Column: SMCo. transit board politics, tax renewal
- 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
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
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.