Menlo Park proceeds with logo, graphic redesign

City 'got a great deal'

Since work is already underway and other cities paid more than Menlo Park did for similar projects, Vice Mayor Catherine Carlton said during last night's City Council meeting that she had changed her mind about asking her colleagues to reconsider whether to reconsider spending an additional $24,000 for design work on a new logo and style guide for the city.

Earlier this month, the council appeared ready to stop the project to modernize the city's graphic design standards. But after being told the contract could not be canceled, council members settled on a minor upgrade to the existing logo -- a new font and fresh topography -- and agreed to purchase a style guide.

Ms. Carlton had asked for the reconsideration because new information had come to light, "which I believe is the definition of when we bring things back," she said.

But while originally uncomfortable with the cost when the council voted to proceed with the project two weeks ago, she said, her recent research turned up two local cities that paid $65,000 and $56,000 for logos and style guides, suggesting that Menlo Park "got a great deal" on its $49,000 contract.

The councilwoman said she didn't have permission to identify the cities.

Fellow council member Peter Ohtaki opted to leave the reconsideration on the agenda, however, and moved to approve it. Mayor Ray Mueller seconded, saying he was doing so only to support a fellow council member; but the motion failed to garner a majority vote when Kirsten Keith and Ms. Carlton dissented. Councilman Rich Cline was absent.

Mr. Ohtaki explained that he still had questions regarding what exactly Menlo Park will get -- will the work include presentation templates, for example? -- and whether the contract has a provision for termination, contrary to what the council had been told on Jan. 14.

"I would like to see a statement of work," he said.

Ms. Carlton noted that after the council approved the redesign two weeks ago, the contractor -- 2 Sisters Design, based in Redwood Shores -- had begun the second phase of the project and "now we'd have to pay to stop," since the city would be billed for completed work to date.

The discussion shed some light on who decided to redesign the city's logo, a move that caught council members by surprise when they were asked to evaluate alternative emblems, developed for $25,000 during the first phase of the project; their comments at the time indicated they didn't know their support of a "rebranding" effort would include changing the logo. Contracts under $50,000 are not subject to council approval under the city's policy.

Ms. Carlton said last night that the idea appeared to have originated within the Community Services Department. How the project evolved "was not egregious enough" to warrant reconsideration.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

The statement that $49,000 is a great deal for an updated logo and style guide, because other cities paid somewhat more, really tells you all you need to know about the thought process involved in government spending plans.

They are spending other peoples' money, so basically, who cares?

Posted by Enough, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Stupid. Stupid and shameful way to spend taxpayers money.

Posted by modernize, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Joe, it is understandable how you were confused. The article talks about a vote to "modernize the city's graphic design standards", but that does not mean the project is for an "updated" style guide, as you stated. From what I've heard, there was no style guide to update. City employees, with no graphics arts training, were just making it up as they went along. Before the days of desktop publishing, everything had to be sent out, so certain standards were met simply because professionals were used.

Posted by Joseph, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm

What's that old adage? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." So what, if in their opinion, the logo is outdated. Were Menlo Park's tax payers complaining? Oh well, the city can always lay off another police officer or fireman to pay for it.

Posted by management 101, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm

The question should be whether we're getting satisfactory value for our money. Not whether other cities are managed even more poorly than ours. Having worked with a number of organizations on designs/logos, I know for a fact that this amount is way out of line. What a gravy train for a few lucky vendors -- wonder what their connections are.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm

modernize, I don't think I'm confused about what's going on here. In terms of value to the citizens of the town, which should be the standard by which town expenditures are judged, an updated logo and style guide would be expensive at one tenth the price.

Posted by LOCO LOGO, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm

My impression is that the Council decided to shelve the issue after learning that the job was completed and would have to pay up regardless if they proceeded to vote to cancel it. I mean, how long would it take a graphic designer to change out the font on our City Logo? Wouldn't even have to be a rush order to finish that in the 2 weeks it took to bring the issue back to the Council reconsideration. The Council missed the opportunity to stop the wasteful spending when the issue was before them 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately they were mislead and were told that the $48,000 contract was a done deal - without looking at the contract themselves to actually see the cancellation clause. The Council must know now that they made a mistake by not insisting on seeing this contract before voting to proceed. Way too much suspect shady dealings going on. I would have much preferred to see the Council admit their mistake in lack of oversight instead of trying to justify the cost by claiming 2 other cities paid more. A little more accountability, transparency and honesty from our City Staff and Council would be appreciated.

Posted by Dagwood, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Since it's a heritage tree in the logo the whole project should go to the Environmental Quality Commission.

Posted by modernize, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Joe, Councilwoman Carlton's research turned up two local cities that paid $65,000 and $56,000 for logos and style guides, so your opinion that an updated logo and style guide would be "expensive at one tenth the price" is only an opinion. Councilwoman Carlton's research was shared from the dais, on the record. Not a single individual was interested in attending the council meeting to complain about it.

Posted by bickering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm

If I'm not mistaken, the city budget is $42M, so this is like a family that earns $200K per year, bickering over $114.

Posted by headline, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Reading the headline, one could be mislead to believe that the council chose to redesign the city logo. In reality, the city is investing in the creation of standards and guidelines.

Posted by LOCO LOGO, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

If the City Staff want to defend the logo expenditure with their comments here, then how about some actual facts. No offense to Ms. Carlton, but if she's not going to disclose the names of the cities that have spent more, the figures are worthless. You want to claim it's bickering? Please. We're talking about a PUBLIC entity here that should not be trying to hide the cost of anything. And this logo business reeks of deception. This is about transparency, honesty and fiscal oversight. Something that seems to be sorely lacking in our City. Erin Glanville's blog on the topic last week included some facts:"1.24.14 Postscript: I did some additional research into the cost of the Lake Oswego logo, including obtaining copies of their 2013 contracts and SOWs. While the cost to deliver a revised high quality logo image in various formats (TIF, JPEG, monotone, stacked text, etc.) was $4,290, the cost for stationary design and various templates was another $2,730. The development of a graphics standards/ logo style guide was $1,490. The contract total was $8,510. The City later contracted for 18-21 more templates to be developed for an additional $1755 bringing the total spent for logo development, all templates and a design guide to $10,265. This is, of course, only one example of a City's logo rebranding effort." $48,000 being spent to change the font on the logo is an embarrassent, and any other City that spent a similar amount should and probably is equally embarrassed. Why else would they disclose the cost to Ms. Carlton only under the condition that she keep their City name from being mentioned.

Posted by LOCO LOGO, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

>>What a gravy train for a few lucky vendors -- wonder what their connections are.

That is the 48 thousand dollar question.

Posted by Debbie Hall, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Glad to see that the city council is concerned about how they perform against other cities on the Peninsula. I hope that goes beyond a $49,000 logo project and extends to numbers that really matter --- like a comparison of our staff size vs. other comparable cities. Lee Duboc recently shared city data that shows the number of our admin staff is 29 people, up 7 people from 2012. I endorse Lee's recommendation that we hire an auditor to look at our staff structure, size and efficiency.

Posted by john, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 30, 2014 at 4:43 am

Joseph - the city can't just layoff another firefighter to pay for this because they don't have any...maybe you lack understanding of other facts, too?

Debbie - it would be interesting for the city to be forced to provide a full accounting of its employees. Unfortunately the numbers that Lee Duboc references aren't good either because the CA controllers report lists employees as anyone who received a paycheck from the city...regardless of whether they worked part-time, full-time, a temporary 1-week summer camp, or 100 hours of overtime. It doesn't differentiate between a kid working a part-time 2-month summer job a minimum wage or the City Manager making $200,000 annually. So that report doesn't compare apples to apples. Just food for thought.

Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 30, 2014 at 7:38 am

The logo redesign is part of the package, as the story states.

Posted by LetTheKidsDoIt, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 30, 2014 at 7:47 am

Since we are such a kid friendly community why not:
- Establish an (impartial and volunteer) "task force"
- Challenge First Graders from Oak Knoll, Encinal and other schools in MP to design a new (and cute) logo
- Have the task force vote and crown a winner!

Cheap, easy and cute!

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:28 am

LetTheKidsDoIt, your solution is far too simple and sensible for Menlo Park. It doesn't provide a way to funnel taxpayer money to favored consultants.

Posted by LOCO LOGO, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm

It's time to reduce the number of City Managers and assistants - this LOGO and REBRANDING project is a demonstation in waste - too many staff with nothing to do come up with ways to spend taxpayer dollars on unnecessary projects to justify their salaries and positions. Nutty. Nutty. Nutty. It's bad enough that they spend $48,000, but if you add in the number of hours that senior City Staff got paid for such an unnecessary project, the cost goes way way up. Bring in the Auditor.

Posted by Louise68, a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm

The City of Menlo Park does NOT need a new logo! This whole project is stupid, and a waste of taxpayer money. Shame on the people who are in favor of this wasteful project. It is not the $48,000 - it is the principle of the thing.

Posted by Wake Up, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

People. PEOPLE wake up. we got the same logo. It was just put on the copy machine glass and blown up a bit bigger. The text was moved over a inch. For $49,000? This is nuts.

If Council Member Cat Carlton thinks this is a deal, I've got a car that gets 8 miles to the gal. and I only want $28,000. Is she buy'n? And what does this mean that she didn't have permission to name the 2 cities who paid more. Are we all in Kindergarten.

On the other hand, one of our most beloved employees who worked for the city for 34 years was honored at a lunch at the rec center in December 2013 and everyone had to pay $15 to attend. Everyone means employees and the public. Do you think the city could have come up with $5,000 and sent the woman out with a little dignity and respect.

And don't get me started on the squirrel.

Posted by Good Grief, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Gee, does anyone else think the city might have better things to do with their time and our money? Oh, that's right we have a very vibrant business environment in our city and parking is a breeze.

Carltonshould resign in shame.

Posted by LOCO LOGO, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 1, 2014 at 8:32 am

The City Manger and Community Services Manager withheld valuable information from the Council and the public. Unfortunately Carlton's actions were all too little too late. Let's hope the Council has learned not to trust these City Managers that deceived them and made them look like fools.

Posted by Alvin, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 1, 2014 at 1:07 pm

The logo idea came from the same manager that came up with Nutty. I heard from Chip and Dale that the manager was given an all expenses paid trip to Half Moon Bay that was partially paid for by the political action group "Chipmunks for a Brighter Future." It was at that "team building retreat" that these great new ideas were born. The new logo was support to have a squirrel in the tree. Disappointed in the City!

Posted by LOCO LOGO, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2014 at 9:35 am

Sounds to me like Alvin is just jealous that he's not getting paid to parade around at City Council meetings like our new mascot Nutty. I'm sure there's another City clueless about how to improve their image that will want a furry mascot.

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