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Archive for February, 2007

Marathon meetings no more?

A new City Council in Menlo Park may have brought a power shift, but there’s been no change in how meetings drag on into the wee hours.

Just like the previous administration, the meetings start at 7 p.m. but can easily run until midnight or later.

Did we mention the council meets almost every week?

However, current council members want to tighten their meetings up as part of an overall effort to improve public access to city business.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007
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Matsumoto v. Guingona III: Victory

South San Francisco Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto knocked Daly City Councilman Mike Guingona out of his seat on the SamTrans board last week after plenty of wrangling for the spot.
Karyl MastumotoMike Guingona
The drama included a no-winner vote at the January meeting of the county’s City Selection Committee, forcing another balloting at Friday’s meeting that handed Matsumoto the seat. The committee elects members from various cities to county-wide boards.

“I had anticipated it would go a couple of rounds,” she said Monday. “I think it was a surprise to both of us.”

Matsumoto had taken Guingona to task for his poor attendance at board meetings over the past couple years, while he countered that unusual personal pressures mucked up his schedule.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007
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Must be nice

If you’re feeling like the meager dough and so-called perks you take home for your hard work every day aren’t enough, don’t read this. It might make you feel worse.

John Maltbie
On Tuesday, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is set to approve a 5 percent merit-based pay raise for the county’s top dog, County Manager John Maltbie. Retroactive to Jan. 1, it would bring his total annual paycheck to almost $250,000 ($9,610.40 on a bi-weekly basis, to be exact).

Maltbie, who reports to the Board of Supervisors, has been the county manager since 1989. His current contract is set to expire on March 31, 2009. Maltbie’s last contract, signed in November 2005, stipulated for the board to conduct a performance evaluation annually and consider whether a merit raise of up to 5 percent should be granted. Discussions about his performance evaluation are held in closed session and are not public record.

By the way, just to make it sting a little more, Maltbie gets 30 days of paid vacation. He can opt to cash out 360 hours of unused vacation every year, which could give him an additional bonus of as much as $43,000.

But wait, we’re not done yet.

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Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2007
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Cagey candidate

Local citizen Tom Elliott sent out an e-mail this week alerting us that a “strong independent candidate” for the San Mateo City Council will announce his or her candidacy in a public meeting at 10:30 a.m. on March 3.

Who is the mystery candidate?

“A lot of people have asked about that,” said Elliott, who declined to comment on speculation that it’s Planning Commissioner Bertha Sanchez.

Sanchez filed a candidate intention statement last week with San Mateo City Clerk Norma Gomez, who described the filing as an announcement that a candidate intends to begin raising campaign funds.

Reached last week by phone, Sanchez declined to say whether she’s running, but added that she’ll have an announcement … in early March.

Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2007
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Unrealistic instructions?

When a school closes it’s usually extremely sad for the parents and students involved.

School boards making these decisions typically listen to hours of emotional pleas as well as outbursts from the audience before making a decision.

High Tech High
So it was surprising Friday afternoon to see that High Tech High Bayshore parent organizers had placed fliers on many chairs asking audience members to refrain from this behavior at a meeting where the school’s foundation was expected to vote to close the charter school in Redwood City (pictured here).

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Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2007
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Finally getting the heave-ho

The Castaway
Though no one’s been around the place for a decade, the old and long-ago-closed Castaway restaurant at Coyote Point (pictured here) is finally getting its official eviction notice from San Mateo County. Late, as they say, is better than never.

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Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
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Local boy does good

Richard “Dick” WoodwardRichard “Dick” Woodward, a Hillsborough resident and mastermind of ballot measure campaigns, received a lifetime achievement award Wednesday in Miami Beach from the American Association of Political Consultants.

The senior partner of Burlingame-based Woodward & McDowell (W&M), which touts itself as “the nation’s premier ballot measure and issue advocacy firm,” Woodward was honored for a purported 95 percent winning record in 36-years worth of campaigns.

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Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
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Whac-a-Mole and flood control

Wednesday’s City Council meeting in Burlingame ended with the council deciding not to go through with a June bond measure to fund $37 million in fixes to the city’s battered storm-drainage system.

Council members offered a number of reasons for delaying a decision and giving more thought to an alternative funding mechanism known as a community facilities district: voters may be suffering from flood-control fatigue; it would have been difficult to mount an effective campaign in just three months; and the Council simply needs more information on CFDs than a $5,000 analysis can yield.
Whac-A-Mole

But attorney Charles Voltz may have offered the most telling reason for the Council to take a pass during public testimony. “My concern is what I refer to as the Whac-a-Mole game,” said Voltz, perhaps overlooking the scores of people who also refer to Whac-a-Mole by its proper name.

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Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
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Special delivery

MoveOn.org will be making special deliveries Thursday to local representatives in Congress, bringing piles of letters asking them to support troop withdrawal from Iraq.

In San Mateo County, they’ll make an 11 a.m. delivery to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton, at her district office at 698 Emerson St. in Palo Alto. Following will be a stop at 12 p.m. for Congressman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, at his district office at 400 S. El Camino Real, Suite 410, in San Mateo.

The “Congress is the Decider letter delivery” project will send MoveOn.org members and supporters to 248 different Congressional field offices nationwide to deliver some 25,000 letters.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
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A flood of campaign implications

The Burlingame City Council’s vote tonight on a new storm-drainage infrastructure bond could have a lingering impact when the November election comes around.

Mayor Terry Nagel and Councilman Russ Cohen are up for re-election this fall, and their votes on how to finance $37-million in upgrades to the city’s dilapidated flood-control system will be among the most significant decisions they make all year.

The Council must decide at tonight’s meeting whether to place a $37-million bond measure on the June ballot or give further consideration to an alternative financing mechanism known as a commuty facilities district or Mello-Roos tax. Measure H, a $44-million bond measure, narrowly failed to win two-thirds of the vote in November.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
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