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San Francisco, California--
Mayoral candidates Willie Brown, Roberta Achtenberg, and Ben Hom attacked incumbent Frank Jordan last night at a forum held at the University of San Francisco. The campaign issues drawing the most heat were public transportation and the police department.
"This administration," said former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, "has dropped the ball completely. The business of maintenance has gone down to one team of maintenance persons--nine to five, five days a week. This administration has reduced the amount of money available to sweep and clean the buses, and that is why there are so many roaches on the few buses that are in fact running. You reelect this administration and muni will continue to deteriorate as it has over the last three-and-a-half years; you reelect anybody else and you got a shot at making muni work."
Jordan defended his record, and discussed what he felt were some of muni's real problems.
"You have a driver who can get up in the morning and decide not to come to work, doesn't have to call a supervisor, and the supervisor doesn't have a right to call him. He can do that up to 16 times a year without a penalty. There are 20 work rules like this that cost you money."
In addition, Jordan said muni contracts had $10 million in sloppy spending.
But businessman Hom offered a different vision: "We have to bring the muni away from city government into a separate muni transit district. There's no accountability." Hom argued that Jordan's 10-million dollar figure was actually only five million.
Progressive candidate Achtenberg offered still another vision: "You are entitled to safe, clean buses, more buses running on the street and on time, less bunched up and more appropriately routed." She offered no concrete plan, however, for rerouting San Francisco's buses.
As expected, candidates were critical of the police department. All said that police chief Ribera should be replaced.
"Currently the police chief spends more time in depositions, and in court on matters of accusations against him, than against defendants whom he arrested," Brown said drawing laughter and applause.
Candidate Achtenberg said that because the police department has suffered accusations of "brutality and corruption, sex harassment by some of the highest ranking officers of the department, it is appropriately described as in disarray and in need of house cleaning."
Criticism sparked throughout the forum, but candidates will likely turn up the heat Friday night at 5 PM at Golden Gate University when the mayoral candidates debate.
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