Accusations fly in senate debate

Candidates for the District 8 state Senate seat traded jabs Wednesday over who could bring home the most funding for local projects at a forum held at Dominic’s Restaurant in San Mateo before area business leaders and politicians.

The contentiousness that has characterized the race for state Sen. Jackie Spei-

er’s seat continued with candidate and Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, chiding former county Supervisor Mike Nevin for “misrepresenting” the truth, while Nevin accused Yee of “lackluster” leadership in Sacramento. Former Assemblyman Lou Papan also suggested Nevin was less than honest in some of his responses.

Yee pointed to a bill he authored that was signed into law last year as an example of how he was able to ensure the return of $3 million to San Mateo County and San Francisco in 2008. The bill belatedly closed a 2003 sweetheart deal between Oakland and United Airlines to shift jet fuel sales tax normally divided between the Peninsula and The City to Alameda County.

Former county Supervisor Mike Nevin, however, jumped on the jet fuel tax example as a way in which Yee failed to get the most for Peninsula constituents. “That shows lackluster leadership on his part,” Nevin said of Yee.

Because San Francisco Inter-national Airport is located in San Mateo County, local officials believe the entire $3 million — paid by airlines when they refuel at the airport — should go to the county, as it does inalmost every other jurisdiction in the state. A 1998 law split the $3 million between San Mateo County and San Francisco.

“Local money has been robbed by lawmakers in Sacramento,” Nevin said, citing the jet fuel tax, the suspension of Prop. 98 education funds for two years and the use of Prop. 42 transportation funds to balance the state’s budget.

Yee said that, as a representative of both San Mateo County and San Francisco, it was his job to represent residents from both areas. “These issues are too important to somehow separate out two counties,” Yee said.

Papan, a state Assembly veteran of almost 15 years, said his experience and leadership would be key to securing local funding. If elected, he said he plans to tout San Mateo County — which pays more in taxes to Sacramento than it receives — as an example for the rest of the state.

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