Expect Muni-Related Drama at Today's Supes Meeting

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Bryan Dempler
We predict service cuts will miss their train...
The Board of Supervisors today will weigh in on a highly technical matter -- but one that affects hundreds of thousands of people, and draws hundreds of enraged commentators at city meetings. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, for one, is expecting there'll be little technical commentary -- but lots of theatrics.

What's at stake is an appeal filed by Muni "activist David Pilpel (and we use that term in its San Francisco connotation) regarding 10 percent service cuts the agency has slated for May 1. Here's the nitty gritty, as short as we can do it: While the supes have no say in whether Muni opts to cut service or not, Pilpel charges the city's planning department violated state law by allowing Muni to declare a fiscal state of emergency and forego a lengthy environmental review prior to approving the service cuts -- which will save Muni $28.5 million.

If six supes agree with Pilpel it would stave off those service cuts until after the aforementioned environmental review has been completed -- costing Muni millions. Do you think you could find six supervisors to go out on a limb and play to the crowd by denouncing service cuts? Yeah, so do we.

And so does Elsbernd.

"It's not a question of whether service cuts are good or bad," says Elsbernd. "What's been appealed is, did the planning department issue a proper categorical exemption" to Muni? 

In other words, Elsbernd hopes the discussion focuses on whether the city followed the letter of the law -- not whether grandpa won't be able to leave his apartment ever again because service cuts are the worst thing since Hitler, and Muni should be free, anyway, you fascist bastards. Perhaps tellingly, the supervisor said the discussion would work out this way in his "dream world."

He predicts today's meeting will "be a bunch of B.S. We're not going to talk about the categorical exemption. It'll be an excuse to beat up the [Municpal Transportation Agency] pinata."

That being said, Board President David Chiu told SF Weekly he sees today's matter as a question of exemptions and state environmental law -- and not a referendum on service cuts. Chiu said he'll hear today's appeal and make his decision "after getting both sides." We didn't get a hold of any of Chiu or Elsbernd's colleagues to see how they felt. But we'll know what they were thinking by the end of tonight's meeting.

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