The Atherton Police Officers' Association has recently endorsed Elizabeth Lewis and Cary Wiest for city council. Council Members Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie have endorsed other candidates for council.
As a response, council members Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie claimed that the APOA has made false and misleading statements and have prepared a response from the council to be approved at this week's meeting.
The letter states several points some of which should be reviewed for accuracy:
In order to ensure a high level of trust continues, the Council is requested to approve
Town communication of the following measures:
• The Atherton Police Department has and will continue to ensure the safety of all
residents without regard to any political affiliation.
• The Council has NOT discussed outsourcing of our police department
This point appears wrong: The Council did discuss Outsourcing the Police in November 2010. In 2011 the council decided to outsource Public Works and the Building Dept.
• Police Response rates are at better levels than those recorded since the 2005-2006
• The Council has NOT "revealed plans to cut officer pay and benefits" as alleged.
Our Police Officers are organized through the Teamsters Union. The APOA's current 5 year contract expires June 30, 2013. Formal negotiations to renew the contract have not yet started. These negotiations will occur in compliance with all applicable Meyers-Milias-Brown Act requirements, which both parties are
expected to respect. Negotiations, once started, should not be conducted via the media.
This point appears wrong: Last week Mayor Widmer released a video noting that Palo Alto Police have taken reductions in pay, how expensive the benefits of the Atherton Police are, and asking for residents help to reduce the cost of the Atherton Police. He stated that the endorsement of the APOA comes with expectations.
It appears the Mayor wants to give the APOA a take it or outsource offer on salary reductions.
Mayor Widmer's comments were featured in a story in the Almanac and Council Member McKeithen wrote a Guest Opinion.
• The mailer refers to the Town's expenditure of $2.5M for Attorney fees since 2008. This figure includes the retainers for the position of City Attorney plus costs to address litigation matters across municipal functions. However it is important to note that most of this cost is related to defending or addressing issues
related to law enforcement.
This point appears wrong. Attorney fees for the John Johns lawsuit exceeded $300,000.00. A large part of that was due to Public Records requets requests made by Mr. Johns which had to be vetted by the City Attorney.
The letter ends with:
The Council shall decide the communications medium for this message. Delivery of it should be immediate.
This letter can be approved by a 3-2 vote.