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Menlo Park transportation commissioner resigns, criticizing city staff

Original post made on May 23, 2013

Menlo Park Transportation Commissioner Charlie Bourne resigned on May 21 after nearly six years of service, citing Brown Act violations by city staff and attempts to stop the commission from reviewing projects.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 23, 2013, 11:42 AM

Comments (25)

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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

You're a good man Charlie Bourne. But I fear that the situation will just get worse with your departure.


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Posted by Stefan P.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Charlie, thank you for your service. You will be missed.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Charlie - Thank you for following your conscience - far too few elected or appointed officials believe that it is their personal responsibility to ensure compliance with the Brown Act. And the San Mateo DA could care less about the Brown Act since the number one goal of that office is to take care of elected officials rather than the citizens whom they are supposed to be serving.


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Posted by The Dude
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm

City Council: Rein the damn staff in.


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Posted by Menloshopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Anybody know how the Brown act violations were supposed to have occured?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Charlie,

It's rare in government today to find people who adhere to one's values and principles. I applaud your willingness to stand up for what you believe is right.

Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for Menlo Park government to correct the problems.


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Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm

To steal a line, "You are a good man, Charlie Bourne." Your critique of staff and indirectly of Council hits the nail square on the head.


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Posted by N.D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

More oversight is needed at the City of Menlo Park, and a higher level of professionalism within the City's management team. Way too much disregard for the law and the citizens of Menlo Park. Get on this, City Council and hold the City Manager and City Staff accountable for these violations. Do your jobs, please. Major failures at many levels of our City government and here's yet another incident where there is a lack of leadership, communication and ethical behavior.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm

What a sad situation; an extremely conscientious community volunteer giving up because neither the staff nor the Council are supporting their role.
Staff that support commissions are not told by their manager (and ultimately through the city manager) that they should help the commissions do work on behalf of the community and on behalf of the Council. Maybe they are working for developers, but not for the rest of us.
It is the Council's job to tell the City Manager what they expect from the commissions and for the substantial support staff can provide to of the Commissions who in turn can save the Council time by doing a lot of detailed pre-work on complex matters. Unfortunately from what I've seen from watching some commission meetings (such as transportation and bicycle commissions), even when the commission is asked to review something complex, there is minimal information provided to them to assist them. Usually there is only an agenda and possibly a particular proposal but little to no analysis to help the commission do its work. In contrast, there are staff reports for the Council and for the Planning Commission that outline issues and analyze some aspects of the topic at hand.
The Council members rarely attend commission meetings. Perhaps they should do so to learn more about they could help themselves by directing city staff to do a better job supporting the commissions.
Why bother appointing commissions if they are only window dressing? In a community like ours, there is tremendous talent to bring to bear on topics and knowledge to inform discussions so Council and community can make better decisions. This won't happen if staff stiffarms the community


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Posted by too bad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

It's a great loss for our city, but I understand how Charlie feels. I was a commissioner (different commission) and can totally relate to the feeling that, as Whoa stated, we existed solely as window dressing. "See, we're getting input from residents!" And ignoring it.

Is this the way we want our city to operate? If not, time for more people to take a stand.


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Posted by Somebody, do something
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Commissions are where council members park residents to make them think they are contributing and to keep them away so they don't bother the council. Only the planning commission is taken seriously and then even they can be dismissed by the council if the applicant (think Stanford) is a developer with money and power.

Council members should attend the commission meetings to which they have been assigned. Once a month is not too much to ask for. There are council members who almost never attend. I can recall one (he who was not re-elected) who attended 3 meetings in 4 years. How can commissioners feel their contribution is valued with such apathy from council members.

Mr Bourne was wise to resign and in the manner in which he did it. Mr. Ohtaki's response should have been to say that he would look into Mr. Bourne's allegations and get to the bottom of the alleged Brown Act violation. Merely thanking Charlie for his service was so weak. Condescending. Thanks, now, go away.

In addition, staff should not be making decisions regarding the Transportation and Bicycle Commissions review of the Stanford proposal. If traffic is going to be as bad as residents fear, the transportation Commission needs to weigh in and participate in the fact finding and search for solutions. Wake up Council!

Staff has too much power and council is apathetic, weak and too frightened to govern.


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Posted by MPAEF mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 23, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Mr. Bourne was one of the few questioning school district decisions on campus renovations, suggesting - years ago - that the district consider the O'Connor site as they were spending bond money. And now look where we are, with another school construction bond measure in the works. It seems that Charlie Bourne brings a lot to the table. What a shame to lose this voice.


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Posted by Ea
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I never thought I'd be in agreement with Peter Carpenter, but I'm pleased to see that even he recognizes Charlie Bourne's integrity. Charlie brought clarity, intelligence, razor sharp attention to detail, foresight, acumen and a wide-ranging understanding of the issues to his role on the Transportation Commission. The city would have been fortunate to have employed him in the Transportation Department as a paid staff person, but was lucky enough to have the expert analyses and advice of this former UC Berkeley professor for free. How shameful that staff in particular, and council to a lesser extent, failed to appreciate what Charlie offered or to take his comments seriously. Just as bad money drives out good, so does bad leadership drive out the best people. The council needs to change course, even if that means giving walking papers to some key staff members.


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Posted by N.D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

"Somebody" above commented that "Mr. Ohtaki's response should have been to say that he would look into Mr. Bourne's allegations and get to the bottom of the alleged Brown Act violation. Merely thanking Charlie for his service was so weak. Condescending. Thanks, now, go away." I suppose the City could use more taxpayer money to hire yet another investigator. But really, what's the point when the City Manager will just hide it from the public like he did with the recent investigation into firing of City Gymnastics Teacher Michelle Sutton.


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Unfortunately the next election for city council isn't until Nov 2014. Charlie, do you have it in you to run?


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Posted by N.D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Unless there's a recall effort. It's getting to that point..


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm

You don't need a recall. Voters just need to pay attention during the November election and stop re-electing officials who do not serve their citizens honestly. It takes a lot less effort than a recall, too.


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Posted by Save Menlo-ite
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Menlo Park IS Corrupt. Starting with the City Attorney who failed to protect the City from the housing law suit, to the City Manager who is so pro-growth they kicked him and his staff out of his last position in Oregon. To the Public Works Department who will give the water under our homes to a private country club so it will free up water for more development; to City Planning who comes up with a Specific Plan that is so pro-growth it has spawned three separate resident groups to fight it, to City Planning again, who wanted 11 more employees to implement the Specific Plan. I say throw the entire Senior Staff and Council out and start again. The Mayor, City Manager, and Asst. City Mgr. should go first.

We need more people like Charlie and Penelope to serve our City - yet they resign in protest...

SAVE MENLO PARK!!!


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Posted by N.D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Agreed, Save. Add to that list the Community Services Director who has demonstrated an utter lack of communication and leadership. We can't vote for the City Staff, but we can vote for the City Council, and will hold them accountable for the City Manager's actions..or inaction.


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Posted by Howard Beale
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2013 at 7:13 am

What we need is a total recall of all 5 city council members. Then we could put up the dream team of challengers. They would be: 1) Gail Slocum, 2) Heyward Robinson, 3) Kelly Fergusson, 4) Vince Bressler, and 5) Mitch Slomiak. These hard working centrist professionals would whip Menlo Park back into shape in no time.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

Howard:

Kelly Fergusson? You've got to be kidding. That self serving, Brown act violating person the voters just threw out of office? Not on your life.


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2013 at 10:23 am

@Howard:

You have got to be kidding!!. Fergusson with her self serving Brown Act violation does not need to be even considered.

And your characterization of Gail Slocum and Mitch Slomiak as "centrist", really shows ignorance of where they both lie on the political spectrum. Gail in particular could hardly be anymore "left" on the political aisle.


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Posted by Long Time Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm

[Post removed. Personal attack violates terms of use.]


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Posted by Accountability
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm

ND,
You are obviously angry about Michelle Sutton. Mueller did all that could be done to help her, legally, and there was an independent investigator. You seem to want the Council to break the law. What more can they do?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This Forum has the sad reputation of allowing people to both speculate well beyond the know facts and to attack others without such facts - usually anonymously.

No one except Bourne knows the facts of the concerns which led him to resign. I commend him for acting on his conscience but we should all be careful not to jump to conclusions about what he did in the absence of more information and there is certainly insufficient upon which to attack other people.


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