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By Tim Hunt

Interesting split in newspaper endorsements

Uploaded: Oct 14, 2014

There's an interesting split in endorsements for the 16th Assembly District where incumbent Joan Buchanan of Alamo is termed out after six years.
The local papers, the Pleasanton Weekly and the Independent, both backed Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti for the job citing his leadership in there during some challenging financial times when revenue dropped in 2009 and 2010.
That viewpoint contrasts sharply with both the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times. Both regional papers favored Dublin attorney Catharine Baker. Baker finished first in the primary as Sbranti and his challengers, Danville Councilman Newell Arnerich and Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer split the Democrat vote.
The Chronicle endorsement was particularly surprising given its normal penchant for backing Democrats. One difference for its editorial board was Baker's agreement with the Los Angeles judge's ruling that held the state's teacher tenure and seniority rules harm low-income and minority students. Sbranti, who teaches in Dublin, believes the current system is fine.
For the Contra Costa Times, their writer was blunt in assessing his candidacy, "Sbranti, a labor activist and Dublin's mayor, has adopted such unwavering union positions: He opposes transparency in public-sector collective bargaining, supports BART workers' ability to strike and bring the Bay Area to a grinding halt, and opposes reduction of future pension benefit accruals that local governments clearly cannot afford."
That's the key question the independent voters, who make up about 20 percent of the electorate, will have to decide. Baker would ban BART strikes and opposes the governor's absurdly expensive high-speed rail—a project that Sbranti favors.
The local papers examined Sbranti's fine record in Dublin and seemed to disregard how different Sacramento is and how dominate the public employee union influence is—particularly the California Teachers Association where Sbranti has been a leader in its political activities.
Buchanan, who served for years on the San Ramon Valley school board before winning election to the Assembly, has been supported by the CTA, but Tim's involvement as an active member takes it to a new level.
Incidentally, recommendations from newspapers traditionally have been thought to make a 1 or 2 point difference in races where voters are interested. They have far more impact on little publicized "down ballot" races such as special districts or, particularly, judges.

Having driven a diesel-powered car for almost 40 years and learning to plan well to be sure that fuel is available when the tank is running low, I have routinely been using the Gas Buddy app to search out more reasonable diesel prices. That's often in Livermore where gasoline costs quite a bit less than it does at most Pleasanton stations. For diesel, it can easily be 30 to 40 cents per gallon lower.
Driving across the country to Memphis on Interstate 40 with my daughter, we utilized it every time we wanted to stop for gas—which, despite being on the interstate—was significantly less than here in California. We actually filed up for $2.99 per gallon with regular fuel—a price that we saw at several stations while driving around Memphis.

I agree with Dan's comment about the beauty of the Flagstaff area. Checking a little further, it's at the same elevation as the south rim of the Grand Canyon—it is the gateway city for the south rim at 7,000 feet. The north rim averages 8,000 feet.