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By Martin Lamarque

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About this blog: I have lived in Belle Haven since 1997, and work as an interpreter in the emergency department of a county hospital. My main interest is to help improve society by way of giving families the support and information they need to ra...  (More)

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Fire Board Race. The "experts" didnít convince me

Uploaded: Nov 4, 2013
"Carolyn" I said, "you should've released the answers to the Union's questionnaire earlier in the race. So as to not give your detractors free ammunition."

But the truth is, even if she had released those answers one month ago, the efforts to try to depict her as no more than the Firefighters Union puppet, would have gone out jus as relentlessly.

We will find out tomorrow how well those attacks on everything Carolyn's were able to sway the electorate, or not. There may be 5 candidates, but no one can deny, by looking at the rhetoric, that this race was mostly between an idealistic, and inexperienced budding politician, and an experienced man, helped by a lot of what sounded like angry individuals pushing the same message, in an even angrier way. And if you doubt my assessment, don't take my word for it; go back and look at those comments in the forums. Or just wait for them to appear shortly here, at the bottom of this blog.

Please note that when I say inexperienced politician, I am not implying inability to serve. That is one of the pieces we haven't figured out about the political message used by those with money. That their experience with businesses somehow gives them the right to administer public offices.

Mind you, our country is just starting to recover from a self-inflicted financial wound at the hands of men who touted such virtues. Unfortunately, the naive believed them, and voted them into office.

I took a good look at Peter Carpenter's campaign literature. His record is impressive. But I still wonder: How many more years on the Board would he need to promote cooperation and finally get a contract signed?

Most propaganda I got with Mr. carpenter's name on it, included a pitch for Mr. Rex Ianson. A man with a long career in the field. But I also have to wonder: at what point did Mr. Ianson realize that his compensation as a fireman was out of line? And would he now, after his epiphany, be willing to return to us, taxpayers, some of those—according to Peter Carpenter and his supporters-- exorbitant payments he collects from his pension?

Now. How is Mr. Bernstein's experience as an educator, any better than Clarke's experience as a leader in her community? Remember, we are talking about running a public entity, not a Coca-Cola office.

We will find out tomorrow. And whatever way you readers decide to vote, what's important is that you get out and do it.

Comments

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 7:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From: PETER CARPENTER <peterfcarpenter@me.com>
Subject: Thank you
Date: November 4, 2013 at 1:41:07 PM PST
To: Rex Ianson - Ianson - personal <cantankerex@earthlink.net>, Chuck Bernstein <cbernstein@headsup.org>, jack nelson <jackdnelson@aol.com>, Carolyn Clarke <clarke4mpcc@gmail.com>

Dear Colleagues,
Tomorrow the voters will decide whom they wish to serve them on the Fire Board for the next four years. Regardless of the outcome I want to personally thank each of you for being willing to step before the voters and to offer them your time and effort. I am also pleased that this year's campaign has been conducted in a positive manner by all of the candidates.

Democracy only works when citizens offer to serve and everyone participates in the election process.

Peter


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Let the record show that Lamargue never phoned, emailed or sent me a letter asking for an interview or asking me to respond to any of his questions.

Responsible editors and bloggers interview ALL of the candidates before making endorsements. That way they don't end up with unanswered questions like" "How many more years on the Board would he need to promote cooperation and finally get a contract signed?" and "How is Mr. Bernstein's experience as an educator, any better than..." and "at what point did Mr. Ianson realize that his compensation as a fireman was out of line?".



The power of the pen is mighty - it should be used with great care.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Mr. Lamarque:

Ms. Clarke's problem is not her lack of experience. It's her endorsement by the firefighters union. When I elect a representative to negotiate on my behalf with the union I expect them to not be beholden to the union they are negotiating with. The union does not endorse and expend money trying to get someone elected for no reason. They do it so we, the voters, lose our seat at the bargaining table. If Ms. Clarke wanted my vote she would have not accepted the union's endorsement, nor their help in getting elected.

In addition to her acceptance of help and endorsement from the firefighters union, her other problem is who was endorsing her. They were primarily among the corruptocrats of our county government. She is not well served by being associated with the people that are responsible for many of the problems in this county.

That's the reason I didn't vote for Ms. Clarke.


Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm

For the Record.

I never interviewed Carolyn Clarke.
I have met her in person a total of 2 times, counting the first one, when she launched her campaign for City Council, more than a year ago.

I have a total of one email message from her, and she has one from me, from when I asked her how to get a lawn sign, and she replied.

I asked Carolyn that question last Sunday, when she came around my neighborhood doing precinct work, all by herself.

Had you, Mr. Carpenter, shown up at my door, I would've welcomed you, like I welcome any candidate who takes the trouble of meeting those whose votes he/she solicits. Like you, I admire an individual's willingnes to dedicate time and effort to make our public institutions run better.

I am just a blogger, not a reporter. As it is, I am having a hard time making ends meet with the pay from my full time job. I wish I had the free time to go around interviewing wise and interesting people from Menlo Park.


Posted by Amazed, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm

"Democracy only works when citizens offer to serve and everyone participates in the election process."

Was that "true" democracy that we just saw in the Fire Board race? Was that "true participation" in the election process? Or was it a "mock" race driven to give the public, the impression that there was "true participation" from the Eastside in the race...like the local school districts, Eastside inequalities are clear.

Politics and money go hand in hand...manipulation, games and tactics leave no room at the table for "honest" Eastside candidates. Undoubtedly honesty has no place in politics....


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Nov 9, 2013 at 4:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The tragedy in this election was the amount of money spent by all the candidates and their supporters. When I ran successfully for the Fire Board in 2001 and again in 2005 the cost was filing fees, a charge for the candidate's statement in the voter's guide and a few yard signs - usually less than $1000. However in 2011 the union, under its old leadership, spent an estimated $85,000 solely to get rid of a long serving and superb Fire Board director, Bart Spencer. When the 2013 election cycle began the various union entities had more than $50,000 in their war chests. Ianson, Bernstein and myself therefore had to run campaigns based on the assumption that the union would once again aggressively oppose the non-union candidates. As my filings, and bank statements which have been provided to both the Almanac and the Post, show I was forced to spend almost $17,000 in this election. We do not yet know how much the union and their candidates spent. The election results show both that we guessed correctly that the union would spend a lot and that the voters agreed that Ianson, Bernstein and I were the best candidates - but by a scarily small margin. It is clear that money can be a substitute for qualifications in gaining name recognition and votes.

Hopefully the new and, in my opinion, much wiser union leadership will realize that their best value for their money is in collective bargaining and not in the voting booth. If that is the case then future Fire Board elections can be solely about qualifications and commitment to service - and the typical candidate and their supporters will spend less than $1000 per candidate. That would be much more democratic.


Posted by informed voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Nov 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

In advance of the election, I was thinking I might vote for Clarke, partially because she has a reputation of being a nice person. Also because she could bring some diversity to the Board in terms of gender, ethnicity, geography.
But then I watched the candidate forum. She seemed ill informed of issues, spoke in vague platitudes, and basically said I'll represent Belle Haven. Although I might have still given her a pass, I thought the other four candidates did a lot better job of speaking to issues and making me feel as if they would represent the entire district.
The issue of taking union support was important to me as a voter and taxpayer when the unresolved union contract is an important matter facing the Board. But there were many other reasons to vote for others and to not vote for her.


Posted by Amazed, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Nov 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

The unions spending $85,000 for a campaign for the fire board election is unbelievable. What could they have spent this money on...Consultants? If it comes to producing campaign literature and distribution, $85,000 it seems could easily pay for 5 candidates' campaign.

On another note, have you ever had a day when you were so tired that you could not think? Perhaps that was the case for Ms. Clarke at the candidate's forum...not only did she not speak coherently, but she appeared to be extremely tired and out of sync. This is not usual for her.


Posted by Amazed, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Nov 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

There is more to it than meets the eye.

Was that "true" democracy that we just saw in the Fire Board race? Was that "true participation" in the election process? Or was it a "mock" race driven to give the public, the impression that there was "true participation" from the Eastside in the race...like the local school districts, Eastside inequalities are clear.

Politics and money go hand in hand...manipulation, games and tactics leave no room at the table for "honest" Eastside candidates. Undoubtedly honesty has no place in politics....


Posted by informed voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Nov 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm

There is nothing to stop voters in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto from voting. They just need to register and do it. Their impact in elections is negligible because they don't vote.
Clarke didn't not do her (any?) homework before the candidate forum, and wasn't convincing that she would represent all constituents. She was her own worst enemy. There were better candidates.


Posted by Menlo Observer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Nov 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Informed Voter is Spot on! Belle Haven and EPA residents you can get in the game or sit on the sidelines. The choice is entirely yours. If you don't vote then don't complain.


Posted by Amazed, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Nov 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Menlo Observer you obviously have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to Belle Haven and East Palo Alto. Clearly exposure to the life of an eastsider could help to change your smart comments later!

Get in the game? I don't think any of the "eastsiders" have time to play games. We are talking about "real lives" not games. Who r u people anyway? You really need to consider a change of "heart!"


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