Above: San Francisco Muni Chief Nathaniel “Nat” Ford (left) chats it up with Mayor Gavin Newsom.
KQED’s amazing community affairs program “Forum” featured Muni Chief Nat Ford Thursday. Michael Krasny asks some hard questions but didn’t always get great answers.
- Mr. Ford seems to have a good grasp of Muni operations but presents no vision for improvement of the system. His ‘back to basics’ rhetoric seems like a cop out. Of course we need to have basic services, but where is the vision? Where is strategic leadership for one of the oldest and most used transit systems in the United States?
- I was impressed by Mr. Ford’s frank understanding of Muni’s frustrating labor union agreements. He spoke eloquently and politely about labor issues, but seemed to present an underlying feeling that these labor agreements are roadblock to true Muni progress.
- I was also impressed by Mr. Ford’s support of the Geary/Van Ness BRT lines. But, again, the real issue with BRT is Muni’s inability to implement, not whether or not they are necessary. I would like to have heard Mr. Krasny take Mr. Ford to task on why the T-Third was/is such a disaster and what Muni’s doing to prevent another implementation disaster with the BRT lines.
- Mr. Ford was grilled a few times by callers and Mr. Krasny for his salary increase. It was a little heavy on the criticism. Face it: high level, CEO-like positions such as this need adequate compensation. The issue shouldn’t necessarily be with the amount but the lack of ties to performance. That’s just bad oversight by the City.
- It was particularly amusing that Mr. Krasny announced that Muni is always a contentious issue that brings a massive amount of callers and email to the program. I’ll admit, as I was listening in my cab I tried calling for about 10 minutes but was never able to get through.
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I totally agree with your assessment of people in that it’s hard to get them riled up about excessive spending. People are so desensitized to the figures that they all seem astronomical, so the difference between $500 Million and $750 Million is negligible to people’s perception even though it costs them. If we could find a way to correlate the dollars spent directly to tax dollars, I bet it would make some people perk up. FOIA anyone???
That’s funny you mention correlating the dollars with the money spent on taxes.
I had an idea… I will be paying taxes on my earnings, unlike many cab drivers in the City. My thought is to tell my customers that this shift is a ‘tax shift’ where I’m working just for Uncle Sam. I can then show them this poster about where the money is going.
Then I could say — your airport fare pays for all of my federal income tax contribution to the National Guard. Something like that.
I worry, though, that they would really be stingy with the tips in that case.
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