News

What are candidates' potential conflicts of interest on council?

 

As Facebook continues to be a powerful political force in the city of Menlo Park, concerns have been raised by the public that at least two contenders for the three City Council seats up for election this year could have conflicts of interest that would disqualify them from participating in Facebook-related council decisions.

According to state political ethics laws, a city official should be disqualified from participating in making a decision if "it is reasonably foreseeable that the decision will have a material effect on one or more of the official's financial interests," said Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure.

Determining just what is "reasonably foreseeable" to have a "material effect" on an official's financial interests gets complicated quickly, McClure explained in a written statement.

Drew Combs

One of the primary concerns is with District 2 candidate Drew Combs, who is a Facebook employee. McClure explained that under the law, receiving one's income from Facebook constitutes a "financial interest," so Combs would have to recuse himself from decisions that would foreseeably have a "material effect" on Facebook, or on property owned or leased by the company.

That means he wouldn't be able to vote on Facebook's proposed "Willow Village," which would be the city's largest-ever development. The development as proposed would essentially create a new neighborhood with 1,500 apartments, nine new office buidings, a hotel, some retail spaces – including, Belle Haven residents hope, a grocery store –and outdoor open spaces.

But that's not necessarily where such conflicts would end for Combs, McClure said. Conflict of interest laws would be likely to bar Combs from decisions about property leased by Facebook – which, at this point, is a large portion of the city's Bayside office space.

Combs might also be required to recuse himself from matters such as amendments or updates to the city's zoning plan in the eastern part of the city, called "ConnectMenlo," that impact how much commercial development can happen there, McClure said.

There could also "be some conflict issues" on matters like the city's transportation master plan, specifically regarding transportation projects that would be funded from new development in the city between U.S. 101 and the Bay; and "possibly (regarding) improvements to Bayfront Expressway, Willow Road east of U.S. 101, and Dumbarton Rail Corridor improvements or studies," McClure said.

According to McClure, there will have to be a factual analysis and determination of how Facebook could be financially impacted by new development. To determine if it would be a conflict for Combs to participate in discussions and votes on transportation projects, the city would have to know what portion of the projects Facebook is expected to fund.

McClure reported that he didn't believe Combs would have to recuse himself from residential projects like the proposed 140-apartment, below-market-rate development from MidPen Housing on Willow Road, or a proposed 94-apartment building on Independence Drive, since those "would not likely have a material impact on (Facebook)."

"While Drew might have a conflict for transportation improvements in the Bayfront area, he would still be able to participate in discussion, direction and decisions regarding other areas of the City as part of the Master Transprotation Plan process, so long as those discussions are handled separately from the Bayfront Area improvements," McClure added.

If Combs is elected, the city would request a letter from the California Fair Political Practices Commission laying out more specific ethical guidance regarding what he will be permitted to vote on, McClure noted. Furthermore, he added, whether there are four or five council members voting, a council decision will still need three votes to pass.

Cecilia Taylor

Another concern raised was about District 1 candidate Cecilia Taylor, who, in her work as founder of Belle Haven Action, a nonprofit project of UnaMesa Association, accepted $75,000 in funding for Belle Haven Action from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The Initiative is a philanthropic investment company funded by the family fortune of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan.

McClure said that in his opinion, the fact that Belle Haven Action has received funding from the Initiative "would not preclude" Taylor from voting on any Facebook-related matters.

"There is no direct impact on a source of income since Chan Zuckerberg would not be an applicant or affected by decisions, so the effects would not be foreseeable or material," he explained. "That being said, we would request an opinion from the FPPC to confirm this conclusion if she is elected."

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 2, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Glad to see some clarification to this topic to counteract the rumors being spread in comments to various articles on this site.

While Combs would have to recuse himself on matters related to Facebook, something has has always been upfront in saying, I believe that the recusal is better than the guaranteed "Yes" vote that we can expect from Keith on anything developer related. In the last 8 years we already have enough development to meet the 20 year plan, the more we get the worse traffic becomes. It is time to figure out the traffic issues before adding more development, including "Willow Village". The current council is not interested in doing that so it is time to replace them. Eight years is enough.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Combs recusal will have no impact on any Facebook decisions.

Recusal by Combs would leave 4 council members voting so for anything to be approved it would still need 3 votes.


13 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

I was at the Menlo Together sponsored candidate forum last night and I was disappointed to see Keith pointedly raise the issue of Drew's employment at Facebook while positioning herself as someone open to stopping the Facebook Willows project. As Brian (and others) have pointed out in this forum, Keith has consistently voted for development. Her about face on the Facebook Willows project, without explanation as to why, comes across as chameleon-like. I hope the voters in District 2 pay attention to her voting record when considering who to vote for. As they say, talk is cheap but actions send the louder message.

I agreed with Drew's assessment as to the limited-in-scope Connect Menlo process. I was a new Library Commissioner when this started. After realizing the Library Commission was not a formal part of the planning process, I asked if we could be represented. I was told "no" and that I could attend meetings. I attended what meetings I could and I later read the reports (including all the ones for the parallel Belle Haven visioning ones).

I characterize the effort as one designed to get Belle Haven residents to agree to higher density in exchange for benefits that they are mostly still waiting for. While meetings might have been held, little has been done with the residents' feedback. At the meetings I attended, I heard numerous Belle Haven residents openly speak out about displacement concerns. We all know displacement is an even more serious problem today. The Connect Menlo effort, that fostered the increased development in the Belle Haven area, has directly led to these serious problems in Menlo Park: over-development, traffic, resident displacement and a general affordability crisis.

Our city could also embrace municipal best practices that cut down on the influence of special interests and the well-organized. Having such a plan would decrease the influence of Facebook and concerns about possible conflicts of interest. One is a long-term strategic plan, based on a community-based process with staff as a key stakeholder group, that would give Council a decision-making framework based on carefully vetted resident priorities. Having a strategic plan in place would also cut down on the reactive decision-making and flip-flopping of priorities which causes staff frustration and wastes money. Several of the challengers expressed an interest in such a plan in their remarks, including Cecelia and Drew.

I also disagreed with the statements I heard from the incumbents present regarding the effectiveness of our current public engagement process. I don't consider our current approach modern or effective. The commissions are too staff directed and advisory in name only. We also have too many meetings taking place behind closed doors where the real decisions are being made. When Mayor, Keith resisted Mueller's attempts to have Council discuss a Sunshine ordinance for greater transparency and accountability. The Brown Act is considered only the "floor" for transparency. Instead, we need to better embed public engagement for shared democracy instead of our "expert rule" current approach. With the City Manager departing, and hopefully three new council members, our upcoming election offers real promise to establish a resident-first democracy in Menlo Park.


3 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Don’t District 1 and 2 voters want representation on issues involving Facebook, the largest business and property owner in Menlo Park? I think so!!!

Both Jones and Combs have a conflict.... CAN’T Vote! Who wants that?


1 person likes this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Sorry, meant TALYOR not Jones!


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"CAN’T Vote! Who wants that? "

Recusal by Combs would leave 4 council members voting so for anything to be approved it would still need 3 votes.


7 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Citizen,

Isn't a recusal better than the automatic "YES" vote you would expect from Keith given her history? and as was pointed out above the council would still need 3 yes votes to approve.


Like this comment
Posted by more complex
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Lynne, you are correct. Brian (and others) are using this forum to describe Keith's record on development, but her voting record is more complex. She negotiated away medical office from the Stanford development on ECR, and she voted against a Stanford office building on Sand Hill Rd. She also negotiated a trip cap and over $10 million in benefits as part of the Facebook Development agreement. Two thirds of Menlo park voters were opposed to Measure M in 2014, and now both Keith and Combs have pledged to support the DSP, which increases density for office and housing on the Caltrain corridor. Keith has been outspoken about promoting transit oriented housing and limiting development around the Facebook campus.


4 people like this
Posted by Please More Conflicts
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Once I see a headline that reads "Candidates Conflict", any candidates that are attached to the word conflict lost my vote the moment I read the headline. No more conflicts Menlo Park, please. Let's elect unencumbered residents to represent us.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Not all conflict are equal and conflicts per se do not disqualify someone fro serving in elected office.

The problem is not conflicts that require recusal but the much more fundamental conflicts which do not require recusal.

A recusal conflict removes the person from the decision making.

Other conflicts influence the decision maker who is still allowed to participate in the decision making.


10 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 2, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Brian is a registered user.

It is interesting, some of the people posting here who are not registered and who choose topic related names seems to echo the same arguments as other similar users in other topics. When asked if they were affiliated with the Keith campaign they refused to reply. I point this out because it gets old.

Just look at Keiths record and who is donating to her campaign (Developers and individuals closely linked to development companies). She has had a hand in approving (as a council member of planning commissioner) just about every recent major project in Menlo Park (Stanford, Greenheart and others). Her record is abysmal when it comes to protecting the quality of life of the residents of the city and especially District 2. I really don't care what she is promising in her campaign her previous actions speak louder than her words.

If you don't favor Facebook expansion and/or the Willow Village then Combs is effectively a "No" vote since he can not cast a vote and they still need 3 people to vote yes. in my opinion this is better that the Yes vote we can expect from Keith based on her record.

Brian

Oh and as for the Stanford development, the medical office issue was more about revenue to the city, she was opposed to including Willow road as part of the required traffic study. Also Stanford, as a non-profit, will not need to contribute to our schools and other services though they will certainly be using those services. Who footsw those bills? We the tax paying residents of Menlo Park


4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 2, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

More Complex -- you are taking my words out of context regarding Brian's posts and implying that I mind them. Frankly, I appreciate the way that he's counteracting the misinformation that's been spread on this forum. He's spending a lot of time researching the facts to counter the half truths, spin or outright inaccuracies. You also missed my central point. With a community-based strategic planning process -- the residents and key stakeholders (including staff) would establish the priorities in Menlo Park. Right now, special interests and the well organized seem to be the ones establishing the priorities. Special interests can also include staff lobbying for their pet projects and council members who go along, despite the residents' stated wishes. Again, a long-term strategic plan -- based on the type of process outlined in the book "Elevating Trust in Local Government: The power of community-based strategic planning" by Rick Davis and Dan Griffiths would solve a lot of problems in Menlo Park and prevent new ones. A strategic plan would serve as a more fundamental fix to our current situation. It's time for some fresh ideas on council and new council members who want to operate differently than what we've seen. We also need Council members who welcome transparency and accountability and who would at least discuss the idea of a Sunshine Ordinance.


1 person likes this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 2, 2018 at 8:10 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Sorry, I disagree with a lot of what's been said.

"Just look at Keiths record and who is donating to her campaign (Developers and individuals closely linked to development companies)."

I support Keith and donated to her campaign. So did a number of other housing and complete streets commissioners. (her first report is hard to find on the city website for some reason but you can read about it here: Web Link.) Sure, there are developers on the list. Also retirees, writers, nonprofit leaders, local business owners, etc.

"She has had a hand in approving (as a council member of planning commissioner) just about every recent major project in Menlo Park (Stanford, Greenheart and others)."

Hard to see much daylight between the two candidates on development issues, honestly. As a Planning Commissioner, Combs also voted to approve Stanford and Greenheart projects. And unlike Keith, he voted to move forward the Stanford Sand Hill project. But at this point neither candidate is supporting unfettered future commercial development.

I do think it's optimal to have a full council available to negotiate with Facebook and vote on upcoming Facebook proposals. And it's been helpful to hear the city attorney's assessment on the topic of potential recusals. Sounds like the CZ contribution to Taylor wouldn't preclude her from voting on Facebook projects. Combs would be more restricted, although not as much as others have implied.

"Her record is abysmal when it comes to protecting the quality of life of the residents of the city and especially District 2. I really don't care what she is promising in her campaign her previous actions speak louder than her words. "

I endorsed Kirsten (long before Drew entered the race) because I've worked with her now for a couple of years on transportation-related projects and found her to be super solid. She returns phone calls and emails within hours (travel notwithstanding!) When she was our bike commission liaison, she showed up for almost every meeting. Despite intense 11th hour opposition, she pushed hard for important bike safety infrastructure (both on El Camino and on Oak Grove). The latter project absolutely would have died had it not been for her leadership. The former project, for which Kirsten was the sole supporter, is coming up again in the context of the Transportation Master Plan and will need her support. She also negotiated Stanford's significant contribution toward a bike tunnel under the train tracks at Middle.

My personal belief is that we need to build denser (=taller) housing in close to downtown and along our major public transit corridor (El Camino). Keith agrees. She has publicly come out in support of rezoning public land for affordable housing, relocation assistance (despite campaign contributions from Tod Spieker), and increased density in general. While Combs seems to agree on many points, he suggested in yesterday's candidate forum that the new 4-story building on the corner of El Camino and Valparaiso was too tall. I disagree; in fact, I think El Camino offers tremendous potential: Web Link

****

This district two race has not been bringing out the best in my fellow citizens. On the one hand, nice to see the pro- and anti-Measure M activists agree about something for once. But at this point, the unifying thread appears to be less excitement for Drew's policy proposals than antipathy toward Kirsten.

Drew is a good guy but the energy swirling around his campaign has gotten really ugly. The unpleasant rhetoric and innuendo remind me of an earlier era in Menlo Park politics, one that I personally had hoped was further in our rear view mirror.

My hope is that a trio of progressive women––Keith, Nash, and Taylor--will assume seats on council this winter. I'd be happy to talk with any of my neighbors about why I support these candidates (and it really is about support FOR them and their ideas. I'm grateful to all the people who've decided to run for council, which appears to be a truly thankless job!)


2 people like this
Posted by Bike Advocate’s Choice
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Katie your support appears based on Kirsten’s support for bike projects you have worked on. She has strong support in that special interest group. But will bike projects help us with all the traffic from large scale development that Kirsten has already approved in the General Plan that she is now claiming she is going to protect us from?


2 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:12 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

I became a bike advocate after riding with my son to school everyday and seeing alarming gaps in the infrastructure. 400 kids ride to and from Hillview each day. Hundreds commute by bike to M-A. Bikes are the vehicles of choice for some and the vehicles of necessity for others. So yeah, that is a priority for me (and for council). The truth about traffic is that it will get worse, not better. We can't build our way out of the gridlock (although more affordable housing in proximity to transit would certainly take some of those folks off the Dumbarton every day). We need to be looking at real mass transit options for commuters and improved comfort and safety for those who wish to make shorter trips by foot, bike, electric scooter, etc. The Menlo Park Transportation Master Plan is going to help with the latter goal but my hope is that we can work regionally to reacctivate the rail corridor (and maybe investigate that alternative route from Dumbarton that Cecilia has mentioned...)


1 person likes this
Posted by integrity
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:29 pm

Only two planning commissioners opposed the general plan update; Combs and two other planning commissioners were recused. Many Belle Haven residents came in force to support the general plan update, including Pam Jones and Harry Bims. Every council member but Mueller approved the General plan update.

The Traffic Master Plan, Willows Village and the Facebook's public/private partnership to reactivate the Dumbarton rail are all still in the works. Combs cannot participate or vote on these projects. Keith has always been with residents, they want transit oriented development on El Camino Real. Keith has always kept faith with the voters. Combs, on the other hand, turned his back on his supporters in 2014 when he told the Almanac that if Measure M fails, he would regard that as the will of the people and an indication of their support for the specific plan. Therefore, he said, he wouldn't advocate changing the plan to meet Measure M objectives if the measure were defeated. Keith is the candidate with integrity.


10 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Katie - surprised to see you post that "the energy swirling around his [Drew} campaign has gotten really ugly." That kind of hyperbole is inappropriate and not helpful. Frankly, I see Keith's campaign as the one getting ugly and Brian and others have noticed the unnamed posters to spread misinformation. Instead of hyperbolic statements, let's refrain from attacks on Drew and his supporters. Instead, let's address the issues brought up on the posts. People have honestly questioned Kirstin Keith and her actions along with pointing out that some of the anonymous posters seem to be working for the Keith campaign. Frankly, even if she were wonderful (which I don't think she has been) eight years are enough. It's time for someone else to serve.

Integrity -- the idea that Keith is the candidate with integrity is one more mis-statement from someone obviously working for the Keith campaign.


10 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Neilson Buchanan is a registered user.

I live in Palo Alto..about 100 yards from the creek that separates PA from MP. So I cast the first stone guardedly. Our city council struggles in its own way.

Lynne Bramlett has cogent observations and suggestions applicable to any booming town on the Peninsula. I have never met her but I resonate to her.

We can learn from Menlo Park. This is not so much conflict of interest as it is lack of foresight and stewardship in Menlo Park.... unthinking encouragement of job growth without infrastructure will haunt all cities.

No council has been willing to get debate down to this town-specific, vote-specific level. Now that Menlo Park realizes they are one-horse town facing more massive growth at Facebook, then who will pure enuf to vote on upcoming issues in 2019?

The carryover councilpersons are compromised by legacy intent, not legally. The contradictory growth assumption created over the long boom cycle are alive and well. Turning a ship as small as Menlo Park wont be easy or quick.




10 people like this
Posted by Bike Advocate’s Choice
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 2, 2018 at 11:23 pm

Only two Planning commissioners supported the General Plan. It did not receive a majority vote, nor was it approved by the Planning Commission. The Almanac, the Sierra Club, among others thought more work was required on the plan before approval. Recently the Transportation Master Plan consultant determined the traffic congestion from the General Plan can’t be fixed. Kirsten Keith voted for all the upzoning in the General Plan. She wants to represent District 2. She is voted for the traffic it is facing. Her campaign materials don’t tell people she supports transit oriented large scale development along the Bay Shore. She claims she will protect people from the traffic impact of large scale development on the Bay Shore. This is traffic from the very development she has approved. She isn’t defending her record. She is misleading voters what her record actually is.

Keith isn’t running on her record. She can’t defend it. She has tried to make the primary issue Combs employment status.


2 people like this
Posted by Peninsula Mama
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 3, 2018 at 9:06 am

So anyone accepting donations from FB is a risk. These associations are risky for residents. Seems like FB is seeding candidates across the peninsula. We residents need independent, balanced candidates with connections to Facebook or Stanford.


14 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 3, 2018 at 9:45 am

Brian is a registered user.

kbehroozi,

"Drew is a good guy but the energy swirling around his campaign has gotten really ugly. The unpleasant rhetoric and innuendo remind me of an earlier era in Menlo Park politics, one that I personally had hoped was further in our rear view mirror. "

It is funny you say this because I would argue just the opposite. There have been several anonymous posts spreading misinformation about Combs and leading people to believe he would have to recuse himself about almost everything. Information that has been proven to be wrong by the city attorney yet keeps being spread. When I directly, and on several occasions challenged that person to deny they were part of Keith's campaign they would not do so.

I stand by what I have said, Keith is a friend and supported of big development. Look at the "general Plan" while she has been on the City Council, the amount of office space approved by the council has already met, in a few short years, what was called for in the 20 year plan. May not seem like a big deal but we pay the price anytime we want to leave our homes to go somewhere in the morning or evening.

When the Willows brought up traffic issues we were told that another study (there have been two done already) would be done in 2 years. I find that unacceptable and so did many of my neighbors. We had to band together and collect signatures to push the council into taking direct meaningful action.

"I do think it's optimal to have a full council available to negotiate with Facebook and vote on upcoming Facebook proposals."

The problem is that with Keith this is pretty much a guaranteed Yes vote for what Facebook wants to do. She sides with developers and does not care to look at the impact on residents. The Council choose not to require a traffic impact for Willow Road when approving the Stanford project. To me that study was plain common sense, we know Palo Alto is going to do what they can to keep traffic out of their city so it will get pushed to the Dumbarton on our streets, that means Willow Road or Marsh and Willow would bear the brunt of it yet no traffic impact or planning to mitigate that traffic?

Last night, when asked about campaign contributions, Combs stated he has not and will not take contributions from companies. Keith did not say the same and by the look at her contributors in the story above she has taken some big contributions from those developers. That bothers me, hard to be objective when you are taking money from the people asking you to approve their plans, isn't it?


16 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 3, 2018 at 9:51 am

Brian is a registered user.

Integrity,

"Keith has always been with residents"

Not in my experience and not based on the decisions and votes she has cast as a council member. If she is with the residents why did it take a petition of hundreds of Willows residents to get them to take any meaningful action on the cut through traffic? Why did the Council not require Willow be included in the traffic impact study for Stanford?

"Keith is the candidate with integrity."

Why did Keith not support a more transparent city council? She along with every other council member except Mueller refused to second the Sunshine proposal which would have let people know who the council members were meeting with. What do thay have to hide? That is what you call integrity?


2 people like this
Posted by responsive
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 3, 2018 at 4:45 pm

Brian, it sounds like you were improperly advised to collect signatures. Take a look at the city council inbox. Council is very responsive to email requests to add agenda items.


8 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 4, 2018 at 10:05 am

Brian is a registered user.

Responsive,

I am afraid you are mistaken. We tried getting action in the past and the only thing the Council did was add another traffic study two years down the road (we have had two studies done in the past). We were advised by someone with a lot of experience in dealing with the city council that the only way to get an relief was to come with very strong support and as many signatures as we could gather, which we did. Instead of another traffic study we got action. It took close to 500 signatures on a petition and 30 of us showing up to support action before that happened. If you think one person can get action from the city council on an issue you have not tried.


4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Responsive -- Please supply evidence to support your claim regarding Council's responsiveness to resident emails. Please supply the topics and dates and some proof that these resulted from resident or stakeholder requests. Based on my experience and what I've seen reading the email log, I agree with Brian. Even when members of Council write/request topic, they may not get a rapid response -- or a response at all. For example, Rich Cline wrote on May 2 to request a discussion of the city council's travel policy. Web Link That request was not agendized until Sep 11. Web Link (Unfortunately, the discussion did not address the heart of Cline's request in his email. I was present at the Council meeting that night and was very disappointed that the "elephant in the room" was not discussed. The elephant pertained to stricter guidelines when a Council member is on personal travel that makes it appear that he/she is representing the City of Menlo Park. Cline's agenda request was sent after pictures of Keith appeared wearing a City of Menlo Park name badge at a non-city-authorized event in China). As many know, Ray Mueller also requested an agenda topic to discuss a Sunshine Ordinance. (This was during Keith's term as mayor.) That very important and highly reasonable request was also never agendized.


3 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Everyday Ethics for Local Officials: Running A Clean Campaign. The Institute for Local Government has a helpful guide Web Link that Townsquare readers might like to skim. After detailing the kind of campaigns "that voters can feel good about" there is a section regarding acceptable criticism of opponents. The guide notes that "the prevailing political wisdom is that to run against an incumbent, a challenge has to criticize the incumbent." Respondents to an 2003 ILG survey considered the below topics to represent "fair and relevant criticism."
1) "An opponent's voting record
2) "Criticizing a candidate for talking one way and voting another"
3) "An opponent's business practices" (by extension, this could include broader leadership and management skills such as: judgement, ability to admit error, general ethics, etc.)
4) Criticizing an opponent for accepting contributions from special interest groups.

For item #4, the survey was taken in 2003. I suspect if conducted today the responses would be different.


Like this comment
Posted by process
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 4, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Brian, getting something on the agenda is easy, just email the city council inbox (see the links below). A resident requested action, not even an agenda item, and the mayor responded two hours later with an emergency item on the agenda. If signatures were gathered, there is no mention of that here. That may have been a misunderstanding. When were these signatures gathered, before or after this email interaction?

Nov 9, 2017, 8:38 PM Web Link
Resident, "Please do something NOW to address this."

Nov 9, 2017, 10:29 PM Web Link
Mayor Keith, "I will add this to our 11/29/17 or 12/05/17 council agenda..."


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 4, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire District is the only local agency that permits individual citizens to place an item on their agenda - all other jurisdictions require at least two council members to place an item on their agenda:

"Agenda Item Requests - Members of the Public
Any member of the public may request that a matter directly related to District business be placed on the agenda of a regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors. The request may be made during the public comment portion of any Board meeting, but unless the requirements of the Brown Act can be met, the agenda item may only be added to a future meeting agenda as a “Proposed Agenda Item”. If the request is made outside of a Board meeting, the procedure is as follows:
1. The request must be submitted, in writing, to the Fire Chief at least one week prior to the Board meeting, and 2. The Board President, upon consultation with the Fire Chief, will determine whether the public request is a "matter directly related to the District Business" and if so, it may be placed on the Board's next scheduled meeting as a “Proposed Agenda Item” agenda.
3. The Agenda Item request from the public will be placed under the “Proposed Agenda Items” section of the agenda. If the Board approves the Agenda Item request, that item will be placed on the upcoming regularly scheduled Board Meeting and the requestor will provide staff to provide necessary reports and/or attachments for the Board Meeting packet."


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Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

I misread the last item (referred to as #4 in my prior email) in the ILG handout regarding acceptable criticism of opponents. It is considered "fair and relevant" to criticize "an opponent for accepting contributions from special interest groups." Web Link


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2018 at 9:01 am

Brian is a registered user.

Process or Responsive ow what ever other names you are going by today

Read the above messages and stop saying the same thing over and over when it has been pointed out that it is misleading information. Getting the council to "discuss" something and getting an action taken to fix a problem are two different things.


2 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2018 at 9:07 am

Brian is a registered user.

Process,

Let me tell you a bit more about those two links that you shared. That request ws made by several people to the city council as a whole, and it was put on the topic to discuss. It was talked about late into the evening, if I recall Keith had to leave early that night to catch a flight so was not able to stay for the full discussion. If I recall correctly there was no action taken that night except for putting it on another agenda. During that next meeting where this was on the Agenda the council only approved the "No Thru Traffic" signs which the action chief of police said were not enforceable. To get real action taken we had to collect the signatures and show up as a large organized group to push for real action. Those of us who were part of that process know what we are talking about.

We would not have spent hours going door to door, having petition drives and collecting signatures at the Food Truck night if we did not feel it was a necessity to take care of the immediate issue.


2 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2018 at 9:48 am

This forum looks very one sided on the COMBS side. Conflict of interest is present on both Taylor and Combs. Say with you might, FACEBOOK provides them with monitary support either salary or compensation. That’s why the city attorney wants a FPPC ruling or option, which takes longer than maybe our life times.

Vote for Taylor and Combs, and loose your right to have a say in what’s going on in your city.


12 people like this
Posted by It's Just Math
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:04 am

All this is nonesense about a vote for Combs helping Facebook.

A vote for Combs actually makes it tougher for Facebook to get approvals and puts the City of Menlo Park in a better position to negotiate with Facebook. Why? It's just math.

Facebook needs three votes for any development approval.

Kirsten Keith has a 100% voting record in favor of Facebook development and upzoining - during her eight years on City Council.

That means going into any vote presently, Facebook only needs to get 50% of the other Councilmembers to vote for their project.. (Keith + 2/4 = approval)

If Kirsten Keith's 100% voting record is removed from Council, and Drew Combs can't vote, that means Facebook will have to 3 out of a possible 4 votes to get their project approved. It would be significantly more difficult for Facebook to gain their approval from a numbers perspective.


2 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:28 am

Thank you “It’s Just Math”

You said it, all Combs can do is talk about it, not vote! I don’t want someone that can’t vote representing me!


2 people like this
Posted by RedOrange
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:46 am

@Citizen

"Vote for Taylor and Combs, and loose your right to have a say in what’s going on in your city."

ahem.

No so. Everyone has a right to speak up in public comment and/or by writing.



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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Citizen,

It seems you have made these same arguments, falsely, under several different names and changing your name does not make them any more true. I am afraid that no matter how much false information you spread Keith has a record that speaks for itself (Pro-Facebook, Pro-development, and ambivalent to the issues of the residents).

Just look at her record, as mentioned above she has approved all the Facebook developments, how many millions of square feet of business development is that? She has accepted thousands of dollars of contributions from developers doing business in Menlo Park, isn't that a conflict of interest? She would not even second the Sunshine proposal from Mueller that would make the council more transparent (What does she have to hide)? She would not include Willow road or the Willow corridor in the traffic impact study for Stanford or Greenheart (Does anyone believe that those massive projects won't add more traffic to Willow Road?)

You are also wrong that Combs won't have a voice, He can speak as a citizen but I understand your point on this because the current council does not seem to listen to the concerns of the residents. Let's change that by voting in a new city Council.

Finally you say "Vote for Taylor and Combs, and loose your right to have a say in what’s going on in your city." But following your logic and Keith's record it would be more appropriate to say:

"Vote for Keith and Vote to approve all Development proposals, including Facebook Village, for the next 4 years"


2 people like this
Posted by jobs/housing
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 6, 2018 at 2:52 am

Taking a look at Keith's most recent filing Web Link, these big contributions appear to be housing developers.
• $500, Greenheart Land Company LLC Web Link
• $500, Windy Hill Property Web Link
• $950, Core Affordable Housing LLC Web Link
• $950, Anton Development Company LLC Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Debbie
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 6, 2018 at 6:56 am

@yourlatestname,

Where does Kirsten Keith plan on sending all those kids from all that new high density housing to high school? MA is packed and over crowded.

Why did she take money from high density housing developers when we dont have the schools to support
that type of growth?

Why is Kirsten in such a rush to placate development interests?

We aren’t interested in her empty sound bites anymore that vaguely reference public policy concepts that are supposed to mean something to us. We are feeling the impacts now and she doesn’t have a plan but keeps adding growth.

She approved the General Plan without a Transportation Master Plan and now the consultants are saying traffic from the General Plan can’t be fixed.

And now she is taking money from high density housing developers with no plans how to protect our schools? Keith must go.


7 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2018 at 8:19 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Kirstin Keith should run a clean campaign that starts with her attempting to defend her prior (pro-development) voting record. She should tell us what she plans to do for voters in District 2 and the rest of MP. Instead, she has attempted to make the main issue Drew's employment. She's voted for the development that has created the traffic, displacement and other problems in Menlo Park. The horses have already left the barn -- under her watch. Facebook knows its development is maxed out in Menlo Park with their only remaining project Facebook Village. Keith already approved the zoning changes that will allow that! So she (and her anonymous advocates) shouldn't be trying to make a big deal out of Drew's employment. There is also enough public opposition to Facebook Village that I suspect the project will be greatly scaled down. Keith should also tell us what she plans to do for District 2 specifically, and the rest of Menlo Park -- should she get another term. Drew Combs has a positive platform for Menlo Park residents. He gives straight answers and tells the full truth. Electing him would help to usher in a needed culture of integrity in Menlo Park.


7 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 6, 2018 at 11:36 am

The headline should read "What Are Kirsten Keith's Conflict Of Interest With Menlo Park And China"? Future Chengdu Corner? No thanks....


4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 8, 2018 at 11:51 am

Brian is a registered user.

At the District 2 debate last week there were a few ground rules put in place a head of time, they included no discussion of trips or who works where, the topics were to be about the District 2 priorities and Menlo Park issues. On the first question Keith brought up Drew working for Facebook and spent most of her time on that topic, for which she was correctly admonished.

The problem Keith has is that she can not run on her record, it is horrible and pro-developer while being bad for the residents. She likes to take credit for things that only happened because residents would not take no for an answer and organized enough people/signatures to force action. Then once it happened Keith likes to stand up and take credit. Is that really who we want representing District 2? Not me.


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Posted by process
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 8, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Brian, there may be some debate about Combs voting record. While on the planning commission he voted for both the Stanford and Greeheart projects on El Camino Real.

Going door-to-door to rally residents to attend a council meeting is a tried-and-true method for showing public support. Making a flier can be very effective, but there is no need to collect signatures. Nowadays you can probably use Nextdoor and Facebook to rally people.


1 person likes this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 9, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Brian is a registered user.

"Process",

I am left to conclude that you have never attempted to get something done with the current City Council, or that you have connections that most residents lack. I am not alone in the difficult experience in getting the city council to tackle issues like traffic. For the Willows traffic issues a group formed that drove getting the No Through Traffic signs and then continued pushing for the no right onto Willow from several intersections.

In another case in the Willows one person spent 2 years trying to get speed mitigation devices (Speed humps) in place, first pointing out that the City was reading their own data incorrectly and then by gathering signatures and getting a large group of people to speak at the council meeting.

In Menlo Park with the current council that is the only way to get any action. That is why we need to replace the Keith and Ohtaki in this election. We need people who care more about the residents of Menlo Park than the developers.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Good reporting Ms. Bradshaw. We only wish you had covered Woodside during the years the town overlooked the conflicts of interest by council members, and the way they tried to silence a volunteer who spoke up with a concern.


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Looks like the Almanac supports the same arguments many of us have been making. They are recommending Combs over Keith for all the reasons pointed out above.


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