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Fire board member decries union ads

Original post made on Oct 16, 2009

With a contract dispute unresolved and an election looming, the union that represents 93 firefighters in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District has provoked the ire of one board member by launching what he views as a misleading election campaign.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 11:06 AM

Comments (67)

Posted by Bill, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2009 at 7:48 am

This is yet another attempt of the union attempting to influence people so that they can get their big raise.

Don't be fooled by the signs. What does it say when this group didn't even support one of their own retiree?


Posted by Susan, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 16, 2009 at 7:53 am

I think the firefighters do a good job. But I don't like all the phone calls and ads telling me that I should support their candidates. It seems too cozy for me that the union has supported three people, and the union also wants an 11% raise. I don't plan to vote for them.


Posted by Paul, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 16, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Who's campaigning the union or the candidates? Do you think there are too many black signs around town telling us who the union supports?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

The union and their three candidates met in advance of the union endorsement - these were NOT public meetings and no transcript is available.

What does the union expect in return for all of the time and money they are 'contributing' to these three candidates?

The other three candidates have both superior qualifications, clean hands and are each standing on their own merits.

Hopefully the voters will decide that the Board should represent the citizens of the District and not the firefighters' union - almost all of whom are NOT citizens of the District.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 16, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Here is what the California Government Code says:

3205. (a) An officer or employee of a local agency shall not,
directly or indirectly, solicit a political contribution from an
officer or employee of that agency, or from a person on an employment
list of that agency, with knowledge that the person from whom the
contribution is solicited is an officer or employee of that agency.
(b) A candidate for elective office of a local agency shall not,
directly or indirectly, solicit a political contribution from an
officer or employee of that agency, or from a person on an employment
list of that agency, with knowledge that the person from whom the
contribution is solicited is an officer or employee of that agency.
(c) This section shall not prohibit an officer or employee of a
local agency, or a candidate for elective office in a local agency,
from requesting political contributions from officers or employees of
that agency if the solicitation is part of a solicitation made to a
significant segment of the public which may include officers or
employees of that local agency.
(d) Violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor. The
district attorney shall have all authority to prosecute under this
section.
(e) For purposes of this section, the term "contribution" shall
have the same meaning as defined in Section 82015.



3205.5. No one who holds, or who is seeking election or appointment
to, any office shall, directly or indirectly, offer or arrange for
any increase in compensation or salary for an employee of a state or
local agency in exchange for, or a promise of, a contribution or loan
to any committee controlled directly or indirectly by the person who
holds, or who is seeking election or appointment to, an office. A
violation of this section is punishable by imprisonment in a county
jail for a period not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding five
thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 16, 2009 at 10:52 pm

If this is true Peter, who do you report this to so they can investigate it?


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2009 at 12:01 am

Because Peter is aware that asking for a contribution and receiving a contribution are two very different things. Where contributions are concerned, the Union can approach the candidate, the candidate cannot approach the Union.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2009 at 12:58 am

Innocent until proven guilty, but you have to wonder why the union is supporting the three least qualified candidates and why those candidates have accepted the union's support.

Since the discussions between these three candidates and the union took place behind closed doors only the District Attorney or the Grand Jury has the ability to find out who asked who for what and who promised what in return.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2009 at 7:13 am

There are two sides to every story. The MP Firefighters Association explains their endorsement decision on their web site, available via clicking on their banner ads on AlmanacNews.Com.

If you bother to read it in its entirety, you get to this disturbing allegation:

<< In fact, we have a current Fire Board Member that has taken the time to contact the candidates running for Fire Board in November to advise them not to meet with us or seek our endorsement. He has informed candidates that our endorsement would hurt a potential candidate's chance for election. He went on to state that if a candidate received our endorsement that they would be branded as "pro-union" and they would be perceived as being obligated to the "union." >>

What's next, protection money from the candidates??

My absentee ballot is sitting right next to me. I am glad I am taking the time to read through this dialog. Frankly, I am concerned about the out of control compensation. But, I am more concerned about the low morale and inability of the Fire Board to strike a deal with these people.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2009 at 8:18 am

It is always good to have the facts. Here is exactly what I wrote to all six candidates:

I understand that the union will be interviewing candidates on 25 August. I strongly recommend that you neither seek nor accept the union's endorsement.

I believe that their endorsement will hurt your chances for election, will brand you as pro-union and will be perceived as obligating you to the union as a Board member.

I ran without the union's endorsement and received more votes than any other candidate.

Peter


Posted by Another Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 17, 2009 at 8:39 am

To Menlo Voter -- yes, there is another side too. I have read the read the meeting transcripts. The Fire Board has offered many times to meet with the union, but the union keeps filing additional charges -- the latest being a PERB charge which the union seemed proud of and publicized.

Maybe their morale is low because they aren't getting what they want -- lots more money. They have a good job and work for a good department. They should be grateful not greedy. Who gets an 11% raise these days?

Did you also read what the Fire Board wrote, "The Board is asking Department members to strive towards excellence again and 
to work with the District to resolve our present differences.  Such resolution can only be achieved 
through open and good faith communications at the bargaining table.  We have directed the District's 
representatives to communicate our standing offer to the Association leadership to join us there so that 
we may solve our disputes and refocus our energies on the public service." [Fire District website]

And why didn't the Association support one its retired members if this is suppose to be a family? (as the Association's web site purports)

It's good to know as much about the story as possible.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2009 at 9:08 am

The Board wrote the above referenced letter to the union on July 24.
The union has still not returned to the bargaining table - what more can the Board do?
What the union wants is to meet with individual Board members so that they can try to undercut the full Board and the management team.

Similarly, the three candidates that they have endorsed they endorsed only after meeting with each of them privately - who knows what was said and what was promised. The union is spending a lot of money and time to support those three candidates. The public has a right to know why the union is providing such aggressive support - I doubt it is because these three candidates told the union that their demands were excessive.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

One has to wonder why the union is going to such lengths to make its support known. In a state-wide or national election having such endorsements -- maybe. But at our level, I think the union is overly involved. One has to question their motivation; all the phone calls, mailers, signs -- and how much money has all of this cost the firefighters/union??

They may do a good job, but at some point they may run out of even that support if they continue to be overly political. Enough is enough.

The candidates should be elected on their own merit not just because the union says so.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

This frustrates me greatly. With the downturn of the economy my husband was laid off from a decent job; now we're having to make changes in how we live. I am bothered by firefighters, who are supposed to be public servants, asking for such an extraordinary raise. Most of them don't even live in this community. I can appreciate them wanting a fair wage like the rest of us. But I looked at their reported income on the website. They make a decent salary. This should not be a job that you get rich on; if they want that kind of job, go work for private industry.

We need to contain personnel costs. Shame on these guys for their greedy attitude. They should be willing to make concessions right now like many of the rest of us . I have concerns about voting for candidates who are being supported by the firefighters.


Posted by Retired FF, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

I am a retired firefighter from another state and moved here with my wife to be closer to our family. Our group was never this adversarial. We tried to work things our professionally; sure we had our disagreements. But we never aired them in public. While I'm proud of my career and profession I am put off by the way these fire fighters are acting. Serve the community and be appreciative for what you get paid – I wish I had gotten paid what these guys make. Stop acting like spoiled brats and be professional. You don't see our men and women in the military complaining about what they get paid. I can't say I am going to support their candidates


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community, 15 hours ago

"Because Peter is aware that asking for a contribution and receiving a contribution are two very different things. Where contributions are concerned, the Union can approach the candidate, the candidate cannot approach the Union."

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 14 hours ago

"Innocent until proven guilty, but you have to wonder why the union is supporting the three least qualified candidates and why those candidates have accepted the union's support. Since the discussions between these three candidates and the union took place behind closed doors only the District Attorney or the Grand Jury has the ability to find out who asked who for what and who promised what in return."

Mr. Carpenter, please understand that I share your concern that the fire fighters union has endorsed three candidates for the District Board. I believe the residents of the District should think very carefully about electing candidates that have the support of any entity that will benefit from their election.

That said, you have interjected into this discussion what appears to be nothing more than innuendo and suggestion. There is no evidence to suggest that the three candidates supported by the Union have acted in anything other than an honorable manner. You may not care for their potential election and neither do I.

Mr. Carpenter you have many years of honorable service to the district, service I hope will continue for many years more.

Please do not stoop to this level of smear tactics in order to make your point. It is unnecessary and beneath you.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Let the facts speak for themselves:
1 - will the candidates endorsed by the union declared that they have made no commitment to support an excessive labor agreement?
2 -how much has the union spent to support these three candidates and why have they done so given their individual qualification?

Answer these questions and there can be no innuendo or suggestion.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm

The candidates are in a tricky spot. The Association sponsored a meet the candidate night. If they don't attend, they mark themselves as anti-Association. If they attend and present themselves favorably, they get branded pro-union.

There are ways for candidates to come out of those meetings without making promises to increase firefighter salaries if they are elected. If none of the candidates made such promises, the the Associaton has to endorse the best of the ones they met.

Is it possible the endorsed candidates came off with a supportive platform which did not include promises to increase pay. I think so!

The Association chose not to endorse one of their own. Who knows what goes on during their meetings. Perhaps that person burned some bridges when he left. I don't read too much into that decision.

I have inferred from your comments that the Association promised to get these candidates elected in exchange for a salary increase. I believe that is indeed the message you wish the voters to hear. In short that because they were endorsed by the firefighters association they will engage in wrong-doing.

I think it's reasonable to evaluate the candidates on their platforms, track records, and experience. Consider the passionate plea from the outgoing board member, to be sure, but understand there is no proof offered.

Given that this election has every potential for low participation, I suppose it's nice to have some controversy to drum up interest. Remember when only one person ran for one seat? Guess those days are gone ...


Posted by John, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Is the question as simple as do you think the union is being too political or have they just endorsed 3 candidates?

I sure see a lot of signs and have received fliers and had phone calls from the union. For a group that is supporting 3 candidates, they sure seem to be spending lots of money on this support. This makes me question their motivation.

They say they want to communicate with the other side's negotiating team. What's stopping them? I tend to think there is more going on than just what we read on the websites.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 18, 2009 at 4:09 am

How did the union pick the three candidates whom it is endorsing?
They invited all 6 to meet with them.
2 declined to meet with them.
One who met with them then sent the union a letter declining any endorsement.

So the union is endorsing not the three best candidates based on their records or positions but the three candidates who agreed to meet with them and to accept their endorsement.

I would much prefer that the voters make the decision as to who should represent us on the Fire Board rather than allowing the union to give incredible exposure with lots of manpower and money to the three candidates chosen solely because they agreed to play ball with the union.


Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 18, 2009 at 7:33 am

The same thing happened in Menlo Park in 2006 when Heyward Robinson Vince Bressler, and Richard Cline met with the SEIU behind closed doors, on Menlo Park City Property during working hours. I attempted to gain entrance to the meeting and was turned away by the SEIU.

If this was a "clean meeting" with no quid-pro-quo and the SEIU had nothing to hide, it would not have barred my entrance. But there was too much at stake and the SEIU did not want any witnesses to its unseemly exertion of undue influence. So instead, Heyward Robinson and Richard Cline made their Faustian Pact with the SEIU in camera. At least Vince Bressler followed his conscience and would not agree to be the SEIU's B**ch.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2009 at 7:48 am

I am beginning to find Mr. Carpenters comments very troublesome. First the three candidates endorsed by the Union are supposed to have been selected for endorsement as the result of some "agreement" to approve salary increases, now he claims they were endorsed only because they were the only ones willing to accept the endorsement.

I will sate again that I believe all of the District voters should think carefully before voting for any candidate who is endorsed by an entity that has a vested interest in an election.

However given Mr. Carpenters clear attempt to throw as much mud as possible and hope some of it will stick, I am beginning to wonder exactly whose agenda I need be more concerned about.

The Almanac could do the community a serviced by interviewing these "endorsed" candidates and reporting their views on the salary negotiations. When it comes to Mr. Carpenter "He doth protest too much".


Posted by Rational Voter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 18, 2009 at 11:35 am

Dear "Interested" from another community. Funny, but I just read through this entire interchange and do *not* see Carpenter "throwing mud." I see him, a member of the fire board, not being happy about how the Fire Board is campaigning.

I was also interested to hear that the firefighters association is pushing for a raise. Truthfully, I don't always pay attention to things as much as I should, and I appreciate the information. And in my experience, it really pays to look into the actions of unions.

I did a bit of research and discovered the following: Mr. Carpenter has been the only Atherton resident on the fire board for 8.5 years. He is not running for re-election, which is sad, because in my opinion, Athertonians (and their real estate holdings) could use some representation on the fire board. So it doesn't seem as though he's out for personal gain.

Three of the five seats on the board are up for election this year for four year terms. I got an email saying that the Atherton Civic Interest League has endorsed Stephen Natchtseim as being very qualified AND the only Atherton resident running for the board. He is not one of the three put forth by the Fire Board. I looked him up at smartvoter:
Web Link

Are there online policy statements for the Menlo Park fire board and the candidates that they are submitting? Mr. Carpenter says that these are the "least qualified" candidates. What does this mean, exactly?

And can we stop with accusations of mud throwing? It's time to really pay attention to where our money is going, since towns are being forced to go bankrupt left and right. I suppose asking for "straight" answers is too much to hope for from political aspirants, but I am curious to know why those particular candidates are backed (instead of the Atherton candidate) by an organization that is pushing for a raise during the worst economic times since the sixties.



Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Rational Voter.. I can only assume you do not read very well. I will state again that I think Peter Carpenter has done a great job for the fire district, I will state again that I agree with him that candidates endorsed by the union should be very carefully considered.

That said, his suggestion that these three candidates might be in violation of the Government Code purely because they have met with and received the endorsement of the union is nothing more than mud slinging. Other than in Mr. Carpenters mind is there any evidence to suggest these three candidates are in violation of the law?. If there is I have not seen it here.

Has Mr. Carpenter filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission? If he believes there may have been a violation of the code why has he not filed a complaint?

Mr. Carpenter does not believe these three candidates are the best qualified to serve on the district board, he may well be correct. He is certainly entitled to his opinion. He is entitled to "not be happy with the way the fire board is campaigning. He is not entitled to smear these candidates with innuendo and suggestive statements. If Mr. Carpenter has evidence of criminal activity by the three union endorsed candidates he should present it.

Frankly I am surprised that any person would run for local office in this day and age, especially when there are persons like yourself who see no disrespect in suggesting those people are criminals.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I Have clearly stated that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and I have said let the facts speak for themselves:

1 - will the candidates endorsed by the union declared that they have made no commitment to support an excessive labor agreement?

2 - how much has the union spent to support these three candidates and why have they done so given their individual qualification?

The voters can then make an informed decision.




Posted by Lifelong resident, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I grew up in Menlo Park and have lived in the fire district for over 50 years. My family is grateful for the district and the work of the firefighters.

This isn't complicated. The board effectively sits across the table from the union. I'll be voting for candidates who don't look for union endorsement.

Mr. Natchtseim gets my support based on credentials and independence.


Posted by Doug, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm

As a 30 year resident of Atherton, I believe that every voter should look carefully at each candidate's qualifications and take into account that more of Atherton's tax money goes to the Menlo Fire Protection District than goes to run the town of Atherton. Menlo Fire is a major cost center and needs a strong board with deep business and financial experience. I think Menlo Fire is a top flight operation and know several of its members. They are professional and responsive. The challenge is how to deal with the huge financial burden going forward not the least of which is how to fund the pension obligations. Each voter should be casting a vote for directors who will handle the pay and pension issues objectively and responsibly with appropriate financial expertise to understand the future impact on the Town of Atherton.


Posted by John Wurdinger, Menlo Park Firefighters, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Hello,

My name is John Wurdinger, and I am the President of Menlo Park Firefighters. I have been labeled as President of my Union, but I am not, Ed Hawkins (a retired San Mateo City Firefighter) is. I would like to take the time to attempt to explain our Association, our endorsement process, our current political campaign, and issues brought up in the Menlo Park Almanac Blog.

Menlo Park Firefighters Association
The earliest records we have of the Menlo Park Firemen's Association go back to 1932, we think our Association goes back further but we have no documentation. Although we do have records going back to 1932 we were not officially incorporated until December 17th, 1938 as the Menlo Park Firemen's Association. We did not have any women within our Association for nearly five decades because our Fire District never hired any. By the 1980's this changed and on October 30th, 1989, "Menlo Park Firemens' Association Inc." officially and legally changed our name to "the Menlo Park Firefighters' Association Inc." via a vote of the General Membership.

Like other Associations, ours has a Motto "our family helping your family," a Mission Statement "the Menlo Park Firefighters Association exists to protect, improve, and preserve the lives of the citizens of the Fire District and the members of the Firefighters Association," and By-Laws. Our By-Laws break our Association into 4 categories, Active, Associate, Retired and Honorary.

Our Endorsement Process

Although I have only been a member of the Association for just over eleven years, I am aware of our Association endorsing candidates for well over two if not three decades. Although we are currently affiliated with a Union, IAFF Local 2400, Menlo Park Firefighters endorsed Board Candidates when we were not in any Union.

As a point of interest I would like to bring to your attention that we have endorsed 4 out of 5 of the existing Board Members at some point in time. Our only exception is Director Peter Otaki, who we probably have the best relationship with. In addition to endorsing candidates for Fire Board we once endorsed Jellins, Winkler, & Duboc for Menlo Park City Council. It was a little out of the ordinary for us to do so, but Jellins, Winkler, & Duboc asked and we gave them our endorsement. I personally even walked streets and handed out campaign literature for Lee Duboc. After their first term we chose not to make another endorsement of City Council because it was such a contested race and the Menlo Park City Council has little to do with the Menlo Park Fire District.

What is interesting is that none of the candidates, whether they are existing Board Members or former City Council members, ever had an issue of being endorsed by "Menlo Park Firefighters" while they carried our endorsement. It is only after they do not receive the endorsement of Menlo Park Firefighters that they feel the endorsement is "unethical."

The Menlo Park Firefighters Association chooses to endorse by committee. Our committee interviews candidates and then ranks them. The ranking goes to our Association Board and in accordance with our By-Laws and the Roberts Rule of Order the Firefighters Association Board votes to ratify the committee's findings and suggestions.

Our current political campaign

There have been some serious allegations being made about our current political campaign that are not true. These allegations include but are not limited to:
1. Menlo Park Firefighters misrepresenting themselves as the Fire District.
2. Using District Grounds to campaign for the 3 members we endorse for Fire Board.
3. Using District photographs in our campaign mailers.
4. Secret closed door meetings with the 3 candidates we support inorder to secure an 11% pay raise.

Menlo Park Firefighters misrepresenting themselves as the Fire District

Menlo Park Firefighters are not now nor have we ever been misrepresenting ourselves as the Menlo Park Fire District. We are only representing ourselves as what we are, Menlo Park Firefighters.

Using District grounds to campaign for the 3 members we endorse for Fire Board

Menlo Park Firefighters have not and will not utilize District Ground to campaign. We will not because we know we are not supposed to. This charge comes from us having a booth at the 9th Annual Firefighter Pancake Breakfast. A Breakfast in which the Mid-Peninsula Junior League and the Stanford Inn help us raise nearly $9,000 every year for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.

At this event we screened roughly two dozen citizens for High Blood Pressure, passed out medical "file(s) of life" to be used as tools for citizens to document their medical issues when we respond on them during a medical emergency, passed out Firefighter Association stickers and sold T-shirts. There was no political campaigning going on.

Using District photographs in our campaign mailers

If you have received a mailer or have already visited our election webpage, Web Link you will notice that the firefighters on the literature are not those of the Menlo Park Fire District. They are photos provided to us by the printer who is designing our mailer. However, there is a candidate utilizing the Menlo Park Fire District's insignia. This candidate has the Fire District's insignia on his campaign signs and who knows what else. You will not find the Fire District's logo on any of the signs form any of the candidates we support because we believe this would either be against the law or dangerously close to it.

Secret closed door meetings with the 3 candidates we support inorder to secure an 11% pay raise

Of all the allegations this one is the most troubling. The reason why is two fold; (1)we are not asking for an 11% raise; and, (2) we have never had any such meetings.

We would like to go on record and state that the firefighters of Menlo Park do not want anyone to feel obligated to us. What we hope for is that our next Fire District Board is one that will independently choose to meet with us and have a working relationship with us. Our ultimate desire is that the relationship created with our new Fire Board is not disingenuous and is not only about appearances. We dream that our next Fire Board will meet with us not out of obligation, but will meet with us because they understand the need to hear all sides of an issue prior to making an informed decision. In the end all we want is a professional working relationship with our elected officials, a goal that currently escapes us.

What we are attempting to do is something we have never done before, bring up issues that we feel are important to you as citizens. Like:

1. The Fire District Board voting not to speak to us while engaged in contract negotiations (we have been in negotiations for 36 of the past 42 months)
2. The Fire District not utilizing recognized standard of professional development of our Chief Officers'
3. The Fire District spending nearly 1.3 Million Dollars on legal expenses in the past three years, when in years past the District spent between $30,000 to $87,000 a year on said expenses.
4. The fact that although everyone is claiming to be fiscally conservative and having a fiduciary responsibility to the Fire District, that we now have nearly 3 times the staff in admin that we did just ten years ago and we currently have members who have been here for 26 years, received 1 incorrect paycheck in the first 25 years of employment with the Fire District and yet in the past 9 months has received 3.
5. The fact that we want to consolidate Fire Protection Services with the City of San Mateo. Such a merger would save the tax payers of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District roughly 2 Million Dollars a year.
6. Acknowledge that while our pension costs are high, the firefighters of Menlo Park have a plan that would cut the Fire District's annual pension obligation in half.
7. The fact that our Classification from the Insurance Safety Office fell from a high Class 3 (78.2%) in 1987 to a low class 3 (70.99%) in 2004. According to the ISO website this rating effects your fire insurance premiums as residents of the Menlo Park Fire District. But more importantly, that the firefighters of Menlo Park gave the Fire District a plan over a year ago that, if implemented, would raise the Fire Districts ISO rating from nearly a Class 4 to a Class 2 Fire Department. The District has yet to implement the plan.
8. The fact that despite the firefighters of Menlo Park pleading with the Fire District to hire Paramedic Firefighters, the District has chosen not to. This decision has lead to the District having to change the way we bid for Station and Shift because we do not have enough Paramedic Firefighter/Engineers to staff our emergency apparatus.

We feel that if we are able to successfully bring up these issues during this years campaign that all of the Districts stakeholders will be better because of it, the Taxpaying Citizen, the Agency (Menlo Park Fire Protection District), and the members who staff the District (the firefighters).

Issues brought up in the Menlo Park Almanac Blog
The firefighters of Menlo Park have yet to have been interviewed by the Menlo Park Almanac. However there have been plenty of articles and blogs about us in the paper and on the web.

I would like to offer my personal apologies to the former retired firefighter for what is out in the media. The firefighters of Menlo Park have not engaged the press because we watched a Fire Protection District in our County go down in flames due to an internal war making its way into the press. What the firefighters of Menlo Park learned from the process was to never go to war with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

After the first story that was released about our current situation I received one e-mail from a concerned citizen it read as follows:

"Seriously? You guys have got to be kidding. You want an 11% raise? Are you tone deaf to what is happening around you? I am in the construction industry and I am lucky to still have a job. I have also had to endure pay cuts and reductions in benefits. So have most of the rest of the citizens of your district (I live in Menlo Park). Do you think you are immune from this recession? Guess what, you are not. As a citizen that you serve and having read both sides of the argument and as a former public servant myself, I stand fully behind the District Board. Wake up and smell the coffee guys this is not the time to be demanding a raise."

I responded with:

"I am sorry it has taken me two days to get back to you but I do not answer these types of e-mails relating to the Association while on duty. What I can say is that we are not demanding nor are we even asking for an 11% raise and while you may have read some information that was on our website, you do not know our side of the story because you will not find it in the papers or on the internet.

I would like to thank you for your concern on he matter and offer to sit down with you as a citizen we serve. I can only imagine how you must feel about your firefighters after reading some of the things that are currently out there, but I can say that a majority of the information is not accurate or a misrepresentation of the facts. I will be availible to meet with you either on Saturday and Sunday morning but start my 48 hour tour on Monday at 0800.

Thank You,
John Wurdinger
Menlo Park Fighters"

I bought this citizen a cup of coffee and he let me talk for nearly three hours. A few months later he took me out to lunch and gave me pointers on how to express our issues to the other citizens of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. You can see the fruits of our conversation on our election page of our website and I assure you there will be more shortly.

If you are a concerned citizen I ask that you read the material on our election page of our website or write me an e-mail at johnw@mpffa.org, I will do my best to set a date with you to have coffee.

I can also state that the reasons that contract negotiations are stalled is because we believe the Fire District is breaking California State Law and bargaining in bad faith. Instead of writing to the newspaper and blogging about the situation we went to the only place that we could really solve it, the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB). This is the process in which disputes are solved for firefighters in California.

If the District really thinks we are running our campaign illegally I encourage them to have us brought up on charges. We are not breaking any laws, but if we were the way to solve it would be by bringing charges to the proper authorities, just as we did when we filed a claim with the CalPERB. It is important to recognize that we went to the proper authorities when we felt the District was breaking the law and did not slander the District in print and on blogs.

Thank You,

John Wurdinger
Menlo Park Firefighters



Posted by John Wurdinger, Menlo Park Firefighters, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2009 at 10:58 pm

The rest of the last posting...


I bought this citizen a cup of coffee and he let me talk for nearly three hours. A few months later he took me out to lunch and gave me pointers on how to express our issues to the other citizens of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. You can see the fruits of our conversation on our election page of our website and I assure you there will be more shortly.

If you are a concerned citizen I ask that you read the material on our election page of our website or write me an e-mail at johnw@mpffa.org, I will do my best to set a date with you to have coffee.

I can also state that the reasons that contract negotiations are stalled is because we believe the Fire District is breaking California State Law and bargaining in bad faith. Instead of writing to the newspaper and blogging about the situation we went to the only place that we could really solve it, the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB). This is the process in which disputes are solved for firefighters in California.

If the District really thinks we are running our campaign illegally I encourage them to have us brought up on charges. We are not breaking any laws, but if we were the way to solve it would be by bringing charges to the proper authorities, just as we did when we filed a claim with the CalPERB. It is important to recognize that we went to the proper authorities when we felt the District was breaking the law and did not slander the District in print and on blogs.

Thank You,

John Wurdinger
Menlo Park Firefighters



Posted by Enough, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 19, 2009 at 1:05 am

Enough already!

This has gotten way out of hand.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 19, 2009 at 6:29 am

John, Thank you for your insightful and important contribution to this conversation. It is exactly the information I seek in making my decision. It stands as an example of the power this forum can provide.


Posted by voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 19, 2009 at 8:47 am

I also thank John for his contribution. I read the firefighters' website and read the entire page about the firefighters' endorsement of the three candidates. Interestingly, although it purports to explain why they have endorsed those three, all the page says (at the very end) is "Due to their quality, the firefighters of Menlo Park are proud to both endorse and support Jack Nelson, Robert J. Silano and Jon M. Mosby in their campaign for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board." Not much of an explanation, is it?

I appreciate John taking the time to write such a long response and wonder why he does not send something similar to the Almanac, who would probably publish it as an opinion piece and give more people a chance to read the information. (He says he would prefer to go to the PERB, but posting his letter here is akin to publishing an article -- it's just not reaching as large an audience. Might as well go for it.) I for one would like to know more about the $ million spent on legal expenses.

John comments that committees interviewed each candidate but then goes on to say that there have been no closed door meetings. For most of us, those interviews meet the definition of a closed door, private meeting. During those interviews, were candidates asked about their support for a pay increase? John does not say.

As a voter, I first became aware that the firefighters were supporting specific candidates when I listened to their campaign message on my voicemail. I (and I am sure I am not alone) find recorded political messages highly offputting, and I had to wonder what was motivating the firefighters to support these particular candidates. Although I appreciate their desire to have a board that they can work with, I am not at all impressed by the explanation of the process, the rationale for the endorsements, or the telephone spam.


Posted by Yet Another Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

I find it interesting that the union is spending so much time and money campaigning for theses three candidates. I also see that some people seem to be accepting of what John Wurdinger wrote. It would seem to make sense to know all the information before making a decision. A blog such as this doesn't contain all the information.

As to the amount of legal fees spent by the Fire District, I would also guess that much of them have come as a result of the union filing many charges, complaints, etc. Are they really trying to work together or just get what they want?

I have my doubts about the union's version of the story. No support for their candidates.


Posted by Just asking?, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm

If our fire fighters are being paid such a low amount and deserve more (as the union and their chosen candidates believe) why is it that for every fire fighter vacancy in our District there are at least 100 qualified applicants? I guess there are a lot of other people who would be more than happy to work for such "low pay" and then be able to retire at age 50 at almost full "best and last" salary for life -- with COLA increases every year, to boot! I for one chose the wrong career decades ago.


Posted by James, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

I appreciate John Wurdinger attempt at explaining some of the allegations. However, the explanation regarding the allegation of endorsing candidates to secure an 11% raise is unclear. First, it is widely known that the firefighters have been working without a contract for the last one and a half years. This can only mean that someone on the union side is stalling negotiations since the average yearly raise has been 3-4% for a number of years. This is more than fair and I appreciated the fireboard not caving to an 11% raise. This reeks of greed and the union's strong endorsement and campaigning for several candidate needs a clear answer.

Everything may be above-board but a good explanation for the long delayed contract and ridiculous raise would be helpful.


Posted by It's About Time, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm

[Post removed; see terms of use]


Posted by Answer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm

To Just Asking -- My understanding is that the Fire District (or other fire agencies) has no problem attracting firefighter candidates. In fact I think I heard there were about 500 applicants for 3 positions the last time the Fire District hired new people.

Do you realize that many of our firefighters make more than about half the Governors in the United States and between what a Major and Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, Air Force or Marine Corps with more that 20 years of service make?

And the firefighters want an 11% raise? I too should have changed professions.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I am very pleased that this thread has generated so much interest and input - that is what makes a democracy works.

And I look forward to the informed decision of the voters on 3 Nov.


Posted by Rob Silano: Candidate for Menlo Park Fire District, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

Statement of Candidate Rob Silano regarding Menlo Park Firefighters Association Signs: October 16, 2009 at 2:200p.m.

First, let me take a minute to say that "it is not about the signs." This district has more important issues and challenges than to spend a great deal of time on a distraction to the voters about the signs. Next, you should know that I have purchased my own signs that say Rob Silano for Fire Protection Board. To be clear, I have the endorsements of the Menlo Park Fire Fighters Association, yet nothing on my sign references that fact. I see signs about town that state that the Menlo Park Firefighters Association is endorsing me, Jack Nelson and Jon Mosby for the three slots on the board. I am honored to have their support to include the San Mateo County Labor Council and other prominent Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto residents and community leaders.

I have seen the Menlo Park Firefighters Association signs declaring their support for me about town. I note that the hat on the sign clearly bears the Association letters MPAFF. I also see the Menlo Park Firefighters Association website, www.mpaff.org clearly marked at the bottom of each of those signs. The web-site could not be clearer that it is a firefighters association. In fact it contains a history of the Association since its foundation. I refer anyone with any questions about those signs to the website prominently listed on the sign.


Posted by a taxpayer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Let me quote from today's Almanac :

Firefighter compensation, which is two-thirds of the district's budget, is a concern, he said, noting that district firefighters are not underpaid, with 50 engineers reaching $178,000 a year in total compensation. Twenty-four captains and nine chief officers are paid more than $200,000, he said.

I think that really says it all. there are 105 employees of the fire district. thus about three quarters are at that pay scale or above. i understand that the fire district has about the same budget as the city of menlo park, but less than half of the number of employees. therefore the average employee is paid about twice the already well paid employees of the city.

The fire district has learned to live high on the nearly vertical climb of real estate values over the past fifteen years or so. they had better adjust now or adjust later, with the later scenario much more painful and uncertain...


Posted by Gunshow, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Where do Engineers make that much money? That would be incredible if Menlo Firefighters made that. Unfortunately they don't you can visit the Menlo Park Fire website and see real numbers of salaries and actual W2's. There is only 1 person in the entire FD that has a salary of over $178,000 and 3 people that made over $178,000 with OT all of which are Chief's. Please fact check and let us know what you find.


Posted by callie, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 21, 2009 at 8:13 am

Below are sample amounts the various entities that support the Menlo Park Fire District pay directly from their property taxes--much more than we pay to our cities:

West Menlo (Unincorporated) 17.5%

Menlo Oaks (Unincorporated) 17.5%

North Fair Oaks (Unincorporated) 15.9%

East Palo Alto 10.33%

Menlo Park 17.5%

Atherton 15.7%

I think that, given the fact the Union negotiations are ongoing, it is inappropriate to elect firefighters who have sought and accepted Union endorsement: Only 3 candidates have NOT sought union endorsement. They are Nachtsheim, Harris, and Ianson.

And yes, the salary and compensation amounts quoted for firefighters are all too real.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

Callie.....No firefighters have either sought or received the endorsement of the union.


Posted by Callie, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Oh, pardon me.

I think that, given the fact that negotiations with the Menlo Park Fire Fighters Association (i.e. the Union) are ongoing, it is inappropriate to elect firefighters who have sought and accepted Union (or Fire Fighter Association) endorsement: Only 3 candidates have NOT sought union endorsement. They are Nachtsheim, Harris, and Ianson.


Posted by Ken, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Callie, the error you make is saying it's inappropriate "to elect firefighters" who have sought etc. etc. There are no firefighters running for election. Once someone is on the board, he/she is not a firefighter, but a director on the fire board.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2009 at 1:25 pm

'Oh, pardon me.

I think that, given the fact that negotiations with the Menlo Park Fire Fighters Association (i.e. the Union) are ongoing, it is inappropriate to elect firefighters who have sought and accepted Union (or Fire Fighter Association) endorsement'

I was wondering dear if you could give us the name of a firefighter that has sought or received the endorsement of the union? Having read the Almanacs article I don't find a single firefigher who has done so...are you sure your discussing the Menlo Park Fire District.


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Callie obviously meant "board member," not "firefighter." Has any regular poster here never made a similar typo?


Posted by 50+ yr. district resident, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 21, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Yeah, stop picking at words when the meaning is clear, Callie obviously understands the issue. We elect "board members" and maybe someone doesn't want to call them fire fighters. Why argue that point, other than to obscure the matter?

Here is Callie's message again, with the (in context, obvious) word, "candidates":

"...given the fact the Union negotiations are ongoing, it is inappropriate to elect [candidates] who have sought and accepted Union endorsement: Only 3 candidates have NOT sought union endorsement. They are Nachtsheim, Harris, and Ianson."

Repeating myself from an eariler post, this isn't complicated.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

The real problem is that the citizens don't care enough to make informed voting decisions. Voters don't do their homework. A few years ago we had a candidate running for the Fire Board who had had his Fire District credentials removed by court order due to abusive use ( he had been seated for a previous term because no one else ran and there wasn't even an election!) who came within 15 votes or so of getting re-elected.

If the three union endorsed candidates do get elected, which i hope does not happen, then they will clearly owe their election to the union's massive campaign on their behalf. Will they feel some/any obligation to the union when the time comes to vote on a new labor contract? Or will they be totally committed to serving the best interests of the citizens?

Big amounts of union money and manpower can overwhelm non endorsed candidates and will make our elections a sham - as long as voters don't give a damn. And when you get union dominated Councils and Boards watch out for very expensive labor contracts and then the real possibility of local governments going bankrupt.


Posted by Disgusted, a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2009 at 6:30 am

Wow if you endorse the candidates that Peter Carpenter and the Almanac want you to you get a 10% increase to your salary! Instead of those pesky firefighters coming up with ways to save money, they should just suck up to the right people and maybe this would be all over!


Posted by Disgusted, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 6:57 am

I saw signs around town that give the appearance that the Fire District supports Mr. Harris. There are Menlo Park Fire emblems on his signs and it says Menlo Park Fire Protection District. Mr. Carpenter these signs look like the Fire District put them out. Is the fire district now into political campaigns? I hope you are just as appalled at these signs and the arrogance of that candidate that you said you were about the men and women who serve us! I sure hope you write an opinion piece about this and decry foul? I hope you do something as an elected official, possibly call the DA about the use of the Menlo Park Fire emblem without the fire district consent. I would hate to believe that with all of your connections and political power you are using it to sway an election.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 8:06 am

Dear Disgusted,
Please come out of the anonymous closet and do your duty as a citizen - no connections or political power are required to file a complaint with the DA. You hold the highest office in the land - CITIZEN - use that power and use it wisely.


Posted by Oh Well, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 8:19 am

As anyone told the guy that his signs were in violation? I'm sure he'll remove them if he knew.


Posted by Disgusted, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Mr. Carpenter,
As when I voted for you, you did not know who I was. So it shall stay the same now. As a citizen I am using the same forum that my elected official used to decry foul, on the men and women who serve us, to request him to do the same to all parties running a possible "illegal" campaign election. I would expect to see another opinion piece about how this candidate miss represents himself as a fire district employee and you are going to contact the DA and he should publicly apologize. It appears now that the only reason you are going to the paper is to make the men and women who serve us look bad. Hence why I am DISGUSTED!!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm

As I have made clear during my 8 1/2 years of service on the Fire Board I have nothing but deep respect and admiration for each of the individual firefighters who serve our community. We have some of the very best firefighters in the entire country. And every time we have a vacancy more than 100 applicants compete to join this elite group.
But that does not mean that your Fire Board should give them a blank check when it comes to salary and benefits. Their total compensation has gotten totally out of line - it is about twice the average income of the citizens whom they serve, it is as much as the pilot of Air Force One, more than the most experienced astronauts and more than the Secret Service agents who protect our President.

My concern is with the behavior of the union both in this election and in illegally refusing to bargain in good faith. The Board cannot reach an agreement if there is no one from the union side who is willing to come to the table to negotiate.

As for Jim Harris' signs I believe they accurately describe the office for which he is running and that the signs do not suggest, state or imply his endorsement by the Fire District - if others feel differently please present the facts, not just an empty charge.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm

"please present the facts, not just an empty charge" Bravo Mr. Carpenter....Now please provide "The Facts" (not innuendo) related to the violations of the California Government Code by three of the candidates for the MPFPD.

Anybody can level an accusation as you have done. So file your complaint and lets see where it goes. If you are right the FPPC will rule against the endorsed candidates. If you are wrong, then you should be responsible for your accusations.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm

As I stated a looong time ago:
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Let the facts speak for themselves:

1 - will the candidates endorsed by the union declared that they have made no commitment to support an excessive labor agreement?

2 -how much has the union spent to support these three candidates and why have they done so given their individual qualification?

Answer these questions and there can be no innuendo or suggestion.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:25 pm

So I can reasonably assume that you do in fact lack the courage of your convictions and will not be filing a complaint with the FPPC?

Would you like me to file such a complaint on your behalf? I don't mind taking the time to do so.

No, I don't think so. As I have stated soooo much earlier, I am far more concerned about your agenda than any other.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm

PLEASE read what I have said -
I have asked challenging questions, not made accusations.

I have stated "innocent until proven guilty".

I have encouraged the union and the candidates to clearly state what was or was not agreed to behind closed doors in conjunction with their endorsement and the union's extraordinary expenditures on behalf of these candidates.

Personal ad hominem attacks on me do not further this discussion and are inconsistent with the admonition to 'be respectful in your postings'. Please deal with the facts and let's focus on the issues involved.




Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm

So do you intend to file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission?

Its really not a difficult question.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community, 4 minutes ago

So do you intend to file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission?

Its really not a difficult question.

MY ANSWER - No. I do not have sufficient facts to make an informed decision on that matter which I why I keep asking questions.

The silence is deafening.

And multiple posting by the same person using different anonymous names do not help resolve the issue.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2009 at 6:04 pm

I am signing out of this thread. Intelligent readers can come to their own conclusions based on the above postings and further diatribes demean the Town Forum hosted by the Almanac.


Posted by Gunshow, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm

What should us unintelligent people do? Please don't sign out Mr. Carpenter your input, insight, and intelligence is irreplaceable. I don't think that anyone is as smart as you in all of Atherton. Please keep posting.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Mr. Carpenter.

Thank you. Finally an acknowledgment that you have no facts to back up your allegations of illegal activity by three of the candidates for the Fire District Board. I must say that I began this "discussion" with considerable respect for your service. Now I am just appalled. You have attempted to tarnish and defame people who, as far as I know, have done nothing other than to volunteer to serve our community at no benefit to themselves. You should be ashamed. No, you should be sued.

Your comment "And multiple posting by the same person using different anonymous names do not help resolve the issue" is typical of your style. I only post to this forum under the name "Interested" and no other. [Portion removed; disrespectful language]


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 6:35 pm

"I am signing out of this thread. Intelligent readers can come to their own conclusions based on the above postings and further diatribes demean the Town Forum hosted by the Almanac."

I expected no less. As with all people that level accusations against others with no factual basis, they place their tail between their legs and run away as fast as they can.

The problems facing the Fire District are very important. Whether the candidates for the Board have been endorsed by the union is immaterial. Please...make the candidates answer serious questions as to the issues and base your vote on that..It is vital for the future of the MPFPD


Posted by Free Advice, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Someone should contact the Fire Fighters Association and the three endorsed candidates, maybe a libel (civil action) is in order. I believe all the allegations were written by Peter Carpenter to the Almanac. The Almanac should not be responsible, since all they are doing is reporting what Carpenter provided them. The question is whether the Almanac: "Are they objective"? As to Peter Carpenter, is he really that uninformed without consulting an attorney, that he would subject himself to a personal legal battle, with the Fire Fighters Association.....His and the past conduct of the Fire Board can suggest that to me!


Posted by Disgusted, a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2009 at 1:38 am

Mr. Carpenter
I have taken my time to look into what you have said about, "it is about twice the average income of the citizens whom they serve, it is as much as the pilot of Air Force One, more than the most experienced astronauts and more than the Secret Service agents who protect our President."

This is a hefty charge, What I have found, $137,904 is the average of the median of the incomes of Atherton Menlo Park and East Palo alto.

I talked to a frined of mine who is a retired airforce Colonel which is the same rank as the Pilot of air force one. I was Told a the pay is around $125K/year full health and housing also. Further most Pilots either live on base or in Virgina were the cost of Living is zero on base and about half of the SF Bay area in virgina. So we could say they make approx: 250K plus full lifetime health benifits and no housing costs plus pension.
You can find this on airforce website rank "06"!

Secret Service agents make approx $91692.5 and agian living in the Washington DC suburbs would be 1/2 of the living expense as here so to make a similar living you would need double $183K plus Full health adn pension. Found on United state secrect service website.

With a little research you can find your assertation to be totally off base. You also said that the secret service protects our president well our firefighters protect CEO and Owners of some of the most powerfull buisnees in our country.

Further more I have been to the uions website and there is nothing that says they want a "blank check". It does say that the district has offered more money than they asked for to salary and benifits but the problem is in the language. You state they are refusing to bargin in good faith then do what Mr. Wurdinger says his group Has done and bring the charges to the Public Employees relation Board and get this solved.

I have a hard time thinking you are as cordial and willing to work with them as you try to project here. [Portion removed; misleading statement]


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