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Nevin defends his drive to build costly BART Millbrae extension

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  • 4/15 San Mateo Journal
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2006
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      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
      transit agencies.

      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@....
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