The Board of San Francisco’s BART balked last Tuesday on a “call to declare the popular commuter line a ‘sanctuary’ system after being warned that the word might be seen as provocative by the Trump administration, possibly putting millions of dollars of federal funding in peril,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week.
In a surprising move that put a damper on the mood at a board meeting, where those gathered reportedly expected a bold declaration of “sanctuary” to be made, BART’s general manager, Grace Crunican, wanted it read into the record on Monday that the financially strapped system received about $55 million from the federal government last year.
The Chronicle reported that “Crunican said the ‘unpleasant facts’ are that the Trump administration has made threats about cutting funding to sanctuary cities — and to sanctuary transit agencies as well.”
BART’s labor troubles made front page news in 2013 when the powerful Amalgamated Transit Union staged a strike and shut down the rail system, crippling the Bay Area as hundreds of thousands who depend on the system were stranded. The union won exorbitant pay, pension and benefit increases, putting a tremendous strain on the Bay Area’s critical transit system.
With little financial room to maneuver, BART’s cautious move was a departure from the previously strident tone of defiance the City of San Francisco had taken toward the Trump administration.
Trump elevated the tragic death of San Francisco’s own Kate Steinle to international status, making her a symbol for the victims of criminal aliens, and illustrating the unspoken dangers of sanctuary policy.
At the board meeting, when BART general counsel Matthew Burrows made the point that while the potential funding cuts could ultimately be reversed, the use of the word “sanctuary” might be seen as provocative, the room reportedly fell silent.