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Conflict of Interest Charges Dog Atherton Interim City Manager

Original post made by Tim J., Atherton: Lindenwood, on Apr 11, 2011

The Atherton City Council hired an investigator to research Mr. Danielson's background before hiring him as interim City Manager.

Apparently, the background investigator found little fault with Mr. Danielson's past.

Nonetheless the controversy surrounding Mr. Danielson's failure to deal appropriately with conflicts of interest in his administration continue to swirl.

Mr. Danielson was severely criticized by the FY 2004-05 Sacramento County Civil Grand Jury for his failure to adequately address conflict of interest concerns pertaining to the award of a contract for law enforcement services with Sacramento County.

The Grand Jury's report is most alarming when considering Mr. Danielson may be asked to supervise the issuance of a request for proposal for law enforcement services in Atherton. Additionally, Mr. Danielson has responsibility for supervising an investigation into Police corruption.

Of additional concern is that Danielson retained Wynn Furth's old firm McDonnough Holland for advice. This firm is now defunct after loosing a string of high profile cases.

The following is a section of the Grand Jury's report condemning Danielson. The full text, including the City Manager's rebuttal can be found at

Web Link


---

2. The City Manager

The City Manager is the administrative head of the City government, and is responsible for the operation of all City departments. He serves at the pleasure of the Council. The current City Manager, Mr. John Danielson, has served since 2001. He prepares the agenda for the Council meetings, briefs the Council members before the meetings and has great influence over the process used by the Council in its deliberations.

The City Manager was well aware that Mr. Cooper and Mr. Leary were strongly resisting advice to strictly adhere to conflict of interest requirements, and that they were very antagonistic towards the City Attorney with respect to this issue.

In an attempt to address the conflict issue in October of 2001 the City Manager provided an outside legal opinion from the McDonough legal firm. The opinion was prepared without the knowledge of
the City Attorney, so that the two Council members would know that it was independent of Mr. Manzenetti's legal opinions.

The City Manager knew that conflict of interest problems relative to law enforcement services occurred repeatedly. He was aware that conflict of interest requirements were not being observed. He could have, but did not, establish a process to ensure that conflict
of interest issues were dealt with explicitly and in accordance with the law.

In addition to the many times when the Council explicitly considered issues related to the Agreement for Law Enforcement Services, there were instances in which law enforcement issues were commingled with other budget issues in a single vote. Votes on the law enforcement budget items were included within the total municipal budget on October 4, 2000, July 11, 2001, June 5, 2002, and June 4, 2003.

Each of these appears to have been a violation of the conflict of interest requirements of section 1090. The City Manager should have ensured that issues related to the Agreement for Law Enforcement Services were separated from other Council actions so that the members with conflicts could recuse themselves and avoid voting inappropriately.

Comments (15)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dwight Steeves
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Maybe the City Council should ask for a refund from the investigator it used.

It seems pretty clear that the investigator was less than thorough of its vetting of Mr. Danielson.

Investigative reports of grand juries are public records, posted for all to see.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by D. Hohl
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm

This is getting ridiculous.

We have a police department we cannot trust. We have a City Manager whom we cannot trust who's supposed to do something about the police department we cannot trust.

This town is a train wreck in slow motion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by crimestopper
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm

All the more reason not to trust Danielson with the Guerra investigation or the decision on which agency should take over police services in Atherton.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 7:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Tim J - I am unable to access the web link of the full report. In the interest of fair balance, would you please post the City Manager's rebuttal.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim J.
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

The City Manager did not respond to the finding of the Grand Jury.
The full report including a response from Elk Grove can be accessed here.

Web Link

In my view there are actions Mr. Danielson could have taken and should have taken but did not.

He could have filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Pracices Commission. He could have filed a citizen's complaint of misconduct with the Sacramento County Sheriff. He could have filed a criminal complaint with the Disrict Attorney.

Mr. Danielson took none of these actions.

Mr. Danielson did not because he knew which side his bread was buttered on. These same council members reviewed and approved the very generous salary increases Mr. Danielson received during his tenure.

The conduct of Mr. Danielson, including his failure to report misconduct of those who determined how much he was paid is a shocking abuse of power.

Mr. Danielson should resign immediately.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 7:57 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Tim you stated:"The full text, including the City Manager's rebuttal can be found at "

Then when asked to post his rebuttal you stated:"The City Manager did not respond to the finding of the Grand Jury."

I am confused and cannot open the web links that you provided.

It appears that Danielson did not have a conflict of interest but others may have had such a conflict.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim J.
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 8:39 am

John Danielson, Atherton's current City Manager and Jim Robinson, Atherton's former City Manager have something in common.

The were both severely criticized by county grand juries for failing to act in the face of public corruption.

Atherton deserves better.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Tim - please respond to this quey:
Tim you stated:"The full text, including the City Manager's rebuttal can be found at "

Then when asked to post his rebuttal you stated:"The City Manager did not respond to the finding of the Grand Jury."

I am confused and cannot open the web links that you provided.

It appears that Danielson did not have a conflict of interest but others may have had such a conflict.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 9:34 am

[Post removed. Please don't attack other posters.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 10:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Carpenter just wants facts, not a lynch mob run by anonymous hooded posters.

Tim you stated:"The full text, including the City Manager's rebuttal can be found at "

Then when asked to post his rebuttal you stated:"The City Manager did not respond to the finding of the Grand Jury."

I am confused and cannot open the web links that you provided.

It appears that Danielson did not have a conflict of interest but others may have had such a conflict.

The facts please.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

try this link Peter:

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Thanks, that link worked. I read the grand jury report and found the only tecommendation regarding the City Manager was that he establish a procedure regarding conflict of interest amongst council members. There was no rebuttal by the City Manager.

I found no evidence that, as claimed , the City Manager had a conflict of interest himself. Guilt by association has never been very appealing to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by management employee
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

[Post removed. We don't know if this speculation is true or fair.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim J.
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

[Post deleted. Avoid attacks on named posters. There are allegations here that may or may not be true or fair. If you have relevant information, send it to the Almanac. ]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Re: Request to place the Guerra Investigation on the Regular City Council agenda
From: Peter Carpenter
Date: April 13, 2011 7:47:23 PM PDT
Dear Town Council,
The facts are simple:
1 - After a careful search and full investigation you appointed John Danielson as the Interim Town Manager
2 - John Johns requested that the Town Manager investigate his complaint regarding the Police Chief
3 - Such an investigation clearly falls within the responsibility and authority of the Town Manager as defined in the Town Ordinances
4 - Until such an investigation has been completed there are no facts other than John John's compliant for the Town Council to consider
5 - Agendizing this matter for the Council deliberation before the investigation carried out under the direction of the Town Manager would only provide a political theatre for John Johns to pontificate on his oft repeated and well worn, but unverified, allegations.

My recommendation is that you allow the Town Manager to perform his defined responsibilities to have this investigation performed and then receive his report on that investigation when it has been completed. At that time the Town Council can decide if further action is required.


Respectfully,

Peter Carpenter


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