I had a friend visiting over the 4th of July holiday, and through his eyes, I was reminded of how unique Foster City and our community truly is. The little corner of the world that we share is special indeed.
The 4th of July began with the Pancake Breakfast lovingly prepared by the dedicated which set the tone that only a small town can obtain. The pancakes, sausage and bacon were delicious as well.
Next was the parade, with the fire truck leading the way for all the men, women, children AND dogs dressed in red, white and blue. It was so colorful and reminded me of the patriotic old movies in small towns with Spencer Tracy leading the parade down Main Street.
Our new fire chief, Mike Keefe was on hand overseeing the festivities with the enthusiasm you want to see in our new chief. Of course the firefighters that were working that shift, plus battalion chief, Jim Comisky, were all on hand to make sure all the attendees enjoyed the experience.
Along with our police department and Parks and Recreation Department, I believe we have the best employees, as they work in concert with each other and their individual department heads to make the day look as effortless as it appears.
As I looked at and the seemingly endless rows of tents and blankets to gather on, I heard some Foster City folks commenting on some of “those” people who were from out of town. Being exclusive doesn’t look pretty or sound pretty and I, for one, welcome those from “far-away places” like San Mateo and other cities. Many share our zip code and feel like a part of our city - and are we really any different from each other?
The Foster City Lions Club made an extraordinarily great volunteer effort. They were there all day selling food and drinks, and manning the parking lot so we could make some revenue toward off-setting the cost of the event.
If it weren’t for the volunteers in our city - CERT, Explorers, Lions, etc. - we would not be able to make this event pencil out. We also had great sponsors.
Amid the Foster City/“Mayberry” experience, we need look just a mile away, where with the approval of their daily pill to curb the transmission of AIDS.
This approval of Truvada has been heralded by AIDS advocates and physicians as a turning point in the battle against the decades-long epidemic. We are so grateful Gilead has chosen Foster City as their world headquarters and as their home - especially since Gilead employee Walter Ruzzo joined forces with our Environmental Sustainability Task Force, our relationship with them has blossomed. With over 1,900 employees, they are the largest employer in Foster City.
Our City Council was fortunate to be invited to sign the beam at the top of their new lab building, which is a good-luck gesture for employees and the construction crew. No, we didn’t climb up there, but they lowered it and we all signed it. They then hoisted it to the top along with an evergreen tree, another good-luck sign.
All of these gestures solidify our relationship. I also feel pride when pretty much all their press identifies them as Gilead of Foster City.
We honored them at our City Council meeting as they completed their 25th year. Twenty-five years ago, they were in one small building; now they have 43. As their needs change their campus is evolving into a real community within a community.
The finale of the 4th of July day was, of course, the fireworks. We stood with my former colleague and friend, Linda Koelling and her hubby in the parking lot of Safeway and had a great view. The "oohs" and "aahs" heard from the thousands assembled were, in itself, awesome.
I don’t care where you all came from, because the patriotism is for our nation, and we are all part of that, no matter where our pillows reside.
Reports were good on the condition of our streets and parks as the smoke cleared. Redwood City had their own fireworks, which I believe lightened the crowds.
I continue to encourage folks to join City committees, service clubs or any other organization that complements our City. Good vibes don’t just happen - they are a result of commitment and love for our fellow human beings.
And, as my friend Tom headed back to Spokane, he took with him memories of a beautiful, well-run Foster City.
Even though Berkeley, Vacaville, San Francisco, San Diego and all the other cities are in the news, please try to remember - we are Foster City. We are not the federal or state government with their dysfunctional ways of trying to balance a budget. We are unique - however, we cannot control the efforts of the state to take away funds that we so carefully protected over the years.
I assure you we are healthy as a City, and we have a staff that will guide us through next year’s budget process with their expertise.
We MUST protect and provide services to our residents as well as protect and negotiate with our employees as we look at 2013 to balance our budget without the use of reserves.
I think I can speak for all of us, that you have our commitment. We need to view our entire community as family, whether you work or live within our boundaries.
We usually get e-mails from disgruntled residents, so if you had a great experience on the 4th, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you ARE that disgruntled resident, then please e-mail our mayor!