SPECIAL-INTEREST MONEY DOMINATED ORINDA’S JUNE ROAD-REPAIR BALLOT MEASURE

SPECIAL-INTEREST MONEY DOMINATED ORINDA’S JUNE ROAD-REPAIR BALLOT MEASURE

By Richard Colman

Massive spending — more than $35,000 — by special interests and highly influential Orinda residents dominated a $25 million June 7 ballot measure to fix the city’s roads.

The road-repair measure, known as Measure L, passed by obtaining a 68.38 percent “yes” vote out of 9,552 ballots cast.  To win, a 66.67 percent “yes” vote was needed.

According to documents obtained from the Orinda City Clerk’s office, supporters of Measure L contributed $22,455 between January 1 and April 23.

Between April 24 and May 21, supporters of Measure L contributed another $12,869, bringing total contributions, between January 1 and May 21, to $35,324.

According to the city clerk’s office, supporters of Measure L did not contribute additional funds after May 21.

Measure L will increase property taxes between $17 to $22 per $100,000 of assessed value.

One Measure L supporter, a political arm of the California Association of Realtors, contributed $10,000 on April 15.

Bay Cities Paving and Grading of Concord, California, contributed $2,500 in support of the measure.

Bay Cities, according to a city publication, Orinda Outlook (July 4 issue), is likely to receive the road-repair contract.  Bay Cities, according to a City Council Staff Report of June 21, is “[t]he apparent low bidder. . .”

Other contributors were Victoria Smith and Sue Severson.  Smith is currently a member of the Orinda City Council.  Severson served on the council from 2006 to 2014.

Smith contributed $200; Severson gave $1,000.

Smith is currently Orinda’s mayor, a position which rotates among city council members.

Severson decided not seek re-election to the council after sending some improper e-mails.  She later apologized for her actions.

Other contributors were Darlene Gee and Dennis Gee.  The couple gave $200.  Darlene Gee was appointed to a vacant seat on the council on July 15, 2015.

PG&E, the utility company which serves Orinda, gave $2,000.

Amy and Tom Worth during this interval contributed $500.  Amy Worth is a member of the city council.  She was elected to the council in 1998 and is now serving her fifth consecutive council term.

Robert Thompson, an Orinda resident, contributed $1,000.  Another resident, Sharon Simpson, gave $2,500.

On March 31, 2016, Republic Services, the company that collects Orinda’s garbage made a $5,000 contribution to Measure L’s “yes” campaign.

On May 26, 2016, Garaventa Enterprises contributed $2,500.  Garaventa Enterprises is associated with the Garaventa family, which owns Concord Disposal Services, a garbage pick-up company that serves Concord, California.

Concord Disposal Services has, for at least five decades, had contracts to pick up Concord’s garbage.  In 2006, the garbage company was, by the Concord City Council, given a 15-year, no-bid contract to collect Concord’s garbage.  The contract gave the disposal company an option to extend the contract for another five years.

Orinda’s road-repair work is expected to begin in late July.

(Disclosure:  This reporter contributed $6,621 to defeat Measure L.)

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