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Column: SMCo. transit board politics, tax renewal

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  • 11/30 San Mateo Independent
    Published Saturday, November 30, 2002, in the San Mateo Independent Nobody asked me, but ... By Jerry Fuchs Fireworks at Council of Cities Serving in politics
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2002
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      Published Saturday, November 30, 2002, in the San Mateo Independent

      Nobody asked me, but ...

      By Jerry Fuchs

      Fireworks at Council of Cities

      Serving in politics is not all fun and games. Witness Sepi
      Richardson, Brisbane city councilmember, who served as chair of San
      Mateo County Council of Cities.

      The outgoing Council of Cities, made up of the mayors of each city
      in the county, chooses representatives to serve on important
      transportation agencies.

      Richardson sent out letters informing mayors of the meeting held on
      Friday, Nov. 22, telling them they would vote on whether to elect
      representatives, or to hold that vote in December when new mayors
      would be on the Council of Cities voting for representatives to the
      SamTrans Board, Joint Powers Board of Caltrain, south county Transit
      Authority and central county Transit Authority.

      Newly elected mayor of Menlo Park Nicholas Jellins challenged the
      decision that the outgoing mayors choose the incoming
      representatives.

      Jellins called County Counsel Tom Casey to ask for an opinion, then
      relayed what he said was advice that the Council of Cities could not
      elect transportation representatives until the new city councils
      were sworn in and new mayors took their place on the Council of
      Cities in December.

      The twist is that Steve Schmidt is the outgoing mayor of Menlo Park
      and Jellins is the newly elected mayor. And as they say in political
      parlance, there is no love lost between them.

      Apparently, word has it that Richardson did not want to offend
      anyone or countermand any ruling from the county counsel. So she
      invited a representative from the county counsel's office, and
      Michael Murphy from that office was sent to keep things straight.
      Murphy said the county counsel refused to intervene in the affairs
      of the Council of Cities. All but two cities voted to hold the
      elections that evening, with the outgoing mayors electing the
      incoming transportation representatives.

      Burlingame Councilmember Mary Janney was elected to the Joint Powers
      Board of Caltrain; Jim Hartnett, Redwood City councilmember, took
      her spot on the SamTrans Board; Burlingame Councilmember Joe
      Galligan defeated Millbrae Councilmember Dan Quigg for the central
      Transit Authority seat and Ira Ruskin, Redwood City councilmember,
      trounced Jellins for the south Transit Authority seat 17-0.

      [BATN: See also: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/9528>]

      It was payback time for outgoing Menlo Park Councilmember Steve
      Schmidt, who tried to get the Democratic Central Committee to
      withhold its endorsement of Jellins for reelection to the Menlo Park
      council, but failed by an overwhelming vote. This time, Schmidt, as
      outgoing mayor of Menlo Park voted for Ruskin, leaving Jellins shut
      out in the vote column.

      But the real story is that Jellins has told friends that he lost his
      bid to be named to a county judgeship and is now seriously
      considering a run for the Democratic Assembly nomination.

      Ruskin has already announced his candidacy and would be the man
      Jellins would have to beat in that election. In the first round,
      score Ruskin with a landslide victory over Jellins. There was no way
      Jellins could uproot Ruskin for the seat, because Ruskin had served
      one term and was up for re-election, usually a simple routine. The
      same with Galligan, who ran for re-election.

      [...]

      That's a huge issue taking place in November of 2004, the
      continuation of the county half-cent sales tax which will require a
      two-thirds vote to continue paying off transportation projects like
      BART to Millbrae. The council is negotiating with Ed McGovern's
      Public Affairs Association and Jude Tripp, former chief of staff of
      the mayor's office in San Jose, to manage the campaign for the tax.

      Townsend, Raimundo, Besler and Usher, who were consultants for the
      San Jose sales tax measure which passed against all Odds, were
      interested in the San Mateo County consultant's job, but their bid
      came in at more than twice the amount of McGovern's.

      [...]

      Jerry Fuchs, the publisher of the Independent Newspaper Group, has
      been in the newspaper industry for 45 years, beginning in New Jersey.
      In 1980, he founded Fuchs Publications, which included the
      Hillsborough-Burlingame Boutique & Villager, the Millbrae Sunshine,
      the San Mateo Weekly, the Foster City Progress and the San Carlos-
      Belmont Enquirer-Bulletin. He may be reached via e-mail at
      jfuchs@... or by fax at 650-692-7587.
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