Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fairfield Politicians Head to Washington

Fairfield Politicians Head to Washington
By Ben Antonius

FAIRFIELD - Law enforcement and Travis Air Force Base will be the topics of the week when city leaders visit Washington, D.C.

Mayor Harry Price, Councilman Jack Batson and City Manager Kevin O'Rourke will leave on the four-day trip on Sunday and spend the time talking to lawmakers and other government leaders.

During the series of meetings, the officials will make their case for more than $4 million, which would be put toward gang suppression, after-school programs and other projects.

The city will also meet with Department of Defense officials at the Pentagon to lobby for long-term projects at Travis Air Force Base.

"This visit represents Fairfield's continued commitment to work with Capitol hill and Pentagon officials . . . in support of programs and services that are needed locally," Price said in a press release.

The final schedule for Congressional meetings hadn't been set by Thursday afternoon, but the delegation was hoping to speak with aides for Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek and Fred Kuhn, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force.

When it meets with military leaders, the Fairfield delegation will lobby for continuing the modernization of the C-5 Galaxy transports, which are based exclusively at Travis Air Force Base on the West Coast.

They also hope to secure additional C-17 Globemaster III transports for the base. Travis is slated to receive 13 of the aircraft, the ninth of which arrived Tuesday.

A $350,000 request for the after-school program The Place To Be After Three is near the top of the priorities. The money would allow the program to expand to five days a week and be established at Mary Bird School.

They're also hoping to get a half-million dollars to finish upgrading the Fairfield Police Department's 20-year-old dispatch and record-keeping system and $305,000 for electronic surveillance equipment that would help police track gang members.

All but one of the items have been pitched by the city before. Upon seizing control of Congress, Democrats froze earmark spending through the end of the financial year.

The hope of Sunday's lobbying trip is to keep the items as high priorities if, as expected, the earmarks are restored in October, said Kathy Wilkie, an analyst in the city manager's office.

The only new item on the list is a request for $2 million to design and build a new parking garage at the Fairfield Transportation Center.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or bantonius@dailyrepublic.net.

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