Speaking at the annual Tri-Valley Mayors Summit held in Dublin, the mayors talked mostly about taxes and transportation, although the Jeopardy-like format bundled with fast and fairly easy questions from David Stark, government affairs director of the Bay East Association of Realtors, livened the presentation. In the past, these annual sessions involving the mayors of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon have been a bit boring.
The questions ranged from "What does your crystal ball tell you about pensions for public employees?" to "How would your city cope with a financial crisis?" Fortunately, none of the Tri-Valley cities is facing bankruptcy and the mayors agreed that the economy is looking better, not great, but better. Danville's Mayor Newell Arnerich pointed out that with his town's budget well under those of the mayors next to him, "every penny counts, and not only that it's easily seen."
Mayor John Marchand boosted iGATE, the regional public-private partnership that is working closely with the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories and Tri-Valley cities. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and Mayor Jennifer Hosterman of Pleasanton, who are on the board of directors of iGATE, praised the collaborative opportunities and entrepreneurial education and assistance the technology upstart is already bringing to their cities.
The Alameda County mayors also endorsed Measure B1, the $7.7 billion countywide sales tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would add another 1/2-cent sales tax to support transportation projects. Hosterman, who has been leading the effort to see Measure B1 passed, said that as important as the added revenue would be to completing key transportation projects here, approval of the measure also will enable the county and cities to receive additional matching funds from other sources. "It will enable us to add more hot (toll) lanes on our freeways and reduce congestion," Hosterman said.
Arnerich, president of a successful architectural firm, said he knows voters don't like to approve tax measures. But he urged them to look at the tax proposal just as they would an investment they might consider. Will it help in their children's education, make traffic in their town a little bit lighter, will it help improve their quality of life? If they like those kinds of investments, then they should vote for the tax.
Marchand urged his fellow mayors to support efforts to extend BART to Livermore. The plan, which underwent another environmental review Wednesday, would extend the tracks to a new station at Isabel Road, and then later farther east. "We're very close to getting the money we need to finally make this happen," he said.
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Correction: I wrote last week in my column "'Wind Song' offers a whimsical break for commuters," that Nancy and Gary Harrington's first major contribution to Pleasanton came in providing funding for the large studio called the Harrington Art Gallery in the Firehouse Arts Center. That was wrong. The gallery was named to honor them for their public art contributions.