Fire board president Peter Ohtaki takes out papers for Menlo Park City Council race Menlo Park, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Jul 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Peter I. Ohtaki, a member of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board since 2007 and its current president, took out candidate papers yesterday afternoon (July 22) for the Menlo Park City Council race.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 22, 2010, 5:41 PM
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm
Ohtaki would be a great replacement for Cline.
He is talented, dedicated, financially wise and conservative. His tenure on the Fire Board was marked by team work and he is demonstrating strong leadership skills in his current role as Board President.
Posted by wondering, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm
And a good question for Mr. Carpenter is: Why are you singling out Cline, who overall has been one of the more reasonable and competent members of the council?
There are three seats to fill, and so far, only three people have taken out papers. I share your enthusiasm for Ohtaki, but something else seems to be going on here. In this and in other threads, you've gone after Cline, but ignored the other incumbent who is planning to run. What's this all about?
Posted by Good News, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm
I would feel better if Peter Carpenter would step away from the Ohtaki campaign. As Jon Stewart likes to say, Peter, "you're not helping."
Most candidates are under the influence of one group or another. Let's hope Mr. Ohtaki is independent and not starting out under the weight of Carpenter, Winkler or Patti Fry.
Peter, you live in Atherton. Let the fall Menlo Political election process evolve without your input. We already have Collacchi directing traffic from Redwood City. Enough with you people.
Mr. Ohtaki, thank you for running for council. I look forward the forums and hearing more about your vision for Menlo Park. You have been in Menlo for many years. You will have your own perspective on our sticky issues and we would appreciate your owning your positions.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm
I am confident that the voters in Menlo Park can and will select their new council members without my input.
That said I don't intend to relinquish my First Amendment rights to speak out in support of candidates who have demonstrated their ability to balance $30+ million budgets without using reserves or raising taxes, who have refused to capitulate to union demands for excessive pay and benefits, and who have a record of working well with their elected colleagues. And I won't hesitate to speak out against candidates who flout the Brown Act, can't balance a budget and won't confront the unions.
Posted by All I'm Saying, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm
All I'm saying is you might want to ask this candidate if he wants your help. If the voters think you're going to be the heavy hand behind both his campaign and his tenure on the council, they might think twice.
Posted by Question Mark, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm
Ohtaki's Fire board experience definitely sounds like a positive, but I have to say, I keep up on MP politics and I dont feel like I've heard a peep about him before. That might be considered a positive (it is the "year of the outsider" in national politics, even if some "outsiders" are actually super-wealthy insiders in disguise), although on the other hand it seems a bit weird that he's never served on a City commission or spoken/written to the council as far as I know. Has he at least shown up to any of the numerous downtown visioning things?
Posted by Good News, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm
"There's nothing heavy handed about providing good information."
Most people think that their contribution to candidates or elected officials is good information. Your contribution is merely your opinion just as mine is. So many of our city council members are manipulated by advisors, kitchen cabinets and angry neighborhood activists.
Peter, your obsession with posting daily and sometimes hourly pieces on this site has made you a lightning rod that this candidate may not want to touch during a storm.
Take a big breath and stay calm. Your championing this fellow may not be helping.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm
Fire Board Watcher:
the wider range of fire sprinkler requirements is not something Schapelhomen is pushing. It is in the recently approved California Building Code. The new code requires fire sprinklers. The cost of these sprinklers is only $2.50 per square foot. Really not a great cost in the overall cost of construction. I realize it cuts into your "wear it on your sleave" finishes that you can put into your house, but if it saves your life or property is it really that costly?
If you have ever seen a fire sprinkler actually function you would understand their value in saving lives and property.
You can thank the Menlo Park city council for not even considering the cost of the needed additional fire apparatus, since they just rolled over to Bohannon, yet again. They gave absolutely no consideration to the need for additional fire fighting equipment among other things when they bent our city over for Bohannon.
Posted by welcome, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2010 at 9:00 am
It is good to see a new face and the possibility for fresh dialogue. I for one am tired of hearing the ongoing bitter comments from paranoid folks like "Good News" who seem to think that our elected officials are puppets of local residents who care about our town's quality of life. Better to be wary of undue influence of both wealthy developers and unions.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm
Frugal states:"Re ladder truck.... do you mean the tax payers have to pay for a ladder truck just for the Bohannan project?
I can't believe our council would ever have the approved the project without a firm commitment that Bohannan would pay."
YEP, the Council sure did and it simply told the Fire District that the impact of the proposed project on the Fire District was of no concern to the City - since the city doesn't have a Fire Department!!!
One more example of the lack of responsibility and vision by the current council.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm
Interested states:"surely the Fire Department has the ability to withhold permits based on its ability to serve"
That is factually correct but it would be politically very difficult. The Fire District held up the opening of the IKEA store in EPA because of insufficient water supply. As long as the Fire District could move its only ladder truck to Station 77 it could cover the Bohannon project but to do so would remove that same coverage from the downtown area - obviously something the the council wasn't concerned about. Small minds lead to small solutions.
Posted by another view, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm
The Bohannon project is an out and out pig, period. 140 foot towers in Menlo Park. Blame this one on Kelly Fergusson, who talks a good game, but never carries through.
However, the fire department's request for another truck, just because their present truck was less than 1 minute outside of the limits they want to use, not limits mandated, to respond was adequately disposed of by City Staff. Another truck is surely not needed, period. When you see the outrageous salaries that the fire department people get, you just roll your eyes.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm
What is the most likely disaster that this area faces - a big earthquake. And when we have one the overpasses over 101 will be impassable. If there is only one ladder truck it will either be on the Bohannon side of 101 or on the downtown side. The citizens on the other side of 101 will have good reason to feel that they have been given short shrift.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 26, 2010 at 11:05 am
Fire Board watcher states:"Menlo Park City could have dealt with this, but didn't."
As the lead agency Menlo Park was obligated by law to ensure that the impacts of the proposed project were fully mitigated. Instead Menlo Park extracted as much money as it could for itself from Bohannon and then told the Fire District that they were on their own. A sad example of irresponsible and selfish behavior.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm
Ohtaki was elected to the Fire Board in 2007. The firefighters' contract expired in June 2008. The firefighters demanded an 11% increase in the first year of their new contract. Ohtaki and the rest of the Board said NO then and have continued to say NO. The firefighters still don't a have new contract.
Ohtaki is clearly not "union". He is fiscally conservative and responsible only to the citizens whom he serves.
Posted by Party registration tells all, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2010 at 12:54 am
Ohtaki is a registered Republican. The main question is not whether he is "union" is not my key concern, but rather whether he will be a balanced and level-headed voice on the Council and take the big picture into account rather than kneee jerk ideological reactions.
I want my property values kept high, and part of that is having a council that will make decisions that support the level of service we expect in this community. We all pay a lot to buy a home here to raise our kids in a high quality community and keeping up services is good for our property values. Many of those who provide such services are city employees most of whom happen to also be in unions.
Being reflexively anti-union is an extemist and short sighted position. Being smart and tough - and doing things like imposing on the unions is something our current Council is already showing the way on.
If Ohtaki can show he sees the bigger picture, I am all ears. He may have potential...
.....BUT the fact that his top endorser for the Fire race was Peter Carpenter is not a good omen given some of Peter's postings of late on this site. We don't need ideologues, we need more pragmatists.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2010 at 6:43 am
ideologue - a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
I am a strong proponent of fiscally responsible, open and good government - as a review of all of my Town Forum postings will easily confirm. If that makes me an ideologue, then I proudly plead guilty.
Posted by Older Mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm
I have followed this thread for quite some time, but I'm giving up on it. I'm actually afraid to post; I'm pretty sure I'd be attacked. Mr. Carpenter may give good information (I agree with him on a number of issues) but his style is very abrasive and I would definitely examine anyone he supports carefully for both substance and style. It's important to me that the council study problems without already knowing the position they'll take; I do want people who are pragmatic and will occasionally reach compromises that aren't exactly their stand but will still improve the city.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm
Older Mom - I apologize if I have attacked you or any other poster. I try to debate the issues with both facts and passion and that may well seem abrasive - again I am sorry if that isthe case and will try to temper my future postings. This Forum is to valuable as a place of dialogue for me to discourage comments by others..
Posted by John Wurdinger, President of Menlo Park FIrefighters, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm
I have worked with Peter Ohtaki as a Member of the Menlo Park Fire Board since he has elected in 2007. I can say that the only negative comment that I have about the man is that he tends to not respond to e-mails or phone calls and for the first two years of his term he would not meet with the firefighters of Menlo Park to even hear or know what our concerns were and are. However, since our Fire Board has changed last January Peter Ohtaki has met with us once and has pledged to start meeting with us on a more regular basis. I believe he is genuinely sincere.
In all fairness there has been a marked improvement between our Fire Board and the Firefighters of Menlo Park since the Board decided to start talking to us again last Spring. While I can say that there is still a fair amount of room for improvement, I tend to believe that Ohtaki, while acting as Fire Board President, has had at least a little to do with the decision to open communications back up between the Fire Board and the Districtís Firefighters. For that I will always be grateful to Fire Board President Peter Ohtaki.
On a more positive note, the best thing that I believe Peter Ohtaki has done for our Fire District, the Menlo Park Firefighters Association and the citizens we serve is listened to our plea (Menlo Park Firefighter) to pay down the unfunded liabilities relating to our retirement. For those of you who remember we made a fuss about this issue in the last election cycle for Fire Board. If you have forgotten you can still see the mailer we sent out at Web Link. With out going into all of the details, Peter Ohtaki has been instrumental in ensuring that a pledge to the firefighters of Menlo Park made by the Fire District Board back in 2002 is honored.
While our retirement side fund (unfunded liabilities) is not completely paid off as of yet, the Fire District has made two sizable payments. At this time I do not have an accurate number as to how much the District currently owes but I believe it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 Million Dollars, this is down from the 13.5 Million Dollars it owed last summer. When this side fund is completely paid off the Districts annual obligation to our retirement benefit via CalPERS will go from roughly 39% down to roughly 19%. When that happens it will be good for everyone (Fire District, Firefighters and the Citizens we collectively serve). Saving the District close to 2 Million Dollars a year and saving as much as 4.5Million of your tax dollars in interest payments to CalPERS
I canít say that Peter Ohtaki wants the endorsement of Menlo Park Firefighters or that we would even give it to him if he asked. Not because we would or would not support him based off his work with our Fire District but because we normally do not get evolved with the election races for Menlo Park City Council. The last time we endorsed candidates for City Council in Menlo Park I personally walked streets for Jellins, Winkler and Duboc (they ran as a combined ticket) only to be personally attacked in the paper by one of the candidates when we decided that Menlo Park Firefighters were not going to endorse any candidates during the next election cycle.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2010 at 10:37 pm
I think that before Peter O jumps ship from the Fire Board to the city council, he should at least resolve the current contract situation with the fire fighters, as this would give him more credibility. Right now he is just another candidate with no proven
track record of accomplishment and big ideas ! Just like the fire board he needs the support vote to be effective. He needs to be more extroverted and transparent if he is to be effective. menlo city council is desparate for change ! Too bad their aren't more seats open, like all 5 ! should you get elected, please serve the fire board well, it needs it.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:30 am
Concerned states:"he should at least resolve the current contract situation with the fire fighters"
It takes two sides to negotiate a new labor agreement. The Fire Board has continually invited the firefighters to come back to the table but the firefighters 1) are still demanding an unbelievable 11% increase while other agencies are agreeing to salary freezes and even rollbacks, 2) refuse to return to the negotiating table and 3) are filing frivolous and expense labor law suits.
We have all discovered that labor peace and any price can be VERY expensive.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:36 am
Concerned states:"Right now he is just another candidate with no proven
track record of accomplishment and big ideas."
Ohtaki has a full 4 years of proven accomplishments on the Water Board and 2 1/2 years of accomplishments on the Fire Board including six months as a very effective Board President. He was the moving force behind the refinancing of the Fire District's unfunded pension liabilities which is saving the District millions every year - that was a VERY BIG IDEA that he actually pushed to implementation. He has provide strong fiscal discipline and listens to all sides on every issue before he votes. He is devoted to the Brown Act and truly open government.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm
BCPW states:"think Peter and Peter did'nt finish the negotiation job with the Firefighters"
BCPW obviously didn't read my previous posting:
"It takes two sides to negotiate a new labor agreement. The Fire Board has continually invited the firefighters to come back to the table but the firefighters 1) are still demanding an unbelievable 11% increase while other agencies are agreeing to salary freezes and even rollbacks, 2) refuse to return to the negotiating table and 3) are filing frivolous and expense labor law suits.
We have all discovered that labor peace at any price can be VERY expensive."
So BCPW, just how would YOU finish negotiations with a union that refuses to even come to the negotiating table - this is not a rhetorical question, I want to read your specific answer.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm
Here is what the Fire Board told its citizens about the union's unwillingness to negotiate last year:
June 24, 2009
PUBLIC RESPONSE TO FIRE UNIONíS UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGE
For over fourteenth months the Fire District has been negotiating with the San Mateo County Firefighters, Local 2400 on terms and conditions for a new labor contract. The parties have reached tentative agreement on over 106 subjects affecting 20 sections of the contract and are now down to just two open issues: salary and health and welfare benefits. On June 2, 2009, the District wrote to the Fire Union explaining the Districtís position on each disputed point and why the District believed the parties were at impasse on those two sections. The District also explained why it felt the Fire Unionís salary and benefits proposal was untenable given the present economic environment and circumstances facing the District. The Fire District offered the use of an outside mediator to help the parties bridge the gap.
The Fire Unionís response was to file an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employees Relations Board (ďPERBĒ), alleging bad faith negotiations and improper unilateral actions by the District. It is regrettable that the parties must now spend limited public resources contesting matters before PERB, while answers to the impasse can only be found at the bargaining table. It is also regrettable that the Fire Unionís charge omits many significant facts concerning the partiesí extensive negotiations and ignores the many positive outcomes reached at the bargaining table. For example:
ē The Fire Union claims the District has engaged in regressive bargaining because it failed to maintain all of the elements of a salary and benefits proposal offered by the District in October of 2008. The charge omits the fact that the Fire Union summarily rejected that offer without explanation and ignored its terms for over four months, waiting until February of 2009 to submit its own revised salary proposal. The charge also omits the fact that the Fire Union understood that the offer would lapse if not accepted by the Union membership by October 31, 2009. The charge also omits the fact that the Fire Union has repeatedly advised the District that no salary proposal would be acceptable that failed to guarantee a particular position relative to the other survey agencies.
ē The Fire Union claims the District has engaged in regressive bargaining by failing to follow an alleged ďagreementĒ between the parties on the elements of a total compensation survey to be used in negotiations. The charge omits the fact that parties did in fact refer to and discuss the survey during salary negotiations, as called for by the partiesí labor contract. The charge also omits the fact that the real disagreement on this point is over the Unionís position noted above, that the survey must operate to guarantee automatic salary increases over the term of the contract, thereby removing the authority and discretion of Board to establish employee compensation. It should also be noted that this practice of automatically increasing public employee salaries based on a survey formula was recently called into question by the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury. The Grand Jury notes that the practice of indexing salaries to other agencies causes public agencies to bid against each other, thereby driving up the cost of public employee compensation. The Grand Juryís report validates the Fire Districtís objection to the Fire Unionís inflexible position on use of the survey.
ē The Fire Union claims the District repudiated a settlement agreement calling for the creation of a joint labor/management committee and use of an outside consultant to work with the parties on improving communications between the Fire Union and District Management. The charge omits the fact that it was the Districtís idea to hire the consultant, at the Districtís expense, and that the District continues to work with the consultant to further the objectives of the settlement agreement.
ē The Fire Union claims the District has repeatedly reneged on previously-reached agreements both within and outside of contract negotiations, evidencing bad faith in the bargaining process. The charge ignores the hundreds of hours devoted to the bargaining process by District representatives, spanning a period of fourteenth months, and the extensive list of tentative agreements resulting from that effort. Yet, it is precisely this history of the partiesí negotiations that will guide PERBís review of the charge and which serves to so emphatically refute the Fire Unionís assertion that the District has acted in bad faith.
All of the Fire Unionís allegations will be addressed in detail when the District submits its statement of position to PERB. In the meantime, the Fire District Board of Directors and administration remain committed to working with the Fire Union in good faith at the bargaining table with the hope of reaching agreement on a successor labor contract.
It is useful to have these facts on the table when BCPW asks why the Fire District has not reached a new agreement with the union - it is simply because the union refuses to even negotiate.
Posted by Conservative Storm, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm
Mr. Carpenter, come on-stop mixing facts with bogus information. You can't bargain when a PERB complaint is in the courts. It's the law. The reason there is a PERB complaint is because you and the board supported regressive bargaining. You were the directing board member who sponsored the idea of not "meeting" with the labor group.Initial PERB results/findings are proving what the fireman have been arguing is true. Stop hiding behind your conservative values, you're giving us all a bad rap. If you really want to be a crusader make a left turn on El Camino and put a stop to all the illegals hanging out at 5th and El Camino who are sucking the life out of California. No, you choose to go after "the working man". You're not winning any support with your revisionist history. If I were Peter O. I'd distance myself from your dysfunction. Take a step away from your computer and look at yourself in the mirror-really."You're NOT helping".
Posted by Conservative Storm, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm
Item #1; You are wrong. You don't bargain with people in good faith who you are "at odds with (legally)" for NOT bargaining in good faith. According to you; the law, the lawyers and judge are all wrong. It's called common sense. I guess not that common.
Item #2;You are TOTALLY misrepresenting this fact. The reason why Menlo Park Fire has been a successful organization, up to your tenure here, was that the Board and Firefighter's Association ALWAYS had an open line of communication. You were the one who "poisoned the well" with regards to the rest of the Board. You don't like organized labor and you don't like DVP Wurdinger and you let this cloud your judgment. Your hypocrisy was that you architected the Administration Executive Staff of the District be paid up to 20% above the County average and receive much better health benefits while the labor force dropped to 11 % BELOW the comparable (like sized and bordering) agencies that YOU chose to be represented. All this why you told the other board members and candidates that an endorsement from the Firefighter's Association was the "Kiss of Death". Don't BS yourself, you were PROUD of what you were doing.
Item #3; Inital finding of the PERB complaint. FIRST, remember this is on top of the 12 of 13 "Grievances" that the Firefighter's Association won HANDILY at 10x the legal cost average to the Fire District. Over 600K in attorney's fees, paid by the TAXPAYERS of the Fire District, for items that were so simple (literally) that they were memorialized in black and white and still refuted by the BOD and Administration. The initial finding of the PERB board was that the Fire District was guilty of violating UNILATERAL CHANGES IN WORKING CONDITIONS REGARDING LEAVE BALANCES. The Regressive Bargaining and Bargaining in Bad Faith charges are still pending (My bad). With Managements' track record and your past (mis)guidance, which direction do you think they're going to go? I know where I'd put my money. As a conservative myself, I feel bad for the tax burden that poor management has placed on the people within the fire district.
If your misguided memory soothes your conscious and ego, keep rambling. If you really care about Peter O. and the Fire District, give it a rest. I think (at this point)our founding fathers would agree with me.