every day: Only Moslems are acting on the violence in their scriptures, not adherents of other religions.

Nor is "lone jihad" like the incidents in Canada or the ax-wielding maniac in New York a new thing: see this, which was published just after the Boston bombing. And this and this.

A Chronicle editorial after the Boston bombing claimed that "It's very important for all of us to remember that incidents like this are incredibly rare." That was untrue then, and it's obviously even less true today.

Five years ago the late, great Christopher Hitchens told us what to expect:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims.

The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste...(emphasis added)

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

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A critique of the city's Transportation Task Force Report

Meter Madness sends this from the Pacific Research Institute:

The Pacific Research Institute released a brief reviewing San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Transportation Task Force Report: 2030. The brief is a supplement to PRI’s earlier study “Plan Bay Area Evaluation” (June 2013), which critiqued the plan developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Both the brief and the study were authored by Wendell Cox, a PRI fellow and consultant on public policy, planning, and transportation issues...

Mr. Cox believes that the plan gives little or no attention to the potential for increasing truck and automobile congestion on the city’s streets: “Street improvement programs will give greater priority to transit, cycling, and walking, and will have a necessary effect of slowing general vehicle travel. Similarly, the implementation of additional exclusive bus lanes and taking of capacity from streets for cycle lanes would likely have the same effect. Traffic congestion retards the productivity of the city by increasing travel times, increasing business costs, higher air pollution, and greater greenhouse gas emissions as vehicles are less fuel efficient at slower speeds and in ‘stop’ and ‘go’ conditions.”

In addition, Mr. Cox believes that escalating costs will also present difficulties:

1) Most of the costs of the 2030 transportation plan are for capital improvements. In the public sector, capital improvements are inherently susceptible to substantial cost overruns.

2) The Task Force Report indicates little or no commitment to cost effectiveness. Muni’s costs over the last 15 years have risen far more than inflation. This occurs because there is no competitive influence to keep transit costs under control...

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Supervisor Breed: Wrong again 2

Supervisor Breed is wrong on every important issue facing San Francisco. She maintains that dismal record with the Examiner op-ed (Golden Gate Park fields for kids from all neighborhoods) she and Supervisor Cohen wrote in support of artificial turf in Golden Gate Park (She also supports allowing homeless people to live in the park).

Proposition H is supposedly all about providing the "kids" with fields to play on, but Breed and Cohen don't mention the growing realization that artificial turf is toxic to children, as this NBC report recently found:

After supporters of Prop. H gathered enough signatures to get it on the ballot, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Lee put Proposition I on the ballot, a poison pill that will override Prop. H if it gets more votes.

According to Breed and Cohen, it's all about the kids---neither Breed nor Cohen have any children---but the city also wants to install lights on the Chalet soccer fields so that adults can play until 10:00 at night.

Both Breed and Cohen were elected under the city's baroque ranked choice voting system that dumbs down election campaigns and needlessly complicates voting, another "progressive" policy failure in San Francisco.

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Malia Cohen’s $25 Million flip-flop

Tony Kelly sends this:

As you can clearly see in the video, Malia says one thing and then turns around and does the complete opposite.

First, Malia Cohen said “we should go after the back taxes” owed by Airbnb. However, it wasn’t long before she flip-flopped and voted a second time to give Airbnb a $25 million tax giveaway during the Oct. 21 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Malia had a chance to stand up and be a leader; however, this was the second time she voted against holding Airbnb accountable for the $25 million it owed in back taxes. If nothing else, this is a clear indication of whose side she’s really, and it’s certainly not ours. 

While I’m deeply disappointed in Supervisor Cohen’s decision to not stand by her own words, I can’t say I’m surprised. According to her own campaign contribution filings, she has accepted nearly $100,000 in contributions from corporate lobbyists, developers and real estate interests. Even worse, 80% of these contributions came from sources outside District 10.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quentin Kopp: Vote No on Proposition A

Proposition A will allow City Hall and Muni to spend $525 million on whatever they want, including "improvements" to city streets, like bike lanes for the most obnoxious special interest group in the city. From SFGate:

By Quentin L. Kopp

Would you hand a signed $1.1 billion check to someone you don’t know for spending on unspecified items? Neither would I, but City Hall wants you to do so on Proposition A, a proposed general obligation bond that will cost property owners and tenants more than $500 million in interest alone.

It’s scandalous in its arrogant disregard of voters and taxpayers. It admits there is “no commitment to specific projects” in this borrowing, which with interest over 30 years of approximately $525 million will cost San Francisco taxpayers and tenants more than $1 billion to repay.

It identifies no dedicated projects for which bond proceeds will pay. It uses vague language: “a portion may be allocated to constructing improvements, such as those identified in the Transit Effectiveness Project.” What’s that?

“A portion...may be allocated to fund the city’s share of needed improvements to Caltrain’s infrastructure.” Caltrain chiefly serves Peninsula residents. It states: “A portion...may be allocated to deliver safety improvements at locations throughout the city.” What locations?

It generalizes that some bond proceeds “may be allocated to more effectively manage traffic congestion in the city.” How?

Prop. A could waste millions to cure the multimillion-dollar cost overrun on the Central Subway Project. San Franciscans battle inequality. Corporate executives and suburban techies won’t repay Prop. A debt. San Francisco residents will.

Make City Hall return with explicit projects and costs, so voters can intelligently decide, not just guess and spend.

Reject Prop. A.

Retired San Mateo Superior Court Judge Quentin L. Kopp is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a former state senator.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Managed" parking by Serco coming to your neighborhood

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The Bay Guardian and the failure of the left

In a postmortem on the Bay Guardian's death, the Chronicle quotes former supervisor Chris Daly:

In what Daly called “the biggest fumble in the history of progressive politics in San Francisco,” the board[of supervisors] elected Lee, the administrator who then proceeded to break his promise not to run for a four-year term. Lee’s focus has been on job creation and tech promotion and less on issues paramount to the progressives: homelessness, tenant protections and the environment.

Chris Daly is wrong. The biggest progressive political fumble---maybe the biggest political fumble in city history---happened more than ten years ago, and it was on homeless policy. Daly was complicit in that failure, since he was one of the loudest opponents of Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash, passed by city voters in 2002. Daly and other city progressives compounded that failure by continuing that opposition long after Newsom's homeless policies were showing some success.

After getting Care Not Cash on the ballot and passed by city voters in 2002, Newsom ran a successful campaign for mayor that featured the homeless issue. His opponent in 2003, was Matt Gonzalez who blathered about the "root cause" of homelessness, which was apparently our wicked capitalist system. From a letter to the editor to the Chronicle I wrote after Newsom was elected mayor in November, 2003:

If, as Matt Gonzalez claims, the campaign for mayor is an “ideological battle,” he and progressives have already lost. A majority of city voters have made it clear they want something done about homelessness and the squalor on our streets. Progressive ideology, on the other hand, evidently involves the tacit assumption that homelessness is something we have to live with under our wicked capitalist system, which is apparently why Gonzalez has offered nothing substantive to counter Gavin Newsom’s proposals to deal with the problem.

Newsom understood that people in the city wanted something done to deal with a growing homeless problem on city streets. I was here and was dismayed at the squalor on city streets and in city parks when I returned to the city in 1995. As a lefty myself, I was shocked that the Bay Guardian left had no serious policy proposals to deal with the issue, which I wrote about in the Anderson Valley Advertiser and in letters to the editor here in the city.

It's apparently a myth deeply embedded in the Chronicle that homelessness has been and still is a serious concern of city progressives. C.W. Nevius repeated the myth several years ago:

San Francisco has a huge problem with getting people into housing. But not in the way you think. The homeless guy living under the freeway underpass? We know about him. The city, prompted by an outcry from the progressive community, has taken steps to get that person---the extremely poor, unemployed, impoverished homeless camper---into some kind of housing.

City progs were even seriously annoyed when Angela Alioto accepted Mayor Newsom's appointment to chair the Ten Year Council to come up with a new city policy on homelessness, which it duly did in its report. When Alioto and members of the council presented their final report to Mayor Newsom in June, 2004, not a single progressive city politician or leader was there.

After that, and when Newsom's policies began showing signs of progress in dealing with homelessness, the Guardian rarely wrote about the issue, except to snipe at the mayor.

Over the last ten years, I've written about all the other policy failures at the Bay Guardian. The notion that the Guardian has been fighting the good fight to make the city a better place is simply untrue. Instead its been wrong on so many issues it's been hard to keep track of them all, though I tried to do a scorecard a few years ago.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Women in Afghanistan under Islam

Thanks to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Muni's fatuous "Peace Campaign"

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, which is what I thought City Hall would do now that Pamela Geller is running another anti-jihad ad on our Muni buses.

Alas, the Big Thinkers in the MTA couldn't leave well enough alone. But this time, instead of press conferences and dumb resolutions by the Board of Dhimmis, the MTA is bringing us a lame, juvenile "Peace Campaignfrom its "creative shop," which the agency was "excited" to announce on its blog (below in italics): "We feel the best response to offensive speech is more speech." Yes, but if "more speech" is dumb, it's not an effective response. If you can't do any better than this, it's best to say nothing.

The framed quotations---with the MTA's logo in the corner!---from Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Mark Twain are supposed to be high-minded thoughts expressing "San Francisco values."

While Maya Angelou talked about love, she supported cop-killer, Mumi Abu-Jamal.

Nelson Mandela talked about freedom, but he also praised Fidel Castro, not known for respecting human rights: "There’s one place where [Fidel Castro’s] Cuba stands out head and shoulders above the rest---that is in its love for human rights and liberty!”

When Mandela was criticized for saying stuff like that, he played the race card:

Mandela faced similar criticism from the West for his personal friendships with Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi. Castro visited in 1998, to widespread popular acclaim, and Mandela met Gaddafi in Libya to award him the Order of Good Hope. When Western governments and media criticised these visits, Mandela lambasted such criticism as having racist undertones.

Mark Twain may have been treated well in San Francisco, but he had a low opinion of life in the Middle East:

How they hate a Christian in Damascus!---and pretty much all over Turkeydom as well....It hurts my vanity to see these pagans refuse to eat of food that has been cooked for us; or to eat from a dish we have eaten from; or to drink from a goatskin which we have polluted with our Christian lips, except by filtering the water through a rag which they put over the mouth of it or through a sponge!...Abdul Aziz, absolute lord of the Ottoman Empire...the representative of a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious---and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood (The Innocents Abroad, 1869).

We can only hope they don't cover bus windows with this drivel like they do with a lot of their ads. But, like the ads obstructing our views of the city, the Peace Campaign qualifies as another insult to the intelligence of the people of San Francisco.

Peace, Love, Acceptance & Respect—San Francisco Values

We are excited to be sharing with you one of the best campaigns to come out of our creative shop. These ads make up what we call our “Peace Campaign.”

They may look familiar to you. We created them last year in response to anti-Islam ads that have been making an appearance around the U.S. and in our fair city for the last several years. Our Peace Campaign ads highlight the San Francisco values that we appreciate most: peace, love, acceptance and respect; they also include several stirring quotes that illustrate these cherished values.

Starting tonight, a new ad that is likely to be objectionable to many will once again be making an appearance on Muni. And, the Peace Campaign will run again this year as our response.

Why run ads that are likely to be offensive in the first place? Most ads on Muni are innocuous or even informative. Advertising contracts on Muni vehicles and transit shelters provide an important funding source for the system—to the tune of more than $19 million this year alone. We have an advertising policy that preserves our transit vehicles as a limited public forum, and that governs what ads can be placed by the third parties that handle the advertising for Muni.

The SFMTA certainly doesn’t endorse the content of the anti-Islam ads, or any of our ads. The First Amendment limits the agency’s ability to run ads with messages that we approve, while excluding messages that we find offensive. We feel the best response to offensive speech is more speech. That was the genesis of the Peace Campaign and why we will run it again this year.

The Peace Campaign will be running on and in Muni buses through the end of the year. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Peace! Paix! शांति! Paz! سلام! 和平! שלום! Мир!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pamela Geller is at it again!

Pamela Geller is at it again with ads on Muni buses, using that darn First Amendment loophole that allows people to say things that upset right-thinking liberals.

There's an op-ed in the Chronicle this morning on the subject: Decry Muni bus ads on Islam

Thursday, advertisements appeared on San Francisco Muni buses depicting Islam as evil and claiming that devout followers of the faith are bound to be violent. This proclamation is utterly false and an attempt to manipulate the public with Islamophobic vitriol to address the very serious threat posed by the Islamic State group.

Simply untrue, as you can see by the illustration above. It only depicts an increasingly common occurrence in the US and Europe: the radicalization of a moderate Muslim into a terrorist. There's nothing about Islam being evil and nothing about the Islamic State, aka "Krakpotistan."

Are City Hall and Muni going to play into Geller's hands by going into a full multicultural dither like they did two years ago? Okay with me, since it will just give me another chance to mock them. See also this and this. Or are they going to sensibly ignore the ads, which are really no more than an expression of the diversity that they usually like to blather and congratulate themselves about. 

Is there going to be another phony promise of a study of discrimination against Moslems in the Bay Area by the Human Rights Commission? Where's the study we were promised last time?

While we're on the subject of Islam and crackpots, this morning's Chronicle has another indication that the folks who put out the paper don't read it. On page A-3 of the hard copy, readers were no doubt relieved to see this head on a story: Pakistani Christian woman's death sentence is rejected. Maybe C.W. Nevius wrote the head, but the story actually said the opposite, that the appeal of her death sentence for blasphemy was rejected by the court. I guess moderate Islam hasn't arrived yet in Pakistan's legal system. The Chronicle fixed the head in the online version: Pakistani Christian woman’s appeal of death sentence is rejected.

The Chronicle also garbled the opening paragraph in Chip Johnson's column this morning:

The only visible opponents of the soda tax measures in BerkelSubscription scam hits Chronicle,other newspapers  ey and San Francisco are none other than the soda-pop makers themselves.

They fixed that too in the online edition.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Chronicle endorses Thea Selby

Unlike Rizzo, Thea Selby has never been elected to anything, though she ran an unsuccessful happy-talk campaign for the Board of Supervisors two years ago.

Earlier this year, Selby clambered aboard the Train to Nowhere when she was appointed to the board of directors of the High Speed Rail boondoggle.

Selby has now been endorsed by the Chronicle for a seat on the City College's board of trustees:

Selby, a small-business owner, has won backing from moderate groups that signal she will be an independent. She’s a quick study, expanding her expertise from transit issues and service on the state’s high-speed rail board.

Selby's only "expertise" is in self-promotion, though so far she's only been appointed to positions, including to the "executive board" of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, an anti-car front group set up by Tom Radulovich. From SFTRU's website: "We are a fiscally-sponsored project of Livable City, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization."

Aside from endorsing whatever the Bicycle Coalition wants to do to our streets, there's no evidence that Selby has any expertise on transportation issues. She made this dumb proposal in her Bicycle Coalition questionnaire two years ago:

Recreational and commuter cyclists have different needs and pose different considerations on roads. I’d encourage mandatory education for tourists visiting the city and biking around.

The first sentence is simply untrue. Whether you're commuting on a bike or riding for fun, cyclists all have the same "needs" and face the same dangers on city streets. The idea of imposing some kind of bike "education" on tourists---and making them pay for it!---is just dumb, a complete non-starter on every level.

Selby provided this bit of wisdom among other truisms in a remarkably empty response to a Chronicle questionnaire two years ago: "The expansion of parking meters makes sense, as they provide much needed revenue for the City." This will qualify Selby for her next appointment---to the MTA's board of directors.

One way to promote yourself is to start an organization that you can use to that end:

As founder and President of the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association I worked hard to “activate” the previously abandoned UC Extension site at 55 Laguna St. This meant bringing together various members of the community, including Upper Playground and local artists. We transformed the blighted building into a spectacular canvas for public art. 55 Laguna is now under development and outside the official lines of District 5, but I’ll continue to grow the relationships that were built during the process of the mural in order to ensure that the needs of our neighborhood are met.

To hear Selby tell it, allowing UC to rip off the old extension property on lower Haight Street is all about the garish "art" that was on the property's wall at Laguna and Haight. Never mind that the property had been zoned for "public use" for 150 years before the city allowed UC to stop providing college courses for working people and instead turn the property into a housing development to fatten its bottom line. Still waiting for Selby to explain how allowing UC to cash in on property it had tax-free for fifty years and adding 1,000 new residents to an already densely-populated neighborhood "ensures the needs" of the neighborhood.

From Selby's website:

Last Friday, Superior Court Judge Karnow rejected ACCJC's request to reject City Attorney Dennis Herrera's lawsuit against ACCJC. The finding was not an easy one to follow, but it boils down to this: Judge Karnow is holding the door open to the possibility that the ACCJC acted in a biased, politically-motivated way to unfairly and without proper process shut down City College. He wants to review the evidence in a trial October 27th, and, if he finds merit, he could overrule the revocation of accreditation.

Well, did the commission act in a "biased, politically-motivated way"? Selby doesn't mention it, but there's plenty of evidence of mismanagement at City College. The Chronicle apparently wants to put another "clueless" trustee on the board.

Selby not only played a role in helping to install the garish "art" at Laguna and Haight, she led the effort to make the "silly bunny" eyesore permanent, raising money to make a ten-foot bronze version to be installed in District 5. Voters in the district should get a chance to vote on and reject the idea of this permanent public eyesore.

Before it went belly-up, the Bay Guardian showed why it won't be missed by echoing the Chronicle's endorsement of Selby:

Thea Selby is a neighborhood and small business advocate. While she's not as leftist as we'd like, she was a solid candidate when she ran for District 5 supervisor in 2012, and she's a solid candidate now. She chairs the San Francisco Transit Riders union, which has taken many progressive stances on transportation, and backed them up by going toe to toe with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors. With her business background comes endorsements from many moderates, including DCCC Chair Mary Jung, which worries us. But she has the experience necessary to navigate that difficult political landscape, earning our endorsement.

Selby wasn't "solid" in 2012, and nothing she has said or done since makes her a serious candidate for anything important.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Chronicle endorses John Rizzo

In an editorial in Monday's edition, the SF Chronicle endorsed Thea Selby and John Rizzo for seats on the City College Board of Trustees.

Apparently the Chronicle's editorial writers don't read their own paper, which reported back in 2012 that Rizzo---who at the time had been on that board for more than five years---admitted to the Board of Governors that he and the other trustees were "clueless" about the college's financial condition (CCSF president: 'We were clueless'):

The heads of California's community college system hauled City College of San Francisco leaders up to Sacramento on Thursday to express concerns about the large and troubled school and to ask the question on everyone's mind: What went wrong? John Rizzo, president of the City College Board of Trustees, offered one candid explanation: "We were clueless." Even as Rizzo said he tried to steer the board toward fiscal responsibility, he and other trustees acknowledged that there was much they didn't know about overseeing the college's finances until they were required to take training as part of the effort to retain accreditation.

What went wrong with a college that had 80,000 students? The story in the Chronicle provides some clues:

Pamila Fisher, who has been interim chancellor at City College since May and leaves this month, assured the board that the college is working diligently to address the structural issues that led to its problems. "It's reasonable for you to say, how did this happen? Who was in charge? Where was the authority?" Fisher said. "We're starting to change that." Yet the most specific explanation Fisher offered was that "the college had a very big heart. It tried to do a lot for a lot of people. The college was very generous." She called the decisions that led City College to hire more employees at higher pay than comparable districts an example of "San Francisco values" that "can sometimes get in the way of making good decisions." To turn itself around, the college has been relying on a blueprint provided by the state's Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team, which identified numerous problems---including the college's lack of long-range planning and its reliance on raiding financial reserves to pay its bills.

Sounds familiar! "San Francisco values" means that public agencies in the city are primarily jobs programsserving the public is a secondary consideration. To hear city progs tell it, City College has been the victim of an out-of-control Accrediting Commission that for mysterious reasons wants to close the college.

Even a cursory examination of the issue reveals that the Commission found serious problems with the school's "big-hearted" management, as I wrote early this year.

The Chronicle editorial writer is apparently unaware of any of this. The problem at City College was supposedly about Phil Day and a flawed decision-making system. Rizzo's failure "experience" somehow qualifies him for re-election:

Rizzo is the lone incumbent to be endorsed. He was an early critic of prior City College chancellor Phil Day, who was forced from office as the system’s problems deepened. His experience as an informed critic will be vital in rebuilding the institution and pulling back from a chaotic system of “shared governance’’ that paralyzed decision-making.

As a trustee and a good San Francisco progressive, Rizzo, though clueless about the school's financial condition, pushed the bike agenda, which of course included screwing up Masonic Avenue:

As College Board Trustee, I have improved bike facilities at City College: increased bike parking, installing showers for use by bike commuters, and the Lee Ave extension. I also worked to get the college involved in Fix Masonic.

Recall that Rizzo was one of the Gang of Four, San Francisco progressives who abruptly abandoned the Green Party after the election of Barack Obama made being a Democrat fashionable in the city.

Before he was elected to the City College board, Rizzo was on the Concourse Authority's board of directors, where he did everything he could to obstruct the construction of the garage---passed overwhelmingly by city voters---under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park, including pushing a bogus complaint to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

Rizzo supported Josh Wolf's phony cause

Tomorrow: The Chronicle's endorsement of Thea Selby

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Dept. of Public Health: Accidents on city streets "vastly under-reported"

From a thread on SF Weekly about street design, a response to my comment (below in italics), apparently from someone in the Dept. of Public Health:

@Rob Anderson: You'll get what you wish for, at least this time. The discrepancy between police reports of crashes and EMT pickups and hospital ER intake has been huge such that it's apparent that crashes have been vastly underreported. The SF Dept. of Public Health is in the process of compiling new data and it will be posted here as it becomes available:

And let's distinguish 'City Hall' from individual police officers who chose not to or don't know about reporting. Will leave it to you to locate online the city's repaving schedule and associated street redesign plans---if numbskulls don't block progress.

Right. A city government that can't even count the accidents on city streets is making "progress" in redesigning our streets. People are beginning to understand who the real "numbskulls" are. Good to know that the city is repaving city streets, since they are among the worst maintained in the country.

And you can't blame the city's accident count problem on city cops. They've just been operating in a flawed system created by City Hall.

As I pointed out several months ago, the Dept. of Public Health knew it needed a better counting system more than ten years ago but obviously failed to follow up on it. From the Framework Document of the version of the Bicycle Plan that was litigated in 2005:

For the last several years, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has been working on an injury data linkage project using hospital admission data. Currently, San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) is not obligated to report bicycle injuries to the SFPD. This is left up to the injured parties. EMS (ambulance services) is supposed to report bicycle injuries, but many are not reported. Comparing police collision reports with SFGH emergency room visits or hospital admissions shows that approximately 20 percent of pedestrian injuries (caused by a collision with a motor vehicle) did not show up in police collision reports in 2000 and 2001. The rate for bicycle injuries is probably similarly under-reported (page 6-12, SF Bike Plan: Policy Framework, September 2004).

My comment that "multimodal" is responding to:

Still waiting for you bike folks to tell us which streets in San Francisco you want to put separated bike lanes. We know about Masonic---a fiasco waiting to happen next year---and Polk Street. But where else?

City Hall can't even be trusted to count injury accidents on our streets, as that UC study found. Nothing but silence about that study from the Bicycle Coalition, Streetsblog, City Hall and the Bay Guardian.…

Sooner or later the MTA is going to have to publish a Collisions Report dealing with the count issue. The last one was issued in August, 2012.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Big bucks for bikes in Marin

From Planning for Reality, a Marin County blog:

Thanks to highly effective bicycle lobbyists and “transit oriented development,” Marin’s commuters face another diversion of transportation funding. The Cal Park tunnel project works out at a cost of $675,000 to remove one car from our roads. That’s quite an extraordinary expense. And we now look set to follow this boondoggle with another bike path costing even more over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.

SF Streetsblog, a pro-cycling and TOD site, reports:

After 17 years of planning, the Cal Park tunnel will open to Marin County cyclists today, providing a shorter, safer route between San Rafael and the Larkspur Ferry for an estimated 800,000 riders a year.

The 1.1-mile project includes class 1 bike lanes to connect the 1,106-foot bore with Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on the south and Anderson Road in San Rafael

So how much did the project cost? The initial estimate was $3m but by completion the cost had ballooned to $27m.

It’s claimed that tunnel will be used by 800,000 riders a year, a seemingly enormous number. This translates to 2,191 riders today if the claim is to be believed. Consider for perspective that the population of Marin is only 258,365 according to the latest US Census figures...

The actual bike counts for Cal Park tunnel itself are dismal, attaining an initial 60 riders average per hour during weekday peaks in 2011 but since dropping to just 40 in 2013.

If the 800,000 riders per year claim is to believed we should be seeing 2,191 riders per day, most during those peak hours, not a mere 40...

Here’s the math using the optimistic assumptions:

Expenditure: $27 million
Cars Removed: 40
Cost per Car Removed: $675,000

Compare this to the Novato Narrows project to add HOV lanes to 101. A recent 1.3 mile section of the project cost just $9m and will increase capacity by 1,200 cars or 1,356 people at peak, equivalent to add a capacity of 1 person for $6,637. That capacity will get used. The Novato Narrows increases transportation capacity for less than a hundredth of the cost of the Cal Park tunnel bike path...

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Greenwald and Aslan defame Sam Harris

Sam Harris defends himself against two contemptible human beings:

Let me briefly illustrate how this works. Although I could cite hundreds of examples from the past two weeks alone, here is what I woke up to this morning: Some person who goes by the name of @dan_verg_ on Twitter took the most easily misunderstood sentence in The End of Faith out of (its absolutely essential) context, attached it to a scary picture of me, and declared me a “genocidal fascist maniac.” Then Reza Aslan retweeted it. An hour later, Glenn Greenwald retweeted it again.

That took less than two seconds of their time, and the message was sent to millions of people. I know one thing to a moral certainty, however: Both Greenwald and Aslan know that those words do not mean what they appear to mean. Given the amount of correspondence we’ve had on these topics, and given that I have repeatedly bored audiences by clarifying that statement (in response to this kind of treatment), the chance that either writer thinks he is exposing the truth about my views—or that I’m really a “genocidal fascist maniac”—is zero. Aslan and Greenwald—a famous “scholar” and a famous “journalist”—are engaged in a campaign of pure defamation. They are consciously misleading their readers and increasing my security concerns in the process...

Earlier posts on Greenwald here, here, and here.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The MTA: Revenue and Overtime

A reader sends this in:


Each month MTA posts a Strategic Plan Progress Report that you can search for on their website. I've extracted the Sept. 2014 report with revenues and overtime tables, 2 pages long.

Notice on Parking Fees and Fines MTA already collected year to date $312 million, $24 million above their budgeted numbers.

Their total surplus year to date is $83 million.

On the second page is overtime. Numbers inside ( ) mean they are in a deficit. So far they are in a $15 million deficit.

All together they are in a $83 - $15 = $68 million surplus. Why then do they need an extra $500 million in Prop. A?

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Restoring wetlands on San Francisco Bay

Vote No on Proposition A

SF Examiner photo

The folks at Save Muni send this message:

$500 million bond measures are rare, but Prop A squanders the opportunity.

SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) has already wasted billions of dollars while cutting Muni service in every neighborhood. Now Prop A incurs $1 billion in new debt (principal plus interest) with no legal commitment to Muni projects, cutting more buses in neighborhoods while raising property taxes and rents. If new bonds are rejected, property taxes and rents would decrease for everyone, not just for rich companies and the wealthy.

SFMTA annual budgets have increased but Muni riders get only service cuts.

Increased overhead, project cost overruns and mismanagement take money from the entire Muni system, causing Muni service cuts in every neighborhood.

Budget Type
SFMTA Budgets
SFMTA Overhead
City Budgets

Prop A perpetuates the bad projects, bad decision-making, cost overruns and mismanagement that have wasted billions of dollars given by taxpayers.

Prop E (1999) created the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) with more powers, more General Fund dollars and an 85% on-time performance mandate. Instead, Muni falsified on-time data and paid bonuses to its Director. Today Muni’s current on-time compliance rate is only 60.6%.

Prop K (2003) extended the transportation sales tax and prioritized projects. The Central Subway’s listed cost of $647 million escalated to $1.6 billion. The citywide Transit-Preferential Streets Program and Bus Rapid Network were never implemented.

Prop A (2007) gave SFMTA more funding authority, revenue-bond-authority and even more General Fund dollars. Instead, work orders sent the new funds to other city departments.

Prop B (2011) provided a Road Repaving Bond of $248 million, with interest of $181 million, for a total debt of $429 million. Debt isn’t efficient for maintenance.

Central Subway: $1.6 billion cost includes $605 million in state/local matching funds taken from the rest of the Muni system. New cost overruns will take more state/local dollars from the Muni system.

Increased budgets have been given to SFMTA by escalating annual budgets, federal, state, and local funds, transportation taxes, fares, fees, fines, citations and more. But the SFMTA has mismanaged the money.

Project cost overruns will continue to eat up SFMTA bonds and budgets.

The only independent audit of Muni projects, by CGR Consultants in 2011, concluded that nearly all Muni capital projects have large cost overruns. Projected Central Subway cost overruns will perpetuate the decline of maintenance and infrastructure. AUDIT: See Pages 18-19.

A Whistleblower’s Complaint, filed by the Central Subway’s Cost Engineer, alleges a cooking of the books and hidden cost overruns.

Prop A does not restore past Muni service cuts.

Muni has cut service in every neighborhood, decreased annual vehicle revenue miles/hours, eliminated 6 bus lines, shortened 22 routes, deferred maintenance, increased missed runs/switchbacks/late buses, increased fares/fees/fines/meters (1,549,518 parking citations yearly). Muni has already cut cross-town routes, night service and route frequency, hurting the low-income, families, disabled, youth and seniors. Eliminated bus lines will not be restored: Lines 4, 7, 15, 20, 26, 53, 89. Shortened bus routes will not be restored: Lines 1, 2, 10, 12, 16X, 18, 21, 29, 36, 38, 48, 67, 88, 91, 10.

Prop A perpetuates Muni service cuts in neighborhoods.

Prop A’s Transit Effectiveness Project will perpetuate cuts of neighborhood Muni service in favor of “high-use” corridors---decreasing neighborhood buses, cutting frequency/bus stops and shortening/eliminating routes.

Prop A’s vague legal language means more diversion of funds.

Prop A’s Ordinance does not specifically say how funds are to be spent or what part of the funds will be allocated to vague descriptions of work. “May be allocated” instead of “shall be allocated” legal language.

Prop A’s Ordinance refers to the Mayor’s Transportation Task Force, but the Report’s funding plan allocates only 49% of funds to Muni.

Prop A’s Ordinance refers to the Transit Effectiveness Project, which diverts neighborhood Muni service to “high-use” corridors, dismantling transit neighborhood networks.

Prop A’s funds can be diverted to non-Muni projects and other projects’ cost overruns, like the Central Subway, which itself has already taken $605 million of state/local dollars from the Muni system.

P. 3-5: The Ordinance’s legal language makes no commitment to any specific work: “Projects to be funded under the proposed Bond may include but are not limited to the following...” For eight project types: “A portion of the Bond may be allocated to…” Everywhere else in the Ordinance “shall” is used.

Smarter use of existing and future funds!

Reject this bond measure! From the surging City Budget ($8.6 billion this year), allocate General Fund dollars to Muni’s operating and maintenance budgets. Instead of new bond debt, use the $500 million savings in debt interest to implement 2003 Prop K’s transit-preferential streets---quicker and cheaper. Before unproductive debt, let’s reverse Prop A’s policy of Muni cuts in neighborhoods. Then SFMTA should work from a carefully-developed plan to solve San Francisco’s most critical transportation needs---prior to new bonds. SFMTA should not be doling out $500 million haphazardly to politically-connected groups and to hide mistakes of the past. Vote No on A!

Muni has fewer riders now than it did a decade ago---the only major transit agency to lose customers among the nation’s top six transit districts. San Francisco’s modal trip shares are 20 percent by transit, 24 percent by walking, 3 percent by bicycle and 53 percent by automobile. By dismantling Muni’s neighborhood networks, Prop A further encourages driving, then SFMTA penalizes drivers with more citations/fees/fines/parking elimination. To move San Francisco towards the 60% transit trip shares of the world’s top transit agencies, an integrated citywide Muni system is needed.

MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: Implementation of Zurich’s Transit Priority Program

“Zurich is famous for the quality of its public transportation system and it has one of the highest levels of per capita transit ridership in the world. This is because its transit service is fast, frequent, reliable and inexpensive due in large part to its transit priority program.”

ENDORSEMENTS: Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (45 neighborhood organizations), San Francisco Tomorrow, Chinese American Democratic Club, Irish American Democratic Club, District 3 Democratic Club, District 11 Democratic Club, San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco, Libertarian Party of San Francisco, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF), SaveMuniSF, A Better ChinatownTomorrow (ABCT), Save North Beach Village, North Beach Tenants Committee, Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF), Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret., Chairman, California Senate Transportation Committee), Bruce Oka (Former SFMTA Board of Directors)

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