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Let the LAFCO games begin

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 at 10:53 am in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Landuse and development.

Four elected officials will seek a Contra Costa Mayors Conference appointment to the powerful Local Agency Formation Commission in a smackdown set for Jan. 6.

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt, Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier, Lafayette City Councilman Don Tatzin and Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor have submitted their names for a vote. To win, a nominee must receive a majority vote of the members of the conference, which consists of the mayors of the county’s 19 cities. It may take several elimination rounds until one of the nominees secures the required majority.  (Click here for the agenda, nomination letters and other information about meeting, which is open to the public.)

To start, what is the Local Agency Formation Commission? It oversees orderly growth and governs public agency jurisdiction issues including annexations and determines which entity is the most appropriate to deliver services such as water and sewer. It also conducts periodic reviews of the efficiency of services such as fire, law enforcement and water.

Every California county has one and its membership is comprised of appointees from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, Mayors Conference, Special Districts Association and the public at-large. The conference seat opened after former Concord Councilwoman Helen Allen chose not to seek re-election.  (Click here for LAFCO’s Web site.)

A Special Districts Association Seat has also opened after former Discovery Bay Community Services District member David Piepho chose not to run for re-election. His seat will be filled at the association’s quarterly Jan. 24 meeting. The Special Districts Association’s appointed alternate, George Schmidt, a director at the West County Wastewater District, is seeking the full voting LAFCO position. Others have been nominated for the opening including Contra Costa Central Sanitary District member Mike McGill, who ran unsuccessfully for the Board of Supervisors in June; Elmer “Al” J. Schaal with Mt. View Sanitary District; Danny Hamby, Byron Sanitary District; and Richard Olsen, Moraga-Orinda Fire District. The nomination deadline is Jan. 5, so there may be more.

LAFCO is a powerful agency. Competing interests within the county, particularly developers and environmentalists, are always jockeying for influence on its board. Geography also plays a role as representatives from the western, eastern and central portions of the county seek a voice on LAFCO’s board.

Among the Mayors Conference candidates, Tatzin has the strongest argument for the appointment. An attorney, he has been a LAFCO alternate for 12 years and has arguably the most knowledge and investment into the agency.

Taylor, a retired liquor distributor, has been lobbying his Mayors Conference colleagues for months. He has been the Mayors Conference chairman and he is hoping those relationships will count during the vote.

Butt hasn’t been active in the Mayors Conference but as the only nominee from the western half of the county, he could rally votes from West Contra Costa. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin wrote a glowing nomination letter. He is an architect and more than intellectually capable of deciphering LAFCO’s arcane regulatory environment.

Frazier is a general contractor, which may put him in the crosshairs of the environmental community. And he is a new mayor (Oakley rotates mayors each year) and relatively unknown among the Mayors Conference members. But if some of the better-known nominees split the vote and force elimination rounds, Frazier could survive.

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  • Ralph Hoffmann

    As Joe Biden might say, “Membership on LAFCO is a big f***ing deal!”

  • richard

    Vonderbruegen has some kind of fixation on the Piepho’s, always looking to bash the Piepho’s or the Nejedly family for some reason. Supervisor Piepho’s father – John Nejedly – was a distinquished State Senator, a revered figure in the history of Contra Costa politics. A moderate Republican, he was was well liked by Democrats and even labor unions, in addition to being a staunch enviromentalist. His kids all are involved in the community as elected officials, mostly doing unhearald low paid community service type jobs. they are a fine family, so I am perplexed by Voderbrueggens constantly grinding the axe agaisn’t the. I think this Lisa Vonderbruegen is a little nutty, if you want to know the truth.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Richard, I agree with you completely about the Nejedly Piepho family, but not about Lisa. She is a highly ethical journalist, with a good sense of humor. Merry Christmas!