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< 8 Going rogue—mayoral style

< 8 Newsgrams the building has gone on to be recognized as a classic example of modern architecture.

San Rafael employees agree to pay cuts San Rafael is sure having more success than the U.S. Congress in dealing with its financial woes—as local labor groups and the City Council agreed to a two-year deal to reduce

compensation for city employees by 4 percent per year. The agreement was not unexpected—as the $1.4 million-per-year savings had already been earmarked into the budget approved by the council July 5. As part of the agreement, all employees will share an equal reduction—including management and middle management, service employees, public works employees, firefighters and police officers. City Council members agreed to a 5 percent reduction in their pay. “Many San Rafael employees will see their compensation reduced four years in a row,” according to a city press release, “in response to the effects of the severe national recession.” Pension reductions were in the mix as well, with employees agreeing to have their retirement pay based on a threeyear average salary—as opposed to an employee’s highest-year salary. San Rafael employees currently contribute 11 percent of their salaries into the city pension fund. Mayor Al Boro said that he “appreciates” that city employees will continue to deliver high quality service to residents, while helping the city navigate difficult financial times. “This will positively affect the city’s budget for decades,” Boro said of the agreement, “and shows that we are moving in the right direction in response to the recession and pension reform.” The agreement included a reduction in hours for non-safety employees, dropping from 37.5 hours a week down to 36 hours a week. City Hall, however, will remain open five days a week, no longer being closed for furlough days. 10 PACIFIC SUN JULY 22 - JULY 28, 2011

San Rafael city staff has been reduced by more than 60 positions in recent years, notes City Manager Nancy Mackle. “While we simply cannot provide the level of service we did before the staffing reductions,” she said, “we continue to provide excellent service and get high marks from our community.”

San Rafael Council not ‘waving home’ baseball just yet The San Rafael City Council called a “delay of game” in its decision on whether to OK a proposal for a group called Centerfield Partnership to launch a new North American League ball club at San Rafael’s Albert Park in May of 2012. The council meeting ran into the wee hours July 18 and town officials decided to revisit the matter in August after Mayor Al Boro and Councilman Damon Connelly study the proposal further as a separate subcommittee. More than 250 people packed the council chambers. Residents of the Gerstle Park neighborhood have raised questions about parking, noise and fan rowdiness. But supporters of the move argued that baseball could bring much needed revenue to the cash-strapped town. If the City Council says “play ball” to bringing a team in the North American

League to the park on B Street, Centerfield Partnership says it would modernize the 60-year-old field, spruce up the bathrooms and add seating for about 800 fans. The team would play about 45 games in San Rafael from May through September, ostensibly beginning in 2012. Major and minor league rules allow for the sale of alcohol, though not after the seventh inning. Centerfield also says it would provide security and parking in the Seagate lot of the San Rafael Corporate Center.

nel—is already being used by bikers and walkers. Finally, the $8 million from TAM would leverage additional funds from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Sonoma County. The council then went into a lengthy discussion regarding what policy should govern the vote of a delegate such as Mayor Greene on issues of importance to the whole council and the town’s voters. The consensus was that the delegate to any committee or commission should use common sense, best judgment and that, in cases where a “roll call” vote was predicted, the town’s representative should “consult” with the entire council before voting on behalf of the town. A motion was made that “Council direct TAM Representative Ford Greene to vote in favor of the staff recommendation [to fund the $8 million to SMART].” The vote passed 4-1, with Greene dissenting. Fast-forward to July 7, at the “special” TAM meeting to vote publicly on whether to rescind the 8-6 vote. The $8 million allocation was again brought up. And in spite of the San Anselmo Council’s specific instruction to vote in favor of funding the $8 million, Greene voted “no” once again, in defiance of his council’s specific instructions. Greene’s vote raises an important issue for the San Anselmo Council, and other Marin councils. Is one member of a council “bound” by the instructions of his

or her colleagues when acting on behalf of the community? Let me say, first, that I believe Greene has shown tremendous growth during his time on the council and generally, in my opinion, he is doing a fine job. But this instance follows a pattern of “defiance” on Greene’s part with regard to civic engagement. His action against the vote in Flood Zone 9 delayed the flood prevention work for almost two years until his action was overturned by the state Supreme Court. Earlier Greene fought with the town of San Anselmo and “settled” on his right to hang a changeable sign on the side of his building. The settlement cost the hardpressed town over $65,000. The sign now only appears on rare occasions. All of this raises another question for those who run for office and use that same office and its “vote” in opposition to the majority opinion. Is that being honest with those who support someone in an election? Is that being fair with the town? What does this say about how one person pays attention to his fellow elected official’s opinion? What about “compromise” and the walking away from a “consensus” after a binding vote is taken? Regardless how you consider the SMART issue— where do you come down on this vote? ✹ Peter Seidman is on vacation and will return next week. Peter Breen, a former San Anselmo mayor and longtime town councilman, blogs about Marin issues at This opinion piece originally ran July 14.

Local man accused of threats to Boxer A San Rafael man was arrested

Novato widening project under way The Novato Narrows traffic bot-

last weekend after allegedly leaving threatening messages on the answering service of Sen. Barbara Boxer. According to San Rafael police officials, Kevin Joseph O ’ Co n n e l l , 4 7 , w a s taken into custody July 16 after reports came in identifying him as the caller who’d dialed threats into the office of the junior senator from California. The message was left at the San Francisco office of Boxer, a former Marin Count y Super visor and one-time Pacific Sun reporter, and, according to police, involved O’Connell’s frustrations over perceived police harassment and feuds with his neighbors in the Canal district, where he resides. O’Connell had previously been apprehended May 25 for allegedly resisting arrest in an incident that began when he was berating customers at the Montecito Shopping Center. Bail has been set at $500,000.

tleneck will be a little less narrow by the end of the year, say engineers, as ground officially broke July 14 on the long-awaited Highway 101 project. Commute-time traffic has been a slow-rolling nightmare for years for Marinites traveling northbound from Rowland Boulevard up toward the Redwood Landfill, as the four-lane highway drops to two lanes in the space of about two miles. Construction—by Ghilotti Bros. of San Rafael and RM Harris of Martinez, who partnered with the winning $25.18 million bid for the project—will extend the carpool lane about four miles from the Highway 37 exit on up through Atherton Avenue. Morning commuters will benefit as well, as two miles of highway from Rowland to Highway 37—a daily backup for commuters even in the best of circumstances—

Pacific Sun Weekly 07.22.2011 - Section1  
Pacific Sun Weekly 07.22.2011 - Section1  

Section 1 of the July 22, 2011 edition of the Pacific Sun Weekly