FAIRFIELD — City Councilwoman Pam Bertani says advocating for Travis Air Force Base is a crucial investment for the community that must have representatives present when decisions are made.
“If you’re not at the table,” she said, “then you may be on the menu.”
Government officials need to see full support for the base, Bertani said, a point made at a Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast meeting in February by Wade Crowfoot, military adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown.
“It’s very important that the city,” Bertani said, “outwardly, vigorously and tenaciously supports Travis.”
Councilwoman Catherine Moy said she believes in talking to state and federal representatives when they’re here rather than traveling to see them. But she backs lobbying efforts on behalf of Travis Air Force Base by the city and the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District.
Moy and other directors for the sewer district voted this week to spend $5,000 over the next two years for the Travis Community Consortium. She praised Madison Government Affairs and said the money the city of Fairfield spends for lobbyists, including funding to advocate for Travis, makes sense.
“People have a right to be cynical and skeptical – and they should be – about how public money is spent,” Moy said.
But Travis is so important to Fairfield, Solano County and the nation that advocacy is crucial, she said. Moreover, Madison has proved to serve the city well.
“They’ve been really effective,” she said.
Lobbying costs by Fairfield totaled $80,000 in 2013, according to OpenSecrets.org, part of the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.
Council members in January had agreed to pay Madison $25,000 as the city’s share for legislative advocacy on behalf of Travis.
Moy said Madison’s advocacy over the years has meant about $100 million in funds for the Air Force base. She said that she worked as executive director for a nonprofit and learned about lobbying.
“I understand how it works,” Moy said. “I did it myself.”
“Sometimes talking to an aide for a senator is really going to get you nowhere,” she said.
Moy said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and state Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, are accessible and can be reached when they are in this area.
John Takeuchi, president of the Central Solano Citizens-Taxpayers Group, was on active duty at Travis for almost 20 years and worked as chief instructor pilot for his squadron. He praised the Travis consortium, including its past chairman, Bud Ross.
“He knows what’s going on,” Takeuchi said. “He’s the right guy.”
Takeuchi described Madison as just another lobbying group but said the consortium is a crucial force for the base.
George Guynn Jr., a member of the taxpayers group, cited the uncertainty of lobbyists’ work.
“It’s not an easy thing to quantify,” he said. “A lot of times there’s no guarantee they’re going to be well used.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.