Sunday, May 27, 2012

San Mateo Memorial Day Parade

In 1968, Sgt. Joe Artavia of the 101st Airborne Division, 'A' Company, was serving a tour of duty in Vietnam. 

Sgt. Artavia wrote a letter to his sister Linda in San Mateo, asking her to see if she could have the residents of San Mateo send letters and care packages to the members of his company. 

Sgt. Artavia wrote, "Some of these guys get no mail at all, and a letter from home would boost morale to the clouds." 

Linda did more then just send some letters. 

Thanks to her efforts, the City of San Mateo officially adopted 'A' Company of the 101st Airborne  Division, and from 1968 to 1972 sent a steady stream of letters, packages, and well wishes. 

Sadly, Sgt. Artavia died in action a week after receiving word that the City of San Mateo had officially adopted his unit. 

In 1972, the City of San Mateo was the only city in America to host a welcome home parade for soldiers returning from the Vietnam War, by hosting a parade for their adopted unit. 

In the 1990's, during Operation Desert Storm, and again after 9/11 and during the War on Terror, the City of San Mateo renewed it's relationship with the 101st Airborne Division by sending letters and care packages to their adopted sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The official policy of the City of San Mateo has always been to put aside the politics of conflict in support of the men and women protect our freedoms.

Today, 40 years later, the City of San Mateo hosted a Memorial Day Parade to honor our veterans, and celebrate San Mateo's adopted sons and daughters, 'A' Company of the 101st Airborne Division. 

'A' Company will be deploying to Afghanistan in November, and San Mateo will be there to support them.

The day was filled with a festive parade through Downtown San Mateo attended by thousands of community members.  The parade then led to a festival and picnic in San Mateo's Central Park. 

Young soldiers, veterans, and residents of all ages mingled in a fun and festive atmosphere.

On this Memorial Day weekend, the City of San Mateo remembers, thanks, and honors all the men and women, past and present, who have served our country in the Armed Forces.   Thank you!

Below are some photos from the day's parade and picnic:

 101st Airborne Division leading off the San Mateo Memorial Day Parade

Equestrian Unit

 Girls Scouts marching in the San Mateo Memorial Day Parade

 Crowds line the sidewalks of downtown San Mateo for the Memorial Day Parade

A restored Huey Helicopter similar to the type flown in the Vietnam War

 Members of the 101st mingle with San Mateo residents in Central Park

Thursday, May 24, 2012

San Mateo Taxpayers Should Not Subsidize Caltrain Alone

This blurb appeared in the "Reporters' Notebook" section of today's San Mateo Daily Journal:

San Mateo Deputy Mayor David Lim told Caltrain spokesman Mark Simon Monday night that if the transit agency seeks a San Mateo County only tax to fund its operations he will stand in firm opposition to it. Lim said San Mateo County residents should not be subsidizing the service for residents in Santa Clara and San Francisco counties. Caltrain is seeking a dedicated funding source as it is considering a three-county tax and other ideas to fund the service.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Opposing the Relocation of Peninsula High School to San Mateo

On May 21, 2012, the San Mateo City Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Scott Laurence, Superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District.  The School District is considering relocating the current location of Peninsula Continuation High School from it's current location in San Bruno to a new location.

Two of the sites under consideration are land located at Hillsdale High School or San Mateo High School. 

For reasons I'll outline below, I oppose relocation of Peninsula Continuation High School to either high school campus in San Mateo. 

As a graduate student and student teacher at the UCLA School of Education, I had a chance to volunteer and observe the impacts at Duke Ellington Continuation High School in Los Angeles, which was situated on the same property as Washington High School. Most of the students from Duke came out of Washington. 

As many of you know, continuation high schools are designed for students who have trouble in a traditional high school environment.  To help students in continuation high schools succeed, they need curriculum particularly suited for them in smaller classroom sizes, in an environment where they can get away from the distractions that caused them to get lost in high school in the first place

Students in a continuation high school face real challenges, and need the best environment we can provide them.  In a study relied on by the San Mateo Union High School District, continuation high school students "lack sufficient academic credits to remain on track to graduate with their age cohort, but the data also reveal them to be a highly vulnerable population characterized by multiple risk behaviors and other nonacademic learning barriers."  Alternative Education Options:  A Descriptive Study of California Continuation High Schools (Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, 2008)

Based on the research conducted by the School District, and after input from members of the community, I can not support the relocation of Peninsula High School to Hillsdale or San Mateo High School. 

As a former public school teacher in Los Angeles, I believe the relocation of Peninsula High School to either campus at Hillsdale High or San Mateo High is not in the best interests of any of our students, nor is it in the best interests of our community.

Placing a continuation high school next to a traditional high school creates legitimate safety concerns for all students.  It invites continuation high school students to fall back into behavior patterns and get back into environments which caused them trouble in the first place. 

There are also legitimate public safety concerns for neighborhoods in San Mateo as well as potential  traffic impacts in our community by adding another school in a small area.

I believe the report being presented to us on May 21 contains a number of omissions to student and public safety that need to be addressed. To read the staff reports and presentations for Monday's meeting at San Mateo City Hall, click HERE.

The study session on May 21 at San Mateo City Hall will be informational only.  The decision to move Peninsula High School will be made by the San Mateo Union High School Board of Trustees later this year. The San Mateo City Council has no authority to make decisions regarding property owned by the San Mateo Union High School District.

Therefore, at the Monday, May 21 meeting, no formal vote will be taken.  However, members of the community are encouraged to come state their opinion on the project so that open communication on the topic can begin. 

Additionally, San Mateo residents can contact Board Members of the San Mateo Union High School District directly at: 

Mailing Address

650 North Delaware St.

San Mateo, CA 94401


Robert H. Griffin


Term: 2009-2013


Peter H. Hanley


Term: 2009-2013


Linda Lees Dwyer


Term: 2009-2013


Marc Friedman


Term: 2012-2015


Stephen E. Rogers


Term: 2012-2015


Scott Laurence

Secretary to the Board

Monday, May 7, 2012

JOHN LEE: 1931-2012

Tonight the City of San Mateo is mourning the passing of former Mayor and City Councilman John Lee, after a courageous battle with cancer.

John Lee: 1931-2012

John served 13 years on the San Mateo City Council, from 1998 through 2011, when he retired due to term limits. John served as mayor to the City of San Mateo three times, most recently in 2010.

John served in the United States Marine Corp and was a Korean War veteran. John was a a small business owner, and a long-standing member of the San Mateo Rotary Club.

During his time on the San Mateo City Council, John helped usher in major improvements that have enhanced the quality of life for all San Mateo residents, including the building of the Century 12 Downtown San Mateo movie theatres, the state-of-the-art San Mateo Public Library and the San Mateo Police Department. John also supported the development of the Bay Meadows housing and commercial project, as well as transit-oriented development projects along the Caltrain corridor.

During his time on the City Council, John helped the City of San Mateo prepare for the 21st Century and beyond through the development of a transit-oriented master plan, a sustainability plan, and plans for the growth of bicycle and pedestrian friendly communities.

As a military veteran, John was especially proud of the 40-year relationship between the City of San Mateo and their adopted sons, the 101st Airborne Division, Company A.

John was not shy to express his opinions, and often took tough, principled stands on issues. However, John never lost his sense of respect for diverse points of view, encouraging people to "disagree without being disagreeable."

John's leadership will be missed in San Mateo, but his memory and legacy will live on as long as the City of San Mateo thrives.

Information on services will be forthcoming.

Working to Oversee Sound Budget Practices

A good Councilmember should strive to oversee routine financial matters to ensure the integrity of all financial records subject to City Council review, and not just when things look suspicious. 

To that end, yesterday I asked to review the private auditor report for the Downtown San Mateo Association (DSMA) in advance of approval of the annual assessment for the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA).

Since 1986, the DSMA has been the administrator for the DBIA, which assesses a yearly fee to businesses in the Downtown San Mateo area.  The fees are used to funds event, marketing efforts, and physical improvements meant to enhance and promote our Downtown district.  Annual assessment fees can range from $65 to $1300 depending on the size of the business. 

While the DSMA has an independent Board of Directors that administers the DBIA, state law provides the City Council with oversight authority for the assessment fees.

In reviewing the request for assessments to be renewed for the coming fiscal year, I noticed that a review of the independent audit for the DSMA (which is required at least once every two years) has not been completed in over three years.

Therefore, I have asked City staff to obtain the most recent independent audit of how the DSMA is using the assessment fees from local businesses.  A thorough review of that audit will be conducted by me and other members of the Council before a final decision is made on approving the annual assessment for the DBIA this year.

As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Reviewing financial audits for a group that has performed well over the years may not be the most exciting thing to do, but as your Councilmember it is something I am committed to doing to maintain the public trust. 

To view the staff report on the DBIA assessment due to be discussed tonight, click HERE

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Farmers' Markets in San Mateo

With Spring well under way, be sure to check out any number of famers' markets in and around San Mateo! 

Today's farmers' markets, such as the one up at College of San Mateo every Saturday morning, offer more than just your normal fruits, vegetables, and organic food.  You will find local community artists and live entertainment, such as magician Steven W. Koehler (pictured below).

See you at the farmers' market! 

Magician Steven W. Koehler making balloon animals
for young patrons at the farmer's market at College of San Mateo. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tackling Graffitti As A Community

Over the past month, the City of San Mateo has seen a surge of graffiti along various City streets, and on freeway wall maintained by Caltran. 

Working with San Mateo Senior Citizen Commissioner Tom Elliot as well as staff from the Public Works Department and the San Mateo Police Department, I took an aggressive approach to attack the sudden surge in graffiti:

  1. Requests were made to Public Works staff to expedite graffiti removal on all City property.
  2. Urgent requests were sent to Caltrans to have them begin clean-up of graffiti along the freeways.
  3. I requested a briefing from the San Mateo Police Department on the reasons for the sudden increase in graffiti in our City.
  4. I requested a joint study session with the City Council and the Community Relations Commission to start a public discussion on ways to improve the community response to prevent and report graffiti.
I am pleased to report that this week the City and Caltran took significant steps to remove or paint over much of the graffiti in our City.

On May 9 I am scheduled to meet with Police personnel to discuss the reasons for the increase of graffiti.  The purpose is to understand why the surge in graffiti as occurred, in order to shape better policy to address the issue in the long-term.  The meeting will also allow me to assess whether there are public safety concerns that need to be addressed.

On May 21, the City Council is scheduled to have a study session during our normal Council meeting.  This study session will include the members of the Community Relations Commission, and we will discuss ways to engage our community to better prevent and remove graffiti in our City.

Finally, I have drafted a letter to Steve Wagstaffe, the District Attorney of San Mateo, in which I have asked him to ensure that people arrested for graffiti are held accountable for their actions to the fullest extent of the law. 

It takes a community to combat vandalism, and the work of the Public Works Department, the Police Department, and Commissioners such as Tom Elliott are to be commended.  Graffiti is often the first sign of additional problems brewing within a neighborhood.  As your Councilman, I will continue to be vigilant and proactive on this issue.

To view the San Mateo Police MEDIA RELEASE on this issue, and for important safety tips on report graffiti, please click here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

San Mateo Rotary Scholarship Luncheon

The San Mateo Rotary luncheon today continues over 20 years of scholarship awards to deserving high school and community college students. This year, over $20,000 in scholarships are being awarded.

Thank you Rotary!