Thursday, April 30, 2009

Transcript of Gov. Schwarzenegger Announcing First Construction Groundbreaking in Fairifield, CA

Published: April 30,2009

Transcript of Gov. Schwarzenegger Announcing First Construction Groundbreaking

SECRETARY BONNER:

Good morning, everybody, I'm Dale Bonner, the secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for the state of California. I appreciate everybody coming out to join us today to celebrate how quickly we're moving in California to put the state back on a path to economic recovery.

I do have a few acknowledgements; it's a big day today and there are a lot of people who have come out to share in this very prideful moment. So I want to make sure we acknowledge, first and foremost, Will Kempton, our Caltrans director who is with us this morning. (Applause) Also we have a number of mayors; all the cities in the county of Solano are represented here today. I wanted to recognize the mayor of Fairfield, Harry Price, who is with us. (Applause) We also have the Mayors Pete Sanchez from Suisun, Jan Vick from Rio Vista, Jack Batchelor from Dixon, Len Augustine from the city of Vacaville and also Elizabeth Patterson from Benicia. I believe the city of Vallejo is also represented here this morning. (Applause)

And we have, from the Transportation Commission and also the executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, we have Jim Earp. We also have with us -- I believe we have Representative, Congressman George Miller with us this morning and Congressman Tauscher's office is represented with us this morning. Also Brian Gates, the CEO of Top Grade Construction, who is going to be working on the project is with us this morning. (Applause) We're pleased to have the representative of the Federal Highway Administration, Vince Mamone is with us this morning and also some members of the board of supervisors, Jim Spering, John Vasquez and Mike Reagan. (Applause) Thank you. And I think also the Solano County Transportation Authority is also represented this morning by Mr. Daryl Halls.

So I wanted to thank everybody again. It's a long list, I know there are probably some others here that deserve some recognition but we're just pleased to see a very broad cross-section of people who have come out to join the celebration this morning.

The Governor has called us here today to show, again, how quickly we're moving in California to put the federal stimulus resources to work very quickly for the people of California. I do think it's important to note that throughout his tenure the Governor has been a very strong advocate of infrastructure because he understands the state's long-term needs. But he also understands that infrastructure investments are a powerful tool to stimulate the economy and start to create jobs and that's why he has been pushing us all in the state of California to move very, very quickly to put these new resources to work as quickly as possible for the people of California. And so it gives me great pride this morning to introduce Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Applause)

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Thank you very much, Secretary Bonner. I want to say also thank you to a few people that are here today. Secretary Bonner, I want to thank him for his great leadership and for the great work. Mayor Price, thank you for being here today. And Jim Earp from the California Alliance for Jobs, thank you for being here and creating such great action always. And Danny Curtin from the California Conference of Carpenters, a great, great leader and great supporter for infrastructure projects, so thank you very much. Will Kempton, of course, from Caltrans. He has been extraordinary with his leadership and what a force he has been to rebuild California, so we love having him always part of the celebration. And Chief Rainey of the Fairfield Police, we want to thank him for being here. And then Chief Leonard from the CHP, thank you very much.

And Brian Gates, who is with Top Grade Construction, thank you. I have to admit that I don't like when people are bigger than me but we'll let him be here anyway. (Laughter) I used to have a policy never to take pictures with anyone that's bigger than me but we'll make an exception.

But anyway, we are here today to celebrate, because I think it's very important, as I always said, to bring the economy back and to create jobs. And when President Obama signed the economic stimulus package I said that I will get as many dollars for California as possible. And I also said that if any other state refuses to take the money, that I will be the first one to take that money too. And also I said that we will get this money out as quickly as possible to create jobs and to help the state push through these very tough times.

Today we are following through on this promise. Behind me, as you can see, is Interstate 80. Interstate 80 has been in lousy shape and now we are repaving Interstate 80. This is the first $13.5 million that will be spent from the economic stimulus money and this will create 235 new jobs. There are 200,000 cars that travel over this Interstate 80 every day and so it's about time that this freeway gets fixed. (Applause)

And what's great about it is this project is being funded 100 percent with federal stimulus money. Without President Obama's action we would not have the hardhats here getting these jobs, we would not have the action, we would not have the jobs. So I want to thank President Obama for creating this action and I want to thank his administration for their efforts.

I also want to note that so many times we hear about waste in government and I am very sensitive about that. But here is the opposite story. Caltrans estimated this project to cost $22 million but then, of course, with the leadership of Will Kempton and grinding the construction companies with their estimates and with the bidding process -- you know exactly what I'm talking about -- you know, they came in with an estimate of $13.5 million, so that's a saving of 40 percent -- a 40 percent savings. (Applause) So this is really extraordinary. And what will be done with this 40 percent savings? We will build more roads and we will put more people to work again, so that's the great thing about it.

So today is a great day for our economy and for the construction workers and for the future of California. I can promise you the best is yet to come and what you see here today is just the beginning of a wave of construction that we'll start all over the state of California. We're going to blanket the state with construction jobs and with projects like this. I will be traveling up and down the state to make sure that this money gets distributed all over the state of California and that every area benefits from this economic stimulus money.

And when it comes to stimulus funds, I'm committed to quick action and I'm committed to transparency and I'm committed to accountability. And this is why I have formed our Recovery Taskforce to make sure that we get every single dollar that we deserve from the federal government. We also named Laura Chick as the inspector general, to go and make sure that each dollar is spent wisely and correctly. And also we created the website for transparency, so that everyone knows what is going on, how much money comes in and where does it go and the website is www.recovery.ca.gov.

So again, we want to say thank you to President Obama for this great action and we want to say thank you to Will Kempton and Caltrans for the great work they are doing. And a big thank you to our hardhats, to the hardworking men and women that make our vision become a reality. Let's give them a big hand for the great work that they are doing. (Applause)

And now I would like to bring out our next speaker, which is Mayor Harry Price, to say a few words about this great project here. Please. (Applause)

MAYOR PRICE:

Thank you very much. And Governor Schwarzenegger, we know that the sweetest place west of the Mississippi River is Fairfield and we would love for you to have your own bag of Jelly Bellies that you may choose to share wherever you go, sir.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Thank you.

MAYOR PRICE:

Thank you.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

But Mayor, I'm on a diet. (Laughter) Thank you very much.

MAYOR PRICE:

Share with others. Thank you, sir. Governor and Director Kempton, Secretary Bonner, thank you very much for choosing to make this the first project in the federal stimulus package for highways. We are very pleased that what we are doing here today is going to make a significant difference in the way we live, the way we do business and the fact that our communities will be much safer.

Interstate 80 is that key link that goes from San Francisco all the way to New York and it's a major corridor for transportation as well as for the transport of goods and services. Governor, I know that you do the heavy lifting. But when the President first started talking about the stimulus package, you led the governors to Washington. And you had some help and that help benefits California as well as Massachusetts. So we want to thank your Uncle Teddy for his efforts too. (Applause)

And we recognize that you are committed to maintaining and improving the critical infrastructure in California, so thank you for your championing the causes that improve life for everyone.

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Thank you.

MAYOR PRICE:

And I'm very pleased at this point now to thank some folks who have played another key role. They've worked hand-in-hand with Will Kempton. And Governor, we appreciate the fact that you selected him to be our person. We can't accomplish what we are today without the significant efforts of many people but one of them we all recognize in Solano County is Jim Spering, Supervisor. (Applause) Jim Spering is our Mr. Transportation. So Jim, thank you for working very well. (Applause)

And at this point I would like to introduce another champion for improved transportation and that's California Transportation Commissioner James Earp. James Earp has a very distinguished background. He led as the chair for the Yes on Measures 1A-E a few years ago. For 22 years he was the public relations director for the International Union of Operating and Engineers Local #3, a heavy construction union. This project is going to put those heavy construction guys to work and the multiplier will affect every business in Solano County and throughout this region. Mr. Earp comes from Roseville and he has served on the California Transportation Commission. He is also the chair of the California Alliance for Jobs. He serves as their executive director and he has worked very hard to ensure that Proposition 42 funding goes for transportation programs. This is one of those examples.

So with a great deal of pleasure, let me introduce California Transportation Commissioner James Earp. Mr. Earp? (Applause)

JAMES EARP:

Well, thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. It's a privilege, actually, to be here this morning to celebrate the first economic stimulus project to break ground in California. You know, I'd like to put just a little bit of perspective on this. In January, the end of January, we got a new President who said we need to get some money into infrastructure to help stimulate the economy. Four weeks later that bill passed through Congress and the money was out there. Eight weeks later we're breaking ground on the first of those projects, of what will be over $2.5 billion dollars worth of economic stimulus projects just for transportation in California. There's additional money for other types of infrastructure for California.

I will have to tell you, after being in this industry for 35 years, that is warp speed for a transportation project. It just doesn't happen that way. Those of us who have been in this business know that it takes a long time to get projects going and it just doesn't happen that way by accident. How does it get that way? How did we get to this point this quickly?

We have a Governor who is completely committed, not only to rebuilding California but to, especially right now, putting people to work in these tough economic times. For the construction industry, which I represent, this is the only game in town. No one is building many homes right now, we're not building office buildings, we're not building very much. But we need a lot of infrastructure work done in California and he has been at the front of that line, in that charge.

Four years ago -- you know, our organization, for the last 10 years, has been trying to get the need to invest in our infrastructure in front of the public. We've done it with radio, we've done it with all kinds of different tools and we made some incremental progress. Four years ago this governor stood at a State of the State and said it's time to rebuild California. And I sat there and listened to that speech and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I'd never heard a governor talk like this before about the need to rebuild our infrastructure. And overnight he elevated that issue to the front burner and now everybody knows what infrastructure means.

And so he has been a tremendous asset on this. Since that time we've passed $37 billion in infrastructure bonds that are going to work for California. He has been at the front of the line in trying to get this federal economic stimulus money put together and has been pretty upfront and shameless about the fact he'll take the money from whatever other state isn't going to use theirs. We'll take it, he says and we'll put it to work here.

Now, there's one other person -- well, there are bunch of people that have helped to make that happen but a lot of it stands right on this guy's shoulders right here. I've known Will Kempton for a long time and he's the one that has to make a lot of this happen. And I've seen a few more stress lines appear in his face the last few weeks, because I know he's not getting enough sleep. You'd never believe by looking at him that he's only 35 years old. (Laughter) But he has been a tremendous leader for Caltrans. He has worked night and day to try to make sure -- there's a lot of stuff that goes from saying we're going to do it to actually doing it. And I will tell you -- you know, the federal government has put this money out in front of us but they haven't taken away or smoothed the road really in terms of all the things that you have to do to qualify for that money. You've still got to go through all the hoops; that's not easy to do and that's where the stress comes from, to make sure that that money actually gets out on the pavement.

And finally, before I conclude, I'd like to introduce Brian Gates. He's going to speak to you for a few moments. Brian, come on up here. I was going to use him as a visual aid but he's actually going to speak. He is a perfect representative of the contractors that I have the pleasure to serve and be an advocate for. We represent 2,000 contractors in California and I will tell you, without any qualification, we have the best contractors, we have the best union construction workers, the most skilled workers in the United States, bar none. That's why they can go and bid on a project like this, come in 40 percent under estimate and they'll be out there, they'll get this job on time and within the budget and we will see some really nice pavement out here in a very short period of time. These guys are great. I'm proud of this industry, I'm proud of the pride they take in their work. And I will tell you, you're in good hands with contractors like these.

So Brian Gates with Top Grade Construction will now say a few words for you. Brian? (Applause)

BRIAN GATES:

Thank you so much. Well, it's an absolute pleasure to be here. And on behalf of the entire Top Grade organization I want to thank the Governor, obviously, the state, the city of Fairfield and of course Caltrans for this wonderful event here today. We're obviously extremely proud of being the first contractor here, or the first general contractor to work on a project that's going to be funded by the stimulus funds within the state.

And I'll have to tell you, at a time where our industry is substantially impacted by the economic downturn -- unemployment rates for construction nationwide, over 20 percent and obviously the unemployment rate in California north of 10 percent -- I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity that this provides, not only to the Top Grade workforce but the 20 other companies that will be involved either at a contracting level, subcontracting level or supplier level in helping make this project a major success. And so over 40,000 man hours and at least over 200 people, that are going to be collecting a paycheck, working on this project.

At Top Grade creativity is our most important tool and that's our tagline. And we're looking forward to utilizing that tool and working with Caltrans, who we have a wonderful relationship with and building this project in the safest and quickest manner possible to get as many people back to work. And we're ready to get started and break ground here.

So thank you for the opportunity. Again, a pleasure being here and look forward to building a very, very successful project for the state. Thank you. (Applause)

At this time it's my pleasure to introduce Mr. Daniel Curtin, who is the director at the California Conference of Carpenters. (Applause)

DANIEL CURTIN:

You know, I am really honored to be here, this is a tremendous event. I want to congratulate the Governor, the representative of the federal government, Secretary Bonner, Director Kempton. They have kept the focus on jobs and infrastructure, particularly this Governor, since the day he walked in. I have a little saying in my office. It says that, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Now, that's attributed to Einstein. It sounds pretty simple but the more you think about it, it's extraordinarily profound. And anybody who is involved in politics knows exactly how difficult it is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Every day you are hit with 10,15, 20 issues. The Governor is constantly being tugged at in every different direction. But he has managed, in a way that no other governor that I'm familiar with -- and I've been around a little bit -- has focused on infrastructure. For us it means jobs directly but for California it's the platform that the economy grows on. It's what moves the goods, it's what gets people to their jobs. And without infrastructure, we're all going to go down into the pits in terms of the economy.

And I'm going to use the statistic that our contractor failed to mention. And by the way, we were all applauding when we heard how that job was cut from $22 to $13 million. I saw him take a little -- I saw him take a little tissue out and wipe the tears from his eyes. But in the 1970s we were number one in the conditions of our highways -- number one in the country. When this governor took office we were 49, fighting really hard to be 50. Now we're in the low 40s because of the heavy lifting this governor has done. But it has to take that focus to get it back.

I'm from New York, in case anybody hasn't noticed. The roads in New York when I left were a shambles. I came out here, it was like driving on carpets. And now, 30 years later, it looks like maybe we'd better get back to work.

It creates jobs the California citizens understand. They passed the bonds that Jim Earp co-chaired and that the Governor then did the heavy lifting a few years ago to pass $37 billion, the largest infrastructure bond package in the history of California. Fantastic, as the Governor likes to say, fantastic. (Applause)

Unfortunately, between then and now we've run into a little minor hiccup, which is the most severe economic downturn in America since the Great Depression -- a worldwide economic downturn, I might add. Things were kind of rolling along smoothly, we were doing groundbreakings for that bond money. But we run into this economic depression -- well, I won't say depression, that gets headlines -- downturn.

What's happened as a consequence, we have more political squabbling going on now than I ever seen. Who's to blame? Everybody is pointing fingers. We actually have elected officials who have said publicly that they think the state needs to go bankrupt, that's the only solution. This Governor, his staff, have never lost their focus for a moment. Dismiss that kind of talk, don't even want to hear about it. You know, there is another political saying that I'm fond of: "Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build a barn." Well, I see a lot of really, really good carpenters back there, Governor. We are builders. We're proud to be here, we're proud to have a governor who is also a builder.

I've got to tell you one more thing and it's a little big self-serving. When Jim Earp mentioned that we are the most skilled workforce in the country, I have no doubt about that. We spend in California $30 million a year on training for our members. Not just apprentices. We train as many journeymen carpenters as we do apprentices for the new techniques, the new materials, the green jobs that we're going to be talking about.

We're builders, governor. We're not finger-pointers, we're not whiners. We're looking forward to this groundbreaking and the next groundbreaking and the next groundbreaking. And we want to thank the President for being just as focused on infrastructure as this governor is, because it's going to keep our people working and it's going to let us build California and it's going to lead California back, economically speaking. And when the economy turns around we're going to be ready to go. Our people will be skilled, trained and ready to go.

I want to once again thank the Governor for helping us do what it is we do best, giving us the tools to go out and build California. And now I have the pleasure of bringing the Governor back up so that the press can ask him whatever they like. Governor? (Applause)

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER:

Thank you, Danny. First of all, before I answer any questions, let me just bring you up to date about the swine flu. There are confirmed cases in California that have increased from 11 to 14. There are seven in San Diego County, five in Imperial County, one in Sacramento County and one in San Bernardino County. The Department of Public Health reports 29 suspected cases -- they're not confirmed cases but suspected cases. There are 91 cases nationwide now in 10 different states. There are seven other countries that have now seen that flu. I think everyone knows about the 23-months-old baby that died in Texas.

I think it's also important to know that experts say that the strain of influenza in its current form isn't as strong or as fatal as previous pandemics were. The World Health Organization has raised the pandemic level from level 4 to level 5. Twenty-nine counties have asked for antiviral drugs and supplies and over a million courses have been shipped out and have provided them with what they have asked for. We still have the same policy; if a child gets sick that school that this child is from will be closed down for seven days.

President Obama has requested $1.5 billion from Congress in order to respond to the swine flu as quickly as possible, which we are very appreciative for. We have sent additional state staff to San Diego and to Imperial Counties. We have requested and received additional deployment of CDC flu experts to Southern California. We are continuously having a great working relationship and great coordination between the locals, the state and also the federal government and also the international health experts.

We will be bringing up to date people who are into Twitting. I'm always trying to feed them throughout the day information about the latest of the latest when it comes to this disease, or to this virus. And also this weekend I will be doing my radio address about this subject and this will also be on YouTube.

So, if you have any questions, we also have Dr. Horton here. Dr., if you want to come over here, just briefly and if there are any questions about the flu, we would appreciate it if you could answer some of those questions.

QUESTION/ANSWER:

GOVERNOR: Any questions? Yes, please.

QUESTION: Heather Ishimaru, ABC7 San Francisco. I'm not sure if this is for you, Governor, or for Dr. Horton. Three years ago state health officials admitted that we were not well prepared for a possible pandemic. I'm wondering if you could bring us up to date on what's changed over that time to make us better prepared now?

GOVERNOR: Well, I just want to say, before Dr. Horton speaks, that we are very well prepared. We have been ahead of the ball continuously. We are very aggressive. And as I said, it's not just because we are experts in flu or something like that, it's because we are having so many catastrophes here in this state. We have fires and we have earthquakes and all of those kinds of things where we have to have our act together. And that means that the agencies work very well together, the locals and the state level and also our relationship with the federal government, where we get an immediate response, is also great. So we have only gotten the best response from the federal government and I want to congratulate them for being so cooperative and being such great partners. And then the rest, please, Dr. Horton, if you want to address this?

DR. HORTON: Thanks, Governor. A good question. We've done much and one of the things I wanted to acknowledge is the great work and leadership of the Governor and the legislature in three years ago giving us major resources to be able to purchase personal protective equipment, antiviral medications, supplies to be able to increase the number of hospital beds in communities. All that stuff has been put into place since that plan was developed three years ago.

In addition, three years ago we were given a low grade on our ability to properly receive and distribute the strategic national stockpile from the government. We have upgraded. An example of that is now we have gotten top grades on our plan to be able to receive and distribute, which is actually being put into place at this very moment as we receive those. So we've made great progress in the last three years. We feel like we're prepared to put into place the appropriate things we need to do to respond to this challenge. Thanks.

GOVERNOR: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Yesterday afternoon you made three appointments to the California Citizens Compensation Commission but it wasn't until after the meeting was over. And if you had made those appointments even one day earlier, conceivably that 10 percent pay cut would have gotten through without further delays. It just seems like a big screw-up. Did somebody drop the ball on that one? How could that happen?

GOVERNOR: No. as you know, it's an independent commission. We felt very strongly that while the people of California are suffering and get laid off and lose their homes and all this, I think that we should also do some cutting in Sacramento. So we have been very effective in cutting programs but not within the Capitol. We in our office, we have made cuts, 10 percent and we wanted to have the Legislators make their cuts also, how much it costs them to run their offices and also their salaries. But that was just my opinion. I hoped that when the independent commission deals with that subject that they maybe see it the same way. It was one vote short and then when we saw that then we replaced, or filled, some of the other spots and put three in that share the same opinion as we do. So as we move forward there will be probably 10 percent cuts with the legislators and their salaries.

Yes?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) special election and as the swine flu numbers go up, are you at all concerned about turnout on election day? And what would you say to somebody who might be concerned about standing in line on election day next to somebody who is sick?

GOVERNOR: Well, I think that we have seen there's a tremendous amount of people will be voting by absentee. I think, because it will be in general a low turnout, we want the people to turn out, we want everyone to be involved, because it's a very important subject, to fix our budget system once and for all. Here's an opportunity to do that.

And as you see, that the people themselves still are confused in which way they want to go with those ballot initiatives. The latest poll shows that people don't want to have their taxes raised but at the same time they also don't want to have any cuts made. When they were asked about 10 of the important areas, they said no to cuts in health care, they said no to cuts in education, they said no to cuts in environmental issues, they said no to cuts in law enforcement. And they went down the line and said no to all of those things. So I think that there is still confusion there.

But we are going to get the message out there with the initiatives. We want to make sure that, if there is really 60, 70 percent of the voters are absentee, that they get the message, they know how we feel about it and how we're going to fix the budget thing.

And I don't want to use this as a political event here, because they're two different things but I think we've got to move the state forward. And as you can see with the pandemic now and with other disasters, we need to have money put aside. We need to have money in a rainy day fund. We need to have money in a reserve and the only way we're going to get that done is if we have a good financial system in place and a good budget system in place.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: David Scott with KGO Radio. Can you address why this stretch of Interstate 80 was chosen as the project that received this funding?

GOVERNOR: Well, like I said, that we have had plans for the whole state on how to rebuild the whole state and so we are taking those things that need a lot of help immediately. The road here on Interstate 80 is bad. We have 200,000 vehicles that are traveling over this road every day. I think it's damaging to the vehicles, I think we can do much better. It has been on a plan for us for several years. But we have to chip away as the money comes in, so now we have some additional money coming in from the federal government, so it was a top priority for Caltrans and for all of us.

And we are very happy that, as I said, that we're putting 235 workers to work. These are all people that normally would go home without a paycheck and have to tell their families that they are out of work and they have to stand in the unemployment line. Now they have jobs. So this is great, a huge benefit for everybody, for this area here, for this town, for the travelers, for the workers, for the mayor, for the construction business and of course for Danny Curtin. He's really happy, so for his union this is a big, big victory. (Applause)

And I think it's a great victory for the state of California. So we pick those things. There are always people who will say, well, why did you pick this versus that? If we would have picked 405 in Los Angeles you most likely would have said why did you pick 405 and not 80? So we pick as we find them important. So thank you for the question.

Sure.

QUESTION: Governor, speaking of the ballot measures, they're not faring very well in the polls. Are you planning some kind of strategy change between now and election day?

GOVERNOR: I think that Danny Curtin hit the nail on the head when he said that the important things have to stay important and we have to put the spotlight on it and keep them important. And I think that for the initiatives to pass is extremely important for the state and I think it's our chance to really have a coherent budget system in place. We've got to reform the system.

Always when you have a special election I think that you have a negative attitude amongst the people out there, because I know my own wife, the first thing she said was, "Why do I have to go again and vote?" So that's the way the feeling is right across-the-board. But then when she was explained, when I sat down and said here are the things that are at stake, she said, "No, I'm going to participate, maybe absentee, maybe I'll go to the polls." But she right away had a more positive attitude about it.

So for us the important thing is just to go out and get the message out there, because we have seen over and over when the people know about it, why this is important and why have we made those cuts, why do we have the tax increases, why do we need to reform the budget system so that we never have to go back and ask the people again for a tax increase in the future, all of those things we have to explain. So we have to be good in communicating with the people those points. That's the important thing.

And then also we have right away a disadvantage, as you know, because whenever the economy is down, the people in general, all over the country and all over the world, are anti-government, anti-politicians and all of those kind of things. So you deal with that obstacle also. So we have to overcome that obstacle.

But the key thing is for people not to do this vote for the politicians. We are meaningless in this. This is good for way after we are gone, way after we are out of office. This is supposed to fix the budget system for decades to come. So let's do it for the state of California. Let's do it for the people themselves rather than to do it for anyone in Sacramento.

Thank you very much. Thank you all and have a good day. (Applause)

UC Davis lands $7M stem cell research grant

Sacramento Business Journal - April 30, 2009


UC Davis lands $7M stem cell research grant
Sacramento Business Journal - by Celia Lamb Staff writer

The University of California Davis has been awarded $7 million from the state stem cell agency to study the potential use of stem cells to treat babies with blood disorders and develop a treatment for Huntington’s disease.

The grants is one of 15, totaling $67.7 million, awarded by The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on April 29 to universities, research institutes and private companies. The grants are intended to aid the creation of new drugs and address bottlenecks in the development of new therapies.

“These grants are an important part of CIRM’s strategy to fund the best basic research and then bring the results of that work to patients,” said CIRM president Alan Trounson. The stem cell agency has received $275 million from a recent bond sale to fund stem cell research.

UC Davis researcher Alice Tarantal has been granted $4.2 million for preclinical research with embryonic and umbilical cord blood stem cells that have potential for treating sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and bleeding disorders.

Jan Nolta, director of the UC Davis Stem Cell Research program, is the principal investigator of the Huntington’s disease research project, which received $2.8 million. Nolta hopes to develop a treatment using stem cells to prevent the production of mutant proteins that damage neurons. Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic condition that has no cure.

Fairfield proposes tweaking long-time greenbelt

Fairfield proposes tweaking long-time greenbelt
By Barry Eberling

DAILY REPUBLIC
FAIRFIELD - A one-mile-wide swath of open space separating Fairfield and Vacaville seems to be the Solano County greenbelt that's taken for granted -- at least until now.

There's no sign telling freeway drivers they are entering the greenbelt, as is the case with the Vacaville-Dixon greenbelt. There's been no rush to buy up land or development rights to guarantee the land remains open space, as is the case with buffers between Fairfield, Benicia and Vallejo, between Vacaville and Dixon and between Dixon and Davis.

But the greenbelt is returning to the limelight. Fairfield wants to modify the buffer's borders near Travis Air Force Base, cutting the width of one area from a half-mile to a quarter-mile and adding land near the base that is not between the two cities.

Whether this is Solano County's neglected, expendable greenbelt or the greenbelt that's so firmly accepted its continued existence is virtually guaranteed remains to be seen.

'My sense is no one is any hurry to do away with it,' Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said. 'It does serve as a barrier between the cities and it has big value from an environmental point of view.'

Plus, both cities have voter-approved growth boundaries that keep them from merging together, assuring that visitors -- and residents -- can tell them apart. Solano County's voter-approved General Plan calls for the land to remain rural.

'If the county was still booming, there might be development pressures,' Price said. 'But each city still has room to grow. That's why masterplanning that area east of Peabody Road is so important.'

The Vacaville-Fairfield greenbelt starts at Interstate 80 and extends eastward past Travis Air Force Base. It includes the Cement Hill range and the small, rolling hills near Peabody Road.

This 2,352-acre open space buffer is overseen by the Vacaville-Fairfield-Solano Greenbelt Authority, which has representatives from the two city councils and the county Board of Supervisors. But the authority hasn't met in about a decade.

Initially, the authority was to oversee special zoning in the greenbelt, deciding if such things as golf courses, riding academies and nurseries might be allowed. Property owners objected, saying they preferred to remain under county zoning and control. The authority downgraded its role to advisory and has virtually faded from existence.

Former City Councilman Jack Batson represented Fairfield on the authority for about eight years and never saw a meeting convened during that span. He thinks it was because the greenbelt faced no threats.

'I think both cities respect it and agree we need a space between the cities, not to Los Angelize that area,' Batson said.

Vacaville City Councilwoman Pauline Clancy sees no development threats from Vacaville to the greenbelt. Still, she sees reason for the greenbelt authority to meet periodically. Clancy distrusts what the county might do and thinks the authority should keep track of any potential growth.

As it turns out, the authority may soon meet to discuss Fairfield proposals for changing the greenbelt boundaries to match the city's northeast area development ideas.

The original idea for the Fairfield-Vacaville greenbelt was to buy up the land or development rights to ensure the area remained as permanent open space, though for the most part this never happened.

Fairfield in the mid-1990s imposed a special developer fee for growth in its northeast area near Peabody Road. A city report at the time said the fee could raise $11 million. Part of the fee was designed to go toward buying greenbelt land from willing sellers.

But Fairfield jettisoned thousands of planned homes with the stated goal of protecting Travis Air Force Base from encroachment. The remaining planned growth has yet to materialize. That's left the amount of money in the greenbelt fund at zero.

'I don't think the idea is dead,' city Finance Director Robert Leland said. 'But at the present time, there isn't any development going on out there.'

Still, the northeast area is to eventually become a growth hot spot. Besides the homes already approved, Fairfield is making plans for a sizable community to be built around its proposed train station at Peabody and Vanden roads.

The city presented a budget a year ago that estimated the greenbelt account would contain $3 million by 2015. A revised budget in light of the bad economy lowered this amount to $1.4 million.

Even so, not all of the greenbelt is privately owned. Vacaville owns 330 acres of open space near Lagoon Valley. Another 300 acres near Peabody Road has been set aside to someday become the Noonan Reservoir, though Fairfield might pull the plug on the reservoir idea. The federal government owns the 204-acre Cypress Lakes golf course.

The idea of creating community separators is hardly new. For example, Marin County has pursued the idea since at least 1973. But, in general, California suburbs since World War II have tended to grow together and merge, such as most communities in Southern California.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

Supervisors loan Mission Solano $750,000 for project

Supervisors loan Mission Solano $750,000 for project
By Barry Eberling | Daily Republic | April 28, 2009

FAIRFIELD - Mission Solano should soon have a loan of as much as $750,000 from Solano County to put toward the construction of a 154-bed homeless shelter.

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday decided it was willing to have the county make the loan. County and Mission Solano officials must now work out such issues as the interest rate and the time span for the repayment. Those matters will come to the board at a future meeting for approval.

Construction of the buildings on Beck Avenue is to begin in May, Mission Solano Executive Director Ron Marlette said. The shelter should be ready to provide beds for the homeless in October, he said, although future phases of the $10 million project will remain to be built.

The project would have been launched even without the loan, Marlette said, but there would have been no guarantees that construction would not stop at some point if cash flow became a problem.

Also, Mission Solano Board Chairman Tim LeFever said, the nonprofit would have missed a deadline related to an earlier grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank. That would have cost it $143,000 in grant money and an opportunity to apply for $500,000 more from that organization, he said.

Supervisors decided to make the loan by a 4-1 vote despite a county report stating that Mission Solano cannot provide adequate collateral. The report also state that Mission Solano's ability to raise money to run the shelter can; be guaranteed and Mission Solano's financial situation is uncertain because of a nonprofit's day-to-day nature of existence.

Former Fairfield city manager Kevin O'Rourke spoke on Mission Solano's behalf and said the county can't apply the same operating standards to a nonprofit as to the private sector or government,

Marlette thanked the county for advice on how to approve Mission Solano's financial procedures. The nonprofit has been a mom-and-pop operation since its founding in 1998 and is ready to take the next step, he said.

Supervisor Jim Spering said he could find reasons not to make the loan. He attended the opening of a Fairfield park recently and was impressed that, despite hard economic times, Fairfield is investing in the community.

'It really shows the character of the City of Fairfield,' Spering said.

Helping Mission Solano is as an investment in the county, Spering said. The homeless problem is growing, he said. He envisions the loan interest rate will be around 4 percent.

Supervisor Mike Reagan said some of the people served by Mission Solano otherwise might end up in jail or using county programs.

First-year Supervisor Linda Seifert voted against making the loan, saying she wants county standards for such loans and that Mission Solano's request didn't meet those standards.

The county could instead help Mission Solano seek grants and federal stimulus money, she added.

Supervisor John Vasquez saw reason to make the loan.

'Sure, there's risk,' he said. 'It's not a bailout. It's not a gift. It's a loan.'

It's not a handout, but a hand-up, he said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, ext. 232, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Heart healthy

Heart healthy

NorthBay Medical Center's new $4.6 million cardiovascular operating room last week received state licensing approval, officials announced. Shortly after the license was formally announced, the cardiovascular facility hosted its first surgery, which was scheduled for Friday in the Fairfield hospital.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Solar powered

Solar powered

First Northern Bank in Dixon recently completed installation of solar panels on the roof of four buildings -- two in Dixon, one in Winters and one in West Sacramento. The bank has installed 1,675 photovoltaic panels, which will produce an estimated 400,000 kilowatt-hours of usable electricity per year.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Corvette-lovers gather to honor the sports car

Corvette-lovers gather to honor the sports car
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | April 24, 2009



Driver Walt Ogden drives his 71 Stringray Corvette through a speed course in the Solano Community College parking lot Sunday. Photo by Adam Smith

VACAVILLE - To Corvette lovers, just driving the popular shark-like sports cars is wonderful.

Driving them very fast, roaring through the straightaways and growling through the curves of a twisty half-mile course, is even better.

'It is poor man's racing with a great sports car that has a lot of horsepower and great handling,' said Dan Barber, Corvette lover and member of the Vaca Valley Vettes Club.

Last weekend's two-day autocross gathering in Solano Community College's parking lot was a high point for Vaca Valley Vettes members who put their cars through racing paces and talked Corvettes with fellow enthusiasts.

'We have a large mix of six different clubs and some people who simply own a Corvette and want to race,' Vaca Valley Vettes Club President Pam Walter said.

More than 100 Corvettes spent each day racing through the course, some clocked finishing times of little more than half-a-minute. Corvettes driven off the street mingled with vintage Corvettes carefully modified for racing.

All the drivers were fitted with helmets and harnesses 'because without a full harness, you can get banged around,' Barber said.

Barber called the experience 'a pure adrenaline rush' when he got out on the track with his car during one of several 'runs' held during the day.

Everyone present shared in the work as well as the driving. Drivers who raced in one run then swapped to become announcers, course handlers and judges for the next run.

Club member Ken Albers calls the autocross an intense experience where the driver has to read the course quickly to avoid knocking down cones and receive deductions to his time score.

Vaca Valley Vettes and other area clubs have held all-Corvette autocrosses since 2006 in SCC's parking lot. The first year, more than 100 Corvettes showed up.

The main reason for clubs such as the Vaca Valley Vettes is 'to promote the Corvette and drive them,' said club secretary Mike Walter, who has both a 1974 and 2007 Corvette.

It has grown from eight Corvette enthusiasts in 1998 to about 90 members who gather to drive, race and talk.

The group does more than just enjoy their cars with dinner drives and autocross meets. They also offer a scholarship for high school graduates who are interested in studying automotive engineering.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Kites to take flight at Suisun City festival

Kites to take flight at Suisun City festival
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | April 28, 2009



Bill Vierra with one of the kites he will be flying at the Suisun City Kids & Kites Fest on May 2. Photo by Courtesy Photo

SUISUN CITY - Kite aficionado Bill Vierra of Calavaras laughingly described his first kite as 'a crash and burn.'

'When I was a kid, I flew the paper kites. And when they crashed and broke, I was disappointed,' said Vierra, who added the broken kite's next destination was usually the fireplace.

Vierra, 58, rediscovered kites six years ago when his wife bought him one made of ripstop nylon and carbon fiber spars instead of paper and sticks.

'When I got it, I thought, 'Wow, kites have really evolved,'' Vierra said. 'You now see all types, ones created for high winds and light winds, all shapes and sizes. Kites now are only limited by the imagination, and kite flying is terribly addictive.'

Vierra will bring his array of unusual and colorful kites to Suisun City on Saturday for the Kids & Kites Festival, which will be 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. along the waterfront.

There will also be rockwall climbing, giant slides, trampolines, tile painting and a bike rodeo. Bikes can be registered, and there will be a safety checkpoint and riding course. The Fairfield Visual Arts will display works by several local artists.

Entertainment at the Harbor Plaza will feature the DOC Band at 11 a.m., the Solano Youth Theater Touring Group at 12:45 p.m. and the Hipwaders at 2 p.m. A boat parade and the blessing of the fleet in the Suisun Marina will be at 4 p.m.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Nut Tree train to ride again

Nut Tree train to ride again
By Melissa Murphy/ MMurphy@TheReporter.com
Posted: 04/29/2009



The train tracks at the Nut Tree Family Park won't look like they're in a ghost town much longer. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

Nut Tree's No. 5 train will once again ride the tracks -- just one element that will be added to a new proposal for the village component of the development.

Tenants at the Nut Tree Village, the restaurant and retail portion of the development that sits at the entrance to the closed Family Park, have not been immune to the drastic change in the economy.

In the 27-month period that the Family Park was opened, it lost $3 million -- a reason the park was closed indefinitely in January.

Tuesday, the Vacaville City Council was able to weigh in on future plans for the park and the village. Westrust, the developer responsible for the retail portion of the development, will most likely close a deal in May that will shift the responsibility of the Village project to Westrust as they continue to work with the city on how to attract people to the Nut Tree Village.

Rick Capretta, co-managing partner of Westrust, has plans to bring some of those popular and historic elements from the Family Park to the front of the Nut Tree Village, which he believes will create visibility, foot traffic and overall excitement to the area.

The train is just one part of that big picture.

In phase one, the train will circle the oval shaped median of the village.

Capretta explained that relocation of the train as well as the carousel to the front area will help generate momentum for the businesses who have suffered since the Family Park's closure.

The council seemed excited about the project, but has some reservations about moving key pieces from the park to the front while leaving elements such as the historic Harbison House behind.

"I'm excited about the project, but I don't want to neglect the back part of the Family Park," said Councilman Ron Rowlett.

Vice Mayor Curtis Hunt agreed.

"I'm very excited about this, it has a lot of potential," he said. "I don't want to exchange one problem for another. There is a need to bring those two properties together."

Capretta reassured the council that they've already begun looking at how to extend the train to the back of the park to connect it with the Harbison House and the surrounding area that will be attended to during Phase II of the overall plan.

Tenants and former Nut Tree employees are excited about the prospective changes.

"They (Westrust) has worked so hard to see that we're successful," said Carlos Villasenor, owner of Villa Corona, a Mexican food restaurant in the village. "It's still been a little bit of a struggle, but I see a lot of potential."

Vacaville wins financial reporting award

Vacaville wins financial reporting award

Chicago)--The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded to City of Vacaville by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest fonn of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

An Award of Financial Reporting Achievement has been awarded to the individual(s),
department or agency designated by the government as primarily responsible for preparing the award-winning CAFR.

The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards·of the program including demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals with offices in Chicago, IL, and Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chain of building supply stores set to add two area locations

Chain of building supply stores set to add two area locations
Fastenal plans to open 15 stores this year in northern California, Nevada
Sacramento Business Journal - by Kelly Johnson Staff writer



Dennis McCoy | Sacramento Business Journal
Fastenal district manager Jon Schultz, oversees nine stores in the region, as well as locations in Lodi and at Beale Air Force Base. He’s pictured at the store on Florin Perkins Road in Sacramento with general manager Jason Igarta, left, and Adam Brescia, who handles outside sales.

A national chain that sells construction and industrial supplies is continuing to add stores in the region at its pre-recession pace — growing market share while the competition holds relatively steady.

Fastenal Co., which has more than 2,300 stores companywide, is opening two stores in the region during the next two months. The company (Nasdaq: FAST) is set to begin operating May 1 in Elk Grove at 9849 Bendel Place, and June 1 in El Dorado Hills at 4669 Golden Foothills Parkway.

This year, Fastenal wants to add 15 stores between the California-Oregon border and Bakersfield and over to northern Nevada, said Jon Schultz, district manager. Schultz oversees nine stores in the four-county area plus one store apiece in Lodi and at Beale Air Force Base.

Fastenal, which sells mostly to business customers, set up shop in Dixon earlier this month and will open in Williams, an hour north on Interstate 5, on May 1.

Fastenal normally adds two stores per year in the four-county Sacramento area, and this year is no different, Schultz said. The stores each will employ about four people. His per-store sales averaged $73,000 last month. Opening a new store requires about $200,000 worth of inventory.

Stores in his territory aren’t growing revenue as fast as they used to — sales grew by 20 percent last year — but his area was still up 5 percent last month compared to a year ago. As of March, he had 923 active customers, 14 percent more than in January 2008. Schultz’s customer base has grown even though some clients have gone out of business or merged.

“The economy’s opening doors for us that have been previously shut,” Schultz said.

He’s picking up new customers that are attracted to Fastenal for the cost savings that a big chain can provide, he said. Some customers like the convenience of Fastenal’s multiple locations, while others appreciate Fastenal staff coming out and maintaining inventory levels for them.

Fastenal also has started pitching a new vending machine program. Tools and safety equipment are dispensed from a machine at customers’ locations. Instead of some coins for a soda or candy bar, users plug in a payroll code or scan a badge to pull out a tool or safety device. With such a system, employers can better track their equipment, Schultz said.

Ninety-seven percent of Fastenal’s business comes from companies, and weekend warriors who need specialty supplies make up the rest, he said. About half of the company’s business is sales of nuts, bolts, screws and the like. It also sells everything from cordless drills and spray paint to welding wire and janitorial supplies.

Fastenal believes in continuing to grow its locations despite the recession. The company is “just sticking to that model — getting closer to our customers so we can take care of them,” Schultz said.

That’s why he’s considering expanding to Grass Valley next year and midtown Sacramento in 2011, Shultz said. Fastenal also can open and manage on-site stores for customers, like it did when Cache Creek Casino Resort was being constructed.

A competitor, Lord & Sons Inc., a San Jose-based supplier of fasteners and construction products, has one location in Sacramento.

“We’re holding our own in Sacramento right now,” said Robert Bullock, chief executive officer of Lord & Sons.

Lord & Sons and a sister company, Landmann Wire Rope Products Inc., both are looking at expanding by entering new territories and through acquisition, but not in Sacramento, he said. He wasn’t surprised that Fastenal is making a move to pick up market share during the recession.

Things are slower than normal at Rainbow Fasteners in Sacramento, said Kathy Rivers, one of the owners. The company hasn’t replaced a couple people who have retired, and now employs 10.

Of Fastenal, she said, “I would have expected them to slow it down a little.” But then again, it is that company’s model to add locations, she said.

Meanwhile, ORCO Construction Supply, another player in the crowded market, has shrunk. The Livermore-based company announced in February that it would consolidate seven branches into other nearby locations, including one in Sacramento.

Fastenal Co.
Business: Sells industrial and construction supplies
Ticker: Nasdaq: FAST
Headquarters: Winona, Minn.
Founded: 1967
Stores: 2,337
Typical store size in California: 3,500 to 5,000 square feet
Sales per store per month: $70,200
Distribution centers: 14, including one in Modesto
Web: fastenal.com

kjohnson@bizjournals.com | 916-558-7860

Waste Connections buys landfill for $59M

Waste Connections buys landfill for $59M
Sacramento Business Journal - by Celia Lamb
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Republic Services adds solar technology to Texas landfill
Waste Connections Inc. has completed its purchase of the Portrero Hills Landfill in Suisun City for $58.9 million, according to a statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today.

The company (NYSE: WCN) announced plans to buy the landfill from Republic Services Inc. (NYSE: RSG) in March, but did not disclose the purchase price at that time. Suisun City is in Solano County near Fairfield.

In a separate deal, Waste Connections completed the purchase of $313 million of assets from Republic on April 2. Republic has been divesting its assets to satisfy anti-trust regulations since its merger with Allied Waste Industries Inc. in December.

Travis surgeons enhance cardiothoracic skills

Travis surgeons enhance cardiothoracic skills
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | April 27, 2009



Col. Chris Thompson, right, the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at David Grant Medical Center, performs a stint procedure in the cath lab at UC Davis Medical enter in Sacramento Friday. Assisting at left is nurse Cornel Barbuta. UC Davis Medical Center and David Grant have been working together for three years to help establish a cardiothoracic surgery program at Travis Air Fore Base. Photo by Brad Zweerink

TRAVIS AFB - Heart surgery for veterans and military members could soon be a possibility at David Grant Medical Center.

David Grant has worked with UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for three years to help create a cardiothoracic surgery program that will allow Travis Air Force Base to provide such care.

'The goal is to perform our first open-heart surgery next spring,' said Col. Chris Thompson, David Grant's chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

As it is now, patients in need of heart surgery are transferred to area hospitals such as Queen of the Valley in Napa.

David Grant worked out an agreement last year to allow Air Force surgeons to operate at UC Davis Medical Center as the program and its support services are being established at David Grant.

Since July 2008, four Air Force doctors have commuted to Sacramento, said Maj. Daren Danielson, a cardiothoracic surgeon at David Grant. He called the relationship 'seamless.'

'It is a way for them to get some experience and maintain their skills in preparation for the program at David Grant,' said Dr. David Wisner, interim chief of surgery at UC Davis Medical Center.

The transformation has begun at David Grant to create an operating room and cardiology suite, which Danielson said will be 'one of the best in the country.'

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Benicia takes first step in design of new center

Benicia takes first step in design of new center
By Tony Burchyns
Posted: 04/25/2009

BENICIA -- The City Council has approved environmental design work for a new community center that could increase the project's upfront costs.

But nobody's sure where the money will come from to build the center, prompting some elected officials to offer ideas ranging from loans to seeking voter approval for a bond measure.

The much-anticipated center will be housed at the shuttered Mills Elementary School on East L Street. The city has already spent about $700,000 to gut the facility. It continues to spend $10,000 a month to lease the abandoned facility from the Benicia Unified School District.

For now, the project's total estimated cost stands at about $4.6 million.

The Benicia City Council on Tuesday ordered construction drawings that meet national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

The cost: About $235,000.

City officials say the revised plans would probably raise upfront construction costs once big-ticket items such as solar panels and other green elements are factored. Financing mechanisms, combined with energy savings, could make it a wash, though.

Even if the poor economy allows for lower-than-expected construction bids, "Nobody has any idea where the money will come from to build the thing," Vice Mayor Tom Campbell said Friday.

Mayor Elizabeth Patterson said there are ways for the city to raise the money despite the economy, such as borrowing money from the reserve fund. Or, she said, the council could ask voters to approve a bond measure or establish a community assessment district to foot the bill.

"There are tools out there," Patterson said. "We, the community, need to decide what the best tool is."

Meantime, the council may decide during its May-June budget review to move ahead on an early construction phase costing an estimated $600,000 or more.

"We'd prefer to build all at once, but we recognize the economic challenges," said Mario Giuliani, management analyst for the Benicia Parks and Community Services Department. "Staff has prepared a phased approach so that the wing closest to K Street could be used by the scouts and the city."

The phase could be finished by January or February, Giuliani said.

If the city finds money to finish the whole project, it could be completed within a year.

But nobody's holding their breath.

E-mail Tony Burchyns at tburchyns@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6831.

Touro to begin undergrad program this fall

Touro to begin undergrad program this fall
By Sarah Rohrs
Posted: 04/25/2009

After nearly two years of preparation, Touro University's undergraduate program will be in place this fall, school officials said Friday.

The New York-based Touro University now offers training for graduate students on its Vallejo Mare Island campus. Now it is on course to branch off into undergraduate programs, said Harvey Kaye, Touro dean of the college of undergraduate studies.

"We're just on the cusp of that," Kaye said of the new undergraduate programs. "What we plan to do is nurture our relationships with local community colleges.

"It's a win-win situation."

Touro issued a press release Friday announcing the new undergraduate program, outlining plans to buy the property on which the campus sits and re-emphasizing recent assurances that the university is committed to Vallejo.

The new undergraduate program is just one way Touro University hopes to show it is committed to Vallejo and its Mare Island location. In late March, Touro suspended its plans to develop Mare Island's north end, including construction of a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center.

Michael Harter, Touro western division senior provost and CEO, said comments about Touro leaving Vallejo are not true.

"It's been our home for 10 years and we're going to stay there," Harter said. "We've invested a lot of money in that property even though we didn't own it and you just don't walk away from $20 million in investments."

The Vallejo Planning Commission earlier this month endorsed Lennar Mare Island's plan to make the land under Touro University available for sale to the school.

To launch the undergraduate program, Touro received accreditation through Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in March to offer bachelor degrees in business and management.

To qualify for the new business program, students must have already graduated from a community college with associate degrees, Kaye said.

At Touro, these college juniors and seniors will be able to secure a bachelor of science in business and management with concentrations in global business and strategy management, security and risk management or health care management.

This summer, Touro will hold public informational sessions to introduce the undergraduate program to prospective students.

For more details on the undergraduate program, call (707) 638-5446, or 1-888-652-7580.

Manufacturing summit helps produce success

Manufacturing summit helps produce success

FAIRFIELD - Manufacturers can learn about strategies for success at a special summit on May 5 in Fairfield.

Although the high-profile collapses of the housing and financial industries have gotten more attention, the manufacturing industry has also been hammered by the economic recession.

'This is a time when companies need to not only survive, but also must do the planning that will allow them to emerge stronger as the recession ends,' said Curt Johnston, Fairfield's assistant director of economic development, in a statement.

The Solano County Manufacturing Summit is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. May 5 at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Fairfield.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Web site: Vacaville one of top places to live

Web site: Vacaville one of top places to live
Daily Republic staff | April 24, 2009

VACAVILLE - Vacaville was named one of the top 100 places to live in America by the real estate relocation Web site RelocateAmerica.com, Vacaville city leaders announced Thursday.

It was only one of three California cities to make that list, according to a press release from the Vacaville City Manager's Office.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Step up, and volunteer for Vallejo

Step up, and volunteer for Vallejo
Posted: 04/21/2009

Editor's note: The author is the Director of Public Relations at the California Maritime Academy, a member of Vallejo Rotary, and outgoing Chairman of the Board of Directors of Leadership Vallejo.

The Times-Herald never suffers a shortage of people ready to write a letter to the editor about community problems, and it's the same with the paper's community blog site. But more and more it is clear that solving the challenges facing Vallejo, our state and our nation depends heavily on volunteers: Dedicated members of the community, ready to commit their time, their skills and their dedication to expanding opportunities, and building, rebuilding and strengthening institutions -- not just complaining.

Three years ago, with the assistance of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Vallejo was launched -- to train a new generation of volunteer leaders from our community. As our recent ads note, they are people just like you. In just a few weeks, we'll be graduating our second class of trainees. Some 40 men and women, reflecting the broad diversity of Vallejo, will have taken part in a series of once-a-month, day-long classes covering everything from area history and government to social services, the arts, environment, labor, education and economic development. They also learn new skills in group dynamics, organization, setting agendas and budgets and public speaking.

When they graduate in May, they will also have an invaluable network of contacts and resources they can turn to and draw upon as they join the ranks of those already working to create a better, stronger and more viable Vallejo. The program is underwritten through a combination of in-kind and financial support from area businesses and organizations (including the Times-Herald) and tuition from class members. It is our hope to train more than 100 new volunteer leaders for Vallejo in our first five years.

Although some of our graduates may go into politics, Leadership Vallejo is not political. Our focus is on training people to help guide the future of our community. Each of our annual classes divides up into smaller groups to identify and seek solutions to a particular community challenge. Today, two of our first-year projects are helping strengthen Vallejo:

* Team Tennessee: Recognizing the importance of Tennessee Street as a gateway to Vallejo and Mare Island, the TT group undertook a one-on-one-survey of residents and business owners along the corridor to identify their concerns and their hopes. It was one thing to identify the problems -- crime, homelessness, graffiti, congestion, lack of community action -- and another to find solutions. In just their first year, TT has recruited volunteers, organized community social and business events, restored a large outdoor community mural, worked with the city to discourage illegal parking, attacked graffiti, arranged for the installment of high-visibility pedestrian crosswalk signs, and installed promotional banners on light poles along the street. Their efforts have worked so well that other areas in the community are asking how they can replicate TT's success.

* The Bio-Tech Career Path Coalition: A second Leadership Vallejo group talked with area educators and businesses and found the two groups had common interests. Vallejo's schools wanted to help students recognize the quality job opportunities in the region after graduation and the area's bio-tech industry faced a shortage of skilled manpower. The two joined forces to create workshops and other events, showcasing the industry to students and letting them know the courses they would need to take both at the high school and community college level to prepare themselves. Again, other business groups, including the Vallejo Chamber, are now working together to create similar programs to strengthen and focus our vital school system.

* Open house -- you're invited: Wednesday, at the Farragut Inn on Mare Island's Touro University campus, Leadership Vallejo will hold its third annual Open House to showcase the new community projects undertaken by our second-year class. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the program starts promptly at 5:30 -- the public is invited. If you are interested in getting involved, come join us.

Learn more about Leadership Vallejo and how you can get involved -- as a supporter, an underwriter, and/or as a member of our Third Year class. You'll also get a chance to network with friends and neighbors already working to make Vallejo a better community.

* Apply for Our Next Class: Applications for the 2009-2010 class and additional information are available at the Open House and at our Web site (www.leadershipvallejo.org). Applications can be completed on-line or printed out, and mailed to us by May 15. Applicants will undergo interviews, and class selections will be made by early July, with first classes in September.

* Vallejo Volunteer Web site: Let me also promote another new resource for anyone interested in area volunteer opportunities: www.volunteervallejo.org is a new Web site, formed in part through a Leadership Vallejo initiative. It is designed to bring together Vallejo community groups and organizations seeking volunteers with those interested in volunteering. While many groups already have their own Web sites, creating a central location listing a wider range of opportunities helps interested volunteers best match their skills and interests with current needs.

We invite any interested Vallejo group needing volunteers to add their listings at this site as well as their own, and then link their site with Volunteer Vallejo to help spread the word. It's a great way to get involved, to meet new friends and neighbors, and to join together in building new strengths and pride in our community. We encourage those same groups interested in strengthening their leadership resources to have members apply for our next class.

Doug Webster
Leadership Vallejo

Transportation funds are short-term fix

Transportation funds are short-term fix
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | April 23, 2009

FAIRFIELD - Local leaders predict that Solano County's transportation system could see impressive short-term gains and then experience some long-term pain.

Bulldozers will be busy during the next few years on such projects as Interstate 80 resurfacing, the rebuilding of McGary Road and Highway 12 improvements. Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls called the job-producing activities 'our mini-version of economic stimulus.'

Some of the projects are getting money from the federal economic stimulus package that is a one-time boost. County Supervisor and STA Board Chairman Jim Spering sees rough times ahead because of the state budget woes.

'The challenges are great,' Spering said.

Halls and Spering delivered a talk titled 'The Good, The Bad and The Daunting' during the Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast Thursday at Courtyard by Marriott.

Among the good news is the $28 million in federal economic stimulus money coming to county transportation projects. Halls said that $11.5 million will go to road maintenance, $13.9 million to mass transit and $2.5 million to such projects as the McGary Road reconstruction.

The 8.7 miles of carpool lanes being built on I-80 in Fairfield are to open this fall. The state is to then renovate the I-80 pavement through Fairfield. Highway 12 is to be widened through Jameson Canyon beginning next year.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Lake Solano nature center extols area resources

Lake Solano nature center extols area resources
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | April 23, 2009



Antoinette Potier, 5, of Dixon, reaches for a rainbow trout in one of the new 400 gallon viewing tanks during the grand opening of the new nature center at Lake Solano Regional Park Wednesday. Photo by Mike Greener

WINTERS - Retired Solano County parks ranger Duane Davis has waited since the mid-1980s for the day Solano County would open a nature center at one of its parks.

The idea is to educate the public about the area's resources and get people interested, Davis said. That helps ensure the future of the region's parks.

After a couple of failed attempts in the past 25 years, the county finally has a nature center at Lake Solano Regional Park. Davis attended the dedication ceremony Wednesday and was amazed by the 5,000-square-foot center built with glass, metal and stucco. The project cost $2.8 million.

'I never believed it would be to this magnitude,' said Davis, who retired last summer after 35 years with the county.

Visitors can come to the center and see small aquariums containing the aquatic snail and giant water bug. There are also three 450-gallon aquariums with catfish and small-mouth bass.

Another exhibit explores wetlands, asking such questions as why wetlands are like Egg Beaters. The answer: Wetlands mix nutrients and oxygen into water.

The nature center also contains meeting space, an outdoor education area and ranger offices. About 100 people came to the center on a hot Wednesday afternoon for the dedication.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

County agencies get $1 million for services

County agencies get $1 million for services
By Reporter Staff
Posted: 04/24/2009

Solano County public safety agencies have been allotted more than $1 million in federal stimulus funding to help bolster programs and services, authorities said.

Seven agencies will split $1,014,930 provided by the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, under the 2009 Recovery Act: Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Formula Program. The Suisun City Police Department will serve as fiscal agent and administer the grant for each agency.

The breakdown, officials said, is as follows:

* Vallejo: $348,997 to hire and train two full-time officers;

* Fairfield: $264,468 to hire two more recreation staff and instructors for the Police Activities League facility, add 10 closed circuit cameras with licenses and accessories and fund overtime for gang suppression operations;

* Vacaville: $113,788 to retain two family support workers.

* County of Solano: $126, 819 to hire a laboratory director for the Solano County Forensics Laboratory;

* Suisun City: $53,854 for equipment for the Special Enforcement Team, an online crime reporting program, new radar units and flashlights, radios interoperable with Fairfield's new radio system, additional electronic citation devices and a license plate recognition system for two patrol cars. And, an extra $50,746 for serving as fund administrator.

* Dixon: $31,380 to maintain an officer on the Solano County Narcotics Task Force;

* Benicia: $24,878 to supplement the purchase of military-grade laptop computers for patrol vehicles.

Transportation group seeks money

Transportation group seeks money
By Melissa Murphy/ MMurphy@TheReporter.com
Posted: 04/24/2009

The daunting task of finding ways to finance transportation projects in Solano County is even harder during unyielding economic times.

Representatives of the Solano Transportation Authority, including Executive Director Daryl Halls, met with local economic leaders Thursday morning to share details on how the effort is faring.

Dubbing their report "the good, the bad and the daunting," transportation officials made their presentation at a breakfast gathering hosted by the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

Halls shared with the group that because of an ongoing relationship with the STA and city leaders, the county is often at the front end of receiving money for projects.

He attributes that to aggressively completing the preliminary work to make sure projects are shovel ready.

"Our overall goal is to get more transportation money into the county," Hall said. "Solano County stands out because we're speaking as one voice. We want to help everyone develop an overall transportation system."

The STA board members even traveled to the state capitol and Washington, D.C. to discuss the county's priority transportation funding needs.

Meanwhile, construction continues along Interstate 80 as part of the pavement rehabilitation project. The Fairfield portion will begin this summer and is the first project in California to receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funding.

"It's a great time to be going out to bid," Halls added. "It's an exciting moment for Solano County."

The city of Vacaville will receive $4.1million in ARRA funds to be used for four projects in the city. Interim City Manager Laura Kuhn explained that although the money is great, it's replacing what the state already took away.

In truth, the state funds about 80 percent of the budgeted projects in Solano County. The STA also expects to receive enough money for only seven new projects in the next 25 years that help accommodate the increasing demand for "regional mobility" in Solano.

"The crisis does not seem to be going away," Halls admitted.

Receiving the stimulus money is good news, but at the state level transit assistance funds are suspended completely for fiscal year 2009-10. That means countywide paratransit services will not receive $287,000 and local Solano County transit service will not receive more than $1.3 million.

Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, who also is the STA chairman, shared with the group that, "our future does not look bright," and at a time when ridership is up throughout the county, the lack of funds means services have to be cut from the very people who need it the most. "State funding is in absolute turmoil."

Spering added that unlike other Bay Area counties, Solano does not have a local revenue source for transportation so the STA, in partnership with cities, the county and regional partners, is exploring other funding options.

One creative concept is a High Occupancy Toll or HOT Lane in which excess High Occupany Vehicle lane capacity would be sold to single occupancy vehicles. Funds generated from the toll would be used to help maintain and manage the corridor.

Another idea is a Regional Transportation Impact Fee, which would charge developers a modest fee for impacts on the roads.

"Our biggest challenge isn't new projects, but the deterioration of our current infrastructure," Spering explained. "Keep in mind, that the money generated in Solano County stays in Solano County, where it is managed and controlled by the county. The state can't touch it."

Vacaville makes list of top cities

Vacaville makes list of top cities
By Melissa Murphy
Posted: 04/24/2009

Vacaville has been named one of the top 100 cities to call home, according to a real estate relocation Web site.

The annual listing by RelocateAmerica.com included only three cities in California this year - the other two are Temecula and Riverside.

The announcement didn't surprise Mayor Len Augustine.

"It's a great place to be a mayor," said Augustine, who has lived in the city for some 34 years. "I'm prejudice to the city. We have amazing people who volunteer their time and come together. It's truly the people that make this city what it is."

This is the second consecutive year Vacaville has been selected as one of the Top 100 Places to Live, but the Web site said it approached its selections a little differently this time around.

"With the increasing concern on our nation's economy and recovering housing market we approached this year's list with a different lens than in previous years," said Steve Nickerson, president and CEO of TrueV New Media, which maintains RelocateAmerica.com. "We concentrated on the outlook for future growth and ability to rebound in the communities that we selected."

In a press release announcing the selections, Nickerson said, "We looked at the local government and the business leadership in each community as we considered this year's winners. We selected communities with visionary leaders, improving or thriving economies including housing and realization of 'green' initiatives."

RelocateAmerica.com's editorial team reviews nominations and selects the top 100 cities based on interviews with local leaders, feedback from residents and economic, environmental, education, crime, employment and housing data for the past year.

Augustine believes Vacaville's stable and educated workforce along with a strong faith-based community make the city unique.

"There is a lot to say," he added. "We have a safe community, one that's not at war with each other, but one that has residents that work together and continually volunteer their time no matter what the call."

Executive Director of Solano Economic Development Corporation Mike Ammann agreed.

"Vacaville does a lot of things well," he said, pointing to the city's stable economy and diverse industry as an example. "It's a really solid community that offers pretty much everything a family would want."

Ammann added that Vacaville's ability to recruit large employers like the California's State Compensation Insurance Fund to the city validates that locating to Vacaville is a good location decision for businesses.

Augustine is hopeful that Vacaville's streak will continue.

"Naturally, we're pleased to be one of only three California cities selected for this honor," he said in the press release. "It's a tribute to our residents, our employees, our businesses and our community in general. Next year our goal is to make the Top 10, and I think we can do it."

The complete Top 100 List along with community profiles, photos and video can be viewed at http://top100.relocate-america.com/.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Long-awaited center opens

Long-awaited center opens
By Danny Bernardini/ DBernardini@TheReporter.com
Posted: 04/23/2009



Roman Sykes, 4, of Alameda, points out aquatic life to Janet Kornegay in a crawl-through display Wednesday during a tour of the Lake Solano Nature Center. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

Years of waiting came to an end Wednesday as Solano County unveiled the Lake Solano Nature Center, which will become the centerpiece for tourism in the area.

Built just inside the Lake Solano Campground on Pleasants Valley Road, the nature center includes interactive educational areas, offices for park rangers and a meeting room.

Long gone are the parking lot next to the water and the storage shed that park staff was using as a makeshift office. In their spot is a $2.8 million, 5,000-square-foot center that has been planned since the eighties.

The project was funded by a variety of sources, a large majority of which came from grants secured by a partnership of Solano County, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Putah Creek Discovery Corridor Cooperative and others.



Visitors and county officials attend the grand opening ceremony and tour of the Lake Solano Nature Center on Wednesday. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

Although he was only hired during the final steps and construction of the building, Dan Sykes, parks services manager, knows what a long journey it was to finally see the center come to life.

"You spend so much time working on it, it means so much more when it happens," Sykes said. "Now we hope the whole county can enjoy it."

Following the footprints of several of the native animals imprinted on the floor, visitors will be able to learn about the watershed, the wildlife and wetlands that make up the area.

Prominently displayed near the entrance are three 450-gallon fish tanks showing off trout, bass and catfish. Other displays show off aquatic insects, plants and maps.

A majority of the displays offer trivia, timelines and large illustrations that fill the room, many including educational tidbits hidden behind movable squares.

The grand opening was kicked off with a ceremony including dozens of folks associated with the county and the companies that helped build the center. Among those in the crowd was Duane Davis, who spent 35 years with Solano County before retiring as park ranger in August.

Many speaking Wednesday credited Davis with pushing the dream along. Through all the proposals and possible sites, Davis said, he never imagined the nature center turning out so well.

"This one is perfect," Davis said. "This is the hub of the watershed."

Davis, who lived at Lake Solano since 1994, said he is excited to see the current rangers have a new office as well as the opportunity to teach youngsters and lead meetings.

"For these guys, it's going to open a new avenue to their career," Davis said. "It's a win for everyone."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tutoring center cutting the ribbon

Tutoring center cutting the ribbon
By Talia Sampson | Daily Republic | April 22, 2009



Malik Wilbon, 9, works on his math homework with Parkway Leaven Tutoring Center volunteer tutor Angela Kirk. The free tutoring and activity program will have its grand opening and open house on April 27. Photo by Chris Jordan

FAIRFIELD - Ten-year-old Kam'ryn Duhon proudly pointed out framed photos of other children on the wall of The Leaven tutoring center Tuesday afternoon.

'This is our family,' the fifth-grader said.

The center, located at 951 Alaska Avenue next to Parkway Community Church, is one of two locations of a 501(c)3 nonprofit that offers free after school programs and tutoring for 25-35 children from nearby low-income neighborhoods, said Mark Lillis, director of The Leaven.

On Monday, The Leaven will hold a public grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Alaska Ave. location, which has been serving students since last fall.

A representative for Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is expected to present The Leaven with a proclamation at the event, Lillis said.

The center is run by former Anna Kyle Elementary School teacher Paulina Polk, who said tutoring is just part of what The Leaven offers.

'It's not just homework, it's also about self-esteem,' Polk said. 'Sometimes, students come in and say, 'I don't like homework' or 'I don't like to read' and really it's that they don't like themselves.'

After finishing homework, students can play tetherball, jump rope or basketball in the backyard or paint or draw at an arts and crafts table inside. There is also a small gameroom with foosball and an area with couches and books.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

GUGGENHEIMS AWARDED TO UC DAVIS ENGLISH AND EVOLUTION PROFS

GUGGENHEIMS AWARDED TO UC DAVIS ENGLISH AND EVOLUTION PROFS

Two UC Davis faculty members and one professor emeritus have been awarded prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships, the foundation announced on April 8.

Frances Dolan, professor of English; Artyom Kopp, assistant professor of evolution and ecology; and Lynn Hershman Leeson, professor emeritus of technocultural studies, are among the 180 artists, scientists and scholars from the United States and Canada recognized for stellar achievement and exceptional promise by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Guggenheim Fellowships are intended to provide recipients with blocks of time ranging from six to 12 months in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. In 2008, the average amount awarded to fellows in the United States and Canada competition was approximately $43,200.

Frances Dolan plans to spend her fellowship year in Davis and London researching and writing a book that examines how modern research methods are indebted to 17th century scholarly debates in England about the nature of evidence and how it should be evaluated.

After obtaining a Ph.D. in English at the University of Chicago in 1988, Dolan spent 14 years as a professor of English at Miami University in Ohio before coming to UC Davis in 2003. Her teaching and research focus on 16th and 17th century English literature and history, and, more recently, how these areas of the past affect the present.

Artyom Kopp will be in Austria at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna during his fellowship year. His project consists of sequencing and comparing the RNA of hybrids of different populations of Drosophila flies in order to address one of evolutionary biology's most hotly debated topics. This is the notion that mutations in certain regulatory sections of genes may play a predominant role in the natural variation that is found between individuals of the same species.

Kopp joined the UC Davis faculty in 2002 after earning a Ph.D. in developmental biology from Washington University in St. Louis and working as a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He and his lab group combine developmental and evolutionary genetics to understand the origin of changes in physical traits and ecological adaptations among organisms.

Currently on the faculty of the San Francisco Art Institute, Lynn Hershman Leeson was a professor of art at UC Davis from 1993 to 2005.
During her Guggenheim Fellowship term, Hershman Leeson will be working on her next film, "Women Art Revolution, the (Formerly) Secret History."

Recent UC Davis Guggenheim fellows are Marisol de la Cadena and Li Zhang, who both received fellowships in social sciences in 2008, and Douglas Kahn, who received a fellowship in film, video and radio studies in 2006.

UC DAVIS MATERIALS ENGINEER NAMED TO NEW 'GREEN RIBBON' SCIENCE PANEL

UC DAVIS MATERIALS ENGINEER NAMED TO NEW 'GREEN RIBBON' SCIENCE PANEL

A UC Davis professor has been selected to serve on an advisory panel that will help guide the state of California toward adoption of a "green chemistry" program.

Julie Schoenung, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science, was one of 27 scientists and academicians from across the United States chosen to serve on California's newly formed Green Ribbon Science Panel. Established in 2008 by passage of two landmark environmental bills signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Sept.
29, the panel will provide advice and act as a resource to California's Department of Toxic Substances Control and the California Environmental Policy Council.

The department selected the 27 panel members on the basis of their education, expertise and practical experience in specific fields related to green chemistry, which is an innovative approach in dealing with chemicals before they become hazards, with an overall goal of making chemicals and products "benign by design." Members' qualifications derive from a range of disciplines, including engineering, materials science, chemistry, toxicology, environmental law, public health, public policy and risk analysis. All serve as volunteers.

Schoenung brings to the panel her expertise in incorporating green design principles when choosing materials that get incorporated into complex products. Her research interests also includes the synthesis of materials ranging from metals and ceramics to nanomaterials and thermal barrier coatings. In July 2008 she was appointed co-director of the new University of California Lead Campus Program on Research and Education in Green Materials. The program's goal is to overhaul the research education of graduate students in such fields as materials science and environmental toxicology in order to create approaches that will help move society toward replacing toxic materials with green materials.

Duties of the Green Ribbon Science Panel include:

* Advising the Department of Toxic Substances Control on scientific and technical matters in support of significantly reducing adverse impacts on health and the environment of chemicals used in commerce, and to help determine the societal costs of those adverse impacts.

* Advising the department on the development of green chemistry and chemicals policy recommendations and implementation strategies, and ensuring that the recommendations are based on a strong scientific foundation.

* Providing the department with a prioritized list of the chemicals for which hazard data should be collected.

For more information about the initiative and a complete list of Green Ribbon Science Panel members, see www.dtsc.ca.gov.