Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for June, 2010

Local students compete in Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Several Odyssey of the Mind teams from Lamorinda recently competed in the 2010 World Finals, which took place at Michigan State University.

The competition brings teams together to use their knowledge to solve problems. Teams are able to solve these problems using a variety of methods including building devices and putting on short performances.

The results were based on five different problems that were presented to the teams at the competition in three different divisions.

Happy Valley Elementary School earned 10th place in Division I on Problem 1. The team sponsored by the Moraga Rotary Club finished seventh in Division II on Problem 3.  Glorietta Elementary School finished 21st in Division I on Problem 4. The team sponsored by the Orinda Masonic Lodge earned 12th place in Division III on Problem 5.

Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: Lamorinda, Schools | No Comments »

Moraga police officers honored

Two officers from the Moraga Police Department were recently honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Officers Russell Douthit and Jeffrey Fields were given awards at a lunch hosted by the two organizations and the El Cerrito Police Department on June 22.

The awards lunch was to honor police officers from around the Bay Area who made the most drunk driving arrests during the 2009 “Avoid the 25″ campaign. During the campaign, Officer Douthit made 19 such arrests, while Officer Fields made 17.

More information about the Moraga Police Department can be found at their website:

Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Under: Moraga | No Comments »

Clarity on Lafayette salary numbers

E-mails detailing the salaries of Lafayette city employees that circulated last week appear to have had the desired effect. At last night’s City Council meeting, many who got up to state their opposition to charter city and transfer tax ballot measures also slammed the city for what they felt was exorbitant compensation for city employees.

Many came armed with data available on the Contra Costa Times website here showing salary information for may Bay Area public agencies. They seized particularly on one number: $250,026.

That’s the figure reported by the city of Lafayette for City Manager Steven Falk’s base salary. A couple speakers, for comparison, pointed to Orinda, where City Manager Janet Keeter’s base salary in 2009 was $174,225; Moraga, where outgoing Town Manager Mike Segrest’s base salary was about $180,000 (based on his contract — since he was hired in March, his base salary as reported in our database is less); and Oakland, where City Administrator Daniel Lindheim made a base of $216,621.

However, it looks like a miscommunication may have led to misleading Lafayette city salary numbers. If you take a look at Lafayette’s salary information, you’ll notice every employee earned exactly $0 in “other” compensation in 2009.

Bay Area News Group asked cities to lump all compensation (like auto or uniform allowance) that was not base salary or overtime into the “other” category. But a Lafayette official told me today they thought they were being asked to lump all salary together. And since BANG wanted calendar year information, they went to the city’s W-2 records and reported to us the total taxable income for each employee in 2009. For Falk, that was $250,026.

For fiscal year (not calendar year) 2008-09, Falk’s base salary was actually $209,345. That certainly is higher than his Lamorinda colleagues, although it’s worth pointing out that could be affected by his longer tenure. Falk has been Lafayette’s city manager since 1996. Keeter was hired in 2005, Segrest in 2009.

Including his retirement benefits, auto allowance, the city’s annual 5 percent transfer of equity in his house and some sold-back vacation, Falk’s total compensation was $288,787.74.

It’s likely base salary figures for other Lafayette employees were similarly “inflated.” We’re working on getting the database updated to reflect more accurate numbers. Whether or not Lafayette employees (or employees of any other public agency, for that matter) are fairly compensated is certainly a valid point of debate; we want to make sure we’re getting the right information out there when that debate takes place.

Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Under: Lafayette | 2 Comments »

Fourth of July in Lamorinda

Both Moraga and Orinda will be having Fouth of July pancake breakfasts to start off the day. Orinda’s will start at 7:30 a.m., while Moraga’s will start at 8:00 a.m.

In addition to breakfast, Orinda will have two runs starting at 8:00 a.m. and a variety of activities going on in the Community Center Park from 9:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m. A Fourth of July parade will take place in Orinda at 11:00 a.m.

In Moraga, there will be a dog parade at 9:00 a.m. and a bike parade at 10:30 a.m. There will also be a variety of activities in the Moraga Commons Park throughout the day.

At 7:00 p.m., the Fourth of July concert will kick off at the Moraga Commons Park and will continue until the fireworks are shot off shortly after dark.

For more information about Orinda’s Fourth of July events, view the day’s schedule at

Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010
Under: Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda | 1 Comment »

Rancho Laguna to get bocce ball courts

The Moraga Town Council recently approved the installation of four bocce ball courts at Rancho Laguna Park, following requests from the Moraga Bocce Ball Club.

The bocce ball courts will take the place of the sand volleyball court that is currently at the park.

The Moraga Bocce Ball Club must now submit specific plans for the courts to the Town Council. Once the plans are approved, the courts can be constructed.

The addition of the courts comes as great news to Lamorinda bocce ball players, as the recent growth in popularity has seen some of the other local courts become increasingly more crowded.

Posted on Sunday, June 27th, 2010
Under: Moraga, Sports | No Comments »

City of Lafayette purchases parking lot

The City of Lafayette recently finalized the purchase of a parking lot on Moraga Road. The .75 acre parking lot is located across the street from Lafayette Elementary School, near the United Methodist Church. The city purchased the lot for $2.315 million.

The city purchased the lot to allow for more parking for visitors of Lafayette Elementary School, the Town Hall Theater and the businesses in the area. Allowing for more parking for visitors to the school could potentially help the traffic problem the area faces during school drop-off and pick-up hours.

The city already owns two small parking lots in the downtown area.

Posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Orinda Idol update

The Orinda Idol auditions have come and gone, as judges selected the top singers in each category to be finalists. The finalists will perform at various local events throughout the summer, leading up to the finals of Orinda Idol 2010.

The finalists will be performing at Orinda’s Fourth of July celebration. They will be singing in the gazebo in the park up until the parade begins at 11:00 a.m.

The finals will be held on Sept. 12 in the Orinda Theatre.

To see the full list of Orinda Idol finalists, as well as past winners of the competition, visit:

Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010
Under: Lamorinda, Music, Orinda | 1 Comment »

Lamorinda weekend reading

In case you missed it this week:

One of the two men injured in an Orinda electrical accident this month died Wednesday. The other is still in the hospital in serious condition. Funds have been set up to help both mens’ families pay medical bills.

The Acalanes school board approved a budget that, thanks in large part to voters, is balanced. Meanwhile, the Lafayette School District board has taken the first step toward another parcel tax.

Swim coaches at Sleepy Hollow Swim and Tennis Club in Orinda pulled an eight-year-old out of the pool and resuscitated him.

Moraga will get the search for Mike Segrest’s replacement free of charge. Search firm says interviews will be confidential. Meanwhile, Segrest is a finalist for the South Lake Tahoe city manager position.

A Lafayette woman used a window to escape from a two-alarm fire at her house.

The people who robbed a Walnut Creek convenience store may be responsible for a similar incident in Lafayette.

A San Ramon football player, at St. Mary’s College for a summer camp, broke his legs, wrists and arms when he tried to use a coaxial cable to lower himself from a fourth-floor dorm to a third-floor one.

Orinda gets ready to blow out 25 candles. Trivia question (respond in the comments): Orinda was the last Lamorinda city to incorporate; when did Lafayette and Moraga do so? Bonus question: What’s the difference between a city and a town?

Finally, this happened:

Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010
Under: Crime, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools, Sports | No Comments »

Man burned in Orinda power line accident dies

Jose Herrera, 51, died Wednesday at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose as a result of injuries he suffered in an accident in Orinda on June 5.

Another man that was working with Herrera, Eduardo Guerra, 30, is still in serious condition at the same medical center, although he is expected to survive.

The two men suffered severe burns after the “cherry picker” they were working in hit power lines, sending electric surges through their bodies. The two men were washing windows at Orinda’s Village Square Shopping Center at the time of the accident.

Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010
Under: Orinda | No Comments »

Moraga wants your input

Town residents can take a short online survey here. Asks about what you like about Moraga, what you think can be improved, what your priorities are and how you think the town government is doing. Responses will be combined with those from focus groups and presented to the Town Council July 28.

Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010
Under: Moraga | No Comments »