When Supervisor David Chiu last month placed an item in the Budget and Finance committee's Wednesday agenda rejecting the Municipal Transportation Authority's controversial budget, he wasn't doing it to merely test out the buttons on some new legislative assignment gizmo he found on Craigslist. In crafting such a motion even before the MTA deigned to pass a budget, Chiu presciently took the Groucho-as-Professor Quincy Waggstaff-view: “Whatever it is, I'm against it.”
And yet, Muni did not disappoint Chiu — or, rather, it did — and passed a budget that, in the board president's words, still allows other city departments to use “the MTA like an ATM.”
“I am not interested in approving a budget where there are significant fare increases, service cuts or elimination on close to 40 of the 80 routes … and millions of dollars are still given to other city departments,” Chiu says. “Because of that, I'm not inclined to support the MTA budget at this time.”
You know — it's a persuasive argument. (But, while the palindrome of MTA and ATM is nice — the money you take out of an ATM is ostensibly yours. Chiu and others argue that city departments are not entitled to the funds they're demanding of Muni. We prefer metaphors involving Cossacks pillaging a helpless village — perhaps even a “transit-first” village like our own city purports to be).
So it's no surprise how Chiu is going to vote on this matter. But can he muster up the support of six other supervisors to send MTA's budget back to the drawing board? Perhaps he can — and he's certainly been working the phones to make his case.