Town Square

Fergusson top fundraiser in Menlo Park council race

Original post made on Oct 10, 2008

Trade unions and local government officials are making donations large and small to the re-election campaigns of Menlo Park City Council members Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen, while candidate Rick Ciardella has received hefty donations from several development and real estate interests, as well as "minority" City Council member John Boyle, according to campaign finance reports that were due Oct. 6.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 10, 2008, 4:53 PM


Posted by An Owl, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 10, 2008 at 7:20 pm

To see Fergusson and Robinson talk down to a peer in a disrespectful way on video, go to This will give you a good idea how she operates. Backroom dealings are just the beginning for her.

Web Link

Posted by oh please, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2008 at 9:30 am

I do not condone disrespect on the part of any public official, but I do remember that Fergusson apologized. How does one instance of poor public conduct translate into "backroom dealings" or a "beginning"?

Although I don't agree with every decision the council makes, I am pleased with the new tone of our government - so unlike the steam roller "my way or the highway" and "I know best, who needs public input" attitude of the prior council.

Posted by An Owl, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm

The Fergusson incident on video is related to backroom dealings because she wanted to move forward with the Park Theater handout scheme behind closed doors.

Fergusson also wanted Menlo Park to participate in the HSR lawsuit behind closed doors.

Posted by Ted+John+Rick, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Well, this Almanac article that includes Rick Ciardella's contributors sure helps tie it all together again, including right back to this week's pathetic school community manipulation that has so quickly blown up in Mr. Ciardella's and his political buddies' faces.

The article lists Rick Ciardella's largest contributor as Ted Schlein. Mr. Schlein was the former co-president of the MPAEF, Menlo Park City School District's foundation group that helps with fundraising and other activities. Mr. Schlein published a misguided endorsement card for his friend John Boyle in 2006, which was part of a series of mailers sent out in the Fall 2006 campaign in the same large post card style by John Boyle, Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler. Incumbents Duboc and Winkler finished in the two last places in the Fall 2006 council campaign, and John Boyle barely won over the next challenger. Boyle was easily bested by newcomer challengers Richard Cline and Heyward Robinson.

Mr. Schlein made the basic mistake of including his MPAEF office position in the endorsement card for John Boyle. It was compounded when the foundation and Mr. Schlein failed to acknowledge or admit to the error in judgment or take sufficient corrective action. It led to serious controversy and upset in the MPAEF and local schools community that persisted after the election two years ago.

Here is the article printed by the Almanac after the election two years ago about the controversy Mr. Schlein's endorsement generated. That allows readers to see it from the Almanac reporter's perspective and not just the Forum back and forth.

Web Link

Posted by Ted's Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Nice spin Ted+John+Rick - Ted led a Foundation that to date has now raised over $18M for the 4 public schools it represents. An incredible, well run organization, that Ted again has had a huge influence on. He now is heading up green funds, with Al Gore, at Kliner Perkins.
Yea, this guy is bad for our town! Your so called "serious controversy" is basically Ted including the fact that he was President of the organization and not including the qualifier that stated, "this is not the view of the ENTIRE foundation". That's it, it's that simple. People like you, and you other "I hate the schools and Andy is our Man" type folks, have got to knock this nonsense off. The schools, in this town are the only thing keeping our houses from depreciating!! Get it right, do some math, and quit bashing individuals that are trying to make things right in this town.

Posted by Andy all the way, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 11, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Won't wash, Ted's Supporter. I was on the MPAEF board myself, and donated substantially to the MPAEF. It has always been a well-run organization; Ted can't take credit for that. I won't give them a cent now thanks to the involvement in the election in 2006, and I am not the only parent to withdraw support for the Foundation. They do good work but have no business interjecting themselves into politics.

I haven't heard anyone say that they hate the schools, least of all Andy, who has organized a community effort to address the challenges facing children, families, and the schools. He is as pro-school as any council member we have ever had, which is why a lot of parents in town support him. Deal with it.

Posted by Ted's Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2008 at 8:11 pm

And there you have it a typical "I didn't get my way, so I'm taking my ball and going home" type response. That's absolutely ridiculous. You stopped giving to a Foundation that gives directly to our schools, to better our kids, our community, YOUR home, and all because Ted excercised his rights as a free voting American, made a mistake, which he dearly paid for in reputation, but still worked tirelessly in helping this organization. I would be embarrassed if I were you, and thank God you are no longer a Foundation board member. AND, please keep your money, they're better off without it, and your childish antics to go along with it! By the way, the far exceeded their total last year WITHOUT you and your childish friend's cash.

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 12, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Keep it clean and don't get into personal insults. Yes, Ted made a mistake. Yes, the MPAEF should have better leaders to make sure it does not become a pawn to anyone. Ted is a stand up guy even if I do disagree with his politics. If you are Ted's supporter then represent him the way he does represents himself, professionally.

Non-profits like Menlo Masters and organizations like Tim Sheeper's swim program need to make sure they are not being used by people like Sam Sinnott or others. Period. You only threaten your own cause.

Posted by MPAEF Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

I am a former MPAEF Board member, still actively involved with the MPAEF. I am stunned to see "Tedgate" dredged up yet again. Are there not enough real-time opportunites for partisan squawking? For the record, there has been a lot of drivel spouted on this point. In fact, the MPAEF responded to the situation with seriousness and diligence. A committee was convened and actions were taken to avoid similar future controversies. Though there is a good chance that Ted Schlein and I do not share all the same political views, there is NO CHANCE that he would ever purposefully subordinate the interests of the MPAEF or our public schools. NO CHANCE. Move on, people.

Posted by Rojas, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 13, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Fergusson gets money from the unions. That's reason enough for me NOT to vote for her.

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 13, 2008 at 1:13 pm

The Winkler crew took in over $100K in election funds from developers in 2006. That is more than five times the amount of union resources given to its preferred candidates during that same election year.

Silly little politics.

Posted by whose's truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 13, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Maybe Winkler and her cohorts got that much across all their elections from so called "developers", they sure got very little back. It's not as if the town were overrun by big projects aside from the unfortunate trend towards McMansions and those are because ordinary folks want them.

for the tens of thousands that were spent on behalf of Kelly and her cohorts, the unions got TEN MILLION added to employee pensions. Now that's a payoff!!!

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm

That's because Winkler and Duboc got smoked in the election by more than 2000 votes. More time would have meant less citizen control and none of us knew what to expect. That is the only reason we aren't up to our elbows in poorly negotiated development projects.

Posted by Bobby, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Why is there a discussion about Winkler and Duboc, are they running for council? I think it would be slightly better to have "poorly negotiated development projects" versus none at all. Gone is all the money we WOULD have made with Derry. What about the theater? What about the auto mall? What about the Mattison property? What about the expansion with Stanford Park Hotel? Current Sales Tax Revenue of Tesla Motors: $0. Menlo Park has GOT to be concerned with this running list of failures, and missed opportunities, it's getting to the point of laughable.

Posted by Prah Paganda, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 13, 2008 at 5:09 pm

>>>I think it would be slightly better to have "poorly negotiated development projects" versus none at all.<<<

Let's hope YOU don't have any aspirations to serve on local government. That's the kind of thought process, or lack thereof, that imposes long-term burdens on cities. The residents of Menlo Park overwhelmingly rejected the original Derry project, which would have been a blight on our community aesthetically and financially.

I appreciate the measured progress that our current council has been making. El Camino/Santa Cruz is already moving into its second phase. Residents have been involved all the way, a nice change from the smoke-filled room operations of the prior council. Duboc and Winkler may not be running this time, but they think they are. And the emails from that camp are becoming increasingly hysterical, disjointed, and illogical.

Posted by Bobby, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 13, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Prah, you are way off base here with your statement of "MP overwhelmingly rejected....." I wasn't aware that there was a vote?? I believe THAT deal was done in your "smoke-filled room" with Mr. Morris. And, the "voting process" was done thru a paid petitioner. I think that's all I'm going to say, I wish you would deal with facts.

Posted by P. Paganda, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 13, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Yo, Bobby, I collected signatures and no one paid me. Or anyone else working with me. We all volunteered because we care about this city, whereas Derry hired 100% of its people. Some of them were nice guys who were sympathetic to our cause and would have signed the petitions if they lived in MP! Morris Brown ("Mr Morris," to you) spent a lot of time and money on the effort because of his concerns for the impact of Derry on our quality of life. You should only do something 1/100 as selfless and noble for your city.

I did not have to twist any arms to get those signatures, by the way. Everyone who heard about the number of units being proposed and the location had a similar reaction. It's not the kind of project that makes sense for our city, and the only support came from those who stood to profit from it or who hoped to buy a BMR unit on the cheap.

Posted by Bobby, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 13, 2008 at 10:04 pm

People were paid to take those signatures, it's been public since The Almanac wrote the first story on it. And I guess if you would much rather have an abandon, check that, 2 abandon drycleaners, a closed down car wash, trash strewn empty lots, and a closed down feed store as a positive symbol of your "quality of life", I guess you guys did a great job! Do you think you guys, including Mr. Brown, could take up a collection for the tax revenue that has been lost and WOULD have been available to the city, if it had been left alone?? Maybe you could pay for additional petition collectors, to act as fund collectors, to recoup our lost sales tax revenue? By the way, where were you and Mr. Brown at the public meetings, and years of planning before this last minute paid for petition drive??
Keep it going, before long our downtown will look like an All American Ghost Town! Thank you.

Posted by unit owner, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 13, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Mr. P. P., you sound really grateful for Mr. Brown's intervention to save the city's quality of life. Are you aware that a section of the settlement remains secret? Are you aware that though the unit count was reduce somewhat, the average unit size increased in compensation, with the addition of three bedroom units? Are you aware that fewer units results in a lower Rec-in-lieu fee for public parks? Are you aware that the cost to the public schools due to the delay was greater than the $2million negotiated by Mr. Brown? Perhaps you don't know that in its own time, Menlo Center, the site of Keplers and Cafe Borrone was similarly very controversial. Today, ninety percent of this town would cite it as the most wonderful example of planning that preserves the town's village feel.

I think most of us are reasonably comfortable with both the original Derry design and we have no problems with the changes in the new one, such as they are. What I found unacceptable what that Mr. Brown, having won political power thru the signature gathering, turns around and negotiates privately. He was not appointed or voted in by ANYONE.

Mr. P., you seem REAL sure that you were on the right side of the Derry controversy.

Just to bring it back to the main thread, Kelly F. voted for the original project, was well aware of the particulars for several years, including her time on the Planning Commission. When the signature drive proved popular, she then registers her approval of the effort and condemns the Derry Project. Her seat was not up for election yet she makes a craven effort to appeal some indignant voters. Just what are her principles? Sway in any direction that can gather votes?

Posted by another petitioner, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 14, 2008 at 8:55 am

Think what you will, but those of us who volunteered to gather signatures for the petition drive know that nearly all of the work was done by volunteers and that we gathered far more signatures than were necessary. I sincerely doubt the unsubstantiated claim that 90% were happy with the original project.
Obviously some do not understand how the city's fees work. For example, the park "in lieu"fees are charged based on expected impacts of development that adds demands on parks but does not include any new park space. If a project becomes smaller, the demands go down and the fees go down accordingly.
BTW Morris Brown did not take it upon himself to negotiate anything. The Derry developers approached him to discuss the possibility of revising the project, and the Council supported this. Many features of the revised project, including the sizes of units, were solely the decision of the developer. The Council still has the right and obligation to make a decision about the referendum.

Posted by Ronny, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Oct 14, 2008 at 7:14 pm

This has turned into a childish, he said she said, pile of stink.

Posted by unit owner, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 14, 2008 at 11:56 pm

If Mr. Brown had truly believed that the citizens should have had their say in a referendum, he should have declined negotiation and let it go to a vote. If the new council had truly been honest and diligent, they would have done the extra work for the referendum instead of behaving like weasels and letting someone else take on the challenge.

Again, the final outcome doesn't really bother me too much, but the thwarting or subversion of a public democratic process does bother me greatly.

Posted by just not necessary, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 15, 2008 at 11:12 am

Weasels? Who's the weasel anonymous unit owner? You are all weasels for hiding in the shadows. We all know who you are. The same ten or fifteen folks who beat the drum for your little causes.

This council has put in a lot of time for our city. All councils put in massive time for the public good. The least you can do is display some form of respect. And if you can't. Stand up like man or a woman and look them in the eye when you want to throw around garbage insults.

You won't because you are the weasel my friend...

Posted by another petitioner, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 15, 2008 at 2:43 pm

The petitions asked for either putting the matter to a vote of the people or having the council rescind the project approval. Let's be clear about the choices. I'm guessing the developer did not want to risk putting it to a vote.

Posted by unit owner, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm

It was the DUTY of council to take charge of the Derry Project and NOT leave it in the hands of a single individual. That's why we elected THEM and why we pay them, not Brown. For that, they deserve to be compared to weasels. Some of you liked the outcome and apparently are not bothered by the WAY it came about. The next time it happens, you may not like the outcome.

As for the developer, he probably made the not unreasonable supposition that his time to approval was shorter thru negotiation and council than to wait thru a election cycle. The company that built the condos at High street in Palo Alto thought a election was better and that guy was proved right. Aside from the core group of anti-build people in Menlo Park, the original Derry design might have been approved by the voters and we would be enjoying the use of the facility and receiving tax income from it.

Posted by another petitioner, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 18, 2008 at 9:20 am

The council still has the duty to make a decision about the petition and to either put the matter to a vote or rescind the original project approval.

The developers have proposed a modified project, which they have every right to do. Unit Owner could have talked with the developers about modifications, too.

The city has a responsibility to process the modified project application, and it has already been reviewed by city commissions. It's my understanding that recent delays have nothing to do with the city.