This Thursday, the Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hold a hearing to discuss a recent audit by the Office of the Budget and Legislative Analyst. The subject of the audit is The City’s advertising policies and practices. The report covers all departments that receive advertising revenue, but the harshest criticism is reserved for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
Now, while the bar is admittedly low, budget analyst Harvey Rose and SFMTA Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose are two of my favorite people at City Hall, so I read the report with utter fascination. I give you my dramatic interpretation of the barbs flung back and forth between Rose and Bose.
Rose: Do you even know where the available advertising spaces are on vehicles and in the five city parking lots? How can you be sure that all the space is being maximized without that information?
Bose: Titan is the company with whom we contract to sell ad space on transit vehicles and in parking lots. And Titan’s sole purpose is to make money. I trust that if there is a square inch of surface somewhere that they could paper over, they would.
Rose: Are you sure? Because since 2009 when it contracted for the rights to sell ads in The City’s parking lots, Titan hasn’t sold squat.
Bose: We’re in a recession, you know. Companies aren’t lining up to pay to hang signs in garages.
Rose: The airport seems to be doing bang-up business in selling ads in their parking lots.
Bose: Yes, the airport gets Virgin Airlines and we get Bob’s Beef Jerky Emporium.
Rose: Well, at least you could make sure that the unsold ad space on buses and light-rail vehicles is clean.
Bose: We employ people who clean the entire vehicle from top to bottom, which includes unused ad space. They then replace it with brand new graffiti.
Rose: I know, I have pictures to prove it. And speaking of cleanliness, the company that sells ads on our bus shelters and kiosks, Clear Channel, is supposed to inspect each structure at least twice per week to remove graffiti or repair damage. The MTA doesn’t check to make sure this is being done.
Bose: Trust me, these Clear Channel guys are doing a much better job than the guys we had before. They kept getting run over by the buses. Plus, you can’t keep these bus stops graffiti-free 100 percent of the time.
Rose: I’d settle for 90 percent. Maybe it’s money? Right now Clear Channel is supposed to have built 1,100 shelters, but it’s only operating 1,063, amounting to about $840,000 in lost revenue.
Bose: Have you ever tried to get a permit to put up a structure in this city? Ugh! What a pain!
Rose: True, but Clear Channel hasn’t even applied for a permit since at least 2008. Also, in three years, Clear Channel is obligated to have replaced those existing 1,100 shelters with new ones. They have completed 100 so far. They also have four years to put up 3,000 new transit poles at stops without shelters and haven’t even started. I just don’t see how those new structures are going to be completed on schedule. But you all know about being late, right? Hah!
Bose: Zip it, nerd. Everything will be fine.
The only celebrity I’ve seen in the past year was Frank “Twelve Galaxies” Chu walking down Powell Street. I’m apparently hanging out in the wrong places because the San Francisco Film Commission’s annual report is in, and it looks like eight feature films were shot right here in our fair city between July 2010 and June 2011.
The Film Commission deserves our gratitude for ensuring that San Francisco is front and center in so many movies, even “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” According to the report, in this fiscal year there was a 26 percent increase in shooting days and at least a thousand locals were employed by these productions.
But my favorite part of the report is this little gem: “A number of international production companies also chose San Francisco as a location, including … ‘Rose Wedding,’ a popular television show from China featuring 10 couples who compete to win a dream wedding in California. For this show, Supervisor Carmen Chu married the couples in the rotunda of City Hall.”
While some would argue that our local politicians are always “at recess,” they were officially on a break for the past five weeks. Having announced his intention to run for mayor right before the hiatus, Mayor Ed Lee bought himself some time to drone on about the “civility” he has brought to City Hall.
With the Board of Supervisors ready to resume official city business, we’ll all get to see how “civil” things are around City Hall with Lee as a candidate instead of the friendly neighborhood placeholder.
Discussions over whether and how to allow CPMC to expand will be the next big brouhaha, and with Lee at the center of the negotiations, he’ll be a big target. Also, legislation amending the Healthy San Francisco law will be
back up for consideration and the mayor may find himself on the opposite side of that issue from other mayoral candidates David Chiu and John Avalos.
Finally, Supervisor Scott Wiener has called for a hearing on middle-income housing, which will be the perfect stage for mayoral hopefuls to give thinly veiled campaign speeches, make empty promises and attack other
Aside from the fact that mayor question time might actually be interesting, we’ll probably be back to uncivil business as usual.