Pleasanton Weekly

Column - January 22, 2010

Hosterman's week in Washington

by Jeb Bing

Mayor Jennifer Hosterman returns tonight from five days in Washington, D.C. where she joined other Tri-Valley leaders in meeting with California legislators and attended the winter session of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where she is co-chair of the group's national water council. Now completing her sixth year as Pleasanton's mayor, she has become a familiar face and influential contributor at the mayors' conferences, working personally with mayors of many large cities on transportation, energy, environmental and water issues that affect Pleasanton and other similarly-size cities as well as the country's major metropolitan centers. With co-chair Mayor Brian Stratton of Schenectady, N.Y., she talked one-on-one Wednesday at a dinner meeting with EPA Director Lisa Jackson about growing water and sewer infrastructure improvements that are mandated by the EPA but without sufficient federal funding to help cities pay for them. With the heavy rains this week here at home, Hosterman said she was able to bring hands-on statewide flooding conditions into her plea for much-needed aid.

In separate meetings with Congressmen Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) and John Garamendi (D-10th) and the staffs of senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Hosterman was joined by representatives from other Tri-Valley cities. They included mayors Mike Doyle of Danville and Abram Wilson of San Ramon and Vice Mayor Doug Horner of Livermore. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a history teacher at Dublin High School, stayed home this time because of final exams that were given to his students this week. "But we all carried the water for Dublin," Hosterman quipped. These are once-a-year meetings the Tri-Valley group has with legislators during the winter sessions of the Conference of Mayors, which are always held in Washington. The conference's summer meetings are held in different cities, with the one this year to meet in Oklahoma City.

This was also the group's first Washington meeting with Garamendi, who was elected last November to fill the seat vacated by former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. Garamendi has been appointed to the important House Transportation Committee and Hosterman pressed him specifically for increased federal support for the Interstate 580 improvement program now under way as well as for funds to widen Highway 84 between I-580 and I-680 and through Pleasanton, a project that now is also part of the I-580 program. Improvements to this thoroughfare are long overdue and are vital to commuters in Garamendi's district as well as McNerney's to reduce the time spent traveling between their Contra Costa County homes and jobs in the Silicon Valley.

This week's trip was also far different than Hosterman remembered from last summer's mayors conference in Providence, R.I. There, Vice President Joe Biden, a headline speaker at the convention, snubbed the assembly after a local firefighters' union picketed across the street from the city's Convention Center. This week, Obama and his administration not only met with the mayors at the White House, but key cabinet members spent an afternoon in special plenary sessions discussing local issues with the 250 mayors in Washington. Hosterman found it an uplifting experience, especially given last summer's boycott and a general lack of interest in meeting with the mayors' group by the Bush administration.

Given Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley's continuing need for federal dollars to help complete its area-wide emergency communications system and major transportation projects, in her meetings with members of the Obama administration Hosterman also sought assurances that these funds will go straight to local governments instead of trickling through the states. She said this is important in California, particularly, where Sacramento is interceding wherever and whenever it can to tap into these funds instead of passing them through to cities and school districts as states are supposed to do.

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