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Art show coming to Philz Coffee

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Need a new art piece to finish that space you redecorated or just want to peruse while having a delicious cup of Philz Coffee?

Art Liasons has partnered with Philz Coffee in downtown Redwood City to put on an art show Feb. 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Art Liasons is an organization that can be commissioned to create pieces of art by bay area artists that customize and decorate your home or business and is a clever way to purchase new artwork for any space.

The Philz Coffee is located at 2116 Broadway St. for more information contact Gail Sjoman at 650-596-0868 or

Donate blood at the Redwood City Library

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Save lives by donating blood at the Redwood City Library on Tuesday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Redwood City Library Foundation is hosting the blood drive at the Downtown Library’s Community Room at 1044 Middlefield Rd.

To sign up for a time slot or for more information, visit here.

Photo Courtesy of Redwood City Library Foundation 

Author Léna Roy to speak at downtown library

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The Downtown Library is hosting the author Léna Roy, granddaughter of A Wrinkle in Time author Madeleine L’Engle. on March 8 for its teen program.

Roy authored the young adult book Edges and co-authored the biography of her grandmother, Becoming Madeleine. Her grandmother’s most famous work, the science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time (1962),  is set this year to be adapted into a film starring Reece Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling and others.

The program, which will help celebrate International Women’s Day will take place at 1044 Middlefield Road in Redwood City on March 8 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information contact Dyan de Jager at 650-780-5762 or

Caltrain schedule modified on President’s Day

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Caltrain announced a modified schedule for President’s Day on Monday, Feb. 19.

On that day, the schedule will be Saturday service with four extra Caltrain trains in each direction, including one round-trip from Gilroy to San Francisco. In addition, the Tamien/San Jose Diridon shuttle will operate a modified Saturday schedule with revised shuttle connections.

Monday’s schedule will consist of 36 trains between San Francisco and San Jose.

To review the President’s Day train and shuttle schedule, visit here.

Political Climate by Mark Simon: Groom to seek third term

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There was much behind-the-scenes speculation that San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom might opt out of a run for a third term. But she’s running, she told Political Climate.

Appointed to a vacant seat in 2009, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, Groom said she has “unfinished business,” particularly the Big Lift, the countywide effort she initiated to raise the reading proficiency level of third-grade students from 58 percent to 80 percent by 2020. The initiative is backed by the San Mateo County Office of Education and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Groom wants to make sure “it keeps moving.” Also on her unfinished agenda is a reinvention of the San Mateo County Events Center as a true regional venue.

Stepping down also would have meant leaving the Bay Area Air Quality Management Board of Directors and the California Coastal Commission, not to mention the San Mateo County Transit District Board of Directors and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.

The Transit District is preparing a half-cent ballot measure for November that seeks to resolve significant financial shortfalls that hamper its ability to reinvent itself as a modern mobility agency. (Full Disclosure: I retired from the transit agency in December and was in a leadership role on work to prepare for a ballot measure.)

Groom is worried it will be tough to convince the public the agency needs the money. “I don’t know if anybody believes us, or wants to believe us,” she said. With the county winning passage of two sales tax measures in the past six years, “We may have gone to the well too many times.” Of course, a campaign is all about making believers.

Prior to her decision, the speculation Groom might not run turned up a number of people ready to run for the seat, most notably Belmont City Councilman Charles Stone. Other names that were being raised: San Mateo City Council members Diane Papan, Maureen Freschet and Joe Goethals.

STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND: San Mateo County Manager John Maltbie is retiring this year – late fall or early winter, depending on the timeliness of the much-vaunted nationwide search for his replacement.

In an interview on Peninsula TV’s show The Game, co-hosted by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and me, Maltbie’s most provocative observations were on the future of the county.

“Most of the people who live in the county like it the way it is,” he said. But that stands in the direct path of changes that already have occurred in the county and are not going to be turned back.

The cost of housing has changed fundamentally the demographic makeup of the county, so that, for example, there simply are fewer children..

He cites the county Youth Services Center in Belmont, which we used to call Juvenile Hall. The facility was renovated and reopened in 2006. At the time, the center had a capacity of 180. A year later, the daily population was 159. This year, it is 60, Maltbie said.

“There are fewer kids living here, and fewer kids getting in trouble,” Maltbie said.

“Twenty years from now (the county) won’t look anything like it does now” due to gentrification, he said.

The full interview can be viewed here:

OUT, FOR NOW: Jason Galisatus, co-chair of the city Downtown Association and board member of the Redwood City Education Foundation, has opted not to run for the city council this year, while leaving quite open a run in 2020.

He said the above-mentioned initiatives, and others in which he is engaged have “got my hands full. The best way to serve my community is to work on those.”

One of the bright, rising stars in the city, Galisatus would have been the only Millennial in the race at a time when the city, particularly downtown, is increasingly populated by tech workers in their 20s. Galisatus said the city council ought to include a Millennial, so that this newer but significant element of the city can “see people like themselves” in office.

Galisatus said he is “certainly happy with the direction of the city. There is more we can do to address the twin crises of housing and transportation.”

He said he probably will endorse in the race, but was not prepared to say who that might be, although it’s worth noting that when Giselle Hale announced her candidacy on Facebook, Galisatus was among those who gave her the “like” thumb’s up.

ALREADY RUNNING: San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and Redwood City City Councilwoman Shelly Miller Masur have confirmed they’re both interested in running for Democrat Jerry Hill’s State Senate seat in 2020, when he is termed-out. Now, the rumor mill has added Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith as another interested party.

JERRY COHN: It has been a few weeks, but I don’t want any more time to pass without offering a few words about everybody’s friend, Jerry Cohn, a multi-decade veteran of the Sheriff’s office for whom a memorial was held a few weeks ago at the Woodside Village Church. Jerry died at the end of the year after a prolonged struggle with cancer. The church was packed to overflowing for his memorial, where he was remembered as radiant and known for his disarming humor and his ability to make instant friends with anyone. He was described as loquacious and gregarious and he would have loved that so many of his friends were on hand to remember him. Among those speaking at his memorial: District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, former Sheriff Greg Munks, current Sheriff Carlos Bolanos and County Manager Maltbie.

Contact Mark Simon at

Photo Courtesy of Carole Groom’s Facebook

Redwood City announces new police chief

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Thirty-three year Redwood City police Capt. Daniel Mulholland has been named police chief of the department effective Feb. 20, City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz announced today.

Mulholland emerged as the top pick for the top cop job following an “open and competitive” recruitment process, said Diaz, adding that she is confident he will continue building the community trust’s with RCPD, an accomplishment city officials credited to his predecessor JR Gamez, who retired as chief in December.

Deputy Chief Gary Kirby has been serving as interim chief and will return to his original role, Diaz said.

“Dan’s commitment to the department, extensive police experience in a range of leadership and executive roles, including his current role as captain leading the Administrative Services Division, and his collaborative approach are just a few of the many attributes that impressed me about Dan,” Diaz said in a statement.

Mulholland began his public safety career with the Redwood City Police Department as a civilian community service officer and later a police officer in 1987. He rose through the ranks within RCPD, holding leadership positions including, patrol sergeant, traffic sergeant, administrative sergeant, investigative sergeant, SWAT team leader, SWAT commander, team leader of the Countywide terrorist counter assault team, detective sergeant, and captain of the Patrol Division.

As captain of the Administrative Services Division, Mulholland oversees management of personnel assigned to Administration, Communications, Training and Records. He also served as acting chief in the absence of the police chief, acted as fiscal manager of the department’s operating budget and managed the department’s recruitment and hiring process.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Redwood City community and its police department as Chief of Police,” Mulholland said. “I have a lifelong connection with the community and consider Redwood City to be my home, and the men and women of the police department to be my second family.”

Diaz added, “I look forward to Dan leading the department to continue to innovate and evolve in our delivery of public safety services.”

Mulholland has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and Associates of the Arts degree in Liberal Studies from the College of San Mateo. He is also a graduate of a number of management and leadership training programs including Inner Perspectives Leadership Course, the P.O.S.T supervisory and management course, the U.S.A.F Air War College National Security Forum and the Los Angeles Police Department (Westpoint) Leadership program.

He lives in Contra Costa County with his wife and they have two adult children. He enjoys outdoor hobbies including off road motorcycling, camping and backpacking.

For more information go here.

Photo Courtesy of Redwood City Police Department.

Over 2,500 pounds of trash, 20 shopping carts pulled from Redwood Creek

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The Romancing the Creek volunteer cleanup event on Feb. 10 pulled more than 2,500 pounds of trash, mostly plastic, and close to 20 shopping carts from the creek, according to organizer Edward Stancil.

That’s quite a haul considering a group had come out to clean up the same area near the Peninsula Yacht Club just four months ago, Stancil told Redwood City’s council on Monday.

Over 150 volunteers who participated included local community members, along with a group of East Bay youth from Kaiser Permanente.

Stancil and other Docktown residents have for years organized clean up efforts that they say pull about 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of plastics annually. On one day, 38 shopping carts were pulled from creek areas, organizers say.

Redwood Creek is buried underground in downtown Redwood City, having been paved over in the 1920s. While out of sight, the creek picks up a lot of debris that runs off into the Bay. Volunteer events for the last 18 years have involved participation from local businesses, police, the city’s public works and others.

The above photo, taken from last year’s Romancing the Creek event, was posted in the event’s Facebook page.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated the amount of trash collected during this event. The story has been adjusted to reflect the correct amount.

Political Climate by Mark Simon: Council race will be costly, rough

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The flurry of activity in the Redwood City City Council race at the start of February has settled down a bit, but some would-be candidates are still contemplating their options.

Veteran Planning Commissioner Ernie Schmidt, who ran unsuccessfully for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 2012 and for the city council in 2013, said he is “50/50 about running this time.” He sounds like he’s leaning toward passing this time and running in 2020, when term limits and higher ambitions among current council incumbents may mean more open seats.

As for 2018, it will be the first council election to be part of the statewide general election, which means much bigger turnout and a base of voters well beyond the number who participated in prior elections, and these voters will have to be contacted. Add to that the noise and attention of a statewide ballot that includes races for governor and U.S. senator, and a local candidate will struggle to be heard.

Schmidt estimates a campaign for city council this year will be the most expensive ever. Do I really want to spend 90 grand?” Schmidt said.

Then there’s the expectation among many that this council race will be distinctly contentious as some of the most controversial issues play out between hardened camps.

“It’s such a weird climate,” Schmidt said. “The race is going to be very noisy. I don’t know if I have ear muffs strong enough for all the noise.”

EXPECTATIONS: Schmidt’s reference to the political climate is accurate: In talking with a number of candidates, it is clear the expectation is for a rough campaign.

That’s one reason my debut column expressed disappointment and impatience with an anonymous complaint filed at the state Fair Political Practices Commission against incumbent Jeff Gee. Since that appeared, I’ve been told that all complaints to the FPPC preserve the anonymity of the complainant, even if that person identifies himself or herself to the FPPC.

Well, that’s not true. Complainants have the option of remaining anonymous. In fact, they have to take an affirmative step to preserve their anonymity. That was the case in this complaint filed by a self-described “concerned citizen of Redwood City.” The same complainant later says, “I am filing this complaint anonymously as I am concerned for my job if named.”

Of course, we have no way of knowing if any of that is true, nor are we able to assess the motives of the complainant.

The timing is significant: the complaint was filed on Dec. 29, 2016, when it still looked as if Gee would be on the ballot in 2017. Was it filed for political mischief and to burden Gee with a political wound at a critical time? Is that fair or accurate speculation? Who knows? The complainant knows, and he or she is welcome to call me up and straighten me out if my speculation is off-base.

NEW FACES: I had a chance to talk to several of the new names emerging for the 2018 council race, one of whom, Giselle Hale, is the most recent to enter the race, doing so today via a Facebook announcement.

Christina Umhofer described herself first as a “lifetime resident” of Redwood City and as someone who believes in actively engaging in the issues that concern her. “If I’m going to have a criticism, I should put myself in the role of doing something about it.”

In prior publications, she has been labeled a “residentialist,” a label she said “other people have put on me.”

The issues of the campaign, she said, will be rent control, growth, parks and open space and infrastructure.

She understands “we have to grow in order to survive and thrive. …I think we could pause for three to six months and see what our city and residents need. We have afforded ourselves the opportunity to pause for a few seconds.”

As a property owner – Umhofer’s family owns a long-established auto garage – the economic growth has benefited her property values. But Umhofer said there have been unreconciled impacts on roads and sewer systems and not everyone has benefited. She said she wants to understand what else needs to be done for the whole of the city’s residents.

Rick Hunter answered questions via email and said the major issues facing the city are “severe budget difficulties, the affordable housing crisis and jobs/housing imbalance and the balance between quality of life and growth.”

With a decades-long record of civic activism as a volunteer and as a member of city and school commissions and foundation boards, “It’s the right time to use my experience to help guide the city through the next very important period.”

A CPA with an MBA from UCLA, Hunter said his background in finance and accounting will be valuable “In making difficult budget decisions as the city faces a growing problem with unfunded pension liabilities.”

As for Hale, her Facebook announcement began with a Valentine to the city: “I love you Redwood City.” She said she is running “because I will work to ensure residents and families of all ethnic and economic backgrounds can live in Redwood City and not just make it here – but thrive.”

Her local experience includes a seat on the Planning Commission and a board member on the Redwood City Education Foundation. A product director for Facebook, Hale’s activism includes Democratic campaign work on behalf of President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and the leadership council for the National Partnership for Women and Families.

She said she is concerned whether Redwood City can remain family-friendly. She was prompted to ask: “Why not me, why not now?”

“It is becoming unsustainable to raise a family in Redwood City,” she said, noting that her school-age children have seen the families of friends move out of the area because of the cost of living, particularly housing.

“We need to decide how that’s going to play out,” Hale said. “We’re raising the first generation of children who won’t drive cars.”

Like other candidates, Hale said the next step is to spend time talking to fellow residents, understanding their concerns and working together to learn how to address them.

“Any candidate who is running is out listening right now,” Hale said.

Mark Simon can be reached at

Giselle Hale announces City Council candidacy

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City Council hopeful Giselle Hale formally announced her candidacy this morning in a most fitting way – a Facebook post.

The director of media partnership at Facebook, who currently serves on Redwood City’s planning commission, is a young leader with years of professional experience and community service under her belt. Hale said she is running for City Council to “ensure residents and families of all ethnic and economic backgrounds” can live and thrive in the city.

“I believe my combined experience as a businesswoman, current Redwood City Planning Commissioner, community volunteer and most importantly a mother provides me with a broad perspective on what it will take to create and maintain a vibrant and livable Redwood City for all residents,” Hale said in her announcement.

Hale joined Facebook in 2010 after co-founding the startup Civio. Professionally, she is an expert in fields including marketing, program management, business development, channel strategies and startup operations.

She’s also been very active in the public sector, serving as campaign manager for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo in 2008, who won re-election decisively that year. Prior to that role, she was a regional field director for former President Barack Obama’s campaign.

Hale has served on the Redwood City planning commission since 2014, and is also active with the National Partnership for Women & Families, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, health care access, and policies that help parents meet the demands of work and family.

She earned an undergraduate degree in International Relations from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a graduate degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“My husband and I came to Redwood City to start our family because it was a place that matched our personal values of hard work, kindness, family and fun,” Hale said. “Redwood City stands out across the Peninsula as a place that embraces diversity, families and every generation with an unmatched quality of life.”

Hale’s campaign website can be viewed here.

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