Part of the Bay Area News Group

AC Transit Seeks Volunteers For Accessibility Advisory Committee

By Chris DeBenedetti
Thursday, January 9th, 2014 at 12:33 pm in Uncategorized

Hey, if anyone here is looking to volunteer your time and you  have some ideas how to improve AC Transit, especially for seniors and the disabled, then check out the public transit agency’s announcement:

To ensure that its transit services are used and easily obtainable by all members of the public, AC Transit is seeking volunteers to fill potential openings on its Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) during 2014.  Today the District appealed for applications from people interested in volunteering their input by serving on the committee as advocates for seniors and disabled bus riders.

The AAC, consisting of 14 members, typically meets on the second Tuesday of the month to address concerns about—and implement and enhance—AC Transit’s programs and services as related to seniors and people with disabilities. The committee was established specifically to review policies and procedures, as well as comment and advise the District and its seven-member Board of Directors on all matters related to bus accessibility.

Citizens appointed to serve on the committee shall serve a term of one (1) year beginningMarch 1, 2014.

f interested, applications can be obtained from and returned to the District Secretary’s Office, 1600 Franklin Street, 10th Floor, Oakland, California 94612 or by calling (510) 891-7201. Completed applications also can be faxed to: (510) 891- 4705 or emailed All applications must be returned to the District Secretary by January 31, 2014.

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Water District might raise rates on Tri-City customers again

By Chris DeBenedetti
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 at 5:37 pm in Uncategorized

FREMONT — For the 12th consecutive year, Tri-City-area residents soon might be asked to dig deeper into their wallets to pay for water, and it likely won’t be the last time.

The Alameda County Water District, which has increased rates each year since 2003, is proposing yet another hike so that it is able to supply “safe, reliable water to 336,000 customers in Fremont, Newark and Union City,” said Walt Wadlow, the agency’s general manager since 2009. “The increases will allow ACWD to offset rising costs, as well as create long-term financial sustainability.”

The Water District’s five-member board will consider the proposal Thursday night. If approved, the average residential customer in 2014 would pay $109.53 every two months, an increase of 7 percent in customers’ bimonthly bills, Wadlow said.

For more, click here.

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Ex-New Haven Unified Superintendent (and Fremont school trustee) Guy Emanuele Jr. dies

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 5:42 pm in Uncategorized

UNION CITY — Guy Emanuele Jr., a highly regarded former New Haven Unified School District superintendent and Fremont school board member, has died, his family announced Monday. Emanuele, who had been battling complications from Parkinson’s disease, died early Sunday. He was 83.

He led the district from 1976 to 1998, a crucial period of growth for Union City and New Haven Unified, officials said. He “found New Haven a district of bricks, and he left it a district of marble,” said former Union City Mayor Mark Green. “He was the most important person in the school district’s history.”

For more of the story, click here.

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Family of teen killed in New Year’s Eve vehicle crash in Fremont seeking donations

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 5:32 pm in Uncategorized

Story by colleague Katie D. Nelson:

FREMONT — An online fund has been set up to help pay for funeral and burial costs for 19-year-old Ashley Capuchin, the young mother struck and killed on New Year’s Eve in a crash that seriously injured her infant son.

Capuchin’s family is hoping to raise $10,000 on So far, 36 people have donated over $3,000.

For more, click here.

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Fremont’s Jan. 7 City Council meeting canceled

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 11:19 am in Uncategorized

The Fremont City Council scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 7, has been canceled.

The next meeting is scheduled for next week, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the usual location: the Council Chambers, Building A, City Hall, 3300 Capitol Ave.

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Fremont-based Water District trying to increase rates for 2014

By Chris DeBenedetti
Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 at 11:03 am in Uncategorized

We’ll be doing a story within the week on ACWD’s announcement that the water agency intends to raise water rates again. Until then, here’s the PRESS RELEASE from ACWD (sent Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014):



Proposed Increases Would Help Offset Rising Operational and Purchased Water Costs

Fremont, CA — Alameda County Water District staff has proposed rate increases that, if adopted by the Board, would help to offset rising operational and purchased water costs.

The commodity and service charge rate increases would result in an increase of about 12 cents per day (approximately 7%) for the average residential customer using 23 units of water bimonthly (about 283 gallons per day) and with a 5/8 or 3/4 inch meter.

“Providing a safe, reliable water supply to the 336,000 people in the Tri-City area requires considerable financial resources,” said ACWD General Manager Walt Wadlow.  “The proposed rate increases will allow ACWD to offset rising costs as well as create long-term financial sustainability for the District.”

The proposed increases include a 7% increase in the water commodity rate.  This rate would increase from $3.152 to $3.373 per unit (one unit is equivalent to 748 gallons, or 100 cubic feet of water).  They also include a 7% increase in the bimonthly service charge (which is based on the size of the meter serving the property).  The bimonthly charge would increase by $2.09 (from $29.86 to $31.95) for customers with a meter size of 5/8 or 3/4 inches.  Even with these increases, the District’s rates and charges would still rank in the bottom half of 30 other Bay Area water agencies as shown in the chart below.

In addition to offsetting rising operational and purchased water costs, the proposed increases are required to maintain existing service levels and create long-term financial sustainability by:

  • Funding major capital projects needed to comply with public health and environmental standards.
  • Investing in technology needed to improve productivity.
  • Budgeting for long-term obligations, such as employee pensions and post-employment health care.

Among other factors, the proposed increases were moderated through:

  • Deferring capital projects, where possible, in response to projected lower demands.
  • Reducing future District staffing levels while maintaining quality of service.
  • Reducing purchases of water from the San Francisco Regional Water System, ACWD’s highest priced water supply.
  • A variety of cost-saving measures implemented through District initiatives.
  • Requiring employees to contribute toward their health insurance benefits.

“ACWD has an enviable AAA bond rating,” noted ACWD Manager of Finance Shelley Burgett.  “These rate increases would help the District to maintain this rating by allowing it to responsibly budget for long-term financial obligations such as employee pensions and post-retirement health care.  In the end, our AAA rating results in cost-savings to the District and ultimately to ACWD ratepayers,” Burgett went on to say.

ACWD welcomes comments and input on the proposed rate increases.  A public hearing on the increases will be held at 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, January 9, 2014 in the Board Room at ACWD headquarters, 43885 South Grimmer Boulevard, Fremont.


# # #

For nearly 100 years, the Alameda County Water District has supplied water to the residents and businesses of southern Alameda County. ACWD supplies drinking water to the more than 336,000 people living in the cities of Fremont, Newark, and Union City. For more information, please visit

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Union City becomes state’s first city to ban vapor lounges, restrict e-cigs

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, December 30th, 2013 at 10:41 am in Uncategorized

Union City has banned vapor lounges, and now Hayward might do the same. Vapor lounges have opened in Fremont, where there is no policy at this time. Here’s a recent story about the Tri-City area:

A growing number of East Bay cities are taking steps to restrict electronic cigarettes, and Union City has led the charge, becoming the state’s first municipality to ban vapor lounges and other businesses where e-cigarettes are used.

The City Council approved the new regulation earlier this month after a Union City Youth Commission report expressed concern that e-cigarettes might lead to an increase in nicotine addiction. The commission, comprised of 16 New Haven Unified students in grades 7 to 12, also asserted that fast-growing e-cigarette products are being marketed to minors.

“The kids wanted us to regulate them because they were being sold and packaged in less expensive ways that let kids get their hands on them,” Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci said. “We are trying to promote healthy lifestyles in Union City and the new ordinance helps with that.”

The new law, effective Jan. 9, also bans medical marijuana dispensaries in Union City.

Other cities are following suit. Earlier this month, Richmond restricted the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces, and Hayward council members are scheduled next month to consider similar regulations.

For more of the story, click here.



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Happy New Year

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, December 30th, 2013 at 10:28 am in Uncategorized

I’ve been off for about a week for the holidays. This is my first morning back. Hope you all have had a nice holiday month.

Happy New Year to all and I hope 2014 is a great one for you.

Feel free to contact me anytime at 510-353-7011 or with any questions or comments you might have.

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Washington Hospital paying for CEO’s charitable giving

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, December 30th, 2013 at 10:26 am in Uncategorized

Story by Ashly McGlone: 

FREMONT – When charity calls, Washington Hospital CEO Nancy Farber has opened her checkbook, contributing to the hospital’s own health care foundation, donating to service clubs and college funds, and helping to fund services for chemotherapy patients and a new brain and spine imaging system.

Then Farber, one of the highest paid public officials in the state with more than $1 million in annual compensation, submitted many of her charitable expenses to her public hospital district for reimbursement, to the tune of more than $20,000 over the last three years.

A district spokesman, noting that the reimbursements are allowed under Farber’s contract, at first dismissed questions from this newspaper about the hospital’s practices as “trite.” But last week, the district shifted its stance, saying that Farber is refunding the hospital for some of those donations.

For more of the story, click here.

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Social Security waives debt it said Hayward war veteran owed

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, December 30th, 2013 at 10:24 am in Uncategorized

HAYWARD — It’s not exactly a Christmas miracle, but a decision by government officials to waive a nearly $500 bill they’d tried to charge war veteran Thomas Testerman because of their erroneous payments brought some holiday cheer to his family.

Forgiveness from Testerman, however, might take considerably longer.

“That’s one burden that’s gone,” the former Navy petty officer said. “But it bothers me and I’m still wondering, why did I have to go through this? Why did all this have to happen?”

What happened started in 1972, when Testerman was ailing from major combat wounds suffered during the Vietnam War. While he was recovering, the government began mailing monthly disability checks that he still receives today. Social Security also sent him a couple of checks, which he cashed. But when his lawyer said he was not eligible for the Social Security payments, Testerman stopped cashing the checks, mailing them back for several months until the agency stopped sending them.

Testerman, now 61, moved on. He eventually got married, settled in Hayward and enjoyed a career in computers, making those years a distant memory.

That is, until last month, when a letter landed in his mailbox two days before Veterans Day. The first part of the government’s note informed him that he owed $493.80 — the sum contained in those few checks Social Security mistakenly sent 41 years ago.

For more of the story, please click here.




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