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Activists sue San Francisco over Google bus pilot program

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By Mary Papenfuss

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Activists have sued the city and county of San Francisco over a pilot program giving shuttles run by Google and other private companies access to municipal bus stops, claiming it favors higher-paid technology workers over low-income residents.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday, marks the latest sign of tensions in the Bay Area over the growing income divide, which has been widened by the latest tech industry boom.

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Late last year, protesters began to block the commuter buses that ferry employees from San Francisco to the offices of tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Yahoo, south of the city, which they say symbolize the rift being created by abundant tech money.

Under the 18-month pilot program the unmarked, WiFi-equipped buses use San Francisco Municipal transit system stops for a fee of $1 per stop per day and are viewed by many as a symbol of the industry’s disconnect from a broader community left behind by the tech boom.

The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of transit and housing activists and a labor union, argues that in addition to displacing lower-income workers, the buses will increase pollution, boost risks to pedestrians and bicyclists and interfere with public transit.

“It’s a good thing to transport employees to work on buses, but there is an impact,” said Oakland attorney Richard Drury, who’s representing the plaintiffs. “We want the city to analyze what that is and mitigate the harm as much as possible.”

San Francisco has exempted the project from review under the California Environmental Quality Act, citing guidelines that allow such action for a data-gathering phase of a plan that doesn’t create a “major disturbance” to an environmental resource, which the suit charges is a violation of the law.

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“There’s one set of rules for the tech industry, and another set for the rest of us,” complained Chris Daley, political director of SIEU Local Union 1021, a plaintiff in the suit with the Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit. The buses tie up traffic and make their way into public bus stops without paying a fair share of the freight, he said.

A spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera said there would be no comment until after the staff had an opportunity to study the complaint.

A city study estimates that 350 private buses account for 35,000 boardings each day at 200 San Francisco sites, many of them MUNI stops, which the vehicles currently are not legally allowed to use.

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(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Ken Wills)

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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2020 Election

MSNBC’s Morning Joe scorches GOP senators for following Trump ‘over the cliff’ to election losses

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough hammered Senate Republicans for following President Donald Trump "over a cliff."

The "Morning Joe" host said the GOP had suffered losses in every election cycle since Trump won, and he said the president was a threat to his own party.

"All Republican incumbents who are endangered politicians," Scarborough said. "What bargain did they make that is worth following this man over the cliff? Who, right now, in early June, is on his way to losing in a landslide of his own?"

"These polls that we're going to show you in a minute are just a snapshot of where we are at the beginning of June," he added. "Things can change, but if they do change, it will be the first time in almost four years that elections have broken Donald Trump's way."

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Donald Trump is no longer president: Robert Reich

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You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. His verbal bombshells are louder than ever, but Donald J. Trump is no longer president of the United States.

By having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office.

He is not governing. He’s golfing, watching cable TV, and tweeting.

How has Trump responded to the widespread unrest following the murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes as he was handcuffed on the ground?

He has incited more police violence. Trump called the protesters “thugs” and threatened to have them shot. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted, parroting a former Miami police chief whose words spurred race riots in the late 1960s.

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Trump-loving Minneapolis police union boss calls the cops on a reporter for knocking on his door

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Lt. Bob Kroll, the Trump-loving president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, called the police this week on a Washington Post reporter for the purported offense of knocking on the door of his house.

In an effort to get Kroll to respond to the charges that were filed this week against all four Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd's death, the Post sent one of its reporter to Krolls house after multiple other requests for comment went unanswered.

"A Washington Post reporter who knocked on Kroll’s door was soon pulled over by a police officer who said that Kroll had reported suspicious activity on his front porch and that 'he doesn’t want any press,'" the paper reports.

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