Thursday, October 27, 2005

Glashoffs' gardens

From Daily Republic // Oct. 27, 2005

By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - What used to be the Glashoff family's pear orchard is now raising a new crop - one of iron and steel.

It includes an 18-foot-high upright banjo and a six-foot windmill with blades turning in the west winds. A rotund Santa and host of abstract women of varying heights also dot the field.

“You have got to admit, they do catch your eye,” Roland Mather of Vacaville said of the sculptures next to Rockville Road. “I came down here to get some produce, but the art is a nice, unexpected addition.”

Suisun Valley sculptor Phil Glashoff hopes his newborn sculpture garden will add more luster to the valley, bringing in more people and possibly spurring an increased interest in sculpture art.

“The valley is struggling and this is all about getting a different quality of people in here,” Glashoff said.

Glashoff's idea to create a sculpture garden emerged a few years ago, not long after the family's produce stand and bakery on Rockville Road closed.

“We were trying to figure out what to do with the property,” Glashoff said.

Glashoff and his son, Chad Glashoff, who was just starting to create his own sculptures, brainstormed on ideas for the land while at the breakfast table at the family ranch.

“I already had a substantial collection of sculptures and Chad was just getting started,” the senior Glashoff said. “We figured we could put the sculptures down on Rockville Road so they could get better exposure.”

It has taken two years to get the sculpture garden started. The past month was spent moving sculptures from Glashoff's secluded home and studio further up the valley where he creates his art.

Growing a sculpture garden

The sculptures share the land with a couple dozen head of cattle, which Glashoff's brother moved on to the land from the family's pear orchard. Someone planned to establish an organic meat company in the farm buildings, but the prospective tenant dropped out, he said. The former bakery and produce stand are now for rent to any agriculture-related business.

“None of (the sculptures) are for sale because this is agriculturally zoned land, but we are doing this to help create Suisun Valley as a destination spot to bring in people to discover the wineries, produce stands and restaurants here,” Glashoff said.

It will also serve as an opportunity for local schools' art departments to experience local art “and a great place for new artists to see and get motivated,” Chad Glashoff said.

A little more than two dozen sculptures stand around the former bakery, the closed-off parking lot and the gravel road between the two pastures.

“We are planning to do additions as time goes on,” Glashoff said. “This is just the beginning.”

Glashoff's goal is to have at least 50 sculptures on display. While the lion's share will be his or his son's work, Glashoff hopes to display sculptures from artists from around the world.

The sculptor talks about putting in even larger sculptures in the pastures, possibly up to 40 feet high, much higher than the mostly human-sized pieces there now.

“I want to see what reaction (to the sculpture garden idea) we get before putting large elements into the pasture,” he said.

A unique art gallery

This would be the first such sculpture park within Solano County with the nearest other such sculpture parks found in Oakland, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

“There are no other places around here for artists to display their (larger) works,” Glashoff said. “This will be that place.”
Doreen Lum, who runs The Vegetable Patch across Rockville Road, has been watching the sculpture garden's birth for some time.

“I think its great,” Lum said. “This will bring a different kind of clientele to the area and hopefully they will venture across the street (to Lum's produce stand).”

Maria Gomez pointed out the large medal banjo near the entrance to the sculpture garden to her daughter during a stop at Lum's store.

“They are very nice and it's nice to have them out here for everyone to see them,” Gomez said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

The sculpture garden will be open to the general public noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 29 & 30. After that, it will be open for free docent-led tours on weekends only. To arrange an appointment, call 429-1133.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lawler House may move again

From Daily Republic // Oct. 20, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's historic Lawler House could get a new owner and possibly a new home.

A local business owner recently approached the Redevelopment Agency, which owns Lawler House, asking to buy it, Councilman Sam Derting said during the council meeting Tuesday night.

The city has also pondered moving the house to another downtown location if such a move could help sell a vacant site adjacent to the old home's current location at 718 Main St.

The businessman approached the city earlier this week, Redevelopment Director Al da Silva said. He wouldn't say who it was.

“This is a lead that we are definitely pursuing at this time,” da Silva said.

Main Street West Partners, the developer the city is negotiating with to run the downtown's future redevelopment, has run into difficulty marketing the site next to the Lawler House to potential anchor businesses.

Moving the Lawler House could help Main Street West's efforts to bring in businesses.
“It had been looked at because we wanted flexibility for Main Street West,” da Silva said.

If the city does decide to move the house, it better take a close look at the costs “because it's not cheap,” Councilwoman Jane Day said.

If the house moves, it would be the second time the 149-year-old ranch-style house has been moved.

Originally built on land not far from where the Suisun City Fire Department on Pintail Avenue now stands, the house was moved two miles by barge and truck in June 1979 to its present home on Main Street.

After two years of restoration, it became home to a dozen small businesses.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Humphrey's return turns out to be ‘a whale tale'

From Daily Republic // Oct. 18, 2005
Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - At first glance, the creature looked like it just might be a baby whale marking the 20th anniversary of Humphrey's famous adventures by swimming up Montezuma Slough in Suisun Marsh.

It swam under the murky, brown waters near the Beldon's Landing fishing area on Monday morning, darting amid the dozens of piles that hold up the arcing Montezuma Slough bridge.

Every now and then, it arched its back out of the water and showed a fin.

“The tail definitely looked like a whale,” said Sue Willey of Fairfield, who came to Beldon's Landing at 10 a.m. with her husband to enjoy the area's natural beauty.

Anthony Williams and Aaron Martin got a look at the creature as they drove over the bridge.

They drove up to Beldon's Landing to watch from shore.

“We thought it was a whale, too,” Martin said.

But the handful of onlookers were unable to get a close look. They didn't have the advantage of a camera that could freeze the image. The creature usually stayed in the middle of the wide slough and lifted a part of its body out of the water for only about a second at a time.

As things turned out, this wasn't Humphrey the Humpback Whale. Instead, the creature was Suzie the Sea Lion or Seal.

Twenty years ago to the day, Humphrey was causing a stir nationwide. People by the hundreds flocked to Solano County to see the unlikely sight of a whale swimming in rivers and sloughs 50 miles inland.

History failed to repeat itself on Monday. That became apparent to Martin and Williams when they walked onto the bridge for a closer look.

“He kind of looks like a sea lion,” Williams said.

Appearances by seals or sea lions in Montezuma Slough are not a rarity, said Ted Ceder and John Legakis as they prepared to launch a boat and go fishing.

“You don't see them every time,” Ceder said. “But you see them here and there.”

Sheriff's Deputy Ed Hipol said the creatures can especially be seen during the salmon runs. He patrols the area's waters by boat.

So Humphrey the Whale will keep his unique place in the region's history. Still, the onlookers at Beldon's Landing got to enjoy themselves.

“We had something to see,” Willey said. “Normally, we just watch the little fish jump.”

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Developer asks Suisun City for more time

From Daily Republic // Oct. 18, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The developers chosen by the Suisun City Council to reinvigorate Main Street's economy with new development are asking for more time to come up with their plan.

Main Street West Partners is also asking the council to waive a requirement that it get a commitment from a major tenant before moving forward.

Getting the major tenant was one selling point that prompted Suisun City to start exclusive negotiations with Main Street West Partners, which is made up of local developer Mike Rice and Frank Marinello of Marinello Real Estate.

“It is just more time to come up with a better site plan,” Suisun City Redevelopment Director Al da Silva said of the extension.

The developers were trying to land a tenant for what they called the Main Street West project's “centerpiece anchor,” but a final agreement was never reached despite several tours and phone conversations.

Instead, the developers are looking to put multiple yet-to-be-named businesses into that centerpiece location, according to a letter from Main Street West Partners.

“We believe a viable alternative to the single-anchor concept is to locate multiple synergistic uses in the centerpiece/anchor portion of the project,” Main Street West partner Frank Marinello wrote in his letter to the council.

Da Silva said this change gives the developers “more flexibility to come up with an attraction for the core project.”

Rice doesn't see this change as an obstacle in the Main Street West project, saying plans are moving ahead well.

“It is just a change in what we see as the core development area,” Rice said.

“It is not a major change. It goes from a single user to multiple tenants,” da Silva said. “As far as I am concerned, this is an improvement.”

Suisun City created the West of Main plan in January in an effort to use city-owned property downtown as an incentive to bring in a master developer to revive the downtown's redevelopment efforts.

Rice and Marinello beat out 20 other developers who put in proposals to enter exclusive negotiations early in the summer to bring in new retail and live-work developments.

The city council, which also sits as the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency, meets tonight at 7 p.m. in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Suisun City sees rash of window breakings

From Daily Republic // Oct. 18, 2005
By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - Robert Watts woke up Oct. 9 to find the driver's-side window of his gray pickup truck knocked out. Then he glanced at his neighbors' homes on the 600 block of Canvasback Drive.

He saw glass shards near other cars on the block. There was no rhyme or reason to it, it appeared many cars were targeted as far down as Worley Road, just a couple blocks away.

The destruction didn't end there. Sometime on Wednesday or Thursday, someone apparently shot the side window of Robert Steeves' van. The tempered-glass window bears a small hole surrounded by numerous cracks and the glass would shatter if touched. Robert's son Richard Steeves estimates 30 vehicles had windows tampered with.

Residents of Canvasback Drive, Cackling Drive and surrounding streets experienced a string of window bashings. On Oct. 2, Suisun City police received six reports of smashed windows - four on Canvasback Drive and two on Cackling Drive.

But Suisun City police have not received reports on the latest series of vandalism and don't have anyone investigating the case, said Juan Camacho, police spokesman. In cases such as vandalism, the police department can send victims a report form they can fill out and send to police.

Periodically, vandals will focus on one area. One day last November, someone broke 12 windows in the Lawler Ranch neighborhood, Camacho said.

Watts and Richard Steeves are angry that police didn't visit their homes to take a report.
With only 22 officers to cover Suisun City, the department had to cut back on some services, Camacho said. When the force went from 30 to 22 officers, the department stopped sending officers out on medical calls. It also stopped responding to cold cases where no one was hurt, the crime already occurred and there are no suspects.

Vandalism is considered a cold case, which has no suspects and no reported injuries.
“Our priority is crimes against people,” Camacho said.

If police hear enough reports to establish a pattern of vandalism, then investigators will be notified and patrol officers will be advised to look for the suspect, Camacho said.

The Oct. 9 window-breakings extended to residents on Worley Road, Watts said. That same day, someone shot out the huge picture window on Richard Steeves' mobile home - a few days before vandals struck his father's van. The combined cost to replace the windows will be nearly $1,000 and because the glass for both windows is tempered, Steeves must wait for the replacement part.

“I'm really upset because the police can't do anything about it,” Steeves said. “They won't take a report, they won't patrol they won't investigate, nothing. I'm not the only one who made a call about it. I'm sure there are others.”

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

Monday, October 17, 2005

Study: Suisun has enough police officers

From Daily Republic // Saturday, Sept. 15, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City doesn't need more police officers to protect residents and business owners, it just needs to fill two vacancies and get those officers now on light duty back on patrol, according to a consultant's report.

And once the department's patrol force is up to strength, the City Council can consider ending a contract with the Solano County Sheriff's Department to patrol the city in the early morning.

The Suisun City Council will examine the consultant's report during a study session Tuesday when it considers how best to staff the Suisun City Police Department.

The consultant started the study in September. The council wanted a quick examination of staffing now to provide a baseline to use when looking at how to improve public safety.

At that time, Suisun City Police Chief Ron Forsythe told the council the department needed two more police officers to help his overworked force better protect the city.

At the Sept. 8 study session, Forsythe said his 22-officer department was in crisis mode because it was stretched to the limit with tight funding, losses due to retirements, injuries and officers leaving for other jobs.

The chief hoped for a council commitment to bring back a 24-hour police department, only to be told the council had to first figure out what it could afford.

Suisun City is in its second year of contracting with the Solano County Sheriff's Department to patrol the city in the early morning hours.

Mayor Jim Spering forcefully told the study's consultant he wanted an objective analysis of what was needed to protect Suisun City.

According to the study, Suisun City has a high level of service with 17 patrol officers and sergeants.

Five of these 17 are either in training or on limited duty, and two positions are vacant, the study said. Four of these officers should be back on duty by early next year. It recommended filling two vacancies.

The study said it will take 16 to 17 patrol officers and sergeants to adequately patrol Suisun City around the clock without help from the Solano County Sheriff's Office.

This is based on having three officers available to patrol the streets each shift.

”With 15 actual positions, the Suisun Police Department can provide 24-hour field services which allows for a minimum of three personnel per hour,“ the survey said.

While it is the city's goal to provide its own law enforcement, it is important to continue mutual aid from surrounding police agencies to provide back-up, the study concluded.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

State concludes grant misuse investigation

From Daily Republic // Saturday, Sept. 15, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The California Department of Boating and Waterways closed its investigation into allegations state grant money was used to pay two officers for painting two rooms at the Suisun City Police Department.

The department will keep a closer eye on how Suisun City police spend future grants, but doesn't plan to take further action, an agency spokeswoman said.

”We feel the matter is resolved,“ said June Iljana of the state Boating and Waterways Department.

In late August an anonymous letter to the state department alleged Suisun City Police Chief Ron Forsythe misused state grant money by using it to pay officers to paint rooms in the police station rather than patrol the city's waterways, as the grant intended.

"While we did find that about $2,500 was charged to the program while officers were painting, it was offset by about $2,600 in charges they could have charged to the financial aid," Iljana said.

"That includes a math error and the fact that the city did not claim (money for fringe benefits and administration costs) when they could have."

Forsythe was pleased with the outcome, saying the state audit "had some recommendations to improve our accounting on the boat grant which we will, of course, follow."

"They also found that there were no violations of their policy and of the harbor and navigations code,“ Forsythe said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Suisun budget still tight; reserves won't be looted

From Daily Republic // Oct. 5, 2005
Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Council made few changes during a Tuesday budget study session to a draft budget that itself makes few alterations in how the city does business.

Instead, changes may happen in the middle of the budget year in January, when new City Manager Suzanne Bragdon proposes a series of short- and long-term strategies to improve the city's financial fortune.

It will also be when the City Council takes a serious look at what it can do to create more revenue and raise levels of service for residents.

Once such future revenue boost took hold Tuesday when the council approved going forward with a community facilities district to cover any future residential housing. This was done independent of the budget study session.

Initially aimed at the proposed Blossom Manor development, it would impose greater fees on new residential housing so that the city's residential growth will pay more of its way.

The assessments will go to funding police, fire landscaping and storm drain costs. The idea to charge a fee to future housing to support recreation and the library was dropped before Tuesday's meeting.

The council was handed a hold-the-line general fund budget that proposes to spend almost $8 million, but doesn't dip into the reserves as deeply as it did last year.

Last year, the city had to take $650,000 from reserves to make ends meet. This year, it plans to take out $200,000.

But even the $200,000 may be a high figure, according to Bragdon, who said she has budgeted conservatively and hopes to see the deficit disappear by the end of this fiscal year.

City Hall has trimmed a dozen positions in the last few years, but is now filling three vacant ones - a community development director, an assistant city manager for administrative services and a construction inspector position.

A final version of the city budget is expected to land back before the city council for approval at its Oct. 18 meeting.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Suisun council to debate budget proposal

From Daily Republic // Oct. 4, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City council members get yet another hold-the-line proposed budget tonight but one that doesn't dip as deep into the city's beleaguered reserves.

City Manager Suzanne Bragdon is proposing to spend nearly $8 million for the general fund budget, which pays for most of the city services - from police to public works.

Bragdon described the budget as another status quo budget that doesn't offer gains or losses in city services.

"We are continuing with the service levels we have in place, instead of continuing to cut employees," Bragdon said.

Suisun City's budget picture has brightened somewhat, but the city still has to dip into its reserves to make ends meet, according to the budget message to the city council from Bragdon.

"Our revenues are improving significantly," Bragdon said. "Because we budget conservatively, I expect to see the deficit to disappear by end of this fiscal year."

Last year, the city had to pull $650,000 from reserves. This year, it expects to take out $200,000.

A dozen positions were trimmed from the city payroll in the last few years and this budget goes forward while the police department staff and service levels are being examined in a yet-to-be-completed analysis.

The budget reflects the city council's decision made earlier this year to fill the vacant Community Development Director and Assistant City Manager for Administrative Services positions. It also recommends putting in a construction inspector position.

The capitol improvement budget proposes spending $3.4 million on streets and roads, which includes widening Driftwood Avenue near Crescent Middle School, rehabilitating Whispering Bay Street and building Lawler Ranch Park. The Redevelopment Agency's proposed projects this coming year include removing blight from the downtown, putting more public improvements along Main Street and spending $530,000 on a lighthouse.

Tonight's study session will be followed by more huddles among city staff to track down more revenue, figure out how best to deliver city services and work out both a short-term and long-term strategy to improve finances.

The council is expected to vote on the budget at its Oct. 18 meeting.

The Suisun City Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

Timetable set for park in Lawler Ranch

From Daily Republic // Oct. 4, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Lawler Ranch residents can expect to see the first part of their community park built about a year from now, according to Suisun City's Recreation and Community Services Department.

"We are looking at completion of the park in the fall (next year), with work to start this spring," department head Mick Jessop said.

Residents of the eastern Suisun City neighborhood pushed for the park for some time.

The proposed 10-acre park site is located along the west side of Lawler Ranch Parkway south of Mayfield Way. As part of the first phase, one-third of this site should be under construction by spring.

Work will include putting in two play areas, a picnic area, a small turf area for free play as well as pathways for bicyclists and joggers, according to Jessop.

Due to the city's tight finances, the second phase won't be built until Suisun City determines it has enough money to pay for its upkeep.

Jessop previously hoped to see the park open in spring 2006, but changes to drainage plans, longer-than-planned outside agency reviews and changes in city staff, made that impossible.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

Suisun police chief gets some support

From Vacaville Reporter // Oct. 4, 2005

In a show of support for Suisun City police Chief Ron Forsythe's leadership abilities, the department's police officers association recently voted to voice confidence in him.

"We wanted the new city manager and the community to know that, as we work together to address the public safety challenges facing our community, we have confidence in Chief Forsythe's presented solutions," said Detective Matt Eleopoulos, president of the Suisun City Police Officers Association, in a prepared statement.

Low staffing levels have long been a departmental problem, he said, but the chief's proposal of hiring two officers would indeed rectify the matter.

A consultant's report is expected within the next two weeks.

Suisun police investigated for alleged misuse of funds

From Daily Republic // Oct. 4, 2005
By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - Suisun City is investigating allegations that state grant money was used to pay officers for painting two rooms in the Suisun City Police Department - not for what the money was intended.

Neither Police Chief Ron Forsythe nor City Hall would discuss the specifics of the allegations, which were made to the California Department of Boating and Waterways a month ago.

"I have been directed not to discuss it," Forsythe said.

Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said only that "we are looking into it at this time."

The grant money in question was supposed to be used to pay officers for patrolling the waterways in and around Suisun City as well to purchase equipment.

The alleged misuse in late 2004 and early 2005 involves two officers - who were assigned to boating enforcement patrol - being told to paint two rooms at the police station and being paid for their time with grant funds.

Forsythe earlier denied misusing the state funds and said he only found out after the fact that the officers painted the room while on city time and while receiving overtime compensation from grant money from the Department of Boating and Waterways.

He said the two officers volunteered to paint the rooms to raise morale after it was determined the rooms looked bad because of paint peeling from the walls.

The police chief also earlier said when he found out about what happened, he directed the time spent painting be charged to their regular salaries.

Forsythe is sure he will survive the audit and the city investigation.

"I look forward to the city completing its investigation and I am confident that it won't show any misconduct," he said.

The Department of Boating and Waterways representatives visited the department last week and conducted an audit, the results of which have not been released.

A spokeswoman for the state department is still waiting to get the findings from a consultant who handled the audit and said the state can't comment on the allegations until they see the audit's findings.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Monday, October 3, 2005

Making Suisun City a destination city

From Daily Republic // Oct. 3, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suzanne Bragdon, Suisun City's new city manager, says her long-term goal is to use the city's redevelopment assets to make it the waterfront destination its been on the verge of for years.

Her short-term efforts will be a daunting campaign to put the city's general fund finances back into the black and rebuild city employee confidence.

"If people see the light at the end of the tunnel, they will hang in there," Bragdon said of turning the city away from being "the training ground for other agencies."

A month into her new job, Bragdon already made her opening moves to deal with Suisun City's problems by creating a management team from people she has known from her previous jobs in Southern California.

Bragdon plans to ask the council to adopt a status quo budget with few cuts or increases at its early October meeting.

"It is at the mid-year when we will have a hard assessment," Bragdon said.

Nothing will be overlooked, according to Bragdon. Options - ranging from making changes in the city's organizational structure to tracking down new revenue sources - will be considered.

That will include comparing the city's taxes, user fees and other sources of revenues with other cities and seeing if they can be raised.

The City Council has already considered a proposal to create a community facilities district to assess all new housing in town and raise money for all the city's departments, with favorable reviews.

Such a district charges new homeowners fees for services that could range from parks to police services.

City employees went without salary increases to help keep the city afloat and Bragdon said she and the council "don't want to balance the budget on the backs of the employees."

Bragdon, 46, started work at Suisun City Hall Sept. 1, arriving from her job as an economic development consultant for the city of Grover Beach on the Central California coast.

She received good initial reviews from the council. Mayor Jim Spering said at a council meeting her knowledge of city operations and attention to detail would create the revenue the city badly needs.

Vice Mayor Pete Sanchez, who was on the search committee with Spering, was impressed with her background, experience and desire "to make Suisun City the destination city we have been talking about all these years," he said.

Earlier in her career, Bragdon served as city manager for Pismo Beach and assistant city manager in Napa. She replaced interim city manager David Martinez who held the job since December 2004 when Steve Baker stepped down to become city manager for the Central Valley town of Oakdale.

A Seattle native, Bragdon moved to California with her artist husband Kirk Bragdon "because he could not stand gray" and initially worked for a consulting firm in Sacramento.

In 1996, she joined the city of Napa as an assistant city manager doing special projects that included the resort-style, executive home Stanley Ranch project.

Stanley Ranch met its demise after the community split over whether Napa needed it, but Bragdon still thinks it would have been a good addition.

She stepped into the city manager role at Pismo Beach, where the primary effort was to upgrade the downtown area to attract more tourist dollars.

"It was getting old and dirty," Bragdon said.

A $1.5 million project put in more sidewalks, lighting and a plaza which was opposed by a group of residents who liked the beachfront town the way it was and didn't want more tourists.

What Bragdon called "politics" involving the council prompted her to jump to adjacent Grover Beach, where she took a job as economic development consultant working to bring in outside development.

Grover Beach's redevelopment agency didn't have funds or land to attract potential investors, but Bragdon managed to get the gears turning to put a conference center in the town, a project that is now in the planning stages.

Even before unpacking in Suisun City, Bragdon moved on accomplishing the first goal the city council set for her - filling the city's top positions that were held by interim administrators.

She tagged Ron Anderson, most recently Grover Beach's city manager, as Suisun City's assistant city manager. Bragdon also brought in Jack Raper, also from Grover Beach, as Suisun City's community development director.

Raper, who planned to retire before Bragdon asked him to come to Suisun City, worked in the town of Riverbank, which had issues similar to Suisun City - such as dealing with residential verses commercial development.

This still leaves interim director Al da Silva heading up the Redevelopment Agency and Diane Briltz heading the finance department.

Bragdon readily admits Suisun City Hall has a lot of problems, "but I like the challenges."

The toughest problem has been the city's shrinking budget which led to draconian cutbacks in city jobs and in services that included partially contracting out for police services.

"The one I was most hesitant about was the budget," Bragdon said. "We really needed solutions and I concluded that we do have opportunities here."

She is getting to know the city's employees and administrators better, going over what she calls "the big picture" of getting City Hall back on track.

Bragdon is concerned about low morale saying "we want to turn the tide on that."

She is most excited about the annexation and development of the Gentry-Pierce property west of Old Town and the plans the Main Street West Partners are working on to further economically revive the Main Street area.

"That is just huge," Bragdon said of the projects.

Bragdon plans to aggressively market all the possible development sites not covered by the Main Street project, starting with hitting an International Conference of Shopping Centers convention to try to get the eye of potential retailers and developers.

She hopes this will soon translate to projects that will increase the town's sales and hotel tax revenues, which means reviving the effort to attract a destination hotel to the town.

"Water is what attracts. Everyone wants a waterfront," Bragdon said, adding the turn-of-the-century feel of the Old Town only adds to that attraction.

Is there a light at the end of Suisun City's tunnel?

"Absolutely," Bragdon said. "I would not be here if there wasn't."

Ian Thompson can be reached at

  • Name: Suzanne Bragdon
  • Job: Suisun City Manager
  • Age: 46
    Experience: Napa assistant city manager, Pismo Beach city manager, economic development consultant for Grover Beach
  • Salary: $140,000
  • Duties: Overseeing all of Suisun City's departments and services

Getting a manicure to get away from the suspects

From Daily Republic // Oct. 3, 2005

By Brad Stanhope

SUISUN CITY - Lori Bush likes getting a manicure for the same reasons as many people.
Well, almost the same reasons.

"I think it relaxes me," Bush says while sitting in a chair at The Gallery. "An hour here is an hour not on the phone. I have good conversation. I'm not driving to work, dealing with suspects and all that."

Yeah. Not dealing with suspects.

Bush, who lives in Suisun City, is an Oakland cop - and a trip to the salon is a nice way to relax away from her job. She does it every other week, always with Kimmy Sheets, the popular manicurist at the shop on the Suisun City waterfront.

"I used to get my hair done here, then I got my nails done," Bush says. "I liked the way they do nails."

That was five years ago. Now she comes every other week for a manicure, once a month for a pedicure. Bush has artificial gel nails and the two-week period is how long it takes her natural nails to grow out, requiring a new application by Sheets.

Bush sits calmly while Sheets works on her nail, pulling off the old, preparing for the new.
"All I'm doing is sitting and talking," Bush says. "Kimmy does the work. I like a nice, clean look. I don't wear polish, I have a pink-and-white look."

Sheets, who was born in South Vietnam, held many jobs in her life. She was a beauty school teacher, a tailor, an accountant. But she kept coming back to doing nails - winding up at The Gallery, which she says she loves.

"I like to have time to talk with people," she says. "I have good interaction with my clients."
Her customers agree. The appointments take an hour and it's time well spent.

"It takes an hour because I like Kimmy," Bush says. "We catch up on our experiences every couple of weeks, and when I leave, (my hands are) a Picasso."

Sheets, having removed much of the old nail, uses a tiny machine to sand as Bush sits and talks. The manicures cost $35 to $40 and pedicures, done less regularly, are $45.

"I like the finished product - the whole result," Bush says. "I leave feeling better. My nails are better, they give me confidence."

That makes it well worthwhile to take a trip every other week to relax away from the police job and enjoy time with her friend and manicurist.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6925 or

Saturday, October 1, 2005

No Suisun lighthouse yet, but beacon set to shine

From Daily Republic // Oct. 1, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City Hall doesn't have its lighthouse yet, but it does have the lighthouse's light.

Mayor Jim Spering and the City Council will flick the switch on the lighthouse beacon at 7:30 p.m. as part of the city's Waterfront Festival today.

City Hall's announcement plugs the event as "the flickering promise of a rejuvenated downtown waterfront" and a public test of the 150-watt lamp that will have a maximum visibility distance of 23 nautical miles once the lighthouse is built.

The city plans to erect a 52-foot-high lighthouse on the east side of Suisun City's harbor, which would be an instant landmark and focal point for the Main Street West development project, supporters said.

Suisun City is in negotiations with Main Street West Partners on a plan to jump-start the redevelopment of the Old Town area.

"This lighthouse will be the landmark that guides people to Suisun City," Spering said. "Lighthouses have a long history of guiding sailors to safe harbors. This lighthouse will guide visitors to the vibrant destination downtown will become."

The lighthouse idea was conceived last year during community forums, where members said the waterfront needed a unique and distinctive symbol to promote it that would be visible from Highway 12.

ROMA Design Group designed the lighthouse. The council hasn't decided specifically how to pay for it, but councilmembers have said developers building in the Old Town may foot the bill.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at