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About this blog: I have lived in Belle Haven since 1997, and work as an interpreter in the emergency department of a county hospital. My main interest is to help improve society by way of giving families the support and information they need to ra...  (More)

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Fire Board Race muddled by assumptions

Uploaded: Oct 15, 2013
I will come clean before I say anything else.
There is a lawn sign in my front yard that reads: Carolyn Clarke for Fire Board.

And you will find many more of those signs on the East Side of Menlo Park. Lawn signs for the other candidates are virtually non-existent on this side of the freeway. It's as if candidates from the West Side, knowing that races are decided there, rarely bother to try to get to know the constituents of the East Side. To most candidates, Belle Haven has been like a foreign land. And as long as they can count with enough votes and money to win without having to come out of their comfort zone, it will continue to be.

See, we neither have the number of votes, nor the money to contribute to their campaigns in any crucial way. The few who venture into our neighborhood to try to gain our vote, do so out of their willingness to make us feel included. But this doesn't happen often.

By now, the citizens of the East Side, have learned that their best shot at having a voice in local government is by supporting one of their own. Even if that candidate doesn't have the experience, nor the connections to level the odds of getting in the door; as is the case with Carolyn Clarke. This is her second run in 12 months. Last year, when she ran for city council, she ended up in fourth place. And by the looks of the concerted campaign literature listing three of the candidates from the West Side, getting Carolyn elected would almost take a miracle.

No one is born knowing how to run a Fire Board, and even those who flaunt their experience had to learn it somewhere. Carolyn is an intelligent woman, and just like the three guys, she can learn what she needs to get the job done.

I am not concerned about the firefighters' endorsement. Because she is an honest person, I trust that Carolyn will look after the common good when the time comes to make hard decisions.

The three candidates running as a slate, are doing so by touting their experience on one hand, and their aversion to Unions on the other, very heavy hand. This is where they lost me.

To try to make Unions the boogeyman of political races, candidates who do so show how little they understand the lives and plights of those who have nothing but their ability to work to support their families. In a society where working full-time at minimum wage, still doesn't provide an individual the means to support himself, let alone a family, Unions are there to help even the playing field.

I think that for the most part, we learned the lesson about the dangers of runaway benefits for public servants. But to keep using that as a way to vilify an opponent, shows an ugly side of the accuser.

If I want to show my disdain for money influencing political races, I will first go after Citizens United, and the Koch brothers.

Comments

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of another community,
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I don't know much about Ms. Clarke, but I agree with Lamarque about local representation. Our of fairness, Bell Haven deserves to have its residents elected to local office. It is this community's best chance at getting eastern Menlo Park's interests and issues heard and addressed.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Oct 17, 2013 at 11:04 am

While I agree that the east side of town is often overlooked, the record of voting has historically not been as high as the west side of town.

In regards to Ms. Clarke, while she may, to quote the author, "Carolyn is an intelligent woman...she can learn what she needs to get the job done" she had not done her homework and wasn't as prepared as she should have been at the candidates' form hosted by the League of Women Voters. I would have expected more -- not 'I'll get elected then learn about things.'

Given that there are candidates more learned and qualified, I will vote for them.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Oct 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I'm very suspect of union endorsements and, respectfully, I would never support your candidate for just that reason.

Our pension liabilities are unsustainable and will result in decreased services and increased taxes. It's math. And the people spoke very loudly and clearly when this issue was on the ballot. Since then, the unions have done everything possible to subvert the people's will.

It is often said that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It is simply naive to think that the unions won't want something from your candidate in exchange for their endorsement. Politics simply doesn't work that way.

Nothing will send a louder message to the union leadership than a strong vote for Peter Carpenter, Rex Ianson and Chuck Bernstein. Let's reel in this runaway pension train once and for all.


Posted by joe, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

"Nothing will send a louder message to the union leadership than a strong vote for Peter Carpenter, "

I agree - Peter's probably the best motivated and qualified candidate to "right size" pensions and stand up to these walking talking "liabilities'.

He'll fix the Union and Pension problems and do so being reasonable and civil.

It's perfectly fine for Peter to lobby in this newspaper fourm for his former employer's land development project a nausea while simultaneously calling a union endorsement unwise.

He's very experienced at explaining these behavioral contradictions which makes him very qualified to fix the pension liabilities without raising taxes or decreasing services.






Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"his former employer's land development project a nausea while simultaneously calling a union endorsement unwise. "

I haven't received a paycheck from Stanford since 1976 - over 35 years ago. That is very different than having my campaign for public office being funded by the very people over whom I would be expected to exercise oversight.

"I agree - Peter's probably the best motivated and qualified candidate to "right size" pensions and stand up to these walking talking "liabilities'.

He'll fix the Union and Pension problems and do so being reasonable and civil. "

Thank you for your endorsement. I pledge that, if re-elected, I will continue to fulfill my responsibilities as a servant of the citizens who have elected me.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

I have a basic problem with the main premiss of Mr. Lamarque's blog. The MPFPD Board is not a body that only serves the CIty of Menlo Park, and the election of its officers is voted on by residents in all the cities and unincorporated areas of San Mateo County that the district serves. I find it quite arrogant that he would take a position that because he perceives some issue between the east and west side of his town that its ok to put an inexperienced unqualified person on the board. My vote is for the three candidates whose proven track record, experience and obvious superior knowledge of the issues that the board deals with makes them the best candidates (not all are from the west side of Menlo Park either) Peter Carpenter, Chuck Bernstien and Rex ianson. Also, a suggestion for the district board, how about renaming the district to Mid-Penninsula Fire Protection District - you wouldn't even have to change the initials on the stationery (MPFPD).


Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm

@WhoRUpeople
Thanks for reading my blog.

That's is correct. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District includes, besides Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton, and some of the unincorporated areas of the County.

The distribution of its fire stations is as follows: 1 in Atherton, 1 in East PaloAlto, 1 in Fair Oaks, and 4 in Menlo Park. Maybe this is why they call it the Menlo Park Fire District Board.


Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I agree with WhoRUpeople, being a qualified candidate- no matter what your gender or race is- is the most important factor for being in public office.

Mr. Lamarque completely misses the point in his blog. The fire board serves the entire community, whether or not the fire stations are in East Palo Alto, Atherton, Menlo Park, or in unincorporated San Mateo County. It doesn't matter where the fire stations are. I actually think WhoRUpeople has an interesting idea about renaming the district, and it's pretty creative. However, not to detract from the point of being qualified, below is a link to the LWV candidate's forum. I attended that, and now, voters have a chance to see how for themselves who the most qualified candidates are. Sorry to say, but Clarke and Nelson do not fit bill.

Web Link

Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District was formed BEFORE any of the cities that it serves:
"On September 16, 1915, a note of order was restored to the community when a group of 62 residents petitioned the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District was formed. The boundaries of the fire district eventually followed lines similar to those drawn for the original incorporation of Menlo Park. An Historical document of descriptons the boundaries and poll list of the Fire District Election in 1916 can be viewed on this provided link. On March 23, 1874, Menlo Park became the second incorporated city in San Mateo County, although only for a short time. The purpose was to provide a quick way to raise money for road repairs. This incorporation, which included Fair Oaks, (later Atherton) and Ravenswood, (later East Palo Alto) lasted only until 1876. Menlo Park attempted to reincorporate in 1923, and the boundaries would have included what is now Atherton. Citizens in Atherton had other ideas and beat Menlo to the County Courthouse by only minutes and submitted their own incorporation documents. Menlo Park delayed their submission and the city was not incorporated until 1927. East Palo Alto remained as an unincorporated county area until 1983 when the City of East Palo Alto was formed. The Menlo Park Fire District is older, therefore, than the three cities that it protects."

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Video of the League of Womens' Voter Fire Board Candidate Forum has now been posted:

Web Link

And here are the individual candidate's Smart Voter posting:

Web Link

Watch the first and read all of the parts of the second and you will be in a good position to cast an informed vote.


Posted by rubbish, a resident of another community,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Martin, your own assumptions are the problem. Don't assume all the rubbish other people are posting will have any impact on this election. Clarke will be elected because she is putting on a great campaign.


Posted by Citizen, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

What everyone is missing, is that Carolyn is running with Jack Nelson an incumbent. If you look at his endorsements
both professional and from the "East Side", you see that he represents the "East Side" equally, unlike the other candidates. Yes, there are lot of assumptions and if you notice the 2 incumbents are rarely if ever in the news. Yes,
Mr. Carpenter has served before, so has Mr. Nelson and Mr. Ianson (incumbents) However, one of the candidates is
embroiled in a law suit along with Ms. Kiraly a current member, whether the law suit has merit or not, it seems to be
taking up a lot of time and media space, to have 2 potential members in litigation on the same board, is scary. People are making union endorsed candidates out to be monsters. I would look at the whole up and down of politics
President, VP,Senators, Governors etc and realize that union's, NRA, special interest groups are all involved in believing in their candidates. This fire board has 3 yes 3 labor endorsed candidates and still there is no contract,
employees paying more towards their health care and retirement, so why are beating a dead horse ! Labor's faith in
people where ever it is hoping they will make decisions, intelligent for the COMMON GOOD of all concerned ! Martin is right, the 3 on the same slate never get out of the west and cross 101, while the other 2 are all over the district, both east and west, just remember that when casting your ballots..


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Citizen (a poster who has already been deleted from other Forum threads for violating the Terms of Use) - You do not understand.

There is no East-West issue - The Fire District provides, and has always provided, the SAME level of service to ALL residents and businesses in the District. The District has invested in upgraded fire stations FIRST in East Palo Alto.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Martin - Regarding campaign signs. Here is the law:

"California Fair Political Practices Commission

Political Advertising Disclaimers
Under California's Political Reform Act, committees must put "paid for by" disclaimers on
campaign advertising, including campaign mailers, radio and television ads, telephone
robocalls, and electronic media ads. This brochure discusses "disclaimer" requirements for
committees that purchase advertisements or circulate material supporting or opposing a state or
local candidate or ballot measure in California.
What is a disclaimer?
A "disclaimer" is the portion of a political message that identifies the person or entity who paid
for or authorized the communication. "Paid for by committee name" is the basic disclaimer
required by the Act on most campaign communications sent by a committee.

● Newspaper ads, billboards, yardsigns, and other print advertisements for ballot
measures must include "paid for by committee name" and list top two donors of $50,000 or
more."



Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Thank you, Peter, for that excellent history snapshot of the MPFPD.
If you ever run for the History Board, you can count with my humble vote.

And with all due respect, I didn't imply that the Board only serves one side of the city, or the other. It is you who has gotten off on that one, and I still don't see why.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Martin - How can you be so dishonest?

" I didn't imply that the Board only serves one side of the city, or the other. It is you who has gotten off on that one, and I still don't see why."

When you started this blog with this preposterous statement:

"To most candidates, Belle Haven has been like a foreign land. And as long as they can count with enough votes and money to win without having to come out of their comfort zone, it will continue to be."


Posted by Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Peter, thanks for the links. Clark's website has a press release about her field campaign. Web Link. We should all contact her to volunteer.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community,
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Peter - your interpretation of his comments about Belle Haven sure aren't the interpretations that I made. It's subjective.


Posted by Carolyn Clarke, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 19, 2013 at 6:32 am

Martin, Thank you for your honest opinion...I appreciate your support and straight to the point talk. Running for an elected office requires STAMINA...and running for an elected office in the City of Menlo Park, PLUS maintaining regular day-to-day activities (such as being Mom, New Grandmother, Small Business owner on the East side, start-up philanthropic ventures, etc...) requires much more than just STAMINA, it takes GUTS! In fact, you learn to live with very little Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Nevertheless, its worth the SACRIFICE!

When elected, I will do a GREAT job as a member of the MP Fire Protection District Board member...I must!


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

Ms Clarke by her own words, "...and running for an elected office in the CIty of Menlo Park" doesn't get the fact that this is not a Menlo Park city election its a district election. If you don't live in Menlo Park don't expect if she is elected for Clarke to concern herself with your issues.


Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I expect the posts responding to Mr. Lamarque's opinion to be more pro-Clarke. Clarke's lack of knowledge of the fire district and her misleading information about her professional background are two important reasons not to elect her. She is definitely not qualified to be in elected office of any kind.

As for the post by "Citizen," he/she seems to want to distract from the real issues of the fire board. Kiraly and Bernstein's lawsuits are not related to the fire board, so that is not a scary situation to me. John Woodell, who is working on Clarke's campaign, has forced two innocent people into a situation that he, most likely, caused. They are in the press because of Woodell. However, "Citizen," if you must mention "media space," then I would look at Nelson's track record that was rightfully recorded in the Daily Post. Nelson obviously did not know what he was doing when he chaired a meeting where he and Silano voted to not provide funding for an Urban Search & Rescue team. If this is the kind of press attention "Citizen" approves of, that is truly scary! Having a fire board member not know what he is voting on is a huge disservice to the fire district! Nelson does not deserve to be on the fire board either. I'd say he doesn't deserve to be in elected office at all and neither does Silano, who voted along with Nelson. Nelson and Clarke seem to be running on a slate, so voters should beware! Nelson is either not prepared for board meetings or is not qualified enough to be on the board.

Mr. Lamarque, please focus on qualifications, instead of racial/class and east side/west side designations. Qualifications are important for any job, especially for those who have a fiduciary duty to protect taxpayer dollars! Nelson should be fired from his board position because he can't seem to do the board's work, and Clarke is simply not qualified. People should not be in office if they are not qualified or can't do the work. Period. Voters this year have an opportunity to elect three very qualified people to the fire board: Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson.

Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson!


Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 20, 2013 at 11:30 am

To the author of the previous post who says:

"I expect the posts responding to Mr. Lamarque's opinion to be more pro-Clarke."

Not exactly. Here is the tally:

Posts agreeing with my opinion: 6

Posts disagreeing with my opinion: 12 (half of these, by Mr. Peter Carpenter, one of the opposing candidates)

My replies, including this one: 3

Neutral posts: 1


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Mr. Lamarque:

are you a labor union lackey? That is the only reason one would promote or vote for Clarke. She is backed by the firefighters union which wants desperately to control the fire board. They haven't been able to do it yet, but if Clarke is elected, just watch what happens. Can you say totally undeserved pay and benefit increases?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Posts disagreeing with my opinion: 12 (half of these, by Mr. Peter Carpenter, one of the opposing candidates)"


4 of my posts were of factual information to help inform the voters, one was the acceptance of an endorsement by another poster and one was to clarify that Martin began this entire thread with the proposition of a the "Citizens of the East Side" vs Others theme.

The four factual posts were 1) on the history of the MPFPD and the fact the its establishment preceded the founding of the City of Menlo Park, 2) Information as to where interested voters could see the video of the League of Women Voters Fire Board Candidate Forum and the candidates' postings on Smart Voter, 3) clarification that the Fire District provides, and has always provided, the SAME level of service to ALL residents and businesses in the District, and 4) on the law regarding campaign sign disclosure statements (which sadly at least one candidate has chosen to violate).

None of my posts were in opposition to another candidate because I believe that the voters are intelligent enough, when given the facts, to make their own choices .


Posted by hot air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 20, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I haven't seen many signs for this election, but I've probably seen as many Clarke signs as other signs. She won't get my vote because she's unqualified, as so many posters have noted above. It's an affront to the residents of this community to suggest that we cast our votes based on candidates' residence or race. Residents take elections seriously and try to educate themselves appropriately, which is not easy when there are dozens of propositions on the ballot. Fortunately, this ballot is a short one.

Based on his behavior on this forum, however, I will not vote for Peter Carpenter. People who believe they are smarter than everyone else and who always have to have the last word tend to impede the public process, no matter how sincere their intentions.


Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Oct 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

I have walked all over Belle Haven three times in years past, to leave fliers, talk and offer lawn signs. Its sad that some feel one of our largest neighborhoods is separate and apart. Is it the candidates, the blogger or both?
I found the same support for pension reform in Belle Haven as in Suburban Park or Allied Arts. Does this "east side west side" thing define a good candidate?
For fire board candidates - or in any other election - I hope the best candidate rises to the top, local or otherwise.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm

hot air:

seriously? you won't vote for the best qualified candidates because they are intelligent? You'd rather vote for someone stupid? Is that what you're saying? Unbelievable.


Posted by hot air, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Wow, Menlo Voter. I realize you're PC's lapdog, but please don't be so hasty to twist my words. I believe all the candidates are intelligent. But there is one in particular who is also arrogant and self-important, who likes to fight with everyone about anything, and who consumes too much oxygen in the process.

I feel sorry for the other fire board members who will have to sit through overlong meetings thanks to his showboating.


Posted by Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Nov 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Hot Air, if you think a person that runs a day care is more qualified than an accountant, you have really been drinking the cool-aid. Last year, Carolyn Clarke was the only candidate to be endorsed by all three local papers. The reason she's getting beat up now is because she agreed to be interviewed by the union. If you hate unions, you should vote for Peter Carpenter. If you feel that any candidate that meets with the union should be attacked, you should vote for Peter Carpenter.


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