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Campaign signs go missing, and so does cell phone

Original post made on Oct 19, 2011

Who will be elected to the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (MPFPD) Board of Directors is not a question keeping most people awake at night, but some are taking it very, very seriously.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 2:27 PM

Comments (54)

Posted by Sugar Ray Robinson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I understand that HBO will be featuring a boxing match this Friday Night with two locals squaring off against each other. The bout will be Keith vs. Woodell. The money is heavy on Keith knocking out Woodell in the First Round.


Posted by Wow!, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

In my many years of living, I think we could chalk this one up as: "Where There Is Smoke, There Is Fire". And then the question becomes.........Did Rob Solano know about this, and WHEN did he know about it.......? Sounds like fun Menlo Park politics again!


Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm

This doesn't make Menlo Park look good. I think this issue considering who's phone this maybe need to be made public at a meeting.


Posted by AlinskyTacticsAgain, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 20, 2011 at 12:07 am

Looks like some pretty underhanded nonsense in Menlo Park. I've got to wonder what other tricks are being played that have not been uncovered... It makes everyone in his political circle suspect. Personal integrity is obviously not a principle embraced by the "perpetrator", hope his kids aren't unduly influenced by the lack of ethics either.

Does the Google team approve of this behavior by their employee...?


Posted by JT, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 1:18 am

"The Republican community activist ..." ? That's how you're describing Kiraly? And of course you realize that your readership is made up of Democrats, very liberal Democrats. And you don't give the political affiliations of anyone else in the story, nor do you state their affiliations in previous stories. The Almanac is so clever. Since this is a nonpartisan race, how about describing her as a former civil grand jury foreperson. Or former PTA president?

And since you're disclosing her political preference, what about the other candidates.


Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 20, 2011 at 7:08 am

Senator Simitian should find a replacement for John Woodell as his alternate on the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee. Mr. Woodell's puerile antics should not be rewarded. Mr. Woodell has heaped shame upon the Office of Senator Simitian, the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee, the Democratic Party, his wife Kirsten Keith and the Menlo Park City Council.

Ms. Keith should recuse herself from all matters pertaining to the Menlo Park Police Department until the it has concluded its investigation regarding her husband's criminal trespass and malicious vandalism. The City Attorney Mr. McClure should counsel Keith not to interfere with the Police Department Investigation.

The Menlo Park Police Department should turn over its findings to Google Human Resources for them to take further action, if warranted.

Mr. Woodell has been viewed by many in Menlo Park as being inept and fatuous. But we never thought he would engage in acts of vandalism. Mr. Woodell should seek counseling to ameliorate his anti-social behavior


Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

Mr. Silano should also consider removing John Woodell as his campaign manager. While I believe that Mr. Silano had nothing to do with Mr. Woodell's vulgar and tawdry efforts to undermine Ms. Kiraly's campaign, failure to remove Mr. Woodell would give the appearance of condoning his unethical behavior.


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 20, 2011 at 7:52 am

JT:

The political affiliations of Rob Silano and Kirsten Keith are also both identified in the story. Ms. Chang Kiraly has described herself as a community activist. The party affiliations are relevant to who endorses which candidate.

Sandy

[Editor's Note: Subsequent to this story, Mr. Woodell asked the Almanac to remove this post. He said that party affiliations are not a factor and he supports Ms. Chang Kiraly. He was unavailable for comment prior to the story's publication despite several attempts to reach him. The Almanac's statement about party affiliations being one factor in the campaign are based on statements made by numerous other individuals involved in the race.]


Posted by AlinskyTacticsAgain, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

@Sandy - the political affiliations are not as important as you might make them out to be, there are a number of well known Democrats that have endorsed Virginia Chang Kiraly - and you can see those names at her campaign site.

Why would the endorse someone from a different party? Because they know she has integrity, is intelligent and will not put partisan nonsense ahead of the position and the people she is representing. It is a shame that cannot be said of all candidates.

Winning a campaign because you silenced your opponent - or took measures to ensure name recognition and message were removed from public venues or private property is the polar opposite of free and fair elections. It is the work of people who want power and control at any cost.

I sincerely doubt the people who work with Woodell in the Democratic Party will do the appropriate thing which is shun him for his tactics, heck he will probably be quietly rewarded. Their belief is that the ends justify the means... Same for the political expediency of Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Stalin, Lenin, the list is long the memories short of the useful idiots.


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

The party affiliations were mentioned because they are a factor in why Ms. Keith and Mr. Woodell support Mr. Silano and not Ms. Chang Kiraly. Therefore it's relevant to the story.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

This is hilariously sophomoric & ridiculous; in fact, it reminds me of sophomore year antics at M-A, except we never left evidence behind. Lame, lame tradecraft.

How should this be referred to? Phonegate? Signgate? Lamegate?


Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 20, 2011 at 11:05 am

GOOGLEGATE


Posted by Please Stop, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 20, 2011 at 11:20 am

Has anyone considered that the phone in question might have landed in Bernstein's bushes because it was thrown there by someone other than a Woodell family member?

Or are we just having too much fun naming this alleged scandal?

Perhaps, there's an explanation.

John Woodell, speak up before this beast breaks out of its little Menlo Park cage and finds its way into the county gossip circles.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Yes, I considered that. But since Woodell's keeping his lip zipped, we're enjoying speculating.


Posted by Sarah's Sis, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

So.....has the man in question made a statement? Or is he waiting for someone to make it for him? His boss kept his lip zipped on a number of issues in thus race, preferring instead to let a rather sloppy hack do the taking.....er.......talking for him. I guess that's what one does when one knows one has already lost to a girl.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm

It is sad what this forum does with allegations that lack verification and innuendo.


Posted by Scholar, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

What is this, New Orleans?


Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

There was a time we would have concluded some dumb kids picked up a dropped cell phone by one house. up ended a campaign sign next and probably threw an empty cigarette pack or beer can a couple doors later.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm

The phone's owner will be identified in the near future by the police department. I don't know if they will make that information public or not.

For those who think this is funny, don't forget It was just a year ago October 8, 2010 when 1200 copies of the WAMP were stolen from the distribution racks. That edition was never placed on the website, and the paper closed a short time later.

Front page article:Voters Being Denied Rights


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Michael - Let me be clear - I do not think that stealing campaign signs is at all funny. And I also don't believe that we should declare a) someone guilty of stealing a sign without proof and b) then call into question the judgement of a candidate who has an association with the person whom we have declare guilty without proof.


Posted by Wow!!, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Yes Peter, kinda like assuming and declaring that if someone gets an endorsement from a union, that they'll most undoubtedly vote for anything the union supports! Perhaps we should not declare someone "guilty" or "call into question" without proof that this candidate would vote the union party line. Hypocrisy at it's finest in Menlo Park/Atherton!


Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Peter,

You got to get over this hate fixation for Virginia. So she wouldn't agree to be controlled by you. Get over it! [Portion removed. Please drop the personal attacks.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I'm sure not accusing anyone, but I do think the sign stealing is funny. It's funny in a pathetic, will-it-even-make-a-difference kind of way. That's why myself & someone else commented on it being puerile.

But for the record, my vote won't be influenced by shenanigans such as this.

Who knows who did it? But until we hear more, people are gonna love the speculation. It's almost getting to be like Atherton in Menlo.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Anonymous "concerned resident" - 'hatred fixation' - what an outrageous allegation!! I have repeatedly stated my respect for Virginia and I have supported her in other races and I have made NO comment about her in this thread. What muck raking.

Wow - I never stated that "they'll most undoubtedly vote for anything the union supports". I expressed my opinion that a union endorsement comes with expectations by the endorser and those expectations have consequences on the perceptions of the people whom elected officers are sworn to represent. So stick to the facts and stopping trying to put words into other people's mouths.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Peter,

I understand your position, and I agree with you on this one.

My comment was in response to Hmmm. who said, "This is hilariously sophomoric & ridiculous; in fact, it reminds me of sophomore year antics at M-A, except we never left evidence behind. Lame, lame tradecraft."


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Michael, what's WAMP?

I think comparing this incident, no matter who is guilty, to high school antics is appropriate. The point is, that most of us grow out of sophomoric behavior. Sure, we might like to watch something like Glee (ok, I don't), or Animal House, but we don't *live* it. Like I said, lame tradecraft in the "high stakes" local election.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Hmmm,

The WAMP was a start up weekly paper. Woodside, Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley = WAMP.

It published some serious articles which caused some people to be uncomfortable, not funny enough. After the theft of 1200 copies it was shut down. You might still find it on the web, but not the last couple of editions.


Posted by my input, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Anyone thinking that Keith or her husband will be investigated is dreaming. She works as a public defender in the San Mateo Co. office.
She know everybody there.

Why do you think, she wasn't implicated in the Fergusson Brown act violation, which McClure and Wagstaff so cleverly covered up and never revealed who the 3rd part involved was?


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm

my input,
"She works as a public defender in the San Mateo Co. office."

Just a little correction, San Mateo County does not have a public defender program. We have a private defender program and we are the only county out of 58 in the State of California that does it this way.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Thank you, Michael. I'll look for it.

What happened w/WAMP sounds very unfortunate. I am betting the publication was illuminating.


Posted by Needless Drama, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm

So the guy finds his sign in the bushes and his neighbor's cell phone by it, and he calls the police and the press? Does everybody think this is completely normal? I suppose he couldn't just walk down the street, knock on the door and say "hey is this your phone I found in my bushes? And by the way, if it was you who took my sign out of the ground, that wasn't very neighborly."


Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Yes, I find it completely normal that he called the police and the press.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Needless Drama, I wondered the same thing. Who alerted the press? I seriously wouldn't call the cops if I found the sign in my bushes. I would return the phone & perhaps question my neighbor if I was suspicious he'd trespassed. But there's no proof. What's the deal w/Bernstein?

All the players come across as puerile amateurs.


Posted by Da Three bears, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Someone has been sitting in my chair, someone has been in my bed, yea and someone ate my porridge! OMG this has to be the very best entertainment on the net!


Posted by WAMP This!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm

The WAMP was the biggest rag ever published in these parts - it's a shame that some trees died for the 3 or 4 issues that actually hit the newsstand. And 1200 copies - pleaze, maybe 120 copies were actually taken out and looked at - and maybe 12 copies were actually read! Any local HS paper was 10 times better and more interesting than the WAMP.


Posted by integrity, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2011 at 11:10 pm

When you find evidence that a campaign manager for one candidate has apparently been tampering with the campaign materials of another candidate, you go to the police. Otherwise, you are complicit in covering up what may be a crime.

A major contributor to our national epidemic of corruption is the good-old-boy attitude about tacitly accepting wrongdoing rather than calling it out. Thank you, Chuck, for the courage to do the right thing.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2011 at 7:32 am

WAMP this,

It was 1200 copies as I stated, 100 copies per 12 distribution units equals 1200, also easy to verify with the Menlo Park Police. As I said before some people didn't like the subject matter, looks like you are one of them.


Posted by Sick, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 21, 2011 at 7:52 am

It is a sad state that we have two newspapers that would cover trash news like this story. Realtors should consider running some other type of advertisement source and save us from the 2 or 3 pages of what they call news? My high school newspaper was written better and students got an unbiased option. Let's be green and save our trees.


Posted by Needless Drama, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 21, 2011 at 8:48 am

integrity, I think you've unintentionally showed us why Menlo Park has such a toxic civic environment: when we think of our local spats as emblematic of "national epidemics", we've lost all perspective. What this story actually represents is a local epidemic of boredom, resulting in a compulsive obsession with inconsequential neighborhood feuds.


Posted by Outside Looking In, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

Sick & Needless Drama:

Sounds like you are trying to bury this story. I wonder if you are friends with Kirsten Keith and John Woodell. I would be "sick" and think this whole episode is "needless drama," if I were them.

The two newspapers and Bay Area TV channels have been interested in this story-- not because campaign signs were stolen. As Ms. Kiraly said, missing campaign signs are "par for the course in elections." The real story here is that Mr. Woodell's dropped cell phone is such strong evidence that it points to the real possibility that Menlo Park Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith's husband was the culprit.

[Portion removed. Stick to the facts in the story.]


Posted by Andrew Boone, a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm

It's pretty ridiculous to accuse John Woodell of vandalizing a Virginia Chang Kiraly campaign sign - because he supports her in the Fire Protection District election!

I attend a San Mateo County Civics 101 class with John Woodell on Tuesday nights. He's asked me a couple of times at this class (starting a couple of weeks ago) if I could door-to-door canvass with him in support of both Rob Silano AND Virginia Chang Kiraly.

Next time you see John just ask him yourself who he supports in this election - he'll tell you please vote for Rob and Virginia.

John losses his phone in the vicinity of a knocked-over sign and now he's a criminal? Please.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the real story here is that XXXs dropped cell phone is such strong evidence that it points to the real possibility that XXX was the culprit."

Thank goodness that you are not my lawyer or a judge or a juror.


Posted by MORE INPUT, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Well this incident got the attention of KCBS. See the video at:

Web Link

Chuck certainly did the right thing.


Posted by MORE INPUT, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

As an aside Peter Carpenter, just who are you supporting for the Fire Board?


Posted by Post Traumatic Phone Syndrome, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 22, 2011 at 12:12 am

It is quite obvious that some iniquitous political operative had been tailing Mr. Woodell who happened to be going on an innocent stroll in the neighborhood. Then this pusillanimous person seized upon the moment when Mr. Woodell bent over to tie his shoe and observed the Google telephone spill on to the grass. He waited until Mr. Woodell continued his nocturnal stroll, scooped up the telephone, streaked across Mr. Bernstein's lawn, upended the Kiraly sign and planted the evidence thus suggesting that Mr. Woodell was guilty of a crime he did not commit. Ja'cuse!

The best way to get to the bottom of this horrible frame-up is for the City of Menlo Park to retain the Super Sleuth Services of Rob Silano. Faster than a speeding bullet, Mr. Silano, with the relentlessness of Javert pursuing Jean Valjean, will reveal the perpetrator of this dastardly deed.

Then the residents of Menlo Park will be able to sleep soundly knowing that this terrible injustice has been redressed.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 22, 2011 at 6:53 am

"As an aside Peter Carpenter, just who are you supporting for the Fire Board? "

Barnum and Spencer.

I have great respect for Silano and Kiraly but do not support them in this election because they have accepted endorsement from the firefighters' union which is, IMO, a conflict of interest given that the union is the District largest 'contractor'.


Posted by Why?, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

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


Posted by Newsvan, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm

This whole thing is making Kennedy's actions and his naked landlord seem almost normal.

Also, I saw the news fan for the video linked about. So isn't this now all about me?


Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I don't understand why the gentleman who owns the cell phone won't return the reporter's calls.


Posted by App Idea, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2011 at 2:04 am

Wouldn't it be cool, if you could start recording conversations and video near your phone when you know that it has been lost and the thief refuses to answer. I wonder if that is even legal, but I'd install that app for sure.

It would be hilarious if the perp tried to use the phone to set you up. Would you call the cops, or just see how long it takes to get a call from a reporter?


Posted by The Woodpecker, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

I am a long time member of the National Audubon Society. As such I have an interest in observing nocturnal avian creatures such as barn owls and taking photographs of them as opportunities arise. As I was taking an evening stroll on Oak Court I passed by Chuck Bernstein's home and noticed a barn owl perched on a lawn sign in his yard promoting the election of Virginia Chang Kiraly for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board.

I gingerly approached the barn owl. As I squatted and positioned myself to take a photograph of the owl my Google cell phone must have fallen out of my shirt pocket. Simultaneously the startled owl flew away. In the process of this magnificent creature taking flight the lawn sign fell over. I was so surprised that I had not realized I lost my cell phone. Then I continued my walk home.

I want everyone to know that it was me and not Mr. Woodell who is responsible for this political contretemps. I apologize to Mr. Woodell for suspicion being unjustly diverted to him.



Yours truly,



The Woodpecker


Posted by details, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

Sorry Woodpecker, that lawn sign has only been planted firmly in the current position for less than a week. Chuck recently trimmed his juniper way back to allow room for a sign to be planted in the ground, between the bush and his driveway. Before that, his sign had been shoved into the juniper bush where the slightest breeze would knock it out. It is simply not possible that an owl could have perched on that sign, unless this incident happened more recently.


Posted by Be aware, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Mr. Woodell is not a public figure. Your electronic signature to this site can be subpoenaed. It will be his option to sue and expose all the anonymous malicious posters on this thread for libel.


Posted by App Idea, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm

The stolen phone may also contain a GPS history, as well as every WiFi access point it encountered, even that of your neighbor. This information along with the photos (taken every few minutes) would make a cool interactive maps mash-up.


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