Give bus operators a fair pay package

Riders of AC Transit have a special bond with bus operators.

Yes, they are operators; they do more than drive the bus. They deal with each rider and, as such, both see each other as people in the same boat, so to speak.

Riders like to see operators fairly compensated for their work. And operators realize that many, if not most, riders have no other means of transportation, no other way to get to the doctor, to school, etc.

There was once a watchdog organization called Alliance for AC Transit whose membership was composed of both riders and operators and which successfully fought for the passage of Measure B.

Unlike a BART operator who only gets a distant glimpse of passengers as they embark or disembark the train, a bus operator personally interacts with each rider.

So I say that there is a bond between them that results in each respecting the other's needs. We riders hope this will play out in the contract negotiations.

Joyce Roy

Oakland

McBain's comments must be addressed

Piedmont City Councilman Robert McBain made comments at the Aug. 19 City Council meeting that I believe need to be addressed. Friends of Moraga Canyon (FOMC) settled its lawsuit against the city of Piedmont by accepting $30,000 for the reimbursement of legal fees. FOMC asked that $15,000 of the $30,000 settlement be deposited in a separate account with the city of Piedmont expressly for the purpose of retaining a landscape designer to create a plan to improve Blair Park.


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The amount of $30,000 was transferred from the city's Legal Indemnity Fund to pay this obligation. Piedmont Recreation Facilities Organization (PRFO) established this fund as a vehicle to fulfill its written promise to cover any and all legal liabilities incurred by the city in connection with the Blair Park project. (To date, PRFO still owes the city approximately $220,000.)

FOMC raised and paid more than $70,000 to cover its legal and other expenses. The settlement directed $15,000 to FOMC's attorneys to pay off the remaining balance still owed. This left $15,000 in settlement funds that could have been used to repay some of its major supporters. Instead, FOMC decided to have these funds placed in a city account expressly for the purpose of hiring a landscape designer to create a plan for the maintenance and improvement of Blair Park. Unlike all other well-cared for Piedmont parks, Blair Park has been ignored and neglected, especially during the four years of the sports field controversy, and a plan to enhance the park's natural setting and amenities is sorely needed.

Al Peters

Piedmont

Calling ahead before digging vital

Aug. 11 was National Safe Digging Day, and safety was top of mind. But that was only a single day. As co-chairs of the Alameda County 811 Task Force, we want to ensure safe digging is on everyone's mind year-round.

Every digging job requires an important phone call before starting even the smallest project. Contractors and homeowners must call 811 at least two working days before digging. PG&E will then locate and mark the utility lines for free.

Digging into utility lines creates safety and reliability concerns, including service interruptions, equipment damage, injuries or death.

In 2012, there were more than 1,000 incidents where a customer or third party contractor dug into PG&E's natural gas pipeline or electric lines without calling 811 first. In Alameda County alone there were more than 200 of these third-party dig-ins in 2012. A call to 811 prevents damages more than 99 percent of the time, according to the Common Ground Alliance.

PG&E and Alameda County leaders have joined forces to create the Alameda County 811 Task Force. Together, we're working to reduce the number of utility damages in Alameda County.

John Higgins

Senior director of gas distribution maintenance and construction, PG&E

Renee Domingo

Director of emergency services and homeland security, City of Oakland

Will await return of Drummond

Bad news: Tammerlin Drummond, whose column is by far the Tribune's best feature, is leaving. Good news: She's planning to come back.

If she brings back some useful ideas for Oakland, so much the better. We can use them. And we definitely need her.

John Polt

Oakland