The Week This Was

Not much is going well this week for the heads-in-the-sand SFMTA and friends. While SFMTA supporters make false allegations against Prop L proponents, and play the blame game, the headlines tell the stories that best explain why residents and commuters are demanding change.

Media blitz September 25, 2014:
How a $900 parking citation became a $25,000 federal lawsuit against SF
No Free Rides: Finally, Inevitably: Muni Is Suing Muni
Rank-and-file S.F. firefighters call for chief’s ouster
S.F. supervisor makes case for fire chief’s ouster
How Transbay Transit Center deal’s collapse would alter S.F.
Possible Golden Gate Bridge District Strike Would Cripple Commute
Carshare reserved parking not favored by everyone
Despite Free Parking, San Francisco Meters Continue Collecting On Sundays
SEIU Local 1021 backs motorist measure and a Republican. WTF?!?!

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SEIU Local 1021 backs motorist measure and a Republican. WTF?!?!

By : sfbg – excerpt

seiu endorses l-1

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 — which has long played an important role in San Francisco’s progressive movement, providing the money and member turnout to achieve some important victories for the left — finds itself at odds with many progressive activists in this election, particularly on the issue of transportation….

So we asked Local 1021 Political Chair Alysabeth Alexander about the endorsement, and she told us: “One of our member leaders is a proponent and the argument that driving is hell in San Francisco resonated with a portion of our membership that drives and for whom public transportation is not an option either because of service cuts and route changes, because their job requires car use, or because they work shifts that don’t work for public transportation or biking. Because of rising housing prices many working people have been pushed out of SF over the years, and many of our workers shifts end or start when BART or Muni isn’t working or isn’t practical. Our union is 100 percent supportive of public transportation and addressing the climate crisis head-on.  We are fighting for the expansion of public transportation and for adequate funding, and sufficient staffing so that it can be maintained.”… (more)

Newsflash. The Restore Transportation Balance intiative is a non-partisan effort to fix the public transit, parking and traffic nightmare that SFMTA has brought to the city. The fact that 80% (according to recent reports) of Muni employees commute to the city and the Muni drivers filed a class action against their boses, explains their support for Prop L.

 

SFMTA Spent $27 Million on Settlements Last Year

By: Victoria Holliday : resetsanfrancisco – excerpt

Reset research found that last year SFMTA spent $27 million on settling lawsuits levied against the MTA. These MTA settlements accounted for one-third of the $71 million total the city spent on settlements. The MTA had the most settlements of any single city department.

San Francisco Man Sues SFMTA for Improperly Towing His Ride

SFMTA could spend even more on settlements this year if the on-going class action lawsuit against it for improper tows is settled.

Riley got his refund, but he did not stop there. In 2010, he filed a class action lawsuit against the SFMTA for improperly towing his car based on a non-existing city statute. And with that, Riley is set to become a hero to frustrated San Francisco parkers.

The Class Action Lawsuit

The crux of Riley’s case is this: the city claims it has the right to haul off legally parked vehicles after 72 hours (residential parking permit or not) based on a state vehicle code, while Riley says they can’t because no such ordinance exists here in San Francisco. The SFMTA certainly has reason for towing cars after a certain period – nobody wants abandoned cars in their neighborhoods. But Riley’s lawsuit claims that there was no signage regarding the towing of cars with residential parking permits after 72 hours on the block where he parked. Even more, Riley contends no such sign exists anywhere in San Francisco. But that didn’t stop SFMTA from towing his vehicle and hitting Riley with $915 in tow fees.

Should Riley succeed, untold numbers of San Franciscans may be due a refund from the SFMTA. Given that our research shows SFMTA spent $68,000 on improper tow refunds last year alone, there is a pretty solid chance that the number could be substantial.

Stay tuned to follow this story… (more)

RELATED:
SF to study impacts of removing fees for retrieving towed stolen cars 

Late Fees: Muni Drivers’ Class-Action Suit May Cost the Agency Millions of Tardy Dollars

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

Running a slow transit service quickly racks up costs. You have to deploy that many more vehicles to carry the same number of fare-paying passengers as a faster-moving service. And Muni is the slowest transit service in all North America.

That slowness may end up costing Muni even more, according to a 2012 class-action suit wending its way through federal court with Muni-like speed, brought by some 233 drivers representing more than 2,000 of their brethren.

The agency, allege aggrieved drivers Darryl Stitt, Tony Grandberry, and Hedy Griffin — lead plaintiffs for a cast of thousands — pays operators based upon “a predetermined amount of driving time.” Passengers and drivers alike are aware, however, that Muni’s schedules rarely match Muni’s reality. The operators claim they’re not being compensated for inevitable divergences from on-paper timetables.

This inevitability is baked in, claim the plaintiffs: Muni “has a practice of designing its routes in a manner that makes it impossible for Operators to stay on schedule.”

The drivers also claim they’re being shortchanged for the time they spend performing post-driving inspections; time spent traveling from one bus or train to another when switching runs; or time spent heading from the bus or train depot to wherever they parked their cars.

Drivers hoping to put in for unscheduled overtime face a new set of challenges. “The unscheduled overtime card is so confusing that [a Muni management] representative could not explain parts of it,” claims the suit. When asked, during deposition, why that card contained six rows, the manager replied, “I — honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.”…

Neither Muni nor plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Tidrick would comment regarding ongoinglitigation. Several of the hundreds of drivers who signed up to allow Tidrick to be their standard-bearer told SF Weekly the numbers they’re hearing bandied about constitute “real serious money.”… (more)

Cabdrivers file class-action lawsuit against Uber ride service

By: Will Reisman : sfexaminer – excerpt

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Uber demanding that the transportation service company stop operating and pay taxi drivers damages for lost wages.
Filed on behalf of cabdrivers Leonid Goncharov and Mohammed Eddine, the suit claims Uber creates unfair business competition by operating without regulation from state and local authorities.
Uber connects drivers with passengers looking for rides by using smartphone technology to locate and dispatch taxis, limousines and town cars.
While taxi drivers must have operating permits issued by The City, Uber employees do not, the suit claims. As a result, Uber is affecting the business of competing cabdrivers.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, state regulator the California Public Utilities Commission issued $20,000 citations for illegal operations to Uber and fellow ride-service companies Lyft and Sidecar. The citation cites a lack of proper insurance and workers’ compensation benefits, as well as a failure to enroll operators in mandatory driving classes. Previously, the CPUC had issued a cease-and-desist order against Uber, which has continued to operate… (more)