Sep 18 2018


At its regular meeting on September 17, 2018, the City Council appointed Bret Black as Fire Chief of the City of Piedmont. Following a rigorous selection process, Mr. Black was chosen unanimously by the Council from a field of 27 candidates. Mr. Black’s first day as Fire Chief will be Monday, October 1st.

This appointment follows interviews of qualified candidates by two panels comprised of residents and public safety professionals, the City Administrator, and the full City Council, which made the final selection. The City Council unanimously agreed that Mr. Black will fit extraordinarily well with the community and the department.

Black began his family in Marin County where he married his wife Nimai and had three sons. His professional firefighting career began with Skywalker Ranch Fire Department in 1997. At the same time he remained active in the local community teaching first aid & CPR as a member of the neighboring volunteer fire department. A few years later he relocated to the Clovis Fire Department in the Central Valley. Mr. Black rose through the ranks from firefighter, engineer, captain, training officer, to battalion chief. Although Bret had an accomplished career with Clovis Fire, he and his wife both longed to come back to the Bay Area someday. Mr. Black brings a broad set of skills to Piedmont, specifically with training mandates, disaster preparedness, strategic planning, but most importantly an inclusive leadership style.

“We are pleased that the recruitment process developed such qualified candidates, in particular Bret Black,” said Mayor Robert McBain. “I would like to express my appreciation to members of the Council as well as the members of the interview panels: Mahvash Hassan, Jeffrey Horner, Lyman Shaffer, Lynne Wright, Don Bivins, Dave Rocha, and Elizabeth Warmerdam.”

“Bret has extensive experience in the fire service,” said Vice Mayor Teddy Gray King. “I believe he will be a tremendous asset to the Piedmont community, the City of Piedmont, and the Fire Department.”

“I believe that Bret Black will serve the City of Piedmont well as Fire Chief,” said City Administrator Paul Benoit. “Piedmont would have been well served with each of the finalists, however Mr. Black distinguished himself during the interviews.”

“Serving as Fire Chief in Piedmont will allow me to be part of a community that values its culture and heritage,” Black said. “I look forward to serving the residents and firefighters of Piedmont and to build on the existing talent within the organization.”

For conditions of employment, read prior PCA article HERE.

Sep 17 2018

The Wall of Honor at the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Library at Piedmont High School opened on Friday, September 14 at 4:30 p.m.


The Wall of Honor is an extension of the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Collection at the Piedmont High School Library and is part of Piedmont’s distinguished tradition of “Achieving the Honorable.” The Wall of Honor lists Piedmont Service Members who have bravely served our country in the US military and the Foreign Service from WWI to the present.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts: a visual installation in the Piedmont High School Library, a permanent digital repository of the names of over 1,000 men and women from Piedmont who have served our country from WWI to the present, and an interactive website intended as a place where students as well as service members and their families can learn more about the service given to us by those from Piedmont.

The Wall of Honor website,, has been thoughtfully designed by talented local web designer, Kristen Long of Oakland based Mighty Minnow with direction from professional museum display designer Agata Malkowski, to be a site that can grow over time as service members and their families contribute more names, service details and photographs. It is hoped that Piedmont High School students as well as community members will access and use the site as a resource of factual information and thoughtful contemplation.

A Wall of Honor planning committee has worked for the past two years with the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD), the City of Piedmont, the Piedmont Historical Society, and the family of Ambassador Stevens to plan the project and raise the funds necessary to make it a reality.

The public may visit the Wall of Honor online at any time ( or in person at the Piedmont High School Library during school hours after first signing in at the school office.


The following is the statement made at the opening of the Wall of Honor on Friday, September 14, 2018 . 

Thank you for being here today as we officially open the Wall of Honor!

A special welcome to the Stevens Family. We are honored to have you here and it is with special consideration that we remember Ambassador Christopher Stevens on the sixth anniversary of his passing.

I, and my fellow committee members are so proud of this project for a number of reasons. First of all because the Wall of Honor fulfills a need in the school community for a place to recognize and learn more about the service provided to our country by Piedmonters from WWI to the present in the military and diplomatic service.

Inspired by Ambassador Stevens, and continuing his legacy, we hope the young people of Piedmont will use the Wall of Honor as a resource for reflection and inquiry. By doing so they will be able to share in the lessons, whether easy or hard, that military or diplomatic service can teach. Hopefully this sort of inquiry will also give our community a chance to reflect on what public service means to them and how best to incorporate it into their lives.

We believe that students, and our country will be the better for it.

Secondly, and just as important, I am proud of the collaboration and cooperation that has marked this project’s creation. Keeping in mind the school’s motto: “Achieve the Honorable”, while planning the Wall of Honor, we sought input and advice from the Stevens family, school administrators, teachers, students, the Piedmont Historical Society, the City of Piedmont, veterans and current service members. I believe the Wall of Honor that you see today truly reflects this thoughtful approach.

Along the way, we were extremely fortunate to have met Agata Malkowski, without whom this project would never have come to life. Agata is a talented and successful museum experience designer, who happens to have a soft spot in her heart for the US Marine Corps. Agata had the professional know how to take this project from an idea to reality. Thank you, Agata.

And of course, we are also extremely grateful that we had the opportunity to work with web design firm Mighty Minnow, based locally in Oakland and headed by the extraordinary Kristen Long. The Piedmont Education Foundation introduced us to Mighty Minnow, and we feel very fortunate that Mighty Minnow has applied their creativity and professional ability to the Wall of Honor website.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts:

  1. A permanent digital database which can be added to over time, of the names and service details of Piedmonters from WWI to the present who have served our country in uniform and the diplomatic service.
  2. A physical place of inquiry and reflection that can be visited by students, teachers and the community.
  3. A digital repository which can grow over time, to collect the stories, memories and information about the time in service performed by Piedmonters.

In closing, I would like to share my personal aspiration for the Wall of Honor here at PHS.

The World and National news we hear today of entrenched partisan politics, global environmental concerns, mass immigration worldwide, and never ending wars can make the world seem like an unapproachable mess and it is easy to see how a student might feel that his or her individual actions would not make a difference.

Yet, as extraordinary as we feel this time is, it is certainly not unique in history. Piedmont students have faced extraordinary times since WWI and have taken the education they received here out into the broader world to help make it a better place.

Piedmont students have been fortunate since the founding of the school to be in an environment where they learn and put to use the building blocks necessary for lifelong education. Critical thinking, the capacity to care and practical know-how are tools that Piedmont students are equipped with upon graduation.

Just as Ambassador Stevens will forever be remembered for his leadership in taking these tools and using them to build better understanding and cooperation between cultures on the world stage, my hope is that the Wall of Honor will be place where Piedmont students can find a source of knowledge, strength and inspiration to go out and lead the way to make our world a safer and more caring place.

Katie Korotzer  for the Wall of Honor Committee 

Click photos for enlargement. 

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Erin Pope, Assistant Principal at PHS, Kathleen Winters Wall of Honor Committee Member, Dana Lung, Judge Tom Stevens and Daughters Elena and Olivia Stevens, Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Adam Littlefield PHS Principal, Katie Korotzer Wall of Honor Committee Member, Amal Smith PUSD School Board Member, Randall Booker PUSD Superintendent, Terisa Whitted Wall of Honor Committee Member and Agata Malkowski Wall of Honor Designer.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Agata Malkowski, Wall of Honor Designer demonstrating the Wall of Honor Website to Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Sep 16 2018

Dear Editor:

I am grateful when quality school board members decide to run for re-election. As the only incumbent, Board Vice President Amal Smith will continue to bring a K-12 perspective to board deliberations and decision-making, keeping the needs of all students first.

In addition to the fiduciary experience she has gained in her first term, Amal brings a wealth of knowledge to the Board with 28 years of higher education budget, finance, and management experience.

Most importantly, Amal brings an unwavering commitment to working collaboratively with others to solve problems with thoughtfulness, common sense, and an open mind.

Please join me in voting for Amal Smith on November 6th. Thank you.

All the best,
June Monach
Former School Board President and Trustee

Sep 15 2018

Bret Black is scheduled to be appointed by the Piedmont City Council as Piedmont Fire Chief at a starting salary of $193,164.  The appointment and employment conditions resolution will be considered at the Monday, September 17, 2018, Piedmont City Council meeting, 7:30 p.m., City Hall.  The meeting will be broadcast live via Cable Channel 27 and the City website under videos. See full employment agreement linked below.

The Council selected Black after interviewing two of the 27 applicants for the position of Fire Chief.  Upon Council appointment, Bret Black will serve as Fire Chief, effective October 1, 2018.

The Fire Chief vacancy occurred when Fire Chief Warren “Bud” McLaren announced his intention to retire, effective July 6, 2018. McLaren had served the City of Piedmont for thirty years.

The City Council retained the services of Peckham & McKenney, a Sacramento based executive search firm. Peckham & McKenney advertised the employment opportunity extensively, using personal outreach, traditional print and electronic marketing, as well as social media. As a result of the recruitment efforts, 27 applicants submitted resumes for consideration. After reviewing each of the resumes and conducting on-line research on applicants who appeared most qualified, the recruiter selected twelve candidates to undergo screening interviews.

The City Council interviewed two pre-screened finalists and selected Bret Black.

“The employment resolution proposed for Council consideration contains all elements common to other Department Heads. The proposed annual salary is $193,164, which is the amount earned by Chief McLaren upon his retirement. Should the City Council approve the appointment and the resolution, Mr. Black’s first day with the City will be on Monday, October 1, 2018.”

“The City Council wishes to acknowledge the special public service rendered by the City’s management personnel. Management personnel consists of all department heads and the City Administrator. Under the operational coordination of the City Administrator, management personnel are responsible for producing the quality and effectiveness of City services, as required by the City Council.”

There will be a 3% annual salary increase for Black during the term of the resolution.

3.1 Salary – Monthly:  The monthly rate of pay for the Fire Chief is $16,097. The rates of pay shown reflect the following cost-of-living increases during the term of this Resolution:

  • % Increase Monthly Effective 7/1/2019 3% $16,580
  • Effective 7/1/2020 3% $17,078
  • If, during the term of this Resolution, any other bargaining unit is offered a cost of living increase greater than the increases shown above for the same fiscal year, then the difference between the increase for the other bargaining unit and the increase provided under this Resolution will take effect for the Fire Chief.

The City Administrator will make recommendations on future compensation for consideration and action by the City Council.


“10.2 Termination: Pay Upon termination or resignation requested by the City Council, the City will provide the employee at least one (1) month’s pay and benefit coverage as set forth in Sec. 3 hereof, or more at its discretion. This section would not apply in the event of the employee’s voluntary resignation or removal from office involving conviction of a felony, gross negligence or dereliction of duty, dishonest or immoral conduct, intemperance which interferes with job performance or conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.”

READ the full staff report and proposed compensation agreement linked below:

Sep 13 2018

After posting the position and conducting a thorough search and interview process, the Piedmont Unified School  District is thrilled to announce the appointment of  Ms. Erin Pope as an Assistant Principal at Piedmont High School. Her start date was August 27, 2018.

Ms. Pope has extensive teaching experience, as well as a strong background in high school administration.

Ms. Pope served as the Associate Principal for the Acalanes Union High School District since 2015. Her main areas of focus were in Curriculum and Instruction, Student Activities, and Teacher Evaluation. Additionally, she supervised a wide array of departments, including counseling and attendance, athletics, facilities, and student activities. She has experience as the Restorative Justice Coordinator, Site Literacy Lead, and Activities Director during her tenure.

For 15 years, Ms. Pope also served as a high school social studies teacher at Terra Linda High School in the San Rafael City Schools District. She was the social studies department chair and established the Model United Nations Club and the Peer Court Program. She was also a member of the Instructional Leadership Team and the Secondary Curriculum Advisory Council.

Ms. Pope attended Dominican College, where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in International Relations. She holds a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science and a Clear Administrative Services Credential from San Francisco State University. Additionally she holds two Master’s of Arts Degrees—one in International Relations from Golden Gate University and the other in Education Administration from San Francisco State University.

The District received 26 applications and decided to interview five strong candidates. The interview panel consisted of ten members representing teachers, administrators, classified staff, parents, and students.

Randall Booker, Superintendent

Ratification of the appointment was at the School Board Meeting of September 12, 2018

Sep 13 2018

 Survey regarding tennis & pickleball due 9/16

 Subcommittee Will Hold Community Meetings

9/25 & 9/26
Veterans’ Hall

The Piedmont Recreation Commission Tennis and Pickleball Sub-Committee will be holding two separate public discussions regarding Tennis and Pickleball court usage in Piedmont.

  • Pickleball – Tuesday, September 25th – 7:00pm

  • Tennis – Wednesday, September 26th – 7:00pm

Both meetings will be held in the Veterans Memorial Building – 401 Highland Avenue, Piedmont

You’re invited to join in the conversation, ask questions and voice your opinion or concerns.

Residents are also encouraged to take a > survey regarding tennis & pickleball. The deadline for responses is Sunday, September 16th.

If you have any questions, please contact Steven Chavarria at 510-420-6223 or

Sep 12 2018

Do you recognize the man pictured below?

On September 9, 2018 between 11:30am and 1:00pm, a subject entered a locked locker containing personal property at the Piedmont Aquatic Center.

The subject stole a single credit card and later used that stolen card at two different businesses on Lakeshore Avenue to fraudulently purchase $527.96 worth of merchandise.

Suspect is a male, 45-60 years old, 5’07” to 5’10”, medium build, salt/pepper hair, slight beard. He wore a white Adidas baseball cap, faded black tee shirt, black baggy shorts, black rim glasses, a black watch on right wrist, and a gold band on his left hand ring finger.

The photos below of the subject using the credit card were obtained from the two Lakeshore Avenue businesses.

If you have any information or can help identify this subject, please contact Detective R. Coffey at or Detective J. Spranza at If you wish to remain anonymous please leave the information at (510) 420-3015.

Call Piedmont Police at (510) 420-3000 for more information.

Sep 11 2018

On Monday, September 10th, the City of Piedmont began scheduled street sweeping for 2018-2019.

Using the successful schedule created in 2016, sweeping will now be conducted on the day after green waste, recycling, and trash are picked up for your home.

It will be a three week cycle alternating between the odd and even numbered sides of the street, followed by a week of no sweeping.

As emphasized by the City Council, one of the key elements of having an effective street sweeping program is for the residents to be aware of the schedule in advance so that they can relocate their cars and/or move the green waste, recycling, and trash cans to create free and clear access up to the curb.

Since Piedmont relies on residents to move their vehicles, knowledge of the sweeping dates is essential. To help promote resident cooperation and knowledge, the Council approved linking the street sweeping schedule to the regular green waste, recycling, and trash pickup days.

This should be a simple and systematic method to ensure that residents know when to move their vehicles.

The street sweeping schedule consists of three parts, all in a single document: 1. Calendar showing which zones will be picked up on each day (Pages 1-2) 2. List of Pickup dates organized by street. (Pages 3-10) 3. Street Sweeping Map, showing the zones and the days of the week for green waste, recycling, and trash pickup as well as street sweeping. (Page 11)

The schedule is attached to this post and available on the City’s web site at:

For questions regarding the updated street sweeping schedule, please contact Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara at (510) 420-3050 or via email at

Sep 11 2018

Due to a recent Recreation Commissioner’s resignation, the Piedmont City Council will be appointing a citizen volunteer to fill the new vacancy on the Piedmont Recreation Commission.


 on the Piedmont Recreation Commission

All interested citizens must complete and return the > Commission Application 2018 – Recreation on or before the posted deadline of Wednesday, October 10, 2018.Postmarks will not be accepted.

Applications are also available on the city’s website at or from the office of the City Clerk, Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, or by telephone at (510) 420-3040.

All applicants must be available for an interview with the City Council on Monday, October 15, 2018, at which time the appointment will be made.


John O. Tulloch, City Clerk       Posted: September 11, 2018

>   Commission Application 2018 – Recreation

Learn more about the Piedmont Recreation Commission > HERE.

Sep 5 2018
Let’s Talk Meeting

The Piedmont community met on August 26th to discuss diversity in our city. The meeting was put on by the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee and led by the Let’s Talk program produced by K12 Insight and Sarah Wicht.

The organization’s mission is to foster discussions and acknowledgement of community diversity. The purpose of this forum was to talk about diversity in the schools and the community in general.

The focus of the dialogue was to explore ways for parents to engage their children in this topic of race, gender and identity. The leader of this session was Sara Wicht who is an educational consultant with over 20 years of anti-bias educational experience. Her main tenets are fourfold, that of identity, action, diversity and justice.

The main goals of the meeting were to discuss how our identities influence our actions, celebrate diversity, build understanding for community engagement and learn the tools necessary to have productive discussions on equity topics relevant to Piedmont.

This meeting is held twice a year on consecutive weekend days. The meeting is organized into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session is arranged to identify our personal opinions and identities, engage in diversity discussions, and learn how to have these discussions without offending or avoiding hard issues.

After lunch we got back together to form an action plan for our community. We engaged in discussion relying on our own opinions. Following this, we practiced learning to listen to opposing views and then to try to come to a resolution on the subject discussed. The format was very productive.

The specific topics were introduced using case studies. In one scenario we discussed hypothetical dialogues between neighbors of different races and some implicit bias that may come through in those interactions.

In another role playing example an Asian student with the highest grade was selected to be a tutor for the math class but the teacher was concerned that because he was the only Asian person, he would feel uncomfortable. Both examples produced productive dialogue surrounding this difficult topic.

The meeting brought out active members of the community mostly in favor of more diversity and awareness. One Piedmont resident offered that “PC shouldn’t be considered as politically correct but rather politely considerate”. This sentiment presented the viewpoint that we shouldn’t be avoiding the topic of race in the classroom or community but rather be considerate when discussing this subject.

Another attendee, a special education teacher who works with children as young as 5, spoke on her experience in the schools, “The district offers professional development opportunities as a way to increase our paycheck and knowledge….Let’s Talk offers ways to talk to kids about diversity”, and held the opinion that the subject of race should be open in the classroom and not held in the same regard as curse words and sex as taboo for topics to teach little kids. I believe that this subject of race and implicit bias is an important matter to continue to include in our classes and should be discussed openly.

by Caroline Kraetzer, Piedmont High School Senior


On Sunday, August 26th, I attended the Let’s Talk Workshop sponsored by the Piedmont Unified School District, the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, and the City of Piedmont. The main goal of this workshop was to put residents of Piedmont in an environment where they are forced to talk about diversity or lack thereof in Piedmont. To do this, discussion was mainly focused around 4 central themes: identity, diversity, justice, and action.

People are put into small groups, where they can discuss questions posed by the leader of the session, Sara Wicht, in a more informal manner. After every group is completed, people are then asked to share what their group had talked about with everyone else attending the session. This was an effective way to hear the voice of everyone who attended while not necessarily listening to everyone speak.

In addition to participating in discussions about diversity, attendees also do various activities, each with the purpose of letting people look at the issues discussed from a new perspective. We were asked to figure out what the most important part of our identity is to us, to analyze implicit bias in certain situations, and even mirror exactly what another person is doing.. When we talked about implicit bias, I realized that it is something that happens all around me, all the time. People all around me are unconsciously judging people even when they mean the best. I believe that in order to stop this kind of thing from happening, people must first acknowledge that they are doing it. Having this opinion and speaking with other people about it didn’t scare me at all. In general, the environment was very safe and almost everyone was able to speak about their own opinions.

Throughout the meeting, I had the pleasure of sitting with Piedmont City Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh. She was one of the organizers for the event and feels very strongly about addressing these issues as a town. Cavenaugh believes that talking about diversity and brainstorming ideas about how to improve it in Piedmont is a great step towards positive change. She tries to make sure that each of her family members come to at least one session every weekend this meeting happens, which is at least once a year.

One topic that we discussed were the 8 aspects of identity. We were asked to cross off “unimportant” parts until we narrowed in on the one thing that explains us. I had a difficult time understanding this exercise.

To me, each of the 8 aspects: gender, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, nationality, home language, religion, and ability all contribute to my identity. There is no one of them that completely encompasses my personality. I brought this up in my small group discussion and again later to the big group, and in general, people seemed to agree with me. It was cool to see that my words actually made an impact on other people’s thoughts or opinions.

All in all, attending this workshop was a good experience. I got to learn more about my neighbors and about the issues that Piedmont faces as a town. I think spending my Sunday morning there was valuable and I would recommend it to anyone who is contemplating attending the next one.

By Robin Disco, Piedmont High School Senior