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Councilwoman scuffles with resident over report

Original post made by newsbeat on Apr 7, 2010

Elizabeth Lewis became entangled in a brief scuffle with an Atherton resident this evening upon closure of the hearings on conflict of interest charges brought against Councilman Marsala.

The resident suffered minor abrasions on her hand, however the victim did not require medical treatment nor was it necessary to transport her to a hospital. Whether or not the resident will press assualt charges against Ms. Lewis remains to be seen.

The fight broke out when the resident approached the podium to help Ms. Lewis distribute a report prepared by ex finance director John Johns, documenting illegal construction at the residence of Ms. Lewis along with a litany of misdeeds by Ms. Lewis\' friend and ally Charles Marsala.

Ms. Lewis slammed her notebook on the victim\'s hand in an attempt to present the dissemination of the Johns\' report to other council members and the press. Ms. Lewis then engaged in a tug of war, nearly throwing the victim off her feet.

Police witnessed the altercation. However Ms. Lewis was not taken into custody.

Comments (21)

Posted by Witness, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 7, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I saw it...and it was horrible. Lewis was attempting to take all of the report copies with her own binder.


Posted by The Law, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 8, 2010 at 12:36 am

California Penal Code 242: A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.

This battery was committed in the presence of an Atherton police officer who was stationed at that meeting during its entirety. Therefore, if considered a misdemeanor battery, the Atherton police do have the legal right (and obligation) to arrest Ms. Lewis.

I know Ms. Lewis supports the police. Undoubtedly she would support their decision to arrest her for this witnessed battery and make the required restitution to the victim and the donation to the battered women's shelter that California law provides for in these situations. I am confident she will not expect special treatment as a council member, nor would the Atherton police afford her special treatment in their handling of this incident.

Or, we could let Wynne Furth decide. Maybe that would lead to a fairer hearing.


Posted by special delivery, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 12:56 am

This is stupid--just get the documents to the press, with an explanation of why they are of significance.


Posted by outraged, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:37 am

Ms. Lewis' behavior was utterly shocking. For a moment I thought I was watching the ultimate fighting championship. Then I realized that one of the participants, the resident who was merely trying to get the information Mr. Johns had left to the rest of the council was defenseless.

Here Lewis was attacking a partially disabled woman and for no good reason.

This was elder abuse of a different kind, and to think Lewis had the nerve to lecture another council member of Atherton's code of conduct.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:02 am

When will the citizens of Atherton rise up and take control of this circus they call a city government?


Posted by Witness, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 8, 2010 at 8:10 am

There are three issues here as I see:

>>> Are the papers Mr. Johns left behind a relevant issue for city council members to consider (whether Ms. Lewis' house violates Atherton code)?

I say yes. If Ms. Lewis violated the rules for building her own house (and this should be examined), it calls into question whether she can fairly administrate those rules as a member of the town council. Whether her supporters like it or not, politicians breaking rules and laws has long been a reason for examination and downfall. The standard comeback is those rules and laws have nothing to do with their performance as an elected official (after they simply deny breaking them).

>>> Is it up to Ms. Lewis to decide whether the council sees those papers, just because she thinks it's an irrelevant witch hunt?

Again, I witnessed the incident. She did try to remove the papers from the room when Ms. Melinda Tevis was coming up to distribute them. It is clearly not up to Elizabeth Lewis whether other council members should examine this issue.

>>> Is it ever appropriate to "get physical" over such a thing?

The original poster's description is accurate, though it did NOT seem to me that Ms. Tevis almost got thrown to her feet. This was a very minor scuffle over the papers. Ms. Lewis did slam her notebook down on Ms. Tevis' hand. Ms. Lewis did attempt to grab the papers out of Ms. Lewis' hand. But the facts are that men get prosecuted in the San Mateo court on a daily basis for doing no more than this to women. The law defines battery as any unwanted touching, and I do not believe Ms. Tevis wanted to be touched, or have the book slammed on her hand.

I do not get the impression that Ms. Tevis will press charges. After all, she could have called for the police officer to come over then and there if she had a desire to do so.. However, Ms. Lewis clearly owes Ms. Tevis (and Atherton residents) an apology -- a public apology -- for this outburst. It was unseemly and rude.

This is as fair a description (to all concerned, including Ms. Lewis) as anyone can possibly write. I am not exaggerating nor sensationalizing the incident. But, this is not how a council member should behave, especially not at a meeting in which council member behavior itself is being examined.


Posted by You go girl!, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

If Elizabeth Lewis gets some fighting tips from her husband, Brown Bomber Joe Lewis (who also spoke last night), she could be a contender!


Posted by confused, a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 8:56 am

In seeing this bizarre scene playing out, I wasn't sure whether I had tuned to the Jerry Springer show or the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The only thing that would have been better would have been a tag team wrestling match, with middleweight contenter "Jumpin Joe Lewis" and his wife in one corner and.......

Well you get the picture.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

I assume that the police officer stationed at the door was "on duty" and was present for the purposes of insuring public safety/security. If this incident really happened as described by those witnesses who have posted here, then in my view we have yet another clear example of an Atherton police officer being derelict in performing his duties. It is not the obligation of the victim of an ongoing assault to call for help; if the officer was there and on duty, he should have instantly and instinctively intervened. The question of whether or not charges would later be pressed is a question for the DA. Where does Atherton PD recruit from? Are officers required to have gone to a recognized police academy where they are trained to react appropriately?


Posted by very disturbed, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I was disapointed and disturbed by what I saw last night.

There was Elizabeth Lewis, a steel magnolia, one who boasts of her athletic prowess attacking a woman recovering from surgery. Yet not a single member of the Council intervened.

Elizabeth Lewis is not the only one who should be ashamed, those who stood by, pretending as though nothing was happening should hang their heads in shame also at this awful spectacle.


Posted by deputy do right, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Elizabeth Lewis could soon be facing face battery charges in addition to conflict of interest and fruad.

One must wonder whether an orange jumpsuit will go well with her pearl necklace.



Posted by John P. Johns, CPA, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 7:27 am

I find the action of Ms. Lewis to be bizarre.

When I handed the documents to her, she did not look in my direction. She refused to acknowledge my presence.

After her husband spoke out against me, I introduced myself and offered him the evidence of what I consider to be criminal conduct on the part of Ms. Lewis. He refused to accept my overture. He strode past me as though acknowledging my presence was beneath him as well. (Who can blame him, I was just part of the hired help when I was a member of the community, a member of the underclass.)

I find it strange, bewildering in fact that Ms. Lewis would fight so hard to retain the documents that I handed over to her and that, common courtesey called for to take one and to pass one along.

No, Ms. Lewis, at the time I handed the documents over acted as though I had some viral infection that would be passed along by passing along the papers I handed over.

I have spoken to Ms. Tevis about this incident. She is traumatized. This is not funny to her. Mr. Buckheit has suggested that Ms. Tevis press criminal charges against Ms. Lewis. I agree that Ms. Tevis should.

Ms. Tevis however fears the brutality of the police department as much as she does the brutality of Ms. Lewis. Ms. Tevis has borne witness to what happens when one stands up to the powers that be in this town.

Ms. Tevis saw me expelled from this town, my computer confiscated and searched by Sherman Hall without a warrant. Ms. Tevis saw newspaper accounts of pornography "found" on my computer by the Police. Yes, that same Police Department that falsified Mr. Buckheit's police report and that altered evidence tags associated with material collected after it raided my office when I was suspended. (I do not expect you readers to believe this. This is too shocking to believe but it is true. This is the extent of the corruption that has enveloped your town. To grasp the significance of this is much too threatening I know. No, when corruption runs this deep, a much more comfortable place to be is to be in denial).

Ms. Tevis has heard gunshots in close proximity to her residence. She has dialed 911 to complain about these gunshots. The Police have responded by not responding. The Police Department has decided that since the call did not come from one of her wealthy neighbors who could afford to buy its officers gifts at Christmas time or to contribute to the Police Officers Association, there was no reason to respond.

Ms. Tevis is on the "do not respond" list. What Ms. Tevis fears is to become a target of the Police Department as I was, as Brian Bothun, as Clark Yee (of golf club fame) was and as Mr. Buckheit was.

The list of people who have upset people like Elizabeth Lewis and the Atherton PD is long and distinguished. What has happened to them is shameful.

Is it any wonder why Ms. Tevis refuses to press charges against Ms. Elizabeth Lewis?

For those who cannot find the answer, for those who remain ignorant, or in denial let me spell it out for you.

Melinda Tevis fears being crushed by the powers that be.

Now is the time to come to the aid of people like Melinda Tevis and to stand up to people like Elizabeth Lewis and to that very corrupt Police Department.

I challenge one of you 7,000 plus Athertonians, just one, to go down to the Police Department and to file a criminal complaint on behalf of Ms. Tevis.

I challenge one of you, just one of you to stand and be counted.

According to my count only two of the five members of the City Council have had the courage to do so.

I call upon one of you 7,000 plus Athertonians, just one, to lend a hand to those who want to reform this town. Who knows, your efforts just be what is necessary to tip the balance in favor of what is good, what is right, what is just.

For God's sake get off your collected arses and do something for a change.

Finally, I know one thing to be true.I know that Mike Guerra is a stand up guy. I have made inquiries to long-time Atherton employees.

Mike Guerra however cannot clean up the Police Department on his own. He needs your help.

If you won't do anything for Melinda Tevis, do it for one of those folks dressed in blue that you so adore. Do it for Mike Guerra.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 8:32 am

This is from the PADN today

Lewis denied the claim when a Daily News reporter called and read her a portion of the posting.

"I don't know anything about that," she said.

"Maybe they confused me with someone else?"

Atherton police Sgt. Joe Wade told The Daily News: "We did have officers there and nobody witnessed anything like that."


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:01 am

Mr. Stogner:

if those statements aren't enough to wake up the residents of your town to the depth of corruption that exists there, nothing will.


Posted by John P. Johns, CPA, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

Dear Ms. Lewis:

I did not confuse you with anybody else when I handed those documents to you, including copies of a self serving letter from Pacific Peninsula Architecture telling Mike Hood that Pacific Peninsula Architecture (a firm connected with political contributer to the Lewis' campaign and a firm connected to a request for road impact fee refunds) considered it OK to completely redraw the plans for your house without going back to the Planning Commission for approval as was required.

I have a post it note from Ms. Tevis given to me during the meeting to warn me that you would refuse to distribute the evidence of criminal conduct I placed in front of you on the podium.

I spoke with Ms. Tevis after this incident. Ms. Tevis was angry with me. She said "I told you so". Ms. Tevis was unhappy with the fact that she had to put her own personal safety at risk to make sure that you did not sneak away, having absconded with these records.

I suppose we can add to your list of crimes, attempted larceny. And then again there is obstruction of justice by the Atherton PD. Interesting that they would leave it up to Joe Wade who wasn't even there to speak for the PD. The denial and obfuscation continues.

Ms. Tevis did not confuse you with somebody else. I did not confuse you with someone else.

I challenge you to answer my post.

I am most certain I can pick you out of a line up. I am confident that if shown your mugshot along with others, I could identify you.

Ms. Lewis you are a coward because you hid behind the identity of an unknown person. Your husband is a coward because he called me "disturbed" behind my back. He does so at a place and time where and when I was unable to defend myself.

I have seen this tactic before. Mr. Marsala, without my knowledge called me unfaithful to my wife. He whispered these lies behind my back too and unbeknownst to me at the time.

I served my country faithfully and with distinction in the US Marines. I am a decorated veteran. Mr. Marsala tried to even turn this proud part of my personal history into a source of suspicion. He alleged that I was a sniper (I was not). He said I was so intent on revenge that the Atherton Town staff were instructed to lower thier blinds to ensure their safety. (Strange, but true, just ask Jon Buckheit who related this conversation with Marsala to me).

You thugs are all alike. You engage in a kind of psychological jujitsu, accusing your adversaries of the very frailties that you yourselves are guilty of.

If I am not mistaken this is a common tactic adopted by criminals. Blame the misdeed on someone else. If that someone else cannot be identified, all the better, for that someone else cannot dispel the lie.

I await your anwser Mr. and Ms. Lewis. If I do not receive your answer, I will see you at the next City Council meeting. I will single you out. I will call for your answer face to face in front of those who attend.

If Mr. Lewis wants to continue to call me "disturbed" if he wants say then I am on a vendetta. So be it. I crusade for nothing other than the truth.

If the likes of Marsala want to portray me to be some war crazed veteran. I will simply ask in reply. Where was Mr. Marsala when his country called him to serve? Did he volunteer for the Marines as did I? Did he put himself in harm's way to protect the civil liberties that we all enjoy?

I think you know the answer.


Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:08 am

Regarding the comment by Sgt. Wade, the Atherton police had one officer stationed in the back of the room (Gordon Dere). It is entirely possible he did not see this minor scuffle because the meeting had ended and he remained in the back as people filed out. I was in the front row and did see it. I thought Ms. Lewis might say that she did not realize other papers were mixed up with her binder and it was inappropriate for Ms. Tevis to attempt to take papers from her that she believed were all hers. To say it didn't happen is simply false, though. A glass of water was spilled on the table during this and Ms. Lewis criticized Ms. Tevis for causing that spill. Perhaps whoever cleaned up the spill can verify this.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:14 am

Given the importance of the events and happenings at Town Council meetings and people's varied memories, it might be useful to remind all concerned of the following provision in the Brown Act:

"While in attendance, members of the public may make video or
audio recordings of the meeting. ( 54953.5.)"


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

Menlo Voter,

I live in San Carlos, California. If you personally know any resident of Atherton please encourage them to get involved, I believe most of them have no idea this is taking place in their beautiful Town. Many are elders who do not embrace or use the internet for news source.

This might be the case where citizens from all over San Mateo County come together to help the residents of Atherton.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Mr Stogner:

you may be correct that many don't know what is going on in their city. Some, because as you say, they are elders and don't embrace the internet. Others out of sheer laziness and others who would rather bury their head in the sand and pretend it is not happening. Then there are those that are having their backs scratched by corrupt politicians. Where is the Atherton league, led by Mr. Carpenter, in this? Are they doing anything to get the word out to the citizens of Atherton about the totally disgusting disfuntion and abuses of power that are going on in their town?

Mr. Carpenter made mention of the Attorney General getting involved. What needs to happen for that to occur? The DA has shown himself totally lacking in the political courage to take on these corrupt politicians.

They have a council person that clearly violated numerous laws in regards to construciton of her house. Who will investigate this? Who will push to have this investigated and prosecuted? As one that doesn't live in the town I can do nothing other than, as you suggest, make sure those I know that do live in Atherton are aware of what is going on.

I can't help but think that the folks living in Atherton have so much money and are so used to getting whatever they want when they want it that they see nothing wrong with the behaviour of some of their counsel. I personally am outraged.


Posted by ARE YOU JOKING!, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2010 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment]


Posted by spectator, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:29 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment]


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