I'll pay more to save the city - but I don't want to feel like a chump.
Well, most of you got the joke. A few angry phone calls and e-mails came in wondering how we could possibly have endorsed a guy who deports immigrant kids, breaks up families, panders to downtown, and doesn't have time to run the city. And one person wondered how we got his front tooth to sparkle like that (computers), but in general, readers figured out that Gavin Newsom is not our candidate for governor of California or president of the United States. And that rumor about Ross Mirkarimi and the ring-tailed lemur fashion disaster isn't true, either or at least, he fervently denies it.
I guess everyone needs a laugh these days, because the world was full of great April Fool's jokes. My favorite, I think, was perpetrated by both the Guardian of London and Mountain Xpress, an alternative weekly in Ashville, N.C. They both announced they were ceasing print and Web publication and becoming "Twitter-only." Mountain Xpress dubbed its new venture the "Twaper." The Guardian explained that anything worth covering could be covered fine in 140 characters.
And it's some kind of statement on the condition of newspapers today that so many people totally bought it.
San Francisco transportation officials announced this week that they're going to raise prices of parking meters, increase the hours when the meters are in effect, and possibly end free Sunday parking. That's supposed to generate $9.5 million in new revenue, which could help stave off some Muni cuts.
I have no problem with this parking ought to be relatively expensive, and people who drive cars are (generally) better able to afford a fee increase than people who ride the bus. Soon they're going to need meters that take dollar bills, because it's getting hard to carry enough quarters in your pocket to pay for an hour's parking.
But let's not forget what this actually is. It's a tax a tax on people who, for whatever reason, park their vehicles for a short time on city streets in commercial areas. That $9.5 million isn't just free money, any more than the money Gov. Schwarzenegger thinks California will get by better promoting the lottery is free money. Somebody pays.
And when we start looking at this year's city budget, we need to look not just at what's being cut and what revenue might come in, but at who's paying to balance the more than $400 million tab.
City workers have already agreed to pay part of it. The biggest city-employee union has agreed to accept cutbacks that will amount to more than $40 million, and other unions are expected to follow suit. And of course, a few hundred have already been laid off.
People who swim in city pools are paying the hours have been cut. Sick people are paying city health services have been reduced. Muni riders are going to pay with longer waits and higher fares.
But so far, I don't see Mayor Newsom asking the very wealthy to pay. They don't take buses, they don't park at meters, they don't need free public swimming pools or free health care. I don't see any tax increases hitting any of them.
That's got to be part of the discussion. Because I'll pay more to save the city but I don't want to feel like a chump. *