Friday, October 21, 2016

Articles on Solano EDC October 20 Dan Walters breakfast

Political attestant says Capitol makeup is election’s harvest

By Todd R. Hansen From page A3 | October 21, 2016

FAIRFIELD — Dan Walters, the dean of political writers in Sacramento, said the Bay Delta tunnels are dead, redevelopment is alive and the lasting effect of the Nov. 8 election will be how many “BDs” survive the voters.

Walters said the so-called “Mod Squad,” or business-friendly moderate Democrats, have changed the political dynamic of how things get done at the Capitol.

“But they only have power if they have a balance of power between the Democrats and the Republicans,” said Walters, a widely syndicated columnist for The Sacramento Bee who was the speaker at the Solano Economic Development Corporation’s breakfast on Thursday morning.

That political balance, he said, is at stake during the election.

Walters said the ageless struggle of the business interests trying to beat back the annual agenda of the big-four liberal interests – labor unions, environmentalists, trial lawyers and consumer advocates – took a dramatic change when those employer groups changed their election strategy.

Instead of trying to put up conservative Republicans in a losing effort to regain legislative control, they began to support more moderate “business Democrats.”

Aided by the election change that sends the top two vote-getters from the primary to the general election, rather than the top Democrat and the top Republican, it allowed moderate Democrats to challenge more liberal party members for the same seat.

In fact, Walters said he would not be surprised if Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom faced another Democrat for the governor’s office in the 2018 general election.

“It allows the business community to play in Democratic politics,” Walters said.

He pointed to state Sen. Steve Glazer as an example in Contra Costa County and “we might see another one here with Mr. (Bill) Dodd.”

Assemblyman Dodd, a former Republican turned Democrat, is seeking the 3rd Senate District seat. He is challenged by former Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, who admits she sits more to the left on the political spectrum than Dodd.

Dodd, who attended the breakfast event, said afterward that he is, in fact, one of the BDs, but prefers to view himself as an independent.

“I think it is a pretty high-level analysis of what is going on,” Dodd said of Walters’ presentation, “but I think most of the people who I represent are more moderate.”

The problem the business community has this year is there is no pressing reason for Republicans to go to the polls and vote.

“There is nothing on the ballot to make Republicans turn out,” said Walters, who noted that the presidential election traditionally brings more voters out, but largely more Democrats.

He said Republicans know Hillary Clinton is going to carry the state, and with no singular ballot measure to motivate them, the election could see the Democrats gaining more seats in the state Assembly and the Senate.

That would lessen the strength of the business Democrats who need Republicans to help carry their agenda.

“It will be a high turnout election, but it will be skewed even more toward Democrats,” Walters said.

He also suggested that if Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein may retire, though she has said she plans to run again in 2018.

Asked about Gov. Jerry Brown’s two-tunnel plan for the California Delta, Walters said the proposal seems to have very difficult environmental, legal and financial impediments and is likely dead.

“Part of the reason is the drought,” Walters said. “You would think it would make it more likely, but in fact, it has made is less likely.”

He spoke of the efforts of Southern California water interests to develop more surface storage as well as San Diego constructing a desalination plant, so the need for a more reliable water source is not as great. Those urban interests are not willing to spend the money for the twin-tunnels project while so many other interests – including the environment and farming – get such a large part of the benefits.

“I think even the governor has backed off of it. He does not talk about it much anymore,” Walters said.

Asked about whether California will bring back redevelopment when Brown leaves office, Walters said: “Redevelopment is back. Didn’t you notice?”

Walters spoke of several pieces of legislation that have enabled specific municipalities to do what redevelopment allowed, but without the shift of school funding.

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or


Backroom power story sets event’s tone

By Todd R. Hansen From page A3 | October 21, 2016

FAIRFIELD — Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan felt a surge of pride Thursday as longtime political columnist Dan Walters set the tone of his presentation with a story about her father.

“You never really see a bill. What you see is a concept that floats around the Capitol looking for a home,” Walters said as he began to recount a story from 30-plus years ago.

It was a story about how the Sunset Scavenger firm wanted to build a landfill in the American River canyon, but needed legislative help to get past the environmental hurdles.

Willie Brown, who had worked as an attorney for the company in some capacity, agreed to find someone who would author the bill. That is when Tom Hannigan was introduced to the narrative.

“He was kind of a no-nonsense kind of guy,” Walters said of Hannigan, a Vietnam veteran and a veteran of the political wars as well.

“He went up to Willie Brown one day and said, ‘Willie, knock it off, this is my district,’ ” Walters said. “And that was all there was to that.”

Erin Hannigan said she has heard a lot of stories about her father, but never that particular one, and was happy Walters included it in his presentation.

Thomas M. Hannigan, a former mayor of Fairfield and former Solano County supervisor, served in the state Assembly from 1978-96, and was majority leader from 1985-95. He served as director of the state Department of Water Resources from 1999-2003.

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Doug Ford: Manufacturing still vital to Solano County economy

Doug Ford: Manufacturing still vital to Solano County economy

By Doug Ford

Posted: 10/06/16, 5:45 PM PDT | Updated: 1 week, 4 days ago

Solano EDC keynote speakers Dorothy Rothrock and Bill Gaines talk, “Why ‘Manufacturing’ for Solano County?” last week launched a new series on why specific industries are important to Solano County that will be featured in coming EDC breakfasts. Rothrock is president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association. She demonstrated how important manufacturing is in Solano County’s economy.

On one leading measure, output per job, manufacturing produces $1,466,969 compared with government, construction, and the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors whose output per job range between $370,456 and $240,782. Five other sectors produce less, down to accommodation and food services at $80,839.

However, in California, the leading manufacturing state in the union since World War II, job growth has been increasing since 2010 at only 3.6 percent compared with the nation as a whole which has increased at 7.2 percent. So we have work to do. The most often cited reason for California’s slower growth rate has been “we can’t find skilled workers.”

One response to this issue is that the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges launched a Task Force on Workforce Job Creation and a Strong Economy. In 2015, the report by the members of the task force made 25 recommendations needed to correct the situation. Two hundred million dollars have been made available to carry out the recommendations. The report can be found on the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Website.

In 1983, Bill Gaines, a former General Motors engineer, established Transfer Flow, Inc. in Chico to manufacture fuel system equipment for the motorhome and travel trailer industry. He grew the business that started with only a small number of workers in one small building into a large factory with several buildings and well over 100 employees. He has been successful by using the most up-to-date technology and machinery to make his products.

But his greatest problem has been in finding workers with adequate skills to operate the equipment. He has installed several high precision machines such as robot welders and laser cutting tools that are controlled by G-code which his workers must be highly skilled in using to make fuel tanks and systems. He has frequently had to travel to other states to recruit employees to do the work.

Within the past few years he has passed on the management responsibilities of the company to his daughters and their husbands and has been using his own time to become a leading spokesman for small manufacturers in California. He has been very focused on doing something about the lack of skills that are provided by our educational systems.

Schools can’t afford to buy the expensive machines that manufacturers must use to compete with foreign products, so he has established arrangements with schools so that he can train teachers to use the equipment in his factory well enough so that they can develop curriculum to teach G-code and other needed skills.

Gaines also has provided many field trip opportunities for students in middle school through university levels to learn about the opportunities in manufacturing. And he has worked with other manufacturers to help them provide similar support for “local high schools and vocational programs by being their labs.” He showed a list of 41 job positions with Transfer Flow, Inc. Eleven of the jobs can be filled by high school graduates who have had adequate training. Sixteen of the jobs require education to the community college graduation level. This is where the most critical shortages exist.

Fourteen of the job positions require university level graduates.

Unfortunately, current education at all levels is inadequate to meet the needs of manufacturers. We need more employers like Bill Gaines who will take the time to work out better cooperation and understanding between them and educators to help restore American competitiveness in the world economy. And we need teachers and administrators who will do their part. But for decades the students per teacher, counselor and administrator ratios have been the highest in the nation.

In Solano County we have developed some good educational support for the biotechnology industry, but even for them we are not providing enough support in the engineering and technician areas. We need to support manufacturing better. That is where the best paying jobs are. The average worker in manufacturing earns about $77,000 annually compared with $52,000 in the service sectors.

Thanks to Sandy Person and her Solano EDC colleagues for bringing this very important topic to our attention! To learn more, check the video: “Local Educators Visit Transfer Flow – You Tube.”

The author is retired from the U.S. Air Force, lives in Dixon and serves on the Solano County Board of Education.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Visit California lifts veil on Solano County’s treasures

Daily Republic - September 30, 2016 

By From page A1 | September 30, 2016
FAIRFIELD — Visit California has pulled back the curtain on Solano County and described it as one of the state’s best-kept secrets, calling it a “treasure.”

The private nonprofit organization based in Sacramento has the singular task of promoting the state.

It recently featured California’s varied wine destinations – from San Luis Obispo to the Capay Valley and even farther north – in the same publication that this month highlights Solano County.

However, Solano County was omitted from the wine country article.

That was corrected to some degree as Suisun Valley is counted among the treasures that tourists should learn about in Solano County.

“We’ve been seeing more visitors over the past several years, as people discover we’re a secret Napa,” Ron Lanza, vice president of Wooden Valley Winery, is quoted as saying in the article. “I credit part of it to technology. Cellphone navigation helps people find us, hidden on the map.”

The article, which appeared in California Dream Big and is written by Carey Sweet, highlights the usual destination points such as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo and the Jelly Belly Candy Company in Fairfield, but also shines a light on the recreational opportunities, “from kayaking to birdwatching, from hiking to golf.”

The message may sound new to some, but it is one Anand Patel, chief executive officer for the Fairfield Conference and Visitors Bureau, has been promoting for some time.

“We have been touting that for a long time, and my colleagues at Visit Vacaville and Visit Vallejo have been trying to send that message for a long time,” said Patel, who said he was delighted to learn Visit California viewed the area as a “hidden treasure.”

“Solano County is a destination that a lot of people do not think of to go to, but I think we are getting the word out . . . and hopefully will not be a hidden treasure for much longer,” Patel said.

The article also specifically highlights the Suisun waterfront, described as “a charming waterfront village,” the family fun of Six Flags and Jelly Belly, as well as the farm-fresh delights found in Solano County.

“Acres of almonds, wheat, olive orchards, and seed-rich sunflowers dominate this region, with some 860 farms operating in Solano County. As you drive the country roads, you’ll see plenty of farm stands offering just-picked fruits, vegetables, and nuts,” the Visit California article states.

“Or go straight to the mother lode – Cal Yee Farm of Fairfield is a virtual cornucopia inside a cozy white cottage, with shelves brimming with fruits and nuts,” it adds.

The expanding olive oil presence in the county is noted with mentions of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company and Sepay Groves.

Visit California goes on to describe Solano County as a golfer’s paradise, listing Rancho Solano with its “scenic lakes, hilly, tree-studded terrain,” the Paradise Valley golf course, and the Golf Club at Rio Vista. It also favors the Mare Island Golf Club of Vallejo, but with a warning of sorts.

“The biggest challenge might be keeping your eyes on the ball without getting distracted by stunning
views of San Pablo Bay, the Napa River, Mount Tamalpais, and even the Golden Gate Bridge,” the article states.

Visit California ends its unveiling of Solano County’s secrets by noting all the outdoor recreation opportunities.

Sandy Person, chief executive officer of Solano Economic Development Corporation, said the exposure provided by Visit California complements the business attraction, retention and expansion efforts by her organization.

“It demonstrates that Solano County has all the things people like,” Person said.

She said this is important to business owners, who can use the amenities to recruit employees. And if that business leader learns about Solano County while being a tourist enjoying the area, that’s fine with her.

“We want to bring interest (to) and get Solano on the map,” Person said.

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or

Manufacturing can be pathway to economic development

The Reporter, September 29, 2016

By Kimberly K. Fu @ReporterKimFu on Twitter
Manufacturing — Solano County’s answer to economic growth and job development.
Such was the implication at Wednesday’s breakfast gathering of the Solano Economic Development Corporation for the first in a series exploring different industries that could contribute to increasing job opportunities.
Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and Bill Gaines, Chairman of Transfer Flow Inc., talked about the importance of manufacturing and the impacts it could have on the economy.
California, apparently, has the sixth largest economy in the world and is also known! as the manufacturing state.
Yet, last year, California was dead last when looking at manufacturing investments, lamented Rothrock. She pointed out that manufacturing jobs continued to show growth, but California still lagged.
The issue — finding skilled workers.
"This is one of the biggest issues we’re working on," she said.
By teaching students about the manufacturing industry it’s possible to have a skilled workforce available by the time graduation comes around, she said.
Gaines agreed.
He proposed teaching students elements of manufacturing in grade school on up. If you wait till they get to college, it’s too late, he said.
There are probably dozens of manufacturing busin! esses in your backyard, he said, and even knowing about them helps their growth. Just one manufacturing job is comparable to the pay of 13 retail jobs, he said, as skilled labor is needed to complete the jobs.
Impediments include not having that skilled labor, which is intrinsically linked to technology and science.
"If we don’t keep up with tech, we’re simply out of business," he said.
At least 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed by 2025 and an estimated 2 million will go unfilled due to a lack of available staff.
Which is where the North State Grow Manufacturing Initiative comes in.
The aim is to let students know about all the opportunities available in the industry and train them for those jobs. Industry experts can help! train the trainers — in this case, teachers — to ensure students are fully exposed to everything they need to know. They’ll get realworld exposure and learning, and be up to date on the latest technologies driving manufacturing.
Next, schools should expect to count on support of the industry — receiving any equipment and expertise they may need.
Manufacturing, indeed, can have a positive impact on a community, Gaines said, and it’s already made a difference in his area, Butte County. By shining a light on the industry and getting everyone involved, he said, it can definitely be impactful to every community.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Wolk wins praise for 26 years of solving problems

By Ryan McCarthy

From page A1 | July 22, 2016

FAIRFIELD — State Sen. Lois Wolk, praised Thursday for work that ranged from securing $4.2 million for the Fairfield Cordelia Library to saving lives by helping fix the blood alley that was Highway 12, said her job allowed her to do what she most enjoys – solving problems.

“I’m a jigsaw puzzle fan,” said Wolk, D-Davis.

She spoke at the Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast after 12 elected officials – including the seven mayors of Solano County – recounted how Wolk served the region during her 26 years as a public official.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, the final speaker before Wolk, noted the money she got for the local library and said he and the state senator are from Pennsylvania.

“Public education is really important to us,” Price said.

Dubbed the first stop on her farewell tour as Wolk ends a career that began in 1990 with election to the Davis City Council, Rep. Mike Thompson began the tributes during the event at the Hilton Garden Inn.

He joked about Wolk representing the “People’s Republic of Davis” and called local government “tough service” that’s more demanding than legislative work in Sacramento or Washington, D.C.

You hear at the grocery store from constituents who want to know why a pothole hasn’t been fixed, said Thompson, D-St. Helena.

“I’m glad you’re my state senator,” he told Wolk.

Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering spoke about how Wolk always returned phone calls. Supervisor Skip Thomson called her a “true advocate for the Delta.” Supervisor John Vasquez described Wolk as “a tough negotiator.”

Osby Davis, mayor of Vallejo, recalled that after the city filed for bankruptcy in 2008 that Wolk helped exempt Vallejo from losing $8 million in revenue to the state.

Wolk responded to his request for help, the mayor said, even though Vallejo was not in the legislative district she represented.

“If it’s right, it’s right,” Davis said.

“You’re the kind of public servant all of us should strive to be,” he told Wolk.

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said Wolk “always came to the rescue of our city.”

Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor Jr. recounted how the city in April discovered an attempt to divert a vendor’s $1.3 million electronic fund transfer into a fraudulently held bank account – and Wolk’s legislative assistance to Dixon to deal with the situation.

“You saved our bacon many, many times,” Batchelor told Wolk.

Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, spoke about Wolk’s having “an uncanny ability to create warm partnerships in the state Legislature.”

“We’re going to miss her leadership,” said Dodd, who seeks election Nov. 8 as the new state senator representing the 3rd District as Wolk terms out of office.

Wolk said at the end of the event that she’s been asked if she’ll miss the around-the-clock world of serving as a lawmaker in Sacramento.

“I honestly don’t know,” she said.

“That doesn’t frighten me,” Wolk said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or

Wolk feted for service to Solano County

Wolk feted for service to Solano County
By Kimberly K. Fu,, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter
Posted: 07/21/16, 6:41 PM PDT | Updated: 3 days ago
Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter Surrounded by the mayors of Solano’s seven cities, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, thanks leaders for their partnership, the community for their trust and her staff for their dedication.
Surrounded by local, state and national leaders Thursday in Fairfield, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, was toasted again and again during the first stop on what’s being called her “Farewell Tour.”
Leaders at the Solano Economic Development Corporation gathering touted her integrity and her willingness and availability to help and called her a champion of the people.
“This is a pretty special person in my mind,” advised Congressman Mike Thompson. “We were both elected at the same time.”
He was elected into Congress, he joked, while she was elected to serve the “Republic of Davis.”
Describing Wolk as doing marvelous work, Thompson thanked the senator for her service.
“She’s for her constituents and she’s always been,” he said. “She’s made sure that the people ... get their money’s worth. She works tirelessly for that.”
Her successful end of life bill, work on improving traffic-heavy roadways such as Highway 12 and dedication to water issues all are proof of her amazing abilities, he said, and she will never be forgotten.
“I know that Lois will always be on call,” Thompson said. “She’s checking out but she’s not leaving.”
Wolk, who has been in public service for decades, is serving her final term in office. She was a high school teacher before entering politics, serving as a Davis city councilwoman and two terms as that city’s mayor. From 2002-2008, she served as representative for the Eighth Assembly District and was elected to the Senate in 2008.
Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Solano, praised Wolk for her leadership and ability to get things done.
“She’s just done a phenomenal job,” he said. “What a class act.”
Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, on behalf of the Solano Transportation Authority, thanked Wolk for her efforts in making Highway 12 safer.
“I can’t tell you how many lives you’ve saved,” he said. “Solano County has absolutely been blessed to have Lois Wolk. She’s dedicated to her constituents. ... She has been a champion (of the people) and made a difference in saving lives.”
Supervisor Skip Thomson called Wolk a true advocate for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta while Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said she’s a person to emulate.
“You are the kind of public servant that all of us should strive to be,” Davis emphasized, citing her honesty, integrity and commitment to all people.
For her part, Wolk expressed gratitude to county leaders for their partnership.
“You’ve allowed me to do what I love the most,” she said. “Solving problems.”
She called her staff a blessing and attributed her success in getting things done to strong local ties.
In closing, she thanked those present for making her 14 years of service to Solano very good years.
“It’s been, in my perspective, a great ride,” she said.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Solano EDC breakfast highlights link between public safety and economic vitality

Solano EDC breakfast highlights link between public safety and economic vitality

By Dom Pruett, DPruett@TheReporter.Com, @dompruett on Twitter

Posted: 06/17/16, 5:52 PM PDT | Updated: 2 days ago

Local Law Enforcement Officers, Government Elected Officials, and various other community stakeholders joined representatives from the Solano Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Friday morning over breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield to discuss the correlation between public safety and economic vitality.

“Solano County is known as a large village, and we need to work together,” Solano EDC President Sandy Person explained. “We can always do better; this needs to be our top priority.”

Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann gave the opening presentation in which he addressed ways to improve current policing amidst a growing state of distrust and animosity among some citizens toward law enforcement officers.

Buerrmann discussed the sweeping proposal that would require all officers to wear a body camera while on duty, as well as virtual reality training — installed to let officers gain a different perspective on police interaction.

“I’m an old white guy, so I don’t know what it’s like to be a 20-year-old African American,” Bueerrman said, which returned some sporadic laughter from the audience. “Police others the way you would want to be policed.”

Though Bueerrmann later admitted he didn’t believe his message resonated with many of the officers there in person, he was clear and uncompromising in conveying his belief that departments across the country need a change in culture.

“We’re not going to advance policing in this country if we continue the way we have,” he said.

To Bueerrmann, a change in culture will only come from officers acquiring a better understanding of how to police minorities and the mentally ill.

“Whether you like to admit it or not, you are social workers,” he told the law enforcement officers.

Lastly, Bueerrmann mentioned the connection between education and crime. “How many educated and successful people do you know who have been arrested?”

His three major points: prevention, intervention and suppression revealed that only through social change will communities become strengthened, and in turn, alter the current perception of police.

Vacaville Police Chief John Carli, who was in attendance, agreed with Buerrmann’s message.

“Policing in the community is not about arresting people,” he said. “Education is the driving force. It makes kids more successful.”

Carli explained, “It’s planting the seed for the tree you may never sit under.”

California Director of the Council for a Strong America Barrie Becker followed Bueerrmann and expanded on the significance of education’s role in reducing crime.

“Education leads to less crime,” Becker said while presenting slides with statistics to back her claims. Becker added that when law enforcement officers, business leaders, and retired senior military personnel are among some of the many who have already joined her in fighting crime through investment in children.

Becker discussed in particular the obstacles children from low-income and dysfunctional families face, and added that a quick survey on any prison’s inmate population would reveal that the vast majority read at an elementary school level. In theory, the more children flourish in school, the less likely they will end up behind bars.

“It’s a huge indicator,” Buerrmann remarked about education following the event.

However, it takes everyone to make it possible.

“Police and schools can’t do it on their own,” he said.