News

Atherton building official announces retirement

 

Citing his April heart surgery and approaching 61st birthday, Atherton Building Official Mike Wasmann has announced that he will retire on Sept. 18, exiting a department that has seen its share of turmoil and has been the target of fierce criticism since around 2005.

He made his announcement on Tuesday (Aug. 3).

Appointed to the position in February 2007, Mr. Wasmann replaced Mike Hood, who retired abruptly in June 2006, shortly after Atherton officials admitted to hiring an investigator to look into allegations of impropriety in the building department.

Mr. Wasmann has himself been the target of public criticism, particularly by former town finance director John Johns, who audited the building department in 2006, and, most recently, by resident Kimberly Sweidy, who in June called for his firing.

Mr. Wasmann could not be reached for comment before deadline.

Assistant City Manager Eileen Wilkerson said today (Aug. 4) that Mr. Wasmann's retirement was "for solely personal reasons." She said the decision was entirely his, and noted that "he's done so many good things here." The town, she added, will host a retirement party for him "to celebrate with him and see him into his future."

Ms. Sweidy called for Mr. Wasmann's firing in June in a written notice to City Council members and town officials about the multi-million-dollar retrofitting and repair projects she and her husband, Raymie Stata, are having to have done on their custom home.

Mr. Wasmann, she said, is "the town employee with the most culpability," conducting some of the house inspections himself, and overseeing a department that failed to properly detect the many problems the family has discovered since moving into the house on Broadacres Road, including serious structural deficiencies.

In an e-mail sent this morning, Ms. Sweidy wrote: "Mr. Wasmann's 'retirement' comes as a relief. However, we will not have a repeat of the Mr. Hood situation. Out of sight is not out of mind.

"'Retirement' does not obviate the need for accountability and remediation. This is just the first step."

Ms. Wilkerson said the town hasn't had a chance to discuss options for replacing Mr. Wasmann. Just as town managers review all positions when they become vacant, "We will be looking at all aspects of the building official position at this time, now that Mr. Wasmann has announced his retirement."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by standard M.O.
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Will Wassman's retirement party be hosted at Marsala's illegalyl remodeled home as was Hood's?
Or will it be at the Circus Club like Glen Neilson's?
These guys allways escape in the nick of time with the hope that no one will remember to connect them with the mess they have left behind.


Like this comment
Posted by Chrissy Spanoghe
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Why would Wasmann be retiring right after renewing his Building Inspector license? (Note, this is not actually a Building Official License). He only just renewed his inspector license after letting it go inactive for three years. Seems to me that Wasmann would not go to the lengths needed to study and renew his license by taking the exam, if he was just going to retire anyway. Seems more likely to me that this is a similar maneuver to the Mike Hood maneuver some time ago...

Thoughts?


Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Some Town of Atherton staff members do wrong - either by inaction, misdeeds, or doing favors for "connected" residents - and then suddenly retire when it gets a little too warm.

Mr. Wasmann seems to be the latest in this interesting trend.


Like this comment
Posted by standard M.O.
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Do you think Wassman will get a condo in Tahoe like the others, for his years of service to the grateful few who have been getting rich off this little closely held gold mine for the last 10 or 12 years???


Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2010 at 7:56 pm

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to the Town today.

Mr. Wasmann's departure raises many questions, answers to which Athertonians deserve in short order:


Dear Mr. Gruber, Ms. Furth and Ms. McKeithen

Mr. Wasmann's announcement that he is about to retire raises some interesting questions for the Atherton town government to ponder.

These are as follows:

Will the Town act upon my complaints of building code violations that I perceive to constitute hazards to the health and safety of those who occupy [addresses redacted]

Was Mr. Wasmann's "retirement" forced in the hopes of saving the Town from further embarrassment?

How will Jerry Carlson who has anounced his intention to run again for Council react to this latest development? Will Mr. Carlson stay silent, in the hopes that nobody will remember that he was the one who called for an audit of the Building Department at the regular City Council meeting of July 20, 2006? Will Mr. Carlson continue to masquarade as the elder statesman who stands above the fray? Or will Mr. Carlson take responsibility for his actions and finish the job?


Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2010 at 6:23 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

Be on the lookout for a lot of "early retirements" in the next few months prior to the elections.
It won't matter. It will make an investigation committee's job that much easier. Off shore accounts are now no longer off limits.(g)
All of this was as predictable as were most countries revolutions and those who felt they were untouchable.


Like this comment
Posted by Ben Runkle
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I find commentary like this entirely amusing. Mr. Wassman has been a close friend my entire life. He is one of the most honest and upfront people I have ever met. What all of you fail to realize is this:

1st, he has discussed retiring for the past few years, so after this "witch hunt" by the good people of Atherton, it comes as no surprise.

2nd, it is people like all of you who drive good folks out of this "closely held goldmine". I grew up in Woodside and have worked in and around the area (Atherton, Portola, Menlo Park) my entire life. It drives me crazy that people here figure if they throw enough money at something, they can have it their way regardless of the rules.

3rd, Mike is about the least extravagant person I have ever met. The notion that he will get "a condo in Tahoe" is absurd! The man drove the same beat up truck for 20 years!! He has probably never even stepped foot in the Circus Club, let alone want a party there!

I always loved it when neighbors would complain at other builders mid job. I have heard it all, complaints about noise, traffic, dust, lunch wagons, and on and on... Funny, none of those neighbors seemed to think it was a problem when they were building their 12,000sq ft palace and causing all the same "disturbances" to everyone else. Classic example of the IGMAFU club (I GOT MINE AND F*** YOU!).

When will you all realize that money won't solve everything. Is it coincidence that several town officials have retired abruptly?? It is because they are tired of fighting people like you!!

Kudos to you Mr. Wasmann for trying to do the right thing and make a difference in a town where no one wants to play by the rules unless it benefits them! Happy Retirement, good for you!!


Like this comment
Posted by disappointed
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm

i am really disappointed to see mike leave. he is a honest and reputable person. i, for one, was happy to see him take over for hood. where does Atherton go from here?? who, in their right mind, would want to work there??


Like this comment
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Michael Charles Wasmann was not honest or reputable. He was utterly unqualified to hold any position in the Building Department. He damaged me to the tune of millions of dollars in botched inspections. And he probably damaged untold hundreds of other home builders who don't even know it. He violated Title 24, the Building Code. Every violation is considered a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment and a fine. Plenty of people would love a prestigious job in this interesting and educated town. The difference is now they will actually have qualifications, because the utterly unqualified will be dissuaded from even applying. I consider this a huge plus.


Like this comment
Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I went to Kimberly's house today to survey the situation first hand.

Contractors are retrofitting pillars into the ground to support the house because of faulty foundation work that passed inspection by the Town of Atherton.

On another thread, people said Wassman wasn't supposed to be a structural engineer.

How about this? Inspection was passed on a shower head an inch away from EXPOSED lighting.

How appalling.


Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Wasmann approved plans for a basement that does not provide for adequate egress in the event of a fire.

He was a nice guy. Maybe he was too nice.


Like this comment
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm

CLARIFICATION:

I was not home when Mr. Buckheit toured my home with my permission. He was accompanied by an assistant.

I request that Mr. Buckheit not make factual and Code representations outside his field of expertise. He does not have the experience, education or training to do so accurately. And I am a zealot about getting the facts and the law right. He is qualified to comment on whether I am exaggerating about the grave extent of the repairs. It is visible to the casual observer.

Unlike Mr. Runkle, my issues with Mr. Wasmann are not personal. I have explained this at length. He is still defending Mr. Wasmann because he is a friend, a local boy, drove an old truck, and was "nice."

1) The local boy had no qualifications. He damaged untold numbers to the tune of untold millions in botched inspections.

2) My husband drives a 18 year old Honda Accord Wagon. So what?

3) The Building Official should not be "nice." He should be vigorously and passionately enforcing the Building Code, in an even-handed, consistent manner. And in doing so, as with all good managers, he will be a little "feared" and a lot "respected." "Nice" is what you say about someone when there is no substance to comment on. It's a cop-out.

It's not personal. It's business. And in the course of his business, he did great harm, including to me and my family.


Like this comment
Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm

For clarification, I never claimed to have any expertise in building code or otherwise. It is obvious from touring the property that there is no exaggeration going on by Ms. Sweidy. I mentioned two things that seemed appalling to me as a casual bystander, not an inspector.


Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm

My two cents are that no clarification from Jon Buckheit is necessary. I did not read any citation of the California Building Code in his post.

What I did read was a suggestion and only a suggestion that the inspection on Ms. Sweidy's property was less than thorough.

Arguably, most everyone knows that water, people and electricity don't belong together. This is why there are things like outlets that stop providing power in the event of a short, and hair dryers that caution the user of the hazards in using such appliances in and around water.

I agree with Ms. Sweidy that the attitude of a building official, professionally speaking, should be something like "if you want a friend, get a dog".




Like this comment
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 27, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I believe I know the condition that Mr. Buckheit is referring to, and it was not passed by inspection. There are many open and expired permits on my property (hence the visit to Town Hall). And there are many conditions that have never been inspected. Mr. Buckheit does not know what these are, and I do not want him commenting on them. Mr. Wasmann did enough things incorrectly. But I cannot have Mr. Wasmann (or anyone) accused of passing conditions that he did not pass. That is not who I am. I am fair and honest and accurate.

And for the record, the improperly designed foundation should have been caught during the Town of Atherton Building Plan Review. Was Mr. Wasmann performing Plan Reviews of geotechnical reports and foundation and pier designs? Because if he wasn't, then we should not imply that he was.

And the two of you (Johns and Buckheit) need to hold your tongue when you don't know what you're talking about, or you'll find yourself on the wrong side of me. And that will not be pretty.

It is not helpful or credible to just spout off. I tried to say this as nicely as I could above. But the two of you don't know when to shut up and listen.


Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Kimberly

I'm not spouting off.

If I am not mistaken, your home passed final inspection and you were issued a certificate of occupancy. That means every fixture, every facet of you home passed, the structural supports and all.

This is a common problem I observed when I did my audit of the building department, things were literally left hangning. I saw countless properties that had identified problems with no followup.

Unless Buckheit was referring to another structure on your property that hasn't been subject to a final inspection, then that outlet he was referring to did indeed pass and it doesn't take a building inspector to render that determination. It just takes a bit of deductive reasoning.

By the way, I don't mind being told to shut up when I don't know what I am talking about. A "smackdown" is something none of us should feel as though we are above.

In this case, however no smackdown is called for.


Like this comment
Posted by Hulk Hogan
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2010 at 2:19 am

If Ms. Sweidy wants to lay some smack down on Johns or Buckheit, that is a video that would be worth making and watching, brother.

And Ms. Sweidy, no one doubts being on the wrong side of you isn't pretty. It's hardly pretty when people are on the right side of you, as Mr. Buckheit and Mr. Johns are discovering. But I guess you are so destined to save Atherton, it doesn't matter. You go girl!


Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2010 at 11:49 am

Hulk Hogan

If I need someone to join me in a tag team wrestling match. I'll keep you in mind.

There's a method to Kimberly's madness, and I do mean madness. She has complained about the "stepford wives syndrome" in Atherton.

She is combatting that syndrome openly by engaging in an honest and open debate with adversaries and allies alike.

I have seen Elizabeth Lewis, her face tight as a drum smiling brightly with her highly polished and whitened teach, (which compliments her brightly dyed blonde hair) all the while clenching her teeth with a hostility that is only thinly disguised.

I have seen far too much of Elizabeth Lewis and the stepford wive syndrome she suffers from.

I'd rather not be "smacked down" publicly by the likes of Kimberly Sweidy, especially when I feel as though I do not deserve that kind of treatment.

However I much prefer the manner in which I relate to Kimberly than being stabbed in the back by folks like Lewis and her friends.


Like this comment
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I value the truth, above all else. And anyone who hasn't figured that out is in a coma.

I believe the condition that Mr. Buckheit was referring to is in a different structure that has not passed inspection. Further, the installation he is referring to happened as part of the construction defect litigation. I set out to prove a point with Opposing Counsel about ineptitude. And that installation proved it in spades. Of course, the installation is not correct, as identified by layperson Buckheit. But I needed to watch the electrician install it on June 17, 2010. It had legal significance to my case. I cannot say more.

I didn't want to have to explain all this because I shouldn't have to. People should just be mindful when they speak. Mr. Buckehit and Mr. Johns needed to stop talking. I told them so. They deserved it.

For the record, if you are not zealously committed to the truth, then "friend" or "foe," I will confront you and hold you accountable. That is who I am. I am not so insecure that I need anyone's approval for what I consider my finest virtue.


Like this comment
Posted by Hahaha
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Johns and Buckheit needed to keep their mouths shut a long time ago. Now even Sweidy is recognizing these two are pariahs.


Like this comment
Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Go ahead and laugh Ha Ha

He or she who laughs last laughs loudest.

I had my laugh as I was depositing my settlement check and after I received my letter of commendation from Atherton.

Buckheit had his laugh when he got his declaration of factual innocence. Pariahs? In your dreams.

Kimberly is committed to the truth I respect that. I need not say more.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2010 at 3:22 pm

hahaha:

it's a shame you don't recognize people that are trying to fix your screwed up city government. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. It is truly a wonder to me that anyone living in Atherton, besides real estate developers and your corrupt politicians, thinks that everything is peachy with your town. There are things going on in your town that are reminiscent of a banana repuplic rather than an affluent town in the United States. Rather than criticize these people you should be kissing their rear ends!


Like this comment
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

"Now even Sweidy is recognizing these two are pariahs."

I recognize no such thing. I have repeatedly denied this, and I am now denying it again. In fact, at the risk of sounding "lawyerly," for the record, I have a standing objection to the use of the word "pariah." I am not going to keep repeating myself. The objection stands.

Mr. Buckheit and Mr. Johns put me in the unfortunate but necessary position of having to defend Mr. Wasmann. Mr. Wasmann did great harm to me and my family. But that does not change the facts. One condition that Mr. Johns attributed to Wasmann/Building Department was not signed off by him/it. And the other condition may or may not have had anything to do with Wasmann. I set the record straight.

I will happily take any and all criticism about my passion for the truth. I make no apologies for that. I am not running a popularity contest here or a junior high brawl. I apologize if I mistakenly gave that impression.


Like this comment
Posted by Kimberly Sweidy
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Oops. "Mr. Johns attributed" should read "Mr. Buckheit attributed."


Like this comment
Posted by RUNNING OFF AT THE MOUTH
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

Oops! Sweidy falsley accused Mike Wassman of falsifying his educational credentials.

Did Sweidy apologize? No. She was too busy blaming others for her shoddy research.

Maybe the next time Sweidy decides to build a home in Atherton she will do the proper research, rather than blaming the building depatment for doring the kind of research she should have.

Sweidy is bad news. Why? Because the self indulgent tripe she spews does harm to the cause for reform.

With whiners and complainers like her, people are far less likely to believe those who have a legitimate beef with the complaint.

Get used to it get over it Sweidy, your contractors screwed up because you failed to exercise the proper oversight. Take responsibility for your actions. Grow up!


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Running:

your ignorance is truly breathtaking.


Like this comment
Posted by Deliverance
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Looks like Johns and Buckheit MESSED WITH THE WRONG HILLBILLY. (Dueling Banjos playing the background).


Like this comment
Posted by Screenwriter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm

What we've all been waiting for,

A sequel to the 60's era sitcom the Beverly Hillbillies.

This one seems better suited to reality TV.

Kimberly Sweidy, a self proclaimed hillbilly with a Dot Com gazillionaire husband who works for Yahoo

She stands ready to run anybody and everybody out of town with her double barreled mouth loaded with buckshot. She already has one notch on her belt and she's lookin for another.

Lets us hope that she doesn't take responsibility for what she says or does any time soon. This is all way too entertaining.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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