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About this blog: A longtime newspaperman, I have been editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since it was launched Jan. 28, 2000. I was a reporter and Neighborhood News editor at the Chicago Tribune for 13 years, and previously a reporter for the Advance...  (More)

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Thorne is 'Pro-business and proud of it'

Uploaded: May 19, 2013
"I'm pro-business and I'm proud of it!"

With those words not heard from a Pleasanton mayor since Ken Mercer in the 1980s, Mayor Jerry Thorne spelled out his views and governing strategy to loud applause at a meeting last Friday of local Realtors and real estate-related professionals.

In fact, Thorne credited Mercer, who is Pleasanton's longest-serving mayor, for much of the development that continues to fuel the city's diversified tax base that includes Stoneridge Shopping Center, Hacienda Business Park and a number of successful housing developments that brought families, business professionals and quality schools to Pleasanton. That growth momentum stalled when no-growth to slow-growth mayors followed, with Thorne now renewing efforts to keep the city fiscally strong and a continued destination for business in an increasingly competitive environment.

Thorne was born and raised in the western Tennessee city of Union City and earned his engineering degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A chemical engineer by training, he linked up with Hewlett-Packard after military service as an Army artillery officer, moving with the company to California in 1968 and to Pleasanton in 1974. Later, when H-P wanted him to transfer him to Boston, he said no, telling H-P, "I've found paradise." It's here that he and his wife Sandy raised their daughter Keri. Next month, they'll travel to Ireland for Keri's wedding on June 29.

Thorne worked for H-P for 28 years and two more years for Agilent Technologies. He started out as an environmental engineer, working his way up to top management posts with multiple responsibilities, including handling H-P's real estate. That pleased the Realtors who now eye the Pleasanton mayor as "one of our own."

Besides his H-P property duties, Thorne held other key management responsibilities that he believes prepared him for the multitude of tasks needed to govern a city. He's working with City Manager Nelson Fialho to develop performance standards that they and the public can use to measure department managers' success. These include a streamlined process for handling permit requests from large apartment complexes now being planned to faster action on an individual's request to make some remodeling changes on a house. Still, Thorne told Realtors that he's found that government by its structure works more methodically and slower than private enterprise. Building codes, inspections, public hearings -- all are part of good government and at times tend to slow the process down.

A key objective in this arena, Thorne said, is significantly reducing the burden placed on developers by the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, a good bill signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan but one that "has become an absolute nightmare for business." Fortunately, Thorne has found support from Gov. Jerry Brown and relief may be on the way.

Asked how Pleasanton fares compared to other cities, Thorne is convinced that its good government and a dedicated, highly professional management team in City Hall that makes our city better. He's checked around and finds that many cities are operating "hand-to-mouth" when it comes to municipal revenue and spending, whereas Pleasanton has more than $25 million in a rainy-day reserve fund for use if needed. Last week, the city took money from other reserves to pay off some $20 million in golf course construction bonds, leaving the city virtually debt-free aside from outstanding employee pension obligations.

"I wouldn't trade my experience in public service for anything in the world," Thorne told the Realtors. "Community involvement carries with it a very high level of satisfaction when you see public projects that benefit our community succeed. If you have the ability to bring people together to get things done, you ought to consider coming on board. We can use your help."

Comments

Posted by Longtimer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Thank you to Jerry Thorne for this positive outlook and thank you Jeb for sharing it.
I look forward to a vibrant Main Street full of happy, prosperous, and tax-paying shopowners. I would like to see fewer empty shopfronts.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Promises from those newly elected may not matter much. Keep me posted.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The true test for this mayor will be whether he can effectively stanch the swelling tide of public workers' unsustainable salaries and pensions. For in case anyone doesn't know, we're drowning in debt and the increasing retirements will only raise the waters up to flood level. As the flood-tidaled crisis at Calpers and Calstrs - now as clear as rain - continues to build,, so Pleasanton will feel the same kind of pains as has Stockton, and Athens. Because they're the same. Tsunami-like waves are destined to come crashing upon all of us unless citizens take back what was stolen from them by the unions. We can't afford to pay teachers more than we pay highly trained cashiers at our respected merchandize centers; we can't afford to bow down to the outrageous demands placed upon the city by corrupt, self-interested union leaders. Who is going to help build a wall against the inevitable tsunami? We can begin by disbanding all public unions, as has been done in China, for example, which is experiencing a much higher growth rate than is Pleasanton. Next, an across the board pay reduction - approx. 40% - for all city workers, and a temporary moratorium on pension pay-outs. If you care about your great great grandchildren, you and I will face the onrush of tidal waters together.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm

if you are in luv with China, then move there...tee hee


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm

what i find interesting is that some folks who complain about our economy refuse to give/share their privileges to live in a capitalist society and not a communist one? duh...

if you're so in luv with China...share your wealth


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Correction: ...refuse to give-up/share their privileges with the poor in order to live in the lap of luxury...i rest my case


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Thorne said "leaving the city virtually debt-free aside from outstanding employee pension obligations." That is like saying you are virtually debt-free except for the $100,000 balance on your credit card.

I sure hope that "pro-business" does not mean that whatever the housing business wants, you give them. Also, some people think that pro-business is building as much high-density housing (i.e., the more housing, the more customers plus the more traffic congestion, the more the gas companies make). That is not anything we need.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

To huh,

" the more housing, the more customers plus..."

Plus the more money for schools so that maybe we can get our K-3 class size down to the class sizes in Dublin, and maybe we can bring back some of the reading and science specialists as well.


Posted by Longtimer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm

huh? what a drag ! one of those 'one' track minds. Go put up a tent in the desert ! I want those 100 yr old storefronts open and busy ! that's maintaining, not growing...and
if gas companies make money, GOOD !!! helps my tiny IRA, since I'm a pensionless retiree, and getting ZERO interest on my savings. I'm not selfish, and 'one' minded on every issue that comes up. huh? I'll go with cholo, maybe you're just not suited to Pleasanton.
huh? are you dense?? do you follow what happens in Sacramento??? Higher density housing comes from the idiots in Sacramento....I think Becky Dennis is the only one who wanted more & more local housing for our 'maids' which I've never had !! Moonbeam want us to do our share....like we did something wrong by providing
a 'job hub' in Hacienda....no good dead goes unpunished !


Posted by Willie Pfistergash, a resident of Vineyard Hills,
on May 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

it's getting harder and harder to tell if arnold is just speaking in hyperbole to get his point across, or if he's really as stupid as he sounds. See what you sheeple fail to realize is that pleasanton paid off those $20 million golf course bonds without having to tap into it's "rainy day fund" of $25 million, instead taking money from "other reserves". but yeah, pleasanton is headed for bankruptcy like stockton.

you can't be this dumb can you arnold?


Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown,
on May 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm

The fiscal good news is that we paid off the 20 million in golf course bonds. The fiscal bad news is that we owed the 20 million in the first place, for a golf course we could have had for free, if one of the last acts of the Mercer administration was allowed to go forward, Kottinger Hills...


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm

John,

More business does nothing for the operations of the school district and specifically classroom size reduction. The businesses do pay a little for school infrastructure but is pretty small. They pay nothing for the operations of the schools, which fund CSR. The funds for classroom size reduction come from Sacramento, after they pay for all of their special projects with our tax money. California has one of the highest taxes but our schools get below average in funding. So the problem is not a revenue problem but how the politicians spend it.


Posted by Enough, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 20, 2013 at 9:42 am

We've had enough politicians in Pleasanton who are "pro-business (and developer) and proud of it" - and not too proud to accept their legalized bribery (campaign contributions).

When will we get a Mayor who says "I'm pro-citizen and proud of it!". RIP Ben Tarver - the last mayor who actually represented the public.


Posted by High high high, a resident of Del Prado,
on May 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

As I drove to the new leaf grocery today, I saw a person at the corner of Stanley and bernal holding a big sign about Indoor Grow and Hydroponics or something or other. Sounds like Thorne is allowing equipment manufacturers for marijuana to advertise on street corners. Sad. Very sad.

Indoor cannabis growing operations have no place in Pleasanton. Too bad Thorne is allowing these businesses to proliferate.




Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

"More business does nothing for the operations of the ..."

I didn't say more business, I said more housing. Dublin has a lot more and that is why their k-3 classes are smaller. That housing factors directly into the amount of money that Sacramento sends to Dublin to run it schools.

"So the problem is not a revenue problem but how the politicians spend it."

It is a problem of revenue. Dublin's politicians and school administrators aren't significantly better at allocating revenue than Pleasanton's. The difference is that Dublin has more revenue to allocate.


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 20, 2013 at 9:58 pm

John, wrong again. Pleasanton officials have already said that they do not get enough money per student from the state to pay for CSR. If you do not get enough money per student, adding more students does not help.

Dublin gets $6,055 per student where Pleasanton receives $5,779. This is the 2011-12 numbers that are reported. Part of the inequities. San Ramon gets even less than both districts. If Pleasanton received from the state what Dublin gets, we would have an additional $4,000,000. That would put a big dent in classroom size reduction. The other difference is the average teacher salary in Dublin is $76,199 while Pleasanton is $84,861


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 20, 2013 at 10:31 pm

"The other difference is the average teacher salary in Dublin is $76,199 while Pleasanton is $84,861"

Yes and Pleasanton teachers pay their own medical expenses, so it isn't an apples to apples comparison.

" If you do not get enough money per student, adding more students does not help."

It does help if the students are added in a way that changes the money per student as calculated by the state. Have you seen the factors in the formula used for calculating money flowing to each district?


Posted by flawed logic, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

John, if Dublin is so great, stay there and post on the Dublin forums. Your logic about adding more volume of students at a lower $ per student is laughable. Do they still teach math in dublin? Have you seen the latest national high school rankings published on US News and World Report? Where were Dublin schools on that list?


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 21, 2013 at 9:15 am

" Your logic about adding more volume of students at a lower $ per student is laughable."

Your statement is laughable. Have you seen the factors that go into the formula for sending money to each district? Please enlighten me as to how it is flawed.

And sure, I've seen those US News and World Report numbers, and though Dublin schools do well, those ratings measure not only the quality of schools, but also the ability of parents to afford tutoring.

In K-3 class sizes are smaller in Dublin, and test scores are comparable to Pleasanton, though the average family income is lower in Dublin.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 21, 2013 at 9:17 am

"...at a lower $ per student is laughable."

It isn't a lower dollar per student. That dollar per student can be changed -- it isn't fixed.


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