Friday, June 27, 2014

Why the Uber walkback by UC? The Lt. Guv - or a staff member - reads the blog

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
Readers of this blog will be familiar with UC on-again/off-again policy banning and then unbanning use of Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB services for university-related travel.*  It appears that Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, or someone on his staff, reads this blog.  That conclusion may be drawn from the article below from the San Francisco Business Times:

Lt. Gov. Newsom criticizes UC's warning to staff about Uber, Airbnb

Some University of California staff have been told they will not be reimbursed for using "sharing economy" services like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft for lodging and travel, a move that spurred Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to send a letter of complaint Thursday to UC President Janet Napolitano.

The Office of the President's general counsel has "determined that third party lodging and transportation services, commonly referred to as peer-to-peer or sharing businesses, should not be used because of concerns that these services are not fully regulated and do not protect users to the same extent as a commercially regulated business," according to a notice posted Monday by the UCLA Faculty Association

"As the market matures and these businesses evolve, the University may reconsider whether reimbursement of travel costs provided by peer-to-peer or sharing businesses will be allowed," wrote Belinda Borden, UCLA's director of travel services."Therefore, until further notice, please do not use services such as Uber, Lyft, Air B&B or any other similar business while traveling on or engaging in UC business," she wrote.

Steve Montiel, a spokesman in Napolitano's office, responded to a query with the following written statement: "The University of California system does not have a policy banning the use of peer-to-peer services such as AirBnb, Lyft and Uber. University employees currently use those services and are reimbursed for them when they involve UC business-related travel. We are, however, reviewing and evaluating issues revolving around the safety and security of our employees when they use such services. We are actively seeking ways to overcome potential liability and safety concerns and would like to work proactively with companies such as these to get everyone to a point of complete comfort with the risks involved."




The Lt. Guv is undoubtedly looking ahead to the 2018 gubernatorial election when Jerry Brown will be termed out.  Maybe UC is, too.  The tech sector could be an important source of support.  Hard to know, however, who the other candidates will be then but, according to a recent news item, one of them might be actor George Clooney:

But maybe George won't be in the running.  It might depend on what his aunt, Rosemary, has to say about moving into the governor's mansion:

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