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Just who is behaving badly?

Original post made by Morris Brown on Oct 30, 2010

The Almanac and reporter Sandy Brundage have published an article with the provocative title

Menlo Park councilman behaving badly
Andy Cohen crosses ethical line?

link:
Web Link

After many comments on the article, the Almanac has essentially closed off debate on the article by posting this message:

"Comments on this topic have been limited to registered users who are logged in."

Almost all visitors to Town Square refuse to register -- this effectively cuts off debate on an issue when the Almanac takes this action.

The article relates the contents of a private phone conversation between a developer Kim LeMieux and councilman Andy Cohen.

How did this reporter find out about this conversation? Does Sandy have a transcript of this conversation? Certainly Cohen didn't notify the Almanac of this phone conversation.

Why is this reporter and this newspaper taking this path? As a long time (over 40 years) resident of Menlo Park, I don't recall ever the Almanac gong down this path.

Would Mr. Gibboney or Mr. Hine please reply?

Morris Brown
stone Pine Lane
MP.




Comments (34)

Posted by higher standard, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 30, 2010 at 8:16 am

That's not the point - why is the Almanac dishing dirt on a he said, she said non-event. The Almanac generally holds to a higher standard; that's one of many reasons why many of us respect the editors and reporters like Sandy. Time to focus on more important matters; there are plenty.


Posted by baffled, a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

I work in Menlo Park but live elsewhere. What I find so strange about these comments is the suggestion that it's no big deal when a councilmember makes remarks to a constituent that indicate he's willing to give her preferential treatment because of her looks. Can anyone possibly think this is right and appropriate? Doesn't anyone else think that such a comment reveals something about the person making it, something residents should worry about in an elected official who is supposed to be looking out for the best interests of the general public?

Because I don't vote in Menlo Park, the issue isn't even as important to me as it would be if a councilmember in my own city were busted for making such a comment. But I can tell you this: if this incident had happened in my town, I would certainly want to know about it, but I wouldn't find out, because my town doesn't have a responsible newspaper reporting what I and others in town need to know about our elected officials to vote intelligently.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

Baffled -

I agree with you completely. People who support Mr. Cohen should be disappointed by his remarks. This is unacceptable.


Posted by justice for all, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I support Andy and I agree that his remarks were inappropriate. But...let's not cloud the issue here.

How did the Almanac get access to a transcript of a private telephone call?

There is a big difference between a criminal act and mere poor taste. Andy is guilty only of the latter. And given that the Almanac has not explained how it came by this information...well, we can only speculate.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Why does there need to be a transcript?

I presume the offended citizen approached the reporter and told them what Mr. Cohen said to her. When confronted, Mr. Cohen did not deny it and even made what could be construed as an admission.

How a reporter got the story is rarely an issue; it is almost always a convenient distraction.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

If Andy Cohen said this, and he as much as admitted it, he is way out of line. What other inappropriate reason might Mr. Cohen have for helping a constituent? One has to wonder. This is not a tempest in a tea pot. It raises serious questions about Mr. Cohen's ethics and judgement.


Posted by Richard Hine, managing editor of The Almanac
on Oct 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

We did this story like we do many others: we received a tip, it checked out, we wrote it. We think it's relevant.


Posted by cojones for brains, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 30, 2010 at 9:38 pm

[Post removed. Personal attack.]


Posted by missed the point, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm

the real transgression wasn't andy cohen boorish behavior, it was kelly fergusson's serious proposal to appropiate the property for a public park. is eminent domain to be used at the whim of such politicians? does she always have to do a head count to ascertain which decision will appease the greatest number of squawking constituents? disgusting.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 31, 2010 at 9:45 am

Don't deflect. Sexual harassment by a sitting elected is a big deal. Your garbage responses are only a denial of a major wrong doing. I hope she presses charges.


Posted by No surprises, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2010 at 9:52 am

My $0.02- when I saw the headline "Menlo Park Councilman behaving badly", my first thought was "What did Andy do now?" No way it was going to be John, Rich, or even Heyward. I don't agree with them on every policy decision, but I don't expect any of the erratic behavior that's Andy's signature. Morris can try to play the victim on Andy's behalf, but that's what 6 years of non-sequiturs, petulant storm-outs, and weird late-night emails gets you.


Posted by Another Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2010 at 5:59 pm


I am so happy to see that I am not alone in thinking this is serious... and I know it is not the first time something incredibly inappropriate (at best) has come from Andy Cohen. It was frustrating that the thread was shut down early, particularly when so many posts tried to change the conversation to the item that was before the council rather than the charge at hand.

I used to be a fan of his and then got to know too well his ethics and behavior. Unfortunately, I have to agree 100% with "No Surprises" and POGO. This is just the beginning of the story and likely there will be more to come.

The "cabinet" is trying to come to the rescue, but it isn't going to work this time. I hope Kim takes this all the way.

Kudos to the Almanac. This is relevant.


Posted by CFB, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 31, 2010 at 10:19 pm

AC has proferred the political coupout of "falling on his sword" for not supporting neighborhood protection causes.
What goes around comes around.
Wouldn't it be swell if the DP "Clean Sweep" editorial results in 5 new council members by years end?
LOL!


Posted by blackmail?, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:22 am

Cohen's statement, if true, was inappropriate. Cohen should apologize for his comment, if it what he said. No question.

The fact that he didn't provide the support implied in that statement makes this whole mess look more like something more ugly, though.

Attention should be placed on why this was leaked to the press. To make Cohen look bad? Or was it to put pressure on him to change his vote? It the former,that's a shame and a lose-lose for civil behavior. If it's the latter, then it's simply at blatant attempt at blackmail. That's a story.


Posted by justice for all, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

blackmail, it is hard not to wonder the same thing. Especially with the raft of anonymous posters here who are so willing to attack.

Andy is a charming man and he tends to make comments that I would call "lightly flirtatious" to every woman in the room no matter what her age or appearance. A far cry from sexual harassment. (Being called attractive is sexual harassment? That is an insult to those of us who actually have suffered from harassment.) His mistake this time was to be his usual charming self with a calculating applicant who was storing up ammunition in case she needed to undermine his vote.

Our city has so many issues, and there are major and real concerns about corruption. Three council members violated the Brown Act! Why go after the only person on the council who is principled? You may not agree with him, but he has the courage of his convictions and isn't for sale to the highest bidder.


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

The tip did not come from Kim LeMieux.


Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm

When you look at Kelly Fergusson's and Heyward Robinson'e egregious behavior on the dais, throwing the citizens of Menlo Park under the bus driven by Government Union employees Andy's contretemps seem benign by comparison.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Sorry, but an elected official does not tell a citizen seeking help, "I'm going to do whatever I can to help you out, because you're such a good-looking woman."

I don't care if you agree with his politics or think he's a wonderful, flirtatious old man. It was a boorish thing to do and totally out of line.

Would you feel the same way if this came from Strom Thurmond or Robert Byrd?


Posted by who was it then?, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Well, Sandy if it wasn't Kim LeMieux who tipped you, it was obviously someone she talked to, since certainly Cohen didn't tip you, and from what you wrote only two people were on the phone.

Developers have all kinds of tricks. Was it when Kim got upset that Sandy wouldn't support her project, did she get a surrogate to tip you?

This is not leaving a good smell anywhere as it progresses.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Help me understand one thing. If you leave your politics at home for a moment, explain how you would act if a professor in college said this same thing to your daughter during an exam. What would happen to that professor if your daughter wanted to pursue charges?

Exactly.

I think Ms. Fergusson should be under scrutiny for her misdoings. I think people should press the issue if they feel the violation was more than the city attorney expresses.

Don't try to play this away though. Andy's future now rests in the hands of Ms. Lemieux, not public opinion.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm

who was it then?

Perhaps you focus more on the boorish behavior of your friend and less on who told the reporter about it.


Posted by Endorsements, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

[post removed - please avoid "guilt" by association.]


Posted by looking on, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 2, 2010 at 9:59 am

Considering the mountain that was being made out of an offhand remark by Andy Cohen, and everyone trying to discredit this great guy, let me point to the type of incident and character that would be deserving of such attention:

Web Link

Berlusconi: Better to love women than gays

ROME – Premier Silvio Berlusconi dismissed calls Tuesday to resign over his involvement with an underage Moroccan runaway - and even created a new uproar by claiming it was better to love beautiful girls than gays.

His comments sparked outrage from gay rights groups and fueled new calls for him to step down.

Opposition politicians have charged that Berlusconi abused his office by calling Milan police in May when the then-17-year-old runaway nicknamed Ruby was detained for alleged theft. Newspapers have reported that Berlusconi told police that a local party official would take custody of the girl, who had visited Berlusconi's Milan villa on at least one occasion.

Even center-right commentators in Berlusconi's family-owned newspapers have criticized him for intervening in a possible criminal case. Berlusconi's now-estranged ally, Gianfranco Fini, said his antics had embarrassed the country.

But Berlusconi again defended his lifestyle and fondness for young women, telling a trade fair in Milan on Tuesday it was "better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay."

Gay rights group Arcigay demanded an apology for causing offense to both women and gays.

The premier's comments "represent a dangerous incitement to prejudice and helps legitimize discrimination, injustice and suffering," Arcigay president Paolo Pantane wrote in a letter to Berlusconi's minister for equal opportunity, Mara Carfagna.

In response, Carfagna defended Berlusconi's record on anti-discrimination measures and said he had just been joking.

"(He) absolutely never intended to offend women or homosexuals," she said.

Berlusconi assured supporters on Tuesday that his government still had a majority and would last the remaining three years of its five-year term. He said early elections would be a disaster for a country grappling with economic crisis.

He contended that the Ruby scandal was whipped up by hostile, deceptive newspapers and again defended his decision to intervene in her case. Ruby was let go by police with no charges after Nicole Minetti, a party official who is also Berlusconi's dental hygienist, took custody of her.

Berlusconi said Tuesday he'd do the same thing again.

"You will see when this is over that there was nothing more than an act of solidarity," he said.

Ruby, meanwhile, told Libero, a conservative newspaper close to Berlusconi, that she would tell her version of the story Thursday on a popular state-run TV talk show, but her lawyer later said there were no such plans. Ruby's comments have been inconsistent and prosecutors have reportedly questioned her credibility.

She repeated she never had intimate relations with the premier, though she said she "adored" him. She clarified that while another young woman linked to Berlusconi, Noemi Letizia, referred to him as "papi," ("daddy") she called him "premier."

Berlusconi's relationship with Letizia, an 18-year-old would-be model from Naples, sparked a scandal last year that prompted Berlusconi's second wife to file for divorce.

Soon after, a high-end prostitute, Patrizia D'Addario, claimed she had spent a night with the premier and had tape recorded their encounter.

The conservative leader has said he has never paid anyone for sex. Prosecutors have said Berlusconi is not under investigation in the scandals over his dalliances with women.

--------

Almanac editors and reporter attention:

Now that is a real story.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

Looking On - We can always find more egregious example of inappropriate behavior by looking at other countries but that is not the standard by which we should conduct our affairs. The United States is the longest lasting democracy in the world - a position which we would not maintain in we lowered ourself to the lowest common denominator of of politics and politicians in other countries. The democracy that we have is precious and must be constantly nurtured and protected.


Posted by looking on, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 10:45 am

You don't have to look at other countries but just down the road about 35 miles. Gavin Newsom, most likely the next Lt. Governor.



Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I hope Kim files charges and you will all see that Andy's comments about giving favor to a female because of her looks will do him in. It is reprehensible for you people to act as if this is minor when we all know the only view that matters is the person offended.

Andy needs to go down for his discretions.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Truth states:"I hope Kim files charges"

Exactly which law was allegedly broken?
IF Kim worked for Andy there might be grounds for sexual harassment but she does not work for him.
Were any Menlo Park ordinances or Council rules violated?

I am NOT defending what Andy allegedly did but I am unaware that those alleged actions would have broken any law although they would be clearly offensive and inappropriate.

The rule of law cuts both ways - if you break the law then you should be held accountable but if you did not break a law then the courts are not the place for a remedy.

Personally, I am all in favor of a very public apology - perhaps at a council meeting.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Seriously?

How ridiculous a response to say an elected official, who works for the residents, is using his power to either come on to a woman or to make a comment unbecoming of an elected official. If this was Heyward, you would be after him with all claws out.

And you demean one candidate for apologizing and moving on -- see your exaggerated claims against Cline on the train meeting -- yet it is fine if Cohen just apologizes.

What is this? Are you hiding under this watchdog label only when it suits you?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Truth - your last posting it simply not understandable.

"How ridiculous a response to say an elected official, who works for the residents, is using his power to either come on to a woman or to make a comment unbecoming of an elected official."

Please rewrite it so that we can understand what is your point.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Truth:

please cite a law that Andy Cohen has broken. While his behavior is reprehensible, he has broken no statute that I am aware of.


Posted by facts, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Isn't this hearsay? If Kim didn't say this, and Andy didn't, then it's 2nd or 3rd hand

I am not defending the comment, if it is accurate, but it certainly seems to fall very short of a "come on" or worse.


Posted by NotaLawyer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Two people have a conversation, and one of those people confirms what he said - how's that hearsay? It's 1st hand not 2nd or 3rd.


Posted by skeptic, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:11 am

"Did I say that?" is hardly confirmation. Wouldn't stand up in any court, except perhaps one presided over by one of the homegrown judges who post here.


Posted by NotaLawyer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:31 am

How about "I was really impressed by her integrity, which I think influenced me to MAKE THAT REMARK"


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