Opinion: Politicians have a fun weekend in Wine Country


April 24, 2023

Daily Post Editor

Many elected officials in San Mateo County were living it up over the weekend (April 21-23) at the San Mateo County Chamber’s annual Progress Seminar.

The event was in Sonoma County in the heart of Wine Country.

Why wasn’t this event held in San Mateo County?

You’d think these politicos would be the first ones to promote San Mateo County and put dollars in the pockets of people in the local hospitality industry. We’ve got hotels, wineries and restaurants right here! Local businesses are still recovering from the county’s forced Covid shutdowns. They could use the business.

But the Chamber had this shin-dig at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Rosa. The fee for attending the seminar: $775 per person. Plus there’s the hotel bill. Two nights in a “King Room with courtyard view” costs $748, according to booking.com.

While some of the politicos in the past have paid for this junket out of their own pocket, others charge it to their city, county or special district – meaning they’re giving you the bill.

Here are some of the seminar titles:

· “Elevating self and lifting all with the power of heart intelligence.”

· “How is San Mateo County getting ready for a zero carbon future?” Maybe by taking away your gas stove?

· “Real people, real jobs, real challenges,” which has a union panelist and a union moderator.

· “Housing – How can we truly make an impact?”

If these seminars were so important, why not conduct them via Zoom so the participants can stay in San Mateo County?

And with all of these government decision-makers on hand, of course local corporations are involved as sponsors.

It’s a long list, but a few names jump out: Recology, Stanford, Meta, Sutter Health, Dignity, Google, Sims Metal, the San Mateo County Transit District, Sobrato, Motorola (maker of encrypted police radio systems) and Comcast.

The attendee list is even longer. Besides representatives of the sponsoring companies, a few of the names that hit me were:

· Menlo Park Mayor Jen Wolosin; and Vice Mayor Cecilia Taylor;

· Ray Mueller, former Menlo Park councilman and now San Mateo County supervisor;

· Dave Pine, longtime San Mateo County supervisor;

· Noelia Corzo, newly elected San Mateo County supervisor;

· Mike Callagy, San Mateo County manager;

· From Belmont, Mayor Julia Mates and councilwomen Robin Pang-Maganaris and Davina Hurt;

· From San Mateo, Mayor Amourence Lee and Deputy Mayor Lisa Diaz Nash;

· Carrie Du Bois, Amy Koo and Sathvik Nori, Sequoia Union High School District trustees;

· Crystal Leach, the new superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District;

· Alisa MacAvoy, Redwood City Schools trustee;

· John Pimentel and Richard Holober, San Mateo County Community College District trustees;

· From San Carlos, Mayor Adam Rak and Councilman Ron Collins;

· Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County supervisor;

· A big contingent from Redwood City including City Manager Melissa Stevenson-Diaz, Mayor Jeff Gee and council members Alicia Aguirre, Kaia Eakin, Diane Howard, Elmer Martinez and Chris Sturken;

· Lisa Gauthier, East Palo Alto mayor;

· Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park;

· State Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park.

If it were up to me, I’d hold the event in a high school gymnasium.

No alcohol, just soft drinks. That way everybody stays focused on the important tasks at hand, whatever those might be. No hotel rooms, just go home at night to your actual home.

It’s a 180-mile roundtrip to and from Santa Rosa; imagine all the gas (or electricity) that would be saved if the event were here.

Next year, Chamber, keep the event here in San Mateo County. Let’s circulate our money in the local community as much as possible.


Population shrinks but housing quotas go up

When the state and the Association of Bay Area Governments, or ABAG, were coming up with their quotas for new housing in each city, they were working off of the assumption that California’s population was going to keep on growing.

That assumption was wrong.

The state’s population dropped by more than 500,000 between April 2020 and July 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Residents in Atherton are complaining loudly that their quota of 348 more homes is excessive. Some residents want to sue the state to reduce their quota.

I’m no lawyer, but I think Atherton could argue that people are leaving California in droves – the state lost a Congressional seat in the last reapportionment – and the quotas are inflated.

Maybe Atherton could team up with other cities that feel the numbers are unfair and put up a united front in suing the state.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is price@padailypost.com.


  1. They should have been required to wear masks for the entire seminar, as they pushed it on the rest of us for two years and still recommend it indoor places. Better yet, all public officials – and anyone else who mandated or enforced the masks – should be required to wear them in public for the rest of their lives.

  2. Sounds like a weekend where our top policy makers were captive to corporate lobbyists. Next time a council member votes against residents and in favor of a big corporation, I’ll think about this junket.

  3. Dave, you are absolutely correct about the seminar. That’s a long way to drive to discuss San Mateo County issues. And wouldn’t it be more of an advantage to attract more representatives if it was held locally? Ok, I get it, they wanted to some really nice, fancy place to meet. Hmmm, let’s see…Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay? Sounds perfect to me and all those food, drink and hotel room bills (sales tax-transient tax) would have stayed right here in San Mateo County as well as supported jobs for the folks who work there.

  4. What the heck is “Elevating self and lifting all with the power of heart intelligence”? Sounds like a cult! Or maybe a seance?

    • Agree! The question remains: who is the cult leader?

      Seminar Titles are just so much “pretty talk”. We need to get real…if we’re looking for real solutions.

      This is unreal.

  5. A lot of booze was consumed, but did they make any progress on the basics: fixing potholes, reliable electric power, helping the poor get food, preventing small businesses from closing … instead they want to talk about taking away the option of natural gas or having a zero carbon future. Hey, my body is full of carbon. Am I going to be zeroed out?

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