Viewpoint - March 23, 2011

Letter: Former council member sticks up for Fergusson

Last week's Almanac story (and accompanying editorial) on council travel implies that some Menlo Park City Council members are abusing the city's travel policy.

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

Heyward Robinson is a former council member and mayor of Menlo Park


Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

Heyward Robinson's letter was incredible. Kelly works harder than most of her colleagues? Give me a break! Rich Cline, Kisten Keith, and Peter Ohtaki work much harder than Kelly and they talk a lot less. Kelly Fergusson just enjoys hearing herself talk. While Rich, Kirsten, and Peter get things done Kelly just blathers on ad-nauseum.

We should be thanking Kelly? Why should we thank a polarizing figure for spending most of her time on self promotion. As I said before I will reimburse her if she resigns from Council by Saturday at midnight provided that neither Heyward Robinson or Gail Slocum run for the open seat.

I called Darrell Issa's office to warn him that Kelly Fergusson was coming to plead for Federal HSR funding and that I strongly urged him not to allocate any money for that fiscally unsustainable project. The office staffer thanked me. It was the least I could do.

Kelly Fergusson has spent the better part of 6 years doing self promotion on the Menlo Park Taxpayer's dime. And Heyward Robinson went to the Obama inauguration paid for by Menlo Park taxpayers under the guise of going to a mayors convention conveniently scheduled within a few days of the inauguration. Great excuse for Democrats to celebrate the inauguration funded by the taxpayer under the guise of official business.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Robinson??? I'll take his opinion for what it is worth.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Give me a break Heyward! Kelly had no business travelling to DC or having anything to do with HSR, SHE HAS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST!! She's not working hard for her constituents. Kelly works hard for Kelly - period. She has no ethics and I wish she would resign.

Posted by Outside Looking In, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 8:04 am

Mr. Robinson:

I believe you miss the point of being an elected public servant. The honor of being able to serve should be the ultimate thanks Ms. Fergusson receives. Working hard is the obligation and the least that one can do if elected to public office. Ms. Fergusson should be grateful that she was elected at all. Having to tout her hard work is embarrassing. Hard work is her obligation to Menlo Park voters. And, yes, we all know this job is mostly voluntary, and candidates understand and know this going into the job, as well.

Obviously, many Menlo Park residents have reservations about the quality of her work as they had with yours last November. Thankfully, they were able to see through you and elect Mr. Ohtaki and Ms. Keith, and re-elect Mr. Cline. I hope Menlo Park voters see the same thing in Ms. Fergusson when she is up for re-election in 2012 and elect another person who will truly feel honored being able to serve the fine residents of Menlo Park, instead of making embarrassing headlines.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

My guess is that Ms. Fergusson will not stand for re-election in 2012.

Then again, she has rarely missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Posted by Outside Looking In, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm


I hope you're right that Ms. Fergusson will not run for re-election. She does not deserve the honor of being in elected office. But then again, I know very few people who do deserve that honor.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 26, 2011 at 7:00 am

If Ms. Fergusson doesn't take "the opportunity" to step aside, voters can take "the opportunity" to elect someone else.

My bet is that she plays the well worn excuse that she's served for a long time and proud of her record... but that she wants to spend more time with her family.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:20 am


I hope you are right, but suspect if she doesn't run for city council she will run for county supervisor. I think her trip to DC was just a giant photo op that she can use to try and jump to higher office. Being as ethicaly chalenged as she is, she'll fit in with the rest of the county supervisors quite well.

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

If Kelly is smartr she won't run for a third term. Her reputation is so damaged by her numerous contretemps that even the famed Slocum machine won't be able to revive her this time. Kelly will run just as Heyward did. And if it wasn't for the Bohannon intervention Robinson would have run 5th behind Bernstein who would have been a great council member.

Kelly also stands no chance for the Board of Supes. Her days are over. She was so obvious in her self promotion, in her contempt for the voters,and paying homage to an irrelevant former mayor who the Sun had set on a long time ago, that she would be best advised to retire from the political scene.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm


what you say would be true if Kelly GOT IT. Problem is, she doesn't GET IT. She thinks she's doing great. As do all other incompetent people.

Posted by Council Watcher, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Post removed. Personal attacks violate terms of use.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I don't know Kirsten Keith but I do recall that during the election, many suspected she would be the pawn of Ms. Slocum and Ms. Fergusson.

Ms. Keith's independence would appear to be a welcome breath of fresh air in an otherwise Council chamber.

Posted by Outside Looking In, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm


You're absolutely right Kirsten Keith. Peter Ohtaki is another breath of fresh air. I am so glad they are both on the Council now!

I hope voters remove Ms. Fergusson when her time is up-- just like they did w/Mr. Robinson!

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 29, 2011 at 8:36 am

The Council members Robinson and Fergusson have several things in common:

1) They put the Employee Unions interests above their fiduciary responsibility to the residents

2) They treat the City of Menlo Park like their private Travel Agency

3) They viciously attack current and former council members while conducting offical City Council business on the Dais while being filmed. Robinson with his unprovoked attacks on John Boyle and Fergusson with her unprovoked attacks on former Mayor Lee Duboc.

4) The both believe that they are destined for high office through their brilliance, significant accomplishments (in their own minds at least), and charisma

5) They are both the quintessential self promoters often taking credit for what othe council members have done. For instance, Robinson and Fegusson taking credit for the Arrillaga gym when it was John Boyle who initiated contact with Arrillaga and convinced him to fund the gym. Boyle did all the heavy lifting then Robinson and Fergusson came along to take credit for Boyle's work and in the process almost killed the gym project through their unreasonable demands to Arrillaga.

[Portion deleted. Don't turn every topic into an attack on your favorite target. ]

We were smart enough to unseat Robinson despite Ms. Slocum's considerable efforts to keep him in office. We should seriously consider the recall of Kelly Fergusson. [Portion deleted.] Ms. Fergusson never has any remorse for her wrong doings and actually becomes emboldened to ramp up her egregous behavior to higher levels when she is not held accountable for her actions. Fergusson is like a runaway train. Unfortunately the only viable remedy seems to be recall.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I would get behind a recall. Can it be done? Fergusson needs a wake up call.

Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

A recall would be expensive because Menlo Park would have to pay the costs of the election. These costs would be lower if the recall were done at the time of an election that had lots of other issues included as the costs would be spread. The MP ordinance specifies that a vacant seat would have to then be filled by another election, again at MP's cost.

Are there qualified MP residents who are prepared to run for a short term council seat?

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