10 Worst Ideas of the Week: Aug. 10, 2008

Fee-fare hikes for Caltrain could hurt ridership, trash agency throws away compostable material and fliers’ information turns out to be less than secure.

No one’s aboard

1| Caltrain considers raising fares. The details: The transit agency is considering two options for fare increases: One that would raise the base fare and another that would increase the per-zone fare. Caltrain says the increase is in response to rising fuel prices, but the agency is also seeing record ridership because commuters are looking to escape those same high prices at the pump. Caltrain’s decision to raise fares could drive down ridership, which would hurt the agency even more.

Disability placard abuse

2| An estimated one in five placards used in city might not be legitimate. The details: While the intention behind a disability placard — to allow people with applicable health concerns to park closer to their destination — is good, we find it reprehensible that other drivers are using the blue placards for their own convenience. Besides robbing Muni of needed parking funds, the estimated 20 percent of placard owners who use them illegally is forcing disabled people to park farther away from their destinations.

Non-trash trashed

3| Waste company throws compostable material in landfill. The details: Allied Waste, which provides trash service from Burlingame to the southern border of San Mateo County, admitted that it dumped 14,159 tons of plant material that was supposed to be composted into a landfill. An outside agency, however, says the amount was closer to 65,000 tons. Either way, the company failed to do its job and unnecessarily added to a landfill.

Bad call

4| Federal tax officials consider phones a corporate perk. The details: Remember that bulky box Gordon Gekko used to impress people? It looked like an Army walkie-talkie, but back then the IRS considered such cell phones to be an exotic perk befitting capitalist tycoons. Federal tax officials are again requiring people with company-provided cell phones to keep detailed logs of their use, just as if they would for a luxury company car, according to Reason Magazine’s Hit & Run blog.

Muni crashes

5| There have been three accidents on S.F.’s public transit system in past two months. The details: The driver of a historic streetcar on The Embarcadero rear-ended another streetcar just hours after reportedly being warned not to follow other coaches too close. This accident follows on the heels of a cable-car derailment, in which the operators reportedly exited the vehicle despite that being against the rules, and another light-rail crash near AT&T Park, in which Muni says the driver was speeding.

Airport insecurity

6| Laptop containing passenger data goes missing. The details: The company that runs an airport-security prescreening program lost, and then found, a laptop containing the personal information of 33,000 people who had provided the information to get through security checkpoints faster. The Transportation Security Administration suspended new enrollments to the program, known as Clear — but the public deserves to know how the computer was misplaced, why the information was unencrypted and whether this security shortcut is putting airport security at risk.

Icon traded

7| NFL star Brett Favre dealt by Packers to Jets. The details: After more than a month of he-said, she-said drama more suited for a daytime soap opera, Brett Favre, one of the most legendary quarterbacks in NFL history, was unceremoniously traded by the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets for a conditional fourth-round draft pick. The iron-man QB and only threetime MVP in NFL history was not allowed to return to the team he led to two Super Bowl appearances after he retired in March.

Voluntary deportation

8| State tells people they can be deported without being jailed. The details: In a real headscratcher, the state has unveiled a plan that asks illegal immigrants to turn themselves in to officials so the immigrants can be deported without being jailed. No one came forward on first day of the “self deportation” program. This is one immigration proposal that has drawn ridicule and criticism from both sides of the debate.

Protest at Chinese Consulate

9| Woman falls while dangling from side of building. The details: A group that was protesting in The City against China’s control over Tibet had two people trespass onto the consulate’s roof, and one woman dangled from the side of the building by a rope. Somehow the rope broke — though the protesters claim it was cut — and the woman fell 15 feet to a balcony. The protesters decried that the security at the consulate was rough, but they seem to have overlooked the fact that the two women were breaking the law.

Let’s nationalize ’em

10| Bill would allow state to purchase stake in public companies. The details: A proposed ballot measure by Santa Monica CPA Paul McCauley would establish a new tax to finance a California Superfund designed to buy controlling interests in Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, General Motors and Ford, among others. If approved, it would make California the first state ever to attempt to use tax dollars to buy a controlling interest — i.e. nationalize — a public company of any sort.

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