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committee appointment process usurped

Original post made by code blue on May 4, 2010

I attended the newly formed Town Center Task Force meeting this morning along with at least 10 or 12 other worried residents who had applied for appointment, and who wanted to question the selection process used, which had been determined solely by council members Lewis and Carlson --- the list of applicants was never sent to the full council for final review.
This--after the committee's own meeting minutes from their February meeting (available in full on the town's web-site) state that this would be done.
As has been stated elsewhere on this forum Ms. Lewis chose only pro development contributers to her own campaign for office--no one who did not vote for her was selected.
The complaints about process, by the meeting attendees went completely ignored--on the grounds that this concern was not on the agenda and therefore could not be addressed!

When you add all of this to the way selections were made for the Finance Committee and the General Plan Committee last week --again by Lewis and Carlson's choice of developer Jeff Wise for both Commission openings, while ignoring Mr Wise' conflict of interest issues as a recipient of the litigated refunds, you have to start questioning--are the committees really meant to provide resident participation, or are they being loaded into becoming Lobbies for the only special interest that we have here in town?

I believe that all the selections need to be re-evaluated and re-done from scratch, using fair process and that Ms. Lewis should get a grip on the power tripping--she has far too many conflicted interests of her own to ruling by decree. I also believe that Mr. Carlson has already lost the next election by tagging along with Ms Lewis' behavior.
........ and by the way-- Didi is back.

Comments (15)

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

You should attend the next Town Council meeting. There is always a public comment session for you to comment about items NOT on their agenda. Organize your thoughts and voice your concerns to the Council.

Get involved. Confront them. It doesn't take a lot of effort.

I also encourage you to join the Atherton Committee of One Hundred. Web Link

Posted by code blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

While I greatly appreciate Mr. Carpenter efforts to provide venue for a bottom/up petition reform process on his google link, and hope to see it well utilized, there is something that worries me about the dialog leaving this Almanac Forum and becoming de-centralized into multiple discussion sites.
I can imagine that there are likely several politicians, one special interest group, and possibly even the Almanac its self that might greatly prefer less controversy expressed on this news blog, and would love to see relocated-- but I need to know that our local paper has no excuse for not knowing what is on people's minds by having the dialog right in front of them.
It took a lot of effort, against a lot of resistance, to create any focus at all, so I can't help but to worry a bit about this.
What do you think Peter? Have you considered this point?

Posted by confucious, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Those who take action rather than depend upon the inttiative of others will have less time to fret and will find the path to satisfaction.


Stop sitting on your hands code blue. Do something.

Posted by code blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Confucious sounds a little confused.
Maybe he also attended the Monday Town Center Task Force Meeting and may remember that in response to the attendee's complaints about the improper selection process, that commissioner/developer Dostart referred to the entire audience of about 15, as "a bunch of disgruntled residents".
With prodding from Ms. Fisher, this set the stage for Ms. Lewis to disregard everyone on the grounds that issue was not on the agenda--all done with an overly bright smile and a less than sincere invitation for informal participation.
Most people walked out. Some stuck it out for the opportunity to restate the grievance again in public comments at the end,

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Like I said, address the COUNCIL.

They ultimately control the Task Force.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2010 at 8:29 pm

The purpose of the Committee of One Hundred is to demonstrate to the Council that we, the citizens, are prepared to take back the agenda setting for our Town if they do not dramatically improve their collective performance.

Just look how 3000 signatures on the pension initiative turned the Menlo Park Council around on that issue.

My worry is that there are not 100 people in Atherton who actually give a damn.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm

My worry is that there are not 100 people in Atherton who actually give a damn.

I share your concern Mr. Carpenter. I think the citizens of Atherton are getting the governance they deserve because I don't think they REALLY care. If they did, you would have your 100 signatures by now.

Posted by code blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 5, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I believe that the residents collectively assume, that if there were really anything actionably wrong in town, that they would have each received a big fat news alert in their mail boxes from the Atherton Civic Interest League, sounding the alarm.
Because the ACIL never really weighs in on much in recent years, (the last thing I can think of was a letter about the building department/grand jury investigations), it ends up serving as a big blanket of complacency, that actually hinders transparency and creates fog instead.
A layer between government and residents that causes distance, not connection.
I am hoping that this is about to change with Mr. P.C. now in charge---that maybe his petition drive will somehow become the newly invigorated ACIL.
Maybe the ACIL should become part of the commission selection process!!!!!!

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2010 at 6:08 am

The ACIL is NOT a substitute for action by concerned citizens. And, as a further indication of the apathy, ACIL's membership has dropped below 200.

Don't expect someone else to perform YOUR civic duties.

Posted by John P. Johns, CPA, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2010 at 7:12 am

When working for the Town I would enjoy an occasional walk through the Lloyden Park neighborhood. In doing so I would pass by a pillar in the Train Station Parking lot that was donated many years ago to the Town by the ACIL.

Walking by that pilar gave me a good feeling. It was, literaly speaking, a bricks and mortar reminder to me that at one level people did and do care about what goes on at Town hall. It gave me a sense that what I did as Finance Director and what my colleagues did mattered.

I agree with Mr. Carpenter. One's responsibility to one's community does not begin and end with the purchase of a house and the payment of property taxes. If this were the case, then the Atherton town government would be one of, if not the finest in the country.

It stands to reason as such because Atherton just a few years ago was cited by Forbes as the most expensive zip code in America. As an aside, Jupiter Florida came in second.

Sadly Atherton is not the finest Town government in America. It is beset with a host of problems, from police officers who abuse their power to members of the City Council who fail to respect the rule of law to those in the middle who care more about their coffee breaks, compensation and post-employment benefits than they do about the satisfaction derived from an honest day's work and a hard earned wage.

If you are unhappy with the dysfunctional behavior of the Atherton City Council and the lack of a tangible product from Town staff, if you feel as though the ACIL should be doing more about this, then join the ACIL and do more as an ACIL member.

I know from having attended numerous City Manager meetings that the ACIL was thought of by town staff as a paper tiger, a watchdog that was all bark and no bite. It was thought of as a bunch of old codgers with too much time on their hands and with too little influence. It was thought of as an organization that was not representative of the community. I can tell you this, the former City Manager feared the Atherton Dames much more than he did the ACIL.

I would not be surprised if the ACIL were still thought of as neither influential nor effective, particularly in view of its declining membership.

If you, the folks that are unhappy with how the Town is being run and would like the government to be improved by way of pressure from the community, then do something.

Do not limit your actions to a posting here and there on this Town Square Forum. These words have little impact on the behavior of the Town, aside perhaps from momentary discomfort.

Join the ACIL or some other organization such as Mr. Carpenter's committee of 100, the Atherton Dames, or a Town Committee.

As a former insider, I know that it is better to be respected than it is to be liked by the Town staff. I also know that a culture of arrogance prevailed in Town hall when I was there. As an outsider, I perceive this culture of arrogance to have been reinforced and rewarded by apathy. One only need to look at the Town's declining financial position combined with escalating salaries for evidence of such.

Your actions matter, your words on this forum to a large extent do not.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2010 at 7:25 am

John Johns states:" As an outsider, I perceive this culture of arrogance to have been reinforced and rewarded by apathy.

Your actions matter, your words on this forum to a large extent do not."

Superbly stated !!

Posted by Melinda Tevis, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Thank you Mr Johns for the post above.
I have enormous respect and appreciation for you, Pogo, and Mr. Carpenter and your efforts to create better civic process, transparency in local governance, and to engender better resident awareness and participation.
However I must agree with Code Blue on the idea that a way to best achieve this, could well be to utilize the vehicle of the already existing ACIL,-- with a scary wake up letter sent to every home. There are enough issues--soup to nuts-- town finances to ethics and process--to wake up the dead. Check for a pulse by making a special delivery house call in the form of a letter.
The letter could also explain how those with out computer access might participate. Believe it or not there are still many of us who still have to use a neighbor's computer to even have occasion to read this blog. Everyone can read their mail.
Not as efficient- but much better for message delivery-aimed strait at the heart of the matter, and it just might put the "interest" back into A.C.i.L.
Just a thought- meant well, as part of a really big Thank you.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

One other point worth noting. Although The Almanac's Town Square web site has a nice, dedicated following, it only represents a small segment of local citizens. Furthermore, I suspect many of its visitors and posters are already civically active.

It would be nice to get the word out to our fellow citizens - in all Towns - to visit and participate in this site. Perhaps The Almanac could do a story on Town Square and what's happening here.

Posted by code blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Yes! The "4th estate" arriving to the resident's own.
The Amanac IS another method for a delivered door to door "house call".
I'm developing a crush on you Pogo.
I want to see your guest opinion piece.

Posted by code blue, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm

As long as the wife of the attorney from A.B.A.G. sits on the A.C.I.L. board,
it will not be free from influence by litigation issue outcomes, or able to serve its intended function.
At least I worry about this.

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