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Councilman blasts report by grand jury

Original post made on Apr 27, 2009

There's been no official response from Atherton to the April 6 San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury report advising the town to butt out of a dispute between high school neighbors and a local youth football league. That didn't stop Councilman Jim Dobbie from airing his opinion of the report.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, April 26, 2009, 12:48 AM

Comments (15)

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Posted by Crane
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

The Grand Jury report says it all - Atherton City Council is not only dysfunctional and out of touch it cannot even accept the recommendations of a non bias 3rd party. For a city with so little to do – it seems to make a mess of everything. Planning, Parks, Permits, working with others..

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Posted by Fred
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 27, 2009 at 1:51 pm

What "non bias 3rd party"??? There were several reports almosts a year ago that Charles Marsala was encouraging people to volonteer for grand jury duty so that he could bring this events ordinance issue before them. The grand-stander has figured out how use the grand jury to spin......

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2009 at 3:05 pm

The last item in the article is the most important, and represents the most serious issue here--specifically, the GJ (don't know why this is any of their business) "encouraged the school district to use its exemption from Atherton's rules--like someone has to encourage Gemma and company from using their exemptions. Just look at the Performing Arts Center Project as an example!

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Posted by Irked
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 28, 2009 at 9:45 pm

The grand jury a nonbiased third party? Open your eyes. The grand jury has shown so much bias year after year after year in case after case after case. The grand jury is, in general, a joke with a political agenda.

It's time that state law is reformed so that school districts are held accountable and forced into working with the communities they operate their schools in. Until that happens, school officials like King Gemma will continue to thumb their noses at the public, which has no choice but to pay their royal salaries while they scoff at the community's concerns.

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Posted by not a NIMBY
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:26 am

WOW!!! the pot calling the kettle black. people dare to call the grand jury biased when the atherton council constantly sucks up to small minority in lindenwood who falsly claim to represent the interests of lindenwood. it's time for some personal responsibility here, when people buy a house next to a school there are positives and negatives. own up to both.

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Posted by Cop Land 2
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 29, 2009 at 5:28 pm

[Removed; excessive posts]

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Posted by Quentin McHale
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Wouldn't ya think a grand jury would have somewhat more pressing issues to cover? I am sure both the Pop Warner reps and the neighbors see this as a huge help to their discussions/negotiatons...

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Posted by insider
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm

From my perspective the Grand Jury would have found its time to have been better spent doing an audit of the Atherton Police Activities League.

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Posted by Charles Marsala
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 30, 2009 at 8:13 am


Rather than "reports" here are "facts": 1. The Grand Jury currently does not have anyone on it from Atherton, that I know.

2. Every year the Judge in charge of the Grand Jury sends a letter to all council members in San Mateo County asking if they can suggest anyone for the Grand Jury.

3. I have never suggested anyone to the Judge. I can not think of anyone I have ever asked anyone to serve on the Grand Jury as it consumes many hours, and I do not know anyone with that many hours.

4. I disagreed with Atherton’s lawsuit against the School District and believe we consumed precious tax dollars (more than $100,000) from both the residents of Atherton and the residents of the school district.

5. I disagree with the ordinance as it is effects more than Pop Warner and the MA Performing Arts Center. I live close to the Circus Club; Atherton does not require people using their facilities to apply for a permit and notify all residents within 500 feet. We do not require people using our park to apply for a permit and notify all residents within 500 feet. We let people use our park till sunset, why prohibit use of a football field after 7pm during the summer on weekdays for practice without amplified noise.

The ordinance does not state how many people need to object to an event for a permit to be denied. If five of us around Sacred Heart do not want the Cub Scouts to have a Pinewood Derby, can we shut it down?

The ordinance has many unintended negative consequences outside of Pop Warner. For years I have requested we revisit the entire ordinance.

6. The Grand Jury report mentions the waste of resources and energy that has been going on for more than three years due to this ordinance. Headlines in the Almanac such as “Council Punts Pop Warner Decision,” “Pop Warner Dealt Late Hit,” and “Atherton’s lawsuit out of line” would bring the Grand Jury’s attention to this issue. Like several of the other commenters on Town Square, I would not have thought this is something the Grand Jury would have voted to review.

7. The State has a law called the Civic Center Act to set boundaries for local governments on creating ordinances regarding schools and promoting usage of School resources to the community. This was done to provide a benefit to the voters who do not have children in the public school, but would enjoy using the facilities.

8. Interestingly the Civic Center Act resulted from a lawsuit Atherton brought against another school district years ago. So this is not this first time an Atherton lawsuit against a school district resulted in a higher authority taking action.

9. Rather than try and spin this as my having caused the report, (which I did not); we could step back and reflect if there is a better way to deal with recreational activities in Atherton other than the Non-School Events Guidelines and lawsuits against school disricts.

Charles Marsala

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Posted by Phil
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 8:36 am

Dear Charles:

With apologies to Shakespear:

Thou doth protest too much

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Posted by longfellow
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

Phil and anyone else who (slyly or not) accuses Charles Marsala of influencing the Grsand Jury totally misses the point. If Charles had gone to the Grand Jury he would only have done what is his right and what Kathy McKeithen did the two previous years.

What should be at issue here is what and how the Grand Jury choses to focus on.

There are far more pressing issues at play in Atherton, public safety (or lack thereof) and drainage come to mind.

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Posted by Very Sad
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:18 am

Charles doesn't have pull at the Grand Jury. He didn't go to the Grand Jury they came to him. As far as some comment made by a guy named Fred I have never heard of anyone saying Charles encouraged anyone to go to the Grand Jury. Where is the proof of the reports. The Pop Warner issue was a huge hot button in this town. Carol Smith who backs up to the school had her dogs poisoned in her back yard. One died one lived.
When Charles first joined city counsel he had rocks outside his home. He removed the rocks because they are against the city codes. After one of Charle's big party's, that he invited most of the town to, he was going through his trash to make sure anything that could be recycled was recycled. I was so impressed that he cared that much about helping the planet, and doing the right thing. Has anyone ever considered that the Grand Jury is out to help our town, and make sure we have a fair voice for all. We should be grateful to the Grand Jury for doing there job, and caring about what happens in Atherton.

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Posted by very happy
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:25 am

Hats off to Charles for speaking his mind no matter how it makes the Town look, no matter where the chips fall.

I\'ll take a guy like Charles over a guy like Jerry Carlson any day of the week.

Carlson steps aside and holds his nose, playing the role of elder statesman while McKeithen and her allies act like the Gestapo.

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Posted by insider
a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:33 am

If I had a dime for every time Jerry Carlson held his nose and looked the other way while McKeithen & Co ran roughshod over the rest of the Council I would be wealthy enough to afford a home in Lindenwood.

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Posted by referee
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

I'm tired of all this bickering.

I say lets settle it once and for all with a good old tag team wrestling match, with no rules, biting, hair pulling below the belt punches.

In this corner we have McKeithen and Dobbie

In this corner we have Lewis and Marsala

Since I came up with the idea can I have the rights to sell it as a sports exclusive to ESPN?

This will do better than even Dancing with the Stars!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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