$100,000 bus driver pay explained

VTA-General Manager, Michael Burns
VTA-General Manager, Michael Burns

One of the reasons many VTA bus drivers make more than $100,000 a year is that transit agencies have a difficult time filling the often grueling positions, VTA General Manager Michael Burns told the post.

VTA boss says such jobs are tough to fill

“It’s the toughest job in the industry,” Burns said. According to payroll data published by the Post on March 22, the base pay for a VTA bus driver is $62,650, but when you calculate overtime and “other” pay, the average bus driver makes $86,000 a year – the same amount the average Palo Alto public schoolteacher makes.

In comparison, private-sector bus drivers in the Bay Area make $25 an hour or $52,000 year on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics. Burns said the agency is hiring and that even with the current wage, it has a difficult time attracting candidates.

Burns said bus drivers have a difficult job because they are in the public eye, forced to deal with the citizen face-to-face and because they can’t just take a bathroom break whenever they need to. “It’s not easy,” Burns told the post. But Burns added that hiring bus drivers isn’t as difficult as it once was.

“We use to have a hard time attracting people,” Burns said, ” but now it’s getting easier.”  He said the high wages help.

VTA employs 75 bus drivers who make $100,000 a year or more, including one, Kenneth Darden, who made $191,210 last year.

Burns said as VTA ridership picks up, many bus drivers are working longer hours and earning more in overtime pay. “We have a lot of operators working 60 hours a week,”  Burns said.

VTA’s 903 bus drivers also receive generous benefit packages that include fully paid health and dental insurance, up to six weeks’ paid vacation, 12 paid holidays, 12 sick days and a full pension. Employees and their families also receive free bus and light rail passes.

The Daily Post Today

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A new era – The Daily News

The Daily NewsA new era – The Daily News.

Since Dec. 7, 1995, The Daily News has been a key part of our vibrant region. For nearly 18 years, we have reported the stories of the Peninsula— the stories of our community, our home.

Like our ever-evolving communities, The Daily News has also evolved during that time. There have been changes in ownership, in distribution and even the look of the newspaper. But the one constant has been that you could always find us— for free— in red newspaper racks positioned near stores, post offices, Caltrain stations, coffee shops, restaurants, hospitals, schools, workplaces and almost everywhere else around the Peninsula.

Today, to ensure we will continue to be everywhere you look around the Peninsula, The Daily News is announcing our own exciting news.

Just as my predecessors made changes to meet our communities’ needs, we will, as well, because it is our responsibility to serve the community. You— our readers, our audience and our advertisers— have expressed the need for The Daily News to provide news and information when, where and how you want it. And for most of us, that is from digital sources.

So on March 26, we will be delivering a free electronic version of The Daily News that you can access via your computer, tablet or mobile device.

You can choose to get our free e-edition in your email box or download an app from the iTunes store or the Android store for your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Android tablet, even the Kindle Fire. The e-edition will come in the same format as the printed newspaper. We will be telling you in the next few days how you can take advantage of these options. Through the e-edition, we’ll be able to provide you with the tools to search, save, archive and email ads and stories. You’ll also receive daily breaking news and sports alerts on your smartphone or computer email. In addition, you can opt to receive unique opportunities and special access to deals, services and discounts.

Meanwhile, you’ll still be able to pick up The Daily News the old-fashioned way — from our red news racks. We will produce a Wednesday mid-week edition, a Friday edition with full information about upcoming weekend activities, news and sports, and a Saturday edition featuring all our weekend topics. Between digital and print, we’ll still be “local, five days a week.”

The Daily News will continue to evolve by changing our business model to meet the needs of our community, our readers and our advertising customers. If you choose one of the digital options, we will in essence be providing you with home delivery of The Daily News. Many of you have asked for home delivery of the newspaper, but like many other free printed newspapers, the cost of providing that is prohibitive. Stay tuned over the coming months to see all the new and exciting ways your team at The Daily News will be working to bring you a new era in news and information delivery for the 21st century.

We pledge to continue to provide you with the best hyper-local news, sports and information in a format you desire to meet your daily needs, whether you are on the go, out of town or in your easy chair.

Steve Paterson, Publisher

Puff the magic “Commissioner” lives by the Palo Alto courthouse

Commissioner James Madden
Commissioner James Madden

♫ And frolics in the autumn smoke…too pollute you and me…. ♫

It might soon be illegal to smoke cigarettes and medicinal joints in most Palo Alto Parks.

Last night, City Council’s Policy and Services Committee said it wants the full council to consider a law that would ban smoking in all parks under five acres, which includes 22 of the city’s 34 urban Parks.

Protecting public health

“The council is the guardian of public health,” Councilwoman Liz kniss said, before supporting the recommendation, which got on unanimous approval from Kniss, Larry Klein, Karen Holman and Gail Price.

City may outlaw it at most parks

Kniss said the committee isn’t recommending the band because residents have complained about smoking in parks, but rather because second-hand cigarette smoke has been linked to cancer.

The ban would also make it illegal for those with medical marijuana prescriptions to smoke joints in small parks, since the ordinance would outlaw “combustion of any cigar, cigarette, tobacco or any similar article,” according to city attorney Molly stump.

Though the council members all agreed on making smoking illegal in Parks, Holman worried about whether it was right for the committee to expand the ordinance so far beyond the one listed in the agenda, which only proposed a smoking ban in three city parks.

“We’re expanding what was noticed a great deal.  I think the public should have the opportunity to weigh in on something like this,” Holman said.

Still time to fight it

But stump said that because the proposed law would still go before the council twice before it could be officially approved, residents who were against a smoking ban would still have enough time to appear. The committee said it was interested in banning smoking in all city parks and open spaces.

Park smoking ban studied, By Breena Keer Daily Post Staff Writer.  Article powered by Dragon Dictation an ipad App

National Cancer Institute

Santa Clara University School of Law – 2013 Alexander Law Prize Recipient

2013 Award Winner: Chen Guangcheng

Chen-GuangchengChen Guangcheng is a Chinese civil rights activist who worked on human rights issues in rural areas of the People’s Republic of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is frequently described as a “barefoot lawyer” who advocates for women’s rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor. He is best known for exposing alleged abuses in official family-planning practices, often involving claims of violence and forced abortions.

In 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organizing a landmark class-action lawsuit against authorities in Linyi, Shandong, for what was claimed to be excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit, Chen was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006, with a formal arrest in June 2006.

During his trial, Chen’s attorneys were forbidden access to the court, leaving him without a proper defender. On 24 August 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic”. He was released from prison in 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remained under house arrest or “soft detention” at his home in Dongshigu Village. Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance in February 2011.

Chen’s case received sustained international attention, with the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Secretary, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International issuing appeals for his release; the latter group designated him a prisoner of conscience. Chen is a 2007 laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award and in 2006 was named to the Time 100.

In April 2012, Chen escaped his house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. After negotiations with the Chinese government, he left the embassy for medical treatment in early May 2012, and it was reported that China would consider allowing him to travel to the United States to study. On 19 May 2012, Chen, his wife, and his two children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York City.

Click here for additional information.


Up-dated on March 19th 2013 – *Highlights from last night’s award acceptance speech by Chen Guangcheng

Receiving this award I’m very happy.  It’s like the fresh spring time of life is awaken for me to receive this prestigious award.

I’m thankful for the selection committee thankful to Katherine and George Alexander and I’m thankful to the president of the law school. This prize is meant to rise – promote the awareness of injustices and too promote the legal work around it.

US lawyers carry a heavy responsibility to advance justice. Chinese Lawyer will face much oppression when speaking out. Everyone has a responsibility to make society better.

Do you refuse to stand with evilness are we against the dictators anger even if we are sent to prisons?

Still many things are above the constitution like past emperors who enjoy power.  The communist power is one of them.

Power is above the government if they commit crimes government leaders will not be persecuted and the law will prove ineffective and face no prosecution.

They use their organization to control and promote their own propaganda. They use their own tools to speak for them. Anybody who does not obey the law will be oppressed. “Justice is kidnapped”.

Whenever there is an injustice, we have to fight because directorship laws are bad.  We must not to follow their leadership. When the law becomes the voice of the people, people will respect the law.  The injustice can be minimized through our voices nothing else will help.

They promised they would do a thorough investigation of what my family and I had endured. The authorities would go to my house and humiliate and rob us.  Do we have justice in communism?

My family hired an attorney we were threatened and we would not be able to appeal our conviction. This is the trend of stubborn communist Chinese. If you give in, you we will be given a lighter sentence. I lost twenty pounds while in prison.

Only the power of youthful thinking this power can change the world have faith and everything is possible. Never lose your voice, welcome the new legal change and the end the dark ages…..

Thank you all for coming I’m very grateful.

*The above acceptance speech excerpts were translated by a Chinese interpreter into English. We endeavored to provide an accurate depiction.

Receiving Award
Receiving Award
A hug of appreciation
A hug of appreciation

County Supervisor George Shirakawa Guily of Misusing Public Money and Campaign Funds

One Big Problem – Presumption of innocence

George Shirakawa“the presumption of innocence is essential to the criminal process. The mere mention of the phrase presumed innocent keeps judges and juries focused on the ultimate issue at hand in a criminal case: whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged acts.

The people of the United States have rejected the alternative to a presumption of innocence—a presumption of guilt—as being inquisitorial and contrary to the principles of a free society.”


sinunu-0620The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office today charged County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. with five felonies: four counts of perjury and one count of misappropriation of public funds, as well as seven misdemeanors for failing to file accurate campaign reports.

The 51-year-old, who has served as president of the Board of Supervisors, engaged in a persistent pattern of misusing public money and campaign funds for prohibited expenses including parties golf outings and gambling.

Shirakawa has agreed to plead guilty to all counts and hand in his resignation from the Board of Supervisors to the County Clerk today.

He will be arraigned before the Hon. Philip Pennypacker on March 18, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 23. Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery will ask the court for substantial jail time.

“The public makes political contributions, votes and pays taxes with expectations that their elected officials will work diligently to make this county a better place to live,’’ District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “By abusing his power and misappropriating public money that had been entrusted to him, Mr. Shirakawa violated both the law and the faith of the residents of Santa Clara County.”

The investigation of the county official was launched late last year, after a Metro newspaper article detailed that the supervisor had neglected to file a series of campaign disclosure forms.

The four-month investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and the Fair Political Practices Commission showed that Shirakawa’s financial abuse was obscured by filing false campaign statements, or filing none at all, abetted by infrequent and cursory county oversight.

The supervisor has also agreed to sign a stipulation admitting to ten counts of violating the Political Reform Act, by making expenditures of campaign funds for personal use, in violation of Government Code Section 89512. He has agreed to a penalty of $5,000 per count, for a total penalty of $50,000.

For release on March 1, 2013

Karyn Sinunu-Towery,
Assistant District Attorney
(408) 792-2702

See attachment links:

Press Conference Statement
Copy of Complaint
Copy of Affidavit

Lack of Shelter Beds

Week10_07_07Terry MayerBeds for the homelessThere is a lack of shelter beds in the Palo Alto area. There have not been enough beds for those in need for a long time now. There are even fewer total shelter beds in the area now that Clare Mateo closed.

As Google and other local employers offer landlords higher and higher rents to house their recent hires from out of the area, there are fewer low cost rentals for locals.

The armory in Sunnyvale that shelters a couple of hundred people in the winter is scheduled to close sometime soon.

In fact, one of the only groups actually adding shelter beds around here are some Stanford students who put together a shelter for 15 women last winter that was open for 90 days. They did it with a lot of their own time and donated resources from individuals, local churches, and InnVision. That was their pilot project. It was called the Hotel de Zink: Women’s Shelter (HdZ:W).

Now they’re in the process of incorporating as a California public benefit charity–The Heart and Home Collaborative–whose first project will be a women’s shelter. It is being organized with input from shelter guests and community members who are building on the work and experiences of the HdZ:W.

They need help. They need locations to house the shelter for at least a few weeks. They need donations. Anyone who wants to contribute to alleviating the shortage of shelter beds for women or to get more information is encouraged to write to info@hhcollab.org.


City of Menlo Park Censorship flip flop

Dave Price Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post
Dave Price Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post

It’s a trend. Governments are releasing embarrassing news on Friday afternoons. This started in the Bush administration and we just keep seeing it happen more and more. The thinking is that people pay less attention to the news on the weekends.

On Friday at 2:35 pm., Menlo Park Assistant City manager Sharla Jerome-Robinson posted the following on the City Council’s website: “last week, approximately a dozen emails to CCIN [that’s the website on which the public can post emails to the council] were deleted.

After reviewing the original postings that were removed and balancing the interest of the employees involved and the public’s interest in the consultation with the city attorney, we will be reposting the original emails.”

Outrage over teacher’s firing

A week earlier, the council’s website was flooded with emails from residents who were outraged at the firing of gymnastics teacher Michelle Sutton from a city-run program for preschoolers.

Every email I saw praised Sutton as an outstanding teacher. Yet somebody at City Hall – we still don’t know who – began deleting these emails. City Attorney Bill McClure said the emails were removed because they might result in lawsuits.

The deleting of public comments appears to be a new policy since people have used the council’s email site to complain about city employees for years, and those messages weren’t removed. Deleting the messages was like turning off the microphone at council meetings when a resident had something controversial to say.

Unanswered questions

While the city has reversed itself on deleting emails, questions remain:

* Whose idea was this?

* Since the emails praised the teacher, who was the city trying to protect by deleting them?

* Why has nobody on city council spoken up about this censorship?

Editorial / Opinion Today – Daily Post by: Dave Price

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The Untold Story of Latinos in America

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.”

Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that reveals the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S. “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north,” says Juan González at the beginning of the film.

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists Maria Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada.

Local Screenings:

Berkeley, CA @ Shattuck 10
Mar 8 – March 16, 2013 all-day

3/8-3/14: Daily at 2:40 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:20 pm, 9:40 pm
Special Appearance at the Shattuck Cinemas (Berkeley, CA):
Director Eduardo López will appear for Q&A sessions on Saturday, March 9 at the 5:00 pm & 7:20 pm showings

San Francisco, CA @ Opera Plaza – Landmark Theaters
Mar 8 – March 16, 2013 all-day

3/8-3/9 Fri-Sat: 12:15pm 2:35pm 4:50pm 7:00pm 9:40pm
3/10 Sun: 12:15pm 2:35pm 4:50pm 7:00pm

3/11-3/14 Mon-Thurs: 2:35pm 4:50pm 7:00pm
Special Appearance (San Francisco, CA):
Director Eduardo López will appear for Q&A sessions on Friday, March 8 at the 7:00pm & 9:40pm show times.