Earlier this month, the San Ramon Council voted to cancel a contract with Jordan Associates, the consulting group that arranges the Tri-Valley mayors' lobbying trip.
For years, mayors from Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville have traveled together to Washington in January to meet with select members of the California Congressional delegation and key federal agencies to seek funds for Tri-Valley projects. These trips are considered unique since few senators and members of Congress see groups of mayors joining together in a unified effort to visit their offices.
The meetings are arranged by Jordan Associates as part of a yearly contract the Washington-savvy consulting firm has with each of the five cities. It works with the cities to identify mutual needs and federal funding opportunities on such issues as transportation, housing, water conservation and environmental programs, and then sets up meetings with the appropriate elected officials and agencies.
But San Ramon City Manager Greg Rogers said that since (Congressional) earmarks have been eliminated from the federal budget, "the bang for the buck has changed." On his recommendation, San Ramon cut the $20,000 that was its share of support for Jordan Associates and opted out of the program.
"That's their decision and San Ramon has every right to make that decision," Thorne said. "But my own view is that because earmarks are gone, our contact with the various federal agencies is even more important and Jordan Associates excels at making those contacts.
"Obviously San Ramon's decision is going to cost each of the other cities in this coalition a little bit more, but we'll continue on with the four cities in planning our January trip," Thorne added. "Four cities won't be as effective as five, but we can still do the job."
Thorne said various agencies administer funds for a wide range of programs that can help the Tri-Valley, including freeway extensions, better mass transit, affordable housing and air and water quality improvements.
"When you meet with these agencies one-on-one as the Tri-Valley mayors have been doing, these agencies listen and they remember us when they have funds to distribute," Thorne said.