Letter: Athertonians issue was about the name | June 6, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - June 6, 2012

Letter: Athertonians issue was about the name

I have a great deal of respect for the First Amendment. Our judiciary long ago ruled that people should be allowed to say what they want, short of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. It is what our forefathers fought long and hard for. So I can understand why last week's Almanac editorial would find any attempt to terminate the Athertonians Yahoo Group based on its content as "off base." But, to put it simply, you got it wrong.

I may not like what the Athertonians post. But I would fight for their right to print it. I would even want it available in our hoped-for new library. The problem, as I see it, is this: the Athertonians is a group which presents itself as "not intended for partisan discourse." Yet for much of the last year or so that is primarily what it has done.

In addition, it has unwittingly (to the resident) solicited membership directly online from a town program, and then, subsequently "purged" from its email list members who were known supporters of a project "unpopular" with the Athertonians moderators. It has denied access to at least one Atherton resident for no reason except, perhaps, that he is related to a council member who supports that same "unpopular" project.

The website says that "Individuals can send messages quickly and easily to the community," but just try to send anything with which the anonymous "moderators" do not agree and it will never see the light of day, and then it proceeds to conduct so-called representative "surveys" of the Atherton community and call for a "representative vote."

In speaking with one of the town attorneys concerning this website recently, I made it very clear that my goals were to make clear to the people of the town that this site was not affiliated with the town, to set forth the actual town policies in the matters believed misrepresented by the Athertonians, and under no circumstances to sue or in any way try to affect the content. While our attorney had suggested that we might have a right to the Athertonian name, I suggested that if the Athertonians was unwilling to change its name, I believed it was preferable simply to differentiate the names of the town's communications. Our town had already begun considering this path when your editorial was published. Censorship of the Athertonians site or shutting down what was determined to be a private site was never considered. The issue was always about a name.

Kathy McKeithen, member

Atherton Town Council


Posted by Video Tape, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:37 am


You and your reporter have it right. There is a video tape of the council meeting. You probably watched it. It supports your editorial.

Council Member McKeithen does much of the talking. CouncilMember Dobbie is heard saying Shut down the web site, after council member McKeithen is critical of the web siite.

I went to the website today and did not see the statements council member McKeithen claims are posted. I do not see a message "Individuals can send messages quickly and easily to the community".

With over 1500 users and on the recent survey, there are different opions on any topic. 25% of the members responding to a survey favor the library in the park idea. But 75% do not.

Why does a slim council majority move forward with a project the majority of the community does not support?

Posted by T&A Transparency & Accountibility, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

Atherton’s Political history has repeated

From the April Almanac: "Let's go ahead and get started in shutting it down," Councilman Jim Dobbie said at the council's April 18 meeting. "It's high time we do something."

How can Council member McKeithen write: "Censorship of the Athertonians site or shutting down what was determined to be a private site was never considered. The issue was always about a name." a month later.

The ACIL was formed fifty years ago to oppose the Council on a land use decision, it continued to exist as a council watchdog and worked have its members elected to council. McKeithen ran in 2000 with the backing of the ACIL and with an ACIL Director as her running mate. They campaigned on Term Limits, Transparency, Accountability, and Responsive Stewardship to town Government.

She has since abandoned Term Limits and will be seeking her fourth term in a couple of months.

Eight years ago the council started passing illegal taxes on construction with the leadership of McKeithen, who was on the Finance Committee. The Town reserves grew quickly and the ACIL did not challenge her. However a new group of residents organized and three times illegal taxes or tax increases were refunded to the residents.

Around that time someone or a group realized it would be great to have an email list and blog to advise residents of Council Agenda items; so residents would know when there were important council votes, attend meetings and express their objections to council actions. Athertonians@yahoogroups was formed.

Against what appears to be 75% of the town’s wishes McKeithen has pushed for a library in the park. On November 16, 2011 after a council agenda was posted on the Athertonian’s website advising of a library agenda item and the process not being transparent, McKeithen sent an email to the city attorney which read: “It has been now been over a week since I put you and John Danielson on notice that the EPC was illegally operating its Town website and its part “Ownership” of the Athertonians’ e-mail list….I am letting you know that I intend to go to the Grand Jury next week to investigate these matters.”

Efforts to “Shut Down” the Athertonians’ email are not promoting Transparency , Accountability, and Responsible Stewardship from the Atherton Council has.

The Athertonians web site has become popular, just the way the ACIL became popular fifty years ago. The Atherton Council needs to be held accountible.

Posted by Shut Down, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Here is the tape of the April 18th council meeting.

Web Link

32 minutes to the tape- McKeithen, Dobbie, and Connors discuss shutting down Athertonians

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