State bar dismisses councilman's complaint

Robinson won't pursue further

The California State Bar has concluded that noted First Amendment attorney Terry Francke did not "willfully violate" its rules of professional conduct, in response to a complaint filed last month by a former Menlo Park councilman.

Heyward Robinson, who lost his bid for re-election, filed the complaint on Nov. 19. He said he is disappointed, but not surprised, by the outcome and won't pursue the issue further.

The complaint resulted from media coverage in the days before the Nov. 2 election.

The Daily Post ran two stories and an editorial that said three Menlo Park council members, including Mr. Robinson, had violated state law by exchanging e-mails discussing campaign issues. One story quoted Mr. Francke as declaring "a very serious Brown Act violation" had occurred.

Mr. Robinson later discovered the attorney hadn't read the e-mails before reaching that conclusion. Once Mr. Francke did view the e-mails, the day before the election, he retracted his statement and apologized, saying there was, in fact, no Brown Act issue. The Daily Post also retracted its stories.

The corrections came too late, according to Mr. Robinson, to repair any damage done to his campaign.

Mr. Francke has been active in pushing for open communication in government for 30 years. He served as legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publisher's Association and the California First Amendment Coalition.

In 2004, he and his daughter, Emily, founded the California Aware nonprofit organization to advocate transparency in government and defend the state's historic Ralph M. Brown Act that mandates open meetings and adequate notification.

"Fast work," Mr. Francke said when asked for comment regarding the complaint's dismissal.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

Robinson lost because he was a terrible council member. Don't blame anyone but yourself, Robinson.

Like this comment
Posted by selective memory
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I beg to differ, Joanna. Heyward Robinson was a critically important Councilmember, contrary to your unsupported label of "terrible."

For example, without Heyward and his leadership, we would not have gotten enough improvements to the Gateway Project to make it such that the Council could in good conscience ultimately support it to gain its siginficant revenues that will support services for us all. He (and Rich Cline) stayed open minded, engaged and solution-oriented but standing firm to get needed concessions when others on the Council were not able to do so.

His work chairing the Creek Joint Powers Authority for proactive, sensible flood protection balanced with maximum environmental preservation to keep the beuatiy of this last "non cemented" creek on the Peninsula, while fairly "unsexy" and not in the news, will positively define our lovely community for many many decades.

Heyward also put in lots of long hours to apply pressure to "get it right" on High Speed Rail, including going to Sacramento. His leadership on pushing against the tide on the plans for HSR that would harm our community, while working hard on getting better overall transit that works and "fits," will be sorely missed -- especially at this critical time on HSR.

And he has been a positive force getting a proposal passed for the the vacant Cadillac dealership, which has already been demolitioned to get ready. At the same time, he helped see the El Camino and Downtown vision get to its current juncture where it is ready for final comments and adoption, which will lead to filling vacancies and creating vibrancy where it is now -- as with many cities -- flagging a bit. In fact our City is doing better than most, and is one of the few with a AAA bond rating.

The Almanac rightly endorsed Robinson as well as Cline for continuity so we dont' lose ground on these important issues. And Heyward was endorsed by more regional leaders than any other candidate because they had seen him in action and respected what he was doing.

If you want to see a "terrible" councilmember, look to the ones in the past who were not able to work with the community to get good things done. Certainly, Heyward Robinson would not be on that list. He was right to stand on principle and call the Post and this attorney on their unfounded 11th hour accusations. Too bad the retraction by the Post didn't come until after the election (not a coincidence, to be sure...)

Heyward is and will continue to be missed by the many of us who made him the top vote-getter 4 years ago.

Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Is Mr. Selective Memory really Heyward Robinson?

I ask because Mr. Selective Memory makes the same mistake Robinson had made in claiming that the city's bond rating has something to do with the management of the city or something the city council has done. Truth is, the bond rating is a measurement of a city's ability to repay its bonded debt. That's what the bond markets care about. A community blessed with wealth and good jobs gets a AAA rating, while cities that lack those qualities get something less. It doesn't have anything to do with who is on city council. But it sure curious that Mr. Selective Memory would make the same mistake as Mr. Robinson. Probably just a coincidence.

Like this comment
Posted by forgetful
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm

SM's tortured syntax definitely sounds as though it could have come from Heyward.

History will tell, but there's a reason he was voted out of office. He's rightly perceived as a hothead and not very competent. His finest moment was pretending to be a firefighter when the Peet's building was in flames. Good riddance, and glad to hear he didn't prevail in this absurd suit.

Like this comment
Posted by Lie detector
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Heyward should pay Francke's legal fees.

Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Can you bitter people finally get off the guy's back? Ungrateful bitterness.

Run for council and out yourself out there. Sheesh.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Truth states:"Run for council and out yourself out there"

Great advice.

Like this comment
Posted by Halle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Robinson lost because he was always too busy to listen to you and that's on a one-to-one basis also on several occasions!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by better memory
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 4, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Selective Memory really puts a spin on things. Robinson overlooked the opportunity to gain a LOT more revenue for the city from the Bohannon project simply by requiring at least some of the office buildings to be filled with the sorts of businesses that produce sales tax revenue to the city. He went with political expediency to the detriment of the city's future.
Robinson should be commended for promoting a response to Climate Change but not for the partial job of never establishing targets.

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