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Daily News Roundup for Thursday, March 10, 2016

by Flickr user 401(K) 2012 used under CC BY-SA 2.0 // Resized and cropped
Tax Return - 1040

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

Snapchat, Seagate among companies duped in tax-fraud scam // SF Gate

"Tax-filing season is turning into a nightmare for thousands of employees whose companies have been duped by email fraudsters. A major phishing scheme has tricked several major companies — among them, the messaging service Snapchat and disk-drive maker Seagate Technology — into relinquishing tax documents that exposed their workers' incomes, addresses and Social Security numbers.

"The scam, which involved fake emails purportedly sent by top company officials, convinced the companies involved to send out W-2 tax forms that are ideal for identity theft. For instance, W-2 data can easily be used to file bogus tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds."


California bill would let gig workers organize, negotiate // SF Gate

"Gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as many other contractors, would gain the right to collectively bargain over wages and working conditions under legislation being considered in California.

"'As our economy innovates, so should our labor laws,' said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, a former labor leader who proposed AB1727, the California 1099 Self-Organizing Act. 'More and more employers are doing business by classifying workers as independent contractors. Under current law, independent contractors can’t get together and negotiate with the master employer.' The U.S. views contractors as businesses, which means they would violate antitrust law if they pursued collective action to raise rates, for example."


7 key Bay Area transportation projects likely to lose funding // SF Gate

"Seven Bay Area transportation projects that could untangle congested interchanges, make East Bay BART stations brighter and more comfortable, create better routes for bicyclists and smooth the drive for commuters may be delayed for years, regional transportation officials decided Wednesday.

"A committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission reluctantly identified a $71.3 million collection of projects to lose financing for at least five years to cope with a massive cut in state funding blamed on plummeting gas tax revenues and a lethargic Legislature that has failed to heed the governor’s call for a transportation funding fix."


Silicon Valley nonprofits set to lose United Way funding // San Jose Mercury News

"In the shadow of high-tech titans and overnight millionaires, Silicon Valley nonprofits are fighting harder than ever for a piece of the pie, but that struggle just got tougher for nearly 25 local groups that serve the Bay Area's most needy residents.

"United Way of Silicon Valley will stop giving grants to more than two dozen Santa Clara County nonprofits as it embarks on a major shake-up that could lead to a merger with the San Francisco-based branch of the United Way. The local agency's three-year grant cycle ends June 30 and it won't be issuing a new one."


California Counts: Mobilizing The State’s Refugee Voters // KPBS

"People up and down the state are trying to crack the code on California's dismal voter turnout, which reached a record low for general elections in 2014. Just 42.2 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

"Under a new law, the Department of Motor Vehicles is getting ready to register drivers automatically to vote, and there's talk of sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter."


Study: BART Cars Host Bacteria Behind Skin Infections, Pneumonia // SFist

"This past December a group investigating the cleanliness of five national transit networks found BART to be teeming with gram-positive cocci — bacteria that can cause skin infections and pneumonia. Samples obtained via swabbing handrails in BART cars were sent to a lab for testing, and the results remind us BART is very much a public space shared by many, many people.

"BART in San Francisco and the Metro in Washington, D.C. both predominantly hosted gram-positive cocci, which are a common cause of skin infections," reads the study conducted by travel website Travelmath. "The Metro was also the only location that yielded type II gram-positive cocci, and only BART and the L-train [in Brooklyn] contained Bacillus (which can cause a range of infections, including respiratory illnesses)."