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About those long night meetings

Along with a couple dozen Coastsiders, my Fourth of July started with fireworks at the Coastside Fire Protection District board meeting Tuesday night. (Actually, the meeting sort of fizzled at the start. Because two times were listed on the agenda, board President Doug Mackintosh, with advice from counsel, opted to do some housekeeping at 6:30 p.m., saving the juicier stuff till after 7:30 p.m.)

Most of us knew we were in for a long night when we saw all those folding metal chairs arranged to face the dais in a cold garage bay of the Main Street firehouse. But, as 10 p.m. became 11 p.m. and finally the dawn of a new day, it occurred to me that these things can run too late. By the end of it all, I felt a lot like that training dummy you see over Assistant Chief Paul Cole's shoulder in the accompanying photo.

In the course of nearly 30 years of newspaper reporting, I've been to hundreds of government meetings. Conservatively, I'd say I've been to 700 meetings involving wooden gavels, buzzing sound systems and cranky public speakers. (One every other week for 28 years.) Many of those meetings were held at night.

Public officials hold meetings at night for good reason. Many of them have day jobs and can't always get away in the middle of a weekday. And they really do want public participation at their meetings. If they hold a meeting at 2 p.m., many of their constituents will be at work.

So what to do? I have two ideas.

First, why not start meetings earlier, at 5:30 p.m. instead of 6:30 or 7:30 p.m.? Governing boards could address housekeeping matters early in the meeting to allow folks time to get home from work. That would kill the dinner hour before the meeting, but that is a price I would pay.

Secondly, hold more meetings on Saturdays. It's certainly not a perfect solution. Few of us want to spend our Saturdays on those cold folding chairs, but at least we could stay awake.

Your mother was right. Nothing good happens after midnight, at least not at a public meeting. Folks are tired and irritable and there is plenty of research to suggest that we don't make the best decisions that late at night.


Comments

"By the end of it all, I felt a lot like that training dummy you see over Assistant Chief Paul Cole's shoulder in the accompanying photo." And I thought that was a dead body!; a(nother) victim of the fray!

Due to the volume of and the length of the FD meetings, Clay asks: "So what to do? I have two ideas." Add one, Clay: how about we have a well run, problem free Fire District where all we see is top drawer professionalism from all involved? That way we'd be back to one meeting per month and I suspect, with all things running smoothly, that single meeting would probably last maybe a couple of hours.

That, of course, would eliminate late night meeting, the need for an earlier start, and keep our Saturdays open for simple things, like family and yard work!


George, I agree. If we had a fire board we could trust to act intelligently in our best interests, life as we knew it in the past 3 years could go on again. However, we don't, and so we can't. What we have is 3 board members who are choosing to plunge ahead with their personal agenda with no interest in the facts being presented to them that do not support that agenda, that have been shown will cost the taxpayers millions, and may adversely affect the safety of our community. One need only look at the crises in other fire districts that are forcing them to cut back staff and close stations at the onset of fire season. CAL FIRE can and will cover our personnel needs, even if we experience a shortage for some reason. They bring outside firefighters in at times so they can learn the Coastside and hit the ground running if we have a large incident where we need outside help. Our firefighters may be called on to help with large incidents elsewhere, giving them incredibly valuable experience for when it happens to us here. You can't learn these things just from training alone; experience is critical, and getting this experience here on the Coastside just isn't possible. We hope these things never happen, but they can and probably will some day. If the eucalyptus covered El Granada Hills suddenly start looking like the Oakland Hills in that awful fire, do we want our first responders to see it as a familiar emergency or as an awful shock? I know which I want! Firefighters who have spent their entire lives and careers here in our fairly protected environment are not the best prepared for the earthquakes, tsunamis and wild fires that we're prone to. Training is a first step, but alone, it isn't enough.

We have a Board majority who cannot think outside their own little worlds, and who can't believe that anybody not born and raised here can know any more than they do or care any more than they do about our lives and properties. That's narrow minded at its worst, dangerous, short sighted, and uncaring about their community, despite their empty words to the contrary. Actions speak louder than words!


JCU started a thread, Web Link outlining an interesting and well done timeline.

Those interested might want to take a look.


If Mackintosh could say something without adding a 20 second pregnant pause to each profound thought he might choose to express with us things might go faster.

Bolanos, our labor negotiator, was paid over 2000 thousand dollars for sitting there for six hours doing nothing. The only purpose he served was to defend the honor of the numbers cruncher amongst the Due Diligence Consultants. Susan George. Ms George to her credit, pointed out that even with her interpretation, CalFire saves us a minimum of 700 grand a year over the Stand Alone Department the DDC is concocting.

The well tanned hired gun, Mr Bolanos, made a fool of himself and we paid for it!! This labor negotiator is rooting for a stand alone department. Why you ask?

Because we will need a 300 dollar per hour labor negotiator to negotiate the real numbers with Local 2400 if the DDF achieves its mission.

Besides, we are up to a long meeting. But 5 of them between May 30th and July 3rd is wearing us down. An obvious ploy by the rude members of the DDF.

It isn't working Director Mackintosh. This community is on to you and the shameful actions of the DDF. You will never live this down. Your friends and family will turn in shame when the citizens who you have insulted confront you at your shop. If you bring up hearsay about little old ladies coming into your shop who have the bejeebers scared out of them by a recall representative, your shop and your past history regarding fire inspections and cronies will be discussed in detail. You had best not be spreading hearsay regarding Local 2400 fire Chiefs who are whispering in your ear that they would dump CalFire.

Don't you dare insult this community by using unsubstantiated gossip provide by Boss's of your Local 2400 employed son again. You said you only wanted what is best for your family. Don't be so obvious when it comes to advancing your families agenda.


2000 thousand dollars?


Tone down the rhetoric a tad, please. Try to make your point without saying something snide about another guy's tan, and so on.

Thank you.


For the well spoken lady from Canada Cove. Directors Alifano and Mackintosh were rude to you the other evening. I tried to ask you a question about how much value you and your friends at Canada Cove attached to knowing that we had Professionals like CalFire Firemen who would respond if there is trouble. I wanted to ask how much faith you had in our previous departments per their shameful scandals. I wanted to know if you felt there was extra value in having peace of mind.

Mackintosh was not interested in how his quest for a stand alone department affects the peace of mind of the single most vulnerable group on the Coastside. Our Senior citizens. They count on CalFire. They don't worry that the crew that shows up to deal with a life threatening emergency is pissing each others sleeping bags or is suing the fourth chief in less then a year.

We all have so many things to worry about. Until Directors Alifano, Riddell, and Mackintosh started their Jihad against CalFire, we weren't worried about the single most valuable service a community provides for itself.

You are a piece of work Mr Mackintosh. You should be ashamed. I suspect many of your friends and family are.


We are paying that guy 300 dollars per hour and he is trying to get more of our money. We are paying for his vanity too. Sorry Clay but outrage needs to provoked. Bolanos is not on our side and is in fact a danger to the peace of mind of our community.

Commenting on Bolanos's tan or the fact his suits cost more than most of us make in week is totally appropriate to the goal getting folks to realize how much their trust in the DDF is being abused.


I know better, but, for the sake of argument, I disagree. I don't see how Mr. Bolanos's clothes are germane. I get that you want to paint him as a well-paid urbane fop with no interest in us yokels, but I don't think it works. He dressed professionally and sat quietly through most of the proceedings. And even if I did think his coat important, I would think commenting on his tanliness was silly.

I promise I'll bow out now. Sorry for the diversion.


Bolanos made himself a target when he started advocating that we proceed down a path that is putting boku bucks in his pocket. He has put well over 10 thousand of our dollars in his pockets helping the DDF perpetuate the fiction of Due Diligence.

Just like when Mackintosh and the Riddell Brothers sucked millions out of our pockets into the pockets of Local 2400 when they did everything they could to inflict Local 2400 on our community, now Mackintosh is giving away our money at a 300 dollar per hour clip to his hired gun who in no way gives a damn about how this farce affects the peace of mind of our citizens or how much it will cost us to deal with effects of the scam Mr Bolanos is helping the DDF pull on the people of the Coastside.

Mr Bolanos deserves no respect and at 300 dollars per hour, I suspect he could care less what I think of his girly tan, his Rolex, or his threads. He is not an honest player in this drama. He says what is in his best interests and Mackintosh pays him our money to do it.

Why the Review is not investigating this hoax and printing front page exposes is a mystery. Our community needs everybody to pay attention to this. We are being ripped off by Bolanos, Mackintosh, Alifano, and Riddell.

They are playing hardball with us. They try to hide behind attorney client privilege. The try to change the rules arbitrarily on the fly. Riddell sneers at anybody who dares to question his fatwas. Alifano says he said things and then denies he said them in the same meeting. Mackintosh picks and chooses who gets a hard 5 minute limit and who doesn't. Mackintosh selectively expresses outrage at a lack of examples being provided when he deems doing so to be advantageous to him. Mackintosh bitches about hearsay then relays gossip from unnamed over the hill, Local 2400 Chiefs. Mackintosh tells tales of little old ladies wandering into Strawflower Electronics and expressing terror at what some unnamed recall-ista supposedly said. Time to toss a few brush back pitches.

I would think commenting on his tanliness was silly.

The whole exercise in Due Diligence is silly.

The DDF has seriously underestimated the intelligence and resolve of this community. The DDF has not a clue just how offended this community is by their arrogance. Their hired gun who is advocating for the goals of the DDF on our dime, is not on our side. Bolanos needs to be shamed too. If his parents knew what he was helping the DDF perpetuate, they would be ashamed. He doesn't give a hoot about what is best for us. The only reason he is involved is because it will put our money in his pocket.


Oh, those silly public employee unions... now what are they up to??!! Ha ha.

Hey hun, where do you want to order from, and did you exercise your Googly options as cashless this time? We have the Paris trip coming up....


For a guy that bitches about taxes and public Unions, you sure are disrespectful towards those that take them on. You want to know why Obama and Bush get away with the crap they get away with Truth Addict? One reason is spit wad tossers like you who can't stand to see Americans stand up to do something about that which you piss and moan about but don't have the gumption to do anything about.

You are just the kind of Rube that Nanny State Types count on to distract folks from taking action. Grow some stones and say something about the topic instead of mocking those who have the guts to endure the pathetic insults of such as you.

You sir, are a cowardly bully. As long as you have your anonymity, you'll talk smack. I suspect you have the good sense not to embarrass yourself or your family by trying to say anything meaningful when folks in the room know your name.

Go ahead Truth Addict, chew hard on another spit wad then show us how clever and brave you are.


Clay,

After "30 years of newspaper reporting" and being an editor who caters to basically 5 or so jobless or retired posters in this TALKABOUT section which you monitor---and sometimes actually dignify pitiful opinions.What can you say in your defense about this online board which you or someone created?

The subjects addressed are mostly controlled by a group of people in Saville Row suits 'over the hill' who were all elected by big money and not one of you has the gagootzas to stand up and defy those responsible for the collapse and running of this ridiculously absurd area where some Washington jerk makes a front page appearance for having eaten at Sam's Chowder house and then farted forward to DC to make trouble for Obama.

You are mostly all "star fuc*ers' who run for autograph books instead of stoning a jerk who found out there is no money here to be found to support his lover, Romney.

There is nothing here anymore..Just horrendous traffic on a cloudy July 4th (primarily Asians in Cadillac SUV's looking for real estate bargains)and an occasional great review of our area by some pal of your's at the S.J.MERCURY who thinks this is a delightful and QUIRKY (that word again for a depressed area with no Cunha's) place for tourists to visit and enjoy $50/per person lunches with frozen seafood in tastelessly designed restaurants which do not cater to locals.

This coastal area has become a joke that I would not be sure I would mention on a resume should you, Clay, lose your job, or if the HMB REVIEW bellies up while you keep permitting posters to quote in their WEB LINKS from OTHER papers or not clearing the photos which are used by some who must have the Library of Congress equivalent of cutesy copyrighted images to highlight their rantings.

What none of you have done is to try and prevent the COUNTY from making rulings of how overgrowth of trees which will ultimately destroy all the land between HMB and Pacifica (hide in tunnels)after the BIG ONE hits and our gas lines ignite the crappily built homes that went up prior to Bush's war.

I do suggest you watch or listen to Lewis Black who really has got a great profile of most people who read this junk and which I have him read for material for his sold out tours and whose topics are mostly about people like those who write and gripe here endlessly.

ee cummings


I think that strayed off topic. But I do like the gratuitous ee cummings reference, so I'll let it stand.


Isn't ee cummings the title of a high production value porn flick from the Seventies?


Seems ACELA spends a lot of time reading this junk and commenting on it. How very strange. The comments, that is.


About 1 for every hundred posted like fools like your friends.


It is kind amusing that the oh so clever ACELA SARABIA wastes her time telling how we are wasting our time. She never says anything and tries to create the impression of being an intellectual by posting non nonsensical ravings about the tunnel and trees crowding out the locals.

Tell us ACELA SARABIA, are you still taking credit for finding investors for Cunhas? What about those wells you were digging in coastal Niger? Did you tour North Africa like you did last year?

By the way ACELA SARABIA, why does the fact that Asians are looking for property on the coast bother you?


You exceeded MY limit of one per 100.........

How's the TUNNEL oh great copycat?


Scary article in the San Mateo Times today that the fire board could replace the Cal Fire chief anytime now since they didn't renew Cal Fire's contract. How much damage can they do before they are ousted? Are we going to have to pay severance pay to their new crew?


precocious

Could you provide a link to that article? If I understand what you are saying correctly, and if it is true, we are in deep trouble.

Now I get why Alifano asked Ms Savaree to keep in mind that any new chief hired might be turned into a Contract Administrator.


Web Link


A Chief's salary and benefits package is three times more than a contract administrator, John.


Two ways to respond to marcs assertion:

Maybe so marc. Why then did Alifano bring it up with Ms Savaree? It is at the very end of the meeting. I am pretty sure it is detectable on the video.

OR:

A Chief's salary and benefits package is three times more than a contract administrator, John.

marc, marc, marc. You seem to think that the DDF isn't obnoxious enough to pull that off? After the shenanigans of the last Seven Months? Really??

Just razzing you marc. If one doesn't laugh at the absurdity of the DDF once in a while, one will end up being as pissed off at the world as Director Riddell seems to be.

And Alifano did tell Ms Savaree to do it. What are those good old boys up to?


I agree that the long agendas serve the majority on the Board. Guess they take their cue from members of the US Congress and Senate. After attending meetings for the past six months or so, I am still waiting for comments from those supporting the change to a stand alone department. Director Macintosh seems proud of the fact that he was elected by over 1,000 votes, but the recall rules require 2,700+ signatures to qualify the issue for the ballot--so we need more signatures to recall the board than they received votes to be elected. Seems to me they should base the number of signatures required for a recall on the actual number of votes cast in the last election, not the actual number of registered voters.


BALLATRY


Fact Checker: Chief Paul Cole: 726-5213


"BALLATRY" - - - - - Are you talking about minstrels or ambulance chasers?


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