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tv   NBC Bay Area News at 11  NBC  May 3, 2012 11:00pm-11:35pm PDT

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they're getting something for nothing. while you foot the bill. our investigative unit exposes more than a million of your tax dollars being wasted by south bay bureaucrats. but first -- >> i don't know. we don't know. we just saw a fire. >> seconds to spare. a woman escapes a massive fire that rips through san jose homes. shattering winds and burning through everything in its path.
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>> the cell phone video, capturing the drama. in seconds, a flame engulfed a home and the home next door. this was happening in a quiet residential neighborhood in west san jose. how extensive is the damage and how shaken up are the residents? >> reporter: very shaken up, raj. at the height of the fire, there were 55 firefighters right here. right now, they are in cleanup mode. i've been told, even though the fire is out, it's still hot inside. and the firefighters are worried about putting out some of the flames. when firefighters first arrived, they were worried about containing the blaze to one home. but it did spread to one house next door. and the house you see here, burned to the ground. >> everything is gone.
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>> reporter: denise michaelson says she was cooking dinner when her house went up in flames. >> we don't know. it just caught on fire. >> reporter: san jose firefighters started getting calls around 8:30 evening. smoke and flames could be seen for miles. >> it was full of smoke and he wasn't there. >> we have one person that was looked at for smoke inhalation. but they treated and released. >> reporter: witnesses say they heard two explosions. it seemed as though the house was destroyed in a matter of seconds. >> we try to contain the fire to the house of origin and not let it spread. and the fire didn't extend to the houses right next to it.
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>> reporter: with all this devastation that you see here, it's a miracle that no one was hurt. the chief tells me, there's been a lot of fires in san jose this week. he says it's a good time for people to remind people to make sure that people are working in their homes. the cause of this fire is still under investigation. >> terrifying scene toward santo mass and 280. if you see breaking news, send us your video and pictures. you can send it to the e-mail address right there. now, to a story you'll see only on nbc bay area news. tonight, a hidden camera investigation. your tax dollars built santa clara county's light rail system. >> but many riders cheat the
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system and avoid paying to ride. tony kovaleski is following your money tonight. >> reporter: are the executives at vta responsibly managing our tax dollars. our investigation has found vta ignoring the system failure. and chooses not to fix a problem that's costing it more than $1 million each year. >> did you buy a ticket today? you ride without paying? >> of course. >> reporter: it's a 42-mile light rail system, paid with your tax dollars. one penny out of every dollar spent in santa clara county, adds up to $172 million for light rail each year. he's the general manager.
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are you confident you're managing the tax dollars the way taxpayers would want? >> yes. >> reporter: money used to significantly lower the cost of tickets for more than 10 million riders each year. >> the system is based on a premise that people are honest. >> reporter: but our hidden camera investigation, finds that many vta riders don't buy tickets. bypassing the ticket machine, boarding the train and never paying to ride light rail. >> have you ever gotten caught? no? >> reporter: during the past two months, nbc bay area staff members spent 100 hours riding the light rail. on an investigation that covered more than 1,200 miles of train tracks. testing every day of the week. >> friday, ail 13th.
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i'm at the san fernando station. >> reporter: riding in the early morning, midday and at night. >> they don't usually check at night? how often do you ride? >> every day. >> they never check after they're done this way. they never check it. i've been on with the security guard. and they never check. >> reporter: our hidden cameras found experts. regular riders experienced in gaming vta's light rail system. >> that's what i use. >> i'd put $20 on it to keep it. >> reporter: by not scanning her clipper card when expecters don't check it, she admits she rides for free. >> you show them your clipper card. >> reporter: rider after rider told our camera how to beat
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vta's system. how to ride for free. >> if you stop, like at a stop, and you get on, you can get off. >> just get on. to the door. and you just get out. that's what i do. >> and you walk on, they don't check it. >> you try again, your ticket just running. >> reporter: and our review of vta records also raises the questions about the impact of the fare inspectors. >> i don't see them often. once or twice, like a month. >> how many hours have you worked today? >> eight hours. >> you've already worked eight. >> uh-huh. >> you're done? >> how many tickets? >> two tickets. >> two tickets. >> reporter: records show vta fare inspectors only check 24 tickets an hour. >> i never see them over here.
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going back this way. >> reporter: all of vta's records found, when inspectors inspect a fare evader, 70% of the time they don't issue a citation. only a warning. it's leading to vta having the highest fare evasion in the nation. sacramento's evasion rate, less than 2%. caltrain, only 0.1%. vta's fare evasion rate, 7.2%. should the average taxpayer be outraged about what we found? >> i think they should be concerned. >> reporter: by all indications, vta's management has ignored this problem for a long time. >> i think it would be great if they did something about the
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situation. >> reporter: you are running a system that has a fare evasion rate of 7.2%. is that acceptable? >> it's not acceptable. >> reporter: it appears the fare evasion problem is not a priority here. >> it is a priority. >> reporter: with all due respect, your numbers don't show it's a priority. >> i disagree with you. >> reporter: you're the worst of the region. >> what does that mean? >> reporter: here's why priority comes into question. a half-dozen bay area staff numbers road for 2,200 hours. a total of 1,200 miles. and vta inspectors asked us to prove we purchased tickets four times. what does that say? >> one of several things. either the fare inspectors aren't doing a good enough job. >> reporter: ultimately, a review of vta's records and our hidden camera investigation, exposed a culture in question. at vta's current rate of fare
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evasion, our analysis shows the agency allows more than $1 million in free riders every year. do you think you should change the culture? >> i think riders should expect they're going to be checked. >> reporter: that's not a reality on vta. >> you asked what i expect. >> i've been checked three or four times. >> really? >> i don't buy them anymore. >> reporter: your culture has not created that expectation. >> i recognize that our fare evasion rate is higher than it should be. >> reporter: taxpayers want to know you're going to take this information and fix the problem. can you say that? >> i can say absolutely i will do everything that we can to reduce fare evasion, within the resources that we have. >> reporter: vta disagrees with the lost revenue calculations. in san francisco, muni had a
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high fare evasion rate. managers there used xigsing resources and lowered its number of free riders. if you are caught riding vta without a ticket, it can be expensive. 260 bucks. a culture they need to address. will they address it? we'll keep watching. >> very good investigation. >> if you have a tip for our investigative unit, we want to hear from you. call 888-996-tips. new at 11:00, morgan hill police held a community meeting tonight to address the fears and concerns of residents in the wake of the disappearance of sierra lamar. martial arts instructors held a self-defense class. don't text while walking to your car in the dark. it is possible sierra's disappearance could have been prevented with self-defense
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training. >> if she got into somebody's car. if she knew what we were telling them, don't ever get into somebody's car. i would rather take a gunshot wound than get into a car because i'll probably never be seen again. >> the search continues, as dozens of volunteers search in an effort to find the missing teenager. she's been missing for months. but tonight, she's been found safe. how two workers in the south bay accidentally found a teen who was on a missing persons list. a south bay school official is behind bars, accused of molesting a minor. and the yahoo! ceo in hot water. passing showers today. forecast tomorrow gets a lot brighter. we'll talk about that 80-degree
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heat and how long it losts.
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a botched jewelry heist turns deadly into vallejo. the suspect walked to the jewelry store around noon. the suspect jumped over the counter, pulled a gun and walked back towards the office. the store's owner, in turn, grabbed his own gun and killed the suspect. the alleged robber has been described as a 37-year-old man from hercules. another story involving the vta tonight. a vta employee is credited with
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saving a teenage girl. he talked to us about the moment before deputies arrested a santa clara man. merced pacheco was arrested. we learned the 16-year-old victim was with pacheco on tuesday, when she confided in a vta fare inspector at the orchard light rail system in downtown san jose. the fare inspector describes his run-in with the girl. >> she said, he's holding me. what do you mean by holding you? and she said, well, we he won't let me go anywhere. he's just keeping me. he's just not letting me go. >> reporter: investigators are trying to determine whether the relationship between pacheco and the girl started out as consensual. scandal has rocked the san jose high school again.
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and the principal is in jail, accused of molesting a student. the allegations come on the heels of a cheating scandal back in march. police arrested 32-year-old on campus yesterday. the school district says the alleged sexual assault on a student happened off campus back in december. he is charged with activities, like rallies and clubs. >> i believe everybody would be shocked in a situation like this. you know? totally something you don't expect to happen at a campus. >> in addition, the school's principal and another assistant principal had been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. be careful what you put on
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your resume. yahoo! is on damage control, after its ceo admitted to an embarrassing mistake. he said it was a mistake. but a disgruntled shareholder. george, what's going to happen? >> reporter: you know, yahoo! is standing by its man tonight. saying the company is moving forward. but one yahoo! investor wants thompson to explain himself. >> what's happening is -- >> reporter: just four months after taking over the reins at yahoo! scott thompson finds himself in a battle over his past, and a test in his credibility. one of the investors wrote this letter to the board of directors, claiming thompson lied about having a college degree in computer science, when he did not lobe is asking thompson to come up with a good explanation.
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san jose state business ethics professor said thompson might find himself in a pickle. he graduated in 1979, four years before the college began giving computer science degrees. >> you violate the trust that people tend to initially put in you. >> and he found him later. >> reporter: yahoo! determined thompson does not have a computer science degree. just an accounting degree. the tech company stands by their man. saying in a statement, this, in no no way alters the fact that mr. thompson is a highly-qualified executive i, with a successful track record. in his letter to the board of directors, david lopes said, it undermined his credibility as a technology expert. and reflects poorly on the character of the ceo, who has been tasked with leading yahoo!
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at this critical juncture. >> reporter: he wants the board of directors to take immediate reaction. it's not clear if that means removal. let's turn things over to jeff, who joins us at the weather board. is there a change for us? another equalization, of the temperatures that have been out of whack for the past two years. it's been hard-pressed to find a normal season. right now, the doppler raider is finding low-level moisture across the hills in the east bay. can't rule out drizzle for tonight. and noticeably, out behind the frontal system, it's humid. we have 61 in sunnyvale and 56 in san mateo, a lot warmer out there at the current moment. what you find in san francisco, we do have that low cloud cover and the fog. and drizzle happening across the
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golden gate bridge. there it is right now. the task controls some kind of those of you who travel over the bay bridge will probably have a slower than normal commute with the fog. most of us will undergo the clearing as you head throughout the morning hours. it will stay dry, and eventually, hope you're ready for 80-degree heat. there's some back in the forecast with a big warm-up. all courtesy of the high pressure region we had last weekend. it's not going to get as hot to give us 90-degree heat. but just enough offshore that we think the temperatures will warm up some 20 to 25 degrees. from what we experienced today. and the dry breeze, throughout saturday and sunday, will lower humidity it swings offshore and potentially increase our fire
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danger. with the stagnant air in place, not good. most of the high atmosphere. uniform temperatures no start off on our friday. tgif. watch out for the fog. we'll finish out friday with 69 in san jose. 68 in sunnyvale. a few 70s in the south bay from los gatos to morgan hill. we'll try to warm things back up in the east bay. 70 in pleasanton. and 66 in the castro valley. going to be a mix in the higher elevations. down here in the valleys, santa rosa, close to 70. and one of the warmest temperatures could be in wine country with 73 in napa. we're going to keep things on the warm side saturday and sunday. it will continue into monday. beach day with an exclamation. >> you were talking about that earlier. there is no question. a beach day in the bay area.
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>> we're going to the beach. >> thanks, jeff. >> sure. it is the coolest dorm on a. but part two to the story we showed you last night. - ( music playing ) - we know technology can make you more connected. but now it can make you more connected to your doctor through e-mail. test results from home. check records. change appointments. now doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists are all digitally connected to each other. and ultimately connected to you. at kaiser permanente, we believe that if knowledge is power, shared knowledge is even more powerful. kaiser permanente. thrive.
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welcome back to nbc bay area. you know, this season the giants have been much too familiar with the disabled list. first, it was brian wilson. then, it was aubrey huff. now, it's the biggest bat that will be out for at least a
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month. panda is gone for a while. pablo sandoval is expected to miss four to six weeks after breaking a bone in his hand. sandoval broke the same bone last season and missed a total of 41 games. a huge blow to the orange and block. >> i feel for him. particularly the way he's been playing and swinging the bat. it's a tough loss for four to six weeks. but it's the right thing to do. let's get this thing taken care of. we'll have surgery tomorrow on it. we'll have to move forward and maintain hopefully better until he gets back. >> today was a tough day for me. i traveled early. and i'll try to do the best i can for right now, until i get my feet underneath me.
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just play hard and do the best job i can. >> you know the show must go on. giants looking to avoid a sweep by miami. sanchez coming off two-straight shutouts against the g-men. he was cruising today. fish up 2-0. connor bloops to center. blanco falls on his way to third. when it rains it pours. they get out of the jam. next batter, melky cabrera grounds into the 3-6-3 double play. blanco scores. giants cut the lead to one. bottom of the seventh. schierholtz grounds out. now, 3-1 fish in the eighth. blanco at third. cabrera grounds out the blanco scores. too little, too late. marlins win, 3-2 is your final. bob boldsby is stepping down as stanford's athletic director
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to become the new commissioner at the big 12 conference. in case you're wondering, i applied for the job. they did you don't know anything about sports. it hurt my feels. i'm going to cry tonight. >> i want to see henry hanging at the stanford campus. that would be nice. >> i'm not allowed on campus anywhere anymore. >> thanks for that, henry. rek >> m b at.inenomac
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an update to the u.c. berkeley student with a tricked out dormroom. he could be in trouble. he's derek lowe, the freshman at cal, who decorated his room with all of the bells and whistles, a disco ball, the ability to turn lights on and off on command. he posted his video on youtube. u.c. officials may not be ina r
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inamored with his innovation. he may have the last laugh, he plans to move offcampus in a week. >> after he has a massive party, with the disco ball and the lights that turn on and off. >> electrical engineering degree to work. thanks for watching us today. >> we'll see you tomorrow. [ birds chirping ]
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