Atherton Government at Crossroads
Original post made by Atherton Resident on Jul 4, 2013
Any Atherton resident, including those who do not pay much attention, knows that the Council has been extremely dysfunctional and contentious during the last ten years or longer. Councilmembers with strong personalities seeking self-aggrandizement, attention and power have clashed to the detriment of Atherton government. Convinced they are right and steeped in a business background, the concept of a "strong city manager-weak council" form of government is lost on them and they continue to grand-stand and micromanage. The net effect has been a long list of town employees, interim hires and city managers who have left after a short period. The Atherton Police Department is frequently the piñata or the likes Holbrook Palmer Park Library issue where the Council majority so badly misread or ignored the electorate.
Atherton should be a simple government to run. It is time for the Council to make it function smoothly delegating the day to day tasks to the City Manager and only deciding policy as needed. It is clearly obvious that the Town will need to renew the Parcel Tax in November if it is to have its own police department.
Jerry Carlson's departure is unfortunate at this critical time. It is time for the Council to pick a successor who will support a change from the past Council behavior in collaborative government. Atherton is neither a business, nor a complex government requiring the skills of government operatives or retired police officers but someone who will do what is right for Atherton without personal agenda or need for attention.
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:27 am
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
Very well stated - I agree and thank you.
on Jul 4, 2013 at 9:47 am
"It is clearly obvious that the Town will need to renew the Parcel Tax in November if it is to have its own police department."
"Atherton is neither a business, nor a complex government requiring the skills of government operatives or retired police officers but someone who will do what is right for Atherton without personal agenda or need for attention."
A business background is not bad for what Atherton needs right now, which is to balance its budget. We need candidates who can look dispassionately at issues in terms of what is the right thing for Atherton residents, not Atherton police officers, and not falling into propaganda traps of the Atherton police department must continue at all costs and any cost.
A citizen survey supports this? Baloney. The latest survey kept asking a respondent to support the parcel tax if he or she said no initially.
The police department currently owns two council members, Elizabeth Lewis and Cary Wiest. At a meeting last year, APOA official and police sergeant Sherman Hall said the APOA is entitled to control their own council seat (or two).
The last I heard, the taxpayers here are the residents, not the cops. They are the constituents.
This poster is obviously rattled by the candidacy of Lieutenant John Ruggiero. Up till now, the Atherton police department has tried to discredit any critic, no matter their professional or personal background and stature, by claiming they're disgruntled from isolated police incidents involving them or their families.
But Lieutenant John Ruggiero does not fit into that mold. He's a retired veteran of the San Francisco police department, and has managed far more officers than any home-brew Atherton police chief. His son is a San Francisco police officer. Lieutenant Ruggeiro is on the board of directors of the retired police officers association.
He's a disgruntled police hater? Hardly. But he has been critical of the Atherton police department when they have stepped out of line, in terms of conduct, unreasonable compensation demands, or sending ill-advised correspondence to residents that were interpreted as strong-arm tactics by many.
Rather than claim this isn't "collaborative government", Lieutenant Ruggeiro should be credited for having the integrity to call matters the way he sees them, rather than fall into the all too common "blue wall of silence" (the mentality of cops not being willing to admit any shortcomings of conduct of other cops).
We don't need experience business people or experienced police commanders in Atherton government? Whom do we need? Experienced real estate inspectors and brokers such as Cary Wiest and Elizabeth Lewis?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 10:25 am
You might suggest to Lt Ruggeiro to correct his application as reported in the Almanac:
"An Atherton resident since 1979, Mr. Ruggeiro is a retired San Francisco Police Department lieutenant. His experience "supervising over 200 officers gives me the unique capability to deal with the police department, which is responsible for over 70 percent of the town budget," he wrote in his application."
His figure of 70% is a bit off as the Atherton Police Department is responsible for 51% expenditure of the general fund budget as reported in the current budget document. Just a small error but already should make his job easier if appointed.