By Steven T. Jones
After hours of negotiations between the Mayor’s Office (mostly via its representative, Sup. Carmen Chu) and progressive members of the Board of Supervisors, President David Chiu reconvened his colleagues this evening to announce that he had cut a deal on his challenge to Muni’s budget: “I’m happy to say we’ve made good headway.”
Chiu asked MTA chief Nat Ford to announce the terms: the agency would trim $10.3 million from the budget (a $2.8 million reduction in the $66 million it is giving to other city departments, $6.5 million in salary and operations savings and other nips and tucks, and $1 million in increased parking revenue after a 90-day study of extending meter hours) and restore $8.6 million in proposed Muni service cuts, immediately complete MOU negotiations with the SFPD to finally explain why the MTA is giving them millions of dollars every year, and delay by six months increases in what seniors, youth and the disabled will pay for Fast Passes.
Everyone thanked Chiu for taking the lead on challenging the MTA budget and negotiating a settlement to this conflict with Mayor Gavin Newsom, then all the progressive supervisors criticized the package as a bad deal that unduly punishes Muni riders and lets Newsom get away with raiding what is supposed to be an independent agency. "I have to say I'm utterly disappointed with where we are right now," said Sup. David Campos, the first to react to the freshly inked deal.
The board voted 6-5 to drop its challenge of MTA’s budget, allowing fares to increase to $2 and services to be reduced, with Sups. Campos, Ross Mirkarimi, Chris Daly, John Avalos, and Eric Mar in dissent.
Seeming stung by the criticism of his colleagues, Chiu seemed to lay blame where it belonged when he said, “On Friday, the mayor and I had a conversation about this budget and it was made clear to me that there wouldn’t be any movement….We needed to work this out so we could move forward on the myriad issues before us.”