Star editorial: Dodd brings common-sense approach to State Senate

Star editorial: Dodd brings common-sense approach to State Senate

  • Updated

State Senator Bill Dodd never eats lunch in Sacramento. He says he can’t find the time.

That tells you all you need to know about Dodd’s energy level. It also might explain why he’s running for re-election unopposed – he’d be awfully hard to keep up with, let alone beat.

Like Congressman Mike Thompson, who represents many of the same North Bay communities, Dodd is highly experienced, well-connected, and more focused on common-sense solutions than ideology.

A former chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Dodd is well-versed in the traffic problems his constituents have to endure every day.

After driving from Napa to St. Helena to meet our editorial board, he expressed the same frustration with Yountville’s Highway 29-Madison Street stoplight as the rest of us. But unlike us, he’s on friendly terms with the head of Caltrans, who might be able to do something about it.

Dodd said he plans to write a bill to add the low-lying and frequently flooded Highway 37 to the regional transportation plan, creating the first sea level resiliency project in California.

Elevating 37 and converting it to a toll road would protect a crucial traffic corridor from rising sea levels, expand wetlands, and be great for the environment. Dodd said it deserves a streamlined review process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), although he acknowledged that’s unlikely.

Dodd identifies himself as a fiscal conservative, but as you’d expect of a Republican-turned-Democrat, he isn’t wedded to ideology. He talked about the folly of applying one-size-fits-all solutions to such a sprawling and diverse state.

That mentality produces nuanced policies. For example, he said local governments shouldn’t bar fire victims from rebuilding in fire-prone areas where their families have lived for generations, but building completely new housing in the wildland-urban interface is courting disaster.

Wildfires and PG&E dominated our conversation.

Dodd said the widely criticized Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) process is unsustainable and economically ruinous. Expecting customers to buy generators and put up with frequent shutoffs is unacceptable, he said. He wants the California Public Utilities Commission to perform more advance oversight of proposed PSPS events.

Dodd has the committee assignments necessary to turn his views into laws.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed bills written by Dodd requiring PG&E to address the needs of medically fragile residents during a PSPS, extending insurance-covered living expenses for wildfire victims from two to three years, and requiring state officials, not just PG&E, to inspect and certify PG&E’s vegetation management work – ending a ridiculous self-certification system.

While addressing a separate issue, Dodd said it’s important for public servants to be humble, work well with colleagues, and treat staff with respect while maintaining high expectations.

That’s a good description of an effective legislator. And “effective legislator” is a good description of Dodd.

The Star editorial board consists of editors David Stoneberg and Sean Scully and community volunteers Norma Ferriz, Christopher Hill, Shannon Kuleto, Bonnie Long, Peter McCrea, Gail Showley and Dave Yewell. Hill is resigning this week to devote more time to his family and his business. We thank him lending his wit and wisdom for the last eight years and we wish him all the best.


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