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By Tim Hunt

BART employees at "work"

Uploaded: Sep 6, 2012

While riding BART into the city to check out a unique beer bar and store south of Market in San Francisco, we witnessed government in action.
We were asked to vacate the second car of the train—no explanation given. One station later, a BART mechanic boarded the train and walks into the second car to check out the problem. The floor was wet—presumably something was going on with a leaking air conditioning unit.
Pulling his trusty duct tape, he blocked off two rows of seats and then departed at the station, leaving the water on the floor.
Once we hit San Francisco, the train is held up at Embarcadero so the clean-up person could come on board—mop In hand—to clean up the water. That person departs one station later, removing the duct tape and all is good on car No. 2. Why the duct tape whiz could not have brought a couple of towels aboard and mopped up remains a mystery although, perhaps, it has to do with BART union work rules.
After our sojourn with the City Beer Store —some unique offerings including a pink beer made with honey in the style of mead, a chardonnay barrel-infused sour beer and a couple of splendid Belgian offerings—we walked a few blocks back to the BART Civic Center station.
Walking down the stairs at Market and Eighth streets, I was struck just how filthy and shabby the stairs into the station were. Just awful—nothing like I've seen at the valley stations or Davis Street in San Leandro. Whatever manager owns maintenance at that station needs to be given a few weeks to shape it up or find another gig.
SWITCHING TO MORE PLEASANT TOPICS: When it opens just in time for holiday shopping this November, the Paragon Factory Outlets in Livermore will transform the Livermore Valley's retail scene.
For years, Stoneridge mall has defined shopping for a decent chunk of the East Bay south of Walnut Creek with its selection of major department stores.
The outlets, which will be the most upscale in Northern California, change the dynamic. The 543,000-square-foot center will house 120 outlets and is fully leased. Developers already are considering adding additional buildings.
The lineup includes retailers such as Prada, Armani, Coach, Bloomingdales, Barneys of New York, Banana Republic, Cole Haan, J. Crew, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger, to name just a few. It will be the only East Bay location for Bloomingdales and Barneys, which also had an outlet store in Napa as well as two in Southern California. Bloomingdale's has department store locations in Stanford and downtown San Francisco, but Livermore will be its first outlet location in California.
When the center is fully operational, Livermore officials estimate it will generate $2 million in sales tax revenue for the city as well as crate the valley's first destination retail center. Whether that destination will encourage greater tourism of the wine country to the east is a question that time will answer.