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Time for a new direction for our Town Council

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Oct 20, 2012

Whomever is elected to the Atherton Town Council now is the time for our five elected Town representatives to set a new direction and standard of Town governance. We no longer want or can afford 3-2 votes and a divided and an uncivil council. Our five elected representatives should seek unanimity on every issue that comes before them and demand unanimity on the important issues.

A superb place to start would be for the Council to unanimously vote to participate in the National Citizen Survey which has been created by the National Research Center and the International City/County Management Association and which has been widely tested in communities around the Nation. The National Citizen Survey™ (The NCS) is a low-cost citizen survey service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, The NCS would allow Atherton to survey citizen opinion for
Program Planning
Budgeting
Goal Setting
Performance Measurement
The Council would select from a set of standard questions to assess citizen opinion about basic services and community life. Additional customized questions allow the Council to tailor the survey to our unique needs.

Our elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The Town Manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps. Staff can use the results of The NCS to improve service delivery.

The survey program includes:
Three mailings to 1,200 randomly selected households, which include the pre-survey postcard and two mailings of the survey instrument
A margin of error (95 percent confidence interval) of no more than +/- 5 percentage points around any percent

I am so convinced of the need for a new approach to our Town governance that I will personally pay for the cost of participation in National Citizens' Survey provided such participation is approved unanimously by our new Town Council.


Web Link

Comments (26)

Posted by Michael G Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Peter,

That is a very generous offer, I hope they the take you up on it.


Posted by Council Voting, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

Peter,

When you write "we no longer want or can afford 3-2 votes..." That puzzles me.

But as far as not wanting an uncivil council, we all agree with that. Looking at the tape of the last council meeting. The city attorney had to request Jim Dobbie stop his attack on Elizabeth Lewis during the debate on the counci response to the APOA endorsement.

You oppose the library in the park, which has been supported by WMD. I am glad Lewis and Carlson opposed WMD and it was not a 5-0 vote to put the library in the park.

Likewise some of the other changes WMD (soon to me WD) are proposing are opposed by a large number of residents- Atherton becoming a charter city, not having a Parcel Tax to fund police and capital improvements,and take it or leave it salary reductions for the police department.

Few people have the time to be on the council and what happens to those that do run. The WMD team goes after them. In this case they accuse Lewis and Wiest of being tainted by the APOA endorsement.

To the point that the city attorney had to advise Dobbie to back down at the last council meeting.



















Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

Council Voting,

Where to begin with your false claims? ALL council members have supported a study on what it would mean to be a charter city. In fact, it was Jerry Carlson (you know, part of that saintly CL team) who raised the issue at a council meeting a few months ago, saying he wanted the city to look into it. And no one has said whether they support the idea, only that they want to learn more about it.

And the parcel tax? Where do you get your "information"? I've heard that Widmer has said he'd like to sunset it, but the other two? Cough up your sources or stop making irresponsible claims. And while we're on the subject of actually SUPPORTING your claims, why don't you cough up some facts to support your claim about police salaries? Negotiations haven't even started, or haven't you heard?

So much more could be accomplished in this town if people behaved more responsibly when discussing issues. This sort of throwing lies against the wall and hoping they stick is disgusting.


Posted by Council Voting , a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm

To Fact Checker:
You could have begun with the first statement. But you skipped it.
At the last council meeting, did the city attorney tell Dobbie he was off the agenda item topic. After Dobbie brought up Lewis into the discussion. Yes or no? If not what do you see on the tape.


I believe the statement to be correct. I note you skipped that one, which given that Peter writes the council needs to be more civil- it most important.

Negotiations on police salaries Sources -APOA website and Tape of Atherton finance committee meetings in April 2011.

Charter City - The Almanc Quoted Dobbie and Widmer in their story. Carlson was not mentioned. Lewis is concerned. To Peter's point a second time, my statements are not lies-- be civil.

May 2012 Almanac:
City Council members voted unanimously to appoint an ad hoc committee to explore the charter issue at their May 16 meeting. Any charter would have to be approved by town voters before going into effect, Interim City Manager Theresa DellaSanta reported to the council.

Council member Jim Dobbie said he has been pushing the idea of a charter for Atherton since before he became a council member. A charter, he said, could allow the town to run more like a business "without all the restrictions that come from Sacramento." One advantage mentioned by Mr. Dobbie and several other council members is that with a charter, a real estate transfer tax could raise a substantial amount of money for the town and could replace the town's current parcel tax.

Mayor Bill Widmer cautioned that the process will take time. "We're not talking about something that potentially would be on the ballot in November," he said. "It's more like a year process."

Council member Elizabeth Lewis expressed some reservations. "I haven't made up my mind one way or another," she said. "It's not something we should undertake lightly."

You ask how I can state that Widmer and McKeithen support the idea: Read what the Almanac wrote: "Council member Jim Dobbie said he has been pushing the idea of a charter for Atherton since before he became a council member." That statement supports that Dobbie wants to make Atherton a charter city and do a real estate transfer tax? Yes or No?

Next line in the Almanac: "One advantage mentioned by Mr. Dobbie and several other council members is that with a charter, a real estate transfer tax could raise a substantial amount of money for the town and could replace the town's current parcel tax."

Who are the "several" other council members the Almanac refers to? Not Lewis: "Council member Elizabeth Lewis expressed some reservations. "I haven't made up my mind one way or another," she said. "It's not something we should undertake lightly."

I believe McKeithen pushes for this tax when she was major and right after the Parcel Tax failed in 2004. Not being a charter city stopped the tax from happening.


Atherton zeroes in on new real estate, construction taxes
By Andrea Gemmet
Almanac Staff Writer October 2004
The town of Atherton is in need of a steady source of income, and the City Council is zeroing in on a new business license fee that would tax real estate transactions and home construction.
After spending several months and countless hours exploring various options, including new budget cuts and introducing a tax on utilities, council members on October 20 directed town staff to pursue a plan to tax Atherton's biggest businesses -- home building and sales -- at a rate still to be determined.

It was the council's strongest indication yet that the town would pursue a business license fee linked to the gross receipts of real estate agents and construction firms operating in town, removing the existing $250 annual cap. It would amount to a new tax, which would have to be approved by voters. Details on how high the tax would be, and how the town would collect it, remain to be seen.

After some extended quibbling over whether to wait to see if voters approve Measure O, the four-year parcel tax renewal on the November 2 ballot, the council voted 4-1, with Ms. McKeithen opposed, to put the cost-cutting measures into effect and to commission a consultant to work out the details of the road impact fee.

Ms. McKeithen dissented because she said she wanted staff to work out the numbers for the revenue enhancements, as well.
"Can't we just cool it for 13 days?" asked Councilman Bill Conwell. "After the election, we'll know where we stand."

The council has yet to decide if the new business license tax on real estate and construction the town is pursuing should supplement the parcel tax, which currently costs most homeowners $750 a year, or eventually replace it.

Mr. Johns has estimated that a 5-percent tax on real estate sales commissions would bring in around $750,000 a year. The $100 million in annual home construction done in Atherton could also prove quite a cash-cow.


There is an election going on. It appears that three members of the council favor changing to a charter city. Why isn't this a campaign position statement and topic?


Posted by Recorder, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2012 at 5:35 am

The idea of becoming a Charter City and getting rid of the parcel tax appears to have first surfaced in a Council Budget Review Meeting.

Dobbie said he had long advocated the idea. He also mentions getting rid of the parcel tax:

Web Link



Posted by cough up, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 7:32 am

Fact Checker says"And the parcel tax? Where do you get your "information"? I've heard that Widmer has said he'd like to sunset it, but the other two? Cough up your sources or stop making irresponsible claims. And while we're on the subject of actually SUPPORTING your claims, why don't you cough up some facts to support your claim about police salaries? Negotiations haven't even started, or haven't you heard?
It would seem between Widmer's self produced video saying he would like to sunset the parcel tax and the above link to Dobbie council video to support his charter city preference the evidence is in. We all know how McKeithen would vote but she is out of play so that does not make any difference now other than WMD having poisoned the opportunity to have constructive labor negotiations. Their idea is not to renew the parcel tax and have no money to fund the police department and then head to outsourcing saying they tried to negotiate in good faith with the APOA (Dobbie like to refer to them s Teamsters).
Preliminary negotiations have already taken place but rejected by town and there is a line item in the budget forecast of a reduction of $200,000.
So Fact Checker what lies do you see thrown against the wall now?


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 9:25 am

Hopefully Denise Kupperman will win a seat on the town council and the council can have true negotiations with the APOA to set police salaries and benefits in Atherton on the same basis as every other community in San Mateo County has – downward (consistent with nation-wide economic realities). This infuriates some posters, who want Atherton cops to be exempt from economic realities. So be it. The APOA knows, and I know, that if Elizabeth Lewis and Cary Wiest win, the cops will be protected from any economic realities at taxpayer expense.


Posted by Council voting, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

To answer Cough -Up's question: Here are other lies being thrown against the Town:

Yes on Measure F - Lying or Delusion??
Atherton, posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

"The just circulated mailer urging a Yes on Measure F states:
"Build Atherton's New library - No Cost to Taxpayers".

Either the supporters are deliberately lying or they are delusional to think that using money which has been collected from taxpayers is not using taxpayers' money.

I am not sure which is worse - lying or financial stupidity."




The Yes on F web site incorrectly states that the 10,000 square foot building can also be built without taking any Open Space.

Atherton Taxpayer's are at least going to have to pay for the Traffic Light on Middlefield, the turn lane on El Camino and the Police services to deal with the traffic accidents at these intersections.

Who are the driving forces behind Measure F: "WMD"
Who likely had input in the design of the web site: "WMD"

Will Fact Checker challenge the facts in the Yes on F Web site? Probably not.

Congrats to the APOA for having the courage to inform the residents of what plans the council majority of WMD have planned as "accomplishments" for the Town of Atherton: No Parcel Tax, No Police, a Tax on Real estate sales, increased taxes on construction, increased traffic on Watkins, and less open space in the park.

At the last council meeting almost an hour was spent by WMD trying to find a way to discredit the APOA. In the end Widmer admitted that they have a right to Freedom of Speech and to make endorsements. However WMD's candidates were not endorsed by the APOA. So WMD will "Fact Check" the APOA's recent letter and use Atherton Taxpayer dollars to fund a response.

WMD are working hard to get Kupperman and Conlon elected. Is this to keep their voting majority to "accomplish so much more?"







Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I know, that if Elizabeth Lewis and Cary Wiest win, the cops will be protected from any economic realities at taxpayer expense."

I have personally discussed this issue with both Lewis and Weist and I believe that this poster will be very surprised to find out that neither Lewis or West has any intention to protect the police services costs in the Town budget from very careful scrutiny.


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

Correction to Peter's last comment: this poster will not be very surprised to find out that neither Lewis nor Wiest WILL SAY they have any intention to protect the police services costs in the Town budget from very careful scrutiny.

There is a reason they got the endorsement.

Lewis' own answers say the only way she would consider outsourcing or cost cuts if the Town were facing bankruptcy.

I say Atherton residents deserve paying no higher than market rates even if there is no imminent bankruptcy or fiscal emergency.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Based on my first hand knowledge neither Lewis or West has any intention of protecting the police services costs in the Town budget from very careful scrutiny.


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:09 am

And what is this based on besides what they told you they would do when you confronted them about it? This isn't rocket science. Look at Lewis' own survey answers. She states she would resort to budget cuts only under dire circumstances. You are ignoring this objective fact.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Rest - have YOU discussed this issue with Lewis and Wiest? If not your opinions are just hot air. I have had that discussion and with a witness in each case.


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

From Peter Carpenter, on 10/17/12 at 3:24 p.m., speaking about Cary Wiest. This is one week ago!

Weist would be a good choice IF he had not so blindly committed to giving the APOA whatever it wants. It would be nice to have council members that are at least open minded on the issue of police outsourcing rather than all lining up and saluting the APOA flag.

Someday the Council will wake up to the fact that Atherton is paying far more for its police services than are any of its neighbors or comparable cities.


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

Thanks for confirming that your current flip flop on this issue is just a result of hearing what Wiest and Lewis told you (which in my opinion is simply telling you what you want to hear).


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And last Monday I met with Weist and he made it clear that he would subject the police services budget to very close scrutiny.


Again, Rest - what discussions have YOU had with the candidates??????


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:17 am

I have had discussions also, with all candidates, and understand that in politics sometimes people say what they think their conversation mate wants to hear.

I guess if the standard is that if someone says something, it's automatically true, this whole thread by Council voting, etc., is moot, since Dobbie and Widmer and McKeithen said there were no plans to outsource police services. I guess the APOA should stop saying that also, because they're not entitled to infer an agenda that conflicts with politically spoken words.

It just doesn't work that way, though, and I don't appreciate your bullying into trying to force me into that position.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" a result of hearing what Wiest and Lewis told you"

Some people seem to prefer to ignore what candidates say and instead make up their own story. I think it is better to be any intelligent listener than a deaf critic.


Posted by Farmer John, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

Farmer: Fox, is the henhouse okay?

Fox: Absolutely.

Farmer: You promised me, and you promised Peter Carpenter, that you would subject this question to very close scrutiny.

Fox: And I did so.

Farmer: Okay. Let me ask you again: is the henhouse okay?

Fox: Once again, absolutely.

Farmer: Okay, that's good enough for me.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Forum's Terms of Use - "You agree not to post comments under multiple names. Postings within a single topic from the same IP address made under different names will be deleted."

Beware those who ignore the rules - they are not to be trusted as truth tellers.


Posted by Council Voting, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

The thread started by Peter is that is is Time for a New Direction from our Council and the need to be civil.

My point is that only last week the City Attorney had to stop from Dobbie from attcking Lewis.

Fact Checker responded by calling me a liar and asking for my sources.

1. Has Fact checker left the room? You asked for "My Sources" I supplied the Almanac quotes and you never said "Thank You".

2. You also wrote: "So much more could be accomplished in this town if people behaved more responsibly when discussing issues. This sort of throwing lies against the wall and hoping they stick is disgusting."

You did not respond to the incorrect information on the Yes on F web site that a 10,000 square foot building, traffic lights, turn lanes, and parking could be built without taking open space and without taxpayer funds.

Give it a Rest- Peter has already written that a $10,000 pay cut per officer or $200,000 will not fix the budget. How much of a pay cut do you want? How much of a pay cut does Widmer, Dobbie, Kupperman, Lewis, Conlon, Carlson, and Wiest want? Does it really matter if it is 8, 10, 12, or 15K?

The big picture becomes, if cops leave how much will it cost to replace them? If there is no Parcel Tax how will they be funded? As Cough up writes.

As the Almanac stories and Town Committee tapes show. WMD want to get rid of the Parcel Tax and want pay reductions from the police. The APOA web site states that Widmer has already started researching using Sheriff officers to fill vacancies should officers quit.

Maybe Fact Checker and Give it a Rest know how much influence WMD will have on Kupperman and Conlon.

As Cough up wrote the bottom line is:

"It would seem between Widmer's self produced video saying he would like to sunset the parcel tax and the above link to Dobbie council video to support his charter city preference the evidence is in. We all know how McKeithen would vote but she is out of play so that does not make any difference now other than WMD having poisoned the opportunity to have constructive labor negotiations. Their idea is not to renew the parcel tax and have no money to fund the police department and then head to outsourcing saying they tried to negotiate in good faith with the APOA (Dobbie like to refer to them s Teamsters)."


The letter to the APOA coming from Widmer just adds more poison in the well.

Dear APOA,

You have informned the residents of my plan and not let me spin the story that we have to use the Sheriff since the is no Parcel Tax.

Regards,

Mayor Widmer








Posted by Michael G Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2012 at 11:05 am

Council Voting said,

"My point is that only last week the City Attorney had to stop from Dobbie from attcking Lewis."

I can confirm that statement is true, I was at that meeting.


Posted by Council Voting, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 11:29 am

Thanks Mike for the support.

Give it a rest wrote:

I have had discussions also, with all candidates, and understand that in politics sometimes people say what they think their conversation mate wants to hear. "

Then let's move off Lewis and Wiest. Are you going to apply that statement to Kupperman and Conlon?

1. WMD who support and have their supporters behind Kupperman and Conlon do not favor a Parcel Tax. Where do K & C stand on the issue?

How will WMD and K & C fund police services without a Parcel Tax?


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm

You should ask them that. My point is, either everything people say is accepted at face value, or nothing is. And no, I'm not willing to move off Lewis or Wiest. They took a union endorsement when they have to negotiate with that union, if they are elected, in just a few months. That is a gross conflict of interest.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Rest - since you have met with all of the candidates what did Lewis and Weist tell you regarding their position on police services?


Posted by Give it a rest, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm

That they'll hold the cops' feet to the fire when negotiating. I guess that's why the cops endorsed them. I must just be an idiot.


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