Wednesday, August 31, 2011

San Mateo Autumn Moon Festival this Sunday, September 4!

This Sunday in downtown San Mateo, come enjoy the diversity of our City at the second annual Autumn Moon Festival.  

Originally one of the most important annual celebrations for Asian communities around the world to celebrate the autumn harvest, in San Mateo the event is an opportunity to celebrate our diversity by bringing together individuals, families, and business from all walks of life!  

The event, which will run from 10 am to 4 pm, will feature live entertainment, lion dances, arts and crafts, traditional performances, delicious food and product vendors, and exhibitors from community organizations and government agencies. 

As we celebrate and explore San Mateo's diversity, we also learn more about the rich cultural tradition surrounding the Autumn Moon Festival.

For more information and driving direction to downtown San Mateo, click here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Every dollar counts!

Saving every dollar of your tax dollars is important. 

At last night's City Council meeting, I pulled an item off the consent calendar dealing with approval of a revised contract for the company that provides software services and credit card processing for the City of San Mateo's Parks and Recreation Department for online registration of recreation programs such as swimming, dancing, art, etc.

Since 1995 the City of San Mateo has contracted with the company "Active Network" to provide the software to handle online registrations.  The software "Active" provides has been user friendly, and the rate charged the City for the service has been reasonable.  

Up until this year, the City of San Mateo handled the credit card processing for online registration in-house, utilizing the City's computers to process credit card transactions.  However staff decided to make all our credit card information was as secure as possible, and to therefore allow Active to take over the collection and storage of credit card processing.  It is a decision I fully support, and City staff are to be commended for their work. 

However, in reviewing the staff report, I noticed two things:

1)  Although the City has been loyal cutomers with Active since 1995, Active was asking for an increase of 25% in fee.  This increase in fees means an additional $23,500 per year in fees for this service.  

2)  City staff did not open the new contract process to competitive bidding. 

During my time on the Council, I have been consistent in my belief that an open bidding process is important because it not only ensures a quality product through solicitation of bids from a variety of companies, it also uses market forces to help drive down the cost of services.  The result is savings of your tax dollars. 
I am happy to report that based on my request, the Council voted to continue the matter to give time for staff to look into a competitive bidding process, while ensuring that the public is not adversely affected by any disruption to online registration of recreation services. 

You will not read about it in the newspapers, and it won't be on the nightly television news.  the amount of $23,500 may not even seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things.  But if you saved $23,500 on ten contracts, you would save $235,000.  It all adds up.  And it took less than 10 minutes of Council meeting time to make sure we are spending your tax dollars wisely. 

I will continue to advocate for responsible spending wherever possible.  

To watch video of last night's meeting and the above item, click HERE and watch Item # 9.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bell hires 'one of the most respected city managers in California'

Los Angeles Times
August 12, 2011

The Bell City Council has appointed Arne Croce, the former city manager of San Mateo, as the city’s interim chief administrative officer.

Croce, who served as San Mateo’s top administrator for 18 years, will start work Aug. 22.

“Bell needs somebody to move the city forward,” Mayor Ali Saleh said. “He seems to be a great fit.”

Croce, 60, will be paid $3,230 a week and receive no benefits. He replaces Ken Hampian, former city manager of San Luis Obispo, who was appointed acting city administrator July 27 as a bridge until someone could fill the position for a longer period.

Saleh said the city hopes to hire a permanent chief administrative officer in six to nine months.

The last person to hold the job permanently was Robert Rizzo, who along with seven other former Bell officials is facing corruption charges.

Hampian said Croce was “one of the most respected city managers in California.” Before working in San Mateo, Croce was city manager in Los Altos for six years. He left San Mateo in 2008 and spent 10 ½ months traveling abroad with his wife. Since then, he has been a consultant on local government, which included stints in Iraq and Kosovo.

Croce will have his work cut out for him in Bell, which is struggling to remain solvent and faces a major rebuilding effort from the Rizzo era.

He said he wasn’t looking for an interim position but said several colleagues suggested he apply for the Bell job. “Yes, it is a tough place and there are a lot of issues and lot of scrutiny, but residents want to do the right thing and the council wants do the right thing, and I think our profession wants to do the right thing,” he said.

Croce said he won’t be a candidate for the permanent position but will coordinate the effort to find candidates.

Though Bell originally had problems finding applicants for its interim city manager position, Saleh said that more than 60 people eventually applied.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chili Cookoff! - Downtown Central Park - August 20

Downtown San Mateo continues to be the hot place for summer fun! 

On Saturday, August 20 from 11 AM to 5 PM, join us in Central Park in Downtown San Mateo as the San Mateo Firefighter's Association hosts their annual Chili Cookoff to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).  

Various firefighter groups from around the Bay Area will enter their chili in the cookoff, meaning there will be a variety of tasty chili to choose from.  Cold beer and live music from Explorer and Wonderbread5 will also be part of the festivities. 

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Noriega Street Food Fair - Saturday, August 6

San Mateo's State Senator Leland Yee is promoting healthy lifestyles at the FREE Noriega Street Food Fair in San Francisco on Saturday, August 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Showcasing ways to prepare simple, healthy meals and by providing resources to encourage a health-savvy lifestyle, everyone is invited to sample an array of tasty eats from throughout the Bay Area, including Chinese cuisine, tacos, Jamba Juice fruit smoothies, tofu treats and even meat-free German currywurst.

This FREE event will also offer five healthy cooking demonstrations, nutritious recipe ideas, free healthy food samples from vendors including Pirate’s Booty and Honest Tea, free giveaways, health education and free consultations from Chinese and Western health-care professionals, pony rides, live entertainment, children’s activities and more.

The Noriega Street Food Fair is free and open to the public. It has been made possible thanks to generous donations from Safeway, Wells Fargo, PG&E, Recology and Comcast.  For more information, click here.

Thanks to the Office of Senator Leland Yee for promoting healthy lifestyles in our community!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Toyonaka Ambassadors Visit Downtown San Mateo

Yesterday I was honored to host a delegation of visitors from San Mateo's Sister City of Toyonaka, Japan.

Included in the delegation were two officials from the City of Toyonaka who were in town to discuss strengthening cultural exchanges between our two cities. Topics discussed included creating a pen pal program between elementary schools, and improving the high school student exchange program.

Also part of the delegation were Toyonaka high school students Saki Kakimoto and Mitsuki Naito, who earned the trip after winning an essay and speech contest in Toyonaka.

 Toyonaka high school ambassadors Saki Kakimoto and Mitsuki Naito
Photo by Bill Silverfarb, San Mateo Daily Journal

The lunch for the Toyonaka delegation was held at H.K. Causeway Bay Chinese restaurant in downtown San Mateo. I was proud to host the event, and did not use any City funds to host the lunch.

Next week our San Mateo All-Star baseball team will be heading over to Toyonaka as part of a goodwill tour. I know you will all join me in wishing them a safe journey as they represent San Mateo and spread international goodwill! I know they will make San Mateo proud!

Strong cultural exchange with Toyonaka is great for our children and our community at-large, so I am proud to continue to foster our relationship with Toyonaka. Look for more events in the coming months as we gear up for the 50th anniversary of our Sister-City relationship with Toyonaka in 2012!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Apologies for typos!