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Looking Behind the Scenes: Airport manager vacancy saves city mega bucks

By: Jim Ruffalo
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Basking in the glow of the notebook while thinking the warm weather is a direct result of us gaining an extra hour of daylight after we changed the clocks ... Also gaining is the city of Auburn, which stands to benefit fiscally as the result of Airport Manager Jerry Martin leaving, although the monetary concerns were not the cause of his sudden exit. Not only will the city no longer have to pay out six figures annually for Martin's salary, benefits and cost of office, don't be shocked should the city opt to leave that managerial office vacant, at least for the time being. Councilman Mike Holmes said plans call for Martin's former duties to be handled by both Administrative Services Director Andy Heath and City Manager Bob Richardson. Heath, of course, would concentrate on the airport's billings and finances, while Richardson would take over the managerial chores. Richardson confirmed those plans, but added that city Public Works Chief Jack Warren was being added to the mix to honcho ongoing capital projects. And fortunately for the city, there is also an excellent Auburn Airport Administration, made up of worthy volunteers who've always been helpful in the past. The shakeup comes at a poignant time, seeing as how the city not only has some grandiose plans for the airport, but must also drag along a rather recalcitrant county government which always seems to put airport matters on the furthest back burner it can find. ... Every vote counts: It would be rather amazing, and some might even say proper, if Tom McClintock lost to Doug Ose in the 4th Congressional District race by a single vote. Imagine the irony should that come to pass because McClintock is not allowed to cast a ballot in that race ” and we all have a pretty good idea who he'd vote for. It's well known that the two Republican candidates entered the race without having a legal residence within the district. No matter, qualification-wise, because the Constitution does not mandate residential requirements for congressional seats. Ose has managed to find digs within the district, but McClintock can not legally move here without giving up his current state senate seat down in the Ventura area. State law demands that legislators maintain a legal residency within their respective districts. Meanwhile, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that if the voting were today, my ballot would go for Ose. Why? Well, at a recent Meddlers meeting, Ose was asked what he thought of the Air Force tanker issue and, instead of doing a five-minute tap dance the way so many politicians do these days, he opted to admit he didn't have enough information to make a decision. I don't know, was the succinct and truthful answer, thus crushing a long-standing stereotype of how politicians usually act. ... Add voting: Just in time for the upcoming political season is the fact that Placer County's League of Women Voters has reconstituted itself. While yours truly has had some political differences with the League in the past, it can not be denied that having a League of Women Voters around at least ensures more debates than otherwise would have been the norm. The Placer County contingent is planning a general debate for April 19 at Placer High. It'll start at 9:30 in the morning and run until lunchtime. ... E-mailbag: Pat (no last name given) from Auburn messaged me as to whether or not my facts were correct in a recent item about Placer County holding the line when it came to hiring government workers. Actually, Pat was a bit more blunt in posing the question, but no matter. Thanks to county auditor-controller Katherine Martinis' annual Citizens' Report, we know full well that since 2001, the rate of county workers to county population figures has dropped almost annually. The current figures show fewer than nine county employees per 1,000 county residents. Those figures demonstrate several things, not the least of which is the productivity of said workers. Whatever complaint one may have about the county (or city of Auburn, for that matter), getting an honest day's amount of work from government workers is not one of them It also shows a sincere effort to try to keep a lid on government spending. By the way, if you don't have a copy of Martinis' report. try to get one. It's packed with interesting facts and figures. ... Expansion: Rumored to be the new tenant in the old downtown silversmiths is a wine tasting room. And also rumored to be on the way is an announcement of some major expansion plans for Auburn Faith Hospital. Supposedly millions of dollars are earmarked for the operating rooms alone, with some other big time items also to be announced soon. Jim Ruffalo's column runs Wednesdays and Sundays in the Journal. He can be reached at jmruffalo@yahoo.com, or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.