PIEDMONT -- It was a year of controversy as Piedmont saw the slim passage of a municipal services tax but the rejection of a sewer surtax as opponents surfaced to argue against the passage of either tax.
Controversy continued to divide the community over Blair Park, until the plan was scrubbed in May over lack of funds, and a lawsuit settled over objections to the youth sports complex.
And a storm of national and international media attention hit the city over news of Piedmont High School's so-called "fantasy slut league."
New City Council and school board members were elected, bringing fresh voices to the panels.
Sadness prevailed over the loss of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was an alumnus of Piedmont High.
Spirits were lifted, however, with the many community events Piedmont is known for -- the annual tree lighting, the rousing Fourth of July parade, the heritage home tour and the wacky bird-calling contest.
December The Piedmont school board called an emergency meeting on Dec. 11 to revamp the school support tax for the March 5 ballot following an appellate court ruling on Dec. 6 that held that school parcel taxes must be uniform for all parcels. The school board voted unanimously to levy a flat tax of $2,406 per parcel to comply with the court's ruling. It will go into effect July 1, 2013, supplanting the old Measure B formula for calculating the tax. A new police chief, Richelle "Rikki" Goede, was named to replace John Hunt, who retired in June. The new Piedmont Avenue Branch Library held a grand opening party Dec. 1. November The city reached agreement with Friends of Moraga Canyon to settle a lawsuit the group filed challenging approval of the Blair Park sports complex. Blair Park LLC and the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization, the entities formed to build the sports complex with private funds, joined in the settlement.
The funds would come from the indemnification fund provided by PRFO per agreement earlier. The Friends filed suit on Jan. 5 alleging that approval of the project on Dec. 6, 2011 violated various requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Piedmont voters on Nov. 6 approved by a slim margin the Measure Y municipal services tax, following an aggressive campaign by opponents who claimed the council had been irresponsible with the use of taxpayers money.
The measure passed by about 69 percent support. It needed two-thirds majority to pass.
October Piedmont High hit the national spotlight inundated with TV crews and nationally syndicated talk shows over a reported "fantasy slut league" in which varsity athletes racked up "points" for having sexual encounters with high school girls.
Subsequently, student reporters for the Piedmont Highlander school newspaper did their own investigation and interviews and concluded that reports were highly exaggerated and that "hooking up" meant kissing but nothing more.
September The country mourned the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher J. Stevens and three other embassy staff in a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Stevens attended Piedmont High School and went on to make a name for himself in the foreign service. Associates remembered Stevens as "cool and calm," a perfect diplomat. Piedmont schools ranked in the top tier statewide once again for academic performance with the release of this year's STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) scores.
August The City of Piedmont and its police reached a labor agreement whereby new employees would be subject to reduced pension benefits and current employees would receive no salary raises.
July Piedmont's finance/human resources director Mark Bichsel announced he will retire in February 2013 after 20 years with the city. President Barack Obama made a fundraising campaign stop in Piedmont for a $35,800-a-plate dinner at the Piedmont home of Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan. The Oakland Library announced it had found a new home for the Piedmont Avenue Branch Library, which would open in a modular building on the grounds of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School in Oakland.
June Piedmont police Chief John Hunt announced his retirement. Capt. Scott Wyatt filled in as interim chief until the city hired a new police chief, and a captain was hired on a temporary basis to fill in for Wyatt.
May The highly controversial plan to convert the passive Blair Park into a youth sports complex, officially died after the City Council voted to dissolve it. The city announced on April 27 that the city and the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization agreed to pull the plug because of mounting costs. Havens Elementary Principal Tery Susman announced her retirement after 21 years at her post. Cheryl Wozniak is chosen to replace Susman. The wacky Piedmont Bird Calling Contest entertained once again, with the winning squawkers appearing on "The Late Show With David Letterman."
April A landslide the morning of April 13 downed power lines and closed a portion of Moraga Avenue near Coaches field. Frantic work by utility crews and public works employees reopened the road the next day. Piedmont's fire Chief Ed Tubbs agreed to two more years of double duty as chief for the city of Albany. The two cities share Tubbs' salary and benefits costs to save money.
March A sign at the Keller Avenue Bridge over Interstate 580 was dedicated to the memory of the four Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty by a parolee in 2009. Officer John Hege, son of Piedmont resident Tam Hege, was honored along with Sgt. Mark Dunakin, Sgt. Ervin Romans and Sgt. Daniel Sakai. Piedmont resident Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. District Court, making her the first Latina to hold the position.
February Piedmont voters on Feb. 7 soundly rejected the sewer surtax for a 50 percent hike that had to pass by a two-thirds majority. A vocal group of opponents rallied to convince voters that the tax was unnecessary. Robert McBain was elected to a City Council seat against Tim Rood, with 26 votes separating them in the Feb. 7 election. Incumbent Margaret Fujioka was re-elected to serve another four-year term. John Chiang steps in as mayor, replacing the termed-out Dean Barbieri. Two new faces were elected for four-year terms for the Piedmont school board at the Feb. 7 election: pediatrician Sarah Pearson and schools activist Andrea Swenson. Incumbent Rick Raushenbush was re-elected. Other candidates were Jon Elliott and Sunny Bostrom.
January Friends of Moraga Canyon, formed to fight the proposed Blair Park youth sports complex, filed a lawsuit against the city of Piedmont in Alameda County Superior Court, charging that the project's environmental impact report is flawed and that the City Council approved the final plan without adequate public review of last-minute changes.