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What's become of former council coalition?

Original post made on Nov 13, 2008

The relative ease with which Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen won re-election on Nov. 4, preserving the Menlo Park City Council's 4-1 "majority," begs the question: What has become of the Jellins-Duboc-Winkler coalition that controlled the council from 2002 to 2006?


Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 10:50 PM

Comments (10)

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 13, 2008 at 8:34 am

We will evaluate our council by each decision and how they reached that decision. If this group starts tightening its grip and shuts out community feedback, then two years from now they will have to explain it to us in person. This community is not tilted any way, it reacts to leadership and policy as it should.


Posted by Paul Collacchi, a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2008 at 11:34 am

Mr. Howell is clearly new to Menlo Park politics.

The size of the defeat has nothing to do with any platform of any candidate. It's mostly a function of the number of candidates and open seats.

Menlo Park has a partisan system of two teams: the "Red" (business friendly) and "Blue" (resident friendly) teams. Whichever team fails to run the exact same number of candidates as open seats loses.

There are exactly two cases. A team runs too many or too few candidates for the number of open seats. In this case the Red team ran too few candidates.

The explanation is straightforward: Assume a balanced voting model in which each team attracts half the vote.

If one team runs too many candidates, say three candidates for two open seats, then (rounding off) each of three candidates will receive 50/3 = 17% of the vote, while, on the other side, each of two candidates will receive 50/2 = 25% of the vote.

Hence the expected results: Red(1) 25%, Red(2) 25%, Blue(1) 17%, Blue(2) 17%, Blue(3) 17%.

Similarly, if one team runs too few candidates, one candidate for two open seats, then each of two candidates will receive 50/2 = 25% of the vote, and the lone unprotected candidate, for whom each voter can only vote once, will also receive 25% of the vote. HOWEVER, the second vote of each person who voted for the lone, unprotected candidate will likely be cast (assume evenly) for candidates of the other team meaning that each of those two members will receive an additional 25/2 = 12.5% of the vote.

Hence the results Blue(1)=37.5%, Blue(2)=37.5%, Red(1)=25%.

Yes, of course real voting behavior is more complicated than my simple model, but if you examine the current totals you will find that Ms. Fergusson has gotten about 40% of the vote, Mr. Cohen about 33% and Mr. Ciardella about 26%.

The variations from the 37.5%, 37.5%, 25% prediction suggest that about 3% more Ciardella voters preferred casting their second vote for Ms. Fergusson than for Mr. Cohen. Mr. Ciardella's slight increase above 25% figure suggests he was unable to attract Fergusson/Cohen voters or non-partisan voters.

So how does one interpret the support for platforms when the results can be predicted using non-platform variables? Two responses. First, carefully. Ask Ms. Duboc and Ms. Winkler who mis-interpreted voter support and over-reached. Second, it suggests that voters understand the general value directions of the two sides and currently prefer the one to the other, but this does not mean voters specifically support any or every element of the supported candidate's platform.


Posted by Same ol, Same ol', a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 13, 2008 at 11:35 am

Interesting analysis by Mr. Collacchi, and I do agree with the math. However, having been on the inside of trying to get someone to run for a council position in this town, I must say it is very, very difficult. We have problems that it seems no one wants to confront head on, and solve. Say what we want about Duboc and Winkler, they aggressively addressed the "union issue", and got burned, badly. It continues to this day. AND, the "union issue" is still a problem and won't go away. Who is left to confront the inflated costs associated with the union's demands? In addition, if you say "I'd like to explore developing areas of MP", then the "other side" comes at you very hard, and in some cases in a very nasty way. The Derry Project, and Measure J whereby we may have had some new housing, some new retail and a couple of new ball fields were legitimate, mainstream ideas, but not for this town. As a council person in this town, you get attacked for being "a crazy developer". Many people I have spoken to just don't want to deal with this type of political environment, they've given up. What's left is the rest of us living in a city that will soon have it's expenses bloated because of the inability to confront unions, and continued vacant lots, vacant theaters, and a steadily eroding small business climate.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 13, 2008 at 11:56 am

Same ol' has made a series of unfounded accusations and is at risk of sounding like an alarmist. Mr. Collacchi tried to support his point with at least what looks like a good explanation of his logic. Same ol' has nothing to support the claims.

First, since when does a city fix union negotiation issues? That is the hubris of the Winkler era. They actually felt they were the fixers of a national and statewide issue. Instead, they insulted and demonized local workers and created a deeply negative and divisive community. Leaders don't do that regardless of your beliefs.

Same ol' goes by the same ol' logic. That three votes fixes this issue. It doesn't. Stop the disinformation. This is a something that needs to be addressed at the state level between communities. Union negotiations need to start becoming regionalized in counties like the garbage contracts rather than each community having to race to give raises against its neighbors for fear of losing talent.

And lest we not forget, the police unions get that huge chunk of money. Not the day to day city workers. That was another hoodwinkler move. Instead of taking on police unions which would have resulted in a severe backlash, Winkler et al took on the workers. If they really wanted to change the system, they would have reached out to state leaders. They did not.

Again, another example of misleading information and mistruths that echo throughout our city even today.

As for development and housing, I have yet to see more than one council member reject the idea of progress outright. And I voted in some of these folks to put a plan together that would get us out from under this hangover.

Will it work? Don't know.

But if we are going to move forward, let's at least be honest about what really has happened in the past.


Posted by pay)per ballot, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

In past elections, Almanac has published city district vote breakdown, not this year. Try looking at the ordering on the ballot, Kelly first, Rick second, andy Last. County elections had it about right by 11pm on the 4th. A larger than normal 50% turnout given the president/proposition interest. Precinct results confirmed the voting pattern. Kelly is the easy first pick, then it's between Rick and Andy. For the uninformed that could have been a random 2nd vote between them, but the incumbent/mayor factor could have tilted in Andy's favor. Some voters may have followed the almanac/daily news endorsements and opt for Andy.
West Menlo/Sharon Heights was expected to go heavily toward Rick, based on his campaign signs and Boyle devotees in the more conservative west side, but Kelly won every precinct, Andy and Rick were close 2nd/3rd.
Absentee/early vote tally had KF up about 1K over Rick, Andy 500 over Rick. Those voters historically tend to more informed about city matters, more deliberate . Election day ballots moved Kelly to 2K over Rick, Andy another 500 to give him a 1k margin.
You could argue that Kelly got more because she was first.
Random numbers may have resulted in the outcome. Doesn't necessarily mean that KF was preferred over Andy or Rick, but that she was an easy gimme first vote.


Posted by Truth Get A Job, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 13, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Here are some facts "Truth": Pool Privatized = $500K per year for the city
Unions = Legalized Extortion

There is no need for a Union in this town, period. If we cannot afford "you", go get another job. I would think that the people of MP would not want to be hoodwinked or extorted just to make sure someone has a job with an exaggerated price tag. If "you" don't like your salary, go find another job. If the city is under paying according to COLA's, then we make adjustments, or the free market will. I don't think you would like to overpay, or would you??? Are you another one of those patriotic ones that like to pay taxes?




Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 13, 2008 at 4:37 pm

You did not dispel one of my truths. So, thanks for reinforcing my point.

No bid contracts are borderline illegal by the way. If not illegal, downright unethical.


Posted by Give your brain a job, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm

"Pool Privatized = $500K per year for the city" -- How would we know that? The Mickie Nickie and Lee team rushed the deal through so fast the city didn't have a chance to assess facts and figures, or to come up with a fee-adjustment plan that would have reduced costs.

"Unions = Legalized Extortion" -- Oh, please. If workers -- public or private -- had to rely on the good will and sense of fairness of the likes of you, there'd be a hell of a lot more working poor in this country. Not that you would care.

Spare us your "free market" dreck. It's barely tolerable during economic good times. In these times, it's obnoxious.


Posted by Truth Get A Job, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 15, 2008 at 10:22 pm

The steel industry, the electronics industry, the toy industry the auto industry.....how many more industries are we going to lose, because of the Union Extortionist, ACLU, Care?? Thank God Unions make up less than 20% of the American workforce, we may still have a chance! Too bad our children don't, with our fantastic Teachers Union that spends over $1.1M on trying to defeat Proposition 8. What was THAT all about? Why were they even involved? Does that proposition decrease their tenure by another year? Let's keep hiring teachers that are unfit to teach, tenure them, then don't hold them accountable by testing! Great formula for failure. NO accountability. Majority of "working poor" choose to be poor, they make bad decisions, they do not save, and they expect others to clean up after their mess. The world has gone crazy! Free Markets work, as long as people like the posts above stay away from "wanting a piece of the pie" that they don't deserve!


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 17, 2008 at 11:06 am

One need only read the above maelstorm from someone who wants to employ me to agree with me. Thanks for making my point so well.


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