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Guest opinion: Volunteers welcome to help out in Atherton

Original post made on Jun 30, 2010

If a reader's only impression of Atherton came from local newspaper headlines and blogs, what would that person conclude? Probably, that the town is sinking financially, the council isn't behaving well and residents are unhappy.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (5)

Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 30, 2010 at 11:18 am

"Volunteers welcome to help out in Atherton". I find the title of your article quite ironic, Mr. Carlson, as when I volunteered for the finance committee, you and your cohort Elizabeth Lewis blocked my application. Neither one of you would ask me a single interview question, and instead advocated the application of someone who had both not showed up for the interview, and put on his application that he had little time to serve on the finance committee. When Mayor McKeithen suggested we both become members, you and Ms. Lewis stoutly refused.

You were later quoted as saying the only reason you did this was because of my lawsuit against the Town of Atherton. Are the only volunteers you want for Atherton those who agree with you and Elizabeth Lewis that police officers should be able to admittedly falsify police reports and get away with it (and thus my lawsuit is unjustifiable)? Are the only type of "volunteers" you want those who agree with you and Ms. Lewis, or those who find everything in general is just fine with the Town of Atherton?

I think Atherton can actually benefit from the volunteerism of those who don't find the status quo acceptable. I think it can also benefit from processes that are not violative of the law (for example, retaliating against someone who has chosen to redress his grievances, as you unfortunately chose to do).

(By the way, even though you and Ms. Lewis blackballed me from serving on the finance committee, I attended the meeting in which they discussed and formulated the new budget; you were nowhere to be found at that meeting but seem to want to take a lot of credit for what came out of it).

Responding to some of the other points in your editorial:

>> The town does have financial challenges not unlike those of its neighbors.

This shows you have little understanding of the actual financial issues. For example, the largest portion of the budget is the police department costs, and these costs are quite unlike our neighbors. We have the highest per capita police cost in the county because of our small size and the overhead that is common with every police department, large or small. The pension costs are killing the finances of this town. Even San Carlos, with far lower per capita police costs than Atherton, has now turned to outsourcing. Perhaps if you had participated in the finance committee discussions, you'd have a better handle on this.

>> [High speed rail issues]..."are concerns that are town-wide issues."

This dovetails nicely with Cheshire Cat's posts on previous threads that your membership is not a conflict of interest, and is clearly self-serving, but you have to admit, the extent of your own home's possible decrease in value fits into a very small category of Atherton homes. Mine would not decrease in value due to high speed rail. How about stepping off of the committee, and letting another "volunteer" take your place, so your highly questionable participation cannot be used against the Town of Atherton's opposition to high speed rail? I actually agree with your ultimate position on the issue, but not with the process that you get to decide. It's bad governance.

I believe other residents who have taken the trouble to come to council meetings may have their own view on whether or not they have felt welcome by you as the citizen "volunteers" you ask for.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2010 at 11:33 am

Volunteers welcome......Unless your name is Jon Buckheit.

Volunteers welcome: That's Funny


Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Mr. Carlson, instead of pontificating with pablum and pltitudes, you should address a more pressing problem, the lack of ethical behavior by a majority of the City Council.

You mention High Speed Rail in your article urging volunteers to step up. You also appear to make reference to posts on this Town square forum critical of how members of the City Council have been acting lately.

You casually cast aside these legitimate concerns. I can only conclude it is because you would prefer to play the role of elder statesman and stand above it all rather than to acknowledge the existence of and to help solve these pressing problems.

It is fair game to call you out Mr. Carlson. It is fair game to call for an independent investigation into my complaint against you for conflict of interest.

You have voted to use taxpayer funds to protect your property value, a mere stone's throw away from the proposed high speed rail alignment.

I respectfully submit that this behavior is a far worse transgression than Councilman Marsala asking for a loan from a resident in litigation with the Town. This kind of behavior is much worse than Ms. Lewis receiving an illegal favor from the Building Department.

I agree with your statement that the Town is in need of volunteers. You should be the first to volunteer, Mr. Carlson, you should volunteer to step down from the City Council.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 30, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Mr. Carlson:

you should take your lead from Andy Cohen who also lives close to the UP tracks and hence the HSR corridor. He recuses himself from anything to do with it. Why don't you do the same?


Posted by Huh??, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 1, 2010 at 3:02 am

Menlo Voter, how right you are. Carlson not only refuses to recuse himself, he actually uses the high speed rail issue as a hallmark in his editorial.

Let's not lose track of another Carlson crony on the High Speed Rail committee, former mayor Jim Janz. If you can believe it, Janz lives even closer than Carlson to the proposed rail track - his backyard actually buts up right to it. What kind of government are Gruber and Furth running that these types of conflicts are ignored?

And Jerry Carlson, why the heck did you stop John Buckheit from joining the finance committee? You ask for volunteers and then you turn someone like that away? He could really "clean house" and help solve the town's financial problems.

Even Barrack Obama and George Bush both put members of the "other team" on their cabinets to enhance the overall exchange of ideas and progress. I also have heard you and Liz Lewis were pretty cute about just appointing Lewis developer/loyalists to the town center committee, and leaving all the other residents who applied out in the cold. Lewis' reply in the newspaper? Something like if her supporters didn't get on committees, they'd be empty. Wow. What arrogance. But I have spoken with a lot of the people who were shut out by Jerry and Elizabeth and they are not happy at all.

Most people focus on their high points in their political propaganda, Jerry. Your participation on high speed rail, and the childish way you have behaved in refusing to appoint multiple residents you don't like to committees is not something I'd be trumpeting as achievements if I were you.


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