November 11, 2013

How Big Money And Big Media Undermine Our Democracy

I HAPPENED to be channel surfing yesterday and hit upon an interesting conversation between John Nichols, Robert McChesney and Bill Moyers about the dangers of money and the media election complex. The reporters have a new book out entitled, "Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America."

It was a fascinating question and answer session. “Democracy means rule of the people: one person, one vote,” says McChesney, a professor and leading scholar of communications at the University of Illinois. “Dollarocracy means the rule of the dollars: one dollar, one vote. Those with lots of dollars have lots of power. Those with no dollars have no power.”

Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, tells Moyers: “Dollarocracy has the ability to animate dead ideas. You can take an idea that’s a bad idea, buried by the voters. Dollarocracy can dig it up and that zombie idea will walk among us.”

Below is a video that you can view. It's worth the time!

November 10, 2013

Billy Collins Comes To Town

POETRY IS alive and doing well.

Billy Collins, former United States Poet Laureate, gave a poetry reading on November 9 at Kepler's Book Store in Menlo Park. Mr. Collins entertained the 300 attendees with his sense of humor as well as his poetry taken mainly from his new book, Aimless Love.

All of my District 4 staff attended the special evening as well as San Mateo County's 1st Poet Laureate, Caroline Goodwin along with two members of the selection committee. Kepler's was good enough to give Caroline and I a very special introduction.

What was originally a campaign issue for me - encouraging the arts, humanities and reading - turned into the poet laureate program. After getting elected in November 2012 and taking office on January 7, 2013, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to introduce the legislation in our county that created its first poet laureate program. Following approval by the Board of Supervisors, we set about creating a selection committee that eventually reviewed the 15 applications that were received. A rigorous selection process followed and concluded with finalists being asked to give a poetry reading and answer questions about what they would do as the county's poet laureate.

Needless to say, Caroline Goodwin shined through the entire process and will begin her official duties on January 1, 2014.

Below is a picture of Mr. Collins autographing his book for me as well as a short video of the crowd that came to see him.

November 8, 2013

Check out iCitizen - A Civic Platform For Your iPhone

iCITIZEN IS a civic platform, designed with the idea that an informed and engaged electorate can revolutionize government. The application tracks elected officials and the issues you care about in real time. You can take part in polls to let your representative know where you stand on hot-button topics. The application allows you to do all of this from the palm of your hand - your smartphone.

Visit the iCitizen site here >

November 6, 2013

Fatherhood Collaborative in San Mateo County

THIS SHORT video provides some insight into support of children and families in San Mateo County, the experiences of fatherless children and the need to continue to advocate for and promote more father-involvement and responsible parenting. This video was produced for the 2013 Dads Count Breakfast and Family Friendly Employer Awards Ceremony honoring The Honorable Jerry Hill, California State Senator.

Fatherhood in San Mateo County from Fatherhood Collaborative on Vimeo.

November 4, 2013

No To Internet Voting In British Columbia - For Now At Least

THE INDEPENDENT Panel on Internet Voting in British Columbia has issued its draft report on that topic. They recommend against implementing Internet voting at this time.

Input is requested on the preliminary report through December 4, 2013.

To guide members of the Legislative Assembly, and potentially local government officials, in their task of weighing the benefits and risks of Internet voting, the panel sets forth the following recommendations:
  1. Do not implement universal Internet voting for either local or provincial government elections at this time. However, if Internet voting is implemented, its availability should be limited to those with specific accessibility challenges. If Internet voting is implemented on a limited basis, jurisdictions need to recognize that the risks to the accuracy of the voting results remain substantial.
  2. Take a province-wide coordinated approach to Internet voting.
  3. Establish a technical committee to evaluate Internet voting systems and support jurisdictions that wish to implement approved systems.
  4. Evaluate any Internet voting system against the principles established by the panel: 
-Ballot anonymity
-Individual and independent verifiability
-Non-reliance on the trustworthiness of the voter's device(s) One vote per voter
-Only count votes from eligible voters
-Process validation and transparency
-Service availability
-Voter authentication and authorization

Read the report here >

October 30, 2013

Rebel Mouse Can Be Your Social Front Page: Check It Out!

REBELMOUSE IS based on the idea that people are proud of what they share on social networks, but are starting to feel embarrassed about their websites. RebelMouse creates your social front page, building a dynamic site around what you share.

You can connect all of your social networks - including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram - and create one beautiful page of your entire online presence. RebelMouse can also be embedded on your blog or site, and it can even be used to power your domain.

Check out my RebelMouse page here.

October 29, 2013

A Random Act of Kindness

AT THE Connect 13: Strengthening Communities Through Social Media Conference, Assembly Member Kevin Mullin and I wanted to have a drawing for some kind of "thank you" gift. We finally decided to give away an iPad Mini.

The idea was to ask all the attendees to put their business cards in a fish bowl and at the conclusion of the event, we would draw one winner.

That winner was Joshua Hugg, manager of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County. Mr. Hugg went home with a brand new white iPad mini.

It didn't stay with him long, however, because he donated the iPad mini to a College of San Mateo student who was a victim of the Terrace Apartment fire in Redwood City on October 17.

A big shout out to Mr. Hugg for his generosity.

October 28, 2013

North Fair Oaks Community Council Meeting

THE NORTH Fair Oaks Community Council is an advisory body to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The Council meets monthly. Below is a video of the most recent meeting that took place on October 24, 2013 at the Fair Oaks Community Center.

October 26, 2013

North Fair Oaks Youth Step Up To Educate The Community

THE NORTH Fair Oaks Community Plan will guide the future development of that community. For several months outreach efforts have attempted to bring plan details to the residents and business owners of North Fair Oaks.

Today there was a unique outreach event.
The North Fair Oaks Community Plan Youth Academy sponsored a youth fair at the Community Center. The event featured booths staffed by members of the Academy who graduated from a five week program aimed at educating them about the details of the NFO Community Plan - specifically Parking, Parks, Health and Zoning topics.

There was a booth for each of those topics that featured illustrations, pictures and other related materials. I visited each of the booths and listened to the presentations and asked questions of the youth. They were well trained and knew the details of their particular area of speciality.

The idea is that these neighborhood kids, who clearly have a stake in the future of North Fair Oaks, will go out into the community and talk with adults about the plan and its details. While one of many outreach strategies, this strategy has many potential benefits.

Mayor Alicia Aguirre and I were honored to hand out commendations for each of the graduates. We also had the pleasure of saying a few words to the kids and their families.

The North Fair Oaks Youth Initiative deserves a great deal of thanks for putting this all together.

October 12, 2013

Coming Soon: North Fair Oaks Community Website

THERE ISN'T one yet, but it's in development. 

The new North Fair Oaks Community website will feature news, resources, people, information, upcoming events issues, photos, videos, meetings of the North Fair Oaks Community Council, and projects that are part of the North Fair Oaks Community Plan. News will come from all quarters - organizations, schools, arts programs, youth, the library, nonprofits, and residents. 

Arturo Samayoa of Nimbus Design in Redwood City is the developer; the site is being built on a DRUPAL (open) platform. Here's a mock-up of what the homepage might look like...but it would have fresh content from many sources. And, the header photos rotate!

Major sections of the website include:
  • About North Fair Oaks
  • Our Community
  • Community News
  • Community Events
  • Caught on Camera
  • Resources
  • Frequently Asked Questions
The site will also feature community videos, a community calendar and news features. Our hope is that the new features will inform and engage the community.

Let us know what you think. You can check out the development site here.

October 11, 2013

Republicans Announce $10 million Initiative To Lure Latino Voters

REPUBLICANS STRIVING to mend relations with the Latino voters who have largely shunned their party announced a $10-million initiative Thursday to make electoral inroads among this crucial group across the nation.

Engaging Latino voters has been a constant effort for Republicans in recent years, as the population has grown to the point it can tilt races in critical states. But party leaders say the new initiative, which will include a paid staff and year-round voter targeting in California and 16 other states, is more meaningful than past attempts.

"What's different about our effort this time is we're starting early, not just six months before an election, and we're going to stay even after the election is over," Jennifer Sevilla Korn, the Republican National Committee's deputy political director for Hispanic initiatives, said at a luncheon in Santa Ana.

October 9, 2013

Poverty In San Mateo County Much Worse Than Reported

SOME 18 percent of San Mateo County residents live in poverty, almost three times as many people as are considered poor by the federal government, according to new data from Beth Mattingly, a Stanford University researcher.

Mattingly’s research sought to construct a more accurate measure of poverty levels by including more available data — especially the cost of housing, child care and transportation. Where federal statistics show that only 49,534 county residents live in poverty, Mattingly says the actual number is 136,033.

The dramatic difference is largely driven by housing costs, Mattingly said, because the Stanford poverty measurement considers more than noncash and post-tax resources, also including expenses. The new measurement method — called the California Poverty Measure — is part of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality’s ongoing effort to
better understand the extent of economic hardship in the state.

The high cost of housing and the high number of low-paying jobs contribute to the problem. The average rental cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the county is $2,053 a month — an 8.2 percent increase over last year, according to county Housing Department data. Homelessness has also jumped 12 percent since 2011.

October 5, 2013

Hispanic Foundation Ball

THE HISPANIC Foundation of Silicon Valley is the recognized leader in Hispanic philanthropy in Silicon Valley, inspiring Hispanic families and children to achieve personal greatness. The Foundation is dedicated to inspiring community philanthropy and engaging people to invest in the educational achievement and leadership development of a thriving Hispanic community in Silicon Valley.

On Saturday night the Foundation held its 24th annual Hispanic Foundation Ball. Over 800 people attended and enjoyed networking, good food and dancing. The crowed was also moved by the remarks of special guest speaker Mayor Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre was the event Co-Chair along with Xavier De La Torre.

Congratulations to the Mayor Ron Gonzales, President and CEO, the entire Board of Directors and all of the volunteers that made this year's fundraising event such a huge success.

October 4, 2013

Campaign Promises: County Gets A Poet Laureate

IN THE course of a political campaign, promises are made.

One promise I made during my year long campaign for the Board of Supervisors was to start a San Mateo County Poet Laureate program with the goals of sharing the art of the written word - promote literacy - and inspire children to read and write using poetry as the vehicle.

Now I am pleased to announce that an award-winning Montara writer and professor with a long involvement in the literary arts is poised to be the county's inaugural poet laureate.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is expected to formally appoint Caroline Goodwin.

I owe a big thank you to Marci Dragun of my staff for doing so much work related to this months-long process. I also would like to thank Supervisor Carole Groom who served as committee co-chair. And finally let me recognize all of the members of the Poet Laureate Committee who did lots of home work and attended many meetings - and share their ideas and perspectives on this undertaking.

The members of the committee includes California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera; Jackie Berger, director of the master of arts in English program at Notre Dame de Namur University; Kalamu Chaché, East Palo Alto poet laureate; Maryann Moise Derwin, chair of the San Mateo County Library JPA governing board and Portola Valley councilwoman; Anne-Marie Despain, director of library services for San Mateo County Library; Julie Fellers, president, Peninsula Arts Council; Mary Gutierrez, dean of language arts at Skyline College; Clark Kepler, local business advocate; Bardi Rosman Koodrin, literary director of the San Mateo County Fair; Donald Mulliken, San Mateo County arts commissioner; Christopher Wachlin, president of the California Writers Club, San Francisco-Peninsula Branch; and Bonny Zanardi, arts columnist for the San Jose Mercury News.

Read More >

October 3, 2013

Why I'm Going To Work This Morning

North Fair Oaks
FOR THOSE who don't know, I represent the areas of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City and the unincorporated area known as North Fair Oaks as a County Supervisor, 4th District.

Each week, I try to hold office hours in one of those areas.

As a County Supervisor, it's vitally important to get out into the community and hear from real people about real issues. Those issues can include noise, dirty streets, gang activities, graffiti, illegal dumping and a host of related situations. Often there are solutions - some even straightforward. At times, however, things get more complicated.

Last night (October 2), from 5 PM to 7 PM, I held office hours at the Fair Oaks Community Center in North Fair Oaks.

Sometimes at office hours 10-15 people show up to share their stories. Other times it's five people. Not huge crowds but the setting does offer the chance for quality conversations.

One family came to office hours last night - a husband and wife with three kids. They were Latino.

The family lives in a large apartment building in a one bedroom apartment. The reasons they came to office hours were to ask me to help them with their living situation. Here are the complaints they shared with me:

1. The family had just gotten notice of a rent increase (nearly double)
2. Bedbugs
3. Cockroaches and termites
4. Gang members doing drugs in the building
5. Their kids were told they couldn't play in the play yard
6. Parts of the ceiling in their apartment was falling down

Unfortunately, their story is not uncommon. I heard this kind of tale twice last night at office hours and I have heard similar stories in the past.

There are way too many people in the 4th District (and elsewhere in San Mateo County) that are living in dreadful, crowded conditions because of the economy and the cost of living on the Peninsula.

At the least, doesn't everyone deserve a clean, safe place to call home in exchange for their rent payment?

I think so and that's why I am going to work this morning. To try and correct some, if not all, of the six issues this wonderful family shared with me.

I'm working hard for them and all the other families in the district who live in deplorable conditions.

October 2, 2013

San Mateo County Officials Prepared To Weigh Supervisorial Boundaries

THE COMMITTEE charged with choosing a redistricting map for San Mateo County narrowed the list of possible district line maps to three and recommended them to the Board of Supervisors, which will weigh them at a meeting next week
The Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee, made up of nine officials from throughout the county, selected from more than 20 maps submitted by groups and individuals. The maps split the county into five districts.
The county was one of the few in the state that selected its supervisors at large, rather than on a district-by-district basis. But that all changed when voters passed a measure in November that changed the county charter so that supervisors would be elected for each of district by only the voters in each district.

September 28, 2013

Social Media Conference For Government Officials At YouTube

OUR WORLD is changing rapidly as residents toting smart phones and tablets demand instant service and access to information. Keeping up with a tech-savvy constituency is a monumental challenge for public agencies.

As elected representatives in Silicon Valley, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and I created Connect13: Strengthening Communities through Social Media. Our goal is to explore how local government leaders can embrace technology and social media to not only improve public service but to engage residents in civic life and create a digital commons.

This is the first – ever gathering of San Mateo County’s elected and appointed government leaders to discuss why and how our communication strategies must change to engage a technologically savvy constituency.  This series of panel discussions and keynote presentations by recognized thought leaders will address social media and help plant seeds on how to use it effectively to engage people in civic discourse, encourage them to volunteer, and take an active leadership role.

September 27, 2013

North Fair Oaks Business Advisory Council Formed

I HAD the priviledge of hosting a dinner at El Guanaco in North Fair Oaks for the business leaders of the Middlefield Road Corridor. For the first time in many years, the business owners gathered, (some meeting for the first time) and talked about their concerns - parking, illegal dumping, flooding that occurs from clogged storm drains in winter, non-functioning crosswalk safety lights, improving the presence of businesses and areas of Sheriff patrol, and more.

It was an excellent exchange of issues and concerns. We were honored to have Sheriff Greg Munks as our special guest. The concerns and preference of the business community will be critical to the shaping and implementation of the North Fair Oaks Community Plan.

I gave an update on the County budget which allocates $13 million in improvements to Middlefield Road--including the under grounding of utilities and an improved entrance to the Fair Oaks Health Center which will open in December.

The group, called the North Fair Oaks Business Advisory Council, will meet informally as topics of community concern come up - like parking, for instance. Every six months we plan to have a formal conversation with the entire group. I will, of course, keep the group informed of issues and upcoming important news.

I would like to give a special thanks to Manuel Ramirez for being the Emcee & Translator for the evening, to Esperanza Vasquez of the North Fair Oaks Community Council for her leadership and to Sergio Gonzalez and Mina Gonzalez for allowing us to host the event at their restaurant! The food was great!

Lastly, I would like to thank Irving Torres, my Legislative Aide and Ana Corona and Elijah Kirton, my Interns who helped put this dinner together!

September 26, 2013

New Members Join The North Fair Oaks Community Council

THE NORTH Fair Oaks Community Council is an official advisory body for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The Council meets monthly at the Fair Oaks Community Center.

Four new members were added to the Council on September 19th as the group heard briefings on the County Service Area 8 budget, an update from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and a report from me on recent community developments.

The new members of the Council are: Rafael Avendano, Jenny Corral, Linda Lopez, Nereyda Guzman (Youth Initiative Member).

Thank you to the members of the North Fair Oaks Community Council for your past service and your future contributions.

Learn more about the Council here.

September 25, 2013

Three Redrawn District Maps Approved For Board of Supervisors To Consider

A MAP that would split Menlo Park into two San Mateo County supervisorial districts but unite Redwood City into one emerged as the favorite among three that a committee endorsed Tuesday night.

The group forwarded the three ranked maps to the Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to review them Oct. 8.

Dubbed "Community Unity 4" because it was revised four times since June, the preferred map essentially leaves intact the top part of the county -- District 5 -- as a "majority-minority Asian district" and places all of Redwood City, east Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks in District 4.

Committee member Gonzalo "Sal" Torres, a Daly City council member, said the Community Unity 4 map does the best job of not dividing cities while also forging "communities of interest."

Six of the nine committee members voted to make that map their top choice. The other three -- supervisors Adrienne Tissier and Warren Slocum and public representative William Nack, a Menlo Park resident and San Mateo County Building Trades Council business manager -- abstained.

Read more here.

View all maps here.

September 24, 2013

District Lines Committee Online Resources

YOU HAVE an opportunity to help shape the political future of San Mateo County.

As I mentioned in a previous post, tonight is the last public meeting for the San Mateo County Supervisorial District Lines Committee. Tonight's meeting will feature public testimony, committee debate as the nine members discuss the eight maps submitted by the public and the committee consultant. It should prove to be a lively meeting so if you have time, I encourage you to attend and share your perspectives on possible new district lines for your community.

You can find various resources on the Committee's website which are summarized below.

1) The three "Active" maps from our September 12 meeting, plus five new maps submitted by the public. You can find these at this link:

2) Draft summary minutes from our September 10-12 meetings:

3) Video and transcripts of our September 10-12 meetings, under the "News" button in the upper right of the screen.

Our final meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the Choral Room, Building 2, Room 110. Here is a map to CSM:

To find the location, look for the "Beethoven Lot 2" (the upper of the Beethoven lots). Then to the right you will find "Theater 3" and "Music 2." The Choral room is located in Music 2, next to the theater.

CSM will cordon off numerous spaces in the Beethoven lot so that neither the Committee nor the public should have to pay to park. In addition. several staff members have volunteered to help escort the public to the Choral Room.

County Launches SMC Performance: Gives Residents the Power to Track Government Performance Online

WHEN VOTERS of San Mateo County approved a half-cent sales tax increase last year, the Board of Supervisors promised that the public would be able to see how their local tax dollars are spent.

Now San Mateo County has launched online dashboards that give residents power to track spending and evaluate the performance of County programs and services, starting with those funded by Measure A, the half-cent sales tax that took effect April 1, 2013.

Called SMC Performance, the dashboard site serves as a powerful tool to increase transparency and allow the public to comment. It will grow and evolve to show the performance of all County services toward achieving the goals and priorities of Shared Vision 2025.

You can check out SMC Performance here.

September 23, 2013

Last Public Meeting of District Lines Advisory Committee

A COMMITTEE tasked with studying the boundaries of San Mateo County's five supervisorial districts and recommending possible adjustments will hold its 10th and final meeting on Tuesday, September 24.

The committee, called the San Mateo County Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee, has held public meetings since June. The Committee has gathered public input and reviewed boundary adjustments plans submitted by the public and a consultant.

At its September 24 meeting the Committee is expected to consider whether to recommend one of more plans to the Board of Supervisors. The Board is expected to meet on the matter October 8th.

WHAT - San Mateo County Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee

WHEN - Tuesday, September 24, 6:30 pm

WHERE - College of San Mateo Choral Room, Building 2, Room 110, 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo (Free Parking in Beethoven lot).

Review submitted maps and learn more here.

Need more information? Send email to

September 22, 2013

Open Checkbook Debuts in San Mateo County

DURING MY campaign for County Supervisor, I often suggested that we needed to publish the county's checkbook online. The idea was to become more transparent and accountable in the area of public finance.

I am pleased to announce that San Mateo County has launched "Open Checkbook," a free public database detailing the checks written by county departments and agencies. It's the public's window into county spending.

Open Checkbook lists payments of $5,000 or more issued for goods and services at all county-operated sites, from health clinics in Daly City to social service centers in East Palo Alto. You can find it at:

Open Checkbook is for those without an accounting degree or hours on their hands to pore over complex economic data - it offers an easy to use search engine that contains reams of raw financial data that residents are welcome to mine, sift, analyze and cross-reference as they wish.

Check out Open Checkbook here.

September 21, 2013

North Fair Oaks Pocket Park Opens

DESPITE THE rain, about 40 people turned out to celebrate the opening of a new Pocket Park in North Fair Oaks. The park is located at 18th and Bay Road - just off Marsh Road.

The park's journey started two years ago with $11 in the bank and 4 people working on the effort. At the time the land was empty but for the weeds that covered much of the SFPUC owned property. Then Sandra Stafford-Ceil got involved.

In two years she raised around $40,000 for the park and got much of the design, landscaping and work donated. San Mateo County helped out by contributing $25,000 to the much needed park. In an area that has few natural spaces, this park is a welcomed addition. It's a testament to what people can do when they share a dream, work toward it in a positive and collaborative manner and never give up. 

Congratulations to everyone for making this park possible. And thank you for including me in the dedication/ribbon cutting ceremony.

March 26, 2013

North Fair Oaks Community Council Meetings to Air

BEGINNING IN April, the meetings of the North Fair Oaks Community Council, will be videotaped and air on Peninsula TV/Channel 26 and AT&T/Channel 99 on Monday nights at 10 p.m.  Links to the video files will be posted on my website, and on the North Fair Oaks website,, so that anyone interested will be able to watch the meetings online at a time when it is convenient. 

“With the Implementation Phase of the North Fair Oaks Community Plan coming before the Board of Supervisors later this year, it is vitally important to engage and inform the community." “This is one strategy to begin to disseminate more information and expand the conversation.  A redesign of the North Fair Oaks website is also being planned.”  The North Fair Oaks Community Council meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Fair Oaks Community Center at 2600 Middlefield Road in Redwood City; the meetings are open to the public. 

The Council selected its priorities for 2013 at the Annual Retreat held last month. The priorities include: the North Fair Oaks Community Plan implementation, Activities – including a Clean-up Day, CSA-8 Funds, and the improvement of external communications and the integration of outreach efforts.

Highlights of the March 28th meeting include the following:  Lee Michelson, CEO of the Sequoia Health Care District, will be presenting an update to the Council on the work of the district and the community investments underway. Standing agenda items include a Sheriff’s report, a CHP report, Council member reports, and Supervisor Slocum’s report. 

The Council advises the Board of Supervisors on the matters of public health, safety, welfare, public works, policy, planning, community development and services pertaining to North Fair Oaks policy on behalf of the residents.                                      

March 9, 2013

Can Technology Replace Inspectors?

EVER BEEN been frustrated by a city's cumbersome permit process? According to a story in The Atlantic Cities, some owners of commercial real estate in Chicago decided to skip the permit process altogether, installing unauthorized billboards in the Windy City. And because the city's understaffed inspection team has trouble enforcing billboard permit rules, the risk-takers get away with their offenses. Even worse, those unpermitted billboards represent millions of dollars in revenue the city will never see.

A new technology making its way into municipal government combines data on local codes and open permits with street-level maps to identify code violators. CityScan is working with map developer NAVTEQ, which uses light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology to create precise street-level maps.

Read more here

March 7, 2013

Government to Go: Boston Takes City Hall on the Road

HOW DO you make city government more accessible? The City of Boston has taken the challenge literally, and taken city services on the road. Inspired by a food truck - and built to look like one - the mobile City Hall to Go visits Boston neighborhoods offering a menu of specific services.

Instead of a burrito, you can get a library card, dog license, or register to vote.

City Hall to Go from Kris Carter on Vimeo.

March 5, 2013

Addressing Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping plagues many areas of San Mateo County but perhaps none worse than the unincorporated area of North Fair Oaks. Within that neighborhood of some 15,000 residents there are mostly deserted areas that repeatedly receive illegally dropped mattresses, sofas and household junk.

The problem has increased in recent years and it's become a significant community issue. To date, however, no sustainable solutions have been found but it's time to address the problem and implement a workable solution that will keep our communities junk free.

In my research on this important topic, there are six key "take-aways" from best practices in the U.S. on the subject of illegal dumping. Those six keys include:

 1. Political Buy-In Planning - support must be provided by local gov staff and this includes having enough money available to implement and operate the program plus having sufficient staff to do the work.

 2. Management Structure - Common in this area are the involvement of law enforcement and other gov agencies - and all need good communications.

 3. Education - Critical for success. Allows for public buy in and notification. There are multiple audiences and they should be targeted with clear messages like "STOP TRASHING OUR PENINSULA." Hotlines are essential.

4. Enforcement and Prosecution - Illegal dumpers must face real threat of being caught and punished.

5. Clean Up - cleanup of existing dumpsites is integral and methods for keeping sites clean include signs, lighting, barriers, education and surveillance. Funds can be available through dumping fines.

6. Program Administration - Dumpsites should be mapped, data for number of complaints and cases prosecuted maintained and program evaluation are important components.

Our challenge is how to craft these six areas into a workable policy that effectively deals with the issue of illegal dumping.

March 2, 2013

Help Redraw Political Boundaries in San Mateo County

ON APRIL 9, 2013, the Board of Supervisors will consider forming an ad hoc committee to recommend a redistricting plan. The members of the ad hoc committee will likely include two members of the Board of Supervisors, two members of local City Councils, five public members and one non-voting alternate public member.

The public can participate in two ways.

First, the County is soliciting applications from members of the public who would like to be appointed to the Committee. In order to be eligible for appointment as a public member, a person should:

1. Be a current resident of the County

2. Not be a sitting elected official

3. Be without a conflict of interest

4. Have available time to participate in the work of the committee; and

5. Have knowledge of the County's neighborhoods, geography, and communities of interest. In addition, public members must be registered to vote at the time they serve on the committee.

If you are interested in serving as a public member, please fill out the application here. The deadline is 5 PM on March 15th.

Sheriff Rolls Out Online Crime Data

THE SAN Mateo County Sheriff's office is making it easier for the public to access crime data and arrest information by unveiling a new website where visitors can learn what is happening and who may be doing it.

The database used will map crimes by dates, location and type, show adult arrest information for the past 30 days and let users sign up for email notifications.

The site's rollout coincides with the department's inaugural virtual ride-along Saturday night where an officer will use Twitter to give followers a peek into a deputy's typical evening in San Carlos. That officer will also answer questions. (

Future additions planned for the site include a database of outstanding stolen vehicle, missing persons and warrants. Arrest information will include names, ages, charges and mug shots.

A big congratulations to our innovative Sheriff, Greg Munks. Government 2.0 is alive in San mateo County.

February 11, 2013

How to Use the Monies Generated from SM County Measure A

THE VOTERS of San Mateo County OK'd an additional 1/2 cent sales tax with their approval of Measure A on November's ballot. The additional revenue generated by the tax is estimated to be around $60 million per year.

The Board of Supervisors has held one Measure A Workshop where members of the public got to share their ideas for how the additional money should be spent.

On February 12, the Board will hold another Measure A Workshop. It's hoped that more citizens will show up at that meeting and present their ideas on how the dollars should be put to work in the county.

Do you have ideas on how the Measure A sales tax revenue should be used?

If so, please share your ideas.

February 7, 2013

Supervisor Slocum to Hold Office Hours in North Fair Oaks

Photo Credit: Jennifer van der Kleut
I AM pleased to announce that beginning next Wednesday, February 13, I will hold weekly evening office hours in the North Fair Oaks area. Residents of the neighborhood are encouraged to drop by and say hi. I know that many working people simply can't get downtown to the County Government Center before 5 PM to meet with me, share their concerns or ask for assistance.

I want to be accessible and available to constituents. The best way that I know to solve that problem is to locate myself in the community, after hours and make myself available.

My office hours will be held from 5 PM to 8 PM at the Fair Oaks Community Center located at 2600 Middlefield Road in Redwood City.

Here is additional information on the Fair Oaks Community Center.

January 15, 2013

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Talk Money

NOVEMBER'S BALLOT contained a half-cent sales tax increase and the voters approved that measure. The result is about $60 million a year in new tax revenue.

Today the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will begin discussing just how to divvy up that new revenue.

In a report to the Board, County Manger John Maltbie offered a menu of spending suggestions such as paying down existing debt and liabilities, funding capital improvements, financing the new jail, buying a new payroll system, keeping county parks open or supporting services and programs for children.

Each Board member has given some initial ideas on how the money should be used. But today's Board meeting will allow members of the public to express their ideas for using the new revenue.

What are your ideas? How should the county use the approximately $60 million a year in new tax revenue?