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Central Subway project cooks the books

April 11, 2014

by district5diary : (Covering Their Tracks) in the SF Weekly - excerpt

LaVonda Atkinson laughs bitterly, shakes her head, and grins. “Your article”—the article you’re now reading—”is gonna get me fired.” It is, after all, dangerous to stand in the path of a train. That’s especially so in the case of Muni’s long-gestating Central Subway project: a $1.6 billion, 1.7-mile extension to Chinatown and eventually, if vocal civic boosters get their way, along to Fisherman’s Wharf for millions, if not billions, more. The Central Subway is a transit line. But it’s also a monument to the coercive role of politics in the realm of transit planning. It’s a pet project of the city’s most powerful influence-peddlers, virtually every electable politician, and our federal representatives in Washington, D.C., disseminating largesse back to the home front. Atkinson is the project’s cost engineer. It’s her job to ensure the numbers add up. They don’t.

Not surprising that the folks building the Central Subway are cooking the books as they go along, since Save Muni—not cited in the article—has been documenting the project’s many problems and deceptions from the start. It’s an obviously flawed oversight approach that makes the project’s cost engineer risk getting fired for blowing the whistle or have to go along with a dishonest practice…

The prose in the Weekly story reads like a teenager’s first attempt at writing—or “Writing”—for the school paper. Muni doesn’t “sign” a contract; it “inks” it. Muni didn’t “buy” or just “get” a computer program; it “acquired” it. The feds don’t just “read” contracts; they “peruse” them. “Prior” is chosen instead of “before,” and “subsequent” gets used before “after.” A schedule is not “completed”; it has to be “finalized.” There are “myriad” line items, when “many” would have been enough. A mere “letter” is transformed into a “missive.” And “luxuriate” is used incorrectly instead of “linger.”
The SF Weekly deserves credit for opposing the Central Project early on.

Of course the Board of Lemmings unanimously supports the Central Subway project… (more)


Bus-Blocking Protesters Call Out Google Staffer Who’s Allegedly Trying To Evict Guerrero Street Tenants

April 11, 2014

by Laura Dixon - sfappeal – excerpt

Dozens of protesters in San Francisco blocked a bus headed for Google headquarters this morning and dozens more are expected during a march this afternoon to rally against the evictions of local teachers and other longtime city residents.

Protesters from Eviction Free San Francisco and other groups blocked a Google bus at Dolores and 18th streets starting around 8:30 a.m. The protest went on for about 20 minutes before police cleared the scene, according to protest organizer Becca Gourevitch.

Attendees heard from longtime residents of a building at 812 Guerrero St. who are being evicted under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows property owners to take a building off of the rental market and convert it for other uses, such as condominiums or a single-family home.

The building was recently purchased by a Google employee who “proceeded to evict tenants using illegal methods,” according to a statement from Eviction Free San Francisco… (more)

If this is a true story we have a evidence that the Google employees who ride the buses are directly effecting the displacement of San Francisco residents by evicting them. Whether these evictions are legal or not, we have to ask ourselves, should they be, and what can be done to change the laws to protect ourselves?


Why isn’t S.F. Mayor Ed Lee fighting Prop. B?

April 7, 2014

By John Coté : sfgate – excerpt

In January, Mayor Ed Lee stood against the backdrop of a construction site overlooking the bay during his State of the City address and called for 30,000 new or rehabilitated homes to be built in San Francisco by 2020.

Since then, a measure has qualified for the June ballot that members of Lee’s administration say could threaten the construction of up to 3,690 planned housing units. Yet the mayor, who otherwise has appeared eager to tackle the city’s housing crisis during the current tech boom, has so far refused to take a public stance on a proposal that could put a sizable dent in his stated goal.

The reason, according to political analysts, is simple: politics… (more)


Time for the Giants to play ball on Prop. B

April 6, 2014

Art Agnos and Quentin Kopp : sfgate – excerpt

Now that a judge has ruled Proposition B – the Waterfront Height Limit Right to Vote Initiative – will remain on the June ballot, it’s the right time for the San Francisco Giants to drop their opposition to this commonsense ballot measure…

Proposition B would simply require that, before the existing waterfront height limits along the 7 1/2 miles of Port of San Francisco property stretching from Fisherman’s Wharf to Bayview Hunters Point can be increased, the voters must approve the changes. The rest of the city’s planning process would stay the same. In exactly the same fashion as the Giants’ ballpark was conceived, shaped and put before the people, Prop. B would encourage prospective waterfront developers, the Port Commission and politicians at City Hall to only propose tall buildings along the waterfront if those projects will make sense to the voters. Currently, the system is one that excludes the public and allows the kind of backroom deals and rubber-stamping that led to the City Hall approval of the 8 Washington luxury condo towers deal, only to be rejected by two-thirds of San Francisco voters last fall. We don’t need more 8 Washington schemes.

We note that the Warriors and Forest City Development, which propose two waterfront projects requiring voter approval under Proposition B, publicly state that they are not opposed to Proposition B. The Giants should not fear San Francisco voters. Instead, they should join the Sierra Club, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and so many San Franciscans who will be voting Yes on Proposition B this June. Let’s work together to win one for our waterfront… (more)


SF MTA City Whistle-Blower’s Lament: An Itemized List of How Muni Obscured Its Budget

April 2, 2014


SFMTA obscured its budget

Originally posted on Meter Madness:

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

LaVonda Atkinson, the cost engineer for the Central Subway project, this year filed a complaint with the city’s whistle-blower program alleging serious lapses in accounting procedures and unethical behavior on the $1.578 billion project. Among her more disturbing charges reported to SF Weekly:

  • A Muni official, in writing, acknowledges plugging a “make-up #” into a federally reported document in order to maintain the desired total budget: a “make-up #” $30 million off from the data within that very document and $43 million greater than the prior month’s reported total.
  • Atkinson claims she was instructed to override computer formulas and manually reduce cost variances to zero — obscuring millions of dollars of month-to-month reassignments of budgets and expenditures, often on projects completed as long ago as 2010. As such, budgets are retroactively altered to match actual expenditures, and then the alterations themselves are hidden…

View original 244 more words

Boom for Whom?

March 31, 2014

Why isn’t San Francisco’s hot economy creating a budget surplus to address its costly byproducts?

San Francisco’s economy is booming these days, fueled by the latest dot-com bubble and a hot real estate market, sending more than expected tax revenue into city coffers. So why doesn’t San Francisco have a big budget surplus to help address the gentrification and displacement triggered by the boom?

The lack of satisfying answers to that question is adding to the populist political outrage that is now animating the city, from the regular street protests against evictions and rising income inequality to the corridors of City Hall, where labors leaders and progressive activists are calling for a repeal of the corporate welfare policies adopted by the Mayor’s Office… (more)

State Senator: California Not Prepared For Accident Involving Train Carrying Crude Oil

March 24, 2014

By Monte Francis and Vince Cestone : nbcbayarea – excerpt

The California Energy Commission said the amount of crude oil being transported by train to the Bay Area has sky rocketed thanks to an oil boom in North Dakota and Canada–but that is raising concerns with at least one state lawmaker.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is worried about what could happen if there is an accident. Sen. Hill held a hearing about this very issue in Sacramento, and he said California is not prepared if there is an accident involving one of these trains.

Hill said in 2011, there were 9,000 tank cars filled with oil brought into California from out of state. By 2016, that number is expected to reach 200,000 tank cars.

Hill said that amounts to about 2.7 million gallons of oil being carried by each train. The trains are operated mostly by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and they travel through Solano and Contra Costa counties.


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