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Horgan: A lost opportunity for San Mateo community colleges

Last week’s item regarding the loss of a reported $114 million due to the San Mateo County Community College District’s failure to sell off its TV station (lawsuits involving that snafu are flying) produced this reaction by one reader: That money could have been used to create free tuition for all county students attending district campuses.

As we have noted in the past, about 33,000 such pupils (out of a grand total of 40,000) currently attend Cañada College in Redwood City, College of San Mateo and Skyline College in San Bruno. Of those county students, 19,000 already receive free tuition as part of a state-promoted program, leaving 14,000 who don’t because of an apparent lack of financial need.

District Chancellor Ron Galatolo has previously said that it would take $8 million annually to bring about a free-tuition program for all county pupils regardless of fiscal status.

That missing $114 million, even subtracting any shared amount due to the involvement of outside investors and consultants in the botched sale, would have been a pleasant and welcome boon and another step in the right direction for county taxpayers who foot the district’s bills and have been doing so for nearly a century.

Seasonal creek

As a general rule, real estate ads aim to avoid anything potentially negative. It only makes sense. Why risk killing a sale? A recent blurb, though, inadvertently wandered into potentially dicey territory when it noted that a particularly pricey coastal dwelling featured a “seasonal creek.” Oops. That sounds like code for “Hey, Martha, get out the sandbags, the guy on the Weather Channel says there’s a gully-washer coming tonight.”

A Millbrae warning

You knew something like this was bound to happen sooner or later in our frenetic, high-tech existence. This official warning note was posted over a men’s room urinal that was apparently on the fritz earlier this month at an enterprise in downtown Millbrae: “Notice _ Computer is out of order.” George Orwell was right all along. He was just way ahead of his time. So next time, before you flush, you might want to consider the state of your laptop. Or not.

Jurassic phone booth

If you pay close attention while traveling on the Coastside, you can spot some ancient history. We give you as Exhibit A a weather-beaten pay telephone booth that graces the parking lot at the Highway 1 Brewing Company, south of Pescadero on the way to Davenport, Santa Cruz and points south on that scenic coastal road. Sadly, the relic from the Jurassic dialing era doesn’t work. But it’s a possible point of interest for curious kids.

An early start

Nothing is sacred. Last weekend, the creative types at Bev Mo promoted their latest designer margarita suggestion as a handy way to celebrate Earth Day. The idea seemed to be: Do your part to make the environment a better, cleaner place and then kick back with a stiff adult libation or three as your happy, tequila-fueled reward for saving the planet. Hey, why not? And Cinco de Mayo is almost upon us anyway. An early start is always welcome.

John Horgan’s column appears in the Mercury News weekly. You can contact him by email at johnhorganmedia@gmail.com and by regular mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011.