News


Campaign sign cell phone reunited with owner

Woodell says he would never pull up signs

Menlo Park police have closed the case, but the Saga of the Missing Campaign Sign continued to unfold over the weekend as John Woodell surfaced with a few terse comments for the press.

"I would never do such a thing," he wrote in an email, disavowing all responsibility for pulling up Virginia Chang Kiraly's campaign sign from a neighbor's yard last week.

The neighbor, Chuck Bernstein, had the sign posted in his yard. But when the candidate asked why she couldn't see it any longer, on Oct. 18, he discovered the sign tossed into his bushes. Next to it, he found a black Samsung cell phone displaying messages that referred to "Woodell."

Saying he thought he might be accused of stealing it, Mr. Bernstein decided to hand the phone over to police. Investigators determined there was no crime, since the sign had merely been moved, not stolen, according to a police spokesperson, and returned the phone to its owner.

In an email to the Almanac on Oct. 22, Mr. Woodell said: "That sign was in the bushes many hours before I lost my phone. I don't know exactly how or where some other person came into possession of my property, and identified the device as belonging to me, but I know when."

He didn't clarify how he knew when the sign went missing versus when he'd lost his phone beyond saying that the sign "was seen (and possibly reported) missing 'long' before my phone was lost."

Asked why the five-day delay before responding to the press, Mr. Woodell replied, "I did not respond, because this was a ridiculous accusation."

Ms. Chang Kiraly is running for one of two seats open on the board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District that serves Atherton, East Palo Alto, nearby unincorporated areas, and Menlo Park.

Fellow candidate Rob Silano's campaign sign was the sole one on display in Mr. Woodell's yard last week. But Mr. Woodell challenged claims that he doesn't also support Ms. Chang Kiraly. He said he tells people he supports both candidates. "When they ask me, I tell them to vote for Silano and Kiraly."

However, the candidate in question disagreed. "If they're not publicly endorsing me, and they're not, how can they say they're supporting me?" Ms. Chang Kiraly said, referring to Mr. Woodell and his wife, Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith, who both endorsed fellow Democrat Mr. Silano. Calling the whole thing "odd," she said her supporters report fending off encouragement from the couple to back Mr. Silano.

"Sounds like she doesn't want my support, which is not the same. You should ask a more objective source," Mr. Woodell commented.

While she'd prefer to see the focus return to issues facing the fire district, such as pension sustainability and school safety, Ms. Chang Kiraly would also like her campaign literature to stay put.

"I've only got a hundred signs!" she said.

Comments

Posted by Sherlock Holmes, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Then why was the cell phone near the vandalized sign on private property far from the street and not near the street where people walk?


Posted by conscience, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

The circumstances around this incident are kind of silly and suspicious. Since Mr. Bernstein is a neighbor of Mr. Woodell's, why didn't he just return the phone and directly ask Woodell about the sign? Did this really need to be a police matter?

PS: As to Woodell's claim that he supports both Chang-Kiraly and Silano, that's what he told me weeks before this over-blown event.


Posted by Watson, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Clearly, Sherlock, the phone was far from the sidewalk because the thief threw it into the bushes! The thief of what? you might ask. Ahhh, that is the question...

Or perhaps this scenario...the mischief maker placed the phone and the sign in the bushes...but where did the mischief maker obtain the phone? you might ask. According to Mr. Woodell, he didn't *give* the phone to anyone else...bringing to mind many, many different possibilities. Methinks Mrs. Hudson would be a good person to ask - always so efficient and neat and organized, that Mrs. Hudson.


Posted by Sherlock Holmes, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

No one has established that it was a thief. By Mr. Woodell's own admission the Google cell phone was in his shirt pocket. Are you suggesting he was pickpocketed? The most plausible explanation, albeit not proof, is that Mr. Woodell lost the Google cell phone as he was removing the sign.

Ms. Kiraly claims that Woodell has not supported her. Her story is credible. There is too much circumstantial evidence against Woodell. Not enough to convict in a court; but more than enough to convict in the Court of Public Opinion.


Posted by Dear Almanac, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Please make this thread one where only registered user may comment.


Posted by Scholar, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm

A likely story!


Posted by local, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm

We are fortunate to have a forthright press to shine a light on our silly behavior. Clearly our moral compass.


Posted by Voter, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm

This whole thing is a total waste of time ! Politics or no politics
why are wasting everyone's time including the PD ? With Halloween around the corner are we going to complain that someone stole a pumkin off a front porch ? People in polictics need to stop whinning about every little quibble ! All is well in the world if this is all we have to worry about ! People get over yourselves and grow up, be happy people are not voting from their grave sites or the local bar like the old days .... Did people quibble then ??


Posted by Watson , a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm

We are not quibbling, we are merely speculating. We leave the quibbling to the amateurs. Sherlock and I take this series of events very seriously. After all, if we don't make a mountain out of a molehill, who will? Oh, wait, it seems that Bernstein did so and Woodell may have, too. They're no Woodward and Bernstein, that's for sure.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Wow. I knew this new generation of phones were capable of a lot of things, but whoda thunk they could jump and of someones pocket and uproot a sign on private property.......

Guess I will stick with my flip phone. It too does amazing things. If my butt hits the buttons just right it dials my Mom.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm

First, stealing campaign signs isn't harmless. When you run for office and pay for those signs, you may feel differently.

With regard to Mr. Woodell's cell phone being found at the scene, either this is (1) an incredible coincidence that he lost his cell phone at that precise scene, (2) an incredible conspiracy that someone stole his phone and planted it at the scene, or (3) just incredible.

There may be more serious issues, but I wouldn't underestimate or ignore the importance of having fair elections. Quite frankly, the optics of this episode really stinks.


Posted by incredible, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I hope the Almanac does not make this thread accessible only to certain users. How reprehensible is it for a newspaper, privileged by the first amendment, to abrogate the free speech of others?

Anyone who knows both Rob and Virginia knows which one is more likely to tell the truth.

P.S. If you all missed the Macy Harding post on the other thread, I am sorry for you. Best TS post yet! Along with the post from an anonymous person -- Woodell, perhaps? --threatening to sue everyne on the thread.


Posted by Mark Twain, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

All,

What you don't understand is that John Woodell purchased my "Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" Ap. This is really cool. When the Google cell phone falls out of your shirt pocket it leaps towards the nearest lawn sign.


Posted by peachesnherb, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm

In honor of Bernstein and his sign, and Woodell and his phone, here're a few lyrics:

I was a fool to ever leave your side
Me minus you is such a lonely ride
The breakup we had has made me lonesome and sad
I realize I love you
'Cause I want you bad, hey, hey...

...Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey

I sat here staring at the same old wall
Came back to life just when I got your call
I wished I could climb right through the telephone line
And give you what you want
So you will still be mine, hey, hey

I can't go cheating, honey, I can't play
I found it very hard to stay away
As we reminisce on precious moments like this
I'm glad we're back together
'Cause I missed your kiss, hey, hey

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey

-Peaches 'n Herb


Posted by Zing, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm

If I wanted to harm Chang Kiraly's campaign, I wouldn't pull up one of her signs from Chuck Bernstein's yard- I'd put a Chuck Bernstein sign in her yard. Put another way, do you think she likes all this coverage, linking her name with his? It's like having Pat White or Don Brawner writing letters to the editor on your behalf.


Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm

In an email to the Almanac on Oct. 22, Mr. Woodell said: "That sign was in the bushes many hours before I lost my phone."

***

How does Mr. Woodell know this?


Posted by Colleen, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 24, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Let me start out by saying Ms. Kiraly is a true stand up person. She would be a asset to the fire board.
I am however questioning Mr. Woodells honesty.
"Sounds like she doesn't want my support, which is not the same. You should ask a more objective source," Mr. Woodell commented. This comment to me came across as arrogant.
I wonder how Google feels about this story. If it was my company I wouldn't want this. How can a Google phone end up off the beaten path in the bushes two doors down? I would understand the sidewalk. Not the bushes.


Posted by Carmen, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

Woodell should take a lie detector test! I Sounds like he's another Kelly Fergusson.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

That's an insult to Kelly Fergusson


Posted by Menlo Park Deserves Better, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Comparing Woodell to Fergusson is a strange mix. Anonymous it's not only an insult to Kelly, it's an insult to Menlo Park. On the other hand I'll use Kelly's campaign slogan, Menlo Park Deserves Better. I couldn't agree more, he and Kelly should recuse themselves from Menlo Park politics to make our city better.

His early silence and late excuse don't help his cause.


Posted by Bemused, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

All I can say is, where there's smoke there's fire... and the Android doesn't fall far from the shirt pocket...


Posted by Observer, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I'm not sure what is more amazing: This cellphone story or the fact that there is actually a contested race to be on a "Fire Board". What's next, spirited public debates to become the local dog-catcher?


Posted by Ace Ventura Pet Detective, a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

[Post deleted. Your efforts at humor are not funny.]


Posted by Colleen, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Please everyone just remember someone gave there life so you would have the freedom to vote. I think it is a true shame that someone wouldn't remember that, and take down a campaign sign. Some child is without there father/mother. Some parent is crying over there child's grave. Then you have the nerve to take away someones right to free speech. Whoever did it remember that every time you look at your child. Freedom isn't free. Someone took there last breath so you could have your voice in this country. Shame on you. Karma can be good or bad. You decide the karma you want to create. It's not just a sign it's a life.
How the cell phone ended up right next to the sign I think needs further investigation.
Virginia Kiraly gave her time as head of the Grand Jury, and I think President of the PTA to help, and do the right thing. She is a very honest person, and I hold a high amount of respect for her. If the tables were turned, but they are not I think she would be looking into finding out the entire truth. She would never let any of her supporter take down signs without getting to the bottom of it, and make sure they did the right thing. She is a straight shooter. That is why so many people like her.


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