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July 2010

Undercover Sting: Fraud Team Busts 11 Unlicensed Pacifica Contractors

Eleven Pacifica contractors have been cited by state and local officials in an undercover sting. A Contractors State License Board (CSLB) fraud team and the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office ran the July 22 operation, posing as homeowners seeking bids on painting, landscaping, concrete work, etc. State law says that home improvement jobs over $500 for labor and materials must be done by workers with a state contractor's license. Eight of the 11 suspects cited also face charges of illegal advertising, according to CSLB. (from a Bay City News report)

Pacifica Woman Charged with Embezzlement


Two Bay Area women were arrested and charged with embezzlement Wednesday after allegedly writing $2.6 million in bonus checks to themselves over a four-year period at a San Francisco software company, prosecutors said. The investigation started shortly after one of the women, Maria Lourdes B. Dionisio, 46, of Pacifica (above), filed for unemployment insurance in May after she was fired from the firm for unrelated reasons. Dionisio listed annual pay of nearly $450,000, far above her $63,000 salary, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said. Dionisio was a payroll clerk at Autonomy Inc., a business software company whose customers include Coca-Cola, FedEx and Lockheed Martin. Investigators say Dionisio and Autonomy financial analyst Hannah Yau, 56, of Fremont, each pocketed about $1.3 million by capitalizing on their positions overseeing payroll transactions. "Essentially, these were foxes guarding the henhouse," Harris said during a news conference announcing the charges. Both women are accused of felony grand theft and embezzlement. Dionisio also faces felony computer use crimes. Investigators said they are freezing some of the women's assets and examining their finances to determine what became of the money. Dionisio and Yau are being held in San Francisco County Jail. Bail for each was set at $1 million. (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Police Department)



Dennis Willis: Flick Nation II @ Florey's Books

Florey's Books invites you to read local author and film critic Dennis Willis' new book Flick Nation: 2010 Movie Yearbook, 2nd Edition, his latest compendium of more than 650 capsule movie reviews, including Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, Shutter Island, Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, Robin Hood, Sex and the City 2, Splice, and dozens of direct-to-DVD titles not covered in other books. Willis also provides entertainment industry analysis, with subjects ranging from the explosion of 3D movies, Oscar's hits and misses, Hollywood's obsession with rebooting franchises, and Blu-ray's identity crisis. The 2ND EDITION is the most current movie book available, with coverage of the 2010 summer movie season. Flick Nation is an indispensable viewing guide with attitude! For more information about Dennis and his book, check out his websites:

Florey's Book Co., 2120 Palmetto Ave., Pacifica, 650-355-8811, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day!

iPood vs. iPod: One Little Vowel Movement Away

What's the difference between an iPod and an iPood?
One letter, says Apple
By Drew Cullen
22nd July 2010 11:21 GMT
The iPood, a small spade used by Aussie campers to bury their s---, has a new name following an intervention by Apple lawyers. In a letter to the iPood makers, Apple's legal eagles said: "iPood is clearly similar to Apple's iPod, there being merely a single letter difference." That could have been worded better, don't you think? "For obvious reasons," the letter continues," Apple's reputation for clean design and high-tech electronics will suffer should it be associated with latrines and the like through Sea to Summit's use of iPood."
iPood is to be renamed the Pocket Trowel by the manufacturer, a Perth outdoor adventure equipment supplier called Sea to Summit The company registered iPood as a trademark in Australia in 2006, after "identifying a hole in the market." We are not making this up. It is sturdy and alumnium and ethically sound. And it has, or had, a great name. We are sure that the publicity surrounding the name change will help sales. It also shows that lawyers don't always have to be attack dogs to get the results their clients require.

Pacifica City Council Member Nihart: 5-Year Plan

Traditionally, August has been held as vacation month for staff members as well as City Council. But council meetings are not the only meetings attended. This week alone I have four scheduled meetings as well as other tasks related to council work. The meetings are only a very small part. In addition, largely due to our financial situation and the necessary negotiations with employees, in January I took a voluntary one-year 20 percent cut in that pay. Some others have taken cuts, too, so I would double-check the previously quoted per-month salary. As a council, we need to continue to set the tone and leadership to walk ourselves out of our current financial straits. City Manager Steve Rhodes and I are willing to meet with any group of citizens to answer questions and discuss our five-year financial plan. Please feel free to contact me at 650-359-7624 or Mr. Rhodes at City Hall and we will be happy to schedule a time to talk and answer questions. I remain hopeful for our future if we work together. I encourage everyone to get involved, get informed, ask questions, and discuss solutions. "Together we can thrive!" is NOT just a campaign slogan. It is my earnest belief.



Get Vaccinated for Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

2009 03 07_1612_1
2010 may be a peak year for pertussis 

There has been an increase in the number of cases of pertussis (commonly referred to as "Whooping Cough") in San Mateo County and throughout the U.S. this year.  The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is very concerned that 2010 will be a peak year for pertussis, as was 2005 when at least eight infants died. So far in 2010, five infants are known to have died of pertussis in California. This year all infant deaths are under 3 months of age. 

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is an infection of the respiratory tract that usually lasts 6-10 weeks.  Symptoms begin with a runny nose, sneezing, possibly a low-grade fever, and mild cough.  After a week or two, a persistent cough develops, which may occur in explosive bursts, sometimes ending in a high-pitched whoop and vomiting.  Older children and adults may have a less typical cough.  Although the disease is less severe in adults and older children, they can unknowingly infect infants and preschoolers who are at risk for serious illness. 
Pertussis can lead to serious complications, such as seizures and pneumonia, and even death. 83% of deaths from pertussis occur in infants younger than 3 months of age and household contacts have accounted for the majority of implicated transmissions to infants.
Pertussis is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes tiny droplets into the air and another person breathes them in.  An infected person is contagious at the time of the early cold-like symptoms, before persistent coughing starts.  Persons remain contagious until about three weeks after the persistent cough begins (for a total contagious period of about five weeks for untreated pertussis).  Those treated with antibiotics are no longer contagious after completing five days of treatment. San Mateo County Health System Communicable Disease Control Program recommends that students ill with pertussis remain home from school during their contagious period. 

Why are we concerned about pertussis among infants? 
Infants under the age of 12 months have more serious illness from pertussis and they are more likely to have complications and be hospitalized than persons in other age groups. In the 1990s, about two thirds of infants reported with pertussis were hospitalized. Infants are more likely to have pneumonia or convulsions. Infants also are at greatest risk of fatal pertussis. In recent years, 8 to 40 infant deaths from pertussis are reported to CDC annually.

Children should be vaccinated against pertussis

Children should be vaccinated with DTaP (diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine). DTaP is safe and effective, and prevents severe pertussis and death among infants and young children. The best way to protect infants from pertussis is to give DTaP vaccine on time at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. At least three DTaP doses are needed to have the maximum benefit from the vaccination.  However, per the American Academy of Pediatrics 2009 Red Book, "If pertussis is prevalent in the community, immunization can be started as early as 6 weeks of age, and doses 2 and 3 in the primary series can be given at intervals of 4 weeks."  Your pediatrician may recommend an accelerated DTaP schedule for your infant during the current pertussis epidemic.  Vaccine will then  be given at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years of age.

Parents play a key part in helping to minimize and control the spread of pertussis

Parents are urged to make sure their infant receives all recommended doses of DTaP on time to best protect their infant. An additional dose of DTaP vaccine is recommended at 15-18 months and at 4-6 years of age to maintain protection.  Protection from childhood vaccine fades over time. Parents of newborns should be cautious about their baby's exposure to people who are sick. It is always a good idea to wash your hands and ask others to wash their hands before holding a baby, and to refrain from being near a newborn if you have any symptoms of illness, especially cold or flu symptoms.

What populations should get a Tdap vaccine?

A dose of Tdap is recommended by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for all individuals ages 7 years and older who have not previously received the vaccine. In particular, healthcare workers, preschool teachers, parents, people who travel to countries where rates of pertussis remain high, and those who work with infants, such as caregivers are highly encouraged to get a Tdap vaccine. 

In partnership, First 5 San Mateo County and the San Mateo County Health System have provided the information contained in this Health Bulletin.  For additional information about pertussis or to schedule a 20 minute presentation about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of spreading pertussis, contact Natasha Desai at or (650) 573-2009. For additional information about First 5 San Mateo County, contact Chonne Sherman, Communication & Operations Liaison at

Where to get your Pertussis Vaccination in San Mateo County




Mercury: UK High-Speed Prototype @ 225 MPH

A sleek new design for Britain’s latest high-speed train is being touted as the next British transport design icon. This is the first time since the Concorde that a transport model design is one a Brit can be proud of, they are saying. Dubbed the “Mercury,” it is being called the “Concorde of the tracks!” Designed by the British company Priestmangoode, this train is supposed to “persuade people to travel by train,” by making train travel “as exciting as air travel and as sexy as the latest car!” The train is up to 400 meters or 1,312 feet long, has a huge nose and travels at speeds reaching 360 km or 225 mph.

Opinion: Under the Radar at Sharp Park Golf


Hundreds of people, including Sharp Park golfers, attended the San Francisco Board of Supervisors budget hearings on June 21 and heard from all the social service groups whose budgets were being cut. Surprisingly, Pacifica City Manager Steve Rhodes was there to speak “on behalf of the mayor and City Council of Pacifica.” He testified, “The City of Pacifica has been providing information and assistance to San Mateo County staff to support the county in developing a proposal to take over operation of the (Sharp Park golf) course, which would relieve San Francisco of this responsibility in the future.”

Rhodes was asked, “Does that proposal include that you will indemnify San Francisco, too?” He replied, “It’s my understanding that it will. The County of San Mateo is working with Rec and Park to make a full proposal that would take over full operation and risk of operation.” The risks and liabilities that San Francisco now faces at Sharp Park were listed by Congresswoman Jackie Speier at a recent town hall forum in San Francisco. She said that San Francisco “is looking for a partner that will simultaneously take over the land and accept the liability that goes with owning a seawall, a sensitive habitat with a balky pumping system, and a lead-polluted firing range (as well as) the potential to … flood nearby homes.” And Rhodes said that we San Mateo County residents are willing to accept that liability. Gracious! Whatever was he thinking? Does our City Council know that he spoke on its behalf? Did council direct him to make that statement about indemnification? What was our council thinking?

Of course, San Mateo County has a budget deficit of only $150 million, unlike San Francisco’s multimillion-dollar deficit, so maybe we "wealthy" San Mateo County taxpayers can better afford the risks. Rhodes also mentioned that private “interested parties” believe they can make a profit at Sharp Park. The private parties make money – perhaps – but we the public underwrite millions of dollars of potential liabilities. This means private profit but public risk in the form of additional taxes! Are WE willing to take on those risks?

San Francisco has for years been avoiding the problem of lead contamination because of the high cost of removal. The balky pump has caused death by desiccation of untold red-legged frog embryos, which San Francisco has documented for years. Fines for killing of endangered species start at $3,500 for the first kill and go up. (One dead snake at SFO recently cost the contractor more than $1 million!) An “improved” sea wall itself eventually will cause loss of the beach in front of it due to erosion. What is the price for a beach that disappears? No one can predict what the loss of the Sharp Park Beach surely would cost Pacifica in lost tourist revenue.

Maybe the golfers themselves in their new role as protectors of frog and snake could assume all the risk. While golfers on their hands and knees pulling “Hawaiian grass” from the greens is an image to treasure, their volunteer work does not preserve habitat for the endangered snakes and frogs. Granted, not running “a mower through” eliminates the chance of chopping the frogs and snakes to pieces, and does “offer a little bit of protection.” Certainly these efforts are appreciated, but they do nothing to address the need identified by San Francisco Parks and Recreation for $30 million to $50 million in restoration and renovations.

If public money, as Speier proposes, is to be spent on anything at Sharp Park Golf Course, shouldn’t we want our money used to restore the site and make it accessible to everyone, not merely to temporarily safeguard golf? Shouldn’t we want a resilient wetland without artificial confines that can respond naturally to climate change and sea level rise? GGNRA could work its magic at Sharp Park, with a new visitor center drawing more tourists to our coast.

Reason impels us to agree with the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters. It says, “Restoration will provide access to hiking trails, picnicking spots, camping facilities and education opportunities sorely needed in San Mateo County; it will ensure the continued existence and abundance of endangered species that San Francisco is charged with protecting; it will improve access to precious coastal resources; and it will make the coastline more resistant to the expected environmental changes that will be wrought by global climate change and sea level rise.” Only a new national park at Sharp Park can accomplish this vision of an adequate restoration and serve everyone’s best interests.

Free Seminar on Business Loans: Sign Up Now

How Can I Get a Business Loan? is a free seminar sponsored by Congresswoman Jackie Speier.  The event will be held on August 23. Experts from banks will answer this question, and many more, from small businesses befuddled by today’s lending climate. The Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Center also will answer questions and explain business plans and other services that they offer. Ever wondered how to get qualified as a vendor for the federal government? Experts will reveal the secrets. Seating is limited to the first 150 businesses that reserve. This is a free seminar of approximately three hours—time that will reap rewards for years to come. Call today to reserve your space: 650-342-0300. Attendees will be advised about the starting time and location once these have been finalized.

UC Berkeley Museum: Sharp Park Natural History


Historic photos and field notes from the UC Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology indicate that Sharp Park was once excellent habitat for the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog--and show that Sharp Park Golf Course is the primary threat to both species at the site. This undated photo (above) shows Sharp Park's Laguna Salada before the golf course was built, with Mori Point Ridge in the background. The lagoon is clearly fringed with cattails, vegetation that can't grow in saline environments.  This indicates that Laguna Salada was not a "salt lake," as golf privatization advocates have argued, but a fresh lagoon where the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog could thrive. At least until Sharp Park Golf Course was built.  The earliest systematic biological surveys of San Mateo County were conducted by Dr. Wade Fox. In 1946 he found a dead San Francisco Garter Snake at Sharp Park, which he concluded was "probably killed by golfers--they probably die frequently in this manner." Presaging the species' precipitous decline, Dr. Fox  also noted that the only secure areas for the species at Sharp Park were the wet grasses near the lagoon: The remaining golf course lands were hazardous to the species. The San Francisco Garter Snake is now the most imperiled vertebrate species on the San Francisco Peninsula. In modern times, both the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog have been killed by golf operations. We can do better: Let’s restore Sharp Park and build a better public park on the property. (Wild Equity Institute)

Highway 1 Widening: EIR Comes Next

San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) wants to widen Highway 1/Calera Parkway to six lanes. (See the comment thread below this post to follow community reactions and updates following the June 22 public meeting and comment period.) The stated purpose of the proposed project is to reduce congestion from approximately a half mile north of Reina Del Mar Avenue to approximately a quarter mile south of Fassler/Rockaway Beach avenues, a distance of some 1.3 miles. But many Pacificans and others believe that widening the highway would harm adjacent wetlands, not solve traffic problems in the long term, blight the landscape with high retaining walls on both sides of the road, and cost as much as $50 million. Stay tuned to this space for new developments in the widening debate. 

PUBLIC INFORMATION CONTACTS: SMCTA Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) member Jim Vreeland (Pacifica City Council), CAC Vice Chair Barbara Arietta at 415-246-0775 or, SMCTA Headquarters at 650-508-6283 and

SMCTA's package includes 11 traffic alternatives but studies only two, both to widen the road: SEE COASTSIDER ANALYSIS

Highway 1 Segmentation History: Calera Parkway Agreement, January 22, 1958

S.F. Supervisors Spare Sharp Park Golf Course

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 20 adopted a $6.5 billion final 2010-2011 budget that leaves intact funding for Sharp Park Golf Course. The vote was 10-1 to adopt the budget, with only Supervisor Chris Daly objecting. The Sharp Park issue was not publicly mentioned by any board member in the full board's public deliberations. Golf opponents, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, argued in Budget Committee hearings in May and June leading up to the full board's action that the golf course should be closed to free up money for parks, arts, and social welfare services; the argument was supported by a coalition of social services providers and some environmental organizations. But San Francisco Public Golf Alliance members defended their turf, with a letter-writing campaign and public testimony at the Budget Committee's June 21 public hearing, including extensive testimony from Sharp Park's racially diverse and low-income golfing population, and financial documents from the Controller's Office and the Rec & Park Department, showing that golf revenues at Sharp Park exceed operating expenses. At the end of the day, the Supervisors chose not to close the course.   

In April 2009, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a co-founder of the California Green Party, opened the Sharp Park campaign by introducing legislation directing the Rec & Park Department to study possible closure of Sharp Park, a 78-year-old Alister MacKenzie-designed municipal golf links owned by San Francisco but located in Pacifica, on the San Mateo County Coast about 10 miles south of the San Francisco line. That legislation was supported by the Committee for Biological Diversity, an endangered species litigation specialist, which contended that golf was incompatible at the site with two federally protected species, the California Red-Legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake, which live in and around lakes and wetlands at the western edge of the golf course. But since that time, the Save Sharp Park Golf Course campaign has won the support of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Northern California Golf Association, World Golf Foundation, the Pacifica City Council, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Sons-in-Retirement, Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, The Sierra Club's Loma Prieta Chapter, Laborers' Local 261, and 4,500 new members of the Public Golf Alliance.

In December 2009, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission and its Park, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee both approved the Rec and Park Department's six-month Sharp Park Study, which found that continued golf operations at Sharp Park would be compatible with restoration of habitat for the endangered species, and recommended restoration of both the natural habitat and the golf course. With its July 19 budget vote, the Board of Supervisors joins the list of San Francisco governmental bodies that have heard and rejected the close-the-golf-course arguments of the Center for Biological Diversity and its allies.   

Richard Harris
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance
415-392-5431, ext. 203

The People's Think Tank: New Airport Colonoscopy Device Defeats Terrorist Body Bombs

The People's Think Tank has learned that Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have introduced a  bill in the U.S. Senate called the Securing Aircraft From Explosives Responsibly: Advanced Imaging Recognition (“SAFER AIR”) Act, which would require all commercial airports in the U.S. to use full-body scanners as their primary screening method by no later than 2013. This is an obvious attempt to thwart future underwear and shoe bombers. While some praise this new intrusion into the privacy of U.S. airline passengers, others point out that it may be a day late and a dollar short because credible reports coming out of the caves of various Central Asian countries say that explosive experts working for unlawful combatants have already invented what they call a "body bomb." a twin-chambered suppository containing a binary explosive activated by drinking a soda. But there may be good news on the horizon. Rumors from the mail room at Chertoff Group are that one of its clients is developing an airport-grade colonoscopy device that can screen 300 passengers an hour, using radiating digital technology that requires the subject to disrobe and remain seated on the scope for only 1.2 seconds. A Chertoff spokesperson refused to comment but insisted that the Chertoff Group client will do whatever is necessary to keep the flying public scanned and secure.

Riptide Reporter Sights Coyote in North Pacifica


I have never seen or heard of a coyote being sighted in our neighborhood of Edgemar before. But there he or she was, in broad daylight, on the steep part of Monterey Road where the two mini-parks are. I was driving down the hill and the coyote crossed south to north; there's quite a large open space above the park on the hill. This was shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 20. I hope it's a traveler, and not setting up shop with a family. The last time I heard of a coyote family setting up in Linda Mar, about 15-20 cats paid with their lives before the coyotes moved on. We're talking domestic, not feral, cats. If you live in the northern part of Pacifica, you might want to keep your pets indoors for a few nights.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Coyotes abound in San Pedro Valley Park. I have seen and heard them. So Linda Martians also should heed the above advice.)