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Archive for April, 2007

Yee on retort bandwagon against racist remarks

Jeff Vandergrift and Don LayEver vigilant about racism in the public sphere, it seems, State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has added his two cents about a phone prank played by two New York shock-jocks, Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay. Many advocacy groups are criticizing the call as racist and sexist.

The two (shown here), who are the hosts of WFNY’s (92.3 FM) The Dog House with JV and Elvis in New York City, were suspended without pay indefinitely from CBS Radio Monday. The station is running “best of” segments during their 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. time slot.

Last week, the duo broadcast a six-minute prank call to a Chinese restaurant, ordering “shrimp flied lice,” and asking a woman taking their order, “Should I come to your restaurant so that I can see you naked? Or maybe I can pick it up? That way, I can see your hot Asian spicy a**?” (Listen to the entire segment via QuickTime.)

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Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
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Disgruntled in San Mateo: The Hillsdale Garden story

In an article published over the weekend, we examined the plight of residents at Hillsdale Garden, a 697-unit apartment complex in San Mateo where rents have been increasing by 30 percent or more under the place’s new owners, Palo Alto-based Essex Property Trust.

We say “plight,” because many of the residents there are seniors on fixed incomes. As such, they are having to decide, in short order, whether they can afford to pay an additional $300 or $400 in rent or must find a new apartment that fits their budgets.

For many of the residents with whom we spoke, the changes that have taken place since Essex purchased the complex last September for $97.3 million amount to a sign of the times: a family-owned business is replaced by a faceless corporation that cares only about the bottom line.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
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All grown up, child star to visit Burlingame tonight

Mary Badham - ScoutRemember her?

Indeed, that is Mary Badham, who played Scout in the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird. She was 10 at the time she carried the role of the daughter of lawyer Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck. In 1963, she was the youngest person to have ever been nominated for an Oscar (hers was for best supporting actress).

To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel by Harper Lee, is told from Scout’s point of view and is set in the 1930’s in the fictional Maycomb, Ala. The story is largely about the coming of age of Scout and her brother, Jem, as their father is appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of and convicted for raping a white girl.

Mary Badham - AdultNow Badham is all grown up (as this Associated Press photo shows) and the 54-year-old will grace Burlingame with her presence tonight.

An art restorer and college testing coordinator according to Wikipedia, Badham will appear as a part of the county library system’s Big Read this month.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
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Curiosity buds inside Daly City pot raid

The Insider loves a new learning experience, so when the opportunity came along to view an indoor pot farm recently raided by the Countywide Narcotics Task Force, you better believe we D.A.R.E.’d to get educated.

The site of the raid, like many of the marijuana farms targeted by authorities in the past two years, was an unassuming single-family home in the North County, a boxy number across the street from the Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City.

The circumstances were typical of many recent raids: A home owner had rented the place out, and tenants converted it into an indoor greenhouse.

Of course, the Insider had been warned that the party was over: the task force had already swept through the home Wednesday, hacking the stalks off 450 marijuana plants and stuffing between $800,000 and $900,000 worth of bud into burlap sacks. In fact, we wrote about it.

The whole operation reportedly took four to five hours, and sounded thorough enough. So, imagine our surprise when we walked in the door and were greeted by a bud the size of a small fist (see our photographic example here from Wednesday).

The Insider knelt down to inspect the evidence: Was it a trap? Had the task force rigged a camcorder to capture curious journalists?

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Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2007
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Mr. and Mrs. Lantos: “Sizzlingest”

Any number of words may come to mind when thinking about 79-year-old U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, who has represented much of San Mateo County in Congress since 1981.

But we bet “sizzlingest” isn’t one of them.

Tom and Annette LantosThe May issue of Washington Monthly magazine has named Lantos and his wife of nearly 57 years, Annette, one of “Washington’s 60 Sizzlingest Power Couples.”

The unranked list includes the obvious picks of James Carville and Mary Matalin, the Democratic and Republican strategists, respectively, and former (and potentially repeat) White House dwellers President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

There are also a handful of the “oh, I didn’t know they were married” couples, such as Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve and Andrea Mitchell, the chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News. Or U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, D-Ky., the former majority whip, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.

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Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2007
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Recycling rate schizophrenia

On Wednesday, the Insider received a reader-friendly two-page update from the South Bayside Waste Management Authority trumpeting its achievements in recycling last year.

(The authority oversees trash removal and recycling for 10 Peninsula cities, unincorporated San Mateo County and the West Bay Sanitary District. The authority holds a $50 million annual contract with Allied Waste to provide the service.)

RecyclingAccording to the authority’s 2006 Recycling and Waste Reduction Annual Update, “residents and businesses recycled about 11 million pounds more material in 2006 than 2005, a 3% increase.” Since 1997, that represents a 20 percent reduction in materials sent to the landfill.

Eighteen thousand tons of food scraps and other compostable material from more than 460 restaurants and hotels were collected this year, representing a 60 percent increase for the authority’s Commercial Organics Program. There was a 67 percent improvement in keeping truckloads of construction and demolition debris from the landfill as well, diverting them to be recycled in San Jose at the Zanker Material Processing Facility.

Sounds great, right?

Not so fast.

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Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2007
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Driving Mr. Rudy

Atherton Councilman Charles Marsala may have just found a new gig: driving Rudy Giuliani around.

Marsala played chauffeur to the Republican presidential candidate and former New York mayor on March 23 when Giuliani visited the Bay Area for a couple of fundraising events.

“It was amazing,” Marsala said.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
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Apparently, it’s hard to spell H-I-L-L-S-D-A-L-E

Poor Hillsdale Boulevard.

Suffering through the traffic snarl on northbound on Highway 101 for your morning or evening commute is mostly an exercise in autopiloting. But if you’ve managed to divert yourself from that “zone” lately while heading towards San Mateo, perhaps you’ve noticed something wrong with this picture:

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Indeed, that is Hillsdale Boulevard, misspelled as “Hillsidale.”

Oops. Or should we say oopsi?

Sadly, the saga of Hillsdale Boulevard’s identity crisis did not begin here. Exhibit B, this photo of another exit sign for Hillsdale Boulevard, taken in September 2005:

Yes, that is also Hillsdale Boulevard, this time misspelled as “Hilldale.”

Sigh. Or hould we ay igh?

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Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2007
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A preserve – but no plot – for McCloskey at Skylawn

We could not think of a more fitting gift to honor the environmental legacy of former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey, co-founder of Earth Day, than a scenic piece of green open space.
Pete McCloskey
The LifeMark Group, which owns Skylawn Memorial Park at Highway 92 and Skyline Boulevard in San Mateo, will honor McCloskey Friday by donating 100 of its 505 acres at the park to the Peninsula Open Space Trust.

According to Skylawn spokeswoman Loni Locketz, less than 100 acres of the park are currently, err, occupied. Donating this particular piece of land, according to a press release, is “a strategic area that will complete the long-pursued” Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Of course, the McCloskey Preserve being part of what is essentially, a cemetery, it begs the question: is the 79-year-old politician receiving a burial plot? We’re willing to bet he has a few years of hell-raising left in him yet, but just to be sure, we asked.

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Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2007
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Burlingame’s “Kaffir Boy” brouhaha

The Burlingame School District’s decision to “ban” a book based on the experience of a boy growing up in apartheid South Africa has become national news.

But the reality of the story is a lot more mundane than the word “ban,” with its connotations of oppressive government censorship, would suggest.

District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto pulled “Kaffir Boy” from four eighth-grade classrooms at Burlingame Intermediate School after a couple parents complained that Mark Mathabane’s autobiography uses graphic language to describe a scene of sexual violence.

As it turns out, the class was using an unabridged version of the book that the author himself deems too explicit for middle-school students. To that end, he publishes a version of the book, which is taught in schools across the country, that omits the graphic passages and is intended for middle-school use.

“I felt it was appropriate, since the book became popular with middle school students and teachers, to come up with an age-appropriate version,” Mathabane explained in an email to the Times.

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Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2007
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