Atherton councilwoman cites harassment and abuse Atherton, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Jan 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm
The difficult job of serving on the Atherton City Council has been made nearly intolerable by incidents including vandalism at her home, an unexplained incident of police cars driving around her property, and "abuse by a fellow council member," Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen declared during the Jan. 18 council meeting.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 23, 2012, 11:58 AM
Posted by Atherton resident, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm
I hope the almanac a good friend of Kathy McKeithens, will report both sides of this story. I think everyone in Atherton knows that Kathy McKeithen has destroyed our small town spirit, and cost us millions in legal fees. I have personally been berated by Ms McKeithen and would like to see her step down and let our town get back it's friendly nature.
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy, a resident of the Atherton: West of Alameda neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm Kimberly Sweidy is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
I urge the Almanac to require that all posters to all articles be Registered Users. Further, I urge the Almanac to require that all Registered Users be required to use their legal names.
I suspect that these despicable ad hominem and ad feminam attacks, posted by cowards because they have the protection of anonymity, would cease. This policy change by the Almanac would significantly improve the quality of public dialogue and discourse, while celebrating the First Amendment.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
I join Kimberly and Jordi to call on the Almanac to only permit posting by registered users who use their real names. We will quickly hear from those who disagree - and they will post their comments anonymously claiming great harm if their identities were known. Hopefully they can give real reasons why there would be such grievous harm.
I always post in my own name and I am frequently the target of vicious personal attacks - to date no harm has been done except an occasional prick to me ego or a sad insult to my family.
Posted by Whao, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm
Posted by Whoa, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm
Thanks for the definition. I've got a copy of Webster's somewhere too.
But I'm more interested in Not to Worry's statement that:
"An attorney already being employed on this matter"
So Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis have hired an attorney. That's quite a bit more than just doing a referendum.
So far no one has denied that Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis have been hiring attorneys to give them legal advice on trying to undo council decisions.
As a fiduciary, Jerry Carlson must know that he cannot take actions adverse to the organization he is the fiduciary of. Others can, who are not fiduciaries. But not a fiduciary himself.
Very ironically Jerry Carlson's decisions to take adverse legal actions and suits against this town are categorically unethical, illegal, and against the town charter. The other people he criticized for utilizing the legal system to achieve the ends they thought were just did not have this fiduciary conflict.
Posted by Whoa, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2011 at 9:56 am
The message here to Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson is simple. The residents of Atherton want our elected representatives to be able to work together, have healthy disagreements, try to work things out, respect decisions and move on, and not get embroiled in controversies, feuds, and litigation.
Getting into any situation in which lawyers are being paid by wealthy residents to ensure particular outcomes is not what is needed here.
Stop litigating against this town
Posted by Whoa, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Dec 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Actually it is Peter who is playing dumb, or just trying to obfuscate the issue with generalities rather than looking at the specific facts.
Referendums, whether citizen or shareholder, are fine. I agree.
But they CANNOT be led, sponsored, spearheaded, or even done in cooperation with existing members of the governing board without fiduciary conflicts, both legal and ethical.
This is because these fiduciaries always have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their organization, even if they disagree with some decisions.
The spot on example of this is Walter Hewlett, who had to resign from the HP board of directors some ten years ago to assist with a shareholder referendum to stop HP's merger with Compaq, which the HP board approved of but Mr. Hewlett personally disagreed with. His efforts ultimately failed, but he made the correct fiduciary decision, undoubtedly aided by superb legal advice.
A voter referendum in Atherton is fine, so long as Carlson and Lewis have nothing to do with it, since it seeks to overturn a council decision. They can resign from the council and then participate, but cannot do so as council members.
Posted by Robert, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm
@ Kimberly - Really - do you read any other papers - I have yet to see any major paper require this - so why the Almanac?
@ Atherton Resident - fair ask - why not report both sides - if anyone wants to step forward
@ Peter - as always I appreciate your comments - but requiring people to ID themselves - there are reasons some choose not too, but that should not eliminate their voice when held with foundation - of all people I would think you would echo that
Finally - Kathy - really - for about $300 I can tell you who post what. For about $1,000 - I can tell you who is in / on your yard and when. Seems a better choice than addressing the council with a 'concern'.. Next time hire one of us and we will give you facts to go with it - including back-up documents.... Pretty simple stuff in this day and age
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Since Kathy McKeithen has been on the Atherton Council, she has been extremely uncivil to whoever opposes her views. She is the bully in the room and she is the one who abuses. I was so taken aback when Kathy practically came unglued during one of the "rebuilding the library" information nights when people just wanted to ask questions that they were concerns about. She got very upset, and cut many off in mid-sentence because she didn't want any one to question or have an opinion that differs from hers.
It makes me very disappointed in the Almanac when they report only half of the story and don't bother to find out the truth. Just because someone accuses another of abuse does not make it so---no matter how dramatic the way they do it!
Posted by Melinda Tevis, a resident of the Atherton: West of Alameda neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm
In April of 2010 I received a letter of inquiry from then Police Chief Mike Guerra asking if I was interested in pursuing the matter surrounding an altercation between Ms Lewis and myself over documents submitted at the previous Council meeting. The documents in question were in multiple copy sets, and were, as clearly stated by Mr Johns, intended for distribution to Council members and the general Public -submitted just after his remarks at his commendation/recognition of service ceremony. The documents submitted were in fact all particularly critical of past transgressions by Ms Lewis, and the documents had (ALL of them), immediately disappeared into Ms Lewis' own stack of council packet papers upon submission, instead of the multiple copies having been distributed as was required by procedure. In response to the Chief's letter, I called Mike Guerra and told him that that I was not at all interested in pursuing the matter of yet another breach of public procedure by Ms Lewis or the nastiness that would insue.
Similarly last year, I received another letter from the Town- this time from acting City manager John Danialson in apology for Ms Lewis' illegal inappropriate interruption of my Public Comment statement. Mr. Danialson assured me that Ms. Lewis' behavior, of having angrily interrupting and restricting a citizens legal right to speak would not be repeated and encouraged me to continue to attempt to to exercise my legal right to participate as a citizen. Ms Lewis' behavior was again illegal but again I had no interest in pursuing the matter in appreciation of Mr. Danialson's efforts to remedy the matter himself going forward. By the way, The Almanac had a reporter in the room for each of these particular events.
I mention these two particular personal examples because the Town actually sent me letters out of apparent embarrasment about each incident without me ever having made a complaint. I have to assume they were sent out of anticipation that I might complain and also I mention them here because these letters are a physical written acknowledgement by administrative officials, that policy and decorum have been regularly breeched by Ms Lewis.
Anyway- I have no problem guessing who's shameful behavior that Council representative McKiethan was referring to in her speech last week. AND NEITHER DID ANYONE ELSE IN THE ROOM ON EITHER SIDE OF THE PODIUM
I suppose I will now have to steal myself for some nasty retaliation from the developement interests, for showing my usual lack of respect for Atherton's currently most effective influence peddler.
Does anyone know?-Is it actually true?-that Charles Marsala is looking for endorsements to run for Council again?
Posted by KW, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm
My experience at COuncil meetings is that Elizabeth Lewis has been quite polite, while Kathy McKeithen has been exactly as described by another poster -- an angry bully.
I read the article and found a narrative I could not quite understand. McKeithen alleges vandalism occured during council meetings, but reports it on other days of the week. She refuses increased police drive-bys, then changes her mind and accepts them, then complains when they do drive by her home?
Either the story is somewhat garbled, or as seems more likely, the same council member who issued the angry and very public rant in chambers is less than perfectly centered emotionally, to say the least.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm
It is very interesting to me that anyone in Atherton would attempt to defend Elizabeth Lewis. She has shown herself, REPEATEDLY, to be ethically challenged. Yet, there are some of you that think she's just jim dandy. My suspicion is that those of you that think Ms. Lewis is great and Ms McKeithen is not are most likely developers or aligned with developers. Ms. Lewis is as phony as 3 dollar bill as anyone that has actually had to deal with her in a non-public venue can attest.
Posted by Jenny Redo, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm
You can view her 'speech' by going to Web Link. She starts at 13:08 on "Atherton Council Jan 2012 1 of 5"
So I am wondering, isn't Ms. McKeithen breaking the 'code of ethics' by complaining about someone breaking it? I believe Ms. Lewis (as everyone else) has the right of freedom of speech which includes 'laughing' and 'speaking under one's breath.'
Regarding the side topic on the use of real names. I suggest that we just discount anyone who does not use their real name. It is their choice but know at least I will not take you as seriously if you aren't willing to stand behind your statements.
Posted by Interested Neighbor, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm
It is pathetic to watch someone on our council to voice in a newspaper what should be expressed on the couch with her therapist.....she should go on a retreat with Kelly Ferguson from Menlo Park--they are birds of a feather.
Posted by Melinda Tevis, a resident of the Atherton: West of Alameda neighborhood, on Jan 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm
The confusion you have expressed about McKiethen's ambivolence over Police patrols at her home is an important point that deserves exploring. It may be helpful for your understanding to be reminded that Ms. Lewis received both endorsements and actual campaign contributions in both elections, from both the Atherton Police officers Association and also multiple development interest looking to buy influence, where as Ms McKiethen has always refused money from any special interest groups.
Also Ms Lewis has been actively leading the charge for building a new 20 million dollar Police Headquarters for the APD, while Ms. McKiethen has been a consistent advocate for the use of only the most diligent fiscal responsibility over the use of currently non existent Public funds. If you had been brave enough to stand up to the Police on this or any issue, would you feel entirely comfortable about then also having to rely on their enthusiastic protection with permission of their benefactors?
Certainly, You ought to be able to feel completely confident about impartial Police protection.......but really...would you? Or would you be thinking about quickly donating another new police dog or some other way to "earn" that protection?
The fact that any citizen (let alone a standing Council Member) would have such qualms, illustrates perfectly for us all exactly why money in Police politics and the prospects for fair protection under the law is now and always has been, so clearly, such an unAmerican idea.
Hope this clears up some of your confusion. You had a perfectly valid question, unfortunately so is my explanation.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Jan 24, 2012 at 1:28 am
Whoa, this is like some of the East Palo Alto city politics a decade & a half ago,, but with fewer real challenges outside the council chambers, more money, a worse? better? police department & hopefully, fewer federal investigations. Pathetic, sad & disturbing. I hope the town cleans up their act voluntarily, before they're forced to do so.
Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community, on Jan 24, 2012 at 6:39 am
Peter: You are only required to give your real name and address to the New York Times when you are sending a letter to the editor. But you can write under any pseudonym you want in the comments section for the stories online. You'll see thousands of commenters posting without using their names. It is in fact quite rare that someone does publish under their real name.
Posted by 2012, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2012 at 7:03 am
This is about the November 2012 election. McKeithen ran on term limits back in 2000, but now wants a fourth term. Her opponent could be Lewis who will be running for a second term.
Back in 1999 and 2000 McKeithen was able to get numerous stories in the Almanac and Palo Alto Daily to defeat the Parcel Tax and discredit Nan Chapman and Malcom Dudley. It worked the Parcel Tax was defeated and Chapman and Dudley did not run for re-election.
12 years later and the stories are about Lewis.
When Lewis ran for council in 2008, she pointed out the town finances were in trouble. McKeithen who had been in charge of the Finance Committee campaigned that they were in great shape and the reserves were growing.
After the election the council realized there were overcharges that needed to be refunded and reserves that needed to be allocated for buildings and pensions. The reserves were lowered by millions. Lewis was right.
Lewis then supported the Park and Recreation position to survey the town before building a regional library in the park. McKeithen wants to go ahead. Right now it seems likely the residents could organize to stop the library in the park. Lewis would be right again.
For 27 years some of the town staff has been working out of modulars. Lewis took on the project to build a new town center and police station. She is making progress in the correct manner. The current building is 50 years old and needs to be replaced for numerous reasons.
Posted by Change in 2012, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2012 at 9:53 am
Elizabeth Lewis is representing the two major special interests in Atherton. She has done a fabulous job.
1. Real Estate Developers. As a developer herself, Lewis has total allegiance to Atherton's multi-billion dollar real estate development industry. Rules be damned, if they get in the way of making a profit (and breaking these rules are often to the detriment of the neighbors who cry foul). Lewis' own house was built in flagrant violation of code, and even Wynn Furth admitted this. One of Lewis' first acts as council member was to ensure millions be given back to developers who already had made millions per year in development.
2. Police. Lewis took money from real estate developers and the police union. Her advocacy of the police department could not have been better. She has made sure they continue to get most of Atherton's budget, there is no two-tier pension system, no salary/benefit reductions, and no accountability for misconduct. They could not have a better ally than Elizabeth Lewis. Their money was well-spent.
Posted by Ironically Unregistered, a resident of another community, on Jan 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm
> people who wish to express an opinion or attack someone else should use their real identity
Darn tootin! How dare these peasants express a view contrary to their (oh so benevolent) king without signing their name. Next thing you know, they will have the temerity to think themselves entitled to vote their position without going on public record!
And what the heck is it with these fools who insist they are entitled to freedom from being searched without cause. If they don't have anything to hide, why would they care?
Posted by Publius, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2012 at 10:17 pm
Temerity indeed (and here I share my own by co-opting my pseudonym). Anyone interested the well established tradition of adopting a false name might want to consult this article: Web Link
"From the late-18th to early-19th centuries, it was established practice for political articles to be signed with pseudonyms. A well-known American was the pen name "Publius", used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, in writing The Federalist Papers. In his youth, Benjamin Franklin wrote a number of letters to his brother's newspaper posing as a widow under the pen name Silence Dogood. The British political writer "Junius" was never identified."
Today, especially, when it is so much easier to track down, stalk, and harass someone who shares their opinions under their real name, it is even *more* important to allow this practice. Judge by the content, people, not by the choice to use a mask.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2012 at 7:37 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
"Judge by the content, people, not by the choice to use a mask."
Great idea - unfortunately the vast majority of inappropriate comments are made by unregistered anonymous users, many of them using multiple masks. Temerity is seldom their justification but it is rather the ability to insult and attack without the risk of redress or accountability.
Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm
As a person who experienced intimidation by the Atherton Police Department, (and I assume that I can post this because I am referring to events to which I was subject and an eyewitness) I would like to raise an issue which is continually NOT discussed regarding the the issue of online anonymity.
Threats and intimidation are the routine tool of those in power to induce fear in anyone who would speak out against those who hold power both in Atherton and in this County. This is not rocket science, nor is it a technique confined to these locations in the world.
Anonymity, while it has undesireable aspects and also allows its use to be accessed by those interested in applying threat and intimidation, provides protection for those who are fearful of reprisals against them for the expression or communication of fact.
Fear and Greed are the two primary manipulations applied to people to compel them to the agenda of the powerful.
Anonymity is a substantive antidote to the tactic of instilling fear of reprisal.
I have used it in the past in a time when such fear was reality based in this forum.
It is utterly unreasonable to deprive people of the opportunity to make anonymous comments or unsubstantiated claims.
It is the responsibility of those in power to allow such expressions and provide such a clear picture for transparent conduct that such claims are debunked by the factual representations of the conduct of public officials that they are rendered harmless.
Such standards of public officials are absent in our world today.
Suppression of anonymous comments in a public forum are, in my opinion, nothing more that another veiled actualization of the fascist repression all about us. Which includes the suppression of the reporting of negative truths regarding local government so prevalent in the local press.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Tim's comments are notable for two reasons:
1 - He and John Johns are the only posters on this forum who have ever actually experienced retaliation and persecution because of statements which they have made,
2 - Tim made the above comments in his own name because in this posting he was not exposing himself to such retaliation.
I accept that those very few individuals who are actually vulnerable to potential retaliation and persecution may need to post as anonymous registered users, however the only thing that 99.9% of the no-registered anonymous users wish to be protected from is the well deserved ridicule which they would be exposed to if their true names were known.
Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm
For those apparently incapable or unwilling to comprehend what I wrote:
The base issues I raised are 1) Fascist repression of dissenting opinion through intimidation and retaliation as a means of controlling opinions which differ from the controlling powers; and 2) the absence of a critical forum for negative reporting in the local press regarding the conduct and structure of government.
To be pursuing the agenda of non-anonymity on this venue simply due to the issue of resenting personal attacks is petty and ego-centric.
To Peter: Your response fails your own stated standards of having a factual basis: You quote percentages regarding which you cannot possibly have any true idea. I'm sorry, but to do so is specious and facile and it must be said. You cannot know who has been persecuted for their views by the police or anyone else and you ignore the comments of Ms. Mckeithen and the case of Jon Buckheit all of which is common knowledge.
But beyond this, you cannot know who may be withholding reporting until a truly sheltered a protected means of such reporting is provided by a government which genuinely welcomes such protected, anonymous reporting in a spirit of self-criticism and culpable self-examination. To suggest this environment exists here or in the Town in general is, of course, laughable.
The truth is this is the opposite of what you and the powers that be wish: that the culpability of public entities should placed under the access and control of the citizenry.
Your arguments on this thread are specious and do not fool thinking persons as evinced by some considered comments. It is a technique you apply, perhaps, to create digression of argument to non-relevant topics with inaccurate analysis. You will find me happy to clarify and restate my presentation in such circumstances.
In my opinion, you should force yourself to meet the standards you set for others and not blithely abandon them when it suits you because you find yourself on the weak side of a debate.
But in a larger sense, when we evoke the times of the formation of the country, people then realized and ought to now, that the real issue is not that of personality, but of truth.
Truth resonates within us all and cannot be denied no matter who speaks it. The issue in fact is content and not personality.
Those who conduct themselves with civility, honor and credibility of thought that resonates with a recognition of truth within others will be heard. Those who do not will not be. But the right of all to speak is paramount,and in an environment of threat such as exists here, the protection of anonymity is not an option if the allowance and tolerance of expression of truth and opinion is the goal.
Like all things in life, this discussion devolves to one's prioritized values. I've made mine clear. You apparently are less interested in providing a protected venue of criticism of authority than you are in preventing people from insulting you. This reveals your values.
It is my hope that I may always stand for civil and respectful behavior in public venue. I apologize for my critical words, but it makes me impatient when I state my positions clearly and I find them distorted and the true substance ignored. I hope that impatience will be forgiven and the focus can remain on these actually most substantive topics.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Tim - we simply disagree. Your blanket endorsement of anonymity does not justify the petty personal attack on the Forum by unregistered anonymous posters.
Just look at how few topics contain serious dialogue and how few people participate in this Forum.
As for personal attacks directed at me, I simply don't care - I have served in public office long enough to have learned to consider the namelessness of the source and simply ignore them.
I do feel that the preponderance of personal attacks by unregistered anonymous posters directed at other elected and appointed officials is the primary reason that I am the only such official that bothers to participate in this Forum. The result is a lot of spleen venting and little serious discussion - and that few people in positions to make or influence change even bother to read this Forum.
Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm
Agreeing to disagree is gentlemanly and I accept.
We are talking apples and oranges.
You raise this issue of the absence of civility produced by anonymity, and I the issue of the need to allow critical anonymous input. Yes, this is a divergent systems of prioritized values.
Yet, you do not respond to any of the assertions or issues I raise regarding suppression of dissent or the absence of culpability of government or any of the other broader topics which are the real thrust of what I brought forth here. This is notable to me.
I guarantee you if there were ANY anonymous venue for reporting abuse, persecution or acts of retribution to the Town government, I would be holding your hand in this campaign.
How about taking that cause up - which would be substantive and beneficial to the interests of the citizenry?
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Tim - I would welcome critical anonymous input in the true sense of the word critical -"involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc."
Unfortunately, many of the anonymous postings lack any skillful judgement.
And if you want a serious discussion on creating an "anonymous venue for reporting abuse, persecution or acts of retribution to local government' then the first ingredient is to make the Forum a place where people who can make or influence change are willing to participate - they clearly don't at the present time.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Tim- actually we agree. If this venue has nothing to do with being an "anonymous venue for reporting abuse, persecution or acts of retribution to local government" then there is no reason for this venue to be anonymous.
What you seek is not here nor will it ever be given the lack of civility by unregistered anonymous posters. The absence of posters on this Forum who can make or influence change speaks for itself.
Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm
If you are being ingenuous, then I apologize, but it seems to me impossible that you do not know that you are continually misrepresenting my statements for your own purpose.
I made no such statement pertinent to topic at hand regarding what you quoted in your last comment and I do find it irritating.
You took a quote from another comment and apply it as though I intended such application when I could not possible have intended that.
You and others can perfectly well tell that I see anonymity on this site as essential as the ONLY available venue for such reporting of abuse and that providing anonymity here as a necessity for discussion of the topic of a venue with the Town for complaint as irrelevant in the light of the absence of ANY desire within the government for such a protected venue. (Or I might add by you)
Being deliberately and transparently obtuse does not further you. You simply discredit yourself either for an inability to understand or for being disingenuous. It can only be one or the other.
You appear to have an intent to distort, misrepresent and ignore the issues and words I present here.