By Tim Hunt
Pete Stark--the mouth that keeps roaringUploaded: May 3, 2012
U.S. Rep. Pete Stark has a well-earned reputation for shooting off his mouth, one that he's continued to build.
His primary campaign against challenger Eric Swalwell, a deputy district attorney and Dublin City Council member, has been marked by outrageous charges leveled without a shred of proof.
Stark's latest foot-in-mouth event took place in an editorial board meeting with San Francisco Chronicle editors and reporters this week.
The 80-year-old, 20-term Congressman charged that a member of the Chronicle staff had given a campaign contribution to Swalwell. The journalists pressed back and he identified conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders as the contributor. She immediately objected and they collectively demanded the evidence.
He cited federal election reports that were compiled by his son, whom Stark labeled a 16-year-old investigate reporter. After leafing through the stack of papers amid an awkward silencehe finally identified Claudia McCormick as the contributor.
Valley readers will remember that Claudia served eight years on the Dublin City Council from 1998 to 2006 and now identifies herself as a freelance writer and editor. She wrote a community column for the Valley Times for many years.
She's also been active in the Democratic Party and should have been no stranger to an elected Democrat who "represented" the area.
Check out sfgate.com if you would like to view Stark's search for the name to back up his claim.
Incidentally, this is the first primary in a decade where newspaper editorial boards can wait and make a recommendation prior to the general election. The districts were so gerrymandered for one party previously that the primary winner coasted to victory in the November election so endorsing candidates before the primary became the routine practice.
IS THERE something wrong with this situation?
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which doles out hundreds of millions of dollars to local agencies, will consider a staff recommendation this month to require the agencies to cut their operating budgets by 5 percent by 2017 or lose some funding.
The reason: operating costs are up 83 percent while revenues have increased only 15 percent. Left unchanged, that will mean operating deficits of $8 billion annually by 2035 according to a report in the San Francisco Business Times.
Of course, the general managers of the Bay Area's biggest transit operatorsBART, AC Transit, Muni in San Francisco and Santa Clara Valley among themwrote a letter questioning the wisdom of tying revenue streams to getting their fiscal houses in order.
No surprise there.
Transit operators always require subsidies from the taxpayersabout 50 percent o the dollar for BART and up to 80 percent or more for suburban operators such as Wheels in the Livermore Valley.
And, then there's the Livermore Valley's 14-month old RAPID bus service that is designed to speed commuters through the valley. It debuted last February. The April numbers show ridership was up 4.2 percent to 1,329 people each weekday. The service runs six buses in each direction during peak commute hours and three in off-peak.
Using the typical transit metric, RAPID buses are running at 9.6 seats per hour compared to a system-wide number of 13.4 (that is lowered by the RAPID numbers) and, more telling, an 18.8 number for route 10.
Clearly, there's lots that needs to happen to get any return on the dollar for the substantial public investment in new buses and bus stops.
If you want to express your opinion to a decision-maker, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty serves on the MTC board as well as the Livermore Valley board.