Posted by Take Back Menlo Park, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:16 pm
Our response to Ms. Winkler's latest email!
(For this and more, complete with weblinks to cited news stories, see www.TakeBackMenloPark.com)
David Buckley, Spokesman
Take Back Menlo Park!
Winkler/Duboc/Boyle?: No Thanks, We've Had MUCH More Than Enough of That!
A Quick Summary:
--- They can't (and aren't) running on their dismal record - instead, their cornerstone issue is "playing fields" where they are seen making "phantom promises" to shamelessly garner votes. (SEE OUR WEBSITE FOR FURTHER DETAILS ON THE PLAYING FIELDS ISSUE – www.TakeBackMenloPark.com)
--- Their methods, tactics, and principles are taken straight from political guru Karl Rove's "bag of tricks": Crass politics winning over sound policymaking, delivering endless "spin," repeating incorrect or misleading statements even after being corrected by others; being "dividers not uniters," labeling all dissenters as "special interests," ignoring (or massaging) reports from "the bureaucracy"; never admitting to bad decisions or mistakes, not allowing independent thinking (resulting in rigid block voting).
--- While great for real estate-related interests (who are their primary backers), they are bad for local businesses and taxpayers.
Winkler/Duboc/Jellins: A Dismal Record Full of Fiascos
It is telling to note that the one major accomplishment truly worth boasting about under the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime - namely the Sand Hill Road Hotel Complex Project - is something that they CAN'T boast about, as they (and their own Business Development Director) were caught completely unaware about it until Stanford University's property manager announced the project!
Instead, the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins record is full of amazingly bad and embarrassing fiascos, including:
--- The Bayfront Golfcourse Proposal Fiasco, where, after four months of pushing by both Ms. Winkler and Ms. Duboc, even the DEVELOPER ended up admitting that it was a ridiculous idea and pulled it from further consideration.
--- The Burgess Pool Privatization Fiasco, where a no-bid sweetheart deal with an individual (Tim Sheeper) was rushed through by the council majority at literally the last minute before the pool re-opened. Afterwards, insiders revealed that Mr. Sheeper would have paid rent to the city for using the facility, BUT WAS NOT REQUIRED to do so by the city (this after a 2003 offer by Mr. Sheeper to pay annual rent of up to $150,000 AND raise $500,000 to cover additional construction costs if the city would just enlarge its old main pool and let his group use it!)
--- The Childcare Privatization Fiasco, where, after Ms. Winkler and Duboc loudly proclaimed cost savings of $444,000 with privatization, the official savings estimate by city staff came in at just $72,000 and would have required turning over the reins of the program to a rather dubious private firm that had already been cited by Social Services for SIX SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY VIOLATIONS over the past 2 years.
And they're in the process of adding to their dubious legend with two "fiascos-in-waiting'":
--- The Bayfront Playing Fields Proposal (Measure J), which is serving as candidates Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's signature issue, but where they certainly appear to be just shamelessly making "phantom promises" in an effort to garner votes for themselves.
--- The Derry Development Project, which is so bad that opponents were able to gather nearly 3000 signatures in just a couple of weeks supporting recalling the approval granted by the council majority.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE TO READ MORE ABOUT MEASURE J AND THE DERRY REFERENDUM – www.TakeBackMenloPark.com
And, finally, if re-elected, they will (not "might," or "if," but WILL) resurrect The Childcare Privatization Fiasco come heck or high water:
--- Their campaign website specifically states "We also plan to rebid the Child-care center."
--- In a Sept 2 email to her followers (which was subsequently posted on the city council email log by a Stanford medical doctor who had apparently mistakenly received it and who took great issue with it), Ms. Winkler specifically stated: “Should we re-bid this childcare program, however much the current users and unions object? I think we should.”
All of this has kept the editorial writers at our local newspaper, The Almanac, awfully busy. Here's a sampling of some of the editorials written criticizing the so-called "council majority," starting just after the trio was elected in 2002:
--- Child-care center deserves a bid (2/26/03): "Family members who use the city's child-care programs now are understandably upset that newly elected City Council members Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler, whose literature said they supported building the center during last year's election campaign, are now urging their colleagues to halt the project."
--- A final shot at the zoning ordinance (2/4/04): "The current case arose after the City Council majority appeared to have little interest in meeting the other side halfway in the zoning ordinance battle."
--- What's the rush on Bayfront Park? (11/9/05): Calling the Bayfront Golfcourse Plan "misguided and hasty," while noting that the plan's biggest proponents were Ms. Winkler and Ms. Duboc.
--- When Partisanship Goes To Far (2/1/06): Discussing Ms. Winkler's "pressing the city clerk to hurriedly draft a document about the mayoral succession policy" (that drafted document contained erroneous information, but was nonetheless used to elect Mr. Jellins mayor instead of Ms. Fergusson, who had been next in line under the traditionally-followed policy). In the wake of this incident, The Almanac stated: "the council should act soon to implement a policy that makes sure no member -- from any council faction -- can exert pressure on a city staff member to produce a document that was not vetted for accuracy by the city attorney and other staff members."
--- How Public Is The Process? (3/15/06): A cover story with the following subheading: "Major council decisions on pools, park and child care raise questions about whether the voice of the public is being heard." While not an editorial, it is a particularly insightful news story that serves as an important commentary in many ways.
--- A Council In A Hurry (3/22/06): "The Menlo Park City Council majority is often squeezing out public input and the advice of its own commissions."
--- A bogey on golf course plan (3/29/06): "Over the last four months the Menlo Park City Council majority committed staff and public time to study a golf course plan at Bayfront Park that virtually any planning professional could have told them would not fly."
--- Bayfront Not A Site For Fields (5/3/06): "Ms. Winkler's idea to put the issue (playing fields at Bayfront Park) to a vote looked suspiciously like she was playing to the crowd of some 75 sports participants and parents who flooded the April 25 meeting."
--- Why mix fields, child care with election? (6/7/06): "The majority may have three of five council votes, but their actions impact all Menlo Park residents, and in these cases, a wrong, hastily-made decision could haunt the city for years to come. Speeding up the deliberative process, and freezing out the contributions of their fellow council members simply creates dissension and bad decision-making."
--- Jellins' Announcement Offers Hope (6/21/06): "For the last three and a half years, Mr. Jellins has voted in lock-step with Mickie Winkler and Lee Duboc...the majority seldom pays attention to council members Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen; they simply pass their seemingly pre-arranged agenda on 3-2 votes."
--- Phantom savings in private child care (8/9/06): Pointing out that the "true cost to operate the city's child care programs is...just $4500," while the council majority had "repeatedly claimed that the programs cost to the city is $444,000."
--- Failed Effort on Childcare (9/13/06) : "The failure of City Council members Mickie Winkler and Lee Duboc to privatize the Menlo Children's Center is a textbook case of why such major changes in city policy cannot be forced on unwilling stakeholders."
Backing up this criticism are the innumerable amount of Letters to the Editor, emails to the City Council Email Log and speakers at city council meetings who have been harshly critical of the council majority and its methods (if you're REALLY interested - and if you have PLENTY of time on your hands, go to either The Almanac's website and search for "Winkler" or "Duboc" or go to the city council's email log and poke around there - there's more than enough grist there for you to chew on to keep you busy shaking your head in disbelief/disgust for hours on end!).
And while candidate Boyle actually tried to argue that Winkler/Duboc/Jellins really hadn't been THAT controversial - drawing the biggest laugh of the night at a candidates forum this Fall - The Almanac documented the incredible level of rancor that has existed during the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime back in May with their article, Political Pandemonium in Menlo Park, where they note that "the current political mood in town...may have soured to a degree not seen in recent times."
And just the other day, a political rally was held at the new Burgess pool by Winkler/Duboc/Boyle which was, according to The Almanac, "quickly transformed into a scene more common among bickering third-graders than grown adults" when the other three council candidates came forward to defend themselves as criticism of them mounted during the rally. The holding of a political rally at a community pool where innocent swimmers, including families with children, were just trying to enjoy their day, has to be seriously questioned at the very least as an atrociously bad PR stunt, particularly given that sitting council members Winkler and Duboc - who certainly should know better - were actively involved, with Ms. Duboc reportedly going as far as trying to shout down an opposing candidate's comments herself. But unfortunately, such ugly incidents have just seemingly been "par for the course" from Winkler/Duboc/Jellins and now Winkler/Duboc/Boyle.
(NOTE: The pool incident even made the San Jose Mercury News, which noted within its October 22 "Internal Affairs" political column: "Things degenerated after a member of the public who opposes the Duboc-Winkler-Boyle slate tried to speak and was shouted down by some of the incumbents and their supporters. The unidentified woman was ordered to shut up and leave before she asserted herself and said, "I am a citizen of Menlo Park. You can't tell me where to be.'' Suffice to say, the rally backfired.")
Politics To The Extreme: Borrowing Heavily From The Notorious Karl Rove
Under the direction of political guru Karl Rove, the Bush Administration has been notable for employing tactics, methods and approaches that unfortunately are what makes "politics" a dirty word to many ordinary citizens, including:
--- Use of crass politics over sound policymaking.
--- Short-term, bottom line thinking over thoughtful, long-range planning.
--- Not allowing independent thinking (resulting in rigid plans that are not to be questioned or challenged, along with partisan block voting).
--- Delivering endless "spin" meant to misinformation, misguide, and misdirect citizens.
--- Allowing incorrect or misleading statements to continue to be repeated even after they have been corrected publicly by others ("perpetuating the 'big lie' ").
--- Seeking to be "dividers not uniters" - pitting groups versus each other to inflame passions ("wedge politics") and seeking only bare majority control rather than bipartisan support.
--- Labeling all dissenters as "special interests" and dismissing them off-hand.
--- Ignoring reports from "the bureaucracy" that conflict with their views or editing/"massaging" such reports before their public release.
--- "Never, never, never, ever” admitting to bad decisions or (heaven forbid!) mistakes.
None of the above are unique to one political party or the other (for instance, unlike George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan was certainly a "uniter, not a divider," as evidenced by his landslide election victories) - but what has set Karl Rove and the Bush Administration apart from all others is their stunningly open brazenness in using ALL the above "tricks" on a seemingly constant basis. Before Mr. Rove, no one in their right mind would have contemplated doing ALL of the above on a constant basis as no one would have thought that they could actually get away with it.
Well unfortunately, Mr. Rove is apparently getting away with it (due to a host of very unique reasons such as 9/11), but the question for us here and now in Menlo Park is:
Are we going to let Winkler/Duboc/Boyle "get away with it" as well?
Anyone even just casually following the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime is sure to have seen the Karl Rove "bag of tricks" employed by them on a frequent basis. Some folks actually support their use of such tricks, as, for them, such tricks are merely a "means to an end" that they wish to see happen. However, any thoughtful voter can see the severe limitations and terrible consequences of such a "politics to an extreme" approach:
--- The bitter divisiveness that fractures a community and crushes its spirit
--- The non-belief in the truthfulness of anything said by anyone after awhile, and
--- Ultimately the complete loss of trust in our city government and its leaders.
And if you somehow think things will change under a Winkler/Duboc/Boyle regime, consider this:
In its 10/11/06 story on campaign financing, The Almanac reported that the trio effectively received some $6,000 worth of services from a Dresner, Wickers and Associates. Well, it turns out that DW&A bills itself as a "national Republican political consulting firm" whose client list includes not only a variety of "issue advocacy" groups ("special interests"), but also various state governors, U.S. Senators and Congressmen - and even a couple of Prime Ministers in Easter Europe!
So is this who we really want to govern our small city - people guided by advice from a heavyweight national political consulting firm? Add to that the fact that both Ms. Winkler and Mr. Boyle have extensive backgrounds in marketing - so they both are clearly adept themselves on how to "market" things (that is, make you buy what you don't really need or want!) - and what are we looking at?:
Our city deserves much, much better. Don't fall for their slick marketing "spin" - use you common sense instead:
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, IT MUST BE A DUCK!
Their "Special Interests": Developers and other real estate-related interests
Want to know what you can expect from candidates when they are in office? Well, look at their record and look at their backers! And when you do that, one "special interest" group clearly emerges for Winkler/Duboc/Boyle: Developers and other real estate interests (land and rental property owners, realtors and builders, etc.).
Two primary examples of this are discussed elsewhere on this website, Namely:
--- The Derry Development Project: Where a generous relaxation of land use regulations is potentially leading to mega-developments not only at the Derry property, but also at the neighboring old Cadillac dealership site, with the city being shortchanged in terms of what it will receive in return for its "bending the rules."
--- The Bayfront Golfcourse Proposal: Where the development plan that was advanced by the council majority turned out to be so bad that the DEVELOPER himself ended up shelving the proposal, calling it "infeasible."
And in terms of backing, the Winkler/Duboc/Boyle slate is being strongly supported by developers and other real estate-related interests, both by formal endorsements and via financial contributions:
--- Endorsement-wise, save for a couple of specific commercial business owners who have had well-known "beefs" with previous city councils, the "Local Business Leaders" listed on Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's campaign literature are riddled with real estate-related interests, while the one "Local Business Organization" endorsing them is the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors!
--- Campaign-contribution-wise, as reported in the October 11 edition of The Almanac, their single biggest donor is the California Real Estate Political Action Committee, a committee tied to the California Association of Realtors - that PAC donated a whopping $7500 in total to the Winkler/Duboc/Boyle campaign. And based on the limited amount of information contained in The Almanac article, the Winkler/Duboc/Boyle slate has received AT LEAST $15,000 overall from real-estate-related interests - including from developers - through Sept 30.
SEE OUR WEBSITE FOR AN UPDATE ARTICLE FOR THE LATEST DONATION NUMBERS - $100,000 LIKELY TO BE SPENT TRYING TO GET THEM ELECTED!
To top it all off, as reported by The Almanac in same story on campaign financing:
"During the 2002 election, then-candidates Duboc, Winkler and Nicholas Jellins vowed to not take contributions from developers due to criticism candidates have faced in past elections for doing so. They say they are not making that pledge this year."
To that one can only say: What a difference four years of majority control makes!
On the other hand, which group is getting the "cold shoulder? Well, interesting enough, it's local businesses! Despite the lofty proclamations made by Winkler/Duboc/Jellins as being "business-friendly" and the council majority's installation of its own Business Development Director, its dismal record is clear when you just open you eyes and look around:
--- Take a good look around Santa Cruz Avenue downtown and El Camino Real next time and you'll be surprised at just how many business vacancies there really are out there (for a rough listing, click here).
--- And while a couple of new buildings are going in on Santa Cruz Avenue, they're just in "speculation" mode - they're LOOKING for tenants rather than being built for a specific tenant - NOT an encouraging sign.
--- Even the much-ballyhooed Sand Hill Road Hotel Complex Project was a complete surprise - not even the city's Business Development Director knew in advance of the official announcement!
--- While Menlo Park has lost all four of its new car dealerships, neighboring Redwood City has kept all four of its dealerships on El Camino - and has even managed to and another one (the new high-end Ferrari dealership on El Camino near its border with Atherton).
--- And speaking of Redwood City, they're currently celebrating their new, revitalized downtown, full of vibrant (and sales tax-revenue-producing businesses), while Winkler/Duboc/Boyle can only lamely promote on their campaign literature the RETURN of Ace Hardware on Santa Cruz as some sort of "major" accomplishment (sorry, guys, but that's NOT very impressive).
And why is it so bad that local businesses have been given the cold shoulder? Because residential development, while extremely profitable for real estate property owners, developers and home builders, is not so profitable for the city. Why? - Because the tax revenues gained from new residents is quickly gobbled up by the increases in basic services that must be provided for these new residents (police, fire, etc.), as well as in the fact that new residents tend to want more (and costlier) services from the cities that they move into.
The lesson to be learned by taxpaying voters: "Developer-friendly" is NOT the same as "Business-friendly." And by all indications, Winkler/Duboc/Boyle will be "developer-friendly," with such a policy bias ultimately being "taxpayer-unfriendly," so VOTE ACCORDINGLY!