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Letter: Town should vote on library location

Original post made on Dec 7, 2011

Implying a lack of respect for the intellect of Atherton residents, the City Council would not vote to allow its citizens to be involved in determining placement of the new library building project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 12:00 AM

Comments (34)

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Posted by Keep Open Space
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 8:27 am

Earl,

I agree with you.

Atherton does not need to expand a 4,900 square foot library into an 11,000 square foot library. Atherton does not need to move the library to the park and take what little field space the town has.

How can nine people decide this issue?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

Four hundred registered voters CAN put this on the ballot IF they really care.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 8:45 am

Peter not to worry. A ballot measure is already being organized.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 9:00 am

Choose your ballot wording very carefully. Most initiatives fail to pass or are successfully challenged in court because they are too wordy or to clever. Keep it so a simple NO to relocating the library to the park.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 9:08 am

Choose your ballot wording very carefully. Most initiatives fail to pass or are successfully challenged in court because they are too wordy or to clever. Keep it so a simple NO to relocating the library to the park.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

Peter, thank you for your advise. An attorney already being employed on this matter and it is expensive but necessary. A legal donation mechanism also being established to pay for this effort. Appreciate your comments.
Stay tuned.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

Are Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson engaging attorneys to sue the town??!??

If so, they must immediately step down from the town council.

If other, third parties, such as Didi Fisher, are engaging attorneys to sue the town, Lewis and Carlson must cut off all contact with her immediately.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

Whoa, apparently you cannot follow the subject of the thread. Not about suing anyone but for a citizens referendum to place the issue on the next ballot on whether to place the library in the Park. Peter recommends getting the ballot wording right and thus the need for an attorney.
Maybe you understand but are stirring the pot intentionally?


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I can read and follow just fine. You are saying that a lawyer is needed based on Peter's recommendation? That recommendation appears six hours ago, and your response that followed indicates: "An attorney ALREADY being employed on this matter and it is expensive but necessary."

Bottom line, Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis are involved with groups hiring lawyers to sue/go against the town. They have previously indicated this is a wrongful approach for anyone with a disagreement but apparently not for them.


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Posted by barbara
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I agree with the efforts to block the selection of placing a library at Holbrook Palmer. That being said, I will encourage efforts to allow the citizens to make a choice. Atherton tears down too many beautiful homes which are historic. Let's do the right thing and upgrade the current site. New construction is not always the best. Holbrook Palmer does not need a new library.


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Posted by Library EIR
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

There is so much information regarding the Library in the Park that has not been given to the residents. Hopefully the EIR will provide the information and then the residents can vote.

Some suggestions for the EIR, hopefully council will consider:

Doing an EIR is a great idea! How about a spread sheet with the six options listed across the top of the page as a heading:

1. 11,000 square foot library in the park;
2. 8,000 square foot library in the park,
3. Library at another site in the park;
4. A library on the existing library site; and
5. a library elsewhere in the Town Center.


And then list vertically the questions and concerns of the residents of the town and provide an answer under each location option. And rank the locations with 1-5 points for the location that best meets that concern. Maybe some concerns get more weight. The train noise in the park is less, but the noise from the sports fields will be greater.

Here is a list of EIR questions to start:

EIR Questions and Concerns:

1. Does building an 11,000 square foot library in the park go against the Town's General Plan and the Park Master Plan to promote open space?

2. If the Library leaves its current building and turns that building over to the town and the building needs $500,000 in seismic safety improvements, where does the money come from? Could that money be used for something else?

3. Is the Library giving the town an unsafe building and the costs that go with making that building safe?

4. What is the value of the park land the town will turn over to the library? $2,500,000 per acre? How many acres?

5. What is the footprint of the current main house?

6. What is the square footage of living space of the main house?

7. What is the current amount of Green Space in the Park for fields?

8. The Project Description notes that "some of the existing uses ...at the Main House... maybe absorbed by other facilities".....That needs to be a yes or no-- not a maybe. Each Main House existing activity should be accounted for in the future. What happens to the offices, meeting rooms, and storage the main house provides to the Foundation and Dames, Park Maintenance, Park Activity Supervision, Art Committee, rental income, and catering?

9. Will there still be a need for those activities to be housed in the park? Will more open space be taken as those Main House Activities are relocated? If we can relocate those uses to provide space for the library, why not do that anyway and tear down the main house?

10. It does not seem many of the uses of the Main House can be be replaced with a Library. The Main House activities still need to exist. Where and how much space do they need? 2,000 square feet? More?

11. How much square footage of parking will the library need?

12. While there may not be any new parking spaces needed for the library, is there a surplus of parking spaces and could some of the existing spaces be converted to green space?

13. What is the total "Open Space" that will be lost from the Library, walkways, patio, parking, landscape, relocating existing main house activities? In the end the Library may take up an acre or more of the park.

14 What is the cost to the town to relocate the exisitng users of the main house?

15. At $5,000 per wedding; the town makes $90,000 per year in rental income. How will the town make up the $90,000 a year in lost rental income to support the park once the Main House is gone?

16. Could the $90,000 be increased by additional rentals?

17. One stated objective in the New Town Cener Project Description is to house all employees in the same building as the City Manager. Moving them into the existing library goes against that objective. What EIR problems to people will result from the city manager being in a different facility than the staff he manages?

18. Option keeping the library where it is- Would a two story library designed to mitigate train noises benefit the town by keeping the Park as Open Space?

19. Could the library expand where it is?

20. Does the EIR scope factor in lost rental revenue from the main house being torn down? And how the Park will be impacted from that lost revenue for maintenance and capital projects?

21. Are there alternatives that would attain most of the project's basic objectives and lessen any of the significant effects of the project on other parts of the town?

22. What are the objectives of the project?... The County says we need a library twice the size we have, but less than half the people come from Atherton. Does Atherton even need more library space?

23. Is the objective to build a library large enough to meet the needs of San Mateo County, parts of Menlo Park, and Atherton?

24. Assuming the extra people the library will bring to the park and those people will stay and use park facilities. How will the extra wear and tear and repairs on those park facilities be funded?

25. Why not consider partnerships with any of the numerous schools in Atherotn as solutions? There are five middle school, three high school, and one college library in Atherton. Menlo College is adding an MBA program and will remodel its library. San Jose has done a partnership with San Jose State on a library.

26. Can the EIR do a survey of the residents of the town and factor in the desires and needs of the people paying for this project?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The proposed ballot measure is not a law suit against the Town but rather the citizens of the Town exercising their constitutional right to decide an important policy issue. And this is a policy issue on which the citizens' elected representatives are deadlocked 3-2 or 2-2 with 1 abstention - which is exactly when the will of the people is necessary and appropriate to decide the issue.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:05 am

Peter says
The proposed ballot measure is not a law suit against the Town but rather the citizens of the Town exercising their constitutional right to decide an important policy issue. And this is a policy issue on which the citizens' elected representatives are deadlocked 3-2 or 2-2 with 1 abstention - which is exactly when the will of the people is necessary and appropriate to decide the issue.

That could not be said any better,


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Posted by The Town
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

This is not a lawsuit against "the town"; rather "the town" gets the opportunity to advise two or three council members if it agrees or disagrees with their recent vote.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

ANY lawsuit involves one or more parties exercising their constitutional rights (for a court to decide right from wrong). It involves parties taking the right/wrong decision making to a higher authority, whether it be a court, or in Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis' case, the residents.

Jerry Carlson has stated that anyone who is involved with lawsuits against the town is not behaving properly. The same standards apply to him.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Whoa...will try one more time but your lack of knowledge of Referendum process is either feigned just to sling muda around or you really have trouble understanding. It has nothing to do with any council menbers but just citizens.
Last time this is not a lawsuit but a Referendum:
What is a Referendum?

It's a process available in California where a law can be brought to the citizens for vote. If enough signatures are gathered within 90 days of the law going into effect, the law is immediately halted. It then goes onto the next ballot for California citizens to vote on, most likely in June, 2012.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Gee, I didn't know every time I consulted with an attorney I was involved in a lawsuit. At least by Whoa's standards. Hint to Whoa: being involved in a lawsuit actually requires FILING one with the courts. A referendum is not a lawsuit. It doesn't get filed in court and isn't decided by judges or other agreed to arbiters. It is decided by the voters.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:54 am

Yes Menlo Voter, you are right. A lawsuit doesn't get filed in court. It gets decided by a judge and/or a jury. A referendum gets decided by voters.

But is it the fact that a lawsuit gets decided by a judge or a jury, or gets filed in a courthouse, what Jerry Carlson found so objectionable about it? No. Of course not.

Jerry Carlson objected to anyone filing a lawsuit against the Town of Atherton (with the exception of Pilar Buckley, the ex-cop who swindled the Town out of a quarter of a million, since voted for that quick settlement and he put her on the Selby Lane School board afterwards, and Pilar's best friend is Jerry's house sitter) under the notion that the litigant is trying to force a result rather than "working it out within the system" of the Town of Atherton, and/or refused to accept the results that had been decided by the council or staff without throwing a tantrum over that. [And if Jerry Carlson himself or his cohorts like Didi Fisher want to give a better explanation for Jerry's objection to the lawsuit filings, please come forward; I very much doubt you can or will].

Now I know "not to worry" is going to say that a ballot referendum is "working it out within the system" because a ballot referendum is a completely legal process, on the books, that can be invoked.

But so is a lawsuit. In fact, it's a much more fundamental right than a ballot measure. It's existed as a fundamental right in democratic governments for hundreds of years before ballot measures ever got introduced.

So either Jerry Carlson needs to eat his own cooking here, or admit he's a hypocrite.

The problem is that initiating or participating in any type of legal action against the Town is contrary to the code of conduct for council members. I believe Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis are going to have to be unseated by the mayor while this is playing out.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 7:45 am

a referendum is not a "legal action" and therefor not contrary to the code of conduct. YOu can try to twist it any way you want Whoa, but that dog won't hunt.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 8:05 am

Whoa says:
Now I know "not to worry" is going to say that a ballot referendum is "working it out within the system" because a ballot referendum is a completely legal process, on the books, that can be invoked.

not to worry says
A ballot referendum is "working it out within the system" because a ballot referendum is a completely legal process, on the books, that can be invoked.

Whoa... you sure are carrying allot of baggage and it is getting in the way of any logic.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I've got baggage?

No. Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis have the baggage.

They should try to work out their differences through polite, perhaps lively, discussion and debate, where everyone with an opinion has an equal voice at the table.

Instead they're hiring lawyers to litigate this matter. That's called buying a result through the financial muscle of Didi Fisher and her Circus Club.

Stop suing the town, Jerry.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Whoa:

from all of the posts above where do you get teh information that either Carlson or McKeithen are suing the town? A referendum is NOT a lawsuit. I can only assume you are being so obtuse because you have an agenda.

from Webster's:

Definition of REFERENDUM
1a : the principle or practice of submitting to popular vote a measure passed on or proposed by a legislative body or by popular initiative b : a vote on a measure so submitted
2: a diplomatic agent's note asking for government instructions

Nowhere in that definition is there anything even remotely close to a "lawsuit."


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for the definition. I've got a copy of Webster's somewhere too.

But I'm more interested in Not to Worry's statement that:

"An attorney already being employed on this matter"

So Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis have hired an attorney. That's quite a bit more than just doing a referendum.

So far no one has denied that Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis have been hiring attorneys to give them legal advice on trying to undo council decisions.

As a fiduciary, Jerry Carlson must know that he cannot take actions adverse to the organization he is the fiduciary of. Others can, who are not fiduciaries. But not a fiduciary himself.

Very ironically Jerry Carlson's decisions to take adverse legal actions and suits against this town are categorically unethical, illegal, and against the town charter. The other people he criticized for utilizing the legal system to achieve the ends they thought were just did not have this fiduciary conflict.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

[Post removed.] Please comment on the issues, not the posters.


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Posted by not to worry
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm

What ever you said Peter, I will second it. We are dealing with an empty vessel in Whoa.
For the Almanac..how come Whoa can make unfounded personal attacks and yet you delete Peter's comments?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm

It is irresponsible and a violation of the Terms of Use (Please be respectful and truthful in your postings) for the Editors to continue to allow Whoa to make illogical, untruthful and unfounded smears about two Council members.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Come on Whoa. Just because I consult an attorney from time to time doesn't mean I'm involved in a "lawsuit" every time I do. You know better than that. If you don't your either stupid or you have an axe to grind. I suspect the latter.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Peter Carpenter: you are asserting others are making "unfounded" accusations, yet did not attend the recent council meetings.

Did you know that at the end of one recent meeting, Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson mentioned launching a recall campaign against council members Dobbie, McKeithen and Widmer because they voted in a manner that Mr. Carlson and Ms. Lewis disagreed with?

Did you know that at a subsequent meeting, Ms. Lewis was accused of making that threat, and denied it, whereupon Mr. Widmer announced he had heard that threat.

This is related to the issue Menlo Voter brings up. Yes, hiring a lawsuit does not necessarily mean a lawsuit will be filed. But it is almost always associated with taking adverse action against an opposing party in some way, shape or form, and is certainly in this instance.

Mr. Carlson and Ms. Lewis are council members in the Town of Atherton. If the majority of the council takes a vote they disagree with, it is contrary to their roles as fiduciaries to be taking any type of adverse action against the Town of Atherton, including and especially consulting with an attorney in that regard, in response.

I do agree they are entitled to disagree, voice their disagreement in a spirited way, and work to change the membership of the council in the next election. I also agree that they probably earnestly disagree with this vote.

What is very hypocritical about Mr. Carlson's actions in this regard is his prior stance on repudiating anyone who would take an adverse action against the Town of Atherton (because they believed they were wronged or disenfranchised). He now feels wronged and disenfranchised by the actions of these three council members, and is prepared to take adverse action, precisely the type of behavior he previously stated was unacceptable.

But unlike the other litigants who had no fiduciary duties to Atherton, he does.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Spare me Whoa. Hiring an attorney is not associated with a lawsuit nor is it in some way associated with bringing some adverse action. When I consult an attorney regarding my rights in a particular case because I want to assure I am not doing something wrong, does that mean I am planning some adverse action? NO! Again I say either you are stupid or you have an agenda. The latter is what I suspect.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

The message here to Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson is simple. The residents of Atherton want our elected representatives to be able to work together, have healthy disagreements, try to work things out, respect decisions and move on, and not get embroiled in controversies, feuds, and litigation.

Getting into any situation in which lawyers are being paid by wealthy residents to ensure particular outcomes is not what is needed here.

Stop litigating against this town.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 10:11 am

Whoa - you just don't understand or are simply playing, very successfully, dumb.

A citizens initiative is not litigation. It is democracy at its finest.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Actually it is Peter who is playing dumb, or just trying to obfuscate the issue with generalities rather than looking at the specific facts.

Referendums, whether citizen or shareholder, are fine. I agree.

But they CANNOT be led, sponsored, spearheaded, or even done in cooperation with existing members of the governing board without fiduciary conflicts, both legal and ethical.

This is because these fiduciaries always have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their organization, even if they disagree with some decisions.

The spot on example of this is Walter Hewlett, who had to resign from the HP board of directors some ten years ago to assist with a shareholder referendum to stop HP's merger with Compaq, which the HP board approved of but Mr. Hewlett personally disagreed with. His efforts ultimately failed, but he made the correct fiduciary decision, undoubtedly aided by superb legal advice.

A voter referendum in Atherton is fine, so long as Carlson and Lewis have nothing to do with it, since it seeks to overturn a council decision. They can resign from the council and then participate, but cannot do so as council members.

...I'm not as dumb as you think.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Whoa - do you have ANY evidence to support your continued assertion of impropriety? And please appreciate that elected officials do not give up their rights as citizens. Supporting an initiative is not a fiduciary conflict - if you think so then please provide the California Code that so specifies.

Web Link

And note that Whoa keeps changing his/her position - first a tirade against lawsuits and having been shown to lack a basic understanding of what an initiative is then progresses to unproven allegations regarding who is behind the proposed initiative. It is sad to see this Forum serve as a rumor mill for the likes of Whoa.

And sadly I do think that Whoa is, in his/her own words "as dumb as you think."


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Whoa:

continuing to assert over and over and over again something that is not a fact will not make it true. Why don't you give it up. A referendum is not litigation, but you really know that don't you? YOu just wish to twist and obfuscate to try and make something true that clearly isn't.


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