Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great white shark sighting prompts beach warning

Updated at 04:22 PM today
PACIFICA, CA -- Police posted warning signs on a popular Pacifica beach today after several witnesses said they saw a great white shark attacking a sea lion close to shore.

The shark was spotted about 150 to 200 yards offshore at about 1 p.m. near Linda Mar Beach, a section of Pacifica State Beach, Pacifica police Capt. Fernando Realyvasquez said.
Surfers, boaters and people on the sand reported that the shark was 18 feet long or larger.
"It was pretty convincing based on the half-dozen witnesses that reported seeing it from different vantage points," Realyvasquez said.
A surfer who was in the water at the time of the attack said he saw a large shark thrashing around with a sea lion in its mouth and a large amount of blood in the water.
Witnesses on the beach said that after the attack, two men in a small boat drove up and down the shoreline telling surfers and swimmers to get out of the water.
Signs warning beachgoers of the incident were posted today, Realyvasquez said, the first time this year a sighting has led to such a precaution in Pacifica. 

Submitted by Jim Alex

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The end of Half Moon Bay?

By Julia Scott
San Mateo County Times
Posted: 08/27/2010 11:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 08/28/2010 07:52:51 AM PDT
HALF MOON BAY -- Between budget losses and lawsuit payments, Half Moon Bay's financials have become so dire that if a local sales tax measure doesn't pass this November, officials say they may have to disincorporate.
City leaders have been using the "D" word for a few weeks now as they try to persuade voters to pass Measure K, a one-cent sales tax increase that would help the city balance its budget with an extra infusion of $1.4 million per year for the next seven years.
Dissolving Half Moon Bay -- handing the city's budget, operations and services to San Mateo County -- would be an absolute last resort, but the city may not have many other options left, City Councilman John Muller said.
"The council has done everything in its power to keep the city whole," Muller said. "If it doesn't pass, we could seriously not be in business much longer."
At first glance, disincorporation could save taxpayers some money: no more city administration to support. Police services would be contracted out, and the county would cover planning, building and public works projects from its offices in Redwood City.
On the other hand, county officials said there is a chance that locals would end up paying more than they do now for fewer services.
City Manager Michael Dolder admits disincorporation is one of the options on the table now. The City Council already cut $900,000 from the current budget -- including half its employees -- and imposed
furloughs on those who remain. Some of the cuts were needed to pay for the Beachwood lawsuit settlement, a $15 million burden the city will shoulder in bond payments for the next 20 years. Despite those efforts, the city will finish the current fiscal year with a deficit north of $500,000. And tourist dollars, the city's economic mainstay, aren't likely to flow in anytime soon.
"We're digging ourselves into a hole and the hole keeps getting deeper regardless of whether the sales tax comes in," Dolder warned.
Too much to lose
Across the state, cities are struggling to provide the services residents have come to expect with fewer revenues and staff. People are looking for a way out, according to Bill Chiat, executive director of the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions.
"There certainly have been cities in this economic climate that have inquired about disincorporation," said Chiat. "But once people who talk about it actually find out what happens in disincorporation, they generally don't want to pursue that path."
Dolder ticks off the drawbacks of disincorporation: a county-controlled police department; sporadic road maintenance; no City Council to whom to complain; and no recreation department to offer yoga classes or soccer workshops.
"The majority of residents in San Mateo County choose to be in a city because they get better service. If the county provided better service, more people would choose to be in the county," asserted Dolder.
Ironically, Half Moon Bay chose to incorporate in 1959 in large part because residents wanted a local police force and local control of street maintenance.
Councilman Muller was born in Half Moon Bay. For him, disincorporation would be more than a question of losing face -- it would be a loss of identity.
"Do you have pride in the city? Do you want keep it as Half Moon Bay? Do you want to have local control over your government?" he asked. "Over the hill, nobody knows you."
Debt would remain
Disincorporation is so rare in California that it's almost without precedent. The last city to do it, Cabazon in Riverside County, had fewer than 2,000 residents and no functional government to speak of when it voted to give up cityhood.
The process is so complicated that county officials said they don't know what kinds of services the Board of Supervisors would choose to provide or how much they would cost.
Although the law lays out a clear procedure for disincorporation, including public meetings and a final majority vote by residents, it's unclear how it could work from a practical standpoint, said Martha Poyatos, executive director of the San Mateo County Local Agency Formation Commission.
"We're in uncharted territory," she said.
One thing is certain: disincorporation is not a bailout. The county would lay claim to revenues, including Half Moon Bay's property taxes, sales taxes and hotel taxes, but not its liabilities. Today's Half Moon Bay residents would be required to assume the debt burden of Beachwood bond payments, which would likely be added as a lien on their properties, according to Assistant County Controller Bob Adler.
The county currently takes in 21.7 percent of all property taxes that don't go to the state. The county cannot unilaterally raise taxes to make up for a loss. So service cutbacks are a possibility, Adler said.
"The costs don't go away just because the cities go away. You still need to provide the services. You still have the same problems out there," he said.
The rural city of Isleton, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, toyed with disincorporation in 2008 when it faced a budget deficit of $1.12 million (the city only has a $1.35 million budget). In the end, officials decided to sell bonds to pay off its debts. Now, it is struggling to make bond payments.
"I've cut everything I can cut and we're right up against the wall," Isleton City Manager Bruce Pope said. "We're not (facing disincorporation) now, but we could go there at any time."
Contact Julia Scott at 650-348-4340.
Disincorporation: how would it work?
A City Council, school district, special district or group of residents can initiate disincorporation with the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCo, by presenting a petition signed by 25 percent of voters.
LAFCo would then hold public hearings and choose whether to affirm the proposal with conditions or deny it.
A special election would be held, in which a majority of voters have to approve the terms of disincorporation.
The county Board of Supervisors would work with LAFCo and the city on disposition of the city's assets.
Note: Disincorporation proceedings can be subject to legal challenges.
Sources: LAFCo; California Government Code

Disincorporation: what half moon bay loses
Local police force
City Council
Recreation department

Submitted by Jim Alex

Friday, August 27, 2010

Staying Alive Rehabilitation

New modified chest compression method for cardiac arrest

Act quickly, call 911. "Staying Alive" is 100 beats per minute, don't stop until the paramedics take over.


Continuous Chest Compression CPR video, 6 minutes.  ".... hands-only CPR method that doubles a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest....does not require mouth-to-mouth contact, making it more likely bystanders will try to help.  The American Heart Association has updated its CPR guidelines and now advocates continuous chest compressions, a method developed at The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center."  Also from the UA News article:

Compression-Only CPR is much simpler to perform than traditional CPR and therefore bystanders are more likely to do it,” Ewy said. “Most importantly, the new recommendations remove the largest obstacle, the requirement for mouth-to-mouth ventilation, commonly called 'rescue breathing,' that has kept many bystanders from taking appropriate action.”
Instructions for Chest-Compression-Only CPR for the lay public have been previously published by Ewy. The authors of the AHA statement point out that “this ‘call to action’ does not apply to unwitnessed cardiac arrest, cardiac arrest in children or cardiac arrest presumed to be of non-cardiac origin.

Video or self-guided instruction references:

Importance of continuing blood flow moving to the heart and brain.  Mayo Clinic version, 2:20 minutes. 
One man's personal experience, more training.  Health Service Version, more training, 10:52 minutes.
Quick "learn how guide" is also located on the

government website, self-guided instruction. 
100 beats per minute, beats to "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees (1977), 3:55 minutes, and  "Stayin' Alive" lyrics, 4:47 minutes.

Modified chest compression (CPR) is something most of us can learn.  And, who knows, the life you save may be that of someone you don't like, giving "them" years to improve.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

For us old hippies

Beatles - Abbey Road

live web cam. Remember they're hours ahead of us so if it's night when you click it, it may be boring.  I just saw some tourists recreating the famous "walk!"

Submitted by Jim "The Ancient Hippie" Wagner

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Will Laurie Frater graduate to a college board next?

Yea, my dad's on the school board!  Laurie Frater has set a new standard in keeping track of his children and others. When Laurie's children were younger, he was a Pacifica elementary school district board trustee.  Now they are older, he is newly appointed to Jefferson Union High School District board trustees (serving the remaining term of David Mineta).

The future?  Will the college of  Laurie's children need a new trustee?  Or, will the President of the United States be calling him to join David?  Congratulations Laurie! 

Articles of interest: 
Laurie Frater profile to be continued Pacifica Tribune 8/25/10.
Laurie Frater fills big shoes Pacifica Tribune 8/23/10.

I did not authorize this posting! 
Laurie Frater

Posted partially in spoof by Kathy Meeh

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dead scuba diver identified as Pacifica man

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

(08-24) 07:02 PDT PACIFICA --
A scuba diver found dead off the Pacifica coast was identified by the San Mateo County coroner's office today as 54-year-old Mark Haley of Pacifica.
Haley was found motionless in the water off Linda Mar Beach near Pedro Point at about 11:40 a.m. Monday, authorities said.
Haley was wearing a wetsuit and scuba-diving equipment, said Pacifica police Capt. Fernando Realyvasquez.
The coroner's office plans to conduct an autopsy today to determine the cause of Haley's death. There were no signs of foul play, Realyvasquez said.

Posted by Steve Sinai

Body found off Pacifica Beach

Copyright SFGate. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
(08-24) 05:58 PDT -- The San Mateo County Coroner's Office is working to identify the body of an unidentified diver was found in the waters off of Pacifica State Beach on Monday morning, Pacifica police said.
Members of the North County Fire Authority and Coastside Fire Protection District were dispatched to the area at about 11:40 a.m. for a water rescue off Linda Mar Beach.
Reports indicated the subject, who was wearing a wetsuit and diving equipment, had been found motionless in the water near the rocky shoreline.
Paramedics determined the 50-year-old man was deceased and contacted police.
Authorities have not determined the cause of death, however, there was no evidence of foul play and the investigation is ongoing.
An unoccupied vehicle was found nearby in the general parking area, but it has not been determined if it belonged to the diver.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/baycitynews/a/2010/08/24/body24.DTL&tsp=1#ixzz0xWwfO39X

Submitted by Jim Alex

Saturday, August 21, 2010

City Council Candidate Statements


Occupation: Public Relations Consultant

Education and Qualifications:

Pacifica is at a serious economic crossroads. We need leaders, who have passion, regional connections, broad-based experience and ability to rebuild Pacifica. We must protect our environment, preserve viable economic engines and maintain recreation. We need better public transportation, highway improvements that are acceptable to all, a sustainable revenue generation plan, revitalization of our business disticts and appropriate public safety staffing. For years, I have been working with many groups in Pacifica. I sit on the Boards of the Pacifica Historical Society and the Pacifica Library Foundation, and also serve as the Chair of Pacifica's Green Building Task Force and the Pacifica Community Coalition to Save Sharp Park Golf Course.

As a club president, I help produce monthly events and forums, featuring national, state, county and local leaders. My county involvements include; Vice Chair of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority's CAC and member of the 2008-2009 San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury. My educational and career pursuits have been in the fields of: Broadcasting (ABC, NBC, and PBS), Public Relations (corporate and political); Financial Services (insurance, real estate and investments) and Tourism (corporate travel, events and hotel management). I respectfully ask for your support.




Occupation : Businessman/Planning Commissioner

We are facing difficult times. The long and deep recession has decimated our tax base, the state has hijacked city revenues, and other funding sources have dried up. Key city services are at risk. We need to create a new tax base, one based on an improved business climate. We must refocus city government to help businesses new and old thrive in our community. We must form a partnership between the City of Pacifica and its businesses. As both a longtime local businessman and a City of Pacifica Planning Commissioner, I believe I am the best candidate to make this happen. I know what it takes to make a business work, and I also know how city government works.

I want to be clear that I believe we can accomplish these goals without sacrificing the environment. I served for five years on the Open Space Committee and five years on the Planning Commission, and I know that we can protect our hillsides and beaches and still have vital commercial areas. In fact, our pier, hillsides and beaches are our biggest attractions. Please join me, and together we can ensure that Pacifica not only thrives, but prospers.

/s/ Thomas H. Clifford



Occupation: Network Engineer/Businessman

Originally I moved to Pacifica when I was three years old. I then spent the majority of my childhood and subsequent adolescence enjoying the beaches, the numerous hiking trails, and fishing off of our fabulous pier.

I completed college and got married in the east bay, but I knew that Pacifica was the only place I wanted to raise my two young daughters. I love the fact that the city has maintained so much of what I enjoyed while growing up here. The limited development has kept the hills as pristine as I remember.

As a member of the city council I will work my hardest to fight for what I cherish about my hometown, and ensure that our children receive the best education possible.

There are many areas that I see needed improvement, including initiatives to help reduce the recent increase in burglaries, providing incentives to spur the growth of our local small businesses, and finally helping to begin the construction of our local dog park.

I humbly request your support, and your vote for my position on the Pacifica City Council.



Occupation: Parca Advocacy Director

Education: B.A. Biology; NDNU, Belmont. California Life Credential

I am a successful Teacher. Grades 2 -Adult.

My Parca responsibility is to advocate for quality health, education, recreation, employment and housing for those who have a developmental disability.

Erick and I met on horseback in the Quarry. We raised four children. An ER Nurse, Special Forces Medic, Blackhawk Rescue pilot, successful Hope Services participant.

As an incumbent I have been faithful to a pledge to question everyone and everything and to enable the public to craft Pacifica's Destiny.

Pacifica is a coastal enclave, a dynamic community, not a mere breeze through bedroom community.

Our environment is that majestic ocean and rolling hills, our fantastic history, culture and social commitment.

I was influential in getting Pacifica into the San Mateo County Visitor's National Marketing Program.

I have been relentless in enabling o-ur history to be an enviable economic force. I meet with merchants to ensure their endeavors can flourish. I advocate for the right of the public to be informed and to craft Pacifica's Destiny. Together we can continue to enhance and promote Pacifica into the future.

Thank you.
Sue Digre



Occupation: Retired Postmaster/Manager, Planning Commissioner   Age: 62

I believe in Pacifica and in the future of our community.

These are tough financial times, tough for families and tough for cities and counties all over California. It's going to take creative problem solving and belt tightening to meet the challenges facing us. Environmental conservation, community needs and business interests can and must find common ground. I firmly believe that by working together we can find the solutions.

My wife and I are grandparents. We have lived in Pacifica since the 1980's. My community involvement started with environmental issues.

Working with my neighbors we fought large development projects on Milagra Ridge, ultimately resulting in a small, high quality residential and commercial project which saved the hillside in Open Space. Our open hillsides and beaches are City treasures.

I have served on the Planning Commission, The Open Space Committee, the City's Golden Gate National Recreation Area Committee, and the Mega-Home Ordinance Sub-Committee.

I understand the needs of small businesses having owned three successful businesses in the past. My skills include problem solving, communications and team building. I have extensive experience developing and managing large budgets for government and my businesses.

I respectfully ask for your support on November 2.

/s/ William R. "Leo" Leon Jr.


LEN STONE   Age: 29

Occupation: Businessman

Pacifica is home to both my family and business. As a City Council person my decisions will be driven by this vested interest to represent you - Pacifica residents and business owners who want our city to flourish. My priorities include:

Maintaining a fiscally responsible city council.

Filling our commercial vacancies to produce a viable and vibrant local economy to generate sufficient tax dollars to pay our own bills.

Provide residents of Pacifica with the police, fire, schools, city works, and infrastructure they deserve with policies that respect and cherish Pacifica's most valuable resource, our unique environment.

I have owned and operated an insurance agency here in Pacifica for 8 years, am president-elect of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, donated time to local school programs, and organized local teen driver safety seminars.  I will bring the same thoughtful decision making process and excellent listening skills to the council that have been instrumental in my business success. My livelihood and family are invested in Pacifica, and I hope you will support me to build our local economy while preserving the small town living which we all enjoy.

I respectfully ask for your vote to City Council.

/s/ Len Stone



Occupation: Attorney

I have been a resident of Pacifica since 2006. I am raising two children and volunteer in the community. Over the past year, Pacifica has seen an increase in the number of lay-offs; I am among them.

I would like to bring in funds from federal grant programs to create employment incentive packages.

I would also like to increase support services for those most adversely affected by the current economic crisis and those who are traditionally at-risk. I propose doing so with minimal impact on Pacificans who are already struggling and have been asked for a lot of sacrifices.

I would also like to make Pacifica more attractive to outside funds such as those brought in by Fog Fest and Mavericks. I would like to work directly with local businesses to create programs which would highlight our businesses and drive traffic to them from outside Pacifica. The better our businesses do, the better Pacifica does.

I am so grateful to Pacifica for all it has done for my family. I ask only an opportunity to give back by service to Pacifica. It would be my great honor.

Heather Tanner



Occupation: Businesswoman

As a resident and business owners for 30 years, I presently serve my community as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Liaison to the GGNRA, Director on the Board of Pacifican's Care and President-Elect of Rotary.

I believe City Council should be a balanced representation of our community. With leadership and determination, the improvement of our city's economy is needed to maintain our vital emergency services and our Public Works for our weakened infrastructure. Change can be made through visibility and appeal to the Tourism Industry and new businesses.

The focus in leadership should be marketing our City's potential as a destination for outstanding businesses opportunities, recreational use, improving our greatly needed sales tax revenue and assuring an optimum quality of life for our community.

/s/ Susan Vellone



Occupation: Husband and father of two
Former Mayor and current City Councilmember

Education/Qualification : Masters in Public Administration and Natural Resources Management Pacifica City Council (1998-present); Planning Commission (Chair 1996); San Mateo City/County Association of Governments (Chair 2005-07); County Library Joint Powers Authority (Chair 2003-04); Pacifica Land Trust (past board-member); County Transportation Authority; Pacifica School Volunteer

Professional Experience:
US Environmental Protection Agency (1988-current)

Since being elected, I have worked hard to ensure that our City has a strong voice on the County's regional boards. We've been able to obtain additional monies for libraries, millions to create new trails and restore wetlands, and obtain additional parklands.

I believe that by working together with positive leadership and common purpose, we can continue to create community centered solutions to protect our City's tremendous natural beauty, as well as, the development of appropriate, consensus-based, revenue generating alternatives to help support our social, public safety and govern mental services.

I hope you will allow me to continue to serve you as your City Councilperson. I want to continue to work for you in developing the future of our wonderful community.

On November 2, I hope you Vote Vreeland for City Council.

/s/ Jim Vreeland

Submitted by Mark Smoliarz

Some Interesting Bills & Another City - Vernon

As of this date the State does not have a budget.  They do not have time to work on a budget, but plenty to deal with local agency compensation.  And some cities are great in giving our Legislatures a lot of reasons to react.  Well, today, LA times is reporting another City that is amazing all of us--City of Vernon, next to the City of Bell.  I thought you might like to read the article and some of the bills that are in the process!
I saw these bills yesterday and I thought you might like knowing about them.  The Speaker of the Assembly and President Pro Tem of the Senate (including Jerry Hill) held a news conference and introduced more legislation on local agency compensation and pensions. By my count there are now eight bills. Two are not yet in print. The Speaker committed to get them all through the legislative process by adjournment on 31 August. That's 10 days from now.

Here's what we have right now:

AB 1955 (De La Torre): This is an urgency bill that would take effect immediately. This is the "excess compensation cities" bill. It has been amended to shift oversight responsibilities from the Attorney General to the Controller. This bill also requires the posting on the web site of any contract or amendment to a contract of employment of an employee of a legislative body of a local agency. It must be updated annually and include salary, benefits, retirement and any other forms of compensation.

AB 827 (De La Torre): This bill places severe restrictions on any employment contract between an employee and a "local agency employer." It prohibits automatic extensions of contracts, any increase in compensation above COLA, or severance payments greater than 12 months. It also requires that a performance evaluation be conducted prior to any compensation increase greater than a COLA be given and that the evaluation be made public and a public vote be taken on the compensation increase.   If signed into law it would take affect on 1 January 2011.

AB 2064 (Huber): Requires the annual posting and update of the annual salary of the chief executive of every city, county, special district, school district, and JPA. Requires the same of every member of the Legislature, legislative staff and the constitutional officers.

SB 501 (Correa): Somewhat similar to AB 2064 but applies to anyone in a city, county, special district, school district or JPA who is also required to file a Form 700. Appears to cover total compensation not just salaries (as in AB 2064).

AB 192: This is purported to be another related bill that was introduced yesterday but is not yet in print.

AB 194 (Torrico):  This bill was introduced yesterday and not yet in print. It sets limits on local agency pensions by prohibiting public retirements to be based on salaries exceeding 125% of gubernatorial pay (currently $173,987).  
SB 1425 (Simitian): Limits items included in final compensation and prevents final year spiking. Applies to employees who retire after 1 January 2012.

AB 1987 (Ma): Similar to SB 1425 but also attempts to prevent "double dipping." Takes effect on 1 January 2011.

These are all in a great deal of flux and it is expected there will be multiple amendments as they move through the process. 
In addition, I have posted the LA article at the bottom of my email.  You might not believe what you read!

Hefty paychecks for Vernon officials rival those in Bell

The ex-city administrator who now serves as a legal consultant earned seven figures in each of the last four years, records show. Others in Bell 's neighboring city got $570,000 to $800,000 last year.

By Kim Christensen and Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times
August 20, 2010
Bell isn't the only city that has paid huge salaries: In neighboring Vernon , a former city administrator who now serves as a legal consultant has topped the $1-million mark for each of the last four years, records show.

Eric T. Fresch was paid nearly $1.65 million in salary and hourly billings in 2008, when he held the dual jobs of city administrator and deputy city attorney, according to documents obtained by The Times through the California Public Records Act.

Described by city officials as an experienced finance attorney, Fresch was paid nearly $1.2 million last year, records show. Through July 31 of this year, he has earned about $643,000 as "outside legal counsel."

Other highly compensated employees include Donal O'Callaghan, who was paid nearly $785,000 last year as city administrator and director of light and power, overseeing Vernon 's city-owned utility. He now earns $384,000 a year overseeing capital projects for the utility after stepping down July 20 as city administrator.

Former City Atty. Jeffrey A. Harrison earned $800,000 last year and City Treasurer/Finance Director Roirdan Burnett made $570,000, records show. The year before, Harrison was paid $1.04 million.

Disclosure of Vernon 's hefty salaries follows The Times' recent report that Robert Rizzo reaped total annual compensation of more than $1.5 million as city administrator in working-class Bell . That report sparked public outrage among Bell residents and prompted the resignations of Rizzo and two other highly paid managers.

Although Vernon and Bell share a border in Southeast Los Angeles County , they are very different cities. Bell is a working-class, largely immigrant city with 38,000 residents. Vernon has fewer than 100 residents and is largely a business and industrial hub.

But municipal government experts said they were taken aback Thursday by word of Vernon 's big paychecks.

"They are beyond anything that I could imagine for a local government manager," Dave Mora, west regional director of the International City-County Management Assn., said of the sums paid to Fresch and O'Callaghan.

Kenneth Pulskamp, president of the City Manager's Department of the League of California Cities, agreed.

"Over 99% of city managers make well below that amount of money," said Pulskamp, who also is city manager of Santa Clarita. " So that seems way out of the ordinary."

Fresch told The Times on Thursday that he has performed complex legal services for Vernon , mostly related to its energy businesses. He said he gradually accepted more and more work from the city since he first started working for it in 1986.

Once he joined the city staff, Fresch said, his services cost Vernon less than what his private-practice "peer group" would have billed for similar work.

He said Vernon saved money through the arrangement. Fresch now serves as "special counsel" to the city, at $525 an hour.

"If people think that I am a city guy making that kind of money, they would have every right to be outraged," he said.

"I'm not trying to say that municipal compensation should be at the level that I'm doing. I'm saying that if you bring a guy like me in, and do transactions for several hundred million dollars, this would not be out-of-line compensation."

Vernon officials defended the salaries Thursday, saying that Fresch, O'Callaghan and others brought a level of expertise the city otherwise would not have had.

They also noted that the City Council has done away with a two-tiered pay system that allowed some officials to bill for hours worked beyond a normal 40-hour work week. The extra pay did not count toward retirement benefits, they said.

New contracts, which have been phased in over the last year, call for straight salaries for employees.

"Vernon's goal continues to be to bring to the city the most highly trained experts in the field with the best, most creative thinking to solve its challenges," interim City Administrator Mark Whitworth said in a letter with the city's response to The Times' records request.

Whitworth said "the benefits of this high-quality team are evident," noting that " Vernon businesses bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the region, and support 50,000 jobs."

Vernon City Council members are paid $68,052 each year, far greater than in most cities in Los Angeles County , according to a Times survey.

Founded as an industrial city, Vernon has built its economic well-being on a base of about 1,800 businesses.

Its municipally owned power plant provides electricity at rates consistently lower than those elsewhere, Whitworth said, and the city provides top-tier services, including a fire department that is one of only 60 Class 1 departments nationwide.

Vernon has long been dogged by accusations that it is a fiefdom run by a family that has held sway over the town for generations.

In January, former Mayor Leonis Malburg was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in fines and reimbursements to the city after his conviction for voter fraud and conspiracy charges, bringing an ignoble end to his lengthy reign as Vernon 's patriarch.

Malburg, the grandson of Vernon 's founder, served on the council for five decades.

Although prosecutors had asked for jail time, Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson cited Malburg's age — 80 — and his medical history in deciding against incarceration.

Malburg's wife, Dominica , 83, was ordered to pay more than $40,000 in fines and fees.

In December, the judge found the couple guilty of engaging in an elaborate scheme in which they pretended to live in Vernon while actually living in a Hancock Park mansion.

Former City Administrator Bruce Malkenhorst Sr., who according to the records obtained by The Times made $911,563 in 2005, was later indicted on public corruption charges.

Still, Malkenhorst retired with a then record state pension of $500,000. Malkenhorst, who rode to work in limousines, is accused of taking $60,000 of city money for personal use. He is awaiting trial.

On Thursday, Whitworth, who also is Vernon 's fire chief, singled out Fresch and O'Callaghan for praise for their work on behalf of the city.

Both had been brought in initially as consultants, he said, but so impressed council members at the time that they were asked to join the payroll.

But the League of California Cities' Pulskamp said that, no matter how many hats the two wore, their salaries were "many times the norm" for city managers — probably five times the going rate for a city of Vernon 's size, he said.

"Typically, city managers have some expertise in some area whether that be finance or personnel or one of the other departments," he said. "Typically that is just part of being a city manager — you don't get paid extra for that type of expertise."

State Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), who has proposed legislation that would penalize cities with "excessive compensation," said Vernon's business base does not justify such high pay for its officials.

"You cannot defend these kinds of numbers," he said. "A city government is not a private business. Period. This is not a private company."


Submitted by Jim Wagner

Clerk shot in robbery of Pacifica gas station

Bay City News Service
Posted: 08/21/2010 07:06:58 AM PDT

Pacifica police responded at about 8:20 p.m. Friday to a report of an armed robbery at a Shell gas station at 679 Hickey Blvd. near Gateway Drive.
When police arrived, they found the clerk, a 30-year-old male, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds he received during the robbery, police said. The clerk was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Police are searching for three suspects for the robbery and shooting. They are described as black males in their late teens or early 20s with thin builds who are between the heights of 5 feet 7 and 5 feet 11 inches.
The suspects were wearing masks, black sweatshirts and black pants, police said. They were believed to be driving a light colored mid to late 1980s Toyota or Honda 4-door vehicle, police said.
The Pacifica Police Department's Investigative Division is currently investigating the crime. Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Pacifica Police Department at (650) 738-7314

Submitted by Jim Alex

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fresh & Easy headed for the Bay Area

Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thursday, August 19, 2010

A British grocery chain that broke into Southern California four years ago will move into the Bay Area early next year by opening seven stores, including one in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood, that will feature automated checkout lines and fresh-made meals in addition to the standard fare.
Behind the expansion of the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain is a story of changing consumer habits and a global competitor with nearly 5,000 stores around the world.
"We wanted to establish a post-melting-pot (food) format that reflected the wide diversity of the U.S. market and U.S. consumers," said Fresh & Easy chief executive Tim Mason, who has opened 160 stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada since he arrived in Los Angeles in 2006.
Mark Hamstra, retail editor for Supermarket News, said the British firm had mounted an unprecedented $2 billion plan to penetrate the U.S. market by building a chain from the ground up, rather than by acquisition.
"They think they have a better model for the way consumers will shop for food in the future," he said. "They want to compete with the likes of a Safeway, but do it like a Trader Joe's, with special items that consumers can't find elsewhere."
Rather than loading up the shopping cart once a week, Mason said the company is betting that consumers will make more frequent trips to the market, often looking for prepared meals and fresh foods in addition to the staples, pet supplies and beauty aids that fill pantries and cabinets.
To get customers in and out quickly, Mason said every line in the store will have an automated checkout option for those who know how to use the scanners while those who don't can get an attendant to process their purchases.

Many prepared foods

Fresh & Easy stores will feature prominent delis, called Kitchen Tables, stocked with soups, guacamoles and other prepared foods, made without preservatives in the company's industrial kitchen. The stores will be green, literally and figuratively, from the color scheme of the walls and the staff's T-shirts to the recycling operation and various energy-saving practices.
Driving the invasion is Fresh & Easy's British parent firm, Tesco, a household name in that country with 2,500 stores. Mason said Tesco began a global expansion in the late 1990s, when it opted against trying to crack the Western European or U.S. markets.
Instead it entered Eastern Europe, where it now has 1,000 stores, and Asia, where it has 1,300 spots in Thailand, South Korea, China, Malaysia Japan and India.
The global giant has made some missteps in its new U.S. venture, such as starting in the teeth of a recession.
Fresh & Easy was also dinged by food activists for not opening enough stores in poor neighborhoods. The non-unionized chain has drawn the ire of organized labor. Mason said to unionize or not is up to employees and that he is proud of the firm's $10 per hour entry wage, 75 percent paid health benefits, quarterly bonuses and 401(k) match.

Tough competition

The grocery industry is incredibly competitive. Berkeley's Grocery Outlet has been opening more discount stores. Mi Puebla Food Center, a regional chain, recently added its 17th store in Newark.
Meg Major, editor of Progressive Grocer, said she likes the Fresh & Easy format and admires the British firm's audacity, but said the newcomer is in for a fight.
"It's not as if Safeway is crouching in fear," she said.

New stores

These Fresh & Easy stores are scheduled to open in 2011:
San Francisco: Third Street and Carroll Avenue
San Jose: Bird and Minnesota avenues
Danville: Diablo Boulevard at Interstate 680
Pacifica: Cabrillo Highway and Linda Mar Boulevard
Vacaville: Elmira and Nut Tree roads
Walnut Creek: Ygnacio Valley Road and San Carlos Drive
Concord: Clayton and Ygnacio Valley roads
Source: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market
E-mail Tom Abate at tabate@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/19/BU851EVR2J.DTL#ixzz0x42SkXmv

Submitted by Jim Alex

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Help our candidates gain an endorsement from the Sierra Club!

How would you answer these questions to get the coveted Sierra Club endorsement. No interest in economic issues necessary.

2010 Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter

Candidate Questionnaire for Pacifica City Council
           Candidate Information
Election ID (FPPC):
Please Send a JPEG photo of candidate:  Send it to Political@lomaprieta.sierraclub.org 

Are you a Sierra Club member? (Membership is not required for endorsement)
               Questionnaire  (Candidates’ answers are used internally in our endorsing considerations, and are not published).

1). What’s your preferred vision for the future of the 400 acre Sharp Park property
currently owned by San Francisco but located entirely within Pacifica?
Please be inclusive of the berm/Coastal Trail, Laguna Salada, golf course, clubhouse.
archery range and the majority of the acreage in the eastern portion. 

2). How much growth in housing and office space/commercial is appropriate for Pacifica, and why?  What changes do you favor in the General Plan relating to development and climate change? 

3). What are your priorities for addressing Pacifica’s climate impacts?  Do you support calculating Pacifica’s baseline greenhouse gas emissions, adopting meaningful targets for reduction of emissions, and implementing those targets?

4). Your past record is the best indicator of your work for the environment.  What have you done to protect natural resources and the environment?

5) How do you propose to eliminate waste going to landfills by 2020?   
6). Should construction in Pacifica incorporate green building principles? 

7) The Loma Prieta Chapter’s Transportation Committee has serious reservations about the pending CalTrans/SMCTA proposal for the 6-lane Calera project on Highway 1. Do you favor this $45 MIL project?  If not, what alternative(s), if any, would be most suitable?

8). How can Pacifica better manage its water supply and demand?
9). What do you regard as the major environmental and conservation issues facing Pacifica and the Bay Area?

10) Snowy plovers have abandoned their historic nesting area at Pacifica State Beach due to disturbances. What do you favor to protect their remaining habitat?  Would you support restrictions on human activities as recommended by the Pacifica Open Space Committee?

11). Please provide your ballot statement as submitted to the County at filing.

12). Tell us about your campaign viability (funding, volunteers, organization, endorsements).  Please bring examples of your prior and current campaign literature.

13). Given that the "Quarry" property is located entirely in the Coastal Zone and therefore subject to the habitat protections of the California Coastal Act (particularly as defined by the Supreme Court Bolsa Chica decision disallowing habitat alteration/mitigation for housing related development) - do you favor Pacifica requiring a thorough biological assessment of the entire property prior to planning exercises or processing development applications?

14). Do you support reducing the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers by Pacifica's Public Works and Parks functions?  

End of Questionnaire
Posted by Steve Sinai

For Member Of The City Council - Susan Vellone

SUSAN VELLONE            AGE:47

Occupation:  Businesswoman

As a resident and business owner for 30 years, I presently serve my community as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Liaison to the GGNRA, Director on the Board of Pacifican’s Care and President-Elect of Rotary.

I believe City Council should be a balanced representation of our community. With leadership and determination, the improvement of our city’s economy is needed to maintain our vital emergency services and our Public Works for our weakened infrastructure. Change can be made through visibility and appeal to the Tourism Industry and new businesses.

The focus in leadership should be marketing our City’s potential as a destination for outstanding business opportunities, recreational use, improving our greatly needed sales tax revenue and assuring an optimum quality of life for our community.

I look forward to your support.

Susan Vellone    President of the Chamber of Commerce

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dog Parks in Pacifica

Let me first explain the genesis of this problem.  I have lived in Pacifica since 1978 and although there were always leash laws, they were not enforced.  Off-leash recreation was happening, but never was an issue.  In the year 2000 time frame, then Mayor Jim Vreeland made a specific demand of the Peninsula Humane Society and the Pacifica Police Department calling for the strict enforcement of the leash law. 

This demand was made without public notice or comment. However, no provision was made at the time to provide any areas where residents could exercise or play with their dog(s) off-leash.  At that time, as is the case today, there existed no public area where one could play the most basic time-honored game of fetch with their dog. As many Pacificans suddenly became the recipients of very expensive off leash tickets, a huge outcry ensued and the city’s Animal Advisory Commission was asked to address the problem.  As a member of the Animal Advisory Commission in 2001-2002, it was estimated by several sources, including the Peninsula Humane Society, that 40% of Pacifica households had at least one dog.  In fact, there were actually more dogs in Pacifica than there were children.  We held many meetings with the public to ascertain whether a dog park or other off-leash area was desired by the Pacifica population.  It was indeed a big quality of life issue for Pacifica residents.  
As to the issue of expense of a dog park, one needs to consider the point raised by many dog guardians that they, as taxpayers, pay for the education, day care, school lunches and park/recreation facilities utilized by the children of this city without complaint.  Is it so unreasonable for these taxpayers to ask for an opportunity to recreate with their dogs?  Many of these dog guardians are senior citizens who have lost spouses and friends and live with their dog as their only companion.  These seniors strongly preferred an enclosed dog park, because many suffer from disabilities and are unable to run or hike with their dogs.  The best choice for an enclosed dog park was and still is Lower Frontierland Park

The area is not usable for any other park purpose because the landfill has created methane gas seepage.  Coastside Scavenger/Recology provides the city $75,000.00 annually for rehabilitation of this area.  The City has year after year misappropriated that money for their own desired purposes as part of the General Fund.  I have in my possession plans for a dog park at Lower Frontierland (with parking) as drawn up by Scott Holmes when he was the Director of Public Works in that time frame.  It is important to note that Scott Holmes was indisputably highly involved in our environmental projects here in Pacifica, and he believed this was a great use for Lower Frontierland.  Does someone have an objection to the $75,000./year being spent for the purpose for which it is specifically earmarked? 

Other citizens preferred hiking trails they could utilize with their dogs off-leash—Mori Point being the most popular.  No cost to allow people to hike with their dogs on trails.  Would any of the dog park detractors support lobbying the GGNRA for that policy?  Pacificans turned over Mori Point to the NPS/GGNRA and we do not derive any revenue from our generosity.  Is it too much to make a small demand regarding the usage of this area?  

Other Pacificans wanted an accessible beach to play with their dogs—Esplanade Beach is not accessible to the vast majority of the population.  We selected Sharp Park Beach south of Clarendon for that purpose.  The SPB location was ideal because natural boundaries already existed, there was no habitat for any threatened or endangered species due to the construction of the berm, and we even obtained approval from SF Recreation and Park Department for the use. 

There would be no cost to implement this area as an off-leash area except perhaps a few signs.  

Open your mind to the possibilities—they are within reach despite the poor economy. Certainly the overall economy was not an issue back in 2000 - although Pacifica has always seemed to be in a recession.  Further, who is to say people won’t come from out of town to utilize our off-leash beach/trails/park and actually spend money here?  Dog guardians DO spend money—proof of that is the business model Carmel has built in part because it is a dog-friendly environment. 

Yet these same critics of off-leash recreation seem to have no problem with the fishermen who come to Pacifica to fish or crab at the pier or the surfers who come to surf at Linda Mar beach.  These two groups are notorious for spending little or no money here, and the fishermen leave a litter mess as well.  

For many of us off-leash recreation areas are a quality of life issue. This is why we pay our taxes. Neighboring cities have accepted their responsibility to provide off-leash recreation areas to their residents. Only in Pacifica, where open space far exceeds developed space, is it so difficult to find a small area where our best friends can thrive.

Suzanne Valente