Garcia: Muni drivers digging a hole 

Until this year, Muni operators in San Francisco were hardly well-known. But recently, they’ve been working overtime to make a name for themselves.

That’s not a good thing.

Just think of their situation: The agency they work for is in dire financial straits, The City they work in is facing a $483 million deficit, and every major union has agreed to financial givebacks and concessions as a way to offset the yawning ­bud­get gap.

Except one. That would be members of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, who rejected a package that would have rolled back recent 10 percent service cuts that will result in longer wait times for more-crowded buses.

This is a group that’s going the extra mile (though not for you). In February, members of the union, which represents more than 2,000 Muni operators, turned down a $14 million concessions package.

Are Muni operators trying to gain recognition as the greediest union in the West, or are they just feeling frisky?

It’s a case of tunnel vision rarely seen in these parts. The union’s members won’t listen to the mayor, they won’t listen to their own executive leadership and they certainly aren’t listening to the public, which will no doubt turn out to be their biggest mistake.

Shortsightedness is not a good trait for people paid to drive. And if the operators feel The City’s budget problems are not their responsibility, then voters shouldn’t feel obligated to keep giving transit workers perks they haven’t earned and don’t deserve.

And that’s why the wheels are likely to come off in November, when the public will likely weigh in on a few proposed charter amendments that would put the brakes on the gravy train the transit operators have been riding for years. One would set operator salaries through collective bargaining, and the other would give management the ability to adjust work rules.

Needless to say, union members are fighting the proposed changes, and they remarkably have found some allies on the Board of Supervisors, whose majority has been too weak to enter the fray and yet must find other cuts in the budget to make up for the lack of concessions from transit workers.

They’re saying those funds may have to come from the command staff at San Francisco’s Police and Fire departments — an idea that will prove as popular as the transit workers’ intransigence.


DA hopefuls may be living on a prayer

There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on in San Francisco political circles these days, as job aspirants jockey to see what vacancy signs might be up in November. Most eyes are still on the mayor’s job, with supervisors wondering if they’ll get to pick the successor to Gavin Newsom should he be able to overcome a formidable GOP opponent in his run for lieutenant governor.

But a more curious development surfaced this week when resigning San Francisco Police Commissioner David Onek officially announced his candidacy for district attorney, now that, according to an e-mail he sent out, “Kamala Harris is very likely to become California’s next attorney general.”

As I explained earlier this week, that’s more than a stretch considering that Harris is running against Steve Cooley, the highly popular district attorney in the voter-rich Los Angeles region. And Harris has been mired in controversy due to a series of missteps in managing her office.

But Onek, who just happens to be the son-in-law of one-time Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, has been itching for higher office for some time.

A host of others are soon expected to be lining up for ­Harris’ job, with fingers crossed for November.


Conference-hopping is nonsense

I realize it’s a quaint notion that teams from the Southwest once played in the Southwestern Conference and that something called the Pac-8 Conference really had something to do with the Pacific, but the goings-on in college sports this week were positively silly.

The dramatic scenario had teams from East Texas in the Pac-10 Conference, along with Oklahoma. Nebraska in the same conference as Purdue? I know that things like tradition and fan-friendliness are passé, but shouldn’t certain rules apply, like all teams in a conference being in the same time zone?

It’s not that I don’t relish the thought of cheering Mormons invading the Bay Area when Utah takes on Stanford, but it just seems that it lacks a certain, uh, sense. And sadly, even though Texas decided to keep its conference intact by staying rather than moving to the new Pac-16, it’s certain that the so-called superconferences aren’t far away.

Schools that can’t find a home will take just about any place they can. My daughter will play in the Western Athletic Conference this year, which means away games at familiar venues like Fresno State and Nevada and another at Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech? I know Karl Malone played there once, but that’s all I know, and probably as much as I need to know.

This conference-hopping ignores such niceties as fan loyalty, which is supposed to be a trait of college athletics. Austin, Texas, and Berkeley should share music festivals, not college football conferences.


Let’s go back to days of part-time supervisors

Perhaps The City should consider returning the job of San Francisco supervisor to part-time status and pay, as long as the board insists on spending so many hours tackling the world’s problems instead of the ones in San Francisco.

That would certainly sum up the lengthy, wasted efforts this week of two supervisors, John Avalos and Sophie Maxwell, in trying to condemn Israel for its fatal handling of a flotilla of Gaza blockade protesters.

Israel’s action has been rebuked by a number of international agencies, including the United Nations. But the board is outside its element here, by about 10,000 miles.

If board members have time to draw up an overheated resolution on the subject, than they have too much time. As it is, all the speechifying ended with the matter being referred to committee, where it deserves a silent passing.

Be it resolved that supervisors stay out of international waters.

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Ken Garcia

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