Town Square

Menlo Park City Council Election Analysis

Original post made by Hank Lawrence, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights, on Nov 16, 2012

The County elections office updated the city council race results.
Ray Mueller cam in first with 5627 votes.
Catherine Carlton came in second with 5296 votes.
Kelly Fergusson came in 3rd with 5060 votes.

Mueller came in first in 9 precincts.
Fergusson came in first in 5 precincts.
Carlton came in first in 3 precincts.

Ignoring the 4432 which had a 3-way tie for second Carlton and Fergusson each had second place finishes in 7 precincts and Mueller had a second place finish in 6 precincts

For out of the money (3rd place or worse)
Carlton finished out of the money in 10 precincts
Fergusson finished out of the money in 7 precincts
Mueller finished out of the money in 6 precincts.

So how did Fergusson lose to Carlton?
Carlton crushed Fergusson in 3 precincts
In the 4421 Carlton beat Fergusson by 271 votesk
In the 4423 Carlton beat Fergusson by 235 votes, and
In the 4426 Carlton beat Fergusson by 263 votes.

These 3 precincts alone gave Carleton a 796 vote advantage which was enough for second place with Fergusson trailing by 236 votes in the overall city vote.

The race is over for Fergusson. If she has not already conceded she should do so. There is no way she can make up this deficit. Not even ACORN can help her at this point. The next count will be given November 21 at 4:30 PM. The election will be certified no later than 4:30 PM on December 4, 2012.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Not surprised at the display of "chicken coop mentality" by you Hank, but, ok, duly noted. Election is over, I believe Kelly has acknowledged that, now, move on--I'm sure she will. Kelly, your service to MP is both acknowledged and appreciated.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm

The end of an embarrassing era...

Cline next.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm


your service to the public employees unions is acknowledged and definately NOT appreciated. Glad you lost. Thanks for nothing.

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Posted by richard cline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Here I am, Joanna. If you lose the pseudonym, I am willing to sit down and chat or sit in front of an audience and debate my record and listen to your concerns. You can choose time and place.

Otherwise I cannot really see the sense in wasting time.

Menlo Voter, even just a little respect would be nice. Even you.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 17, 2012 at 2:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

While everyone deserves to be treated politely, respect, in public office as well is in life, must be earned.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 17, 2012 at 8:37 am


what Peter said.

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Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2012 at 9:30 am

Rich, I actively supported you in 2006. Now I hold you up as an example of a council member who seemed like he was on the right side but ended up disappointing us. I guess the allure of hobnobbing with the Bohannons and Arrillagas is too great to remember who elected you. You seem to think that your neighbors are now selfish idiots and NIMBYs who should be ignored because you know better than they do what's good for them and our city. You replaced an arrogant bunch of council members, then cast yourself in that mold.

I seriously hope our new council members will remain true to the values that motivated residents to vote for them.

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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

Looks like 4426 (Sharon) had the highest voter turnout. all those extra votes count. getting out the vote in your own neighborhood works.

Nicely done Cat.


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Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

Rich Cline is the last holdover from the Slocum era of Union Cronyism. In the summer of 2006 he, Heyward Robinson, and Vince Bressler met in secret with the SEIU behind closed doors on City property, with the public being barred from attending. At that meeting Heyward Robinson and Rich Cline received the SEIU endorsement and Vince Bressler did not.

This was the meeting where the quid pro quo of endorsements, campaign contributions, and volunteerism for the Robinson and Cline campaigns were allegedly traded for a 30% increase in pensions and a reduction of the retirement age from 60 to 55.

Later Rich Cline gave a huge pay increase to one of the police department's senior supervisors while San Jose policemen were taking a 10 percent pay cut.


If Cline is smart he will not run for a third term. If he does we will make sure he suffers an ignominious defeat.

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Posted by richard cline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I will respond to Sad since Council Watcher is more the same, tired vicious commenters that make most of our city walk away from local government.

Sad, when I ran in 2006 I did so with a pledge to make decisions on the basis of data and community feedback and not ideology.

Hobnobbing sounds good, but I have only met Mr. Arrillaga twice, at the opening of the gym and the Acorn Awards. Mr. Bohannon I do know more but I am not sure if meeting to discuss a project is hobnobbing.

The fact is the data and the community feedback disagree with you on some key issues.

I am sorry you feel I have abandoned you. I only followed through with my promise to remain objective.

My record is public. I signed the Derry project referendum before I was elected because I thought the city could negotiate a better deal. But others wanted to shrink it. And the final outcome is still fuzzy. At this point people said I was anti-growth.

I pushed for a new field with lights at Kelly Park as a commissioner. This was after the Bayfront Park debate when the public rejected fields at the former dump. We have that field.

I then supported a specific plan creation that would be based on massive community input.

I supported an increase in pensions in 2007 after reviewing comparable cities and the trending in packages. Many cities were at or going to 2.7%. That was the major basis for my decision. Nothing I did or said influenced unions in 2006 more than the folks who were taking them on publicly.

We negotiated for a two-tier pension in 2009 and I did not object to Measure L but stayed neutral to allow the community to take that stand. It did and I supported defending it against union lawsuits. The work citizens did behind Measure L helped our city take a much stronger position in pensions. It won by 74% I think.

I took on high speed rail when all Democrats pushed for it. My party and the unions. I asked for more transparency and a real business plan. I was called NIMBY and we were all labelled bad apples by the heavy hitters in SF and SJ. And still people complain that we are not firm enough with HSR.

I supported the Bohannon Project after a long negotiation. When folks objected and asked for public vote, I voted to put it on the ballot to be sure the community had a chance to voice its feelings (this was criticized as soft). It won by 65%.

I voted after 4.5 years of study and community engagement to approve the Specific Plan.

I voted to put the hotel tax to a ballot to increase it to 12% from 10%. It won by 75% I think.

Every decision I can point you to data.

My personal agenda is more selfish. I would rather have more time with kids and working with the schools than fighting with ghosts on public forums. I appreciate Peter Carpenter for using his name even if we disagree. I can respect that.

I believe in local government. I love this city. And, no, I will not be seeking another term unless someone as callous as Council Watcher runs and no one else will. Then I will run with joy.;-)

I am committed to staying on the forum. Sorry for the length.

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

To Richard Cline,

Are you running for a third term on the Menlo Park City Council?

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Posted by whosephonecalls?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Rich, I usually use my name but not for this comment. Out of all of the council members, you have been the most difficult to reach with questions and comments on issues. And I hear the same thing from a variety of people from different neighborhoods and with different perspectives on issues. It is great that you are offering to discuss issues now with Joanna, but where are you when constituents have questions? People in council roles get a lot of flack, much undeserved and nasty ("Cline's Folly"), and maybe at some point enough is enough. If you are tired of hearing from constituents, maybe it is time for others who have the energy for it?

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Posted by richard cline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Hank, I have no plans to run again. I believe the best city councils are those run by amateurs. Two terms is plenty of time and the city deserves new ideas and approaches. I have said this from day one. We should have a two-term limit if you ask me.

whosephonecalls, sorry to hear that. I will make a stronger effort to return calls and answer questions. In all sincerity, I have not avoided any person or issue on purpose.

Thanks for sharing that.

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Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Rich, I appreciate your posting on this forum, but my comments still stand. I don't know who your friends are, but I can appreciate that it's much more fun to be taken to swank restaurants with influential benefactors than to listen to the whines of your constituents.

I don't remember your having any role in Derry. Are you aware of the current status of that project?

You also should not take credit for Kelly. All that renovation was well underway before you joined Parks & Rec. Yes, it took the city a few tries to get it right, but that's our city.

Measure L? Probably best not to go there. As you say, your record speaks for itself.

Bohannon. Once you abrogated your responsibility to insist that this oversized development provide public benefit, the conclusion was foregone. Bohannon could win any election by dint of his spending ability, and the ballot measure was hardly phrased in a neutral manner. I'm surprised that a former journalist wouldn't point that out.

Downtown plan. That in itself could be the topic of an essay. I went to many of the meetings, and the residents were very much in agreement about what kind of Menlo Park we wanted to see. Remember "village character?" Under your stewardship, the project morphed into something different, like multi-story office buildings, and antagonized half the merchants downtown. You also managed to give Stanford a blank check rather than addressing their property separately. We're only beginning to see how that's going to come back to bite us.

Speaking of Stanford, did it even occur to anyone to create and impose a "blighted property" tax on them? Instead, the city has allowed them get away with visual pollution for years. As a corollary, why is the council so afraid of Stanford? They're not going to pack up and leave town. They're just going to dump more traffic on our streets. Wait until they've built those medical offices, over which we have no veto power thanks to the council's largesse. Remind me what we got in exchange.

And somewhere in that same timeframe, the city decided to ignore complaints from East Palo Alto and got smacked with a lawsuit. And settled that lawsuit without much more than a murmur to residents until it was a fait accompli...and we learned about the burden you'd agreed to. Oh, right, the dense low-income housing isn't going to be in your neighborhood, nor will the homeless shelter.

And don't get me started on traffic.

I don't believe you're the pawn of the unions, though their nice glossy toilet pieces helped ensure victory for you and Heyward in 2006. But I do believe you find it a whole lot easier to go along with the powerful powers-that-be than to stick up for her city. Palo Alto is challenging ABAG; maybe it's time for us to do the same?

And yes, you are notorious for not responding to emails.

All that said, I thank you for devoting a lot of time to this job and believe you are doing the best you can do. And that is what I find particularly sad.

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Posted by A Purpose
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

These comments are mean and callous! Do you people understand the "purpose of life" or think about it! All council members are regular people willing to serve, but they will never please everyone, so why do you expect it! Please note, that although respect is usually earned, respecting yourself first precedes it all!

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 18, 2012 at 7:05 am

The issue isn't lack of respect or appreciation for "public service." We do. But we don't appreciate when they sucker us with promises they do not keep, pander to public employee unions or large developers, spend money unwisely, or violate the public trust with a lack of transparency or conducting public business secretly.

The issue is keeping your word to the people who elected you and reflecting your community's opinions and views. If you don't think that's important, ask Kelly Fergusson or the Council Members in Atherton who just got spanked by the results of their recent library referendum.

We are fortunately to have an engaged and informed citizenry. Those politicians who ignore them do so at their own electoral peril.

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Posted by richard cline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

Sad, this is exactly the issue on this forum.

You are summarizing policy results in your words, but you have no care for facts that underlie the policy. We can spend weeks going back and forth and you can denounce everything as you have, but you do so based on your opinion. Bohannon, you lose because 65% of your city agreed with me and a 5-0 council. That is a fact. And you can blame the media or something else but that does not change the fact. The city voted for hotels and offices in an old commercial area of town.

Kelly Park was a useless field in 2002 when I joined Parks and Rec. If I have to spend time to scrape up the field study we did and the proposal for the new field and how local residents were able to play and part in design, I will. For what? So you can change the optics from your couch without any respect to facts?

I will go to Measure L. What piece of literature do you have any place that shows me opposing that process? Anything? I know the answer. Nothing. I expressed concern about limiting future councils to legislate, but felt the process was important to let happen. Two of the leaders of that movement can testify to that since we met many times on the issue.

And then I did the job the community asked and supported the policy. Don't manipulate the facts.

The downtown plan was never changed or shifted somewhere in a black box. That is Sad to even make the claim. You don't want four stories. I know and I have heard you and your group make that argument. I listened and sat in living rooms to discuss it. We can show the thousands of community responses. It is public record.

Your feelings about four stories is in direct conflict with an equal amount of people who want more development and want more services in town. And we held dozens of hours of meetings with the downtown leadership and modified the plans as a result.

This is what evolved. It did so in front of everyone. You can disagree and judge it before it even gets started. I think that is a shallow approach. But that is also just an opinion.

I am not consumed with Stanford the way you and some are. They have property and we have needs and we are working our best to meet mid-way. They are not bad and they do not wish to create poor projects. They want too much medical office, but we are working on it.

The city ignored EPA and that is why we were sued?

Even you know that is untrue. 20 years of no housing element and FB coming to the city created the opportunity for EPA and advocates to sue MP. There are other cities who were also sued by the same advocates. They lost and had to pay, in some cases, millions of dollars out of the General Fund and had the building permits frozen through court action. We would have lost FB and millions. We don't like it at all. But it was a 5-0 vote.

So here we are.

I believe you are wrong about Kelly Park.

I believe you are on the wrong side of a public vote on the Menlo Gateway project.

I think you are trying to mislead on Measure L. You tried to make it seem I opposed it.

I am not even sure there was a factual point on Stanford, more just the same obsession that Stanford is all bad.

Misguided comments about the lawsuit are now corrected.

Okay, I do need to make a stronger effort to return emails. I got that one.

You are right, I am doing my best.

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Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

There you go, Rich. You have pigeonholed me as a NIMBY no-growther. And since I am not signing this with my real name, I hardly have grounds to object. But you might want to be a little more restrained in your comments and refrain from any "couch" snark. Especially as some of us spent many hours working on your campaign!

You stereotype residents at your own political peril. I, for example, am a Stanford alum, as are many residents. I have great respect for Stanford. They are not evil, but they have their own agenda. It is up to our council to push back and get some quid pro quo. Same with all the other wealthy developers. We didn't vote for you so that you could be starry-eyed fanboys who roll over whenever someone with a big bank account walks by.

Sometimes the council behaves as though Menlo Park is a podunk that is desperate for development, when the reverse is true. You should always be putting the residents and our quality of life first. We should be deciding what we want for our city, not reacting to what outside interests want. They will get in line because they have no choice if they want to have a presence in Menlo Park, and they do.

Re the lawsuit: you are misinformed if you do not understand the origins of the lawsuit.Without going into detail, I find this disturbing, and can only encourage you to be a little more receptive to our EPA neighbors. It's not all gunfire and gangs over there.

I also ask you to stop trying to put us all in neat little categories and then using that as license to write off our concerns. A lot of people who are very involved in our community read and post on this forum, albeit anonymously. Maybe it's being on television every week that makes some council members feel they're celebrities and above the hoi polloi?

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Posted by another voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

The relevant data here are that Mueller and Carlton seemed to have won the election. Period. Elections are always more unpredictable when there are more than 2 contenders for each open seat. That's what happened here. Too bad we don't use rank voting (not San Francisco's version of it). The result might have been different.

We voters expect council members to stand for something, not stand behind a claim of simply relying on data and on processes that could be used to justify anything that they or staff or developers want. Ever heard of lying with statistics? It is done all the time.
Most of us don't want to have to pay close attention to all the city issues if we've elected people we can trust to be thoughtful, reflect our values, and represent our interests. Cline doesn't lie, but doesn't always seem to stand for much either, except may be opposed to HSR as it has been proposed. It will be interesting to watch the new ones.

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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Rich, your service to Menlo Park is appreciated.

For the record Rich did NOT oppose Measure L and voted to defend it at every step during the lawsuit. We have always recognized Rich's interest in fiscal resposibility within Menlo Park and the hard work (and thankless hours) he's dedicated to our fine city.

Rich, as we've discussed int he past the cowardice of anonymous posters makes this forum difficult to take with a grain of salt.

Thanks again

Roy Thiele-Sardina
Co-Chairman - Citizens for Responsible Pension Reform

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Posted by jungle
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Tonight, Bill Johnson (the owner of the Almanac) was at the Menlo Park Library, speaking to the Historical Association. Bill accurately stated that the Almanac town square is "a jungle". An enlighten member of the audience pointed out that the Almanac should follow every other local paper by using Facebook accounts to post on town square. Bill made a related disparaging remark about the accuracy and professionalism of Menlo Park Patch, and was rebuffed by a member of the audience that pointed out the editor of Menlo Park Patch has a graduate level degree in Journalism from Stanford, and that patch contains none of the baseless accusations that fill many pages on the town square. Richard, the Almanac's editor was in the room. We can only hope that Richard fells shame wile deleting this comment.

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Degrees are door openers. It is up to the individual whether he/she will succeed once the door is opened. Edward R. Murrow was one of the greatest if not greatest journalists of the American Press in the 20th century. He was graduated from Washington State College. Joseph Pulizer was home schooled in Hungary and emigrated to the United States without a degree from any American college or university.

Some people place too much importance on having a degree from a prestigous institution and not enough importance on the quality of the individual's acomplishments and thinking.

While reserving judgment on which is the better news source as that is subjective, one can reasonably conclude that more people read the Almanac than the Patch.

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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Hank, while I very much agree with you with regard to degrees.

There is simply no room in our world for these posters. The cowardice of these anonymous posters and their unfounded accusations show how little regard they have for the truth (using one of the more un-enlightened pseudonyms). And how little respect we should have for their morale character.

Their vitriol shows them to be beneath our dignity, and deserving of our pity………always.

Roy Thiele-Sardina

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Posted by accomplishments
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Hank, you make a good point. Dave Price never graduated from college, but he has a giant bank account, and his paper, the Daily Post, is crushing the Almanac. The previous comment does not suggest that Patch has more readers, only that Bill Johnson's accomplishments include spreading misinformation, much like the anonymous posters in town square.

According to reports, Bill Johnson also stated that the copy editors for the Mercury News are in India. If Bill really said that, he should issue an apology.

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Posted by jungle
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Tonight, Bill Johnson said, "Patch is a coockie cutter approach to hyper local news, build on the assumption one person can run the paper. Reporting isn't easy, and these are not professionals, so bad information gets on the Patch website."

Even if the Almanac has professional reporters, there is a constant flow of anonymous garbage attached to the bottom of most articles.

By the way, Bill Johnson did say the Merc's copy editors are in India.

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Posted by Bill Johnson
president of Embarcadero Media
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

The anonymous comments above illustrate perfectly one of the points I made in the talk yesterday: that comments made in online forums can't be relied upon to present accurate and contextual information, and that we need to preserve professional journalism in order to create a good "first draft" of history.

I am happy to clarify my comments in case they were misunderstood, as apparently happened with the above poster.

In response to a question asking for my opinion of AOL's "Patch" strategy, I replied that it was a national program based on a cookie-cutter model of having a single journalist as the editor of each local community's Patch site and then relying upon the contributions of news and other material from local residents. I explained that I didn't think it was proving to be a viable approach for two reasons: because it put immense pressure on and created a near-impossible job for the one paid editor, and that experience has shown that residents don't have the reporting skills or training of professional journalists, nor the ongoing interest in serving as volunteer community reporters. I have great respect for the work of the Patch editors; they have simply been given an impossible job. I never suggested that educational pedigree had anything to do with journalistic competence one way or the other.

Regarding the Mercury News and its editing, I have no knowledge of where its local news is copyedited, or even if it is still copyedited. I was replying to a question about the ways in which cutbacks have affected the ability of newspapers in general to fact-check stories. As part of the answer, I explained that many large daily newspapers such as the Mercury have reduced or eliminated the copy-editing function, which often included fact-checking, and that to the extent it is happening it may be done in a regional office or even in India. The point was that the traditional copy-editing role at large newspapers is indeed being reduced or eliminated as part of newspaper cost-cutting, not where it is being done, except that the further from "home" editing occurs the more difficult it obviously is to fact-check. The comment wasn't meant as criticism of the Mercury, but rather a description of how financial pressures are forcing newspapers to make tough choices on how they deploy their resources.

I do thank the above poster, however, because his or her comments do show how easily incorrect information can find its way into a public forum and create misimpressions. I'm glad to have the chance to clear up my thoughts on these questions and welcome any further questions, either here or by directly emailing me at

By the way, another inaccuracy in the above posts is that I am the owner of the Almanac. The Almanac is owned by Embarcadero Media, which I started in 1979. The shareholders consist of about a dozen families with long-time local ties to the area, including me. I am the CEO of Embarcadero Media but do not own a majority interest. Every year at the end of September we publish a Statement of Ownership with the list of owners.