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Atherton: Special meeting may be prelude to staffing, spending cuts

Original post made on May 5, 2011

The Atherton City Council will meet at 8 a.m. Monday, May 9, in a special public meeting that is likely to be the prelude to a round of staffing and spending cuts aimed at staunching the town's growing budget deficit.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 5, 2011, 10:56 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by relieved, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

Finally!!!! Someone to take the reigns and stop this fiscally irresponsible and out of control town! Enough is enough! Contract out all services like police, public works and millions and millions will be saved with even better more competent service as a result.

Posted by R.Gordon, a resident of another community
on May 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

That seems almost impossible under Peter Carpenter's watch.
Perhaps he was too involved with the world to focus on his homeland.
Only unselfish people think about things above and beyond light towers and baseball games.
Peter does have a plethora of answers from his never ending resume, that it seems obvious to hand over the reins of leadership and tell him not to think about anything which does not affect where he files taxes.
Why is it that most people here have not seen this coming? I is simply a domino affect when there is a depression looming on the police forces, no schools, teachers, jobs...
Now, this shouldn't be a surprise.

Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2011 at 11:59 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

The Atherton Town Council showed courage and wisdom in selecting John Danielson as the Interim Town Manager. And Danielson is showing courage and wisdom in being prepared to make the drastic cuts that are necessary (and which I called for in my Dec 2008 message to local elected officials).

Menlo Park would be wise to follow the Atherton model of an outside Interim City Manager who can bring a fresh and tough perspective to its structural deficits.

As usual R. Gordon is simply out of touch with reality and ignorant of the facts.

Posted by Get rid of this guy, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Immature grandstanding by Danielson can't overcome his lack of good faith negotiating with town unions. Over 97% of Atherton residents support our police department and will not tolerate cutbacks since it's already been cut to the bone. That dog just won't hunt and Mr. Danielson will need to learn this since he hasn't realized the cuts will have to come somewhere else.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

At least fifteen years have passed since ANY Atherton City Manger has even tried to control the Police Department which explains the attitude of entitlement stated above, by poster "Git rid of this guy".
Too bad the Town can no longer afford to have a more current and more independent resident survey of the APD conducted that might better reflect the existing realities. I worry that we may loose the whole department to out-sourcing because of this type of resistance to concessions and stream lining that might actually keep the Department viable going forward.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Gut states:"Over 97% of Atherton residents support our police department"

This is an urban myth. When a small number of Atherton residents were surveyed (in 2006 Godbe Research mailed out surveys to every household in town, and got 587 back. Pollsters also conducted 200 phone surveys with residents) 97% of those responding said they were happy with the job officers are doing. Ninety-seven percent was also the magic number for a question about the quality of life in Atherton, with only three percent of residents saying they were dissatisfied.

There was a good deal of self selection in the less than 10% of the population that responded and these data are now over 4 years old. Rather than being repeated as gospel truth these thoughts from the past should be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by right on, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Peter is right! The "survey" was a farce. I bet if a legitimate survey was conducted there would be an entirely different picture painted. People are just plain fed up with the incompetance and downright unethical behavior going on with the police department and those who are in charge. Millions of dollars in spending would be cut and millions of dollars lost to future law suits would be prevented by outsourcing services.

Posted by Love Atherton and our police, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Peter Carpenter continues to disappoint and tries to deceive the overwhelming majority of Atherton residents who support the police department.

You have no evidence at all that there was anything inaccurate about that survey.

All of the evidence is in the other direction. If there were any people in this town other than Peter Carpenter, John Buckheit, Brian Bothan, Melinda Tevis or Kathy Mckeithan who are not supportive of the police department, wouldn't we have heard from them by now?

Yes, there are two other people named Michael Stogner and John Johns we have heard from, but they don't even live here.

Why wouldn't anyone else have come forward? Is it because the Almanac hasn't given these malcontents a forum to launch their attacks against the hard working people who protect us every day? You have to admit the Almanac has basically been a private printing press for all of these hate mongers and their totally baseless accusations and complaints. Anyone who lives in Atherton has heard of all of this by now, especially since Kathy Mckeithan has been after the police department for years.

If anything, the 97% number is low. Put up or shut up, Peter.

Posted by Yeah yeah, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 7, 2011 at 12:12 am

Whatever you say, Love Atherton. In the meantime, if you can't make the meeting early Monday morning, word is Danielson is going to ask for some assistance in cleaning up and take a look at this as it may provide some insight into what are sure to be tense interactions with police personnel.

Web Link

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2011 at 8:22 am

love our police:

your "police" department is a joke. They are a glorified security service. They're not "protecting" you they're preying upon you. At least when they're not picking up your newspapers or watering your lawns. I hope Danielsen watches his back given what happened to the last person that looked closely at the APD's finances. At least he's forwarned he can't trust them and can, in fact, count on them trying to pull the same BS they did on John Johns.

Posted by Sour graps, a resident of another community
on May 7, 2011 at 8:54 am

I guess Menlo voter, the former cop, likes to throw stones at current cops. I guess Menlo Voter has never told us why he's no longer a police officer, but I can tell you this Menlo Voter the men and women at the APD are real cops. Maybe they can give you a ride along one day and you can feel like a cop again and don't need to try to tear them down on this board? Why is it you're no longer a cop again? Hmmmm.

Posted by Do the math, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

I think everyone here is way off, so may as well stop the nastiness. Duncan Jones leaving is the clue. Danielson is going to outsource public works which he believes will solve some fiscal problems as well as send a shot across the bow to the police department that they need to make some salary concessions or the same can happen to them. His comments in the articles choreograph this strategy. It shouldn't be this way, there is no correction or actual sensible plan behind it, but my bet is this is what happens.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Sour Grapes:

I'm no longer a cop because I got tired of dealing with your kind of personality. It's in great abundance in police work. Of course, there are some who actually earned the right to have the attitude you display. APD real cops? yeah, right. As far as a ride along, I have no interest in riding around with a bunch of glorified security guards. You really think that will make me feel like a cop again? Hardly. I worked 10 years for a large metropolitan police department. I managed to make quite a few self initiated felony arrests in my career. I wrote and served served search warrants. Did parole and probation searchs which I initiated based on information developed by turning snitches. When I left I had twenty letters of commendation in my jacket. Yeah, I'm real interested in riding along and watching you pick up newspapers and water peoples lawns. Not.

Posted by Stan, a resident of another community
on May 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm

There aren't any real cops in Atherton. Real cops don't stand aside while their fellow officers act with criminal disregard for the rights of others.

The irony here is that the very same finance director the PD drove out of town was the guy who made sure that the Atherton had the money to make its Police Department one of the best paid and best equipped in the country.

The hardship the Atherton PD is now experiencing is a hardship it brought upon itself.

Has the PD learned anything? I strongly doubt it.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 8, 2011 at 8:04 am

I know Menlo Voter and can tell you that he speaks the truth about his experience as a cop in a major city.

Don't doubt his street credentials. Menlo Voter probably saw more action in some weeks than most Atherton police officers would see in a career.

And I suspect he never watered a lawn while in uniform.

Posted by Caroline, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

As a public servant in another city, I am saddened by the apparent wide-spread lack of understanding of what public servants do for their city/towns. It's sad not to be appreciated by the people and the communities we serve. We need the people who have years of understanding of the town who can make the place work. It has been sad of late to have had costly legal fights take center stage. Those of us who have lived in Atherton many years remember quiet competence of the early Town staff.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm


sorry to say, but the "quiet competence" of the early town staff has been replaced. Much of the staff is still competant, but your police department has a cancer in it and until the citizens of Atherton wake up and figure that out and demand that something be done about it, it will only be a matter of time before the next "Buckheit type" incident occurs and you are on the hook, yet again, for more legal pay outs.

Posted by Stan, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 8:02 am

Years ago "quiet confidence" meant that the Atherton Police Department could do anything it wanted and be confident that people would keep quiet about it.

Does anyone really believe the Buckheit police report wasn't falsified?

Caroline lives in a sewer. She holds her nose and pretends the stuff floating by are the leaves of jasmine.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 9, 2011 at 8:39 am

Caroline says "I am saddened by the apparent wide-spread lack of understanding of what public servants do for their city/towns. It's sad not to be appreciated by the people and the communities we serve."

I'm sorry, Caroline, but we do understand what our public servants do. Who do you think is standing across the counter from you when we go to your building and planning department seeking a permit? Who do you think is taking that number from you when we are at the DMV? Who do you think is slowing down when you working on our streets? That's us, Caroline. And I assure you that we appreciate it when you teach our kids, show up when our home is on fire or our burglar alarm goes off.

But we resent the fact that during a time when our economy has turned and our families have been tightening belts to the point of breaking, that your hiring, compensation and benefits have escalated to the point of incredulity. You earn more than comparable jobs in the private sector, get more time off, and your benefits and pensions are absurdly rich.

You know I'd like to retire at 55 years old with 90% of my highest wage and full health care benefits for the rest of my life, too. The problem is that there are now more of those retirees than workers to sustain them.

Some of us simply want to see some parity and recalibration much like we have done in our own lives. While it would be nice to have a reasonable conversation with you about these matters, all we are met with union leadership resistance, duplicity from our politicians, and claims that we will have to shut down schools, fire police officer, and starve our grandparents.

So as far as I'm concerned, you can continue this strategy of all out war right up until the time our cities, counties and states go broke and lay everyone off. That's fine with me. You reap what you sow.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2011 at 8:55 am

Hopefully, as I post this from Istanbul, Danielson is giving the Town Council both a frank assessment of the Town's structural deficit and specific recommendations as to how to deal with that deficit.

If the Council gives Danielson the support that he deserves we will start to see big changes - not all of them pleasant but all overdue.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 10:16 am


Mr. Danielson is/was prepared to take action now.

Elizabeth Lewis didn't think the meeting was properly noticed to the residents and started brain-stroming out loud about ways to inform the residents....e-mail, website etc. She also said she was surprised to see the numbers presented by the finance director.

Ex Police Chief Glenn Neilson was there so it looks like the meeting was properly noticed.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 9, 2011 at 11:27 am

Michael: There were articles in all the local press a week ago, announcing this meeting and it's importance.
Since the room was filled with teamster union reps, Elizabeth Lewis had to earn the campaign contributions she took in for her election. by stonewalling for them.
Gotta sing for your supper at this public trough.

Posted by R.Gordon, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I KNOW why I have to be in Istanbul, but when I am, I hardly have time to use that countries plans regarding democracy as even a place to begin.....I would have stayed at home or called an investigator like Peter Byrne who also likes Turkey.
Mr. Carpenter, I think it is a great idea for a person out of touch, and at your age, continue traveling and getting ideas about how the world is today instead of when you were a young man in the 40's....
Surely, you did not pack to go that far to send suggestions which you find that important as to spoil your travel by offering your opinions of Danielson and his opinions to the town council.
As I write, there are more police nearer to you than if you were sitting next to the baseball diamond here at home.Recruit some officers as long as your mind is stuck in fluff politics.

Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Gordon??- by the time I was in my 40s I had already tavelled to over 20 countries including some very dicey times in South Vietnam defending the liberties which you both take for granted and abuse.

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