A simple solution exists to erase the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s $80 million budget deficits without draconian revenue increases. The Central Subway project has drained $500 million in scarce state and local funds from Muni for a tiny 1.7 mile route.
Muni’s 700,000 daily riders have been subsidizing the subway boondoggle with unnecessary service cuts, discontinued routes and crumbling equipment. There are increase for fares, parking fees, meter rates and traffic citations.
The recent $57 million Proposition K sales tax funds for tunnel boring machines would eradicate much of this year’s and next year’s deficits. With $1.9 billion in deferred maintenance and $1.6 billion in budget deficits over the next 20 years, MTA service cuts and revenue grabs will continue to grow until the Central Subway is halted.
Howard Wong, SaveMuni.com, San Francisco
Follow the money
Last Sunday, “60 Minutes” aired a report highlighting instances in which congressional officials reportedly bought stocks around the same time Congress was discussing legislation affecting those companies or industries. The show looked at the lucrative investments of lawmakers including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama.
Members of Congress reap huge profits using insider information in ways that could put any of the rest of us behind bars. But the politicians allow themselves exemption from insider-trading laws.
A new bill filed by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., would make it illegal for elected congressional officials, their staffs and executive branch employees to make investment decisions from pending information that’s not available to the general public. It would also forbid them from spreading such information public for personal gain.
Ted Rudow III, Palo Alto
An American-made gift
A new Christmas tradition is to purchase a gift certificate for some needed local service or product and place it in an American-made envelope under the tree. Many local businesses that have never even thought of selling gift certificates might consider it, if you ask.
This idea came from a few tea partiers who wanted to help the economy with a “Buy American Campaign.” It could soon be protested by the Occupy protesters as some sneaky way to encourage free enterprise capitalism. But I think it would take several years before the government can outlaw this new tradition as being anti-trade and possibly having religious overtones.
Robert Parkhurst, Redwood City