Time For A Fundamental Change In Menlo Park
Original post made by Take Back Menlo Park, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Oct 30, 2006
Time For A Fundamental Change In Menlo Park
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is time for a fundamental change in Menlo Park. To that end, Take Back Menlo Park! (www.TakeBackMenloPark.com) has been formed as a citizens grassroots effort that calls on all residents of Menlo Park to collectively help take back control of our fair city that is currently being governed NOT "by the people, for the people," but rather by the so-called “council majority” of Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, and Nicholas Jellins – a trio that – despite strong and growing public opposition – has continued to shamelessly push forward a politically-driven agenda serving narrow interests that not only has resulted in AMAZINGLY EMBARRASSING FIASCOS (such as the Bayfront Golfcourse Proposal), but at the same time, it is an agenda that has COST BOTH CITY TAXPAYERS AND LOCAL BUSINESSES DEARLY and will continue to do so if left unchecked.
Well, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”! It is high time to end all the nonsense that this great city has had to endure under the disastrous Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime, including:
--- CRASS POLITICS consistently chosen over sound government policymaking.
--- A CORROSIVE DIVISIVENESS that has seemingly been encouraged and cultivated by the council majority, resulting in a bitterly divided city.
--- THE CAVALIER “THUMBING OF NOSES” by the council majority at anyone who even just raises concerns over their plans, much less criticizes them, resulting in an extremely frustrated citizenry leading to frequent outbursts and harsh words exchanged at council meetings and in letters to the editor of the local newspapers.
--- COSTLY GIVEAWAYS to developers and other real estate interests while ignoring the needs of local businesses, resulting in an influx of more new residents (who demand more and costlier services from us), while sales tax-generating businesses have been allowed to fail or flee in droves to other locales.
--- A number of flat-out EMBARRASSING FIASCOS, including:
--- THE BAYFRONT GOLFCOURSE PROPOSAL FIASCO, where, after four months of pushing by both Ms. Winkler and Ms. Duboc, even the DEVELOPER ended up admitting that it was a ridiculous idea and pulled it from further consideration.
--- THE BURGESS POOL PRIVATIZATION FIASCO, where a no-bid sweetheart deal with an individual (Tim Sheeper) was rushed through by the council majority at literally the last minute before the pool re-opened. Afterwards, insiders revealed that Mr. Sheeper would have paid rent to the city for using the facility, BUT WAS NOT REQUIRED to do so by the city (this after a 2003 offer by Mr. Sheeper to pay annual rent of up to $150,000 AND raise $500,000 to cover additional construction costs if the city would just enlarge its old main pool and let his group use it!).
--- THE CHILDCARE PRIVATIZATION FIASCO, where, after Ms. Winkler and Duboc loudly proclaimed cost savings of $444,000 with privatization, the official savings estimate by city staff came in at just $72,000 and would have required turning over the reins of the program to a rather dubious private firm that had already been cited by Social Services for SIX SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY VIOLATIONS over the past 2 years.
NOW TO TAKE BACK OUR CITY, RESIDENTS MUST DO THREE BASIC THINGS:
1) “THROW THE BUMS OUT”: Vote out the disastrous Winkler/Duboc/Boyle slate this Election Day.
2) Undo the major damage done by the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime by:
--- DEFEATING MEASURE J, THE UNNECESSARY ADVISORY MEASURE ON PLAYING FIELDS AT BAYFRONT PARK that has been shamelessly placed on the ballot by the council majority as a thinly-disguised political ploy aimed at attracting votes for Winkler/Duboc/Boyle using the "phantom promise" of more playing fields at Bayfront. (Instead, the city council should be prodded to aggressively pursue viable alternatives, such as the “win-win” suggestion recently made by a resident that General Motors provide playing fields in return for allowing them to develop the Tyco property for an auto dealership complex).
--- SUPPORTING THE DERRY REFERENDUM WHICH STOPS THE GIVEAWAY TO THE DERRY DEVELOPERS that will otherwise occur and forces them back to the negotiating table to hammer out a more balanced deal that fits within current city zoning requirements and the city’s Master Plan.
--- DEFEATING MEASURE K, THE UTILITY TAX, AS BEING BOTH UNJUSTIFIED AND INAPPROPRIATE. This proposed tax is a direct result of the artificial budget crisis created when a $2 million increase in infrastructure maintenance was stealthy added into the city budget this year. Before ANY tax is imposed, this sudden, steep increase in infrastructure maintenance needs to be fully justified FIRST (something that was never done) and IF (AND ONLY IF) JUSTIFIED, rather than levying an inappropriate utility tax, the cost should be paid for via a special assessment on all property owners based on the benefits received by each owner (an option that was included in the Your City/Your Decision budgeting process, but one that was buried by the council majority during budget discussions) – the RIGHT way to do things, rather than through a politically-expedient utility tax that benefits real estate interests at the expense of individuals and business owners!
---REOPENING THE BURGESS POOL OPERATIONS CONTRACT with a goal of collecting rent from the private operator ("Team Sheeper") and/or reducing the excessive “country club”-type users fees currently being charged city residents (including an outrageous fee charged just to watch your kids swim!).
3) PUSH FOR MUCH-NEEDED REFORMS to ensure that things are done RIGHT from now on, in a democratic, inclusive and bipartisan manner, including:
--- EXPANDING THE CITY COUNCIL FROM 5 TO 7 MEMBERS, making it much harder for a rigid political slate to gain majority control. Menlo Park needs a broad range of independent thinkers, not an extremely narrow set of Rush Limbaugh-like “ditto-heads” as seen with Winkler/Duboc/Jellins.
--- MAKING THE POSITION OF MAYOR AN ELECTABLE POSITION – elected either directly by city residents or via a formal vote taken by the city council. This is necessary in the wake of Ms. Winkler taking advantage of the lack of a firm policy on Mayoral appointments to have Mr. Jellins installed as Mayor when Councilwoman Fergusson was actually next in line for mayorship.
--- ESTABLISHING A COUNCIL MEMBER “CODE OF CONDUCT/ETHICS” that all council members MUST sign and strictly adhere to throughout their tenure as council members.
--- STRENGTHENING THE ROLE PLAYED BY CITY COMMITTEES so that their hard work cannot be as easily dismissed/shelved/ignored as has frequently occurred under the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime.
--- ESTABLISHING NEIGHBORHOOD-BASED COMMITTEES that can report to the city council at any time on issues affecting their particular neighborhoods.
--- ESTABLISHING OPEN PUBLIC FORUMS where citizens can speak and get (and expect) dialogue and instant feedback from council members. The current system of citizens speaking in front of council with no dialogue allowed is both inefficient as well as debilitating, as it allows council members to completely ignore citizen input or critiques, as has frequently occurred under the Winkler/Duboc/Jellins regime.
--- ESTABLISHING A CITY PROGRAM FEE POLICY that sets in place cost recovery goals for all city programs to replace the ridiculous ad hoc method currently employed in setting program fees, resulting in some favored programs recovering less than one-half their costs, while others are collecting ABOVE their actual costs (effectively making them "for-profit" programs).
--- REDOING THE CITY’S BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICE into one whose first priority is working to help local businesses stay in business, thrive and grow in Menlo Park (as opposed to helping developers and other real estate interests get sweetheart deals from the city).
--- REPLACING THE CURRENT CITY MANAGER AND HIS STAFF who have seemingly been unable (or unwilling) to perform even basic tasks (such as keeping city council meeting minutes up-to-date and conducting routine background checks on firms bidding to take over sensitive city services such as childcare), have not been very forthcoming or timely in releasing information to the public, and have been viewed as being too closely aligned with the current council majority.
By carrying out the above roadmap, not only will our fair city be firmly set back on the right track, but a welcomed end to the unnecessary and corrosive political divisiveness will also be achieved. But this fundamental change can only be accomplished with YOUR help and support by taking/supporting the actions noted above, starting on Election Day this November 7.
With your collective help, let's Take Back Menlo Park for ALL its citizens (AND our local businesses as well)!
David Buckley, Spokesperson
Take Back Menlo Park!