The flock of wild turkeys that regularly struts through our neighborhood has been in hiding recently, which must mean Thanksgiving is at hand. So it's time for everyone to give thanks for the good fortune they enjoyed in the past 12 months. That's especially true for a few folks. Here's who they are why they should be thankful.

Who: Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors

Why: They received an extraordinarily generous pay raise recently, their annual incomes jumping 33 percent, from $97,476 to $129,216, effective January. This just shows what can happen when you faithfully serve your constituents, dutifully fulfill your responsibilities and have the unchecked authority to vote yourself whatever salary you want. (Candace Andersen excepted; she took only a 4 percent hike.)

Who: Jeff Belle, Contra Costa County school board candidate

Why: He won election in Area 5 over incumbent Cynthia Teves Ruehlig barely two weeks after this newspaper reported that he had three times been charged with cashing bogus checks, had been cited by the Respiratory Care Board of California for "misrepresenting himself" as a care practitioner and substantially exaggerated his educational credentials. Special thanks to voters too lazy or indifferent to take notice.

Who: Berkeley youth

Why: They never again need worry about suffering from obesity, diabetes or heart disease because the passage of Measure D places a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and marks the cost-prohibitive end of soft drink consumption within city limits. Unless they slip over to El Cerrito for their Big Gulps. They wouldn't do that, would they?



Who: Richmond residents

Why: They still have their fearless crusader and moral compass Gayle McLaughlin carving a righteous path because the term-limits end of her tenure as mayor only marked her successful run for a council seat. So continues her quests to fix the mortgage crisis, end dependency on fossil fuels, protest damage to the Ecuadorian rain forests and, if time permits, tend to the vermin infestation at the Hacienda housing complex.

Who: David Linzey, executive director of Clayton Valley Charter High School

Why: His job security and $200,000 salary are not contingent on the approval of the school's academic staff because 27 of the 40 full-time teachers recently evaluated his performance with a vote of "no confidence."

Who: BART customers

Why: Train drivers' station calls are nearly intelligible these days, the trains occasionally run on time, derailments are infrequent and the next workers' strike over pay hikes is more than three years away.

Who: Pleasant Hill residents

Why: Now that the city clerk is an appointed position, subject to management oversight and the normal expectations of the job, residents can read City Council meeting minutes in the traditional form rather than 140-character text messages.

Who: San Ramon residents

Why: The eye-popping report of a casino coming to town was just a misunderstanding. Or, as City Manager Greg Rogers explained: "There is no project. Nothing's been proposed. None of us are meeting with anybody. There's nobody coming in the door." That sounds pretty definitive.

Who: Chevron's management team

Why: They can't embarrass themselves in another City Council election until 2016.

Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com