Most of the Half Moon Bay City Council threw its weight behind three Coastside Fire Protection District board members who were targeted in a recall election Tuesday.

It didn't do much good. The three directors were ousted in a landslide over their push to get rid of Cal Fire. The state firefighting agency had taken over fire services for 30,000 people in Half Moon Bay and several nearby communities in 2008 after a local department became mired in financial and personnel problems.

But the three Coastside board members pushed to oust Cal Fire despite indications it was delivering better service, prompting the recall effort.

Four out of five City Council members had endorsed the "No on Recall" campaign. It was likely an easy decision for Councilman Allan Alifano, whose son Mike Alifano was among the board members voted out.

Two others -- Mayor Rick Kowalczyk and Councilwoman Naomi Patridge -- treated voters to no-on-the-recall robo-calls. Patridge and Vice Mayor John Muller added some cash to their endorsements, chipping in $100 and $150, respectively.

It's worth noting that Alifano, Kowalczyk and Patridge are all up for re-election this year. Will they pay a price for backing the losing side in the firefighting dispute? Voters may not have a say with Patridge. She told us she doesn't think she'll run again.


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Of course, the tendrils of influence in the recall election extended far beyond the rural San Mateo County coast. Firefighters unions from across the region took a keen interest in the fate of Cal Fire, whose employees earn less and work longer shifts than many of their Bay Area counterparts.

Firefighters from outside San Mateo County contributed more than $20,000 to the "No on Recall" campaign, including $2,000 from Oakland, $5,000 from San Francisco and $2,500 from Palo Alto. That was on top of at least $15,000 from San Mateo County Firefighters Local 2400, which represents firefighters at 11 departments in the county.

Cal Fire's union protected its turf by spending upward of $50,000, including a $25,000 donation to J.B. Cockrell, one of three candidates elected to replace the recalled board members.

Name that stadium: Decision may be near

As the San Francisco 49ers stadium continues, brick by brick, to rise in Santa Clara, there is considerable buzz surrounding rumors the team and city are drawing close to a naming rights deal with a corporate sponsor. Such a deal is considered a big part of paying for the $1 billion stadium, as naming rights have typically netted sports franchises hundreds of millions of dollars ($600 million for a proposed L.A. stadium, $400 million for the nearly new Giants-Jets stadium in New Jersey).

One media outlet reported last week that Creative Arts Agency, the Hollywood firm hired by the stadium authority to land a naming rights deal, is down to three unidentified suitors. And others have speculated that Levi Strauss, a San Francisco fixture, may be in the hunt because it set aside some domain names that could be used for a stadium website.

But 49ers officials and city leaders aren't saying much. The team released a statement that it was pleased with the "significant interest in the marketplace" for naming rights. And in an email exchange, 49ers President Jed York told us they "are not close enough on anything" to provide firm details.

However, it appears this decision could be coming to a head. IA's sources say there could be an announcement on naming rights as soon as the May 7 Santa Clara City Council meeting. We can only hope it's not some drab Silicon Valley company with too many vowels or Xs in the name.

More than 1,000 attend Peter Carter memorial

The memorial service for ex-ad man Peter Carter last weekend drew the elite from Los Gatos and San Jose, bringing an estimated 1,100 to 1,200 people to Mission Santa Clara. The crowd spilled outside as speaker after speaker lauded chapters of Carter's life -- his time at Bellarmine, Georgetown, as a San Jose ad executive, and social leader in Los Gatos. Carter died at age 70 from a March 6 fall at his Los Gatos home.

Among the folks we spotted at the event were Mike Fox Jr., District Attorney Jeff Rosen and his top assistant, Jay Boyarsky; ex-Mayor Tom McEnery and his brother, John McEnery; Supervisor Dave Cortese; political consultant Jude Barry; construction CEO Chuck Toenniskoetter, San Jose council members Sam Liccardo and Pierluigi Oliverio, and supervisorial candidate Teresa Alvarado.

What really set the memorial apart, however, was the six-page color program that chronicled Carter's life and his second-act career in photography. The centerpiece was a striking photo from the late 1980s of Carter and his wife, Dennise McNulty Carter.

Carter's legacy can be seen in the photos of people and buildings throughout the valley. But he might be remembered best for his talent at bringing people together. "If you can't decide what wine to bring," he'd tell people, "just bring something pricey."

Kamala Harris has competition for 'best-looking' AG

When President Barack Obama made his now-infamous remark about California Attorney General Kamala Harris being the best-looking attorney general in the United States, the focus was on whether he had crossed the line of sexism.

Obama quickly apologized -- though it's clear the remark did nothing but help Harris politically.

As dedicated researchers, however, we decided to pursue the truth of the matter in early Mark Zuckerberg Facebook style. So we hit the images on state websites. To counter the charges of sexism, we looked at men and women. Our toil produced at least two contenders: Beau Biden of Delaware, the son of Vice President Joe Biden; and Pam Bondi, the Republican attorney general of Florida. A possible runner-up is Marty Jackley of South Dakota.

None of this means that Obama was completely off the mark in his politically incorrect judgment about Harris. But the landscape is by no means as bleak as the president implied. After all, the Big Dog himself, ex-President Bill Clinton, once belonged to the club.

Mayor's allies join forces against Cindy Chavez

Some folks close to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who defeated Cindy Chavez in 2006, are forming an independent political committee to oppose her candidacy to replace her disgraced ally, former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.

Reed consigliere Vic Ajlouny is the consultant behind The Community for Accountability, whose treasurer is Ben Roth, another former Reed campaign staffer. Also involved is ArLyne Diamond, a Santa Clara management consultant who last year ran unsuccessfully against Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont.

"I've been approached by individuals who believe the county would be better served by somebody who does not have the negative track record that Cindy Chavez has," Ajlouny said.

Contributions will aid Chavez rival Teresa Alvarado, daughter of former District 2 Supervisor Blanca Alvarado. Reed has yet to endorse anyone in the race.

Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Aaron Kinney, Howard Mintz, Scott Herhold, Tracy Seipel and Paul Rogers. Send tips to internalaffairs@mercurynews.com, or call

408-975-9346.