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Atherton shelves police oversight idea

Original post made on Mar 18, 2010

A push to create a citizen oversight committee for the Atherton Police Department ran out of steam last night, as four of five Atherton council members voted to table the idea.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 18, 2010, 10:49 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

I spent a considerable amount of my own time creating my own presentation on civillian police review, and was promised the opportunity to present this to the council before its vote. This did not happen. I guess knowledge (and, conversely, the lack thereof) is a powerful thing. Ms. Lewis might have gained the understanding that the police chief doing the right thing is not incompatible with citizen review, lest the audit committee would be disbanded to give the finance director a similar chance. This was simply a political maneuver, and one not based on the actual facts of the situation or even a desire to learn.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2010 at 11:53 am

Mr. Buckheit has had a felony committed against him by at least one Atherton Police Officer.

This is not a secret. Atherton Leaders refuse to identify the officer.

Posted by True Blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Elizabeth Lewis took money and endorsement for her campaign from the the Atherton Police Officers Association (money that originates from our parcel tax?), so her vote is no surprise.
Charles Marsala has been a reserve canine unit for A.P.O.A. for a lot longer than even that.
Jerry Carlson and Jim Dobbie are both much more worried about looking like fools for choosing Gruber to manage the town to begin with (and both of his subsequent Chief selections), than they are about representing residents. This is motivated by an attempt at political survival-and is not leadership.
As usual McKiethen is the only one to be either practical or brave in executing her duty to the residents.

Posted by Pam, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thank you Kathy for having the courage to vote for an oversight committee.

Elizabeth Lewis is well known to be in the pocket of special interests such as the police department and developers as is Charles.

Atherton needs to wake up and remember this come election time.

Posted by police objector, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I have had many very disappointing situations with the Atherton Police. I do not feel at all protected or cared for. Perhaps, if I sued, some attention may be given to correcting the situation with our police department.

I am very disappointed in Elizabeth Lewis and the others who objected to a well needed police overview. Will our town every be well managed and run?

Posted by Travesty, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Two heros, Buckheit and McKeithen, stood tall last night in the midst of cowards. I was proud to be there in their company, and ashamed to be around the other council members.

Posted by Travesty, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Two heros, Buckheit and McKeithen, stood tall last night in the midst of cowards. I was proud to be there in their company, and ashamed to be around the other council members.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm

In the category of Atherton Police Officers committing crimes against residents, which clearly the Jon Buckheit case qualifies no matter how much 4 of the council members pretend, hope, pray etc.
Charles Marsala was more concerned that the newspapers found out about and reported one of your Police Officers stealing golf clubs from one of your residents. He felt that was unfair to the thief/criminal in this case his Police Officer. In that case if I remember right that same Officer was the one who went out to the Victims house to take the criminal complaint about the theft of golf clubs. That must have been a powerful moment for the Officer.

Atherton should thank Kathy McKeithen, I do. she is a HERO

Posted by Sensible, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Judging by all these comments, which are in complete agreement it would seem, mightn't it be time to bring up the long-held, valid belief that we don't really even need an Atherton Police Department? It consumes over half the town's budget and we have little to no crime anyway . . . except that perpetrated or unsolved by our men in blue. Ever talked to one of these glorified Boy Scouts? Not a good attitude! There has always been a faction in town that saw this clearly and believed we'd be better off using some other existing service such as the County Sheriff's Department. That's worked well in Woodside forever.

A newer, idea would be to have an "oversight committee" for our City Council! Unfortunately, other than Mrs. McKeithen, we don't have any good members or even applicants. No sense complaining about Ms Lewis - her stripes were made very clear the first time she ran for office and lost. Even the Almanac editorialized about her and advised that she wasn't the best choice for the job. But her massive campaign treasury, supplied by special interests who are not concerned about the Atherton residents, got her into office as it always does. Alas, we're ruled by a bunch of self-important, devious dolts. The appointment of another dubious City Manager is shameful proof! We'd be a laughing stock were it not so sad.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm

A big Thank You to Mayor McKeithen for her strong support for citizen oversight and shame on the other four council members for turning your backs on the community that you were elected to serve.

Moving forward I will work closely with the Police Chief and the Town Manager to take whatever administrative steps as are possible to increase citizen involvement, understanding and support of OUR police department. I will also ensure any additional funding which is required for such efforts.

We move on.

Posted by Wanting to Learn, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm

can anyone explain to me what is wrong with the leadership of our town manager Mr. Gruber? I haven't a clue. Everyone seems to complain about his "performance" but no details. So far I thought he has been a fine choice. Please elaborate on the criticism in detail. I would appreciate knowing.
Maybe there is a website or articles I should read about his poor performance?

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Gruber is a talented and capable individual.

Coming to Atherton requires a very step learning curve re the political minefields.

Better to listen and learn than to shoot yourself in the foot.

Some people misjudge his learning period as his being ineffective. Instead he wisely has kept his mouth shut and head down during that learning period and is now starting to show excellent leadership skills.

Posted by Greek Tragedy, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I think the decision last night was probably one of the biggest miscalculations I've ever seen. These four council members think that they can protect the police officers, Gruber and Guerra by putting their heads in the sand, pretending there are no problems, and hoping somehow Buckheit goes away.

Put aside for a moment that he's hugely resourceful from both an asset point of view as well as in terms of skills. He has an admission from an Atherton cop, in court, that they falsified his police report. I don't think Pilar had an admission from anyone that she was sexually harassed, just for example.

I guess the council members, other than McKeithen, think he'll disappear, or the judge won't care that his report was falsified. They had an opportunity to make some correction last night, which is I think the main thing Buckheit is looking for, but instead want to get into a death match with him.

There will be no more Atherton police department pretty soon. It's the inevitable result of how this is going to unfold. In trying to protect, the council did more damage than they can fathom.

Posted by Donna, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I agree with Peter Carpenter... "move on."

I have read with growing interest over the last few months the concerns over the Atherton PD and town administration. It really is time to put the past in the past and focus on how to support the town in a way that not only "appears", but IS positive. The continual bashing by the vocal minority is going nowhere and the fact that the oversight committee was shot down by the town council is proof of that.

I would suggest that you take your strong opinions and voices and try to make them work productively to SUPPORT a PD that you might consdider optimal for a town the size of Atherton. There's too much generalization about the whole dept. even though a couple seem to be continually called into question and I'm in no way trying to defend that.

In my opinion, anyone who has had "many disappointing experiences" with ANY police department isn't outside of question themselves. Who in the normal course of life on the peninsula (or anywhere outside of here for that matter) has "many" experiences with a PD that isn't somehow a problem themselves? is time to move on. Perhaps these threads could be used for some productive brainstorming as opposed to the continual bashing that seems to take place.

Posted by True Blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm

While I agree that looking backwards could likely turn many residents into pillars of SALT,
I just don't understand how a new 7 million dollar administration building rising from the ashes serves any purpose other than as a very expensive delusion of "progress". Is this the vision of the future that you are looking forward to??
I don't know of any one who has been Brave enough or Cared enough to speak up on Police matters that wasn't trying to insure that the both the cops and the residents can be proud of the P.D.
However I whole heartedly agree than "IS" is a better verb to strive for than "APPEARS"

Posted by seriously?, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 18, 2010 at 8:52 pm

When you have a police force that abuses power, falsifies documents, refuses to provide police reports to people legally entitled, (ETC ETC) and so egregiously abuse thier power that they are admonished in open court by a judge in their own county- something is terribly, terribly wrong. Move on? Let's not forget history:

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Thank your lucky stars Jon Buckheit has the courage, the time, and the resources to protect YOU and me and everyone else who could be the next person to need the police and end up being mistreated. Abuse of power is nothing to walk away from. Sadly, most people are not in a position to defend themselves and defend their community from unilateral and unchecked power gone wild.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm

unilateral and unchecked power gone wild. Well said Good Night

Posted by Unsung heros, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Kathy McKeithen, you're my hero. Jon Buckheit, you're my hero too. Charles Marsala, if your takeaway from last night was a concern about this community learning that one of our cops stole from a resident, get a grip, get a life, and get out of town. (Or hasn't that happened already?).

Posted by Barney Fife, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 19, 2010 at 3:27 am

There aren't heroes here. John Buckheit isn't a hero. He might be a victim though of a police department running wild. Mckeithen isn't a hero. Like every single one of those members of the council, all five of them, her included, are a disgrace. Somebody above said that they ought to have an oversight of the council and abolish the police department (like the way the fire department is combined with Menlo or let the sheriff's office handle the whole thing). Atherton should abolish the police department and the city council both. The third grade class at any elementary school could do better and with a lot more maturity and common sense.

Posted by Jake, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2010 at 9:58 am

Lesson to Everybody: You can't fight City Hall even when it is run by this crowd of inept buffoons.

Posted by Heroes, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm

When a victim speaks out and takes action about his or her experience to benefit the larger community, in the face of retalliation by the police force that mistreated him in the first place, I call that person a hero. John Buckheit meets that standard.

When a politician speaks out for what's right in the face of enormous political pressure not to, it should be standard operatin procedure, but - let's not kid ourselves - it's not. Kathy McKeithen is a hero also.

Of course, it's all relative. If the other four people on that council are the yardstick, Buckheit and McKeithen are INCREDIBLE HEROS.

Posted by Gloria A, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 30, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Are you kidding me?
[Portion deleted. Please don't use Town Square to accuse someone of wrong-doing.]
I'm grateful we have the police department that we do. And MANY Atherton residents feel the same way. Despite the few friends of Buckheit that have changed their names numerous times to make it seem like they are the majority.
[Portion deleted. Please avoid personal attacks.]

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