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City manager working to renegotiate home loan terms

Original post made on Jun 2, 2010

A recent story in a local newspaper about the status of a home loan from the city of Menlo Park to City Manager Glen Rojas inspired speculation on The Almanac's website that Mr. Rojas is having trouble repaying the loan.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 10:44 AM

Comments (40)

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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Interesting...my home has lost value as well. But I had not thought of asking my employer 1) for a home lona to buy a 2nd home, or 2) that my employer provide added benefits to help mitigate tax exposure. Would someone please lend me $1.27M...with a guarantee?


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

As my parents always taught me. Don't live beyond your means. And definitely not at the expense of the taxpayers that you are supposed to be serving.


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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Entitled public servant: check.
Disastrous financial decisions: check.
Other people's money: check.
You and me holding the bag: check.
Accountability: nil.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

"kill me with taxes"


Ha! Where does your paycheck come from, Rojas?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:37 pm

The following email has been sent to the Menlo Park City Council:

Dear Council,

It has been reported that the Council is "discussing" revising the terms of a loan made to the City Manager.

Any revision by the Council of a loan to a current City employee must made in full compliance with the Brown Act. Specifically, any and all discussion of this matter by the Council must be conducted in open session pursuant to a properly agendized topic and with the public being given the opportunity to comment prior to any Council action. The Brown Act 'personnel' exemption does not extend to revising the term of a loan to a current City employee.

If the requirements of the Brown Act are not followed in discussing and deciding this matter then any Council action will be subject to nullification and the City will have to bear any legal expenses incurred to obtain your conformance with the Brown Act.



Peter Carpenter


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2010 at 8:42 am

Pretty short sighted and unrealistic of you to think MP can attract a skilled City Manger and not provide some financiual help on housing - even in this depressed market.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:02 am

Suggestion: you may want to read the story before you comment.

Menlo Park DID provide help to Mr. Rojas. A LOT OF HELP. In addition to a big salary and benefit package, the city provided Mr. Rojas with a $1+ million low interest loan.

Mr. Rojas negotiated that deal and the parties came to an agreement in good faith. Now Mr. Rojas wants to renegotiate it...


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

We spend LOTS of time talking about the difference between private sector and public sector jobs. In this case this is IDENTICAL to how private industry does this, it's appropriate to get the best employees at the management level.

That it has to be re-negotiated is also a common issue within private industry. These are VERY trying financial times, and the housing sector has been a disaster, so it's appropriate to renegotiate.

The terms will eventually become public, and to think that the public needs to be part of the negotiation is not viable....

While at the end of the day we may not like this, it's commonly done. Let the council do their job and let's see what the results are.

Roy


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

Rot states:"The terms will eventually become public, and to think that the public needs to be part of the negotiation is not viable...."

Breaking the law is also not viable.

Brown Act :

"In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards, and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's

business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."

"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good

for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

IF the Council is discussing the loan revision in closed session, a dubious and probably prohibited practice, then such discussions MUST be agendized and the public MUST have the right to comment on this matter BEFORE any such closed session.

Further Brown Act guidance states:"The personnel exception specifically prohibits discussion or action on proposed compensation in closed session, except for a disciplinary reduction in pay. Among other things, that means there can be no personnel closed sessions on a salary change (other than a disciplinary reduction) between

any unrepresented individual and the legislative body."

What is not clear about the law and this guidance?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

The following email has been sent to the Menlo Park City Council:

Dear Council,

It has been reported that the Council is "discussing" revising the terms of a loan made to the City Manager.

Any revision by the Council of a loan to a current City employee must made in full compliance with the Brown Act. Specifically, any and all discussion of this matter by the Council must be conducted in open session pursuant to a properly agendized topic and with the public being given the opportunity to comment prior to any Council action. The Brown Act 'personnel' exemption does not extend to revising the term of a loan to a current City employee.

If the requirements of the Brown Act are not followed in discussing and deciding this matter then any Council action will be subject to nullification and the City will have to bear any legal expenses incurred to obtain your conformance with the Brown Act.

Peter Carpenter


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

Wow! You guys are way off base on this. Read the article with a critical eye. The man is doing the right thing by trying to pay off the loan even though he hasn't sold his house in Riverside. I think this is the right thing for him to do when in actuality he doesn't have to do anything - according to the original contract.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

Peter states:"The man is doing the right thing by trying to pay off the loan even though he hasn't sold his house in Riverside. "

Why is he doing this "in private meetings with the City Council" when such private discussions are prohibited by law?

If he is doing the 'right thing', and the public really don't know what that means, then doing it in public shouldn't be a problem.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

Nice job of taking a "qoute" out of context! I see why your credibility is nil.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 11:56 am

Peter - what was out of context? I quoted your entire sentence - did you wish you had said something else?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm

The entire city council is meeting in private with the city manager? Or a subcommittee of city council, it makes all the difference.

Can someone advise?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:14 pm

The story says "in private meetings with the City Council". In fact, we don't know who he is meeting with. If he is meeting with one or two council members then 1) the Brown Act does not apply and 2) those one or two council members cannot act on behalf of or speak for the entire council. So if the loan agreement needs to be changed then it needs to go before the entire council and that must be done in an open session which is properly agendized and during which the public is allowed to comment BEFORE a decision is made - that is the law.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Safety Minded
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Rojas doesn't even keep the property up to code. He's clearly in violation of Menlo Park ordinances to keep vegetation cut back and out of the public right of way on his property bordering Woodland. If city management don't follow their own guidelines, how can they expect anyone else to?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I don't need a lecture from you about the law, Peter. We all see you maniacally running around pointing fingers, so save it.

I am just asking if we have the facts, if we do not, why do you always feel the urge to wag your finger?

Is this preemptive finger wagging?

Should I go home and yell at my dog in case she barks at a little kid?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mrs. Rojas
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm

To Peter Carpenter

Regarding your last post. Finally, you're getting close to the accurate story. The readers do not know who he is meeting with. This is why we shouldn't react to what we read in the press. A little patience with the process would go a long way to truly understanding.

As I wrote on another thread, my husband is an honest and ethical professional. Furthermore, he has a solid understanding and respect of the Brown Act.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Truth - you asked a question and I answered it.

You don't need a lecture about anything except your manners and that would probably be be a waste of time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sean Howell
Almanac staff writer
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Sean Howell is a registered user.

I'm just going to print the transcript of what Glen told me.

Glen Rojas: "There's a nuance in my contract for the home loan that says that my Riverside home will provide 10 percent down for the home loan in Menlo Park. Because the market in Riverside is so bad, the council has been really good and fair to say, we'll wait 'til housing market changes, so that when you put the house up for sale, you can make the payment then. The house is now up for sale, but it's obvious to me that the way the market's going, I won't be able to sell the home.

"So I'm working it out with a council subcommittee to pay back the 10 percent, but I'm trying to do it in a way that doesn't kill me with taxes. I'm working it out with the council in closed session, on the details of that. We'll go to council in June, I'll make the payments before that, and say, 'here's my plan.' The loan is secured by Riverside home, and by the house here in Menlo Park."

For anyone who would like to talk to Glen about this, or about anything else, the number for the city manager's office is 330-6610.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Truth: Good point. Peter loves to shake,and ooint fingers. Please do not shake your finger at your dog for something he might do or might not do.

Actually Peter doesn't even know all the facts but he loves the Brown Act and loves to threaten City Councils and school boards. I am sure the City Council will do the legal and right thing in the end.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Rojas said "I'm working it out with the council in closed session"

That is clearly against the law.

And then he states that he will make the payments BEFORE the matter goes on the Council's agenda in June.

So we have a deal worked out in private, executed in private and THEN it goes to the public?

This may all be on very appropriate financial terms but this is NOT the way that the public's business is supposed to be conducted.

Why the need for secrecy?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

There has been no closed session items recently that relate to this topic. That either means it has not come up yet to council or it is still in that subcommittee?

The quote is confusing to be honest.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Rojas states:""I'm working it out with the council in closed session"

Truth states:"There has been no closed session items recently that relate to this topic. "

Therefore, IF Rojas' statement is correct AND Truth is telling the truth then what is being discussed has NOT been placed on an agenda as is required by law and the discussions are illegal for another reason - not being on a published agenda which permits public comment before action is taken.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Is it still illegal to scream fire in a movie theater?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Truth asks:"Is it still illegal to scream fire in a movie theater?"

Not if there is a fire. In fact, the person who alerts others to such a danger is to be commended.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Here is a link to the original thread:

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another MP Realtor
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Even in a depressed market, homes sell. Mr. Rojas needs to lower the list price of his home. Yes, he may have to sell his home at a loss, like so many Menlo Park residents who bought their homes at the peak of the market, and have since had to sell (for whatever reason). That's real world economics â€" something a City Manager should understand.


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Posted by my free lunch is getting moldy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 3, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Web Link

The property tax payment suggests that he has owned the house for a while (did not buy it during the boom) so even though he might have been able to sell it for 3x the current price at some point, he hasn't really lost any money.

Zillow suggests that at its current price, it's still about $50k too high. I'll bet if he lowers it to $350k, he'll get takers, be able to pay off his 10% down payment, and have money left over. Isn't it time for him to get out of the pockets of the taxpayers?


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Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Please don't rely on Zillow for any valuations. They are often way off. Previous comment made by realtor is absolutely true. If a home isn't selling at current price, then the market says no one is willing to pay for that home at that price. If price is lowered, likely someone will be more willing. Lowering price often sells a home in a buyer's market.

I am very thankful that people like Peter Carpenter raise the question about transparency. Frankly, there has been way too much apathy about the fiscal decisions being made by our elected officials.

Since the city government exists by the grace of our hard earned taxes, we should pay closer attention and have access to every significant financial decision being made by our elected officials.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 4, 2010 at 9:30 am

Mary -

I appreciated your comment, especially about Mr. Carpenter's efforts to keep our government processes in sunlight. Whether citizens agree with Mr. Carpenter or not, they should certainly appreciate his efforts.

But I would hope that you would also take the time to JOIN Mr. Carpenter, attend your Council meetings, go to the microphone, and let your elected officials know you are watching and demand that these matters be discussed in public session. The best motivation for an elected official is a engaged electorate.

Since I don't know you, forgive me if you are already doing this!


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Posted by free lunch
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

Mary is the #1 supporter of the Mickie & Lee show, so her kneerjerk reaction is to criticize the current council.

I understand that Zillow is not accurate, but the point remains: by cutting the price of the house a mere $50k, the Rojases could show they were serious about selling it (it was listed at a ridiculous price earlier in the year), make some money (but not as much as they could have made in 2005...who knew?), and finally repay their debt to the city. That's the honorable course of action. Repeatedly renegotiating in an effort to dodge your obligations is not.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:31 am

Free lunch -

Despite your comment that Mary's "kneerjerk (sic) reaction is to criticize the current council..." you should note that there wasn't a single comment in her post that was negative about this council.

Perhaps the kneejerk reaction was yours?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

I haven't agreed with Mary a lot over the years, but she is present and involved and she has put in her time to help where she can.

Again, since we ACTUALLY ARE residents of Menlo Park, we take pride in our active community. If you were a resident here you might know that.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:03 am

Truth -

Perhaps you missed my closing comment to Mary, "...since I don't know you, forgive me if you are already doing this..."

This forum is not restricted by your address and I would think you would welcome interest and suggestions from your neighbors, espcially from towns seem to have a handle on their finances. And by the way, you are welcome to visit our parks and our restaurants and use our horse trails any time.

Apology accepted.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:10 am

I don't spend countless hours undercutting your city leadership and taking shots at whatever policies you guys set up there in the horse ranch estates. Why should I? I could not care less about Woodside politics.

I have no issue with my own local neighbors taking on the local policies because it makes all the sense in the world given our government by representation.

You seem to have a beef with Menlo Park and spend 90% of your time tossing out insults at anyone who seems to lean left.

Go back to breeding your Lipizzaners.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm

That's enough Kelly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Truth -

All of that experience cleaning up after my horses prepared me for dealing with you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Realy Truth, your rudeness is uncalled for.


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