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Sonoma County employee perks pay off in retirement

County pension costs are up more than 400 percent since 2000 and the average annual compensation on which pensions are computed has risen 75 percent during that time to nearly $92,000 for workers retiring in 2011. The Board of Supervisors, in charge of setting benefits for a retirement system they acknowledge is unsustainable, has made no changes despite public outcry that bloated pensions are compromising essential public services. But last week, they indicated add-ons like ones that boost pensions would be high on their list of fixes.

Petaluma City Council candidate field expands

The field is becoming more crowded for candidates seeking the three Petaluma City Council seats up for election in November. Business owner and former software executive Jason Davies, who finished fourth in a race for three seats in 2010, entered the race this week. He joins Vice Mayor Tiffany Renee and Councilman Gabe Kearney, who seek reelection, and Alicia Kae Herries, a Planning Commissioner who announced her intent to run this spring.

Skyrocketing county pensions: How we got here

In 2002, at the urging of labor and with the endorsement of management, the county Board of Supervisors approved a more generous set of pension benefits for all current workers. The change, fueled by salary increases and combined with other workforce trends, is now seen as driving the upward spiral in pension costs.

Huffman launches bid for Congress

Calling 2012 “a year of change,” Assemblyman Jared Huffman today officially started his run for Congress with an online speech and roll call of current and former local elected officials supporting his candidacy. Watch the video of his announcement — and see who is supporting the San Rafael Democrat.

Leave benefit sweetens vacation, retirement

A little-known perk termed ‘administrative leave’ amounts to a guaranteed cash bonus or extra vacation for some upper-level government administrators and elected officials in Sonoma County.

Brown’s decision means complete turnover in county leadership in four years

Valerie Brown’s surprise decision not to seek re-election to the Board of Supervisors means Sonoma County will have seen almost a complete turnover in leadership over a four-year period. Change is good, but is this too much at one time?

Who will carry the torch for reform?

It was a day of celebration at the Sonoma County offices Tuesday as two new supervisors were sworn in. But the question remains, who will emerge as the true fiscal leaders on this new board now that those behind the county’s last major reform attempt – the health benefits rollback – are all gone amid controversy.

Supes vote on Dutra, again

Yet again, the Dutra asphalt plant comes to the Board of Supervisors this week. So far, the board has been in favor, tentatively opposed and, now, tentatively in favor again.

Roblar Road quarry debate not over

The debate continues over the merits of a controversial land deal, tentatively approved Tuesday, involving publicly protected Sonoma County farmland. The 3-2 vote has fueled continued discussion over whether the deal provides public benefits and its policy implications for the county’s 20-year-old Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

Supes approve land deal with Roblar Road quarry developer

A split Sonoma County Board of Supervisors gave their blessing Tuesday to a controversial land proposal that would use county-protected private ranchland to help developer John Barella replace rare tiger salamander and frog habitat that will be lost to his Roblar Road quarry project.

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