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Reconsiderations, accusations, recriminations, insinuations ... just another council meeting

Original post made on Oct 27, 2009

In a Menlo Park City Council term that has enjoyed its share of strange, puzzling, and temperamental behavior by council members, the Oct. 20 meeting might have taken the cake in terms of entertainment value.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 26, 2009, 11:26 PM

Comments (22)

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Posted by Wilbur
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:53 am

How many MP city council members does it take to screw in a light bulb?
They'll never get to the point of allowing one to be installed.

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 27, 2009 at 7:17 am

This City Council is the most dysfunctional one in the over 20 years I have been living in Menlo Park. It is unfortunate that John Boyle is the sole voice of reason. [Portion deleted.]

Our Menlo Park City Council is now the laughing stock of the Peninsula. Our Council is already held in public contempt by the City Council of Redwood City while council members of other cities mirthfully snicker when the subject of the Menlo Park City Council is brought up.

In 53 weeks the residents of Menlo Park can sweep out two of these [portion deleted; disrespectful language] and bring more sanity to our City's governance. I urgently implore people not to vote for Heyward Robinson and Richard Cline in the upcoming election. They are nasty, divisive, and unaccomplished council members. And frankly Menlo Park deserves much better than these two contumacious solipsists. You as residents can relieve Menlo Park of this unseemly embarassment.

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:39 am

Hank Lawerence's defense of John Boyle is ludicrous. Boyle is nothing but an obstructionist. He continually does what he can to keep actions from taking place. Why the other four don't stop these discussions when Boyle is trying to stop a vote is beyond me. Last week was a case in point on the Cargill item, where Boyle doesn't want the City to take a stand. So the public has to sit and listen to what seems like an unending discussion, before they will finally take a vote.

Kelly and Heyward, just love to talk. They go on and on. Meeting stretch out until everyone is asleep.

[Sentence deleted. Discuss the topic, not other posters.]

Boyle's support of High Speed Rail, as the only councilman to do so, is particularly noticed as being far out of sync with the community. Surely he won't be re-elected; he only won by 100 votes 3 years ago in what was a mistake the community un-fortunately made.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:46 am

I truly appreciate The Almanac's review of posts, but I would ask them to consider using a "light hand" when editing them.

I think most of us would agree that obscenities and personal attacks do not belong on this forum. But as adults, I think we are able to weed through the occasional confrontational language and draw appropriate conclusions about a poster's motives.

Freedom of the press has become an increasingly important issue and I would respectfully ask The Almanac - who I feel has been incredibly fair and even handed - to give some latitude to individual expression.

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Posted by Rich Cline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

A point of fact that The Almanac could not have known.

I have apologized to Andy for some of my comments on the dais -- in particular, the populist jab. It was an unnecessary statement.

We spend many hours debating issues that can be pretty sensitive so there will be moments of devolution. I am sure it is both amusing and aggravating at times. Having public discussions about heated topics without knowing what each council member is thinking, and doing it live, can be challenging.

I do think my peers on council have earned the right to be respected, even if you disagree with them.

See you tonight.

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Posted by Positive
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Each of our current Councilmembers has their strengths and weaknesses, but the talent level on this Council is actually fairly good relative to Councils past. A LOT better. In the past there have actually been drunken councilmembers hurling outright threats and personally berating not only other Councilmembers but also the public. This is very tame compared to some Councils...

Actually, this Council (and City staff) is doing a pretty good job of moving forward with a LOT on their plates -- and all during a time of great economic stresses.
Specifially: They DID move forward on the Gym despite Andy's lone dissent, and on 1300 ECR building (desptie Boyle's lone dissent), and the only commercial office building built in this County during the downturn is on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. Not to mention dealing with budget cuts, and continuing to work on processing one of the biggest developments ever in the City: MenloGateway, while at the same time getting the community to focus on the El Camino Specific Plan/Visioning process in a constructive way.) That is all huge undertaking, especially in a downturn. It's a thankless job and they deserve our thanks even if we disagree -- and a little understanding when these stresses sometimes leak out in verbal comments that I amn sure they wish they didn't make.

Of course they need to work harder overcome some of their human foibles -- we all do -- but sending them positive messages about how they can be more constructively engaged should help them with that learning (more than beating them up for being human).

As for the election - let's see who else is willing to run. Perhaps everyone can take a chill pill and focus on what really needs to get done - not on "negative intrigue" and the "cult of personality" or of "personal destruction" (those seem to be the media's obsession in politics). Let's keep our eyes on the ball, people!

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2009 at 2:57 pm


Most of Menlo Park wants the High Speed Rail. Councilman Boyle listens to residents and brings a sane point of view to the topic.

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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2009 at 3:17 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

Boyle appears to be the only person with any vision and is in touch with what the people want, not just special interests.
Yesterday is gone. Those who constantly need to be reminded of it are mostly looking after themselves and leaving Menlo Park just go on as it has, in its rather unremarkable way.

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Posted by MenloParkorDetroit
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Published a blog on the look of Menlo Park downtown. Sure, I'm for renovation of the downtown. Check out Web Link

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Posted by picky reader
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm

It would be helpful if the writer would specify that we are talking about Menlo Park in the article!

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Posted by Craig Breon
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm

First of all, let me say that I am not well informed as to the substance of some of the issues discussed at Council, so I will not address those.

I do want to thank the Almanac for deleting some materials from some postings. Language that does not contribute to a sane public debate is better left out. Passion and content can be easily expressed within acceptable boundaries.

I think the situation in many of our local cities will get worse before it gets better. I appreciate the Almanac for giving us this forum to work things out.

To provide some rationale for my participation in an Almanac forum as a resident of San Jose, I should say that I served on the Portola Valley Planning Commission for a decade.

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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Oct 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

Picky Reader: Thanks for the catch. I added Menlo Park to the first sentence.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I appreciate the job that Sean Howell is doing in trying to shine some light on some of the follies of our city council. I only wish he and the Almanac would do a little more investigative reporting and challenge some of the council members on their hypocrisies.

For example, on the issue of high speed rail brought up by OBSERVER in this forum. I keep hearing from council members that "almost everyone in MP is against high speed rail" and that is why they are spending precious MP financial resources to fight the project. Yet they ignore the fact that in the Nov 2008 Presidential Election 55% of Menlo Park voters who cast votes on Prop 1a SUPPORTED the High Speed Rail measure.

(See for the official election results)

Contrary to OBSERVER's statement that Boyle is "out of sync," John seems to be the only one with the conviction to represent the view of the MAJORITY of MP residents on what is admittedly a highly divisive issue.

P.S. Please don't say that the majority of Menlo Park voters were duped or that the voters who failed to show up and vote in this most historic presidential election were all against the high speed rail.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:13 am

What resources? Stick to the facts. Show me where the city spent money on the suit. Show me where council members said almost everyone is against high speed rail. I need to see more facts on this stuff.

From my position, I heard that MP challenged the rail folks to provide more information on impacts of the rail coming up on the current track system. That was what I was told was the reason behind the suit. Do you want me to show you exact quotes?

I also looked into the regional meeting in Palo Alto I think where cities meet to work out how rail will come to this area. Menlo Park is a big part of that. How is that bad?

Help me understand where you get the info you present? And, if it is proven wrong, are you open to writing a correction?

No one else here does, so why go against the grain.

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Posted by choo choo
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:17 am

Joanna and Reside
Perhaps at the time of the HSR prop the majority of MP, PA, Ath voted for SR bond. However with all the new info which has come out I would hazard a guess that the majority of the residents now oppose HSR as currently conceived and with the exceptionally high costs which have become evident.

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Posted by veronica
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

Menlo Park and Atherton joined the lawsuit challenging the EIR for high speed rail, but neither town is financing the lawsuit. Really, all they did is add their names. The only cost would be in staff time reviewing the lawsuit's progress, I'd think.

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Posted by meetings too long
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm

There's another explanation for heated words -- meetings that go too long into the night even on very complex issues. This puts tired council members under a lot of pressure when they easily could defer some discussion to another meeting. The late nights also cut out a lot of public involvement, truly sad on such important issues as the future of El Camino and Downtown.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm


Both the San jose Mercury News and the Almanac reported that on Aug 5, the MP city council held a closed council meeting to consider joining the lawsuit against the HSR project. Subsequently, those papers reported that the city is involved in negotiations with the HSR authority to settle the lawsuit. Don't you consider the city council and the city manager's time and attention to be important resources? If you only count money out the door, what about MP's outside attorney and his law firm (who are paid several hundred dollars per hour) and who have been providing support to the city on this matter? What if the rail authority were to counter sue MP to recover their costs of defending the lawsuit or financial damages from resulting delays?

With respect to your statement that the purpose of the suit was just to "get the rail folks to provide more information," perhaps you should take a look at the actual complaint filed with the CA Superior Court which is available here:

Web Link

It clearly asks the court to block the rail authority from moving ahead with the project as planned and to reconsider alternative routes that would bypass downtown Menlo Park.

Perhaps you should ask your sources to write an open response.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 29, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Well here is one quote...

"Our point is that there needs to be a dialogue. We need to work together to plan this thing successfully," Mr. Cline said. "The work group (plan) doesn't necessarily make it better, because we have to see that there's a proper input and reaction process."

Here is Kelly Fergusson's letter in May...

Web Link

Here is the PCC website...

And here is the official position in a letter to the editor in October last year.

The city of Menlo Park recently joined the lawsuit challenging the High Speed Rail Authority's (HSRA) environmental impact report (EIR). We did so because the EIR did not address our concerns on the potential impacts to our city. Menlo Park has sent four different letters, beginning in 2004, requesting answers to our questions. The only answer that we have received is that our questions will be addressed in the next EIR — AFTER the $10 billion HSR bond vote. Joining the lawsuit appears to be the only way to get the HSRA to pay attention to our concerns.

I think you need to research the parties in the lawsuit and connect the dots before you make blanket assumptions.

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 29, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Menlo Park did not fund any of the lawsuit against the HSR Authority. However, the residents of Menlo Park and Atherton, through individual efforts raised almost all of the funds for the lawsuit. On the proposed settlement, nobody expected the Authority to accept; they didn't; they then lost the lawsuit and right now there is no certified EIR for the San Francisco to Merced segment of the project.

The City joined the PCC along with 4 other cities, giving leverage on if and how the project will come through our area. Fergussion, did sign a letter with Yoriko, of Palo Alto, but quite frankly I don't think she knew what she was getting into. Yoriko is running for State Assembly, and sees High Speed Rail as an issue she must support to keep support with the Democratic party. She keeps trying to walk a fine line between keeping Palo Alto needs and obvious problems with the project and yet she can't say I don't support this boondoggle.

The Palo Alto council, did a complete turn around on the subject and now is solidly against the project, as are almost all the candidates for election next week.

So Truth, a dynamic situation is in play. What was the vote a year ago, certainly is not what is reality today, as citizens have learned what a disaster this project will bring to Menlo Park as well as to the state. Boyle, still hasn't learned this, he won't be re-elected if he dares to run again next fall. His objection to opposing Cargill is another arrow in his back as well.

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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Apart from aesthetic values, what I don't understand are most of the thinking which so strongly opposes HSR in California as if it isn't inevitable and a necessity, most of all.
The city councils in most of the joined cities are functioning as badly as Washington is progressing with health care.
If people are going to ignore the present condition of almost every highway, freeway, and deteriorating bridge in California as well as the nation, then there will be a "too late" scream fest which will have transportation at a standstill.
To mention the Bay Bridge is a cheap shot, but an accurate one. Just look at the time involved in "repair" and the expression on the faces of those sitting in autos who do have jobs to get to on both sides of this 'patch job' whose costs are yet undisclosed--and this did not start recently.
After examining the failure of that bridge, think of the condition of all our roads, highways and HUNDREDS of bridges which have to be repaired.
Are all of you who are opposed to a connecting rail system weighing the expenditures of each? I think not. Again, it sounds selfish and snobbish to ignore the rest of the state in the very near future.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 3, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

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