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Mike Moloney: A powerful voice

Republican challenger Mike Moloney and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, recently visited the Times for a joint interview with editors in advance of the Nov. 2 election.

Moloney, who’s run several times for the 12th Congressional District seat that Speier currently occupies, may not have a chance in this race, but he’s certainly good for a quote. He made several unusual comments in the course of the forum — most of them amusing, one of them a little off-color.


One thing you need to understand  is Moloney does not shy away from referring to himself in the third person.

“If a guy like Mike Moloney gets the microphone, you will hear truth,” the Foster City resident said at one point, later adding, “Mike Moloney is a powerful voice.”

Toward the end of the session he leaned over and told Speier, “I admire your courage for coming in here today and going up against Mike Moloney.”

A couple times he made it clear he has nothing against Speier personally, he just disagrees with her positions on policy.

“I have to go after you (because) you’re hanging out with the wrong people, man!” he told her.

The comment that came off as inappropriate also had to do with how he likes Jackie as a person.

“If I met her in high school, I’d probably be president by now,” he said.

This struck as sexist, in a behind-every-successful-man-is-a-woman sort of way. When we called him to ask what he’d meant by it, he said he hadn’t intended any disrespect. He said Speier’s former mentor, the late Rep. Leo Ryan, was a hotheaded Irishman, just like he is, and he feels a certain kinship with her partly on that basis.

Besides, he told us, “I like flirting with Jackie Speier.”

Unclear how she feels about it.

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Under: Democratic Party, Foster City, Jackie Speier, Republican Party | No Comments »

Werden the smooth-talker

We meant to get this into the print version of the Insider, but there wasn’t room.

So here, belatedly, are some notes from the Dec. 3 meeting of the Foster City Planning Commission, during which the commission voted to recommend that the City Council certify a final environmental impact report for Gilead Sciences’ campus expansion and approve a development agreement with the biopharmaceutical company.

Two neighbors of Gilead Sciences expressed over the “significant and unavoidable” noise that will accompany the renovation of Gilead’s campus. The women live across Mariner’s Island Boulevard from Gilead, just over the San Mateo-Foster City border. They were worried that their lives will be disrupted by the construction, which is scheduled to last 10 years, and their property values will be depressed.

Charlie Bronitsky, appearing as a planning commissioner for the last time before being introduced Dec. 7 as a new member of the City Council, sympathized with the women’s concerns and assured them that, as the project moves forward, city officials will do what they can to keep construction noise in check.

Commissioner Ollie Pattum didn’t say much, other than to note that all construction projects create noise. C’est la vie. Commissioner Bob Werden engaged the women, but he may have made matters worse.

“You moved next to a commercial area,” Werden admonished the women, who vociferously objected to that and other points Werden made while addressing them.

“Property in Foster City is worth millions of dollars,” he later added. “We can’t afford not to build there.”

One of the women, Gail Benson, said the following week that, although she moved into her condo 9 years ago, the buildings have been there for 30 years, meaning the Mariners Reef condo complex predates Gilead, which formed in 1987.

Benson told the Planning Commission she has nothing to against Gilead, but she would “like them a lot more if they were 100 miles away.”

Benson’s friend, Diane Gyuricza, told the commission she took exception to the “statement of overriding considerations” it signed off on. The statement expresses, in essence, that the project is worth doing despite its negative impacts on the city in terms of traffic congestion and noise pollution.

“I’m really offended by that term,” she said.

Commissioners Ron Cox and Noemi Avram had to recuse themselves from the Gilead discussion due to conflicts, so the final vote was 3-0 in favor of the various Gilead recommendations.

Cox didn’t return a phone call inquiring about what his conflict is. Avram, an architect, responded to an e-mail, indicating she recently did an interior residential remodel for the president of Gilead, John Gilligan.

There’s another Gilead meeting tomorrow. Here’s the Gilead page on the city’s Web site.

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
Under: Foster City, San Mateo County | 2 Comments »

Madoff’s “North Pole”

An amended complaint filed by Burlingame-based law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy against Bernie Madoff and his alleged co-conspirators in a massive Ponzi scheme contains some salacious new details about the professional atmosphere Madoff cultivated in the early years of BMIS, including allegations of drug use and prostitution:

Behind the Facade, Madoff and BMIS Had A Dark Side

83. Behind this facade was a different side of Madoff and BMIS. Starting in 1975, Madoff began sending a long-time employee and office messenger to obtain drugs for himself and the company who worked with another individual who became a supplier to BMIS. These two men were described as
street tough men from Harlem “who were not to be messed with.” Their job was to get drugs and bring them to the office for use at BMIS. The employees in the office were well known and everyone knew, including some special investors. Drug use in the office was described as rampant and likened the office to the “North Pole” in reference to the cocaine use. Eventually the main employee supplier was fired for his drug abuse when cocaine and other undisclosed drugs were found in his desk in 2003. Madoff worried that it might bring in drug prosecutors who might uncover the big scam.

84. In regards to the diversion-filled office environment, employees described the wild office parties sans spouses. There were topless entertainers wearing only “G-string” underwear serving as waitresses, and a culture of sexual deviance existed in the office. The employees had late night affairs in exciting places – such as their boss’ sofa “with whomever they could find.” Employees described it as a wild, fast-talking, drug-using office culture.

85. Madoff also maintained a list of his favorite attractive female masseuses in his personal telephone book. Madoff’s affinity for escorts, masseuses, and attractive female employees was well known in the office culture, and certain feeders were allowed to participate in the conduct. A significant amount of the money stolen from investors went towards these lavish indulgences as well as other expenses for his employees, family and favorite feeders.

Among the other potential revelations in the complaint, which runs to nearly 300 pages, is that Madoff may have begun his Ponzi scheme as early as the the 1960s, not the 1990s, as he has claimed.

One of the victims of Madoff’s scheme who is being represented by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy is a retired Foster City teacher.

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Under: Burlingame, Crime, Foster City, Joe Cotchett | No Comments »


Here’s eight photos from last week that didn’t make it into the paper, all taken by Times staff photographer John Green. Above and below, Foster City Mayor John Kiramis ships out for Southern California on Wednesday aboard his 50-foot power boat from Sausalito Shipyard & Marina. He’s resigning from the City Council and moving to Lancaster, in Los Angeles County, to help care for his ailing mother-in-law.

Nuffie Calbreath takes in the festivities with her dog Bella at Saturday’s Burlingame Pet Parade. Hundreds of pets and their owners turned out for the sixth-annual event.

Owners and their pets stroll down Broadway during the parade.

A cluster of grapes on the vine at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside. The wine grape harvest has begun at Fogarty and other San Mateo County vineyards.

Elizabeth Enriques (right) picks grapes on Thursday at Thomas Fogarty.

Members of Mexico Vivo perform at the Redwood City Salsa Festival on Saturday.

Sigmund Jacobson, of San Leandro, tries some salsa at the festival.

Posted on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Under: Agriculture, Burlingame, Foster City, Redwood City, San Mateo County, Woodside | No Comments »

Good roads

Foster City is touting the fact that it received recognition for having really good roads. Best in the Bay Area, in fact. Yay.

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Under: Foster City, San Mateo County | No Comments »

The Mirabella blues

You get the feeling Foster City officials wish that critics of Mirabella San Francisco Bay Parkview Plaza, a major development planned for 15 acres next to City Hall, would just kind of fade away.

But that seems unlikely, especially now that Foster City parents are clamoring for the construction of a fourth elementary school on city land. Some of these parents are well aware that four acres of the 15-acre Mirabella site remain available, since plans for a public charter high school there fell through last summer.

The Foster City Council was never particularly fond of the charter school idea and its backer, the Foster City High School Foundation, so it’ll be interesting to see how it reacts if and when parents of children in the San Mateo-Foster City School District suggest the eastern corner of the Mirabella property as a possible school site.

Regardless, the small but committed group of residents who oppose Mirabella is not going anywhere. In fact, they may be about to amplify their message.

Let’s put aside the questions of the moment — those pertaining to traffic and construction noise and other issues covered by an environmental impact report that the city is currently reviewing — and step back for a look at the bigger picture.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Activism, City Council, Foster City, Planning | 1 Comment »

From the notebook: More local reactions to Obama win

Before Barack Obama’s election win recedes too far in the rearview mirror, here’s a couple bits of local reaction that didn’t make it into the paper.

In the photo above, Karen Cunningham, sporting a Barack Obama T-shirt, was captured celebrating the Democratic Party’s historic night at the victory party for Rep. Jackie Speier in Burlingame.

Meanwhile, Bill Stewart, 70, took in the election results at an NAACP-organized party at B Street Billiards in downtown San Mateo.

Stewart, a computer consultant and member of the Foster City Association of Black Residents, grew up in Memphis, Tenn., where he participated in sit-ins during the civil rights movement.

He moved to California following graduate school to work for the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Because of his race, he was not able to rent an apartment in Palo Alto.

On Tuesday night, Stewart said Obama’s victory struck him as “almost unbelievable.”

Stewart recalled living in the segregated South during college: “You were not allowed to try on clothes in certain stores … you couldn’t go to a lunch counter, buy a sandwich and sit down.”

“It’s a transition to a new day,” he said of the election. “What we need to do now is start working for economic parity for African-Americans.”

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Burlingame, Democratic Party, Foster City, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, San Mateo, San Mateo County | No Comments »

The life of a mayor


Foster City Mayor Pam Frisella learned firsthand last week that you’ve got to pay the cost to be the boss.

Frisella got a number of emails from aggravated Foster City residents after the foghorn on the San Mateo Bridge malfunctioned once again.

Speaking from Sacramento, where she was attending a League of California Cities conference with City Councilwoman Linda Koelling and City Manager Jim Hardy, Frisella said last week that she’s already learned something about her new position: When you’re mayor, people take their comments directly to you, even when you can’t fix things.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008
Under: Aaron Kinney, City Council, Foster City | No Comments »

Ring on fire


Huijun Ring, one of seven candidates for three seats on Foster City’s City Council, is racking up the endorsements.

One of the first big names was San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill. Now’s she added State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, to her growing team of supporters. She’s also snared the endorsements of Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo, and the Sierra Club. (She’ll discuss environmental issues at an event from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday at Boothbay Park.)

In addition to Ring, the candidates for the council consist of Councilwoman Linda Koelling and Councilman Rick Wykoff, who are running for re-election; Art Kiesel, a member of the city Planning Commission; Marcia Cohn-Lyle, a member of the San Mateo Union High School District’s Board of Trustees; Patrick McKinnie, a group home counselor; and Stanley Roberts, a television journalist for KRON-4.

Of all the challengers, however, Ring has made the most noise so far. And if form holds from the last time we wrote about her, the comments section will soon fill up with glowing recommendations from her friends and supporters.

Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007
Under: Aaron Kinney, Foster City, Huijun Ring | 8 Comments »