Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Update on various items

Here is a preview of my Ross Valley Reporter column for next week:

Fairfax Festival Poster Contest: The Fairfax Festival committee is soliciting artwork to be featured at the 30th Annual Fairfax Festival. Local artists are encouraged to bring their submissions to Fairfax Town Hall by April 6th, and the selected artist will receive a $300 prize. For more information, contact festival chairman Richard Pedemonte at 485-5699. This year’s festival will be held June 9 and 10. The Festival website is being updated and is located at

12th Annual Fairfax Brewfest: The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 12th Annual Fairfax Brewfest on Saturday, March 17th from 1-5 p.m. at the Fairfax Pavilion. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and includes a commemorative tasting glass, music and entertainment. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Brewfest! Proceeds benefit the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.

One Book, One Marin Event in Fairfax: Crime, Race & Violence in Gold Rush California, a talk by Marin author and historian, Kevin Mullen, is one of a series in the Marin County Library “One Book, One Marin” program. Hear about the original events that form the background to Isabel Allende's novel Daughter of Fortune, which was the book chosen to be featured during One Book, One Marin. Hangings, street justice, prostitution, the clash of cultures--Gold Rush California had it all. Former San Francisco Police officer Kevin Mullen has written three books on the subject. The event will be held on Wednesday, March 28th at 7:00 p.m. in the Fairfax Library Meeting Room, 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 457-5629.

Prop. 1B: Voters may recall that the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006, was passed by the voters in November 2006 and contains almost $20 billion for various transportation projects in California. Of this amount, cities and counties will each receive $1 billion collectively for local street and road improvement projects, of which each city is guaranteed a minimum allocation of $400,000. As a small city eligible for the minimum allocation formula, the Town of Fairfax is slated to receive $400,000 of Prop. 1B monies. The State is now engaged in the process of determining when and how the funds will be appropriated, and the Town, along with the League of California Cities, is urging our State legislators to expedite the funding to cities. The Town’s need for road infrastructure funding is daunting and only increases as our infrastructure ages, and we need to lobby for funding whenever possible.

Retirement Negotiations: Media reports of the “unfunded liability” of employee pension plans indicate that the cost of public retirement plans are a sleeping giant. Readers may be aware that the Town of San Anselmo recently negotiated a two-tier retirement system whereby new hires would be brought in at a lower retirement formula than current employees, thus saving the town and the taxpayers money over the long-run. During my negotiations with each of the Fairfax employee groups last year, we agreed upon re-opener provisions in the memoranda of understanding (MOU), regarding (1) the implementation of a two-tiered retirement system for employees covered by the CalPERS’ Safety and Miscellaneous retirement plans, for the purpose of reducing the Town’s retirement costs; and (2) exploring alternative health plans to CalPERS for the purpose of cost savings. The Town requested and received the actuarial reports from CalPERS for two-tiered retirement systems for both Safety (police) and Miscellaneous (all non-police) employees. The reports are a public record and are available to anyone who wishes to obtain copies from the Town, and identify the potential cost savings of converting to a two-tiered retirement system. In implementing the re-opener provisions of the Police MOU, I have met with the Fairfax Police Officers’ Association for the purposes of discussing the possible implementation of the two-tiered retirement system, and discussions are still ongoing.

Get Ready for Earth Day - Sunday, April 22, 2007: Join the Fairfax Volunteers for an event celebrating Fairfax's pedestrian Right-of-Ways (ROW). There will be breakfast and a presentation of maps, and a firefighter speaking briefly about what the threat of wildfire means. After that, people will be given maps of their neighborhoods, showing ROWs and encouraged to head out to specific areas to clear pathways. If you would like to take part in this activity, please wear strong lugged sole shoes, gloves, and bring clippers, etc. The volunteers are also hoping to coordinate with the local schools to have a town-wide clean-up take place on Earth Day. For more information, please contact Maria Baird, Town Community Resources Coordinator, at 456-5652.