Atherton voters to determine whether new library will be built in Holbrook-Palmer Park Atherton, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Jun 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm
Atherton voters will be given the chance to say yes or no to a proposal to build a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park. The City Council endorsed putting the question on the Nov. 6 ballot at a special meeting this afternoon (June 29).
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 29, 2012, 6:10 PM
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
We may be entering a new era pf Town governance wherein the council's role is simply to place any significant issue before the voters. Potentially expensive but certainly better than a permanently divided 3-2 council. And it works in Switzerland and in Vermont, why not in Atherton?
The battle now will be who gets to write the actual ballot language and who gets to write the pro and con statements.
Posted by Chess Game , a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 10:03 am
The Atherton Council & Library Chess game continues...
Only the Mayor can call a special meeting with his agenda.
However the Friday agenda to include the Town Center project is McKeithen's idea.
For a year, residents have written letters and gone to council meetings asking for a survey or vote of all residents. WMD have stayed firm.
In response WMD tried to "shut down" the Athertonians email list.
Last week Carlson and Lewis again voted for a town wide survey; WMD voted no. Lewis and Carlson wanted a town wide vote.
Over the weekend the Athertonians sent out a petition needing 100 signatures to call a special town meeting with for a town wide vote.
200 people responded within four days.
Widmer and McKeithen responded by calling a special meeting yesterday to announce they now agree with Carlson, Lewis, the Park and Recreation Commission, and 200 people who have signed a petion support a town wide vote but require it to include votes on the town center and little league field as a way to "heal the town."
Did Widmer, McKeithen, or anyone inform Dobbie that Widmer and McKeithen had changed thieir minds and now favored a town wide vote?
Why wasn't this part of a regular meeting agenda so that more people could attend?
Posted by Facts are important, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 10:35 am
Chess Game, You write "Last week Carlson and Lewis again voted for a town wide survey." That's not true. Lewis and Carlson voted against the survey, along with McKeithen. What else have you misrepresented?
Posted by Chess Game, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 11:21 am
Facts- I thought that Carlson made a motion for a survey of all registered voters and Lewis said she would prefer a vote. Since the word "vote" was not on the agenda, she could not make a motion for a town vote and seconded Carlson's motion. Lewis and Carlson voted in favor, Dobbie and McKeithen against and Widmer abstained. Motion failed 2-2-1
Widmer then made a motion to call 300 residents. Widmer, Dobbie, voted in favor and Carlson, Lewis, and McKeithen voted against. Motion failed 2-3
When I said more "battles" I should have said more "chess moves" to follow.
Here are how I see the recent moves and what could happen:
The teams: Library in the Park (LIB) and All Residents Vote (ARV)
ARV move 1. A few weeks back an email goes out asking people to write the Mayor requesting he agree to a town wide survey or vote.
LIB move 2. He does. However he only supports "town wide" to be 300 people by phone with the council approving the questions.
ARV move 3. Carlson and Lewis push for Town Wide to be all registered voters of the town by mail.
LIB move 4. Mayor Abstains- motion fails. Calls for 300 person phone survey.
ARV move 5. Survey motion fails. Petition is sent out needing 100 signatures. 200 plus sign requesting a special town meeting for a vote on the agenda.
LIB move 6. Widmer and McKeithen call special meeting requesting town vote be on a upcoming agenda. Adding town center and little league.
ARV move 7. Staff gets into mix, saying probably not enough time to prepare all requests. Lewis and Carlson forced to vote in favor of all three or oppose all three. They support all three.
Possible Upcoming moves:
LIB move 8.Widmer to assign people to write statements for possible approval at July council meeting. Full council to vote on ballot measures. Who does he appoint?
ARV move 9. How will Lewis and Carlson vote on the ballot measures drafted by the council majority? Does it matter?
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 11:28 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
A ballot measure require a factually accurate statement and then both pro and con statements with rebuttals. I am confident that the Town Attorney will assure that the proposed language meets these requirements. In any case the adopted language will be subject to possible legal challenge.
In addition, the citizens could still place an Initiative on the ballot with different wording (which would have to meet the same legal standards) and then the measure with the most votes would win.
Posted by Chess Game, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm
Most would claim that the High Speed Rail ballot statement was inaccruate.
The short time remaining after the July council meeting would make it very difficult for a citizens initiative, as the deadline is August and 700 signatures would be needed.
Today's Post: "According to Widmer, the current library, which was first opened in 1931, doesn't meet seismic safety standards and is too small. Rebuilding the library is projected to cost about $5.8 million, he said."
The council will draft or support the pro as they do with the Parcel Tax. In some years there was no con. Do not count on the council to write the con.
Expect the campaign to play out as WMD out campaigning for the LIB, while Carlson and Lewis take a position to let the voters decide.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
This issue has now become an issue of trust. The circulation of the citizens' petition - which has now garnered more than 200 signatures in less than a week - was clearly the motivating factor in last Friday's special meeting and council's decision to submit the location of the new library to a vote of the citizens. If the council presents the library issue on the ballot in a fair and balanced manner then the council will have earned the trust that it needs to properly govern. However if the council does not present the issue on the ballot in a fair and balanced manner then the citizens will have the opportunity at the same November election to dismiss any council member who is seeking reelection and who supported an unbalanced library ballot measure.
The beauty of this all is that for the first time in Atherton's history the citizens of Atherton have clearly spoken out on an issue by use of the citizens' petition process and they have been heard.
Posted by Kathy McKeithen, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm
You have misrepresented my response. I take no credit whatsoever for initiating a ballot measure, I was responding to your statement that the circulation of the citizens' petition was the motivating factor in last Friday's special city council meeting. I said that as the person who initiated the issue of the November ballot THIS PAST WEEK (i.e. requested the special meeting for the library item only) -- as I stated at that meeting - which you would have heard if you had attended -- my reasons were essentially to try to end the bitterness, the name-calling, the misrepresentations, the hostility. I am sad to see that this behavior continues.
Posted by Thanks, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm
Thanks for clearing this up, Kathy. Peter likes to portray himself as the center of everything going on in Atherton, but never attends any meetings. Too bad he needs to feel better abut himself by attacking you.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 2, 2012 at 7:12 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
The facts are that the citizens' petition process began as a suggestion at a group meeting with the Mayor on June 13. The first draft of the petition was done on the 15th and the final draft was done on the 22nd - all well before the idea of a special meeting was even a glimmer in Kathy's mind. And in the interim the council debated and voted against any survey of the Town on this issue without any mention of having an agenda topic of a citizens' vote. And the petition was out and being signed a week before last Friday's special meeting. The Special Meeting was called only after well over 100 citizens had signed the petition.
The citizens drove this issue (I was just the scribe), not Kathy.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 2, 2012 at 7:54 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Correction - 1st draft of the citizens petition was done on June 14th - exactly two weeks before the council called its special meeting for June 29:
From: Peter Carpenter <email@example.com>
Subject: Petition for a Special Meeting
Date: June 14, 2012 9:37:40 AM PDT
Here is a draft petition:
We, adult residents of the Town of Atherton, in accordance with the Town’s Municipal Code Section 2.04.010 hereby petition for a Special Meeting of the Town Council with the following agenda:
Town of Atherton
Special Meeting Agenda
A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives, therefore the public may address the Council on any item on the Special Session Agenda. Each speaker may address the Council once for each agenda item under Public Comment for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record.
1 - Should the current library be replaced with a more modern and earthquake resistant facility?
2 - Where should the new library be located?
3 - Should the location of the new library be decided by the voters?
4 - Should Atherton withdraw from the county wide library JPA?
Please contact the City Clerk’s office at (650) 752-0500 with any questions.
Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance in this meeting, please contact the Park Program Manager at (650) 752-0534. Notification of 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the Town to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility to this meeting. (29 CRF 35.104 ADA Title II)
Posted by Chess Game, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jul 2, 2012 at 8:20 am
It should be noted that on the June 20th Council Meeting, Council Member Lewis wanted to motion for a town vote. Mayor Widmer told her she could not as the word "vote" was not on the agenda. Council Member Carlson had a way to get around how the agenda item had been written. Carlson asked for a "survey" of all registered voters in Atherton. WMD voted no.
Then the petition process started and already had twice the number of signatures needed when Widmer called a special meeting at noon on a Friday with the agenda item determined by Widmer and McKeithen to call for a vote. The town center was added to the agenda item, by who???
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 2, 2012 at 9:55 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
SJ Mercury News report stated:
"Mayor Bill Widmer said that as long as council is willing to put the library's location on the Nov. 6 ballot it might as well also get voters' opinion on the two other proposed projects, which someday could become as contentious as the library issue."
"Council Member Kathy McKeithen, who along with Widmer called for putting the library question on the ballot, said she didn't really want to but feels it's the only way to end the controversy and heated public rhetoric."
Posted by Commissario, a resident of another community, on Jul 2, 2012 at 11:47 am
In the beginning, I attended meetings regarding the new library. I went in with an open mind, excited by the possibilities of a new library for the Town. However, it was obvious from the get-go that the County Library System and some members of the Town Council were in collusion and it made absolutely no difference what the residents wanted, there was no intention of utilizing any ideas but their own. This is a prime example of what many citizens loathe about our public governmental bodies and political system: a total disregard for the people they serve. They know what is best and citizens be damned. It is encouraging that more and more of our neighbors are becoming aware and active participants.
As for the additional two ballot items, this is politics as usual. It is a desperate attempt to divert and dilute attention from the main issue, i.e., the library, by adding other items that are not at all related but may cater to the passions of some voters who have no interest in the library debate.
Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights), a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jul 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Mr. Carpenter states "playing with the truth (PWT) becomes more difficult in the digital age when most records are time stamped."
I would ask Mr. Carpenter to reference his time stamped blog on this website "Atherton Police Union: You're on Candid Camera" dated April 1st, 2011 at 7:36 A.M.....
"Thomas states: "As I am well aware that the council members visit these blogs" Unfortunately, they do not read these blogs because they are so often subjected to inappropriate personal attacks by anonymos (sic) posters on this forum."
Apparently not only does the Atherton Town Council follow this blog but they are also subject to defamatory personal attacks from individuals that choose to use their true names and still nevertheless do not apologize when they've obviously been proven wrong.
Mr. Carpenter....while we all understand that your agenda is not about the where the new library should be located but about a democratic process to arrive at that decision, why not run for your city council if you're disappointed with your elected officials and their handling of the affairs in your town. Ms. McKeithen has served on your city council for a number of years as well as volunteered countless hours and while you may not always agree with her position, your criticism of her on this website is baseless and does nothing to advance a rational discussion of where the new library should be located.