News

Menlo Park council takes two weeks off

 

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the Menlo Park City Council is taking a couple weeks off to prepare (and possibly recuperate). The council meetings for Nov. 22 and Nov. 29 have been canceled.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 6. At 5 p.m. the council will meet in closed session to review city manager applications, then during the regular meeting that starts at 7 p.m., will select a new mayor and vice mayor.

Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki, as the newest members of the council, are first in line for those positions, since city policy dictates that those who have yet to hold the offices have priority.

Comments

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Both candidates are a good choice, probably Kirsten first since she has been on the council the longest, then Peter the next round !


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Ohtaki has served just as long as Keith and he received more votes than she did in their election and, having served as President of the Fire Board, he actually knows how to both run a meeting and how to balance a budget.


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Posted by 1993 Policy
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Menlo Park's mayoral selection policy doesn't say anything about number of votes, or the current Vice Mayor having an edge. Regardless, Keith served as Chair of the planning commission, and ran more than one council meeting this past year when the Mayor was unavailable. Keith also voted with Ohtaki and Cohen to have a balanced budget.


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Posted by Agree with Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:34 am

Peter Ohtaki would be the best choice for mayor. Keith voted for the AFSME contract putting the employees above the residents whom she is supposed to represent. Ohtaki did the right thing and voted against the porcine AFSME contract. We can trust Ohtaki to make the fiscally prudent decisions and put the residents' interests first. Keith will put currying favor with the Unions above fiscal responsibility. She needs another term as Vice Mayor to get her priorities straight.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

I always find the comments made when it comes time for the annual selection of the mayor in MP very funny. First, there is a good reason that MP selects its mayor using the process it does. Most council members would rather not have to take a turn. Being mayor doesn't mean anything except, if you're one who loves the sound of your own voice, you get more talking time on CCTV. Otherwise, its just a bit of extra work for free. Now, if you're a career politician wannabe, like Kelly or Jellins a few years ago, you can get some milage out of the title and a couple of joint power assignments to put on your resume, but that is really it. Just for fun, I say let Kelly do it once more before she leaves office.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In a properly run meeting the Chair/Mayor has LESS capability to speak than do other members as the Chair's/Mayor's role is to preside, not pontificate.

" If the president is a member of the voting body, he or she has exactly the same rights and privileges as all other members have, including the right to make motions, to speak in debate, and to vote on all questions. So, in meetings of a small board (where there are not more than about a dozen board members present), and in meetings of a committee, the presiding officer may exercise these rights and privileges as fully as any other member. However, the impartiality required of the presiding officer of any other type of assembly (especially a large one) precludes exercising the rights to make motions or speak in debate while presiding, and also requires refraining from voting except (i) when the vote is by ballot, or (ii) whenever his or her vote will affect the result."


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Posted by Good Call
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:35 am

WhoRUpeople has a good point. Fergusson promised to support Measure L, and then she voted for the contract that imposed a two tier retirement system. She deserves to be rewarded.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Good Call, just for the record, my comment was meant in jest (I apologize to all for the poor attempt at humor). In all seriousness, I have been quite impressed with both Peter and Kirsten. Traditionally (taking all the BS and silly politics out of it) I believe the original intent of the process is that the Mayor Pro Tem next serves as Mayor, with a new Mayor Pro Tem appointed, etc. etc. I know that Kirsten can manage a good meeting from watching her as Chair of the PC. Appointing Peter to the pro tem spot would be a solid move toward getting this whole process back on a stable track going forward.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm

@ Good Call -- do you not remember Kelly's debacle last year when she tried to engineer the selection of mayor; besides, 72% of those voting supported measure L as well. She doesn't deserve a reward just for these two votes in Council.

On the other hand, if you want to get more of Kelly's shenanigans, let her be mayor and MP can continue to get laughed at.


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Posted by Fergusson Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Dec 1, 2011 at 6:04 am

Kelly Fergusson would be a great mayor. Her fiscal responsibility, her sense of fairness, her selflessness, combined with her rock solid conservative values make her a great choice.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 1, 2011 at 7:01 am

Fergusson Fan:

you've got to be kidding. Kelly has shown herself to either be incompetent or dishonest. She violated the Brown Act and then claimed "oops I didn't know." For someone that had recieved training on the Brown Act that is pretty hard to swallow. Hence, she is either incompetent or the more likely - a liar. They shouldn't reward her unethical behavior.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

FF,
You've got to be kidding! She is a joke and an embarrassment to Menlo Park.


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Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 2, 2011 at 8:09 am

The mere suggestion of Fergusson should make one vomit. She is nothing more than a self promoter. We still don't know who she engineered as the third party in the Brown violation in which she admitted being involved.

Good old City Attorney McClure along with Wagstaff covered up the details.

Present council is really a joke. Ohtaki won't take any stands; always trying to be in the middle.

Keith engineered her way into the vice-mayor position and rumor has it she dearly wants to move on to higher levels (supervisor?)

Thank heavens Rojas will be gone. His tenure will be looked at as the worst ever in Menlo Park history. BTW, Fergusson was the key in Rojas ever being hired in the first place. He ends his tenure after double dipping for 6 months or so.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 2, 2011 at 8:46 am

I've said it before, Menlo Park deserves its governance.


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Posted by Fergusson Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Dec 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I heard it through the Grapevine that Kirsten Keith was the third party. No proof was offered so take it for what its worth. Its probably more conjecture than truth.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

By definition the term "third party" would mean someone other than a council member. Kirsten Keith can't be the third party. Its surprising after all this time no official has identified the third party. Their actions did help to invalidate an election


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A third party in an illegal serial meeting of of a majority of a five member council would, by definition, have to have been a member of the council. In this instance it was clearly established that a serial meeting had been held but it was not established that the second and third council members were aware that they were participating in a serial conversation - only Fergusson knew that.

It is important to note that being the second or third party in such an illegal serial meeting would not be a violation of the law for the second or third party IF they were unaware that the first party was engaging them in a serial meeting. If the first, second and third party met face to face or knowingly participated in a serial conversation to reach a consensus then all would be guilty of violating the law.


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Posted by Howard Baker
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2011 at 9:54 am

With regard to the Brown Act violation for last year's Menlo Park Mayoral election What did the Vice Mayor know and when did she know it?


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Posted by possible
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

Staff Report, 10-177 (Web Link) "Based upon those interviews, it appears that there was a violation of the Brown Act through serial communications by Council member Fergusson with two other Council members (Cline and Ohtaki). It is possible that there was a further violation through the use if an intermediary by Ms. Fergusson to lobby Council member Keith before the vote on the 7th. The preliminary investigation did not uncover any agreements or understanding between a majority of the Council to vote in a certain manner, nor any information to indicate that Council members Ohtaki or Cline were aware that Council member Fergusson had communication directly or indirectly with any other member of the Council or any potential Brown Act violation, nor did it uncover any information that Council member Keith disclosed her intentions regarding the mayoral election to anyone other that Council member Cohen."

The investigation found no agreements or understanding to vote in a certain manner, and that Keith disclosed her intentions only to Cohen.

The investigation did not find any information to indicate that Council members Ohtaki or Cline were aware that Council member Fergusson had communication directly or indirectly with any other member.

Menlo Park Patch, Dec 9 (Web Link) Former Council Member Lee Duboc said she first caught wind of the possible violation minutes before Tuesday's meeting. She said a friend told her that Fergusson called Ohtaki, asked him how he was going to vote and told him she had already secured a council majority in her favor. Duboc sent an e-mail to city residents Wednesday highlighting the possible violation that eventually snowballed into Fergusson's Thursday statement. "She's been on the council for six years and she was a planning commissioner before that," Duboc said in an interview. "She knows the Brown Act. I think we should have the district attorney look into this. It might be the tip of an iceberg."

If Ohtaki was able to inform Lee Duboc, before the meeting, that Fergusson had already secured a council majority, how can he provide testimony to McClure and the DA that he was unaware Fergusson had communicated with others?

If Fergusson had "secured" two other votes, as Ohtaki informed Lee Duboc, why on Earth would she tell Ohtaki this?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If Fergusson had "secured" two other votes, as Ohtaki informed Lee Duboc, why on Earth would she tell Ohtaki this?"

Simply because she wanted both to make sure of her election and also to try to get as many votes as possible. Her phone call to Ohtaki was clearly, on her part, the continuation of an illegal serial meeting. The only reason she was not prosecuted is because the San Mateo County DA is TOTALLY unwilling to enforce the Brown Act. The DA is now turning a blind eye to Cline and Keith participating in regular secret meetings with the City Manager and the City Attorney on the Facebook project thereby ensuring that the public will be presented with a fiat accompli when the matter comes to the full Council and the vote only one more Council member is needed.

The good news is given last year's experience hopefully none of the Council members will engage in such secret pre-public meeting negotiations this year.


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Posted by Archie Cox
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

The most probable scenario is that Rich Cline, Kelly Fergusson and Kirsten Keith conspired behind closed doors to have Fergusson nominated as mayor and elected; then Keith nominated as Vice Mayor and also elected. Fergusson paid the price; but it appears that Keith got off scott free.

Now it appears that Keith will be nominated to be mayor and elected. No foul deed goes unrewarded.


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

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