ECA Newsletter 5-9-19
ECA Newsletter 5-2-19
KUDOS to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors!
Have I gotten mellow in my view of elected officials? It is possible. This Soapbox is going to compliment the existing Supervisors in office in Sonoma County. I know-if I wanted to I could find some things to gripe about, but fair is fair-let’s honestly look at some of the accomplishments the existing five have been able to get some credit for.
I want to start with Shirlee Zane’s unabashed support of building 14 tiny homes for veterans on Russell Avenue. Look-we all know the overall homeless problem is too complex and too varied to have some easy solution. However, in Sonoma County there are several hundred homeless veterans and I personally believe this small “slice” of the big problem is solvable. In 2015 the opportunity for this project was presented and the Supervisors appointed the Community Housing Sonoma County to manage the project. Paula Cook worked tirelessly to get this project built on County owned land. Shirlee Zane supported, cajoled, spoke in favor of, and provided the impetus to get 14 tiny homes built on a small parcel of land on Russell Avenue, just north of the County jail and just south of Kaiser Hospital. To see an article on this, click here—
The location is ironic as it is entirely possible, that without these tiny homes providing safe haven for these guys, they could end up either in the jail, or in the hospital. Instead, they have a tiny home with a roof over their head, neighbors with common interest and shared history, and a door to lock that all combine to instill purpose, hope, security and pride in lives that might otherwise have none of that.
Kudos to Shirlee!
We all know what a traumatic series of events Mother Nature has dumped on our County (and others). No budget could have anticipated and had coverage for the massive commitment of resources the County of Sonoma had to put out to overcome the Tubbs and Nuns fires as well as the floods of the Russian River in 2019. The ability of the County Supervisors to get emergency funding to cover much of those costs is unprecedented. It is a tribute to their relationships with Congressmen Thompson and Huffman, as well as State Senator Mike McGuire, and State Assemblymen Jim Woods and Bill Dodd. Those relationships enabled trust and communication which led to getting emergency funding that might not have been available otherwise. It is a tribute to the character and hard work of all five of our County Supervisors that our Sonoma County budget, although stretched and frayed from the emergencies, has held up and continues to fund public safety, transportation infrastructure, and health and human services to a large extent, as it did before the emergencies.
Kudos to Susan, James, David, Shirlee, and Lynda!
Transportation infrastructure has been addressed by this group of Sonoma County Supervisors for the past 6-7 years in a healthy and productive manner. They all get the benefit of regular maintenance of our roads being good practice to safeguard the underlying structural integrity of our 1384 miles of roads in unincorporated Sonoma County. The plan that was put into action several years ago to repair our roads has so far reconstructed or resurfaced over 500 miles of our County roads. Sonoma County has been spending more General Fund dollars on roads than any other County in California for several years now. To go back to 2017 and the repaving of 170 miles in one season, click on this link from the North Bay Business Journal— link
Despite the pressure the emergencies put on the County Budget from the fires and floods, the County still intends to vote on May 21, 2019 on a planned road improvement funding that has not been reduced. The floods of 2019 caused another $23 million in damage to County roads due to washouts from high water that will get funding separate from the May 21, 2019
Supervisor vote. Emergency funding for those roads damaged in the floods is currently being sought by the Supervisors and I have no doubt they will be successful. Thanks for fixing our roads!
Kudos to David, Lynda, James, Susan and Shirlee for fixing our roads!
The 2020 elections will see Lynda Hopkins, Susan Gorin, and Shirlee Zane run as incumbents for re election to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Slated for ECA Board action on May 21, 2019, will be whether to support and endorse the incumbents or not. This will be a Board decision, not a John decision. If you want to state your opinion on whether we should endorse these incumbents, please let me know and I will share your opinion at that Board meeting.
That’s All Folks!
ECA Newsletter 4-18-19
Let’s Do Our Part
How many times have you been forced to either remove someone from your Facebook friends, or maybe wonder and question a certain person because of what they are posting? The era we are in is one of being judgmental and it seems the entire country has judged and pigeonholed each other into deeply divisive categories.
We see things differently. I think the Mueller report is coming out today or tomorrow, but it won’t end what people think. If you are an anti-Trumper, you believe he colluded and if Mueller did not conclude that, then Mueller is in on the sham as well. If you kind of like some of what Trump does but dislike his style, you probably are quiet on a lot of issues. If you are a supporter of Trump and do not have any tolerance for the seemingly “socialist leaning” Democratic party, you resent the emphasis on Trump’s actions because you want Hillary to be investigated for wiping her servers clean and deleting 33,000 emails.
When we try to have a discussion with someone who thinks differently, we usually wind up frustrating each other and decide to stop the “debate” without really challenging our own beliefs. I know it has happened to me several times, and I am sure you all have experienced it as well.
So what do we do? We need to understand what the issues are. We seemingly cannot rely on newspapers or any media to provide accurate and unbiased factual news anymore. Are we simply going to swear at each other and dig in deeper into our own positions?
I hope not.
I am providing a link to a Northbay Business Journal interview with Brian Sobel, a very experienced political analyst and expert in which he talks about the need for being more civil with each other. To read the interview, click here–
It is my opinion that some college campuses have had their “freedom of speech” attitudes compromised by this deep division in how we view our issues in the good old USA. I can understand why some conservatives are concerned about changing the “Freedom of Speech” we have in this country, to “You are Free to Speak If Your Views Fit Mine” speech attitude. That is not ok. From Antifa to AOC to Pelosi to Trump to Fox News, don’t you think we have taken it to a point where it is going to be hard to get back to a place where we can debate the issues instead of calling each other names and walking away?
Let’s do our part and try-ok?
That’s All Folks
ECA Newsletter 4-11-19
Taxation or Fee? I Don’t Care! Oxygen is What I Call It!
When the ECA came out and supported the passage of RM3 in June of 2018, we basically were supporting charging ourselves to build infrastructure that will relieve current transportation problems and build long lasting projects that future generations will benefit from. You all know that I am not usually a “tax and spend” guy but I also recognize that transportation infrastructure has been woefully underfunded for decades and just in the last 5-6 years is getting the funding needed to fix our roads and bridges.
RM3 is a fee that raises bridge tolls (all Bay Area bridges except the Golden Gate Bridge) and tolls started being collected a few months ago. The Howard Jarvis folks filed a lawsuit challenging the bridge toll hike as a tax rather than a fee and their lawsuit made many of us nervous as to whether the RM3 dollars would actually be collected and allocated to our North Bay region ($800 to $900 million worth!!).
Last week, Judge Ethan Schulman dismissed the lawsuit which effectively frees up the RM3 toll increases to fund (to the tune of $4.5 billion) much needed projects around the Bay Area. Judge Schulman agreed with the drafters of RM3 that the toll increase is a fee, not a tax. I cannot believe I am applauding a local Judge’s ruling around here, but I am!
This is great news for all of us that need to travel, and at least partially, make our living from road and bridge construction projects. Between this good news and the defeat of the Gas tax repeal in June, this solidifies our income stream needed to fix our roads and bridges. link
What does this all mean to our local firms whether you bid on those projects or not? It means that local Agencies will now be able to count on tax help from fuel tax and toll help from the bridge toll increases to get some of their City and County roads fixed. Also, we have a tremendous list of bridges that are in need of repair in Sonoma and the Contiguous Counties and those tax and toll funds will enable local Public Works folks to prioritize and start getting some of them repaired or replaced. By funding transportation projects, the Cities and Counties can focus on much needed housing projects. None of us want to see our beautiful area changed by “sprawl” of housing developments, but we all recognize the need to build 30,000 plus homes so our young workers have a place to live rather than drive from Lake and Mendo and Solano Counties.
Highway 37 is one of the main roadways that has had its share of problems recently. Between high rains, the lack of a comprehensive levee program, and the increased commuter loads, this road between Novato and Vallejo is a problem searching for short term and long-term solutions. With the “smackdown” of the Howard Jarvis lawsuit, both short term and long-term solutions should get designed and out to bid very shortly. At the recent meeting of Solano, Marin, Napa and Sonoma County Transportation Authorities, the group made several important decisions but none more important than assigning responsibility and authority for the three main segments of Highway 37.
A new memorandum of understanding assigns responsibility for overall project management coordination to the Bay Area Toll Authority (which is the group that collects the bridge tolls) with local transportation authorities having a role for the road portion in each county.
- • Segment A: (Highway 101 to SR 121) assigned to Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), Caltrans, Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and Transportation Authority of Marin.
- • Segment B: (Sears Pt. to Mare Island Bridge) assigned to BATA, Caltrans, SCTA, Solano Transportation Authority and Napa Valley Transportation Authority.
- • Segment C: (Mare Island Bridge to I-80) assigned to BATA, Caltrans and SCTA.
Segment B is the most critical section by all accounts. As I have reported to you earlier, an interim solution being considered would employ a movable barrier system and one additional lane to be utilized heading West in the morning hours and heading East in the afternoon. It is estimated this could relieve up to 75% of the waiting time for commuters. This work should come out in 2019 and be completed in 2022.
Relief is on its way!
To read more about this, click on the link –
To me, the “oxygen” is actual projects that will enhance safety and relieve congestion. The defeat of the Howard Jarvis lawsuit provides that oxygen. That is why I do not care if you call the bridge toll increase a toll, or a tax-it is oxygen to me!
That’s All Folks!