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June 2009

County Budget Lite Avoids Deep Service Cuts


The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has approved a $1.7 billion budget for the new fiscal year that is $46 million less than the current budget but avoids deep cuts in services. For details, please Download San Mateo County Supervisors Approve Balanced Budget or visit SAN MATEO COUNTY BUDGET

Marshall Wilson
Public Communications Manager
San Mateo County
(650) 363-4153 office
(650) 464-5630 cell
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063


Where's Walter? The Death of Real Journalism in the Mainstream Media

As tension and violence in Iran escalate following its own "stolen" election, I am struck by the truth in the humor of THE DAILY SHOW with Jon Stewart (6/22/09). Stewart's satirical jabs at mainstream media are both humorous and painfully accurate. As his show has so deftly done with the Bush administration's war in Iraq, Jim Cramer at MSNBC and their whitewash of the financial market's meltdown, Fox and Friends, and countless others, media coverage of Iran's civil unrest falls deep within the show's piercing satirical glare. Stewart nails the American media self-obsession, followed by "Senior Foreign-Looking Correspondent" Aasif Mandvi poking fun at both Iranian leaders' Western paranoia and our own sense of self-importance in international matters. Jason Jones follows with three humorous interviews with moderate Iranian civic leaders who were jailed within the past week, including Iran's former foreign minister Ebrahim Yazdi, whose plight has been largely ignored by American mainstream media. Yazdi's son gives a poignant and moving interview to Jon Stewart.

Which begs the question: Why is a satirical news show on Comedy Central, which airs at 11 p.m. EST, once again doing the real journalistic work of mainstream media? My mind drifted back to Bruce Balshone's recent blog about disdain that traditional news organizations have for "blogs." Have hard economic times and corporate consolidation created a processed news product? Shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, though comedic, carry on the great traditions of Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut to perform the duties of mainstream media, which have lost much of their journalistic integrity as a sacrifice to circulation counts and Nielsen ratings. A blogs like Pacifica Riptide has evolved into more than a "companion" piece for the Pacifica Tribune; I daresay I find Lionel Emde's Riptide reports more timely, comprehensive, and accurate than many of the fluff pieces I read in the Tribune.

Some fault lies with editors, who kowtow to the bottom line and corporate bosses. Some of the fault also lies with the lazy American public, whose viewership propels self-inflating and often polarizing mainstream media. Most blame lies with corporate media types who provide a product high on style and low on substance. I wonder if the great media empires will soon see the same fate as the recording industry giants, who followed the same path.

As much as I may disagree with people on Riptide, the argument is better than silence, and I feel the future of social and political education will come from forums like Riptide. Good work, Maybury.


Summer Solstice, Lunar Flyby, Sunspots



LUNAR FLYBY: June 23, NASA's Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) spacecraft flew by the Moon and sent pictures back to Earth from only 9000 km above the lunar surface. The purpose of the maneuver was to put LCROSS in an elongated Earth orbit and position it for impact at the lunar south pole later this year. Visit SPACE WEATHER for links and updates and video of the flyby.

NEW SUNSPOTS: Since 2007, it has been unusual to see even a single spot on the sun. Now a new pair of new-cycle sunspots is emerging in the sun's southern hemisphere. This is a good opportunity for readers with solar telescopes to witness sunspot genesis in action. Check for new photos on SPACE WEATHER

City Council Ponders Possible New Garbage Hauler


On June 22, one of the agenda items before City Council was a possible start to a process of selecting a new waste collector for Pacifica. The item is described as "Proposal from HFH Consultants to Manage Collection Contractor Selection Process (Proposed Action: authorize the City Manager to enter into an agreement with HF&H Consultants LLC to manage the collection contractor selection process for an amount not to exceed $105,520). Part of the drama was that Coastside Scavenger (CS) General Manager Chris Porter was supposed to show up at the meeting to explain how CS will pay back the huge amount of unpaid money currently owed to the city under the franchise agreement.

May I depart from my usual reportorial role here and suggest that a citizens committee, along the lines of the "Financing City Services" committee, could be formed to look at this situation and come up with a recommendation for either a new garbage collector, or keeping CS with new and stricter guidelines and better public access to its books. There aren't that many choices out there as to waste collection, and other cities have been struggling with this already. We could save ourselves $105,520 if the council could be convinced that this is the way to go. I would be willing to serve on the new committee. Any other takers? If you are interested in serving, scroll down and click Comments.

(Also, if you were at the meeting for the CS agenda item, please give us a quick rundown on what happened, because our esteemed colleague Mr. Emde was otherwise occupied during that segment.)

Close Proposition 13's Corporate Tax Loopholes Now to Save California from Financial Ruin


By Phil Ting
Special to The Sacramento Bee

Proposition 13 was sold to the public 31 years ago as a way of protecting homeowners during a time of rising housing prices - and the corresponding rise in property taxes. This was and remains an imperative policy for California. However, the measure also exempted all commercial property from regular tax reassessment. Paradoxical to the law's initial intent, the commercial property loopholes in Proposition 13 have actually shifted the tax burden away from corporations and onto the backs of residential property owners.

The Blue Marble


Join the Pacifica Beach Coalition in paying it forward and bringing attention to the plight of the ocean by sharing THE BLUE MARBLE with people committing random acts of kindness, such as picking up litter, composting, recycling, restoring native habitat, and conserving water and other natural resources. The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth taken by astronauts on December 7, 1972. It is likely the most widely distributed photographic image in existence, one of the few to show a fully illuminated Earth, because the astronauts had the Sun behind them when they took the image. To the astronauts, Earth had the appearance of a blue marble. When you get a Blue Marble, pass it along.

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Elephant Dung for Sharp Park Golf Course?

Here's an intriguing solution for Pacifica's beleaguered Sharp Park Golf Course, where the future of red-legged frogs and red-blooded golfers is in doubt: elephant dung. According to Jake Sigg's wonderful Nature News (free email subscription from, the current issue of HerpDigest reports the discovery of FROGS LIVING IN ELEPHANT DUNG

We imagine that the golf course could get a good deal on elephant droppings from some zoo or traveling circus.

Excellent Cafe and Coffee South of Devil's Slide


Riptide's mantra is "shop locally," but occasionally we like to sample coastside delights a bit to the south of Pacifica. So recently we detoured around the tunnel dig via the scenic route (keep your eyes on the road, keep your hands on the wheel) to breakfast at 3-Zero Cafe, literally inside Half Moon Bay Airport, right off Highway 1. We recommend Pepe's Special chorizo scrambled eggs with corn tortillas (top) and brioche French toast (bottom), but frankly, everything else on the menu looked pretty damn good, too. Farmers marketeer Erin Tormey raves about 3-Zero's buckwheat pancakes. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). Big fun: watching the comings and goings of small planes. Some folks actually fly in to eat at the cafe.

Next, we sought out Erin's recommendation for good coffee beans: Outland Java Company, 187-A Airport Street (in the rear, past the boats), Princeton Harbor. Official Bean Counter Dan Handler gave us the official tour (take two steps, turn around, you've seen it all): a hot-air roaster going full blast; burlap sacks of certified organic, fair-trade, shade-grown, bird-friendly beans from Peru, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, etc.; and a wonderful aroma in the air. Drop by and buy freshly roasted whole beans for only $7.50 a pound. Call 888-442-5282 or visit OUTLAND JAVA

Or you can sample fresh-brewed Outland coffee at Ocean of India restaurant right here in Pacifica at Highway 1 and Rockaway Beach. Ocean of India now serves breakfast omelettes.


Comment Policy Change: Postmortem

We hope you like our new comments policy, which now requires people to sign their real, true, full names instead of pen names (also known as pseudonyms or noms de plume). Hey, it was fun while it lasted, hearing from colorful, knowledgeable characters with funny names, but let's face it, when you really wanted to know who it was, it got frustrating not knowing who you were reading and what their agenda was. In fact, we got so many complaints about the fake names that we finally gave in to our better instincts and ended the anonymity policy, including a couple of cutesy names that we made up. So far, most of you have said you like the new policy, and several of you have continued commenting under your real names. Only two people that we know of have not been able to continue commenting under their real names due to personal privacy concerns, but we have offered to post factual news items from them, unsigned, as long as they do not contain editorial opinions, which must be signed with real names. We hope that covers everything, but if you have remaining concerns or even second thoughts about this policy change, please feel free to scroll down and hit Comments at the bottom of this post. Or contact us offline at