How many people does a Supervisor represent?


Posted by
Wed, January 28, 2009


  • Average population of a US congressional district: 646,952

  • Population of San Mateo County: 705,499


Comment 1
Thu, January 29, 2009 10:54am
Ric Lohman
All my comments

Anyone except those in our un-incorporated region of the San Mateo Coast. Our District’s Supervisor represents SAMCEDA, SAMCAR, and the various “property rights” groups only. The majority of the Coastsiders are on their own.

>>Our District’s Supervisor represents SAMCEDA, SAMCAR, and the various “property rights” groups only.<<

I wonder if anyone can point me to a single example in Midcoast history where demonizing our elected leaders made them more likely to support our local interests.

Sure, such titling at the powers-that-be is good for getting the troops all excited and gives our local politicians the surface appearance of doing something…but is it effective? Can we really say that the more we castigate Rich Gordon and the Supes the more our interests are served?

Or is this the screech of the politically impotent? The podium pounding of demagogue wannabees?

—Darin

Ric Lohman wrote:
“Our District’s Supervisor [Rich Gordon} represents SAMCEDA, SAMCAR, and the various “property rights” groups only. The majority of the Coastsiders are on their own.”

Ric, you’re not being fair. In addition to those pro-development groups, Rich Gordon also does a good job of representing Neil Merrilees, Darin Boville, and CCWD director Chris Mickelsen, a.k.a. “Your Pal.”

Comment 4
Thu, January 29, 2009 8:30pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Darin:  In my experience, rolling over for the guy with the power and expecting them to do right by you doesn’t work. We’re going to have to stand up and demand a voice in our destiny. I don’t think siding with the Supes on the issue of who should represent us is a path to anything other than more of the same.

Kevin: your comment is unfair and unsupportable.

>>rolling over for the guy with the power and expecting them to do right by you doesn’t work.<<

I certainly agree with that.

But this goes right back to where we disagree—I see the new MCC rule (should it pass) as a step away from an unhealthy concentration of power on the Midcoast and a near-complete lack of credibility of MCC.

I do NOT see it as rolling over.

Consider this—with the MCC of last month was there *any* chance that they could meaningfully affect policy at the County level? I sure haven’t seen it this past year. They made themselves—largely due to the conflicts—easy to ignore.

I hope to see political credibility restored to the MCC—no rolling over to the Supes. But also no secret meetings and being controlled by other agencies.

There’s not a binary choice here.

Remember all those people who voted for Merrilees—the second highest percentage of votes in MCC history? Do you think they were voting for more of the same?

I hope the MCC can strengthen itself. Only then will we have meaningful representation.

—Darin

Darin,

There you go - repeating some mantra of “secret meetings” - can you prove this? 

Kathryn

As I understand it, the representation by the Supervisors election at large within the County dilutes the Coastside vote by a factor of about 100.  That under representation is further exacerbated by the political disengagement of the Midcoast.  Look at the very low turnout in the Nov. 2007 election for local elected offices.  Finally, take the local practice of polarizing every issue around the issue of growth.  No wonder the MCC is left to a few local political diehards.

Now, let’s take an issue like, wouldn’t it be nice to have a rest room at the Moss Beach Park?  It’s an issue that has rattled around for years.  There are a number of options here: the County could bring in porta potties and maintain them, the County could build a vault toilet and service it, or the County could attempt to either reactivate or obtain a special permit for a water connection from MW&SD; to build restrooms with flush toilets and sinks.

The MW&SD; Directors see a restroom at Moss Beach Park as a political spear pointed at them by their political opposition on the political pole of growth.  The District has a moratorium on new connections.  There are many individual interests that would like to get a water connection for a failed well or to develop a lot.  These individuals are very politically aggressive.  Any exception to the moratorium is going to strengthen those individual’s cases.  The MW&SD; Directors are engaged in litigation with San Mateo County over eminent domain condemnation of the HMB Airport wells.

Now, let’s take a look at another feel good community project, local control of parks.  Both GSD and MW&SD; made grabs at getting park powers and had their hands slapped by the Supervisors.  Many looked on in amusement.  How could those two special districts handle that?  Weren’t their agendas full of other Midcoast citizen’s business related to their core charters? The Directors agenda and communications to the public was not all that clear.  But, I did hear at a public meeting one of the MW&SD; Directors claim that with park powers MW&SD; could take over the CalTrans right of way surplus in Montara and turn it into open space preventing its development.  This agenda went beyond the negotiated LCP update and the Board of Supervisors version of the LCP update.  MW&SD; up to their neck in lawsuits with projects behind schedule, were going to go off and tilt at even bigger windmills?  The GSD and MW&SD; Directors are tied together politically over SAM policy.  The Supervisors didn’t take this lying down. They used their pull on San Mateo County LAFCo to take the parks sphere of influence away from GSD and MW&SD; and give it to our soon to be bankrupt or bond impoverished neighbors to the south.  LAFCo also suggested a merger of CCWD, GSD, MW&SD; and HMB sewer functions.  Would this MSR have turned out so badly, had GSD and MW&SD; confined their activities to their core charters?

The Supervisors took a very political and undemocratic step in addressing what they perceived as political high jinks at the MCC.  It is left to the losers in any struggle to bury the dead, treat the wounded and to assess what they did wrong.  The MCC has become little more than a political tool of the GSD and MW&SD; Directors.  Have those council member/directors wielded the tool we have given them deftly or just slashed the air with it?  What has the MCC accomplished for the citizens of the Midcoast in the last year?  In my view, the political naivete of the GSD and MW&SD; Directors pushing too far and trying to control too much, caused the residents of the Midcoast to lose more than what was being fought over.  That is the political message that was delivered by the Board of Supervisors to the residents of the Midcoast. 

The GSD and MW&SD; Directors need to retreat to their fortresses and rebuild their credibility by managing those Districts around their core charters.  We can either go along with the County’s action on the MCC or continue to spite ourselves by clinging to principle and one political pole’s agenda.  It’s time to either disband the MCC or turn it into a group that can work with the Supervisors on issues independent of growth, if there are any.

Comment 8
Fri, January 30, 2009 10:32am
jlundell
All my comments

But this goes right back to where we disagree—I see the new MCC rule (should it
pass) as a step away from an unhealthy concentration of power on the Midcoast
and a near-complete lack of credibility of MCC.

I’m confused (and I’m not being facetious here) by Darin’s mention of the MCC and “power on the Midcoast” in the same sentence.

Comment 9
Fri, January 30, 2009 12:08pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Doesn’t anyone else find it staggering that to be on the Board of Supervisors you have to reach more voters than if you’re running for Congress.

It’s so expensive and the number of constituents so vast it’s no wonder that the Supes are out of touch and that you have to be an insider to get on the board.

And yet the Supes will fight to the death against a change to move to district elections. San Mateo is one of two counties in CA that elect Supervisors “at large”. Keeping the current process is a top priority for those who currently elect the Supervisors. Moving to District elections would give the people in each District more direct control over their Supervisors. There is no way that is ever going to happen voluntarily.

Vince Williams cut through the hyperbole and made a lot of sense. But I don’t equate a flush toilet at Moss Beach park with growth, nor being an exception to the moratorium. The water connection has existed for many years. And it’s not about growth, it’s about toddlers using a flush toilet in a neighborhood park!

Since Kathryn Slater-Carter reads Coastsider.com, I hope she can correct the statement on another post that “KSC told the BOS this week that she had reviewed 43 months of agenda for the MCC and no where was there any MCC topic concerning water or sewer issues.” <http://talkabout.hmbreview.com/topic.php?t=3639&c=4&d=>
That simply CAN’T be true, can it? Haven’t any of the frequent public comments on Moss Beach Park ever made it to becoming Agenda items? If not, is she blaming the Chair(s) for not including it on any Agenda?

And can we enlist Ms. Slater-Carter’s help in answering her own question on the notion of secret meetings? If she would detail the process for drafting and issuing the LAFCo letter, step by step (with names and dates), that would clarify once and for all the issue of the secret drafting, and neither side could complain evermore. Can this be the start of the transparency in government everybody’s requesting?

Comment 12
Fri, January 30, 2009 2:12pm
jlundell
All my comments

The coastside wouldn’t have all that much weight in a district election either, though, unless we had more seats and smaller districts.

There are about 16,000 registered voters on the coastside (using CUSD and LHPUSD as my definition of the coastside) and about 357,000 in the county.

So that’s 4.5% of the county, but still only 22% of a single district, assuming five districts. A little more influence, to be sure, but hardly “direct control”, especially considering that the coastside is pretty evenly split over many issues of most concern to us locally.

My own preference would be for more seats (nine?) and countywide proportional representation.

Comment 13
Fri, January 30, 2009 2:22pm
jlundell
All my comments

On the side of district elections, it’s worth observing that it’s very expensive to run a competitive countywide campaign. Just sending a well-produced mail piece to all the voters will run a quarter of a million dollars, and one mailing does not a successful campaign make.

Like district elections, PR can significantly reduce the cost of running. Without going into the technical details, a PR seat in San Mateo County would probably take 15-20,000 votes to win, depending on turnout; fewer if there were more seats.

No question that district elections also requires a larger Board of Supervisors to be really effective.

Proportional representation is an interesting idea. Thinking about how it would work politically makes my head spin.

I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

Darin-

The “new” MCC will be as powerless as it is today. 

I can only speculate on what the MCC might have to do or not do to earn the favor of the BOS.  Does the Midcoast want to go down that path? 

Do we have a choice?

>>I can only speculate on what the MCC might have to do or not do to earn the favor of the BOS<<

Hey Sabrina,

Reading between the lines, let me say this: The MCC and the Midcoast does not need to kiss the Supes’ butts. The choice isn’t to either demonize them or kiss their butts.

The goal, I hope, is to instead build the MCC into a credible institution.

For those who insist on mis-reading the word “credible” as “caving in” please consider that even enemies have to be credible before you stop laughing at them and start paying attention.

—Darin

Comment 17
Fri, January 30, 2009 8:02pm
Carl May
All my comments

Funny how objective and entirely supportable comment on the county BOS and its individual members becomes “demonizing” in the eyes of some.

Dealing with our county government on midcoast matters, the general rule is if you aren’t compliant and don’t kiss butt, you get your butt kicked. Unless you are a developer/builder.

The only thing that will make a damn bit of difference is on that front is better supervisors. In the meantime, maybe forever, we need to preserve what precious little self-determination we have in our special districts.

Carl May wrote:

“Funny how objective and entirely supportable comment on the county BOS and its individual members becomes “demonizing” in the eyes of some.”

The Midcoast middle class suburban minority(relative to the County as a whole) doesn’t really know how to function effectively as a political minority.  They start battles they can’t win, burn out their supporters, reduce their supporters to bitter commentators on blogs that blame someone else.

“Dealing with our county government on midcoast matters, the general rule is if you aren’t compliant and don’t kiss butt, you get your butt kicked. Unless you are a developer/builder.”

Welcome to being a minority.  Singing the blues or throwing out Midcoast enviro-elitist tough talk on blogs isn’t going to get you or your cause anywhere.

“The only thing that will make a damn bit of difference is on that front is better supervisors.

Less than 1% of the voters are going to be motivated by your political pontifications(that you are personally unwilling to back up with action) to effect change in RWC?

“In the meantime, maybe forever, we need to preserve what precious little self-determination we have in our special districts.”

Finally, some glimmers of political awareness.  The futile and poorly executed forays by the Special District Directors at the MCC against the Supervisors risked more than was prudent.  Those forays were stopped by the blunt instruments of political power, LAFCo recommendations and the Supervisors resolution about their continued participation on the MCC.  Those Directors lost more territory than they thought they were fighting over.  Now, those Directors are forced to retreat to their local fortresses and protect “what precious little self-determination we have in our special districts”.  You are incapable of self examination, because it is always someone elses fault.  But, the Directors of our Special Districts need to examine how they are going to look, not at the MCC election(which was taken away from them), but at their upcoming Special District elections.

Comment 19
Sat, January 31, 2009 1:56pm
Carl May
All my comments

I’m not running for anything, Vince. But you have run for local positions a couple of times based on your political and economic outlook. How did that work out?

I’m sure you put a lot of thought into your abstract and unproven political hypotheses for the midcoast, and I wish you well in seeing one or two of them verified over time.

In the meantime, they read like someone still trying to come to grips with the situation in our locality. Another 20 or 30 years of political serfdom under the county and you may be able to write with more authority.

I’ll know when you are coming around when you finally figure out why it was a bad idea for Montara and Moss Beach to give up local control of their fire district. Without a vote of district citizens on the matter.

Carl May wrote:

“I’m not running for anything, Vince. But you have run for local positions a couple of times based on your political and economic outlook. How did that work out?”

No, you don’t run for office.  You don’t go to meetings anymore, either.  You just pontificate on blogs.  I thought you had decades of following local politics.  Oh, this must be a sarcastic rhetorical question:

http://www.shapethefuture.org/elections/results/nov2007/cumulativeresults.html
http://www.shapethefuture.org/elections/results/nov2005/default.asp

“I’m sure you put a lot of thought into your abstract and unproven political hypotheses for the midcoast, and I wish you well in seeing one or two of them verified over time.”

I’ve never seen a political prediction that wasn’t “abstract and unproven political hypotheses”.  I won’t be keeping score.  But, I’m sure you will.

“In the meantime, they read like someone still trying to come to grips with the situation in our locality. Another 20 or 30 years of political serfdom under the county and you may be able to write with more authority.”

I’ve come to grips with it.  The MCC is little more than political theater.  I wrote that a year ago:

https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/supervisor_gordon_suggests_mcc_has_outlived_its_usefulness/ 080123/

and I repeated it a few days ago:

https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/conflict_at_the_mcc/

No one has challenged my claim that the MCC hasn’t done anything of significance other than some advocacy on the Ocean Ave. problem over the past year.

Contrast that with the the lame narrative being pushed here on Coastsider: the people we elected are all just innocent victims of the Supervisors and the false drama that our community is undergoing a crisis in local democracy, because the Supervisors aren’t going to allow local special district board members to serve on the MCC.

I don’t see a big difference between “political serfdom” to a group of people in RWC or the local political malaise.  You like your politics local, inbred and dysfunctional.  With global warming, overpopulation, political and economic migration, your notion of a claim to local is as quaint as the local property rights wackos.  What exactly is local?  I suspect it’s something like, within walking distance of your front door. Conflict of interest, cronyism and nepotism are what I have observed.  The MCC situation can be seen as an issue of inbreeding of local special districts with the MCC.  Then, we all know that functional governments are growth inducing.  We really don’t want any more of those suburban mindset folks moving here for our good local governance.  So, we’ll all just have to suffer. Better to have our local special districts and council mired in strife, in squabbling with their neighbor districts, in trying to grab powers they can’t manage,  in lawsuits and in labor strife.  Our local politicians rather than serving us quietly and efficiently, get distracted by their personal causes, while they endanger their control over the core function of their special districts.

“I’ll know when you are coming around when you finally figure out why it was a bad idea for Montara and Moss Beach to give up local control of their fire district. Without a vote of district citizens on the matter.”

Not likely.  We finally have a stable fire service.  The Point Montara and Half Moon Bay Boards are working together.  Professionals are managing our Fire Service.  The service level has been increased. No impending financial crisis.  Measure H assessment was lowered. No need to read my dispatches of the meetings on MidcoastL. The governance process is a lot more transparent, now:
http://www.montarafog.com/Governing/cfpd-board-meeting-january-28-2009.html

http://www.coastsidefire.org/blakish/home

Contrast that with our MCC:

http://www.montarafog.com/MCC/supervior-gordon-makes-his-case-to-revise-mcc-conflict-of-interest-rules.html

http://mcc.sanmateo.org/home.php

Vince, I’m having trouble understanding what you think should be done to get us where we need to be, and how you see this move by the Supervisors as a step to getting us there.

It would help if you could keep it to one short paragraph. Not many folks have time to parse long narratives.

I’ll start: My goal is local self-government.  I believe that this move by the Supervisors takes us in the wrong direction because it limits who we can vote for. The problems with the MCC are due to the fact that it has no authority and no money, and not to its composition. If the MCC were more than advisory, then members of other boards would be properly forbidden to serve by existing law. I’d like to increase the authority of the MCC or the water & sewer boards to move us in the direction of self-government.

Anybody else is welcome to chime in.

I’ll back Barry’s comments.

Waiting for The HMB and Coastside Property Rights Group with

“I want to dissolve the MCC ASAP since it’s a Democratic majority popular vote org, and it’s always in the way of our takeover plans to merge everything under our exalted CCWD leadership and those who just stuck HMB with a $20 million debt.”

Barry,

Here is one paragraph from a week or so ago, from a related topic, an exchange between Darin and myself which drew no responses other than the typical Carl May response.  I haven’t really seen anyone else propose a practical solution.

Link to topic:
https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/supervisor_gordon_will_be_at_mcc_to_speak_on_midcoast_representation_weds/


I think the better strategy is to recognize the MCC has out lived it usefulness. See what forms in the political vacuum. One idea I had was a Midcoast Homeowners Association. Initially the members would pick an issue, like one that was mentioned at the MCC meeting, the problem of the maintenance of the eucs. and pines on County right of way on the Midcoast. Form a Midcoast Homeowner’s Association to deal with that problem. In the days of the internet that can’t be too hard to do. Keep it out of the hands of PCF and LCP. Collect maybe $20-$40 per household to join the association, do a little leg work, if appropriate hire some attorneys and go after the County. If the County sees a real threat, they might actually listen and do something. If the County sees a group with a consistent agenda and that is willing to compromise and move on, they will likely be willing to work with that group on a more collaborative basis. With dues in the association there is engagement and accountability. With enough money to drag the County into court or make a political contribution, there is political clout. Then maybe that association could tackle the LCP update and represent the Midcoast. I suspect that is the way to engage the County on the bigger issues.

Ric Lohman,

If you think you are quoting me with:

“‘I want to dissolve the MCC ASAP since it’s a Democratic majority popular vote org, and it’s always in the way of our takeover plans to merge everything under our exalted CCWD leadership and those who just stuck HMB with a $20 million debt.’”

,you are misquoting me.

If you think you are paraphrasing what I wrote, you are wrong.

No Vince, this was not aimed at you in any way. It was more aimed at the groups based out of HMB and over the hill that are trying to get around our Democratic processes and work some kind of takeover magic. CCWD reps like Michelson even went to the Supes meeting to try and dissolve us. They’re working from this ego angle of controlling all the water and sewer on the coast and have spent years slandering everyone they disagree with. Recently they’ve been working the LAFCO angle as a takeover mechanism. Even more recently they’ve worked to shut down the recycled water project claiming we are stealing their customers. Marina Fraser has even refused to relinquish the SAM chair position. There are a couple Coastsiders supporting these views. I don’t include you in those numbers.