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December 16, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, December 16, 2005

Perry wins nod for VTA seat Perry wins nod for VTA seat (December 16, 2005)

By Jon Wiener

Greg Perry has made a lot of enemies in his three years on city council. Tuesday night, his friends came out in force.

A parade of supporters praised Perry's tenacity and pressed his colleagues to appoint him to the board of the Valley Transportation Authority.

Local resident Eli Goldberg said he has "the best grasp of transportation policy of any public official I've ever met."

Eugene Bradley, founder of the Mountain View-based VTA Riders Union, even compared Perry to Joe Montana "in the Super Bowl that is the VTA."

Even council gadfly Don Letcher voiced his support.

The council's decision to appoint Perry over Laura Macias, by a vote of 6-1, is certain to stir things up at the agency starting in January.

"I'm looking forward to Mountain View having a real vote," said Perry. "I don't know how many votes I'll win or lose. Wish me luck."

Perry has already been stirring things up at the VTA. In three years serving on the agency's Policy Advisory Board, he marshaled opposition to the BART-to-San-Jose project and increased scrutiny of the agency's poor efficiency ratings. He has been openly critical of the board of directors at their meetings, and became such a lightning rod that he was a target -- along with five others -- of what his supporters saw as an attempt by the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group to purge the VTA of all dissent.

Last January, Manufacturing Group CEO Carl Guardino sent a letter to Mayor Matt Neely encouraging him to remove Perry. A few months later, Guardino led a group of men (who refused to identify themselves) in shouting down a press conference Perry was holding, outside a BART panel from which he had been uninvited.

Macias, who had also expressed an interest in the position, withdrew her nomination before the vote because she wanted the winner to have the unanimous support of the council.

Council member Mike Kasperzak did not oblige, however, casting the lone dissenting vote. Kasperzak had harshly criticized Perry earlier this year over his outspokenness on the advisory board, helping decide the vice mayor election in favor of Nick Galiotto.

On Tuesday, Kasperzak once again said Perry would be too divisive a figure. Other council members hinted they were also concerned about that possibility, but in voting for him they cited Perry's familiarity with the subject matter and his success in drawing attention to the agency's shortcomings.

This February, the VTA board will vote on a plan to put a new sales tax measure on the ballot to fund its embattled BART-to-San-Jose project.

Despite ultimately voting for Perry, council members chastised members of the public who had derided Macias' qualifications and commitment to transportation issues.

Macias said she was "taken aback" by the tone of the speakers, but added, "I was pleased that my fellow council members supported me so publicly."


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