Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Letter to the Editor


I am writing in support of Michael O'Neill for the open, two-year seat on the Pacifica City Council. I had the pleasure of serving on the Pacifica School Board for six years with Mike. During that time, the majority of the school reconstruction program occurred, we made very difficult budget reductions, concluded multiple successful union contract negotiations and oversaw critical administration changes, all of which enhanced the school district in the face of adversity. Mike was a strong leader during this entire period, with many creative ideas. He was tireless in keeping our perspective on delivery of services to the children of Pacifica. He has continued with these efforts on the school board in the intervening years. If folks are looking for a proven public service veteran, one who will transfer success from years of experience on the school board to the city council, please strongly consider voting for Michael O'Neill.

Avram Frankel

Sharp Park

Letter to the Editor


I am supporting Mike O'Neill for the two-year Pacifica City Council seat because he has the leadership experience and common sense to move Pacifica forward. Mike has served 14 years on the Pacifica School District Board of Trustees, and during that time had to make some very tough decisions in response to dramatic state funding cuts to education. Mike approaches fiscal matters with a long-term view, recognizing that decisions made today will impact students and teachers long into the future. Mike is a constant source of good ideas and alternate solutions, such as the ones that brought substantial additional revenue to the schools from filming and leasing contracts. With his background in real estate and banking, and nearly 20 years of successful public service as a past president of the chamber of commerce, chairman of the planning commission, and 14 years as a Pacifica School District board trustee -- serving three times as president of the board -- Mike O'Neill has the knowledge, skills and abilities to bring positive leadership to the city of Pacifica.

Sue Beckmeyer,

Linda Mar

Spooky Happy Halloween bay area locations

There are many mysteries surrounding San Jose's Winchester Mystery House. Switchback staircases descending seven steps before rising eleven, many windows with 13 panes, and secret passageways. Another, does the eccentric woman who built the home over a century ago, Mrs. Sarah Winchester, still roam its halls?  Photo: Lance Iversen, The Chronicle / SF
   17 spooky location photos, with comments.
San Francisco Chronicle, 10/27/12, "Spooky spots in the Bay Area"   

Sarah Winchester statue
Right, photograph 3 of 17. "There are many mysteries surrounding San Jose's Winchester Mystery House. Switchback staircases descending seven steps before rising eleven, many windows with 13 panes, and secret passageways. Another, does the eccentric woman who built the home over a century ago, Mrs. Sarah Winchester, still roam its halls?  Photo: Lance Iversen, The Chronicle / SF."   

Yes, that's a door to nowhere

Oops, end of the road
Related - Winchester mystery house.  "Mrs. Winchester passes away."  "At the time of her death, the unrelenting construction had rambled over six acres. The Sprawling mansion contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. Carpenters even left nails half driven when they learned of Mrs. Winchester’s death.

According to the provisions of her will, Mrs. Winchester’s personal property, including the furnishings, household goods, pictures, jewelry, and papers were left to her niece, Mrs. Marian Merriman Marriott, who promptly had the furnishings auctioned off. It is said to have required six trucks working six weeks to cart the furnishings away! The mansion and farm were not mentioned specifically in the will. They became part of Mrs. Winchester’s estate and were sold by her trustees, the Union Trust Company of San Francisco."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Extremism in America, conspiracies and polarization

The following article is a Halloween special for sure, but extreme interests do not serve the reasonable interests of the people.  And some of us "reasonable people" long for the days when moderate Republicans and Democrats were talking to each other, compromising, and moving legislation forward.

Smashing American terrorists
San Mateo County Times, Joshua Melvin, 10/26/12. "Peninsula explosive suspect has extremist ties, expert says."

BRISBANE -- There's a number of reasons the cache of 145 pounds of explosives discovered in a Brisbane home in early October were troubling -- one of them is the background of the man police say put them there.

William Harrell, 46, has links to extreme, anti-government ideas and movements, including the infamous sovereign citizens whose adherents have killed six law enforcement officers since 2000, according to an expert on the group and Harrell's ex-girlfriend.  Police, though, have declined to directly associate him with any extremist groups. 

....  According to records, Harrell made a Uniform Commercial Code filing in Kentucky which lists him as a debtor to himself. J.J. MacNab said sovereigns make these obscure filings because they believe it allows them to lay claim to a secret government bank account that belongs to them. 

MacNab said it's hokum, but added that is no indication sovereigns are dummies or wackos. She has been studying them since the 1990s and wrote a publication on sovereigns for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremists.  "Something has happened in their lives that turned off a common sense switch," said MacNab. "They are not stupid or pathetic, naïve or poor."
Moderate together is better
Get defused
....  MacNab estimated in 2010 there were at least 100,000 sovereigns across the country. The FBI says the decades-old movement is a loose network of individuals with no established leadership.

Sovereigns manifest their beliefs in a variety of ways including making their own license plates, driver's licenses, filing frivolous lawsuits or refusing to pay taxes. When confronted on their law breaking, some sovereigns have turned violent.  Read article.  

Related Reports - The Anti-Defamation League, civil rights/human relations agency "Extremism in America", Sovereign Citizen Movement.  And, "Rage grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies",   Alex Jones, the conspiracy king." 

Related articleThe Times - Picayune, greater New Orleans, 8/17/12, includes embedded video.  

Related video - Conspiracy rants by Alex Jones, and the Alex Jones website..  

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Monday, October 29, 2012

College of San Mateo TV station is cancelled, and so far bids are rejected

The Daily Journal (San Mateo), Staff, 10/26/12.  "College district rejects television station bids."

Explore CSM
  Community college, a valuable education asset
...  "After struggling for years to eliminate the $1 million operating deficit for KCSM-TV, the San Mateo County Community College District decided to sell the station late last year. Six bids were received by Feb. 14. Negotiations with the two responsive highest were not successful. As a result, the board rejected all bids Wednesday. A study session on next steps is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 14.

....  KCSM-TV began operating in 1964 at its current location at the College of San Mateo. The non-commercial station broadcasts a variety of programs including television courses, the numbers for which have dropped in recent years in favor of online classes. Broadcasting, as a program, was on hiatus for a couple of years but returned more than a year ago with all new digital gear.
KCSM-TV To Be Sold

The challenge for elected officials has been the budget strain. In recent years, millions in cuts have been made. Programs with low enrollment were put on hiatus or discontinued and the board adopted a “core values” focus. As a result, programs not addressing the basic needs of students need to be self-funded, per the district’s direction. KCSM-TV is one of the programs which fell into this category."   Read more.

Reference College of San Mateo.

Comment from the "KCSM-TV to be sold" link.  "Core Values statement:  With extremely tight resources, the Board has decreed that the Colleges must concentrate on serving transfer and career/technical students, as well as basic skills students who are preparing for college-level work."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

CA election Propositions, the best investment money may buy

San Francisco Chronicle/Philip Matier and Andrew Ross, Columnists, 10/27/12. "Campaign finances getting personal."

My campaign investment
"Special-interest money is getting downright personal in this year's state election, with four mega-millionaires tossing a combined $125 million into the pot - mostly on initiatives they put on the ballot themselves.

Of the big hitters, nobody - but nobody - beats the Mungers. Molly Munger and her half brother, Charles Munger Jr. - the children of Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Charles Munger - have pumped more than $80 million into the Nov. 6 election. The biggest hitter is Molly, who has spent $44.1 million of her own money on qualifying and trying to pass Proposition 38, which would raise the state income tax to scoop up more money for schools.  But even with all that cash, the measure appears to be failing.

Just saying...
Charles Jr., a Stanford physicist with a libertarian bent, has contributed $36 million to a committee with the dual aim of defeating a competing tax measure by Gov. Jerry Brown and passing Proposition 32, which would bar unions from using members' dues for politics. Combined, the Mungers have outspent even the heavyweight California Teachers Association by more than 2-to-1.

And they aren't the only gazillionaires throwing their wallets around. Money manager and Stanford trustee Thomas Steyer has spent $29 million, with most of it going into Proposition 39 to close a corporate tax loophole in hopes of netting the state $1 billion a year. Then there's Mercury Insurance magnate George Joseph, who has forked over $16.4 million in an effort to rewrite the state's auto insurance rules, Proposition 33."  Read article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Half Moon Bay Candidates Forum announcement.

You almost look like Pacifica
Half Moon Bay Review, author unknown, 10/27/12. "Chamber of Commerce to put on Candidate Forum."  
Or, what do you think?

"The Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau, in cooperation with the League of Women Voters, is putting on a Candidates Forum for Half Moon Bay City Council seats on Tuesday, October 30, 2012. It will be held from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the Ted Adcock Community Center. All are invited to attend."   

Informational.  Nine (9) Guidelines for holding such a forum are listed. Read article if interested.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Candidate Questionnaire: What is your “Business Plan” for Pacifica?

The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce submitted 12 questions to each of the candidates for Pacifica City Council. Every week we will be posting two questions, and the answers from each of the candidates.

Question 12: What is your "Business Plan" for Pacifica?

Rich Campbell - 2 Year Seat

More commercial development, more residential remodels, and promotion of our tourist industry.

Gary Mondfrans - 2 Year Seat

Essentially that Pacifica must be run more like a business, with operations streamlined and consolidated to reduce overhead. Efficiently may be realized by exploring some joint use of material, resources and or equipment with the Coastside County Water District. That there be projects goals and revenues forecast for 5 and 10 year periods and that there be adequate reserves for contingencies.

All aspects of city government must be open to exploration and review and those departments which hamper a more progressive approach must learn new ways to do this in order to become more efficient and responsive to the changing needs when called upon to progress and evolve to meet the needs required of them.

Mike O'Neill - 2 Year Seat

My goal is progress. My objectives are to: 

1)  Stabilize fiscal budgeting so that we can move forward we need to look at both revenue and expenses.
a. I would look at our infrastructure and try to begin an improvement of our infrastructure. A lot of our problems are from deferred outlays that should have been done. Just looking at the pier, sewer laterals, sewage treatment plant, and our streets are all examples of nobody minding the store.

2)  Look at what is making Pacifica lower on the list for businesses to consider us as a place to invest. 
a. I would then fix the zoning, planning, and attitude that has given Pacifica the reputation it has among both residents and non residents.

3)  Honest transparent government.
a. Easy to understand budget process that is available
b. Minimize closed session items
c. Be open to talking to anybody and respond back to people
d. Clear goals and objectives with public input
Establish protocol for public meetings which are both an opportunity to get input as well as educate the e. citizens.

4) Hire an Economic Development Director and an assistant
a. Clear direction as to what is needed and wanted
b. Establish timeline and review
c. In the beginning on the council agenda have a report on activities and achievements that will have measured result. This would be done at least monthly. Bimonthly in the beginning
d. Have accountability and responsibility for results

Be an open accessible council person to all voices in the community including residents, businesses, employees, and potential investors in Pacifica. In my fourteen years on the Pacifica School Board I have always returned a phone call or e mail from a constituent.

Victor Spano - 2 Year Seat

I understand that Pacifica will be developing an Economic Development Strategy. Typical Economic Development Strategies include: a defined timed plan for Economic Growth and Job Creation. The plan could identify all vacant land and current land uses, promote tourism, and seek to attract selected types of businesses to the City. It could set benchmarks for progress, and specify types of development the City would like to see for various vacant sites. I would expect a full public vetting of any Economic Development Strategy and the process itself to be controversial. A critical component, either before, or as part of the strategy is to hire an Economic Development Manager who is nearly an "Assistant City Manager Level", or if the capacity to do that is not possible, hire an Economic Development Specialist or even part-time position that performs some Economic Development Tasks because now there is no one other than City Manager or Planning Staff that might provide some information or assistance to would-be entrepreneurs. Following are a few areas that I think an Economic Development Strategy, or in other words, "business plan" should cover:

We need to fill our 45-50 storefronts. The challenge is vast, and the solutions are many. Changing negative perceptions is a formidable challenge. Marketing Pacifica through the "International Council of Shopping Centers", "International Franchising Association" and other trade organizations is a start. I would propose publicizing Pacifica in the San Francisco Business Times as once again "Open for Business". Reaching out to our local "Serial Entrepreneurs" to open up one more business, our retired entrepreneurs, former entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs from other cities are things that an Economic Development Manager, Economic Development Committee members, or even a Council Member can do on a regular basis. Once we have a healthy commercial vacancy rate again, it will be possible to expand the retail space stock. I believe we should seek to attract "Specialty / Destination" retailers here. The Log Shop was a great example of a "Specialty / Destination" store. I would seek out retailers who specialized in Wedding, Baby, Bicycles, Motorcycles, New or Used Vehicles...Jewelry, Fine Art...where each transaction is $100.00 or more. I would incent such businesses to locate here with reduced building permit fees for vacant stores being re-occupied, and a very partial rebate of Sales Taxes, based on City of Dublin program. (see link: We should do things like structure the payment of building permit fees over time, so that they are not all "up front", where someone is occupying an empty space. As a member of the Council, I would act as a "Salesperson" for Pacifica, as all our council-people should do.

We need to develop vacant and underutilized sites. Other than those on the market as seen on the site I maintain, "", is there an inventory of vacant land? If not, one should be done. I want to see development at the Quarry which does not inundate Highway 1, and complements the existing Rockaway Beach commercial neighborhood, is fully environmentally vetted, and in the best interest of all Pacificans. I would like to see, and would encourage, new motels or hotels in the Quarry.

The City could potentially be more of a "partner" in co-marketing the Quarry. Some of our Shopping Centers, such as Eureka Square have the potential for adding housing. We should support new investment in our commercial properties. Market Beach Blvd. I suggest marketing the Corp. Yard, as it was once a prime retail site that accommodated Ed Cordero Chevrolet for many years. We can relocate the Corp Yard to one of the closed school sites or elsewhere in the City. These are all actions that could be defined by the Economic Development Strategy. 

Economic Development Committee is currently working on: a "Pacifica Small Business Incubator and Workspace", which may fill more than one vacant storefront. This is being designed to be self-sustaining, with no financial contribution from the City of Pacifica. Ideally, we would find a few Pacifica Home Based Service / Retail Businesses who want to grow on a fast-track. A goal or requirement could be that in one year into these businesses that can expand to occupy vacant stores and employ Pacificans. Within the Incubator, they would pay a nominal rent or no rent at all, which would include some services. Linda Mar Shopping Center as a possible location for the Incubator as we recently learned about the KIMCO "KEYS" program (, which provides one year free rent and mentoring to start-up businesses. We want to get some assistance from our banks on this, First National Bank is the first one we approached, and they support the idea of making loan or grant to help with equipment and fixtures and technical assistance.... Our next step is to then try to sell this concept to KIMCO as a way to super-charge their "KEYS" program here in Pacifica. Between KIMCO's mentoring, the "technical assistance" we could recruit from experienced Pacifica entrepreneurs, our Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Administration Development Center and the Service Corps of Retired Executives, our micro-entrepreneurs would gain the experience, wherewithal and resources to occupy vacant stores in Pacifica. The "Workspace" element of this, is to provide more "high tech" entrepreneurs with places to "co-work". "Co-Working" is a growing trend where diverse solo entrepreneurs.....the people who you see at Starbucks working on their laptops.... can work and have access to business services, such as conference room, kitchen, reception. NextSpace was suggested to the ED Committee by a resident who had been to one of their facilities. We hope to create an environment like this. The entrepreneurs may some day move into office space of their own. We have tried to interest NextSpace in opening here in Pacifica. Perhaps our Pacifica Facility could welcome their members and derive an income stream using our facility once we get it off the ground. I believe this idea, if properly supported and implemented will be a pipeline of new businesses, concepts and tenant for our existing retail and office space.

We need retain the businesses we have. The City needs to perform a bi-annual business health survey to identify troubled businesses and facilitate technical assistance to retain the jobs, products and services that they provide.

Finally, we have a diverse collection of Visitor Serving businesses: our hotels, restaurants, and others, like Silicon Segway, which are attractions unto themselves. We need to continue to strengthen this area of our Economy. The Chamber's Tourism Committee, of which I am a member, has been discussing ways to increase visits and spending in Pacifica. Making Pacifica a wedding destination, increasing the number of sporting events, film crews, branding, social marketing, are all little actions that can add up.

Susan Vellone - 4 Year Seat

Learning to live within our means. Must be paramount to any future business plans for Pacifica. Finances must be controlled before any adequate planning can possibly take place.

Mary Ann Nihart - 4 Year Seat

Interesting question. Developing a “business plan” to market Pacifica for tourism, new buildings on our vacant lots, and new businesses would make Pacifica, itself, the product. This is an important plan to develop and involves answers I discussed earlier, such as streamlining the planning office and the work begun by the EDC.

With our residents/businesses as the primary recipients of our services and the services our city provides as the product, the financial section of a business is plan is most important. Since I have been on Council we have cut the city general fund budget from over $31 million to about $26.5 million. This represents an overall decrease of more than 11%, mostly through employee compensation cuts and lay offs. We have stopped deficit spending and balanced the budget, but our city is now running at bare bones staffing and decreased service. Plus, we have less than $1 million in reserve. Revenue remains flat at about $26.5 million so as costs continue to rise, we will need to make more cuts just to stay even.

With this as our current financial situation, our goal must be to build a reserve while maintaining our services and infrastructure. In the short term, we must increase revenue or cut service costs. As was recently pointed out, it is simple “arithmetic.” We need to constantly look for ways to generate revenue and improve efficiencies (cost effectiveness) of service. By the end of next year, decisions will have to be made and we will need to bring the market (our residents and businesses) into the decision-making process.

In the long term, we must develop a sustainable economic base. Obviously, cities only receive money (revenue) from grants, fees and taxes, so increasing our sales tax generating businesses (retail, hotels, etc) and our property taxes through new building or remodeling. For example, building out the Beach Blvd property as designed is projected to generate approximately $500,000 per year, plus building commercial establishment on the empty lots on Palmetto will further this increase. These additions are still years away in development, dependent on continued improvement of our country’s economy. Meanwhile, city council members must develop and implement strategies for working with the rest of the county. We need council members to provide strong leadership at the county level, building coalitions, and working with other cities to bring home a better share of dedicated dollars given to the counties to divide among the cities.

Bottom line: We must stop relying on one time monies, continue a balanced budget, find ways to preserve services and decrease costs, while increasing revenue both in the short term and the long term.

Karen Ervin - 4 Year Seat

Our main goal is to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and create a desirable environment in which to work, live and enjoy. In order to create an effective business plan that will allow us to accomplish this we need to change the current reputation the city has in terms of welcoming businesses to operate in Pacifica. Streamline the business permitting process and be available to mentor interested entities. 

In addition we need to complete the Palmetto revitalization project which will create a beautiful neighborhood lined with outdoor lighting, trees, benches and inviting shops and restaurants in walking distance to a historic golf course, the Pacifica Pier and Sharp Park Beach. Continue to seek out commercial developers interested in developing the Beach Blvd site into an amazing city center. 

Our efforts to improve existing businesses in Pacifica by actively engaging owners and their landlords should be going on simultaneously, while working with and aiding the Chamber in developing a strong marketing campaign in order to advertise the many attractions that Pacifica has to offer our visitors. These efforts will allow Pacifica to provide more services to its residents and visitors alike, which will enhance our economic base so essential to our future.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Candidate Questionnaire: Would you be open to designating a specific percentage of the TOT to fund an ongoing campaign promoting our tourist industry?

The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce submitted 12 questions to each of the candidates for Pacifica City Council. Every week we will be posting two questions, and the answers from each of the candidates.

Question 11. Would you be open to designating a specific percentage of the TOT to fund an ongoing campaign promoting our tourist industry?

Karen Ervin – 4 Year Seat

When the city of Pacifica is at a point where we don’t have to make any additional cuts to service, I would be willing to dedicate a source of funds for economic development. I'm not sure if I would advocate doing it as part of the TOT tax or in some other way. We must dedicate funding to economic development if we are going to improve our economy.

Susan Vellone – 4 Year Seat

Yes. Council should work closely and support the Chamber of Commerce, utilizing the marketing abilities and pro-active nature of this organization.

Mary Ann Nihart – 4 Year Seat

I am open to exploring this idea. On the EDC we have repeatedly examined the need for an organized campaign. I would have to examine financial impacts, design, implementation, management, and how results are measured, but this may provide the needed source of revenue. 

Rich Campbell – 2 Year Seat 

Perhaps, but I am generally not in favor of subsidies.

Victor Spano – 2 Year Seat

Yes. I want to encourage this city to "Go International" with its marketing. Establish "Sister City" relations with cities in China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, all over the world. Part of this TOT fund could go to making Pacifica an international destination. Investing in freeway billboard Winchester Mystery House, and other destinations, is another thing we can do. Advertising Pacifica can be a great investment, and a small surchage of the TOT is a reasonble bet to make. The Chamber Tourism Committee is full of ideas on promoting Pacifica, I am hoping that some of the idea discussed during this commitee can be expanded upon and funded, such as advertising Pacifica as a wedding destination, destination for sporting events and conferences and small trade shows of all kinds.

Mike O'Neill – 2 Year Seat

Yes, at this time there is very little other sources of revenue that would provide the long term commitment needed to successfully implement an ongoing campaign. I do not think there are a lot of choices

Gary Mondfrans – 2 Year Seat

Such would appear to be a rightful and legitimate use of the Hotel Tax (“Transient Occupancy Tax” and might benefit most those in the hospitality industry which actually collects this tax in the first place. Such use may in turn generate even more tourist and visitors into Pacifica which may lead to even higher revenue via the Hotel Tax, a win-win-win scenario all around. 

Richmond test case for a soda tax ballot measure

The second highlighted paragraph holds a clue to a potential future refreshing tax for Pacifica.

Palo Alto Daily News/Bonnie Eslinger, 10/26/12. "Supervisor says San Mateo County isn't considering a soda tax-- at least, not yet."

Will this tax pass?  I don't think so
New City revenue, how refreshing !
"Although San Mateo County eventually may consider taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks to fight obesity, no such proposal is in the works right now, Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson said Thursday.

Jacobs Gibson made the comments following a 2½-hour meeting in which health officials batted around ideas for encouraging residents to reduce consumption of sugary beverages. 

The meeting included a presentation by Richmond City Council Member Jeff Ritterman, a retired cardiologist who was instrumental in placing a penny-per-ounce soda tax measure on his city's Nov. 6 ballot. 

 Jacobs Gibson told The Daily News after the meeting. The board of supervisors this week approved a ban of carryout bags at stores in unincorporated areas and is counting on 24 Peninsula and South Bay cities to follow suit."  Read article. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Good year to vote early if you can

Contra Costa Times/Josh Richman, 10/23/12. "Political Blotter:  Politics in the Bay Area and beyond."
Waiting in line booby prize

California is on track for a record-high number of registered voters, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today.

Yesterday was the deadline to register to vote in next month’s presidential election. Bowen said more than 679,000 Californians were added to the state’s voter rolls in the final 45 days leading up to that deadline, and that number will go up as county elections officials keep verifying the eligibility of tens of thousands more last-minute registrants.

The last certified statewide data, as of Sept. 7, showed 17,259,680 Californians registered to vote. The record high for California – set in February 2009 – was 17,334,275 registrants, so all those from the last few weeks are sure to put the state well past that mark. 

That's not nice
“I must emphasize these are preliminary numbers and not the final confirmed roster of eligible voters in California  because county elections officials are now hard at work verifying each and every application,” Bowen said in a news release. “After all 58 county elections officials send their registration data to my office, we will compile the certified statewide numbers and publish a final report of registered voters on November 2.” 

Of the more than 679,000 verified new voters so far, about 381,000 submitted their applications using the Secretary of State’s new online system and about 298,000 submitted paper applications."  

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Friday, October 26, 2012

San Mateo County is counting ballots now

The Daily Journal (San Mateo), Michelle Durand, 10/26/12.  "Public invited to watch opening of ballots." 

What kind of signature is that?
"Starting today, the public can see for itself the opening of the county’s first mail-in ballots for the Nov. 6 election as officials begin the arduous task of verifying if each vote is valid for counting. 

With 55.6 percent of San Mateo County voters routinely preferring to vote by mail rather than at a physical polling location, the seven-day jump on mail ballot processing gives the Elections Office a significant head start on compiling the first Election Night results. Mark Church, the county’s chief elections officer and assessor-county clerk-recorder, said the final week also gives the public a peek into how an election comes together.

Alongside the absentees, the office is still processing new voter registrations, training workers and packing up equipment for the 343 precincts. “This is a very exciting time to visit,” Church said.

...  As of Oct. 15, San Mateo County has 348,218 registered voters. As with the state, online registration has taken off in San Mateo County particularly among the younger demographic. As of Friday, Oct. 12, the Elections Office reported 10,232 people had registered online. Of those, 2,538 were between ages 18 and 24 and 3,069 were between 25 and 34."  Read Article.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Outside CA organization affecting two CA State Propositions

"Americans for Responsible Leadership" is another organization naming itself the opposite of its intent.  

NBC Bay Area/Prop Zero Opinion, Larry Gerston*, 10/23/12.  "Mystery Money Invades California"

"The eleven statewide propositions on next month's ballot have already drawn $336 million in campaign contributions, or about $25 per voter, assuming a turnout similar to that of 2008.  Interest groups such as organized labor, corporations, anti-tax groups, hospital association, and state employees, to name a few, have clearly identified themselves with their contributions.
"Americans for Responsible Leadership", anonymous, nefarious and irresponsible
The most recent poster child for political obfuscation is a group that calls itself "Americans for Responsible Leadership."  Don't look it up because the closest you'll get is a post office office in Arizona.

According to, an independent nonpartisan research organization that tracks the flow of money in the election process, last week Americans for Responsible Leadership" dumped $11 million into the "No On Prop 30" campaign to oppose Governor Jerry Brown's temporary tax increases. It put another $11 million for Proposition 32, the ballot initiative that would severely limit the ability of employer and union groups to collect campaign contributions from their members, which most people define as anti-union.  Think about it, $22 million late in a campaign buys a lot of television ads, and no one knows who's behind the money."  Read article.

 Related - National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), "State laws affected by Citizens United."
 People for the American Way,  Citizens United v. FEC Constitutional Remedies:  List of local, state and federal resolution efforts. "California became the 6th state to call upon Congress to propose an amendment.. in response to the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission case.  Bob Herkes (D-5) expresses disagreement with ther Citizens United ruling." (Google search commentary).

Posted by Kathy Meeh

What's up with Pacifica Schools, K through 8

Achievement scores are up, even better than they were last year, and last year they were great.  Supervisor Wendy Tukloff asks Pacificans to vote yes on State Propositions 30 and 38 to protect school funding.
Pacifica Tribune/Wendy Tukloff, Superintendent of the Pacifica School District, 10/23/12.  "October update Pacifica School District preparing students for an evolving world."

Me too
I want to grow up to be an astronaut
 First, a congratulatory shoutout to our students, teachers and support staff for the fabulous STAR results, the state tests that measure student progress. Pacifica School District continues to make progress, with an 857 Academic Performance Index (API), a 13 point increase from last year. 

 ....  Many of our programs are underway -- After-School Robotics and High Tech Earth Awareness (the Pacifica program sponsored by San Mateo County); Academic Achievement Centers (formerly Homework Centers, supported through SMCOE); PEF 21st Century Learning Experiences (all grade levels will be experiencing activities throughout the year); PSV Parent Nights. 

We are truly working to provide the needed opportunities for our students to develop the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and civility.   

Tuesday, Oct. 9, was the first day of the early voting period. Propositions 30 and 38 are both on the Nov. 6 ballot. Both measures provide needed funding for public education. Should both propositions pass, the one with the most votes will prevail.   Read article.  

Reference - Pacifica School District.

Related - U.S. Department of Education, STAR Schools Program, discretionary/Competitive Grants.
"Encouraged improved instruction in mathematics, science, foreign languages, and other subjects.
  And.served underserved populations, including disadvantaged, nonreading, and limited English proficient (LEP) populations and individuals with disabilities. Star Schools grants were made to eligible telecommunications partnerships, to enable such partnerships to: (1) develop, construct, acquire, maintain, and operate telecommunications audio and visual facilities and equipment; (2) develop and acquire educational and instructional programming; and (3) obtain technical assistance for the use of such facilities and instructional programming."  Pacifica School District STAR program. 

Related - San Mateo County, Academic Performance Index (API) Report.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pension reform, and an example of "brave thinking"

There are structural development issues which lead to inadequate city revenue in Pacifica. But city employee pensions are one item which also contributes to the economic drag. The following is an example of  serious public employee reform initiated from the small state of Rhode Island.

Gina Raimondo, RI Treasurer:  "Is math."
The Atlantic magazine/Don Peck, November 2012.  "Gina Raimondo, general treasurer, State of Rhode Island."

"Once upon a time, politicians across the land found a magical formula for achieving popularity. They kept public employees’ pay low, enabling low tax rates (hooray!); to make up for the low pay, they promised fat pensions down the road (huzzah!). The pensions were funded by gimmicks and wishful thinking. But that would be a problem for future politicians to reckon with.

Once I eat all the gum balls, how many left?
Raimondo is one of the first to perform that necessary reckoning. Last year she led an unprecedented reform, raising the retirement age (to 67), freezing cost-of-living increases, and adding a 401(k)-like plan to the traditional (shrunken) defined-benefits plan.

Raimondo, a Democrat, says she ran for office largely to perform this thankless task. The state’s pension payments were crowding out spending on things like libraries and public buses—services she depended on in her youth. Amid the pain and the blame, Raimondo focused on the math, recognizing two things: That waiting longer would mean harsher adjustments for all, including the public workers themselves. And that the state has a duty not only to the past, but to the future as well."  See The Atlantic brave thinkers.

Submitted by Alysanne McGaffey

Posted by Kathy Meeh

San Mateo County Sustainable and Green Building Awards

Any nominations for sustainability or green building from Pacifica, please submit ASAP.  Sustainability nominations are due by October 31, 2012. Green building nominations are due by November 30, 2012.  Has any organization or business in Pacifica ever received any sustainability or green building awards? 

Millbrae Patch/Government, Business/Laura Dudnick, 10/25/12. 

"The Sustainability Award recognizes those whose work has local impact within San Mateo County. Ideally, their work touches on the "3 E’s of Sustainability": Environmental Health, Economic Vitality, and Social Equity.  Nominees can be individuals, businesses, public agencies, or private organizations.

Some previous Sustainability Award winners are: Yerba Buena California Native Plant Nursery; Woodside; St. Francis Center, Redwood City; City of San Mateo for its community involvement program; Lyngso Garden Materials, in Redwood City; Pie Ranch, Pescadero.

For the Green Building Awards, SSMC works in partnership with the San Mateo County Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and with RecycleWorks to support sustainable design in architecture, and to recognize the designers, builders, and owners of green buildings in our county.  The Green Building Award is open to any building constructed within the last five years that is currently standing in San Mateo County. Additions and remodels can be nominated. 

Some previous Green Building Award winners are: San Mateo Public Library; Field Station at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve; Skillman Residence, San Carlos;  Habitat for Humanity, Miriam Street, Daly City; Sacred Heart School Science & Student Life Center, Atherton"   Read article.

Reference -  San Mateo County 2013 Sustainability and Green Building awards.  "Sustainability Award nominations are due October 31, 2012. Visit the Sustainability Award Criteria page before submitting your online nomination. Green Building Award nominations are due November 30, 2012. Visit the Green Building Award Criteria & Nominations page for details."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pacifica Tribune follow-up to City council meeting, 10/22/12

$150 annual fire inspection fee only for the entire Sanchez Art Center complex.  And a proposed tax to build the new library center, $32.2 million.  Good reporting, Jane!

Pacifica Tribune/Jane Northrop, 10/23/12.  "City Council gives Sanchez artists a break."

Sanchez Art Center
"City councilmembers Monday gave the artists at Sanchez Art Center a break by exempting them from the newly-created fire inspection fees the city recently imposed on businesses. ... Sanchez Art Center will be charged one $150 fee, but the tenants and the subtenants will not be charged the fire inspection fee.
"A great city deserves a great library."

In other council news, council members approved paying half of the cost to develop a financing plan for the new library/media center. ... The facility would cost about $32.2 million to build and furnish. ....The Pacifica Library Foundation is moving the project forward by contracting with a research firm to conduct polling to determine what the community would support by way of a voter approved measure to pay for the facility." Read article.

Reference - City. City Council Agenda, 10/22/12.  Fix Pacifica Agenda article City council meeting 10/22/12 agenda article:  Item 9, Acceptance of Library Conceptual Design and Cost Model.  Authorize a $12,000 contribution from the Capital Improvement Fund 22 to the Pacifica Library Foundation.  
Item 10, resolution to adopt a city  administration policy for Commercial Fire Inspection Fees. Wow, I totally missed the sneaky fine print on both of these.

Reference - organizations.  Sanchez Art Center,  and Pacifica Library Foundation, New Library Project.

Posted by Kathy Meeh