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After political tussle, Burt on track to join the VTA board

Original post made on Jan 12, 2021

When elected leaders from four north Santa Clara County cities meet later this month to pick their representative for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority board, Pat Burt will find himself in the driver's seat.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 1:31 AM

Comments (14)

42 people like this
Posted by Good Decision
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2021 at 7:43 am

Good Decision is a registered user.

A good start for this new council - correcting the bizarre manipulation of this selection process last year by majority council members.

Given we must try to stop our Measure B tax money from being taken from us, Pat Burt, with his 17 years experience on Council and PTC is clearly the best choice for VTA Board.

30 people like this
Posted by Of course!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 12, 2021 at 8:26 am

Of course! is a registered user.

Because of major problems with VTA management, this is a very important issue for Palo Alto. This appointment would have been contentious anyway, but its underhanded handling by the last Council unfortunately made it even more polarized.

What makes this selection awkward is that both Cormack and Burt are intelligent, capable people. Greer stated it well; this may appear to be personal but it really comes down to who is the best candidate. Any impartial observer would conclude that Pat Burt is clearly the best candidate.

This is not a beauty contest—our VTA representative needs to represent Palo Alto’s interest in difficult, complicated negotiations whose outcome will greatly impact the city. Pat not only knows the inner workings of public transit agencies, but he is also known and respected by people across the county. I can think of no one better than Pat Burt for representing Palo Alto in these negotiations.

14 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 12, 2021 at 10:15 am

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YEAH - Big budgets are at stake here and we need the best representative to protect PA's interests. In the past we have come up short on every aspect of transportation issues as they affect this city.

A tangential issue here is that this city is targeted with all types of special interests groups with their own agendas - as noted in the comments last night at the PACC meeting. The comments seem to side step the fact that Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose are major metro areas that are major transportation destinations via train, air, and auto. They get the bulk of the Measure B funding. They are also the cities which have the economies that support a diverse population. Palo Alto does not have a major impact on transportation - we are not a switching station - simply a stop along the way. Redwood city is not a major metro area but is getting there based on their location on the bay - last deep water port about to get a ferry service and the growth of FB in Menlo Park on the border with RWC.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jan 12, 2021 at 10:55 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

23 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2021 at 5:21 pm

Annette is a registered user.

After the Oct. meeting at which Cormack was nominated, two critical things happened: the November election and the Nov 30 meeting of the SFPUC. Even though she was at the PUC hearing on behalf of the city and responsible for presenting the unanimous position of PACC, she went rogue and presented her own opinion. That is unprofessional; Council members are not supposed to act on their own when there's Council direction; qualifying for a position doesn't mean one can use that position to promote a personal agenda.

It's unfortunate that current and past CC members started the year taking digs at the Vice Mayor. I get the inference about him being a white male but I don't think that is why 5 members of CC voted in favor of him. I think he got the nod because he is smart and has more of the needed, relevant experience. I think CC made the right choice. I also think Burt is less likely to go rogue.

19 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 12, 2021 at 5:52 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

WOW - that is disturbing information concerning Cormack. But not surprising. We have seen a number of people in the position to represent the city diverting to some agenda from an outside source. Many people trying to advance their personal "brand" relative to future political positioning at a state level. Hopefully under the new PACC that tendency will be stopped. If representing the city then say what the city wants. But the city has to get very clear on what it wants.

24 people like this
Posted by Bill Ross
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2021 at 7:49 pm

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Pat Burt was the right choice. Overlooked in the article is Councilmember Cormack’s refusal to follow unanimous Council direction with respect to the Bay Delta Plan when representing the City before the San Francisco PUC on November 30, 2020 she presented her own view. She is pursuing her own agenda not what the City Council unanimously directed. She is unqualified.

19 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 12, 2021 at 9:57 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

Cormack's actions are sad but not surprising. She is transparently smug and determined to have her way. A bad choice for the VTA role.

7 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2021 at 11:22 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

According to this article, one of the four "qualifications" for being nominated to serve on the VTA board for the North County, of which a candidate has to meet two, is "at least one year of service on the VTA board."

That's a nice Catch-22. It fits right in with the Kafkaesque way VTA functions, and its Orwellian use of language in its press releases and public statements.

I mean, this is an agency that encourages customers to give them feedback, but refuses to publish a public staff directory (which virtually all other Bay Area government agencies provide), and whose press releases and public statements tout service cuts and price increases as if they're improvements (your service hasn't been cut, it's been "reallocated", and soon there will be lower youth fares, but "new" adult fares!)

Also, while preparing for the 2019 "New Transit Plan" (itself a replacement for the never-implemented "Next Network") VTA put signs on bus stops for Palo Alto's Line 88--which was being eliminated except for a handful of morning and afternoon school trips--advertising that the new plan would have more frequent 15-minute service and better connections.

Then in August, 2020, when VTA started charging fares again after the initial wave of COVID-19, they put signs on nearly every bus stop in the county saying "Welcome Back", even on stops where all service had been cut, such as Line 88 and special school-trips (apparently the people who rode VTA in April through July, including me, don't really exist in VTA's eyes).

Because if you're losing millions of dollars in a pandemic, it's important to spend the money you do have on fancy color signs with slick graphics and logos welcoming back paying customers to bus stops where all bus service has been cut.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jan 13, 2021 at 1:16 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

16 people like this
Posted by Speaking as a woman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2021 at 11:51 am

Speaking as a woman is a registered user.

Let's not make this about sexism. I'm just fine with Pat Burt taking this role. He is, by far, the best qualified and this is an important moment with VTA. I care a lot about transit matters and Vice Mayor Burt knows the ins and outs of VTA very well. Our city is going to have to fight for VTA Measure B money that we are entitled to. We are going to have to fight for funding for local Shuttles and VTA buses. VTA Board is controlled by south county, and no resource ever comes easily to Palo Alto from them, though VTA does love to collect our tax dollars.

It is unfortunate that the communications leading up to the meeting failed to include CM Cormack. That was not considerate of a colleague, and I am sorry to hear it. Council should have done better on that front, and I hope they will going forward.

I have been involved in decades of Shuttle advocacy. CM Cormack claims to have been a "long-time" advocate, but I never seen her at meetings related to City Shuttles until she decided to run for Council. Even then, she didn't have much to say. In her campaign she talked about increasing local bus service, but she didn't seem to have a plan to accomplish that goal. Since she has been on Council she voted to cut the Shuttle-- a decision that permanently closed a contract with Caltrain that partly funded our local Shuttle. (Caltrain helped to pay for the Shuttle over the years because its routes and schedules served to get local riders to the trains.) Getting that funding back will be difficult, if not impossible.

While I greatly appreciate Gail Price' service to our community, I strongly disagree that CM Cormack would serve us as well in this role. She has little experience with VTA --an unfriendly, behemoth bureaucracy that requires deep experience and connections to navigate (sadly). Even Vice Mayor Burt, with his VTA and PTC experience, will have a very tough row to hoe with them as minority member of the board.

North county cities should not have to share a seat. We need more fair and consistent representation on the VTA Board. Currently, south county cities, particularly San Jose, abuse their majority.

10 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 14, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Speaking as a Woman: thank you for sharing what you observed regarding CM Cormack and the shuttle program. I tend to question claims made by politicians b/c they are so often self-serving. And often exaggerations. Of particular amusement are the lists touting involvement on commissions and committees. Being named as a committee or commission member is relevant only if one actually attends nearly all the meetings and fully engages on behalf of the community. Absent that, a name on a list is just a name on a list. Again, thank you!

10 people like this
Posted by Speaking as a woman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2021 at 1:28 pm

Speaking as a woman is a registered user.

I was not commenting on CM Cormack's committee attendance. Generally, she fulfills her commitments. I was reacting to her being characterized as a "long-time" advocate for the Shuttle. If that's true, she has not been visible or effective. Over decades of Shuttle advocacy work, I cannot remember seeing her in any Shuttle meetings until she made the decision to run. If she said anything of importance, I don't remember what it was and I usually keep notes on useful comments that come up in these meetings. At the time of her campaign, her campaign comments on the subject didn't reflect understanding of the complexities of route planning/scheduling and inter-agency politics of Shuttle (and other transit) funding and expansion.

That's not to say she can't learn. I'm simply saying that, at this moment, we need someone who already understands how things work. CM Burt is far better equipped for this role in this critical moment.

4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2021 at 5:12 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Finally some good news.

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