A is for annexation of Auburn Airport's 'sphere of influence'

Looking Behind the Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Dribbling through the notebook while wondering when the Sacramento Kings will get their bailout ... Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if the “A” word starts getting tossed around the Auburn area in the near future. Judging by Councilman Bill Kirby’s presentation at the Meddlers this past week, the question of annexation could soon be back in the picture. Kirby’s presentation concerned the Auburn Airport. Being a pilot, the good doctor has always remained knowledgeable about what he correctly calls the city’s “Crown Jewel.” He remains upbeat that the current light industrial vacancies will soon be filled, even in these times of frightful fiscal fortunes, and keeps close watch on the county government. During his presentation, he several times insisted that Auburn should “control its own sphere of influence” around the airport. The “sphere of influence” is not just a made-up term but, instead, is the official policy of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). However, despite that official position, the county at times seems uninterested in Auburn’s views, with the recent attempt by the Boys & Girls Club to want to place a new clubhouse directly in the airport’s take-off and landing paths. Instead of allowing the City of Auburn to have the final say, the county rubber-stamped the B&G Club request, an act similar to its OK’ing a church-school in the same area. Neither project lasted, but that was for reasons other than the county doing what it should have done. That’s exactly what Kirby was talking about, and his pronouncements were so pronounced that former council member Cheryl Maki asked point-blank if he was suggesting annexation. “Absolutely,” answered Kirby, who afterward expanded on his remarks. “The bottom line is that in the next 20 years, we need to control that area,” he said, insisting that urbanized areas belong within incorporated entities “so that the local citizens have control.” While Kirby says that the area has an excellent county supervisor in Jim Holmes, he also insists that county governments sometimes do things that are not in the best interest of the city. “Whatever we do in the future not only has to be in conjunction with the county, but must also respect the property rights of all residents within that area and not alter their quality of life,” he said. ...  An “A” for Measure F: It was not that long ago that the county’s Deputy Sheriffs Association (DSA) was hard at work to repeal Measure F, which had earlier guaranteed salary hikes for county law officers. Three years ago, the DSA tried to pass Measure A, which would have repealed Measure F, and allowed it to negotiate salary hikes with the Board of Supervisors. “Thank God that (Measure A) didn’t pass,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Ron Ashford. Ashford’s remarks are notable because back then, as a sergeant, he was spearheading the DSA’s efforts to pass Measure A. “At that time we were fat and happy,” he said, adding that “nobody could have predicted what’s going on today. Just think what would have happened if we tried to negotiate raises now.” Ashford, and the rest of the DSA membership, just received some healthy raises as the board used Tuesday’s meeting to validate the latest round of Measure F-mandated salary hikes. I tried Thursday to get the official vote results, but the county offices were shuttered due to the latest round of mandated furloughs. According to the supes’ agenda, the undersheriff and assistant sheriff each received 7.33 percent hikes, although Placer County currently has one of those positions vacant. Captains see raises of 5.58 percent, lieutenants get 5.73 percent, and sergeants see a hike of 6.3 percent, the same as Deputy I. “Those are great raises, especially these days. It’s funny how things work out,” Ashford said. ... Not budging on budget: Then on the downside of the current fiscal mess is the predictable answer that the Sacramento legislators came up with to cure their budget woes. Yes, you could have knocked me over with a steamroller when the announcement came that the state would — after all — opt for a series of tax hikes and new taxes in order to balance its budget. Well, area state Sen. Dr. Sam Aanestad quickly made it official that the vote to steal from the taxpayers will not be unanimous. “I am not going to vote for this budget,” he said in a press release, which hit the e-mail trail about a nano-second after the state donned its masks and announced its intention to rob us taxpayers. The release went on to say: “It is absolutely wrong the time to raise taxes. Millions of Californians are out of work. Homes are falling into foreclosure. Businesses are going bankrupt. New taxes will only make these problems worse.” He’s right, you know. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. He can be reached at