California Watch - General Assignment http://californiawatch.org/topic/general-assignment/general-assignment en What's driving privatization of public transit? http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/whats-driving-privatization-public-transit-18826 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kelly-chen" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kelly Chen</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/fastbus.jpg" title="In Fairfield, officials have outsourced the city's public bus service to MV Transportation. " /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Michael Short/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> In Fairfield, officials have outsourced the city&#39;s public bus service to MV Transportation.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>As more cities turn to private companies to run public transit systems,&nbsp;<a href="http://californiawatch.org/money-and-politics/private-contractor-struggles-deliver-public-bus-service-records-show-18823" target="_blank">our recent investigation</a> shows that privatization may not be the silver bullet that cash-strapped municipalities were hoping for.</p> <p>In Fairfield, where the city&rsquo;s suburban landscape makes it difficult to provide reliable and comprehensive bus service, local officials are finding it hard to hold its contractor, MV Transportation, accountable. Transit reporter Zusha Elinson found that &ldquo;over a two-year period beginning in 2008, the company was fined 295 times for a total of $164,000&rdquo; for late arrival times and drivers speeding, being out of uniform and&nbsp;using cellphones while driving.</p> <p>Behind the fines, however, is a much larger ideological debate: Is privatization of certain industries like transit, which some traditionally consider to be public domain, a good thing?</p> <p>We asked Elinson to break it down for us.</p> <p><strong>Q: Why are more cities turning to private companies to run their public transit systems?</strong></p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;Privatization started under (President Ronald) Reagan, who championed public-private partnerships in favor of smaller government. But the trend really accelerated during the (recent) recession because a lot of municipalities and transit agencies don&rsquo;t have enough money to maintain these services. The one thing that outsourcing your public transit does is save money.</p> <p>Across the country, very large cities are going this route:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/cap-metro-oks-520-million-in-contracts-outsourcing/nRnDy/">Austin</a>&nbsp;recently outsourced all their bus services;&nbsp;<a href="http://dc.streetsblog.org/2009/07/13/transit-outsourcing-booms-but-are-there-safety-trade-offs/" target="_blank">New Orleans</a>&nbsp;handed over its entire public transportation to a private company, including its management; Nassau County in Long Island did the same.</p> <p>A lot of times these deals will be sold as saving the taxpayers this many millions of dollars. But looking at a couple of different situations in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/apr/03/bus-privatizing-savings-not-as-touted/">San Diego</a>&nbsp;and New Orleans, the money being saved has been quite a bit less than advertised. That&rsquo;s not to say they haven&rsquo;t been saving money. Often they&rsquo;ll tout savings that are quite far above than what is being saved.</p> <p><strong>Q: Who benefits? Who loses?</strong></p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;One of the biggest costs for public transit is labor. When they contract to private companies, they can winnow away labor costs by not offering pensions and cutting health benefits. So naturally, bus driver unions don&rsquo;t like these arrangements because it means their wages and benefits will be cut.</p> <p>For example, a few years ago in northern San Diego County when the North County Transit District brought in a private company, the starting wage for a bus driver went from $14 to $10.50 an hour. One general concern that comes with paying drivers less is safety &ndash; maybe you have more inexperienced drivers. This isn&rsquo;t the case for every company, but it&rsquo;s a concern.</p> <p><strong>Q: What does the case in Fairfield teach us?</strong></p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;Supposedly the benefit of doing this is that you have a contract with the company to make them do what you want. But the story in Fairfield shows that it&rsquo;s not so. For example, in Fairfield, MV Transportation officials actually had quite a bit of political sway to squash efforts to keep them in line. So it was difficult, at least for (former) Transit Manager George Fink, to hold them accountable.</p> <p>(Our investigation found that MV Transportation made a $10,000 campaign donation to then-City Councilman Chuck Timm in 2007. In 2009, Jon Monson, then the company&rsquo;s board chairman, made $10,000 campaign donations to City Councilman John Mraz and City Councilwoman Catherine Moy.)</p> <p>People can take lessons from this situation: You need to really take a look at which company you&rsquo;re hiring and make sure they comply with the contract. Can people holding them accountable really do that? While many transit agencies are run very inefficiently and can be improved, you don&rsquo;t have to worry about influencing politicians or people taking measures just for profit margins when the system is run by public agencies.</p> <p><strong>Q: Can this happen in big cities like San Francisco?</strong></p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;A leader of the Muni drivers union in San Francisco, a very strong union, laughed when I asked him that. He said no way. So, likely it wouldn&rsquo;t come to a big city with a strong union presence, but it could be the fact that other large cities continue to do this. Maybe not SF, but some other big cities.</p> <p>In the Bay Area, as we mention in our article, they&rsquo;re considering contracting out some routes in southern Alameda County, where AC Transit has provided the bus service for many, many years. That&rsquo;ll be a really big fight if that happens because the bus drivers union is quite strong in the East Bay. But I think it just shows the trend that even in the Bay Area, where the unions are really strong, this is even being considered.</p> <p><strong>Q: Does the public even know who runs its public transit system? Do riders feel the impact?</strong></p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;Transit officials tend to say that people don&rsquo;t really know who&rsquo;s running their bus lines, but I don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s actually true. In talking with people in Long Island, they were really wary of this situation in Nassau County. In fact, in Nassau County, where (nearly) everyone is a commuter to the city, their transit was outsourced to a big French company. For the first time ever, they formed the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.longislandbusridersunion.org/">Long Island Bus Riders Union</a>. It showed that bus riders were really concerned about what might happen. There&rsquo;s always two sides to the story: The company says it saved a lot of money and provided services more efficiently. But at the same time, it cut service, which people are upset about.</p> <p><em>This interview has been edited and condensed.</em></p> <p><em style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 18px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><strong>Correction:</strong>&nbsp;A previous version of this story misstated an effect of Nassau County outsourcing its transit. Service was cut.</em></p> General Assignment Daily Report AC Transit budget public transportation Thu, 07 Mar 2013 14:05:02 +0000 Kelly Chen 18826 at http://californiawatch.org Churches find revenue leasing steeples to cell companies http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/churches-find-revenue-leasing-steeples-cell-companies-18690 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kendall-taggart" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kendall Taggart</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/church_StLeoTheGreat_crop2.jpg" title="The church of St. Leo the Great recently installed a cell site in its bell tower" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Kendall Taggart/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> The Church of St. Leo the Great in Oakland recently installed a cell antenna in its bell tower.</span></p> <p>Inside the bell tower of the Church of St. Leo the Great, constructed in 1926 on a corner of Piedmont Avenue in Oakland,&nbsp;isn&#39;t the obvious spot for a cell antenna, but that&#39;s where AT&amp;T installed one.</p> <p>Across the state, wireless companies are installing an increasing number of cell sites&nbsp;inside church steeples and bell towers. With the growing use of tablets, smartphones and other wireless devices, the wireless industry has approached churches because of their height and residential locations, where putting new towers would be difficult.</p> <p>The practice has created additional work for property tax assessors, who are responsible for determining how much of the church&#39;s property is no longer tax-exempt. Churches and other nonprofits often are exempt from property taxes, but only if the property is used for religious or charitable purposes. If property is used for commercial purposes, such as leasing space for a cell tower, tax assessors must charge the organizations.</p> <p>For most churches, the extra revenue for hosting the cell towers generally exceeds the hit they&nbsp;might take from increased property taxes. Leases can range from $2,000 to $4,000 per month, depending on the church&rsquo;s location. Officials at the Church of St. Leo the Great did not respond to requests for comment about their lease.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder"></div> <p>At Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church in San Ramon, a contract with T-Mobile brings in between $25,000 and $30,000 a year for the church, said Pastor Martin Scales. The church approached cell companies when it was constructing a new building six years ago because it knew the companies were having trouble putting antennas in the area.</p> <p>Although the church lost part of its property tax exemption, the cell site revenue puts it ahead financially, Scales said. And it&#39;s a solution for cell companies looking to place antennas.</p> <p>&quot;Nobody can tell that they&rsquo;re there unless they&rsquo;re sharped-eyed and looking for them,&quot;&nbsp;Scales said.</p> <p>An AT&amp;T spokeswoman said the company has worked with a lot of churches and is committed to camouflaging the infrastructure so that it blends with the community. T-Mobile prefers to install antennas on existing structures whenever possible, spokesman Steve Caplan said in a statement.</p> <p>Amy Storey, spokeswoman for CTIA &ndash; The Wireless Association, said many wireless companies are grappling with increasing demand.</p> <p>&quot;The industry looks to all types of existing structures in addition to church steeples &ndash; fire stations, hospitals, etc., in neighborhoods where there is growing demand and a shortage of suitable sites for new towers,&rdquo; she said in a statement.</p> <p>The difficulty of installing new towers in neighborhoods where residents often object to them has spawned an offshoot industry &ndash; several companies now specialize in disguising cell sites.</p> <p>&ldquo;California is really the hotbed of concealment,&quot; said Chris Hills, the western region sales manager for Stealth Concealment Solutions. &quot;There&rsquo;s more concealment there than anywhere in the world.&rdquo; The company has installed cell sites in flagpoles, church steeples, trees and boulders on behalf of all the major service providers, he said.</p> <p>No one tracks how many churches in California have installed cell sites statewide, so it&#39;s difficult to estimate how many have had their property taxes increased.</p> <p>In any case, churches lose only a fraction of their tax exemption, determined either by the square footage leased to the cell company or the value of the lease. It isn&#39;t clear how much additional revenue counties might be collecting. But enough assessors were asking questions about the church leases that the California State Board of Equalization issued guidelines in 2008 to help county assessors determine how much churches should pay in property taxes.</p> <p>In San Diego County, how much more property tax a church has to pay depends on the income it is receiving from the cell company. If a lease is for $100,000 and the assessed property value of the church is $1 million, for example, it would lose one-tenth of its exemption, said Jeff Olson, division chief of assessment services at the San Diego County assessor&#39;s office.</p> <p>Just finding the cell towers can require some detective work on the part of county assessors.</p> <p>&ldquo;Most churches don&rsquo;t realize that that would affect their exemption,&rdquo; said Eric Gayden, a senior assessment technician at the Orange County Assessor Department.</p> <p>The Alameda County assessor&#39;s office usually learns about the new cell sites through permits filed by the cell companies when they&#39;re installing the antennas, said Brian Hitomi, the chief deputy assessor.</p> <p>Hitomi said the county is still processing the permit filed by AT&amp;T for the cell site at Church of St. Leo the Great, so it hasn&#39;t seen any increase in property taxes yet.</p> General Assignment Daily Report cell phones property tax taxes wireless Tue, 27 Nov 2012 08:05:02 +0000 Kendall Taggart 18690 at http://californiawatch.org Goodwill pushes for greater regulation of donation boxes http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/goodwill-pushes-greater-regulation-donation-boxes-18645 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kendall-taggart" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kendall Taggart</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/USAgain_donation_box.JPG" title="A USAgain donation box in Oakland" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Kendall Taggart/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> A USAgain donation box in Oakland&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Local Goodwill chapters recently lost their fight for stronger state regulation of donation boxes when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have required organizations to get written consent before putting&nbsp;boxes on private property.</p> <p>But in cities and counties across the country, Goodwills are pushing for municipal and state regulation &ndash; and often winning. Local chapters&nbsp;have argued that donation boxes divert money from the community and contribute to blight.&nbsp;</p> <p>Goodwill chapters have helped pass legislation in several&nbsp;states, including New Jersey and Michigan.</p> <p>The Goodwill Industries International headquarters in Maryland provides support to&nbsp;community-based Goodwill agencies seeking regulation, but it is not seeking legislation nationwide, said Lauren Lawson, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit.</p> <p>Two years ago, California Council of Goodwill Industries successfully pushed for state&nbsp;legislation that required owners of a donation box to clearly display information about whether it was a for-profit or nonprofit organization.</p> <p>As collection bins become an increasingly common phenomenon, local officials are stepping in with ordinances and fees. Berkeley, Sacramento and San Pablo, for example, have already placed restrictions on donation boxes.&nbsp;</p> <p>Kimberly Scrafano, the vice president of development and community affairs for&nbsp;Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay, said the increasing use of donation boxes&nbsp;has cut into donations that previously would have gone to Goodwill.</p> <p>Some nonprofits and for-profits operating donation boxes argue that the real motivation behind the recent state legislation was maintaining&nbsp;Goodwill&#39;s&nbsp;dominance in the secondhand clothing industry.</p> <p>&ldquo;Everybody viewed it more as anti-competition rather than fair regulation of the industry,&rdquo; said Julie Watt Faqir, a lobbyist for USAgain, a for-profit company that collects about 275,000 pounds of clothing and shoes per month in the Bay Area, according to its website.</p> <p>The Northern California Recycling Association, D.A.R.E. and the California Police Chiefs Association also opposed the bill.</p> <p>USAgain and some other operators of donation boxes have come under scrutiny for profiting from clothing that people intended to go to charity. A Chicago Tribune&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-02-13/features/0402130256_1_tvind-charity-separate-trial">investigation</a> linked USAgain to Tvind, a multimillion-dollar Danish group that&rsquo;s been investigated for fraud and tax evasion. USAgain said it has&nbsp;no connection with Tvind.</p> <p>Organizations that solicit with donation boxes say they help reduce the amount of clothing that goes to landfills every year by making it easier for people to donate used goods.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s plenty of textile and clothing to be collected,&rdquo; Faqir said.</p> <p>The governor&rsquo;s veto message indicated he would be willing to consider a similar bill in the next legislative session if it were more narrowly crafted to avoid unintended consequences to local charities and nonprofits.&nbsp;Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani,&nbsp;D-Merced,&nbsp;who authored the bill, lost her campaign for state Senate on Tuesday.</p> <p><em><strong>Correction: </strong>A&nbsp;<span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal;">previous version of this story misspelled the name of the Danish group that has been under investigation. It is Tvind.</span></em></p> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-explore"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dailyreport/bay-area-nonprofits-defend-some-tax-breaks-wealthy-18635">Bay Area nonprofits defend some tax breaks for the wealthy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dailyreport/super-pac-money-flows-effort-divert-cash-charity-16050">As super PAC money flows, an effort to divert cash to charity</a> </div> </div> </div> General Assignment Daily Report charity legislation nonprofits regulation Mon, 12 Nov 2012 19:25:02 +0000 Kendall Taggart 18645 at http://californiawatch.org Calif. commute times rank 10th longest in US http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/calif-commute-times-rank-10th-longest-us-18614 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/joanna-lin" title="View user profile." class="fn">Joanna Lin</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/Muni subway commute transit_5.jpg" title="Commuters use public transit in San Francisco more than anywhere else in the state." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/maile/31843153/" target="_blank">Mai Le/Flickr</a></span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Commuters use public transit in San Francisco more than anywhere else in the state.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Californians rank 10th in the country for having the longest commute times, taking an average of 26.9 minutes to travel to work, recently released census data show.</p> <p>Workers in the state spent 10.4 minutes more getting to work than did workers in North Dakota, which reported the quickest commutes in the <a href="http://www.census.gov/acs/www/" target="_blank">2009-11 American Community Survey</a>. Commuters in Maryland had the longest commute times to work at 31.8 minutes.</p> <p>On average, Americans spent 23.7 minutes getting to work. More than three-quarters of them drove alone to their jobs, nearly 1 in 10 carpooled and 5 percent took public transportation. Californians were less likely to drive alone &ndash; about 73 percent did &ndash; and were more likely to carpool (11.4 percent) or ride public transit (5.2 percent).</p> <p>Californians&#39; commuting habits have not changed much in recent years. They drive, carpool and ride public transit at about the same rates they reported in the 2006-8 American Community Survey, and their journeys to work are about the same duration.&nbsp;</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>One explanation for persistently high rates of solo drivers, said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA, is free parking.</p> <p>&quot;If you can park free at work, it&#39;s an invitation to drive to work alone. And almost everybody who does drive to work has this invitation,&quot; he said.</p> <p>Shoup&#39;s research led to a 1992 state law that requires employers to offer workers cash in lieu of a parking space. The idea behind the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.arb.ca.gov/planning/tsaq/cashout/cashout.htm" target="_blank">cash-out program</a>&nbsp;is that by allowing employees to cash out their subsidized parking spots and instead walk, bike, take public transit or carpool to work, there would be fewer cars on the road and less emissions in the air.</p> <p>A <a href="http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/single-project.php?row_id=55468" target="_blank">study</a> Shoup conducted 15 years ago for the state Air Resources Board found that employers who offered cash-out programs saw solo driving to work drop by 17 percent, carpooling increase by 64 percent, walking and biking grow by 33 percent and transit ridership jump by 50 percent.</p> <p>The cash-out program,&nbsp;however, is not well known and not widely used, Shoup said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;California has missed an opportunity to take advantage of this law,&quot; he said. &quot;If you offer parking cash-out it would really turn things upside down. Parking, which used to be free, now has an opportunity cost. They could get cash, so now you think, well gee, maybe I should think about transit.&quot;</p> <p>Women and minorities would be the biggest beneficiaries of cash-out programs because they&#39;re less likely to drive alone and more likely to take public transit to work, Shoup said. The 2009-11 American Community Survey showed that about 55 percent of solo drivers to work in California were men and about 45 percent were women. About 44 percent of public transit riders were Latino.</p> <p>Californians who refrained from driving to work alone typically had longer commutes. On average, solo drivers spent 25.5 minutes getting to work, the survey showed. Carpoolers took just over half an hour to get to their jobs, and public transit riders commuted nearly 47 minutes to work.</p> <p>The longest commute times in the state belonged to residents of Contra Costa County, who spent an average of 32.2 minutes traveling to work. In the county, 7 in 10 drove alone, 11.8 percent carpooled and 8.8 percent took public transit. Contra Costa County, along with Riverside County, had the highest proportion of its residents traveling an hour or more to work &ndash; 17 percent.</p> <p>In Humboldt County, workers had the quickest commutes, an average of 17 minutes, and 3.3 percent traveled an hour or more. Statewide, fewer than 1 in 10 Californians commuted an hour or more.&nbsp;</p> <p>Residents of San Francisco were the least likely in the state to commute by driving alone &ndash; 37.5 percent did. One in five reported having no vehicles available to them &ndash; a much higher rate than the statewide average of 3.6 percent.&nbsp;San Franciscans were also the most likely to take public transit, with nearly one-third using buses, subways, trains or ferries to get to work.</p> <p>For public transit riders in San Francisco, the average commute was 37.3 minutes &ndash; about 10 minutes longer than for carpoolers or solo drivers.</p> <p>By contrast, in Los Angeles County, the 7.2 percent of residents who rode public transit to work commuted an average of nearly 48 minutes. Driving alone to work took Los Angeles residents an average of 27.4 minutes.</p> General Assignment Daily Report Census commute demographics public transportation Thu, 01 Nov 2012 07:05:03 +0000 Joanna Lin 18614 at http://californiawatch.org Cyclist turned to sport to avoid drugs, but ended up doping http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/cyclist-turned-sport-avoid-drugs-ended-doping-18598 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/lance-williams" title="View user profile." class="fn">Lance Williams</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/matt-smith" title="View user profile." class="fn">Matt Smith</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/zabriskie10.jpg" title="Cyclist David Zabriskie in 2010" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tdm911/5041107858/" target="_blank">Tim Moreillon/Flickr</a></span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Cyclist David Zabriskie in 2010&nbsp;</span></p> <p>For fans and officials alike, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency&rsquo;s dossier on cyclist Lance Armstrong was dispiriting. It detailed how one of the greatest stars in cycling history had used banned drugs for years and systematically lied to cover it up.</p> <p>The agency&#39;s evidence file <a href="http://californiawatch.org/general-assignment/report-army-enablers-assisted-armstrongs-doping-18318" target="_blank">became public</a> Oct. 10 and didn&#39;t contain much that was new to Armstrong&#39;s fans or detractors. The exception was one disturbing narrative &ndash; the tragic personal story of a lanky Utah native specializing in solo races against the clock.</p> <p>Before the files became public, claims that Armstrong&rsquo;s blood tests exhibited unusual chemistry, consistent with <a href="http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/armstrongs-blood-data-shows-signs-doping-expert-says-18322" target="_blank">possible doping</a>, had been reported elsewhere, including by California Watch. Former teammates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis had gone on national television to describe how they used banned drugs with Armstrong.</p> <p>But there hadn&rsquo;t even been advance rumors about what might be contained in an anti-doping agency statement from David Zabriskie, known mostly for a sardonic wit he shared with teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team and at his current job riding for the Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda team.</p> <p>In telling his story, Zabriskie added pathos to what had been widely considered a no-harm, no-foul doping scandal &ndash; and rebutted the view, embraced by some of Armstrong&rsquo;s supporters, that drugs in cycling hadn&rsquo;t truly hurt anyone after all.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>As he told investigators, Zabriskie turned to cycling as a teen in Utah to escape the stresses of living with his drug-addict father.&nbsp;The youth vowed to live and compete drug-free. But after joining the USPS team, he was persuaded to use banned drugs.</p> <p>In remarks after the Armstrong report was released, International Cycling Union chief Pat McQuaid, who had spent the previous months questioning the anti-doping agency&#39;s motives for even investigating Armstrong, singled out Zabriskie&rsquo;s account, saying it &ldquo;sickened&rdquo; him.</p> <p>&ldquo;David Zabriskie, the story he told of how he was coerced and forced into doping was just mind-boggling,&rdquo; McQuaid said.</p> <p>In his affidavit, Zabriskie said he joined a cycling club at 15. At 16, he was state champion in his age group.</p> <p>&ldquo;Cycling became a refuge for me,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Long, hard training rides were cathartic and provided an escape from the difficult home life associated with a parent with an addiction. ...</p> <p>&ldquo;Seeing what happened to my father from his substance abuse, I vowed never to take drugs.&nbsp;I viewed cycling as a healthy and wholesome outlet that would keep me far away from following my father&rsquo;s footsteps.&rdquo;</p> <p>After racing in Europe as an amateur, Zabriskie signed with the USPS team in 2000. At a team training camp in Spain, his workouts were observed by two sports doctors, Luis Garcia del Moral and Michele Ferrari. Both were later banned for doping offenses in the Armstrong affair.</p> <p>Zabriskie said he learned that some teammates were receiving intravenous injections of a substance called &ldquo;recovery.&rdquo; The team doctors said the substance contained only vitamins. At first, Zabriskie refused the injections. But he raced so poorly in 2001 that he feared losing his job.</p> <p>After that, he began getting injections as well.&nbsp;</p> <p>By 2002, Zabriskie said he knew that many riders in pro cycling were using the blood-doping drug EPO to boost performance. He liked to joke about it.</p> <p>Once, on a team bus ride, he said he sang a parody of Jimi Hendrix&rsquo;s rock hit &ldquo;Purple Haze.&rdquo; Zabriskie&rsquo;s lyrics included the line, &ldquo;EPO all in my veins &ndash; lately things just don&rsquo;t seem the same.&rdquo;</p> <p>Team manager Johan Bruyneel thought it was funny, Zabriskie said. Bruyneel also faces a ban for doping offenses in connection with the Armstrong investigation.</p> <p>In 2003, after he finished fifth in France&rsquo;s Four Days of Dunkirk race, Zabriskie said he and another rider, Michael Barry, were invited to meet Bruyneel and Moral at a café in Girona, Spain, where the USPS then was headquartered.</p> <p>Bruyneel had brought EPO. At first, Zabriskie said he refused the drug, saying he feared EPO would harm his health and make it impossible for him to father children.</p> <p>Bruyneel replied there was no danger, saying, &ldquo;Everyone is doing it.&rdquo; The four cyclists who finished ahead of him at Dunkirk all were using EPO, the manager claimed.</p> <p>&ldquo;I felt cornered,&rdquo; Zabriskie wrote. &ldquo;I had pursued cycling to escape a home life torn apart by drugs, and now I was faced with this.&rdquo;</p> <p>Back at Barry&rsquo;s apartment, Moral injected Zabriskie and Barry with EPO and gave the cyclists dermal patches containing steroids, according to Zabriskie&rsquo;s account.</p> <p>Later, at his own apartment, Zabriskie said he had a breakdown. &ldquo;I called home, crying,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I had pursued cycling as an escape from drugs, and here I was, having succumbed to the pressure.&rdquo;</p> <p>Soon after that, Zabriskie&rsquo;s career was interrupted by a serious bicycle crash. When he resumed racing, he used EPO supplied by the new team doctor, Pedro Celaya. Celaya also has been banned for doping offenses.</p> <p>In 2005, Zabriskie left the USPS team for a Danish cycling team, Team CSC. In the 2005 Tour de France, Zabriskie won the stage 1 time trial, beating Armstrong. But he was forced to abandon the race after another crash.</p> <p>That year, U.S. cycling star Landis persuaded Zabriskie to use human growth hormone, saying it would help heal a leg injury he had suffered in the crash.</p> <p>Landis supplied Zabriskie with EPO and growth hormone. Zabriskie said he stopped using drugs in 2006.</p> <p>In 2010, Landis confessed his use of banned drugs and implicated Armstrong in doping. Zabriskie said he phoned Bruyneel. Bruyneel said not to lose sleep over Landis, Zabriskie said.&nbsp;</p> <p>Later that year, at a race in New Mexico, Zabriskie said he met Armstrong.&nbsp;Armstrong said he had listened in on Zabriskie&rsquo;s call to Bruyneel.</p> <p>Armstrong &ldquo;told me he had things under control,&rdquo; Zabriskie said.</p> <p>After that, Zabriskie testified in the federal criminal probe of Armstrong, which was abandoned earlier this year with no charges filed. He also gave his affidavit to the anti-doping agency. Zabriskie has been suspended from cycling for six months, and all his racing results from 2003 to 2006 have been expunged.</p> <p>Critics long have regarded the International Cycling Union&#39;s McQuaid as an apologist for doping in cycling and an Armstrong protector. Over the years, he has made skeptical remarks about some of the cyclists who implicated Armstrong in doping. At one point earlier this year, McQuaid suggested the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency had no jurisdiction over offenses committed by American cyclists.</p> <p>But after the agency made the Armstrong evidence public, McQuaid declared that Armstrong had &ldquo;no place in cycling&rdquo; and agreed to strip the star of his seven Tour de France victories. He said he was persuaded, in part, by Zabriskie&rsquo;s affidavit.</p> <p>&ldquo;I found it hard to accept,&rdquo; McQuaid <a href="http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/10/news/uci-sends-mixed-message-to-armstrong-and-fellow-dopers-over-their-place-in-cycling_262244" target="_blank">said of the doping </a>described by Zabriskie. &ldquo;It was difficult, but I do accept that it did go on.&rdquo;</p> General Assignment Daily Report drugs performance-enhancing drugs sports Wed, 31 Oct 2012 07:05:02 +0000 Lance Williams Matt Smith 18598 at http://californiawatch.org Plans for busy SF bus line catch many riders unawares http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/plans-busy-sf-bus-line-catch-many-riders-unawares-18500 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/zusha-elinson" title="View user profile." class="fn">Zusha Elinson</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0_V657yEhWY" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Big changes are coming to San Francisco&rsquo;s most heavily traveled and historic bus line &ndash; but few people know about them, according to a new survey of transit passengers.</p> <p>Plans to install two separated bus-only lanes on Geary Boulevard to speed up the 38-Geary line have been in the works for years and are now advancing slowly toward reality. But of 600 riders surveyed this summer, 57 percent had not heard about the project, according to&nbsp;<a _mce_href="http://bit.ly/PEowo9" href="http://bit.ly/PEowo9" target="_blank">the results</a>&nbsp;released earlier this month by the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, a group that advocates for Muni riders.</p> <p>San Francisco County Transportation Authority planners say that the&nbsp;<a _mce_href="http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2012-07/geary-bus-rapid-transit-project-poses-design-challenges-for-city-transportation-planner" href="http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2012-07/geary-bus-rapid-transit-project-poses-design-challenges-for-city-transportation-planner" target="_blank">bus rapid transit project</a>&nbsp;would transform the line that carries 50,000 riders a day, the most in the system, into something more like a train. With a dedicated bus lane in each direction, low-floor buses would arrive at more regular intervals to carry passengers between the quiet west side of the city and downtown. It&rsquo;s scheduled to open in 2019.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>The authority is paying a pretty penny for publicizing the project. A total of $270,000 is going to two big-name consulting firms &ndash; Barbary Coast Consulting, based in San Francisco, and Circlepoint in Oakland &ndash; to handle communications and outreach from 2008 through 2013, according to the transportation authority.</p> <p>Christina Castro, a board member of the transit riders union, which supports the project, said she was surprised to learn that more than half the riders surveyed didn&rsquo;t know about the project because it has been discussed by city planners for years. Castro said it shows that more outreach needs to be done.</p> <p>&ldquo;They make it sound like they&#39;ve done a lot, but I don&#39;t think they&rsquo;re doing enough,&rdquo; Castro said.</p> <p>Tilly Chang, a transit planner with the transportation authority, was skeptical of the survey results. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a certain level of awareness that doesn&#39;t quite jive with the survey,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>Chester Fong, another planner, said that the authority has bought ads, sent mailings, hung posters, held meetings and presented information to more than 25 community groups this summer about the bus rapid transit on Geary.</p> <p>&ldquo;Can we reach more people?&rdquo; Fong said. &ldquo;Yes &ndash; and we are interested in partnering with the transit riders union.&rdquo;</p> <p>The survey found that the leading complaints of 38-Geary riders were overcrowding and slow buses.&nbsp;Although it runs more regularly than most Muni lines with buses coming every few minutes during rush hour, the 38 still has a low on-time arrival rate. The 38 local was on-time 62 percent of the time during the last half of 2011. The 38 limited was on-time 63 percent.</p> <p>Castro said the transit riders union supports bus rapid transit and believes it would speed up travel along Geary. But the project has faced stiff resistance from merchants in the Richmond district have long opposed either a rail or bus rapid transit project along Geary saying it would hurt business and take away parking spots.</p> <p>The Geary line and the project each have long histories. Exactly 100 years ago, the B streetcar was unveiled as the first Muni line. It eventually ran from the Ferry Building to Ocean Beach. In 1956, it morphed into the 38-Geary bus line.</p> <p>A quicker way to get from downtown to the beach has been the subject of studies for decades. At one time, it was thought that BART would go all the way to the beach underneath Geary Boulevard. BART Director James Fang raised the possibility once again during his most recent re-election campaign.</p> <p>In 1989, voters approved a tax to pay for transportation projects with light rail projects slated for Third Street and Geary Boulevard at the time. But the Third Street line proved more popular.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because there was a lot more support from the communities in the southeast, the money went to a Third Street Line and not the Geary line,&rdquo; said Peter Straus, a former Muni transit planner.</p> <p>When it came time to renew the transportation tax in 2003, transit planners scaled back their ambitions and promised a&nbsp;<a _mce_href="http://www.baycitizen.org/transportation/story/plan-speed-bus-traffic-could-bad-news/" href="http://www.baycitizen.org/transportation/story/plan-speed-bus-traffic-could-bad-news/" target="_blank">bus rapid transit line,</a>&nbsp;a low-cost alternative to rail that was popularized in South American cities. But they also promised that any bus project would be designed to be &ldquo;rail ready&rdquo; meaning that light rail running down the median of Geary Boulevard could still be built.</p> <p>The transit riders union found in its survey that 40 percent wanted a light rail project, while 33 percent preferred buses.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been a long haul, but I like to point out to people that the future happens,&rdquo; said Straus. &ldquo;I think if you look ahead for the next 20 or 30 years traffic is likely to be worse than it is today and to the extent that we believe that&rsquo;s true we should make sure that we have transit priority lanes.&rdquo;</p> General Assignment Daily Report BART ridership San Francisco transportation Mon, 22 Oct 2012 07:05:03 +0000 Zusha Elinson 18500 at http://californiawatch.org Historic SF law library in jeopardy if city can’t find new site http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/historic-sf-law-library-jeopardy-if-city-can-t-find-new-site-18484 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/jennifer-gollan" title="View user profile." class="fn">Jennifer Gollan</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/law library books.jpg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=114443632" target="_blank">tlegend/Shutterstock</a></span></p> <p>Robert L. Ferris, an estate-planning attorney, says the documents he has accessed through the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sflawlibrary.org/" target="_blank">San Francisco Law Library</a>&nbsp;have helped him handle cases for nearly two decades.</p> <p>But he might be on his own next year when the&nbsp;<a href="http://sfwmpac.org/vetbuilding/vb_index.html" target="_blank">War Memorial Veterans Building</a>, which houses the historic library, closes for renovation in May.</p> <p>&ldquo;The law library is a resource that I&rsquo;ve relied on for years,&rdquo; Ferris said. &ldquo;The reason my office is located where it is is because the courts are close and the library is close.&rdquo;</p> <p>City and county officials are required to provide space for the library and fund its operation, but a new location has not been secured.</p> <p>Former State Bar President Jon Streeter is among more than 700 lawyers, legal groups, students, judges and others who&nbsp;<a href="http://sflawlibrary.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=217" target="_blank">sent a letter in May</a>&nbsp;urging Mayor Ed Lee and county supervisors to find a new home for the library.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder"></div> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a tragedy because people who come to court without a lawyer often turn to law libraries to navigate through the court system,&rdquo; Streeter said. &ldquo;It is not a matter of a stack of old dusty books being warehoused somewhere &ndash; it is a matter of providing basic access to the courthouse to the public.&rdquo;</p> <p>The law library was established more than 140 years ago as the first county law library in the state. The nonprofit is the only law library in San Francisco that provides free access to more than 90,000 volumes, as well as online legal references, such as Westlaw, LexisNexis and other legal databases.</p> <p>For the past 18 years, the library has been housed on the fourth floor of the grand 80-year-old Veterans Building, across Van Ness Avenue from City Hall. The Beaux Arts-style building is also home to the Herbst Theatre, exhibit spaces and meeting rooms.</p> <p>The library serves everyone from solo-practice attorneys chasing down arcane legal materials to citizens representing themselves. Reference librarians also help residents research divorce law, city permits, building codes, traffic and parking tickets, and other legal matters. The library receives about $1.4 million a year from fees paid by those filing civil cases in court.</p> <p>John Updike, the city&rsquo;s acting real estate director, said the competitive real estate market has made it challenging to find a suitable site in the same area.</p> <p>&ldquo;It has been difficult to find a property to accommodate the weight of the books and a site that is close to the courthouses in the Civic Center area,&rdquo; Updike said. &ldquo;It is always a challenge for the government to secure property in a fast-moving market.&rdquo;</p> <p>Updike said the city has given library officials four new sites near the Civic Center to consider. He declined to provide details on the properties, citing the ongoing negotiations.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are working with the city to work out a solution for suitable quarters for the law library,&rdquo; said Marcia R. Bell, director of the law library, which has eight full-time staff members.</p> <p>Planning and moving a library the size of the law library could take months, librarians say. For example, earlier this year, it took three months for the library to move out of its downtown branch on Market Street, which had roughly 30,000 volumes in its collection.</p> <p>Another complication: Two-thirds of the library&rsquo;s collection is in storage in the basement of Brooks Hall under the Civic Center Plaza. That&rsquo;s because the Veterans Building originally was designed as a temporary space that turned into a long-term arrangement. Library officials have tried to work out a solution with the city for a new space for the last 15 years, but nothing has materialized.</p> <p>Updike said city officials believe the current space was adequate for the last 15 years. But when the city secured funding in 2010 to renovate the Veterans Building, it started looking in earnest for a new site for the library.</p> <p>&ldquo;It would be nice if we had direction on this by the end of the year,&rdquo; Updike said. &ldquo;It takes a while to move a library.&rdquo;</p> General Assignment Daily Report legal aid libraries public records San Francisco Fri, 19 Oct 2012 07:05:03 +0000 Jennifer Gollan 18484 at http://californiawatch.org Women use emoticons more often, but men have more variety ;-) http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/women-use-emoticons-more-often-men-have-more-variety-18401 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susanne-rust" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susanne Rust</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/texting.jpeg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhaymesisvip/6497720753/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Jhaymesisviphotography/Flickr</a></span></p> <p>Women might use emoticons more than men, but men have a broader emoticon vocabulary.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s what researchers from Rice University are saying in a new study that evaluated the use of emoticons in text messages.</p> <p>&ldquo;This was a unique study in that we were able to collect data from subjects as they used their phones,&rdquo; said <a href="http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~pkortum/" target="_blank">Philip Kortum</a>, a psychology professor at Rice, who said it was the first such study to watch subjects &ldquo;in the wild.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Most studies had relied on results of self-reported behavior,&rdquo; he said, which is &ldquo;generally not a very good at reconstructing behavior.&quot;</p> <p>Kortum said the results of this latest study, published in the journal <a href="http://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-in-human-behavior/" target="_blank">Computers in Human Behavior</a>, are just one small part of a major investigation into the way college kids, and therefore people in general, use their smartphones.</p> <p>Kortum and his colleagues enlisted 21 Rice students, 11 women and 10 men, and provided them with iPhones for one year. Each phone was equipped with a custom logger, or tracker, that did not interfere with the phone&rsquo;s use but recorded how, when and where the student used the phone.</p> <p>In the case of the text messages, all the words were scrambled for privacy; only the emoticons were recorded.&nbsp;At the end of six months, the researchers sorted&nbsp;through the 158,098 text messages the students had sent.&nbsp;</p> <p>Surprisingly, Kortum said, only 4.2 percent of all messages contained emoticons. However, the researchers recorded 74 different kinds of emoticons in these messages.</p> <p>Three emoticons &ndash; happy :), sad :( and very happy :D &ndash; accounted for 70 percent of emoticon use.</p> <p>The researchers found that women had a higher emoticon-to-word ratio than men, but men were more diverse in the kinds of emoticons used.&nbsp;Kortum did not want to speculate about why men might have a broader emoticon vocabulary &ndash; twice as broad &ndash; but said it&rsquo;s an area he&rsquo;d like to explore further.</p> <p>The researchers also found that one participant accounted for 20 percent of the text messages sent and received. He was removed from the current study because his use was so far out of the norm &ndash; he averaged 201 text messages a day, Kortum said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because our sample size was so small, we can&rsquo;t draw a complete distribution&rdquo; of how often most people text, Kortum said. But this one&nbsp;student was way out of the normal range compared with the other study subjects.</p> <p>&ldquo;Maybe he was going through a relationship situation,&rdquo; Kortum said.</p> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-explore"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dailyreport/calif-researchers-create-apps-health-studies-17885">Calif. researchers create apps for health studies </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dailyreport/sf-police-have-no-budget-smartphones-touted-mobile-app-16917">SF police have no budget for smartphones for touted mobile app</a> </div> </div> </div> General Assignment Daily Report cell phone cell phones emoticons research smartphone SMS technology text messaging Mon, 15 Oct 2012 07:05:04 +0000 Susanne Rust 18401 at http://californiawatch.org Corporations that claim to do good need more oversight, experts say http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/corporations-claim-do-good-need-more-oversight-experts-say-18363 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kendall-taggart" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kendall Taggart</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/money_hands_1.jpg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">AlexKalina/istockphoto.com</span></p> <p>State&nbsp;regulators need<strong> </strong>to have more oversight of new types of companies that claim to&nbsp;have a social or environmental mission, legal experts say.&nbsp;</p> <p>About 75 companies have&nbsp;registered as &quot;benefit&quot; or &quot;flexible purpose&quot; corporations since Gov. Jerry Brown <a href="http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17276" target="_blank">signed</a> two bills into law a year ago that created the new entities.</p> <p>The law is intended to shield businesses from lawsuits as they pursue social objectives, such as preserving the environment, in addition to making a profit. Traditional for-profit companies, proponents argue, could face shareholder lawsuits if they prioritize social goals at the expense of profits.</p> <p>The companies that have taken advantage of the new law range from large businesses like <a href="http://www.patagonia.com/us/home" target="_blank">Patagonia</a>, which has a long-standing history of supporting environmental causes, to startups like <a href="http://powerhive.com/about/" target="_blank">Powerhive</a> in Oakland, which is working to provide clean energy to households without electricity.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>But private attorneys at a National Association of State Charity Officials conference recently told an audience of state nonprofit regulators that they had concerns.</p> <p>These new classifications of companies are not monitored by government agencies&nbsp;to ensure compliance with statutory requirements, said Robert Keatinge, an attorney with Holland &amp; Hart, and Victoria Bjorklund, an attorney at Simpson Thacher &amp; Bartlett who specializes in tax-exempt organizations. Without independent monitoring, there&rsquo;s greater risk of abuse and the potential for investors to be misled, they said.</p> <p>Of the 75 companies that have registered since the law went into effect in January, 60 firms have opted to become benefit corporations, which are required to meet third-party social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards. The other 15 are flexible-purpose corporations. As the name suggests, those corporations have greater flexibility and fewer requirements that ensure they are dedicated to a social or environmental mission.</p> <p>Some critics have suggested that flexibility could enable bad actors to mislead the public into thinking they&rsquo;re supporting a company oriented toward social and environmental goals.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think there are going to be bad actors in both camps,&quot; said Erik Trojian, director of policy at B Lab, a nonprofit that certifies benefit corporations and has advocated for legislation similar to California&#39;s across the country. &quot;I think there&rsquo;s greater protection in the benefit corporation model.&quot;</p> <p>Keatinge thinks the benefit corporation model could give investors a false sense of security.</p> <p>&quot;My concern is that it seems to have the stamp of approval of the state,&quot; he said in an interview. &quot;If somebody is going to make an investment based on state law, the state should do something to make sure they&rsquo;re in conformity with it.&quot;</p> <p>But Trojian thinks concerns about a lack of state regulation are misplaced. Just like traditional corporations, he said, these new kinds of companies are regulated by shareholders.</p> <p>&ldquo;That is a private matter between the shareholders and the directors. This has nothing to do with the public. Not a dollar of public money goes into this,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>About 17 states have passed laws that enable corporations to pursue social goals, but most do not have specific regulatory requirements. Illinois is the only state that requires these companies to register with the attorney general&#39;s office, according to Keatinge and Bjorklund.</p> <p>Angie Needels registered her personal chef business as a benefit corporation in June.</p> <p>Her business, <a href="http://www.mamakai.org/mission" target="_blank">MamaKai</a>, is based in Berkeley and provides meals and educational services for families who are preparing for or&nbsp;recently had a baby. Needels said she originally wanted to start her business as a nonprofit, but found the upfront requirements were harder than becoming a benefit corporation.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have a lot of clients that come to me and say having a baby is really expensive,&quot; she said. She&#39;s looking into whether she could access grants that would enable her to serve low-income families in addition to her regular clients.&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, although her business is small now, she wants to ensure that if she brings in shareholders, she will be protected from lawsuits that argue that she has put the public benefit ahead of profits. &ldquo;As my business grows, I didn&rsquo;t want someone else to be able to come in and change my policy,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>She&rsquo;s now in the process of getting certified by B Lab.</p> General Assignment Daily Report business California business corporations Environment oversight Mon, 15 Oct 2012 07:05:04 +0000 Kendall Taggart 18363 at http://californiawatch.org Report: 'Army of enablers' assisted Armstrong's doping http://californiawatch.org/general-assignment/report-army-enablers-assisted-armstrongs-doping-18318 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/lance-williams" title="View user profile." class="fn">Lance Williams</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/matt-smith" title="View user profile." class="fn">Matt Smith</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="image-full-width" style="width: 600px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-full-width" src="/files/imagecache/image-full-width/LAfoto-700px.jpg" title="Lance Armstrong" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"> Joe McGowan/Flickr </span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Lance Armstrong in 2009</span></p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>Cycling superstar Lance Armstrong won seven straight victories in the Tour de France with the aid of an &ldquo;army of enablers&rdquo; who provided him with banned drugs and helped him cover up his misconduct, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says.</p> <p>An investigative report made public today claims that Armstrong became the dominant cyclist of his era through systematic use of performance enhancers: steroids, blood transfusions, human growth hormone and the blood doping drug EPO.</p> <p>Over the course of his 16-year career, Armstrong lied repeatedly about his drug use, according to the report &ndash; the result of a two-year-long probe by the anti-doping agency.</p> <p>Armstrong also bullied his fellow riders on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team to use banned drugs and required them to lie about rampant drug use in their sport, the report claims.</p> <p>The agency said it based its searing portrayal of the cycling champion on the testimony of 15 professional cyclists &ndash; 11 of them from the USPS team, where Armstrong won most of his glory.</p> <p>The report was studded with details of an alleged doping culture. Former team members recalled being told to fetch foil-covered steroid pills for their team leader. The team&rsquo;s masseuse said she shopped for makeup to cover Armstrong&rsquo;s needle marks.</p> <p>By keeping silent about the apparent doping, masseuse Emma O&rsquo;Reilly told investigators she &ldquo;was no better than the directors, doctors and trainer who were actively running the doping programs.&rdquo;</p> <p>A team doctor provided cyclists with human growth hormone, the report alleged, and it said the team manager arranged a private jet flight to Spain before the 2000 Tour de Franceso that Armstrong and another cycling star, Tyler Hamilton, could obtain secret blood transfusions in a hotel room.</p> <p>Armstrong, who retired in 2011, contends he never used banned drugs. His lawyer, Tim Herman, denounced the doping agency&rsquo;s report todayas a &ldquo;one-sided hatchet job,&rdquo; saying it was created with &ldquo;coerced testimony&rdquo; from &ldquo;axe-grinders (and) serial perjurers.&rdquo; Herman said their stories had been &ldquo;coerced.&rdquo;</p> <p>But in a statement, the agency&rsquo;s chief executive, Travis Tygart, contended that the cyclists who implicated Armstrong had voluntarily told the truth after years of lying.</p> <p>Other witnesses in the report include Santa Rosa&rsquo;s Levi Leipheimer, who rides for the Omega Pharma&ndash;Quick-Step team; Canadian cyclist Michael Barry; and ex-racers Stephen Swart, George Hincapie and Frankie Andreu.</p> <p>In 2006, Andreu and his wife, Betsy, testified in arbitration proceedings that they heard Armstrong admit to using performance-enhancing drugs while undergoing cancer treatments.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Lance could not have done it on his own,&rdquo; Betsy Andreu told California Watch. &ldquo;This is a story that has to be told: the cover-up and how he got away with it.&rdquo;</p> <p>The report focuses largely how Armstrong came to create a &ldquo;doping culture&rdquo; on the USPS team.</p> <p>The team, disbanded in 2005, obtained millions of dollars in sponsorship fees from the postal service. It was owned by Tailwind Sports, a San Francisco company established by financier Thomas Weisel, founder of the Montgomery Securities investment firm.</p> <p>The report says the team was built around &ldquo;a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport&rdquo; who assisted Armstrong in obtaining drugs and avoiding detection.</p> <p>Among the most important, the report contends, was Dr. Michele Ferrari, a controversial Italian physician and sports trainer with a reputation for keeping years ahead of cutting-edge doping tests.</p> <p>In the final years of his career, Armstrong paid a company controlled by Ferrari more than $1 million, the report contends. In exchange, Ferrari devised a sophisticated doping regimen for the entire postal service team, the report says.</p> <p>Cyclists faced firing if they didn&rsquo;t follow Ferrari&rsquo;s protocol, which called for using drugs and transfusions to alter the cyclists&rsquo; blood chemistry &ndash; and maximize performance.</p> <p>Another alleged enabler was USPS team manager Johan Bruyneel, recruited by Armstrong from the Spanish team ONCE. The report says that team was infamous for its own illicit doping program.</p> <p>Bruyneel allegedly devised a system of transporting drugs and blood bags to cyclists under the eyes of drug testers. It was Bruyneel, Hamilton testified, who helped arrange the private jet flight to Spain for transfusions. That occurred one month before the 2000 tour, which Armstrong went on to win.</p> <p>Other alleged enablers included cyclists who said they were sometimes asked to fetch drugs, and employees such as O&rsquo;Reilly, the former team masseuse. In testimony, USPS cyclists Hincapie and Jonathan Vaughters said they&rsquo;d entrusted O&rsquo;Reilly to carry banned drugs for them.</p> <p>O&rsquo;Reilly testified that Armstrong once asked her to buy cosmetics to conceal an arm bruise from a syringe. At another point, O&rsquo;Reilly said Armstrong asked her to get rid of a bag of empty syringes. She said she assumed the cyclist had used the syringes during the Tour of the Netherlands, a multiday race, in 1998.</p> <p>Armstrong retired from cycling in 2011. The anti-doping agency called for a lifetime ban in August, after Armstrong announced he would not contest doping charges filed against him.</p> <p><strong>First doping claims in 1999</strong></p> <p>Armstrong first was linked to doping after the 1999 Tour de France, when the French daily Le Monde unearthed blood tests that were positive for a steroid. But a team doctor&rsquo;s note said Armstrong had used a prescribed cream for saddle sores, and he wasn&rsquo;t sanctioned.</p> <p>For the rest of Armstrong&rsquo;s career, reports appeared regularly &ndash; in newspaper and broadcast exposés, tell-all books and public statements from fellow cyclists &ndash; claiming he used drugs.</p> <p>Armstrong insisted he was drug-free, noting he had undergone hundreds of drug tests and never failed one. As he said in 2000, when a French television report sought to tie him to EPO: &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve never tested positive; I&rsquo;ve never been caught with anything.&rdquo;</p> <p>He has been particularly aggressive in his comments about the anti-doping agency, calling it a &ldquo;kangaroo court&rdquo; that is seeking to frame him with false testimony. He complains he was targeted by the agency because he criticized it for allegedly railroading other accused athletes.</p> <p>The agency&rsquo;s probe began in 2010 when an agency official met with an associate of cycling star Floyd Landis to discuss suspected drug use on the USPS team, court records show.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky, who led the probe that ensnared San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds in the BALCO steroid scandal, was investigating suspected doping on a Los Angeles-based pro cycling team, the New York Daily News hasreported.</p> <p>The federal investigation turned to Armstrong after Landis sent emails to cycling regulators detailing his own doping history and implicating Armstrong. Federal law enforcement officials spent 20 months following up on Landis&rsquo; leads before dropping the case without explanation in February.</p> </div> </div> </div> General Assignment drugs performance-enhancing drugs sports Thu, 11 Oct 2012 01:30:20 +0000 Lance Williams Matt Smith 18318 at http://californiawatch.org