Bay Area Region

State rapidly using up farmland

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:00pm
Study says millions of acres will be paved over in coming years

Unless California curtails its appetite for sprawl development, it will pave over another 2.1 million acres of farmland in the next four decades and jeopardize the state's role as one of the nation's top food-growers, according to an American Farmland Trust study.

Transportation chair Dodd calls for higher tolls

Submitted by News Desk on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 10:00pm

Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd told a gathering of California’s public servants: Raise tolls to maintain bridges and roads.

In a speech last week to the California Municipal Finance Conference in San Francisco, Dodd advocated higher tolls and public-private investment partnerships to save the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. Dodd is chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority.

Major East Bay cities breathe easier after American Lung Association grades

Submitted by News Desk on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:50pm
The good news is that Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County all received an "A" grade from the American Lung Association on their policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in, outdoor dining areas, entryways, housing and recreation areas, among other venues.

The bad news? These were among only six cities and counties in the Bay Area to get top grades, while 73 cities and two counties received failing grades from the association.

Riding That Train

Submitted by News Desk on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:34pm

Meet the people who seem to travel as many hours as they work on a long commute to Sacramento

At 6 on a Wednesday morning, Jim Bourgart is already 15 minutes into a 175-minute commute by foot, bus, train and foot again. From downtown San Francisco he'll catch an Amtrak motor coach to the Emeryville station, where he'll sit 20 minutes on a hard plastic bench waiting for the 6:40 to Sacramento.

Belgium or Bust

Submitted by News Desk on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 4:49pm

As AC Transit's service and finances took a wrong turn, its employees made more than 100 trips to Europe — possibly for nothing.

The Belgian Connection: Second of Two Parts

Shortly after Rick Fernandez took over as the general manager of AC Transit, the agency's board of directors awarded him the authority to approve employee travel. Sixteen months later, in April 2001, Fernandez and four of his staffers took an all-expense-paid trip to Europe that included a visit to the headquarters of the Van Hool bus company near Antwerp, Belgium. The excursion cost taxpayers $20,133 — and it was just the beginning.

In the years since, travel records show, AC Transit employees have jetted to Western Europe on more than one hundred separate occasions. The vast majority of these junkets were to Belgium, at a total cost to taxpayers of nearly $1 million. The cash-strapped agency has even paid for an Oakland bus inspector to live near Antwerp for more than five years, at a cost in excess of $500,000, not including his salary.


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