Mayor Vows to Punish Supes Who Backed Wiener’s Transit Funding Measure

Mayor Ed Lee, who has cut into transportation funding by nixing Sunday parking meters and abandoning a proposed vehicle license fee increase, now says that he will punish the six supervisors who voted to approve a ballot measure to increase transportation’s share of the general fund. Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed the charter amendment as a stop-gap measure to fund the city’s transportation needs, while SF waits two years for the mayor to support a vehicle license fee measure.

Mayor Ed Lee with SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin yesterday, where he told reporters that he will “hold the supervisors accountable” for putting Scott Wiener’s transit funding measure on the ballot. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The SF Chronicle reported on Sunday that “the mayor’s office seems to be hinting that it will target programs important to the six supervisors who voted to place Wiener’s proposal on the ballot — Wiener, David Chiu, Jane Kim, London Breed, Malia Cohen and David Campos.”

Lee confirmed this report at a press conference yesterday, where he signed his touted $500 million transportation bond ballot measure. The mayor told reporters, “I have to hold the supervisors that did this accountable,” and called Wiener’s measure “disturbing,” adding that it “can be very damaging” to the city budget.

“Fiscally, it was not responsible to have done,” Lee said. “It disbalances the budget, and it was not what we had all collaboratively agreed to do.”

If passed, Wiener’s charter amendment would allocate an estimated $22 million to transportation in fiscal year 2015-2016, with 75 percent dedicated to Muni and the rest dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements. Subsequent increases, based on population growth, would follow each year. A provision in the measure allows the mayor to nix it, once voters approve the vehicle license fee — as expected in November 2016, if the mayor follows through on his pledged support.

When Mayor Lee rides Muni, it’s a photo op. When the supervisors let voters fund Muni, it’s “irresponsible” and “disturbing.” Photo: @MayorEdLee/Twitter

The mayor apparently tried to stop Wiener from moving forward with his ballot measure, on the grounds that it would take general funds from other city services, and hurt voter support for the $500 million general obligation bond for transportation that Lee has put on the ballot. Those arguments have been echoed by Supervisors Katy Tang, Mark Farrell, and Norman Yee, who voted against Wiener’s ballot measure.

Wiener’s measure will compete with ballot measures to increase funding for the Children’s Fund and to boost the local minimum wage to $15 per hour. The Chronicle reports:

The minimum wage proposal – which calls for a gradual increase in the city’s minimum wage until it hits $15 in 2018 – would account over time for the greatest increase in public spending, jumping from $12.8 million next year to $56.3 million by 2018, mostly because city contractors, such as in-home care workers, would be paid more. And that wage increase, combined with the children’s fund increase, would make up 75 percent of the $104 million annual increase by 2018. But Lee and other critics are seizing on Wiener’s proposal.

Mayor Lee’s budget director, Kate Howard, told the Chronicle that “the mayor did ask the sponsor [Wiener] to not move forward with this, very directly.” Wiener dismissed the mayor’s concerns, saying that although the supervisors approved a two-year budget, the second year will be revised anyway:

This is really about priorities and choices — that’s what the budget is about. They have chosen to prioritize other things. I know it’s always tempting, when you don’t like a proposal, to use scare tactics — but if this passes, it will fit into the budget just fine. Voters should have the opportunity to tell City Hall that Muni is a priority.

Keep in mind Mayor Lee’s record on responsible transportation funding. He used his leverage over the SFMTA Board of Directors to repeal Sunday parking meters this year, which increased car traffic on the streets and cost Muni an estimated $11 million annually. The mayor said that doing so would win over support from car-driving voters for both the GO bond measure and VLF increase, both recommended by his own task force. However, he subsequently abandoned the VLF — until Wiener convinced him to say he’ll support it in the 2016 election.

This month, it was revealed that a major mayoral campaign donor, tech billionaire Sean Parker, has funded an advisory ballot measure that attempts to kill Sunday meters and enshrine free parking in perpetuity.

Mayor Lee may not see a problem with any of that — or with parking in bus stops and crosswalks, for that matter. But to him, letting voters choose to fund Muni and safer streets with their own tax dollars is “disturbing” and “not responsible.”

  • If I was a city supervisor (which I really don’t want to be one), I’d defy the mayor as much as I can just to piss him off.

  • djconnel

    Worst move in last 5 years by SF Bike Coalition was endorsing this bozo. Utterly foreseeable…

  • BBnet3000

    ”I have to hold the supervisors that did this accountable,”

    Is this how democracy works? This sounds like a ridiculously poor way to lead.

  • zippy_monster

    I’d say the chances of ed lee punishing the supervisors in question is about the same of ed lee not running for mayor. Kudos to Wiener.

    P.S. Screw you ed lee for backing down on sunday metering.

  • Transit first! Just not in terms of, you know, providing enough funding for it.

  • Bluehale

    So what’s Ed Lee’s solution for funding MUNI? Pixy dust? Twitter tax breaks? This man makes Mike Bloomberg look like a defender of the working class.

  • If you tell Ed Lee that transportation funding will enrich his close circle of developers, he will approve it. We can’t force him to do the right thing. So he has to be tricked into doing it. Wiener screwed-up by not calling this funding measure the “tech-company permanent tax break” or something.

  • Mario Tanev

    “Fiscally, it was not responsible to have done,” Lee said. “It disbalances the budget, and it was not what we had all collaboratively agreed to do.”

    Thank you Mayor Lee for realizing that rescinding Sunday meters was wrongheaded. It was not responsible fiscally. Sunday meters were introduced collaboratively and rescinded unilaterally. We are very happy you recognize the error.

    [Lee] called [it] ”disturbing,” adding that it “can be very damaging” to the city budget.

    We agree, but don’t be so hard on yourself. We all make mistakes. We’re glad you realized yours. Can you correct it now, please?

  • murphstahoe

    “until Wiener convinced him to say he’ll support it in the 2016 election.”

    I really hope that Wiener won’t be worrying about the support of former Mayor Edwin Lee for the VLF in 2016

  • jd_x

    You know, I gotta agree. I remember when this did this and it blew my mind. I think it’s important you bring this up. I’m not sure what they were thinking, but I feel like they were trying to play some sort of behind-the-scenes politics and now it’s backfired. They should never play that game: just support the leaders who say and, most importantly, do the right things.

  • jd_x

    I hope the Resilient Six are smart enough to realize that 1) that shouldn’t give a damn about Lee’s opinion, and 2) even if they were to cave and appease him, he would still bait and switch them like he did with repealing Sunday parking meters saying that it was to garner support for the VLF in November, only to then yank that. Playing Ed Lee’s game will get you nowhere. Let that guy drown in his own hypocrisy and vapidity. In the meantime, stand up for what you believe and know that either way he’ll work against you.

    Oh, and Mayor Lee: it’s not “disbalances” but “unbalances”. There’s already a word for what you are trying to say; no need to try and sound more intelligent than actually you are by making up words which are completely unnecessary.

  • voltairesmistress

    There’s a mayoral election in 2015. Time to get rid of this Zero Vision hack. Does anyone know if Wiener is considering a run?

  • Lee Ross

    Mayor Lee seems like the kind of guy who could be Vladimir Putin’s Chief of Staff. Just ask Pussy Riot what being part of THAT system is all about. Ed Lee would fit right in.

  • RichardC

    The mayor has certainly been anything but progressive on transportation issues, and Muni does need more revenue.

    That said, ballot box budgeting is just bad policy. We should let the politicians have control over how funding is prioritized and then hold them accountable for the decisions they make. What’s the point of electing people to make decisions and for us, and then tying their hands so they can’t actually do anything? If we don’t like how they’re doing their jobs, we can throw them out of office.

  • voltairesmistress

    RichardC, Do you think San Francisco mayors and most supervisors are held accountable by the general public? Last time I looked political figures danced to the tune of some power brokers (real estate, building trades, tech corporations) and a few “Democratic” clubs harboring city employees, city contract holders, would-be future politicians, poverty pimps, and people who profit from slice-and-dice identity politics. The bulk of city residents remain complacent and uninformed. There is no accountability under these conditions. Ballot box initiatives are a symptom of government unaccountability, not a cause of it.

  • helloandyhihi

    If Wiener ran, how realistic would it be for him to unseat Lee? Are there any recent polls about Lee? He hasn’t taken a position on anything. Do San Franciscans who don’t follow how terrible he is with transit like him?

  • voltairesmistress

    I saw some inconclusive 2013 polls showing Ammiano, Avalos, Agnos, etc., but no mention of Wiener as a possible candidate in those polls. So I have no idea.

  • 94110

    So… What are a San Francisco mayor’s powers over a supervisor? Living in Wiener’s district, should I expect all the bike lanes torn up, the bus routes re-routed, the J to turn into a subway that expresses from market to Glen Park, the Golden Hydrant to be moved to City Hall, and half of Dolores Park to be turned into a heap of loose dirt?

    Or will Rose Pak just ensure Wiener never gets elected again?

  • MPetrelis

    I’m on the fall ballot as a candidate for District 8 Supervisor and I hope readers of Streetsblog will cruise over to my sites and check out my campaign and concerns:


    Please be sure to register to vote and that your registration is updated by the Dept of Elections if you’ve recently moved. Thanks!

  • Lee Ross

    Well. The SFBC wants to keep its influence at City Hall. So, it needs to do the politically expedient thing, Not necessarily the politically correct one. Hey. Welcome to politics in San Francisco. Or anywhere for that matter.

  • djconnel

    Debt. He’s been quite clear on that.

  • p_chazz

    The article said that the mayor’s office would target programs near and dear to the six supervisors who put the measure on the ballot. So does that mean Ed Lee will cut AIDS prevention and early childhood development funding because those programs are supported by the six supervisors? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! Sounds like an empty threat to me.

  • coolbabybookworm

    I agree with you, but the endorsements are chosen by member vote and Lee came in third. Because of the ranked choice voting that meant that Ed Lee came in third in the endorsements sheet. Still not an excuse, but at the time the interim mayor had some nice things to say about bikes, even if it was obviously posturing and no substance.

  • djconnel

    The vote was held way too early in the campaign cycle such that the vast majority of those participating were inadequately informed. SFBC was still accountable for the process and for the result. Can you say they would have stood by Lee no matter what he said or did during the subsequent campaign? The organization needs to educate its membership on who best represents the interest of sane transportation policy, and that knowledge only comes after a sufficient period of debate.

  • coolbabybookworm

    100% agree, during the election I very much did not and do not currently support Lee.

  • SFBC endorsements are NOT chosen by member vote–the “vote” is just a very misleading straw poll. Endorsements are made by their executive committee, and the SFBC will not even release the results of the membership “vote.”

  • coolbabybookworm

    Oh interesting, I wasn’t a member during the last election but I thought that’s what had happened. If you’re right then that’s pretty shady and a huge mistake since Ed Lee has not been a friend of the coalition.

  • murphstahoe

    By this theory, and by what the article says, it would go like this. The Mayor lays down a budget. The Supes think more should go to MUNI and refuse to approve his budget. Gridlock.

  • murphstahoe

    Maybe Ed Lee will try to rescind the nudity ban!

  • Sean

    I can’t believe this guy. Gavin Newsom with a mustache.

  • coolbabybookworm

    I can only hope. And re-open the parks 24 hours.

  • J S
  • voltairesmistress

    Newsom had vision and a brain. Even if you didn’t agree with him, at least you knew he was really smart and wanted the city to develop and change for what he saw as the better. Ed Lee is dumber than a bag of wet sand and wants to keep feeding the perennial animals at the public trough. Status quo.

  • BBnet3000

    “When Mayor Lee rides Muni, it’s a photo op.”

    Yep. Anyone remember the video of a Muni Metro train in the tunnel driving with the door open, that someone noticed Supervisor Weiner was in? Theres zero chance of anyone catching even a very old video of Lee on Muni.

  • Sean

    I am surprised you are defending that guy. He drove across the street for a energy meeting one day, blocked bike and bus lanes, and probably never rode MUNI. That’s just his transport policy. He just wanted to schmooze with the Gettys. After he lost the Governor bid he got the Lt. Guv post even though he didn’t even know what that position does.

  • RichardC

    Or maybe, just maybe, they realize that nothing will get done and no one will look good if there isn’t a budget, and they sit down and hammer out a compromise that increases Muni some but not as much as the Mayor would like. That’s what we hire them to do. At least they’d be looking at the budget as a whole instead of just permanently dedicating X% of funding for priority Y without considering the trade-offs as a whole.

  • RichardC

    So politicians are the problem, but ballot measures are never designed and paid for by special interests…

  • RichardC

    Correction: *as much as the supervisors would like*

  • voltairesmistress

    Did not know those details. Heard some of his talks which were sometimes interesting and innovative.

  • timsmith

    Agreed. Newsom was Mayor Press Release, and cared more about electric car chargers than basic transportation improvements. Not to mention he skipped town as soon as he left his job — hardly a man committed to the city, despite his considerable wealth and ability to purchase a luxurious home here.

  • Paul Mills

    If Wiener was a billionaire Lee would probably like his plan. Lee prefers the plans and games of billionaires (8 Washington, America’s Cup, Warriors Stadium–his hopeful legacy no less, etc). Lee doesn’t seem to get that his role is to build a great city and a city of equity. He fails to see that cities have an affirmative obligation to meet the needs of not only high wage earners, but also those of moderate and low income because the existence of one causes the existence of the other, and cities can not discriminate against the needs of one over the other. Lee doesn’t seem to understand the ethics of a good transportation plan.

  • voltairesmistress

    Actually, the bulk of SF ballot measures are put on ballot by the mayor and the supervisors. Sometimes these are necessary charter amendments or fees and bonds that must be approved by voters by law . But other times it’s because one branch of government is frustrated by another. Or sometimes it’s because the mayor wants to avoid a tough policy issue (like pension/ benefits reform) and so punts it to voters who have limited amounts of information on which to judge the matter. Still others are, as you suggest, put on by special monied interests, and others by activist groups like the Sierra Club, often opposing political deals made between government and well-positioned developers. So one really can’t generalize as you are doing and call all ballot measures a poor governing practice.

  • p_chazz

    SFBC is practically a branch of City government. Of course they supported Ed Lee.

  • Justin


  • Parque_Hundido

    Lee claimed he didn’t want to be mayor. Now he’s a scum sucking pig who can’t step back from the trough. Why back MUNI when billionaire buddies want free parking?

  • Greg

    The office of the mayor in SF has little power- this city has been run by the Board of Supervisors for many years, who have run in terribly. This is unlikely to change. Place the blame where it belongs.

  • EssEffOh

    “The office of the mayor in SF has little power- this city has been run by the Board of Supervisors for many years, who have run in terribly.”

    ??????????????? This is an utterly absurd statement. The mayor of SF has tremendous power. Far more than the board of Supes. You clearly have no clue what you are talking about.

    The mayor appoints the leadership to, and runs every City department. He makes a disproportionate number of appointments to every City commission. The mayor of SF is the only mayor in the country who makes appointments to vacant seats in the legislative branch (in this case the Board of Supes).

    Again, you clearly have no clue what you are talking about. None. Zero. Reality is the exact opposite of what you say it is.


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