The Almanac's prime evidence: Kelly Fergusson's large number of reimbursement requests relative to other council members. But there is a simple explanation for the difference: Kelly works harder than most of her colleagues.
Her travel costs are a reflection of how much she does for her constituents. She attends more meetings, sees more constituents, has a larger network, and immerses herself more deeply into her council job than any other member I've come across. Instead of "raising eyebrows," we should be thanking Kelly for being so dedicated to her constituents and the job of serving on the Menlo Park City Council.
We are lucky that Kelly was able to take time away from her job and family to travel to Washington, D.C., to advocate Menlo Park's position on high-speed rail (and yes, Menlo Park has a position). There is no question that the city should reimburse her for this trip.
Kelly's meetings with key members of Congress will help them better understand Menlo Park's opposition to and concerns about high-speed rail. And they will help Kelly (and by extension the rest of council, staff, and the community) become more effective advocates with Congress on high-speed rail and related issues.
The local media, including the Almanac, are zealous in reporting the slightest misstep by a council member (both real and imagined), and an "assume the worst" tone and perspective now permeate many of the stories and editorials. This was not always the case. I hope that the press will return to a more balanced approach. Our community will be well served if you do.
Heyward Robinson is a former council member and mayor of Menlo Park