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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tom Martinez: He Was One of a Kind

Tom Martinez died Tuesday at the age of 66. It was his birthday. His death, sadly, was not unexpected. He had been ill for many years. In fact, he reported that his physicians had declared that he was dying this past summer. He was correct. Martinez was best known as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's tutor. But Martinez was much more than that. His long career at the College of San Mateo was studded with milestones, not the least of which was his staggering total of 1,400 victories in three sports. But he wasn't just a coach. He was a teacher. He had literally thousands of students during his tenure at CSM and at Jefferson High School before that. Martinez was a man for all seasons. He could provide opinions and perspective on just about any topic, especially if it was related to young people and their habits. He could, and did, talk for hours if his companions were stimulating enough. He had a wonderful sense of humor and he was often the butt of his own wry jokes. He didn't suffer fools well at all. Martinez will be greatly missed. He was one of a kind.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The County Grand Jury: Does Anyone Listen?

The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury this week issued a new report criticizing a vote by two members of the Board of Supervisors that prevented an extension of Cal Fire services in San Carlos. The Grand Jury's analysis indicated that the action prevented significant savings for local taxpayers. You can bet that the revelations will be greeted by a collective yawn. The report has no teeth whatsoever. Every time the Grand Jury, with the best of intentions, comes out with a damning conclusion involving one of the county's multitude of public agencies the impact is more fleeting than a vote by the Greek Parliament. It's strictly a case of here-today-gone-tomorrow. It has the lifespan of a gnat. That's not to say the Grand Jury's work is utterly pointless. It's just that it has no enforcement mechanism; it's advisory only. Targets, whoever they are, can take it or leave it. They usually do the latter. One of the best examples occurred not all that long ago when the Grand Jury produced a report detailing how the county's public health care system featured some of the most generous benefits in California for illegal immigrants and their families. The result: Nothing. It was kissed off as barely more than an interesting set of data. Ho hum. Time to take another nap.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Limbo: A Place for the Undefined, Uncertain

During a recent discussion with friends in San Mateo, the subject of Limbo came up. For Catholics of a certain age, Limbo was something of a strange conundrum. It was a vague place where certain souls wound up. It wasn't Hell and it wasn't Heaven; it was something in-between, a final destination for those of an undefined spiritual nature. In a sense, it was an agonistic's delight because it was so cloudy. It was neither black nor white; it was grey. Booted out of the Church's lexicon some time ago because of a distinct lack of relevance, Limbo hasn't really gone away. At least not in a political sense. In an era riven by harsh idealogues on the left and right, there is no middle ground for rational debate. If you listen to politicians and pundits on both sides of the great American divide, you come to realize that shades of nuance are quickly lost in the rhetoric. You aren't allowed to hedge even a little. There is no home for you. In effect, you are back in Limbo as an Independent. Maybe that's OK. You still get to vote.