11-27-08Merced Sun-StarArmy Corps of Engineers wants input on UC Merced changesSmaller footprint seeks to pass environmental challenges...DANIELLE GAINEShttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/567924.htmlThe public is invited to comment on environmental issues resulting from the expansion of the UC Merced campus at a meeting on campus Tuesday evening. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is collecting comments about the latest draft environmental impact report released by the university. That report cites decreased environmental issues as the result of a smaller campus footprint, unveiled in other planning documents earlier this month. After a series of environmental concerns, the university reduced the size of its campus and accompanying student neighborhoods to 2,766 acres from 3,025 acres.Buildings have been shifted to the south and east to create the "environmentally least-damaging alternative," according to paperwork filed with the Army Corps. The federal agency has been closely involved with the university's plans to build and expand because it oversees the nation's waterways.Because there will still be some damage to natural wetlands, the Corps must issue development permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act after a public comment period. About 85 acres of water-bodies, including Cottonwood Creek, Le Grand Canal, Fairfield Canal and unnamed wetlands, ponds and creeks, will be eliminated by continued campus development, according to a Corps document.Under the larger campus footprint, 121 acres were affected.A public comment period on the draft environmental impact report will continue through Jan. 5, 2009. Community members can attend the meeting or e-mail their comments to UCMerced@usace.army.mil.Modesto BeeMeasure S ballots get another look...Tim Moranhttp://www.modbee.com/local/story/513814.htmlMeasure S proponents will ask for a partial recount of the Nov. 4 vote to try to find enough votes to put the transportation sales tax over the top.Measure S would add a half-cent to the sales tax in Stanislaus County to pay for road and transportation projects. It needed two-thirds approval to pass and came whisker-close, at 66.42 percent.Bill Bassitt, chief executive officer of the Stanislaus County Economic Development and Workforce Alliance and treasurer of the Yes on S committee, said the committee would ask the county elections office to re-examine rejected provisional ballots, ballots that didn't register a vote one way or the other on Measure S, and selected precincts to see if the needed votes can be found.The measure fell 383 votes short in the final canvass. But if the recount checks ballots that weren't counted in the canvass, that could add to the vote total and add up to the number of votes needed to reach the two-thirds level.The measure may need at least 1,190 extra votes in favor to catch up to the two-thirds level as votes are added to the total.And if the committee wants to overturn the official election result, the election code says it will have to order a complete -- and costly -- recount of all the Measure S votes cast, County Clerk Lee Lundrigan said.Bassitt said Wednesday afternoon that he was unaware of the requirement for a countywide recount to change the official result, but added that the committee would proceed with the partial recount anyway. If the results show the measure is gaining enough votes, the committee will ask for the full recount, he said."We won't pay to have the whole thing recounted unless there is a sufficient reason to do so, based on movement in the uncounted ballots," Bassitt said.The ballots with no vote cast for Measure S totaled 7,390. The recount would examine those ballots to see if the electronic voting machines skipped some voting marks that were too lightly colored or ignored someone writing "yes" instead of filling in the oval.The recount would focus on precincts with a high number of such ballots, Bassitt said.About 1,400 provisional ballots were uncounted, Lun-drigan said, mostly because the people casting them weren't registered to vote, or were registered in a different county or state.Lundrigan said her office spent a great deal of time and effort to make sure the vote was accurate, but added that people have the right to challenge the results with a recount if they are willing to pay for it.Money for the recount will come from the Yes on S committee, and from previous donors to the campaign if necessary, Bassitt said. No public money will be used to pay for the recount, he said.A hand recount costs $625 per four-person board per day, according to Lundrigan. A full county recount would take six to 10 such boards working for weeks, she said.Bassitt said the elections office couldn't give the Yes on S committee an estimate of the cost, because the time involved hasn't been determined."It depends on how deeply we get into it," Bassitt said. "If there is any movement at all, we will keep going, but if it remains the same, we will pull out."The decision to ask for the recount came because so many county voters supported the measure, he said."We feel there is a pretty low likelihood of a turnaround. But when close to two-thirds of the voters support the measure, the committee feels an obligation to do everything we can."County Supervisor Jeff Grover, another Yes on S committee member, said the recount is not a reflection on the county elections office."We have been impressed with the thoroughness of the elections department. We really have an obligation to be as thorough as possible, and we are going to pursue this," Grover said.Grover noted Tuesday that if Measure S fails, it would be a number of years before the issue could be brought to a vote again.Fresno BeeNot so fast: Valley high-speed rail plan still needs cash...Russell Clemingshttp://www.fresnobee.com/local/v-printerfriendly/story/1039634.htmlNow that California voters have approved $9 billion for a network of 220-mph trains, the system's sponsors are aiming at an even bigger prize -- $12 billion to $16 billion from the federal government. The voters may not have realized it, but the bond issue they narrowly authorized Nov. 4 will cover scarcely 25% of the estimated $33.6 billion cost of the system's first phase, from San Francisco to Anaheim via Fresno, Bakersfield and Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the 52.4% yes vote was enough to boost the spirits of high-speed rail proponents and -- in combination with the upcoming Washington power shift -- raise hopes that more money will be coming soon, perhaps even in an economic stimulus bill now under discussion. "All of a sudden we're popular," said former state senator and Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board of directors. The fast trains also hold potential to breathe new life into long-struggling places such as downtown Fresno, where a high-speed rail station is planned, most likely along the Union Pacific corridor near Chukchansi Park. If and when it is built, high-speed rail "will ultimately change our task from focusing on attracting development to accommodating development, which is a happy transition," said Marlene Murphey, executive director of the Fresno Redevelopment Agency. But with a bankroll amounting to a fraction of what it eventually needs, the rail authority isn't ready to call its plan a sure thing yet. Three days after the election, the authority published an update of its 8-year-old business plan. It estimated construction costs at $23.5 billion in 2008 dollars, plus $3.2 billion to $4 billion for trains and about $6.1 billion for design work, rights of way and other expenses. Besides the $9 billion authorized by Proposition 1A and the hoped-for $12 billion to $16 billion in federal funds, the authority also is counting on $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion from pension funds and other investors, plus $2 billion to $3 billion from local governments along the route. If it all comes together, the plan says, the authority will be ready for final design and construction in 2012, a little more than three years from now. But that's a big if. Among its other provisions, Prop. 1A forbids any spending on construction until all funding is confirmed. As a result, just days after the state bonds were approved, the authority turned its attention to getting another big share from Washington. "That's our singular focus now, and it will be the focus of our Dec. 3 board meeting," Kopp said. How to secure that funding is anything but clear. To start with, California is unlikely to be the only state seeking federal help with high-speed rail. An Amtrak reauthorization bill that President George W. Bush signed in October puts the state in competition with 10 other potential high-speed rail corridors for a pool of money currently limited to a modest $1.5 billion. The Washington-to-Boston corridor -- home to Amtrak's Acela, a sort-of-high-speed train that tops out at 150 mph -- is at the front of the line. California is fighting for second place with nine others, including virtually all of the nation's population centers from Florida to the Pacific Northwest. Still, the fact that California already has $9 billion authorized will help a lot, said Lynn Schenk, another authority board member and former member of Congress from San Diego: "One of the first things you have to show is that you have a state match." Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, a current San Joaquin Valley congressman and longtime high-speed rail advocate, predicts that any federal help will come in several chunks. Besides the Amtrak bill, Costa said, funds could come from other legislation on surface transportation and climate change as well as an economic stimulus bill intended to relieve the recent credit crunch and recession. "As difficult as this economic meltdown is, it also provides an opportunity," he said. "There is going to be an investment in our infrastructure in the next 18 months, and that bodes well for this project." Perhaps because it is so recent, and because it still isn't certain that the system actually will be built, the Prop>. 1A vote has had little effect so far on efforts to revive downtown Fresno. But Murphey nevertheless says local officials are "excited about the catalytic effect" that a high-speed rail station is likely to have downtown. "I think it's huge," she said. "For me it was the most important proposition on the ballot -- not just in this election but in many elections." One big downtown redevelopment effort, the South Stadium Project, would be a few hundred steps from the proposed Fresno high-speed rail station. Project developer Forest City Enterprises just issued an environmental report, available at fresnorda.com, outlining plans for a first phase of 767 apartments and 60,100 square feet of ground-floor shops. But the hurdles that remain for high-speed rail aren't just financial. For the next two or three years, the authority will be working to finish a series of environmental reports on the project. Soon, it also will issue contracts to begin some design work, Kopp said. At some future date, it will begin construction on the first section of track, extending about 160 miles from Merced to Bakersfield. The longest, flatest stretch of the proposed route, that segment is intended for use in testing trains at their maximum speed so that their use can be approved by federal regulators. The business plan doesn't mention a completion date for the initial San Francisco-to-Anaheim phase, just a 2030 target for the entire system. But the authority and other project advocates have pointed to 10 years from now as a goal. Whether that ambition is attainable or not, the authority is determined to move forward quickly now that the first piece of funding has been approved. Said Kopp: "We've got to hurry up." San Francisco ChroniclePass law to cut delta water use, panel says...Kelly Zitohttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/27/BAQJ14D25E.DTL&type=printableOver the next two years, California should pass laws cutting water consumption by 20 percent, shore up strategic levees, study new reservoirs and pass Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's $9 billion-plus water bond, according to a set of preliminary recommendations released Wednesday by a Cabinet-level panel.The Delta Vision Committee, charged with advising policy makers on the future of the failing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, said the proposals are aimed at spurring discussions among committee members and stakeholders who will gather Dec. 5 in Sacramento.In addition to authorizing additional funding and bolstering infrastructure, the committee proposed designating the delta a National Heritage Area, increasing the state's supply of recycled and desalinated water and cracking down on water permits violators. Water rights permits ostensibly set the amount of water that may be diverted from any water source.The preliminary proposals grew out of a 20-month study by the independent, governor-appointed Delta Blue Ribbon Task Force. Last month, the task force, comprised of scientists, policy experts and planners, set two, equal, over-arching goals for work on the delta: Restoration of the ecosystem and the creation of a stable water supply for California.Now, the Delta Vision Committee must decide which nuts-and-bolts steps to include in its recommendations to the governor and Legislature by Dec. 31.The delta, a 1,300-square-mile estuary, acts as a giant funnel, delivering water - mostly from the north - to approximately 25 million Californians, many of them in Central and Southern California. Over the last several years, lawmakers, scientists and water users have watched, unnerved, as water quality has deteriorated and fish populations crashed.Adding insult to injury, the delta is now embroiled in drought and a legal fight pitting environmental interests against operators of the federal and state pumps that send water to cities and farmlands statewide.Taking steps to mend the delta would aid farmers, cities and wildlife alike.However, some critics contend the ambitious effort echoes that of CalFed, a coordinating body formed in the mid-1990s that held many of the same goals as the Delta Vision group. According to the delta task force's analysis, lack of leadership and accountability doomed many of CalFed's initiatives.Online resourcesTo read the full report, go to: links.sfgate.com/ZFNH Severance, new UC job for aide in pay scandal...Jim Doylehttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/27/MNBB14D1B4.DTL&type=printableThe University of California's governing Board of Regents, struggling last week to avert drastic state budget cuts and forestall tuition increases, approved a $100,202 severance package for Linda Williams, a close aide to former UC President Robert Dynes and a figure in the university's 2005 salary scandal.The severance is being paid to Williams several months after she left her job in the UC Office of the President in Oakland and took a higher-paying position on May 1 a few miles away at the UC Berkeley campus.Her payout was granted last Thursday - one day after the regents spent hours discussing and decrying Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal for $65.5 million in midyear UC budget cuts. Linda Morris Williams - no relation to UC Berkeley film Professor Linda Williams - is one of 155 former employees of the UC president's office to receive severance payments under a voluntary termination program designed to shrink the office's payroll this year.Williams and 15 others who took the buyout were re-employed at new jobs within UC's 10-campus system. By the rulesUnder the program's rules, severance pay of $100,000 or higher requires approval by the regents. Williams' case appears to be the only payout exceeding that figure. "This is an outrage," said state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, a frequent critic of the university's executive pay practices. "I will call on the UC regents to return that money. This is the public's money."They tax the students to extract every nickel and dime out of their pockets in order for them to pay a severance package for someone to move across the hallway," Romero said "I would question whether this is legal, and if it is legal, I would call on them to change their rules. This is wrong. How do we primp and pamper the UC's top executives for changing offices?"University officials defended Williams' severance pay, saying that she was offered the same deal as other employees in the president's office. The program, adopted by the regents, does not require employees to repay or forgo their severance if they are rehired within the UC system.Regents Chairman Richard Blum said the university system had an obligation to pay Williams the fee."Whatever agreements were made in the past, there are a number of ones we are clearly uncomfortable with," Blum said. "I don't know the merits of the case, but on the surface it's worrisome. ... It was done under a different administration."Brad Hayward, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President, said, "Ms. Williams was subject to the same terms as others. ... This was an effort to reduce the (office's) staffing and budget ... and minimize the need for layoffs. The goal was to downsize the central administrative operations."Hayward said 155 employees participated in the severance program and "our estimate is that, on an ongoing basis, that will save about $5 million a year in spending. ... The program put no pre-conditions on where people went afterward."Veteran employeeWilliams, who has worked for the UC system for about 20 years, became a member of Dynes' inner circle when he served as chancellor of UC San Diego. She moved to Oakland as a senior adviser once Dynes assumed the UC presidency in 2003. A scandal erupted in 2005 when The Chronicle reported that millions of dollars in bonuses and extra compensation had been paid to UC executives without public disclosure or approval from the Board of Regents and appeared to violate standing policies. Williams was among those for whom Dynes made exceptions in granting perks they were not normally entitled to. For instance, Williams received a $44,467 relocation allowance, apparently in violation of university policy. This was in addition to reimbursing her up to $12,000 of actual costs for the move from San Diego to Oakland.To entice Williams and a colleague to join Dynes at the UC system's Oakland headquarters, Dynes also made an exception to policy by allowing the two to receive low-interest home loans. The subsidized mortgage loans are normally available only to senior managers and faculty, according to UC's Web site. Williams received a loan of $832,500.Williams, whose salary under Dynes was $190,625 in the 2006-07 fiscal year, now makes $200,400 as associate chancellor of UC Berkeley, where she is in charge of government-community relations and such things as a whistle-blower program, emergency response and public records requests."I know that when you look at it from the outside, it looks like a sweetheart deal - until you look at the timeline and sequence of events," said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof. "I think she's clearly entitled to every penny. What she did was consistent with the spirit and letter of the program."Said she didn't know of jobWilliams said in a written statement provided to The Chronicle by Mogulof that she was unaware that a potential job would open up for her at the UC chancellor's office when she applied for the "voluntary separation program (VSP)" in January 2008."At the time of my VSP application the Associate Chancellor position on the Berkeley campus was not open and therefore played no role whatsoever in my decision making," Williams wrote. "Having said that, I was thrilled when the opportunity arose to join the Berkeley team, and I am very grateful that I am able to continue my career in service to the university and the people of California."Romero cried foul."We're tired of all these corporate scandals in the UC system," Romero said. "This sounds like a clear handout from the students' pockets to the executives' pockets at a time when many students' families are facing unemployment and foreclosures. If the UC can hand out these severances at a whim, then they shouldn't be asking for bailouts." Los Angeles TimesProject brings unusual merger of union bosses and environmentalistsThe Clean Trucks program has brought about an alliance between union leaders and activists in an attempt to clean up the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. But some truck drivers are unhappy about the ...Evelyn Larrubiahttp://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-green27-2008nov27,0,1393642,print.story"If we are to prosper as a nation," Teamsters head James Hoffa Jr., told union members in Oakland in July, "our future lies in a green economy." That might seem like an unusual declaration for a union leader. But then, Hoffa went a step further in announcing that Teamsters was abandoning its push for oil drilling in the Arctic.Environmental activists and union bosses are known for their rancor. They have historically held opposite positions on key issues -- drilling in fragile environments, nuclear power, logging ancient forests -- pitting jobs against the environment. But that was before the values of the environmental movement were adopted by mainstream society, before union membership began to plunge and manufacturing jobs were exported overseas."In the old days when labor had more power, they didn't need . . . to bother with other organizations," said Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor and labor expert with UCLA. "Now they're struggling to survive and they're fighting to rebuild."Los Angeles is at the forefront of this trend, turning a concept into an actual project at the region's two ports: the newly minted Clean Trucks program, which is being watched as a possible model for other cities.Environmentalists had for years sought to reduce the cancer-causing pollution coming from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach -- the source of a quarter of the smog in the Los Angeles basin. They made large strides cleaning up the ships, but reducing the tons of diesel emissions spewed by the port's notoriously aged truck fleet was proving a tougher nut to crack.At the same time, various unions had tried to organize drivers at the port, who they say make about $30,000 a year as independent contractors without time off, health insurance or other benefits. There were strikes and protests, but no union ever formed. The truckers didn't legally work for anybody. Shipping companies act as middlemen between the shippers and the truckers, who own their trucks. In 2006, labor leaders say they approached environmentalists with a deal that would make both their goals possible: truckers had to become employees of firms, which could be petitioned for higher wages and benefits and required to buy cleaner trucks and held to maintenance standards."That was a game-changer," said Todd Campbell, former policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air and still a board member. The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a nonprofit closely tied to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, brought together the Teamsters and Unite Here with the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Coalition for Clean Air. It also pulled in neighbors, community groups, advocates for asthma sufferers and the NAACP, ultimately building a coalition of 50 groups. "The labor movement brought more political capital to the table," said Madeline Janis, head of LAANE. "But the environmental movement brought a lot of political credibility to the table." It didn't hurt that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had promised to clean up the ports during his campaign and that the mayor appoints the harbor commissioners. Janis is one of his closest allies.The Clean Trucks program, which went into effect last month, will reduce cancer-causing diesel pollution by banning older trucks. In five years diesel trucks must meet 2007 clean-air standards to pick up cargo at both ports. And in 2012, trucking companies will be required, through concessionaire agreements, to employ all of their truckers to work at the port of Los Angeles. The trucking companies and the shippers have filed legal challenges against the plan both in the courts and at the Federal Maritime Commission in Washington, D.C. They contend that it violates federal law to require trucking companies to be concessionaires to work at the port.Curtis Whalen of the American Trucking Assn. said the employee requirement is unnecessary to clean the air because the truckers can be required to provide maintenance as part of the financing of the new trucks.He also accuses the Teamsters of understating the port truckers' average income by more than $10,000 a year."It's a very strange alliance," Whalen said. "Unfortunately, I think the environmental and health community has been hoodwinked on this." If the plan survives the legal challenges, clean-air and labor activists in other cities across the nation would try to follow suit, several labor and environmental advocates said. If the coalition remains close, the groups could work together on other local issues.But already problems have arisen. Long Beach officials balked at the concession requirement, so trucking companies won't have to use employee-drivers there. Some truckers are unhappy that Los Angeles gave companies five years to move to employee-drivers. "With the salaries they're offering, it's hard for us to get too excited. Some are paying $14 an hour, others $15. The pay is too low," said Max Palma, 46, a Salvadoran immigrant who has been a trucker at the ports for 25 years. Likewise, environmentalists are disappointed that incentives for new trucks are going mostly to new diesel engines, undermining the goal to convert half the port fleet to zero-emission alternative-fuel vehicles. Of the 330 applications for the subsidies (financed with state bond and port fees), only 90 were for alternative-fuel trucks, which are more expensive. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, Coalition for Clean Air and others have signed letters asking port officials to improve the subsidy program.Mortgage rates fall, but many borrowers will have trouble qualifyingLow seasonal demand and high borrowing standards make a rush of new loans unlikely....Peter Y. Honghttp://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mortgage27-2008nov27,0,7160880,print.storyThe biggest savings for shoppers this holiday season may be in home mortgages, thanks to a decline in interest rates spurred at least in part by the latest federal financial rescue effort. But it's an open question whether consumers will actually want to take advantage of the cheaper loans -- or will be financially able to do so. In Southern California, rates on 30-year, fixed-rate home loans for $417,000 or less have fallen to about 5.25% -- down about half a percentage point from a week ago -- for borrowers with strong credit and cash for down payments, mortgage brokers say.Word of the lower rates came after the Federal Reserve on Tuesday announced a plan to purchase up to $600 billion of debt owed or guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. The Fed's goal is to lower mortgage rates by reducing the borrowing costs of the government-backed mortgage finance giants.Nationwide, average rates on 30-year, fixed-rate loans fell to 5.97% this week from 6.04% last week, marking the first drop below 6% since early October, Freddie Mac reported Wednesday. But this week's results are based on rates set Monday and Tuesday, so they probably don't fully reflect the Fed's announcement.The action is designed to prop up the ailing housing market, but it comes at a time of year when the real estate market traditionally hibernates as many sellers take their homes off the market for the holidays.Homeowners who want to refinance existing mortgages may be more likely to take advantage of the lower rates, but many people who bought during the real estate bubble won't be able to qualify for a new loan because they have little equity or are "upside down" -- owing more on their homes than they are worth. "I anticipate it will increase refinance activity, but there will be nothing dramatic," said Terrin Griffiths, an economist for the California Credit Union League, which represents credit unions in California and Nevada. Jeff Lazerson, a Laguna Niguel mortgage broker, said all the customer calls he received Tuesday were from people seeking to refinance, not buy homes. Many are trying to get out of adjustable-rate mortgages scheduled to reset to higher rates next year, he said. But most who called were rebuffed because they were upside down on their current mortgages or had credit scores too low to qualify."Out of all the people calling, about 30% at most can get help," Lazerson said. Adjustable-rate mortgages were especially popular in 2005 and 2006 because home buyers expected prices to continue to rise, enabling them to refinance before the loans reset. Instead, Southern California median home prices have tumbled and are now back to 2003 levels. Those lower home prices have been luring some buyers -- the number of homes sold in Southern California was up 56% in October from a dismal level a year earlier.But Griffiths, who said the Fed's action would keep rates low for many months, said the market would continue to struggle for two reasons: "People still need a down payment, and they have to have the nerve to buy in a declining market." To get the latest low interest rates, buyers can't have holes in their applications, Lazerson said. A 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for up to $417,000 was available at 5.25% on Wednesday to those who could put 25% down and had a credit score of 740 or more, he said. Such "conforming" loans are eligible to be purchased or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Borrowers with a 20% down payment and 720 credit score could get a 5.375% rate on such loans. The median U.S. credit score is 723.Loans between $417,000 and $729,000, which only recently became eligible to be purchased by Fannie or Freddie, are now called "conforming jumbos" and generally carry rates an eighth of a percentage point higher than traditional conforming mortgages, Lazerson said. Jumbo mortgages, those over $729,000, carry interest rates just under 8% and remain very difficult to obtain, Lazerson said. Because Fannie and Freddie can't buy jumbo loans, the rates on them are unlikely to be affected by the Fed's plan. 11-27-08Meetings12-1-08 Merced County Hearing Officer agenda...8:30 a.m.http://www.co.merced.ca.us/planning/pdf/hearing/2008/Agenda/120108.pdf 12-1-08 Merced City Council Redevelopment agenda...7:00 p.m.http://www.cityofmerced.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=6869Study Session 5:30 PM, Council Chambers 12-3-08 Merced Planning Commission agenda...9:00 a.m.http://www.co.merced.ca.us/planning/pdf/commissionarchive/2008/agendas/12-3-08%20Agenda.pdf 12-3-08 Merced City Planning Commission meeting...7:00 p.m.http://www.cityofmerced.org/depts/cityclerk/boards_n_commissions/planning_commission/2008_planning_commission/2008_planning_commission_agendas.aspAgendas are posted the Monday before a Wednesday Planning Commission Meeting MCAGhttp://www.mcagov.org/MCAG Seeks Public CommentsAvailability of Draft Amendment #3 to the 2009 FTIP, RTP Amendment #2 and Corresponding Draft Conformity Analysis for Interagency Consultation and Public Review http://www.mcagov.org/Tcomments.html· Notice to Interagency Consultation Partners and Public, Financial Plan, RTP Amendment #2, 2007 RTP for Merced County, Draft Public Notice, Draft Adoption Resolution · Attachment 1 - Project Tables· Attachment 4 - Draft Conformity Analysis· Public Notice - November 26, 2008The public review and comment period is open for 30 days commencing on November 26, 2008 and ending on December 26, 2008. A public hearing will be held on December 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM at The City of Merced, City Hall, Council Chambers, 678 W 18th Street, Merced. Comments are due by December 26, 2008 at 5:00 PM. The MCAG Board of Directors will consider the adoption of Amendment #3 to the 2009 Interim FTIP on January 15, 2009 at 3 PM at the City of Dos Palos, Council Chambers located at 1546 Golden Gate Avenue, Dos Palos, CA.In conclusion, the 2009 Interim FTIP and 2007 RTP as amended meet all applicable transportation planning requirements per 23 CFR Part 450, 40 CFR Part 93, and conforms to the applicable SIPs. If you have any questions or would like to submit comments, please contact: FTIP Contact: Terri Lewis, Associate PlannerMerced County Association of Governments369 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340(209) 723-3153, ext. 307 terri.lewis@mcagov.orgAir Quality        Conformity, RTP Contact:Matthew Fell, Senior PlannerMerced County Association of Governments369 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340(209) 723-3153, ext. 320matt.fell@mcagov.orgMCAG MeetingsDec 04 - Technical Planning Committee Meeting...10:00                a.m.                http://www.mcagov.org/tpc.html         05 - Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting...8:30                 a.m.                http://www.mcagov.org/cac.html         10 - Technical Review Board Meeting        16   Public Mtg., Atwater-Merced Expressway Draft EIR          18 - Governing Board Meeting Merced County Board of Supervisor meetingshttp://www.co.merced.ca.us/bos/index.htmlDec.  09          16 12-11-08 LAFCo agenda...10:00 a.m.http://www.lafcomerced.org/pdfs/2008/12_11_2008/Agenda/121108.pdf