Town Square

Post a New Topic

Mending Atherton's rifts a top priority

Original post made on Nov 15, 2012

Now that the election is over, locating a new library in the park defeated, and a new council member on board, what's next for Atherton?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 15, 2012, 10:24 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Reading between the lines, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm

When Mr.Wiest says: he believes the police union members "just want to have a fair sit-down" when it comes time for negotiations", is he implying that they haven't had fair negotiations in the past?

It seems that our Atherton police officers are and have been very well compensated and treated fairly. Unfortunately, there is no way to sustain the level of pensions that have been provided to public employees for years. I hope our newest council member doesn't equate a discussion of pension reduction with unfair treatment.

Posted by Read them, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Unfortunately, the endorsement and money entails towing the line for the cops. They paid for Wiest and Lewis' campaigns for a reason: they believed they would be best off (i.e., emerge with the best contract) if they were elected. It's elementary, my Dear Watson.

Posted by Clarification Needed, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm

It's unclear to me whether the Measure F library vote was a vote solely against a library in the park, up to the size specified in the 2012 EIR, PRIOR to doing town-wide master planning OR if the vote was a vote against a libary of any size in the park ever.

Can anyone clarify?

Posted by Mend, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Measure F: "Should the Town of Atherton construct a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park using funds dedicated for library purposes only, by replacing the Main House and some surrounding patios and walkways?"

I think it is no to any size, ever.

Posted by Resurrection, a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Some say the Town is divided. The library vote shows the Town is actually united.

Some 70% agreed the that the "McKeithen Community Center" was a terrible idea.

Atherton isn't divided. The residents woke up to this nightmare and rectified it with good old fashioned Democracy.

Widmer, Dobbie, and McKeithen squandered their political capital on a costly attempt to permanently alter Atherton's only open space. The price they paid includes two years of Dobbie and Widmer being in the minority. Come 2014, they will be voted out.

Posted by Mend, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 6:55 am

It is possible that McKeithen could run in 2014 and that in 2015 the council could put the library in the park back on a ballot.

Posted by get real, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 16, 2012 at 8:01 am

Mend, of course it's possible McKeithen could run again, but what is driving your statement? Anything is possible. Didi Fisher could run. Charles Marsala could run. ANYONE could run and any council could approve a ballot measure for any proposal whatsoever.

Sounds as if you want to continue the scare-mongering tactics that were used to such great effect in the election. But the election is over. Maybe you should give it a rest for two years.

Posted by Mend, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 8:51 am

Clarification Needed asked a question if a library could still be built in the park. At first I thought no, but as "get real" states, at any time the council can go back to the voters.

Posted by Orly Taitz, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

Who are these people? Are they supposed to be very important people?

Posted by Clarification Needed, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

One of the reasons I posed the question is because it's unclear whether those who voted against measure F did so because:

a)they don't want to spend ANY funds on a library ANYWHERE, or
b)they don't want to build such a BIG LIBARY ANYWHERE or,
c)they don't want such a BIG LIBRARY in the PARK, or
d)they don't want ANY LIBRARY in the PARK, or
e)they don't want anything done WITHOUT a MASTER PLAN

I'm concerned that those who voted "no on F" due to reason d), are assuming that all who voted "no" did so for that reason. I HOPE OUR ATHERTON CITY COUNCIL REALIZES THIS ISN'T THE CASE.

The "no of F" vote, definitely CAN'T BE TAKEN AS A MANDATE that Atherton citizen's want a new library in the town center, nor can it be taken as a mandate that citizens don't want any library in the park ever.

it seems the only clear message that can be derived from this vote is that citizens don't want the library as described in the EIR built in the park now, prior to master planning.

Posted by Mend, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

Looks like a survey is needed.

Posted by Mend, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 11:46 am


The ballot measure should have been more direct. I think the petition was for a vote-"Do you want a Libary in the Park?" Yes or No.

Posted by deja vu, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

From the 2007 Grand Jury Report on Atherton's Council/City manager problems. Deja Vu all over again. Guess WMD never read the report.

The Grand Jury concludes that:

Strident public statements by Council members and appointed officials inhibit the management independence that is necessary to ensure effectiveness and constructive criticism within Town administration.

There is an opportunity for the Council and the new Town Manager to address the causes of the recent turmoil in the Town in a constructive manner.

Personnel openings in the Town's management will provide an opportunity todevelop a more cohesive management team.

The Council of the Town of Atherton should:

Review their procedures for safeguarding the independence of the Townmanagement team, so that department heads and staff can freely investigate,discover and report any perceived improprieties or inefficiencies that may arise.

Revise those procedures as necessary to make them more effective.

Establish a new policy whereby Council members, Town staff and appointed officials are encouraged to carefully consider the ramifications of their public pronouncements when sensitive Town matters are being investigated.

Meet periodically with the Town Manager to ensure an ongoing mutual understanding of the respective roles of the Town Council and Town Manager.

Posted by Mead, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 17, 2012 at 9:23 am


Here is an Almanac story I found. At the council meeting most residents and Council members Lewis and Carlson wanted the ballot measure to allow them to vote on the statement for No Library in the Park.

Atherton: Library issue heads for ballot after heated debate
by Renee Batti
By a 4-1 vote, the council approved what was probably the most controversial matter on the agenda: the language for a November ballot measure on whether a new library should be built in Holbrook-Palmer Park.

The approved ballot language is: "Should the town of Atherton construct a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park using funds dedicated for library purposes only by replacing the Main House and some surrounding patios and walkways?"

Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis voted against the language, arguing that it wasn't straightforward enough.

Library in the park?

Ballot language recommended for council approval by City Attorney Bill Conners asked voters if the town should "construct a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park using funds dedicated for library purposes only, and not using any existing park open space for this purpose."

Council members Carlson and Lewis, as well as numerous residents who addressed the council, wanted the references to funding and open space deleted, arguing that the question should be: Should a library be built in the park — yes or no?

Posted by Clarification Needed, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 19, 2012 at 11:13 pm


Thanks for sharing the article. Not sure whether you were being sarcastic or not when mentioning further up "time for a survey", but I do think the town could benefit from feedback on surveys IF they were able to construct specific, well defined, unbiased questions and get responses from a broad swath of the community.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is NO need to reinvent the wheel on surveys - there is a standardized and well tested citizen survey instrument and methodology:

Viewpoint - Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Letter: Challenge for council to take citizen survey

Whoever is elected to the Atherton City Council, now is the time for our five elected representatives to set a new direction and standard of governance. We no longer want or can afford 3-2 votes and a divided and an uncivil council.

Our five elected representatives should seek unanimity on every issue that comes before them and demand unanimity on the important issues.

A superb place to start would be for the council to unanimously vote to participate in the National Citizen Survey, which has been widely tested in communities around the nation. The survey is a low-cost citizen survey service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, the NCS would allow Atherton to survey citizen opinion for program planning, budgeting, goal-setting and performance measurement.

The council would select from a set of standard questions to assess citizen opinion about basic services and community life. Additional customized questions allow the council to tailor the survey to our unique needs.

Our elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The town manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps. Staff can use the results to improve service delivery.

The survey program includes three mailings to 1,200 randomly selected households, which include the pre-survey postcard and two mailings of the survey instrument. A margin of error (95 percent confidence interval) of no more than plus or minus five percentage points around any percent.

I am so convinced of the need for a new approach to our town governance that I will personally pay for the cost of participation in the National Citizens' Survey provided such participation is approved unanimously by our new City Council.

Peter Carpenter Larch Drive, Atherton

Posted by Mend, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:24 am


After I found the Alamanc story, I think there are two issues.
1. For months WMD ignored the Park and Recreation Commission, dozens of residents, and two other members of the city council asking for a straight up and down vote- yes or no- on a library in the park. Size was not an issue.

At council meetings the residents that did not want a library in the park stated they would live by the town vote, but they wanted a straight yes or no vote and be done with it.

2. Now with a 70% no vote, to want to restrict a park library to being over 10,000 square feet likely does not meet the expectations of the 2,000 no votes.

I do hope that the council places the vote on the agenda and you can state your opinion and see how much support there is to press ahead with a smaller library in the park.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Scott’s Seafood Mountain View to close, reopen as new concept
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 4,185 views

When Grandparents Visit
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 759 views

Freshman Blues Don't Mean Wrong College
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 749 views

Background and Ideas for the Comp Plan
By Steve Levy | 12 comments | 617 views

Having A Hard Time Getting Your Child To Dive Into Their Summer Reading? Take A Trip To Bookopolis…
By Erin Glanville | 0 comments | 614 views