County Times explains the issues in the demise of AB650

By on Wed, June 24, 2009

Julia Scott’s article about the death of AB650 does an unusually good job (for daily journalism) of laying out the subtext of the city’s failure to get relief from the state.

A year ago, City Council members were frequently quoted as saying they feared for their city’s solvency if forced to pay the entire $18 million debt. But the city ultimately earned a better bond rating than the state itself and, after some painful staffing cuts, is projecting a narrow budget surplus for the next few years.

The "collective actions of the City Council" at last week’s meeting refers to a controversial 4-1 vote to give the city manager a 25 percent raise just a few weeks after the city cut or froze 15 staff positions to save money. Mayor John Muller defended the vote, which also awarded a raise for the interim finance director, because they were contract positions already up for renewal and because both men were deserving of a raise.

Councilman Jim Grady voted against the raises, just as he cast the lone vote against settling with Keenan in 2007 and against issuing the bonds to pay him in the end.

The political schism wrought by the first Half Moon Bay bill, AB 1991, still resonates in this town, and the divisive rhetoric employed by city lobbyists at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe still makes Grady cringe.

"We vilified the Coastal Commission," said Grady. "And I think trying to exempt Beachwood from the Coastal Act was a mistake.

The article goes on to note that the city accused the Coastal Commission of making "false and misleading" statements, and that the city will have to work with the Coastal Commission to get the maximum value out of the parcel.