I may not like what the Athertonians post. But I would fight for their right to print it. I would even want it available in our hoped-for new library. The problem, as I see it, is this: the Athertonians is a group which presents itself as "not intended for partisan discourse." Yet for much of the last year or so that is primarily what it has done.
In addition, it has unwittingly (to the resident) solicited membership directly online from a town program, and then, subsequently "purged" from its email list members who were known supporters of a project "unpopular" with the Athertonians moderators. It has denied access to at least one Atherton resident for no reason except, perhaps, that he is related to a council member who supports that same "unpopular" project.
The website says that "Individuals can send messages quickly and easily to the community," but just try to send anything with which the anonymous "moderators" do not agree and it will never see the light of day, and then it proceeds to conduct so-called representative "surveys" of the Atherton community and call for a "representative vote."
In speaking with one of the town attorneys concerning this website recently, I made it very clear that my goals were to make clear to the people of the town that this site was not affiliated with the town, to set forth the actual town policies in the matters believed misrepresented by the Athertonians, and under no circumstances to sue or in any way try to affect the content. While our attorney had suggested that we might have a right to the Athertonian name, I suggested that if the Athertonians was unwilling to change its name, I believed it was preferable simply to differentiate the names of the town's communications. Our town had already begun considering this path when your editorial was published. Censorship of the Athertonians site or shutting down what was determined to be a private site was never considered. The issue was always about a name.
Kathy McKeithen, member
Atherton Town Council