Don’t Blame Striking Workers, Blame MTC

SUNDAY COLUMN | How about blaming the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) on Monday morning when your car is sitting in traffic, instead of workers? Oh, you don’t know what or who MTC is? That’s exactly how they like it. Starting on Monday, the East Bay could be in the middle of one major traffic jam, but it is also a significant show of the area’s strength in the labor movement. Not only might BART workers hit the picket lines, but so too might AC Transit workers and Oakland city employees. If the progressive New York Times loved Oakland before, imagine their admiration when public workers shut down the region?

The hacks in the corporate media, of course, hardly disguise their disdain for workers. In the past week, the drumbeat has aimed at cajoling you into blaming public employees. It’s not about the issues of health care and pensions they report (you, of course, probably face the same problems at you private sector job, but never mind). Instead, it’s those striking workers who are going to gravely affect your life. The trick is dastardly and contains some of the same corporate media tricks used during the Occupy Oakland protests (I that case the line was these people protesting “need to get a job.)

However, here’s an alternate reading of the situation. If any group is to blame it’s MTC, the shadowy, half unelected and elected commission that oversees transportation in the Bay Area. They’re the same bunch of bureaucrats who fucked up the new Bay Bridge. Not only does MTC have problems with overseeing the region’s biggest public works projects, but it also has problems with planning. Why isn’t anybody questioning the supreme stupidity of allowing not one, but two labor contracts with BART and AC Transit workers to expire on the very same day. Add in Oakland public employees and talk about strength in numbers when it comes to negotiations between management and any one of the labor groups.

Oh, you don’t think management at BART and AC Transit have anything to do with MTC, at least, not officially, well keep thinking that way, because that’s their aim. How can you blame a group with no recognizable face? Conversely, the “bad guys” created by the corporate media at the behest of the One Percent look just like you and me and work just as hard. Now, just pay them so I can pay my $8.50 to get from the BART Fruitvale station to San Bruno.

Quotable
“You know what? I don’t know, maybe I should freaking run for mayor of this city and the more I think about it, the more and more I’m just waiting for a signal from God.”
Larry Reid, Oakland council member June 27 during the approval of rival’s budget plan.

The Week That Was
>>>Alameda Point’s forward: The Navy handed over 1,300 acres of prime waterfront real estate at Alameda Point this week, but trouble could lie beneath. The deal is a great opportunity for Alameda and also could be a beacon for shady deals and developers. The land below is also a toxic wasteland. Who knows what we’ll find in the ground or what creatures slithering above it.

>>>Budgets approved in Oakland, Alameda County: Oakland approved a new two-year, $2 billion budget this week with some contention between slightly differing proposals. Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and newbies Dan Kalb and Lynette Gibson McElhaney came out on top and may signal a new direction for the moribund council. The county also passed its own $2.7 billion budget. With an improving economy, the county was able to shrink an $80 million shortfall–the lowest in five years–without excruciating cuts. Workers even got a cost-of-living increase for the first time in five years.

>>>I do: Civil rights history was made with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act and leaving Proposition 8 to die on the vine. The seeds of the victory for society and LGBT community, as we all know, started in the Bay Area. At least, one East Bay official decided to tie the knot this weekend. Meanwhile, Hayward’s first openly gay elected official, former Councilman Kevin Dowling, said on Facebook that he’s still looking for “Mr. Right.”

>>>Nothing odd here, look away: Questions still linger as to why Eric Swalwell Sr. was sitting on the Alameda County civil grand jury for the last 10 months while his son was playing Camp Congress? In the meantime, a weak grand jury report hit none of Swalwell, Jr’s supporters, even though Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty was sitting there like a dead duck following a long list of accusations by former chief of staff.

Tweet of the Week
“After deciding to adjourn in memory of Nelson Mandela, Oakland council discovers that he’s not dead. #oakmtg”
-@matthai, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Oakland City Hall beat reporter tweeting June 27. Matthai Kuruvila announced the same night that he’s leaving the paper for a new job at the city of Berkeley. He will be missed.

Best Reads
>>>Although some are equating the release of “Fruitvale Station,” the Oscar Grant film, to the ongoing Trayvon Martin shooting, the story is far more complicated. (Los Angeles Times, June 28.)

Voice of the People
“No one cares about the kids of Hayward. :(“
Anonymous, commenting June 29 on “How Hayward’s New Superintendent Wanted The Job, Quit The Job, Got The Job.”

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