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Atherton to outsource two departments

Original post made on May 26, 2011

The town of Atherton is preparing to outsource its entire building and public works departments, handing 13 of 16 non-management staff members their pink slips by the end of the month, according to a representative of the union representing the employees who was informed of the planned cuts this afternoon (May 26).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 26, 2011, 5:45 PM

Comments (127)

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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Mayor Frankenstien and his latest monster lay waste.
No mention of any concessions at all from Atherton's bloated private army over at the Police Department.
The dumbest move yet


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm

For those who have denied the scope of the problem, this what "unsustainable" means.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

This is just stupid. Your police department with it's incompetent chief and a few corrupt cops is costing you a hell of a lot more money than these departments.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

This is precisely what needed to be done and there will be more to follow. It would have made no sense to have started with the most difficult issue of the police department.

Stop the bleeding and then decide what to do with the rest of the patient.

Thank you Mr. Danielson.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm

9:00 PM--Dobbie has a police car parked in front of his house for security detail as I write--He will enjoy having a royal escort far too much to ever stand up to the police department for any concessions.
With no other departments left, we are now officially only a Police state. No real reason to have a council anymore is there?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Wow, one of top ten wealthiest communities in the nation and it's going belly up. How many CEOs and CFOs live in Atherton and seem to enjoy living in a town with a total lack of competent leadership, no fiscal responsibility and a dysfunctional board, oops I meant city council. What a joke.


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Posted by Stu Slessinger
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Thank you Charles Marsala.

You did away with the road impact fees and the business license tax as a favor to your developer buddies. Now all that's left is a town administration that supervises a private security force.


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Posted by Whoa
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I've heard of cities without their own police department. Many well-managed ones have outsourced their police departments to save money by eliminating overhead. San Carlos, Woodside, Portola Valley all come to mind. What we have here may now be a first: a town that is only a police department and nothing more.

Maybe Mr. Danielson should now outsource himself as he has no one to manage except for a finance director and a police chief. Both could report to the city council.

I do not understand Mr. Carpenter's comment above: "It would have made no sense to have started with the most difficult issue of the police department."

Perhaps he can explain. Was this a typo? I would say starting with the largest budget issue always makes the most sense.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Ok now- so two and a half years ago we had our first ever clean outside financial audits EVER, and four million in reserves accumulated by Finance Director.Johns, who we then of course fired for his efforts after an elaborate torture conducted by our own version of the Republican Guard (and their assets).
Abruptly we now discover that we have gone broke, And must eliminate as many potential staff witnesses as possible so we may blame them for this mess once they are gone.
No Council Person or any of the four (now five) City Managers of their selection, has ever been held accountable. The leadership has never apologized to the public. Nor do they seem the slightest bit embarrassed. It is likely that are all getting ready to bicker over who will get the credit for "saving" Atherton from this abyss, rather than reveal how they could have possibly let this happen on their own watch.
McKeithen tried to warn everyone, I know-but even so-All of them failed.
I just don't see any winners here except the big fat Police Department... as usual.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2011 at 2:02 am

Atherton's out of money and having problems being open and honest to its citizens.
Well here are some candidate statements Jim Dobbie made when he ran for the vacant Atherton city council seat in 2008. You decide if he kept his promises.

Web Link
In a written candidate statement, Mr. Dobbie said his goals as a council member will be to increase the transparency of the town's activities, help the council become a unified team, and ensure closer oversight of town operations.

"I hear a lot of complaints," Mr. Dobbie told the Almanac. "People feel the council doesn't communicate enough, that there are too many secrets. We need to somehow find a way so that the council gives the feeling that everything is open and above board."

He also aims to find a more permanent source of town funding than the parcel tax, but he declined to name any specific ideas just yet.

"I have a lot of ideas, but I don't want to bring them up until I've analyzed them more," he said.

and ... Web Link
"The financial progress of the last 6 years has been excellent, but there is still room for further improvement, which because of my 40 Years in business management I have the knowledge to help accomplish. The Town Council has had some public embarrassment, which gives the appearance of division in the team. Because of my success in team building in the business world, I believe I can be a positive force in unifying the Council."


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2011 at 7:04 am

Peter:

if you want to "stop the bleeding" you start with the largest wound. In this case teh police department. If someone has a cut and a gunshot wound you don't ignore the gunshot to dress the cut.


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Posted by amazed
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 27, 2011 at 9:27 am

Outsourcing the building department (which has been notoriously inept and incompetant) and the public works department makes sense. Now it it time to tackle the biggest waster of funds...the police department. San Carlos, Half Moon Bay, Woodside, Ladera, Portola Valley and Unicorportated Redwood City and Menlo Park ALL outsource police services. This is FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY! It is time for Atherton to do the same. The over paid, do nothing police department which brings in all kinds of litigation due to the incompetance and dirty business needs to go. NOW!


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Posted by Atherton native
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2011 at 11:26 am

SAVE OUR LOYAL EMPLOYEES There are a handful of employees that a "Interim" City Manager who lives in Southern California decided that down sizing will improve the situation on hand is now punishing emloyees that have 20 years of service and loyalty. A few employees are ready to retire and now will lose their benefits because of the out source. Wow working over 20 years does not mean anything. You have destroyed the charm of Atherton Mr. Interim City Manager. Where have all these losers come from (Give me back Atherton) Hey City I MGR why did you not give the employees heads up? Why were their close door sessions regarding this matter? Don't the residents have a say? Hey Danielson AKA interim City Manager (Yeah right interim, can you say take over Atherton ?) Please go back to La La land where you came from we do not need a dictator who does not know anything about the old charm and history in Atherton. Do not start me on Holbrook Palmer Park!!!!


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Posted by about time
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

Well I would call this the most financially responsible decision that has been made in a long time. Tough decisions must be made in these very real and tough times and yes, there are going to be difficult and hard decisions. If the Town has a prayer of recovering and avoiding financial disaster and ruin, there have to be even more cuts. The police department is a prime example of this. The majority of the budget pie goes to them. They are not a "busy" agency by any means. Outsourcing this department would be easily done with no loss of service. I would even go as far as to say service would improve. Whether RCYPD, MPPD or the Sheriff takes it over any one of those agencies brings more man power, way more experience and alot more resources that the current PD ever had. Subtract all the law suit money that will not have to be paid out and all the money to maintain the current PD it is clearly a win win for everyone. Most importantly, the tax payers.


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Posted by wasreland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm

The Building Department has always been completely self sustaining and in fact profitable. It has always had giant budget reserves that the town looked for ways to find a way to legally access for it's other needs--and this is first to go?? The Town will now no longer own the profit!!
I bet CSG or Inner West wanted the outsourcing contract because they want to have this profit/reserve for themselves and so they cut a deal with Daniialson to get the gig. Think Royalties
Jim Dobbie's statement that "Danialson has my complete support as he will be using a scalpel-not a Knife" should read "chain saw not a backhoe" and it would still be ludicrous.
And Peter Carpenter: For a guy that usually has his priorities straight--you have got to google the word TRIAGE


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Posted by Live and Learn againg
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

We will see litter, over growth, green waste, pot holes, and many other duties that will be considered outside of the poorly worded contract they will sign. Storm damage, park clean up will be at a premium or not done which was within the job description of the soon to be laid off employees. Get used to hearing this at a council meeting soon, " It's not my job, buddy."


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Posted by You Reap What You Sow
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Enjoy your new hires, I'm sure at first everything will be rosy but just wait, just like the banking sector and the wall street liars, you'll get yours. Private sector has always been worse than public sector. The public sector has a vested interest in taking care of the public it serves. We'll see how well your contract employees work out. Good luck you [portion removed; disrespectful language], you'll reap what you sow just like it says in the good book. Ha Ha


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Atherton folks can always do some ballot issues to farm out the police services and to keep the full Public Works staff.
Problem is the vast majority of Athertonians are very apathetic when it comes to their city. They've got the city name and zip to show to the world and that seems to be all they care about.
Heck I tried to talk to an attorney friend who lives in Atherton and he was ignorant to the city problems and said he didn't give a damn.
Well you get what you deserve


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Posted by pathetic
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Some of these comments are very uneducated and disrespectful. This is simply a business decision that had to be made. I do feel for those who lost their jobs but they only have the previous Town management itself to blame for being so very financially reckless and irresponsible. Inflated egos, benefits and salaries have caused this meltdown. You have "cops" (and I use that term very sarcastically when it some to Atherton PD who make six figures. They pick up newspapers and laugh all the way to the bank. It is time for a serious reality check. Enough is enough.


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Posted by Tee
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on May 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm

An Atherton resident told me recently of an experience she & her husband had. After too much alcohol at a party, they began their short drive home. Stopped by an Atherton cop for erratic driving & producing ID showing the driver is a resident, they got an escort to their home. No citation! My "friend" was bragging about how Atherton cops took such good care of residents. I guess this is what you pay these guys to do?

Read Atherton police calls for a good laugh, then ask how much money they're worth.


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

> Inflated egos, benefits and salaries have caused this meltdown

How much did the fired workers make per year?


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Posted by You Reap What You Sow
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Hey po' folk first you should ask do they live in Atherton, probably not. Second what is the sustainable cost to live in the bay area. Have low level people who work for the town caused your budget problems probably not. Whats the foreclosure ratio in Atherton high, probably not. Go back to sleep. It's not Unions or inflated salaries that caused this issue, it's people with no foresight. Hence your City Council and Mayor, or maybe it was the City Manager. Yeah all government employees and unions are the problem, Yeah Right!


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

If the Town had INsourced the City Planners position 5 years ago to someone who actually worked ONLY for Atherton and not the outside interests of another employer, we could have avoided this OUTsourcing all other departments. Lisa Costa/Saunders who now owns her previous employer's company- Neil Martin Associates -is by the way- who we can all thank for recently negotiating of our waste management contract as the worst deal of any City in the entire county.
Watch her emerge from this slaughter as the sole survivor. I bet she is offering Mr. Danialson plenty of advice in recommendations for the selection of replacement services providers that she can work well with.........
She will a owe a substantial debt to the Principals of Peninsula Pacific Group who have sued the Town into complete submission for her and made this all possible.
But perhaps PPG are the ones who should feel gratitude to Costa/Saunder for her customized rewrites of the Town;s Zoning and Building Ordinances, the General Plan and Housing Element growth mandate. All subjects dear to heart of any resident developer.
This tag team with a little help from Lewis and Marsala deserve an award for best hostile takeover EVER.
Gotta hand to them--they've got it all now anyway


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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Sounds like it's worth a try. If it works I hope our council keeps an open mind toward following suit.


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm

You reap -

1.) Perhaps you should re-read my two posts.

2.) Sorry you cannot answer my question. I'd also be curious to know the answers to your (likely rhetorical) questions, if you have them or any websitees with the answers.

3.) You may want to reconsider your attitude, especially how it appears to others when it is written in the form and tone you have adopted.

It's likely you will have some with a sympathetic view reconsider. One doubts that is your intention.

If indeed you are a town employee, family member of one, just a friend, or whomever happens to be supportive of the department discussed, you could have picked other posters on this forum and/or other related forums more obviously in favor of the firings.

Write hot. Revise cool. Or as originally described:

"Write drunk; edit sober." — Ernest Hemingway


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Word of the decade: "unsustainable."

From today's WSJ: "Some of the politicians talking about how to stop the spending crisis are the same politicians who, for many years, said there was no crisis. They're like forest creatures who denied there was a fire when everyone else could smell the smoke and hear the crackle. Then the flames roar in, and the politicians say, "Follow me, I know the path out of the blaze!" It will be hard for them to win the trust that will get the American people to back a path out and through."

Web Link


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Pogo-

Thanks for the link, but couldn't read the whole thing, saw the author, though. Was the woman who wrote "read my lips: no new taxes". There is another speech writer in town, parenthetically, that wrote another great line (tear down this wall.)

Ms Noonan's previous bosses, 40 & 41, took a trillion dollar national debt and rode it to four trillion.

As I said, I couldn't view the whole article. "Some of the politicians talking about how to stop the spending crisis are the same politicians who, for many years, said there was no crisis."

Did she include herself in that group?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm

po' folk -

With commenting on your accuracy, your point that the two Bush Administrations - which spanned TWELVE YEARS - "took a trillon dollar debt and rode it to four trillion" is dwarfed by the $4.5 trillion increase in just the first THREE YEARS of this Administration. The Bush's were pikers by Obama's standards.

While you can dismiss it due to authorship, you may want to read the article. It's short, succinct and really tells how both parties are at fault. Also, Ms. Noonan didn't use any big words.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Instead of retaining Kathy Hughes Anderson who has worked for Town for several decades in multiple positions (in both Public Works and the Admin Offices) most currently as the Town's arborist--"Tree City USA" has chosen instead, to transplant the Police Chief's secretary over to run Holbrook Palmer Park.
Also to answer a previous posters question- All of the employees axed were making less than 60,000. Many substantially less like the PW work crew and Melanie at the front desk in admin.
The Police Chiefs secretary was allocated a raise two months ago--I'm sure she will be taking it with her.


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Pogo - not a subscriber, it's firewalled. Did not include the second Bush in my original statement. Did not think Ms Noonan worked for him.

40 & 41 took the debt from one to 4 trillion, 42 to five trillion, but left with a budget surplus. 43 doubled the debt to over ten trillion. All round numbers, of course.

Not sure the current president can be accused of either frugality, or as the article points out, being "the same politicians who, for many years, said there was no crisis."

Did Ms Noonan include herself or her former bosses as those who said there was no crisis?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Other than to say the deficit has been $1.5 trillion for each of the past three years (and, unfortunately, for the foreseeable future), I won't do your homework or your math for you.

If you wanted, you could easily find a way to read the article (read: google). I assure you that Ms. Noonan's columns are widely available on one or more of the internets.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Pogo: I am always grateful for your interest and participation--but this is a very personal moment of crisis for Atherton. Could we please use this thread for what it is about and discuss the macro or national economics on a separate thread. I know there is a connection but This forum is the only place right now where both employees and residents can get informed or process together what is happening to our town as it unfolds.
But I do know that you care. Talk about Atherton


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Done.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Wasteland:

let's talk about Atherton. Are they going to continue to ignore the elephant in the room? Will they continue to ignore outsourcing their police department? Will they continue to insist that they have a police department that is nothing more than a private security force? If they don't want to outsource, then they need to be prepared to pay even more in parcel taxes. Private security forces aren't free, especially those that have fantastic retirement programs that create huge structural deficits. If you folks are more inclined to have your "boutique" police force, then you should be prepared to open your wallets. The police department is far and away the biggest expense, both current and long term, that your town has. Not to mention the payouts from lawsuits that your police departments incompetent management keeps costing you. If you can't see that, then you get what you deserve. Outsourcing the building department and public works isn't going to save you diddly.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

MV: I don't see anything at all in your statement to disagree with --except that I would prefer to fix the APD that we have IF possible rather then jump out of the pot and into another less familiar fire.
You sure sound like Buckheit for a guy supposedly living in Menlo Park.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I transmitted this public records request to the Town Today.

I will keep the forum apprised of what I learn.

Dear Ms. DellaSanta

Please consider this to costitute a request for public records under the California Public Records Act.

Please provide copies of the following:

Any writings which would indicate the Town of Atherton's (The City's) estimate of the potential cost savings and the basis for such estimates were derived resulting from the outsourcing of public works, building and/or police services

Any writings which would indicate the assumptions employed, analytical approach applied and the research methods used by Ms. Louise Ho or any other member of the City Administration in estimating the City's sources and uses of funds during three years ending June 30 2015 and the financial position of the City on June 30, 2015

Copies of any writings prepared by or in the possession of Mr. John Danielson or any agent or employee thereof which would indicate whether Mr. Danielson has solicited or considered soliciting requests for prosals for public works, police and/or building services during or before Mr. Danielson's tenure with the Town

Copies of any requests for proposal or responses thereto that Mr. Danielson has issued for police, building and/or public works services.

Copies of any writings which would indicate Mr. Danielson has solicited bids or considered soliciting for bid from other governmental agencies services for police, public works or building services

Copies of any writings which Mr. Danielson remains duly authorized to act as agent for the Town or in any other capacity such as City Manager despite Mr. Danielson's failure to keep track of the hours expended by himself in the Town's employ as he is contractually required.

Copies of any writings which would indicate the City has initiated a search for a replacement for Mr. Danielson within Mr. Danielson's scheduled contract expiration of June 30, 2011.

Please provide any writings responsive to this request in PDF via reply e-mail.

Please respond to this request within 10 days.

Thank you very much


John P. Johns, CPA


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Posted by Resident of Kansas
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Right on, Mr. Johns! I hope you get what you have asked for, and that it can be made available for regular folks to read. The current situation smells worse than a hog farm.

From my conversations with a Town employee, it appears that the steps taken in the past three weeks are right out of the handbook of "Worst Practices for Layoffs." I'm still amazed.


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Posted by PSHHHHH yea right
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on May 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Police Department.

Police Department..

Police Deparment...

CONVERT It to a force for just patrolling Woodside, Atherton and Portola Valley. make it optional on top of San Mateo County Sheriff and charge these billionaires(NOT a compliment) for every second they spend on what is currently 911 for NON EMERGENCY calls and irate rants than no one wants to hear.

believe it or not, people are getting straight up killed in redwood city, menlo park, east palo alto and you call 911 at 2:30AM because a dog was barking 3 streets over.

FACT the only reason you could even hear that dog was because you live in Atherton and the air molecules literally freeze at night in fear you will call the police because they are moving too swiftly.

the problem is the combination of absolutely irrational and illogical elderly residents and the police force which has absolutely zero experience as a real police force which inevitably pushes them down the dangerously lawless road to being "flat footed" in case of a real emergency...or worse, incompetence.




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Posted by Aformeremployee
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Twenty-six years ago, I began working for the Town of Atherton. Much has changed since 1985.
When I started working for the Town, I was a young inexperienced person who wanted to do the best I could. I've learned much over the years, and I still desire to do the best I can. Having become close to many of the residents, and seeing the progress Atherton's made, has given me pride. I feel great about my service to this Town knowing I was part of progress.
Times have changed. Times will always change. I understand this. What I don't understand is the direction and lack of focus this Town has chosen.
I am now saddened, disappointed, and disgusted in the decisions made by this Town's management. This "Town" has now asked many of its most vital employees to leave. I am one of these employees. Today, I am asked to leave a job I love. I now feel my years of devotion and contributions have been for nothing.
How unfortunate for the Town's residents, who have had no input regarding such an abrupt decision. The residents will now be without their Building Department, Street Department, or Parks Department. They will now be without any of the Public Works who have served this community faithfully. Instead, the residents of Atherton will be left to outsourced and unknown companies.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you.

Michael Anderson
Park Supervisor
Town of Atherton


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

Good that you guys are speaking out for yourselves--I don't think the Mayor knows most of your names.
But just incredible that it is John Johns of all people, to be the one asking the questions for answers every resident should be demanding instead. Great records request.
The Council is certainly not going to ever admit how badly they have messed up the town if they can avoid it--and frankly Danialson really should not be expected to even care about what happened--his function is only to clean up the councils mess and keep the spotlight off the many reasons why this has became necessary by whatever means is convenient for him.
All Good questions Mr.Johns --residents and employees alike deserve to know the answers.
I am starting to think they must be firing people in reverse order-- based on the most employee dedication to the town, length of service and how under appreciated they have been.
This is Atherton where seem determined to ruin any good thing


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 28, 2011 at 8:24 am

Wasteland:

I'm not Mr. Buckheit, just someone that knows your police force is a joke. I'm also someone that builds in your town so I ahve experience with your building departments and public works departments. Out sourcing those functions is not going to solve your problems. I can guarantee it will only create more. Outsourcing your police department WILL solve many of Athertons problems.


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Posted by Holy Cow
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

I am an Atherton resident. Does any one who is more familiar with town legal matters know if the residents of Atherton can do anything to stop this from occuring? I find it deplorable. I sure hope Mr Johns gets the records he is requesting so the entire town can read through the information as well. The building department, and to a lesser extent public works, is a revenue center. The PD is the biggest expense center. Seems this interim manager has chosen to outsource the wrong department.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

HC asks:"if the residents of Atherton can do anything to stop this from occuring?" Yes, immediately agree to pay a much larger parcel tax. These cuts are the necessary response to a structural deficit and the Town lacks the legal authority to print money so the only other answer is to reduce expenditures.

HC states: "I find it deplorable." Yes it is deplorable that we have allowed our Town to get in such bad financial straits in spite of warnings years ago that this was happening. Not at all deplorable that something is finally being done about the Town's structural deficit.


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Posted by Wait a minute
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

Just hold on here, Peter. You (and the press release on the town's website) list this (eliminating the entire building and public works departements) as the ONLY way to make ends meet without paying much larger taxes. But this is simply FALSE.

First of all, let's do the math. It has been reported that many of the 13 fired employees make less than $60,000 per year. Let's even say the average cost of each of the 13 employees is $85,000 per year.

That saves the town 13 x $85K = $1,105,000 per year. Enough to erase the deficit and then some, right?

Hardly. These functions have to be replaced by external contractors. I have to think these contractors will cost the Town considerably more than $200,000 (the difference between the $1.1M gross savings and the deficit), so the Town still has a deficit.

The residents deserve to know what the NET COST SAVINGS is. That is, the money that was being spent on these 13 employees versus the money that will be spent on the contractors to replace them.

On the other hand, if the police department were outsourced, residents of Atherton could get the same police service from the sheriff and save well over one million per year. You have admitted this in these forums yourself.

So why exactly was the police department not looked at first? It simply doesn't make any sense. And it makes the statement that this was the ONLY way to make ends meet simply FALSE.

If there is something I'm missing, please point it out. I just want to look at the numbers and see if they make sense. Without this analysis, simply being a cheerleader for Danielson's actions lacks credibility.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Wait.. - I am very familiar with the potential cost savings of outsourcing the police department as I am the only person who have ever posted the data. Clearly, as I have repeatedly stated, outsourcing police services would eliminate the structural deficit.
It is clearly my first choice for reducing the Town's expenses.
The only problem is that the proposal to outsource police services has very little citizen support and would engender a great deal of citizen opposition. Thus, given the limited options, the current layoffs and outsourcing is the best of a number of unpleasant choices.

Maybe as the deficit continues to grow the opposition to outsourcing police services to yield both lower costs and a higher level of POLICE services decrease.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

Regardless of how you feel about this issue, one thing is inescapable - you need to show up at your Town Council meetings and let your elected officials know how you feel. This isn't the job of someone else. It's YOUR job.

(So one more time with feeling:) You get the government you deserve.


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

Pogo -

> (So one more time with feeling:) You get the government you deserve.

Agreed. But the important question is...

Is there a particular tune we should be following or humming along to? Maybe something along the lines of one of the Queen classics, or is it better with a Chuck Berry kind of riff?


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 11:29 am

After all, there are solutions.

It's not like we're lost here, and need a Wagner-esque soundtrack...


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Posted by Wait a minute
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

Peter says "The only problem is that the proposal to outsource police services has very little citizen support and would engender a great deal of citizen opposition."

What is the data for this? A flawed survey from years ago? A handful of people who showed up at a finance committee meeting to yell that police can't be cut under any circumstances? In fact there are probably an equal or greater number of people who have yelled at various meetings and on these forums that the current police department should be indicted. In other words, extreme positions on either side are usually not dispositive.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 11:48 am

Peter--Throw the baby out to hopefully get to the bath water??? Still not buying it.
How much you want to bet that the next item of business will be back to building the APD and Danialson that seventeen million dollar fancy new Administration building?
WHAT were Marsala, Lewis and Fisher thinking in continuing to pursue this luxury project while handing back all those perfectly legal revenues (off haul, road impact, biz lics tax) collected from their developer friends who are already making a mint off the town?
This is what created the shortfall to begin with.
How is it possible for Dobbie to state that there is no money for the expense of forming an Ethics Committee but they have formed the Town Center Committee and are already giving money for architectural plans?
Who wants to bet that our City Planner's Company will profit enormously as she evaluates various bids from Ms Lewis' friends.


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

To Aformeremployee (Michael) - I wanted to take a minute to sincerely thank you for all you have done for Atherton. And I am sure that my sentiments are echoed by many. Please do not feel that your 26 years of contributions have been for nothing. Holbrook Palmer has been a very special place for not only Atherton residents but many surrounding communities. From days just taking a walk around the park at lunchtime to clear my head, to the wonderful days my kids spent at the Preschool (back when it was Atherton residents and Junior League), to dog training classes, to matches on the tennis courts, to the numerous school and other civic social functions at Jennings Pavillion and the Main House, to family gatherings on the park grounds, to the several Park events that I personally chaired, you have been an integral part of making this all happen.

I am, too saddened, by what is happening. I have both emailed and phoned town council members with my feelings, thoughts and suggestions on this matter.

You thanked us for allowing you to serve us. But the real thanks go to you, Michael, for all you have done. It is very much appreciated!!!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Peter:

where is the data supporting your statement that there is no support for outsourcing your police department? Was a survey done, other than the flawed survey done years ago? If someone really wants to show leadership in your town they would cut off the finger to save the hand despite citizens objections. It is what is best for your town. Get rid of APD, immediately cut your structural deficit AND the town won't be subject ot more lawsuits because of the actions of the incompetent police department. Seems like a winner all the way around. Some of that savings (very little I suspect) could be used to pay for private security to pick up newspapers and water lawns.

How much you want to bet these services get outsourced to someone that is associated with Danielson or the company he works for?

Mark my words; this is a HUGE mistake.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Wasteland wants to bet:"How much you want to bet that the next item of business will be back to building the APD and Danialson that seventeen million dollar fancy new Administration building?"

If such a project is proposed and approved during Danielson's tenure I'll buy you a very fancy dinner.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

MV asks:"where is the data supporting your statement that there is no support for outsourcing your police department?"

I am the only person who has made such a proposal to the Town Council.

No one supported my proposal.

Many residents have spoken against it.




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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

MV states:"If someone really wants to show leadership in your town they would cut off the finger to save the hand despite citizens objections."

Fortunately that is not the way that decisions are made in a democracy.

Sadly things will have to get worse before enough citizens care to really push for police outsourcing.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I'll clear my calendar--Pogo already owes me lunch
Town Planner=planned obsolescence=permanent job security


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

To Peter - You said: "I am the only person who has made such a proposal to the Town Council." (in regards to police outsourcing) This is not true, as I know of several others, including myself, that have contacted our Atherton Town Council regarding this mater.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Atherton Resident states:"This is not true, as I know of several others, including myself, that have contacted our Atherton Town Council regarding this mater."

Great. Please provide copies of your and others' correspondence with the Town advocating outsourcing of our police services - I would welcome having lots of proponents who are willling to go on record.


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

To Peter - We have provided the Town Council written correspondence.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Atherton Resident states:"We have provided the Town Council written correspondence."

Great. Now post it here for everyone to see. Why not????


Anonymous support doesn't carry very much weight.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Oh stop it !!!
you guys are all the the same page is what matters!!
and I'm planning to take all the credit for myself anyway so drop it and get together to start talking.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

I don't want any credit, I'd just like to see some real life support for outsourcing Atherton's police services.


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Posted by Wait a minute
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Peter said: "MV asks:"where is the data supporting your statement that there is no support for outsourcing your police department?" I am the only person who has made such a proposal to the Town Council. No one supported my proposal. Many residents have spoken against it.

Faulty logic. Various people supported your proposal. NO ONE SUBMITTED OR SUPPORTED a proposal to outsource the building or public works departments, so clearly your rationale for why police outsourcing failed (alleged pre-requisites) isn't true.

The only explanation I've heard so far that makes sense to me is Menlo Voter's. Danielson will have a share of whatever private company gets this outsourcing contract. [Portion removed; don't accuse others of malfeasance without supporting evidence.]

Police services can't get outsourced to a private company. That's why he didn't bother with police.

The residents got screwed. So did 16 employees who were a credit to this town.


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Posted by po' folk Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

His mother told him 'some day you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big ol' band


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Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

Mr. Carpenter is 100% correct in that the majority of residents are not willing to outsource the APD. In my opinion, it just isn't going to happen and certainly not without a full survey by the town council of it's residents and their willingness to pay an increased parcel tax which I would not discount even in these tough times. That is not to say that I'm sure Mr. Danielson is looking into cutbacks and furlough days for the department which would satisfy all sides.

What I do find insincere are previous statements by Mr. Carpenter about the supreme sacrifice of his friend the fire chief who gave up only his sick days in negotiating his new contract. Atherton residents pay plenty into the bloated Menlo Park Fire Protection District and loyal employees such as Park Supervisor Michael Anderson might have been spared if all public servants which Atherton residents pay for were willing to take pay cuts including management. It's unfortunate that residents and council members don't have the time to keep an eye on the special districts that seem to protect their overpaid management staff and then pretend they're all for pension reform when it comes to dealing with unions and the rank and file.

These types of layoffs are happening in cities and towns across the country and the cuts are not a sign of any mismanagement on the part of the town council or the city manager. As this article clearly states, the cuts are in large part due to falling property tax revenue and rising pension costs. Pension reform needs to take place across the board. Were I a resident of Atherton, however, I would rather my tax dollars go towards keeping Mr. Anderson than Chief Schapelhouman. The fire department would function just fine without him and the chief could retire with his $200K a year pension. I'm not so sure Holbrook Palmer will function as well with an entirely new groundskeeping staff. There is something wrong with a system in which public servants with 25+ years of service protects and rewards one but not the other.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

po'folk states:"NO ONE SUBMITTED OR SUPPORTED a proposal to outsource the building or public works departments"

Wrong.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 22, 2010 at 7:15 am

As Smart Money suggests outsourcing is a great opportunity for savings.

Why does Atherton need its own police dispatch? Fire dispatch was consolidated on a county wide basis years ago and that consolidation reduced the total costs and increased responsiveness and improved mutual aid.

Why does Atherton need its own building department? While the planning function is critical to preserving local values and standards once a building permit is issued ensuring compliance with such a permit could easily be outsourced. The result would be precisely matching building inspection and compliance costs to individual projects, which could then be properly and fairly passed on dollar for dollar to the builder, and avoiding either expensive over staffing or time delaying under staffing.

Why does Atherton need its own Emergency Operations Center when the Fire District has a multi-jurisdictional Emergency Operations Facility that already includes space and communications facilities for Atherton - but which the Town has never used?

How much more of the public works function could be outsourced as we already do for road construction?

These are the kinds of questions than need to be asked and answered.

******************
Fortunately some of these questions are finally being asked and answered.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

OK so in summary
In order for the Council to get any grip at all on the Police Department they must first disassemble the rest of the Town while patrol cars are parked in front of their homes to protect them from any public objection, and officers are sent to physically extract park employees from behind their desks.
Got it--that otta work just great--the police must be terrified


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm

To Peter - All I can say about your response to me is Wow! I never said I wouldn't post my letter to the Town Council regarding the Atherton Police Department. Your comments sounded like a demand, a challenge and derogatory, demeaning attack all rolled into one. (You said: "Great. Now post it here for everyone to see. Why not???? Anonymous support doesn't carry very much weight.")

Did it ever occur to you that maybe I am away from my computer (and access to my correspondence) because I am typing on my iPhone while away from home? Additionally, I would never post something that another resident had shared with me without first asking their permission.

I simply stated that there are others besides yourself that have expressed concerns about our town's financial situation and the police department in particular. If you reread my comments, I was in agreement with you.

As 'wasteland' said, many of us are on the same page on this issue. Let's at least try for a little civility as this extremely important issue is debated and hopefully eventually resolved.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Atherton Resident - I am sorry my suggestion that you publicly state your support for police outsourcing was so offensive. My intention was to find at least one other person who was prepared to lend their name to this cause.


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm

To Peter - I never said that your "suggestion" was "so offensive." What I said was what you said to me was inappropriate. Again, I never said that I would not post here what I wrote to the Town Council.

Please note: I am out-of-town this holiday week and do not have access to the computer with all of my documents and correspondence. Also, I mentioned that several others have contacted the Town Council. And as I said previously, I do not feel that it is right to post their correspondence without first asking them.




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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

IMHO "a demand, a challenge and derogatory, demeaning attack" equals offensive, not inappropriate.

Once again, I am sorry that you found my comment "a demand, a challenge and derogatory, demeaning attack" and I apologize for upsetting you.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Thomas - once again, the Fire Chief agreed to continue to work beyond his current retirement date for a net difference of only $20k/year. That is both leadership and a huge personal sacrifice.


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Posted by To Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Hey Peter you are offensive and you attack people on a regular basis. The reason no one wants to share your operation center or even talk to Menlo Park Fire is that they are 1. Publicity hounds,2. Rude to others in their proffession, 3. Just not as good as they think they are. Additionally why don't you mandate drug tests? I think you will be surprised. Get rid of the 24 hour shifts because we are paying them to sleep. Make them mow the lawn for christsake. Have the police invstigate theft and embezzlement in the department. Do backgrounds on your firefighters Oh yea the rank and file dont like you. You mandated a contract and you have no respect for the emplyees of any city. At some point you have to ask yourself if your part of the solution or the problem there crusader. Your just angry but no one knows why. And I really don't care what your response is!


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

What I say and how I say it challenges some people in avery productive way and just simply brings other to fulminating responses. Being outspoken and doing it without the cover of anonymity has its risks - just read the above comments by one more anonymous poster.

I have learned that this all goes with the territory of trying to deal with difficult issues.

In the meantime, I'll just press on.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Peter is as good as we've got or any one will ever deserve. He is the most earnest and most forthright participant in a geography much larger than this blog.
Like anybody else he will occasionally benefit from engaging other minds in the robust discussion of ideas. He has more facts than might be legal in mind at all times and on more issues to keep track of.
Yes --please do press on always Mr Carpenter


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm

To Peter - In regards to our conversation on this thread, I am not so much upset as I am disappointed. I voiced an agreement with you, which was more or less disregarded unless I did as you requested right then and there.

I strongly feel that civility and respect are extremely important in any conversation or debate. If I am prompted to action by someone, that mutual respect is crucial to being able to work with them. You might have the best ideas in the world and the best of intentions but if you elicit too many "fulminating responses," then perhaps the tone, approach and what is said needs to be reevaluated. Yes, there will always be some.

I feel strongly about the issue of our police department, for several reasons. This is what prompted me to write to the Town Council. This is what also prompted me to sign a letter written by several other residents. You said that you wanted to find "at least one other person to lend their name to this cause." They are definitely out there. This is not meant as a criticism, but a suggestion: look at how you say things and address others (yes, even if they are anonymous). If they agree with you, then take it as a positive and perhaps others will want to join or include you in their quests.

There are many anonymous posters here, which is the nature of this forum. I really don't know any of them, but have a respect for several and their opinions. Pogo and Menlo Voter come to mind.

I am a fairly infrequent reader, but passionate about civic matters in my town. Change is needed and necessary.


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Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

Mr. Carpenter...I think the "huge personal sacrifice" you mention was really made by Mr. Michael Anderson, not your friend the fire chief. Your remarks as they pertain to the longtime employees of Holbrook Palmer are to be expected, however, given your comments about Flood Park and the "need to convert this property from being a consumer of public resources into a one time cash generator and a long time property tax source".

Perhaps Atherton should consider doing the same with Holbrook Palmer, since like Menlo Park, it needs cash. I'm not assigning any blame to you on these unfortunate cuts just your priorities in speaking about them and where reform is really needed on this forum. To some of us that have enjoyed the beauty of Holbrook Palmer for the past 30 years,
Mr. Anderson was every bit as important as the over salaried fire chief.




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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Holbrook Palmer Park was gifted to the Town with a provision that it would revert to the original owner if it was no longer used as a park.


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Posted by Atherton Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Peter is correct about Holbrook Palmer Park. One quick question. In the back of my mind I seem to remember something about the family saying that if it reverted back to them it would then go to Stanford. I could very well be wrong, but just curious.


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Posted by Stu Slessinger
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm

[Portion removed. Please discuss the topic, and don't attack other posters.]

Carpenter should be objecting to the firing of 13 long-term Atherton employees in favor of a contract with an as yet to be named company. Instead of protesting an egregious abuse of power by a man who's term is up at the end of June, Carpenter applauds the actions by Danielson while expressing hope for more tough decisions to be made.

[Portion removed.]



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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Dear Readers:

Below is another public records request I submitted to the Town of Atherton. I would urge you all to file a similar request for public records.

It's time to find out what's driving the decision to outsource Building and Public Works.

It is my strong suspicion that there are motives at work here that have little or nothing to do with economy and efficiency.

**********************

Dear Ms. DellaSanta:

Please consider this to be a public records request pursuant to the California Public Records Act.

Please provide me with copies of all correspondence (including but not limited to e-mails) between Mr. John Danielson and CSG Consultants and between Mr. Danielson and Inter-West Consulting which were sent or received by Mr. Danielson since January 2011.

Additionally, please provide me with a copy of Mr. Danielson's Statement of Economic Interests (FPPC Form 700), which was (or which should have been) completed and filed by Mr. Danielson upon assuming office as Interim City Manager for the Town of Atherton.


Please provide copies of all responsive documents in PDF format via reply e-mail.

Please respond to this request within 10 days.

Thank you very much

John P. Johns, CPA


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Posted by J Edgar H
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

This is JOhn Johns dream come true. Hes waiting for this day for years. He isn't finished theres a pending claim for not being given the manager position.


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Posted by Bull
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

[Portion deleted.]

If the same forces that have led to the current massacre of every Atherton employee except cops … and actually more cops are being hired … weren't successful in running John out of town, this never would have happened.

Under John's tenure, the town had enough financial resources to pay for everything. But when Johns started questioning graft in the former building inspector's tenure, the developer's put their man Marsala to work on getting rid of him.

While he was at it, Marsala made sure the road impact fee went away, again to appease the developers he thought were going to reward him, and this has led to the current financial crisis.

When Johns started properly questioning out of control spending in the police department, the elephant in the room, Marsala was only too happy to align with Bob Brennan to finally get rid of Johns.

Talk about killing the messenger.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2011 at 10:34 am

More than enough Red Flags for the Town of Atherton.

For the Town manager and council to not have demanded a criminal investigation into Chief Robert Brennan....accessing the Criminal Computer System to conduct in his words....

"A routine background check of John Johns."

Once you know your Police Department is acting illegally, where do you think it is going to go from there if you don't correct it?


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 29, 2011 at 11:51 am

Mr Johns:
Could you write an concise explanation of what happened to the money? A list would be great.
How much did we have in reserves when they forced you out?
Would the pension liability bomb have been a manageable problem for the town if you had remained all along as finance director?
What account can you guesstimate for us, on the depletion of reserves as this mess unfolded?
What amounts were reclaimed in the road impact,off haul, biz lisc fees by the developers?(about 1 million? --is this figure about right?)
I think the council blew about 400,000 on their own attorneys to mess with you, and then they paid another 225,000 in a settlement that covered your defense litigation costs of 215,000.So there is a least another 625,000
Then there was the bizarre pay out to officer Pilar Buckley 250,000 plus.... for her claim..
So there is roughly 1.9 million so far and I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty.
Would you take a swing at explaining this please??
What happened to the reserves that you built up for the town while you were here? What did these guys blow it on near as you can tell?
John ---I'm hoping that will take a whack at this before somebody from Sharon Heights starts claiming to have the answers.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm

The financial crisis the Town is facing is overblown. That's the bottom line.

I strongly suspect that the so called "financial crisis" which has precipitated the issuance of pink slips to fully 1/3rd of the Town's workforce is being manufactured by the current interim City Manager and Atherton's Finance Director to justify a decision that is wholly unnecessary.

[Portion deleted.]

Through judicious pruning of all departments including Police, the Town of Atherton could weather the current storm without outsourcing. That is my assessment. It is also my assessment that the Town of Atherton could sustain its current level of services without layoffs for at least one year and possibly as many as three years although wage and hiring freezes might be necessary.

For example, the Atherton Finance Department assumed that it would start FY 2010-11 with $6.1 million in reserves. The Finance Department underestimated its reserves by $500k. The actual beginning fund balance was in fact $6.6 million for FY 2011-12.

Of this $6.6 million in cash reserves, $1.6 million has been set aside for "budget stabilization", $1 million was set aside as a savings account for the Building Department, $1.6 million was set aside for emergencies and an astounding $1.6 million has no designation at all.

In my professional opinion, and in comparison to other municipalities I have looked at nationwide as of late, Atherton does not suffer from a "fiscal crisis". If anything Atherton suffers from an embarrassment of riches.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PALLBEAR
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

Mr. Johns
I am in complete agreement with you and defended you against all of those who put you down when you were already down.
Now, because I do not go along with the "regulars" here, I have a difficult time getting a post made with some rotten excuse by our "editor".
The fact is, that two and a half years ago, I began to warn the entire county of what was going on with investigations and I was treated like some type from Marat Sade. Mostly by the die hard locals of SAN MATEO COUNTY and even hinted about people similar to Peter Byrne and conversations I had in the City but was just put down by the "old crowd" who actually invited a couple of 40 year olds to dispute me which the editor let fly without saying "OFF TOPIC" as he would me.
Although I do not share in your optimism given this late date (last year would have been the same)it still strikes me odd that there were so few people who wondered just where the money was going in Atherton, and all of the "Golden Corridor" cities as well. It was being spent by and for and on elected officials and everyone knows it. I just happened to point it out a long time ago, along with a myriad of impractical solutions to problems which are now causing an almost bigger mess in a similar spending spree which is going to cost affect the large majority of homeowners in our county.
I think you, Mr. Johns, nailed it in your last sentence, and I found you to be the most forthright contributor to this site filled with aging savants who are out of step, or do not admit the truth of government and how it is operated here.
If Mr. Carpenten would just put down his books of facts and figures and address the realities like a human, then the rest would also just shut up for a moment and take a look at the landscape.
There is an even larger crisis looming which is about to squash this most affluent area and IF a natural disaster were to occur as it has across America like---I will say the forbidden word---an earthquake, it literally would be the end of our papier mache Eden. As you say so smartly "Atherton suffers from an embarrassment of riches" BUT a total lack of peripheral vision.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

Have a thoughtful Memorial Day - a day of remembrance.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I have to call for a building inspection tomorrow on a project I am working on in Atherton. Since the buidling department has all been laid off and no replacements are in place, how will we builders continue with our work?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm

"The 13 represented employees working in the building department and the public works department -- which provides streets, parks and facilities services -- will lose their jobs effective July 1."


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Posted by PALLBEAR
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2011 at 7:00 am

Mr. Carpenter..........thank you for reminding us of your humanity by taking a minute to remind all to have a "thoughtful Memorial Day- a day of remembrance."
Even flash thoughts of yours of your sensitivity of the dying Americans can be appreciated by any of us who have lost or know a fallen or lost soldier in this 10 year war which overshadows the loss of jobs of the 13 represented employees.
I apologize for inferring that you are more accountable to the Americans who serve in our esteemed COUNTY.
Like a trooper, you quickly recovered and did not miss a beat to serve those you feel are getting a bad deal. Frankly, it is difficult to see what your goal is. Probably because of the amount of pages dedicated to the subject.
I am still moved by the situations which are far darker and some of which will eventually affect this area indirectly. Mostly, through getting rid of corruption which is still alive, but not thriving as it has for the past 10 years and includes the Atherton Finance Dept. which Mr. Johns so accurately pointed out and went unanwered.
Question. Just what is the total amount of MONEY in salaries and the perks which would be paid to those members of the building dept.?
I could not find it anywhere in your many posts.
Obviously, I support Mr. Johns and question the honesty of each and every member of each city's building department and have been astounded for 10 plus years as to how poorly they all functioned along with salaries, health benefits and over staffing.
Atherton being your base, I would settle for the information of the fallen 13.
Meanwhile, I still, today remember the soldiers killed whose numbers were counted this AM on the BBC.


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Posted by Concerned1
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I think its total BS...In my job I work with the building department...Judy, Troy & Joe....Always helpfull and have experience needed to make projects in the area run smooth. I am dreading dealing with any contracted out fill ins. Atherton is going to be very frustrated with the results we are about to see.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

No one ever said that eliminating the Town's deficit would be painless or without problems. But not eliminating this deficit would have ultimately be much more painful and would require even deeper cuts.

And even with these staff reduction the deficit may not have been completely eliminated.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 31, 2011 at 6:03 pm

"No one ever said that eliminating the Town's deficit would be painless or without problems. "

Outsourcing your police department would. I've worked with small towns with outsourced building departement functions. It's miserable.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 31, 2011 at 6:35 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

I fully agree that the Town's best deficit reduction strategy would be to outsource its police services. This would save the Town about $2m/year and we would have the same or better level of POLICE services.

Unfortunately there is not, in my opinion, broad citizen support for such outsourcing. Hopefully people will look carefully at Woodside, Portola Valley and Saratoga to see how well police service outsourcing can work and how much it would save.

Atherton
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,194 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 km˛)
Police budget $4.9 M
$681 per capita

Saratoga
The population was 30,318 at the 2007 census.
The city has a total area of 21.1 square miles
(31.4 km˛)
Police costs via County Sheriff $4.34 M
$143 per capita

Woodside
11.8 square miles (30.5 km˛)
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,352 people
Police services via County Sheriff $1.3 M
$242 per capita

Portola Valley
The population was 4,462 at the 2000 census
9.2 square miles (23.7 km˛)
Police services via Sheriff $498,601
$111 per capita


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Peter,

You might want to include looking at San Carlos which recently outsourced to the Sheriff.

The transition has been very smooth. The Sheriff's Department is doing an excellent job.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

San Carlos
The population was 27.238 in 2008
5.93 square miles
Police services via Sheriff's contract $6.8 M
$248.62 per capita



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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 31, 2011 at 7:35 pm

If Atherton wishes to continue to have its "boutique security departement" they need to wise up and accept the fact they will be looking at additonal parcel taxes. If they're OK with that then there's no accounting for stupid.


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Posted by ArchAngel
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Good article on the "root cause" of this dilemma: Prop 13.

Web Link


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Posted by Sam Waltheras
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 31, 2011 at 8:26 pm

The employees getting laid off have a choice. They can lie down and take it or they can stand and fight. My hope is that they stand and fight.
What is being done to them is criminal.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Sam states:"What is being done to them is criminal."

What law is broken when a business or a local government runs out of money and has to lay off some of its workers?

What about the thousands of other local government employees in California who have already been laid off? How many of them were able to show that any law had been broken in terminating them?

Government employees do not have lifetime jog guarantees - although many behave as if they did.

Times are tough and local governments are finally facing reality.


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Posted by Sam Waltheras
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm

What is criminal is the fraudulent misrepresentation of the Town's financial condition.
The Town isn't broke. Mr Johns already made that point.

You Mr. Carpentet have bought the story hook like and sinker.


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Posted by PeterCarpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 1, 2011 at 6:42 am

Sam - I simply disagree with the premise that the Town should use reserves to cover a structural deficit. In my opinion the Town must have a balanced budget using its current income. Simply kicking the can down the road "the Town of Atherton could sustain its current level of services without layoffs for at least one year" is not responsible leadership.

I suggest that you look at the Town budget, talk to members of the Finance Committee and then suggest your alternative.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 1, 2011 at 8:02 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

To help Sam and others understand the financial problem that the Town (and all other local government agencies) is facing it is useful to look at the basic facts. On the expense side the Town has seen consistent increases of 5-8% per year in its expenses - most of which are personnel costs. On the revenue side the Town saw consistent increases of 5-9% per year during the first decade of this century - most of which was from increases in assessed property values and hence increased property taxes. The cost increases have continued but the property tax revenues have not - in fact the property tax revenue increases have almost gone to zero. The result is a structural deficit.

The Town cannot increase its property taxes so its only alternative is to reduce its ongoing expenses - one time savings do not reduce a structural deficit. The current layoffs are the first step in the reduction of the Town's ongoing expenses.

For those who say that the Town's revenues will increase any time soon I suggest that you look at the drivers of assessed property values which determine the Town's property tax revenues. All of the indicators - home prices, manufacturing levels and unemployment levels are either down or flat. And increases in property tax revenues will lag improvements in the economy by 2 to 3 years.

Using the Town's limited reserves to reduce a structural deficit until revenues improve violates the premise that reserves are there for a particular purpose and or for an emergency. In any case the current undesignated reserves would only kick the structural deficit can down the road a year or two.

Hopefully this helps to place the current cost reduction efforts into a proper perspective.


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Posted by Sam Waltheras
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

I'm sorry Mr. Carpenter. When it comes to analyzing the town's finances Mr. Johns has a great deal more credibility than you do. He was fired for blowing the whistle on corruption and incompetence. He sued the town and won.


If Mr. Johns says the town is lying I believe him. You go right ahead. Go bury your head on the sand and trust people who are unworthy of your trust.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:17 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Sam - don't rely on my or someone else's credibility - do your own homework. Look at the current Town budget and the latest reports to the Town Council - it is all on the Town web site. Look at what has happened to expenses and revenues. Look at the deficit. It seems that you are the one with "your head on(sic) the sand"

I believe that John Johns is an excellent financial analyst but think that his advice to use reserves to temporarily close a structural deficit is simply wrong. There is a big difference between financial analysis and executive leadership - John has done the former and I have done the latter.


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Posted by The real story
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

Get your facts straight Carpenter. Johns an excellent financial analyst? He was fired for poor job performance.

The current financial crisis is not the fault of the police department. It is because of the huge legal bills caused by the totally baseless revenge lawsuits of Johns as well as his pals Buckheit and Sweidy.

They are to blame.


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

The real? story states:"Get your facts straight Carpenter. Johns an excellent financial analyst? He was fired for poor job performance. "

The facts - He was fired because he blew the whistle on some important and powerful people not because of poor job performance. His firing was essentially overturned by the Town Council which gave him a commendation for his job performance.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

Wasn't Mr. Johns both reinstated and commended?


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 1, 2011 at 11:46 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

From today's Washington Post:

"By Neil Irwin, Wednesday, June 1, 8:38 AM

The U.S. economic recovery is faltering.

Manufacturing — a consistent driver of growth over the past year -- slowed dramatically last month, according to data released Wednesday. Private job creation was exceptionally weak in May, other data showed Wednesday. Adding to that, home prices are falling, consumers are spending less, and companies are laying off more workers, according to other recent reports.

Putting it all together, the economy is still expanding, but the pace is sluggish, and it's clearly losing momentum. Several analysts who had been relatively optimistic about growth this year have cut back their estimates in recent weeks."

Is this an environment where it makes sense to ignore a structural Town deficit and to use reserves for a one time fix? I don't think so.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

From today's PA Daily Post page 4:
by Thomas Ryan Riddle " Union offers givebacks"
Union leaders will submit a proposal today to Atherton city officials that could potentially save the jobs of 13 employees to help close the 900,000$ budget gap. by offering back concession of 12%...... but Danialson does not seem interested.

By the way--at the Feb. Council meeting Danialson received approval for funds to order two outside departmental efficientcy reviews--one for Public Works and the Bld Departments, and the other for the Police Department. Where are these reports and what do they reveal.
Have they even been completed yet in advance of these layoffs or was this all just hype to protect the sacred PD?


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Posted by Sam Waltheras
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm

The Town has provided no evidence that private contractors can do the job faster, better or more cheaply than existing employees. I am shocked that Peter Carpenter would endorse Danielson's move to out source two departments when this decision has not been validated.

Look at the statistics Mr. Carpenter. CSG was in charge of building last year. A year in which Building lost a half million dollars.

For the record I support police outsourcing because unlike public works or building is evidence to justify contracting with another governmental agency would be a better use of Town funds.

Where do you stand on Police outsourcing Mr. Carpenter? Are you in favor of it and if so do you have the courage to say that you are?


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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Sam asks:"Where do you stand on Police outsourcing Mr. Carpenter? Are you in favor of it and if so do you have the courage to say that you are?"

Sam - where have you been? As any reader of the Forum knows I have been the first and loudest proponent of police outsourcing - there is no lack of either foresight or courage on my part.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 25, 2010 at 7:29 am

Since Atherton could get BETTER quality police services from outsourcing at HALF our current cost there is no rational reason not to outsource. We could retain all of the current honest, hard working officers and have immediate access to better backup and a broad range of highly specialized police services. Our costs would be paid in full each year and there would be no follow on pension shortfall payment calls by CalPers. Our officers would have dramatically better training and promotion opportunities. And if we still wanted more coverage or services we could add those and still be well below our current cost per capita for police services.

The Town's fundamental budget shortfall could be completely eliminated by this simple solution.

*********************

Also, just read this entire thread BEFORE you put your foot in your mouth:
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 19 hours ago
peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

I fully agree that the Town's best deficit reduction strategy would be to outsource its police services. This would save the Town about $2m/year and we would have the same or better level of POLICE services.

Please do your homework.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm

To Sam on your point about Outside contracted C.S.G.'s management of the Building Department, having lost $500,000: In February the council voted for a resolution "Authorizing Escheat Of Unclaimed Building and Public Works Deposits into the General Fund" where they could become available to the always insatiable Admin and the APD. There was also a more recent mention of Admin managing a million dollar separate account for the Bld Dept.
Actually what I really want to know is who is collecting all the bribes these days. The Russian mob has a nice piece of Atherton's construction pie by now ( I heard at least a dozen 10 mil projects current) so who do these guys pay off with all the recent restructuring? Does the money even pass through town anymore--or just straight off shore?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

So if Mr Peter Finn represents Teamsters Local 856 for Atherton's Building and Public Works employees, has offered a proposal of 12% cuts to help with the budget shortfall thats wonderful. But he also represent the police union I believe, but Who ever the APD's rep is--What concession will the APD be offering to share the burden here???
Can't we at least outsource dispatch to help solve this?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

Wasteland...you omitted from your list of town payouts the nearly $20k in legal & administrative fees residents had to pay to the city attorney & town staff for Mr. Johns excessive requests for public records last year as reported by The Almanac. To my knowledge, nothing clandestine has ever been revealed by Mr. Johns from those records as he had also promised to keep us informed about whatever it was he suspected was in the works back then.

I would imagine his latest list of requests for public records will be as costly since the city attorney will once again have to review all the records requested in order to redact any information of a personal nature. As Mr. Danielson seems to be going to work in reducing the town's deficits, I would hope he is considering, as many other cities and towns have already implemented, charging for staff time for public records requests that require more than two hours of research. There is a difference between transparency and abuse.

It is Mr. Johns belief that the town is not only financially sound but suffers "an embarrassment of riches". Further, it is his opinion that Mr. Danielson, after only three months as interim city manager, has already formed some sort of conspiracy with his replacement as finance director to award outsourcing contracts to previous associates and by doing so has fraudulently terminated 13 city employees. Such statements are reckless from someone that is relying on data from three years ago and has no knowledge about current projected revenue shortfalls as well as increased pension payouts.

In addition, I would hardly deem a $6M reserve as an embarrassment of riches for the town. Is the town expected to be broke before it starts to consider cutting back or should it take a more proactive approach as Mr. Danielson has done? While this forum clearly has no impact on anyone other than the handful of people that read it, I can't imagine anyone not feeling horrible after reading Mr. Anderson's post. I find it troubling, however, that anyone would use this issue as a vehicle to try and foment anger and doubt that the layoffs were the result of a city manager seeking personal gain from a temporary position.




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Posted by Johns' Methodology
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Thomas is questioning John Johns' methodology.

In the first place, Johns' records requests have been absolutely necessary. If Wynne Furth had to spend $20,000 redacting them, it's because the Town of Atherton has something to hide and Furth needed to run up some bills. He never requested and "personal" information about anyone or anything. The redactions were not to cross out personal addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers or the like. He has requested police reports having to do with his own situation, financial statements, policy analyses, etc., and if redactions are being made on these, it's because Furth wanted to obfuscate matters (and run up her bill). The "personal privacy" issue is a red herring that Furth and her co-hort Thomas are using to take attention away from Atherton's poor history of transparency and compliance with records requests.

In the second place, Johns is rightfully questioning why whole departments are being eliminated when the police department, the elephant in the room, is actually adding personnel. This is a highly legitimate issue, particularly given the personal tragedies involved with people losing their jobs as Thomas seems to acknowledge.

In another newspaper today an article drew attention to the thirteen employees offering 12% salary concessions to save their jobs through their union.

ARE THE WONDERFUL, MAGNANIMOUS, COURAGEOUS "HEROES" in the Atherton Police Department offering any concessions to try to save the jobs of these thirteen co-workers? NOW'S THE TIME TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE. HOW ABOUT IT?

The answer to these questions and more lie in a variation on an Ayn Rand novel.

The question people need to be asking is not who is John Galt, but who is John Mattes.


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Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:19 am

The are several theories floating around about why someone from Sharon Heights would be so fixed on inner workings of Atheron while we remain unaware of any posts from you on subjects pertaining to your own town. I usually way in that you must be one of several EX Atherton attorneys like Faissant or Hynes maybe Bayer ..their were plenty of others--some one vested in letting a lot sleeping dogs lie.
But who ever you really are you should take up your question about Mr. Johns directly with him--I am not his spokesman.
However -It is my own opinion, that the very costly bad judgement and deciet displayed by some recent council members, management, a few "very wealthy and powerful people" and their attack dogs, has been more expensive personally to Mr Johns than to anyone else. None of us should have stood by, as almost all did, and pretend that what we let happen to him wouldn't matter. Apparently it still does matter and may for some time to come. Twenty grand for the truth seems like a bargain when you consider how much was spent on lies.


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Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:59 am

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

Wasteland...I can assure you that while I have many longtime friends in Atherton, I have made several posts on other issues using my same pen name. Suggest you refer to the "search" link on this website and enter "posted by Thomas" to review my posts on other articles.

Having said that, I would be interested in reading about "the several theories floating around" that you mention in your post as to my fixation on this issue. I have not read about any theories on this thread or any other thread as to why I would be fixated on this topic but would look forward to reading and responding to anything that contradicts my statements if you would post them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by spike
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

More misinformation and misdirection from "Thomas".

Mr. Johns is performing a valuable public service with his public records requests. Furthermore, the information Mr. Johns requests is what the Town should already have provided to justify its decision. Mr. Johns is simply doing the kind of solid research that, by the way, resulted in his being reinstated and being awarded a certificate of commendation from the City Council.

"Thomas" is also dead wrong. Mr. Johns cited information not from 3 years ago but from the year ended June 30th, 2010.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by legal eagle
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

90% of all litigation paid out by this inept town has been a direct result of the incompetant, unethical and morally challenged police department. In house law suits and those brought from abused citizens have caused this. Those people working public works (with exception of the Troy Henderson assault/sexual harrassment suit)are not the cause. Hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out from lawsuits that were lost by the town would have been avoided if the powers that be realized problem employees and dealt with them immediately. It is time for the counsel to outsource police services. In fact, it is long overdue. Half Moon Bay, San Carlos, Woodside, Portola Valley, Ladera, all of the San Mateo Coastal communities all outsource to the Sheriff. Time to jump on board and lose the police department once and for all.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wasteland
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm

legal eagle:: actually there was no exception with the Henderson suit--this was also a very expensive police related drama where by and armed officer collected 250,000 from the Council because Troy supposedly was rude to her--even though a full trial and jury laughed it out of the court room.
So your theory is likely even more than only 90% correct


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PALLBEAR
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm

To "legal eagle"
Thanks for being truthful while the rest of the posters just repeat and repeat the same old jive without taking a breath.
Facts are facts. And when Mr. Carpenter says "THESE ARE DIFFICULT TIMES" or something equally jejune it is laughable.
This area will go broke a lot faster than the rest of the country if you realize we almost there.
Even Los Angeles is doing better maintaining property values and its police force.
Who would have ever dreamed of that being possible?
Those police officers are going to have some juggling act to do and the the National Guard is not even an option given poverty and hunger being the motivator of crime and worse.
This has all been dreadfully handled and it is almost ridiculous when all that has been discussed for three years is mismanagement and criminal behaviour and it has come to this.
Again, thank you, legal eagle for telling the blunt truth.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by spike
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 4, 2011 at 9:59 am

"Thomas" of Sharon Heights says he has many friends in Atherton.

Just who are those friends? More likely than not they are that same irresponsible, unethical and greedy developers who ran Mr. Johns out of town and who are now conspiring with Dobbie and Danielson to keep Atherton's corrupt private security force.

[Portion removed; don't attack other posters.] As Sarah Palin once said, you can put lipstick on a pig, but he's still a pig.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights)
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

Spike, suggest you check your facts before trying to impress us with your knowledge of government. It was Barack Obama that made that remark...not Sarah Palin.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sad sack
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jun 5, 2011 at 10:06 am

Huh?

Sara Palin didn't make the lipstick on a pig remark at the republican national convention.

Where have you been Thomas?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Actually, it was Barack Obama who said it.

Sarah Palin asked "the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."

It was then candidate Obama who took it to the next level.

Sad sack? Appropriate.


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