As Shirakawa's troubles mount, aide jumps ship for new county job
As Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.'s deputy chief of staff, Andrea Flores Shelton has had her hands full.
A highly regarded staffer for well-respected former District 2 Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Shelton has seen her new boss making headlines in all the wrong ways, from overspending his office budget and hiring an unnecessary bodyguard to failing to file required campaign finance reports.
So it's perhaps not surprising that as Shirakawa is being investigated by state and local authorities over his missing 2008 campaign files, Shelton, 38, is leaving Shirakawa's office this week to join the county's Public Health Department as its new "Injury and Violence Prevention Coordinator."
But Shelton said her departure has nothing to do with Shirakawa's more recently publicized troubles. In fact, she said she applied for the job in July, a month after Shirakawa had won an uncontested election for his second supervisorial term in June.
And she said she harbors no ill will toward Shirakawa, for whom she began working in 2009 as a communications director, as well as being his expert on public safety issues.
"I can say that I'm very proud of the policy work that I've done for George," Shelton said, noting efforts that included the county's adaptation to the state's realignment plan, which unloaded the responsibility for punishing and rehabilitating thousands of nonviolent felons from California's prison system to local communities.
There was the county's success in finding alternatives to juvenile hall detention, which she said reduced the juvenile hall population by half, as well as Shirakawa's role in creating an "immigration hold'' policy that shields illegal immigrants arrested for nonviolent crimes and misdemeanors from being deported.
"George," Shelton said, "did a wonderful job of trying to make the county more accessible and inclusive to all."
Alum Rock board in a race to replace Green
Darcie Green hasn't yet resigned from the Alum Rock school board, but her colleagues are chomping at the bit to replace her.
At a hastily called special meeting Thursday, the board majority decided to announce the upcoming vacancy and call for applications. How quick were the four trustees moving? Well, when Green -- who has planned to step down Wednesday to take a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education -- walked into the 7:30 p.m. meeting five minutes late, the board already had decided on posting the vacancy.
"It's very odd, because I still haven't resigned," Green told us. The board majority also decided to appoint a replacement on Nov. 19.
Why the hurry? Some suggest that it might have to do with the fact that two key trustees, Esau Herrera and Dolores Marquez, are up for re-election Tuesday. Rushing the process for replacing Green allows them to choose her successor. Otherwise, leaving more time for candidates to apply could push the vote past early December (state law gives the board 60 days from a vacancy to fill it), when possibly a new board may be seated.
Of course, that's not the official rationale. Board members argued they wanted the appointee to be able to attend the California School Boards Association annual conference at the end of the month, which offers training for new trustees. And pushing back the appointment runs into the busy holiday season, they said, and a quick appointment would lend stability to the district.
Allow more democracy to intervene, and it can be so inconveniently unstable.
Constant, retired cop square off on disability
David Bacigalupi, a 32-year veteran San Jose police officer who retired in 2008, went before the City of San Jose Retirement Services Department Board of Administration last week to ask that his pension be granted disability status. That might have been unremarkable were he not also a member and former chairman of that board.
So there were questions about possible conflicts of interest from some in the room, including Councilman Pete Constant, a retired police officer himself who had opposed Bacigalupi's reappointment to the board back in 2008. Bacigalupi had initially denied Constant's disability pension back in 2000. And the councilman saw him as hostile toward granting them for young officers suffering career-ending injuries rather than older veterans citing an accumulation of hurts. Disability pensions come with a hefty tax break, which a city audit last year estimated at $16,500 a year for officers, and noted that San Jose has an unusually high rate of police and firefighter disability retirements.
Bacigalupi had already said he would recuse himself from voting on his disability request, and the board's lawyers said there were no legal conflicts for the rest of the board to consider it. But when that failed to ease all the questions, Bacigalupi, who had just one meeting left in his term, resigned on the spot.
"I regret deeply that it's come to this," said firefighter and Chairman Sean Kaldor, who had argued for Bacigalupi to remain on the board.
He and the other board members present -- retired fireman and Vice Chairman Richard Santos, police Officer James Mason, and public members Bettina Rounds and Drew Lanza -- then approved Bacigalupi's request without dissent, calling his case was well-documented.
Bacigalupi was on disability leave at the time of his retirement and cited a combination of injuries to his neck, back, knees, ankle, wrist and shoulder. The injuries, he said, stemmed from being rear-ended in his patrol car in 1988 and 2003, being hit by a patrol car in a parking lot in 1994, falling from a police motorcycle during a 1996 training and taking a violent suspect into custody in 2002.
"You get a little banged up but keep coming back," Bacigalupi told the board. "I love the job."
DA Rosen is clearly a fan of 'West Wing'
Die-hard fans of the TV show "The West Wing" beware: There is an impostor in your midst.
The County of Santa Clara Office of the District Attorney has borrowed the name of the clever show as the masthead for its quarterly staff newsletter.
We knew District Attorney Jeff Rosen ached to be the president of the United States when he was growing up. But is naming the in-house pub after that storied office really the next best thing?
Actually, the rationale for "The West Wing" is that the district attorney's office is in the west wing of the county building at 70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose, a place that's, shall we say, less elegant than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., or even the soundstage at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank where the TV show was produced.
This quarter's edition sports a dramatic front-page story about the crime lab penned by none other than media liaison Sean Webby, once the Mercury News' top police reporter. On the serious side, there's also a heartbreaking interview with Deputy District Attorney Silvia Felix about her ongoing battle with breast cancer.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Tracy Seipel, Sharon Noguchi, John Woolfolk, Tracey Kaplan and Paul Rogers. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 408-975-9346.