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Citizens need to do their homework

Original post made by News Guy, another community, on Oct 28, 2009

(This letter was submitted by Peter Carpenter of Atherton, who is retiring after nine year on the board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. It was published in the Oct. 28, 2009, issue of The Almanac.)

The real problem in government today is that the citizens don't care enough to make informed voting decisions.

Voters don't do their homework. A few years ago we had a candidate running for the Menlo Park Fire District board who had had his fire district credentials removed by court order due to abusive use (he had been seated for a previous term because no one else ran and there wasn't even an election). This individual still came within a few votes of getting elected to a later term due simply to the name recognition that resulted from the court action.

All of the independent, intelligent and careful evaluations of the six candidates for the fire board by local newspapers have resulted in the unanimous endorsement of the same three candidates — James M. Harris, Rexford Ianson and Stephen Nachtsheim. None of these careful evaluations endorsed the three candidates endorsed by the union.

If the three union-endorsed candidates do get elected, which I hope does not happen, they clearly will owe their election to the union's massive campaign on their behalf. Will they feel some or any obligation to the union when the time comes to vote on a new labor contract? Or will they be totally committed to serving the best interests of the citizens?

Because of the voters' simplistic reliance on name recognition the big amounts of money and manpower being spent by the firefighters' union can overwhelm the non-endorsed candidates. Such a dominant role by the unions coupled with poor citizenship on the part of the voters in not doing their homework will make our elections a sham.

Comments (9)

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Posted by jakey
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2009 at 8:44 am

Question to carpenter. Were you not supported by the FF association in your early days? Did you not deliver free DVD players to all 7 firehouses after you were elected??? Back then were you not looking for our support. If one Mosby, Nelson or Silano did that now you would be all over them. [portion deleted.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 28, 2009 at 9:55 am

It is very important to differentiate between the firefighters and the union to which some of the firefighters belong.


Throughout my tenure as an appointed and then twice elected Director I have frequently done things for all of the firefighters (not for the union), like the dvd players, because of my appreciation for their service to the community. As a Director I have consistently and personally supported the firefighters when they were deployed on state and national emergencies and I have authored many Board actions addressing things like line of duty death benefits.


The first time I ran the union endorsed me. After my first election I was approached by the union in a manner which felt to me like they wanted some payback for their prior support - I declined and was not endorsed by the union when I ran the second time. I received more votes than any other candidate in that election.

I hope that the voters ignore the union's endorsement and very heavy investment of money and manpower in this election and instead vote for the three best candidates based on their individual records.



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Posted by Disgusted
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2009 at 7:30 am

I have talked to some of our firefighters who were very tight lipped about this but what I did get is that this is not the union but the firefighters association, who are the fighters who serve us! They said their union has not spent a dime on this campaign! I wish Mr. Carpenter you would be truthfull in your letters and stop trying to harm the men and women who serve us!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 30, 2009 at 8:42 am

Check the ads and the legally required election campaign filings - this intense election campaign is being done by the union, not by the so-called association.

Disgusted needs to do his/her homework before posting unsubstantiated rumors - "tight lipped,.. talked to.. they said" is not a good way to gather facts.

See the association's web site:
"in 1999, the "Menlo Park Firefighters Association Inc." once again affiliated itself with the IAFF and San Mateo County Firefighters, Local 2400 with a vote of the General Membership. With that renewed affiliation, we became Menlo Park Firefighters Association Inc., District 10 of IAFF Local 2400."



As I said, it is very important to differentiate between the firefighters and the union to which some of the firefighters belong.
The individual firefighters have my full support, their union does not.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 30, 2009 at 10:01 pm

I previously stated "Check the ads and the legally required election campaign filings - this intense election campaign is being done by the union, not by the so-called association."

Now it turns out that the union is even failing to file the legally required expenditure reports -
Read the full story here

Web Link


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Posted by Gunshow
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2009 at 11:35 am

To All Who Care,

Firefighters in Menlo Park are members of the union and members of the Association. This particular campaign is being funded by the Menlo Park Firefighters Association. I am not sure why Mr. Carpenter keeps harping on this issue. The IAFF is the International Association of Fire Fighters, and it spans the US and Canada. The Menlo Park Firefighters Associations is just here in Menlo Park. a Almost all professional firefighters across the nation belong to some sort of union. Please see the website www.mpffa.org and it will show you how the firefighters are involved in the community on a volunteer basis, Easter Egg Hunt, Toy Drive, Rebuild together, the list goes on. Being affiliated Mr. Carpenter has reaped all the benefits of being "associated" with Menlo Fire but still has no clue about how we operate. This is why he has failed as a board of director and lost the respect of all the firefighters. Imagine a General in our US military airing his problems with how his troops are behaving. It truly is amazing that after 9 years on the board that Mr. Carpenter still doesn't know the difference between the union they belong to and the association they belong to. Another thing if you continue insult all of us voters' level of intelligence, good luck in running for any office in this town. Last question for Mr. Carpenter. Is you strategy really to tell voters they are unintelligent if they don't vote for your cronies?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Well at least Gunshow has, inadvertently perhaps, disclosed that he is a MPFPD firefighter and union member - such identification is always helping in assessing a person's comments.

Unfortunately, Gunshow does not understand that the union campaign is being conducted by the "Menlo Park FLAG" which is a union entity.
This would, of course, be clearer if the Menlo Park FLAG fulfilled its legal responsibility to file its campaign contribution reports.

I believe any voter who votes simply based on the endorsements of an excessive, and now secret, massive union financed campaign rather than looking at the merits of each of the six individual candidates (as have all of the local newspapers) would be casting an unintelligent vote.

This issue/thread is about informed voters, not about Peter Carpenter.
Let's get back to the issue. It is distressing to see the Town Square degenerate into a diatribe by anonymous persons who do not address the substance of the article which started the thread. Let's keep the Town Square a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion.

If you have questions for me about my views or performance as a Fire Board member please simply email me at peterf@menlofire.org and I will respond directly to you so long as I am still a sitting Board member.


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Posted by Gunshow
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Peter Carpenter wrote the article and then commented 4 times already, this is definitely about Peter Carpenter. Peter Carpenter may be the only one who doesn't know this is about Peter Carpenter. And by the way you are still wrong the campaign is funded by the Menlo Park Firefighter's not IAFF local 2400.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 3:15 pm

IF the Association is the MenloFire FLAG and therefore is the official of the political campaign sponsor, then the Association has a HUGE legal problem given that the Association claims 5 members of the Fire District management as Associate Members - a clear violation of the NLRB rules.

But just one more law which the union ignores.

Perhaps after the election the truth will come out. Clearly the union is not prepared to make the funding facts public before then.


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