Rubin laughs at this. Few low- to mid-level government contractors or civil servants, he assures, would want to involve themselves in the derailing of a project fervently desired by high-level congressional leadership.

It is, after all, dangerous to stand in the path of a train.

LaVonda Atkinson has made her peace with whatever comes next. She has, in a sense, set her affairs in order. Her husband — an underemployed computer engineer forced to take night shifts at FedEx — and her four children have been informed that their personal budgets soon stand to shrink.

"I would like to successfully support the Central Subway Project, however, the reporting accuracy or timeliness is not likely to improve with the status quo," she wrote to the project's federal overseer in February. "What I've [witnessed] is unprofessional, unethical and inaccurate. I cannot remain silent any longer."

One month later, at a March Central Subway meeting, she distributed a list of almost three dozen Phase Three line-items accounting for $13.7 million in expenditures. What made them notable was that they were unconnected to any budget.

For cost engineers, discovering millions expended on unbudgeted items is the equivalent of finding passengers on the airplane sans tickets or boarding passes. It's a sign that something is gravely and fundamentally wrong.

But Atkinson was already convinced of that. These orphan line-items, she says, are the predictable detritus of reverse-engineered, "William Tell budgeting" and the shunting of cost overruns from one phase into the next. They are a vision of what's to come.

Eventually, even this interminable project will run out of phases. And then its true costs, the ones Atkinson claims have been carefully scrubbed and dutifully kicked down the road, will come due.

When that day comes — well prior to the project's anticipated 2018 completion, Atkinson predicts — "it'll all blow up." City transit-riders and taxpayers will be the ones picking up the pieces and disgorging however much it takes to finish the job.

Suckers. They should have seen this coming.

In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment.

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Donald M. Tidd
Donald M. Tidd

So how much of the new $7 GG bridge tolls will be stolen to pay for this


I made $60/hr straight time and $90/hr overtime working on this project. It helped me buy my house. I got mine out of this project, so thank you shady practices. I love my house, my truck, my t.v., my toys, and that vacation you paid for


Zack Smith
Zack Smith

I am not surprised, but that doesn't mean We, The People, should allow and stand for such fraudulence and abuse of power. This stops when We put a stop to it by electing an individual who is an ordinary citizen to the Governor's office in California. As the Office of Governor has the ability to end it, the office just needs someone with the leadership and backbone to do something about it.

Rock Belt
Rock Belt

When you can't go north anymore…go west.

Maurice Rivers
Maurice Rivers

And look at President Lee in the picture, smiling at the whole Ponzi scheme on the SF taxpayer's dime. Disgusting.

Trick Stephens
Trick Stephens

Certainly nothing new under the sun here, or shall we say out of the sun. One person in particular, and a whole lot of manipulation produced the San Jose light rail system. And then there's the most expensive road project in history, the much-maligned (appropriately) Big Dig in Boston. Not to mention a little project that was bankrolled in part by some of SF's finest past citizens, the Transcontinental Railroad. Oops, got that one a little wrong there;, the Feds bankrolled them.


How many recipes does the MTA need to cook their books? Now that Senator Yee has been fitted with handcuffs the Feds need to turn their attention to the rampant corruption at the SFMTA.


LaVonda Atkinson should get a huge promotion, more responsibility and a big increase in pay.  She is my idea of a great public servant; ethical, courageous, professional, and loaded with integrity.   

We could use someone just like her in every department where monetary oversight is included but perhaps not really adhered to as vigorously as the taxpayers would like.   San Francisco seems to have a sieve with huge holes in it in multiple departments, where despite new funds pouring in , nothing changes, and nothing improves, and the money just disappears into the great beyond.  

mblaircheney topcommenter

LaVonda Atkinson is an honorable person. Standing up against those who directed her to falsify accounting numbers of the public trust takes a special kind of courage. Exercising her Civil Liberties of free speech, at a clear peril of her livelihood, that takes a strength of character that few possess. Thank God she has it.

San Francisco, this is a test of our citizenship. If Ms. Atkinson is bullied or harmed in any way for bringing us the truth, then we should not let her face it alone. Let Muni management know that. She will not be without help.

We are in her debt.

aliasetc topcommenter

You really think the scumbag political assholes are covering shit up? Naw they're as honest as Leland and Shrimp Boy!

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