10 worst ideas of the week: July 20

The City admits to a security lockout, and transit may suffer in the face of a state budget crisis.

Password unprotected

1| San Francisco computer system locked by rogue employee.

The details: This week, San Francisco officials were forced to concede that they had allowed one employee to lock The City out of its own computer system. Terry Childs, 43, created a single password for FiberWAN, The City’s network — which he helped create — thus denying other employees access to city records. He still has not provided authorities with the password. Childs was arrested and faces up to seven years in prison.

Cable car plan unravels

2| Four people injured when car derails.

The details: One of The City’s popular cable cars became a runaway nightmare for some passengers after a few Muni drivers decided to get out of the vehicle — a violation of Muni rules — to push the car when it stalled. After the vehicle began rolling downhill, one operator got back on but could not reach the brakes because a door wouldn’t open. The other operator tripped while trying to board. The car derailed.

Intoxicated taxi

3|Cabdriver with drunken driving arrests fights to stay behind wheel.

The details: Robert Friedman, who has driven a taxi for 40 years in San Francisco, has several drunken driving convictions and arrests under his belt — but he still wants to ferry passengers around The City. The Taxi Commission has voted to revoke his license, but Friedman has filed an appeal, saying none of the arrests occurred while he was driving his cab.

Man who cried … ?

4|‘Mountain lion’ attack may have been a dog, victim says.

The details: A 50-year-old man’s assertion that he was attacked by a mountain lion in a Palo Alto park last week sent state game wardens, a federal tracker and a team of hounds scurrying to the park to hunt for the aggressive cat in an effort that cost thousands of dollars. They found nothing, and a laboratory examination of the man’s shirt revealed no traces of contact with a cougar. Authorities Thursday said the manlater conceded that “perhaps” it was a dog.

Red Cross fake-out

5| Colombian official falsely used humanitarian symbol in military rescue.

The details: During this month’s military rescue of hostages held by Colombian rebels, one intelligence officer wore a Red Cross emblem, a violation of the Geneva Convention. Such action could put other humanitarian workers at risk when they are working in war zones if their neutrality is questioned.

Follow the money

6| Political fundraiser pleads guilty to illegal donations.

The details: Once a political insider in San Francisco, Julie Lee pleaded guilty to illegally funneling state grant money to the political campaign of former Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. The money was intended for a community center, according to prosecutors. She faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison in the state case. She has also been convicted of similar charges in federal court.

The truth, the whole truth

7| Jesse Jackson also used the N-word in his off-air remarks.

The details: Although the Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized for “hurtful words” after it was revealed that he said that presidential candidate Barack Obama was “talking down to black people” during an off-air conversation while taping a Fox News show, the whole story didn’t come out until this week. Jackson also used the controversial N-word during that conversation, Fox News confirmed this week.

Harassing hawkers

8| Telemarketing companies ignore federal do-not-call lists.

The details: Two telemarketing companies have agreed to pay fines of $95,000 for ignoring the federal do-not-call list and making customers listen to recordings for far too long, federal regulators revealed this week. Perhaps the heads of the companies — Planet Earth Satellite Inc. and Star Satellite LLC — should have the additional punishment of being forced to listen to on-hold music for hours on end.

Budget Band-Aid

9| Voter-approved funds for transit and other services would be borrowed to close deficit.

The details: Lawmakers were in talks with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger onFriday and are said to be considering borrowing from transportation and local government funds to help balance the budget. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger said he did not think it was a good idea and that it likely would result in a state sales-tax hike. He did not rule out on approving such a plan, however.


10|Lawmakers consider new, stricter smoking regulations.

The details: While it’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health, a patchwork quilt of rules that dictate where smokers can light up in San Francisco is likely to drive someone to light up. Mayor Gavin Newsom has a proposal to ban the sale of tobacco in pharmacies — but that doesn't include the myriad other locations where folks can get their cigarettes. And legislation put forward by Supervisor Chris Daly included a total of 13 new amendments this week that parcel out no-smoking zones. So what patch of ground is left?

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