Bill Quirk

Job title: 
ITS Senior Fellow
Institute of Transportation Studies

Bill Quirk served in the California Legislature from 2013-2022 as a California State Assembly Member representing Southern Alameda County. His most important legislative achievements included:

  • Shortening the permit time for improvements in the cell phone infrastructure.  This approach was adapted by the Federal Government for the entire country.
  • Making it illegal to hold a cell phone in your hand while driving. This gave officers a red line they could easily enforce.
  • Aligning California’s regulation of toxic materials cosmetics with the European Union. The US EPA has not been allowed to regulate these materials. The European Union had done all the necessary research and the suppliers had already agreed to these regulations in Europe.
  • Having the legislature declare that August would be Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month. This was greatly appreciated by the California Muslim Community and has been recognized by many local jurisdictions.

Bill served on the following committees:

  • Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials 2017-22, all as chair,
  • Revenue and Tax 2015-2022,
  • Appropriations 2013-2022,
  • Agriculture 2013-2015,
  • Utilities and Energy 2013-2022,
  • Public Safety 2013-2022, chair 2015-16.

Bill served on the Hayward City Council from 2004-201. During that time, he persuaded the City of Hayward and the two neighboring park districts to protect the Hayward Shoreline from Sea Level Rise by building up Hayward's marshes. This philosophy has spread throughout the Bay Area, first with the Rising Tides program looking at the southeast bay and now through the Estuary Institute's study that designated what parts of the bay would be best protected by building up the marshes. This approach is now being used nation-wide.

Bill worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) from 1979 to 2005 as a scientific computer programmer, nuclear weapons designer, and intelligence analyst. His most important work was to show that the plutonium parts of the US nuclear weapons could be reused. This success was one factor in closing of the plutonium fabrication facility, Rocky Flats. The facility was outside of Denver. Rocky Flats had had a fire that threatened to send plutonium oxide across the Denver Metropolitan Area. Many wanted it closed. His research helped.

As an intelligence analyst, He was one of our country’s experts on the technical aspects of foreign nuclear weapons programs. He would get information from the CIA, NSA, DIA, and other agencies and explain what the information meant in terms of what the nuclear capabilities were of a proliferent or nuclear power. He would then all gather at a CIA facility in Virginia and help write a summary through the Joint Atomic Agency Intelligence Committee (JAEIC) process. This summary would then go into the Presidential Daily Brief.

Bill’s most important accomplishment in his role as an intelligence analyst was to propose a change in the US negotiating position which broke the deadlock in the negotiations of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He briefed the Department of Energy on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. The White House was briefed on the next weekend. The White House changed its position on the Monday. The treaty was finalized by the next weekend!!!

Bill also:

  • Served as a computer consultant at McKinsey and Company,
  • Worked for a computer company in Silicon Valley,
  • Developed NASA’s first climate model, and
  • Earned a PhD from Columbia University in Astrophysics for developing the first computer model for showing how a gas cloud could collapse into a spiral galaxy of gas and stars.