A.M. Splash: Google Engineers Start at $128,336; SF Gets Earthquake Czar; San Mateo’s Lehman Lawsuit Proceeds; Yelp Stings Review Buyers
- Google, Facebook, Apple top list of highest-paid software engineers (Los Angeles Times)
It pays to work for Google. The tech firm topped a list of the highest-paid software engineers, with an average base salary of $128,336. Facebook was second with an average base salary of $123,626, followed by Apple in the No. 3 spot at $114,413. The salary data were released Wednesday by Glassdoor, which used salary reports shared over the last 12 months by software engineers at 15 tech companies. The data are based on anonymous reports voluntarily shared by current and recent employees.
- SF earthquake safety czar post filled (SF Chronicle)
Mayor Ed Lee’s administration Wednesday tapped building permit consultant and expediter Patrick Otellini to fill a newly created earthquake safety czar position. Otellini, appointed to the new post by City Administrator Naomi Kelly, is a certified building inspector who served on the mayoral task force looking at the risk of so-called soft-story buildings, which have a garage or storefront on the first floor, making them prone to collapse in a major quake.
- Federal judge won’t dismiss San Mateo County lawsuit against Lehman Brothers (SJ Mercury)
A federal judge this week refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by San Mateo County and other public entities against Lehman Brothers alleging securities violations and accounting fraud that caused the county to lose $155 million in investments when the bank went bankrupt in 2008. “For us, it’s a great development,” County Counsel John Beiers said Tuesday. “It will allow us to move forward with the case and hopefully achieve justice on behalf of the county taxpayers.”
- Blast mediator’s selection causes uproar (SF Chronicle)
Ratepayer groups and the city of San Bruno on Wednesday denounced the “unilateral” appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell to mediate talks over how much Pacific Gas and Electric Co. should be fined for safety violations in the 2010 pipeline disaster that killed eight people. Estimates of the fine for PG&E violations, including the explosion itself, the company’s confused response to the ensuing fire and its shoddy pipeline record-keeping, have ranged from $200 million to $2.5 billion. The parties – the state Public Utilities Commission, its independent ratepayer division, PG&E, the cities of San Bruno and San Francisco and a consumer group – are reportedly far apart in reaching a settlement after months of talks.
- Buy Reviews on Yelp, Get Black Mark (NY Times)
Businesses caught soliciting favorable reviews are increasingly running the risk of getting slapped with a badge of shame. Like every Web site that depends on consumer critiques, Yelp has a problem with companies trying to manipulate their results. So it set up a sting operation to catch them. The first eight businesses — including a moving company, two repair shops and a concern that organizes treasure hunts — will find themselves exposed on Thursday. For the next three months, their Yelp profile pages will feature a “consumer alert” that says: “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.”
- California foreclosure notices fall to 5-year low (Bay Area News Group)
Home foreclosure activity in California fell to a new five-year low in the third quarter as rising prices eased pressure on homeowners and lenders, a research firm said Wednesday. There were 49,026 default notices on residential properties from July through September, down 31.2 percent from 71,275 the same period last year and down 63.8 percent from 135,431 in the first quarter of 2009, DataQuick said. It marked California’s lowest number of default notices since there were 46,760 in the first quarter of 2007.
- Oakland may hire contract police officers (Oakland Tribune)
The undermanned Oakland Police Department may contract with outside law enforcement agencies to patrol its crime-ridden streets. Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers would be hired for several months while the city’s police academy cadets finish up their training. The department currently has 629 officers, down from a high of 837 four years ago.
- Santa Clara County prosecutor’s attorney alleges public defender, not his client, is the liar (SJ Mercury News)
The liar in the courtroom Wednesday wasn’t the Santa Clara County prosecutor charged with misconduct, his defense attorney contended. It was his accuser, a public defender with a reputation for dirty tricks. The contention came on the first day of prosecutor Troy Benson’s trial in State Bar Court. Benson is charged with concealing evidence in 2006 from a defense lawyer in a child sex-assault case and then lying about it under oath. Benson, who denies the allegations, faces at least a year’s suspension, a career-killing penalty.