He hates these cans! How helping Muni becomes hating nonprofits

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He hates these cans! Or rather, Wiener hates these nonprofits!

While I’m reluctant to give this self-serving poverty pimp any more attention or web traffic, it’s hard to ignore the latest misleading hit piece that Randy Shaw has written on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee, going after Sup. Scott Wiener and his Muni funding measure Prop. B.

As many local media outlets have reported, the Mayor’s Office has been fuming that Wiener dared to put the measure on the ballot in response to Lee reneging on his promise to put a local vehicle license fee increase on the fall ballot to help Muni serve a growing population of residents and workers -- and threatening political retaliation.

So Shaw has been using his BeyondChron website to defend the financial interests of his city-supported Tenderloin Housing Clinic and other pet projects that this nascent Tenderloin power broker has been working on, in the process providing propaganda pieces for the Mayor’s Office, which supports Shaw with money from city taxpayers.

This cozy and symbiotic relationship is never disclosed by Shaw when he writes stories that he promotes as actual journalism, a practice that we’ve repeatedly taken issue with. We also contacted Shaw for comment, something he doesn’t do when attacking the Guardian, but we got no response.  

Wiener isn’t always the most progressive supervisor, but he’s been a solid and consistent supporter of Muni and modernizing the city’s transportation infrastructure, arguing correctly that San Francisco needs good public transit to function well, a point that civic groups ranging from SPUR to Livable City also regularly make.  

But the only reason Shaw can see for Prop. B is that Wiener hates nonprofits: “I understand why Wiener backs Prop B. Wiener is the Board member most opposed to nonprofits. He fought to eliminate the nonprofit exemption on Transit Impact Development Fees.  Wiener pushed for the proposed Vehicle License Fee to go 100 percent to transit, though it had originally been intended to be partially available for human services.”

The argument, of course, is ludicrous. In fact, it reminds me of the scene in The Jerk where a sniper aiming for Steve Martin misses and hits oil cans, causing Martin’s dim-witted character to conclude, “He hates these cans!.

No, Randy, Wiener doesn’t hate nonprofits. He supports Muni, which is also the common denominator in that list you cited. And no, Randy, the salaries of nonprofit workers aren’t the only place to find $20 million in the General Fund, as the Guardian showed during our city budget overview earlier this year.   

Shaw also claims Muni funding has kept pace with population growth — which, if true, would mean it wouldn’t get any more money under Prop. B — but Shaw uses misleading data that ignores the SFMTA reorganization measure Prop. A from 2007, the raid of SFMTA funding that followed using “work orders” from city departments, Muni’s deferred maintenance backlog of more than $2 billion, and the fact that SFMTA’s budget increases lag behind other major departments (such as the Department of Public Health and the Police Department) even with this week’s 25-cent Muni fare increase.

As former Guardian Editor/Publisher Tim Redmond used to say regularly: not everything gets better when you throw more money at it, but schools and public transit do. Money translates directly into more capacity to serve students or riders, including the growing number of local workers Muni is serving on top of the increasing local population.

This makes sense to most people, whether or not they support Prop. B and giving more General Fund money to Muni, a legitimate question about which well-meaning people can have good-faith differences of opinion over. But Shaw isn’t one of those people, and to him, Wiener just hates those cans. 

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