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  • Apr282016

    Petaluma Argus Courier: Dodd best choice for State Senate

    A democratic primary campaign is underway between a well-funded moderate candidate backed by the party establishment and a progressive candidate gaining traction with a grassroots movement on the left.

    Sure, this sounds like the democratic presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but it could also aptly describe the race for the state Senate seat that includes Petaluma.

    The 3rd District primary has become a two-person race between Assemblyman Bill Dodd and former Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, both democrats. The two will likely split votes in the primary, with the winner facing the lone Republican in the November election. In California’s primary system, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election.

    In these times of partisan gridlock, where politicians at both ends of the political spectrum have paralyzed government, it is increasingly important to elect centrist candidates that can work with both sides to achieve consensus and get things done. This is why we are recommending a vote for Dodd in the June 7 primary.

    A former supervisor from Napa County, Dodd has worked on issues important to Petalumans, including preserving agricultural land and funding for education. While he has spent less than two years in the Assembly, he is well qualified for the higher state Senate office.

    As former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Dodd has valuable experience with funding for large infrastructure projects, and he is a good ally in Sacramento for Petaluma’s effort to widen Highway 101. As a moderate politician, he is able to work across the aisle and bring all sides to the table.

    There have been questions raised about his party affiliation. He was a Republican until about six years ago, but switched after agreeing with democratic positions on key issues like climate change, marriage equality and immigration reform. The ability to evolve politically should be seen as an asset.

     

    Yamada certainly has the experience to serve in the Senate after serving six years in the Assembly and representing Davis on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. The most liberal of the candidates in the race, she has less potential for achieving compromise on important issues.

    Either Dodd or Yamada would make a better candidate against Republican Greg Coppes, an electrical contractor from Dixon. Coppes has never held elected office, though he has advocated for legislation on veterans affairs and education funding in Sacramento. A third Democrat, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Gabe Griess, also has never held elected office and is running an outsider campaign.

    Either Dodd or Yamada would make good leaders in the Senate, but Dodd would accomplish more from the center.

    Too often in politics, candidates campaign to the far left or the far right. But it is the center where governing happens. On June 7, voters should look to the center and vote for Dodd for state Senate.

  • Apr192016

    We can better deal with drought with more data

     

    That’s why Assembly Bill 1755 is so important. Scheduled to go before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday, the legislation will leverage California’s technological might to integrate existing data on reservoirs, stream flows, fish populations, water rights, aquifer levels and more into a user-friendly and publicly accessible website. The bill would develop open data protocols and encourage public-private partnerships to bring together the best available technology.

    Today, these important data are tracked using various methods and stored in a hodgepodge of places. What’s worse, the current system ignores technological advances. In the most severe drought in California’s history, the home of Silicon Valley manages its water data with the computing power of a pencil sharpener.

    Only the largest farmers and water agencies have the resources to navigate this complex process. With open and transparent data, water would be better managed by all parties and get where it’s needed faster.

    First, it would help ensure people are not without water during severe droughts. Second, it would allow decision makers to better address our water needs while providing incentives for conservation and innovation. Third, it will help officials make more informed decisions to protect fish and wildlife.

    Bottom line, better data will help us reduce waste, providing more water throughout the system. If California is going to prosper in a 21st century defined by climate change, it’s going to need to do a much better job managing and measuring its water use. For our economy and our environment, it’s time to open the spigot on California water data.

  • Apr192016

    Clear Lake could benefit from proposed state conservancy taking in 13 counties

    Public officials and environmentalists in Lake County are hopeful a proposal working its way through the state Legislature could bring much-needed money to fund efforts to clean up Clear Lake and restore surrounding wetlands.

    Senate Bill 1396, authored by state Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would establish a new state conservancy stretching from Solano County to the Oregon border. It would expand protections and enhance restoration of natural resources within all or parts of 13 counties, including Lake, Mendocino and Napa.

    The bill was approved 6-2 last week by the Senate Committee on National Resources and Water.

    Backers of the bill in resource-rich but cash-poor Lake County are hoping the conservancy will materialize, opening up new funding for efforts to improve the water quality of Clear Lake, the county’s primary tourism draw and economic engine. The lake — California’s second largest after Tahoe — suffers from algae overgrowth and mercury contamination and is in danger of being invaded by destructive non-native mussels.

    “We have not been able to funnel money in to take care of (Clear Lake) properly. It’s a very important natural resource,” said Lake County Supervisor Jim Steele, a retired Fish and Game biologist.

    “It could be a tremendous boost to this whole region,” said Lake County resident Victoria Brandon, chair of the Sierra Club’s Redwood Chapter.

    The bill would create the Inner Coast Range Conservancy, bringing to 11 the number of state conservancies in California. They include the Coastal Conservancy, the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

    As proposed, the conservancy would encompass 9.5 million acres of public and private land, said Bob Schneider, senior policy director of Tuleyome, the conservation group spearheading the effort. It also launched the successful push to create the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, which is within the proposed conservancy area.

    Schneider said he initiated the conservancy process largely because the land and people within its proposed boundaries are losing out on millions of dollars in grant and bond funding that is available to surrounding areas that are in conservancies. The taxpayer funds support a wide range of land and water conservation and restoration projects.

    “We’re kind of the blank spot on the map,” Schneider said.

     

    Lake County has long been in search of funding that could support projects aimed at improving the water quality in Clear Lake. Slated efforts include a nearly $50 million restoration to return about 1,600 acres on the northwestern shore to wetlands by knocking down more than 14 miles of levees, many of which don’t meet current standards.

    Launched more than a decade ago, the Middle Creek Project has been slowed by funding shortfalls and, to some degree, landowners who have not wanted to sell land in the project area, especially when land values plummeted, officials said.

    There also have been proposals to restore other nearby wetlands that, combined with the Middle Creek project, would bring back more than half of the nearly 8,000 acres of wetlands lost or damaged in the Clear Lake Basin in the past century, according to county officials.

    The restored wetlands would filter runoff and streams that feed Clear Lake, reducing mercury contamination from old mines and nutrients that promote the algae overgrowth that plagues the ancient lake, estimated to be more than 2.5 million years old.

    County supervisors have attempted three times to get voter approval for a sales tax aimed at benefiting the lake. All three tax measures narrowly failed. The last proposal was in 2014.

    “We are hopeful that the formation of this conservancy, which includes Clear Lake, will assist us in securing federal and/or state grant money to assist us with our efforts to restore wetlands and improve water quality,” Lake County Supervisor Tony Farrington said.

  • Apr132016

    Dodd’s classroom earthquake safety bill receives support

    A bill by Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Solano, to protect students and teachers during earthquakes took an important step forward, receiving unanimous bipartisan support from the Assembly Education Committee. Dodd’s bill would require school districts in California to ensure that the contents of their classroom, like heavy bookshelves or hanging light fixtures, comply with state earthquake safety guidelines.

    “Earthquakes are a part of life in California and we cannot wait for tragedy to strike to take common sense precautions to ensure our children and teachers are as safe as possible,” Dodd said. “I’m thankful to have the unanimous support of the Assembly Education Committee and look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to advance classroom earthquake safety.”

    The state of California has already invested time and resources into creating guidelines for securing the contents of classrooms in the event of an earthquake. However, there is currently nothing in state law that requires school districts to adhere to the established guidelines produced by the Division of the State Architects. Inspections of Napa schools following the South Napa Earthquake revealed significant damage inside classrooms, totaling millions of dollars. These concerning results have been identified following other serious earthquakes throughout the state. The shifting contents and blocked exists could have been life-threatening had the earthquake occurred during school hours.

    “What we found after the Napa Earthquake was alarming…we found classrooms that we couldn’t even get inside because things had fallen in the doorway,” said Don Evans, member of the Napa Valley Unified School District, who testified before the education committee. “We believe the preventative approach is the way to go and we believe future damage is controllable.

    Following the South Napa Earthquake, the Napa Valley Unified School District completed an inspection of its facilities and addressed the issues that were identified. Dodd’s legislation would require that all seismically active school districts in California proactively inspect school contents and equipment to ensure they are within state guidelines.

    Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Lake, Solano, and Colusa counties. He’s also running to represent Senate District 3.

    Learn more about Dodd and the Assembly district at www.asm.ca.gov/dodd.

  • Apr132016

    Dodd’s equal pay legislation moves forward

    A gender pay equity bill by Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, is one step closer to becoming law after receiving unanimous, bipartisan support from the Assembly Labor Committee.

    The legislation would ensure that companies that do business with the state of California have fair compensation policies and practices that do not unlawfully differentiate between gender and race.

    “The state of California spends billions of dollars annually on state contracts, and we need to ensure that taxpayer money is only going to companies that follow our gender pay equity laws,” Dodd said in a news release. “We need to take a stand for what’s right and ensure everyone is on an equal playing field. I believe we owe that to future generations.”

    Last year, Dodd co-authored the California Fair Pay Act of 2015, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to create the strongest equal pay laws in the nation. Hoping to build off last year’s success, Dodd’s new bill would advance pay equity by ensuring that those standards are actually followed by state contractors.