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Atherton's Shame

Original post made by John P. Johns, CPA on Apr 12, 2010

The Town of Atherton has been subject to alot of bad press lately.

Marsala's loan request, Elizabeth Lewis getting into a fight with an Atherton resident and Jerry Carlson ducking one meeting, only to blame City staff for going forward with the meeting at the Mayor's directive.

Next week the City Council will approve a resolution of commendation for my service to the Town.

I will frame this resolution of commendation. It will hang on the wall of my office alongside with another award I received while in service to the Town of Atherton.

In 2004 I was awarded the League of Merit by the Atherton Civil Interest League. This certificate was signed by then ACIL president Jerry Carlson.

I find it fitting and deeply satisfying that Mayor McKeithen and Jerry Carlson, two members of the Audit Committee, two members of the Finance Committee would agree that I was a capable servant, that I am an honorable man.

To the best of my knowledge I will receive an honor that those who tried to discredit me have not received. Not Protzman, not Brennan, not Marsala.

The Town of Atherton will also write me a check for $225,000 in back pay (net of my earnings after having left Atherton) and for my attorney's fees.

More significantly, the Town of Atherton has left the door open for me to return to its employment should a suitable job become open and to speek freely about my experience.

In short, the Town of Atherton, after having paid its own legal counsel $400,000 will be paying my legal counsel $135,000 for doing what it should have done all along.

Atherton should have long ago said goodbye to me on amicable terms. It should have said that it was welcome to have me come back.

Who is to blame for this small financial disaster, this loss of face?

The answer is simple. It is Jerry Carlson. Mr. Carlson has, for the past two years been the swing vote on the City Council.

Mr. Carlson's vote counted more than every one else's.

Mr. Carlson subjected me to the wrath of the powers that control this Town when he called for an audit of the Building Department and when I stepped forward to answer that call.

Mr. Carlson soon disavowed the one act of political courage he exercised on the part of the Town.

Mr. Carlson, betrayed me. In doing so, Jerry Carlson betrayed the principles of what I thought he stood for, transparency and accountability.

Instead of having the courage to do the right thing, Mr. Carlson prolonged the inevitable.

Mr. Carlson is guilty of more than an occsasional lapse of judgement. Mr. Carlson has brought discredit upon this Town because he has chosen to remain in denial.

If Mr. Carlson chooses to run again to keep his seat on the Council, he does not deserve your vote.

I urge you to give Mr. Carlson the boot, along with Mr. Marsala.

It is time that someone who is worthy of your trust, holds the office of City Council.

I would sincerely like the Town of Atherton to become a Town that people actually think highly of.

I would like to display the awards I received from the Town with pride.

Comments (2)

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:05 am

Mr. Johns -

I understand your points and it is very apparent how personally you take these matters. I appreciate and understand that.

Yes, I'm an outsider and I cannot possibly understand the inner workings of a town like Atherton as you do. In fact, outside the Town Council, I'm sure very few citizens do.

But I don't think this is about you or your commendation or the town paying for your legal fees which you recite at virtually every opportunity. The more people digress into talking about "Mayor McCheese" or where a Council Member lives, the more the obscenity of the real transgression is diluted. The more you talk about those side issues - which are somewhat "inside the beltway" - the more the good people of Atherton will decline to engage in what should be a serious issue.

The real transgression - which is beyond dispute - is an elected official soliciting $500,000 from a citizen in the midst of a serious dispute with the town.

The facts around your case are complex but everyone understands a shakedown. I know these issues are important to YOU... but I urge you to show restraint because reciting them seems to be self serving and doesn't help your cause.


Posted by John P. Johns, CPA, a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:44 am

Dear POGO

You are correct. I recite the fact I was paid $225,000 to settle my case, and my letter of commendation at every opportunity.

You are also correct that I take it as a personal affront the denial in which I find present in the Town's governing body, its management and worst of all its citizenry.

By reminding readers of this forum what has happened in my case at every opportunity I hope to break down the walls of denial. If some find me to be a self-righteous crusader, a modern day Elliot Ness, so be it.

My ability to speak freely on this matter was a hard fought right. The Town wanted to buy my silence, just like Marsala wanted to buy Jon Buckheit to buy a favor from him. I refused to sell out and the Town gave in.

I agree with you. Marsala's conduct was a shocking betrayal of trust. Of that there can be no question.

I also agree that this is not about me. Having said that, I would assert that this not just about Marsala either. It is also about Elizabeth Lewis having committed permit fraud. Worst of all it is about Jerry Carlson turning a blind eye to these crimes, all the while objecting to how his integrity might be called into question.

I believe Carlson by rationalizing the conduct on the part of his colleagues on the Council, by refusing to allow this matter to be investigated further is guilty of conduct that is equally shocking.

Carlson has given himself and anybody else on the City Council a free pass. This is unacceptable in my view.

Jerry Carlson should be held accountable. In my view he should be spend a day with Marsala and Lewis, not on the dais in the Council Chambers, but on the side of the road in an orange vest picking up trash.

Perhaps in doing so Marsala, Lewis and Carlson will learn something about community service.


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