Elections 2012: Victoria Smith, Candidate for Orinda City Council

Victoria Smith is running for one of two available seats on the city council.

General Information

Name : Victoria Smith
Age : 56
Place of residence : Orinda



Attended college : Yes
College : U C Berkeley
Degree : B.A.
Year of graduation : 1978

Grad school

University : Hastings College of the law
Degree : J.D.
Year of graduation : 1981

Employment Information

Job titles held : Attorney
Employers : Law Offices of Victoria Robinson Smith

Political Information

Party affiliation : Other
Party affiliation : Council is Non-Partisan
Running for a: Local office
Running for position: Orinda City Council
Chamber/district: n/a
Incumbent: Yes
First elected: 31 October 2004
Previous elective offices : none
Unsuccessful bids for elective offices : none

Party HQ

Address P.O. Box 2214

Campaign Manager

Name : Alex Evans
Title : Campaign Manager


Website : www.voteforvictoria.org

Other facts

Victoria Robinson Smith grew up in Silicon Valley and graduated from U.C. Berkeley and Hastings College of the Law. As an attorney, Victoria assists individuals and businesses in real estate transactions and dispute resolution. Victoria has been married for 34 years to Wick Smith, and they are the parents of Will and Daniel, products of Orinda's fine schools and both now in graduate school. Twenty-four years ago, when their children were small, Victoria and Wick Smith moved back to his home town of Orinda. They became involved in Scouts, OYA sports, and the schools. Victoria served as a Parent's Club board member at Sleepy Hollow, Wagner Ranch, OIS and Miramonte. Seventeen years ago, Victoria moved her law practice to Orinda and became an active member of the Orinda Chamber of Commerce. Victoria served as the President of the Women's Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and as the Appointee of Former Supervisor Gayle Uilkema on the Contra Costa County Family and Children's Trust Committee, which allocates funds for the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Victoria served on the City of Orinda Planning Commission from 2003-2004. Victoria was elected to the Orinda City Council in 2004, and served as Vice-Mayor in 2007 and 2010, and Mayor in 2008 and 2011. Victoria serves on the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority, and was Chair of the Board in 2010. Victoria also currently serves on the Executive Board of the Contra Costa County Mayor's Conference, as Liaison to the Orinda Chamber of Commerce and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, and on the City of Orinda Library Steering Committee, Senior Housing Sub-Committee and on the Audit and Finance Committee.

Carolyn Phinney September 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Walter, Could you please state your role in the Wagner Ranch controversy, so that we could understand your perspective? Thank you.
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Council Member Smith, while it appears you are following the "Lipnicky Doctrine" (how would it benefit her to comment in this forum?), as I am submitting these same three questions to your two opponents, I will submit them to you. With the release of the Emergency Services Task Force report on 9/12, what is your current thinking regarding the City Council representing its residents' interests with regards emergency services? Last year the Council turned back a petition from 220 residents asking it to form its own task force to review the operations and finances of our emergency services provider, MOFD, stating that reviewing MOFD's services to Orinda's residents was not in the Council's purview. Given the facts on MOFD's operations and finances reported by the Task Force, I have three questions on what you feel about the City's responsibility to ensure proper and sustainable emergency services for its residents and representing their best interests.
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
1) Orinda taxpayers pay 64% of MOFD's total tax revenue. Since 58% of MOFD's firefighters (11 of 19) are stationed in Orinda, Orinda taxpayers are paying 14%, about $1 million, of Moraga's emergency services expense. At the 2009 Tri-Agency meeting, MOFD defended this 14% subsidy by stating that Moraga units fully serviced 700 Orinda homes and provided backup service to another 800 with no reciprocal service from Orinda into Moraga. These homes create 17% of Orinda's service and make the 14% support of Moraga's emergency services costs justifiable. However, the Task Force's review of actual operations shows that MOFD's description of service from Moraga into Orinda is unsupportable. There is, in fact, significant reciprocal service from Orinda into Moraga with the only net service from Moraga into Orinda being 100 ambulance operations per year representing about 3% of Orinda's total service. The cost of these operations is reduced by the fact that 70% of them generate user fees so the total value to Orinda residents is less than $100,000 per year. The almost $1 million of subsidy from Orinda taxpayers to Moraga is contrary to the cost-sharing basis-of-formation of MOFD when Orinda detached from ConFire for precisely this reason. Do you believe it is the Orinda Council's responsibility to act as the residents' representative to work with the MOFD Board and the Moraga Council to address this so as to prevent a drastic action such as detachment from reoccurring?
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
2) The Task Force report illustrates that 39% of time critical emergencies in Orinda are responded to in excess of the 6 minute standard set by MOFD in accordance with industry standards. This is despite the fact that Orinda has four times as many firefighters per capita as ConFire which handles the same number of incidents per capita as MOFD. It appears that the reason for this sub-standard service is that the available emergency responders are concentrated in the same three stations they were when the district was formed; staffed to handle the rare fire while not responding as rapidly as would be optimal to medical emergencies. MOFD's long range financial plans show no efforts to change this configuration. Do you believe it is the City Council's obligation to act as the residents' representative work with MOFD to improve this sub-standard service or, since the voters put their emergency services needs in MOFD's hands at the recommendation of the 1997 City Council, do you believe that this sub-standard service is solely the residents' problem and they must deal directly with MOFD on their own with no support from the Council?
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:49 PM
3) The Task Force report demonstrates that MOFD has accrued approximately $700 million in long term liabilities while acquiring only $120 million in assets to offset these. The Task Force estimates that the existing assets will only pay off $200-300 of these liabilities leaving $400-500 currently unaccounted for. Revenue projections show that there should be enough revenue to pay for these unfunded liabilities but service may be further compromised. One Orinda resident who is not part of the Task Force but appears knowledgeable of such matters, Finance Committee member Carol Penskar, has stated that she believes that MOFD is actually at risk of actually going into bankruptcy. If this happens the obligation of providing emergency services to Orinda residents might fall back onto the shoulders of the City. Do you think that the City should become, if not actively involved at least actively aware of how MOFD is dealing with this issue? If yes, what steps do you believe the city should take?


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