Posted by Lesson in Government, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:18 am
Here is a lesson in Government and maybe one day will become a book for the Atherton Library.
For the most part Athertonian residents let government function, trust its decisions, and do not get involved in the day to day decisions.
That changed last year when Council Member Kathy McKeithen and Denise Kupperman lead a task force to build a county library in the Park. When the residents advised this was not a good idea McKeithen and Kupperman kept pushing the idea and were helped by the votes of Council Members Widmer and McKeithen.
An internet user group called the Athertonians became the catalyst to stop the library in the park. The group first surveyed its 1800 members and found that 70% did not favor the library in the park.
Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie saw this happening and worked to negate the effects of the Athertonians. Dobbie told the City attorney to "Shut Them Down." McKeithen lead a letter writing campaign to the Almanac to paint the Athertonians as biased. Widmer edited a letter from the town to state the Athertonians made "inaccurate accusations".
For months the residents of Atherton would attend council meetings and ask for WMD to allow a vote on the issue. Finally days before the ballot measure deadline, the Athertonians sent out a petition to request a council agenda item calling for a town vote. Aftern 250 signed the petition, WMD reversed their postion and agreed to a town vote.
For some reason McKeithen and Kupperman did not publicly claim the position of Chair of the committee to Pass the Library in the park issue. No one knows who that person is.
Yes on the Library in the Park, spent $15,000 more than it took it and received "pro bono" work from experienced consultants. Yes on F ran a strong campaign. The Almanac became an endorser and gave them credit, a banner ad ran for weeks stating the Library could be built at "no additional cost to taxpayers". Yet no one knows how that could be possible.
Despite all those efforts, the Yes on F Committee was not able to change the opinion of Atherton residents and on election day and 70% still opposed the library in the park.
Didi, Valerie, Rose, and many others became leaders of a committee to keep open space in the park, stop the library in the park, and require a Town Wide Master plan on facilitie. Although greatly outspent, the power of personal relationships and common sense allowed the residents of Atherton to www.SaveOurPark.info.
Thus ended the Atherton Spring of 2012.