Viewpoint - August 10, 2011

Letter: Boorish behavior at downtown meeting

I attended the July 28 Planning Commission meeting to learn more about the downtown proposals described in the draft specific plan, and to voice my opinion during the public comment period.

However, due to a well-organized and vocal opposition, I became uncomfortable and chose not to express my views.

Commissioner Vincent Bressler's repeated requests to hold applause and audible comments went unheeded, despite that being proper decorum. Why have we lost our ability to listen to one another with respect and without judgment?

In my 30 years of working at Silicon Valley companies, I have attended more meetings than I can count. It would be completely inappropriate and in many cases, against corporate policies, to exhibit such behavior.

Some at the meeting apparently thought it was their "right" to disregard meeting etiquette and the requests of the Planning Commission chair. Yes, freedom of speech is a valued right; but in our democratic society, everyone should have an equal voice in decision-making.

Some meeting attendees opposed to the downtown proposals spoke of retaining Menlo Park's "village-like" charm. To me, a village conjures images of friendly and neighborly residents. If that real village character is valued, then I hope the atmosphere at future forums will allow all Menlo Park residents to express their viewpoints freely.

Janet Gilmore, Middle Avenue


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