News


Update: Atherton wrestles with questions over Marsala's loan request

Councilman requested $500,000 loan from resident who is suing the town over police misconduct

This is an expanded version of an article that was previously published.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

By Renee Batti

Almanac News Editor

About 30 Atherton residents showed up for a special City Council meeting Friday afternoon, March 26, to discuss alleged improprieties by Councilman Charles Marsala, who did not attend. One of the main topics was Mr. Marsala's request for a $500,000 loan from a resident who, months before, had filed a claim against the town -- a step that usually is followed by a lawsuit.

The official meeting was canceled due to a lack of a quorum, but Mayor Kathy McKeithen and Councilman Jim Dobbie stayed for an informal meeting to hear a range of criticism from residents weary of the town's ongoing conflicts.

The special meeting was called, with only one day's notice, to discuss "alleged improper official conduct and allegations that council member Marsala is not a resident of the town."

Mr. Marsala was accused at a March 17 public meeting of asking resident Jon Buckheit for a $500,000 personal loan last September. Mr. Buckheit is currently suing the town in federal court over police conduct during a domestic dispute at his house in 2008, which resulted in his arrest. He was never charged with a crime, and recently won a court declaration of factual innocence in the matter.

Mr. Marsala also faces questions about his residency in town, as he has been renting his house to a Stanford Hospital patient and her family.

Mr. Marsala said he didn't attend the meeting because he had other commitments already in place. But he also said the method in which the 2 p.m. meeting was scheduled was flawed, with very little advance notice and no canvassing of council members beforehand to see if there were scheduling conflicts that prevented their attendance.

Mayor Kathy McKeithen said she had tried to have the notice for the meeting posted sooner, but that her efforts to make that happen were futile. "The agenda was finally given to the Town Clerk on Wednesday, March 24, with direction to post it on that day. That direction was not followed until Thursday after several telephone calls and e-mails from me," she wrote in The Almanac's online forum, Town Square.

She said she decided to go forward with the meeting anyway, because the issue was urgent, and many residents were insisting that the council address it immediately. "The public has a right to know what's going on, and I want to give them the opportunity to tell us what they think," she said.

In an interview with The Almanac, Mr. Marsala countered: "If there was such an outcry (from the public), why not schedule the meeting at night (rather than) in the afternoon when people have to work? ... I don't think the public demand was there."

It is unknown why council members Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson didn't attend the meeting.

In a prepared statement, Councilman Dobbie said: "As a result of publicity concerning Charles Marsala, there have been serious questions raised about his ethical behavior. Asking someone who has an adversarial relationship with the town for a large loan, and who is likely to pursue legal action as a plaintiff, in my mind is a serious breach of normally accepted standards for elected officials."

Lawsuit in the works?

In the interview with The Almanac, Mr. Marsala insisted he believed that Mr. Buckheit didn't intend to sue the city at the time he requested the loan, and provided print-outs of e-mails in support of his claim. Among them is an October 2009 e-mail to City Manager Jerry Gruber from Mr. Buckheit, copied to Mr. Marsala, in which Mr. Buckheit refers to police officers acting "in a harassing manner to me on two occasions now." The harassment, he said, "may be a result of actions I have taken" since his 2008 arrest.

In the e-mail, Mr. Buckheit expresses hope that his complaints could be "resolved informally" if he were allowed to talk directly with the police chief. "I believe this is something that should be resolved without having to have attorneys get involved or file legal actions," he wrote.

Mr. Marsala noted that the e-mail was written after the Sept. 30 note Mr. Buckheit wrote to him saying he couldn't help him out with a loan, and that he believed the conflict between Mr. Buckheit and the town would be worked out without litigation.

Asked about the e-mail expressing hope of an informal resolution, Mr. Buckheit said he was referring only to the harassment incidents he cited in the message, not the ongoing conflict over his 2008 arrest. In fact, Mr. Buckheit said, he had already filed a legal claim with the town over the arrest matter, which is the legally required step before filing a lawsuit. The claim was filed April 9, 2009, well before Mr. Marsala asked for the loan, he said.

Mr. Marsala said the claim didn't come before the council until July 15, and the council voted unanimously to reject it. Because it was on the consent calendar, there was no discussion of it, and "I considered it closed," he said.

Although the two men had established a social relationship by then, joining each others' Facebook networks and attending the same parties and events, Mr. Marsala had "no indication from him that a lawsuit was coming," he said.

Mr. Buckheit filed the lawsuit in October, a week or two after writing the e-mail about the other police matter.

At the Friday meeting in the Atherton council chambers, Mr. Buckheit said that Mr. Marsala's request for a loan had made him "uncomfortable," but after the meeting, he said the councilman "is entitled to the opportunity to explain himself" in public. He added that he hopes Mr. Marsala will do so when the council puts the issue on another agenda.

Mayor McKeithen directed city staff to ask council members when they will be able to attend another special meeting on the issue, promising that one would be scheduled soon.

Residency question

The issue of Mr. Marsala's residency in town also was discussed, with several people, including Mayor McKeithen, saying that they have tried to get a specific address of residency from the town, to no avail.

Ms. McKeithen suggested that the town might hire an investigator to determine once and for all where Mr. Marsala is living -- an important matter given that a person must live in town in order to legally serve on the council.

Mr. Marsala explained that he rented out his house on Emilie Avenue in early December, with the expectation that the family would be out by sometime in January. But medical complications for the Stanford Hospital patient led to his extending the lease for the family.

Since then, he said, he has been living in Atherton in the homes of out-of-town friends, with the exception of a few weeks around Christmas. He also has made a few extended trips to see his mother in New Orleans, and to help her move after the death last fall of his father, he said.

Resident Frank Merrill, who attended the special meeting, said afterward that hiring an investigator to determine where Mr. Marsala lives would be a waste of money. "I take him at his word, and cannot see spending money to (prove where) this person lives," he said.

He also criticized the mayor for holding the meeting even though it was unlikely that a council quorum would show up. "There's a cost to having these meetings," he said. Given the town's dire financial situation, paying the town staff and attorney to show up for a meeting that was likely to be canceled "just doesn't make sense."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Willy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 27, 2010 at 10:19 am

No accompanying photos of the villagers with pitchforks?

"Kathy McKeithen said she had tried to have the notice for the meeting posted no later than last Wednesday, but that her efforts to make that happen were futile."

Noted, without comment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by lol
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 11:46 am

that's funny


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 27, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Mr. Marsala does not deny that he asked a private citizen for a loan, only that he made his request when he thought no lawsuit was forthcoming. I think it's a pretty serious matter when an elected official asks a private citizen for a loan - in this case $500,000! 0 under ANY circumstances. Mr. Marsala couldn't find a bank?

We all agree that Mr. Marsala is innocent until proven guilty, but given the cloud that hangs over him and the council, Marsala should resign until this matter is adjudicated.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Pogo states:"We all agree that Mr. Marsala is innocent until proven guilty, but given the cloud that hangs over him and the council, Marsala should resign until this matter is adjudicated."

If you believe in innocent until proven guilty why should Marsala resign? He has already recused himself from any Council actions involving Buckheit?

I am a great believer in transparency AND due process - Marsala has not broken any laws and has removed himself from the perception of conflict of interest. Until it can be proven that he has done something wrong there is no basis for calling for his resignation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by My two cents
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm

I think the Marsala issue boils down to this:

1. Was Mr. Buckheit involved in being a professional hard money lender, loan shark, mortgage broker, etc. at the time Marsala requested the loan? I don't think so (the newspaper indicated he was not, and was in the software business).

2. Was Mr. Buckheit a dear friend of Mr. Marsala, such that it would be appropriate or understandable to turn to Mr. Buckheit with such an extraordinary request? Again, I don't think so (Marsala himself admitted that Buckheit was merely an acquaintance).

3. Was Mr. Buckheit involved in litigation with the Town of Atherton when the loan was requested? It's pretty clear the answer is yes, despite the dodging done by Marsala in the most recent Almanac article.

If neither of these is true, at best Mr. Marsala showed extremely poor judgment and lack of sensitivity and finesse in approaching Mr. Buckheit for the loan at that time, and unless every benefit of the doubt is accorded to him, the only rational explanation is that he figured Buckheit would entertain the loan idea because he needed favors from Marsala.

The question for Mr. Carpenter is what does it mean for a politician to have "done something wrong"? Whether Atherton's own attorney says a law wasn't broken (and let's not forget, she has a self-interest in saying no, to avoid even more litigation from Buckheit)? Is it based on the community's own standards and expectations for its elected officials? I believe the latter, and I believe the circumstances of this situation do not warrant giving Mr. Marsala every conceivable benefit of the doubt.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 9:07 pm

My Two Cents states:"The question for Mr. Carpenter is what does it mean for a politician to have "done something wrong"? Whether Atherton's own attorney says a law wasn't broken (and let's not forget, she has a self-interest in saying no, to avoid even more litigation from Buckheit)? Is it based on the community's own standards and expectations for its elected officials?"

Marsala has not broken any laws and he has recused himself from any Council actions regarding Buckheit. What 'community standard and expectation' has he violated? What are those 'community standards and expectations'? Who set those standards?

To call on someone to resign based on unstated and uncodified 'community standards' is simply a witch hunt.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by My two cents
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Peter, the community sets those standards, and deserves to set those standards. If they are not spelled out in advance, that doesn't mean the community can't weigh in on how it feels about it. Kind of reminds me of the scene from "A Few Good Men" where Tom Cruise asks the witness where in the manual it specifies how to get to the mess hall (after the other attorney made the point that if it isn't in the manual, it doesn't exist). To me, at least, and I speak only for myself, it should go without saying that an elected official does not ask his or her constituents for highly unusual favors.

For whatever it's worth, I have not called upon Mr. Marsala to resign. For what it's also worth, it's not clear to me that Mr. Marsala has not committed any crime. There are laws on the books about suborning bribes. That is, if his intention was to request a bribe (and this would be up to prosecutorial discretion to bring this charge, and a jury to decide, beyond a reasonable doubt, if that was his intention), he would be guilty of a crime. The San Mateo D.A. has prosecuted others for less.

Finally, the criticism and community reaction to this issue is not "dirty pool". It's part of being in politics. Mr. Marsala has spearheaded recall campaigns against Kathy McKeithen for much less (again, in my view) than this. Frankly, I think you are bouncing around. First you want the Attorney General to take Atherton into receivership, and now you're saying Marsala as not done anything wrong. I have seen no facts change in the intervening time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by for Pete's sake
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 12:14 am

Peter I have to agree with the "bouncing around" comment made above by "2 cents"
It must require the endurance of a trained athlete to stay current with so active a mind. I'm exhausted trying to follow your train of thought on even just the few topics (out of so many you are able to weigh in on), that are of particular interest to me--such as this particular thread.
Every time I think I have finally understood your opinion on any given subject, I find myself left completely in the lurch --confused, lonely and out of breath.
Are you "thinking out loud"--or trying on various view points as they evolve on the page?
Is it that you plan to stimulate public thought and participation by presenting all views and all sides of every possible argument?
If so I believe that it is disingenuous of you to be using your real name.
Until we can all be certain who the real Peter Carpenter really is -- I believe you that you should more fairly, be using multiple alias's that represent your various range of views.
Please don't be mad that I have said this--I am actually desperate for focused leadership and the guidance that the one and only Peter carpenter has to offer all of us.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 6:18 am

For Pete's Sake asks:"Are you "thinking out loud"--or trying on various view points as they evolve on the page?"

Since this is a discussion forum, I try to state my personal opinion in my first posting on any given topic. And then, as others express their opinions, I attempt to respond with either factual information (excerpts from reports, ordinances, laws, etc.) or with my reaction to what someone else has posted. From time to time, as in any intelligent discussion, I revise my opinion based on persuasive postings by others or amplify my position when it become obvious that I did not explain it clearly in my previous postings.

If you read all of my postings on any given topic I doubt that you will find contradictory positions - but please feel free to point out any that you have found.

My two cents states:"To me, at least, and I speak only for myself, it should go without saying that an elected official does not ask his or her constituents for highly unusual favors." I agree, however there first needs to be a determination of what actually happened, not just an allegation that something happened, and then 'highly unusual' needs to be defined.

Every elected official has to file periodic Form 700s which detail any financial transactions within the geographic boundaries covered by their office. Asking for a loan is factually different than receiving one and the State law governing financial disclosures does not require reporting financial transactions which did not take place.
The Atherton Town Ordinance is silent on conflict of interest issue - which may well be something that should be changed.

For example, here is what the Fire District's Policy Manual states:
"4.4 Code of Ethics. The Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District is committed to providing excellence in legislative leadership that results in the provision of the highest quality of services to its constituents. In order to assist in the government of the behavior
between and among members of the Board of Directors, the following rules shall be observed:
• The dignity, style, values and opinions of each Director shall be respected.
• Responsiveness and attentive listening in communication is encouraged.
• The needs of the District's constituents should be the priority of the Board of Directors."

Note that there is nothing in the quoted Fire District Code of Ethics on financial matters since those issues are dealt with by the State's Fair Political Practices Commission.

Again, Atherton may well wish to codify its conflict of interest rules so that everyone knows exactly what is the community standard.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by My two cents
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 9:32 am

Peter states: "there first needs to be a determination of what actually happened, not just an allegation that something happened". Mr. Marsala has admitted to asking for the $500,000 loan. He goes on to state "'highly unusual' needs to be defined". No written policy will be able to anticipate every possible situation. This wasn't asking someone to borrow $50 because a wallet was left at home. $500,000 is highly unusual amount for a personal loan. Finally, he correctly states that "State law governing financial disclosures does not require reporting financial transactions which did not take place". True, but other state law exists (about suborning bribes) to cover situations like this. Again, unless Mr. Buckheit did this type of lending as a profession or as a routine, and unless he and Mr. Marsala had some very special friendship or relationship (which Mr. Marsala admitted was only on the "acquaintance" level), there is no explanation for this other than Mr. Marsala does not know the difference between right and wrong, or he figured Mr. Buckheit would entertain the idea because he needed favors from him.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

The entire issue reads like a bad script.
And the involvement of "two cents" is staggering in his/her assertions or hints of impropriety with all of the codes and State laws he cites.
Is there a rescheduling for this meeting and why weren't people informed that Marsala would not be available on such short notice?
Little odd stories like this I send to friends in NY to show how simple our lives are in one of California's richest counties.
Incidentally, did anyone read where Santa Clara is the richest community in CA? Can Marsala legally borrow money from a person there?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pam
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Lots of Unanswered Questions:

Why did the press and general public know this meeting was being scheduled on Tuesday, but Council member Carlson says he didn't hear about it until Thursday?

Why did Kathy McKeithen have difficulty getting the town to do the required legal posting?

Why wasn't Town manager Jerry Gruber at the meeting? Has he already found another job and left? If not was a sanitation meeting really more important than his obligations to the Town?

Why wasn't Elizabeth Lewis at the meeting? Wasn't her political platform about transparent government? Why isn't she calling for an investigation into the very serious allegations against Marsala?

Why wasn't Charles Marsala at the meeting? It was a great time to answer questions and tell his side of the story. He's never shied away from the press before nor has he listened to Council advice, so why is he quiet now?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by It's me
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Questions have been raised about Charles Marsala's residency.

Do we have any answers?

Is he living in his home? His pool house? At another location in Atherton? In another town?

And has anyone verified these answers? Where is he living?

The loan issue falls into the great grey area and we can debate that forever. But the residency question is black-and-white. Was that addressed at the meeting?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by for Pete's sake
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Well Pam -I can tell you why councilman Jerry Carlson wasn't at the meeting.
If the John Johns disaster isn't "resolved" before the Charles Marsala issue is examined, Mr. Carlsons own complicity would become far to obvious for even this exhausted populous to ignore.
He will remain in hiding until he is sure its safe to come back out.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by the pretender
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Marsala is like the guy who shows up at a society ball wearing a polyester tuxedo, with a stolen invitation. People soon realize that he doesn't belong.

The question we will all be asking ourselves soon is how it took us so long to discover his true identity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Enough already. The next thing will be Marsala scheduling a meeting to investigate allegations against McKeithen which there are plenty. McKeithen should get serious and let a neutral body do the investigating of Marsala and everybody at the city including the whole council. Nothing that comes out of one of McKeithen's meetings means anything since she is biased with her obvious and desperate effort to run Marsala out of office for her selfish reasons. I don't blame Marsala or the other two from staying away from the meeting which is nothing but a McKeithen power grab.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

It is not clear that the Council is capable of policing itself in a fair and impartial manner.

As I suggested when the Marsala loan question first came up, perhaps it is time to ask the California Attorney General to step in and do an across the board evaluation of all of the allegations involving council members.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Pretender,

I think Mr. Marsala would improve his wardrobe with a polyester tuxedo.

But I really worry about Mr. Buckheit. The photos show that his mother dressed him in the same pattern as McKeithen wore to the meeting Friday. Or maybe it was McKeithen that planned their matching wardrobe just as she has plotted every other part of this power grab using Buckheit as her pawn. I hope McKeithen gives Dobbie permission to wear more flattering colors for the next meeting, since McKeithen will invite the press.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I'll stand on my suggestion that Mr. Marsala resign.

I don't think an elected official should ever be soliciting favors from any constituents be they contractors, voters, litigants or potential litigants (which makes it okay, according to Mr. Marsala). Mr. Marsala's admission is sufficient evidence that he is wanting in both ethics and apparently cash. Mr. Marsala does not deny the allegation, he just doesn't understand why it's not okay.

Asking a potential litigant for $500,000 is NOT okay... under any circumstances.


We have so little faith in our elected officials and Mr. Marsala's admission is a disgrace. If he doesn't resign, I think the Council should remove him.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fashion conspiracy
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

New rule!! No tweed allowed in Atherton!!!
Not even when both suspects hail from New England and the Ivy League.
I doubt that these two are sharing any insider fashion tips with each other already as I am the person who inadvertently introduced them for the very first time on the the 28 of January (7 weeks ago) when because of my own scheduled knee surgery, I had to asked them both to step in for me with a neighbor's life or death emergency. They both dropped everything to respond to this crisis, and they met for the first time at the hospital.
You have nothing to worry about-Tweed is not contagious and no heroics will be expected of you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 28, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Personally, I think the more people try to divert attention away from the real issues that are put forward here with diversions such as the type of jackets people wore to a meeting, the more it indicates they don't have much to add to the substantive discussion. I will admit, though, that with $500,000, one could really buy quite a wardrobe (as well as a comprehensive makeover).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Law
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Fashion Conspiracy,

Those in blue uniforms don't let the Ivy Leaguers pull the wool over our eyes.

We know that tweed is bad but COTTON is worse.

Stick to the speed limit. Don't roll through stop signs. Support your local police.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Willy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

The pitchforks have turned to...

fashion barbs?

But seriously: Pogo - what world are you coming from? I don't like you, so let's remove you until you prove your innocence? If you happen to be innocent, you must prove your morality? Your purity?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wardrobe malfunction
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Dear fashion police:
I am in receipt of your threats and I arrest my case--you are by far-- the worsted.
What about Dobbie? He's Scottish-is he allowed to wear tweed?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2010 at 11:41 pm






Dear Mr. Carpenter,

You have publicly suggested that Office of the Attorney General for the State of California should be approached to investigate allegations of misconduct by Town of Atherton officials due to the failure and apparent refusal of the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office to perform this function.

I give you the full text of California Government Code, Section 25303.



25303. The board of supervisors shall supervise the official conduct of all county officers, and officers of all districts and other subdivisions of the county, and particularly insofar as the functions and duties of such county officers and officers of all districts and subdivisions of the county relate to the assessing, collecting, safekeeping, management, or disbursement of public funds.
It shall see that they faithfully perform their duties, direct prosecutions for delinquencies, and when necessary, require them to renew their official bond, make reports and present their books and accounts for inspection.
This section shall not be construed to affect the independent and constitutionally and statutorily designated investigative and prosecutorial functions of the sheriff and district attorney of a county. The board of supervisors shall not obstruct the investigative function of the sheriff of the county nor shall it obstruct the investigative and prosecutorial function of the district attorney of
a county.
Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the budgetary authority of the board of supervisors over the district attorney or sheriff.


You will see what the board of supervisors is charged with and I quote in part: "The board of supervisors shall supervise the official conduct of all county officers, and officers of all districts and other subdivisions of the county..."

This language is mandatory. The word 'shall' is not discretionary and means that this function is the fiduciary responsibility of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. It would appear that this lawful and required function of the Board is so little implemented that there is no general public awareness that this is a mandatory fiduciary function of the Board.

The section goes on to describe that this is not to be construed to affect the designed independent nature of the offices of the Sheriff or the District Attorney, nor be construed to allow obstruction of investigations.

These limiting descriptions of the authority of the Board of Supervisor have significance as regards what is not limited. The correct interpretation of limiting authority is that all other aspects of mandated supervision are included without the need for specific description in the mandate via it's exclusion from limitations.

What this means is the Board of Supervisors is required by State law to supervise the areas of all investigations and prosecutions NOT chosen to be conducted by the District Attorney and Sheriff's Offices and to
"see that they faithfully perform their duties…" .

Apparently, you are convinced that the failure of the District Attorney to investigate and/or prosecute the actions of certain local officials, and perhaps the Police Department itself represents such an abrogation of the faithful performance of mandated responsibility of the District Attorney's Office and therefore would fall within the mandated responsibility of the Board of Supervisors to force the District Attorney to perform his legally required functions.

Accordingly, I would suggest that prior to approaching the Attorney General's Office, your proper diligence up the chain of administrative hierarchy is to approach the Board of Supervisors to request that they review and 'see to it' that the District Attorney's Office conduct such investigations as you apparently feel are appropriate under the law,if, in fact, such refusal to investigate and prosecute is a breach of the mandated responsibilities of the Office of the District Attorney in these particular circumstances.

Respectfully yours


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a neighbor
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 29, 2010 at 12:04 am

Please do this for us Peter--you know very well that we are unable to fix ourselves


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Foster
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 29, 2010 at 5:25 am

[POST REMOVED. Please send information regarding official wrongdoing to editor@AlmanacNews.com as well as the investigative authorities.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Foster
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 29, 2010 at 5:28 am

Thank you Peter. You are right. If there is going to be an investigation let it be by the Attorney General and leave no stone unturned.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 29, 2010 at 5:41 am

Willy said, "Pogo - what world are you coming from? I don't like you, so let's remove you until you prove your innocence? If you happen to be innocent, you must prove your morality? Your purity?"

I never said I "don't like" Mr. Marsala. I don't even know Mr. Marsala.

Call me old fashioned, but I don't think elected officials should accept favors from people or firms that are going to appear before their elected body. We call it a conflict of interest. We don't like it when members of Congress accept trips from big companies and I don't like it when I find out that a Council Member accepted money from a developer who has a project that's about to come before them.

In this instance, Mr. Marsala didn't ACCEPT a favor from a person - he SOLICITED one. A BIG ONE. I think $500,000 is a lot of money (even in Atherton).

And Mr. Marsala freely admits it. Mr. Marsala's justification is that he didn't think that Mr. Buckheit was a potential litigant because Mr. Buckheit said that he hoped their dispute could be "resolved informally." I think Council Member Dobbie summarized it best when he said, "Asking someone who has an adversarial relationship with the town for a large loan, and who is likely to pursue legal action as a plaintiff, in my mind is a serious breach of normally accepted standards for elected officials."

It shows how low our standards have fallen that some people are prepared to excuse an elected official who has ADMITTED soliciting a favor from someone who is in a serious dispute with his town. Mr. Marsala should resign so he can prepare his defense for the criminal case which I hope our District Attorney will pursue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2010 at 7:29 am

Response to Just a thought: This is an e-mail I sent to Rich Gordon President of the Board of Supervisors of San Mateo County,

Oversight of District Attorney's OfficeThursday, March 25, 2010 11:45 AM
From: "Michael Stogner" <michaelgstogner@yahoo.com>
To: rgordon@co.sanmateo.ca.us

Dear Rich,

This is an Official Investigation Request. Your authority is Gov. Code 25303

Could you please look into this the Town of Atherton is suffering.

Please pay attention to Peter Carpenter's statement about San Mateo County's district Attorney.

Web Link


Thank you

Michael G. Stogner

If anyone else has submitted a similar request I would like to know about it. The BOS have a bad habit of not responding to citizens request and there is no data base for this information so far. I have not heard back from Rich Gordon my Supervisor yet.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 29, 2010 at 9:28 am

POGO, let me clarify what happened, based on the Almanac's article that mentions an e-mail I sent in which I hoped something could be resolved informally. In October 2008 I was falsely arrested by the Atherton police. (Not an opinion, a fact, as I have received a declaration of factual innocence). By the time September/October 2009 rolled around, the town management had refused to talk with me (despite multiple efforts on my part) about resolving that false arrest incident, and I filed a notice of claim with the town (if you want to sue a city in California., you need to give them notice before you file the lawsuit). They rejected the claim, and the lawsuit was about to be filed.

Around this time, a police officer made a menacing gesture to me on the street near my home. Previously, he had been parked outside my home for a long time (a couple of months earlier). Thus, I sent the e-mail to Gruber stating that I wanted to meet with the police chief to discuss that behavior which I found to be harassing, and that issue alone could (hopefully) be resolved informally (as opposed to going to a court to get it to stop; for example, obtaining a restraining order). In fact, they agreed to the meeting, with the express condition that I only discuss the "current" issue, not the false arrest issue. I had to e-mail Gruber to obtain the meeting because he had instructed the police chief not to talk with me at all, about anything.

I think Mr. Marsala is saying he interpreted that e-mail to mean I was still trying to see if all my issues could be resolved informally. This is not true (that I meant that; I suppose I can't say whether or not he thought that); I was only seeing if the harassment issue could be resolved informally, and I would say since they imposed the condition that none of my other issues could even be discussed at that meeting, it was fairly obvious that all of my issues couldn't possibly get resolved.

By the way, my mailbox was destroyed on Friday, before the council meeting. Amazing coincidence.


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Posted by scottsman
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

I for one would like to see dobbie playing bagpipes leading the march of Marsala out of town

I think it was an irish guy who drove the snakes off the island of ireland, hopefully dobbie can do the same for mckeithen


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Posted by wardrobe consultant
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I too would like to see Mr. Dobbie playing bagpipes marching Marsala out of town.

My suggestion is that he wear a kilt. I would also suggest Mr. Marsala be dressed in his polyester tuxedo for the occasion.


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Posted by Melinda Tevis
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

How stupid does this guy think we all are?
Mr. Marsala states in his defense that:
"at the time of his loan request, that he believed the conflict between Mr. Buckheit and the town, would be worked out within the town, and without litigation".
Does Mr. Marsala actually believe that this makes him look better and not even worse?--
"working it out" within the town where he has influence- instead of an impartial court of law?
Wouldn't Mr. Marsala be in an even better position to reciprocate the loan favor, from within the town?--
Is this just Mr. Marsala's standard tactic-- to insult all logic by resorting to obfuscation once again?-
-OR IS HE PREPARING AN INSANITY DEFENCE?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

The primary problem with Marsala is that he should be in Congress. Small town politics is was too scrutinizing. Maybe it is time to move on.


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Honestly, the problem with this council is they haven't a fresh idea about how to improve their city and make it better for anyone. Instead, their agenda consist of humiliating the town, peering into the personal lives of people and trying to figure out how to empty the city coffers to pay for frivolous lawsuits for their own lapse in judgement, that of making a bad hire in the first place.

I say it's time to empty this den of it's cobras and get some fresh young blood in there who can actually make a difference. These people have slithered to the bottom of the bell shape curve and need to move on.

Distractions, the only distraction I see in all this brewha about residency and finances is it keeps them from having to do the job they were put there to do, thus when the town asks "what have you done for us lately?" a special town meeting will be called to find someone to blame for their inability to do anything worth while.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Fed Up states:"I say it's time to empty this den of it's cobras and get some fresh young blood in there who can actually make a difference"

The BIG problem with this wonderful suggestion is that there are few, if any, bright young Atherton residents who have ANY interest in running for the Town Council. The filing period for the three seats that will be up for election in November is July and early August.

How can we get really good people to run?


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2010 at 5:41 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

Mr. Carpenter......

The answer is simple. We CAN'T.


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm

To Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Gordon,
You get good people to run by getting rid of the low hanging fruit and letting candidates know that the city is in desperate need for fresh ideas and real leadership. I mean does Atherton need to solicit the services of an organizational development person to diagnose what's really wrong here?

The group is unproductive. Just look as how their time and city money is being spent. You better believe if enough people get fed up that you'll find someone to run, but no one is going to want to work with people who subscribe to a business as usual mentality or "if it aint broke why fix it" and its broken.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 29, 2010 at 7:35 pm

You gotta have heart to run for a city council office. Real heart.

As you can see, it is thankless.

This Valley is littered with former execs who spend their days getting their rings kissed. They couldn't handle the humbling experience of running for a highly contested city council or supervisor seat. A fire district board seat is hardly comparable.

You two haven't run for council so why talk? Talk is cheap.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm

unTruth states:"A fire district board seat is hardly comparable.'

The truth is that the Fire District has a much larger budget, more employees and serves far more people than does the Town and is financially solvent with prudent reserves.

Been there, done that.

But then what would someone who sits on the sidelines know about elected office?


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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Meanwhile, no one has responded substantively to the only real issue.

Who is the responsible authority in the governmental structure to whom to appeal, and to hold responsible for fulfilling their legal mandate?

Not a single person has responded to the issue of what is our government mandated to be and how it has it been designed to function by extremely bright and well intentioned people who wrote the laws governing it.

What is wrong with all of you.

Think. Study. It's all right there before you as a gift.

All you need to do is pick it up.


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Posted by Common Cause
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 29, 2010 at 8:56 pm

The filing deadline is not until this summer. All of this energy should be redirected into recruiting a "good government" slate of candidates to run for the open seats this year. Moreover, a recall should be filed against the candidates who are not up for election this year (McKeithen and one other) timed so that the recall election is on the same date as the election for the three open seats. Have separate candidates recruited to stand in the place of those to be recalled. If ever there were a justification to throw all the bums out, you have it here. YES WE CAN! Then all of five of these pathetic council members can be marched out of town, but not in the style of St. Patrick and the snakes. In the case of this council, it would be better to follow what the pied piper of Hamlin did when he rid the town of its rats.


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Posted by Fashionista
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Dobbie in a kilt. NOT.

Marsala in a polyester suit. NOT.

How about both of them in orange jumpsuits. That seems more fitting.



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Posted by Huh
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 29, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Common Cause: What did Kathy McKeithen do, precisely, to justify her removal from office? Call the special meeting? I guess if you believe Marsala did something wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with calling that special meeting (and actually everything right with it).


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Posted by Common Cause
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Dear Huh

Hold on to your pitchfork and you will eventually find out. Listing the specific allegations on this site would cause the nannies at the Almanac to pull them down, just as what happened to Foster above.

That's okay though. Kathy McKeithen and her pals can learn soon enough that what goes around comes around when the attorney general has a complete and legitimate investigation.

When that happens I bet you will want to change your name from Huh to Duh.


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Posted by nero
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm

While Atherton burned, Jerry Carlson fiddled.


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Posted by Yikes
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Common Cause has got me thinking...did Kathy actually ask Buckheit for $5 million?? The stakes are definitely getting higher.


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 29, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Nero:
Its more like the Titanic is sinking and the band wants to continue to play while the rats run for a life boat.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 29, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Peter, sorry buddy. Fire districts are nothing compared to city government. No one even knows who is on the board half the time or how to reach them. If you really believe your own spin that much, this discussion is futile. You talk so much for someone who has yet to run for council. Talk is cheap Peter.

As for Mr. Marsala, wait for the final facts. If it smells funny after that, he probably should step down.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Truth says:"You talk so much for someone who has yet to run for council. Talk is cheap Peter"

Would anyone please tell me what Truth has ever done to serve his/her community, which offices he has run for, was he ever elected to anything and has he ever posted an original idea on the Town Forum or even anything other than a cheap personal attack on other posters?

Truth is simply a contradiction in terms.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 12:05 am

unTruth states:"Fire districts are nothing compared to city government. No one even knows who is on the board half the time or how to reach them. "

It is so nice when unTruth sticks his foot into with statements like this. See Web Link but then perhaps unTruth doesn't know how to use the web, or to send emails.

And how can unTruth compare the challenges and complexities of Atherton's $13 million budget with the Fire District's $31 million budget? Just hot air, never any facts.


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Posted by STAY ON TOPIC
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2010 at 8:22 am

Peter et al. -- this is a thread to discuss allegations of impropriety about Charles Marsala, not the Fire District, or running candidates for the Atherton Town Council. Peter, you have championed the idea of keeping threads on topic before. Please start a new thread about the differences or similarities between the Fire District and other forms of government. I'd be interested (seriously) how the Fire District has healthy reserves and (in my opinion, and I think yours), unrealistic pension plans simultaneously.


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:32 am

STAY ON TOPIC

Caution with your words, there has been no impropriety proven in fact last weekend front page article stated Mr. Marsala did nothing wrong, but I guess you all missed that, so when will the angry mob go home and stop trying to lynch someone?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

Stay on Topic is absolutely right. Sometimes I simply feel it is essential to defend myself from attacks by anonymous posters - I should instead consider the lack of source credibility and simply ignore them.
I'll try harder and it would help if others would remind these anonymous posters who spend all their time attacking others to desist.

Back to this thread:
I do not believe in witch hunts or hanging parties. I also do not think that, based on the facts presented, Marsala has broken any laws, but his actions have raised questions about his judgment - which I think he acknowledged in recusing himself from any further Council discussions regarding Bukheit.

My biggest concern is that I do not think that the Council has the wisdom or the skill to fairly and adequately address ALL of the allegations which have been made against a number of the Council members.

I hope that they realize this and ask someone like the Attorney General to step in and do a comprehensive review of all of these allegations.

Peter


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Posted by STAY ON TOPIC
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

Fed Up -- I did exercise caution in my words (note the presence of the word "allegations" in my post). There was no newspaper article saying Mr. Marsala did nothing wrong. The newspapers did report that Wynne Furth stated that, in her opinion, he did not violate the state financial conflict rules. That does not mean there was no ethical transgression, nor does it mean (as others have stated on this board) there might not be other laws broken.

Peter -- What are ALL of the allegations against a number of Council members? In order for people to properly digest your suggestion about the Attorney General stepping in, we need to understand what issues exist beyond the current Marsala allegations.


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Posted by The Law
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

Melinda Tevis,

[portion removed.]

About the Insanity Defense. You won't ever need it if you obey the law and support your local police.


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Posted by citizen's arrest
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2010 at 11:53 am

To the Thought Police
Peter Carpenter may get upset if you discourage posters from using their real names by making veiled threats.


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Stay On Topic and to all of you,
LET HE WHO IS WITHOUT ETHICAL TRANSGRESSIONS OF ANY KIND CAST THE FIRST STONE.
I"M SORRY, WHY ARE YOU STILL HOLDING YOUR STONES???


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Posted by STAY ON TOPIC
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm

That's a truly nonsensical comment. In other words, because all of us may have had some minor ethical lapses in our lives, we cannot question what we believe to be a major one?


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Posted by Janine
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm

As somebody said already, vote them all out with a combination of recall and regular election and start all over again with well intended civic minded volunteers. Please let's organize the good government clean up squad and send all of the incumbents packing. This is not about a single person this is all about how ridiculously petty and self centered each of these council members are. It will be good riddance to all of them. When the council changes then there ought to be serious thought about firing the city manager, police chief, and the city attorney if they don't shape up real fast. Atherton is a laughing stock thanks to the so-called representatives we have unwisely elected or hired.


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Posted by Memory Minder
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Amen, Janine! Unfortunately it's not that easy to find adequate candidates. Think back over the last 25 years and remember that the last batch of Atherton Council incumbents were found to be far more lacking than these who are their replacements after a contentious election. Dittos other town chiefs who were successfully run out. We knew then that no one of great note was stepping forward to replace them, but we had to go with what was being offered. The notorious Mr. Marsala didn't make the cut the first time around (or was it two times?) but finally got on by default. The reality is, the ethical, intelligent and capable citizens city-wide, state-wide and nation-wide are far too busy with their own lives to diddle around with politics. And they probably don't have the necessary tough skin for it. We'll be lucky to find one or two replacements here in town, much less the whole bunch. Would that we could!


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm

STAY ON TOPIC
The court of public opinion will decide whether your lapse was minor or major, however since you are not forthcoming with your MINOR lapse we are unable to judge the gravity of your lapse. None the less, minor or major yours obviously was a lapse so put down your stone. There is nothing non sensical about people not casting stones when their own slate is less than perfect. Now do you get it?

The only lapse Charles is guilty of, if there is anything to be guilty of, is simply making a request from someone he considered to be a friend who said no. He did not take anything from the city coffers, nor did the request take anything away from the city, but it is the city who is taking from the public till both in time and money to address this issue. Who hasn't borrowed money. or asked to borrow money? The amount he requested is considered seed money in this valley. So give it a rest!


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Posted by Gretchen
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Let's remember that Mr. Marsala was doing the right thing by giving his house to a hospital patient's family. That's being a good citizen and a role model. That act of kindness is something nice that I can tell my kids about - how often does that happen in politics? Mr. Marsala is innocent until proven otherwise, and let's stick to real issues that actually affect our community.


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Posted by still hungry
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Cut the lame rationalization fed up. It simply won't fly. I for one hunger for the truth. Marasla has been silent. All we have heard from the Marsala camp are anonymous posters.

There was a time when Marsala posted in his own nbame. For example back in late 2007 when he gloated about the former finance director being run out of town.

Marsala has thrown an awful lot of stones. He has just come to the realization that he too lives in a glass house.

There is a saying that within every bully lies a coward.



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Posted by Tom M
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Charles Marsala is a good man and has worked tirelessly for the Town of Atherton. It seems like some folks have gone to the media to create a story about this home equity loan. I say this because the Town Attorney has already reviewed the issue. Has small-town dirty politics come to Atherton? I thought we were above this type of chicanery!


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Hungry:
Which one are you, coward or bully?


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm

HUNGRY:

Before you post you should save yourself the embarrassment and learn to spell. NBAME is spelled N A M E. And he hasn't been silent, read the newspapers, however if spelling is an issue for you, this too could be a problem, now go ask your college (if you went) to take back your english credits.


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Posted by Mandi
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm

No wonder why Atherton can't get enough people to run for town govt. Mr. Marsala devotes a lot of time and energy into his town. Instead of getting thanks for his dedication, he receives negative publicity the moment he has a business downturn. Who in their right mind would ever want to run for office in Atherton?


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Fed Up,

I agree that the treatment of Marsala has been mean and miserable, but you are contributing to the tone by criticizing Hungry for a misspelled word which is probably only a typo in the first place. Your calling Hungry on it is kind of like a bully.


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Posted by MYOB
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

What is wrong with you all?????????

Marsala decides to rent his house to out of town people with health problems, very serious ones, and you want to butt in.

Marsala spends time with his mother after his father died and you want to butt in.

Marsala goes away for Christmas and you want to butt in.

Marsala asks for a loan to be covered by a mortgage against his own property and you want to butt in.

Live and let live. Butt out. Mind your own business.


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Posted by Marsala is the VICTIM
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Poor, poor Charles Marsala. Whoa is me. He's the VICTIM here, no doubt.

He wouldn't show up at the public meeting, but no matter how many times Charles posts here under how many different pseudonyms with the same line of crap, let's face it:

* He wasn't applying for a mortgage from Jon Buckheit. He would have gone to BOA or Wells Fargo for that, and Buckheit's not a bank. He obviously went to Buckheit because the banks wouldn't lend him the money.

* If he thinks Buckheit wasn't going to file lawsuits, but was going to work out his problems "within the town", all the more reason it was highly inappropriate to ask him for a loan. Marsala is too busy confabulating to even realize how logically inconsistent most of his arguments are.

* He was the FIRST person to say that John Johns should have been fired for allegedly using a town credit card for a dating service (what is that, $20 bucks?), and hounded John Johns in the newspapers for years. This week, the town is paying John Johns a fortune to settle all of that defamation from Marsala. But when anyone calls his behavior into question, he's a victim? GET REAL.

* Does anyone remember (I do) his recall campaign against Kathy McKeithen? Was she a VICTIM then?

At the public meeting on Friday where 40 people showed up, NO ONE spoke out or up for Marsala. Have they all decided to come to the Almanac, or is this Marsala and a few buddies trying to make it look like dozens of people support him? You be the judge.


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Posted by Shenanigans
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 30, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Anyone read the Daily Post today? Their reporter tried to check out whether Marsala was living in the latest house he claims to be taking up residence in within Atherton, but Marsala scolded him and said that's highly inappropriate, as the homeowner deserves some privacy.

Marsala had no problem dispatching that reporter to homeowner Carol Smith's house and confront her! What a hypocrite!

Charles, if you've hit financial hard times, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Sell your house, move to a cheaper neighborhood, and resign from the council. There's no shame in any of that. The shame comes about from lying about it, and playing games. Think about it: he rented his house out because he couldn't afford to live there himself. (No matter what he says, it wasn't as an altruistic act to help a hospital patient; they're definitely paying rent). And now he's simply going to pay rent back to another homeowner in Atherton to rent their house? What's the point?

If Marsala is living in these other houses at free rent, or below market rent, that's another conflict of interest gift to him that must be disclosed. Most likely, he's simply not living in Atherton, renting a cheap apartment in another city to make the renting of his own home make financial sense, and getting friends to lie for him and say he's living there. Not exactly behavior becoming of a council member, wouldn't you say?


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Posted by Charles Admirer
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 31, 2010 at 2:46 am

I admit it. I like Charles and I voted for him. I think he means well and is a nice guy. Shenanigans, your name says it all. Go right ahead bash Charles but you are guessing about a lot of what you say and making up other parts of it.

The meeting last week seems like a chance for shenanigans by people who resent or envy or want to get even with or hate Charles for some reason to gang up on him. Not a surprise that his friends and supporters were not there to pile on, was it. One thing everyone of us knows down deep is that Atherton, the community taken as a whole, is better than that.

A few people in this long line of enteries stated that if an investigation happens it should be done independently by the attorney general of California. I think so too. A few said the whole council should be investigated. That I am not so sure about but the more that this goes on, the more I get the feeling that this has got to be much more serious than Charles and a loan or Charles and where exactly he lives.

I am leaving for the airport in a few hours. I will come home on April 11. I really hope this is not still going on when I get back.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 31, 2010 at 6:41 am

Imagine for a moment if you had some pending business before your town - perhaps a property line adjustment, a building permit or trouble with your trash pickup. The official who is helping you soon asks you for "a loan" for, let's say, $50. Do you think you'd be outraged by this ethical lapse? Do you think you would report it to his supervisor? Would you want him fired?

Now suppose your dispute wasn't about trash pickup but involved something a bit more serios like being arrested, handcuffed and unceremoniously placed in the back of police car. And suppose the amount of the loan the official sought wasn't $50, but $500,000. Does that rise to the level of a serious ethical breach?

Actually, it's NOT okay for an elected official to solicit a loan from a citizen unless that citizen is a bank.

One stubborn fact: Mr. Marsala HAS ADMITTED that he solicited this loan. It's incredible to me that anyone can even try to excuse this. Then again, even Mussolini was applauded for making the trains run on time.

If one of your elected officials can admit to soliciting a loan for $500,000 from a private citizen who is involved in a very serious dispute with the town and it doesn't bother you, then you absolutely deserve the government you have.


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Posted by Operation TurnTable
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 31, 2010 at 9:33 am

No, I'm not talking about what became obsolete when CDs came out. If you're a friend of supporter of Charles, or even is alter cyber-ego, here's the script to deal with this issue:

1. Charles didn't think Buckheit was going to sue. Who can prove that? We can take care of a lot of people with just this one line. Does Buckheit seem like someone who was really upset with the Atherton police? Nah. He was going to take the whole thing in stride (at least until McKeithen got to him!).

2. Charles was just asking a friend for a loan. $500K to a guy like Buckheit is mice nuts. Besides, this is Atherton! Tell them that on a wealth adjusted basis, $500K in Atherton is like $200 anywhere else. Seems reasonable.

3. Let's break some new ground here. Even though this isn't a sexual escapade or infidelity type of scandal, just say it's in inappropriate intrusion into Charles' personal life and finances.

4. He's renting his house to a terminally ill patient at Stanford Hospital! Whether true or not, that should prevent anyone from asking residency questions unless they want to seem like Atilla the Hun!

5. Now let's really, truly break some new ground. The real scandal isn't Charles asking Buckheit for the loan. It's McKeithen doing something about it, and colluding with Buckheit to do something about it. You don't need to be specific. There are some deep, dark secrets there that need to be investigated by the Attorney General, and far surpass any alleged wrongdoing by Charles in the first place. Just keep pounding that McKeithen needs to be investigated. If you say it enough times, people will believe it, even if you don't detail the particulars. While we're at it, Buckheit should go down along with her.

6. For the few people none of the above works with, Charles isn't going to go down alone. He's going to take Kathy with him. "Throw all the bums out" should be the slogan for this stubborn populace. Charles for asking for the loan, McKeithen for holding the meeting, Dobbie for showing up, Jerry Carlson just for good measure. If there's a scandal, it has to mean they're all doing something wrong.

Also, remember, even though Peter Carpenter has said this until he's blue in the face, pseudonyms still work on the Almanac! You can make more than one most, with more than one name, supporting Charles. Just don't cut and paste. Make them a bit different, all incorporating elements from this script, and Charles will be around long enough to get this new Town center built and perpetuate the police department. (After all, if we build a $15M building, half of which is for the cops, who's going to contract out at that point?). Are you listening, men in blue? It's time to come to the aid of your biggest benefactor!


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Posted by Pam
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 31, 2010 at 9:39 am

Can we afford to keep Charles?

Has anyone ever added up what Charles has cost the taxpayers in unnecessary legal fees?

How many times has the "mayor" Charles embarrassed us in the press?

How many people will not volunteer to get involved in the town because of Charles?

Can we afford to keep Charles because he throws popular parties? Or because some think he's a nice but 'misguided' guy?

Should we continue to ignore his half truths (renting to a family friend in trouble vs. someone his Realtor found on Craigslist) and lack of full disclosure (where does he live?)

Will we hold him accountable or will we continue with the 'ah, poor Charles' routine? Maybe John John's was right, we deserve him if we're not willing to say enough is enough.


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Posted by John
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Mar 31, 2010 at 9:46 am

Atherton keeps those of us who don't have to live with what he costs taxpayers amused at a time when our economy is in trouble, our schools are laying off teachers, and our environment is under attacks. I hope Atherton keeps Charles. It's like living next to our own mafia run Chicagoesque community!

Charles what are you going to do next? :)


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Posted by down to earth
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 31, 2010 at 9:57 am

To those posters who suggest Marsala is the victim of dirty politics. Ask yourselves what kind of politician would make public accusations against a finance director who had been suspended after the chief of police, a man twice his size armed with a 9 milimeter pistol, with an anger management problem had accused the finance director of being a bully?

What kind of a politician would call a press conference to level charges against the finance director that were completely irrelevant to the charges that had been leveled against the finance director?

What kind of politician would continue to accuse the finance director of misconduct (including infidelity) long after the finance director was gone?

There are far more serious charges that Marsala should face, these include defamation, let us hope that Marsala's shoot the messenger scheme using a surrogates and psydonyms fails.

Let us hope that Marsala is held accountable for his behavior.


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Posted by JJJPoison
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 31, 2010 at 11:54 am

We all know what this is about...yet another round of petty accusations in the battle concerning Johnny John Johns. Now he's joined forces with Mayor McCheese for revenge.

If you go back for several years, you can see that there's one central character connected to all of these ongoing feuds: Johnny John Johns. Imagine if he had never come to our town. We'd all be living in peace right now. [portion deleted.]


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Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 31, 2010 at 1:14 pm

JJJ Poison,
I am laughing so hard you said it best, your comment may be the only comment that completely makes sense. :-)


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Posted by Eureka!
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Now I finally understand! Marsala asking for the money was John Johns' fault! Bingo.


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Posted by Louise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 31, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Dear Bananasplit:
Why is it O.K. for Charles to falsely attack the finance director so personally and relentlessly, about his private life--or more recently Ms. Smith a resident, who has moved away--
Is it your logic that false attacks by Charles should be forgiven--and only the true ones about him be admonished or considered petty?
It is true that "Charles has done more for this community than any other council member"
which is why we should be adding up the bill for all the damage expenses he has caused (for say the last 5 years) and getting the lean on his house as a permanent asset for the town.


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Posted by Lynn
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 31, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I think BananaSplit is making a joke. Charles doesn't have a private life. He parades everything in public and when the press isn't there to applaud he takes videos. [portion removed.]

I agree that Charles has done more for this community than anyone else has. Atherton is now a public joke where before we were respected we're now the laughing stock. Thanks Charles, Elizabeth and Jerry. Who needs respect when they can have laughter. The world isn't laughing with us but rather at us.....


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Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I think this last comment was over the line. What any public official does in private that does not bear on his or elected office is inappropriate discussion material. If you are looking to validate the charges that the entirety of this discussion is a witch hunt, you could not have done a better job. Seriously.

[Editor's note: I'm restricting this thread to registered users.]


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