Well, it did not take long for the new spirit of openness and cooperation touted by Menlo Park’s incoming Mayor Kelly Fergusson and Vice Mayor Andy Cohen to come to an end. Tonight after only two regular meetings, the new mayor proved that she is just as capable of quashing the minority view and pushing her own agenda as her predecessors.
At last week’s council meeting, the new mayor found time to allow her friend Gail Slocum to make a 20 minute non-agendized presentation of a global warming ordinance and then tried to cut off discussion regarding the reconsideration of three development projects before the council on the basis that it was after 11pm.
This week she managed to avoid any public discussion of the Utility Users Tax that she championed, instead giving staff a blank check to implement the new tax at the maximum rate as quickly as possible. After council members pontificated about the need to reform decision making, the council chose not to ask the staff ANY questions about a three page memo summarizing the implementation of what is probably the biggest new local tax in Menlo Park history.
When Councilmember Boyle suggested that perhaps the matter should be agendized to allow some public discussion about exactly how much money is needed and how it will be used prior to setting the tax rate, Vice Mayor Cohen replied, “The tax measure won by a narrow margin, you won by a narrow margin, I don’t think that it is appropriate for you to bring this up.”
You might think that after 49.5% of the community voted against the tax and (according to the Almanac) a majority of neighborhoods opposed it, that the new kinder, gentler, majority, would at least give the other half of the community an opportunity to express their concerns about the tax before rushing it through.
I guess some things never change.