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Archive for August, 2007

Even the Insider needs a vacation

Even the heartiest of souls, such as your intrepid Insider, need a vacation.

After all, it’s late August, and half of your government is off relaxing at Lake Tahoe or hanging with Mickey Mouse and the gang at Disneyland this time of year anyway.

So this will be the Insider’s last post until after the Labor Day holiday, when everyone officially gets back to work.

This will also be the final post for this particular Insider. After two years here, it’s time to chart some new waters.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
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Council duo co-chairing Burlingame candidate race

Forget endorsing. Apparently, it’s all about co-chairing this election season.

Case in point is the Web site for Burlingame City Council candidate Jerry Deal which has this fine print on the home page: “Committee to Elect Jerry Deal – Co-Chairs Vice Mayor Rosalie O’Mahony, Council Member Ann Keighran.”

Deal, the chair of the Planning Commission, is a newcomer to the council race circuit. That means he’s challenging one of two incumbents, whose terms are up this November, for their seats. That would also seem to mean that O’Mahony and Keighran wish to see either Mayor Terry Nagel or Councilman Russ Cohen replaced by their pal.

“I’ll put it this way,” Cohen said. “I’m pretty satisfied with having diverse perspectives on the council but it seems that two of our council members aren’t happy with having other perspectives on the council. Perhaps that’s why they’re chairing a challenger’s campaign, so they can have at least three people that are alike.”

“I think different perspectives are a healthy thing,” he added.

Deal said that Keighran and O’Mahony were actually “honorary” co-chairs, merely lending their name recognition to enhance the visibility of his campaign and acting as advisors. Deal said his wife, JoAnn Johnson-Deal, and Geraldine O’Connor, the former spokeswoman for state Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-South San Francisco, are managing the day-to-day work.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
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Grill your state senators, in person

Wondering why the state Senate still hasn’t passed a budget as the stalemate passes into its seventh week? Wondering what the senators who represent you are doing about it? There’s no need to get the inside scoop from us – ask them yourself!

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, will be availing themselves to their San Mateo County constituents for questions and frank conversation at local venues in the next two weeks.

Yee will be hosting a town hall meeting Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Pacifica Community Center, 540 Crespi Drive. Representatives from various state agencies will also be on hand to answer questions. Yee represents Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Bruno, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Woodside.

Simitian will be hosting sidewalk office hours on Aug. 25 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Redwood City Kiwanis Farmers Market, in the parking lot at Hamilton and Winslow streets. Simitian represents Atherton, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and San Carlos.

Go get your questions answered. Hold your elected representatives accountable.

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2007
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Elections Office ready to heed Bowen’s call

After much examination, San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Warren Slocum has determined his office will be able to meet California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s demands for stepping up the security and auditing processes for the county’s e-voting machines before the next elections.

On Aug. 3, Bowen, the state’s top election official, rendered an edict that scaled back the use of most electronic voting machines in the state, citing security concerns and vulnerability to hackers. Her ruling came eight weeks after computer scientists from the University of California conducted an eight-week “top-to-bottom review” behind closed doors. Forty six of the state’s 58 counties were affected.

Hart InterCivic eSlate voting machine

However, her decision allows for the continued use of San Mateo’s system, Hart InterCivic’s eSlates (shown above by Slocum), provided that some additional security and post-election auditing measures are put in place in the next 30 to 60 days.

“I am pleased to state that our Elections Office and its vendor, Hart InterCivic, will be able to comply with all of the secretary’s mitigations within the designated timeframe,” Slocum wrote in a memo Monday to the county Board of Supervisors. “When implemented, our layered security approach will help ensure that San Mateo County’s voting devices are secure from the kind of tampering that went on in that room in Sacramento where computer scientists had unfettered access to the voting devices.”

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Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
Under: Debra Bowen, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | 1 Comment »

Supervisor tapped for Obama’s LGBT council

San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon was tapped Thursday by presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to serve on his campaign’s National LGBT Leadership Council.

The list of 58 leaders includes politicians, professors, clergy, business leaders, activists and even Chris Hughes, a co-founder of the social networking Web site Facebook.

Barack Obama“I’m proud to have the support of these LGBT leaders who work each day for equality and justice, whether it’s educating their communities or reforming their government,” Obama said in a statement. “These Americans, like all Americans, are ready to change the divisive politics in Washington so we can make real the promises of equality and justice that are at the heart of our nation’s founding.”

The announcement preceded Thursday night’s presidential forum on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues hosted in Los Angeles by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, and Logo, a television network aimed at lesbian and gay viewers. (Obama is shown speaking at the forum in this Associated Press photo above.)

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Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007
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Speier chasing Lantos and everyone’s in a tizzy

Every now and then there is a rumble among politicos about whether former Democratic state Sen. Jackie Speier, who was termed out in November, will mull a run to unseat 79-year-old U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, in 2008.

The question, which had been on hiatus for a while, was stirred up again in Sunday’s Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross column in the San Francisco Chronicle. According to them, a poll conducted in January by Sacramento pollster Jim Moore found that Speier is a 2-1 favorite among voters.

The survey of 300 voters found “Speier defeating Lantos in a head-to-head matchup by a stunning 50 percent to 24 percent among Democratic voters in the 12th District,” according to the column.

Speier, according to Matier and Ross, is spending the summer mulling over whether to entertain a run against Lantos, who is in his 13th term in Congress and chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In the meantime, Speier is engaging in a bit of suspended animation working as an attorney at Hanson Bridgett Marcus Vlahos & Rudy LLP in San Francisco.

The revelation of the poll sparked Huffington Post blogger and Internet executive Michelle Kraus to proclaim on Monday, “Jackie Please Don’t Do It Again.”

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Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2007
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Grocery store nostalgia: the return of Lucky

For those who’ve lived in San Mateo County as long as the Insider has, does anyone else find it to be a bit of a shock to drive by your local Albertsons and discover that its name is now prominently displayed (as shown below) as Lucky?

Lucky Lucky? How could this be? Is the local grocery store of the Insider’s bucolic childhood, lost in 1999 to the indiscriminate malaise of corporate takeover, back?

The Insider first noticed the return of Lucky at newly-named Friendship Plaza at the corner of Murchison Drive and El Camino Real in Millbrae. With all the construction going on there (they’re building a new Walgreens and adding more yet-to-be-occupied retail space), the Insider wondered, had the Albertson’s sign been knocked down by a crane and the red script Lucky sign underneath it accidently unearthed?

It turns out this is no accident.

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Posted on Monday, August 6th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

Whistle blowing Pacifica building official suing city

Pacifica’s Chief Building Officer Mike Angel is suing his employer for damages from what he claims is retaliation for trying to blow the whistle on alleged illegal city dealings.

In a civil suit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court on July 5, Angel claims that he witnessed and attempted to report repeated illegal activity in his department and special favors for elected officials but was “threatened with termination if he didn’t ‘play ball.'”

After each of these incidents in which “Angel refused to ‘play ball,'” the suit states, Angel received increasingly “hostile treatment at work.” Besides threats of being fired, he was ordered never to speak directly to the city attorney again and “on more than one occasion, Angel was told ‘s–t rolls down the hill’ in reference to Angel being the scapegoat for the wrongdoing.”

Named defendants in the suit are the City of Pacifica, Mayor pro Tem Jim Vreeland, and Angel’s boss, Planning Director Michael Crabtree.

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Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Hill’s men (and women) behind the curtain

Jerry HillCampaign finance statements released Tuesday stole the show, so we ran out of time and space to give you all the juice on the 19th Assembly District Democratic primary race.

It’s clearly shaping up to be the hottest local race for 2008, with San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill and Consumer Federation of California Executive Director Richard Holober already having amassed more than $400,000 combined in their campaign coffers. Millbrae City Councilwoman Gina Papan confirmed late Tuesday that she will also throw her hat into the race.

(That, by the way, makes for an interesting conundrum for Millbrae City Councilmembers who will likely be pressured for endorsements. Will they support Papan, or will they support Holober, who is married to Millbrae Vice Mayor Nadia Holober? Or will they keep quiet?)

But besides the numbers, Hill also announced Tuesday his key campaign staffers, otherwise known as the men (and women) behind the curtain.

It’s little surprise that he will be under the political guidance of Ed McGovern and his firm, Public Affairs Associates. The South San Francisco firm has advised countless candidates for county and city office as well as local bond measure campaigns. The firm aided Hill in his campaigns for supervisor and San Mateo City Council and also advised former San Mateo County Supervisor Mike Nevin in his failed 2006 bid for state Senate.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »