Tuesday, December 21, 2010

State AG offers legal opinion on Daly City city clerk's post

By Neil Gonzales

Posted: 12/21/2010 07:00:49 PM PST
Updated: 12/21/2010 07:00:50 PM PST

Annette Hipona, city clerk of Daly City, didn't have to leave her seat on the local school board after she was elected to the city post two years ago, state Attorney General and governor-elect Jerry Brown said in a recent legal opinion.

State law does not prohibit an elected city clerk from also serving on the school board in the same city, according to the opinion obtained by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a Los Angeles newspaper focused on law, the courts and other issues.

The opinion pleased Hipona, who was elected as city clerk in November 2008 while still serving on the board of the Daly City-based Jefferson Elementary District.

"I have always believed that (the positions of) school board member and city clerk were not incompatible since they (have) no connection with each other," Hipona said Tuesday in a statement to the Times. "Before I even considered running for city clerk, I did extensive research regarding this situation and found no conflict. It is nice to be vindicated."

Hipona recalled that some city and school leaders believed at the time there was a conflict of interest, creating the appearance of impropriety.

"I could not put the school district in a negative position with concerns of conflict of interest, even though there was none," said Hipona, who resigned from the Jefferson board in March 2009.

"I loved my time on the school board," she added. "Children and education have always been important to me. ... (This opinion) will provide an opportunity for city clerks to serve on the school board."

San Mateo County Counsel Michael Murphy asked for the opinion following Hipona's election as city clerk, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported. Murphy could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

As part of his opinion, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported, the attorney general determined that the offices of city clerk and school trustee are compatible because neither has authority over the other.

Hipona also earned a measure of vindication in 2009 when a county civil grand jury report concluded that Daly City was unjustified in slashing her pay from $101,374 to $52,988 a year and recommended that the decision be reversed.

However, the city argued that the reduction was justified based on financial and personnel factors, and Hipona's pay was not restored.

Contact Neil Gonzales at 650-348-4338.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kern Grand Jury: RPD well-run organization

Posted Dec 07, 2010 @ 06:00 AM
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Ridgecrest, Calif. —

The Kern County Grand Jury said the Ridgecrest Police Department is a well-run organization.

In its report released Monday, the jury found that since the chief of police took control of the animal shelter, the department has been able to reduce the number of animals euthanized through an “adopt-out” program of the animals to Canada. The department also sends dogs to specific breed-rescue programs.

The report noted there is no major drug or gang activity within its jurisdiction, the animal shelter is also under the control of the chief of police, and the department has two K-9 units which were purchased through public donations and assist the sheriff’s deputies upon request.

The Grand Jury report also noted the department has a teen court program through a local church. “This is for first-time juvenile offenders and is managed by the Kern County Probation Department,” said the report. “The local Deputy District Attorney acts as the Judge and teen members who have successfully completed the program act as jurors.”

The jurors of the teen court sentence the juvenile offenders to community service, a fine, letters of apology or accountability. The parents or guardians of the teen have to be involved and must be present during the Court hearing.

“This is done in a formal setting,” the report stated. “The chief reported they have a low recidivism rate due to the program.”

The jury expressed concerns about the RPD patrol fleet.

“Due to budget restraints, the patrol cars are an aging fleet,” said the report. “Many of the cars have 150,000 to 160,000 miles of service. Two new cars are expected.”

Three motorcycles are used for traffic control enforcement.

According to the report, the chief reported that they have a good relationship with the local schools through contact with the principals and/or resource officer at the local high school.

There are 30 active Community Emergency Response Team members and more than 300 have been trained for this program.

The report also stated Police and Community Together program that works through four organizations with a total of 60 volunteers. The volunteers work at such activities as animal control, records, graffiti and traffic control, etc. The volunteers perform more than 10,000 hours of service to aid the department each year.

The department must respond within 90 days.

The report can be seen at www.co.kern.ca.us. Click on Grand Jury for access to the report.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Internal Affairs: More trouble for Genghis Dan

Posted: 12/06/2010 07:51:20 AM PST
Updated: 12/06/2010 07:52:00 AM PST

Controversies surrounding

Dan Fenton, the CEO of Team San Jose, just won't go away.

As if two civil grand jury investigations, a default notice filed by San Jose for overspending his budget, an unfavorable report from the city auditor and growing impatience by the City Council with Team San Jose's problems weren't enough, now comes word that Fenton and his group -- which runs the city's convention center and downtown theaters -- may be sued.

Don Lessem, the organizer behind "Genghis Khan: The Exhibition,'' which ran from late May through Nov. 1 at the Tech Museum, said that after weeks of stonewalling by Fenton, he's suing Team San Jose for not paying $170,000 of a $300,000 guarantee the group gave his company verbally and in writing.

Together with a group of Bay Area Mongolian-Americans (Khan, of course, was Mongolian), Lessem plans to hold a news conference Monday morning in front of Team San Jose's downtown headquarters to announce the lawsuit.

"I have offered Dan Fenton, Team San Jose CEO, installment plans, and even to forego additional gift shop sales income due us, simply to make sure they honored their legal commitments. They refuse,'' he wrote Mayor Chuck Reed in a November e-mail.

"I have no option but to sue, to alert other international exhibition organizers, and to take my grievance to the ... media.''

Lessem, who has been in the exhibit business 16 years, called Team San
Jose's behavior "unprecedented.''

In an e-mail to the Mercury News, Fenton characterized the issue as "a disagreement,'' saying "full payment has already been tendered and ... no additional amounts are due."

If all of this seems like a scene from the movie "Groundhog Day,'' you're right.

Last year, Team San Jose attracted widespread industry condemnation after Fenton announced an exclusive agreement with San Jose Teamsters to do work at the convention center that previously had been split with the San Francisco local. His own board was blindsided by the move and subsequent negative headlines.

In fact, San Jose's reputation with convention and trade show groups became so problematic that Fenton and two board members were forced to fly to Dallas to mollify customers and leaders of the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association.

Fenton's national reputation, as one industry leader involved in that brouhaha told IA, is well-known: "Dan Fenton rarely ever says anything officially that you can hold him to."

Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at local politics. This week's items were written by Tracy Seipel, John Woolfolk, Tracey Kaplan and Scott Herhold. Send tips to internalaffairs@mercurynews.com, or call 408-271-3638.