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Atherton postpones budget discussion

Original post made on Jun 22, 2012

As the hour grew late while the agenda remained long on Wednesday (June 20), the Atherton Town Council decided to call it a night and save discussion of the budget for another time.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 22, 2012, 11:41 AM

Comments (19)

Posted by Freedom of Speech, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm


The letter was pulled off the agenda by the mayor, after it was known that several people were going to turn out to question the letter and remind the council of the Constitutional Right for Freedom of Speech and if the council had any documentation to support its claim in the letter such as "releasing a barrage of inaccurate accusations" and if the council trying to "undermine" the Athertonians.



The Athertonians Yahoo Users' Group
By email to athertonians-owner@yahoogroups.com

June 14, 2012

Dear Athertonians:

The Town of Atherton first reached out to you to address claims of confusion between your group and the Town's official newsletter, the Athertonian. Despite a promise of confidentiality from Town staff, you refused to discuss the issues raised by the Town. As a final attempt, we proposed two reasonable mitigation measures that would reduce the potential for confusion: 1) a more visible disclaimer on the Athertonians website, and 2) a small name modification. Again you never responded to the Town. Instead, you immediately released a strongly-worded statement to the media containing a barrage of inaccurate accusations against Town leadership and unfounded and unprofessional comments directed towards individual council members. Ironically, you took this action while claiming to be "non-partisan."

While we welcome open discourse on town issues, free speech does not include the right to knowingly disseminate false statements about the Council in an effort to undermine their efforts. To the extent that you intentionally spread lies about the Council, we will not hesitate to take all possible steps to protect the work we have done on behalf of and for the benefit of all the residents of Atherton. Although we may disagree on individual issues, we have been and remain united in our commitment to open communication and a healthy political process.

Sincerely,


William Widmer, Mayor


Posted by Get your facts right, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 24, 2012 at 9:43 am

The idea to pull the letter was the town manager's and was supported by the whole council. The letter was prepared by staff for council approval.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm

"While we welcome open discourse on town issues, free speech does not include the right to knowingly disseminate false statements about the Council in an effort to undermine their efforts."

Actually, the Constitution does protect this kind of speech.

Of course, if you are wronged, you are free to pursue a claim of slander or libel in civil court... but you would have to prove that the statements were KNOWINGLY FALSE. Both terms - "knowingly" and "false" - can be remarkably subjective.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The California Constitution also protects free speech and also specifies the responsibilities that go with exercising the right of free speech:

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS


SEC. 2. (a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or
her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of
this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or
press.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm

McKithen, Dobie and Widmer seem amazingly inept when it comes to the constitutional rights of their constituents. Wake up bozos. Your constituents are about to eat your lunch. Figure out some "elegant" way to back out of this stupidity before you confirm your stupidty for all to see. Remember - the Atherton electorate is about the most ambivilent electorate in the bay area - yet they are up in arms about this issue. Get a clue.


Posted by Freedom of Speech, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

Which council members told staff to draft the letter and put it on the agenda?

Get your facts right, wrote:

"The idea to pull the letter was the town manager's and was supported by the whole council. The letter was prepared by staff for council approval."

McKeithen and Widmer worked with the Asst. City Attorney to draft the letter. In the end Widmer made final edits.



Posted by Get your facts right, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 22 hours ago

The idea to pull the letter was the town manager's and was supported by the whole council. The letter was prepared by staff for council approval.

McKeithen and Widmer worked with staff on the letter.

The Mayor did the final edits to the letter before it was placed on the agenda, making a big changes by adding the word "inaccurate" in front of accusations and adding the words "unfounded and unprofessional" in front of comments.

The City Manager realized that the claims in the letter were false. By pulling the item from the agenda the public was not allowed to speak on the letter as an agenda item, when staff would have to respond to the public, it was safer to pull the letter off the agenda to prevent discussion on the Freedom of Speech issue. Ironic and a whole new level.

Neither the council nor staff have any documentation to support the claims in the letter.

According the the April tape,Dobbie suggested a special meeting to take action against the Athertonian email list.




Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 25, 2012 at 9:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Although item 14 was pulled from the consent agenda it was pulled at the beginning of the meeting thereby allowing public comment on this matter before the regular agenda began. The council heard from a number of citizens who expressed their concern that the town not attempt to engage in prior restraint of citizens speech as well as pointing out the responsibilities of those who exercised their free speech. I suspect that the proposed letter will not be given further consideration.


CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
SEC. 2. (a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or
her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of
this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or
press.




Posted by Freedom of Speech , a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

The council tried to slip this by on the Consent Agenda, they got caught and backed down. Not sure we should assume the council is done with the Athertonians. The council should make an statement as to why the letter was pulled off the agenda and what their intentions are regarding the Athertonians.

It would have been better to have heard public comments and have a vote on the letter.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 25, 2012 at 10:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Frankly, I am pleased that the letter was pulled from the agenda.

And the public comments WERE heard as well as comments from the council.


Posted by Freedom of Speech, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 26, 2012 at 7:05 am

What did the council say?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 26, 2012 at 7:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

See:

Web Link


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 28, 2012 at 7:09 am

Mayor Widmer said: "While we welcome open discourse on town issues, free speech does not include the right to knowingly disseminate false statements about the Council in an effort to undermine their efforts."

Actually, the Constitution does protect this kind of speech.

This morning (June 28), the Supreme Court ruled that a person lying about winning the "Medal of Honor" was protected speech.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

"This morning (June 28), the Supreme Court ruled that a person lying about winning the "Medal of Honor" was protected speech."

Disgusting, but protected.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I suppose if it's legal to lie about winning the medal of honor, you should be able to venture an opinion about your city council - true or totally unfounded.


Posted by Peterfcarpenter@gmail.com, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The pesky thing about freedoms is that those freedoms sometimes allow other people to do things that you don't approve of - like pray, speak out, etc..


That is the price of having those freedoms.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Peter, then why don't you stop continually complaining about anonymous posters on the Almanac when they are criticizing you? Gee whiz.


Posted by Peterfcarpenter@gmail.com, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Huh- my complaint with posters who post anonymously is not restricted to those who criticize me and has nothing to do with this topic..


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Why not? It seems like there are many common issues involved in both, mainly does freedom of speech trump civil and direct conduct?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Huh does not seem to understand the difference between being able to speak whatever he/she wants and the requirement that the Almanac post that speech or that others listen to it. Free speech does not guarantee an audience.


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