Thursday Must Read: BART to Establish Cellphone Shutdown Policy; MTC Plan to Move to SF Will Be Audited

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Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The BART board of directors agreed yesterday to establish a policy that calls for shutting down cellphones only in the most serious emergencies, the Chron and CoCo Times reports. The board’s vote effectively acknowledged that BART should not have killed cellular service earlier this month in order to disrupt a demonstration — although the board stopped short of admitting that it had made a mistake.

Johnson
  • Johnson
Meanwhile, anonymous hackers released a photo that they said shows BART spokesman Linton Johnson flashing his genitals at a party. The hackers have demanded that BART fire Johnson because of his harsh criticism of protesters and his staunch defense of the cellphone shutdown decision.

2. The legislature ordered the state auditor to investigate the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s plan to leave Oakland and buy a huge warehouse in San Francisco, the Trib reports. Critics of MTC’s plans, including East Bay legislator Mark DeSaulnier, have contended that the agency’s proposal amounts to real estate speculation, because the warehouse MTC wants to buy is much larger than the agency needs. MTC hopes to rent out the extra space, and the agency turned down a proposal to move into a new building in downtown Oakland because it lacked extra space for MTC rent to other entities.

3. An influential consumer watchdog group announced a ballot measure campaign that would rollback health insurance costs and require the state to offer a public health insurance option for consumers, the Chron reports. The proposal by Consumer Watchdog, which was responsible for Prop 103, the state’s historic auto-insurance consumer protection law, also would allow state regulators to reject proposed health insurance premium hikes.

4. Governor Jerry Brown plans to unveil a new tax proposal today that would increase taxes on out-of-state companies that do business in California and use the proceeds to fund tax breaks for California businesses that hire workers in the state, the LA Times reports. Brown hopes the measure will help lower California’s high unemployment rate.

5. Brown also is a proposing to extend a surcharge paid by utility consumers that is used to fund green-energy research and projects, the LA Times reports. The surcharge — which amounts to about $1 to $2 a month for consumers — has been in place since 1997, but it’s set to expire soon. It generates about $400 million for green-energy programs in the state.

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