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Bay Area News: Workers Strike, Pittsburg Residents Evacuated and You REALLY Need to Vote!

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Hello, folks! We’re highlighting a few important Bay Area stories this week that touch on the scary end of gas pipe line dangers and a whole bunch of pissed off workers. Let’s go…

Natural Gas Line Fire in Pittsburg Triggers Evacuations

It was a noisy and frightening Wednesday night in Pittsburg and Bay Point (a.k.a. West Pittsburg) when approximately 4,000 residents were evacuated from 1,400 homes. A grass fire was reported and thought to be extinguished earlier in the afternoon; however, fire personnel were called back to the area around Pointsettia and Suisun avenues when a subsequent fire was discovered inside a power vault near a Chevron-owned high-pressure gas line just before 9 p.m.. By 11 p.m., emergency evacuations were ordered for everyone within a half-mile of the site.

Pittsburg/Bay Point evacuation map.

The potential for explosion sent Chevron Pipe Line Company and emergency responders into a flurry of action. CPL immediately shut down the line and isolated the fire away from its connections to the remainder of the Northern California Gas Line that runs through the East Bay. PIttsburg police and Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department personnel went door-to-door to inform residents of the need to evacuate, but fire department personnel will not return to the site until the threat of explosion is completely mitigated. Operations began late Wednesday night to purge the line of the flammable gas, which created a “loud, shrieking noise described as a ‘jet-engine-like sound’” heard throughout the surrounding area. It was reported Thursday morning that nitrogen was being pumped into the line to help extinguish the blaze, although there was still no estimate as to when residents could safely return to their homes.

Willow Cove Elementary School in Pittsburg will remain closed Thursday and Amtrak officials warned commuters to expect delays on routes between Sacramento and San Jose. This story is still in progress.

Uber “Tackles” the Issues

Uber drivers gathered in front of the company’s headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco to protest some of the ride-hailing giant’s policies, namely the practice of kicking drivers off the platform without due process. When Thom Hoffman, a driver also associated with the Gig Workers Rising organization, attempted to walk inside the building to deliver a petition signed by over 3,000 people, he was literally tackled to the ground by an Uber security guard and the whole incident was caught on video.

An Uber spokesperson claimed the “decisions to block to access to their app are…to maintain the safety of riders and drivers,” as was reported by ABC 7 News, but drivers’ safety didn’t seem to be much of a concern when the unarmed man was violently thrown to the ground. Of course, Uber has since voiced concern about the incident and says it will not tolerate actions such as the guard took Friday. But the the issue of driver hardships still remains. As Hoffman explained:

“Uber drivers don’t have a voice on the job, and live under constant fear, fear of deactivation.”

And in more workers’ dissatisfaction: Marriott Strikers Get Arrested

It seems San Francisco had absolutely zero patience for striking workers Friday. As part of an ongoing national protest since Oct. 4, 3,000 Bay Area Marriott workers went on strike last week and hundreds gathered for a rally in front of the Marriott Marquis on Fourth Street Friday, which blocked traffic. San Francisco police arrested 41 hotel workers, including the union president. All those arrested were were cited with misdemeanors and released. The strike stems from workers’ complaints about low wages and job insecurity throughout the many Marriott hotels across the country.

The 41 people arrested are sure to have additional financial worries as they deal with the legal implications associated with their arrests. There have been no reports of open negotiations between Marriott and employee unions as the strike continues.

The Right to VOTE!

If things like wages, cost of living and gas pipelines matter to you, remember that elections have consequences and we have an opportunity to make a difference in our local lives by showing up to vote in exactly 19 days.

A bus full of black seniors was turned away while trying to cast early votes in Georgia. Photo courtesy of RollingOut

Midterm elections are notorious for low turnout but this particular turn at the ballot box carries enormous consequence and opportunity for change if we really want it. Across the country, it is becoming obvious that people really want it – people are registering to vote in record numbers. On the flipside of that, we have states like Georgia and North Dakota turning back the wheel of civil rights history as they go to extremes to suppress the voting power of minority groups. The disheartening stories of voter suppression are numerous and emotionally overwhelming – too much so to really get into here – but the fight people are putting up is inspiring. My point in mentioning this right now is to give you a little motivating guilt like my Jewish grandmother used to dish out. If you have the power to vote, do it! If you have the time to help others fight for their rights to vote, do it! Voting is the core of this democratic experiment and brushing it off, especially now, is almost as unpatriotic as it gets.

This is not the time to sit it out.

Oh, and the president defended a country accused of murdering a U.S. resident journalist, said it didn’t matter if he was dismissive to Christine Blasey Ford because they “won” and called a woman a “horse face.” That was just in this past week. Like I said, elections have consequences.

Weird shit to do on your day off

Trolley Dance! Photo courtesy of Epiphany Dancers

Trolley dances! Yep, that’s a thing. For two days, Saturday and Sunday, with the cost of MUNI fare, you can enjoy choreographed shows along your route from Mission Bay to SOMA. Epiphany Dance Theatre will be delighting riders with 8 to 15-minute dances designed to reflect the environment and architecture of our unique and beautiful San Francisco. For the 15th year, people are encouraged to hop a ride on public transit while being entertained with some pretty cool moves. Check it out.

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.