Posted by Old Timer, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2010 at 1:41 am
I'd be in favor of bringing in Chief Moore on an emergency/interim basis to save the police department. I was shocked that the police union wouldn't endorse him when he ran for council. This guy has done more for the Atherton police than anyone. I never figured out how the union could have the right to endorse a council candiate in the first place, but the fact they endorsed Elizabeth Lewis instead of Chief Moore was very troubling to me.
Obviously the police are trying to protect Lewis and her housing situation as she is their gal on the council.
Posted by just a thought, a resident of another community, on Jun 22, 2010 at 8:53 am
In response to James M.:
I'm curious as to what basis you draw your conclusion that there is a chasm between the APD and the Administration.
My perception was more along the lines of unqualified support and the San Mateo County Protocol of 'One Big Happy Family'. Perhaps, you could point to some facts which support this conclusion.
The City Manager has done nothing effectual or confrontative with the PD that I have known about, and the Council has the power of hire and fire over the CM. Where's the conflict?
In Response to Peter:
I have both affection and regard for your positions generally, but I really do feel that you need to try a bit harder to have empathy for those in positions of vulnerability. Just because you are wealthy and relatively unassailable by these people does not mean that others are as safe. Have a heart.
Posted by have a heart, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2010 at 11:27 am
I make this post anonymously for fear of retaliation.
JAT has a very good point. The powers that be have crushed the less fortunate. There is only one persoon in Atherton's 2,250 households who have the resources, the will and the ability to take on the corrupt and powerful who are entrenched. That man is Jon Buckheit.
Jon Buckheit should be our next City Manager.
The day that Jon Buckheit becomes our City Manager cannot come soon enough.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Jun 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm
I don't know if there will ever be an answer to this or not. I wish this newspaper would at least leave a trail of deleted comments. That way when a person or group of persons are finally getting the courage to post something that they believe is important, it either stays on this site or if it is deleted it says it has been deleted. Vanished comments are the ones I concerned about.
There is an Atherton elder alive today only because I saw a couple of comments that were posted before they were Vanished, in a matter of minutes from going up.
Posted by Editor, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm
To the posters on this thread:
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm
for the statements made here by those claiming to be town employees to be substantiated they would have to identify themselves. That would make them prime targets for the thugs running your town. Do you honestly expect them to do so?
Posted by Concerned citizen, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm
I really appreciate this Town Square forum provided by the Almanac. I am learning a lot about what is going on in Atherton's town government, even if some of it lacks detail. Thanks, Almanac editor, for explaining why you have cut something out, and giving the reason for it.
I am discouraged, as an Atherton resident, that things are not going well in the town. People want a change of leadership on the council, but I don't see any obvious, really good leaders emerging. I know there are capable residents out there who have the best interests of the town at heart. But the kind of commitment needed right now to make things right is really huge. Is there someone out there who gets it and can help bring about constructive change? Please come forward now, before the filing deadline for City Council comes and goes!
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2010 at 9:16 am
Concerned citizen -
I would encourage YOU to step up and file. It isn't very difficult, the time commitment is less than you think and, perhaps most important, by virtue of your engagement, I suspect you are as qualified as any other person who might run.
Remember, no council members had any other public office experience before they were elected either.
Step forward. Take the initiative. You can make a difference.
Posted by concerned citizen, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm
Thanks for the vote of confidence. But I tend to agree with Cheshire Cat's sentiment: who in their right mind would step forward? It is a thankless job, that's for sure. I would be willing to support a "slate" of candidates committed to hiring a city attorney who is a champion of the Brown Act and who would insist that all public business take place in public. Also, that attorney would know when he or she is conflicted and would be able to advise council members of the same. That would be one place to start.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm
It's a start, I agree. But it's too easy to wait for others to step forward. We need good, engaged, reasonable people to take the initiative and take back their government. This is just too important to sit on the sidelines. If not you, who?
As I said before, not one of your current city council members had prior experience either. You can do it... but only if you WANT to.
Posted by nomad, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2010 at 6:24 pm
Politicians will be politicians. They'll run over staff,they'll do favors for their friends if given the opportunity, and they'll fight like ally cats amongst themselves.
There's nothing wrong with the current City Council. There's everything wrong with the City Manager and City Attorney. The City Council is designed by the City's charter to have no power. The City's current problems are the making of the City Manager.
The Town is falling apart because the current City Manager is incapable of holding the City together. He's in way over his head. He's generally acknowledged to be a nice guy. However it is also generally acknowledged that he's in way over his head.
If one wants positive and lasting change, dump the City Manager in favor of a real leader. Dump the City Attorney too in favor of someone who has integrity.
Once the new city manager is in he should fire every single department head as the Charter gives him the right to do and then he should start a national recruitment for a team of professionals. When the Town stops paying top dollar for corrupt amateurs, the Town will begin to right itself.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2010 at 7:13 pm
there's nothing wrong with the current city council???!!!! Seriously?
You have one council memeber that thinks she's above the law, built her house illegally and assaulted a citizen in front of witnesses and participates in decisions involving zoning for which she is clearly conflicted. You have anohter council person that solicted a loan from someone that is suing the city and propelled a witch hunt against the town's former finance director that cost the city over $600,000. And you have another council person that did not recuse himself from a vote regarding a lawsuit against HSR for which he is clearly conflicted. Theres's nothing wrong the current city council? Are you out of your mind? Three members of this council are seriously ethically challenged, to put it mildly, and you don't think there is anything wrong with this council. Absolutley amazing!
Posted by nomad, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2010 at 9:17 pm
Acknowledged this city council does have warts. Yes it is an overstatement to say nothing is wrong with this council. The point is, the kind of government established in atherton is designed to limit the power of crooked politicians.
Real power and responsibility rest with the City Manager. This City Manager has been a failure. To complain about the conduct of the Council detracts from what is really wrong with the Town, the incompetence of management.
Posted by cruiser, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm
Cheshire Cat complains about anonymous posts. An odd complaint for one who posts anonymously.
Cheshire cat has said allegations of misconduct by members of the City Council are defamatory. This is untrue. Elizabeth Lewis built a house in violation of the Town's zoning ordinance Charles Marsala asked for a loan from one who is suing the Town.
Councilman Jerry Carlson voted to oppose high speed rail. According to Zillow, Jerry Carlson's house on Mount Vernon Lane is worth $3 million.
Jerry Carlson should have recused himself but he did not.
In another post Cheshire cat tries to rationalize the self dealing of Jerry Carlson. Jerry Carlson broke the law. Jerry Carlson should be kicked off the Council.
There is a majority of the Council who have abused their positions to serve their own interests.
Menlo Voter is correct, the City Manager serves as the pleasure of the City Council. Until such time as the Town gets an honest and capable City Council, we will be stuck with a City Manager whose only interest is to protect his own job.
Posted by Chesire Cat, a resident of another community, on Jun 28, 2010 at 5:54 am
The Town's taxpayers have already wasted scarce dollars on the investigation into Marsala and Lewis. The Town Attorney has ruled. Voters are left to judge them on election day. That's the way it works.
Jerry Carlson is also to be judged by electors. Yet, he should be fairly judged on the facts, not on the innuendo and defamatory hearsay found in this "forum".
I present the California Attorney General's guidance on conflict of interest by elected officials:
"If an official has a financial interest within the meaning of the Act and the governmental decision in question will foreseeably have a material effect on that interest, the official still may not be disqualified from participating in the decision. One last variable must be considered: whether the decision will affect the official’s economic interest differently than it does those of the “public generally.” (§ 87103.) If the official is participating in a decision on an issue that will affect the general public’s financial interests in the same manner as it does the official’s own, the fact that it is affecting materially the official’s interest does not create a conflict of interest for the official."
I suppose someone can dig deep into their pockets and sponsor a suit to determine the meaning of "public generally" in the context of the Carlson "conflict". It seems to me there is a substantial number of Atherton parcels along the railroad right of way, including the Town owned HP Park, which could suffer a reduction in value (and tax income to the Town). And if the HSR were "above grade", the number of impacted parties would be widely expanded. The threshold is easily met.
Infrequent visitors to these "forums" need to know there is a (small) group of people who keep throwing issues at the wall hoping they will stick. The group is tied together by the common goal of seeking retribution upon the Town's Government for perceived injustices.
This alleged Carlson conflict of interest issue doesn't hold water unless one wishes to hold Atherton's elected officials to a higher standard than those imposed by law.
Posted by pro bono, a resident of the Atherton: Lloyden Park neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 7:34 am
The Town of Atherton is 7 square miles, and contains 2,250 parcels and about 7,700 residents
Less than 14% of Atherton's households lie within the strip of land between the El Camino Real and Middlefield road, the area most heavily affected by High Speed Rail.
These observations are by no means conclusive as to whether Carlson has a disproportionate interest. However, when combined with Cheshire Cat's citation, they do strongly suggest that a review of this matter by the City Attorney is called for.
One other concern that has not raised. Councilman Carlson participated in deliberations during closed session. To the extent one violates the law during a closed session, the closed session is no longer privileged.
Additionally, any one bringing suit against the Town alleging a brown act violation may recover attorney's fees if under the Private Attorney General Act if one prevails.
Posted by Haha, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 10:17 am
Jerry Carlson is getting ready to run for reelection (or should I say election? I don't think he was ever elected in a contested contest in the first place) and it seems as if Cheshire Cat is his campaign manager. She would have us believe that Carlson's home, on the street next to the high-speed rail, will have property value affected by the rail as other homes in Atherton would "generally".
How can this be true, Cheshire Cat? How could a home West of Alameda be affected the same way as Carlson's on Mt. Vernon Lane? How could a come in West Atherton be affected the same way, or Lindenwood?
The "general public" exemption to financial conflicts of interest you quoted really means the issue affects every constituent in the same general way (e.g., the state government proposes a special $5,000/year "Atherton resident" tax, and Jerry Carlson lobbies against it). His home is simply too close to the high-speed rail to meet this legal test, but he refuses to disqualify himself. Why?
FACE IT: He's breaking the law. You would have been better off not quoting any laws, as the Atherton voters are smart enough to discern "general issues" from a home smack against the rail.
NEXT, another vivid reason Jerry Carlson does not deserve to be elected is he can't formulate his own stand on issues. For example, he voted to refund $1.6M of road impact fees to the developers who are behind Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis, but was courageously delayed by Kathy McKeithen and Jim Dobbie. In the interim, a large outcry developed and now he's getting ready to try to make it look like he's saving the day by having a reduced amount refunded. BALONEY. He was ready to give it all back.
He was ready to give it all back because the only person who will support his candidacy (other than you, if you're someone other then Elizabeth Lewis... [portion removed]) is Elizabeth Lewis. [Portion removed; please stick to facts] I'd actually rather have Lewis than Carlson because at least you can figure out how she stands.
Finally, you would have readers believe that anyone who disagrees with Jerry Carlson is simply on a vendetta against the Atherton government in general because of perceived injustices. Really? Is everyone who disagrees with Jerry Carlson also against Kathy McKeithen? Please, you just look foolish saying things like this.
If Jerry Carlson runs, he's going to be humiliated. You need to face up to this and deal with it. No amount of propaganda is going to work. His own record contradicts it and will be brought out at every opportunity.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 11:30 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Anonymity - why are you any more credible than Cheshire Cat?
I don't think that any elected official should even bother to read critiques by anonymous posters. Why should a citizen who has stepped up to the challenges and responsibilities of elected office care what anonymous posters have to say about their performance? So much of this thread is sheer rubbish.
If I want to criticize an elected official then I will do so openly and with a willingness to be held accountable for the truthfulness of my allegations.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 11:46 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Menlo Voter states:"not have to worry about an opinion costing you your livelyhood."
I think the breast beatings on fear of retaliation used by anonymous posters are far out of proportion to the probability of any such action. In fact, history shows that the best protection for a true and honest whistle blower is to go public because then any attempt at retaliation will cause a strong protective response by the press and by fellow citizens. How could I ever hope to protect someone whose identity I do not know?
And when I was employed in the Federal government, academia and the private sector I was equally outspoken but NEVER off-the-record or anonymously.
Speaking out anonymously is a very comfortable habit to get into but speaking out in your own name is more powerful and more rewarding. Try it, you will like it.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm
Peter: I was not speaking so much form a whistle blower stand point but as one that does business in this community. With some people my opinions could cost me business. That's why I prefer the anonimity and that is why polite people don't discuss politics or religion.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm
Peter finds it disturbing that an anonymous poster would criticize an elected official, but he seems to be okay with an anonymous poster defending the same elected official.
I find this to be a logical contradiction. Some people fear retaliation for their posts. As Menlo Voter pointed out, the retaliation doesn't have to be a bunko squad taking them from their bed in the middle of the night.
I do not see a valid reason why a supporter need remain anonymous (unless it is a facade).
Anyway, the issue of should anonymous postings be allowed on these forums has been beaten to death, Peter, and the general consensus seems to be they should be allowed.
The real topic of this conversation is does Jerry Carlson have a conflict of interest to vote on high speed rail lawsuits. If his house is indeed a stone's throw from the rail, there would obviously be an appreciable decrease in value if the rail were to come here, and there is a clear conflict of interest.
If Mr. Carlson is truly concerned about the residents of Atherton, he would recuse himself from the high speed rail issues because of this conflict of interest. Otherwise the proponents of high speed rail can and will use his involvement as a reason to discount the opposition of the Town of Atherton. There are plenty of qualified residents in Atherton who do not live very close to the high speed rail who can lead this fight.
Posted by john p johns, a resident of another community, on Jun 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm
One should always think twice before sending a post. I may regret not heeding this advice.
I object in the strongest possible terms to Peter Carpenter's post about whistleblowers being granted protection.
POGO has reminded me on more than one occasion that everyone knows what happened to me. Accordingly I will refrain from retelling my story.
However I will say that I speak with authority on what happens to whistleblowers.
Peter Carpenter. I mean no disrespect but you are "california dreamin" if you think the whistleblower protections you speak of have any practical effect.
I respectfully submit that the whistleblower who isn't crushed by the powerful and corrupt is a rare commodity.
I have empathy for those that post under an assumed name.
Mr. Carpenter. This is not breastbeating. This is the voice of experience and of reason.
Again I mean no disrespect but however I do, quite frankly feel a sense of outrage at the following statement you made
"In fact, history shows that the best protection for a true and honest whistle blower is to go public because then any attempt at retaliation will cause a strong protective response by the press and by fellow citizens."
My experience was just the opposite. I was criticized in this paper after having been terminated. I was ostracized by the very people who you say would rally against a whistleblower.
My experience was that the time people began to rally around me was when they saw I had a winning case. Help was not there when I needed it. I had to dig down deep, steel myself and fight for my life alone and afraid.
Mr. Carpenter when it comes to how whistleblowers are treated in this community, you have no idea of what you are talking about.
By the way. I wasn't the only one who suffered. A colleague of mine who was seen as being allied with me lost his job and wound up having to spend a year living out of his car. He didn't get a dime for his troubles, he didn't have the resources to fight for himself.
He is still in need. If you feel and the rest of our community feel like rallying around him let me know, I'll tell you where to send the check so that he can get back on his feet.
Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm
John, you didn't need to think twice before sending your post. You lived through incredible retaliation for speaking out. In Peter's defense, most people who have not directly experienced this tend to think "the system works". Yes, there are whistleblower laws in California, and this is why Atherton ultimately settled with you and conceded you were 100% right in doing what you did through issuing you an unprecedented public commendation. But they knew that those laws really only practically apply if you can get to the courthouse steps. Most men would have crumbled long before you did, perhaps after getting fired, perhaps after being subject to a nine-month long criminal "investigation" by Stephen Wagstaffe designed to intimidate you and force you to give up hope.
I have also met the colleague John refers to who had to live in his car after being retaliated against. This is as real as it gets.
Posted by Interested, a resident of another community, on Jun 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm
Peter, like most elected officials, believes that simply passing a "Whistleblower Ordinance" somehow solves the problem. It does not. As Mr. Johns stated, the reality is a world away from the intent...
Been there, done that and bought the tee shirt......
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm
Menlo Voter states:"you've been lucky enough to NOT know what you're talking about."
Not true. I try to always speak from experience and in this case I think I have more than any of the other respondents. When I was a member of the Senior Executive Service in the Federal government I blew the whistle on a sitting Cabinet officer. My resulting interviews with the investigators resulted in almost 400 page of sworn testimony - I left the government and nothing happened to the Cabinet officer.
Posted by double take, a resident of the Atherton: Lloyden Park neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm
Is Peter Carpenter in fantasy land?
In one post he talks about whistleblowers being protected. In another post he speaks of his own experience of being a whistleblower.
As Peter describes his own experience, there is no mention of front page headlines by the Washington Post, or marches on capitol hill by an angry electorate. Just Peter losing his job and the target of his whistleblowing siting pretty.
Mr. Carpenter\'s own post seems to be a powerful argument for allowing anonymous tips and anonymous posts. Maybe Atherton should set up a toll free fraud hotline, just like some of the major accounting firms did after the Enron scandal.
No doubt Peter Carpenter heard about Deep Throat. This guy was a national hero, but he didn\'t reveal his identity until he was on his death bed. Ever wonder why Peter?
Posted by A Cautionary Tale, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2010 at 2:20 am
The real estate development community in Atherton is big business. Billions of dollars of real estate has gone up in Atherton in the past decade. The real estate developers currently control two council seats [Portion deleted. Please don't use Town Square to accuse named individuals of wrongdoing.]
When someone gets in the way of that money train, that someone is going to be crushed like a bug. What Mr. Johns has spoken of here nearly cost him his life. Another colleague was put out to live in a car for a year. Have you ever lived in a car, Mr. Carpenter?
If anyone thinks an Atherton employee, a regular working-class individual, can speak out without losing their job because they're going to be "protected" as a "whistle blower", just look at John Buckheit. The cops tried to falsify a police report against a millionaire, and they still haven't had to answer for it. If they got away with it against him for so long, how can a normal person who is just making ends meet hope to put up any resistance to this gauntlet? More specifically, if the filthy rich residents of this town can't fight these thugs, how can the people who work here?
Buckheit and Johns have somehow been able to keep up the only sustained attack on this morally bankrupt team of thugs. I say thugs, and I mean it. There are street criminals who have more sense of right and wrong than these people. These two fighters deserve our support and thanks. But don't assume they haven't taken a lot of arrows, or just anyone can do the same thing they've done.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2010 at 6:43 am
Menlo Voter asks:"And your income was effected how Peter?"
I lost my job and therefore lost my income - not that it is any of your business. Suffice it to say I am personally well aware of the consequences of whistle blowing. I made my charges over my own signature, paid the price and moved on.
I still am opposed to anonymous postings of unsubstantiated charges of elected and appointed officials. And I frankly don't care if others have a different opinion and set of values - that is their choice.
Posted by A Cautionary Tale, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2010 at 11:34 am
I don't get how a portion of my response was deleted. Since when can't the public complain about their elected officials? I thought that happens all the time on these forums (for example, "Steve Schmidt says he won't run for council").
The FACTS are:
1. When John Johns went after certain developers breaking building codes, the cops went after him. This is documented.
2. Elizabeth Lewis, not the former police chief Dick Moore, received the police union endorsement for council. This is documented. She also received most of her campaign money from real estate developers, and is a real estate developer herself. This is documented.
3. In Atherton, we have not even have a discussion about freezing police salaries (the biggest part of the budget), outsourcing, or changing the pension system. This is documented.
4. Opinion: There is a linkage between these facts, a quid pro quo.
Here's another set of FACTS:
1. Wynne Furth exonerated Charles Marsala.
2. Wynne Furth exonerated Elizabeth Lewis.
3. Wynne Furth exonerated Jerry Carlson or will exonerate him for High Speed Rail issues.
4. These three council members protect Furth and her massive legal billings. Even now that her law firm has closed down, and the "big law firm" was the justification used to hire her in the first place, she will continue as city council through the actions of these three corrupt council members.
It's all one big, happy family. Elected council members, cops, and attorneys not working for the best interests of the citizens of this town, but for the big real estate developers. When one of them gets in a jam, the others come to their rescue. They stick together, and they're organized. In fairness to Jerry Carlson, he's just doing it to fit in with the only person who supports him, Elizabeth Lewis. But the end result is equally as bad.
Posted by john p johns, a resident of another community, on Jun 29, 2010 at 11:58 am
The more I read Peter Carpenter\'s posts, the more I respect him.
We may disagree with him. However we must acknowledge that he is well informed. He writes with dignity and with the kind of authority from having \"been there and done that\".
One thing that I have learned is we can draw different conclusions from similar experiences. This is because none of us see life through the same lenses. Our perceptions are colored by the vast majority of experiences in life that our own and only our own.
Learning is largely accomplished through free expression amongst those whom we know.
Peter is right to discount those who post anonymously, not because the anonymous lack courage or are by default untrustworthy. We should discount the opinions of those who post anonymously because we do not know where they are coming from.
We do not know how to interpret what the anonymous are saying because we are unable to understand the perspective from which the viewpoint is being shared.
I know where Peter Carpenter stands. I have met him I have read his C.V. I do not know Menlo Voter, POGO, Concerned Citizen or Cheshire Cat. For all I know these are from one person who suffers from multiple personality disorder. I have know way of knowing.
It is true that I have read Pogo\'s Menlo Voter\'s Concerned Citizen\'s and Cheshire Cat\'s posts and that I have learned something from their posts. However I perceive Peter Carpenter\'s posts as far more credible, because I am in a position to judge for myself Mr. Carpenter\'s credibility.
I may think Mr. Carpenter is prone to \"california dreamin\" once in a while. However I will always take into very careful consideration what he has to say.