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APOA Forces Elizabeth Lewis to change her tune

Original post made by Union influence at work on Nov 29, 2012

At last night's council meeting, Kathy McKeithen revealed that Elizabeth Lewis (and Jerry Carlson) both voted in favor of the now-controversial furlough/compensation reduction resolution in closed session. In fact, the vote was unanimous.

Lewis cried foul, accusing McKeithen of wrongdoing in revealing her vote. But she's dead wrong. It is public information how elected officials vote, even for matters discussed in closed session. The action taken, and how each official voted on it, is 100% public information. (As an aside, Ms. Lewis must know this, since she didn't complain when Charles Marsala revealed how council members voted on the road impact fee in closed session).

Ms. Lewis surely recognized this compensation reduction was in the best interests of the tax paying residents she is supposed to represent when she cast her closed session vote.

Why then, was she expressing outrage at the resolution in public last night? Why was she demanding voting wait until her running mate, Cary Wiest, could join her to now vote against it?

What changed in the intervening time between the recent closed session vote and her behavior last night?

Answer: The APOA threw a fit over the resolution.

Peter Carpenter, do you still maintain Ms. Lewis has no allegiance to the APOA from their endorsement of her?

To me, this is proof positive they pull her strings.

Comments (23)

Posted by Lewis Listens to Residents , a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm

The Almanac Story of last night states that many residents also opposed the plan supported by Widmer, Dobbie, and McKeithen.

Looks like Lewis decided to listen to the residents: Widmer, Dobbie, and McKeithen should consider that concept.

Lewis was honest. She voted for the plan so that she can ask for a revote next month to approve a plan that residents prefer.

Posted by What poll?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Huh? What poll or survey of residents was conducted that leads you to the conclusion that Atherton residents don't want fiscal management through compensation reductions? Before you say Cary Wiest was elected, show the part of his platform that said, clearly, he was against ratcheting back Atherton employee compensation? It's nowhere to be found.

Posted by Lewis Listens to Residents, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

From the Almanac:

"After the public comment period, during which a number of residents spoke against acting on the measure before next month, when Mr. Wiest is seated, Mr. Carlson said he would rather put the vote off.

"My colleagues and I are very close if not in complete agreement about the policy" driving the resolution, Mr. Carlson said. But after hearing from the public and from an employee who will be affected by the change, he said, he questions whether the resolution reflects "the road map" that should be followed to achieve the town's policy goals."

Posted by What poll?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:47 pm

To me, Jerry Carlson's statement is pure pablum: I completely agree with this policy, yet don't agree with it, is what he's saying. Nothing new, since he usually engages in double talk much of the time. The one advice I would give to Jerry Carlson: you don't represent the employee who will be affected by the change. You are supposed to represent Atherton residents.

Posted by Lewis Listens to Residents, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 30, 2012 at 7:07 am

My point is that numerous residents waited a long time to speak, as reported by the Almanac.

Their point and that of Lewis and Carlson is that this compensation reduction is close, but needs some changes, such as more months to phase in.

Posted by What poll?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 30, 2012 at 8:29 am

You're confabulating. If it was "close," but not there, they would not have voted for it in closed session. A small handful of residents spoke. I don't count Metzger as a resident.

I will say this much: the APOA will win the upcoming negotiation, hands down. They are a unified front. Carlson and Lewis destroyed that for the council on Wednesday. They apparently have not figured that into their calculus, but it is a huge issue for successful negotiations. Kathy M's comment about the APOA being the elephant in the room was spot on.

Posted by Lewsis Listens to Residents, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

Finally the truth comes out. Yes McKeithen stated that the APOA was the elephant in the room and she also stated that the Compensation Package currently being considered will affect the APOA negotiations.

Why didn't the council admit that months ago?

Take a step back and work out salary reductions to both groups and present to both groups at the same time.

There are other elephants in the room.
1. As San Carlos stated two years ago to the Atherton Council. Their path to full outsourcing started similiar to Atherton's. For the Atherton Council not to have presented more information to the residents in the last two years does not make sense.

2. WMD stopped renting the Main Houselast year, reducing revenue by $90,000.00 a year. This needs to be reversed.

3. Lewis should appoint herself and Carlson to the Finance Committee. That committee needs to give a long term report to the town on the Town's Finances.

4. Widmer has stated he wants to Sunset the Parcel Tax, yet he has not provided his plan to meet expenses. The council should have a Parcel Tax discussion with the residents. How much extra are residents willing to pay and for what services?

Posted by Wrong, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 30, 2012 at 10:55 am

Residents should decide how much they are willing to pay for services?

That's only half the equation. The other half, which APOA wants to sweep under the rug, is can residents get a better deal for the same services.

The debate that's raging can be simplified. Atherton has a massive pension liability that will likely devalue home prices if allowed to be folly loaded onto residents' backs as additional taxes.

Will residents bear the full burden of this? APOA wants to make some minor concessions just so Wiest and Lewis can say they have, and have residents bear over 90% of the burden.

Should cops bear a significant portion of the burden just as they have had to do everywhere else?

Already residents shoulder the full burden by a parcel tax on top of big property taxes.

This is a propaganda based fight and how questions are phrased will make a HUGE difference to how residents perceive this. For example:

1. The APOA/Lewis/Wiest question; are you willing to pay X more in parcel taxes so Atherton can keep its own police department?

2. A different spin: Are you willing to pay X more in parcel taxes so cops can retire at age 50 instead of age 57?

Drastically different questions getting to the same end result. APOA wants to stick to #1 to be sure. So do Lewis and Wiest. The propaganda is that any attempt to make cuts will lead to many cops leaving. Not true, but I wish it were, since it would enable Atherton to make a fresh start with an affordable pension structure and cops who were not hired by bad chiefs and who disturb residents.

The body of this post shows Lewis will bend to what the APOA wants, she took their money, and there is a conflict of interest.

Posted by Lewis Listens to Residents, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 30, 2012 at 11:46 am

To Wrong:

You should have submitted your question at the ACIL Candidates Forum, so that all could answer and it would be in your words.

Did you discuss the age 57 retirement to Kupperman or Conlon? The best time to have tested your theory was durng the campaign.

Once the APOA endorsed Lewis and Wiest, Kupperman and Conlon should have stated here is why I was not endorsed: "I favor reducing police compensation by X, which will save Y in taxes and Lewis and Wiest don't." If that is how they felt.

Or the Council could have presented to the public it's reduction plan and had the candidates comment on it.

I do think Conlon campaigned that he would not raise taxes, would balance the budget, and would not outsource police.

For now it smells that the council plan six months in the making, was rushed to a vote by the outgoing majority days after the election and before the majority vote count changed.

The Widmer press release could have stated the serious situation Atherton is in and how the council proposed to fix it.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Malcolm Dudley is correct, employees are what make Atherton what it is. Outsourcing all the administrative jobs and those in the building department was pure folly. Outsourcing the Police Dept. would, in my opinion be devastating to Atherton. Kathy McKeithen was a trouble maker from before she began her term on the coucil. She rounded up her little band of recruits and came into the finance department every day to search through accounts payable records to find any little thing she could to stir up trouble. She treated employees very pourly and it is a very good thing that she is now off the council.

Posted by What poll?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

With no disrespect to employees, the assertion that the employees make Atherton what it is is simply ridiculous. No real estate advertisements talk about employees, police, etc. People buy homes in Atherton based on the location, privacy, land, quality of luxury homes, and prestige.

Posted by Lewis Listens, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 1, 2012 at 10:32 am

To: What Poll,

You came back into the debate, but skipped my question. The Council started working on this six months ago, and it takes effect October 1, 2012.

It should have been on an agenda months ago. In July WMD could have approved what you wanted by a 3-2 vote.

Did WMD delay the vote through the Summer, not mention it in the Press Release to prevent it from being a campaign issue?

Posted by Logic , a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Union Influence's post opens many questions.

1. If Closed Session Votes are Public, then why doesn't the City Attorney report them?
2. I saw from another post "Today Widmer is in a newpaper stating: "This has been in the works for some time and the employees knew about it." "

If that is the case, then the APOA could have posted the details of the Resolution weeks ago. And the City Attorney or any council member should have been making those closed session votes public.

I would like to know when was the first time a council motion was voted on to change the retirement age to 57? That appears to be public information and was not reported.

Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Dec 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

It seems APOA has a lot of sway with council decisions on fiscal matters, in conflict w stated policy and the charge given to the city manager, not only to avoid bankruptcy but to set the firm fiscal foundation for the town that it has lacked for several years. For a view forward what can happen when a police union controls a city council, google Vallejo - immediately AFTER going bankrupt, council gave its police a raise.
I here real estate is very affordable there.

Posted by Lewis Listens, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm

It would be great if the APOA have influence. Then it could have told the council the following:
1. Do not sue Sequioa School District
2. Work out differences with residents rather than legal action.
3. Keep renting the Main House.
4. Do not install illegal taxes, one day you will have to refund them.
5. If you are not seen as wasting residnet's money on for your own motives, residents will likely vote to increase the Parcel Tax.- Otherwise you are headed for problems.

Posted by What poll?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm

"Lewis Listens" says: "You came back into the debate, but skipped my question. The Council started working on this six months ago, and it takes effect October 1, 2012. It should have been on an agenda months ago. In July WMD could have approved what you wanted by a 3-2 vote. Did WMD delay the vote through the Summer, not mention it in the Press Release to prevent it from being a campaign issue?"

I doubt it, since neither "W", "M", or "D" were running, how could it become a campaign issue? More likely it did not get finalized until now. I would think given "WMD"'s proclivities for financial conservatism, they would want it adopted sooner rather than later.

Posted by Lewis Listens, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 2, 2012 at 7:42 am

TO What Poll:

It was a campaign issue without the details. You, Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie have tried to claim that the APOA has influence over candidates and council members. The recent election shows that the vote of the residents has influence over who is on the Council and Council HR Policy.

The Council released the new completed compensation plan to the staff over the Thanksgiving Holiday for a vote on Wednesday the following week.

Staff asked for more time to evaluate and comment. WMD said no. Carlson and Lewis said yes, the CL decision is good HR Policy.

This policy takes effect retro to October 1, 2012. As Mayor, Widmer should have had it resolved by then. He has given no reason as to why that did not happen. He has stated talks were going on for six months.

WMD have been "Wasteful with Mega Dollars" for their agendas and financially conservative for the needs of others.

1. Furlough employees to save $14,000.00 and spend $6,000.00 on a party to make comments and give praise for what they have accomplished.

2. Stop renting the Main House, resulting in a loss of revenue of $90,000.00 per year and support a measure to tear down the Main House because of the cost to maintain it. The reason being to build a library they want.

During 2005-2007, McKeithen as a council member and Dobbie as a resident pushed for several expensive legal actions.

3. The Council spent $100,000 trying to block a family from moving two urns across town.

4. The Council spent $100,000 trying to block the M-A Arts Center from being built.

5. The Council spent untold amounts of money trying to block residents from moving into their homes.

After these acts, the council was not in a position to ask for a Parcel Tax increase in 2008.

In 2008, the council needed to increase the Parcel Tax to cover expenses and pensions.

Posted by What poll?, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 8:47 am

You have been very good at looking at one side of this: "WMD" are not good at being able to raise and increase parcel taxes since they have allegedly made residents angry.

I don't want to debate you on that point, since in my view, residents are already at the max in terms of parcel taxes. We need to look at spending cuts. Police take up over 50%, close to 60%, of the budget. Cuts must be made. That is not the result of urns, wedding rentals, etc., since if you read the paper, you'll see EVERY city in California has had to make police budget and compensation cuts.

Yes, there have been incidents of wrong fiscal decision making in Atherton. The APOA is focusing on this since they don't want their compensation cut, obviously, and it clouds the issues. But even with a perfect past of fiscal decision making, massive cuts would have to be made.

You can have the last word. I know you want it, but we are simply recycling the same points at this juncture.

Posted by Lewis Listens , a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 10:41 am

To: What Poll,

Thanks for the last word.

I think all (residents, staff, and the full council) believe cuts need to happen. The cuts are long overdue.

This started because someone named "Union Influence" tried to damage Lewis's reputation with this post.

The current situation is that Lewis and Carlson want to give the staff 30 days to review the package that council released just before Thanksgiving and hear their concerns- WMD do not.

This has been going on for 6 months, 30 more days will not make a difference financially.

However 30 days will show more respect for staff, lead to better morale, and that is in the best interests of the residents.

At some point Council needs to infrom residents about a plan to pay down the Unfunded Pensions. Widmer states he wants to Sunset the Parcel Tax, how is he going to replace that revenue.

Posted by Elephant in the Room, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2012 at 11:07 am

The elephant in the room is, apparently, the Police Department.

It seems Milpitas is going through a similar exercise with their Police Officers: contract negotiations, outsourcing, leverage, etc. They put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to outsource.

Web Link

Would pursuing an RFP be a good idea for Atherton?

In the end Milpitas passed an ordinance requiring the City Council go to voters before outsourcing their Police or Fire Departments. What was it about Milpitas' RFP response that brought that City to pass such a law?

The Atherton Police Department costs $5.5 million / year. How much extra is Atherton paying for their own Department? Would the Council choose to bring in another agency if they could eliminate the parcel tax?

What, if anything, would residents sacrifice by bringing in another agency? What would they be willing to give up?

One thing is certain. Atherton residents deserve answers to these questions. And, they should also be allowed to make an informed decision.

Should the decision to outsource be placed on the ballot for the next election?

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 11:18 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

I've seen it estimated that the town could save $2 million by outsourcing. Of course, they would probably need to hire private security to handle the lesser duties currently done by the police like taking in mail so it would be somewhat less than $2 million. However, it would put an end to further growth of unfunded pension liabilities without raising parcel taxes. Sounds like a winner to me.

Posted by Lewis Listens, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Here is the story from your link:

Milpitas City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the introduction of an ordinance to formally ban outsourcing Milpitas police and fire department personnel to outside agencies unless it is approved by a public vote.

The vote came after resident outcry at Milpitas City Hall on Oct. 2 against exploration of outsourcing Milpitas Police Department to an outside law enforcement agency, as a way to cut costs.

Residents' comments followed the council's split vote in August to formally release a request for proposals for the police department as a means to assemble cost comparison data.

A final reading of the ordinance will be held Nov. 6. The ordinance will take effect 30 days afterward.

The new ordinance states the security of Milpitas citizens "is of the utmost importance to its elected officials" and the services of the "existing police department and fire department have been essential to the provision of that security."

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 2, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Given the stridency of some pro-APD comments, I would love to know how many of the people posting on this thread are employed by or retired from the Atherton Police Department and have a financial interest in the outcome?

That would be interesting to know.

Remember, when San Carlos "outsourced" their police services to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, nearly every San Carlos officer kept their job - they just wear a different uniform.

From the San Francisco Examiner: "One year after San Carlos outsourced its police work to the county Sheriff's Office, officials from both agencies say the partnership is going great and has produced the cost savings that city officials desired."

"From San Carlos' perspective we couldn't be happier," said San Carlos City Manager Jeff Maltbie. "Now we've got a year under our belt, and we have had the savings we expected."

Web Link

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