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Menlo Park: Andy Cohen reflects on year as mayor

Original post made on Dec 31, 2008

It's been a month since Heyward Robinson took over for Andy Cohen as Menlo Park's mayor, but Mr. Cohen hasn't found himself longing for the gavel.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (39)

Posted by Donald MacLean, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 1, 2009 at 1:07 am

If Andy Cohen hates bulls**t then he must have really hated the last two years on the City Council. Because ever since the departure of Jellins, Duboc and Winkler the City Council Meetings have been nothing but bulls**t except when John Boyle injects sanity into the process. But Cohen would be an excellent candidate for a Chicago Alderman.

Posted by laughing last, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Kim Philby,anyone?

It must be so relaxing to see the world from an absolute black & white perspective. No rational thinking is required! John Boyle, Mickie, Lee, Nicholas = good. Andy, Heyward, Kelly, Rich, and the thousands of Menlo Park residents who have given them an overwhelming majority of votes in the last THREE council elections = bad. Whatever.

In particular, it's hard to understand why anyone would want to denigrate Andy Cohen, a gifted and generous leader who has unselfishly served the residents of Menlo Park -- including those of you who mock him -- for the last four years. City council members typically like to hear themselves talk, but Andy is one of the few who invariably says something worth hearing, and he's got a dry but droll style of delivery to match his wit. Too sophisticated, perhaps, for your average spy?

Donald/Guy, why don't YOU run for office? I'm sure you have no flaws for the public to deride.

Posted by Anthony F. Blunt, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 2, 2009 at 8:24 am

Andy Cohen was a barely adequate mayor. Prior to being mayor he was an inadequate councilman. He would come to City Council meetings unprepared and would often harangue city staff at these meetings for not providing him with adequate information. This was embarrassing because if Mr. Cohen had bothered to read his council packets he would have found that the information was all there. I sat at one City Council meeting where he was so verbally abusive to the City Manager Mr. David Boesch that I felt we were lucky that Mr. Boesch did not resign on the spot. As a councilman Mr. Cohen has acted very unprofessionally. Walking out of Council meetings because he did not get his way is puerile and not the hallmark of a gifted and generous leader.

Posted by Ed Mirer, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

I wish Boesch had resigned earlier! If Andy Cohen contributed in any way to Boesch's departure, then major brownie points to him. Boesch seemed to forget that he worked for the council and repeatedly failed to provide them with the information they needed to make decisions. He was an embarrassment to our city, and overpaid too.

P.S. At least none of our current council members fall asleep in meetings.

Posted by A Republican Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 2, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Mr. Cohen's comments about Sarah Palin were childish and unprofessional. City government is not supposed to mimic Republican or Democratic national partisan politics. Mr. Cohen must have bee feeling quite smug with his victory in a near uncontested race for re-election.

All in all, Cohen has been unremarkable council member. Sleepy or angry or confused has been Cohen's hallmark. I know of nothing Mr. Cohen has accomplished since he was first elected. Is this what his supporters wanted? The status quo of nothingness.

While I voted Democratic party this past November, I still find Mr. Cohen's remarks in poor taste.

Posted by independent voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Of course it was an easy victory. The council has been doing a pretty decent job and so it was hard to find anyone to run against the incumbents, much less vote against them. Very different from the olden days, when the masses were eager to vote out Mickie, Lee, and Nicholas.

Andy Cohen compiled a respectable list of achievements during his term as mayor, making council meetings more efficient and bringing local cities together to address regional issues. He spearheaded the El Camino revitalization efforts. That said, I too am sick of Sarah Palin jokes, and hope we can put that embarrassing episode behind us in 2009.

Posted by Gaelstrom, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2009 at 12:27 am

Nicholas never lost a city council election. He was mayor 3 times and did a marvelous job each time. The far left had Tom Gibboney on their side. With the Almanac's biased reporting and the SEIU backing Heyward Robinson and Richard Cline after they made their faustian pact behind closed doors, how could they lose. Meanwhile the resident of Menlo Park got taken in with dishonest ads put out by the Robinson/Cline crowd and misleading editorials by Tom Gibboney. No wonder they won. And Andy Cohen has not one significant accomplishment as Mayor of Menlo Park unless you count studies and pay raises for the SEIU.

Posted by andy supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 3, 2009 at 8:46 am

While I did not care for some of his jokes or even some of his decisions, I find Andy to be refreshingly irreverent and apolitical.
He pushed for the Budget Advisory Committee and the subsequent Finance/Audit Committee, and additional use of citizen expertise. Andy also increased transparency of government by requiring study sessions to be recorded. He truly cares about the little guy and exhibited great courage to facilitate beginning discussions of difficult issues with other jurisdictions. He seeks input from many perspectives. Unlike virtually every other current or past councilmember who, once elected, think they know what is best without seeking input even from supporters.

Posted by Are you Joking?, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2009 at 10:53 am

Beginning discussions on difficult issues with other jurisdictions? Like talking to Atherton about Menlo Park and Atherton being the only 2 cities in California to join the law suit against high speed rail? He may not be able to actually cast a vote on train issues but he certainly moves about town proselytizing for his anti train opinions.

If Cohen could just be honest and admit that he lives over the fence from the train tracks and he hates the train, he'd get more respect from people on the peninsula.

Maybe you are talking about the homeless issue. Well, if Cohen had his way, every below market unit would be scrapped or kept on the east side of the freeway.

Posted by andy fan, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Web Link

A lot more than Atherton. And a lot more than just homelessness. The comment about his about scrapping every below market unit is not based on reality in any shape or form or fantasy. Andy Cohen is a true, old-fashioned mensch who cares about the people who live on our streets and in our parks as well as the people who live in apartments and homes.

Because of his proximity to the tracks, he was not able to vote on the train issue. He didn't vote on the lawsuit! I don't live anywhere near the tracks and I think high speed rail is a shocking and inappropriate waste of resources as well as a detriment to our community. I appreciate the current council for standing up to the juggernaut.

Posted by Ariel Sharon, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Andy Cohen [portion removed] only cares about the SEIU and pursuing his quixotic causes. Talk about tilting at windmills! When he is not wasting the taxpayers money pursuing frivolous causes he just sits on the dais like a bump on the log and puts everyone to sleep- including himself. Sales of sominex plummeted in Menlo Park when Andy was mayor. People are much more awake now watching Heyward Robinson. This pugnacious pugilist really packs a wallop. I won't play basketball with him! Menlo Park should seriously consider increasing its D&O insurance. Just in case Heyward loses his temper again and causes serious bodily harm to a member of the audience.

Posted by senior moment, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Cal Jones II redux, convenient memory loss to justify self preservation of office. Sagacity tempered by lack of attention to detail.
Seems like a recipe for greater staff influence.

Posted by andy fan, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 4, 2009 at 10:46 am

You snarky pundits who keep attacking this generous, educated, and compassionate community volunteer cannot cite any substantiation for your statements. There is zero evidence that Andy Cohen cares about the SEIU, and to say that he "only cares" about it is tantamount to libel. You might want to try to stick to the facts when speaking of a public figure who is also a lawyer and judge!

Serving on council is a mostly thankless volunteer job. We've seen what happens when ignorant, selfish people get elected to council. They can do a lot of damage in a four-year term! Since December 2006, the council has been working hard to get our city back on track, and we are fortunate to have people of Andy Cohen's caliber who are willing to contribute their considerable talents on behalf of our city.

It's impossible not to have a few missteps over a 4-year term, but the lack of opposition to Andy's and Kelly's re-election shows that the community at large supports their efforts. You anonymous detractors apparently enjoy being members of a very small, petty, and hateful minority. How about signing up to volunteer to help others? Might be good for you!

Posted by Gaelstrom, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 4, 2009 at 11:46 am

For Andy to be a good councilman he should
1. Read his council packets
2. Quit attacking city staff for his lack of preparation
3. Take something to stay awake during council meetings
4. Quit funding studies and take decisive action
5. Do something to remedy our decaying infrastructure
6. Do something to generate city revenues such as augmenting the revenue base
7. Privatize MCC childcare
8. Outsource the Planning Department work to an A&E firm
9. Limit raises and benefits of city employees to what is comparable in the pivate sector, and
10. Keep partisan politics out of city Government. Andy owes the people of Menlo Park a public apology in a City Council meeting for his intemperate remarks regarding Governor Palin.

Posted by last word, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

You council bashers are such a pathetic bunch. Why not take your own advice and "do something" to help the city? Getting out there and taking action isn't nearly as easy as cowering anonymously behind your monitor and slinging dirt, but it's a lot more useful.

Posted by Concerned citizen, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 11:18 am

Dear last word,

We do help the city. Unfortunately all the current council does is fund studies and give pay raises to the employees. Meanwhile the residents of Menlo Park have been left out. I would apply for a commission vacancy but apparently the criteria for selection is based upon how "leftist" you are in your ideas and how committed you are to the "Rotting Infrastructure" council.

Posted by good grief, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I do not know of a council that has tried harder to include the residents of Menlo Park in its deliberations. Why not apply for a commission and find out how very wrong you are about your characterization of what the council does? If you are not volunteering your time, how is it that are you actually helping the city?

It is all to easy to put nasty - yes, I mean NASTY - labels on a council that is trying to create a many-years-overdue plan to guide development and renewal. To imply that the council is satisfied with the status quo infrastructure is offensive and laughable.

Posted by Gaelstrom, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Andy Cohen is an unmitigated disaster. His followers are intent on one thing- No growth for Menlo Park period. His and his fellow travelers use studies as a delay tactic for any actual development that is beneficial to the city. Our revenues are plummeting and wonderful projects such as the Derry project are hijacked by Andy's shadow Government Morris Brown. How is that for openess.

Posted by andy supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Gaelstrom - you have no idea of what you speak when you attribute motives and positions to others.
I support Andy because he seeks input from a variety of perspectives and has a great heart. Neither he nor I wish "no growth" for Menlo Park. I want planned growth, not the ad hoc catering to the pushiest developer's notion of what Menlo Park needs. Many of us were appalled at the Derry project because it did not conform with existing rules, used a number of creative calculations, and did not provide adequate public benefit for the many adverse impacts it would have brought. The revised project is much better.
The revenues of the city are affected by the economy more than by anything Andy has done or not done.

Posted by Vladimir Illyich Lenin Sanchez, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Andy only seeks input from his effete coterie of leftist no-growthers. Jellins Duboc and Winkler put in the Rosewood Hotel. That is real, is a crown jewel in the community, and is generating revenue for the community. Andy's supporters wanted that blight of a children's center with 7 kitchens and spires that would have encroached upon our greenbelt. Andy is for open space except when it comes to some leftist lunatic's idea of a children's center. Quit trying to defend the undefendable. [Portion removed; see terms of use.]

Posted by Camille, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I am one of Andy's biggest fans and I was adamantly opposed to the Taj Mahal (see post on other thread). Andy had nothing to do with the childcare center! Let's get real.

Andy is open to input from everyone in the community. If you don't believe me, email or call him and invite him to coffee.

As for "growth" -- depends on what you mean by growth. We have had council members who rolled over and gave developers whatever they wanted. Who met with developers before meetings, accepted gifts and donations from them, and then rubber-stamped their proposals after ignoring all the residents who showed up to voice their opinions. Result: some pretty ugly projects that detract from the community at large.

Menlo Park residents aren't stupid. We voted out that particular set of council members. Kelly, when she took office after the upheaval, knew that she had to get to work fixing up El Camino and downtown -- areas that her predecessors had neglected! -- immediately. Andy continued that work. Yes, it takes longer than a closed-door dictatorship, but when the process is finished, we will have a plan that has been thoroughly scrutinized by ALL members of the public who choose to be involved. THAT is the kind of growth most of us want: growth that transforms vacant lots into thriving retail establishments and an underdeveloped downtown area into a destination spot. Growth that complements the village character that many of us treasure. Not the get-rich-quick garbage inflicted on us by carpetbaggers who don't care a bit about the city.

Most of us want to live in a city that has a firm financial foundation. That's a value that transcends labels, and one that the current council continues to promote, even in challenging economic times.

Posted by Vladimir Illyich Lenin Sanchez, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler and Nicholas Jellins did not
1. Meet with developers before meetings
2. Accept gifts from developers
3. Rubberstamp their proposals

If you have proof of that then you should present it to the Grand Jury. But you have no proof. Just more baseless accusations from the left. And what do we have to show for it under Andy & Kelly- boarded up store fronts, a rapidly diminishing tax base, out of control salary hikes and benefits increases, and rapidly drawn down reserves. Yes, Andy and Kelly have done wonderful things for us.

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

(V.I. Lenin), you're out of your element.

Boarded up businesses, tax base in decline, unions partying in the streets, cats and dogs living together...

Menlo Park is strong and its future is ver bright. We cna thank our current council and the past councils for this. Yes, we call name call but this city is sound.

V.I. would be proud of you..."A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

Keep telling readers how bad it is...rinse and repeat, thousands of times.

Boyle would be proud.

Posted by Ayn Rand, a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Vlad old boy, calm down. Our time has come and gone. Let's let these folks sort out their differences of opinion in a civil fashion and come up with solutions that will benefit their town. This "left" and "right" stuff you seem to be fixated on in describing people's values is as dead as we are. It's better that way, Vlad. Now relax and enjoy eternity.

Posted by Old timer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Expensive studies that gather dust have been the norm in Menlo Park for at least 20 years, and pre-date Andy Cohen, the Nicky-Mickie-Lee triumvirate and the Schmidt-Collacchi-Kinney troika that came before. It doesn't seem to matter which way the council leans.

Posted by andy supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Vlad - since when did the Rosewood Hotel start generating revenue? I don't think it's open yet. I am not alone in not supporting either the Taj Mahal childcare center (beautiful building that was inflexible in housing more kids) or the police station (too small for scale). I also do not support the city running child care. So Please stop making polarizing assumptions.
Please also bear in mind that staff recommended to the prior council to create a plan for El Camino but Mickie, Nicholas and Lee opposed doing so. At last we have a council willing to do so.

Posted by Ann Coulter, a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2009 at 7:26 am

[Post removed; see terms of use.]

Posted by Vladimir Illyich Lenin Sanchez, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2009 at 7:44 am

Dear andy supporter.

You must be forgiven for not knowing how the planning department soaks developers every step of the way in the planning and construction process. Menlo Park raked in enormous revenues from the Rosewood hotel project before it even broke ground! Its the gift that keeps on giving. Also, remember that Andy Cohen voted against the Rosewood Hotel even theough it will be a boon to Menlo Park in terms of an upscale hotel including a fine dining restaurant an a very nice swimming pool. Not to mention the occupancy tax soon to come on line. Andy's lack ov vision has not served Menlo Park well. He ha been an obstuctionist to anyone wanting to stop the decay of the Menlo Park infrastructure.

Posted by R.W. Emerson, a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2009 at 8:02 am

To be great is to be misunderstood.

Posted by Word Watcher, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2009 at 8:56 am

Remember, Vladimir, that the planning department's fees are supposed to cover only the cost of services. Remember too that the department just got busted for collecting over the years far less in fees than the cost of its services. To call the fees paid by the hotel developer "revenue" is not only misleading, it's laughable.

Posted by watching word watcher, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 6, 2009 at 9:22 am

Good point, WW. But I think we can guess which poster on this thread is the developer who feels as though s/he's been unfairly matter what the facts may prove.

Posted by andy supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 6, 2009 at 9:30 am

WW - thanks for the clarification about fees and revenue.
Andy supported the hotel but not the 100,000 square foot office building that was part of the project. This will not produce any revenue, like other professional office buildings on Sand Hill Road, and is on the last open space in town where alternative uses such as sports fields were never considered. The council majority at the time wouldn't consider negotiating that aspect of the project.

Posted by Vladimir Illyich Lenin Sanchez, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

andy supporter,

Read my text! Andy Cohen voted against the Rosewood hotel! End of story! Duboc, Winkler, and Jellins had a great proposal to build sports fields at Bay Front Park- an artificially created park on top of a heap of garbage. But the left wing environmentalists would not hear of it. It was more important for them to have a place for their dogs to poop then to have sports fields for MP children. And you want to put a sports field in a place that would be geographically difficult for Belle Haven children to play. I can see you have forgotten that Belle Haven is part of Menlo Park. You leftists are perfecly willing to sacrifice the rights of minorities at the alter of extreme environmentalism.

Posted by Ayn Rand, a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2009 at 11:21 am

Oh, Vlad, there you go again with this left/right silliness. I suppose it's to be expected with people who insist on punctuating their statements with exclamation points and bullets like "End of story!"

But Vlad, please, try to understand that left/right ideology is often a distorting prism through which to view life, and people engaged in environmental issues and civic affairs might just be sincerely concerned about their community and the planet they're leaving their kids and grandkids. You don't have to be a "lunatic leftie" or a right-wing nut to have those concerns.

But I must say, Vlad, I'm deeply touched by your concern for those Belle Haven children who have no alternatives for playing fields now that Bayfront Park is off the table. Perhaps you can volunteer to shuttle the children over the great freeway divide to the playing fields in the West. But then, what will the city do with Kelly Field?

Posted by Vladimir Illyich Lenin Sanchez, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

[Post removed; see terms of use.]

Posted by Helen Thomas, a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2009 at 7:22 am

I find Andy's ineptitude endearing in a goofy sort of way. He makes about as much sense as I do.

Posted by Menachim Begin, a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2009 at 7:51 am

[Post removed]

Posted by Golda Meir, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 8, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Good point, Ayn. Kelly field is the most under-utilized field in Menlo Park.

Posted by Gaelstrom, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm

[Post removed; see terms of use]

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