CPUC fines BART $1.3 million for worker deaths during 2013 strike

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfeaxminer – excerpt

California regulators preliminarily fined BART $1.3 million Thursday for “safety failures” that led to a train striking and killing two BART workers in 2013.

Those deaths came amid a heated BART strike that brought the transit agency to a grinding halt, as workers picketed for better wages and increased safety procedures… (more)

Lawsuit targets toll authority over $3 bridge toll increase

By Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — A taxpayers association, on behalf of three plaintiffs from Vallejo, Vacaville and Lodi, is challenging a recently approved $3 bridge toll increase in state court — a move that could potentially delay or eliminate the measure.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed the suit Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court against the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). It challenges the notion that Regional Measure 3, which voters approved last month, is a “fee” requiring only a simple majority to pass, rather than a “tax,” which requires two-thirds voter approval.

The suit asks that the toll be invalidated…

That’s not a fair increase for the drivers who will be footing the bill for public transit or bicycle and pedestrian projects, which together account for roughly two-thirds of the planned projects, said Timothy Bittle, a lawyer for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. …

Prop 26, which voters approved in 2010, broadened the definition of a tax to include many payments previously considered to be fees, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Fees that benefit the public broadly — rather than providing services directly to the fee payer, such as garbage fees or state park entrance fees — would be considered a tax under Prop 26, the analyst’s office said…(more)

SAVE NORTH BEACH VILLAGE: movie night for the neighborhood


Film Night: Woman on the Run (1950). Join us at The Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno St (behind The Saloon), Thursday, February 27 at 7. Doors open at 6:30, program 7:00 to 9:00. $5 suggested donation, complimentary snacks, drinks by donation. More information and map.
There will be a brief update on the legal action to protect North Beach historic buildings and parks. Following will be a screening of Woman on the Run, a fine film noir shot in North Beach (77 minutes runtime). Follow Ann Sheridan as she searches for her husband throughout 1950’s San Francisco and North Beach, aided by reporter Dennis O’Keefe. Snappy and witty dialog, and scenes of the neighborhood as it was more than 60 years ago.
Legal action update: We’re in continued discussions with Muni and the Feds over the Pagoda Option. News on the outcome of discussions within a few weeks. See Legal action. Please donate to the legal fund so we can continue this action to protect historic North Beach… (more)

With little wiggle room, Muni trusting controversial contractor for Central Subway work

By: Will Reisman :sfexaminer – excerpt

Operating under a tight schedule and even tighter budget, Muni is about to hand over its $1.6 billion Central Subway plan to a man who has a contentious history with The City and a reputation for exceeding project costs…
Tutor, a billionaire construction magnate, has successfully overseen an array of multimillion-dollar undertakings across the country. He’s also been sued a number of times, including once by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
In 2002, Herrera accused Tutor of defrauding city taxpayers by increasing the cost of a rehabilitation project at San Francisco International Airport from $620 million to $980 million. The two sides eventually settled, with Tutor paying The City $19 million…
Tutor has been demonized by his critics for initially bidding low for projects and then adjusting the cost upward, a practice called change-order contracting. In 1992, then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley said Tutor was “the greatest change-order artist I’ve ever seen.”
A report last year by The Bay Citizen found that 11 projects overseen by Tutor in the Bay Area exceeded their costs by a collective $765 million…
Director Tom Nolan, president of the transit agency’s board, said he was aware of Tutor’s reputation for change orders but did not know about Herrera’s lawsuit.
“This is far from perfect,” Nolan said. “But putting this out to bid again would have put us way behind schedule.”… (more)

Haven’t we heard this tune before?

Central Subway Project Well Over Budget