Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pacifica voters to decide on hotel tax hike



By Julia Scott
San Mateo County Times
Updated: 06/29/2010 11:14:12 PM PDT

PACIFICA — The City Council will ask voters to approve a transient occupancy tax increase in November that will put pressure on Pacifica's hotels — all six of them — to help the city dig itself out of a $3 million budget deficit.

Council members voted unanimously Monday night to create a ballot measure to increase Pacifica's hotel tax from 10 percent to 12 percent. Other cities across San Mateo County recently passed identical measures, including San Mateo, Millbrae, San Bruno and South San Francisco.

Officials portrayed the tax increase as crucial to balancing the city's deficit in the long term, even though it would only generate a modest additional take of $160,000 a year from the city's half-dozen hotels.
Pacifica faces a $15 million structural deficit over the next five years. The hotel tax would add an extra $640,000 to the city's general fund in that time.

Paul Chakkapark, owner of the Pacifica Beach Resort Hotel overlooking the ocean, said he was surprised and disheartened by the council's vote — and he plans to fight against the ballot initiative, which could hurt his business in a very tough economy.

"I think we have a hard time right now, and we need everybody's help. To increase it is not helping," he said. "We are only 15 minutes from San Francisco and customers in San Francisco come and stay with us, because San Francisco has a 14 percent tax and we have only a 10 percent tax."

Read more...

Posted by Steve Sinai


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PCT 26 Rebroadcasts Highway 1 Meeting, July 1




Pacifica Community Television (PCT) cable channel 26 rebroadcasts the June 22 public information meeting staged by San Mateo Country Transportation Authority (SMCTA) on its proposal to widen Highway 1. You can watch the program live on TV or online in real time at PCT 26 (click PROGRAM SCHEDULE).

Ripped-off from Riptide by Steve Sinai

San Carlos disbands its police force

(06-29) 08:03 PDT SAN CARLOS --
  
The city of San Carlos has voted to dissolve its police force and to begin the steps to outsource the job of law enforcement to the San Mateo County sheriff's office as a cost-cutting measure.

The City Council voted 4-1 on Monday night to disband its 85-year-old Police Department to help save nearly two-thirds of next year's $3.5 million deficit. The council directed city staff to begin negotiating with the sheriff's office, said Mayor Randy Royce, who voted to scrap the city's 32-member force.

Royce noted that the sheriff's office, which has 462 deputies, has agreed to offer full-time jobs to all San Carlos officers. Redwood City police, which had also offered to take over police services, could not make such a guarantee.

"We do have a lot of local cops, and those local cops will continue to work," Royce said today. "If you look at any organization, it's good to have some change. We'll have the best of both worlds. 

Having the mix of existing local cops and new officers, they'll be able to provide as good, if not better, level of service."

Councilman Matt Grocott cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he supported the idea of a joint powers authority under which the city would maintain its police force but partner with another agency.
 
Grocott, the San Carlos Police Officers Association and Ken Castle, who leads San Carlos' largest neighborhood watch group, were among those who criticized outsourcing on the grounds that it would cost the city control over its affairs.

"I think this decision has been a foregone conclusion for the last six months - nothing surprises me," Castle said today. "I think the council has not been listening to the concerns of most of the people that have been speaking over these last several months and they're determined to move ahead with this."

Royce said it may take about two months for city staff and a consultant to work out the details with the sheriff's office. But the transition will be rather quick afterward, he said, "to be fair to our officers and our employees in the Police Department. They've been kind of sitting on pins and needles. They want to know what is going on."

There's plenty of precedent in the Bay Area for outside agencies policing small cities, but none of those cities ever had its own police force. Locally, only Sonoma, which dissolved its police department in 2004 and turned to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department to save money, has ever decided to outsource its police force

Submitted by Jim Alex

SF Supervisor's Budget Commitee Final Meeting Wednesday, June 30, 5:00 p.m.

Public Golf Alliance Members:

The Supervisors Budget Committee will hold their final public meeting on the 2010-2012 budget on Wednesday, June 30, starting at 5:00 p.m. at the Supervisors' Legislative Chambers, San Francisco City Hall, Second Floor.

The proceedings will be televised live on SF Government TV, Channel 26, on the web at:  http://www.sfgovtv.org/index.aspx?page=69

At that meeting, the Budget Committee will vote on recommendations that it will make to the Full Board of Supervisors for changes to the Mayor's Proposed Budget.  (See link to the Mayor's Proposed Budget:

 After the Budget Committee makes its recommendation, the Full Board of Supervisors will meet twice in the second half of July to vote on establishing the 2010-2012 budget.  The full procedure is described at pages 33-36 of the Mayor's Proposed Budget, linked above.

Although the Budget Committee heard twice from the Rec & Park Department, at public hearings June 17 and 24, there were no questions from the Supervisors, and no comment by Rec & Park Department representatives, about Sharp Park or its finances. At the Budget Committee's June 21 public comment session, Public Golf Alliance members and other Sharp Park Golf Course supporters made a spirited defense of the golf course; on the other hand, golf opponents called for the golf course to be closed because it "loses money".  Golf Alliance member Mike Wallach has prepared an excellent summary of Sharp Park finances and of the pro-and-con Sharp Park public testimony at the June 21 Budget Committee meeting:



Additionally, Mike has prepared two excellent u-tube videos:
(1) explaining the Sharp Park finances (i.e., that Sharp Park is a net revenue-producer for the city, rather than the so-called "money loser" as mistakenly claimed by golf's opponents): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HddmobFkgw

and

(2) showing an exchange at Supervisor Mirkarimi's December 16, 2009 public hearing between Rec & Park Director Phil Ginsberg and Supervisor Mirkarimi, in which Mr. Ginsberg explained how revenue from Sharp Park subsidizes other Rec & Park programs and functions, and Supervisor Mirkarimi characterized the claims of "operating loss" at Sharp Park as "de minimus" and "small

The Rec & Park Budget appears at pages 369-375 of the Mayor's Proposed Budget (linked above).  It is not detailed, and Sharp Park is not separately described or  mentioned.  There is nothing in the Capital Projects section of the Proposed Budget for sea wall or habitat restoration at Sharp Park.
So the golf opponents' argument that Sharp should be closed in order to save millions of dollars in sea wall and related capital expenditures is just baloney.  There are no such capital costs in the 2010-2012 budget now under consideration by the Supervisors.  If Sharp Park Golf Course were to be closed now, the effect on the 2010-2012 budgets would be (1) reduction in income to the city; (2) no capital cost savings; and (3) closure of a much-beloved, widely-used, and historic People's Golf Course. 

We will continue to keep you posted on developments.  Thanks for your work to Save Sharp Park.

-- Richard Harris
   San Francisco Public Golf Alliance
   392-5431, ext. 203  

Comment registration enabled


I just enabled comment registration, so anyone who wants to comment on the blog will have to register. The tantrum-throwers had gotten out of control. We'll see how it goes.

The easiest way to register is to sign up for a Google account. Then, when you submit a comment, you'll be asked to identify yourself by entering your email address.  You can still use a fake name for your account, but it should make it more difficult for our serial attackers to hide behind different names each time they want to insult someone.

Posted by Steve Sinai

Monday, June 28, 2010

San Mateo County Charter Review meetings are completed for 2010


Article from Bruce Balshone, SM Examiner 6-28-10.  The San Mateo County Charter Review Committee wrapped up six-months of meetings and debates on June 23rd and will provide recommendations on five possible County Charter changes to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at the tomorrow, June 29th, board meeting. The Charter Review Committee is the ad hoc board, empanelled every eight years, charged with reviewing and making recommendations for revising and updating the County’s Charter—a document akin to a local constitution that governs San Mateo County’s governmental structure and a variety of major policies. read more 

References with additional information and meeting videos:
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
San Mateo County Charter Review Committee for 2010..

Posted by Kathy Meeh



Little Quaker


USGS info on magnitutde 3.3 shaker off NorCal coast this morning.

Submitted by Jim Alex

Dispatches from the SF Golf War - The Sharp Park Budget Debate
A Fair and Balanced Report

Early last week your San Francisco Foreign Correspondent joined the SF Public Golf Alliance and a strong Pacifica contingent to participate in the public comment portion of the San Francisco Budget and Finance Committee Meeting. Lines formed down the hall and around the corner in City Hall. We were asked to assemble by interest group, given alphabetical "tickets" and guidance on when we might expect to gain entrance to the committee room.

They started with the letter "A", we were in group "M", and we were told to expect to wait at least four hours. It turned out to be pretty accurate. It still took another hour after we entered the chambers to get our allocated two minutes in front of the budget committee and, believe it or not, some of us waited around to hear the opposition (who were even further back in the line).

Most everyone in line was there to defend their financial turf, demanding that their particular slice of the shrinking San Francisco pie not be touched. As near as I can tell, the golfers were the only ones at the meeting not asking for money, ready and willing to pay higher fees in order to help with the budget crisis and help Sharp Park.

It was heartbreaking to listen to the some of the disadvantaged who will be affected by the cuts coming in the San Francisco budget. The reality is the money is simply not there. The years of reckless spending by a fiscally irresponsible Board of Supervisors voted into office by politically irresponsible San Francisco voters are coming home to roost.

Hanging around City Hall for five hours, one has the opportunity to reflect on just WTF one is doing there. The simple answer is that we were there because the opposition was there to demand the closure of Sharp Park golf. It's not like there is any rational financial case to be made for closing the course, but having lost the scientific argument for the endangered frog and snake, I guess they have nowhere else to go. After they lose this one, I expect the lawsuit threats will start again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

California's public-sector pensions: Sanity in the offing? The Economist


A deal with four unions is a good start

Jun 24th 2010 | Los Angeles  

CALIFORNIA’S lame-duck governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has just scored a big victory. On June 16th he struck a tentative agreement with four public-sector unions, representing 23,000 of the state’s 170,000 unionised state workers, over future pension benefits. If confirmed, the deal would require newly hired public employees such as firefighters and traffic police to contribute more of their own salaries, and retire later, to collect their pensions. The savings would be small. But there is a chance that California’s other unions will follow with similar deals. If they do, the effect would be historic.

This is because it would begin the undoing of a policy disaster dating back to 1999. That was when the Democratic legislature and the then governor, Gray Davis, a Democrat elected with union support, thanked the unions by giving state workers pension increases of between 20% and 50%. Many highway-patrol officers, for example, were allowed to retire at 50 with 90% of their final salary. All told, California now has probably the most generous public-sector benefits in the country.

That, however, is not what outrages Mr Schwarzenegger, a Republican, or his brainy economic adviser David Crane, a Democrat. Rather, it is that the pension plans—above all the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest such scheme in America—pretended that this generosity would not cost anything. In 1999 the dotcom bubble was still inflating, and the plans’ actuaries predicted that their retirement funds would gain enough value to pay the increased pensions. By implication, they assumed that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would reach 25,000 in 2009 and 28m in 2099. It is currently at around 10,300.

A few years ago Mr Crane tried, as a board member of the teachers’ pension plan (CalSTERS), to make the assumptions more sane. His fellow Democrats voted him off the board. But since then the stockmarket has fallen sharply and California has tipped into budget crisis, exacerbated by the additional contributions that taxpayers are obliged to make to top up the public-sector pension funds.

On the same day that Mr Schwarzenegger struck his deal with the unions, for instance, CalPERS ordered the state to increase its annual pension payment to almost $4 billion. Two studies estimate California’s unfunded pension liability at about half a trillion dollars, almost seven times its official debt.

Even some Democrats are starting to complain. Bill Lockyer, the state treasurer, is one. He warned the legislature that public-sector pensions will bankrupt the state and pointedly wondered whether the Democrats before him could fix the problem “because of who elected you”.

Read more...

Posted by Steve Sinai

Davies Public Affairs hired by Redwood City



PR firm hired by Redwood City for $310,000 stays on sideline in jail debate

Three months after Redwood City hired a national public relations firm to help it fight San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks' plan to build a new jail in its downtown, the firm has been all but invisible while the city and county talk behind the scenes. 

The city council in March signed Davies Public Affairs to a $310,000 contract with the goal of deflecting Munks' plan to build a new jail on the 3.5-acre motor pool site at the county government campus.

Worried that a new jail would scare away developers and cripple its efforts to revitalize downtown, the city hired Davies to conduct a "comprehensive public information and advocacy effort," giving the firm 28 tasks, among them to "create and distribute a 'new jail' fact booklet" and to "mobilize opposition leading up to public hearings."

Since then, the only public sign of Davies' involvement has been an anti-jail website, www.avoiceforredwoodcity.com, that went up for less than a day in early April and has been down ever since.

City Manager Peter Ingram said Davies has "done what we hired them to do" — quietly conducting polls, researching alternative sites and planning a public campaign that is "pretty teed-up and ready to go."

But Ingram said the city has decided to hold off on launching the anti-jail campaign while it negotiates with the sheriff behind closed doors, despite having spent roughly $200,000 in redevelopment funds on consultant fees so far.

Mayor Jeff Ira said he's been focused on talks with Munks over an alternative site and hasn't paid much attention to the consultant. He said the agencies are talking about at least two potential alternative sites, which he declined to identify.

"As soon as I saw things were getting real fruitful with Greg, I said, 'Hey, you need to get (the PR) people to stand down,'" Ira said.

The sheriff wants a new jail to relieve overcrowding in its existing facilities and contends the motor pool property would be the best location because the county already owns it and it's adjacent to the courts.

Read more...

Posted by Steve Sinai

Meet Mayor Hazel McCallion - what an inspiration she is!

I've been following the career of Hazel McCallion for a couple of years now. She's the Mayor of  Mississauga, Ontario, Canada (the 6th largest city in Canada, the 3rd largest city in Ontario). She doesn't campaign, her approval rate is 92% (2009).  Two video interviews with her you may enjoy:  Welcome to Mississauga, Mercer Report 2/26/09, and  89-year old mayor's success story, CNN 6/25/10. During the recession her city is still debt free ($0 debt), but $700 million in reserves have been spent down (they're working on installing  an major transit system). Her city has grown from being a strawberry and apple picking "small town" into a larger industrial and commercial city, with a working plan for the future.

Mississauga could or would never be the model for Pacifica since 60% of our land is now unproductive
"open space" where not even a "dog park" may reside.  That's right, Pacifica is destine to never grow outside its now smaller boundary limitations. And, without a plan to avert the affects of rising oceans, eventually Pacifica will surely drop-off into the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, there are lessons of city council planning, city management, and accountability to be learned. 

Hazel McCallion is the extraordinary exception to the political "get it done" necessity for "term limits". She was elected to Mayor of Mississauga 32 years ago (1978), and one thing she has in common with our existing Pacifica city council is that she intends to die in office of old age.


Hazel McCallion is again running for re-election this Fall. Think she's too old to do the job? Maybe, but her legacy is huge, including  runner-up the amazing cities World Mayor Award (2004).  Her governance philosophy is we run our city like a business, text from 2/1/04.  Greetings 2010 from the Mayor's office for a happy, healthy and prosperous year, that's the promise Mayor Hazel McCallion has made and kept for residents and businesses of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada for 32 years!

Submitted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, June 25, 2010

Closed-door garbage deals raise concern


A little something from today's San Mateo County Times that reminded me of Pacifica. I know Lionel Emde will appreciate this!
Updated: 06/25/2010 05:08:03 PM PDT

Garbage service customers should have some say in negotiations between waste haulers and Teamsters unions instead of being kept in the dark and resigned to just paying for rising costs, a local city council member said Thursday.
"The ratepayers need to be represented here," Menlo Park Council Member Heyward Robinson told the board of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority during its meeting in San Carlos. The authority represents 10 cities, San Mateo County and a sanitary district in managing trash and recycling services on the mid-Peninsula.
Robinson raised his concerns about closed-door sessions between Allied Waste and two Teamsters unions representing clerical and maintenance workers. Allied is in the unusual position of negotiating new salaries and benefits even though it will lose its contract to provide trash service for the authority at the end of the year.
Allied lost a hard-fought battle in 2008 and 2009 to renew its contract when the authority selected South Bay Recycling to operate its processing facility in San Carlos and picked Recology to take over waste-collection services.
Robinson told the board that cities represented by it are raising residents' garbage rates this year after Allied approved "mind-boggling" union contracts in recent years that included hefty wage increases.
In a contract ratified by Allied and the Teamsters in late 2008, truck drivers were given salary increases of between 25 and 27
percent over five years, which will hike their pay to between $37.30 and $39.96 per hour by 2013. While Robinson acknowledged there are other factors in garbage rates, such as fuel expenses, the ongoing negotiations over labor costs — which make up more than 40 percent of Allied's expenses — should include representatives for ratepayers, Recology and South Bay Recycling.
Allied General Manager Evan Boyd said his company would "gladly invite a member of (the authority's) board ... to sit on our side of the table with us."
The labor talks were on the authority's agenda Thursday as an informational item, so the board put off a discussion about them until its attorney could review the issue.
Boyd also announced that Allied and the Teamsters reached a tentative agreement last week on a contract for the maintenance workers, though it still must be ratified by employees. The company is still negotiating with clerical workers.
Union representatives defended the past Teamsters contracts, saying the employees do a difficult job and deserve a decent wage.
"Whatever we were able to negotiate with them was a fair settlement," Bob Morales, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters 350, said after the meeting. "We're here to represent our workers."
Robinson noted Menlo Park raised its garbage rates by 18 percent last year and 28 percent this year. Boyd replied that the sharp hikes are largely due to the fact the city had not raised its rates in past years to keep up with rising operating costs.
After the meeting, Boyd said Allied is trying to "get the most reasonable deal we can possibly get" in its talks with clerical and maintenance workers.
"We're in a very peculiar position. We have no interest in leaving the ratepayer holding the bag," Boyd said. "We have every interest in negotiating the most realistic, fair, equitable deal that we possibly can and to exit this market professionally."
Boyd said that even though Allied's contract on the Peninsula will end in a few months, giving large raises to its employees in San Mateo County would put it in a difficult bargaining position with unions in other Bay Area cities, including Fremont and Daly City.
Authority Executive Director Kevin McCarthy said it remains to be seen whether Recology and South Bay Recycling will accept the existing Teamsters contracts.

Sharon Smoliarz

SF Supervisors Budget Committee Hearings - Update

Golf Alliance Members --

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors' Budget Committee wraps up its public hearings on Monday, June 28, at which time it will likely vote on recommended alterations to the Mayor's proposed 2010-2012 budget to be sent on to the Full Board (which will vote to adopt a budget at the Full Board's July 13 meeting. 

In the Rec & Park Department's two public hearing appearances before the Budget Committee on June 17 and 24, there was not a mention of Sharp Park by anybody, and there were no questions from the Supervisors to the Rec & Park staff as to what amount of money is in the 2010-2012 budget for Sharp, or whether or not Sharp "makes money" or "loses money" for the city.  Nor was there any question about the amount of capital expenses relating to Sharp in the 2010-2012 budget. Sharp Park in fact does not appear as a separate line item in the published 2010-2012 Rec & Park budget; and it is not possible to tell from that document how much money is spent or taken in by the city at the Sharp Park Golf Course.  

At the June 21 public comment session, the Golf Course's Opponents, as expected, made the argument that Sharp Park should be closed in order to make more money available in the 2010-2012 budget for social services, arts, and public parks programs that would otherwise be cut.  However, Golf's Opponents did not introduce any evidence --  and the Supervisors asked for none -- of so-called fiscal "losses" at Sharp.  On the other hand, SF Public Golf Alliance introduced evidence obtained in the course of the 2009 Rec & Park Department Sharp Park public hearings that Sharp Park Golf Course brings in more money to the Department than it costs to operate.  We also pointed out that the proposed 2010-2012 budget contains no capital expense line items (such a sea wall repair, environmental habitat restoration, etc) attributable to the golf course.  So there would be no fiscal savings to the city from closing the golf course.

Keep an eye on the Supervisors' Budget Committee's hearing Monday, June 28, beginning at 10 a.m.
It will be live-televised on SFGovTV:



Keep the Faith.
-- Richard Harris
   San Francisco Public Golf Alliance
   415-392-5431, ext. 203 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

San Mateo County adopts $1.7B budget

June 24, 2010, 03:15 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

County supervisors adopted a nearly $1.7 billion budget yesterday after adding back a half-million dollars to maintain food preparation at a juvenile camp, reimburse welfare reductions and restore funding for a Daly City nonprofit.

The Board of Supervisors may give the Health System up to $10 million before the final budget adoption in September but first wants to see a list of critical services.

The board initially considered using $558,300 to rehire four deputy probation officers but opted to wait until the fall when the state budget is clearer.

“The reality is, come September, we’re probably going to have to do more eliminations,” said Supervisor Adrienne Tissier.

Supervisor Carole Groom disagreed, calling it “a good use of our money.”

The board also shied away from cutting $772,000 for homework centers and the Jobs for Youth program. They will be funded in part with $270,000 from non-departmental reserves and $195,000 from capital projects.

The final budget, hammered out after three days of hearings by department heads, includes a general fund $17 million larger than last year despite hefty cuts across departments that led to trimmed services and layoffs. The budget was balanced with the $36 million in program reductions but also $90 million in reserves.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s a budget any of us relish adopting,” said Board President Rich Gordon.

The county is also trying to eliminate a structural deficit which could climb to $150 million within five years without action.

Employee expenses are behind the 1.5 percent budget hike and department after department referenced the cost of personnel benefits and retirement —  $3.5 million in salary increases and $46 million in benefits increases collectively.

Read more...

Posted by Steve Sinai

The problem with being anonymous?

Comments may be valuable even when an individual is not identified, but when there are multiple comments from several individuals who refer to themselves as "Anonymous" the overlap becomes a confusing total "identity".  

If for some reason you choose to remain in the shadows rather than use your given name, why not visit www.google.com and change or create a gmail identity to distinguish yourself from others?  With an existing account at try changing your "nick name" for the specific comment post in which you wish to remain in the shadows.  Otherwise, this is Pacifica, be proud enough of what you have to say to use your own name.  Just a suggestion. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

6-28-2010 Pacifica City Council Meeting Agenda


http://www.cityofpacifica.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3882

Submitted by Jim Alex

Pacifica School District No-Nit Policy


The Pacifica School District voted last night to amend our No-Nit (no parasitic lice) Policy to state that children with nits (eggs) will be allowed to remain in the classroom. 

Three board members favored and voted for the new policy: Karen Ervin, Cynthia Kaufman and Eileen Manning-Villar. 

Joan Weideman was very level headed as was Mike O'Neill about their support of the current policy that keeps kids with lice and nits at home until they're ready to come back to the classroom. 

This is a huge step backwards for Pacifica Schools. 

Erin Macias

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/pacificaschoolsnitpolicy/

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So. Cal. city of Maywood to lay off all city employees, dismantle Police Department


The city of Maywood will lay off all city employees and begin contracting police services with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department effective July 1, officials said.

In addition to contracting with the Sheriff's Department, the Maywood City Council voted unanimously Monday night to lay off an estimated 100 employees and contract with neighboring Bell, which will handle other city services such as finance, records management, parks and recreation, street maintenance and others. Maywood will be billed about $50,833 monthly, which officials said will save $164,375 annually.

"We will become 100% a contracted city," said Angela Spaccia, Maywood's interim city manager.

Deputies from the East Los Angeles Sheriff's Station will begin patrolling the 1.2-square-mile city by the end of the month, said Capt. Bruce Fogarty of the Sheriff's Contract Law Enforcement Bureau. The annual cost of providing those services for the small city is estimated at $3.6 million, Fogarty said.

Read more...


Submitted by Jim Alex

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our friends at the Center of Biological Diversity


Just think if they are able to extort some $ from this pile of money. Scary thought!

Jim Wagner



Center for Biological Diversity


Dear Jeanine,

Center sues BP for
$19 billion water-pollution fine.
Thanks for being a Center for Biological Diversity supporter.

Since the Gulf of Mexico crisis is on everyone's minds these tragic weeks, I want to give you a quick update on our latest and biggest action to date to hold BP accountable for its crimes.

Last Friday in a federal court in New Orleans, we sued BP seeking the largest environmental fine in U.S. history: $19 billion.

That's the maximum penalty per barrel under the Clean Water Act, and we intend to make it stick so that BP is held accountable to the full extent of the law for polluting our ocean and coasts.

BP has spilled more than 100 million gallons so far -- and will spill many more before the broken pipeline is fixed. At $4,300 per barrel, we estimate the final fine will be about $19 billion. It could be larger if efforts to drill the relief wells and curb the catastrophic oil gushers don't work.

The penalties will be paid to the U.S. Treasury and will be available for Gulf Coast restoration efforts.

Our suit also seeks a full accounting from BP of how much oil is gushing into the Gulf each day and what toxic pollutants are mixed in with the oil, because in addition to oil, the spill is also leaking hazardous chemicals including benzene, arsenic and naphthalene.

These toxins are a threat to cleanup crews, Gulf residents and wildlife, yet BP has never divulged how much and what kinds they are.

I'll keep you updated on our progress on this and on our other actions to save the Gulf and its wildlife.

Thanks again for following the Center's work and caring about the Gulf, its wildlife and its people.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director
Center for Biological Diversity
P.S. For the latest on the Gulf Disaster and the Center's actions, check out our website: www.biologicaldiversity.org/gulf_disaster.


Oiled brown pelican photo by Jordan Macha/Louisiana Sierra Club.
This message was sent to hamack@sbcglobal.net.
When donating online to the Center for Biological Diversity, always confirm that the donation page is located at DemocracyinAction.org or BiologicalDiversity.org.

Let us know if you'd like to change your email list preferences or stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us.


Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702
1-866-357-3349

San Mateo County announces 2010-11 civil grand jury members


San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Joseph Bergeron announced this week that the following people will serve on the 2010-11 civil grand jury:

• Kevin Arnold
• Raymond Basso
Charles Caldwell
• Sherri Camps
• Carol Conroy
• Susan Dirksen
• Gayle Hardt
• Frank Hedley
Laura Hill
• Gary Jose
• Anoush Kelegian
• Mary Lemmon
• Coleen Mackin
• Bruce MacMillan
• Marianne Petroni
• Eric Shapira
David Smith
• David Vallerga

The term of the 2010-11 San Mateo County civil grand jury will be from July 1 through June 30, 2011.
 
Submitted by Jim Wagner

Monday, June 21, 2010

Don't fergit! Highway 1 widening meeting Tuesday, June 22 @ 6 PM


The "No Development" crowd is doing everything they can to stall and block this project. Please attend to learn what's going on, and listen to all the excuses that will be given for why a Highway 1 traffic fix should not proceed.

State Route 1/Calera Parkway Project
Pacifica, California
Route 1 between Fassler Avenue and Reina Del Mar Avenue

Public Information Meeting Materials
At the request of the public, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, the City of Pacifica and the California Department of Transportation will hold a public information meeting:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 – 6:00 p.m.
Pacifica City Council Chambers, 2212 Beach Blvd.

The meeting is a follow up to the environmental scoping meeting held March 3, 2010. The purpose of the meeting is to provide additional information about the concepts studied during project development.
To allow additional time for the public to comment, the deadline to submit comments for the environmental scoping process has been extended to Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. The public may provide comments by calling (650) 508-6283 (TTY (650) 508-6448) or e-mailing smcta_feedback@smcta.com. Written comments also may be submitted to Mr. Joseph M. Hurley, Director Transportation Authority Program P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070-1306.
The following materials are on the website and also will be available at the public information meeting:
Information Update Report: provides a brief background and history of the project. (PDF, 31KB)

Preliminary Concepts Matrix: a list of the concepts considered in table format. The table contains a brief description of each concept, a summary of the concept’s feasibility and effectiveness, and whether or not the concept will be considered for further study. (PDF, 83KB)

Preliminary/Draft Drawings: for each of the concepts studied, where appropriate. The development of a concept stopped as soon as it was determined that it was not feasible. As a result, some earlier concepts are not as advanced as later concepts.
 

Coastsider story on meeting, including map of proposed highway widening...














Posted by Steve Sinai

Tea Party Profile Statistics

Graphic statistics, from USA Today 6/10 Political
Follow-up to an article posted by Steve Sinai on this blog "SM Times Tea Party 6/19/10"




Learn to speak to people from the Tea Party.

Newsweek article 2/8/10, written by a journalist who claims to be conservative, did he miss something? "Black Helicopters Over Nashville".

Posted by Kathy Meeh
 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wavelength going to the dogs


On Monday, June 21st, at 6:30 PM on PCT 26, Ian Butler's Wavelength will be going to the dogs. Beverly Kingsbury, president of POOCH, August Murphy, head of PB&R, and Dyer Crouch from the Pacifica Shorebird Alliance discuss how to best balance the needs of dogs, people and birds. It is the last new show before the summer break so check it out!

Simulcast at: www.PCT26.com


Submitted by Ian Butler

Fiscal emergency Half Moon Bay style


The Half Moon Bay City Council declared a fiscal emergency on Tuesday night, laying the tracks for a possible sales tax measure on the November ballot.  Approved unanimously by the City Council, the fiscal emergency status grants the city extra flexibility to balance the budget. According to state Proposition 218 guidelines, a city under a financial emergency can move forward with a tax increase with a simple majority of voter support. Under other circumstances, a tax measure would require a difficult two-thirds “supermajority.”

The financial red flag came as elected officials approved the city’s budget for next year. The new budget draws on approximately $504,000 from the city’s general fund reserves.
The City Council took a special vote to grant a one-time exemption to longstanding reserve policy, which normally requires Half Moon Bay to save 30 percent of its revenues for a rainy day.  ......The city’s proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase is estimated to generate an additional $700,000 in annual revenues.  Full article 6/16/2010, HMB Review newspaper.

Posted by Kathy Meeh.

Sharp Park Golf - profitable, popular, and subsidizing San Francisco salaries and services.

As indicated in a recent post, the Tucson based Center for Biological Diversity, and the Wild Equity Institute (founded by ex-CBD staff attorney Brent Plater), are actively engaged in a disinformation campaign about the finances, popularity, and historical importance of the landmark Sharp Park golf course. This is apparently an effort to con the people of San Francisco into giving away 400 acres of valuable coastal park land that was a gift to the people of San Francisco.

This post is an attempt to explain the financial reality of Sharp Park Golf in terms that even a journalist might understand.

The Arithmetic Explanation
This is a simple math problem. If you can do 3rd grade arithmetic, you can understand that green fees from Sharp Park subsidize San Francisco government salaries and services and The City is not subsidizing the course as claimed by those who would destroy the course.

In round numbers, Sharp Park operational revenues exceed expenses by about $100,000. The City of San Francisco charges Sharp Park $200,000 in overhead charges that are used to fund non-golf related SF government salaries and services. On an accounting basis, Sharp Park then looks like it is suffering a $100,000 loss. But, if Sharp Park was to disappear, the $200,000 in overhead expenses would still exist in San Francisco and the shortfall from Sharp Park would have to be made up by higher taxes or cutting salaries and services. It is pretty simple really.

But some people (see Destroy Sharp Park Golf Advocates) do not trust arithmetic. So as a supplement - I offer a couple of other explanations.

Phil Ginsburg's Explanation
Phil Ginsburg is the new Director of San Francisco's Recreation and Parks Department. Phil Ginsburg explains it to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi during the Audit and Oversight Committee meeting chaired by the Supervisor on 12/16/09:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

San Mateo County Times - The Insider: Tea party fizzles on Election Day


The tea party movement had an impressive showing in San Mateo back in April, when several hundred people gathered outside Hillsdale Shopping Center to protest what they view as President Barack Obama's radical economic and health care policies.

But the turnout at the Tax Day rally didn't translate into success on Election Day. As the Times' John Horgan predicted June 2, there was no conservative uprising June 8 in the gubernatorial primary election.

Tea party-endorsed candidates for high-profile positions generally fared worse in San Mateo County than they did statewide, according to results compiled by the California secretary of state.

The Republican primary election to compete against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November makes for interesting study.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who staked out a position well to the right of moderate Republican Tom Campbell, won the primary with 56.6 percent of the vote statewide. Campbell came in second with 21.3 percent, and tea party darling Chuck DeVore, a state Assemblyman from Irvine, placed third with 19.5 percent.

In San Mateo County, Campbell doubled his statewide average, pulling in 43.2 percent of the vote, meaning fewer votes for Fiorina, who tallied just 39.5 percent. DeVore received 15.4 percent.

In the conservative stronghold of Orange County, by contrast, Campbell got just 17.4 percent of the vote, while DeVore received 27.7 percent and Fiorina got 53.1 percent.

Now, to some extent, San Mateo County voters may have liked Campbell because they're familiar with him, even though the former congressman's roots are really further down the Peninsula in Santa Clara County. But are voters any less familiar with Fiorina, who made countless headlines during her six years at the head of Palo Alto-based HP?

Read more...

Posted by Steve Sinai 

Major progress on Devil's Slide tunnel

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Even on the most idyllic sunny day on the San Mateo County coast, it's chilly, dark, dusty, muddy and noisy deep inside San Pedro Mountain, where construction crews are digging twin tunnels to carry traffic around Devil's Slide.

But despite the gloomy atmosphere, workers are making major progress on the $325 million tunnel project, which includes a pair of arched bridges and an operations center. The buildings and the bridges are finished, and the tunnel diggers are expected to bust through the north end of the mountain by this fall. A little more than a year later, the finished tunnel should open to traffic.

No one will be happier than residents of the coastal communities who depend on that scenic but unstable stretch of Highway 1.

The Devil's Slide tunnel will be California's first highway tunnel built since 1964, when the third bore of the East Bay's Caldecott Tunnel opened. Tunneling is dirty and dangerous work, and progress is slow. Workers wear not only the usual hardhats, reflective vests and other construction safety gear, they also carry flashlights or headlamps, respirators and emergency "self rescue kits" that provide oxygen in the event of an accident like a gas leak, collapse, fire or power failure.

Posted by Steve Sinai

Happy Father's Day Dads!



June 20, 2010 - Father's Day in the United States is a 100 year tradition this year.


The idea of Father’s Day was conceived by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first Father’s Day celebration—June 19, 1910, proclaimed by Spokane’s mayor because it was the month of William Smart’s birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

Census bureau and other statistics
66.3 million estimated number of fathers in the United States today.
26.4 million fathers with children under 18 and wives in a family setting.
 2.3 million single fathers living with their children, 18%. 
4.6 million fathers provide child support, and 84% of all child-support providers are men, who provide median payments of $3,600 annually.
143,000 "stay-at-home" dads (married fathers with children under 15 years old) have remained outside the labor force more than one year primarily to care for the family while their wives work outside the home.
32% of fathers who regularly worked evening or night shifts and were the primary source of care for their preschoolers during their children’s mother’s working hours.
73 % of Americans plan to celebrate or acknowledge Father’s Day.
102 million number of Father’s Day cards expected to be given this year in the United States, making Father’s Day the fifth-largest card-sending occasion. (Source: Hallmark research), 50% of  Father’s Day cards are purchased by sons or daughters, 20% by wives for husbands, the remaining cards are bought for grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles and "someone special." 

Note: the above article is from Live Science-Father's Day, a link from Father's Day Turns 100, how did it begin?  "Father's Day Turns 100" (the source article) is dated 6/18/2010, and although Live Science.com is generally reliable, the link statistics (above) were not dated, not fully referenced, therefore possibly an indicator only.  Meantime, I sent Live Science an email to that affect, and should they respond their email will be added to comments.      

Other References
Various traditions, dates celebrated, history around the world (scroll down), Sometimes Wikipedia is the best source.
The tradition of celebrating a "father's day" may date back thousands of years (source quick, but not referenced).  Celebrating fathers, a long tradition.

Photograph source above from Father's Day Celebration.
USA Today newspaper article 6/16/2010 Dad's not living with children find ways to be involved.

Government quick reference:  Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Posted by Kathy Meeh 


Friday, June 18, 2010

San Francisco Public Golf Alliance Members

Here is the procedure for  speakers on MONDAY, JUNE 21 PUBLIC BUDGET HEARING AT SUPERVISORS BUDGET COMMITTEE

WHERE:  SF CITY HALL, ROOM 250 (Supervisors' Legislative Chambers, at top of grand staircase)
WHEN:  MONDAY, JUNE 21, STARTING 4:00 PM

This will be a very long meeting.  Speakers will be limited to one minute.

When you arrive, the Budget Committee Staff will, beginning at 3:30 p.m, hand-out "Batch Cards," which will tell you when you can come back to speak.  (Example:  "A" batch people will speak between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m., etc.)  You can come at any time, and will be given your "Batch Card," which will tell you when to come back to speak.  SF Public Golf Alliance will have someone outside the chambers, with a "Save Sharp Park" hat, to tell you what's going on (and to collect your letters, if you can't stay). 

A similar public testimony meeting on June 15 went on for about six hours.

We hope that you will not be daunted by this.  But if this will be too much trouble for you, PLEASE write a short one-page letter, identifying yourself and telling YOUR PERSONAL REASONS for wanting to Save Sharp Park Golf Course.  The basic form of the letter is below.

Put your name and address and phone number at the top of the page, date it, sign your name at the bottom, and send it to Richard Harris, at the e-mail/fax address, below.

We will deliver it to the Supervisors, telling them that you wanted to attend the meeting, but were unable to.
Thank you.
-- Richard Harris
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance
415-392-5431, ext. 203
392-1978 FAX
richard@erskinetulley.com


FORM OF LETTER:
[Your name
  Address
  Phone #]
June 21, 2010
Mayor Gavin Newsom
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
David Chiu, President
City Hall
One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl.
San Francisco, CA. 94102


SAVE SHARP PARK GOLF COURSE

Dear Mayor Newsom and Supervisors,
        I am a San Francisco resident, writing to urge you to keep the 18-hole Sharp Park Golf Course open.
        [give your personal reasons:  Senior, Retired, Junior,
         play golf with wife, children, family, friends; Diversity,
         Health, Beauty, 80-year-old tradition, Alister MacKenzie,
        "poor man's Pebble Beach", environmental harmony, or whatever]
                                        Yours Truly

Submitted by Richard Harris

***REMINDER**** STATE SENATOR LELAND YEE ADDRESSES STATE BUDGET DEFICIT CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS AT PACIFICA DEMOCRATS ON SATURDAY, JUNE 19TH


On Saturday, June 19th, State Budget deficit causes and potential solutions, along with information on key legislation, will be the main topics of discussion when State Senator Leland Yee, PH.D. speaks at the Pacifica Democrats 9:30a.m.-11:30 a.m. monthly breakfast meeting, being held in the rear banquet room of the Sharp Park Golf Course Restaurant, Francisco and Sharp Park Blvds in Pacifica. 
Dr. Yee, representing District 8, which includes San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, is the first Chinese American ever elected to the California State Senate and the first Asian American elected to the Legislature's upper house in forty years. After serving four years in the California State Assembly, he was elected to the State Senate in November 2006, garnering over 78% of the vote - the largest percentage for any Democratic candidate with a Republican challenger.

During his tenure in the Legislature, Senator Yee has fought for children, mental health services, working families, open government, consumer protection, the environment, and civil rights. He has consistently voted against budget cuts to education, social services, and health care.

Prior to serving in the Legislature, Dr. Yee spent eight years in the San Francisco Unififed School District Board of Education, where he fought to streamline bureacracy, direct funds towards higher standards in core curriculum, update educational materials, reduce class sizes, and increase public access to school services. In 1996, Dr. Yee was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. As Chair of the Finance Committee, he championed fiscal responsibility and accountability and established the largest "Rainy Day" budget reserve in San Francisco's history.

Since 2003, Dr. Yee has one of the best track records in getting his bills passed and signed into law. In fact, he has successfully passed 110 pieces of legislation, of which 82 have been chaptered into law.

In 2009, Senator Yee had 9 bills chaptered into law. Most notably, SB 13 restores $16.3 million for 94 domestic violence shelters and centers throughout California. SB 340 protects consumers by requiring businesses to clearly and conspicuouslly enumerate all automatic renewal offer terms and obtain customers affirmative consent. SB 447 helps protect children from sexual predators and other violent criminals by reforming the criminal background check law at youth organizations. SB 786 protects the right of individuals to enforce open government laws without fear of a significant financial burden and ensures that public entities act with greater transparency. SCR 48 makes California the first state to officially declare October as Filipino American History Month.

Three keys pieces of key legislation that Yee also plans on covering at the the Pacifica Democrats meeting, in addition to the State Budget issues, are: SB 662, SB 920 and SB 840.

Senate Bill 662 will increase the existing marriage license fee that goes to domestic violence shelters by $10, which would increase the collection from $23 to $33. The fee hasn't been increased since 1993 so the funding of the shelters has not kept up with the cost of living increases, nor with the demand for these life saving services.

SB 920 requires any telephone corporation or third party telephone book vendor to allow a telephone customer to opt-out of receiving a phone book. According to the Product Stewardship Institute, telephone books represent significant tonnage in the waste stream (660,000 tons per year). According to the California Department of Resources Recovery and Recycling, phone books and directories comprised an estimated 24,149 tons of the total disposaed waste stream in 2008.

SB 840 would update the Sherrie Iverson Child Victim Protection Act in the light of the alleged rape in Richmond, CA. This bill requires, with specified exceptions, any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the commission of either a murder, rape or a lewd or lascivious act committed on a child under the age of 18 years to notify a peace officer by telephone or by any other means. The failure to notify, as required, would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $1,500 or imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months, or both.

All Pacifica Democrat meetings are open to the General Public. One neither needs to be a a member of the club, nor a Democrat to attend. A full breakfast is offered for $12; Continental Breakfast for $6; Coffee for $3. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. Seating is between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. RSVP's are requested. To RSVP please contact Barbara Arietta, President, at 415-246-0775 or email: barietta@hotmail.com .