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Menlo Park Fire Protection District meetings on TV

Original post made by Jim Lewis on Nov 17, 2012

Perhaps for the first time in history, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (MPFPD) monthly Board of Director's meetings will be made available to the general public both 1) on community access TV and 2)on the general public's computers.

This is a very exciting enhancement to the Community Engagement process. Critical decisions being discussed and made concerning the safety of the community will now be transparent. The Fire Board oversees a significant budget to provide a wide range of services to the community.

This is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. The process involves video taping the meeting, then taking a DVD copy to the Comcast media center. The schedule of delayed broadcasts will be soon published along with an announcement of the URL address.

The City of Menlo Park is located in one of the most technologically advanced areas of the world. One can be proud of the many advances made to enhance communication and the ability of decision makers to provide services to the public. This was been embraced by the City of Menlo Park by broadcasting its City Council meetings along with the meetings of the Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission.

Kudo's and thanks go to those that have helped to make this possible. It's just one more reason that makes the City of Menlo Park a very special place that many have chosen to call home.

Comments (13)

Posted by the tubes, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Making a DVD is one option. Does anyone even own a DVD player anymore?

The MPFPD should consider creating an account on YouTube, and enable that account for live streaming. Any laptop with a webcam can be used to stream live, you can even do it from a Google Hangout. No need to do any post-production, burn a DVD, or drive anywhere.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" It's just one more reason that makes the City of Menlo Park a very special place that many have chosen to call home."

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District is a special district with no relationship to the City of Menlo Park except that its serves its citizens along with those of East Palo Alto, Atherton and parts of the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. MPFPD was established before any of these cities were founded.

The MPFPD has a long tradition of going about its business without the drama which seems to accompany other local entities. That said it would be great if the citizens whom it serves took advantage of the opportunity to watch their elected officials do the public's business - they do it in style! Every MPFPD Board meetings offers multiple opportunities for public comment with this statement in their agenda:

"
A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives. Therefore under Public Comment #2, the public may address the Board on any subject not listed on the Agenda. Each speaker may address the Board for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record. The Board can't act on items not on the agenda and therefore the Board can't respond to non-agenda issues brought up under Public Comment other than to provide general information."

And there are also opportunities to address any issue which is on the agenda and then another opportunity to speak after the regular agenda items:

"A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives. Therefore if unable to address the Board under Public Comment #1 and 2, the public may address the Board on any subject at this time. Each speaker may address the Board for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record. The Board can't act on items not on the agenda and therefore the Board can't respond to non-agenda issues brought up under Public Comment other than to provide general information."


Posted by The tubes, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm

The district should consider putting this item on the agenda. No point setting up an expensive process to record meetings, burn DVDs, then have some poor individual drive down to the media center. Very few people get channel 26, it is not enabled with my basic Comcast package. Everyone with an Internet connection can watch a live stream on YouTube.


Posted by transparency, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I just bumped into one of the fire board directors and brought up the recording and broadcast that I read about here. This director was unaware the next meeting would be broadcast.

Is this posting a joke, or is this a secret project?


Posted by Tommy Gavin, a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2012 at 8:57 pm

This District's budget is nearly as large as the City of Menlo Park's. It dwarfs Atherton's city budget, though that Town pays the most per parcel. A lot of taxpayer money goes into the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

It's about time these meetings were broadcast. The more the citizens know about how their government operates, the better.

Does everyone know the entitlements the District electorates receive? Would it surprise you to learn they receive health insurance? Turn out gear? Badges?

Is everyone aware of the dispute between the Firefighters and the Board of Directors?

This should make for some interesting viewing. Please post the link to the YouTube channel!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"This District's budget is nearly as large as the City of Menlo Park's. It dwarfs Atherton's city budget, though that Town pays the most per parcel. A lot of taxpayer money goes into the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

The more the citizens know about how their government operates, the better."

Interested citizen should know that the Fire District serves over 90,000 people, has a balanced budget and has reserves sufficient to cover all of its equipment and facilities replacements. The Fire District does not and never has had a parcel tax. And the District and its elected Directors welcome citizen input and scrutiny - as is exemplified by their policy on citizen input "A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives....."

No other local entity is as open to public input as is the Fire District. However, since the Fire District operates in a professional and drama free manner there is a lot of education but not much entertainment in observing them in action.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm

MP is the fire district. Without our property taxes, Atherton and EPA would have to find an alternate solution.


Posted by Jim Lewis, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm

The truth is, every jurisdiction that the Fire Department serves pays for their share of the service, from their property taxes. Even though the words "Menlo Park" appear in the name of the Fire Dept., it is somewhat misleading, as the Menlo Park Fire Protection District primarily covers the cities of Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and parts of the unincorporated area of San Mateo County. It might be better to call them the "Mid-Peninsula Fire Protection District". The Fire District was created BEFORE the cities of Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto became cities. The Fire Dept. website provides a page on its history- and a host of other interesting and valuable information. Go to www.menlofire.org. There is information about their budget, their annual report and related financial information. All five members of their Board are elected. Video taping the Board meetings and making them available on TV, on the computer and archived for easy access seems like a good idea.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The real truth is that almost a 100 years ago the residents of this portion of San Matei County decided that they needed a critical public service - fire protection - and they formed the MPFPD. Years later those same citizens formed towns and cities to perform other less vital functions.

The founding citizens realized that fire services could only be efficiently provided on a wide area basis and hence they did not form neighborhood fire services. Almost a century later the wisdom and the truth of these founding citizens still holds. Today even wider area consolidation would be the wise way to move rather than devolution and balkanization.

(How could a city that can't even do a housing element or a downtown element for its general plan manage a 24/7 function like the fire service?)


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 20, 2012 at 8:07 am

Today's fire district is a multifaceted agency providing much more than fire suppression. It is the FD who unlocks cars when children get locked inside, it is the FD that provides emergency management and CERT coordination, it's the FD that does many building and hazmat inspections, it's the FD that performs elevator rescues, water rescues, urban search and rescue (including NYC, the Pentagon, Katrina, and more). And while there are substantial issues regarding labor contracts that need resolving, this is the same FD who responds 24/7/365 to all 9-1-1 calls.

It's a good thing for agencies and municipalities to have their business conducted in the open so that the residents and others can observe how their elected officials are managing their responsibilities.


Posted by jimlewis, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

The video taping of the Board meeting occurred last Tuesday, 11-20-12. It will soon be available to the general public in a variety of ways. The schedule will be posted, both on Community Access TV and on a URL. The meeting lasted approx. an hour and fifteen minutes. Approx. ten minutes was devoted to this topic at the beginning of the meeting, at which time two questions were asked, as follows: 1) What is the West Bay Sanitary District - Board of Directors doing in this regard and 2) How many people actually watch?

What's interesting, it all the cities that the Fire District represents, that is 1) Menlo Park, 2) Atherton and 3) East Palo Alto all of them televise their meetings. The cost can be minimual with a short delay broadcast, such as the U-Tube approach currently being provided by the Town of Atherton. (see their website).


Posted by Jim Lewis, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

Can't get enough of government meetings? Want more....
Consider tuning in to the world premier, perhaps the first, video taping of the monthly Board of Director's meeting of the Menlo Park Fire Protection Distirct.

The District services the communities of 1) Menlo Park, 2) Atherton, 3) East Palo Alto and 4) parts of San Mateo County. The Board consists of five members elected by the community. The Board selects its President and Vice President on an annual basis. In additional, several active communities review finances, stategic planning, etc.

Each of thr juristictions they serve currently make available to the general public their City Council meetings on Cable TV, with others also providing access by streaming the meetings on one's computer, tablet, Iphone and similar devices. For a sample, try clicking the video button on the Menlo Park and/or Atherton city council websites.

We live in an age where communications on a variety of topics is immediately available. Tune in and find out what is happening instantly.

The Fire District Board should follow suit with the communities in which they serve. If Public Access, Community Engagement, Transparcency, etc. are going to have true meaning, making the meetings available in more contemporary terms should be a more than a goal, it should be a reality.

The November Board meeting of the Fire District has been placed on the following link. Other means of access are being explored and will be posted here when available.

Thanks for watching...... and tuning in.

Web Link


Posted by Jim Lewis, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

Menlo Park Fire Protection Duistrict (MPFPD)
Board of Director's Meeting
November 20, 2012, Tuesday, 7:00 pm

Video Link:

Web Link



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