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Three file for Atherton council race so far

Original post made on Aug 6, 2010

Incumbents Jim Dobbie and Jerry Carlson, and town Audit Committee member Bill Widmer have filed papers to run for a seat on the Atherton City Council in November.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 6, 2010, 3:01 PM

Comments (25)

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Mr. Carpenter....

Ok Peter when you and I were writing about the Fire District Board we had some pretty heated exchanges. Since that time I have read all of your comments on a myriad of topics. I have come to have a great deal of admiration and respect for your opinions. Particularly your desire that our local officials strictly comply with the Brown Act..

Sir, I think Atherton needs a man of your qualities now more than ever...


Run, Peter, Run


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Interested - Thank you for the compliment. After 8 1/2 years on the Fire Board my future plans include a great deal of travel with my wife. I do not think it would be responsible to run for the Town Council knowing that I would be out of town frequently and unable to properly perform those duties.

I am also encouraged that there are number of bright capable people who will apparently be in the race.

My criteria for the best candidates would be ones who are:
1 - committed to open and transparent government and pledged not to use closed sessions except when absolutely necessary (as opposed to using closed sessions whenever permitted).

2 - independent as demonstrated by neither seeking nor accepting support from anyone who is not a registered voter in their jurisdiction, which means accepting neither money or endorsements from unions, developers, business organization or civic groups.

3 - committed to acting in the best interest of the citizens of their jurisdiction rather than to further their own agenda or the agenda of some outside group.

4 - committed to working with their fellow council members to find the best solution for their jurisdiction without personal attacks or animosity.

5 - committed to having a balanced budget without recourse to reserves or accounting tricks.

6 - open to considering any opportunity for significant costs savings such as outsourcing of specific services.

7 - and who possess superior critical thinking skills.


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:29 pm

That's a major-league cop-out, Peter, if you REALLY cared about your community.

And, by the way: Stop with the multiple posts - that's against Town Square Policy!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Just Wandering - Yes, you may go back outside and play.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Peter...Your no slouch, and I know you must have thought long and hard about this.....But honestly...How are the things you listed going to get done...IF YOUR NOT THERE TO DO THEM?.

I do not always agree with you. In fact sometimes I think you are dead wrong..but your the kind of fellow whose motives are above question....The kind of fellow Atherton really needs right now...

So you and Mrs. C. want to travel...we both know council agendas can work around that.....( Unless your planning on the "Grand Tour" )


I guess what I am hoping is that when push comes to shove, if there are not enough candidates on the ballot that seem willing to clean our mess up....You will reconsider.....

Will you?


Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Peter's done enough.

Stpo bugging him. Let someone else take the mantle.

Let Peter go golf or play with his grandchildren or whatever.

Let Peter do so without having to worry about the current crisis of leadership.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Mr. Johns..although you may have been transformed from pariah to hero...I think you can allow Mr. Carpenter to speak for himself.

If he believes I am "bugging" him, he is more than capable of telling med himself.


Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Dear Interested

Please do not take offense at my post. I did not intend to be critical.

Additionally, I wasn't referring to anyone in particular. There have been many calling for Peter to run, on numerous threads.

I believe he has said he isn't interested in running.

The point I tried to make but was not very clear on is that Peter isn't the only one who is smart, accomplished and ethical.

There are many fine people in Atherton who fit the bill.

I do believe Peter would agree with my view that he does not hold a monopoly on leadership ability.

Regarding your reference to my "transformation".
As far as the Town government goes. I am no hero. I am still a pariah.

I am a constant reminder of the fact that a housecleaning is still in order.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Thank You....

You and I only ever met a couple of times in meetings. And while I did not agree with you (we were on opposite sides of the table) I always admired your thought process and desire to do the best for Atherton.

I have come to have considerable respect for Peter.....his demand that our local officials comply with the Brown Act, among other things convinces me that he would be a great asset to the Town council...

I hope that if there are not enough capable candidates on the ballot in November, he will reconsider....


Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 8, 2010 at 7:16 am

Dear "Interested,"

"Mr. Johns..although you may have been transformed from pariah to hero..."

Can you kindly describe the Magical Process by which Mr. Johns was transformed? Mr. Johns performed his job with integrity and competence. He was viciously persecuted. His findings were ignored. As a result, my family has been damaged to the tune of millions of dollars, not to mention the time and stress. There is every reason to believe that hundreds if not thousands of other citizens were also damaged, most without even knowing it.

At the risk of sounding juvenile, "He told you so." Yet you dare to use the term "pariah" to Mr. Johns in a public forum. Nothing has changed about Mr. Johns. You should reflect inward.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2010 at 10:44 am

Ms. Sweidy. Perhaps you should reserve your ire for those that tried to paint Mr. Johns as a pariah, which many Atherton officials did successfully for quite some time. Stating that Mr. John has been transformed from Pariah to Hero was not name calling, It was stating a fact. However, if Mr. Johns took offense at it. I apologize.


Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

Dear "Interested,"

There is no evidence of "ire" in my email. I simply held you responsible for your words. You used the word "pariah." Now you seek to attribute that word to "Atherton officials," so you can utilize the sting of that word without taking responsibility for it. This is not honorable. Kindly refrain from such pot shots.

It was never a fact that Mr. Johns was a pariah. You do not get to redefine the concept of fact. Mr. Johns was always a hero who tried to protect me and my family, before he even knew who we were. And it is I who asked you to to stop using untrue derogatory words about Mr. Johns in a public forum. I am infinitely indebted to this man who "laid it all on the line for his community." He is my hero. And when you insult him or seek to re-inflict the pain he endured on our behalf, you diminish us all.


Posted by Ed, a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Listen up everybody!!
Time to worry about whatever crazy choice for the next interim Building inspector Jerry Gruber is about to make!!
Since it's always the worst choice possible, I'm expecting him to support Ms. Lewis' choice of Kevin Cittadeanie (not sure of spelling).
This is the guy who threatened Mr. Johns during his audit and was tight with Lois English-(the clerk who shredded the Bld Dept files.)
Instead of punishing Mr. Cittadeanie for interfering in the audit, HE WAS PROMOTED by Wassman and Gruber already to second in command!
If this happens, we can all expect more problems with the Building Dept


Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Concerned Fellow Citizens,

I am still investigating Mr. Wasmann's "credentials." I will publish the results as soon as I get one more piece of outstanding information. To date, the results are disturbing, to say the least.

On August 4, 2010, when Ms. Renee Batti, Almanac News Editor, asked me for my response to the "retirement" of Mr. Wasmann, my full reply was:

"Mr. Wasmann's 'retirement' comes as a relief.  However, we will not have a repeat of the Mr. Hood situation.  Out of sight is not out of mind.  'Retirement' does not obviate the need for accountability and remediation.  This is just the first step.  If history teaches us anything, then we may very well see Mr. Cittadini in the vacated position.  That would not be an acceptable solution."

On Monday, May 10, 2010, I sent the following email to Mayor McKeithen, copy to Ms. Furth:

"Today, we had an inspection scheduled with Mr. Aiello.  Unfortunately, he is ill.  Kevin Cittadini, Senior Building Inspector, was sent in his place.

At this point in our building fiasco, I am all done mincing words.  Mr. Cittadini looked lost, confused and overwhelmed.  He cannot return to our property.  He is not capable of handling a project of this size and complexity.  In the past, when I have ignored my instincts, choosing instead to rely on statements about the person's license, qualifications, education, years of experience, etc., I have lived to regret it.  Therefore, I will not continue to make this mistake.  Upon meeting Mr. Cittadini, I am not confident that he can handle our situation.  In fact, I am quite certain that he cannot.  In the vernacular, Mr. Cittadini is totally 'out of it.'

Moving forward, only Mr. Aiello can conduct inspections on our property.  If he is ill or on vacation, we will await his return."

I sent the above email without knowing the allegations about Mr. Cittadini threatening Mr. Johns (I didn't even know Mr. Johns) with physical violence. In addition to Mr. Cittadini appearing "out of it" during my site inspection, I now understand that those governing Atherton believe that it is appropriate to send an employee to my home who is widely known to have allegedly threatened his co-worker with physical violence. This is utterly unconscionable. And I am still outraged by this.

On July 29, 2010, in the final paragraph of an email to Ms. Furth, copying the City Council and City Manager, I stated the following:

"I am requesting the immediate firing of Mr. Wasmann as the Town of Atherton Building Official (and firing as a Town of Atherton employee period).  In the capacity as Building Official (and any position in the Building Department), he is a danger to the residents of the Town of Atherton and a liability to the Town of Atherton.  The process of replacing Mr. Wasmann must include a proper recruitment and vetting procedure performed by industry peers.  This is best accomplished by soliciting the assistance of Building Officials from nearby jurisdictions with reputations for well-run Building Departments.  A team of such professionals would be qualified to recruit a proper Building Official for the Town of Atherton.  You, the Atherton City Council and the Atherton City Manager have no such qualifications or abilities.  (And for the record, neither do I, but I have the good sense to know that.)"

On August 5, 2010, I sent the following email to Ms. Furth, copying the City Council and the City Manager:

"Kindly provide me with all records relating to the qualifications, education and experience of the following individuals in the Town of Atherton Building Department:

Kenneth Huo
Kevin Cittadini
Joseph Aiello
Robert Cushing

and in the Town of Atherton Planning Department:

Neal Martin
Lisa Costa Sanders
Tiffany Telles

Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated."

Just in case the above correspondence has not put the City Manager, City Council and City Attorney on notice that the appointment of Mr. Cittadini will not be tolerated for the above reasons, then this posting should make my position crystal clear. I am copying this post and sending it to the usual recipients.


Posted by Outsource, a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Outsource!

Oh, wait, Code Enforcement and Planning ARE outsourced.


Posted by Atherton Taxpayer, a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Mr. Carpenter, you stated that one criteria he would seek in a Council candidate would be that he or she was:

"2 - independent as demonstrated by neither seeking nor accepting support from anyone who is not a registered voter in their jurisdiction, which means accepting neither money or endorsements from unions, developers, business organization or civic groups."

I find that to be undemocratic, and also close-minded. Campaign rules require all significant donations to be listed in a timely manner, and the Supreme Court has recently ruled that campaign contributions are free speech. If a voter wants to support candidates who receive endorsements and money from far afield, and the candidate properly discloses, why do you have a problem with it? Nor is being a registered voter a criteria for being politically active. I respectfully disagree with this one.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2010 at 12:00 am

Dear "Interested,"

There is no evidence of "ire" in my email. I simply held you responsible for your words. You used the word "pariah." Now you seek to attribute that word to "Atherton officials," so you can utilize the sting of that word without taking responsibility for it. This is not honorable. Kindly refrain from such pot shots.


Oh I do beg your pardon. It must have been another Mr. Johns I have been reading about for the last two years....Now take your medication and try to maintain some form of equilibrium........and then perhaps take some responsibility for your failures.....


Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2010 at 3:18 am

Dear "Interested" and Kimberly Sweidy

I am grateful that Kimberly objected to my being referred to as a pariah. However I do believe that "Interested" has used the term accurately to characterize my former, if not current social status in the Town. This is something that I am not particularly happy about but it is something that I accept.

As far as Interested's suggestion Ms. Sweidy get back on her meds.

I would encourage Ms. Sweidy to stay off the meds, to embrace her inner tiger and to continue to act as an agent for change.

In all sincerity, my view of most Athertonians is that they seem to suffer from an overdose of Lithium, Prozac, Xantac, Zoloft or some other medication with the undesireable side-effect of dulling the senses and emotions.

I for one believe that when more Athertonians let the scales fall off of their eyes and sees the Town government for what it really is, more people will feel outraged.

To that point, the following is a text of an e-mail I sent to Town elected and appointed oficials in response to Ms. Sweidy's e-mail that she transcribed in this discussion thread.

+++++++++++++++++++++
Dear Atherton employees and elected Officials:

The purpose of this note is to confirm Ms. Sweidy's description of my unfortunate encounter with Mr. Citadini and to provide additional details.

Mr. Citadini did threaten me. I do not recall the specifics of the exchange. However, I do recall him having said something to the effect of "you better watch your back".

Some who were present reported to investigators later that he had threatened to kill me. I did not recall those specific words. Again, I do not clearly what he said but I do recall a menacing tone in his voice during this exchange.

On the evening of this incident I sent a note to former City Manager Jim Robinson expressing concern over both Mr. Citadini's threat and of apparent irregularities in the fee collection practices of the Building Department.

Within a week or two after being threatened by Mr. Citadini, I brought to Mr. Robinson's attention apparent irregularities in a building permit issued for 55 Belbrook. This was in mid-October 2006. I also brought to his attention at that time a constituent's complaint over construction at 94 Tallwood. The residence being built at the time appeared to be in violation of the Town's zoning ordinance, in view of its size and configuration.

Mr. Robinson ignored my complaint of apparent irregularities in building fee collection practices and of irregularities in the permit processes. At risk to my own prospects for employment, I escalated my concern to the City Council.

Nine months later, in July 2007, the Council authorized me to do an audit of the Building Department.

In July, 2007 the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury issued a report critical of the City Manager for failing to act upon serious misconduct within the Building Department.

Shortly after my altercation with Mr. Citadini I was interviewed by the Atherton Police and by Lance Bayer. I was asked whether I would like to press criminal charges. I declined to do so.

Nearly four years have passed since I was threatened by Mr. Citadini. It is now common knowledge that Mr. Citadini received a letter of reprimand for his conduct. A redacted version of the Lance Bayer report was published on the Almanac News website which makes reference to this sequence of events.

I must say that, despite the length of time that has transpired, I still find myself outraged at what the City allowed to happen.

Mr. Citadini was, in effect, rewarded for bad behavior by subsequently having been promoted to Senior Building Inspector, a position for which his qualifications and customer relationship skills are dubious at best.

Instead of being considered for the position of City Manager as was recommended by at least one prominent member of the Community at the time, I was fired.

Atherton hired Mr. Jerry Gruber, who like me, was the subject of a "hostile work environment" complaint to be its next City Manager.

Mike Wasmann, the Building Inspector who performead the vast majority of the inspections on properties for which the City had to subsequently issue notices of abatement as a result of my audit of the Building Department was appointed to Building Official.

My former boss, Mr. Robinson let the investigation of Mr. Citadini drag on for a full eight months before my allegation was substantiated.

For eight months I was unnecessarily put in harm's way with continued contact with Mr. Citadini all the while being left to wonder if I had erred in my recollection of the events that transpired.

Mr. Citadini was given a mere "slap on the wrist" when in my view he should have been fired. (Mr. Robinson's apparent motivation for letting the investigation drag on was so that he could give Mike Hood enough time to come to the realization that it was time to retire.)

On the morning of August 29, 2007 after I was suspended and after my office was raided by the Police, I returned to Town Hall to return a laptop computer. As a result of my presence, the Police Department filed a criminal complaint with the District Attorney for trespassing and for "intimidating a witness".

Just who I "intimidated" is still a mystery to me. But I do know I was accused of a crime because I saw the redacted police report (one which I suspect was falsified). In other words I was falsely accused of the very same crime of which I was not only a victim, but which I had forgiven.

The Police Department filed a criminal complaint against me with the District Attorney on allegations of fraud. I was subject to a nine-month criminal investigation by the DA. The Police Department's allegation proved baseless. What was even worse, the Police Department seized during its raid on my office evidence I had assembled that the former chief of Police, Robert Brennan, was, himself guilty of fraud.

In October 2007 Ms. Topliff issued a report accusing me of, amongst other things "bullying" and misappropriation of town assets. This final insult, I must say was most clever on the part of the corrupt few who were and who are still in charge of the Town. Don't just shoot the messenger, discredit the messenger by accusing him of the very same crime one is guilty of.

I am also deeply disappointed in the conduct of the Town since my departure.

People who should be in jail are still at work in the Town of Atherton, earning more money and enjoying their prestige. Others, like the former two chiefs of police have gone on to happily enjoy their retirement. From what I saw when I was the Town's finance director they should have been convicted of fraud and striped of their pensions.

A City Attorney blithely rationalizes what is arguably criminal conduct on the part of the majority of the City Council, in a vain attempt to save her own job.

I am prepared to go back to work for the Town of Atherton. I fully intend to reapply for either the Finance Director or the Assistant City Manager position when these positions become vacant. I fought for the right to reapply to the Town's employment. I was prepared to continue to prosecute my case when the Town insisted, as a part of my settlement to waive this right.

When the right City Manager comes along, a man like Jon Buckhiet, for example. I will return to the Town. I will help right that ship adrift. I will help clean house. When I return under the supervision of a capable and honest man or woman, Atherton will be transformed into a town government of which its constituents, elected officials and employees can be proud.

In short I hope to transform what was a nightmare into what will be a dream. With Kimberly Sweidy and with Jon Buckheit in action, I dare say that this dream is no longer a mere pipe dream.

Finally we all know that Mr. Buckheit and Ms. Sweidy have or may soon have active cases in federal court against the Town of Atherton. It stands to reason that by virtue of my involvement in the Town and the subject of thier litigation that I will be deposed.

When this happens, I will speak the truth. I dare say that the truth is something that Atherton, should be deeply concerned about.

Sincerely,

John P. Johns, CPA




Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

Mr. Johns,

Still off my meds and still embracing my inner tiger.

For the latest on Mr. Wasmann's "credentials," take a look at my latest posting:

Web Link


Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

I just sent the following email to the usual recipients:

Kindly provide me with all records relating to the qualifications, education and experience of the following City Staff individuals in the Town of Atherton:

Jerry Gruber
Eileen Wilkerson
Mike Guerra
Duncan Jones
Louise Ho
Theresa DellaSanta
Jean Cardona
Kathy Hughes-Anderson

Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 11, 2010 at 11:30 am

Dear Ms. Sweidy,

You are way out of line. In America, we cannot question our public officials. They operate with impunity outside the law. So sit down, be quiet, and pay your taxes, and be thankful that you are allowed to do so.


Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 13, 2010 at 8:28 am

I just sent this email to the usual recipients.

Can someone kindly tell me who is in charge of this asylum?

Web Link


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:46 am

Ms. Sweidy -

If you ever find out, please post the answer here.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:50 am

Kimberly, posted
Can someone kindly tell me who is in charge of this asylum?

It might be the APD Officer who committed a felony against Mr. Jon Buckheit.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I am pleased to say that Bill Widmer has responded positively to each of my seven criteria with the only, and very understandable and acceptable, exception that he would accept support from his family members who live outside of Atherton.
********
1 - committed to open and transparent government and pledged not to use closed sessions except when absolutely necessary (as opposed to using closed sessions whenever permitted).

2 - independent as demonstrated by neither seeking nor accepting support from anyone who is not a registered voter in their jurisdiction, which means accepting neither money or endorsements from unions, developers, business organization or civic groups.

3 - committed to acting in the best interest of the citizens of their jurisdiction rather than to further their own agenda or the agenda of some outside group.

4 - committed to working with their fellow council members to find the best solution for their jurisdiction without personal attacks or animosity.

5 - committed to having a balanced budget without recourse to reserves or accounting tricks.

6 - open to considering any opportunity for significant costs savings such as outsourcing of specific services.

7 - and who possess superior critical thinking skills.
**************

Congratulations Bill and I look forward to hearing from the other three candidates.


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