The Anatomy of Public Corruption

Showing posts with label Safeway Inc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Safeway Inc. Show all posts

The Tracy Rail Yards Union Buster and the Richmond Warehouse ARSON Fire

This page is a teaser when done will reveal criminal corporate malfeasance.  Part of this page will honor Richmond Fire Deputy Chief Wiley

The Tracy Rail Yards Safeway Land Grab - Burn em' then screw em'

For more than 100 years, Tracy, Calif., served as one of the major centers of rail transportation in the western United States. Beginning in the 1860s, transcontinental passenger and freight trains heading to and from the San Francisco Bay Area passed through the sprawling Tracy rail yard.
According to Southern Pacific records, Tracy's freight yard set records for traffic handled through its connections with Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco (via Niles Canyon), Martinez (via the Mococo Line that parallels the Byron Highway), Los Banos (via the Westside Branch) and Stockton, Fresno and Sacramento (via the Lathrop branch), and on to Los Angeles, Portland, Ogden and points east.
Into the 1970s, passenger trains, including the San Joaquin Daylight and the overnight Owl, made daily stops at the busy Tracy depot. Sugar beets, tomatoes, asparagus, dry beans and other produce were loaded on trains in Tracy, and the city once boasted one of the largest petroleum storage facilities on the West Coast, which also served as a fueling station for oil-fired steam locomotives.
In essence, Tracy grew up around the railroad, with train crews and maintenance workers settling in homes that bordered on the rail yard, which in turn led to the establishment of local banks, restaurants, grocers and other supporting businesses.
Railroading continues to be a key element of Tracy's present - witness the busy Altamont Corridor Express trains that pick up and drop off passengers here every morning and afternoon, and the city could once again be an important hub for the future high-speed rail project in California.
The Train Town USA designation and development of the "Bowtie" area as the Downtown Tracy Railroad Historical District, along with the creation of the San Joaquin Valley Railroad Museum, affords the opportunity to attract countless railroad enthusiasts of all ages to the city for a variety of activities throughout the year, and would serve as a vital component in the revitalization of the downtown area.


The ComputerLand Reporting Fraud

The Untold ComputerLand Story and the resulting sale to Synnex

Untold Computerland 1995 Fraud

Pete Bennett was contracted to Computerland to resolve reporting problems. Within weeks his reports resulted in all ComputerLand employees losing their entire retirement.  The Tauscher's pushed two for one, five for one stock options.

The day of the sale Merisel they were rich.  When the auditors received the results of my reports the analysts ripped Merisel down to a new price tag.



The Santa Fe Murder Railways - Key System

For other uses, see Key system (disambiguation).

Key System logo
The Key System (or Key Route) was a privately owned company that provided mass transit in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda,[1] Emeryville, Piedmont, San Leandro, Richmond, Albany and El Cerrito in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area from 1903 until 1960, when it was sold to a newly formed public agency, AC Transit.
The Key System consisted of local streetcar and bus lines in the East Bay, and commuter rail and bus lines connecting the East Bay to San Francisco by a ferry pier on San Francisco Bay, later via the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. At its height during the 1940s, the Key System had over 66 miles (106 km) of track.
The local streetcars were discontinued in 1948 and the commuter trains to San Francisco were discontinued in 1958. The Key System's territory is today served by BART and AC Transit bus service.



Early years

The system was a consolidation of several streetcar lines assembled in the late 1890s and early 1900s by Francis Marion "Borax" Smith, an entrepreneur who made a fortune in his namesake mineral, and then turned to real estate and electric traction. The Key System began as the San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose Railway (SFOSJR), incorporated in 1902. Service began on October 26, 1903 with a 4-car train carrying 250 passengers, departing downtown Berkeley for the ferry pier. Before the end of 1903, the general manager of the SFOSJR devised the idea of using a stylized map on which the system's routes resembled an old-fashioned key, with three "handle loops" that covered the cities of Berkeley, Piedmont (initially, "Claremont" shared the Piedmont loop) and Oakland, and a "shaft" in the form of the Key pier, the "teeth" representing the ferry berths at the end of the pier. The company touted its 'key route', which led to the adoption of the name "Key System".
In 1908, the SFOSJR changed its name to the San Francisco, Oakland & San Jose Consolidated Railway, changed to the San Francisco-Oakland Terminal Railway in 1912. This went bankrupt in December 1923 and was re-organized as the Key System Transit Co., transforming a marketing buzzword into the name of the company.
Following the Great Crash of 1929, a holding company called the Railway Equipment & Realty Co. was created, with the subsidiary Key System Ltd running the commuter trains. In 1938, the name became the Key System.
During World War II, the Key System built and operated the Shipyard Railway between a transfer station in Emeryville and the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond.

National City Lines era

National City Lines acquired 64% of the stock in the system in 1946.[2]
The same year E. Jay Quinby hand published a document exposing the ownership of National City Lines (General Motors, Firestone Tire, and Phillips Petroleum). He addressed the publication to The Mayors; The City Manager; The City Transit Engineer; The members of The Committee on Mass-Transportation and The Tax-Payers and The Riding Citizens of Your Community. In it he wrote This is an urgent warning to each and every one of you that there is a careful, deliberately planned campaign to swindle you out of your most important and valuable public utilities–your Electric Railway System.[3]
The new owners made a number of rapid changes. In 1946 they cut back the A-1 train route and then the express trains in 1947. The company increased fares in 1946 and then in both January and November 1947. During the period there were many complaints of overcrowding.[4]
On April 9, 1947, nine corporations and seven individuals (constituting officers and directors of certain of the corporate defendants) were indicted in the Federal District Court of Southern California on two counts: 'conspiring to acquire control of a number of transit companies, forming a transportation monopoly' and 'Conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by National City Lines'.[5] They were convicted of conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies. They were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the ownership of these companies.
In 1948 they proposed a plan to convert all the streetcars to buses.[6] They placed an advertisement in the local papers explaining their plan to 'modernize' and 'motorize' Line 14.[7] Oakland city council opposed the plan by 5–3.[2] The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) supported the plan which included large fare increases.[6] In October 1948, 700 people signed a petition with the PUC "against the Key System, seeking restoration of the bus service on the #70 Chabot Bus line".[4] The councils of Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro opposed the removal of street cars. The traffic planners supported removal of the streetcar lines to facilitate movement of automobiles.[2] Local governments in the East Bay attempted to purchase the Key System, but were unsuccessful.
Streetcars were converted to buses during November/December 1948.[6]
In 1949 National City Lines, General Motors and others were convicted of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to their subsidiary transit companies throughout the U.S.[8]
Between 1946 and 1954 transbay fares increased from 20¢ to 50¢. Fares in this period were used to operate and for 'motorisation' which included streetcar track removal, repaving, purchase of new buses and the construction of bus maintenance facilities. Transbay ridership fell from 22.2 million in 1946 to 9.8 million in 1952.[4]
The Key System's famed commuter train system was dismantled in 1958 after many years of declining ridership as well by the corrupt monopolistic efforts of National City Lines. The last run was on April 20, 1958. In 1960, the newly formed publicly owned AC Transit took over the Key System's facilities.
Most of the rolling stock was scrapped, with some sold to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Several streetcars, interurbans and bridge units were salvaged for collections in the United States. Of the large bridge units, three are at the Western Railway Museum near Rio Vista, California[9] while another is at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in southern California.

System details

The initial connection across the Bay to San Francisco was by ferryboat via a causeway and pier ("mole"), extending from the end of Yerba Buena Avenue in Oakland, California westward 16,000 feet (4,900 m) to a ferry terminal near Yerba Buena Island. Filling for the causeway had been started by a short-lived narrow-gauge railroad company in the late 19th century, the California and Nevada Railroad. "Borax" Smith acquired the causeway from the California and Nevada upon its bankruptcy. The Key System operated a fleet of ferries between the Key Route Pier[10] and the San Francisco Ferry Building until 1939 when a new dual track opened on the south side of the lower deck of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, bringing Key System trains to the then-new Transbay Terminal in San Francisco's downtown. The bridge railway and Transbay Terminal were shared with the Southern Pacific's Interurban Electric and the Sacramento Northern railroads.
The Key System's first trains were composed of standard wooden railroad passenger cars, complete with clerestory roofs. Atop each of these, a pair of pantographs, invented and manufactured by the Key System's own shops, were installed to collect current from overhead wires to power a pair of electric motors on each car, one on each truck (bogie).
The design of rolling stock changed over the years. Wood gave way to steel, and, instead of doors at each end, center doors were adopted.
The later rolling stock consisted of specially designed "bridge units" for use on the new bridge, articulated cars sharing a common central truck and including central passenger entries in each car, a forerunner of the design of most light rail vehicles today. Several of these pairs were connected to make up a train. Power pickup was via pantograph from overhead catenary wires, except on the Bay Bridge where a third rail pickup was used. The Key's trains ran on 600 volt direct current, compared to the 1200 volts used by the SP commuter trains. The cars had an enclosed operator's cab in the right front, with passenger seats extending to the very front of the vehicle, a favorite seat for many children, with dramatic views of the tracks ahead.
The exterior color of the cars was orange and cream white with a pale green stripe at the window level. Interior upholstery was woven reed seat covers in one of the articulated sections, and leather in the other, the smoking section. The flooring was linoleum. During WWII, the roofs were painted gray for aerial camouflage. After acquisition by National City Lines, all Key vehicles including the bridge units were re-painted in that company's standard colors, yellow and green.

Transbay rail lines

Until the Bay Bridge railway began operation, Key commuter trains had no letter designation. They were named for the principal street or district they served.
  • A – Downtown Oakland (was extended far into East Oakland to near the San Leandro border on the competing Southern Pacific interurban (see East Bay Electric Lines) tracks when they shut down their operations in 1941)
  • B – Lakeshore and Trestle Glen (originally ran through a Key hotel, the Key Route Inn at Grand and Broadway in Oakland; the Inn burned down in the 1930s)
  • C – Piedmont (Via 40th Street and Piedmont Avenue; alongside Pleasant Valley and Arroyo avenues; and between York Drive and Ricardo Avenue to terminus at Oakland Avenue)
  • E – Claremont (ran directly to the Claremont Hotel, terminating on a track between the two tennis courts; the tennis courts survive to this day)
  • F – Berkeley / Adeline Street (was also extended on former Southern Pacific interurban tracks on Shattuck Avenue beyond Dwight Way and through the SP's Northbrae Tunnel, terminating at Solano Avenue and The Alameda)
  • G – Westbrae Shuttle (actually, a streetcar shuttle providing a connection at University Avenue with the H transbay train)
  • H – Monterey Avenue (originally, the Sacramento Street Line; the original line ran up Hopkins, but was switched to the SP's old tracks up Monterey after 1933)
  • K – College Avenue (also a streetcar shuttle providing a connection at Alcatraz Avenue and Adeline Street with the F transbay train); this line ran extra cars and was heavily used on football game days as its terminus was only a few blocks away from UC's Memorial Stadium
  • D was reserved for a proposed line into Montclair alongside the Sacramento Northern interurban railway
The A, B, C, E and F lines were the last Key System rail lines. Train service ended on April 20, 1958, replaced by buses using the same letter designations. AC Transit preserved the letter-designated routes when it took over the Key System two years later, and are still in use; AC Transit's B, C, E, F, G and H lines follow roughly the corresponding Key routes and neighborhoods.

East Bay Street railways

The Key System's streetcars operated as a separate division under the name "Oakland Traction Company", later changed to "East Bay Street Railways. Ltd" and finally "East Bay Transit Co.," reflecting the increasing use of buses. The numbering of the streetcar lines changed several times over the years. The Key System's streetcars operated out of several carbarns. The Central Carhouse was on the east side of Lake Merritt on Third Avenue. The Western Carhouse was located at 51st and Telegraph Avenue in the Temescal District of Oakland. The Elmhurst Carhouse was in the east Oakland district of Elmhurst. The Northern Carhouse was in Richmond. In the early years of operation, these were supplemented by a number of smaller carbarns scattered throughout the East Bay area, many of them inherited from the pre-Key companies acquired by "Borax" Smith. The Key streetcars were painted dark green and cream white until they were re-painted in the green and yellow scheme of National City Lines after NCL acquired the Key System.[11]
The Key System had ordered 40 trolley coaches from ACF-Brill in 1945 to convert the East Bay trolley lines. The new NCL management canceled the Key's trackless program in 1946 before wire changes were made, and diverted the order (some units of which were already painted for the Key and delivered to Oakland) to its own Los Angeles Transit Lines where they ran until 1963.[12] The last Key streetcars ran in 1948, replaced by buses.

Related rail systems

  • The Key System organized its freight business in 1929 as the Key Terminal Railway, Ltd. In 1938, the name was changed to the Oakland Terminal Railroad, Ltd. In 1943 the Oakland Terminal Railroad was jointly purchased by the Western Pacific Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and is now known as the Oakland Terminal Railway.
  • See also the East Bay Electric Lines; another transbay commuter rail system operated by the Southern Pacific in the East Bay until 1941.
  • See also the Sacramento Northern Railroad, an interurban system running from Chico through Sacramento to Oakland which also used some of the Key System's trackage as well as the Key System's ferry pier, and later ran to the Transbay Terminal until 1941.

Other properties

From the beginning, the Key System had been conceived as a dual real estate and transportation system. "Borax" Smith and his partner Frank C. Havens first established a company called the "Realty Syndicate" which acquired large tracts of undeveloped land throughout the East Bay. The Realty Syndicate also built two large hotels, each served by a San Francisco-bound train, the Claremont and the Key Route Inn, and a popular amusement park in Oakland called Idora Park. Streetcar lines were also routed to serve all these properties, thereby enhancing their value. In its early years, the Key System was actually a subsidiary of the Realty Syndicate. Berkeley's numerous paths, lanes, walks and steps, were put in place in many of the newly developed neighborhoods, often in the middle of a city block, so that commuters could walk more directly to the new train system. Berkeley's pathways are still maintained by local groups.


Key System car #187 preserved at Western Railway Museum
Signs of the system still remain.
  • The elevated loop at San Francisco's Transbay Transit Terminal, with some modifications to the original design, was used until the terminal's closure on August 6, 2010 by AC Transit buses to drop off passengers and return to the East Bay as the Key System once did. The loop was completely demolished in 2010-11 as part of the project to replace the old Transbay Terminal with a new structure scheduled for completion in 2017.
  • The south wall[13] of the lower level (today's eastbound lanes) of the Yerba Buena Tunnel, connecting the two spans of the Bay Bridge, still contains the as-built "deadman holes", regularly spaced nooks into which railway workers could duck whenever a train came along.
  • The eastern end of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge sits on landfill which was added to the northern edge of the causeway which carried the Key System railbed to the ferry piers.
  • The underpass tunnel used by transbay trains on their way to the Oakland ferry pier (and later to the Bay Bridge) to cross under the Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific and AMTRAK) mainline tracks, is today still in use for an access road leading to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) sewage treatment plant. The road is gated, but visible at the far southwest corner of the parking lot of the Orchard Supply and Hardware outlet in Emeryville, and also from the new Bay Bridge bikeway.
  • A stretch of road in Albany that was built with a wide median for a planned extension (never constructed) of the "G" Westbrae line is named Key Route Boulevard.
  • The Claremont Hotel, built by a Key System affiliate company, The Realty Syndicate, survives as the Claremont Resort. It was the terminus of the "E" transbay line.
  • The Realty Syndicate Building at 1440 Broadway was built in 1912 and housed "Borax" Smith and Frank C. Havens's Realty Syndicate that created the Key System.[14] It is listed on the National Historic Register.[15]
  • The Key System's subsequent administrative headquarters building, built as the Security Bank and Trust Company Building in 1914, still exists at 1100 Broadway in downtown Oakland and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[16] The building suffered some damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and is currently unoccupied.
  • A building which today houses a restaurant at 41st Street and Piedmont Avenue in Oakland is the partial remnant of what was formerly a covered stop for trains on the C-line. (The tracks followed 40th Street, crossed Howe Street and curved through the parking lot behind Piedmont Avenue shops, then merged onto Piedmont Avenue at 41st Street and headed toward Pleasant Valley Avenue.) There are old photos of the Key System on the walls of the restaurant as well as a mural of Key System images on one of its outside walls. In December 2014, the mural was destroyed during renovation of the building. This act, apparently done swiftly and without public notice, has stirred considerable controversy [17]
  • The old Key System Piedmont shops building at Bay Place and Harrison is now a Whole Foods Market retail store. This building was originally built in 1890 as the powerhouse and car barn of the Piedmont Cable Car Co. In the 1920s it was substantially remodeled and used as a Cadillac showroom which closed in the mid-1990s. The building sat vacant until 2003 when Whole Foods initiated a radical interior redesign while retaining and restoring much of the facade.
  • The bus yards of today's AC Transit in Emeryville and Richmond were originally the bus yards of the Key System. The Richmond yard was also previously the site of the Northern Carhouse of the Key streetcar system.
  • Several streetcars and bridge trains from the Key System are preserved at the Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction in Solano County, as well as a Bridge Unit at the Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris, California and a streetcar at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunk, Maine.[18]
  • One of the 0-4-0 Steam locomotives used to push the trains during power outages is on display at the Redwood Valley Railroad. It had a brief stint on the currently re-constructing Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Virginia City, Nevada. Here, the mountain grades proved too taxing for the little locomotive. It was later replaced by 2–8–0 Steam locomotive No. 29.[19]
  • Though built by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Key System inherited the Northbrae Tunnel alignment, which it operated from 1942 through 1958. It was converted to street use in 1963.

See also


  • Old Alameda's transit system was less confusing

  • "Traffic Engineers vs. Transit Patrons". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04.

  • "Paving the Way for Buses – The Great GM Streetcar Conspiracy Part II – The Plot Clots". Bay Crossings. May 2003. E. Jay Quinby, a mercurial rail fan, former electric traction employee, retired Lieutenant Commander in the Navy (World War II), and home builder of a battery-powered electric Volkswagen. His contribution to this story was to hand publish and expose the owners of National City Lines (GM, Firestone, and Phillips Petroleum) and he addressed it to "The Mayors; The City Manager; The City Transit Engineer; The members of The Committee on Mass-Transportation and The Tax-Payers and The Riding Citizens of Your Community." In 1946, he sent his 36-page analysis, which began: "This is an urgent warning to each and every one of you that there is a careful, deliberately planned campaign to swindle you out of your most important and valuable public utilities–your Electric Railway System."

  • "The Desired Result: Drive People to Drive". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04.

  • "United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit". 1951. Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. On April 9, 1947, nine corporations and seven individuals, constituting officers and directors of certain of the corporate defendants, were indicted on two counts, the second of which charged them with conspiring to monopolize certain portions of interstate commerce, in violation of Section 2 of the Anti-trust Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 2.

  • "The Fight to Save the Streetcars and Electric Trains". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04.

  • "Newspaper ad (reduced from actual size) from Oakland Tribune, 1/23/48:". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14.

  • See appeals court ruling:

  • WRM equipment roster.

  • Exhibit Name: Trains of Oakland, Oakland Museum of California

  • Key System Streetcars, by Vernon Sappers, Signature Press, 2007

  • The Yellow Cars of Los Angeles, by Jim Walker. Interurbans Press, 1977.

  • San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Lower Deck Eastbound Drive (visible at 4:15 to 4:35)

  • "Oakland" by Annalee Allen, Edmund Clausen. p. 32

  • Downtown Historic Oakland - National Historic Register #98000813

  • "Oakland California Landmarks". Retrieved 2010-04-02. See also National Register of Historic Places listings in Alameda County, California.

  • [url = "Oakland wiki: Key Route Plaza mural"]. Retrieved on 2015-04-18.

  • "Key System in Preserved North American Electric Cars Roster". Retrieved on 2009-08-18.

    1. Virginia & Truckee. (1902-07-14). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.

    External links




    Ivory Consulting Walnut Creek - The connection #Catepillar #MormonMurders and Mitt Romney

    In 2004 I was drawn into the Mormon Church at Alamo 1st, by summer my truck exploded.  By Sept 27th, 2014 my Mormon relatives the Strack's were dead.

    There is a link between that 2004 Arson, the PG&E Explosions in San Bruno, Fresno and the 2004 Walnut Creek Explosion which happens to lead to former Judge Golub whose brother strongly connects to Nixon Peabody Energy lobby as Howard v. Golub is former PG&E General Counsel for for Regulatory affairs.

    Howard you're friends are Rick Kopf who is friends with the Saudi's via the Bin Laden Family


    CBS 48 Hours: The Country Club Murders

    Bootstrap Thumbnail First

    Murder Suicide #4

    First these relatives connected to friends and family, by definition cousins once removed. My brother Alex Bennett, my sister-in-law Kathy Hak are related to Mary Hak Strack and Ernie Strack.

    We share the same hometown,

    The Fremont Group Connection to Witness Murder
    This is a template for a simple marketing or informational website. It includes a large callout called the hero unit and three supporting pieces of content. Use it as a starting point to create something more unique.
    Learn more

    Evidence Tampering

    CBS 48 Hours: The Country Club Murders

    In 2010, persons in my offices I know suspect are behind many arson fires in Contra Costa County plus Bay Area. Right around the time of San Bruno Explosion two individuals were in my offices. Just before my business was shattered by suspects the Scherer's were murdered allegedly by their son but in 2012, a person of interest and solid connector to this case turned up with a pretty good match to the alleged murder weapon.
    Like the Kinder Morgan explosion suddenly it was Clam Shell Investigations.  We can get on 48 Hours but we won't talk about newly developed information. 
    • Suspect A: Ernie Scherer III  (represented by Mormon Attorney) 
    • Suspect B: None
    • Witness A: Sister
    • Witness B: Ex-wife
    • Connectors: Alamo 1st Ward, Danville Stake, 
    • Known to Parties: Walnut Creek Bishop Matthew Lyons 
    The Death Of Accenture Employee Murder

    Murder Victims: Ernie and Ardoth Scherer

    • Devout t Mormon's where all members are assigned Wards configured in Stakes under Temples.
    • The Golub Conspiracy :
    • Howard V. Golub ~ Former General Counsel for PG&E CPUC and Regulatory Affairs 

    Murder Victims: The Judge lacked but the execution was completed

    • Superior Court Judge Joel Golub who connects to the CNET Scandal involving CAL Department of justice Commander Norman Wielsch but also connects Judges, Attorneys, Deputy's and DDA to the same story.
    • Suspect E:Attorney Lisa Trapani former associate of Atty. Dick Grossman (C), retired Walnut Creek PD, Former Bomb Squad Leader, tampered with known Federal Witness, strong connections to the

    The Golub Conspiracy
    CNET Conspiracy 

    Suspect D: Contra Costa County Deputy Vince Jimenez (Sus/Vic) places Armando Ibarra in Bennett's cell, Ibarra taken off meds, planned arrest timed and premeditated intent to harm or kill, Bennett even stronger connection to the CNET Conspiracy

    Suspect E: Walnut Creek Officer Vessor (F) who arrested Bennett at Safeway parking lot at 600 S. Broadway Walnut Creek CA, site of many Bennett incidents, work location of Suicide Victim Jamie Sheets then embroiled in the Bacteria case with Doc's Pharmacy Walnut Creek WC1-2001 ,

    Steven A. Burd 1949– President, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, Safeway

    Steven A. Burd

    #MormonMurders - Links coming soon
    #SafewayMurders -  Links coming soon

    President, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, Safeway
    Nationality: American.
    Born: 1949, in Valley City, North Dakota.
    Education: Carroll College, BS, 1971; University of Wisconsin, MA, 1973.
    Family: Married Chris (maiden name unknown); children: two.
    Career: Southern Pacific Transportation Company, 1974–1982, marketer; Arthur D. Little, 1982–1987, management consultant; Safeway, 1986–1987, consultant; self-employed, 1987–1991, management consultant; Stop & Shop, 1988–1989, consultant; Fred Meyer, 1989–1990, consultant; Safeway, 1991, consultant; 1992–, president; 1993–, chief executive officer; 1998–, chairman of the board.

    Address: Safeway, 5918 Stoneridge Mall Road, Pleasanton, California 94588-3229;

    Nate Greenan Murdered in 2012
    Ernie and Ardoth Scherer Murdered
    by Ernie Scherer III (top left) with
    ceremonial sword sitting Nate's hands
    two years after conviction
    ■ Steven A. Burd was an evangelical Christian (Hillside Covenant Church) and a tough leader, a combination that puzzled his opponents but that put him in the mainstream of a movement that resulted in the election of another evangelical Christian, George W. Bush, as president of the United States in 2000; Burd was one of Bush's most prominent supporters in California. Burd's strength, and perhaps his bane, was his remarkable skill as a micromanager; he could increase sales from a store by merely rearranging the shelving on an aisle, and he could save his company money by adjusting how plastic bags were ordered.


     Burd's father was a railroad-yard superintendent, and Burd was raised primarily in Minot, North Dakota. He earned a BS in economics from Carroll College in 1971, and in 1973 he earned an MA in economics from the University of Wisconsin, after which he took a job in marketing with the Southern Pacific Transportation Company.
    In 1982 Burd joined the industrial management consulting firm of Arthur D. Little in New York City, where he earned a reputation for fixing broken companies. While at Arthur D. Little he attracted the attention of the management of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, a firm that specialized in leveraged buyouts of troubled companies. In 1986 Burd worked at Safeway as a management consultant after Kohlberg Kravis Roberts bought the ailing supermarket chain. In 1987 he went into the consulting business for himself while continuing to help Safeway with its organizational problems.


    In 1988 Kohlberg Kravis Roberts asked him to consult at Stop & Shop, a chain of stores that was losing its customer base. Burd helped fix the chain's problems with product selection, which had not kept up with changing consumer tastes. In 1989 he went to Oregon to help the local supermarket chain Fred Meyer. Although Burd had no official title and was technically an outsider, as the representative of the parent company, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, he found he had real muscle behind him when he ordered changes. His most significant contribution to the chain's recovery was to set up management systems to keep track of operating expenses and how supplies related to sales.
    By the end of 1990 the mismanagement of Safeway was legendary, with tales of employees driven to suicide and others killed by work-related stress appearing in newspapers and magazines. Employee morale was awful, amid chronic fears of sudden, seemingly arbitrary dismissals and store closings. Safeway's prices were higher than those of its competitors, driving away customers, and it was losing money rapidly. Fresh from his two-year turnaround success at Fred Meyer, Burd was asked to consult again at Safeway.


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    When he returned to Safeway, Burd found a paranoid corporate culture, outraged labor unions, customers who felt betrayed by a chain that closed profitable local stores, and an accounting system that was so neglected that management could not know what was making money and what was not.

    On October 26, 1992, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts forced Safeway's management to accept Burd as its new president. It had to have been a tough situation for Burd, because the man most widely blamed for Safeway's woes, Peter Magowan, remained chief executive officer (CEO). Magowan was supposedly Burd's superior in the governance of the company, but in terms of micromanagement Burd had few peers, and he soon made his presence felt throughout the company. The chain had 1,100 stores, mostly in the far west of the United States and in Canada. It had nine regional companies, each run independently of the others.
    It took Burd years to make the nine divisions partners. He began with seemingly simple matters such as the procurement of plastic bags for bagging groceries. He found that each of the nine companies had its own individual deals with plastic-bag manufacturers, seven altogether. As he would for procurement in general, Burd centralized at corporate headquarters in Oakland, California, the ordering of plastic bags by narrowing the suppliers to two, which translated into a savings of $2.5 million per year. Burd introduced streamlined systems of cost analysis, which also resulted in savings. For example, store managers reported that in-store salad bars were earning 40 percent margins, a big boost for a company that was losing money. Yet when Burd examined the losses due to spoilage and the cost of labor to maintain the salad bars, he discovered that they were actually losing money, so he had them eliminated. For 1992 Safeway grossed $15.2 billion, and its shares sold for about $5.
    On April 30, 1993, Burd was appointed CEO as well as president of Safeway, with Magowan remaining as chairman of the board but no longer involved with the day-to-day operations of the company. Burd took to visiting individual stores to study layouts, products, and even the ambient music and lighting. He began adjusting each store's produce section to suit the ethnic preferences of the neighborhood; adding, for example, more mangos in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods. He was distressed by the amount of produce and other perishables that was spoiling on shelves and pressured store managers to keep their produce fresh. He introduced organic produce to Safeway, reasoning that low prices alone would not make customers loyal and that special, high-quality products could help cement consumer loyalty.

    Burd succeeded at lowering shelf prices to make Safeway competitive with other supermarkets. The savings that resulted from his management reforms were used to lower prices further, remodel stores, train employees to give better service, and to introduce the Safeway Select line of premium in-house products, which became very successful at attracting and retaining customers who wanted a brand line they could trust. Although Kohlberg Kravis Roberts had reintroduced Safeway to the stock market in 1990, it still held 67 percent of the shares, and its support helped Burd's reforms stick. By the end of 1993 Safeway had achieved a 1 percent profit margin, about the industry standard, which at the time was regarded as significant evidence of Safeway's new efficiency and improved customer service. On September 7, 1993, Burd was elected to Safeway's board of directors.
    In 1995 Burd began the Safeway Category Optimization Process, which considered a store's offerings aisle by aisle rather than by product category. The idea was to put products on the aisles where customers would expect to find them. In 1996 Safeway owned 35 percent of Vons, a southern California supermarket chain. Burd forced a buyout of the remaining 65 percent of shares from a reluctant Vons management. This expanded Safeway's holdings to 1,377 stores, employing 140,000 workers. Customer service improved throughout Safeway's stores, with employees remembering frequent customers by name and escorting customers to the appropriate aisles when they asked about a specific product. Insistence that employees smile at customers may have backfired when some women employees protested that their smiles elicited unwanted interest from male customers. The price per share of Safeway stock rose to $80. Burd believed that enabling employees to invest in Safeway stock was good for the financial health of both the employee and the company, and he believed shares needed to be priced low enough that employees could easily invest in them, so in 1996 he had Safeway split its shares two for one.

    By 1997 one-fourth of Safeway's employees owned 15 percent of the company's stock. Burd developed a program of sending anonymous inspectors into individual Safeway stores to check on the service provided to customers. Safeway's private-label plants were selling their products to other Kohlberg Kravis Roberts chains, increasing the profits realized at each plant. Safeway's sales increased 48 percent, and the chain tried to underprice its competitors on average shelf prices. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts lowered its holding of Safeway stock to 50 percent. Safeway netted $1.3 billion in 1997, and Burd sought to use the money to acquire new stores, believing that by increasing its size Safeway would achieve an economy of scale that would allow it to survive the looming challenges of discount chains such as Wal-Mart and Target.


    On May 12, 1998, Burd was elected Safeway's chairman of the board, with Magowan remaining only as a director. This was Burd's chance to fully shake loose from his predecessor. Meanwhile, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts brought its holding in Safeway down to 16 percent, meaning that Burd was largely free of their oversight, too. By October 1998 Safeway's shares were selling for $43.63 (after the split) and its financing seemed strong enough for Burd to make a daring move: In November 1998 Safeway bought Dominick's Finer Food of Illinois for $1.8 billion, consisting of cash and an assumed debt of $646 million. Dominick's had 113 stores and was a chain known for its premium products. Three years earlier the chain had been purchased for $693 million by Yucaipa Companies, owned by Los Angeles magnate Ron Burkle; the sale to Safeway was a big windfall for him, and financial analysts criticized Safeway for paying too much. Dominick's had cost Safeway about $16 million per store, compared with $11.3 million per store in the 1996 Vons deal.
    Burd was sure he could turn Dominick's into a powerful asset the way he had made Safeway into one—by careful attention to details. Safeway invested $294 million into improvements at Dominick's, rearranging store layouts, widening aisles, and introducing Safeway's highly successful house brands. Dominick's employees were paid about $3 per hour more than those at local rival Jewel, owned by Albertsons, making it difficult to compete on shelf price. Burd cut staffing at Dominick's to try to lower expenses. The initial results were not good. Customers were unhappy that comfortable old layouts had been replaced by Safeway's open configuration and that Safeway brands had replaced premium name brands. For three consecutive years Dominick's income declined, and its regional market-share fell from 28 percent to 23 percent. To be fair to Burd, high-quality Safeway brands had achieved margins as high as 30 percent in the Vons chain as well as at other Safeway stores, giving reason to expect them to find appreciative buyers in Illinois.
    In 1999 Safeway purchased Randall's Food Markets of Texas. To realize quick savings, Safeway reduced the chain's product selection and, as at Dominick's, introduced its house brands to customers unfamiliar with them. At both Dominick's and Randall's understaffing caused long lines at checkout registers, angering customers and lowering employee morale. Burd had long believed that high employee morale would result in better customer service, and he believed Safeway could excel in customer service, making its stores more attractive to shoppers than those of competitors, so the decline in morale was to him a serious problem.
    Burd believed that a key asset was store location—placing stores where they were most convenient for shoppers. Thus, he was always looking for ideal store locations. In May 2000, for example, Safeway bought six stores in Houston from Albertsons because they seemed well placed. Burd's aggressive moves to acquire more stores created excitement among investors and journalists, and by 2001 rumors were rife about what his next moves would be. That year Safeway's stock peaked at a little over $60 per share, an increase in value of $10 billion since 1993. The chain's sales had doubled since 1993, and the profit margin was 4 percent, a big increase over 1993.
    In February 2001 Safeway bought 11 stores in Arizona from Abco Foods, then purchased the Genuardi's Family Markets supermarket chain in Pennsylvania for $528 million. Genuardi's had 44 stores. Thereafter Genuardi's developed a reputation for poorly stocked shelves and poor produce. Burd viewed Safeway's advantages as location, selection, perishables, and service, but market forces were turning against him. In October 2001 United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) members struck three Safeway stores in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Burd said that Safeway had to contain its labor costs in order to compete with challenges from discount chains, and he threatened to close the stores rather than give in. In June 2002, after months of negotiations, he did just that.
    In 2002 Safeway took over $1.2 billion in write downs (admitting the value of assets had gone down), a $589 million charge on Dominick's in April (taking a loss in value), and a $788 million charge on Dominick's again in November 2002. In November 2002 Safeway put Dominick's up for sale. Safeway's books valued Dominick's at only $315 million. Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies offered Safeway $350 million to buy back Dominick's, but Safeway turned him down; Burkle said he felt slighted by Safeway. In August 2003 Safeway sued Burkle for interfering in negotiations with Dominick's union, costing Safeway a purchaser for the chain because the purchaser could not reach an agreement with the union. Increases in costs of meat and dairy products further hurt Safeway's bottom line, because in a low-inflation economy it would have a hard time justifying increases in prices to its shoppers. Meanwhile, conditions at Genuardi's had deteriorated so badly that Safeway ran newspaper ads apologizing to customers and asking them to forgive Safeway and to try shopping at Genuardi's stores again. For 2002 Safeway grossed $35.7 billion, but it lost $828 million.


    Events in 2003-2004 almost cost Burd his career and Safeway its financial strength. Wal-Mart announced that it would open 40 supercenters—stores that sold a full line of groceries as well as Wal-Mart's other offerings—in California. Discount chains in general, but Wal-Mart in particular, worried Burd and other supermarket leaders because they could significantly underprice traditional supermarkets. The biggest advantage for Wal-Mart seemed to be in the cost of labor. Wal-Mart employees were paid on average about $8 per hour less than Safeway employees and received few benefits, whereas Safeway's employees enjoyed some of the best benefits for retail workers anywhere in the country. The charge by the federal government in 2003 that Wal-Mart employed illegal immigrants who received no benefits only heightened the anxiety Wal-Mart caused its competitors.
    Burd said that labor costs were a threat to the supermarket industry's survival, that high wages and benefits made it impossible for the chains to compete with Wal-Mart and Target, which were nonunion. On October 11, 2003, the UFCW went on strike against Safeway's Vons stores in southern California. Vons had 326 stores and generated 19 percent of Safeway's sales. In support of Safeway, Albertsons and Ralph's, which was owned by Kroger Company, locked out UFCW workers. Union leaders said they chose to strike only Vons because Vons would have the toughest negotiators. The three supermarket chains made Burd their spokesperson. Mindful of his belief that employee morale translated into customer service, Burd moved to mitigate some of the hardships of striking Vons workers by setting up a fund to aid workers with mortgage bills, car payments, and other expenses, hoping to alleviate the hard feelings that would result from a strike. On October 16, 2003, Burd said the three supermarket chains had made their final offer to the union, declaring that the only changes that could be made to the offer would be to make it "less good" (, October 26, 2003). Burd wanted to cut Safeway's contributions to health care from $3.85 per hour worked to $1.35 per hour worked. For its part, the UFCW feared that Safeway could set a precedent that would affect contract negotiations throughout the United States.

    Safeway's share price fell to $22 on October 24, 2003, which was still much higher than it had been in 1993. While Burd talked publicly about the long-term future of the industry and labor costs, he was working on revolutionary changes in how the supermarket industry dealt with vendors. For decades supermarket chains charged vendors for shelf space and shelf position; that is, in order to have its products placed in a good position on stores shelves, the vendor would pay the chain in cash. In 2003 Burd was reworking, in his typically meticulous fashion, the relationship between Safeway and vendors, demanding not cash for product placement, but price concessions. He saw Safeway's future in buying products for the lowest real-market value and then passing on the lowered prices to consumers. The prices might not beat those of discount chains, but they could be low enough that with superior products and service Safeway would attract customers away from Wal-Mart and its ilk. Further, he started having stores remodeled to be more comfortable for shoppers, installing imitation wood floors and softer lighting, for example. Market studies had indicated that shoppers found Wal-Mart stores chaotic and anxious; Burd sought to make Safeway's stores welcoming and calming. For 2003 Safeway grossed $35.6 billion but lost $170 million, failing to make a profit because it lost $696 million in the fourth quarter of the year, mostly due to lost revenue from its Vons stores.

    The West Coast leader of the UFCW was Sean Harrigan, a friend whom Burkle had helped become president of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). In March 2004 CalPERS and the pension funds of New York, Illinois, and Connecticut, each owning shares in Safeway, urged fellow shareholders to oppose Burd during the May 20, 2004, meeting of shareholders. A few financial analysts recommended that their clients vote to oust Burd. In January 2004 about 250 demonstrators tried to march to Burd's home but were stopped by the gates and guards. They prayed and called Burd evil. He was vilified in the press and on Web sites for being greedy, for costing shareholders $20 billion in stock value during a decline since 2001, and for abusing the rights of employees.
    The southern California strike was settled in February 2004 in an arbitrated compromise that left workers with wages and benefits higher than in other retail businesses. Safeway's stock value was increasing, to over $28 per share. Shareholders complained that Safeway's board of directors lacked independence and profited from doing business with Safeway. Thus, the board dismissed three directors. Burd and two other longtime directors from the 1980s were targeted in the shareholders meeting, but each was reelected with over 80 percent of the vote. A proposition to separate the offices of CEO and chairman of the board received only 33.2 percent of the vote. Even so, a new position of lead independent director was created to help look after the interests of shareholders.
    See also entry on Safeway Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .

    sources for further information

    Barron, Kelly, "The Sam Walton of Supermarkets?" Forbes , October 19, 1998, pp. 64–65.
    Green, Frank, "The Point Man," , October 26, 2003, .
    Weinstein, Steve, "The Resurrection of Safeway," Progressive Grocer , January 1997, pp. 16–22.
    Whelan, David, "Unsafe at Safeway," Forbes , June 7, 2004, pp. 66–68.
    —Kirk H. Beetz

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