News

Carpenter creates political action committee to survey residents on fire services

While it is still nearly two months before the consultants Atherton has hired to do a fiscal review of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District release their report, fire board President Peter Carpenter has taken a preemptive strike against what the report could conclude.

Mr. Carpenter has announced that as a private citizen he has formed a political action committee, which he registered with the state in early June. The Citizens' Fire Services Performance Committee, he said, plans to poll fire district residents about what the poll calls a "proposal" by Atherton to form its own fire district.

Atherton officials insist there currently is no such proposal, although the fiscal review of the fire district is looking at options for providing fire service to the town, including creating a municipal fire department, contracting with another fire service or creating a joint powers agreement with other regional agencies.

One of the questions in Mr. Carpenter's political action committee's first poll is prefaced with this statement: "A proposal to split off Atherton into its own district would result in two districts..."

The question, which he provided to the Almanac, will includes details such as how many firefighters and fire stations the proposed district would have, and even states the new district would have "no mutual aid agreement" with surrounding districts.

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When pressed to explain where this proposal can be found, Mr. Carpenter said: "This (poll) question makes no assertion that the Council has adopted a specific proposal but is rather an expert opinion on what would happen if Atherton formed its own fire agency."

Mr. Carpenter would not say whose expert opinion he was relying on, but that he "consulted with knowledgeable people in whom I have confidence."

Mr. Carpenter also would not say if anyone else is involved in the committee, how much money it has raised or even how the polls would be conducted, saying that information was "embargoed."

"The Committee will make the survey methodology and results public when it chooses to do so," he said in an email.

In the papers filed to form the PAC, supplied by Mr. Carpenter to the Almanac, he is the only person named, and his home address, phone number and personal email are the contact information on the filing.

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The purpose given for the committee is: "To conduct surveys regarding citizen satisfaction with current and alternative fire service models."

Atherton City Council member Rick DeGolia said that he has "no problem with a survey, but I do think that it would better serve the collective constituents of the Atherton City Council and the Menlo Park fire board if it were done by a third party organization and not by Peter Carpenter, who has been extremely vocal with his inaccurate perception that the purpose of the consultant is for Atherton to take tax dollars from the fire district."

Mr. DeGolia said the "proposal" asked about in the survey does not exist. "Peter Carpenter is the only person that I've heard articulate that there is such a proposal," he said. The "question appears to be designed to imply that Atherton is, in fact, seeking detachment. That is wrong," he said.

Atherton City Council member Bill Widmer said he was also surprised by some of the questions proposed in the survey, and that he wonders where Mr. Carpenter "is getting the facts and figures as they are not coming from the town."

"I see no reason for misinformation such as is included in the questions to be circulated by someone in a responsible position. I find it troubling and irresponsible," Mr. Widmer said.

In April, Atherton's City Council approved a contract with Matrix Consulting Group, a management consulting firm based in Mountain View, to conduct a fiscal review of the fire district.

The fire district, which provides fire, emergency medical and other emergency services to Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and some nearby unincorporated areas, receives more in property tax revenues from Atherton residents than the town itself does. The City Council said it wants to find out just what Atherton residents get for those tax dollars.

The $50,000 contract with Matrix will look at two questions:

• What are the costs, locally generated revenues, and benefits of service to Atherton from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District?

• What options -- such as a municipal fire department, contracting with another fire service or creating a joint powers agreement with other regional agencies -- are available for providing fire service to the town?

According to Matrix's proposal, the team conducting the study includes two former fire chiefs and a project manager who has conducted more than 150 fire and emergency medical services reviews nationwide.

Atherton City Manager George Rodericks said that on June 29 the consultants reported they had so far created a detailed organizational profile of the fire district, mostly from information provided by the district. They are also working with the county assessor to determine exactly how much Atherton-generated property tax revenues goes to the district.

Matrix's next step, he said, would be to look at the question of how much it would cost the town to get fire services somewhere other than from the fire district.

--

Earlier stories:

Fire district gets big slice of property taxes.

Sparks flying between Atherton and Menlo Park Fire District.

Could Atherton withdraw from the fire district?

--

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Carpenter creates political action committee to survey residents on fire services

by Barbara Wood / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 6, 2017, 6:28 pm

While it is still nearly two months before the consultants Atherton has hired to do a fiscal review of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District release their report, fire board President Peter Carpenter has taken a preemptive strike against what the report could conclude.

Mr. Carpenter has announced that as a private citizen he has formed a political action committee, which he registered with the state in early June. The Citizens' Fire Services Performance Committee, he said, plans to poll fire district residents about what the poll calls a "proposal" by Atherton to form its own fire district.

Atherton officials insist there currently is no such proposal, although the fiscal review of the fire district is looking at options for providing fire service to the town, including creating a municipal fire department, contracting with another fire service or creating a joint powers agreement with other regional agencies.

One of the questions in Mr. Carpenter's political action committee's first poll is prefaced with this statement: "A proposal to split off Atherton into its own district would result in two districts..."

The question, which he provided to the Almanac, will includes details such as how many firefighters and fire stations the proposed district would have, and even states the new district would have "no mutual aid agreement" with surrounding districts.

When pressed to explain where this proposal can be found, Mr. Carpenter said: "This (poll) question makes no assertion that the Council has adopted a specific proposal but is rather an expert opinion on what would happen if Atherton formed its own fire agency."

Mr. Carpenter would not say whose expert opinion he was relying on, but that he "consulted with knowledgeable people in whom I have confidence."

Mr. Carpenter also would not say if anyone else is involved in the committee, how much money it has raised or even how the polls would be conducted, saying that information was "embargoed."

"The Committee will make the survey methodology and results public when it chooses to do so," he said in an email.

In the papers filed to form the PAC, supplied by Mr. Carpenter to the Almanac, he is the only person named, and his home address, phone number and personal email are the contact information on the filing.

The purpose given for the committee is: "To conduct surveys regarding citizen satisfaction with current and alternative fire service models."

Atherton City Council member Rick DeGolia said that he has "no problem with a survey, but I do think that it would better serve the collective constituents of the Atherton City Council and the Menlo Park fire board if it were done by a third party organization and not by Peter Carpenter, who has been extremely vocal with his inaccurate perception that the purpose of the consultant is for Atherton to take tax dollars from the fire district."

Mr. DeGolia said the "proposal" asked about in the survey does not exist. "Peter Carpenter is the only person that I've heard articulate that there is such a proposal," he said. The "question appears to be designed to imply that Atherton is, in fact, seeking detachment. That is wrong," he said.

Atherton City Council member Bill Widmer said he was also surprised by some of the questions proposed in the survey, and that he wonders where Mr. Carpenter "is getting the facts and figures as they are not coming from the town."

"I see no reason for misinformation such as is included in the questions to be circulated by someone in a responsible position. I find it troubling and irresponsible," Mr. Widmer said.

In April, Atherton's City Council approved a contract with Matrix Consulting Group, a management consulting firm based in Mountain View, to conduct a fiscal review of the fire district.

The fire district, which provides fire, emergency medical and other emergency services to Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and some nearby unincorporated areas, receives more in property tax revenues from Atherton residents than the town itself does. The City Council said it wants to find out just what Atherton residents get for those tax dollars.

The $50,000 contract with Matrix will look at two questions:

• What are the costs, locally generated revenues, and benefits of service to Atherton from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District?

• What options -- such as a municipal fire department, contracting with another fire service or creating a joint powers agreement with other regional agencies -- are available for providing fire service to the town?

According to Matrix's proposal, the team conducting the study includes two former fire chiefs and a project manager who has conducted more than 150 fire and emergency medical services reviews nationwide.

Atherton City Manager George Rodericks said that on June 29 the consultants reported they had so far created a detailed organizational profile of the fire district, mostly from information provided by the district. They are also working with the county assessor to determine exactly how much Atherton-generated property tax revenues goes to the district.

Matrix's next step, he said, would be to look at the question of how much it would cost the town to get fire services somewhere other than from the fire district.

--

Earlier stories:

Fire district gets big slice of property taxes.

Sparks flying between Atherton and Menlo Park Fire District.

Could Atherton withdraw from the fire district?

--

Comments

Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Note this quote from an earlier Almanac report:

"If the consultants find the cost to provide fire services to the town is considerably less than the amount of property tax revenue collected by the fire district, the town could "discuss alternative fire service models which could include, but not be limited to, detachment from the Fire District," Mr. Rodericks' report says."

I encourage the Almanac to check its own files and for Bill Widmer to remember the Town Manager's report and the Council's 5-0 decision to issue and RFP which clearly stated:
" If there were not a Fire District and the Town were responsible for providing fire
services independently, what would the cost of those services look like? What are the
options? Would an additional fire station need to be built and staffed? If so, where
would it be? What would it cost? What is the annual cost? What are the long-term
cost models? What are the added liabilities? Are there any added benefits?
For this item, the consultant would be tasked with preparing a fire service model for the Town if
the Town were responsible for providing fire services itself. The consultant would need to take
into consideration programs and services currently provided, programs and services necessary
for a Town-service model (inclusive of overhead), and long-term debt/liability. The consultant
would also need to project initial capital required to build 2nd fire station (if needed - consultant
determined) and other issues related to initial costs versus ongoing long-term costs."

The Council then voted 5-0 to award a contract to Matrix which included that exact same task.

I rest my case.

The survey results will show the residents' level of satisfaction with the current fire services and their level of support for a new separate fire agency.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 6, 2017 at 7:17 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2017 at 7:17 pm

" They are also working with the county assessor to determine exactly how much Atherton-generated property tax revenues goes to the district."

The Fire District paid for an analysis to determine exactly that information and then provided that information to the Town last year.

Why is the Town now spending $50k to Matrix to collect information that the Fire District provided to the Town last year?

And a minor, but important point, the Town of Atherton generates zero property taxes. The property tax are generated by the property owners, not the Town. It is telling that the Town somehow thinks that property taxes are "theirs".


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:44 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:44 am

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2017 19:49:51 -0700

The purpose of this Committee is to "To conduct surveys regarding citizen satisfaction with current and alternative fire service models”.


The Atherton Town Council has entered into a $50,000 contract to determine, among other things,


“What is the financial and service feasibility of the Town creating a municipal fire department?”.


Since such an undertaking by the Town (whose 7000 residents comprise less than 8% of the District) would have a profoundly negative impact on the ability of the Fire District to continue to provide high quality fire services to the remaining 83,000 residents of the Fire District it is important to determine the opinions of all of the residents (including those who reside within the Town’s boundaries) of the Fire District regarding such a proposal.


Therefore, the Citizens' Fire Services Performance Committee will be conducted surveys to determine the level of satisfaction of the District’s residents with the Fire District’s performance as well as the opinions of those residents regarding the Atherton Town Council’s contemplated action.


This effort is being done entirely with private funds.


Any suggested questions for these surveys or comments on the Fire District’s performance would be welcomed via a response to this email.


Please feel free to forward this email to other impacted Fire District residents.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:46 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:46 am

From: Citizen's Fire Services Performance Committee
Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:49:02 -0700

Here are the questions that have been included in the first survey:


1 -Are you satisfied with level of service provided by our local fire department?
Yes
No

2 - On a scale of one (horrible) to five (superb) how do you rate the performance of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.
1 2 3 4 5

3 - The Menlo Park Fire Protection District consists of 7 stations, 93 firefighters, serves 90 thousand residents and has a strong mutual aid agreement to obtain additional resources in times of urgency.

A proposal to split off Atherton into its own district would result in two districts, one covering 7000 Atherton residents with 2 stations, 19 firefighters and no mutual aid agreement and one covering the remaining 83,000 MPFPD residents with 5 stations and 72 firefighters that preserves the existing mutual aid agreement.

Do you support:

= One unified fire department for Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto,

- A separate department for Atherton residents with the remaining 83,000 residents being served by the existing fire protection district,

- No opinion


Brian
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 7, 2017 at 8:31 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 7, 2017 at 8:31 am

Peter,

"I rest my case."

Unfortunately for everyone you did not. I really wish you would. It was you more than anyone else that got this ball rolling and it is you that will probably cause more people to side with Atherton than with the Fire District. You are a resident of Atherton, fill out the survey and leave it at that. Or go one posting and convincing more and more people that the MPFPD is not in their best interests. You have convinced me.


George Rodericks
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 10:36 am
George Rodericks, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2017 at 10:36 am

Information regarding the Town's Fire Fiscal Services Review can be found on the Town's website via the following link: Web Link


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 10:44 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2017 at 10:44 am

Interesting contradiction:

The Town's web site clearly states:
"As part of the District’s response, the District had recently updated an analysis of their property tax revenue from the various jurisdictions within their District. The District had their consultant, MuniServices, extract the data for Tax Rate Areas within Atherton. That Report provided in summary that the District receives $11.8 million a year in property tax revenue from the residents of the Town of Atherton (after ERAF). "

Yet the story states: " They (Matrix) are also working with the county assessor to determine exactly how much Atherton-generated property tax revenues goes to the district."

Why is the Town now spending $50k for Matrix to collect information that the Town acknowledges the Fire District provided to the Town last year?





Linda Craig
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 12:41 pm
Linda Craig, Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 12:41 pm

All of this discussion is useless -- the Town of Atherton needs to be authorized by the County's Local Agency Formation Commission to provide fire services, and also to detach from MP Fire. This cannot be done otherwise. LAFCo is tasked to oversee the efficient provision of local services. Currently Atherton does not provide fire services, so a decision needs to be made by this body as to whether any proposed change will result in more efficient, cost-effective services.

I am a retired member of the commission and am frustrated that no one, including the Town and consultants, seems to know about this issue.



Wow
Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm
Wow, Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm

But yet, they are spending $50,000 on consultants who are oblivious to it! What a waste of taxpayer money.


Mike
Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:06 pm
Mike, Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I totally disagree that this is a waste of taxpayer money; I believe the Council is doing the prudent thing to determine if the MPFPD is providing cost-effective service to the Town. What the Town cannot do is depend upon information provided by the obviously biased Mr. Carpenter


Peter F Carpenter
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm
Peter F Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm

The Fire District does "serve" the Town of Atherton - it serves the residents of the Fire District. And it provides free service to the Town of Atherton's facilities.


peninsula resident
Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:12 am
peninsula resident, Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

"And it provides free service to the Town of Atherton's facilities."

You've mentioned this numerous times. But just to be balanced, it's worth pointing out that using this logic:

* the city of Menlo Park gets "free" fire protection service;
* the city of East Palo Alto gets "free" fire protection service;
* Menlo Park City School District gets "free" fire protection service;
* Ravenswood Elementary School District gets "free" fire protection service;
* Las Lomitas Elementary School District gets "free" fire protection service;
* San Mateo County Community College District gets "free" fire protection service;
* Ladera Recreation District gets "free" fire protection service (I think :) ... is its property taxed?);
* Menlo Park Fire Protection District gets "free" fire protection service (I think :) ... is its property taxed?);

etc.

Not picking sides here, just pointing out that the town of Atherton is in no way unique in getting "free" service. Lots of entities (churches and non-profits, too, IIRC. I welcome correction) don't pay property taxes and end up getting fire service for "free".



Peter F Carpenter
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:21 am
Peter F Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

The difference is that the Town of Atherton in the only entity that claims it is being overcharged for the free services that it receives.


Brian
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 8, 2017 at 6:26 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 8, 2017 at 6:26 pm

I seem to recall Menlo Park has some concerns with the MPFPD that they have raised. Though Menlo has declined to join Atherton, which in my opinion was a mistake, they have requested additional information that the MPFPD has been slow or unwilling to provide. I would hope that Menlo Park studies the report for Atherton very closely and then takes a hard look at what we are paying for and what we are getting. Just the information on pay to some of the personnel and the amounts of overtime they are getting paid for should be enough to set off alarm bells in any fiscally competent resident...


Peter F Carpenter
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2017 at 6:33 pm
Peter F Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Brian - wrong as usual. Menlo Oark got all the information that they asked for.

Please quit blowing smoke.


No issue here
Atherton: other
on Jul 8, 2017 at 7:56 pm
No issue here, Atherton: other
on Jul 8, 2017 at 7:56 pm

The Town of Atherton has seen fit to conduct surveys in recent memory to attempt to validate such issues as Atherton keeping its own police department as well as assessing the parcel tax.

In my opinion, these surveys were "rigged". For example, during the last one which was a computer survey, if one answered "no" to a certain question (I believe it was related to the parcel tax), multiple follow up questions were issued to attempt to get the citizen to change his/her mind and answer "yes".

Given all of this history, it's not wrong for Peter to sponsor a survey about the fire district. Hopefully his survey is not rigged.


Peter F Carpenter
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm
Peter F Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm

This survey was done by an independent expert and I had no control over the way in which the questions were asked.

The survey results will be posted next Tuesday.


Bob
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 9, 2017 at 6:51 am
Bob, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 9, 2017 at 6:51 am

If Atherton were to start up its own fire agency, here would be some costs for the Town to consider: buying land for at least 1 fire station ($2-3MM), at least 1 engine ($650,000), chief ($200,00+/year), 1 fire prevention staff ($150,000/year), firefighters ($100,000/person/year - 9 to staff an engine); plus operating, training and administrative costs; and these numbers are on the conservative side and are just a snapshot.

If Atherton were to leave, LAFCO would potentially have to allow the process for either a stand alone agency or aligning with another jurisdiction.

Don't really see that happening.


Brian
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 9, 2017 at 12:28 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 9, 2017 at 12:28 pm



Peter,

As usual you like to speak for other people when they are perfectly able to speak for themselves and you are usually wrong, but I think you just believe that if you say it everyone should believe you. I think that is the same mentality as Trump and it doesn't work for him either.

Your ego was a huge contributor to Atherton and Menlo questioning the benefits of the MPFPD, and your ego keeps adding fuel to the fire (no pun intended). I think any person that reads your comments can see that, even if you cannot. You are probably the worst thing to happen to the MPFPD in terms of its relationship with the cities and residents it serves (and yes you do serve the cities regardless of what hairs you want to split). It is almost fun watching the train wreck every time you start one of your posting tirades where you split hairs, twist the facts, claim everyone but you is wrong and basically look like a person on the defensive. You are welcome to keep it up, but don't expect people to take what you say at face value, I for one do not.

Brian


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Brian - Just deal with the facts - no need to rave on and on about your personal obsessions.

Menlo Park got all the information they asked for and I know because I was present when the information was handed to them.

And the purpose of the survey is to find out what other people think - the results will speak for themselves.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

I think we should leave that to Menlo Park ,a d you should not speak for them (though you want to speak for everyone else. I know Atherton did not get its questions answered, that was evident from the article in the Mercury News on June 21st.

Web Link

Let's face it, you and the MPFPD are losing credibility among the city councils and the residents. In the last 6 months the issues of service and cost, pay to firefighters, egregious overtime pay and trying to kick people from their homes have all blackened the eye of the MPFPD and the board, with none other than you as the President. It is sad when this happens to what was once a respected institution in these communities.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Perhaps you did not actually READ the article:

"But he asked “that question 4 not be asked of our employees because I find it to be both inappropriate and troubling.”

Question 4 is: “Are there any specific duties you perform that would be required for Atherton to assume if they were to separate from the district?”

Schapelhouman’s response was to say “I don’t find this question in good taste nor do I wish to have my staff exposed to this type of ridiculous and potentially damaging questioning. It seems similar to asking an employee that is training a replacement because the company is moving out of the country and the employee then knows and understands that they are losing their job."


After answering all of the other questions posed by the contractor, as noted in the article, the Chief made the right call on this question.



Outside In
another community
on Jul 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm
Outside In, another community
on Jul 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Looking at that question from the outside, seems strange that it would be deemed "inappropriate and troubling." Atherton's Study is looking to define the services provided by the Fire District that the Town would have to assume if the Town were to provide the services directly. Their webpage says it is for comparative purposes to "...allow residents to get a true comparative, the consultant is tasked with a third task of determining what the cost of services would be if the Town itself were responsible for providing the services independent of the District."

The question asked appears to get at what extra stuff the District provides to the Town that are beyond the basic level fire protection services. The District does a lot more than just hoses and water. The question seems to be directed at finding out what those extra things are. This seems like an opportunity for the District to shine. The Fire Chief's response seems a bit over the top and counterproductive. Schapelhouman’s response was to say “I don’t find this question in good taste nor do I wish to have my staff exposed to this type of ridiculous and potentially damaging questioning. It seems similar to asking an employee that is training a replacement because the company is moving out of the country and the employee then knows and understands that they are losing their job."

But that NOT the case. The City Council has repeatedly said publicly that this is not about detachment or taking someone's job. In fact, their website says "The City Council has been clear that the intent of the analysis is not to consider providing services independent of the Fire District; nor is the Town seeking to gain any additional revenue share. At this stage, the intent is data gathering. However, if after the results, the District and Town are able to identify different service levels or service needs for the Town and have a conversation about how to address those needs that would be a positive outcome."

I agree with Brian. The District is employing a bully mentality led by a member of their Board of Directors and the Fire Chief. If the issue is whether the Town should spend its tax dollars on a study, that train has left the station. With this private survey (privately led by the President of the Fire Board) and these repeated attacks it seems as if the District has something to hide. If it didn't it would just let the Town was its own tax dollars as the Study would prove out that the District is superior to any alternative.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2017 at 2:25 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2017 at 2:25 pm

"The City Council has repeatedly said publicly that this is not about detachment or taking someone's job."

Then why did the consultant meet with the Executive Director of LAFO to discuss exactly that issue?

"I met with the LAFCO Director yesterday so I got more background and thoughts on LAFCO processes." stated the President of Matrix on 5/24/17

And why does Matrix have this item in their work schedule?

Week 12
7/17
Begin the analysis of alternative approaches to providing fire services in the Town of Atherton.

As necessary, meet with neighboring jurisdictions, which may be viable service delivery alternatives for Atherton.


Outside In
another community
on Jul 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm
Outside In, another community
on Jul 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Really? Pot -- meet kettle.

I suppose it is similar to the Fire Board stating that they have no intent of closing or moving out of Fire Station No. 3 in Atherton yet, the scope of work for their consultant included an analysis of doing just that. Nevertheless, the consultant's scope of work included an analysis of the best location for Station No. 3 - to include identified locations outside of Atherton.

The Atherton City Council can be presented with all types of data via a consultant. It is the job of that consultant and the task of the Council to gather data for any and all options that might be possible so that they can make an informed and educated decision. Then they get to make the policy decision with respect to the information. Just because the consultant says hey, this is an option, doesn't mean the Council has to do it.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm

" for any and all options that might be possible so that they can make an informed and educated decision."

Thank you for acknowledging that the Atherton Town Council IS considering detachment from the Fire District.

When the Fire District conducted its Standards of Coverage Study there was no way that the Fire District would have been able to expand Station due to its very small lot size. That forced the Fire District to look at other alternatives. Subsequently when the adjacent parcel became available the Fire District immediately spent $4.6 million to acquire that parcel.

In contrast, what the Town Council is doing is trying to do is to get their hands on the property taxes paid by those Fire District residents who also reside within Atherton so that the Town can provide a cheaper and less effective fire service and then pocket the difference.

The Town has even suggested that in lieu of pursuing detachment they could be bought off by a "tax property revenue sharing" agreement which would immediately reduce the service levels for all of the other residents of the Fire District:
"Sit down with the Fire District to discuss the findings and discuss ways to address fiscal equity issues in Atherton (property tax revenue sharing agreements...."


Outside In
another community
on Jul 9, 2017 at 3:19 pm
Outside In, another community
on Jul 9, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I didn't acknowledge anything. My earlier post in fact said the opposite. Don't cherry pick my words.

Which is it? You do or do not need to expand Station No. 3? You purchased the property and then your Chief immediately said you have no plans for it other than maybe storage in the short term. Your standards of coverage study said the best location is not in Atherton. The issue, according to your own consultant, wasn't size and need for expansion - it was location. "Stations #3 and #5 are not the busiest in the Department, nor do they have the largest number of simultaneous incident demands; however, their back-up coverage must come from Stations #6, #77, and Redwood City #11. The data in our 2015 study showed that Station #3 receives the second-due unit in 7:28 minutes/seconds, and in 7:37 minutes/seconds for Station #5. The adjoining stations are too far to provide the District’s response time goal if the combination station was committed to incidents and assuming the cover units are available to respond."

And just because you say it, doesn't make it true. "...Town Council is doing is trying to do is to get their hands on the property taxes paid by those Fire District residents who also reside within Atherton so that the Town can provide a cheaper and less effective fire service and then pocket the difference." Are there any public statements by the Council articulating that that is the point of the study? NO.

"The Town has even suggested that in lieu of pursuing detachment they could be bought off by a "tax property revenue sharing" agreement" That's a comment within a Staff Report in 2016 where the Manager was presenting things to the Council to consider. At any point since that time, do you have any record or public statement by the City Council that they intend to ask the District for a property tax revenue sharing agreement? NO.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2017 at 8:24 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 9, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Has the Council voted to not pursue detachment - NO

Has the Council voted to include the following task in the RFP:
"• If there were not a Fire District and the Town were responsible for providing fire
services independently, what would the cost of those services look like? What are the
options? Would an additional fire station need to be built and staffed? If so, where
would it be? What would it cost? What is the annual cost? What are the long-term
cost models? What are the added liabilities? Are there any added benefits?
For this item, the consultant would be tasked with preparing a fire service model for the Town if
the Town were responsible for providing fire services itself. The consultant would need to take
into consideration programs and services currently provided, programs and services necessary
for a Town-service model (inclusive of overhead), and long-term debt/liability. The consultant
would also need to project initial capital required to build 2nd fire station (if needed - consultant
determined) and other issues related to initial costs versus ongoing long-term costs." YES

Has the Council directed that the Town enter unto a contract with Matrix that include just two fundamental questions of which the second fundamental question was:
"What is the financial and service feasibility of the Town creating a municipal fire department?" YES

Does the Matrix work plan contain the following task:
"Begin the analysis of alternative approaches to providing fire services in the Town of Atherton.

As necessary, meet with neighboring jurisdictions, which may be viable service delivery alternatives for Atherton." YES


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 11, 2017 at 4:54 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2017 at 4:54 pm

The survey results were submitted to the Town Forum as a new topic at 7:30 AM this morning.

Hopefully that submission will be approved by the Moderators for public access sometime soon.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 11, 2017 at 7:21 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Here is what was posted but has not appeared:

The Citizens' Fire Services Performance Review Committee (ID: 1396829) has recently completed a public survey. This survey was paid for by contributions by private citizens. The Committee has used no public funds.

Web Link


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 12, 2017 at 10:57 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2017 at 10:57 am

Since the Almanac is trying very hard to suppress this story ( three attempts to post it as a new topic have been rejected) here is the text data from the survey report:


METHODOLOGY

Survey Dates: • 6/14/2017 – 6/24/2017
Sample Size: • 202 completed surveys
Sampling Error: • /- 6.9% at the 95% confidence level
Unit of Analysis: • Adult Residents
Survey Medium: • Facebook
Population: • Residents within Menlo Park Fire Protection District
Screens • Age, Language (to minimize Latino oversampling)
Languages • English
Quotas • Location, Gender, Latino
Corrections • Weighting for Female Oversample (Actual pop is 50.5% female)
Principal Researcher • Craig R. Everett, PhD
All raw response percentages for the opinion questions have been corrected for female oversampling in the survey in order to reflect actual gender distributions within the MPFD per the 2010 US Census.

OPINION RESULTS

Question: Are you satisfied with level of service provided by our local fire department?
• Yes: 98.5%
• No: 1.5%

Question: On a scale of 1-horrible to 5-superb, how do you rate the performance of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District?
• 1: 1.0% (horrible)
• 2: 0.5%
• 3: 7.5%
• 4: 27.9%
• 5: 63.2% (superb)

Question: The Menlo Park Fire Protection District consists of 7 stations, 93 firefighters, serves 90 thousand residents and has a strong mutual aid agreement to obtain additional resources in times of urgency. A proposal to split off Atherton into its own district would result in two districts, one covering 7000 Atherton residents with 2 stations, 19 firefighters and no mutual aid agreement and one covering the remaining 83,000 MPFPD residents with 5 stations and 72 firefighters that preserves the existing mutual aid agreement. Do you support one [Unified] fire department for Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto, or a [Separate] department for Atherton residents with the remaining 83,000 residents being served by the existing fire protection district?
• Unified: 69.1%
• Separate: 9.5%
• No opinion: 21.4%

DEMOGRAPHICS

Geographic Distribution of Survey Respondents
• Atherton: 7%
• East Palo Alto: 45%
• Menlo Park: 48%

Gender of Survey Respondents
• Female: 66%
• Male: 33%
• Other: 1%

Ethnicity of Survey Respondents
• Latino: 40%
• Caucasian: 38%
• African American: 9%
• Asian: 5%
• Pacific Islander: 4%
• Not Disclosed: 3%
• Multi-Racial: 1%
• Native American: 0%

Age of Survey Respondents
• 18-34: 32%
• 35-44: 24%
• 45-54: 21%
• 55-64: 14%
• 65-74: 5%
• 75+

Socio-Economic Status
• Wealthy/Upper Middle-Class: 13%
• Middle-Class: 48%
• Lower Middle-Class: 30%
• Poor: 7%
• Not Disclosed: 2%

Marital Status
• Married: 60%
• Single: 29%
• Divorced: 8%
• Widowed: 3%


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