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Atherton: Mayor Widmer Misreads Again on Employee Furlough and Compensation Reductions

Original post made by Atherton Council Misread, Atherton: other, on Nov 26, 2012

The title of the Agenda does not state the item is for reductions and furloughs.

Mayor Widmer after the Measure F vote on placing the Library in the Park was resoundingly defeated by close to 70% of Atherton voters sent out a very gracious email saying he had "misread" the wishes of Atherton voters. However all the signs were there all along and the proponents on the Council steadfastly refused to listen to requests for surveys, the Park and Rec Commission, results of the EIR, personal pleas and finally crumbled as they could not ignore a petition of over 300 citizens.

This Wednesday a very important vote on employee's compensation/benefits will be made by the Council to chart the course of Athertons employees and managers for the future. Curiously, it appears the same group of Council Members that championed the library site in the park are intent on imposing conditions on town employees and setting the stage for contentious labor negotiations with the APOA. This is a hurried vote before the new Council is seated and done without detailed fiscal justification and input from the community. They will arbitrarily impose onerous terms on employees immediately.

This vote will be another "misread" of the will of Atherton residents

Comments (31)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Go to the meeting and use the public comment period before the Consent Calendar and simply request that this item be taken off the Consent Calendar. And then use the public comment period before this item is voted on to tell the council that this is a VERY bad idea.

Democracy is hard work and it cannot be done by sitting at home or posting on this forum.


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Posted by Good advice, but won't happen
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Don't hold your breath waiting for cops to unmask themselves and show up at the meeting, complaining that any salary/benefit reductions will hurt Atherton residents. They much prefer to do it anonymously on these forums, posing as a possible resident.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It would be a great improvement to this forum if anonymous posters were required to verify their place of residence to the editors before being allowed to post.


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Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

The Agenda Item reads: "ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 12-XX APPROVING SALARY AND BENEFITS FOR ALL UNREPRESENTED EMPLOYEES"

There is nothing in the title that states that the Resolution means Furloughs and Compensation Reductions. This forum brings awareness to the community of what the council is considering.

It can lead to a larger turnout at the meeting.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The posted agenda has things called attachments!!

Please take the time to do your homework.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Here is the proposed council action re furloughs:

5. WORK FURLOUGH: As a result of the Town's fiscal condition, for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 and subsequent fiscal years until rescinded by the City Council, the work days between Christmas Day and New Year's Day shall be an unpaid furlough week for all non-essential personnel as determined by the City Manager. Essential personnel may include, but not be limited to Police, Public Works, and Administrative personnel required to meet the needs of the community as determined by the City Manager. Employees may use accrued vacation or personal holiday time during this period.


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Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

The homework was done.

Review of the item lead to the post; to inform others and have a "forum" on the topic.

Retirement age will also be increased by seven years and other reductions will happen. Medical reductions are also part of the plan


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The homework was done."

Grade F


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Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Peter,

I do not understand your logic for the Grade.

The homework that should be done is for the Council to do a First Reading and debate this week on this item and allow Thirty Days for residents to comment on the item. Then vote.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Your 'homework' claim was with regards to the agenda. Grade F was because you failed to read the attachment - which I had posted 5 days ago.

Now you want to revise your homework assignment - sorry, it does not work that way.


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Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Yes Peter you did post five days ago,

You wrote:
"As for putting this item on the Nov Council agenda - there is NO way that the Council can make a binding decision on a labor agreement at a single meeting.

And for those who want to ensure citizen participation in this process you might ask the Council to adopt the Fire District's long standing policy on new labor agreements:..... curb misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation of public bodies"; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act "…reflects a legislative determination that 'public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business,' and an intent 'that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly' (Gov. Code Section 54950); and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act require the District to conduct its business in a transparent manner; and

WHEREAS, the Board believes due to the importance of proposed collective bargaining agreements with the District employee labor representatives, that these proposed agreements should be made available to the citizens of the District in sufficient time prior to the Board's adoption of the proposed agreements so as to allow for adequate review and comment by the public prior to final Board action.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District does hereby move that any proposed collectively bargained labor agreement between the District and designated District employee representatives shall be made publicly available at least fifteen (15) calendar days before the meeting at which the agreement will be acted on by the Board."

In Atherton this policy does not exist. These changes can be approved on a consent agenda and take place immediately.

My suggestion it that the Atherton Council adopt a policy to allow 30 days for one council meeting for residents to comment.

Otherwise the Council is not doing its homework and probably is Misreading the public's viewpoint.




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Posted by curious
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Peter, I'm curious about your comment "use the public comment period before this item is voted on to tell the council that this is a VERY bad idea." What's a bad idea? That the current council will vote on this? Or the reduction in employee costs?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Hey curious -

Here's a novel idea. Instead of participating in this exercise on The Almanac website, why don't you show up at the Council meeting and state your comments directly to the five elected officials who will actually be voting on this issue? You will be standing about 15 feet away from them and you can speak to them directly.

I know, it will take almost 30 minutes of your time...

Got it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

POGO, I'm not sure what your point is. I often attend council meetings and will probably be there this week. I was asking Peter a simple, no-trick question because I respect his opinion. I'm simply curious which part of the issue he thinks is a bad idea -- that the current council is deciding this, or that the council is considering reducing employee costs.

My question to you is: What part of that simple question directed at Peter got you so riled up? (I ask because I respect your opinions, too, though I sometimes disagree with you.)


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Posted by They Know Better
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

It's all well and good to attend a meeting and speak. But, as months of citizens speaking out against the library demonstrated, they hear, but they do not listen. They think they know better than the citizens.

McKeithen even said the library was too complex an issue for the residents to decide.

Frankly, you have a better chance of getting through to them by posting on these message boards.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

They Know Better -

Then you should keep posting here and not speaking at meetings. See how that works out for you.

On the bright side, there won't be a shortage of topics or complaints for you to write about!

There is NO SUBSTITUTE for addressing your elected officials at a public meeting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 7:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire Board feels so strongly about the importance of public input that the agendas for each of its meeting provide FOUR separate opportunities for public comment - beginning with this preamble:

"A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives, therefore under Public Comment #1, the public may address the Board on any item - on the Closed Session Agenda, #2 not on the Agenda, 3# on the Agenda and, finally, #4 on any other item."

The weak link is the lack of citizen participation in the Fire Board meetings.

Democracy IS hard work.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 7:38 am

POGO,

Since you post frequently on this site, you must believe there is value to postings.

From yesterday's Almanac Story: "Mayor Widmer disputed the APOA assertions, saying that the current council has been discussing the changes the council will vote on this week since last April. "This needs to be resolved by the people most knowledgeable about it," he said. "This is not vengeance.""

If the Mayor does not believe Cary Wiest can have a Knowledgeable and Worthy opinion on this issue and did not respecct the opinion of all those who spoke at public meetings against the library, why should residents spend 2 hours at a council meeting to speak for 3 minutes with no results?

There is no exact time for this agenda item. It could be 7:30 or it could be 9:00 before it starts.

Do you think Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie will change the "knowledgeable" opinion that they have spent months developing based on a few residents expressing a different 3 minute view?

Once again Widmer seeks to deny the residents their vote. Wiest was elected, but McKeithen votes on the issue.

The Brown Act comes into play. Since this has been discussed since April in Closed Session, Widmer must know how all the "Knowledgeable" council members think on this topic.

If topic knowledge leads to supporting the recommendation, then their would be four votes in favor of the recommendation at the December council meeting; and Wiest vote can not harm those with "knowledge".

On the Bright Side- A few residents took the time to create an Atherton Users Group at Yahoo, which alerts the community as to what the council is doing and provides a forum to the community to stop self-serving actions.

Even though Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie tried to "Shut Them Down"; a method has developed in Atherton for Tranparency, Accountability, for residents put in check council mis-actions.

There is this Forum, the Council meetings, the Athertonians, and other group email lists for residents to communicate.

The election result was that Lewis won big and Wiest finished a strong second over a well funded, experienced, and organized opposition. Why??? Because residents want a better government.

In a month the debate on these forumms will not be on procedure- or the right to vote, or the right for freedom of speech- but on the issue itself.

Atherton will no longer have a council majority that oppresses opposing viewpoints.














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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 7:49 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"did not respecct the opinion of all those who spoke at public meetings against the library, why should residents spend 2 hours at a council meeting to speak for 3 minutes with no results?"

Wrong - the council heard these public comments and became aware of a special meeting petition and then voted to put the library issue on the ballot. PUBLIC COMMENTS by numerous, thoughtful, respectful people DO work.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"here is no exact time for this agenda item. It could be 7:30 or it could be 9:00 before it starts."

Yes, democracy is hard work. Just think of all the people around the world that NEVER get to speak to their leaders except if they are willing to be shot or put in prison.


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Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 8:10 am

Peter,

Pogo said it was 30 minutes, I was responding to that comment. My point is it is 2-3 hours numerous times, plus a petition, plus postings to finally get a government to listen to the will of the people.

For months people waited to speak at council meetings and posted on forums with no results: Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie held firm.

Widmer stated he looked forward to working with Wiest and wants to do the will of the people but does not act that way.






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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 8:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"My point is it is 2-3 hours numerous times, plus a petition, plus postings to finally get a government to listen to the will of the people."

We elect people to represent us and then we also have numerous rights of redress and petition to impact our elected leaders.

Billions of people around the world would leap with joy if things were that simple for them.

How would you improve the system? Would you permit any ten anonymous people to demand that the elected council change an established policy? Would you require one self immolation ( that does happen!!) to get an item on the council agenda? Be specific.


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Posted by Atherton Council Misread
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

The council could draft a survey and use Survey Monkey. In 2 days conduct a poll of the residents. At some point maybe a council member decides to work with the Athertonians and have them send out the survey.

The library survey wasin October 2011 and the town vote November 2012. The results were the same. More than 65% opposed.

Last week someone could have sent out a survey with the following:
1.Do you want to Furlough the City Manager, Police Chief, Finance Director, City Clerk, etc -- Yes or No

2. Do you want to reduce thier compensation by .... Yes or No?

3. Do you want the Council to spend $6,000.00 on a party? Yes or No?

4. Do you want to reduce Police Salaries to .....? Yes or No

5. Do you want to stay part of the JPA? Yes or No

6. In the future the Athertonians can take questions from residents, send out the questions to candidates, and post the answers on-line.

7. For Widmer what is your plan? The town's revenues do not match expenses and he does not want the Parcel Tax, where does that leave things?













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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Misread - surveys are an interesting idea and have been proposed before. The challenge is getting truly proper wording on any issue and then getting a truly representative sample in the responders.

I have even offered to pay for the Town using the only validated local government survey available:

Viewpoint - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Letter: Challenge for council to take citizen survey

Whoever is elected to the Atherton City Council, now is the time for our five elected representatives to set a new direction and standard of 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 widely tested in communities around the nation. The survey 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 and 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 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 plus or minus five 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 the National Citizens' Survey provided such participation is approved unanimously by our new City Council.

Peter Carpenter Larch Drive, Atherton


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

More about the National Citizen Survey:

"RELIABILITY OF THE SURVEY: CREDIBLE, COMPARABLE RESULTS
Since The NCS was introduced in 2001, local governments in over 41 states have participated. The survey process is being continually refined to ensure that your local government receives the best information possible per dollar spent on your citizen survey. Your results can be compared, at your option, with norms based on the results of more than 350 surveys administered throughout the country.
The NCS gives you results with the highest credibility from independent professional survey specialists. You get the satisfaction of personal service, the benefit of comparability with other jurisdictions, and the efficiency of a standardized process.
We are now in more than 40 states and norms are available from over 500 surveys administered throughout the country."


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Posted by please stop
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

In this weeks Almanac Rene Batti has a long story about a dust up between the new city manager and Kathy McKeithen. It is all about George issuing internal information confidentially to all council members at the same time. The information would update and benefit them in conducting the town affairs knowing facts, circumstances etc.What could possibly be wrong with that? Kathy wants a copy after she leaves. Her argument is that George was hired for transparency and these internal communications should be public. So another episode to add to the McKeithen saga.
Kathy, it would really be best to exit quietly and realize you are longer involved nor should you be. You have had three terms and that is enough. Let others have a turn. The council and town governance will be in a better place when you no longer interfere in your divisive politics and theatrics.


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Posted by Way to go Kathy
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 27, 2012 at 11:25 am

Kathy is not going to stop fighting in what she believes in. I know enfranchised groups don't like hearing this, but that's just who she is, and Atherton is a much better place for it. She knows where all the bodies are buried too.


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Posted by stop now
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Way to go Kathy says "Kathy is not going to stop fighting in what she believes in. I know enfranchised groups don't like hearing this, but that's just who she is, and Atherton is a much better place for it. She knows where all the bodies are buried too."

THE BUTCHER BILL

The list of those who Kathy has directly or indirectly (through her lieutenants) attacked or accused of some wrong-doing at some point include:

Town Manager Jim Robinson
Town Manager Jerry Gruber
Town Manager Don Guluzzy*
Interim Town Manager Ralph Friedman
Interim Town Manager Wendy Protzman
Building Official Mike Cully
Building Official Mike Hood
Building Official Mike Wassman
Police Chief Steve Cader
Police Chief Bob Brennan
Police Chief Glen Nielson
Finance Director John Johns (after he was fired)
Finance Director Bill Yeomans
Finance Director Louise Ho
City Attorney Rob Faisant
City Attorney Mark Hynes
City Attorney Wynn Furth
Councilmember Malcolm Dudley
Councilmember Nan Chapman
Councilmember Didi Fisher
Councilmember Alan Carlson
Councilmember Charles Marsala
Councilmember Jim Janz
Councilmember Elizabeth Lewis
The Atherton Environmental Programs Committee
The resident-run Athertonians Email Group
Resident Charlie King
Resdient Didi Fisher
Resident Charles Marsala
Resident Peter Carpenter
Resident Valerie Gardner (and apparently, both her husband and minor daughters)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I see a trend
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Marsala and Cader may have something in common.


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Posted by athertonian
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm


Town Manager Jerry Gruber

>>>>deserved it. incompetent

Building Official Mike Hood

>>>>turns out, probably for good reason, hence his sudden "retirement."

Building Official Mike Wassman

>>>>same as Mike Hood above

Police Chief Steve Cader

>>>>Convicted of voter fraud, right?

Police Chief Bob Brennan

>>>>incompetent

Police Chief Glen Nielson

>>>>incompetent

Finance Director John Johns (after he was fired)

>>>>true. not one of her finest hours

City Attorney Wynn Furth

>>>>incompetent. next

Councilmember Alan Carlson

>>>>likely deserved it

Councilmember Charles Marsala

>>>>definately deserved it

Councilmember Elizabeth Lewis

>>>>definately deserved it. Planning fraud and violations of zoning ordnance anyone?

Resident Charles Marsala

>>>deserved it



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Speaking of which...
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 27, 2012 at 8:43 pm

>>> City Attorney Rob Faisant

Speaking of cops' pensions, are people aware that Rob Faisant is collecting an Atherton pension? Yup, voted in by Didi Fisher, Nan Chapman, and Malcolm Dudley even though he was a contractor, not an employee.

Now shut Kathy up about complaining about that!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by long time resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

"Way to go Kathy" seems to think our city council deliberations are akin to a ball game. Our council members are supposed to be on the same team. Kathy refuses to listen objectively to those who have a different opinion and often reacts with nasty personal comments, not exactly suitable behavior for a town official. She has been a dedicated public servant who too often has failed to check on whether the public believes it is being served.


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