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Woodside: Reyering to resign from board, accuses town of unmerited ethics investigation

Outside attorney concludes that five of nine allegations of ethics violations should be sustained

Editor's note: The Woodside Town Council agreed to a settlement with Nancy Reyering, paying $35,000 to cover her legal fees, on Nov. 14, 2017.

A member of the Woodside Architectural and Site Review Board said Thursday (Jan. 26) that she plans to resign from the board this week and accused the town of conducting an unmerited ethics investigation of her related to an email she wrote in May 2016 regarding a residential project before the review board.

Nancy Reyering, who was a 2015 candidate for a seat on the Town Council, said the town hired the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorensen in Oakland to conduct the investigation, and that the town paid that firm $42,905 since January 2016, according to a letter from Woodside's town attorney's office. "The only item in the public record indicating a decision to hire outside counsel since 2016 is the investigation of Ms. Reyering," she said in a press release.

Town Manager Kevin Bryant, who confirmed that the town had hired the law firm to conduct the investigation, gave a different figure: He said the town has paid the Burke, Williams firm $27,465 since January 2016.

Asked to explain the different totals, Mr. Bryant said the $42,905 figure represents the total the town spent with Burke, Williams since January 2016, including the Reyering investigation. The town spent an additional $15,441 with Burke, Williams during that time, but on matters unrelated to the Reyering investigation, Mr. Bryant said.

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The Almanac requested copies of the Burke, Williams invoices, but Mr. Bryant said the town is not making them public.

Investigation

The investigation began about six months ago when former councilman Dave Burow filed a complaint alleging that Ms. Reyering's May email violated the town's ethics code.

Attorney Thomas Brown of Burke, Williams recently submitted to the town a 41-page report he prepared on the investigation. In the report, dated Jan. 12, he concludes that five of the nine allegations of ethics violations should be sustained. Among the sustained allegations: reaching a conclusion about the project without hearing testimony; and personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position to gain special consideration for his client.

The report says the next step is for the mayor to determine whether further investigation is warranted. According to the town's ethics code, when the investigation is completed, the report "shall be presented to the Town Council at a public meeting of the Council. The Town Council will accept testimony on the matter and determine whether a violation of the Code has occurred."

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Ms. Reyering's term on the review board was to expire on Feb. 1. She said she does not intend to seek reappointment.

Reyering's May email

On May 2, 2016, Ms. Reyering sent an email to two other members of the five-member Architectural and Site Review Board and to the town's planning director to comment on a proposed residential remodeling and construction project that was coming before the board for its review. The board is an advisory body to the planning director and Planning Commission.

In the email, she pointed out that the architect on the project was Councilman Peter Mason. She asked that these comments be read into the record of the upcoming meeting, which she was unable to attend:

"Even a cursory review of the project raises questions as the architect is a member of the Town Council, and as such, is someone in charge of writing our building regulations. Therefore, he, and anyone else in a similar position, has a great responsibility to bring in projects that are reflective of the Residential Design Guidelines, the General Plan, and the Municipal Code, and these projects should not ask for exceptions.

"Maximum Residence Size Exception, potential lack of neighborhood compatibility, and massive pylons would set a precedent on this street, and create the potential appearance that council members are privileged when bringing projects before the ASRB. I would ask the applicant and architect to reconsider some elements of this design."

In her Jan. 26 press release, Ms. Reyering said that a "plain reading" of the comments indicates that she was reminding her colleagues of town policy and "encouraging a sitting member of the Town Council to abide (by) the spirit and the letter of local planning guidelines."

Allegations and conclusions

On June 29, 2016, Ms. Reyering received an email from Town Attorney Jean Savaree advising her that former Woodside councilman Burow had made an "ethics complaint" alleging that Ms. Reyering's May 2 email had violated the town's ethics code.

Following are the allegations in the complaint, and the conclusions by the investigating attorney, Mr. Brown:

• Suggesting that Town Council members should be subject to a more strict set of building guidelines, thereby working against the common good. (Charge not sustained).

• Stating that unequal treatment should be applied to Town Council members when they are acting in their individual capacity. (Charge sustained.)

• Reaching a conclusion about the project without hearing testimony. (Charge sustained.)

• Personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position as a council member to gain special consideration for his client. (Charge sustained.)

• Attempting to improperly influence the ASRB decision-making process and reaching a conclusion about the project based on a cursory review before hearing testimony at a public hearing. (Charge sustained.)

• Violating the Brown Act with a communication among three of the five members of the board. (Charge not sustained.)

• Creating the appearance of a conflict of interest between public duty and personal interests "based on personal disagreements with Councilmember Mason regarding work previously done for you while acting as your architect and his failure to endorse your candidacy in the 2015 election." (Charge not sustained.)

• Failing to maintain a positive and constructive working environment for the project applicant and Mr. Mason's business. (Charge sustained.)

An allegation that Ms. Reyering had not followed the town's policy on unexcused absences from board meetings was not sustained.

Conflict of interest

In her Jan. 26 press release, Ms. Reyering said:

"The Woodside Code of Ethics states that members of the Town Council shall not appear on behalf of private interests or third parties before any Town board, including the ASRB. But rather than explore the potential conflicts of interest between Mr. Mason's public and private roles, the investigation focused on Ms. Reyering's non-binding comment that recommended the avoidance of even the appearance of such a conflict."

--

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Woodside: Reyering to resign from board, accuses town of unmerited ethics investigation

Outside attorney concludes that five of nine allegations of ethics violations should be sustained

by staff / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Jan 26, 2017, 3:18 pm

Editor's note: The Woodside Town Council agreed to a settlement with Nancy Reyering, paying $35,000 to cover her legal fees, on Nov. 14, 2017.

A member of the Woodside Architectural and Site Review Board said Thursday (Jan. 26) that she plans to resign from the board this week and accused the town of conducting an unmerited ethics investigation of her related to an email she wrote in May 2016 regarding a residential project before the review board.

Nancy Reyering, who was a 2015 candidate for a seat on the Town Council, said the town hired the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorensen in Oakland to conduct the investigation, and that the town paid that firm $42,905 since January 2016, according to a letter from Woodside's town attorney's office. "The only item in the public record indicating a decision to hire outside counsel since 2016 is the investigation of Ms. Reyering," she said in a press release.

Town Manager Kevin Bryant, who confirmed that the town had hired the law firm to conduct the investigation, gave a different figure: He said the town has paid the Burke, Williams firm $27,465 since January 2016.

Asked to explain the different totals, Mr. Bryant said the $42,905 figure represents the total the town spent with Burke, Williams since January 2016, including the Reyering investigation. The town spent an additional $15,441 with Burke, Williams during that time, but on matters unrelated to the Reyering investigation, Mr. Bryant said.

The Almanac requested copies of the Burke, Williams invoices, but Mr. Bryant said the town is not making them public.

Investigation

The investigation began about six months ago when former councilman Dave Burow filed a complaint alleging that Ms. Reyering's May email violated the town's ethics code.

Attorney Thomas Brown of Burke, Williams recently submitted to the town a 41-page report he prepared on the investigation. In the report, dated Jan. 12, he concludes that five of the nine allegations of ethics violations should be sustained. Among the sustained allegations: reaching a conclusion about the project without hearing testimony; and personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position to gain special consideration for his client.

The report says the next step is for the mayor to determine whether further investigation is warranted. According to the town's ethics code, when the investigation is completed, the report "shall be presented to the Town Council at a public meeting of the Council. The Town Council will accept testimony on the matter and determine whether a violation of the Code has occurred."

Ms. Reyering's term on the review board was to expire on Feb. 1. She said she does not intend to seek reappointment.

Reyering's May email

On May 2, 2016, Ms. Reyering sent an email to two other members of the five-member Architectural and Site Review Board and to the town's planning director to comment on a proposed residential remodeling and construction project that was coming before the board for its review. The board is an advisory body to the planning director and Planning Commission.

In the email, she pointed out that the architect on the project was Councilman Peter Mason. She asked that these comments be read into the record of the upcoming meeting, which she was unable to attend:

"Even a cursory review of the project raises questions as the architect is a member of the Town Council, and as such, is someone in charge of writing our building regulations. Therefore, he, and anyone else in a similar position, has a great responsibility to bring in projects that are reflective of the Residential Design Guidelines, the General Plan, and the Municipal Code, and these projects should not ask for exceptions.

"Maximum Residence Size Exception, potential lack of neighborhood compatibility, and massive pylons would set a precedent on this street, and create the potential appearance that council members are privileged when bringing projects before the ASRB. I would ask the applicant and architect to reconsider some elements of this design."

In her Jan. 26 press release, Ms. Reyering said that a "plain reading" of the comments indicates that she was reminding her colleagues of town policy and "encouraging a sitting member of the Town Council to abide (by) the spirit and the letter of local planning guidelines."

Allegations and conclusions

On June 29, 2016, Ms. Reyering received an email from Town Attorney Jean Savaree advising her that former Woodside councilman Burow had made an "ethics complaint" alleging that Ms. Reyering's May 2 email had violated the town's ethics code.

Following are the allegations in the complaint, and the conclusions by the investigating attorney, Mr. Brown:

• Suggesting that Town Council members should be subject to a more strict set of building guidelines, thereby working against the common good. (Charge not sustained).

• Stating that unequal treatment should be applied to Town Council members when they are acting in their individual capacity. (Charge sustained.)

• Reaching a conclusion about the project without hearing testimony. (Charge sustained.)

• Personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position as a council member to gain special consideration for his client. (Charge sustained.)

• Attempting to improperly influence the ASRB decision-making process and reaching a conclusion about the project based on a cursory review before hearing testimony at a public hearing. (Charge sustained.)

• Violating the Brown Act with a communication among three of the five members of the board. (Charge not sustained.)

• Creating the appearance of a conflict of interest between public duty and personal interests "based on personal disagreements with Councilmember Mason regarding work previously done for you while acting as your architect and his failure to endorse your candidacy in the 2015 election." (Charge not sustained.)

• Failing to maintain a positive and constructive working environment for the project applicant and Mr. Mason's business. (Charge sustained.)

An allegation that Ms. Reyering had not followed the town's policy on unexcused absences from board meetings was not sustained.

Conflict of interest

In her Jan. 26 press release, Ms. Reyering said:

"The Woodside Code of Ethics states that members of the Town Council shall not appear on behalf of private interests or third parties before any Town board, including the ASRB. But rather than explore the potential conflicts of interest between Mr. Mason's public and private roles, the investigation focused on Ms. Reyering's non-binding comment that recommended the avoidance of even the appearance of such a conflict."

--

Comments

Seriously?
Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 3:44 pm
Seriously?, Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 3:44 pm

The town of Woodside wasted a lot of money on this stupid dispute that means nothing. How hard would it have been to just let this go? Everyone involved looks bad and especially the government of the Town of Woodside. That money could have been used for something meaningful. Sad.


Jeez
Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 4:49 pm
Jeez, Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 4:49 pm

If anyone is guilty of creating a hostile and unconstructive working environment, it definitely isn't Reyering. The town's actions in response to the email seem over the top and incredibly aggressive. In the end, the initiation of an investigation seems suspicious and makes those attacking Reyering seem very suspicious as well.


Jennifer Werbe
Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 26, 2017 at 4:56 pm
Jennifer Werbe, Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 26, 2017 at 4:56 pm

This is absolutely ridiculous. How dare the Town go after a dedicated Volunteer in this way. This is without question a misuse of Town funds and the Town Manager and Dave Burriw should be ashamed of themselves.
When I moved to this town 8 years ago, I was practically begged by the Planning Dept. to get involved as a volunteer. I eagerly accepted, as I really enjoyed my 10 years on the ADRB in Hillsborough, serving my last two years as it's Chairman. I have always been involved in the communities in which I've lived and have made lifelong friends doing so. Woodside is so dysfunctional and hshows complete disdain for its volunteers. I had heard these rumors befotre I moved here and boy did they prove to be true.
Nancy has. Even a dedicated and tireless volunteer, as has Peter Mason, but this personal attack is completely uncalled for.


Jennifer Werbe
Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm
Jennifer Werbe, Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Apologies for my misspellings of names, etc. between autocorrect and the level of my anger at the moment, I hit "send" too soon.

How does the Town expect anyone to volunteer when they are treated in such an appalling way? Or is that what the Town is hoping?


Amy Phillips
Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm
Amy Phillips, Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Wow. Sounds like the Council should be sued for slandering Ms Reyering and epic waste of taxpayer funds. If the Town I'd concerned about ethics, they ought to look in the mirror.


Look in the mirror
Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:28 pm
Look in the mirror, Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Sounds like those pursuing this "investigation" need to be investigated themselves. What a joke and a waste of taxpayer dollars.


Martin Walker
Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm
Martin Walker, Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Who's minding the checkbook in Woodside? Remember the story last week that the Town is not in compliance regarding review of expenditures? Now we see that even Mr. Bryant, Finance Director of Woodside, doesn't know how much the Town spent on this investigation! And presumably the Town Council doesn't know either!


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

"How dare the Town go after a dedicated Volunteer in this way. "

This "dedicated volunteer" along with the two other members of her troika have cost citizens of Woodside hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars as she enforces her opinion as to what she "likes" or doesn't. Let's hope they force her off the ASRB so other volunteers that want to follow the actual guidelines as opposed to what "they like" can take her place.

There's a reason Shaw trounced her for Town Council and this is it.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm

For those of you crying foul that Reyerson was investigated when a complaint was lodged, what would you have your town do? Ignore town codes? If so, were you ok with the town ignoring the codes for financial oversight? I bet not, but you want to give Reyerson a pass, even though some of the complaints were SUSTAINED.

Complaints were lodged, an investigation was conducted and some of the complaints were sustained. Case closed.


TJ
Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 7:18 pm
TJ, Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Nancy was a whistleblower pure and simple.

From Woodside Ethics Guidelines: It is important that Town officers scrupulously conform to all conflict of interest laws because violations will taint the fairness of the democratic process and may also subject the offending official to fines, criminal penalties, and forfeiture of office. If any questions arise in this area for board, commission, or committee members, the Town Attorney will be pleased to discuss them ahead of time to help prevent problems from developing.

But that didn’t happen here. Instead, the Town tried to protect their shoddy oversight of conflict of interest problems (having council members who do significant amounts of business in town sit on “zoning committees” to craft ordinances; establishing ad hoc committees who work without public oversight…)

This is a small group of people which includes town employees and the WoodsideTown Council who are trying to control things instead of creating a collaborative and democratic civil discourse.I say time to boot all those scalawags on the council out.
Shame on the Almanac for not asking Kevin Bryant to show the invoice for Mr. Brown services. " a public records act request showed the town paid the firm $42,905 since January 2016."


John
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm
John, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Money well spent. Even self-dubbed "Whistleblowers" don't have the right to violate the same ethics rules they Arbitrarily and arrogantly use against powerless citizens.

ASRB, please stay out of our lives!


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Good luck with that John. You moved to a community that has design review -- AND THANK GOODNESS. Look around at Atherton and Los Altos Hills -- new money wants to build ever bigger monuments to itself. But in Woodside and Portola Valley, about about 90% of what gets built is sensitive to the environment and respectful of the rural esthetic. The occasional rogue "retreat" somehow slips through with outlandish size or design, but that is the exception not the rule. Because our RULES in Woodside include DESIGN REVIEW led by a group of dedicated citizen volunteers.

More power to the ASRB. I'm sure it is challenging and interesting work, and we should be grateful to them.


AlexLascarides
another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 12:02 am
AlexLascarides, another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 12:02 am

There are more parts to this story than just spending funds in this way. The town has tried to stifle a volunteer from her civic opportunity to participate as an appointed member of a body she has contributed to for 7 years.

Why did the mayor and the town manager hire out the task of determining if Reyering had committed an ethics violation? What were they trying to distance themselves from? No reasonable person would construe an ethics violation from the reading of the desk item. Reyering was doing her work in an ethical way and had concerns about systemic problems in the town.

I understand Reyering not wanting to be defiled by the process any longer, but she should stay and continue to serve. Her voice is needed.

Bravo to her for bringing this public. The community needs to be aware of what is going on.


Colleen
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 7:29 am
Colleen, Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 7:29 am

It's so weird to blow all that money on an investigation. I can't be the only one to believe that it seems like Burow and Mason seem to have something to hide, the way they went after Reyering for her comment. It makes Burow and Mason look really guilty. The town ought to figure out what they're up to and what they're trying to hide, because insisting on an investigation seems like a nutty way to respond to a suggestion.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 7:52 am
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 27, 2017 at 7:52 am

This isn't an issue of whether Woodside's design guidelines are good are bad. It's an issue of the ETHICS of our town's governance.

A MEMBER OF THE ASRB VIOLATED OUR ETHICS RULES. This is not defensible simply because you agree with her philosophy on permitting.

• Stating that unequal treatment should be applied to Town Council members when they are acting in their individual capacity. (CHARGE SUSTAINED.)

• Reaching a conclusion about the project without hearing testimony. (CHARGE SUSTAINED.)

• Personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position as a council member to gain special consideration for his client. (CHARGE SUSTAINED.)

• Attempting to improperly influence the ASRB decision-making process and reaching a conclusion about the project based on a cursory review before hearing testimony at a public hearing. (CHARGE SUSTAINED.)

Personally, I think her email to other ASRB members PRIOR to the hearing was a "black letter" violation of the Brown Act. All members know those communications are STRICTLY PROHIBITED.


really?
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:32 am
really?, Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:32 am

I think for equal representation, the ASRB should include a horse as one of its members. Perhaps less controversial.


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:33 am
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:33 am

I suspect "Pogo" is involved in town government and should reveal him/herself.

Pogo shows ignorance of the fact that the communication was a DESK ITEM. NOT PROHIBITED, NOT A BROWN ACT VIOLATION.

And the outside investigator? What a witch hunt. WHERE in the Woodside's ethics guidelines does it refer to hiring an outside investigator?

Reyering's desk item merely reiterated an encoded governance value: COUNCIL MEMBERS MUST AVOID EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

Everyone in Woodside who pays attention knows that the council, manager, and attorney have LONG turned a blind eye to concerns about conflict of interest of council members.


Colleen
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:42 am
Colleen, Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

Pogo: "• Personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position as a council member to gain special consideration for his client. (CHARGE SUSTAINED.)"

Seems pretty odd that raising issues like that is seen as unethical. It seems to protect council members looking to profit. What kind of ethics code is that? What the purpose of interpreting that as "an attack." Kind of laughable and very definitely troubling. Placing the blame on the wrong person and getting them out of the way so the council member can profit.

Is that ethics code from The Godfather? Pretty fishy! Glad I am aware of that's how you guys play, shutting legitimate concerns down because it gets in the way of you profiting off a council seat. Real "Don't ever go against the family" stuff. Disturbing and gross.


Due process
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:57 am
Due process, Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:57 am

When an ethics complaint is filed, the town is obligated to investigate. Case closed.

That's due process in a democracy.


Alice Kaufman
another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 9:48 am
Alice Kaufman, another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 9:48 am

I am completely appalled that Woodside, or any town, has "ethics rules" that appear to be completely contrary to the principles of freedom of speech.

Whoever heard of forbidding someone from "suggesting" that town council members should be subject to a more strict set of building guidelines? Or forbidding someone from "stating that unequal treatment should be applied to Town Council members when they are acting in their individual capacity"? Or forbidding someone from "personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position as a council member to gain special consideration for his client"?

What would you think if you just read in the news that the U.S. government was going to enact rules like these? Wouldn't you start shouting about the First Amendment?

And that's totally aside from the fact that the town council's motivation, based on this article, seems to be entirely about punishing a whistleblower. Whether her accusations were valid or not, she should not be subject to this kind of treatment for raising concerns about conflict of interest. We should be encouraging our citizens to hold our elected officials accountable, not punishing them for it! Disgraceful.


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 11:22 am
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

Due Process has it SORTA right: the town was obligated to look into it. THEMSELVES. NOT by hiring an outside investigator to spend EIGHT MONTHS and FORTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS trying to dig up dirt on a dedicated volunteer.

When he found that Peter Mason has been trying to stifle Nancy for over two years, he should have run as fast as he could the other way. But he clearly had marching orders from someone in town. The question is WHO? The town attorney, who ignores council members appearance of conflicts of interests, and a volunteer's concern about that?

The town manager, who didn't even know that STATE LAW requires that warrants need to be posted and does not know the cost of this investigation?

The former mayor Deborah Gordon who supported this outrageous exercise?

Who had oversight for the expense of this matter? How much discretion does Kevin Bryant have to spend town funds? Apparently far too much.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Funny how some deflect from the central issue.

The deflections:

1. The Council hired an outside investigator. First, I suspect the Town did a preliminary investigation before hiring the investigator. If the Council did the investigation themselves (understanding that one member is named as a victim in the complaint) and came to the same conclusion, people would have screamed "Whitewash! Why didn't you hire an outside investigator?" The Council did the right thing.

2. This is freedom of speech. No one is stifling free speech. The rules prohibiting ASRB members from drawing conclusions and not discussing the project with other ASRB members PRIOR to the hearing provides due process for the applicant. Providing the applicant the opportunity to present their case, respond to questions and, most importantly, allowing each ASRB member the chance to come to an independent conclusion without influence from others IS due process. This ASRB member failed to uphold this simple standard. All of the Town's volunteers are taught these rules.

3. Attacking the motives of the applicant's architect is fair game. The ASRB member's comment was transparently intended to influence other ASRB members (otherwise, why even bring it up?). The applicant chose their architect and the project under consideration should be assessed on its merits, not the architect's volunteer activities.

4. An accusation that I'm "involved in town government." Not that it has a thing to do with this issue or discussion (and not even a very good deflection by the accuser, either) but I am not an elected or appointed official, not a volunteer, not a contractor and not an employee of the Town of Woodside.

According to the independent investigation, this ASRB member committed FOUR violations. Her resignation was a responsible response.

Citizens, property owners and applicants need to be able to trust Woodside's permitting process. These types of ethical violations undermine that trust and reinforce suspicions that a small group of insiders control the ASRB. I don't criticize the Council, I applaud them.


Colleen
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm
Colleen, Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm

"The ASRB member's comment was transparently intended to influence other ASRB members (otherwise, why even bring it up?). The applicant chose their architect and the project under consideration should be assessed on its merits, not the architect's volunteer activities."

It sounds like Reyering wasn't able to be present at the meeting and she had legitimate concerns she wanted to have read to all present at the meeting. Pogo, you seem to be real fired up about this, soanswer me this: why would they cast aspersions on Reyering's motives? Anybody in her position would be ridiculous not to bring it up. Mason sounds like a real drama llama. Maybe not fit to be an ASRB member if this is how he treats people who raise legitimate concerns.. I certainly would not trust him after this. I don't think a lot of residents would have much confidence in him either after going berserk at being questioned at all. If you're in a leadership position, you're going to get questioned and you should get questioned. Someone should have questioned if spending money on the investigation was a good idea, to be honest.


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Funny how some don't understand the issues. Pogo, for example, shows ignorance of the fact that the communication was a DESK ITEM. NOT PROHIBITED, NOT A BROWN ACT VIOLATION.

And the outside investigator? What a witch hunt. WHERE in the Woodside's ethics guidelines does it refer to hiring an outside investigator?

Reyering's desk item merely reiterated an encoded governance value: COUNCIL MEMBERS MUST AVOID EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

Everyone in Woodside who pays attention knows that the council, manager, and attorney have LONG turned a blind eye to concerns about conflict of interest of council members.


The Observer
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:39 pm
The Observer, Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:39 pm

We live in a community, let's try to be honest at least with each other. The population of the town is changing. For a long time, the majority of the town had similar desires for the town. Now, there is a growing minority (perhaps now a majority) of folks that want the town to change. Maybe that change is only moderate -- but they wanted some change. Reyerson represented a lot of the historic views. She was viewed as someone that would not compromise on these views. Did she violate some rules? Probably she did -- there are a lot of rules. But she still has to own that. But she was targeted because she was viewed as someone that was a barrier to change.

The old guard will have to moderate their views and meet the new guard in the middle. If they do not, the pendulum will swing hard the other way. That is why Shaw got elected -- the new guard had enough. If the old guard would have moved a little with the times, then Shaw would not have run and his backers would not have voted. If the old guard continues to fight and dig in, the pendulum will swing even harder. If you look at Atherton history that is what happened there. It was not always that way. The old guard's best hope of preserving town character is to actually meet somewhere in the middle. If not, it could become Atherton as the pendulum whips back.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:51 pm
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Retired Realtor - every question you asked, I already addressed. But it is quite revealing that you failed to acknowledging your false allegation about me. Classy.

Colleen - good questions... but calling me "fired up?" I have fewer posts than Jennifer, Retired Realtor or YOU. And one of my posts was simply to answer questions specifically asked of me.

As I said, citizens, property owners and applicants need to be able to trust Woodside's permitting process. These types of ethical violations undermine that trust. I don't criticize the Council, I applaud them.

But you noted that "Reyering wasn't able to be present at the meeting and she had legitimate concerns she wanted to have read to all present at the meeting." That's actually a great point. ANY person wishing to do this only needs to send their comment (by email, for instance) to the Town Clerk and ask that their comments be added to the packet for that meeting. This happens ALL THE TIME (just look at the packet for meetings that contain letters in support or against an issue). But the member of a board doesn't send their message to only two other members of their body with all the editorializing that was done in this particular case.

That clearly crossed the line.


ASRB Victim
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm
ASRB Victim, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Anyone who joins a government body such as the ASRB takes on certain responsibilities to go along with their authority over their fellow citizens. It makes no difference whether they are paid. These responsibilities include concepts like "Don't make up your own rules" (e.g. "Council members who are architects are held to a higher standard") and "Be fair to the citizens" (e.g. Don't come to a conclusion prior to the public hearing).

Nancy Reyering violated those responsibilities, and therefore had to go.

In addition to paying attention to the rules all along, she should have resigned back when a majority of Woodside voters made it clear they didn't want her in their government. Some people don't take a hint, so the 2x4 must be used to make the point.

What I find truly pathetic is that it is clear from her statement that she *still* doesn't understand what she did wrong and the inevitable consequences. But that just reinforces the validity of the town's decision.


Three decades in town
Woodside School
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:27 pm
Three decades in town, Woodside School
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:27 pm

I can't let Pogo's comment go unanswered. He claims Reyering should have sent her comments to the town clerk.
Well, this was an ASRB meeting, not a town council meeting, so she sent her comments to the Planning Director, Jackie Young, the ASRB's staff member equivalent of the town clerk, and to the ASRB, and asked to have them read into the minutes.
Pogo said "ANY person wishing to do this only needs to send their comment (by email, for instance) to the Town Clerk and ask that their comments be added to the packet for that meeting. This happens ALL THE TIME"
His comment proves the point he seems to be opposing, that the town council spent taxpayer money on a snipe hunt.
There also seems to be some confusion by commenters that the ethics charges were filed by Peter Mason. They were not, they were filed by Dave Burow.


John
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:35 pm
John, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Had the Town NOT hired an independent investigator, then you can bet that Retired Realtor and others here would be screaming that they were biased against Ms. Reyering ... and of course they would have inevitably demanded an independent investigator!

And to clarify Retired Realtor's mischaracterization of my earlier post: I am all for having rigorous rules and codes to preserve our town's character. I followed them to a T on my own renovation. What I am NOT in favor of is a bunch of "volunteers" who arbitrarily and subjectively enforce those rules, as has been the case for years around here.

All that does is lead to abuse of power, which is precisely what happened here. And it's the reason why town voters chose a write-in candidate for our council, rather than the same old cadre which supported Ms. Reyering.

Nothing against her personally, but I'm glad to see her go.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:28 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:28 am

retired realtor:

no "alternate facts" here. I've seen Reyerson in action and I've seen her cost some of my clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in design fees trying to comply with her opinion as opposed to what the town code requires. You may never have seen it happen, but that doesn't mean it didn't.


Three decades in town
Woodside School
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:41 am
Three decades in town, Woodside School
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:41 am

Menlo Voter - If you are a design professional, you ought to be aware of the fact that the ASRB exists not to air their opinions, or to uphold the town's ordinances, but to make sure plans follow the town's Residential Design Guidelines. Web Link They were adopted in 2012, but perhaps you're unaware of them. If your clients have had to spend thousands because their plans don't conform with the Residential Design Guidelines, then perhaps that's your fault, not the ASRB members who are simply following the mandate given to their committee? You might want to do business in a town that doesn't have architectural review such as Atherton or Los Altos Hills.
From the town's website, the job of the ASRB:
"Duties: The Architectural and Site Review Board (ASRB) reviews residential applications for community character, site planning, building design, and landscape elements; reviews applications for non-residential development; and makes recommendations to the Planning Director or Planning Commission regarding approval or disapproval, and suggests modifications or imposes conditions in accordance with the evaluation criteria set forth in the Woodside Municipal Code (Title 15, Chapter 153, beginning at Section 153.220). The Code charges the ASRB with protecting the rural character and natural beauty of the Town. The ASRB ensures that projects are consistent with the General Plan and are in keeping with the Residential Design Guidelines."


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:59 am
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:59 am

An observation.

Those that support the ASRB member never defend her actions. They point to conspiracies, grudges and vendettas and cite process issues such as to whom emails should be addressed. They never address the fact that an independent investigator found four violations. FOUR VIOLATIONS. That isn't an "ALT Fact," it is a FACT. And this was hardly the first complaint against this ASRB... it was only the latest.

With regard to "Three decades in town" taking issue with my advice that comments be sent to the Town Clerk, that is the official position of the Town. The Town Clerk is the principal keeper of official records. It is her job to receive, record and distribute inquiries. Not everyone knows who to contact for a specific body or committee. For that reason, people should send comments to the TOWN CLERK and she will make sure it becomes part of the official packet.

But that advice is for public inquiries. A member of an official body, like the ASRB, has a higher standard. Applicants spend tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on their project to get it before the ASRB. Those citizens deserve fairness and transparency from these reviews. Projects should be reviewed on the merits - a personal bias against their architect is outrageous and unacceptable.

The bigger issue is that ASRB members should not be communicating with subgroups of their board about projects PRIOR to meetings. EVER. That's not my idea, THOSE ARE THEIR RULES. Every member of that Board knows it.

So if an ASRB member cannot attend a meeting and wants to comment, that's not a problem. They should act like any other member of the public. Sending messages to two "friends" who sit on the panel isn't the way to do it.


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:14 am
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:14 am

Your observation is wrong, Pogo and I will state again:
1. Reyering did no wrong. She did not call anyone to a "higher" standard. She said that a council member, like all appointed and elected volunteers, has a "great responsibility". Not "greater".

Read the quote of that sentence, from the article, "Therefore, he, and anyone else in a similar position, has a great responsibility to bring in projects that are reflective of the Residential Design Guidelines, the General Plan, and the Municipal Code."

2. Desk items are common practice in town. They are not illegal. A desk item is not secret. It is not distributed behind anyone's back. It is included with the packet of materials at the meetings.

Menlo Voter: your claims are absurd. Reyering's opinion is one of 5, and ASRB makes recommendations only. She is, in fact, an informed and steady supporter of the Residential Design Guidelines. That is all.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:44 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

Three decades:

I'm a builder not a design professional. I'm sorry but, you're wrong about how the ASRB works in your town. I am fully aware of what they are SUPPOSED to do. I am also aware of what some on the board ACTUALLY do. I assure you it isn't just making sure people's plans comply with the town's zoning. When things like "I think it would look better like...." come out of Reyerson's mouth, she's not evaluating whether the plan she's looking at complies, she's expressing her OPINION. Don't believe me? Ask anyone that's had to go before the ASRB and heard those words uttered and then had to spend thousands of dollars plus to make the plans conform to Reyerson's OPINION and I'm sure you'll get an earful.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:49 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:49 am

retired realtor:

There are two other members of the board that are always in line with Reyerson. Hence the "troika" has the power to force people to comply with their opinions rather than what the code requires.

Like I said, just becasue you haven't seen it happen doesn't mean it hasn't. I'm sure ASRB Victim could inform you. Sounds to me they are just another in a long line of people the troika has cost a lot of money.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 28, 2017 at 10:11 am
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2017 at 10:11 am

"Reyerson did no wrong." Retired Realtor clearly has a problem with FACTS.

The independent investigator determined Reyerson committed FOUR violations.

1. Stating that unequal treatment should be applied to Town Council members when they are acting in their individual capacity. (Charge sustained.)

2. Reaching a conclusion about the project without hearing testimony. (Charge sustained.)

3. Personally attacking the motives of a council member and suggesting that his actions give the appearance that he is attempting to take advantage of his position as a council member to gain special consideration for his client. (Charge sustained.)

And, for me, MOST IMPORTANTLY

4. Attempting to improperly influence the ASRB decision-making process and reaching a conclusion about the project based on a cursory review before hearing testimony at a public hearing. (Charge sustained.)

Not made-up facts. Not ALT Facts. Facts.

Yes, we know some people have a problem "owning" their comments and actions. These are indefensible.

Our citizens, property owners and applicants deserve fairness when their projects are being reviewed.


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 10:46 am
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 10:46 am

[Post removed; discuss the topic without attacking other posters.]


John
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 1:31 pm
John, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Anyone who has ever been before ASRB knows that it is absolutely NOT about code or rules; it is all about the subjective opinions and whims of a few people, who are out of touch and out of control, and who carefully manipulate the code as their tool to wield power.

I'm sorry if this bothers the "old guard" who happen to be friends with the Reyerings of the world. But it's true. This is why voters rebelled and went to great lengths, through a legitimate write in vote, to bring about change.

All the conspiracy theories and baseless assumptions about fellow posters only makes it clear that the facts are not on your side. It's just sour grapes.


Woodside resident
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 2:37 pm
Woodside resident, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 28, 2017 at 2:37 pm

John, I totally agree with you. That's precisely why the write-in won. We are tired of the subjective, often non-sensical and arbitrary decisions made by ASRB about our properties. Some members go overboard. As far as volunteering is concerned, there are plenty of reasonable and responsible people out there to take the place of the 'old guard' and it's time they do.


Alex
another community
on Jan 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm
Alex, another community
on Jan 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

There has long been a perception among residents in Woodside that certain council members have a conflict of interest and the Town does nothing about it.

Not just because these council members do a significant amount of work in town, but because they have sat on “Zoning Subcommittee” crafting ordinances, and because they are known for throwing their weight around in the Building and Planning Department.

Council members need to get their roles straight: they are decision makers when they are sitting on the council, and they are applicants when submitting a project before the ASRB or the Planning Commission. They cannot mix roles.

Peter Mason asked for special treatment. He acknowledges being angry at Nancy for having opinions about his project. He seems to not understand the way the process works: it is not a rubber stamp for him or anyone else.

Nancy’s desk item email is quoted in the Almanac article. She stated clearly that Peter “and anyone else in a similar position has a great responsibility” - not a greater responsibility - “to bring in projects that are reflective of” the town guidelines.

Who is the little guy here: the bully council members, manager, town attorney, or the honored volunteer.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

" Nancy for having opinions about his project. "

Nancy isn't entitled to opinions in her position on the ASRB. She's charged with determining if a project complies with Town zoning, NOT to have an opinion on a project. That is the big reason many are very upset with the ASRB. There's too much opinion and not enough regulations/compliance with regulations. No one's asking for a rubber stamp. They're asking the ASRB members to keep their opinions to themselves and do their job.


ASRB Victim
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 29, 2017 at 5:13 pm
ASRB Victim, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 29, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Alex, and several others.: You need to read the report.

Reyering did not get in trouble for saying Mason had great or greater responsibility. She said someone in Mason's position was not allowed to ask for exceptions. Imagine an architect working in Woodside has potential clients who hear the ASRB thinks he specifically can't ask for an exception. Are you going to hire him? Mason was professionally damaged by Reyering's in-public, in-writing, for-the-record statement, itself a rule she just made up on her own, in clear contradiction to the town Code of Ethics and Conduct. And it is a documented requirement of her role that she understand and follow that code. This is the kind of imperial behavior for which she is infamous among those of us who have suffered through an ASRB meeting.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm

" This is the kind of imperial behavior for which she is infamous among those of us who have suffered through an ASRB meeting."

There you go "retired realtor". Getting the picture now?


Retired Realtor
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm
Retired Realtor, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Editor: you removed a comment of mine saying I attacked another poster. What about the unconscionable attacks on the good volunteers of the town of Woodside? You have allowed these kinds of comments to stand unedited through the election in 2015 and again here. This is grossly unfair, witness the "troika" epithet, and the completely unsubstantiated comments about the ASRB having "the power to force people to comply with their opinions rather than what the code requires", an impossible situation.


ASRB victim
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm
ASRB victim, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Retired Realtor -

These negative episodes with the ASRB are quite well substantiated. They are recorded in the meeting minutes, and reflected in the customer satisfaction survey the town implemented last year, in which the ASRB was roundly reviled. All of that is public record. Do the research.

If you are going to drag out the tired claim that the ASRB is only advisory, I am going to observe that the vast majority of ASRB "recommendations" are accepted by the town and passed on essentially unchanged. It is specious to pretend those are not binding decisions

You made an earlier assertion that ASRB decisions were by a board of five. In my project each of the only two conditions of approval was an opinion of a single board member, one of whom was Reyering. No vote was taken, nor was there any discussion. This is all in the minutes. The comment of each board member was then dropped straight into the official resulting document from the meeting and signed by the staff.


ASRB Victim
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm
ASRB Victim, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Retired Realtor -- sorry, forgot to ask: what were the dates or project addresses of the ASRB meetings you have attended? How many projects have you had before them?


Careful Reader
Woodside: other
on Jan 30, 2017 at 4:31 pm
Careful Reader, Woodside: other
on Jan 30, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Let’s correct the record on a two points:
1. Her name is REYERING – not Reyerson
2. FIVE of the nine charges were Sustained – not four

Questions for the Almanac:
1. The Town did not release the invoices, but did they comment on what the other $15K in legal fees was spent on?
2. The investigators report noted that there have been three formal complaints in recent times. What were they, who was involved, and what did they cost?

To both sides of this argument I need to ask: Have you read the entire report on this mess? The third party investigator is just that – a third party – without bias. We can argue about whether or not this should have turned into a public brawl or not, but it is plainly clear that 5 of the 9 claims were easily sustained. It is also painfully obvious to the investigator that Ms. Reyering was not credible in her answers and has, on multiple occasions, been advised, warned and cautioned by the staff that her behavior was inappropriate. That she still refuses to take any responsibility for her actions is astonishingly shameful.

A sampling from the report:

"Ms. Reyering herself contacted at least two of the witnesses in this investigation after she had been informed of the complaint against her…. I find that these contacts by Ms. Reyering were intended to, and did interfere with my investigation."
P15, footnote 5

"This investigation proceeded on the presumption that Ms. Reyering did not violate the Ethics Code. I attempted to determine whether the facts as presented supported the charges. I did not require Ms. Reyering to establish that she did not violate the Ethics Code."
P16

"In light of the other evidence I reviewed and considered, including the interviews of Ms. Lubin, Mr. Mason, Town Manager Bryant and Town Planning Director Young, I do not find Ms. Reyering’s statement in this regard to be credible."
P20

"Ms. Reyering intended for the ASRB to consider her comments. Ms. Reyering thereby intended to influence the ASRB."
P21

"Ms. Reyering had been advised about these rules on more than one occasion prior to May2, 2016."
P22

"Similarly, the e-mail exchange from January 7 and 8, 2015 establishes Town staff advised Ms. Reyering specifically on the principle."
P23

"I did not find her statement to be credible in this regard."
P23

"Ms. Reyering improperly reached and shared her negative conclusions about the Bardet Road project and architect outside of a public meeting and before the ASRB had conducted a hearing on the project."
P28

"The evidence also establishes that Town Staff sought on other occasions to provide advice and counsel to Ms. Reyering, and not pursue formal charges against her, when members of the public complained that she had engaged in similar instances of improper behavior in violation of the Town’s Ethics Code."
P34

"The Town Manager also stated that on numerous occasions, Staff attempted to have informal complaints against Town officials, including Ms. Reyering, resolved informally without initiation of formal Ethics Code proceedings. Staff recalls there have been only three instances in which formal Ethics Code proceedings have been initiated. In all three, although Staff suggested its normal practice of trying to have the complaints resolved informally, the complainants requested formal proceedings."
P35

"In addition, Town Staff has provided examples of informal complaints brought by members of the public involving claims of misconduct by Ms. Reyering in which the informal complaints were responded to in the same manner as the Town Attorney responded to Ms. Reyering’s October 2015 concern. I find Town Staff’s explanation to be reasonable and credible in the absence of contrary evidence. Ms. Reyering appears to have been treated fairly and in accordance with the Town’s practice. Indeed, she has benefitted from, and been protected by the practice on several occasions."
P38

"Ms. Reyering’s e-mail did essentially single Mr. Mason out for treatment different to the standard and rules applicable to other applicants, and further did so in an abusive, attacking manner."
P39

"Moreover, as noted above, the Town Manager and others have received several complaints about Ms. Reyering’s conduct over the years. These complaints have included complaints that Ms. Reyering had acted inappropriately as an advocate, rather than as an impartial judge, about land use projects before the ASRB."
P 39


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Well there you go retired realtor. Read the report and what do we find? EXACTLY what everyone has been complaining about, SUSTAINED. Reyerson has needed to go for a very long time. BECAUSE SHE HASN'T BEEN DOING HER JOB. She's been forcing her OPINION down the throats of everyone that has come before her. Along the way she and her troika have cost town citizens hundreds if not millions of dollars in design fees to redesign plans that were compliant with town zoning, but were not compliant WITH HER OPINION. That is amazingly abusive of the citizens of Woodside. Good riddance Reyerson.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Regardless of how you feel about the individual, we are indebted to Careful Reader for taking the time to do the research and more importantly, to list the key elements of the report into the post above. Kudos.

Clearly, there is a far more extensive history of violations, complaints, counseling, and repeated violations from this former ASRB member, precisely as ASRB Victim has alleged.

(I also apologize for getting the ASRB member's name wrong on one of my posts.)


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Jan 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Although it is provided in the full article above, here is the link to the 41 page report.

Web Link

Again, thank you to Careful Reader for bringing this to our attention.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 30, 2017 at 8:36 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2017 at 8:36 pm

Whenever a citizen accepts an elected or an appointed position they also accept a higher standard of behavior - to neither behave inappropriately or to be perceived as behaving inappropriately.

And this Forum allows attacks on public figures that it does not permit against either other registered users or anonymous posters.

Is either standard fair - no.

Is either standard inappropriate - no.

But both standards are necessary.


ASRB Victim
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 31, 2017 at 2:56 pm
ASRB Victim, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 31, 2017 at 2:56 pm

By the way, why has the Almanac not published Reyering's press release? I can't find it anywhere. Anyone know where it is?


===========================
EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is the press release the Almanac received from Nancy Reyering on Jan. 28, 2017:


Ethics Boomerang: Town of Woodside Spends Nearly $43,000
Investigating Volunteer

Woodside, Calif. – The Woodside Town Council is facing growing concern over its handling of an ethics investigation of a long-time volunteer serving on the town’s Architecture and Site Review Board (ASRB).

In May 2016, ASRB member Nancy Reyering followed standard town practice by forwarding a comment to be read at a meeting she was not able to attend. A project designed by Town Council member Peter Mason, an architect, was on the agenda. Ms. Reyering’s statement read:

“Even a cursory review of this project raises questions as the architect is a member of the Town Council, and as such, is someone in charge of writing our building regulations. Therefore he, and anyone else in a similar position, has a great responsibility to bring in projects that are reflective of the Residential Design Guidelines, the General Plan, and the Municipal Code, and these projects should not ask for exceptions….[as submitted, the project could] create the potential appearance that council members are privileged when bringing projects before the ASRB. I would ask the applicant and architect to reconsider some elements of this design.”

A plain reading of Ms. Reyering’s comments indicates that she was reminding her colleagues of town policy and encouraging a sitting member of the Town Council to abide both the spirit and the letter of local planning guidelines.

A review of detailed minutes from that meeting make it clear that her comments did not have a significant influence over the decision of ASRB members present at the meeting. Moreover, the ASRB is an advisory body that presents non-binding suggestions only and does not have the power to prevent a project from moving forward.

Nonetheless, following the meeting, former Town Council member Dave Burow accused Ms. Reyering of unethical conduct because of the content of her comment. Council member Mason also expressed concerns over the comment. The Mayor at that time, Deborah Gordon, escalated the matter to the Town Attorney.

Under the guidance of the Town Manager, the Town Attorney hired the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorensen to conduct a full-blown “ethics investigation” of the matter. The Woodside Code of Ethics states that members of the Town Council shall not appear on behalf of private interests or third parties before any Town board, including the ASRB. But rather than explore the potential conflicts of interest between Mr. Mason’s public and private roles, the investigation focused on Ms. Reyering’s non-binding comment that recommended the avoidance of even the appearance of such a conflict.

It has now come to light through a Public Records Act request that the Town of Woodside paid Burke, Williams & Sorensen $42,905.73 since January 2016. The only item in the public record indicating a decision to hire outside counsel since 2016 is the investigation of Ms. Reyering.

“It’s hard to imagine why the Town Council would spend taxpayer dollars and staff time pursuing this specious attack on one of Woodside’s most dedicated and selfless volunteers,” noted longtime Woodside resident Tom Johnson. “Instead of a violation, Nancy’s statement was a call to the highest ethical standards as outlined in the Town’s own guidelines. This is nothing more than vindictive, mean-spirited small town politics.”

The investigation of Ms. Reyering has revealed a troubling pattern of hostile, behind-the-scenes communication among Woodside Town leadership against her. In an email dated September 28, 2014, Mr. Mason sent an email to Town Attorney Jean Savaree about Ms. Reyering, stating that “She needs to be dealt with!!!!” Rather than expressing concerns directly to Ms. Reyering, the Town has proceeded with this expensive and questionable investigation.

Ms. Reyering has provided exemplary service on the ASRB since 2010. Her current 4-year termis set to expire in early February. She has indicated her intent to resign her seat this week to avoid any confusion over whether she plans to reapply for her position on the board.

"Based on my experience with Nancy I believe she is a person of the highest integrity and ethical standards, who operates not based on self-aggrandizement, personal interest or any intention to skirt the rules, but on her sincere view of the public good and desire to uphold important community values,” noted former Mayor Ron Romines.

A hearing by the Woodside Town Council to discuss this issue has not been set.

“What I find most disturbing is the decision by town management to spend taxpayer funds on an aggressive investigation against a volunteer instead of choosing to find ways to minimize potential conflicts of interest for members of the Town Council,” said Ms. Reyering.


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