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Audit zaps Taser proficiency Page 3
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Local news, information and analysis
High-speed rail authority proposes higher fares
New business plan considers funding sources, revises ridership figures for rail line by Gennady Sheyner he California High-Speed Rail Authority is banking on billions of private dollars, extensive federal support and riders willing to shell out more than $100 to take the new train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the agency’s new 145-page business plan reveals. The plan, which the rail author-
ity released this week, lays out the agency’s strategy for transitioning from the planning stage of the project to actual implementation. It includes the rail authority’s newest estimate of how many people would ride the 800-mile line and its strategies for acquiring funds — plans that have met with skepticism from its opponents.
California voters approved a $9.95 billion bond for the high-speed rail system in November 2008, but many Peninsula residents and city officials have since grown disenchanted with the project. State legislators criticized the agency’s previous business plan and mandated a new one before further state funding is issued. Among the most significant changes detailed in the new business plan are the agency’s proposed fares for traveling between Bay Area and Los Angeles. The rail authority had previously projected train fare
to be about $55, or half the price of the average airfare between the two regions. The new plan, however, raises the ticket price for the same trip to about $104.75, or 83 percent of an average airline ticket. The authority acknowledged that raising the fares would lower the number of riders from a previously estimated 58 million passengers in 2035 to 41 million passengers. But because lower ridership would require fewer trains and less maintenance, the higher fares would increase the system’s revenues by 13
percent in 2035, when the 800-mile system is scheduled to be completed. Jeff Barker, the rail authority deputy director for communications, said the new numbers don’t signify a policy change but merely present one alternative business model. He also said the rail authority will continue to use the “50 percent of airfare” model in its environmental reviews because this model allows the rail authority to plan for the im(continued on page 8)
Auditors urge Taser review Stun gun has been used seven times, sometimes without effect by Sue Dremann
Asil Broussard, 6, shows off her paint-covered hands after completing an art project at the Boys and Girls Club in East Palo Alto.
Active art for local kids Peninsula Boys and Girls Club offers enriching opportunities with Art in Action by Karla Kane
n an East Palo Alto Boys and Girls Club classroom on a recent afternoon, 9-year-old Jessica Matriz stared at the paintcovered palms of her classmates in amazement. “It’s about to get messy!” Jessica and around 15 other children had just completed an
exercise in Impressionistic fingerpainting. They’re participants in quite literally a hands-on program called Art in Action, which provides art education they may otherwise never experience. Art in Action is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing art history, apprecia-
tion and techniques to classrooms and kids lacking access to art. With $5,000 in funding from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, an Art in Action pilot program was implemented locally last year to provide after-school visual-art education to around 170 children, mostly of elementary-school age, at the Peninsula Boys and Girls Club branches in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park. The funding pays for the specialized curriculum and licensing; high-quality art prints of influential and famous artworks; basic supplies such as paint, paper
and clay; and on-site training for teachers. Art in Action gives the students the chance to express themselves and use art supplies, participants said. “We get to be creative,” Maria Serrato, 9, said of the program, as she examined her painting-in-progress. Classmate Jessica said she especially enjoys the medium of paint. “I like painting anything. Everything!” The East Palo Alto and Menlo (continued on page 11)
alo Alto police zapped an allegedly bellicose man with a Taser outside a bar early last Saturday morning, two days after a police auditors’ report recommended the department review its Taser policies and training program. The Saturday incident involved two men fighting shortly after 1:30 a.m. at Dan Brown’s bar at El Camino Real and El Camino Way in south Palo Alto. One of the intoxicated men confronted the arriving police officer and interspersed profanity with a challenge to the officer to fight, according to Lt. Doug Keith. The officer drew his Taser and told the man — who was 6 feet 1 inch and 240 pounds — to calm down, then fired the Taser when the man failed to respond, Keith said. The man, identified as Henry Uili, 24, then gave up and was placed under arrest on misdemeanor charges of being intoxicated in public, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, Keith said. But Uili’s wife, identified as Mele Makasini, also 24, then placed herself between officers and her husband until she was arrested for obstructing an officer, also a misdemeanor, Keith reported. Uili was examined at Stanford Hospital before being taken to jail, Keith said. The incident brings the number of Taser incidents to seven since police started carrying the weapons in 2007, after several years of contentious debate about their use. At the time, concerns swirled nationally about the “non-lethal” alternative to use of guns in difficult situations. There have been hundreds of Taser-related deaths (continued on page 5)
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