The Mayor’s Week in Review: Dec. 31-Jan. 6, 2013

Andy Berman, Mill Valley's Mayor, writes his weekly review, with some inside news, reminders and reflections, and whatever else comes to mind.

Hello friends.

Let’s start with the basics: Happy New Year everyone! I had a great time on New Year’s Eve (some events ALWAYS deliver the goods – and those of you who I saw that night know exactly what I’m talking about), and I hope each and every one of you did too. Welcome to 2013! I’m excited to be back and return to session on January 7. 

Most of you know my priorities for this year are pretty simple: drafting a new General Plan for the City (a great opportunity to create a shared vision for the next 25 years), embrace pension reform in a holistic, healthy way, and health & safety – not just emergency preparedness, but also keeping our kids, schools, town, and selves healthy and safe. These days (and the holidays were far from an exception) the news just seems to be challenging us on the “health & safety” front, and I had time over the break to soul search on this a bit, and also connect on the topic with my good friend and colleague Angel Bernal, our Police Chief. So this week’s column is dedicated primarily to this important topic:

Identity theft: Did you know that this is the fastest-growing crime in the nation and tops the list of consumer complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?  Millions of Americans have their identities stolen each year, with billions in costs to businesses and consumers. Case in point: yours truly, who just this week had one of my credit cards “compromised” in a scam (imagine my alarm when I got that phone call from Sabra (my wife) asking me what I was buying for $450 at a motorcycle shop in Florida!) It turns out that most of the identity theft cases involve misuse of an existing credit card account, typically from stolen mail, lost or stolen purses/wallets, or from folks stealing personal information from the trash (apparently there’s even a term for this – “dumpster diving”). Chief Bernal and his department offer 8 ways to protect your identity at http://cityofmillvalley.org/Index.aspx?page=143. One easy way to do so is to check your credit report. Credit reports can alert you to fraudulent activity in your financial records. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy from the three reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) once a year. If you time it right, you can request a copy from one agency every 4 months and keep on top of your financial information throughout the year. The FTC’s Identity Theft information can also be accessed at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.

Burglaries: Last year southern Marin saw an increase in residential burglaries! Many of these home burglaries could have been avoided if residents would have taken a moment to secure their homes. I know – I hear it from so many folks: “I don’t lock my doors, I feel safe.”  Please - just take a second to LOCK your door and if you have a security system, set the ALARM. Chief Bernal tells me a good team can be in and out of your home in six minutes and sell your goods to a “fence” (a person who aids the burglar in selling/distributing the stolen property) within an hour of leaving your home. And do you know how burglars know when to come?  It’s easy: they follow the delivery trucks – watching for when a delivery can’t be made because nobody is home. For anti-burglary tips, please visit www.usaonwatch.org

Guns: I am supporting District Attorney Ed Berbarian’s Gun Buy Back Program.

Health & fitness: Colds are everywhere – I’m recovering from my own.  Tragedy struck the Redwoods. I was down at Station 6 today and learned that a number of our firefighters are battling colds too. Alice Rocky, my yoga instructor, highly recommends inversions for those who can, but if you can’t, maybe you are ready to Zumba? The Family Fun Run and Health and Wellness Fair is Saturday, Jan. 12 from 9:30 to 1:30 at the Mill Valley Community Center. If that fails, at least follow our host’s advice:  http://millvalley.patch.com/articles/14-ways-to-get-fit-in-2013

Other news: 

How are your computer skills? We are happy to announce the return of Computer Classes at the Mill Valley Public Library. InDesign, Macs, Excel, Photoshop, Email for Beginners, and more!  Check it out here: http://www.cityofmillvalley.org/Index.aspx?page=1442 

Art & Culture:

Plastic Bags: A few folks have asked me what the Council is doing on this important topic. Council discussed the issue at a meeting and decided to wait for the conclusion of the case against the County before acting unilaterally. Then depending on the outcome, we’ll decide whether to go forward and introduce an ordinance similar to the County’s and rely upon the County’s litigation as our CEQA defense - or go on our own (perhaps with our own CEQA evaluation). We are also looking to collaborate with other cities here too. In fact, the City Managers in Marin want to move this forward collectively as most Councils are tired of waiting but understandably are cautious about inviting litigation. The Managers have met with County Counsel and representatives from the Marin Solid Waste Authority and agreed to commission a broad Initial Study under CEQA of a model ordinance which would allow each Council to adopt a Negative Declaration (rather than undertaking a full EIR) and an ordinance customized to each town's specific desires. Stay tuned – we are on the right path and taking the issue seriously.

Congratulations: Finally, yes, “congratulations” to all you Stanford fans (who include our colleagues (and Stanford alumni) Garry Lions and Stephanie Moulton-Peters) for the Rose Bowl victory on New Years Day.  

* * * * *

There are so many important issues to address, but none matter if we aren’t healthy & safe in the first instance.  

Take care, and thanks for listening. Enjoy the New Year in health.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paula Reynolds January 08, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Thank you, Andy, for these reflective and helpful comments and links. So sorry your identity was stolen. Having experienced this too, I agree it's so important to continuously monitor our credit reports. I appreciate, as well, your laser focus this year as Mayor on a few challenging and very important goals. Cheers, Paula Reynolds
Andy Berman January 09, 2013 at 03:49 AM
Thanks so much Paula and apologies for the delayed reply (I am just getting to VA for a week of work). I really appreciate it that you read The Week in Review. More important, however, is your equal Community Leadership on these important initiatives, without which they simple cannot come to fruition -- since we are all in this together. Take care & happy new year. Andy
FairyWinkle January 15, 2013 at 03:45 AM
Our home was one of the "reported" homes that were burglarized this week - but there are MORE than two that were burglarized. My son's teacher at Old Mill informed me that some other families also had their homes broken into in MV recently - there are MANY more burglaries than are reported so please, if you're a family like us - who have not locked your doors for 7 years - please lock them. We could have been in our home with intruders upstairs and it could have been much more scary - take care of yourselves!
Andy Berman January 15, 2013 at 03:57 AM
Thank you for this excellent comment; I have shared it with our Chief of Police too. Some of your suggestions were included in this week's "Week in Review" that just hit the Patch today. I could not agree more that we should all lock our doors and not make it easier for the burglars. Andy
Bob Silvestri January 20, 2013 at 04:53 PM
For more on pension reform see: http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/moodys-new-pension-rules-would-bankrupt-six-cal-counties-including-marin


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