Almanac

News - June 4, 2014

Commission won't probe Save Menlo classification

by Sandy Brundage

Saying that since a proposed initiative to modify Menlo Park's downtown/El Camino Real specific plan is not yet on the ballot, a state commission has decided not to investigate whether Save Menlo, the group backing the initiative, has misrepresented itself.

Atherton resident and community activist Peter Carpenter filed a complaint with California's Fair Political Practices Commission on May 16 alleging that the group claims to be a general purpose committee when it's really a ballot-measure committee.

The commission's definitions state that a general purpose committee may be involved with more than one candidate or ballot measure. But a "primarily formed" committee — in this case, a ballot measure committee — is one that spends more than 70 percent of its funds on a single candidate or measure.

A ballot measure committee must file public financial reports every quarter, unlike a general purpose committee, which must file every six months.

Save Menlo spokesperson Perla Ni has said that the grassroots coalition has long-term goals that may include supporting candidates for City Council as well as the initiative.

"Save Menlo is pleased that the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has confirmed that our financial reporting has been in compliance with state sunshine laws. We are committed to fully complying with all State and Local requirements," Ms. Ni said in a press release issued after the commission's May 29 decision.

Mr. Carpenter said the FPPC's decision made some sense, since the council has not yet voted on whether to place the proposed initiative on the ballot

"I actually prefer a system of rules and the FPPC has set the rules clearly," he said.

According to Mr. Carpenter, the proposed initiative may have technical defects, such as possible violations of the California Constitution, that render it ineligible for the ballot anyway.

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