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Man arrested in alleged teen drinking incident

Original post made on Nov 28, 2011

==B Menlo Park:== The presence of more than 40 teenagers, ages 16 and 17, possibly under the influence of alcohol, at a home in the 1200 block of Woodland Avenue on Friday, Nov. 25, led officers from the Menlo Park Police Department to arrest William Burnett, 54, on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of minors, a police department spokeswoman said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 28, 2011, 1:53 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by HillbillyHeaven, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm

This is what's wrong with America today...police getting involved with people's personal business within their OWN HOME. I say give Mr Burnett credit for letting the kids drink at his home, rather than having them out drinking illegally somewhere else.

Back in my day (M-A class of '83) my parents let me and my friends drink at home....heck, they promoted it to "keep us off the streets. At times they even bought the keg (we were often short on cash).

Come on Menlo Park, lighten up...let the kids have a little fun.


Posted by ConcernedParent, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

HillbillyHeaven, What are you, nuts?? It's people like YOU that is wrong with America.

If you think it's such a good idea to encourage underage drinking, why don't YOU host 40 drunk teenagers at your home in fancy smancy Sharon Heights.

And by the way, I think the ID you've chosen says it all. No offense to honorable hillbillies in the southern part of the United States.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Great idea Hillbilly, let a bunch of drunken teens out on the street, drunk. They were right charging this [portion deleted] with contributing to the delinquency of minors. I can't tell you how many parties I broke up as a cop full of drunken teenagers. In almost every case the parents were out of town or absent. If the parents were there, you can bet they got cited for contributing. There's a reason minors aren't allowed to drink - they really stupid things when they do.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm

This is the reprehensible and irresponsible reporting. No names of supposed reporting officers are given. And no charges have been actually filed. Shame on you. This isn't news.


Posted by Hold Judgement, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Susan is right, you judgmental blockheads need to hold off on your tirades until the facts of the case have come to light. If the parents were ensuring that the kids who were drinking were not driving that night, I say the city of Menlo Park should offer a full apology and reimburse them for their expenses (Bail, legal fees, etc.)


Posted by Practical kid, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm

[Portion removed.]

This is the problem with parents in this area(as I cannot speak on behalf of any others), parents who want to come across as 'cool' to their kids and kids' friends. I'm sorry this man had the be the "one", but someone needed to be, in order to set an example for the rest of the community.

This may have been different if he had made sure all of the kids were staying the night, ensuring there would be zero chance for DUIs, accidents, and/or any general effect on the rest of the community.
This guy is a great person, I just really believe he got a bit cocky in regard to the situation.

If you really need to be that cool parent for some crazy pretentious reason, go buy the alcohol and then GET THE [portion deleted] away from that house. Go get a hotel or something. I'm not advocating for setting up a party but how complacent can you possibly be in respect to your own legal vulnerability...

I think a lot of Atherton/menlo park moms and dads need to take this opportunity to sober up and take a damn good look at themselves in regard to responsibility of their kids and kids' friends. Its not like you parents have been exactly perfect in this department in the past...

Just remember: somebody with a practical head on their shoulders is always watching--do the right thing.


Posted by MAke your kids safe for the world, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

I read in the Post that the there were 40 teens, each having had "1-2 beers" according to the cops. Did they find the empties? Was the basement of the home full of cans? Did the parents buy a keg? For the menlo PD to put a Stanford professor in jail overnight, they better have had something more than some drunk kids at a party. Unless he took a swing at them, they were out of line. I'm sick of paying them 90 % pensions for this "service".

They also would not let the kids go home on there own, but made them wait for their parent to pick them up. This is another form of a perp walk or public humiliation. Without a breathalyzer, can they do this? I'm sure there is a law about minors and suspected alcohol, but it smacks of paternalism.

There is a big disconnect in California with alcohol and our kids. Look at the Summer concert series - many groups share a bottle of wine with the show. This is OK - or al least the police look the other way with the open containers in Freemont park, because it is "responsible". How exactly do we learn to drink responsibly? How many of the kids at the party had previously been at a Stanford tailgate and seen adults and college age kids drinking a bit too much?

We need to teach our children to deal with alcohol responsibly. If these kids have a few beers and learn their limits with an adult, we may prevent a serious tragedy in a year or two when they are by themselves at college.

My last observation is that 40 kids is probably too many, but in a world of texts and flash mobs, its hard to control.


Posted by elle, a resident of Woodside School
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:30 am

Professor Burnett is not above the law by virtue of being a professor at Stanford. In fact, he needs to review a publication on this exact subject put out by Stanford, Web Link. I would submit that other's defending Burnett's actions also read the above document.

Spending deserved time in jail will give [portion deleted] an opportunity to revew this publication and if he's capable engage in some self-reflection.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

Wow, what a leap to judgement, especially "elle." Re-read the article please, as the kids were "possibly under the influence," (i.e., the presence of a few beers may or may not mean all 40 kids were drinking or drunk,) no comment from the homeowner suggests he believes he is "above the law", and the parents intentions, whether they meant to be cool or safe or were just dumb, are not given any air time here. You are free to overlay your own biases on top of the facts, of course, but it's not fair to second-guess intentions based on this short PR piece from the MP police.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The allowable blood alcohol level for drivers under 21 is ZERO. If they drank anything then they would be breaking the law if they drove home.


Posted by Jazz, a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Jazz is a registered user.

There are a couple of issues that need to be addressed here. First, if you are illegally "hosting" a drinking party for underage teenagers, has the "responsible adult" contacted every one of the teenager's parents to see if it's all right with them and they are giving their consent? Secondly, the police have to have the parents pick up their children because if they let them drive home, even those who they suspect weren't drinking and they get into a traffic accident, whom do you think the parents are going to sue? Please don't try to take responsibility for my children and assume you can serve them alcohol period.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

This story seems to raise more questions than it answers.

Who called the police?

Did any of the kids get into cars & drive?

Was the party loud & out of control?

Like Hillbilly, I recall the halcyon days of cool, responsible parents who let kids drink at home, but it was no big deal because the police never knew about it.

40-50 kids is a party that could easily get out of control.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Unimportant side notes: I used to babysit there a lot, love that house. When I graduated from high school, we had a small party at home. For some reason, my parents let me go buy beer for it w/an older friend in Whiskey Gulch - even though we were both underage - but we knew the liquor store owner & his family. My parents were normally not even remotely that lenient! Liquor store owner called to confirm that the beer was being brought straight home. One of my high school teachers attended the party & had a couple of beers. Ahhh....the good ol' days.


Posted by MAnage Yourself, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm

MAnage Yourself is a registered user.

First, WAY TO GO HillbillyHeaven! It is safer to have kids in a contained location and not have anyone driving intoxicated. Oh the Menlo Park Police doing their duty. This article left me with more questions then I had before I read it. How did the police know that a party was going on? Did they just cruise around and wait for teenagers wandering around? If they went into the house, was there probable cause for them to enter, such as did they see beer cans laying on the floor? I heard some other details about that night, such as they wouldn't let kids use the restroom if they had to relieve themselves and making someone who just had back surgery stand, despite the pain they were feeling.

@ Jazz. You don't want people to serve your child alcohol, well your child willingly walked into the house that he/she knew alcohol was being served. They did not have to enter the house but they did. It says nothing about the person serving the alcohol, but about YOUR child. Can he/she not make the conscious decision to not go to that house, when he/she knows what is probably happening there? That is YOUR problem and says something about YOUR parenting skills.


Posted by teen, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm

teen is a registered user.

As a teen at the party I would just like to state that everything was exaggerated not ALL 44 teens were drunk like it said on the cover of the Daily Post. Also the majority of our parents knew where we were that night. Mr. Burnett and his wife took away the keys of all the kids who drove there. Yes we are all under the age of 21 but we were drinking responsibly and the majority of us are seniors who are going to college next year so we were experiencing what will obviously be done in college in a safe way.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Teen - thanks for your input.

How did the police get involved - do you know?


Posted by AGuy, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:22 pm

AGuy is a registered user.

Dear Concerned Parent,
HillBillyHeaven is totally right. Having some kids over to drink is not whats wrong with people in this country. It is people like you who don't give your kids enough freedom and stereotype people based on where theyre from? I find that low. When I was growing up, the kids who tended to get into trouble were the parents who didnt let them go out or have a beer. These things will happen in a teenager's life. Menlo Park needs to lighten up. I understand breaking up the party. But come on people, there is crime to be stopped out there and this is not it. If Burnett gets thrown in jail for a year, I will go to the police department and complain myself. I am outraged at how this became such a big deal. We all drank a few beers as teenagers! There mightve been a parent around here or there and I dont remember them being charged big bucks and on trial. What is this country coming to?


Posted by Jordi, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Jordi is a registered user.

Accept reality, under-21 alcohol prohibition does not work; teens drink. Pretending that the law will stop teen drinking is the same as pretending that we all drive at 55 miles per hour, and not 70 mph when the limit is 55. Pure hypocrisy, parents have to live in the reality of their children's lifes, not in "cucu land".

Telling your kids they cannot drink is limiting, or preventing, the more important dialog about the effects of drinking, how to drink safely (with a full stomach, not shots, don't have to finish your beer


Posted by Jordi, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 5, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Jordi is a registered user.

Does Menlo Park want teens drinking in the streets? plenty of dark streets for them to do so, especially close to the train tracks. If parents do not provide safe, minimally supervised environment, where else will they drink? ...in the streets...


Posted by pogo, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Jordi -

Your logic appears to be that since teens drink, we shouldn't enforce underage drinking laws. With your logic, why should we enforce ANY law - all are broken at one time or another. People speed, people murder, people steal. Boys will boys...

But here's an idea, how about enforcing this law so that some teens will think twice before drinking or some parent will think twice about permitting drinking at a teen party. Yes, some people have little respect for themselves, their neighbors or the law, but you should be grateful that most of us do.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Jordi - it is an urban myth that supervised underage drinking is a good thing; there is NO dat to support that belief. The data that I can find clearly shows that it is NOT a good idea to permit underage people to drink alcoholic beverages with adult supervision.

Web Link

Barbara McMorris, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, compared seventh graders from the U.S., which prohibits underage drinking, and Australia, where adult-supervised drinking for teens is allowed. By the ninth grade, 36% of the Australian teens had problems with binge drinking or other alcohol-related issues such as getting in fights and having blackouts, while only 21% of the American adolescents did. In fact, regardless of where they lived, youngsters who drank in front of adults were more likely to have drinking problems several years later than those who abstained.

Read more: Web Link

"youngsters who drank in front of adults were more likely to have drinking problems several years later than those who abstained."

"Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies. Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending. Kids need black and white messages early on. Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase,"

I think our community would be better guided by sound research than urban myths propagated by those who are attempting to justify their illegal behavior.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Has our District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe charged Mr. Burnett with any crimes yet?


Posted by believer in science, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Dec 13, 2011 at 7:48 pm

believer in science is a registered user.

To "teen",

Could you please define "responsible drinking" that you claimed the teens were engaged in at the Burnetts?

To other readers who believe teenage drinking is perfectly fine because "teens will be teens": As a recent college grad I never drank and nor did any of my friends. I had a good group of friends in both high schoool and college who didn't drink. We did have some things in common such as good relationships with our parents who expected we would not the break laws, positive self-esteems and strong coping skills during stress and peer pressure situations. Both my high school and college group of friends and I had great times in school without self-medicating. We didn't need alcohol to feel comfortable or have fun and No, none of us were Mormon or any other religion!

Our parents were/are great role models.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Good News for Mr. Burnett today at 2:00PM a witness testified in court for case #SC071929
that she consumed several shots of vodka at the Cooks apt. She lied to police twice because she knew it was illegal she was only 17 at the time......The DA thinks this is cool because she is their witness. No charges what so ever.....


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