News

Four face off in Menlo Park fire board election

Atherton's detachment proposal, planning for next fire chief and board conduct are key issues

Menlo Park Fire District Station 3 exterior in Atherton on Oct. 7, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Two incumbents and two challengers are vying for two seats on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board this November.

Virginia Chang Kiraly and Rob Silano, who have both been on the board since November 2011, are running against Sean Ballard and former board member Peter Carpenter, who decided not to run for reelection in 2018 after serving a combined 15 years on the board.

The district covers Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and nearby unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, approximately 30 square miles that reaches into the Bay, according to its website. It responded to over 9,000 emergency incidents last year, with most of them being emergency medical incidents.

The Almanac interviewed the four candidates via questionnaire, asking them about issues ranging from the district's finances and replacing fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman upon his retirement (he told The Almanac on Wednesday that while his contract is up in June, he'll decide whether to retire in January) to their views on the town of Atherton examining the possibility of detaching from the fire district.

Sean Ballard

Sean Ballard. Courtesy Sean Ballard.

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Sean Ballard, 43, is an investment professional who has lived in Menlo Park on and off for the last 20 years. He is a member of the fire district's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and has served as chairperson of its Community Crisis Management Advisory Board and as a resident representative on its Finance Committee since 2019. He sat on the district's Strategic Planning Committee as a resident representative in 2018. Ballard has a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University. His campaign website is carpenterballardforfireboard.com.

A 20-year Menlo Park resident who moved to the city as a young boy and returned in 2014, Sean Ballard says his "sense of obligation" as a citizen has grown over the years. After an unsuccessful run in 2018, he's vying for a seat on the fire board for the second time because he says he's well aware of the challenges and opportunities the district is facing. He underscored his experience as a former Strategic Planning Committee member and current Finance Committee member as relevant experience.

"I believe that I have an even-handed and steady management style and a low-ego personality that will serve the next board well in restoring the ability to make timely decisions, supporting the men and women of our professional staff to do their job without imposing unnecessary burdens, and bringing back the drive to work together to get things done and accomplish goals," he said.

Ballard is campaigning alongside fellow challenger Carpenter. Among Ballard's supporters are Atherton Mayor Rick DeGolia, former Woodside Mayor Paul Goeld and Atherton Disaster and Preparedness Team (ADAPT) president Tom Prussing.

His top three priorities as a board member would be fiscal accountability, responding to population growth and emergency preparedness, respectively. Since property taxes from within the district make up 90% of its revenue, he said, it "has an enormous responsibility to use those funds wisely." The board in June approved a 2020-21 fiscal year budget that projects $60 million in total revenues — including $54.7 million in property tax revenue, an increase of 4% over last fiscal year — and $57 million in expenditures, although that estimate was given before the board decided to leave out new positions and reclassifications.

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Ballard is a member of Menlo Park CERT and chair of the advisory board overseeing the fire district's Community Crisis Management program, which works to establish and maintain a team of trained volunteers who can provide initial neighborhood response in the event of a major emergency. Emergency preparedness is important to him, he said, and he will work to encourage community members to get prepared and involved.

Ballard criticized the district's Emergency Preparedness Committee, saying it "does not have a handle on the community-based issues it faces." At the same time, he lauded board member Chuck Bernstein, a committee member, for proposing a board study session on the district's citizen volunteer program that was held last month.

"The vacuum from the Emergency Preparedness Committee in the early days of the pandemic left citizen volunteers adrift," Ballard said. "We volunteers then proceeded to organize, seek assistance from the professional staff of the fire district, and take initiative without guidance from the committee."

He believes the most significant issue the board will be facing is the search for a new fire chief, adding that he thinks the current board — which he called dysfunctional — would struggle to accomplish the task.

"It would be a nearly insurmountable challenge to secure the most talented candidate for the role when that candidate will surely understand what likely awaits them and decides to pass," he said.

Ballard added that he believes mutual respect is missing from the current board, and that it has micromanaged "in a way that impedes the smooth functioning of the district."

"The fire board simply should not be involved in day-to-day operations of the district in a way that interferes with our professional staff," he said.

As a member of the Finance Committee, Ballard says he is already involved in oversight of the district's budget.

"As a board member, I can augment this fiscal stewardship with the ability to provide governance over complementary items, such as standards of cover studies and timeliness of responses to emergencies, to ensure careful planning and budgeting in an ever-changing landscape," he said.

Asked about the town of Atherton's decision to further research the idea of detaching from the fire district and contracting out for emergency services — a process that has been put on hold due to the pandemic and was prompted by a fiscal services review that found property tax revenue from Atherton is millions of dollars more than it costs the fire district to provide the town services — Ballard said separation would be a "tremendous blow" and that joint discussions between the board and Atherton City Council need to get back on track.

"I believe that a fair outcome, that both sides consider to be amenable, will require each side give a little in deference to the other," he said.

Peter Carpenter

Peter Carpenter. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Menlo Park resident Peter Carpenter, 80, is a corporate officer/director and former fire board member who has lived in the district for 39 years. In addition to his combined 15 years on the fire board, he has extensive experience in emergency preparedness from working with multiple local CERT groups. He has served on numerous committees and as director of various organizations, including stints on Stanford Hospital's Ethics Committee and with Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD). He served in the Air Force, working as a military aide at the White House and as a test parachutist for the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, among other roles during his service. He has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. His campaign website is carpenterballardforfireboard.com.

As a former fire board member who is heavily involved in local emergency preparedness efforts, Peter Carpenter represents a familiar face for voters despite being a challenger this time around. He said he believes he's the best candidate based on his corporate leadership experience, years of public service and knowledge of the fire district.

Carpenter has been endorsed by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, former state Senator and Congressman Tom Campbell, and former Woodside Mayor Goeld, among others.

If elected, his top three priorities would be ensuring that the district "continues to provide the same level of superior service to all of its residents," recruitment of a new fire chief and timely decision-making by the board.

The first two priorities are also among the greatest challenges facing the district, Carpenter said, along with aggressive innovation in order to respond to growth and changes in the community.

In searching for a new fire chief, the district and board should prioritize leadership, integrity and a distinguished career of firefighting experience, Carpenter said. Asked about the district's spending in recent years, he said it needs to "significantly increase its investments in innovation and in citizen-level disaster preparedness."

Carpenter spoke strongly against the concept of Atherton detaching from the fire district, calling it "a cancer that must be eliminated."

"I am working hard to elect Atherton City Council members who will abandon this effort," he said. "The best way to serve our residents would be a county-wide consolidation of fire agencies with the added responsibility for EMS services ... such a consolidation would provide better services at a lower cost per capita than the current fragmented non-system."

He believes the district should enter into agreements with Atherton, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park to become the lead agency in the event of a disaster, to operate a combined emergency operations center and to train and equip a significant number of volunteers.

Asked what the current board could be doing better, he said, "Focusing on broad policy issues and reinstating the chief as the district's CEO rather than engaging in micromanagement and interpersonal squabbles."

Virginia Chang Kiraly

Virginia Chang Kiraly. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Virginia Chang Kiraly, 56, has served on the fire board since 2011 and has lived in unincorporated West Menlo Park for over 25 years. She is a member the San Mateo County Harbor District Commission since 2015 and served on a number of its committees, and currently serves on the fire district's Finance and Human Relations committees. Chang Kiraly spent seven years as a California Commission for Economic Development member, as an appointee of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. She is a fire district CERT member and a licensed ham radio operator. Her professional background is in investing and trading, having worked for the Nasdaq Stock Market and PaineWebber, among other companies. She has a bachelor's degree in government from University of Texas at Austin and a master of public administration from the University of Southern California. Her campaign website is virginiachangkiraly.com.

West Menlo Park resident and incumbent Virginia Chang Kiraly has the rare distinction of running for reelection to two different positions within the county: As she seeks her third term on the fire board, she is also running for reelection to the harbor district's board against former Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith.

Chang Kiraly said that she is the best candidate to "rebuild bridges" with Atherton and Menlo Park, strengthen the district's Community Emergency Response Team programs and maintain its healthy finances. She added that she has experience serving on the fire board during tumultuous times — including when Schapelhouman suffered paralyzing injuries from a fall at his home in 2013 — that would serve the district well moving forward given the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing frequency of disastrous wildfires in the state. She has served as board president twice and said she considers her management of the process for a newly negotiated contract with the district's two bargaining units in 2015 an accomplishment she is proud of.

Chang Kiraly has been endorsed by a number of well-known current and former politicians, including state Sen. Jerry Hill, former state Assemblymember Rich Gordon and current Assemblymember Marc Berman.

"My professional financial background, extensive community involvement, open communication, and track record of success over the last nine years of service on the fire board allow me to bring my relevant experience to help repair relationships with our community volunteers and the jurisdictions that the fire district serves and continue providing stable leadership on the fire board," she said.

Her top priorities if reelected would be to continue ensuring the district's budget is healthy by funding capital improvement projects and paying down unfunded pension liabilities; improving the district's relationship with local jurisdictions and its volunteers; and ensuring a smooth transition to the new fire chief when Schapelhouman retires.

The greatest challenges facing the district, Chang Kiraly said, are repairing the "broken relationships" between the district, board and jurisdictions they serve and restructuring the CERT program "so that our incredible volunteers are reengaged to help their families and neighbors during a disaster, such as an earthquake or fire." She believes conflicts between the district and the areas it serves can be addressed through regular joint meetings and respectful dialogue.

Respect on the fire board is lacking at times, Chang Kiraly said, and inappropriate behavior — what she referred to as misogynistic and chauvinistic behavior that she says she's experienced from a few fellow board members — does not reflect the values of the fire district. Chang Kiraly has been the only woman on the board for the last nine years and is the second female member since the district's formation in 1915.

"Our fire district cannot afford to be divisive, with bullying fire board members, when all of us must face the challenges of COVID-19 and the dangers of wildfires right here in our community, such as the Triangle encampments in the eastern area of Menlo Park that experienced 11 incident responses in July," she said.

Chang Kiraly believes a new fire chief would need to be fiscally responsible, collaborative and ethical. Replacing Schapelhouman will be difficult, and if reelected Chang Kiraly said she would bring continuity and institutional history to the selection process.

She said the fire district has healthy financial management and said that has allowed the organization to plan for the future by purchasing properties adjacent to fire stations for the construction of new stations. She added, however, that the board must be mindful of employee compensation expenses and unfunded future pension liabilities. She is a proponent of continuing to pay down unfunded employee pension liabilities and said rethinking how non-sworn employees should be compensated is something that will have to be discussed.

On the town of Atherton weighing whether to detach from the fire district, Chang Kiraly said she is against any jurisdiction detaching from the district.

"I believe that the financial impact would be adverse for the entire fire district if Atherton detached. ... the district's excellent emergency-response service would have to be reduced, and this adverse impact would harm low-income and at-risk communities, which also happen to be fast-growing areas in the Bay Area," she said.

Chang Kiraly believes the district is very prepared when it comes to responding to a major emergency, but added that it could strengthen its group of neighborhood CERT volunteers by rethinking how they can be trained and deployed in a meaningful way when needed.

The board could be better at providing broad oversight rather than micromanaging operations, which she said the board has done over the last couple of years, and with being respectful toward fellow directors. Chang Kiraly and challenger Carpenter, who sat on the board together for seven years, repeatedly clashed in public during their overlapping tenures, and she said she would not want to see him return.

"I fear that electing former board members who have a history of antagonism toward the jurisdictions that the fire district serves may endanger the relationships that are already fragile but have a chance to be rebuilt," Chang Kiraly said.

Rob Silano

Robert Silano. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Rob Silano, 68, has lived in Menlo Park for 32 years and has been a fire board director since 2011. He currently sits on the district's Emergency Preparedness Committee and has over 40 years of public safety experience in federal, state and local governmental agencies ranging from working as a senior manager and special agent for the Department of Justice to working as an intelligence officer for the Department of Homeland Security. He has volunteered with a number of organizations, including FBI National Academy Associates, the Silicon Valley Homeland Security Coordination Group and Peninsula Habitat for Humanity. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration and a master's degree in education administration from Florida International University, as well as law enforcement and public safety certifications. His campaign website is robsilano.com.

As an incumbent with over 40 years of public safety experience, Rob Silano says he wants to return to the board to help ensure the district provides the best possible service in a fiscally responsible manner. He touts several accomplishments during his nine-year tenure, including being apart of successful labor contract negotiations with all employee labor groups and the development of the district's strategic plan for 2020 through 2025.

He has been endorsed by a list of emergency response officials and elected officials that includes Don Long, the former deputy fire chief for Menlo Fire, Eshoo and DeGolia.

Silano's top three priorities if reelected would be to "maintain the highest level of fire and emergency services to communities served by the district;" continue to support prudent fiscal management oversight policies with balanced budgets and strong reserves; and keep pace with current trends in public safety equipment, facility upgrades and additional personnel.

The greatest challenges facing the district, he said, are traffic congestion and global warming.

"Traffic congestion is a problem and continues to be a problem," he said. "It is critical to retain our excellent response times. The fire district needs to participate more with the building-zoning departments of each city and town within our district.

"Global warming is a problem too, since many coastal areas fall within the fire district and flooding has been a concern for our East Palo Alto residents," Silano added.

Silano commended Schapelhouman's work as fire chief and said he would want to initiate a nationwide search for his replacement that would also involve local jurisdictions, the county and local businesses.

He says the current fire board is "very transparent" about its finances and works within its budget, adding that the newest fire stations were paid for by set-aside tax dollars and the district could currently pay off its California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS) debt with its reserves.

Silano called the accusations of board micromanagement by the other candidates false, saying it is not micromanagement but rather "appropriate fire board oversight." He said the board has rejected multiple project proposals because they were deemed too costly and wouldn't benefit all communities served by the district.

"We as a board would not be good stewards of our fire district expenditures if we did not rightfully request further information or an explanation or documentation when considered necessary," he said. "Close oversight by the board of taxpayers' money is effective fiscal management and should not be criticized but lauded."

Asked about Atherton weighing a split from the district, he said separation "could have dire consequences."

"It's like a house of cards," he said. "One town withdraws, the entire public safety response system is affected in San Mateo County. ... The other communities in the fire district will be damaged by Atherton's move to detach."

Silano added that he has spoken to several Atherton council members on the subject and said he is ready to meet and "see what is a reasonable solution," acknowledging that the town's property taxes wouldn't be lowered if they detached.

The district is prepared for a major emergency, he said, but the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services should better coordinate and publicize its SMC Alert system as a recent San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report recommended. Menlo Fire's Community Crisis Management program is also too big, and it does not always share the volunteers, training, and equipment with all the other volunteer groups, Silano said.

"We need to do more to support all volunteer groups equally," he said.

The current board should create a strategic plan involving all the communities the district serves, Silano said, and schedule more working groups and joint meetings with them.

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Four face off in Menlo Park fire board election

Atherton's detachment proposal, planning for next fire chief and board conduct are key issues

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 9, 2020, 11:40 am

Two incumbents and two challengers are vying for two seats on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board this November.

Virginia Chang Kiraly and Rob Silano, who have both been on the board since November 2011, are running against Sean Ballard and former board member Peter Carpenter, who decided not to run for reelection in 2018 after serving a combined 15 years on the board.

The district covers Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and nearby unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, approximately 30 square miles that reaches into the Bay, according to its website. It responded to over 9,000 emergency incidents last year, with most of them being emergency medical incidents.

The Almanac interviewed the four candidates via questionnaire, asking them about issues ranging from the district's finances and replacing fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman upon his retirement (he told The Almanac on Wednesday that while his contract is up in June, he'll decide whether to retire in January) to their views on the town of Atherton examining the possibility of detaching from the fire district.

Sean Ballard

Sean Ballard, 43, is an investment professional who has lived in Menlo Park on and off for the last 20 years. He is a member of the fire district's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and has served as chairperson of its Community Crisis Management Advisory Board and as a resident representative on its Finance Committee since 2019. He sat on the district's Strategic Planning Committee as a resident representative in 2018. Ballard has a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University. His campaign website is carpenterballardforfireboard.com.

A 20-year Menlo Park resident who moved to the city as a young boy and returned in 2014, Sean Ballard says his "sense of obligation" as a citizen has grown over the years. After an unsuccessful run in 2018, he's vying for a seat on the fire board for the second time because he says he's well aware of the challenges and opportunities the district is facing. He underscored his experience as a former Strategic Planning Committee member and current Finance Committee member as relevant experience.

"I believe that I have an even-handed and steady management style and a low-ego personality that will serve the next board well in restoring the ability to make timely decisions, supporting the men and women of our professional staff to do their job without imposing unnecessary burdens, and bringing back the drive to work together to get things done and accomplish goals," he said.

Ballard is campaigning alongside fellow challenger Carpenter. Among Ballard's supporters are Atherton Mayor Rick DeGolia, former Woodside Mayor Paul Goeld and Atherton Disaster and Preparedness Team (ADAPT) president Tom Prussing.

His top three priorities as a board member would be fiscal accountability, responding to population growth and emergency preparedness, respectively. Since property taxes from within the district make up 90% of its revenue, he said, it "has an enormous responsibility to use those funds wisely." The board in June approved a 2020-21 fiscal year budget that projects $60 million in total revenues — including $54.7 million in property tax revenue, an increase of 4% over last fiscal year — and $57 million in expenditures, although that estimate was given before the board decided to leave out new positions and reclassifications.

Ballard is a member of Menlo Park CERT and chair of the advisory board overseeing the fire district's Community Crisis Management program, which works to establish and maintain a team of trained volunteers who can provide initial neighborhood response in the event of a major emergency. Emergency preparedness is important to him, he said, and he will work to encourage community members to get prepared and involved.

Ballard criticized the district's Emergency Preparedness Committee, saying it "does not have a handle on the community-based issues it faces." At the same time, he lauded board member Chuck Bernstein, a committee member, for proposing a board study session on the district's citizen volunteer program that was held last month.

"The vacuum from the Emergency Preparedness Committee in the early days of the pandemic left citizen volunteers adrift," Ballard said. "We volunteers then proceeded to organize, seek assistance from the professional staff of the fire district, and take initiative without guidance from the committee."

He believes the most significant issue the board will be facing is the search for a new fire chief, adding that he thinks the current board — which he called dysfunctional — would struggle to accomplish the task.

"It would be a nearly insurmountable challenge to secure the most talented candidate for the role when that candidate will surely understand what likely awaits them and decides to pass," he said.

Ballard added that he believes mutual respect is missing from the current board, and that it has micromanaged "in a way that impedes the smooth functioning of the district."

"The fire board simply should not be involved in day-to-day operations of the district in a way that interferes with our professional staff," he said.

As a member of the Finance Committee, Ballard says he is already involved in oversight of the district's budget.

"As a board member, I can augment this fiscal stewardship with the ability to provide governance over complementary items, such as standards of cover studies and timeliness of responses to emergencies, to ensure careful planning and budgeting in an ever-changing landscape," he said.

Asked about the town of Atherton's decision to further research the idea of detaching from the fire district and contracting out for emergency services — a process that has been put on hold due to the pandemic and was prompted by a fiscal services review that found property tax revenue from Atherton is millions of dollars more than it costs the fire district to provide the town services — Ballard said separation would be a "tremendous blow" and that joint discussions between the board and Atherton City Council need to get back on track.

"I believe that a fair outcome, that both sides consider to be amenable, will require each side give a little in deference to the other," he said.

Peter Carpenter

Menlo Park resident Peter Carpenter, 80, is a corporate officer/director and former fire board member who has lived in the district for 39 years. In addition to his combined 15 years on the fire board, he has extensive experience in emergency preparedness from working with multiple local CERT groups. He has served on numerous committees and as director of various organizations, including stints on Stanford Hospital's Ethics Committee and with Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD). He served in the Air Force, working as a military aide at the White House and as a test parachutist for the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, among other roles during his service. He has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. His campaign website is carpenterballardforfireboard.com.

As a former fire board member who is heavily involved in local emergency preparedness efforts, Peter Carpenter represents a familiar face for voters despite being a challenger this time around. He said he believes he's the best candidate based on his corporate leadership experience, years of public service and knowledge of the fire district.

Carpenter has been endorsed by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, former state Senator and Congressman Tom Campbell, and former Woodside Mayor Goeld, among others.

If elected, his top three priorities would be ensuring that the district "continues to provide the same level of superior service to all of its residents," recruitment of a new fire chief and timely decision-making by the board.

The first two priorities are also among the greatest challenges facing the district, Carpenter said, along with aggressive innovation in order to respond to growth and changes in the community.

In searching for a new fire chief, the district and board should prioritize leadership, integrity and a distinguished career of firefighting experience, Carpenter said. Asked about the district's spending in recent years, he said it needs to "significantly increase its investments in innovation and in citizen-level disaster preparedness."

Carpenter spoke strongly against the concept of Atherton detaching from the fire district, calling it "a cancer that must be eliminated."

"I am working hard to elect Atherton City Council members who will abandon this effort," he said. "The best way to serve our residents would be a county-wide consolidation of fire agencies with the added responsibility for EMS services ... such a consolidation would provide better services at a lower cost per capita than the current fragmented non-system."

He believes the district should enter into agreements with Atherton, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park to become the lead agency in the event of a disaster, to operate a combined emergency operations center and to train and equip a significant number of volunteers.

Asked what the current board could be doing better, he said, "Focusing on broad policy issues and reinstating the chief as the district's CEO rather than engaging in micromanagement and interpersonal squabbles."

Virginia Chang Kiraly

Virginia Chang Kiraly, 56, has served on the fire board since 2011 and has lived in unincorporated West Menlo Park for over 25 years. She is a member the San Mateo County Harbor District Commission since 2015 and served on a number of its committees, and currently serves on the fire district's Finance and Human Relations committees. Chang Kiraly spent seven years as a California Commission for Economic Development member, as an appointee of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. She is a fire district CERT member and a licensed ham radio operator. Her professional background is in investing and trading, having worked for the Nasdaq Stock Market and PaineWebber, among other companies. She has a bachelor's degree in government from University of Texas at Austin and a master of public administration from the University of Southern California. Her campaign website is virginiachangkiraly.com.

West Menlo Park resident and incumbent Virginia Chang Kiraly has the rare distinction of running for reelection to two different positions within the county: As she seeks her third term on the fire board, she is also running for reelection to the harbor district's board against former Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith.

Chang Kiraly said that she is the best candidate to "rebuild bridges" with Atherton and Menlo Park, strengthen the district's Community Emergency Response Team programs and maintain its healthy finances. She added that she has experience serving on the fire board during tumultuous times — including when Schapelhouman suffered paralyzing injuries from a fall at his home in 2013 — that would serve the district well moving forward given the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing frequency of disastrous wildfires in the state. She has served as board president twice and said she considers her management of the process for a newly negotiated contract with the district's two bargaining units in 2015 an accomplishment she is proud of.

Chang Kiraly has been endorsed by a number of well-known current and former politicians, including state Sen. Jerry Hill, former state Assemblymember Rich Gordon and current Assemblymember Marc Berman.

"My professional financial background, extensive community involvement, open communication, and track record of success over the last nine years of service on the fire board allow me to bring my relevant experience to help repair relationships with our community volunteers and the jurisdictions that the fire district serves and continue providing stable leadership on the fire board," she said.

Her top priorities if reelected would be to continue ensuring the district's budget is healthy by funding capital improvement projects and paying down unfunded pension liabilities; improving the district's relationship with local jurisdictions and its volunteers; and ensuring a smooth transition to the new fire chief when Schapelhouman retires.

The greatest challenges facing the district, Chang Kiraly said, are repairing the "broken relationships" between the district, board and jurisdictions they serve and restructuring the CERT program "so that our incredible volunteers are reengaged to help their families and neighbors during a disaster, such as an earthquake or fire." She believes conflicts between the district and the areas it serves can be addressed through regular joint meetings and respectful dialogue.

Respect on the fire board is lacking at times, Chang Kiraly said, and inappropriate behavior — what she referred to as misogynistic and chauvinistic behavior that she says she's experienced from a few fellow board members — does not reflect the values of the fire district. Chang Kiraly has been the only woman on the board for the last nine years and is the second female member since the district's formation in 1915.

"Our fire district cannot afford to be divisive, with bullying fire board members, when all of us must face the challenges of COVID-19 and the dangers of wildfires right here in our community, such as the Triangle encampments in the eastern area of Menlo Park that experienced 11 incident responses in July," she said.

Chang Kiraly believes a new fire chief would need to be fiscally responsible, collaborative and ethical. Replacing Schapelhouman will be difficult, and if reelected Chang Kiraly said she would bring continuity and institutional history to the selection process.

She said the fire district has healthy financial management and said that has allowed the organization to plan for the future by purchasing properties adjacent to fire stations for the construction of new stations. She added, however, that the board must be mindful of employee compensation expenses and unfunded future pension liabilities. She is a proponent of continuing to pay down unfunded employee pension liabilities and said rethinking how non-sworn employees should be compensated is something that will have to be discussed.

On the town of Atherton weighing whether to detach from the fire district, Chang Kiraly said she is against any jurisdiction detaching from the district.

"I believe that the financial impact would be adverse for the entire fire district if Atherton detached. ... the district's excellent emergency-response service would have to be reduced, and this adverse impact would harm low-income and at-risk communities, which also happen to be fast-growing areas in the Bay Area," she said.

Chang Kiraly believes the district is very prepared when it comes to responding to a major emergency, but added that it could strengthen its group of neighborhood CERT volunteers by rethinking how they can be trained and deployed in a meaningful way when needed.

The board could be better at providing broad oversight rather than micromanaging operations, which she said the board has done over the last couple of years, and with being respectful toward fellow directors. Chang Kiraly and challenger Carpenter, who sat on the board together for seven years, repeatedly clashed in public during their overlapping tenures, and she said she would not want to see him return.

"I fear that electing former board members who have a history of antagonism toward the jurisdictions that the fire district serves may endanger the relationships that are already fragile but have a chance to be rebuilt," Chang Kiraly said.

Rob Silano

Rob Silano, 68, has lived in Menlo Park for 32 years and has been a fire board director since 2011. He currently sits on the district's Emergency Preparedness Committee and has over 40 years of public safety experience in federal, state and local governmental agencies ranging from working as a senior manager and special agent for the Department of Justice to working as an intelligence officer for the Department of Homeland Security. He has volunteered with a number of organizations, including FBI National Academy Associates, the Silicon Valley Homeland Security Coordination Group and Peninsula Habitat for Humanity. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration and a master's degree in education administration from Florida International University, as well as law enforcement and public safety certifications. His campaign website is robsilano.com.

As an incumbent with over 40 years of public safety experience, Rob Silano says he wants to return to the board to help ensure the district provides the best possible service in a fiscally responsible manner. He touts several accomplishments during his nine-year tenure, including being apart of successful labor contract negotiations with all employee labor groups and the development of the district's strategic plan for 2020 through 2025.

He has been endorsed by a list of emergency response officials and elected officials that includes Don Long, the former deputy fire chief for Menlo Fire, Eshoo and DeGolia.

Silano's top three priorities if reelected would be to "maintain the highest level of fire and emergency services to communities served by the district;" continue to support prudent fiscal management oversight policies with balanced budgets and strong reserves; and keep pace with current trends in public safety equipment, facility upgrades and additional personnel.

The greatest challenges facing the district, he said, are traffic congestion and global warming.

"Traffic congestion is a problem and continues to be a problem," he said. "It is critical to retain our excellent response times. The fire district needs to participate more with the building-zoning departments of each city and town within our district.

"Global warming is a problem too, since many coastal areas fall within the fire district and flooding has been a concern for our East Palo Alto residents," Silano added.

Silano commended Schapelhouman's work as fire chief and said he would want to initiate a nationwide search for his replacement that would also involve local jurisdictions, the county and local businesses.

He says the current fire board is "very transparent" about its finances and works within its budget, adding that the newest fire stations were paid for by set-aside tax dollars and the district could currently pay off its California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS) debt with its reserves.

Silano called the accusations of board micromanagement by the other candidates false, saying it is not micromanagement but rather "appropriate fire board oversight." He said the board has rejected multiple project proposals because they were deemed too costly and wouldn't benefit all communities served by the district.

"We as a board would not be good stewards of our fire district expenditures if we did not rightfully request further information or an explanation or documentation when considered necessary," he said. "Close oversight by the board of taxpayers' money is effective fiscal management and should not be criticized but lauded."

Asked about Atherton weighing a split from the district, he said separation "could have dire consequences."

"It's like a house of cards," he said. "One town withdraws, the entire public safety response system is affected in San Mateo County. ... The other communities in the fire district will be damaged by Atherton's move to detach."

Silano added that he has spoken to several Atherton council members on the subject and said he is ready to meet and "see what is a reasonable solution," acknowledging that the town's property taxes wouldn't be lowered if they detached.

The district is prepared for a major emergency, he said, but the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services should better coordinate and publicize its SMC Alert system as a recent San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report recommended. Menlo Fire's Community Crisis Management program is also too big, and it does not always share the volunteers, training, and equipment with all the other volunteer groups, Silano said.

"We need to do more to support all volunteer groups equally," he said.

The current board should create a strategic plan involving all the communities the district serves, Silano said, and schedule more working groups and joint meetings with them.

Comments

Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 9, 2020 at 12:59 pm
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 12:59 pm
23 people like this

Chang Kiraly's experience and skills are important for the Fire Board during difficult economic times and looming transition of leadership. I like her emphasis on better utilizing volunteers.
On top of those important reasons, I believe diversity is essential in the leadership of every organization, particularly on boards. Her re-election is crucial. Otherwise the 5-member board is dominated by 4 white guys.


Annetta McCarty
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm
Annetta McCarty, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm
37 people like this

My husband and I are voting for Peter Carpenter and Sean Ballard for the Fire Board, without question!

Peter is a seasoned public service officer, having prior experience as a Director on the Fire Board. In addition to an impressive, diverse resume, he has outstanding leadership and diplomatic skills. Fun fact, he was also a volunteer Fire Fighter back in the day!

Honestly, we can't think of two finer, more qualified gentlemen for the job. We'd be hard-pressed to find, and fortunate to have, men of their caliber serve our community as Directors on the Menlo Park Fire Board.

Vote for Peter and Sean!


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 9, 2020 at 7:51 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 7:51 pm
40 people like this

Peter did a great job on the board before and his leadership is needed again. Kiraly needs to go. She should not be serving on two boards at the same time. What the fire district does and by extension the board that oversees it is extremely important. It needs better than the current state of dysfunction it is experiencing.

The fire fighters don't like Peter because he wouldn't give them whatever they wanted.

Peter has my vote.


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 9, 2020 at 9:32 pm
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 9:32 pm
15 people like this

With respect, Ms. Chang Kiraly has both received and merited my strong recommendation each time she's run since 2011, including for the Harbor district in 2016 when concerns about dual office holding first arose, because she has brought steady, fiscally competent, no-drama governance to both boards.

In my online ballot analysis prior to November 8, 2016's General Election, I wrote: "Even though I'm skeptical of Virginia Chang Kiraly serving on both the harbor Board and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board, reports about her performance have been good." Four years further on, my view is not just unchanged but also reinforced.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Some Perspective
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2020 at 1:19 am
Some Perspective, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 1:19 am
20 people like this

"Chang Kiraly said that she is the best candidate to 'rebuild bridges' with Atherton...", a bold statement as no current or former Atherton council members have endorsed her for either of these positions.


Linda Hubbard
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2020 at 11:05 am
Linda Hubbard, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 11:05 am
29 people like this

Peter Carpenter is a committed public servant who brings experience and knowledge to the Fire Board, having served previously. He would bring a thoughtful and measured approach to the Board during a time when it's needed most. Urge voters to cast their ballot for Peter along with Sean Ballard.


John D'Amico
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2020 at 12:55 pm
John D'Amico, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 12:55 pm
11 people like this

For me the choice is obvious. The incumbent, Rob Silano has shown proven, steady leadership on the fire board. No nonsense and no political drama like the rest. He's dependable and exercises effective accountability of taxpayer's money. Moreover, Mr. Silano has been endorsed by the San Mateo and Menlo Park firefighter's associations. That speaks volumnes!


NEVER voting for you-know-who
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 10, 2020 at 2:33 pm
NEVER voting for you-know-who, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 2:33 pm
28 people like this

Once one goes beyond her superficial greetings, and experiences her in extended conversation, one would never vote for her. Sorry, can't do it. Just saying...


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 10, 2020 at 3:03 pm
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 3:03 pm
13 people like this

Mr. D'Amico, it appears you've dropped a detail or two. Please correct me if I'm missing something, but your terms "Menlo Park Firefighters Association" and "San Mateo Firefighters Association" appear to both refer to the same county-wide trade union, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2400. IAFF L2400 indeed recently announced their endorsements for this race, and it was the same two they endorsed in the 2011 race: Mr. Silano and Ms. Chang Kiraly.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 10, 2020 at 5:45 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 5:45 pm
18 people like this

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 10, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 6:46 pm
7 people like this

Again!!


Web Link


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2020 at 8:21 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 8:21 pm
10 people like this

I have to support Chang Kiraly and Silano. Having read several chains about what was done while Peter was on the Board I am very disappointed and worried if he is reelected. He also seems to want to quote facts that "are not in evidence" For Example when it is pointed out that Menlo Park Fire District employees has the highest AVERAGE pay of any California Special District for years while Peter was on the board he will argue that "Thousands of fire fighters" were paid more yet he can't show any proof of that. Peter Carpenter is the wrong person for the board, they need to move forward not backward.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 10, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2020 at 8:31 pm
16 people like this

" that "Thousands of fire fighters" were paid more yet he can't show any proof of that."


Brian - You don't do your homework and you don't rmember what I responded to you numerous times.


Proof was provided when I made the statement:

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2019 at 11:24 am
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Once again Wood ignores the data (provided to her many, many times) that shows that literally thousands of firefighters and hundreds of fire chiefs in California are paid more than their highest paid MPFPD counterparts.

Web Link

Web Link



Sean Ballard
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm
Sean Ballard, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm
16 people like this

It’s frustrating that “Kit/John D’Amico” would tarnish the intentions of this forum as a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and in disregard of this forum’s Terms of Use.

The bottom line: If it's online and social, it's probably going to require moderation. Kudos to The Almanac moderators for working overtime during this campaign season.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 11, 2020 at 2:28 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 2:28 pm
20 people like this

If the fire fighters union is supporting anyone, I'll be voting against that person. The reason they don't like Peter and won't endorse him is that he stood firm against their outrageous demands for raises in the past. Raises they felt they deserved because that was what "other" fire fighters at other agencies were making.

Brian: you excoriate Peter because the Menlo fire fighters make excessive wages yet you will vote for someone that is endorsed by them? Seriously? Just what do you think will happen to wages in that scenario?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2020 at 2:39 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 2:39 pm
22 people like this

For the record - The Firefighters Union 2400, a county wide union, has always opposed me. In fact, in a previous election that actually wrote me a letter and asked me to drop out of running - because they knew that they could not beat me. I refused and received more votes than any other candidate.

As a Director my first responsibility is to the residents of the Fire District and my second responsibility is to the superb men and women in OUR Fire District.

I have NO responsibility to the county wide firefighters' union and they know it.

In response to their questionnaire this year here is how I replied to some of their questions:

1. A. What are your goals and issue priorities for the Fire District?

Reestablish a functional Board of Directors
Identify and recruit a new Fire Chief in preparation for planned retirement of current Fire Chief in 2021

What do you think the issues are in this election?

Ensuring that the Fire District continues to provide superior service to all of its residents
Recruitment of new Fire Chief
Timely decision making by the Board on Board level issues
Refraining from micro-management by the Board

12. Would you support the use of binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor?

No, because as an elected official I must be the one that makes the hard choices involved and I could not delegate that responsibility to others.

13. If you were to be endorsed by the Labor Council, what three labor issues would you want our members to know you have strong feelings about?

Quality of service to the community is our first collective responsibility
Fair and respectful treatment of all employees is essential
Seek great long-term contracts based on the value of employees to the Districts mission and the District’s ability to pay





Kit
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 11, 2020 at 3:53 pm
Kit, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 3:53 pm
10 people like this

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Sean Ballard
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 11, 2020 at 4:06 pm
Sean Ballard, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 11, 2020 at 4:06 pm
16 people like this

I would be happy to post my responses to the same questionnaire as Peter did:

1. A. What are your goals and issue priorities for the Fire District? What do you think the issues are in this election?

If elected, my first priority is accountability. The Fire District’s proposed budget anticipates $60 million in revenues and $57 million in expenditures.

What those numbers mean is that the District has an enormous responsibility to use those funds wisely because property taxes from within the District comprise 90% of the District’s revenue.

I am currently a member of the District’s Finance Committee and am well-versed in the District’s financial picture. I am also a financial professional and I believe my skillset in this regard is both an asset to the District as well as a complement to the other members of the Fire Board.

I will continue to work to ensure that the District exercises strong fiscal stewardship. The District will be accountable for its use of taxpayer funds.

My second priority is growth. The Fire District responds to, and protects, a growing population and it is fair to ask: Is the District prepared to meet the challenges presented by the unprecedented population and building growth within its boundaries?

In 2018, I was a member of the District’s Strategic Planning Committee and I believe that the District is well on its way to finalizing a strategic plan to respond to the rapid development. This work will continue, and the District will complete its prestigious accreditation process, during my first term.

Alongside this priority is ensuring that the Board of Directors works in a spirit of cooperation with the governing bodies of the communities within its borders. I will also work to ensure that we continue to have access to the technology and innovations that will improve service and response times in a rapidly changing community.

My third priority is preparedness. The need to have a crisis-resilient community will only grow. As a volunteer, I have learned the value of serving in emergency preparedness exercises.

As a member of our Community Emergency Response Team, I have held leadership roles in the last four community emergency drills staged in Atherton, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park.

I hold the following credentials from FEMA which reaffirm my dedication to serving in times of crisis: Introduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100; Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response, IS-00200.c; Developing and Managing Volunteers, IS-00244.b; An Introduction to the National Incident Management System IS-00700.b; and National Response Framework, An Introduction, IS-00800.c

I am the Chair of the Advisory Board overseeing the Fire District’s Community Crisis Management program. Emergency preparedness is important to me, and I understand it well. I will work to encourage members of the community to get prepared and to get involved.

12. Would you support the use of binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor? Why or why not?

No, I believe that this responsibility falls to the elected Board Members

13. If you were to be endorsed by the Labor Council, what three labor issues would you want our members to know you have strong feelings about?

1. A prime focus on their safety exactly as they give a prime focus on the community’s safety
2. The fair and respectful support of all staff
3. Sincere cooperation on evaluating the needs of employees with the financial picture of the District during contract negotiations


M.N. Gaetano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 11, 2020 at 4:21 pm
M.N. Gaetano, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 4:21 pm
22 people like this

I had an opportunity to present in front of the Menlo Park Fire Department (when Peter was last on the board) and at the end of my presentation Peter Carpenter was the first to engage, challenge and in fact requested me to expatiate on multiple items. Peter was direct, forthright and spoke with transparency. For me the experience was greatly rewarding, he gave me sound constructive feedback, was direct yet worked well within the board to find a common resolution. I enjoyed all the board members very much but especially found peter to be insightful, thought provoking independent & forthright.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 11, 2020 at 5:58 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 5:58 pm
18 people like this

Perhaps Kirally and Silano will answer the questions that Carpenter and Ballard posted answers to. It would be worthwhile to hear the answers considering all I've heard from them so far is junk mail in my mail box.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:38 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:38 pm
13 people like this

In the absence of a much needed public debate it would be useful if Kiraly and Silano posted their answers (which are already documented) to the San Mateo Labor Council's questionnaire on this Forum.

Those answers would give us some insight as to why the County Firefighters' Union endorsed them and has provided substantial in-kind contributions to their campaigns. What is in it for the Firefighters Union 2400?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2020 at 8:22 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2020 at 8:22 pm
17 people like this

From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Invitation to an online discussion of issues in the Fire Board election
Date: October 11, 2020 at 8:21:02 PM PDT
To: Rob Silano , Virginia Chang Kiraly , Sean Ballard
Cc: Julia Brown , Emily Mibach , Bill Johnson , Dave Price , In Menlo , Raymond Mueller , Rick DeGolia , Robert Jones

Sean, Virginia and Rob,

In the absence of a much needed public debate I invite you to post on this Almanac Town Forum topic your comments in general and your previously submitted responses in particular to the excellent San Mateo Labor Council questionnaire:

Web Link

The voters deserve an open and complete exchange of our individual positions.

Thanking you in advance for your participation,


Peter


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:08 am
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:08 am
9 people like this

Peter:
I have provided my answers to the San Mateo County Central Labor Council questionnaire to both the Almanac and Daily Post. I give both media associations permission to publish my answers. As you know, while we served on the fire board together, we were both open to public transparency. Maybe these media outlets can do a piece on these responses.
[Editor's note: The Almanac can confirm that Mr. Silano provided our reporter with a copy of his responses to the questionnaire.]


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:14 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:14 am
12 people like this

Rob - Please post your response here so the readers can see them.

Thanks,

Peter


Paul Goeld
Registered user
Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:41 am
Paul Goeld, Woodside: Woodside Hills
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 9:41 am
18 people like this

Without hesitation, I enthusiastically endorse and support Peter Carpenter for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board. Peter previously served on this board and did an exemplary job. His experience, integrity, honesty and unfailing efforts on behalf of citizens will be an asset to the MPFPD.

The best way to thank Peter is to vote for him and Sean Ballard.

- Paul Goeld, former Mayor and Town Council Member of Woodside


Ken Friedman
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:19 am
Ken Friedman, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:19 am
16 people like this

I support Peter Carpenter for election to the MPFPD. Peter has shown himself to be a tireless advocate for his community with a life long passion for fire safety.


Ken Friedman
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:33 am
Ken Friedman, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:33 am
15 people like this

I have always found the comments section of the Almanac to be a "thoughtful gathering place". It comes as no surprise that those who are most venomous operate behind the cloak of anonymity.


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:33 am
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:33 am
7 people like this

These were my position on the critical issues facing the fire board, firefighters and communities, I've served since 2011. My public safety views and past actions as a board member, has earned me the trust and endorsement of the firefighters. Their association also represents the AMR paramedics too. So every-time our community calls 911, a first responder that arrivals on the scene has endorsed me for re-election. It is my sincere desire to provide continued value to our residents. As many candidates, we have answered all questionnaires from the Palo Alto Daily Post, the Almanac, and the San Mateo County Central Labor Council. Have all of the candidates provided their answers to the media? They have all of mine.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:40 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:40 am
11 people like this

Rob,
The Almanac does not have the print space to print our answers - Just copy yours and paste them here. It is easy to do.

Virginia - Where are your answers?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:06 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:06 am
11 people like this

Another great question from the San Mateo Central Labor Council questionnaire"

7. Would you support fire agencies taking over 9-1-1 EMS transport services in the county?



YES. The current arrangement using AMR (directed by the County Health Department) is a mis-assignment to an agency that thinks in days and weeks whereas the fire service thinks in life saving minutes. Every fire engine is staffed with paramedics whom are already better trained than the AMR staff so that giving the fire agencies the ability to seamlessly perform the transport function is a superior solution that will better serve the community at a lower total cost.
***********
How did the other candidates answer this question?


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:09 am
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:09 am
6 people like this

Peter:
All due respect, they ( the media) asked and received my answers. I was transparent....I thank them for following our election and providing a few informational articles.

Thank you Almanac and Palo Alto Daily Post.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:19 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 11:19 am
12 people like this

No need to respect me, respect the voters.

Post your answers.


Bill Miras
Registered user
another community
on Oct 12, 2020 at 3:21 pm
Bill Miras, another community
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2020 at 3:21 pm
17 people like this

I have known SEAN BALLARD for many years. He is perfect for this position; Smart, results-driven, dedicated, and deeply passionate about Menlo Park. He also brings a sense of calm and level-headedness to any situation, which is much needed given the current infighting and chaos that characterize current board . (Other than his two sons, Menlo Park Fire is all he really talks about -- boring for me -- but great for this role).


liz dunn
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2020 at 7:18 am
liz dunn, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 7:18 am
16 people like this

I've know Sean Ballard for several years. He is passionate about first responders and about the safety and security of Menlo Park. He balances strong leadership with collaboration to get things done. He is the right choice for the Fire Board.


Menlo Mom
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm
Menlo Mom, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm
16 people like this

Happy to say that my husband and I have just turned in our ballots and are happy to be supporting committed public servants such as Peter Carpenter and Sean Ballard. Our community is very fortunate to have such dedicated and experienced individuals devoted to our community's best interests.


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:42 pm
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:42 pm
5 people like this

Peter:
Answer to Question 7.

7. Would you support fire agencies taking over 9-1-1 EMS transport services in the county? Explain.

A very difficult question. Both the AMR employees are also represented by the firefighters 2400.

Since it’s a JPA, where I have been a member, I understand the budget, personnel issues, and the specific contract arrangement between AMR and the SMC.

Labor, AMR Management, the SM County Board of Supervisors, and JPA members need to sit at the table and workout the arrangement. All need to come to a workable fair agreement for all. This plan would take years to be operational.


Sean Ballard
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:46 pm
Sean Ballard, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:46 pm
8 people like this

7. Would you support fire agencies taking over 9-1-1 EMS transport services in the county? Explain.

Yes, this opportunity presents enormous economies of scale that will increase the level of service for the District as well as lower the cost of providing that service.

For example, Menlo Fire recently used lifesaving equipment on its apparatus that was not standardized to the equipment used by AMR. Because of this, Menlo Fire was required to shelve its arguably superior equipment. Issues such as this could be resolved such that the more effective lifesaving equipment could be the type standardized across the county – and at a lower cost.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm
10 people like this

Silano states:
"
7. Would you support fire agencies taking over 9-1-1 EMS transport services in the county? Explain.

A very difficult question. Both the AMR employees are also represented by the firefighters 2400."

What makes it difficult for Silano is that he is bought and paid for by AFF 2400 so it is their interests that control him rather than the best interests of the citizens whom he is supposed to serve!

This is the correct answer:
7. Would you support fire agencies taking over 9-1-1 EMS transport services in the county?



YES. The current arrangement using AMR (directed by the County Health Department) is a mis-assignment to an agency that thinks in days and weeks whereas the fire service thinks in life saving minutes. Every fire engine is staffed with paramedics whom are already better trained than the AMR staff so that giving the fire agencies the ability to seamlessly perform the transport function is a superior solution that will better serve the community at a lower total cost.


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm
7 people like this

Peter:
Number 1.

1. What are your goals and issue priorities for the Fire District? What do you think the issues are in this

MY CURRENT 2020 TO 2025 LONG- AND SHORT-TERM GOALS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE FIRE DISTRICT

• Support careful fiscal oversight policies that includes a balanced budget; an aggressive pay-down of pension liabilities.

• Maintain an excellent emergency response times in spite of significant growth and increasing traffic congestion and gridlock.
• Complete an Accreditation Plan for public safety fire agency. (in-progress)

• Complete a Strategic Plan (final complete; further discussion needed to incorporate the Accreditation Project with the Strategic Plan.
• Build new Station Numbers 4 and 1, (Using tax funds available; NO NEW TAXES OR BOND MEASURES.)

• Review, evaluate, prepare, and establish an Emergency Preparedness Program that assists the fire district, town, cities, and surrounding communities involving CERT, and other volunteer organizations as the Red Cross, Neighborhood Associations, Chamber of Commerce’s, and Non-profits within our community. We have so many volunteers in our fire district. We need to organize to use this great resource during emergency response situations or everyday assistance to our community.

• Keep pace and up-date current trends in public safety equipment, facility up-grades, and adding addition personnel to provide the best service to our community.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:58 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 8:58 pm
10 people like this

1. A. What are your goals and issue priorities for the Fire District?

Reestablish a functional Board of Directors
Identify and recruit a new Fire Chief in preparation for planned retirement of current Fire Chief in 2021

What do you think the issues are in this election?

Ensuring that the Fire District continues to provide superior service to all of its residents
Recruitment of new Fire Chief
Timely decision making by the Board on Board level issues
Refraining from micro-management by the Board


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:13 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:13 pm
10 people like this

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:58 pm
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 9:58 pm
9 people like this

Peter:

Your answer to 7 is not accurate. You have been gone too long. Nothing about a JPA? Nothing about the SMC Board of Supervisors vote and input. County Manager’s Office, now manages the new OES SECTION, not under the sheriff anymore.

I’m ready to debate with all the candidates in this race. No zoom, no webex.... just all of us masked up, proper distance, and a neutral moderator.

Oh, here’s the Fire District’s Strategic Plan. You and your slate member keep saying the district does not have one.

Web Link

We have great command level talent at the fire district to be an acting fire chief. We will have a lot of time to find a replacement. Our chief has done a great job and thank him for his service, but everyone can be replaced.

Ok let’s get all the candidates to agree. I’m in!


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:58 pm
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2020 at 10:58 pm
9 people like this

Peter Carpenter: I'm very disappointed that you are still promoting that same baseless and highly convenient "running for two incompatible offices" canard, even after you and I comprehensively discussed the matter in the reader feedback to Ms. Dremann's Sept. 4th coverage (Web Link).

At that time, a bit over a month ago, all you adduced was a quotation from some crank legal filing(?) by someone named Ullom, plus a very general bit of guidance from the FPPC (Fair Political Practices Committee) about holding two public offices without violating the CA Political Reform Act's prohibition against substantive conflicts of interest, and without violating CA GOV § 1099 prohibition against holding "incompatible" public offices.

At that time, I asked you where I could read the (seeming?) crackpot legal filing in its judicial context (if any), but you did not reply -- but, more to the point, I also cited the actual black-letter state law of which the FPPC page was merely a general summary, CA GOV § 1099 -- as you notably did _not_. The statute's criteria about "incompatible offices" are extremely clear as to their application to harbour and fire district seats, and there's exactly nothing about those two offices, in the instant case, that transgresses state law against "incompatible offices". Zero. Rien. Ingenting. Nada. Less than bupkes. (Please pardon my English, French, Norwegian, Spanish, and Yiddish.)

I take my citizenship duties seriously, and so carefully researched this very legal question in 2016, before I decided to recommend (on my ballot-analysis Web pages and elsewhere) Ms. Chang Kiraly's initial candidacy for the San Mateo County Harbor Board even though she was already serving on the MP Fire Protection District Board. There is no credible claim of incompatibility. If there were, I would have found criteria in the statute that could be reasonably claimed to be transgressed. Or, if despite best efforts I missed something, you should have been able to cite something, anything -- and you _did not_, when I politely challenged you to do so.

Your suggestion that I make an inquiry to AG Xavier Becerra was not an answer. It was, frankly, an evasion. (Also, if there had been a legal issue, it's extremely curious that nobody's been able to substantiate that claim for an entire four-year term of office. ) Your fallback suggestion, when I said Mr. Becerra had a real job to do, that the voters must decide whether the offices are incompatible, is both patently untrue and an even bigger evasion. (Legal issues, if real, get settled by officers of the law. So, I infer that this is, in pretty much every sense, not real.)

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Some Perspective
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:06 am
Some Perspective, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:06 am
6 people like this

Rick, elections are about name recognition. If Ms. Chang Kiraly wins both seats with her name on the ballot twice, it could signal a path for future (less qualified) candidates to try getting elected simply by running for three or more offices on the same ballot.


Sean Ballard
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:15 am
Sean Ballard, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:15 am
9 people like this

Rob,

I have never said that the district “does not have [a strategic plan].”

In fact, as you well know, before I was on the Finance Committee I was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Prove me wrong.


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:18 am
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:18 am
9 people like this

Sean:
1) Could you tell your slate member that the district has one. Do you both have the same political committee number or are you separate? Different web sites don’t count.

2) The San Mateo County Firefighters and the Menlo Park Firefighters are two separate organizations. As you and others can see MPFFA are part of the larger organization, including the AMR paramedics. One of my many huge endorsements. Go to my web site and checkout the others.

www.robsilano.com

I am honored to have their support and confidence. Something like people as yourself would never understand. As a Fire District resident representative; a non voting member, does not qualify you for anything other than an observer. “Your no public safety experience” vs my over 40 years. The term “ wore the uniform” is so important to them. I wore that uniform.

Thank you for your volunteer efforts with the CCM. You tried, but, a failed concept. The new Fire District’s OEM Section will fix it, according to our chief.
I hope they call on you to help.

Ready to debate.... I am!

Thank you.

—————

San Mateo County Firefighters Association; taken from their web-site.

WE ARE OVER 500 STRONG IN SAN MATEO COUNTY
San Mateo County Firefighters, L2400, represents firefighters and paramedics in nine different Associations. These Associations are: Pacifica Firefighters; Brisbane Firefighters; Daly City Firefighters; San Mateo Consolidated Firefighters; Redwood City Firefighters; Woodside Firefighters; Menlo Park Firefighters; San Mateo County Transport Paramedics; and San Mateo County Battalion Chiefs.

Each Association is given a District number and each District has two District Vice Presidents which are able to cast one vote on the Executive Board of San Mateo County Firefighters, regardless of size. The Executive Board of San Mateo County Firefighters meets monthly.

Due to our size and diversity, Local 2400 has four Executive Officers: President, Vice-president, Executive Secretary, and Treasurer. In addition we have a professional office manager and one business agent.
Our offices are open Mon-Wed from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and are located at:

335 Convention Way, #5
Redwood City, Ca 94063
650-362-3130


Sean Ballard
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:20 am
Sean Ballard, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:20 am
9 people like this

Rob,

I believe that integrity and a commitment to transparency require one to correct an error immediately and in the place where it was made.

Please correct your false statement.


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:30 am
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:30 am
9 people like this

Where’s VCK?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:35 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 7:35 am
11 people like this

Silano states "I’m ready to debate with all the candidates in this race. No zoom, no webex.... just all of us masked up, proper distance, and a neutral moderator."

Great - get Virginia on board and find a neutral moderator and let's do it.
It will need be recorded and broadcast rather than with a live audience in order to avoid conflicting with the Covid limits on public gatherings.


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:22 am
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:22 am
9 people like this

Peter:
Great, set it up and I’ll be there.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:43 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:43 am
9 people like this

Rob - I will follow your lead in setting it up. I started the online debate here and you then suggested the even better face to face debate so the ball is in you court.

Tell me when, where and who will be the neutral moderator.

And please get your FFA 2400 partner Virginia to agree to participate.


Steve Schmidt
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm
Steve Schmidt, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm
10 people like this

My vote is for Virginia Chang Kiraly who stays out of these petty squabbles. Since 1915 there have been 2 women on this Board and Virginia is the second. She is the incumbent and the former Chair. Hopefully this effort to keep the Board an all-boys club won't get far. If you read all these Almanac postings, it appears Mr. Carpenter sees this Board as his very own ball game. There are other ways for Mr. Carpenter to stay active in the community. He stepped down and should move on.

We need more women on these Boards and to keep the current diverse membership. Virginia has a web site if you want to know more about her. Web Link

Steve Schmidt
Former Mayor Menlo Park


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm
6 people like this

More answers for the public to see:

18. Volunteers provide additional help to keep neighborhoods prepared for emergencies. What kind of role do you believe CERT can play to improve volunteer community response and provide volunteer opportunities?

I know first-hand what volunteers can do and how important they can be as a force multiplier in times of large-scale emergencies.

My public service career began as a volunteer firefighter/driver at age 14 in a rural community in Florida.

When I lived in Atherton, I was an Atherton Disaster And Preparedness Team member (ADAPT) and helped create that organization.

I am currently a MPFPD CERT and a Palo Alto CERT and a HAM radio operator


Not a fan
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm
Not a fan , Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm
10 people like this

I consider Virginia and Rob to be two constructive members of the Fire Board, working on solving serious issues. Neither one bullies people or is a divisive figure. Please note that Ballard and Carpenter are running as a team. Peter's posts are also mild versions of what he might send people who disagree with him. At least one has already been removed. I have learned from experience to never reply to Peter.

People aren't commenting here, in support of Virginia and Rob, due to not wanting to get attack emails or to be embroiled in an unhelpful discussion that may be light on the true facts. The current Fire Board leadership is better than the alternatives. I suggest that Rob and Virginia not engage with Peter/Sean as Peter will always have the last word, even if it is not accurate.


Kit
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:45 pm
Kit, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:45 pm
5 people like this

[Poster blocked due to repeated violations of terms of use]


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:50 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:50 pm
8 people like this

More answers for the public:

11. If elected, would you be willing to use your public stature to support union organizing?

I support the right of employees to organize but it must be their decision to organize, not mine.


Sarah Major
Registered user
another community
on Oct 14, 2020 at 6:10 pm
Sarah Major, another community
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 6:10 pm
7 people like this

High praise for Sean! He cares deeply about his community and is ready for the challenge. Sean has an impeccable character, is a team player and genuine individual. Sean is a trusted friend to many and will make an excellent addition to the Fire Board.


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:32 pm
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:32 pm
7 people like this

There remains unfinished business from the estimable Ms. Dremann's Sept. 4th article (Web Link). As I mentioned in this space, Peter Carpenter initially referred me back then to "a complaint filed by Ullom re holding incompatible offices" for details of why he felt Ms. Chang Kiraly holding positions on two local agency boards was legally impermissible. The partial quotation Peter provided from the "complaint" struck me as legal crackpottery, but I requested its judicial context to assess it fairly. For whatever reason, Peter never elaborated.

So, I did some checking around, and found it -- oddly enough, via a Peter Carpenter comment and link on an older Almanac article (Web Link). There, Peter referred to Mr. John C. Ullom's action as a "suit".

I don't know Mr. Ullom, but he's a self-described 'Citizen Journalist" living in HMB, a sometime office-seeker, and apparently a bit of a character. What he produced in Feb. 2017 was neither a [legal] complaint nor a lawsuit, but rather a long letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra (direct link here: Web Link).

In a nutshell, Mr. Ullom expressed his view that Ms. Chang Kiraly's position on both boards, then a year old, violated CA GOV § 1099 prohibition against holding "incompatible" public offices, and sought permission to bring suit against her in place of the AG -- a very rarely used but valid citizen right to sue in the AG's place, proposing an even rarer type of proposed legal action: what is called a "quo warranto" lawsuit (Latin for "by what warrant?") challenging an officeholder's right to a specific office and seeking removal.

Although Mr. Ullom correctly cited to AG Becerra 11 CCR (Code of Civil Regulations) § 1-11 as providing for such an application, he apparently failed to note §2's clear requirement that applicant be represented by legal counsel -- a probable guard against nuisance applications, like the $500 advance bond required in §6 to defray judgements against plaintiff. Accordingly, Mr. Ullom related in a Barbara Wood story in the Oct. 6, 2017 Almanac, AG staff e-mailed him saying they could not process his request because it failed the requirement for legal counsel. Exit Mr. Ullom.

And, again, this wasn't a "complaint" (in the legal sense), and certainly not a "suit": Mr. Ullom lavished precisely the cost of first-class postage on this effort. And the answer, rightly, was "Uh, sorry, no."

But his long letter drew my interest, even though it was a non-starter for failure at legal fundamentals. It laid out his proposed legal beef, as follows (stripping to essentials):

1. The boards' territory overlaps.
2. Both boards have eminent domain power.
3. Each board may pass regulations providing for public safety, welfare, etc., within their respective spheres of activity.
4. Each board can sue and be sued.

Et voila, Mr. Ullom alleges, for the above four reasons, the dual office-holding violates Government Code section 1099. And what _provision_ of §1099 does this any of this violate? Over 68 pages of argument, exhibits, and sundry bonus material, Mr. Ullom dances all around this question but never substantiates his claim. He cites to several past opinion letters by the AG's office on "incompatible offices", but all of them are inapplicable for reasons he oddly omits, e.g., a case where the AG opined that the positions of district fire chief and member of the county board of supervisors of the same county were incompatible, but that was explicitly because one office held supervisory power over the other. Every one of the cites suffers the same kind of problem, making non-sequitur arguments claiming the statute applies similarly to Ms. Chang Kiraly's situation, when it inherently cannot, because the problems identified in the cited AG opinions simply don't exist for a harbour board seat and a fire board one.

I did enjoy the digression through amateur legalistic humbuggery. However, I'm not only unclear on why we ought to take it seriously, but also quite sure we shouldn't, any more than the AG's staff did.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:57 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:57 pm
7 people like this

I am pleased to see that Moen has corrected himself:

Posted by Rick Moen
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 5, 2020 at 3:32 pm
Rick Moen is a registered user.
Peter, I am indeed not a lawyer, just a long-time observer of local government matters who grew up around attorneys and respects their professional skills highly. (Having your mom haul a Fortune 50 corporation into Federal court in a wrongful death action over your father's demise will do that.) Speaking for myself, I regard a basic understanding of the law as the duty of all citizens (not something to punt to "experts") -- and also extremely useful in getting to the bottom of many claims about law and policy.

Please pardon me for needing to say this rather sharply, but the suggestion that only a member of the Bar may properly point out a (asserted) violation of the law is simply incorrect. Your odd qualifier 'legally raise' doesn't even change that -- aside from the fact that this isn't a court proceeding and doesn't need to be one.

Posted by Rick Moen
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
21 minutes ago
Rick Moen is a registered user.

Although Mr. Ullom correctly cited to AG Becerra 11 CCR (Code of Civil Regulations) § 1-11 as providing for such an application, he apparently failed to note §2's clear requirement that applicant be represented by legal counsel

****

So much for Moen's self proclaimed legal acumen.


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 14, 2020 at 10:54 pm
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 10:54 pm
9 people like this

Peter, I'm a little confused about what you're saying. Perhaps you wouldn't mind clarifying. E.g., you think I "corrected" what, exactly?

The bottom paragraph you quote accurately cites 11 CCR §2, which says that anyone applying to the Attorney General for "leave to sue" in a "proceeding in the nature of quo warranto" must be represented by legal counsel _in that application process_. Please don't take my word for it; see for yourself: Web Link)

In the rest (above that), I answered your implied question (in September) as to whether I'm a lawyer. As mentioned, I'm not. I never claimed to be, let alone professed "legal acumen" or ever asked, here or elsewhere, for anything I ever said about the law ought be believed on my personal authority. I'm just an Ivy League-miseducated bookworm who took a bunch of law classes (preparatory to sitting for and passing the CPA exam), and have a lifelong interest in the law.

Being a non-lawyer (like Mr. Ullom), I would _definitely_ have a big problem if, like Mr. Ullom, I applied to the AG for "leave to sue" in a "proceeding in the nature of quo warranto" without bothering to use an attorney as required by law. Fortunately for me, I'm not pursuing any such folly. Morever, being the Ivy League-miseducated bookworm I am -- again, unlike Mr. Ullom -- I bother to read and heed clear instructions. And I also have a good sense of _other_ situations where I need to hire an attorney, vs. when I don't.

Wait: Are you seriously trying to suggest that Mr. Ullom's failure to heed 11 CCR §2's requirements makes a mockery of, or contradicts, my view that anyone may properly _point out_ a (asserted) violation of the law? The one has nothing to do with the other, sir. _Pointing something out_ is just not the same as making formal application to the AG to bring litigation in the AG's place.

Also, my good sir, perhaps you should be just a bit more careful of your tone, given that you're talking to a constituent and MPFPD homeowner, i.e., one of the people you currently wish to engage your services. I certainly am fine with being called Rick, or Mr. Moen, or Rick Moen -- but I'm just a bit taken aback by your suddenly and with a tone of derision referring to me as "Moen".

I hope that's just passing pique, and not your normal way of addressing constituents, else you're likely to have a bit of an outreach problem.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 15, 2020 at 12:19 am
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 12:19 am
9 people like this

The _other_ bit of unfinished business from the estimable Ms. Dremann's Sept. 4th article (Web Link) I had in mind is something that troubled me about my encounter, there, with candidate Sean Ballard.

As Almanac readers can see at that link, I posted the earliest reader comment, thanking Ms. Dremann for her swift correction of her article's initial claim that Mr. Ballard was "chairman of the district's finance and strategic planning committees" -- but called her attention to an additional probable misstatement: A middle paragraph remained, saying that Mr. Ballard "chairs the district's budget finance committee".

Given that Mr. Ballard was an appointive committee member, the notion of him chairing committees where everyone but him was an elected representative stood out even to me, an outsider, as highly improbable; thus my point. (A cynic might wonder from what source the erroneous statement of fact originated, but I'll not speculate, except to say that I've always found Ms. Dremann's reporting highly accurate, and think she keep scrupulous notes during her interviews.)

Sean entered the discussion the next day (Sept. 5th), and was perfectly nice, but talked all around the "chairs the district's budget finance committee" misstatement issue, but didn't address it.

So, two hours later, I thanked Sean for his input but reiterated that my point concerned the remaining statement that he "chair the district's budget finance committee", and asked him directly: "Is that claim accurate?"

So, basically I raised the question twice, the second time directly to Sean personally.

Sean continued to post to the thread the next day -- but continued to ignore my inquiry. And, frankly, I was being tactful and giving Sean a golden opportunity to say "Oh, thanks for pointing that out. Somehow a misunderstanding must have occurred. I'll follow up with the newspaper, and ask for a correction."

That's the sort of thing I expected to see. I wasn't trying to put Sean on the spot; I was just inviting a low-key fix of something that looked oddly like resume-padding. My point: Instead, I got evasion and non-response to my question, possibly in the hope I'm too dim to spot having been fed bafflegab.

Obviously, views differ, but when my first interaction with a candidate seeking my vote is to get fast-talked and my polite but direct question ignored, I take that rather poorly and consider it an questionable trait in one of my public servants.

It's a sad truth in life that first impressions are difficult to overcome. I regret the above being the essence of my first impression of Sean (and I'm delighted others have confidence in him), but (in my opinion) I'd also be remiss if I didn't tell the truth about it.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 15, 2020 at 7:25 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 7:25 am
7 people like this

Rick,

Read what you first said:

"Please pardon me for needing to say this rather sharply, but the suggestion that only a member of the Bar may properly point out a (asserted) violation of the law is simply incorrect. Your odd qualifier 'legally raise' doesn't even change that -- aside from the fact that this isn't a court proceeding and doesn't need to be one."

Read what you second said:
"Although Mr. Ullom correctly cited to AG Becerra 11 CCR (Code of Civil Regulations) § 1-11 as providing for such an application, he apparently failed to note §2's CLEAR REQUIREMENT that applicant be represented by legal couns"

i.e., My original statement that such a filing had to be done by a lawyer was correct.



Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 15, 2020 at 8:37 am
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 8:37 am
9 people like this

Peter, in that former passage, I was responding to this comment of yours: "I am not a lawyer (and I don't think you are) so I leave deciding these issues to the experts. Nor is it my role to legally raise such an objection now or in the past since that can only be done by a member of the California Bar."

At the time, you said nothing about an application to the Attorney General for "leave to sue" in a "proceeding in the nature of quo warranto" -- the only thing in present context that must be done by a lawyer, as Ullom's folly lead him to try without the required attorney and I'll bet forgetting to provide the $500 bond, as well. At the time, we were neither applying to sue in place of the Attorney General nor even in court, but rather discussing obvious, black-letter law.

Well, _one_ of us was discussing obvious, black-letter law. One of us was coyly acting as if that can be done only by an attorney, after cheekily raising a crackpot having done so _without_ an attorney as if that raised a genuine public policy issue.

Anyway, if you'd bothered to explain that "my 'odd qualifier' of 'legally raise' actually refers to making an application to the Attorney General for 'leave to sue' in a 'proceeding in the nature of quo warranto', I might have been willing to look up that very exotic legal application (which you had nowhere mentioned) and said "You're right, that very _specific_ thing indeed requires using an attorney -- but at the same time, that's of doubtful relevance, since that's simply not what we were doing, here, is it?"

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 15, 2020 at 9:02 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 9:02 am
8 people like this

Rick - If I ever need to hire an expert kibitzer and quibbler you would be my first choice (although it would be very expensive if I was paying you by the word.)


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 15, 2020 at 9:24 am
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 9:24 am
11 people like this

Peter, bubeleh, if you're going to wield the delightful Yiddish language in online ripostes, you would do well to ensure you're up on its nuances. (Although a Norwegian-American agnostic gentile, I grew up on the writings of Leo Rosten including his sprightly volume _The Joys of Yiddish_, and cherish the language highly.)

A kibitzer is an uninvolved casual bystander who offers unsolicited, by implication unwelcome, advice. I'm a constituent and homeowner, one with an ongoing interest in local government, who engages politely with candidates to see who merits my vote and support. If you conflate these two things, well, that's interesting, isn't it?

But, as the kids say, hey, you do you.

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 15, 2020 at 9:33 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 9:33 am
8 people like this

satis dictum


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 15, 2020 at 11:23 am
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 11:23 am
9 people like this

L'havdil.


Catherine Kircos
Registered user
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm
Catherine Kircos, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm
10 people like this

I'm a 27 year old renter in North Fair Oaks who has never once thought about the Menlo Park Fire Board, but I take my responsibility to vote seriously and came here trying to learn more about the candidates on my ballot. Unfortunately I mostly found unhelpful bickering.

Speaking to someone like me - why should I even care about the Menlo Park Fire Board and who is on it? What are the biggest issues here and how do the candidates differ?


Sean Ballard
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:42 pm
Sean Ballard, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:42 pm
8 people like this

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your comment! We're lucky to live under the protection of one of the most competent and professional fire departments in the nation (if not THE most) and we tend not to think about it much when things are going well. But, when things go wrong, having the very best department really MATTERS! The fire department is overseen by a professional fire chief, who in turn reports to a five-member board of directors, elected from within the department's borders, who help set financial and strategic policy for the department.

My ties to each of the communities that comprise the Menlo Park Fire Protection District run deep. I moved to Menlo Park in 1981 as a young boy with my family and I grew up here. I went to our local elementary and high schools. My first job was as a lifeguard at the Belle Haven Pool. Now I live here with my two children and my sense of obligation grows. I owe more to our community than it will ever owe me.

I believe that I have an even-handed and steady management style that will serve the next Board well in restoring the ability to make timely decisions, supporting the men and women of our professional staff to do their job without imposing unnecessary burdens, and bringing back the drive to work together to get things done and accomplish goals.

I’m running for the Fire Board because I am intimately aware of the challenges and opportunities that we face now and those we will face in the future.

Please learn more about the issues, as well as about me and Peter Carpenter (the two of us are running together for the two seats open this election) here: Web Link


John The Baptist
Registered user
another community
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:54 pm
John The Baptist, another community
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 2:54 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


John The Baptist
Registered user
another community
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm
John The Baptist, another community
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm
6 people like this

[Post removed due to violation of terms of use]


Director Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 15, 2020 at 4:51 pm
Director Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 4:51 pm
13 people like this

Hi John....
I treat everyone fairly without prejudgment. No name calling, only to interact and discuss items with everyone in a professional manner.

Our Board President, at a meeting stated that he felt no ill will against anyone on our board. Robert is a good man as all of us serving our community.

Virginia has used name calling before in
many of our meetings. John, you would need to ask her why she used that tactic?

Name calling does not bother me. I don’t look in the rear view mirror. I work with all my board members and have the utmost respect for all, including the community we serve.
Thank you


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 15, 2020 at 5:48 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2020 at 5:48 pm
8 people like this

Here is the best place to gat information on all four candidates including, I hope, their answers to the Weekly/Almanac and Labor Council, questionnaires:

Web Link


Steve Armstrong
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 16, 2020 at 7:49 am
Steve Armstrong , Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 7:49 am
8 people like this

I’m voting for Sean Ballard. If you know him, then you know he brings EXACTLY the kind of peace and reason we need in our elected officials!


Rick Moen
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 16, 2020 at 2:49 pm
Rick Moen, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2020 at 2:49 pm
8 people like this

Revisiting for a moment the candidates' statements that The Almanac's Ms. Brown collected and presented in this article: All four contenders are articulate and give detailed answers to Ms. Brown's questions, which I appreciate and found useful. All of them should be respected for seeking to do important work for the public.

In Rob Silano's segment, there was one thing that stood out -- to me, at least -- as pretty odd. "The greatest challenges facing the district, [Rob] said, are traffic congestion and global warming." Rob goes on to elaborate that the coastal areas are threatened by future flooding (as EPA already has been, as Rob points out), and traffic snarls may in the future impair MPFPD's good response times. True enough, but aren't the candidate supposed to be talking about what they'd do in office, things that Board members can do, things that are the Board's business?

MPFPD Board members, sadly, have neither the power nor the mandate to fix global warming or South Bay traffic congestion. Shouldn't candidates for the Board focus preferentially on "challenges facing the district" that lie within their wheelhouse?

-- Rick Moen
(Web-search my name if anyone needs my e-mail address)


Beth
Registered user
another community
on Oct 20, 2020 at 6:17 am
Beth, another community
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2020 at 6:17 am
1 person likes this

Sean Ballard is the top choice for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board and the community would be well served by both his experience and passion for community service. Yes, he's incredibly smart and experienced, and his resume is filled with business and management successes that demonstrate he's the right candidate for the job. But it's the person he is that ultimately makes him stand out. I've always known him to be fair, thoughtful, thorough, humble and teeming with integrity, always committed to the right and honest way to do things. He's not afraid of hard work or hard conversations to get to the best outcomes, and actually shines most in difficult circumstances with his skill in solving complex problems and bringing the right people together to move things forward as a team. He listens and leads with a steady hand, a compassionate ear and an inclusive outlook. I can think of no better choice than Sean Ballard for the fire board.


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