Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sunshine Law Violated at SFMTA GoogleBus Fee Meeting

The class warfare of San Francisco came to this afternoon's meeting of the Municipal Transportation Agency at the City Hall, where the most controversial agenda item was whether to assess a paltry fee on the private buses clogging up public transit stops, and a shocking display of willful violations of the City's open meeting law took place.

I'm beyond pleased with the latest protests targeting Google buses, that took place this morning close to City Hall and attracted around 100 activists to surround the private transportation devices using public infrastructure. These actions appeal to video and still camera lens of social media users and mainstream media outlets, while capturing the attention of elected officials such as Mayor Ed Lee and the District 8 Supervisor who bemoan the alleged demonizing of techies and their luxurious modes of transit. Why is it we never hear those same politicians railing against the eviction epidemic, greedy speculators and Tech Inc firms not paying enough taxes?

From the hearing, Bay Guardian reporter Rebecca Bowe opined on the hostilities and frustration of taxpayers, making an excellent point about the agenda's lineup:
Yep, the board of directors knew well in advance of this morning's protests that hundreds of activists favoring more heavily taxing Google and private buses would be attending today's hearing. Did the director plan well enough to meet the needs of the public? Ha!

It was business as usual for the directors who not only stuck to their business as usual format but also used precious prime time to bestow a cable car bell on a longtime employee who is retiring and have him speak, and when Supervisors showed up, as if they don't get enough time at their Board meetings to talk talk talk about their great plans without any real waiting time, were allowed to hijack the agenda and then leave.

Oh, the actual average folks who are suffering from the inept planning of the SFMTA and the Supervisors that has led to the eviction epidemic, widening economic disparities and extravagant tax break to Tech Inc moguls are just gonna have to endure the powerful running their show the way they want to. The directors sit through testimony then do what was decided behind closed doors.

My only recourse to some of the b.s. that went down today at the SFMTA is this letter sent to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. I'll let you know when the matter is processed by the SOTF:

I wish to initiate a complaint against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for several violations of open meeting and sunshine statutes at their Tuesday, January 21, 2013, meeting at City Hall, the agenda of which is posted here.

Alleged violations include: 

1. There is no item listing a presentation from the District 8 member of the Board of Supervisors, yet he spoke at the beginning of the meeting. 

2. The Director's report listed three items; special recognition (of a Muni employee), electronic taxi access (update), and the vague ongoing activities. During that list item, director Ed Reiskin amended the agenda and allowed Sup. Jane Kim, who was not listed as a presenter, to make a speech about pedestrian safety. This was not part of public comment for the director's report. 

3. Instead of sticking to the printed agenda and after item number 8, the Citizen's Advisory Council Report, taking up item number 9 which was public comment for matters not on the agenda, board chairman Tom Nolan announced that instead item number 14 would be heard. That was about assessing an insultingly small fee on private Tech Inc and Google buses illegitimately using public infrastructure. 

Fiddling with the printed agenda in a the course of a meeting to accommodate elected officials wanting to make speeches without time limits, instead of treating them equally on par with the members of the general public waiting their turns to speak and who are given only two minutes to speak, is a gross violation of sunshine codes. 

Same goes for radically changing the agenda's order, especially when it means delaying general public comments. I request that this matter go the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force members and that they take up this complaint at their next meeting. If you have any questions, please email them to me. Thanks in advance of your prompt attention and a reply acknowledging receipt of this complaint.

1 comment:

DocRambo said...

Sunshine laws are for the little people, not the liberal elite.