Private park events freeze out the public

Your paper’s stance embracing privatization and commercialization of our parks fails to address the major problem of funding (“The real problem in parks department is shrinking funding,” Editorial, Sunday).

Rather than being sources of revenue, sweetheart deals are handed to “nonprofits” such as the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (who both pay no office rent), and dream contracts are handed to promoters and food trucks. Meanwhile, funds that could be used to pay gardeners are instead allocated toward other ends by competing departments.

Even if the contracts were a good deal for taxpayers (and they are not, especially after one deducts the considerable administrative costs), they would still provide only a fraction of the budget while diminishing use. I don’t see anything wrong with events being held in other cities, if they have the proper facilities.

It is a huge mistake to regurgitate figures generated by the Recreation and Park Department without consulting your own due diligence. Often, as auditor Harvey Rose has pointed out, these figures are “optimistic” (to put it mildly). Curiously, the arboretum, whose privatization (it is now under the control of the botanical society) you wrongly dispute, is featured as the “poster child” for Proposition B.

Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds have gone into salaries, hearings, signage, maps, ticket booths and other administrative expenses, only to have the lawns empty. The message is clear: pay to build, then pay to play and pay and pay. And we pay a fleet of publicists to “inform” us about it while the department jumps, shimmies and grovels at the whims of the wealthy.

Harry S. Pariser
San Francisco

Better uses for Muni funds

I strongly disagree with your editorial (“Muni cash influx should go toward free youth plan,” Editorial, Friday) for several reasons.

As you stated, this is one-time money for Muni. It is well-known that once a program like this starts, it never ends.
Muni is behind on its equipment maintenance and is short of drivers. Muni service, especially on the lesser-used lines, is not dependable. This one-time money will be better used to catch up on maintenance and to train new drivers to ensure dependable service.  

Every now and then the “city family” needs to think of the people who pay The City’s bills. Many taxpayers use Muni to go to and from work and are entitled to dependable service.

Howard Epstein
Former chairman San Francisco Republican Party
San Francisco

Move past sheriff scandal  

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi should have no problem in delegating the domestic abuse problems to one of his quite capable staffers (“Mayor rejects Mirkarimi’s olive branch,” Sunday).  

Quit with the sour grapes and accept the olive branch with grace.  Enough of the public battle.

 William J. Coburn
San Francisco

Department of Recreation and Parkletters to the editorMuniOpinionRoss Mirkarimi

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