Bill Hemenger – District 8

Name: Bill Hemenger

Occupation: Candidate for District 8 Supervisor

District: 8

Neighborhood You Live In: Diamond Heights

Date Questionnaire Returned: 9/2/10

1. How often do you rely on Muni to get you around town? 3 to 4 times a month. If not, what do you use instead? My car. What would make it easier for you to choose Muni over other forms of transportation? Stops closer to my home; more frequent service; more lines serving more destinations; consistently on-time service.

2. What are the primary concerns of Muni’s owners (aka riders) about transportation and Muni in your District?

Stops closer to my home; more frequent service; more lines serving more destinations; consistently on-time service.

3. As a Supervisor, you will serve on the Board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. What is the role of the SFCTA, and what would you set as priorities for the agency in the next 4 years?

To oversee the delivery of Prop K funds. To help make sure that every dollar in the budget is being used wisely and with an eye toward long-term growth and sustainability of the system.

4. Difficult decisions often have to be made regarding transportation in San Francisco. Sometimes a well-researched project may have loud, angry opponents, or a popular project may not be the best for City residents and for San Francisco’s transportation infrastructure.

How would you make a decision under these kinds of circumstances? The role of a Supervisor lies at the heart of this question. It is the role of the Supervisor to lead with enthusiasm, wisdom, and compassion all the while doing so diplomatically and with honed negotiating skills. I have done this for the past 25 years and have been very successful at it.

5. What is the Fix Muni Now charter amendment? Do you support it? (Y/N) Why or why not?

The charter amendment will require the TWU to negotiate via collective bargaining, which is standard for all other unions of city employees. I support this reform measure. It is a good start but by no means can equal the end of the battle to bring decent public transportation back to the City. The people of San Francisco are fed up with a second-rate system that is simultaneously bankrupting them while thumbing their nose at them. We need safe, reliable transportation that is financially solvent and prudent.

6. One (of many) causes for Muni’s perennial budget woes was the illegal seizure of state gas tax money by Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature. This has left a large hole in Muni’s income (as well as every transit agency in CA).

How would you make up this gap in Muni revenue? Would you support:

– a local funding source or sources (fees, taxes, or other type of revenue) to avoid future problems caused by the state?

– would you achieve savings through cuts to Muni’s budget, fare increases, etc.

– or, do you have other ideas on how to get Muni out of its annual financial woes? (You can choose more than one option, but just explain it clearly).

The best place to start is with obvious things like looking at successful transit systems throughout the world – not just here in the US.  This is a must. We must look at each and every expense and zero in on the items that are crippling the balance sheet (e.g., salaries, overtime, pensions, maintenance, etc.).  Outsized union influence and irrational demands must be addressed. Not to seem flippant about the issue, but this is not as complicated as it seems. We need to gather subject-matter experts and finally once and for all get to the bottom of how to make transit affordable, reliable and operating within its means.

7. Finally, tell us a story about a funny or unique experience you’ve had on Muni.

It was fall of 1997 and one of the warmest days here in the City that year. I was working downtown on Spear St and lived at Church and 19th.  I was on Muni and one stop away from my usual stop at 20th and Church. The train was packed. I was in a very warm suit, standing up holding on to the grab bar with my right hand and briefcase in the other, inches away from the other riders, packed in like sardines, most of us sweating up a storm at this point because we were not used to the heat. I was about 20 seconds away from the train stopping when the young lady next to me got sick and threw up all over me – down my jacket, down my pants on my brief case.  She was so embarrassed that she said nothing, got off the train at the 20th Street stop, and ran.

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