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May 2009

On Your Left! U.S. Bike Sales Pass Car Sales


US Bike Sales Higher than Car Sales in 2009
Dennis Markatos, Founder of Sustainable Energy Transition (SET)
Posted: May 26, 2009 06:45 PM
During the first quarter of 2009, more bicycles were sold in the US than cars and trucks. While the Great Recession is hurting bike sales, they didn't fall as fast as automobiles. Around 2.6 million bicycle purchases were made, compared to ~2.5 million cars and trucks that left our nation's lots.

TransForm's Car-Free Challenge: How FEW Miles Can You Drive?

How few miles do you think you can drive in one month? We want you to join The Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter in taking the Car-Free Challenge in June to find out! We are putting together a team of folks like you who are setting and reaching personal low-mileage goals for the month of June (some are going entirely car-free, others are just trying to drive a little less). Together we will send a message to our leaders that we need better walking, biking, and transit options to fight climate change and make our communities better places to live.

We will also raise needed funds for our work and the work of TransForm, a nonprofit we partner with to improve walking, biking, and transit options. That’s because each person who takes the Challenge sets a fundraising goal – and whatever money people on our team raise gets split 50-50 between Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter and TransForm. Our team (and you as an individual) can win great prizes!  This is also a fun way to share your stories (good and bad) of walking, biking, and taking transit – and raising up our issues to a wide audience.

Visit our TEAM PAGE to see what we are up to and how others are taking the Challenge. We hope you’ll join us in driving less and living more! Visit TRANSFORM to learn more about and sign up for the Challenge. To join our team, you first need to SIGN UP as an individual and then choose to sign up on our team. Thanks for being a part of this!

Melissa Hippard, Chapter Director, 650-390-8414

Schwarzenegger Threatens to Close State Parks and Beaches: Pacifica State Beach Not on Hit List


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to close some 50 Bay Area state parks and beaches, including Montara, Gray Whale Cove, Half Moon Bay, Ano Nuevo, Bean Hollow, Pigeon Point, Pescadero, San Gregorio, plus Montara Mountain. If you care about your local recreational playgrounds, and the income they bring to your community, call or write the governor today and tell him his old Terminator days are over. Get the facts and take action TODAY! CLICK HERE 

Thanks to Matt Levie for forwarding a little bit of good news from S.F. Gate/Chronicle: PACIFICA STATE BEACH AT LINDA MAR IS NOT ON THE HIT LIST

Dreaming of a Fast Trip from Linda Mar to Colma


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President Obama has committed billions of federal dollars to intercity transit. Why not go after some of that swag to build a light-rail or busway system right up the middle of Highway 1 from Linda Mar to Colma BART? Instead of being stuck in traffic, we could be riding modern trains or express buses. Think about it. It would mean construction jobs, revenue for the city, access to other Bay Area transit systems via BART, and a green way to bring workers in and out of Pacifica.


City Council Ponders Budget Cuts and Priorities



Now that the voters have spoken on raising the sales tax, please turn your attention to our budget process here in Pacifica. City Council met May 28 in its final budget study session. Why is this important? I'll give just one example: The council had proposed to cut program funding in the aggregate amount of $177,000. These cuts include: Resource Center ($83,000), Library Services ($75,000), Visitor Center ($10,000), Community Youth ($5,000), and Farmer's Market Management ($4,000). At the same time, the new proposed 2009-10 budget for the council's compensation package (salary, health benefits, pension, auto allowance) is $178,500, an increase of 26 percent over last year's budget! If people think this is OK, then there's no problem, but if you have a problem with these "priorities," you'd best call your council members and let them know what you think about this sort of budgeting. This is not TV, folks, this is real and what they plan to do unless you speak up. Check back here on Riptide's front page and in Recent Comments for the latest news on city budget cuts and the continuing fiscal crisis. CLICK HERE TO READ MY FULL REPORT ON THE MAY 28 MEETING Also, check this out: PALO ALTO COPS TAKE PAY CUT


Brainstorm to Save Our City: Green Light Industry


If I could think of a sustainable, green project that would save our seaside city from bankruptcy, would you be for it? Would you be for it even if it were in rocky Rockaway Quarry (or some other flat open space without "issues")? Are you ready for this? Bring in a Genentech, or one of its biotech clones from the Peninsula, or a high-tech company from Silicon Valley, or any other intellectual enterprise with deep pockets and a strong sense of corporate responsibility—in other words, a good partner. I envision a smallish facility, no more than 250 employees, with ample use of car pools, BART/SamTrans/SFO shuttle vans, and Jim Heldberg's Segways, plus allowance for employee telecommuting, all designed to keep car traffic to a minimum. A number of Pacificans already work for companies like the above, so even better for them—an easy crosstown commute instead of the daily slog over the hill and down 280. A Pacifica campus would be very cool for any of these companies to add to their empires: casual Fridays every day, awesome sunsets, great food options for dining in or takeout all up and down Highway 1 (diners, delis, taquerias, pizzerias, Thai, Chinese, etc.). For overnighters and conference stays, Pacifica has a handful of decent motels that sure could use the business. (Our tourist industry, such as it is, sure ain't cuttin' it.) Besides, it is well known that our bracing marine climate promotes superior brainpower and productivity. (Just ask my staff here at Pacifica Riptide Global Headquarters!) We are the ideal site for light industry. Put some big white letters on the hillside: PACIFICA THINKS GREEN.


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The War on Science in California

The war on science is raging here in California. Among the many painful cuts proposed in Governor Schwarzenegger's May revision to the 2009 state budget is a simple sentence: "Eliminate the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and transfer its duties to the Department of Public Health." Of course, it's not that simple. The "Office of Environmental Health Assessment" (OEHHA) provides scientific assessments of health risks to the public from air pollution, pesticide and other chemical contamination of food, seafood, drinking water, and consumer products (OEHHA ). These assessments serve as the basis for regulation of toxic substances by the state, as well as stimulating legislation such as the ban on polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

So why eliminate OEHHA? In a recent post to "Switchboard," GINA SOLOMON, physician and senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council, speculates as to who would likely benefit. OEHHA has a small staff of scientists and physicians, with a correspondingly small budget. OEHHA scientists are respected nationally and internationally, and often serve on committees that advise US EPA and the National Academy of Sciences.

Specific plans for shifting or eliminating staff have not been released. Informal estimates suggest that costs of the move could amount to more than anticipated savings. In other words, this is not a cost-saving measure. The state legislature will be accepting testimony on OEHHA on June 2. Many environmental health advocacy groups and academic scientists have written to legislators expressing their concerns about the proposed elimination of OEHHA. Our local Assemblymember JERRY HILL has a record of interest in environmental issues. Please consider letting him know that his constituents do not want to see independent science eliminated from state government without justification. 

Click links to download support letters from various scientists and science organizations:

Download OEHHA_defense_NGO_letter_5.22.09 

Download OEHHA_outside scientists support_5.26.09

Lennon v. City of Pacifica: A Review


The lawsuit filed in September 2008 by former Pacifica City Finance Director Maureen Lennon against the city continues on, with a case management conference scheduled in court on June 9. A review of the background and allegations are in order:

Former Finance Director Maureen Lennon, according to her latest court filing, was hired in March 2004 as Finance Director/City Treasurer/IT (Information Technology) Director by then-interim City Manager Joseph Tanner. Her qualifications included two master’s degrees, one in Public Management and one in Public Administration/Health and Human Resources. Lennon also holds an undergraduate degree in Business, Finance, Accounting and Economics, and had 12 years of experience in public-sector finance work. She is also a Certified California Municipal Treasurer.

Despite this long list of qualifications, then-interim City Manager William Norton decided that a new position, Director of Administrative Services, created by the merging of the Human Resources and Finance departments, would go to Ann Ritzma. According to Lennon’s court filing, Ritzma had no previous on-the-job finance experience but had a certificate in government accounting.

Internal Struggle
Among the more shocking allegations made in the complaint by Lennon: In October 2006, during audit preparation, Lennon discovered that City Attorney Cecilia Quick was "regularly charging attorney fees and costs to the Capital Improvement Fund. That fund (CIF) was used for grant-reimbursed projects; there was no budget in that fund for any attorney fees and costs – and none could be paid from it." Lennon continues that after this discovery she went to Tanner and he agreed and directed that "(Lennon) ... re-classify the expenditures back into the City Attorney’s cost center and charge them against the City Attorney’s budget..."

The narrative continues: "After the completion of the fiscal year 2005-2006 audit, (which was) distributed in January 2007, Quick became aware of the reversed charges in her budget. She was noticeably angry at (Lennon) and blamed (Lennon), to others, that her City Attorney budget was over spent by $180,000. When Quick learned there were further charges reversed for fiscal year 2006-2007, she responded angrily, as if it were a personal attack, rather than the Finance Director performing her due diligence. Even though (Lennon) had several meetings with Quick, attempting to explain and resolve the issue, when Interim City Manager Bill Norton came on board, Quick appealed to him to allow her to charge attorney project costs to the Capital Improvement Fund even though there was no legal budget in it appropriated by the City Council."

Highest Budget?
"During the preparation of the fiscal year 2007-2008 City Budget, the City Attorney’s continually high budget was further questioned by ... City Council member Julie Lancelle... (Lennon) was ... directed by the City Council to research ... the City Attorney’s budget and make recommendations for reductions in that budget...(Lennon’s) research indicated that the City Attorney budget was the highest of approximately (twenty) 20 other similar cities researched. (Lennon) determined that approximately $630,000 was expended on outside contractual legal support for land use issues only....In fact, (Lennon’s) research confirmed that all work necessary for the city was contracted to outside attorneys, even those legal issues that are considered normal tasks delivered by an in-house City Attorney; such as leases, contracts, ordinances, municipal code amendments and normal every day advice to the department directors."

We Paid Him How Much?
In Lennon’s allegations, she details a meeting between her and City Council member James Vreeland in May 2007: "...Councilman/Mayor Vreeland called (Lennon) and invited her to ‘talk with’ him ‘about anything’ that (Lennon) felt he should know. (Lennon) informed Vreeland of the comparative analysis showing the attorney costs in similar municipalities and also explained the reason why the City Council should consider hiring a staff land-use attorney rather than a Deputy City Attorney reporting only to the City Attorney (as preferred by Quick). (Lennon), in her due diligence capacity as Finance Director, explained this to Vreeland using words to the effect that ‘there was no existing checks and balances or oversight of the City Attorney’s discretion in municipal spending’ since all city legal work was done by outside contractual attorneys reporting solely to Quick, which was reflected in the oversized City Attorney’s budget."

Lennon continued that once the lack of oversight of the city attorney was described, Vreeland’s demeanor changed: "...Vreeland began questioning (Lennon) about (city) council culpability and seemed mostly concerned about defending himself against any claim that he was not exercising proper oversight of the City Attorney. Vreeland’s reaction was defensive if not outright antagonistic and seemed inappropriate to (Lennon) in that his concern was about his culpability rather than addressing the ongoing problem of the extraordinarily high City Attorney budget."

Lennon then detailed another meeting in which it became apparent that the City Council didn’t know what former City Manager Tanner was paid: "(Lennon) brought to both the interim manager Norton’s and Vreeland(’s) attention the fact that the City Council evidently did not know how much they had been paying the departed City Manager, Joe Tanner, in salary. The Council had recently made public statements, which were reported in the Pacifica Tribune, that Mr. Tanner’s salary was around $170,000."

"In truth, the contract, which was reviewed and approved as to content only by City Attorney Quick (who years before had told (Lennon) that she had contacted Mr. Tanner about coming to Pacifica as the City Manager), read that his annual salary would be $170,216 plus it would always be 14 percent higher than the next highest administrative employee (the Chief of Police), plus the PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) rate paid for the next highest level employee. The latter was then at approximately 37 percent. The result was Mr. Tanner’s actual salary was $256,700 plus benefits; which Mr. Tanner bragged made him the highest paid City Manager in the state."

"In revealing this information, (Lennon’s) sole purpose was ... to suggest ... that the City Council should be very careful in reviewing the new city manger’s contract ... and not depend solely on the City Attorney for review, but rather let Finance run the numbers and fully explain the cost of the benefits. As before, Vreeland withdrew and became distant, cautious, and defensive. It was clear that he felt (Lennon’s) knowledge of this total lack of awareness by the City Council of its own City Manager’s true salary was politically damaging. Soon thereafter, the Interim City Manager (Wm. Norton) recommended eliminating (Lennon’s) employment with the City."

It will be interesting to see what happens in court this coming month. I think Pacifica may have more to worry about than previously known.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The defendants in the lawsuit are the City of Pacifica, Cecilia Quick, James Vreeland, and Ann Ritzma. Click the following link to download a PDF of Lennon's amended complaint: Download Lennon-1)

Sequoia Healthcare District Wants to Reopen Coastside Family Medical Center

Sequoia Healthcare District Board President Don Horsley announces that he will schedule a Healthcare District Study Session to explore ways to permanently fund the recently closed Coastside Family Medical Center in Half Moon Bay. “Thousands of coastside residents depended on that clinic for themselves and their families,” said Horsley, former San Mateo County sheriff. “I am scheduling this study session to explore the process of annexation of coastal communities into the Sequoia Healthcare District so that the district can find a permanent solution to funding this vitally needed health care resource.”

Horsley will seek community, health professional, and local government input on ways to fund and reopen the clinic, including: 1. Scope of services, target population, and cost of funding health care services previously offered at the clinic. 2. County LAFCO officials will be asked to testify on procedures for annexation to the Sequoia Healthcare District, and formation of a benefit assessment district and their respective time lines and ramifications. 3. Seek approval from the board to hire a consultant to advise the board on various funding mechanisms available to fund the clinic with or without annexation, including negotiations with impacted local governmental entities, parcel taxes, benefit assessment districts, or other means to be identified.

“This Clinic served 8,000 coastside residents, the vast majority with private insurance. Now those patients are traveling to Daly City, Redwood City, or Burlingame for services they previously received in their own com­munity,” said Horsley. “I want to explore ways to find a permanent and lasting solution to this problem. It’s not right what’s happened and I want to see if we can fix it.” Horsley will ask the board to schedule the study session during the summer months, when all board members can be present and the public can get enough notice to attend the session.



Honoring Pacifica's Vietnam War Dead

From Bonnie Campbell: "I know there is a Memorial Service at Chapel by the Sea every year to honor the young men killed in Vietnam and they do, what I assume, is a lovely service. Every year, though, no one mentions in the paper the young men by name from Pacifica who died in the war. While in high school, two of them were my friends. There are 11 altogether and I have enclosed their names so they can get some recognition. Thanks for your help."

Marine Private Larry Foster, May 22, 1966
Lance Corp. Robert E. Curry, Dec. 31, 1966
Lance Corp. Stan Childers, Feb. 15, 1967
Marine PFC Medford Chrysler, Jul. 2, 1967
PFC James E. Walker, Jr., Apr. 30, 1968
Marine PFC George Cabano, Jr., Oct. 3, 1968
Sgt. Robert Compton, May 12, 1969
Tech 1st Class Charles Wright, Jr., Nov. 18, 1969
Corp. George F. Patterson, Apr. 1970
SP4 David McKay, Jun. 4, 1970
Sgt. John Premenko, Aug. 14, 1970