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Posts from the "Elections" Category

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What Went Unsaid at Last Night’s Debate

If you want to hear the President say "transit" on the national stage, you have to put the words in his mouth. Image: AP

At last night’s presidential debate in Nassau County, the best opening for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to talk about transportation policy came when undecided voter Phillip Tricolla asked the following question of the President:

QUESTION: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

Let’s imagine the contours of the straightforward, leveling-with-America response that never came:

OBAMA: Yes, I do agree with Secretary Chu that it is not the job of the Energy Department to lower gas prices, any more than it’s the job of the Commerce Department to lower the price of tin or cotton.

But there’s a lot we can do to become more resilient in the face of oil price shocks. We can give people real transportation choices — invest more in transit, and in making our streets safer – so you aren’t forced to burn a gallon of gas every time you need to pick up some groceries.

My administration has started us down a smarter path with the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the Department of Transportation’s TIGER program. These programs are laying the groundwork for a 21st Century transportation system that makes our communities more productive and efficient while reducing our addiction to oil. If we make these investments, not only will we free ourselves from constantly worrying about prices at the pump, we’ll also stave off the disaster of climate change and prevent the kind of droughts and other extreme weather events that are battering America.

Feel free to add your own embellishments in the comments.

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Election Results Open Thread

Flickr photo: Steve Rhodes

The results are in from yesterday’s election – well, most of them are. The mayoral race won’t be finally called until 2nd- and 3rd-choice votes are counted, but 1st-choice results put Ed Lee in the lead at 31 percent followed by John Avalos at 18 percent.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition had endorsed Avalos as their #1 and Lee their #3. The organization is already celebrating the passage of Proposition B, the $248 million bond measure for road repaving and street improvements which met the two-thirds vote requirement after the failure of similar measures in past elections.

Are you excited about seeing smoother streets and more bikeways, or was Prop B the wrong approach? Who would you like to see sitting in Room 200? What should be the mayor’s priorities in the next four years? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Board Challengers Hope to Change Culture at BART

With the anti-incumbency narrative dominating elections this fall, it shouldn’t be a surprise that two of the longest-serving BART board directors are facing stiff competition from upstart challengers who claim they have lost touch with the electorate they serve. Far from the anti-government Tea Party rhetoric, however, the two candidates providing the greatest challenge to the incumbents are long-time bicycle and transit advocates whose common arguments are that BART needs to shift its investments away from costly extensions and focus on improving core capacity and access to stations.

Bert Hill, challenger for BART District 8

Bert Hill, challenger for BART District 8. Photo: Michael Mustachi

In BART District 8, comprising northern, western and southern sections of San Francisco, Board President James Fang faces his most significant challenge from Bert Hill, a former Bechtel administrator who currently runs his own company, Bicycle Commuter Services, and chairs the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Bicycle Advisory Committee. Fang was first elected in 1990 and is now serving his third term as president.

Hill said Fang and BART had put too much focus on extensions to the farther flung communities in the Bay Area, draining operational capacity on the core system.

“We need to grow up, not out. The bedroom communities are no longer supportable. We really need to focus on the growth that is occurring in the inner Bay Area. We need to be beefing up the inner BART, not the outer BART at this point,” said Hill.

He said BART’s primary focus from a real estate development capacity needs to shift from parking garages to transit villages, that he would push to expedite the plans currently being studied for numerous development opportunities.

According to Hill, his other priorities would include advocating for better bicycle facilities on BART trains, such as the possibility of a bike car, and BART bike sharing to reduce the need to drive to stations. He said he would work closer with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, to improve transfers and connectivity to the western neighborhoods in San Francisco

Fang defended his record at BART as his greatest asset and said the biggest issue of the campaign is job creation, which he argued BART does with extensions, managing finances to preserve operational positions, and delivering Bay Area transit riders to their destinations with superior on-time performance.

“The number one issue that every public official should be doing is jobs. How are you helping people create jobs?” said Fang. “The bottom line is are people working?”

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