Town Square

Good morning, mayor

Original post made by Dolores Ciardelli, editor of Danville Express, on Jan 16, 2009

Now 7:30 a.m. is not too early for breakfast when it's in your own home. As a matter of fact, I'm usually digging into my oatmeal at 6:45 weekday mornings.

But when I must show up at a restaurant dressed and ready for the day at 7:30 a.m., it's quite a deviation from my usual routine. So I choose carefully which breakfast meetings to attend.

This said, I will wholeheartedly vouch for the Danville Mornings with the Mayor that are held 7:30-8:30 a.m. the first Friday of each month. I consider them time well spent, and apparently so do a bevy of regulars. I always leave energized by the town's plans and activities, the interesting, engaged people - and loaded with story ideas.

Mayor Newell Arnerich is continuing the mornings, which were begun two years ago at Father Nature's restaurant on East Prospect Avenue in downtown Danville. But Arnerich plans to change location every three months to make it more convenient for residents in different parts of town.

Last Friday as people arrived in the back dining room, several of us headed straight for the wall heater and chose seats accordingly. Arnerich began right on time, introducing himself and going around the room to let us all say our names and, perhaps, why we were there. Sometimes residents come to the mornings with specific concerns; others may want to inform everyone about upcoming activities; and many people come to learn more about their town. Town Manager Joe Calabrigo and Police Chief Chris Wenzel always attend. Fire Chief Richard Price was there Friday, as was Fire District Board Member Roxanne Lindsay and Danville's disaster preparedness guru Greg Gilbert. That made a room of experts who could answer just about any question that came up.

The hiring of Gilbert as emergency services manager in 2007 shows Danville's commitment to being prepared, noted Mayor Arnerich. When town officials saw the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina they resolved to be prepared in Danville and the San Ramon Valley and created the position, knowing someone had to tackle it full time. Since then, all town employees have been instructed to be leaders in case of emergency, and 500 members of the community have undergone training for the Community Emergency Response Team. The 20-hour CERT course is given by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District to prepare civilians to be the first responders in their neighborhoods after a disaster. To learn more, go to; or call Gilbert at 314-3368. Since the Valley has about 140,000 residents and there are usually 60-65 emergency responders on duty, the talents of the CERT volunteers will prove invaluable in a disaster.

Speaking of preparedness, Price said a 9-1-1 call results in a highly trained crew arriving at 90 percent of residences within five minutes. This brought up the problem of dialing 9-1-1 on cell phones, which then goes to the California Highway Patrol. This might be what you want if you are on the highway. But for other emergencies, they recommended programming in the dispatch center in Martinez where 9-1-1 calls go from a landline: 646-2441. Make this the first number on your list, the mayor advised.

Danville residents Joe and Edie Farrell were also at the breakfast to tell about the campaign they are launching to get people trained in CPR. Joe said five months to that day he had suffered cardiac arrest, which he called "an electrical storm in the heart," and luckily a bystander administered CPR. Latest research advises administering 100 compressions to the chest per minute to keep the heart and brain active - it can be done to the tune of "Staying Alive" - rather than mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The breakfast ended on a down note as Arnerich talked about the realities of the state budget. "It's a philosophical stranglehold - issues not solved from five years ago," he said. With the economy going down, the state is receiving less money. California might go from being the world's fifth biggest economy to 20th, Arnerich said. The state's unemployment is now 8.2 percent and it might fall to 10 percent. The school district made a 7 percent reduction in June, now it is being asked to take another 10 percent cut. Arnerich urged us all to contact our legislators with these concerns.

The next Morning with the Mayor will be held Friday, Feb. 6, at Father Nature's on Prospect Avenue. At 7:30 a.m. It's worth the change of routine.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at