Nevin defends his drive to build costly BART Millbrae extension
- Published Saturday, April 15, 2006, in the San Mateo Daily Journal
Senate race heats up in TV debate
By Dana Yates
The three men vying for the 8th Senate District seat traded
accusations and tried to one up each other about their commitment
to transportation at a taped debate Friday morning.
Former assemblyman Lou Papan, Assemblyman Leland Yee and former San
Mateo County supervisor Mike Nevin are vying for the seat currently
held by Jackie Speier, who is running for lieutenant governor. The
candidates spiced up their appearance at the second in a series of
taped debates for The Game, a political talk show that airs on
PenTV. With seven weeks left until the June primary, the trio traded
jabs in an attempt to boost their support from San Mateo County
viewers -- which accounts for 58 percent of the district's voters.
A majority of the 30-minute segment focused on traffic and mass
transportation in the county. In a rare moment, Papan gave credit
to Nevin for doing "pretty well with Caltrain and SamTrans," but
quickly followed with criticism about his support for Bay Area Rapid
Transit. Both Papan and Yee questioned Nevin's decision on the
Caltrain and SamTrans Board of Directors to "bail out" BART by
giving it leniency on what it owes to the two established transit
"It all happened on your watch," Papan said.
Yee criticized Nevin's devotion to BART over his desire to make the
bus system work.
"There is a terrible bus system. It's absolutely not there. SamTrans
is taking its money to bail out BART. I'm not sure that was a right
decision," Yee said.
Nevin defended his drive to bring BART to the county claiming "it's
the best bang we ever got for our dollar" and called it a "seamless
system" between Caltrain, SamTrans and BART. During his time on the
board, Caltrain introduced the baby bullet and doubled its number of
riders, he said.
If elected to the seat, Nevin said he'd work to open the lines of
communication between the state and local agencies.
"The state does not talk to people like us," Nevin said of the local
Nevin briefly responded to the accusation by Yee that he "stole" a
seat on the agency's board of directors.
"To keep his name out there ... he stole a public seat on the
Caltrain board," Yee said. "You can't continue to go on from seat
to seat to seat."
When Nevin was termed out of the San Mateo County Board of
Supervisors in 2005, he lost his seat as a county representative on
the Caltrain and SamTrans board of directors. Within a few months he
was awarded with a "public at large" seat usually meant for county
residents without political affiliations. Nevin came under strong
criticism -- mainly by Papan -- and gave his seat up four months
ago. Nevin said he stayed on an extra year to "get it done."
Nevin appeared most irritated when Yee called for an open
communication between state, regional agencies and cities to
determine how to create the best transit-oriented developments
along commuter routes. By doing so, residents would be more likely
to use mass transit and reduce the number of cars on the road.
"We're doing it," said Nevin. "We've done it. We're talking about
smart growth We've done it on Daly City, Mountain View. We're
looking at doing it in San Carlos," Nevin said of plans to add high
density housing near train stations.
Aside from transportation, Papan took aim at Yee for failing to
support legislation he authored when he was in office that would
have required San Francisco to pay for improvements to the Hetch
Hetchy water system. Hetch Hetchy carries water to San Mateo County
cities, but is managed by the city and county of San Francisco.
"When I was carrying that legislation you were nowhere to be found,"
Papan told Yee.
Yee claims he tried to get San Francisco officials to fix the system
and when they didn't listen, he worked other avenues.
The Game airs 7:30 a.m. Sunday, April 16 on TV20 Cable Channel 13.
It will also air 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Peninsula TV26 and periodically
throughout the week.
Dana Yates can be reached by e-mail: dana@... or by
phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106. What do you think of this story?
Send a letter to the editor: letters@....