If BART directors want to figure out what went wrong with last year's labor negotiations, they could save themselves a $225,000 consulting fee and just look in the mirror.
They could start with Director James Fang of San Francisco, who chairs a special four-member board subcommittee created to figure out how to avoid another collective bargaining debacle.
For those who don't recall, Fang was walking the picket lines with the workers while the district's negotiators were at the bargaining table. Maybe, just maybe, that sent the wrong message to the unions.
At the subcommittee's recommendation, the full board last week hired a consultant to dissect the negotiations. Of course, during the bargaining last year, the board hired a lead negotiator but ultimately ignored him.
As soon as he left town, BART's operations manager and two staff attorneys cut a deal that increased the district's salary and benefits offer 48 percent. How did directors reward them and General Manager Grace Crunican, the staff person ultimately responsible for this fiasco?
The board gave those top managers the same raises they had negotiated with the labor unions. In other words, top managers effectively were at the table bargaining for their own raises. Maybe, just maybe, that sends the wrong message to riders and taxpayers.
After the fact, it became clear that operations manager Paul Oversier was more concerned with ending the strike than controlling costs. And Crunican, for all her tough talk, lacked negotiating experience and backbone to stand up to the unions. She clearly was out of her depth and overwhelmed by the process.
As for BART directors, they simply caved to the unions and meddling local politicians, selling out their constituents to benefit labor backers who fund their campaigns.
BART board President Joel Keller's dubious claim that he wants recommendations for the future became laughable when he cynically appointed Fang to lead the special subcommittee that will make them. In the spirit of that nonsensical exercise, we offer our own recommendations:
They have no reason to.