Today's special is three topics for the price of one:

  • There's been a fascinating ebb and flow to the City Council's marathon debate over Walnut Creek's two-year operating budget. A few weeks ago, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Simmons was opposed to using one-time development fees to make ends meet -- until he decided he wasn't. Then Councilman Justin Wedel, who originally endorsed the idea, changed his mind when casting the swing vote.

    For a while, proposed budget cuts included the city's beloved aquatics program. Then funds were located to keep it going. Library hours were to be shortened by 12 hours per week for two years. Then the council agreed to keep hours unchanged for 2014-15 and worry about 2015-16 later.

    But the highlight -- so far, at least -- came Tuesday night, when a survey commissioned by the council found residents would be receptive to a half-cent sales tax ballot measure. Armed with that support, Mayor Kristina Lawson and Wedel promptly voted against exploring the idea. Naturally, the measure carried 3-2.

    So now we know how the council plans to celebrate Walnut Creek's centennial. It's decided to take everyone for a roller-coaster ride.

  • Contra Costa Democrats and Republicans finally found something to agree on recently: their mutual distrust of PG&E lumberjacks. My words, not theirs. They described their position more tactfully.


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    In a jointly issued news release, representatives of the two parties encouraged PG&E "to work more closely with county and city governments and their residents in the company's effort to improve pipeline safety by clearing trees, shrubs and other obstacles from the pipeline's proximity."

    Concord Councilman Edi Birsan, a Democrat who facilitated the collaboration with Republican Vice Chairman Hal Bray, described it as "the first time in this millennium we have ever gotten together and agreed on anything."

    What they agreed on is that foliage should not be cleared without local approval. ("Every tree is innocent until proven guilty," Birsan said.)

    What else, besides trees, might the two parties agree on?

    "Maybe bushes," Birsan joked, before changing his mind. "I take that back. We had bad experiences with the Bushes."

  • The resignation of Pleasant Hill City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl was a bit surprising, but not because she backpedaled on her pledge not to quit. What's surprising is that with all of her burdensome tweeting demands she found time to compose a scathing farewell email.

    "This has been an atrocious, incredibly depressing and mind-numbingly inane experience I would not wish on anyone," she wrote. Think how much more she would have hated it if she'd done what she was elected to do -- keep City Council minutes.

    Give her this: She rewrote the clerk's job description during her 17 months in office. Instead of keeping official records of City Council business, she hopped on to her Twitter account during meetings and blasted 140-character electronic messages into cyberspace.

    She clearly didn't like the job she campaigned for. So what has she chosen not to like next? According to her Twitter account -- where else would you look? -- she's relocated to Washington, D.C., to join a political activist group called Working America.

    If it involves a lot of tweeting, she'll be perfect.

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com