Mar not the real problem 

"Batkid trumps villian Mar," Opinion, Thursday

Mar not the real problem

Quit demonizing Supervisor Eric Mar for voicing legitimate concerns about the Batkid extravaganza.

No one (including, I'm sure, Mar) begrudged a wish fulfillment to a fragile little boy, but he's 5 years old. He would have been just as happy whizzing around town in a police cruiser to nab a villain, rushing via firetruck to thwart a dastardly arsonist, and all without the self-congratulations of City Hall. Because of social networking, the same crowds and same national media would have shown up to cheer him on.

Since the letter to the editor writers found the spectacle so charming, perhaps they will consider giving a generous donation to a San Francisco charity dealing with children that might have had hopes of receiving a small slice of the $105,000 The City spent. As Mar said, there are other kids, equally fragile and equally deserving, who have their own wishes.

Ada Carol Plotner, San Francisco

"Labor in limbo after BART vote," The City, Friday

BART board needs change

The BART board of directors needs to be ousted.

Under the previous general manager, Dorothy Dugger, BART had successful labor negotiations and managed to be one of the few transit agencies without budget problems during the recession. Without disclosing any reason, the BART board of directors forced her resignation, which resulted in a sizeable (and understandable) severance package. The board of directors replaced Dugger with Grace Crunican.

Under the new leadership, BART hired an expensive labor negotiator, Thomas Hock, who has a history of conflict-prone negotiations. This negotiation resulted in two strikes, inconveniencing thousands of commuters and incurring many indirect costs in addition to direct costs, like the costs of backup bus service. And now, BART wants to renege on the settlement, claiming an expensive clerical error.

What do these facts say to you? I see bad management, wasting taxpayer money on severance packages and fighting labor, rather than on creating a system that works for and benefits everyone.

Doug O'Neill, San Francisco

"Muni service proposal aims to help needy," The City, Wednesday

Let public vote on Muni

San Francisco certainly needs to put San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency policies and practices on the 2014 ballot. Muni is largly unreliable in all neighborhoods of San Francisco, but in the poorer neighborhoods transit needs are barely addressed.

The problem is the SFMTA itself. Were San Franciscans asked if they would like to receive a $400 million federal grant to make bicycling safer and easer for the 3.7 percent of the population that uses bicycles as its main commuter vehicle? Why didn't the SFMTA instead apply for federal, state and local grants to develop transit that tried to meet the needs of seniors and the disabled, as well as all the neighborhoods of The City? Were San Franciscans asked if parking meters should be put into residential neighborhoods as the SFMTA is trying to do in Dogpatch, Potrero Hill and Northeast Mission?

The SFMTA certainly needs to be on the ballot, but any ballot measure should address its apparent lack of interest in the needs of most San Francisco residents (except for the small few who ride bicycles).

Fiona McGregor, San Francisco

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