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Cohen: standing alone on gym issue

Original post made on Jul 29, 2009

Amid general enthusiasm among City Council members for a project to build a new gymnasium in Menlo Park's Civic Center complex, Councilman Andy Cohen stood alone in withholding his support for the project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 29, 2009 at 9:28 am

At least Andy Cohen, The Runaway Councilman, didn't storm out of the meeting in a fit of pique like he did when the Rosewood Hotel came up for a vote. And at least Bill Mclure did not have to send Kelly to his home to retrieve him like some errant child. How embarrasing.

Andy Cohen needs to address his puerile and petulant behavior or just resign from the City Council. He is becoming more and more irrelevant.

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm


We are tired of your ranting. Judge Cohen was just elected by a large marjority last fall. Now you can run yourself in about 15 monthc and I suspect get maybe 1000 votes (if you are lucky). I'm quite tired of listening to your nonsense. The only person who is irrelevent is you.

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm

You got to love the non-sequiturs of the left. Rod Blagojevich became the first Democrat to win back-to-back terms as Illinois governor since Otto Kerner in 1964. So following Observer's logic It does not matter how bad your are as long as you get re-elected.

However, Menlo Park deserves better and is wakening up to the fact that the current council majority does not give one whit about the residents.

We will run 2 solid candidates against Heyward & Rich. They will be fiscally responsible people who are not beholden to the Unions and who will act in the best interests of the residents. And they won't be announced until the last minute so the Union smear machine will be behind the 8-ball when it tries to make unfounded and calumnious accusations against people who are willing to put the residents first.

The residents are tired of far left candidates, blessed by Gail Slocum, going into closed door meetings eith the SEIU and making Faustian pacts. Then once elected approving egregious pay raises for the Union employees and sticking the residents with the tab.

The quid-pro-quo comes into play with the Unions making large donations to their campaigns and volunteering to precinct walk as part of Gail's Re-election Army.

The residents are wising up and will vote out city council members who put the interest of the Unions above the interests of the residents.

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Posted by make me laugh
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm

And these residents of whom you speak, they are the same ones who overwhelmingly voted Lee and Mickie out of office? What "solid candidates" will be excavated for 2010, Hank? Mary Gilles? Frank Tucker? Henry Riggs? You? The list of possibilities isn't that long, and every single person on it has some major liabilities (except you, of course) that would spell political doom for them. Maybe your buddies are going to run ads to find their perfect candidate a la Christina A-A and her $100,000 campaign.

But go on, keep providing comic relief and maybe you can get hired as court jester.

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Posted by Don't Support Current Council
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2009 at 11:01 am

$250,000 for LEEDS certification, 6+ years of theater, car dealership, Derry Project, Mattison Property debacle, MPCC wasted dollars, ridiculous salary/benefits increase for police department, no budget cuts for city budget, steadily declining reserves, $1M+ for revisioning process, hundreds of thousands of dollars for surveys that go no where...............this is an absolute joke. The only reason there are no longer any fiscally responsible individuals throwing their hat into the ring, is that they are all hard working people, that have real jobs, pay mortgages, and really understand fiscal responsibility, and the TAXPAYERS dollars. Unfortunately, Menlo Park is made up of very apathetic voters, so as long as the perceived value of "the guy that was a judge" or "the lady with the dumb looking hat, who is always at the market" is what the voters see, and that's ALL they see, this circus troupe will continue to win elections. Menlo Park is in a bad place right now.

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Posted by Shame On You, Hank!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2009 at 7:05 pm


You forgot to blame Clinton - both Bill and Hillary (oh, yea, Chelsea too - and don't forget their dog as well). Shame on you - that's supposed to be a "Pavlov's dog" reaction ingrained in your DNA!

As for "your" candidates, I hear Alaska has someone they'd like to deport (er, "re-locate") that has some (OK, really no) political experience and is now "available" and - best of all - is of a similar mind(less) set to you and your ilk. Better grab her now before her 15 minutes runs out!

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Posted by Don't Support Current Council
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Just as I thought, no coherent comeback to the concern that I have about our existing spend crazy council. I guess the truth hurts, and perhaps people are starting to get it. That's a good thing!

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Posted by make me laugh
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2009 at 12:08 am

DSCC, your prior rant was incoherent. If you had translated your thoughts into proper sentences, perhaps you might have gotten a response. Note, however, that the rule of thumb on these boards tends to be DFTA, so it's quite possible that you would have been ignored in any case.

I suspect you're a member of Hank's koolaid team, and you supported the council that was ousted for its inability to succeed in any area and its preference for ignoring public input and sneering at pleas for transparency. My observation is that MP residents are much happier with the current council -- people ARE aware of what's going on, mortgages and jobs notwithstanding -- than they were with the prior one. Wishing it weren't so won't change anything.

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Posted by Rod Blagojevich
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2009 at 11:04 am

You right wingers leave Andy alone. He is acting in the true Chicago tradition. Don't you know that to succeed in politics you have to oay homage to the ruling class. And that is the unions.

Get real. The residents are blithefully ignorant of what is going on in Menlo Park and they are gullible enough to believe the Union hit pieces and the editorial staff of the Almanac around election time. So we have it made. We have got complete control and will continue to have complete control unless the residents wake up and realize that we have been pulling the wool over their eyes.

Long live the SEIU and their duly annointed council members. Long live the Chicago tradition, and long live the residents whom we need to fund our largess.

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Posted by Lisa Loopner
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Oh, Hank, that was so funny that I forgot to laugh!

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Posted by Thanks Make Me Laugh
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 1, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Thanks MML, you reminded me of a couple of other issues. The current council had NOTHING to do with the Rose Hotel, Andy even voted against it, and alas we are now depending upon it for $1M of tax revenue. And thank you MML for reminding me of our past council that saved us $100's of thousands of dollars with our new pool management, best thing to ever happen at the pool, and again your current council members were against this maneuver, again siding with the union. You better be careful.........unions are not too favorable these days, you are starting to lose your liberal green sheen......

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 2, 2009 at 1:57 am

Aside from the repeated embarrassment of these silly political threads, I will try to respond to some of the false claims from where I see it.

The Park Theater is a direct responsibilty of the owner. I think we all know there were honest attempts to get something going there, but the owner just could not get out his own way. Council did review a public use and decided against it.

Matteson is a project I think on ECR. I remember a four story project going to council in a study session that resulted in neighborhood rejection. The developer assumed they knew the neighbors...

Derry developer is out of money as far as I can see. Blame who you want for that, but the project has never been voted on by planning or council.

Declining reserves? You mean putting $9M to pay for employee costs in a fund. I think our council saved us money by doing that? And we put something like $2M into the MA theater? Is this what you mean by declining?

And the downtown plan is badly needed. Say what you will, but this is the first time this city has taken such a broad approach to this challenge. You obviously are close with your Winkler or Duboc group, most of whom never have participated at all.

Winkler and Duboc tried to sink $18M into fields at Bayfront, supported by any candidate that runs next year against Cline or Robinson. Duboc and Winkler never ran any business and were complete failures in leadership.

yes, Hank, you can do better than those two.

But I can't wait to see your candidates go head to head with the incumbents.

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 2, 2009 at 9:10 am

Truth is either disingenuous or obtuse. Probably a combination of both.

1) Kelly Fergusson was the promoter of the Park Theater. She is on record in the council chambers promoting her ridiculous scheme ad even had a guest editorial printed in the Almanac. This could have been put to better use a long time ago if Kelly Fergusson had not interfered with her hare-brained scheme.

2) The Matteson project was endorsed by the Greenbelt Alliance. The Greenbelt Alliance has protected the region’s working farms and natural areas while making the Bay Area’s cities better places to live. A key component of their work is identifying where new growth should occur and which development proposals best meet the needs of the region. Their Compact Development Team endorses and advocates for livable, transit-accessible communities with a wide range of housing options for families of all sizes and income levels. They endorsed the 389 El Camino development proposed

3) On September 12, 2006 The City Council voted 4 to 1 to approve the Derry Project. Even Kelly Fergusson voted for it. It was endorsed two voting members of the Democratic Party Central Committee of San Mateo County- Elizabeth Lasensky and Kelly Fergusson. The reason it failed is that Morris Brown, the self-anointed leader of a Shadow Government threw enough road blocks in the path to keep it from going forward.

4) The reason the reserves are declining at a precipitous rate is that the Heyward Robinson/Richard Cline Council have voted to give the unions egregious pay raises and benefits to City employees. They are fiscally irresponsible.

5) Bay Front Park costs $445,000/year to maintain. The Bayfront Park Maintenance Fund has been depleted. Now the residents have to pay for its maintenance. Nearly all of its 160 acres lay on top of 155 acres of garbage, about 90 feet deep. Councilman Paul Collacchi said . "We've got to do something, I think, to defer these costs substantially"

The city-backed Highlands plan for Bay Front Park would have leased the park for 55 years, using 75 acres for an 18-hole executive golf course and 7 acres for three playing fields. Annual revenue would range from $24,000 in the first two years to $260,000 in the last 20 years, said Craig Price, the Highlands Park company owner. The gulf course would have used less than half the acreage of Bay Front Park. But strong well-organized groups of environmentalists, most of whom were from out of state decided that they knew better than the council what the best use of a former garbage dump should be.

The environmentalists had deep pockets and they engaged in a propaganda campaign that would have made Goebbels proud.

6) The common thread is that the far left has a lot of money. They use this money to spread disinformation to con the voters with meritless fear tactics to persuade them to vote their way.

Right now the council majority’s allegiance is to out-of-state far left environmental groups and the unions. I am not saying that we should disregard environmental issues but they should be weighed in balance with the community’s needs. So far the community has little voice in how Menlo Park is being run and how our hard earned money is being spent. And the Unions need to have their pay and benefits brought into line with the private sector.

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Posted by likes truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 2, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Your note is full of misrepresentations and displays total ignorance of the major role the national (international?) economic downturn has played out locally:
Park Theater - yes Fergusson had an idea that wasn't embraced by a lot of us, but to her credit she heard that and backed off. The property owner defaced the theater and has let it go to ruin. No one else.
Matteson project - this was inconsistent with current zoning and the neighborhood opposed it as being inappropriate next to their homes.
Derry project - the project owner resubmitted a revised project that has been approved by the Planning Commission. Due to the economy, it has not been presented to the Council. But it's ready to go.
Reserves - these are for a rainy day. We've had more than a few of these. And the market has gone down, so of course the reserves have also. Thanks to conservative management of these, it wasn't as much as most other cities or families
Bayfront Park - the voters had a chance to speak their mind and they rejected the project you mention. Most in this community are highly educated and investigate issues when they vote. Time to move on.
Far left - Your conspiracy theories are really getting old. Actually, the average local Republicans have a lot more money than Dems. The unions aren't the enemy, but many of us, conservatives and liberals alike, share concerns about kowtowing to every union demand and do want labor benefits to be more in line with the private sector.
It's clear you're just trying to make a case about why certain past council members were perfect and certain current ones can't do anything right.

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Posted by So Untruth
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Wow, for being "Truth" you REALLY do stretch it. That was a remarkable story of once again, of Untruths, myth, fantasy and no detail. I can't believe we respond to your jibberish.
Derry Project - "due to the economy"?? - Are you kidding me, you guys blew that apart 2 years before this past October!
Reserves - Face it they're depleted, and your peeps KEEP depleting them.
Bayfront Park - "...investigated issues..." - you mean produced blatant lies, took pictures of open toxic waste and oil drums to make it look like Bayfront?? Great strategy, but very deceptive, I would be embarrassed.
Unions ARE the enemy - At some point, perhaps you should pick up a budget and apply pen, paper and calculator to the absolute extreme cost overruns that the unions have driven for the past 20-30 years. California AND Menlo Park are in trouble, and as long as you favor unions, and think "they serve their purpose", and people like you think the same, we will be driven further into debt. I wish someone would wake up........

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Posted by Thanks Make Me Laugh
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 2, 2009 at 9:55 pm

"Is it a community with a lot more kids coming in? Or is it a STABLE, VILLAGE-LIKE community BEAUTIFUL neighborhoods that wants to be a place of PERMANENT residents?"
- Andy Cohen, Councilman

Do you believe Mr. Cohen actually came right out and said what his crew, and Truth's crew, have been thinking for the past decade? Kids = Bad?? Absolutely amazing! Why is there not more outrage with this type of statement? Why do Andy and his people not understand home appreciation and good schools? THAT is where Andy and his other spend thrift council people are getting the revenue to spend. Citizens should be outraged at this type of comment!! Where is the story on THIS?

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Posted by befuddled
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Not sure which irritates me more, Cohen's weird concept of two Menlo Parks we must choose between, or TMML's hysteria and way out-of-proportion interpretation of Cohen's statement. Can't we discuss issues like adults?

Cohen posits a two scenarios, presumably one precluding the existence of the other, and those scenarios represent "values" that are being played out in Menlo Park's existential struggle. Either Menlo Park is a city where kids are part of the picture, or it's a "stable" community with "permanent residents." Uh, Mr. Cohen, permanent residents? I'd love to live forever, but somehow I don't think I can pull it off.

Meanwhile, I have to acknowledge the cycle of life and the fact that my kids, everyone's kids in fact, will eventually replace me and be adult members of households, and be adult walkers of dogs and shoppers at the local market, and take seats on the city council, etc etc etc. What on earth could you possible have meant when you made such a statement?

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Posted by make me laugh
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I love the way some of you manage to twist a few words out of context into a truly bizarre interpretation of Andy Cohen's mindset. This is the man who is a father (so much for hating kids), an active supporter of the Boys & Girls Club in East Menlo, and the organizer of a program that brought together leaders from other communities to address the issues facing today's youth. My own kids love Andy.

Instead of blaming him for bad reporting, how about trying to understand what he was apparently saying, which is that the city has to balance the interests of the long-time residents (who expect a certain lifestyle) with those of families with young children. The gym is problematic in that it seems to favor certain groups (the school children and young adults who participate in basketball and volleyball leagues, and yes, I am aware that there are tot programs and that middle-aged people play volleyball/basketball, but they are not the majority) over the needs of the people who use the library. Since a significant percentage of library users are less ambulatory --- either because they have physical impairments or because they are accompanied by a bunch of little kids and babies -- the city needs to consider their parking concerns.

Because Andy -- alone among the council members -- wanted to provide optimal service to both user groups, he abstained. That's all. He didn't kill the project. Didn't even slow it down.

So folks, instead of bashing someone who has volunteered his time and considerable skills to serve this community, how about coming up with some good ideas yourself? And, oh, while you're at it, maybe you want to volunteer at the Boys and Girls club too? I'm sure you don't want to waste all your energy whining -- do something productive with it!

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Posted by Lisa Loopner
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

"So folks, instead of bashing someone who has volunteered his time and considerable skills to serve this community, how about coming up with some good ideas yourself?"

Ah, but where's the fun in that - right, Hank?

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm


You are so right. I am going to start the cash for Clunker Council Members program. I am offering $500 each to Heyward Robinson, Richard, Cline, Kelly Fergusson, and Andy Cohen if they resign from the City Council in the next week.

That way they can make some money and we can have a special election in which hopefully some people, who are not beholden to the Unions or out-of-state environmental groups, will run for office.

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Posted by It Takes One To Know One!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Thanks, Hank, for starting the "City Clunker" program - after all, who better to spot a Clunker than you!

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