Here is an object lesson for all the kids out there who are eager to run for city council in the November free-for-all created by the widespread implementation of district elections: Not everyone is going to love you.
It is said that leadership is the art of disappointing your supporters at a rate they can tolerate.
But it is always a shock to new councilmembers to discover that the affirmation that comes with winning a council seat can evaporate quite rapidly.
And how handy it is to have two excellent examples of the joys of city council-hood and life in the cauldron of local disappointment.
GETTING GOOSED: First, is Foster City, where the council has been brought to its knees by its proliferating geese, which are have turned the city’s signature lagoons into E.coli stews and its parks into poop palaces.
The council decided the other day to end the problem by ending some of the geese. This appears to be the only way to solve the problem. It is resulting in angry bird defenders who want there to be some other way, even though the city appears to have tried every other way.
My favorite quote from this flap was from Councilmember Sam Hindi, who said, “I can’t, as an elected official, let the geese take over the city.”
Clearly, the answer is a citywide adopt-a-goose program — residents get to take a goose home and keep it in the bathtub.
NON-PORTABLE WATER: Next, we have Menlo Park, which owns one of the few swimming pools in the area that is open to the public in enough hours and days to be useful for lap swimmers. Since 2006, the pool has been operated by a private contractor, Tim Sheeper. His contract is up and the city staff has offered no useful advice to the council, which is getting whipsawed between angry people who do not like the way the pool has been operated and angry people who do. Full disclosure: I swam for Sheeper’s masters team and still use the pool for lap swimming.
This is the same dispute that occurred when Sheeper first took over operating the pool and now it has come back around, because, why not?
And, again, this dispute leads to some fascinating public comment, this time from Mayor Betsy Nash, who accused Sheeper “essentially to be threatening to take his ball and go home.”
A LITTLE MORE POLITICS: When Assemblymember Kevin Mullin used leftover campaign funds for a year-end mail piece report to his constituents, I reported on it, but I dismissed complaints by San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa that this was an improper and illegal use of funds in the race between them for the 15th Congressional District seat. I stand by that assessment.
But Mullin recently put a new ad online, also paid out of his remaining Assembly campaign funds, focused on state reaction to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That one seems like more blatant campaigning. I still think it is legal, but it is also feels a little more inappropriate.
Meanwhile, days before U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier was arrested in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in protest of the Roe decision, Canepa issued a fundraising appeal that reads, in part, “our party’s establishment (the same ones who tried to crown our opponent) has chosen inaction in the face of this growing threat.” The remark clearly is directed at Speier, who has endorsed Mullin.
DOUBLE JEOPARDY: The unsinkable Sally Lieber, running for the state Board of Equalization seat that represents the Peninsula, confirmed that if she wins, she will seek to retain her seat on the Mountain View City Council. “I love public service,” she said. She also declined to rule out running again for the state Senate. In 2020, she narrowly missed making the general election in the Senate race won by Josh Becker.
OOPS: In last week’s column, I misstated when Diane Papan faces reelection to the San Mateo City Council. Her term is up in 2024. … I also overstated the final margin by which Belmont Councilmember Charles Stone finished ahead of Noelia Corzo, San Mateo-Foster City School District board trustee. It was 835 votes.
AND FINALLY: Thank god someone invented the tote bag. Otherwise, nonprofits would have nothing to give away. … I am happy people are relaxing by the pool or at the beach. But I have seen enough Facebook photos of people’s feet to last me quite a while. … A local official in conversation recently used the word “allyship” to describe coalition-building. I get that vocabulary is fluid, but I think alliance would have done fine.
Mark Simon is a veteran journalist, whose career included 15 years as an executive at SamTrans and Caltrain. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.