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October 29, 2009


Holy Roller

Nice post.
Enough said.

Ann Musso

Excellent, Russ!!


Letter in the Daily Journal today for those relentless diggers who need adult help getting some of their relentless answers:

Response to balanced article


I want to thank Heather Murtagh for her balanced article of Oct. 26, 2009 regarding funding of mailers supporting Burlingame measures H and I. I appreciate her patience and information as I sorted through the state bureaucracy to get answers to her questions.

The article quoted opponents to Measure I that accused our campaign committee of violating California Fair Political Practices Committee regulations by funding mailers supporting measures H and I. In phone conversations with FPPC staff members they have assured me that, since our campaign committee formation form (form 410) specifies that we are a general purpose committee, using our surplus funds to pay for mailers supporting measures H and I was completely permissible under the FPPC regulations.

The San Mateo Daily Journal Oct. 26 article also included remarks from the same people criticizing our city councilmembers and city staff for the fact that I, as a community volunteer leading efforts to supporting the Burlingame storm drainage measure, mistakenly failed to file all the required FPPC forms with in the prescribed dates. That criticism was based on the false assumption that city councilmembers were serving as officers on our campaign committee and that they participated in committee meeting regarding use of the campaign donations. Absolutely no city council member served on our committee in any capacity nor did they participate in any of our campaign committee meetings. Attempting to hold them responsible for, what even our critics acknowledge is an understandable mistake, is unfair and unwarranted.

I would urge the public to make your decision on the ballot measures based on their respective merits and don’t allow false accusation against community volunteers influence your vote.

Kevin Osborne, Burlingame



The Measure I mailer does not have the legal notice. It is illegal. The vote is tainted and could be invalid. Really simple.


Voters should look past this smoke and mirrors act and vote on whether a city clerk can be professional and "integrate with the people" as an appointed member of the city staff and keeping the politics out of it.

Our votes will be valid and legal.

Really simple.

Holy Roller

If there has ever been a "Tempest in a Tea pot," this is it!


The Daily Post is catching up to the story. It says "Usually city managers stay out of politics. But City Manager Jim Nantell has been quoted in newspaper reports about mailers that were purchased by the fund. He was questioned why the state-required ID number wasn't on the mailers, and he reportedly said the campaign made a mistake. Nantell didn't return the Post's phone calls yesterday".


Politics makes strange bedfellows
November 04, 2009, 02:14 AM (Jon Mays, Daily Journal)

One of the most unexpected political teams in this past election had to be former Burlingame mayor Joe Galligan and former Burlingame councilman Russ Cohen. Both teamed up in their quest to defeat Measure I, which sought to make the Burlingame city clerk an appointed position.

The two have quite a past, with a substantial share of enmity between them. From my viewpoint, the poor relationship began when Cohen penned occasional editorial cartoons for this newspaper in the early part of the decade in which he pulled no punches in his negative depictions of Galligan. It’s been about seven years since Cohen’s artwork graced these pages, but the enmity erupted in 2005 with Cohen taking some time as a citizen during a City Council public comment period to describe a “walk down memory lane” from San Mateo to San Bruno describing Galligan’s holdings, which Galligan took as an affront to his family.

Since both left the council (Galligan chose not to run again in 2005 to spend more time with his family and Cohen was voted off in 2007 in his quest to serve for a full term after winning a two-year seat vacated by Galligan’s pal Mike Coffey) the relationship seems to have taken a turn for the better. Cohen has been an ardent supporter of Councilwoman Cathy Baylock who was the only sitting councilmember to oppose Measure I , and was joined by Galligan on rebuttal to the argument in favor on the ballot statement. Galligan and Baylock’s camp have had their share of bad blood over the Safeway redevelopment, crossing guard funding, etc., though both have been friendly to each other in public.

Galligan has always been a political mastermind and ferreted out information that some donations for a previous flood improvement fee was funneled into the Measure I campaign and said it was proof that an elected city clerk is needed so such snafus don’t happen again. It was a compelling argument but did not have the traction needed to defeat the measure.

It could be that both sides felt strongly about the measure and joined forces to show that even rivals can play nice when the issue is important to them. It could also show that there is an ability to let by-gones be by-gones. But with the previous negative accusations toward Galligan in his time on the council, it’s really hard to believe. Galligan has his eye on the county treasurer position and any future support from the city should help him. It’s been a few years since he’s been a marked man by Baylock’s scrappy camp before he decided to bow off the council and it would benefit him to ensure the guns are quiet as he seeks higher office. One way to do that is to offer a friendly and knowing political hand. Will it work to his favor? We have until next year to find out.

Who would have thunk it!


If an elected clerk was supposed to find this "snafu", then why didn't the current elected clerk find it? It seems like a circular argument.

Having an “elected” clerk has been a waste of money, because they are always uncontested, yet the city has to pay for printing that portion of the ballot. Supporters of an "elected" clerk position should have argued against printing, and paying for, uncontested "elections" on the ballot. Where is democracy without a contest?

Anyway, the people have spoken. This should be a dead issue, unless someone wants to waste more money with a lawsuit.


Cohen give us an update on what you have found out about whether this is groundless or not.

The voters have spoken.

Some apologies might also be in order.

Ann Musso


First of all, if you'll recall, MaryEllen was APPOINTED to the position of City Clerk last year when Doris Mortensen retired. Even after last night's election she is still not an elected official until she is officially sworn in. So that portion of the "circular argument" is dead.

A waste of money to have an elected clerk? $32,000 over the span of four years? I am well aware of the budget crisis, however I believe that $2.00 a day is a small price to pay to have someone at City Hall in a "checks and balances" position.

Most importantly, I would like to correct the misconception that the City Clerk is responsible for "finding snafu's" on campaigning filing forms and/or campaign materials. The City Clerk acts as an acceptance agent on behalf of the Fair Political Practices Commission; he/she is not expected nor required to proofread, babysit, or correct said forms. If submitted to the FPPC with errors, the FPPC will investigate the FILER of the forms (the candidate, committee, etc.) and levy the fines they deem fair; the FPPC will not be investigating the Clerk who filed them. If that were the case, the City Clerk would spend every waking hour going thru the numerous forms that are required by the FPPC for elections as well as the "Conflict of Interest Form" that all department heads and "financially key" City employees are required to complete. Please, take a look at the FPPC website and all the politicians who have been fined over the years. http://www.fppc.ca.gov/index.html The forms can be confusing, however, the FPPC holds numerous seminars and workshops on the completion of these forms all year round. It is the responsibility of the CANDIDATE or COMMITTEE to file these papers correctly. Incidentally, the FPPC has a very comprehensive website, a "hot line", and the City Clerk's door is always open (at least it will be for the next four years).

In the case of Measure H and I, the watchdogs of Burlingame and investigative reporting found the errors on the FPPC forms filed; this is the best scenario as errors can always fall thru the cracks at the FPPC level.

The issue now is in the lap of City Clerk Kearney whether or not fines should be levied or brought before the FPPC (by the way, anyone can file a complaint on the FPPC website if they are concerned about campaign practices). Even though MaryEllen is still in an appointed capacity, she will be sworn in very soon and doesn't need to worry about repercussions of "doing the right thing". In four years, it'll be a completely different situation. Whoever the City Clerk is at that time, he/she will have to answer to her boss, the City Manager, about why she's reporting one of the City Council Members (the City Manager's boss') or a representative of a Committee to the FPPC. Yeah... there goes that "checks and balances" out the window and no fear of repercussions!

The statement "Supporters of an "elected" clerk position should have argued against printing, and paying for, uncontested "elections" on the ballot. Where is democracy without a contest?" Come on, SNAFU... be real here. Do you honestly think those in charge of the H & I Committee asked permission or the opinion of the citizens about their campaign material? And I guarantee you, the City Clerk does not see campaign material before it is printed and is NOT responsible for making sure the appropriate information is included.

This City Clerk election was not going to be "uncontested". I was highly discouraged in October, 2008 when I broached the subject of moving back to Burlingame, the city of love, and throwing my hat in the ring, and now I know why! How sad is that?

Who won last night? Not the fair citizens of Burlingame.


Ouch, Fiona "PuffyPuffs" Spamilton! How does it feel to be arguing with someone who actually knows something?


Ann, the fair citizens of Burlingame voted on this issue.

We can go round and round the mulberry bush on this one and find groundless issues to boot but the "fair citizens of Burlingame have voted"

Loudly and clearly.

Ann Musso


Get a grip. This is an open forum and I'm allowed to state the facts and explain misconceptions. "Loudly and clearly."

Groundless issues... pathetic.


Ann, I appreciate your comments but many of us have done our own digging about what has happened in the past, looked at how other cities appoint their city clerks and, as we have seen in the recent election, the voters have voted accordingly to pass this Measure.

There have been "groundless" issues filled with innuendo and accusations which have now been proven to be "groundless".

Burlingame will be fine with a city clerk appointed by our city manager.

Ann Musso

Again, Fiona...

This is an open forum and I'm allowed to state the facts and explain misconceptions. "Loudly and clearly."


For the Burlingame diggers, there is an article today in the Daily Post titled "City Manager wrote Election Flier.




The circular argument relates to the quote: "it was proof that an elected city clerk is needed so such snafus don’t happen again. It was a compelling argument but did not have the traction needed to defeat the measure." Whether this is the job of the clerk or not, the argument does not hold.

School Districts do not run uncontested elections, because it would cost them $10K to run an election (county office printing costs)for an already known outcome. That would be 10K not going to schools. So why did the City of Burlingame spend several grand for uncontested city clerk elections?

I am sorry you were discouraged from running for City Clerk. Had there been a real election, voters may have seen the merits of keeping it an elected position.

I am sure several people were discouraged to run for Burlingame City Council, because all three incumbents were running again, but Michael Brownrigg stepped up to the challenge.

Elections are great, but I never understood why uncontested positions are put on the ballot. What choice do you have, unless you do a write in candidate (which I usually do as a protest vote)?


I was very upset that the election turned out for Measure I as it did. And meanwhile... Burlingame is busy hiring outside "auditors" to clean up and audit for business license taxes all the little agents and brokers and people working from home and "zero-footprint" consultant business for their $100 cut, and on and on and on.... I wonder how much the council is paying MAS to conduct this audit. $100k would not be unreasonable. I just looked at the city council minutes (which has a glaring mistake - the current city clerk makes embarrassing mistakes there every time) and they are thinking about charging $100k to the city for a "train noise study." Gimme a break. As a professional engineer, if engineering studies are being done at this expense for Burlingame, all I can say is "Where do I sign up?"

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