Executive Committee, Board Focus on Policy Priorities at July Meeting

The Bay Area Council’s lead policy priorities took center stage at the July 25 meeting of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, chaired by Virgin America CEO David Cush and hosted by the San Francisco 49ers at their stunning new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. In addition to updates on the Council’s policy priorities, there was action on several key ballot initiatives, discussion on ways to improve California’s business climate through regulatory reform and presentations by Super Bowl 50 Host Committee CEO Keith Bruce, SF 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke and David Welch, whose education reform efforts produced landmark rulings to end teacher tenure.

The Executive Committee heard from AT&T California President Ken McNeely on the work of the 21st Century Infrastructure Committee, which he co-chairs with PG&E CEO Tony Earley. McNeely reported good progress on a study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that will serve as the centerpiece of a future advocacy effort. Arup Principal Transportation Committee Chair John Eddy outlined several initiatives that seek to leverage technology to improve traffic flows on congested Bay Area freeways, particularly along Highway 101 connecting San Francisco to Silicon Valley and San Jose. PwC Market Managing Partner Jim Henry, Chair of the Healthcare Committee, reported on exciting work to slow the growth of costs through greater transparency of healthcare information. TMG Partners CEO Michael Covarrubias and Chair of the Housing and Sustainable Development Committee described an initiative to speed development within targeted areas that Bay Area cities have identified for new housing. And Ken Petrilla, Head of Wells Fargo Bank’s China Desk, briefed members on the work of the California-China Office of Trade and Investment.

With the November election fast approaching, the Executive Committee took positions on three measures, giving its endorsement to statewide Proposition 44 to create a “rainy day” budget fund, an Alameda County transportation sales tax that will invest heavily in expanding BART and a San Francisco transportation bond measure. The endorsement of the SF measure came with some reservations over a lack of significant funding for regional transportation services on which the city relies.

Board members engaged in a discussion on California’s business climate, which regularly resides near the bottom of national rankings. Members gave vivid and painful examples of how various regulations and rules, from environmental to workplace, have slowed or halted the ability of their companies to maximize growth opportunities. The Council is exploring whether and where it might focus resources to address some of the most egregious obstacles to making California a friendlier place to do business. Stay tuned for more information on this effort.

The Board heard an update from Super Bowl 50 Host Committee CEO Keith Bruce on exciting progress in planning for the big game in February 2016. Following a landmark court ruling in June striking down teacher tenure and other teacher workplace rules, the Council was pleased to welcome speaker David Welch, whose group Student Matters spearheaded the lawsuit. Welch talked about the importance of the ruling and his expectation that it will spawn similar challenges across the country. The Board was also treated to remarks from 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke, who said the team’s roster is the most talented it’s been in recent years. He fielded questions about the Niner’s defensive backfield and expectations for QB Colin Kaepernick.

Board members also enjoyed an escorted tour of the new stadium, including the many unique and luxurious event and meeting spaces available for rent. Learn more about meeting spaces at Levi’s Stadium.

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