Pool political rally turns into shouting match: POST YOUR COMMENTS HERE Menlo Park Elections, posted by Richard Hine, managing editor of The Almanac, on Oct 21, 2006 at 8:27 am Richard Hine is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
A political rally Thursday in support of a private company's operation of Menlo Park's Burgess Aquatics Center quickly turned into a shouting match.
Organized by supporters of council candidates John Boyle, Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler -- who form the "majority" camp -- the rally was sparked by a flier recently mailed to residents by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council that attacked the "majority" for making the decision.
Posted by WillowsHomeOwner, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Oct 24, 2006 at 7:52 am
SLATE WHISPERING CAMPAIGN IS FALSE: SHEEPER 5-YR POOL CONTRACT NOT SUBJECT TO CITY COUNCIL POLITICAL DISCRETION.(Council elected this November will be not be the future council that re-negotiates the contract.)
There is no truth to the rumour that Burgess Pool Operator Tim Sheeper is vulnerable to arbitrarily losing his 5-year contract, or that opponents of the Duboc, Winkler slate have said or printed they would try to revoke the contract.
Tim Sheeper is under a 5-year contract with Menlo Park that can only be terminated for breach of terms. Arbitrary termination is not under the discretion of council. No council opponent could prematurely terminate the binding contract, nor have they said or printed that they would try.
Opposition criticism in the community stems from these facts:
The brand new taxpayer-funded $6.8M swimming facility was given to Mr. Sheeper, rent-free and without a competitive bidding process.
The deal was inked hurriedly after a short 4-week process, arguably before the business case was fully known or properly vetted by the community.
Finally, the 5-year contract with Tim Sheeper will expire *AFTER* the 4-year terms of council members elected in November, hence the issue is completely irrelevant to the November election.
By all accounts, Tim Sheeper is doing a good job and runs a good program. His management is not at issue.
Posted by Catherine McMillan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Oct 24, 2006 at 8:23 pm
DISGUISING ISSUES: TRICK OR TREAT?
The backers of the slate are lumping together city employees, union endorsements, the local swim program, and the opposing candidates. Toss in large doses of hysteria and a measure of vitriol. Whip it all up to confuse voters and there you have it: an indigestible mess!
The slate’s PR operation is manufacturing a pool issue where there is none. The only relevant issue is that of sound governance: Menlo Park’s interests are best served when competitive bidding occurs. Candidates Bressler, Robinson, and Cline have repeatedly expressed admiration for the pool program. They do, however, reject the no-bid process the City Council majority engaged in – which awarded operation of a new $7 million taxpayer-funded facility without the benefit of open bidding.
In a slate-generated press release and in a new, desperate mailer, Candidate Duboc gratuitously attacks labor unions (which opposed the private pool deal) and says: “The real issue is who the voters are going to trust to stand up to these powerful special interests...” Who are those evil-doer “special interests?” They represent our city employees, people we trust with the care of our public assets and even our children! Why the slate candidates are vilifying a city employees’ union is mystifying. Ms. Duboc was herself endorsed by the very union she now reviles, along with candidate Mickie Winkler, when they first ran for Council 4 years ago.
Notably, neither Candidate Robinson nor Candidate Cline, whom the SEIU endorsed this time around, has received any money from the union.
Conversely, the Winkler-Duboc-Boyle slate is gleefully amassing enormous donations from property developers and the real estate community. At a time when Menlo Park is re-zoning land feverishly, the objectivity of candidates now accepting thousands of dollars from those who will most benefit from future council decisions about development is a legitimate concern. One must echo Ms. Duboc’s prescient words: who are the voters “going to trust to stand up to these powerful special interests,” i.e. the developers, property management companies, and out-of-area realtor PACs that have funneled many thousands of dollars into the slate's campaign.
Posted by Seems Clear, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Oct 25, 2006 at 1:20 am
Robinson and Cline may not have received any contributions of money from the union, but that union is doing an enormous amount of campaiging for them with expensive mailers and other campaign efforts. It just seems wrong for any candidate to solicit or receive support from the union when council members must represent taxpayers and residents in negotiations with the union.
It's a fundamental conflict of interest, and the same is true for Winkler and Duboc if they received such support four years ago. I think Winkler and Duboc were right this time to refuse to be interviewed by the union, because such interviews imply soliciting support.
Council members must have an arms-length relationship with the unions representing city employees. Nothing could be more basic.
Posted by Catherine McMillan, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Oct 25, 2006 at 8:23 am
Shouldn't Duboc/Winkler/Boyle also keep an arm's length relationship with the developers they are bound to interact with over the next term? Or does the high standard apply only to employee unions? By the way, developers and other related special interests have endorsed the Winkler/Duboc/Boyle group AND showered them with contributions. Does anyone wonder how future negotiations will go when zoning issues or permitting issues come up?
Posted by MPworkingMom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2006 at 10:54 am
Good point! According to the Boyle/Duboc/Winkler slate, a special interest is the union representing hardworking city employees.
And the special interest of the union would be ... securing a living wage for city staff? Fair working conditions? Decent benefits? Ooooh, how nefarious of them!
Um, and what are all of the developers, contractors and realtors who are dumping money into the slate's campaign war chest? Why, I think they are a special interest group. And what is their special interest? To make as much money as possible by having as few obstacles or costs associated with development.
So essentially, Boyle/Duboc/Winkler begrudge city workers for wanting a living wage and decent benefits, but they see no problem in taking money from special interests who only want to line their own pockets.
Posted by Seems Clear, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Oct 25, 2006 at 11:17 am
CATHERINE AND MP WORKING MOM: You are correct. There is a conflict there, too, particularly if the council member votes on a project sponsored by a political contributor. I think Duboc and Winkler were right four years ago in their refusal to accept developer money.
Posted by Developer Watchdog, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2006 at 6:42 pm
Point of Fact: Duboc and Winkler actually did accept developer money in 2002, directly and indirectly through the Menlo Park Neighborhood Association PAC. They were careful to have most, not all, laundered (wives, MP developers listed other occupations like "retired" etc.) and it wasn't nearly as excessive as it is this year.
This year major financial contributions have come to Duboc, Winkler, and Boyle from three who have projects before the city
$12,000 -- developers of 1300 El Camino, the "follow-on" to Derry
$ 3,000 -- Howard Crittenden, owner of the park theater who has submitted a request to convert the theater to an office
$ 6,000 -- David Bohannon, who has an office/hotel project before the city.