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By Tim Hunt

News and notes

Uploaded: Jun 5, 2012

As Election Day dawns, the intensity of the various campaigns peaks and the auto-dial calls accelerate. Hurray for answering machines.
Another sign of the difference the two-top primary is making is the Republicans campaigning for Democrat Eric Swalwell in his uphill race to knock off four-decade incumbent Pete Stark in the 15 Congressional District.
Two calls were received Monday—one from former Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer and the other from former Dublin mayor and Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston. Swalwell is a member of the Dublin City Council—a point cited by both in their recommendations.
The district is so heavily Democrat that there's no identified Republican in the race although the third candidate, Chris Pareja of Hayward, lists conservative values on his web site. Given the strength of Swalwell's campaign, the run-off between Stark and Swalwell in November seems likely.
The screwy thing is finding Republicans actively campaigning for Swalwell.
SWITCHING GEARS to things budgetary: Livermore officials announced last month that the current budget year would end with the city is the black for the first time in six years. To little public comment, the city had chopped public safety to deal with shortfalls in revenue.
The city actually closed a fire station for six months—a step that diminished safety for business, Las Positas College and residences north of Interstate 580.
The positive budget will allow the city to restore some of the 18.5 cops the city has sliced over the past five years. That will mean four new officers in July and another three in 2013—still well short of the staffing prior to the popping of the housing bubble and the recession that followed.
Livermore also is eagerly anticipating revenues from the upscale factory outlet center that will open late this year.
That center will change the retail dynamic in the Livermore Valley significantly. It will be a destination mall and is located where it will have no impact on residents and businesses other than along I-580. What it will mean for sales at Stoneridge Mall remains to be seen, but it's the first competitor that will offer stores that compete in the Nordstrom category.
Incidentally, speaking of malls, it's interesting that Sunvalley shopping center in Concord, the pioneer I-680 enclosed mall, has attracted a Nordstrom's Rack—the outlet store. It's similar to Orange County where a series of outlet stores, including the Rack, are located next to the South Coast Plaza—one of the premier shopping centers in the country.
Closing the loop on the Pleasanton public safety: the city instituted a soft hiring freeze that evaluated every position if a vacancy occurred. The police department shrunk by three officers from fiscal 2010, while the three fire fighting positions were eliminated as staffing levels was reduced to three-person engine companies in most stations. That's the same level that Livermore uses. One Pleasanton station remains staffed at four-person level.