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Atherton City Attorney's Lies Revealed

Original post made by Sleuth, Atherton: Lloyden Park, on Apr 5, 2010

In her April 7, 2010 staff report to discuss allegations of misconduct by Councilman Marsala Wynne Furth states:

"The City Council held closed sessions on the various lawsuits filed by Jon Buckheit in April, May, June and July. No closed sessions were held in August or September 2009. Closed sessions resumed in October of 2009".

If one examines the Atherton City Council agenda one will see that there were in fact closed sessions held in August and September 2009. Additionally, the September closed session listed three cases of potential litigation, two of which were identified by name, the third case was undisclosed.

Wynne Furth also states:

"Furthermore Mr. Marsala did not participate in any closed sessions during the period he was inquiring about the possibility of the loan."

This is also untrue. Councilman Marsala was present at both the regular City Council meetings of August and September. In fact the only Councilmember absent was Dobbie, during the month of August.

Wynne Furth would have us believe that there were no closed sessions held during August and September 2009, despite the fact that closed sessions were held and minutes were taken. Wynne Further would have us believe that Charles Marsala did not participate in these closed sessions despite the fact that he was present.

One must ask what kind of fool Wynne Furth must take us for?

It is time to show Wynne Furth the door along with Charles Marsala.

Comments (8)

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Posted by Explanation
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Furth is billing Atherton a lot of money each month. Council members doing their job question these bills. Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis protect Furth by telling these council members they are out of line to question Furth and must trust her bills. She reciprocates by scratching their backs also. Sorry to be blunt, but that's the truth.

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Posted by cut to the chase
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 6, 2010 at 7:55 am

Wynne Furth fails to mention in her report that she was paid $10,000 to defend the Town in Buckheit's suit to have the town produce public records he had reuested.

Wynne Furth fails to mention that after losing that lawsuit, the Town had to hand over $8,000 in attorney's fees to Mr Buckheit in addition to giving him the very records he was entitled to.

Wynne Furth glosses over the fact that the two cases heard in August and September 2009 involved road impact fees. In these cases the Town, upon the City Attorney's recommendation, and contrary to the practice of dozens of cities in California decided to rescind road impact fees. This ill advised, ill informed decision will cost Atherton $1.6 million. All before a single deposition is taken.

Wynne Furth doesn't mention that another case discussed in closed session during the months of August and September (months where she says no closed sessions were held) the Town received advice on the Johns litigation. This case has gone on for two years, cost the Town $400,000 in legal fees, only to result in a belated apology to Mr. Johns and an award of $225,000 in back pay.

Wynne Furth is incompetent. Worse she was asked for an honest, objective opinion. Instead she acted as though she were a defense attorney, telling half truths in the hopes of keeping her client from going to prison.

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Posted by Read carefully
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:07 am

Come on, folks. Read this document carefully, then look at the closed session agendas online. What Furth said is that no closed sessions on the BUCKHEIT matter were held in August and September, not that none at all were held. Also, she said that during the time Marsala was asking for the loan, the council wasn't discussing the Buckheit matter, and she's correct. The loan matter was discussed in August and September, before closed sessions on the Buckheit claims resumed in October.

There's plenty to be mad about here, but be fair. Read carefully, and don't shoot the messenger.

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Posted by roger
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

Read Carefully appears to be reading into Furth's memorandum words that are not present. Contrary to what Read Carefully asserts, Sleuth has provided an accurate representation of what Wynne Furth actually wrote.

In her memorandum, Furth said unequivocly "no closed sessions" were held in August and September. She goes on to say that closed sessions "resumed" in October. Furth did not limit her characterization of closed session to the Buckheit matter.

Furth also fails to acknowledge that Mr. Buckheit was in fact in litigation with the Town during Augst and September 2009. He was suing the Town to produce additional public records it had refused to provide. One would have thought that the Town would have learned from its failure to produce public records the first time around.

As far as what was actually discussed during the closed sessions of August and September, we may never know. No minutes were taken and members of the City Council are prohibited from disclosing deliberations during closed session.

However, Wynne Furth appears to have made a grave mistake in preparing her memorandum. She has made a statement of fact with respect what transpired during those closed sessions. In doing so, Furth has arguably violated the attorney client privilege. She has said that Marsala did not participate. If if the California Attorney General or the District Attorney were to conduct a criminal investigation, Ms. Furth and the City Council would presumably be compelled to tell the truth about what went on during these closed sessions.

Wynne Furth has denied that the Buckheit matter was being discussed, however Wynne Furth does not reveal what the third case of potential litigation that was mentioned in the August closed session.

Wynne Furth claims that Marsala did not participate in the August and September closed sessions. This is prepoosterous, another lie to be unveiled were the District Attorney or the Attorney General to investigate.

The lies and deceit have gone on for much too long. Now it the time to clean house. If the Council doesn't see fit to do it, then the community should step up and call for the San Mateo County District Attorney or the California Attorney General to intervene.

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Posted by Read carefully
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 10:08 am

Roger, I can understand how you might have come to your first conclusion about Furth saying there were no closed sessions in Aug. and Sept. However, I interpreted it differently. She wrote:

"The City Council held closed sessions on the various lawsuits and claims filed by Mr. Buckheit in April, May, June, and July. No closed sessions were held in August or Septemberof 2009. Closed sessions resumed in October of 2009."

These three sentences were bundled into a single paragraph. Her first sentence references "lawsuits and claims filed BY MR. BUCKHEIT" (emphasis added). The next two sentences, to my mind, are referring to closed sessions to discuss Mr. Buckheit's lawsuits and claims. That's what she was writing about -- not closed sesssions of fees, John Johns, or other matters.

As I said before, there's a lot for the people of Atherton to be angry about. But unless we avoid the shotgun approach to criticism, unless we focus that anger on the right targets, it will be diluted and ineffective.

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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Forgive me, but here is my interpretive analysis of your situation.

This community situation is, and always has been, about the free flow of public information to the public.

In my opinion, the Town of Atherton, has surrounding the government, a secondary ring of influential persons of long and prestigious standing in the town who influence the character of the political environment.

The primary tenet of this ring of influential people, some of whom are members of the ACIL, is that the reputation of the Town shall be protected above all else.

The problem with this concept, is that it suborns the suppression of the exposure of information to the public regarding the actions of the Council, their appointees, and by extension the employees of the Town.

The fact of the culture of the knowledge of this primary tenet is to deprive the electorate of the essential ingredient that it requires to function: public knowledge of the actions of it's elected officials, and by regressive logic, knowledge of the actions of their appointed officials and by extension their employees.

This cripples the very design of democratic mechanics, and creates an arbitrary rule of an aristocratic elite within the Town.

The trouble with this design is that it has made those who wish to make the Town's reputation inviolably essential to become in reality the allies of those who are arguably criminal, miscreant and at least negligent in their duties.

This is, in my opinion, the actual analytic truth of your situation.

Copy this to your MS Word quickly, as Mr. Hines will not let it stand long...and that let's you know how I view his allegiance.


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Posted by lies and damm lies
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Dear Just A Thought

I do not believe you need to worry about the Almanac News deleting your post. The days when words on this site such as yours were considered to be rambling rumblings of a disgruntled, disillusioned malcontents with malice in their hearts is gone.

Those days passed when the Almanac News began to appreciate the value of this forum.

I believe the Almanac News has recently learned that all is not what what appears to be in the tiny, tony town of Atherton that was once thought to be so tranquil.

I believe the wake up call occurred when news broke of the Pilar Buckley settlement and Wynne Furth\'s failed effort to conceal this scandal. Evidence of Mr. Buckheit\'s falsified police report no doubt cast doubt on the Town\'s credibility.

Further damaging to the Town was the revelation of the loan sought by Marsala. Now unshackled by the chains of litigation and free to speak his mind, Mr. Johns has recently dropped a bombshell on the Town, the deliberate falsifiction of a building permit by Elizabeth Lewis. Ms. Lewis was apparently aided by the Atherton Building Official, Mike Wassman who apparently looked the other way. Yes, the one whom we thought of as Mr. Clean, the guy who would restore the image of the Building Department in the post-Hood era.

Now word comes out that Glenn Nielsen earned $303,000 in his final year as chief along with news of a criminal complaint leveled against him for falsifying his timesheets.

Us Athertonians have been lied to. We are unappy, the depth of our unhappiness will be felt tomorrow evening. Wails of discontent will be heard from San Francisco to San Jose.

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Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Dear Lies,

Well, you have no idea what I know. And if what you say is true, then consider this:

And your assessment of Mr. Wassman, in whose appointment I was personally pivotal, is correct. He is a decent man, compromised by circumstance, in my opinion, but the nature of the Building Department Audit under John Johns was that it was designed to reveal only partial truth...a controlled circumstance.

Mr. Wassman could not have been in the field all those years under Mr. Hood and not have been exquisitely aware of what was going on regarding violations of the zoning ordinance.

And why is it that for years after Mr. Hood left, that CSG exclusively provided contract inspectors in the field for the Building Department at Mr. Wassman's behest and the City Manager's approval?

Who knows the real answer to that question? or cares.


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