A Town Hall meeting last night in Albany drew an engaged crowd of more than 100 residents to hear federal, state and local officials discuss the theme of “Children, Community and Collaboration.”
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, who represents District 5 on the Board of Supervisors, convened the meeting at the Albany Veterans Memorial Building and was joined by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, Mayor Peggy Thomsen, Vice Mayor Joanne Wile and Pam Calloway, District Director for Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
“We have a unique opportunity tonight to present how the various levels of government overlap and coordinate to serve you,” Supervisor Carson noted. “We work together on a regular basis and lobby collectively on issues that are important to our shared communities in the East Bay.”
Pam Calloway read a prepared statement from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who was unable to attend due to a family emergency. “The recent showdown in Congress over the Republican budget that would have slashed federal programs that help the neediest while protecting subsidies for big oil and tax breaks for private jets highlights the ongoing need for us to work together across federal, state, county and local jurisdictions to ensure our social safety net,” Congresswoman Lee declared.
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, who currently chairs the Budget Committee in the State Assembly, highlighted numerous local projects that have benefited from the close collaboration between city and state leaders. For many years, Albany city officials envisioned a pocket park at a parcel on Pierce Street then owned by Cal Trans. “After much negotiation, our offices all got together and finally were able to persuade CalTrans to hand over the deed so the city has access to the land and can create the park that residents desire,” shared Assemblymember Skinner.
When she was a freshman school board member, Mayor Peggy Thomsen recalled, the board went to the Legislature to request financial support for students who lived in University Village. Those families weren’t paying property taxes because the university-owned village has tax-exempt status. Then Assemblymember Tom Bates carried a bill that successfully secured funding for those students. “To this day, we receive funding for those students and I want everyone to know that history of collaboration,” Mayor Thomsen said.
Residents asked questions on a range of issues, including taxes on electricity vs. natural gas; funding for childcare programs; concerns about mercury content in dental fillings; redistricting; drought and fire danger.
Judy Kerr, a former member of the Social and Economic Justice Commission in Albany, raised concerns about the licensing of massage parlors and the interface between those businesses and human trafficking.
“Alameda County and our District Attorney Nancy O’Malley have been leading the charge at a national level to combat human trafficking by taking a holistic approach to the issue,” noted Supervisor Carson. “We coordinate with health care and social services to approach individuals at risk of exploitation to provide them with alternatives and support in achieving self-sufficiency.”
The next Town Hall Meeting is scheduled to take place in Berkeley on Thursday, June 5. For more information, please call (510) 272-6695.