Online Extra: Political Notes: Yeager set for 2nd term as Santa Clara board prez
by Matthew S. Bajko
Openly gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager is set to become president of the South Bay board for a second time. Yeager, who will turn 60 Wednesday, in 2010 became the first out person to lead the county board that covers San Jose and other cities in Silicon Valley.
Yeager's colleagues nominated him for the ceremonial post at their December 4 meeting. The only out member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Yeager has been serving as vice president for the past year.
The board will vote to finalize the selection of a new president and vice president, slated to be Supervisor Mike Wasserman , at its January 15 meeting. Their one-year terms would begin immediately.
Then, on the morning of January 29, Yeager will give the annual State of the County address during which he will "reflect on recent accomplishments, outline upcoming challenges, and chart new initiatives," as Yeager stated in an email to constituents last week.
The board has been rocked with recent allegations that its outgoing president, Supervisor George Shirakawa, racked up inappropriate charges on his county-issued credit card. A blistering audit report released last week concluded that Shirakawa should repay the county $12,772 for his questionable spending on top of the $7,049 he has already repaid for previous charges found to be unrelated to his supervisorial duties.
According to published reports, Shirakawa became emotional in defending himself during last week's board meeting and, at one point, seemed to claim that the personal attacks against him are linked to his being fat, of mixed race, a Raiders football fan, and a same-sex marriage supporter.
"I certainly take responsibility for anything that I'm responsible for, whether it's in the job of this duty or anywhere else in my life," Shirakawa was quoted as saying by the San Jose Mercury News .
Yeager has been outspoken about his colleague's spending practices, noting in his monthly newsletter sent out December 6 that he had "encouraged" county officials to review Shirakawa's financial records "to see if there was merit to the claims."
That review is under way, added Yeager, and both the county district attorney's office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission have opened their own investigations into the matter.
"I believe these accusations should be thoroughly investigated," wrote Yeager.
At Yeager's request, county officials are also looking at the policies overseeing spending by elected officials and top executives. They are expected to present a report at the board's December 18 meeting.
He has also called for all of the county's elected officials to submit public reports detailing their expenses on a quarterly basis. The board is set to take up that proposal at the December 18 meeting as well.
"Those familiar with my work know that ethics and public participation in the government process are very important to me. Open and accessible public proceedings and records are crucial to public participation," wrote Yeager.
A former San Jose city councilman, Yeager won election to the county seat in June 2006. He lives with his longtime partner, Michael Haberecht, and is an avid cyclist.
Re-elected to a second term in 2010, Yeager represents District 4, which includes sections of west San Jose and the cities Santa Clara and Campbell. He is eligible to seek a third and final term on the county board in 2014.
He could instead opt to run for state Assembly that year, as Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) will be termed out of office and his Assembly District 24 seat will be up for grabs. Yeager would likely being running against gay Campbell City Councilman Evan Low, who last week was named mayor of his city for a second time.
The two out lawmakers both suspended plans to seek the Assembly seat, which is centered in the Silicon Valley towns of Campbell and Saratoga but also includes a portion of San Jose, this year after Fong decided to run for re-election to the Assembly.
Lesbian BART board member-elect to be sworn into office
Next week lesbian BART board member-elect Rebecca Saltzman will take her oath of office for the District 3 seat. She will represent parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties on the transit agency's oversight panel and will be its second out member, joining gay San Francisco BART board member Tom Radulovich , who was re-elected last month.
In an email sent to supporters last week Saltzman, an environmental policy advocate for the California League of Conversation Voters, invited the public to attend her swearing-in ceremony at 9 a.m. Thursday, December 20.
It will take place in the BART boardroom, Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, Third Floor, 344 20th Street, in downtown Oakland, just a couple blocks from the 19th Street BART station.
That evening Saltzman is hosting a public celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. at Shashamane Bar and Grill, 2507 Broadway, in the Uptown district, also a short walk from the 19th Street BART station.
"Our victory wouldn't have been possible without the support of hundreds of donors, volunteers, and supporters," wrote Saltzman, adding that she hoped many could "come celebrate with us" at the events.
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