Cabs, fences, Rotary at City Council
Anyone who thinks Pleasanton has become too big for small town concerns needs to spend a night or two at a City Council meeting. Long before council members can turn to "agendized" issues for their meetings, which are held the first and third Tuesdays of the month, a section at the top of their agenda holds the meeting open to the public when anyone can approach the council to make comments.
Last Tuesday, for an hour before council members could start on another three hours of discussions over high density apartments, a new agreement with the local firefighters' union and pension reform, speakers came one after another to the lectern. In larger cities, most of these speakers and their topics would be shunted to an alderman or ward representative. Pleasanton is still small enough, however, so that council members make sure there's ample time available for these public comments.
These so-called "down home" remarks came from frustrated cab drivers who want the council and police to help keeping "foreign" taxis from other cities out of their Pleasanton stalls at BART and other locations. A woman said she was told to slice off the top of her backyard fence to the allowable 6 feet in height although it's been that way for the 41 years she's lived there. Workers who have been locked out of their jobs at Castlewood Country Club, some speaking in Spanish, urged city leaders to help them get their jobs back.
Cathe Norman, who with her husband Fred frequently attends council meetings to share their anti-war views, read the names of 58 soldiers from around the country who had been killed in Afghanistan since the council's last meeting on July 17. Another speaker, with a private-service television camera and cameraman taping his remarks, warned the council about a new group, called the One Bay Area Plan, which he said was part of a United Nations-organized plan to do away with municipal governments, such as the Pleasanton City Council.
Fortunately for council members and those of us who cover these meetings there are more festive moments when people and organizations celebrate. Tuesday night, the council proclaimed the week of Sept. 24-30 as Pleasanton North Rotary Week. Reading the proclamation, Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio said the action was in recognition of the chapter's 25 years of service to the community. The club's president Tina Case accepted the proclamation on behalf of the 57-member chapter with quite a few of the members there to join in the obligatory photo (above).
The club was honored for raising nearly $1 million since it was founded in 1987 for 23 projects including local programs helping veterans, needy families, students and seniors. It backed ongoing efforts by Rotary International to eradicate polio and to deliver safe drinking water to remote communities in Southeast Asia. Through its own initiatives, the club has distributed more than 5,600 wheelchairs in 11 Latin American countries since 2002, installed modern medical equipment at a hospital in Afghanistan, and it has maintained on-going support to the El Oasis Orphanage in Mexico.
Cook-Kallio said the city's Pleasanton North Rotary Week designation will boost promotional efforts for "A Starry Night," the club's annual charity event Sept. 29, at Casa Real in Pleasanton. More information can be found on the event's website at www.astarrynight.org.