UPDATE: Union organizer shouts down protesters as they block private Google shuttle

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A Google employee shouts down a private shuttle protester on Valencia and 24th streets this morning.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Protesters blocked a private Google shuttle on Valencia street today, decrying private shuttle's use of public bus stops without paying fees or fines.

The group of 20 or so neon-yellow vested protesters called themselves the "San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency." The company doesn't pay San Francisco a dime to use the Muni stops -- fines that private auto drivers pay regularly.

UPDATE 3:58pm: Just how does a story go from breaking, to verification, to "holy shit it's all over the internet now?" Here's our interview with Fake Google Employee Max Alper, and our recount of how it all went down: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/12/09/whyd-you-do-it-we-ask-fake-google-employee-max-bell-alper

UPDATE 12:32pm: Various tips have streamed in that this shout-out was staged. Protest organizer Leslie Dreyer talked to us on the phone and verified that this person's identity was Max Bell Alper, a union organizer from Oakland. This person was not a Google employee, and Dreyer was not able to verify if Alper was there in the morning with the group of 20-30 protesters. The Guardian is attempting to contact Alper for comment. Dreyer said she, as an organizer, was unaware that the "performance" had been planned. We are following this as it develops.

UPDATE 1:06pm: Within an hour of our original post, the Guardian learned that Max Bell Alper, a union organizer with Unite Here Local 2850 was the man shouting down Google bus protesters earlier this morning. We asked Alper what motivated him to impersonate a Google employee.

"This is political theater to demonstrate what is happening to the city. It's about more than just the bus. These are enormous corporations that are investing in this community. These companies, like Google, should be proud of where they're from and invest in their communities," he said.

When asked if he intentiionally intended to deceive media, he replied "People are talking all over the country about what's happening in San Francisco (referring to evictions and displacement). That's the debate we need to have here. The more we talk about it, the more we think about it, the more we're going to see the tech companies need to contribute."

 Alper said that he did not intend to engage in theater before going to the protest, but when there made the decision, "spontaneously," to stage the argument. When he maintained his story that this was political theater, we again asked why he did not verify his name at the protest itself -- and only after the story blew up in national and local media.

"This was improv political theater," he said.

Original post follows:

The SFMTA has a pilot plan in the works to regulate private use of public bus stops.

Though the private shuttles were the crux of the day's protest, the heart of the fight is over gentrification. As the tech revolution in SF leads to rising rents and longtime San Franciscans are being displaced.

In the video, a union organizer who hopped off the bus shouts down Erin McElroy, staging an argument with a protester who also heads the eviction mapping project. "How long have you lived in this city?" McElroy asked him. He shouted back "Why don't you go to a city that can afford it? This is a city for the right people who can afford it. You can't afford it? You can leave. I'm sorry, get a better job."

"What kind of fucking city is this?" he shouted, and then walked off. He mentioned repeatedly that he couldn't get to work because the bus was blocked, and did exit the bus (indicated he was a Google employee), but the Guardian (nor a nearby Al Jazeera reporter) could not verify his job title or name. If anyone has any tips as to the identity of this man, please contact us at news@sfbg.com. 

(UPDATE 12:12 PM -- The Guardian amended the headline to reflect our story more accurately, that though this man exited the bus and claimed he was late for work, we have not yet verified his employment at Google)

We'll have more on this story later in the day, for now, check out footage from the protest.)

Comments

Here's one better, if you work in Mountain View, you should live in Mountain View.

Posted by James on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

So the requirement to live in san francisco is now having a job in san francisco? If so, why not start with the bigger "problem"--the 240,000 daily bay bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco%E2%80%93Oakland_Bay_Bridge) and 110,000 daily golden gate bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge) crossings? I guarantee you those are not all tourists! OR, why not just tear down the bridges?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

Because living in Oakland or a neighboring town and working in SF or vice versa is natural and organic. Nobody else who works in Mountain View lives in San Francisco, because its impractical. They also do use the public infrastructure without investing in it. If that's okay, then I should get one of those old-timey pump train carts and just fly up and down the muni and caltrain tracks.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

"only people who live in cities I LIKE can come to san francisco and vice versa or else it hurts my feelings"
-you

I have/know several teachers who live in Mountain View and Work in San Francisco
I know people who commute from Tracy
I know people who commute from freaking Sacramento for whatever reason.
The point is people do whatever *works for them*. And if working for google and taking a bus from SF where they stay with 4+ other roommates to they job gets the bills payed then who are we to say otherwise.
Free county. Free market. Social Darwinism. etc.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

Social Darwinism? Ha. These are largely young, white kids getting paid way too much money to do jobs that could certainly be done by other people were it not for the "culture fit" that Google and Facebook require (y'know: must be white, must be willing to make or tolerate misogynist jokes in the workplace).

It's fine for people to live in SF and commute. It's not acceptable that the only reason these kids live in San Francisco is because their employer shuttles them to and from work every day without benefiting the city in any meaningful way. Take away the buses, and the problem largely disappears.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 4:06 am

As a minority female who worked and enjoyed being at Google, I find your viewpoint of Google's "culture" sad.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 4:15 am

Even though they are all white themselves.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 7:43 am

Can you point to any substantial data backing up your claims? Coming from a Googler who regularly works with colleagues from MTV, I have never noticed any misogyny (or any other form of discrimination) coming from them.

If you have a problem with the disproportionate amount of white males in silicon valley, how about you try and do something about it? You know, like Google already does: http://www.google.com/diversity/

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 9:04 am

Wow. You are a fucking idiot.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 17, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

So the requirement to live in san francisco is now having a job in san francisco? If so, why not start with the bigger "problem"--the 240,000 daily bay bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco%E2%80%93Oakland_Bay_Bridge) and 110,000 daily golden gate bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge) crossings? I guarantee you those are not all tourists! OR, why not just tear down the bridges?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

Think about it, those commuting across the Bay Bridge don't live here, they work here and live elsewhere, hence, they don't drive up rents in SF. The complaint is that people that work in Silicon Valley, and make a ton of money there, live here, driving up the rents. So what you saying is actually the complete opposite of the problem.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

Oh, so only people living in SF and working outside of SF should live closer to their jobs? Not people living outside SF and commuting into SF?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 6:52 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

Google tried to built a mixed use housing development in Mountain View to house many of its workers who prefer a more urban lifestyle closer to work, but the city of Mountain View vetoed it. So, unless you think Google should simply stop employing so many people, the answer is that we have land use dysfunction beyond the borders of the city as well.

Living in Mountain View is hardly an option for many employees, and in fact living there often displaces lower income residents in Mountain View's older apartment buildings along California Ave / Rengstorff.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

Apartments don't really count for much either. i.e. Googler's don't really spend much money in Mountain View. Even the ones that live there do most of their eating on campus, as well as getting their laundry and car work done there. They basically live in a mini-Google city that just happens to be inside Mountain View.

If Google really wanted to invest in Mountain View, the best thing they could do would probably be to shut down a lot of their on campus services.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

Well only if you assume all Googlers are single and without families which is not true.
So no to what you said, we do spend significant amount of money in Mountain View.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

Mountain View, Mountain View, what is Mountain View?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

Google's office in Dallas is tiny. I've noticed many big companies are moving here presumably because we're not communists. Last I heard Google paid a ton in taxes to your state and your cities, so WHY aren't they entitled to use public infrastructure? If you outlaw their buses, what next? Will you successful companies from using streets and highways altogether? By that argument you should kick the 80% of citizens who don't pay taxes right off the BART.

At any rate, I'd love for them to move to Texas. So please keep protesting them and taxing them and generally whining. We'll gladly take the thousands of tech jobs, billions in revenue, bragging rights and we'd probably give them their own DART train and stop. They'd certainly make even more here because our taxes are low, cost of living is low, and we don't whine nearly as much.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

Taxes and regulations make CA an unfriendly environment for wealth creators.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

There's no Stanford or Cal Tech in Texas and there's certainly no Cal. A major reason companies like Google or Genentech are located in the Bay Area is the university system here. You can lower taxes to zero and even PAY companies to do their business but if they cannot find qualified employees they're not going to locate to your area.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

It doesn't explain why TX creates far more jobs than CA does.

One third of all new jobs created in the US in the last decades have been in Texas.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 2:16 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 2:35 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

2/3 of them have been minimum wage jobs with no health care benefits.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 2:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

Texas unemployment rate 6.2%.

California unemployment rate 8.7%

Rental cost of 14' UHaul truck from San Jose to Austin: $1,410

Rental cost of 14' UHaul truck from Austin to San Jose: $706

If the jobs in Texas are so terrible, why are so many people from California moving to Texas?

Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

If you are uneducated and have no marketable skills, it is much better to have a low paying job and live in Texas.

If you have skills and talents that employers want, it is much better to have a high paying job in San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

Oakland unemployment rate (as of August): 11.4%

Of course, we don't care about Oakland...

Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

Certainly SFBG does not, since it hasn't featured a piece on Oakland since their lovefest with the appalling Jean Quan ended in tears

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

Do you care about Oakland? Other than it's usefulness as a rhetorical club, I mean.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 12:32 am

Like the actor/liar/faker

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 7:47 am

Perhaps you should move to Texas then racer, you do seem so enamored with the place.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

A lot of the jobs created in TX are low-wage and low-skilled. Jobs a monkey could do.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

superior skills than a monkey. Would you rather they starve, as they would in CA?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

"A lot of the jobs created in TX are low-wage and low-skilled. Jobs a monkey could do."

Interesting perspective towards low-skilled workers.

I take it you are a "progressive"?

Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

or mow lawns. Ask any worker in Aspen or Monaco.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

Who gets paid to pump gas anymore?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 1:32 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Everyone who works as a gas pumper in Oregon and New Jersey.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

A while back it was the cheapest in the nation, even though you could not self-pump.

Odd.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

, but the fact that New Jersey is one of the civilized states where people aren't forced into the role of schlepping their own gas is not a highly remarkable fact in that regard... for the same reason that the failure to improve the bottom line markedly -- if at all -- of Golden Gate Transit in eliminating toll takers on the GG Bridge is not highly remarkable.*

In both cases as cursory analysis reveals that the wage of such workers *pales* in comparison to the value of the product they dispense.

This is the sort of thinking I classify as "bullshit detector" thinking... and if only more people would engage in it. This mode of thought often only requires one to look *one* small step past the spot that advocates for some policy change are desperately working to have you focus on.

*From the internet crap-rag SFGate:

"Eliminating [the 28] human toll-takers is expected to save the financially struggling bridge district $19 million over the next eight years and help chip away at the district's projected $89 million five-year budget shortfall."

Golden Gate tolls all-electronic March 27
Michael Cabanatuan
Published 5:52 pm, Thursday, March 7, 2013
http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Golden-Gate-tolls-all-electronic-March-27-4337806.php

19,000,000 / (8 * 28) = 84828 per employee, per year, for part-time workers.

Now let's take gasoline.
(I'll just pull some numbers out of thin air -- they won't too be far off)
Average wage and other costs for fueling engineer $15
Average hourly take at a gas station with four pumps $1500

Do the math. See? BS detecting is fun and easy.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 14, 2013 @ 10:55 am

taking money and hitting a button, which a machine can easily do. so wages paid to toll takers is a waste..

Same reason banks got rid of many tellers and airlines got rid of sales offices. Why pay someone to do something so simply a machine could do it?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

I think that'd be great if Google moved to dallas instead.
SF is already a great city, and tech companies are not needed or wanted.

They need to go somewhere they are wanted, like Dallas. The problem is that no one wants to live in Dallas. SF = highly desirable city. Dallas = undesirable.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

If you live in Oakland, you should only protest in Oakland.

Posted by racer さ on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

I live in Oakland.
I did not protest.
I work for Google.
That said, I adore freedom.
Protest where you want, when you want, any time you want.
Make it world wide.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

support their families is not.

They could have picketed the bus without delaying it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

Protesters blocked a private Google shuttle on Valencia street

How can you be sure they aren't progressives faking it?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

This is what class warfare looks like.

Posted by generic_ on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

This is what crab louie looks like.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 12:03 am

That Erin chick is lucky she didn't get slapped.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

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