Election update

Here’s the latest on who’s pulled/filed papers to run for local office this November (in alphabetical order). Names in blue are those who have “filed,” meaning they’ve submitted completed paperwork as opposed to just picking up papers to run. Also, names with asterisks at the end are incumbents. The filing period ends Aug. 6.

* Alameda County Water District (2 open seats): 1) Judy Huang*; 2) Paul Sethy

* BART, District 6 (1 seat): 1) Tom Blalock*

* Fremont City Council (2 seats): 1) Vinnie Bacon; 2) Kristen Briggs; 3) Bill Harrison*; 4) John T. Herndon; 5) Fazlur Khan; 6) Kathryn Rhyn McDonald; 7) Anu Natarajan*; 8)) Vladimir Rodriguez; 9) Linda Susoev

* Fremont Unified School District (2 seats): 1) Lara York*

* New Haven Unified School District (2 seats): 1) Jerico Abanico; 2) Rosalinda Canlas; 3) Sarabjit Cheema; 4) Gwen Estes*

* Newark Unified School District (2 seats): 1) Charlie Mensinger*; 2) Gary Stadler; 3) Nancy Thomas*

* Ohlone Community College District, Area 1 (2 seats): 1) Bill McMillin*; 2) Richard Watters*

* Ohlone Community College District, Area 2 (2 seats): 1) Bob Brunton; 2) Ishan Shah

* Union City City Council (3 seats): 1) Subru Bhat; 2) Emily Duncan; 3) James Robert Greaney; 4) Venkataraman Iyer; 5) Forrest Patterson; 6) Gary Singh; 7) Bill Stone

* Washington Township Healthcare District (3 seats): 1) Michael Wallace*


BART to Warm Springs contract

BART sent us this press release


Today’s Board action authorizes the General Manager to award a

million contract for the Fremont Central Park Subway portion of the

extension project to Shimmick Construction Co., Inc./Skanska USA Civil

California District Inc. Joint Venture (“Shimmick/Skanska”).

This contract will construct the trackway embankment south of

Avenue and the BART subway from just north of Stevenson Boulevard,

Fremont Central Park, including a portion of Lake Elizabeth, and beneath

the Union Pacific Rail Road freight track to just north of Paseo Padre

Parkway. Continue Reading


Warm Springs Extension moving forward

BART sent out a press release stating that they are now seeking bids to start building the Warm Springs extension. The agency plans to have all the bids for building a subway line under Central Park in by the end of March. Construction is extended to start this summer and be finished in 2014.

BART clearly didn’t run the release by Fremont folks. The first sentence reads:

“BART is moving forward on a major phase of the Warm Springs Extension project that will ultimately bring BART closer to Silicon Valley.”

Fremont likes to think of itself as part of Silicon Valley.


Apparent Measure B failure probably won’t derail Warm Springs BART

I got some clarification on what happens now with BART to Warm Springs, assuming Measure B fails. As long as the Valley Transportation Authority Board approves going ahead with some version of the BART extension in Santa Clara County at its meeting in January, as expected, the Warm Springs extension can continue on schedule with bids going out in February.

About $300 million of the money for the Warm Springs extension is contingent on the VTA having a committed funding plan to build BART to Santa Clara County. Measure B would have provided funds to operate the future service, but the VTA apparently still has funds from a previous tax measure to build and operate a shorter route that might not make it all the way through San Jose.

The VTA President and San Jose mayor have said publicly that the county should go ahead with the Santa Clara extension, even if the money won’t be there to bring BART all the way into the heart of San Jose.


BART to San Jose news

Yay, Silicon Valley business leaders support raising taxes on individuals to bring BART to San Jose. I’ve lived with several city and transportation planners over the years. They all said BART to San Jose is going to be a HUGE waste of money and that expanding light rail, such as the ACE train, would be a much cheaper/better option.

Then again, some of them said my dishwashing method wastes water and that one shouldn’t bother flushing the toilet after one pees. Maybe they’re just natural born haters.

For more on a potential sales tax to fund the BART extension, click here.


Dumbarton Rail money could go toward Warm Springs BART extension

MTC is proposing to use $91m of the funds originally slated for Dumbarton, Rail for the BART extension to Warm Springs. Dumbarton Rail, which is about $300 million short of funds, would get its funding restored in later years. Meanwhile the BART project, which is just about funded and scheduled to get underway next year, would get a $91 million cash infusion.

The proposal is part of a strategic plan that the MTC is scheduled to vote on next month.

The time frame for restoring the $91 million to Dumbarton Rail is 2019 – 2027. Makes you think Dumbarton Rail is a long way off, if it happens at all.

The cash transfer would make for some happy Fremont officials. They don’t support Dumbarton Rail, which would link the Union City Bart Station with the Redwood City Caltrain Station.


BART Fremont to Richmond passengers will have to transfer at Bay Fair for another 4-5 weeks

I’m supposed to write a story today about how much longer it’s going to take BART to fix the damage from last month’s  in Hayward, so people riding from Fremont (and Union City) to Richmond won’t have to transfer in Bay Fair.  So far all I can get from BART is an email saying it’s going to be another 4-5 weeks before direct service is restored. I’ll have another update when BART returns my call.


I “heart” Rob Dennis

rob.JPGThe fellow pictured on the right is our city editor, Rob Dennis. Sadly for us, this is his last day on the job.

Loyal Tri-City Beat readers might remember Rob as the angry guy whose lone venomous post about a bogus BART parking ticket triggered an avalanche of anti-BART rants.

But Rob is more than just a hater. He’s our best investigator, most seasoned reporter and sharpest editorial writer. He’s also our resident beer guzzler, chain smoker and card shark.

Rob has shared major awards for a series about mortgage lenders discriminating against minorities, and coverage of the Rodney Blach trial. Later this month, we’ll print a four-part series that is mostly his work.

Rob came to The Argus eight years ago after a distinguished tenure as a Wal-Mart sales associate and several years living off the dole in his native Ireland.

Starting Wednesday, he returns to his roots — mooching off other people’s tax dollars.

Rob was one of about several MediaNews-East Bay (our parent company) employees who took a buyout last week.

He’ll collect unemployment, freelance a little and eventually head over to Prague to work on a documentary film. He says it’ll be about Eastern Europe 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but we’re worried that it’s really a first-person piece on how former Communist bloc countries have kept beer prices under $1 a pint.

We might have to start a liver transplant fund for him.

In case anyone cared, Rob never did pay that parking ticket. BART backed down in the face of Rob’s irrefutable evidence and exasperated sighs. It was a big pain in the butt, but in the end, it was worth it. We hope that’s how Rob will come to look back on his time at The Argus.

Take care, buddy. We’ll miss you.


Not everybody likes BART to Warm Springs

In response to the BART to Warm Springs story I wrote earlier this week, I got this letter from former BART Board Member Roy Nakadegawa. He thinks the extension (WSX) is too expensive and raises some interesting points:

As a former BART Board Member who’s efforts was for BART to be concerned with our environment, cost, effectiveness and social equity. With BART’s Warm Springs Extension, I have been concerned in that it is located in an area that presently has little existing development of any magnitude and that two thousand parking spaces will be built to generate its ridership. Continue Reading


Ticket to whine

At the end of a soggy, frustrating day, there’s nothing quite like arriving back at your car in the Fremont BART parking lot to find a $25 parking citation – after you paid the parking fee.

I followed the directions on the sign: 1) Park in any numbered stall in the Daily Parking area of the lot. 2) Remember your stall number. 3) Go to the Parking Validation/AddFare machine inside the station and enter your stall number. 4) Pay the fee using cash or a BART blue ticket. 5) Retrieve your receipt.

Apparently, they forgot to note the all-important No. 6: “None of the above matters if a BART cop decides to come along and make stuff up.”

The officer cleverly managed to observe my vehicle in the parking stall at 11:10 a.m., a neat trick since it was sitting in the newsroom parking lot at the time. I didn’t actually arrive at BART until 11:35, at which point I spent five minutes driving around in circles looking for a spot (a blog for another time), finally finding one closer to Mission Peak than the BART station.

 I paid the $1 fee at 11:46 a.m., 13 minutes before Officer Make Believe wrote his ticket. Oh, and I have a receipt with a time stamp.

Doesn’t matter. According to the hapless troll who answered the phone at the citation processing center, I can either cough up the $25 or write them a letter explaining why they should believe my, you know, provable truth, over Officer Wrong A Lot’s word. Want to guess what side they’ll come down on?

Bet I’m not alone. Anyone else out there got a BART horror story?