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Letter: Council should support, not hinder, building upgrades

Original post made on Dec 23, 2008

I am struck by a quote by our new mayor in last week's Almanac. In connection with an article on Page 9, "School building plans cleared to proceed," Honorable Heyward Robinson is quoted as saying: "There needs to be some healing between the school district, the city and the council. Ken Ranella's e-mail didn't help".

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 24, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (14)

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 23, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Mary Gilles presents the problem with such focus and clarity. I don't understand why Wayward Robinson wants to gradually turn Menlo Park into a slum. The myopic leadership of the council majority will reduce property values and taxes. But we can be very grateful to Nicholas Jellins, Lee Duboc, and Mickie Winkler for the Rosewood resort which should generate over $1M in city revenues annually. There is no way that this resort would have been approved under the current council majority. After all the 4 SEIU Union Stewards disguised as council members must pay hoomage to their real consituency - the SEIU.

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Posted by lawrence go away again
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 23, 2008 at 7:26 pm

It was such a nice reprieve when Hank baby left town and didn't continue to post nonsense to these and other pages. Unfortunately he is back -- well just ignore him as so many in the community have come to do.

Hank baby run for council -- your side of local politics couldn't even field more than one candidate so you should be a shoo in to gather up all the funds needed to run. -- let us find how many votes you can garner.

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Posted by read the fine print
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Appears that MG doesn't care to read staff reports, nor listen carefully to staff, council and public comments. Nor speak at any school board meetings on the "bait and switch" plan that so outraged the neighbors and some council members. If she did, she might then ask herself, why she expressed alarm to Oak Knoll neighbors this past spring about the school site committee plan to put the MPR bldg. in its present intrusive location adjoining residences, and now she echoes the party line with the same ignorant diatribe about neighbors and the Mayor holding up remodelling of the school.
Guess she will be leading the cheers as the demolition of the cherished Oak Knoll front playground and removal of heritage trees commences over the next month.
Some folks have a conscience, stand up for what's right. Others just seem to indulge in demagoguery to satiate their egos.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 23, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Fascinating that Gilles spins the inaccuracies just like Duboc. Makes you wonder who really is writing those letters for Lee. Gilles, for the record, has failed to attend a single downtown visioning meeting. She loved it when Winkler and the Boyle Brigade shoved a no bid contract down our throats giving away the pool (a $7M taxpayer funded facility). She applauds when Winkler and the Boyle Brigade make decisions on behalf of the city with no plan and no strategy at all.

She calls herself a free market Republican. So does Hank. These guys have lived in the Menlo bubble far too long. They wouldn't know a true Republican if it bit them in the rear.

They are followers. They are part of a clique of real estate shills and rich trust funders who plunked down into our city and think because they are white and wealthy, they can make decisions without facts and data.

Since my council has taken over, we have our first business development plan. Can you believe it? We are now moving to a specific plan for our downtown. What do you think will work better, a community based plan for our town and a guide for developers or a piece meal shove it down your throat approach?

Think about it.

Gilles and Hank have nothing positive to say at all because they are part of small minority of folks who can only dismiss and insult.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]

To blame unions for failure is a classic case of a person who has no idea what leadership means. Blame leaders Hanks not the workers who toil at the bottom.

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Posted by Ram Duriseti
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 23, 2008 at 9:00 pm

With respect to the neighbors of Oak Knoll Elementary who have clashed with the MPCSD, Ms. Gilles misrepresents the issue. I'll say it one more time: all of us voted for the bond measure. Some of us donated to MPAEF (one family on the order of thousands) and even continue to donate "our fair share" to the PTO where our children attend.

What we objected to was the process. The district assumed we would be obstructionist so we were not included in the process at the outset -- well before any of us tipped our hand on opposition to the preferred development plans. The first any of us heard of the project was when Mr. Hafer witnessed the collection of soil samples over the front field. The law protects the district from unreasonable obstructionists. It is not meant to protect the district from generally well-meaning people who have a stake in the outcome. Not all of us were of the same mind and not all of us lived adjacent to the school. As a rule though, none of us were Luddites standing in the way of progress. The MPCSD Board assumed we would be and lo and behold, the prophecy was fulfilled. Outnumbered, we lobbied the city as that was the only powerful resource we could marshal.

My wife and I have been vilified for not putting positive energy into our larger community. Interesting. Do you want a snapshot of what we do for the community? I have some suggestions: ask the Hillview PTO if my wife contributes time/energy, ask the MA Vikings if we lend a hand, ask Haven House, ask the Menlo Park EQC, ask the Menlo Park GRCC, ask the Monterey Bay Aquarium if our family doesn't contribute generously to a resource that benefits all of us, and there are a host of other charities to the tune of 8% of our income for a household that is not particularly wealthy. Even our professional lives, by virtue of what we do, dictates donation of time for no compensation or recognition.

Healing begins with understanding and respecting the interests and motivations of others. It begins with allowing dissent without labeling and vilifying. It begins with viewing the process as a means to reach consensus rather than forcing through any one agenda. It means not viewing the discussion as a conflict that justifies braying, prancing, and senior bashing under the cover of anonymity.

Know that the county was much more aggressive in protecting Vine Street residents than the City Council was in protecting Menlo Park residents. I'm not saying this is right or wrong. I'm suggesting that Heyward and the rest of the council deserve more respect than offered in Ms. Gilles' letter.

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Posted by Truth Is an [portion removed]
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 24, 2008 at 9:46 am

"Gilles and Hank have nothing positive to say...." BUT, it's "Truth" that gets a portion of his email blog extracted, "Portion removed because of disrespectful comment".

This is classic Truth, a whole lot of unsubstantiated garbage, filled with untruths, exaggerated claims and lies. Truth, when you are pointing the finger, remember that four more are pointing back at YOU. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]

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Posted by New Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 24, 2008 at 11:19 am

My husband and I moved to Menlo Park last year. We are absolutely amazed at the politics of this town. Now that I have found this blog, it is all starting to make some sense. The town seems to be deeply divided over some very basic issues, that need to be solved, quickly. My husband and I think that this just requires some common sense. We have noticed many, many abandon lots, boarded up commercial sites (some with gang tagging!), delays with improving our schools, delays with approved development projects and still, at the end of the day, we will be paying approximately $15,000 in property tax!! Something just does not add up, something is broken. We either need real leaders in our council chambers, or a whole new system. I don't see any of these type issues in our neighboring communities?? In fact, we now make it a point to take the kids to Redwood City to movies, shopping and meals. We are starting to think that we should have spent about $250,000 less on our home, and moved there! We are getting buyers remorse.

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Posted by plenty of homes there
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 25, 2008 at 5:57 pm

@new Neighbor:

So sorry you feel this way about Menlo Park as your new home. There are plenty of homes for sale in Redwood City, maybe you should move there. Enjoy their style of living and their schools. And you would should be able to get a home for less money there. Its a free country.

Actually I don't believe hardly anything you have written above. You just one of the DuBoc, Winkler Jellins crew, now being carried on publicly by Gillis and Hank Lawrence. Your group can't even field 2 candidates, yet you complain about everything. I'm personally hoping we will get a competitive bid on the pool in a couple of years or bring it back into the City (wouldn't the Union love that?)

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 26, 2008 at 9:58 am

I do blame the leaders for Menlo Park's rapidly diminshing reserves and their failure to revitalize the infrastructure. These leaders are: Heyward Robinson, Andy Cohen, and Kelly Fergusson. They think it is more important to represent the radical left environmentalist groups and the SEIU then represent the interests of the residents of Menlo Park. Andy Stern, the leader of the SEIU is an admitted socialist. When will our residents wake up and realize that socialism is not the recipe for Menlo Park. By the way I know no developers. But would it be a crime if I did. The far left would not be living in their fancy homes if it were not for developers. Their attitude is that now that I got mine the hell with everyone else.

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Posted by New Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 26, 2008 at 11:44 am

Well, I didn't expect that comment from "plenty of homes there", I don't even know who Mr. Gilles or Hank Lawrence are??? What is up with this blog? I'm just trying to find out answers to some things I am concerned about. And don't you worry, if this town remains like this, in the current state that it is in, we WILL move. You're lucky that it's me on this blog, and not my husband who has many more choice words to use about the crappy state of things in our downtown area.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Don't hide from the point, Hank. The CEOs of US auto mismanaged the companies into the ground. Crappy cars and crappier planning destroyed them. You can play ping pong with your words all you want, but I am specifically challenging your analogy of auto corps and unions to Menlo Park.

Now, can a bloated employee benefit package kill a city? Yes. And to that point, I agree with you that this city needs to carefully wade into the waters of union negotiations.

I still say this is a regional issue and to think our city should be the epicenter to change 100 years of labor trends is just silly.

As for any comparision to Redwood City, that is just not a great path to go down. Menlo Park has defined itself off of Redwood City and Palo Alto. Many in this city, I am one, are happy not to have big malls and fast food on every corner and pieces of tier two big box along the main roads.

Redwood City is a wonderful place to live, but I chose to live here for what it is. And I expect my council to keep it unique and village like. That does not mean empty lots, but it does mean we define our uses and our town, not chains and big time developer/rail conglomerates.

Yes, rail is now in the business of building cities. It is all one and the same.

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Posted by around town
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 27, 2008 at 5:19 am

New Neighbor, you're not going to glean much from this forum other than the fact that a small minority of residents consider it great sport to snipe at one another.

Fortunately, most residents are unaware both of this board and of the wrangling. My advice is to join your neighborhood email list if you haven't already, as that will give you better information about what's happening and why.

Menlo Park is a great place to live and to raise a family.

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 27, 2008 at 7:55 am

Half Truth has it half right. The Big 3 presidents are largely responsible for the fiasco by in past years giving in to Gettelfinger's egregious blackmail. The chickens have come home to roost and now it is time to pay the piper. The only way for the Detroit auto industry to survive is to go into Chapter 11 and renegotiate the UAW contracts to be on par with the pay and benefits of auto plants in the South. It is the only way they can continue. This is a quote from a UAW union member in Ohio
"I agree that they need to get rid of the union. They have to represent all, and that means all the ones who don’t want to come to work, and the ones who don’t want to work when they are at work. I’m in a union shop and its a sad state of affairs. These workers think GM owes them, when in reality, they should be glad to have a job!
Its amazing, to watch some of these people work harder at getting out of work than actually doing any work.

Comment by Ohioan - December 24, 2008 at 7:36 pm

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Posted by Go Hank!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 27, 2008 at 9:53 am

Yep, this DOES seem to be the typical blog back and forth between competing forces in Menlo Park. However, I don't think anyone wants big box stores, or fast food chains or big development etc. THAT is THE problem. Anyone with an idea to improve the city, in perhaps a small way, but a way where it may change things from going from a broken down, worn down building or empty lot, to something that flourishes, brings much needed tax revenue and creates a public need or desire, is looked upon by a certain faction in this city as bad, bad, bad. They were the same people that looked down their noses at the Kepler/Barrone's development, the same people that looked down their noses at the law offices on El Camino and Encinal, the same people that looked down their noses at the new beautifully done Rosewood Hotel. These are ALL great properties for our city. Many people like their look, and want more on a much smaller scale, and they can't even get the "other side" to at least consider, before yelling "Developer, developer, developer". In addition, I have lived here for 12 years, I'm still looking for that overly obnoxious house they "other side" calls a "McMansion". What is up with that?? I think all of our neighborhoods look great. If someone wants to tear down their little rambler, and put up a nicer home, then go crazy, who cares? It only benefits MY home, and appreciates MY home value. These other's have it all wrong, they just don't get it!

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