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Atherton councilman won't face further investigation of loan request

Original post made on Apr 8, 2010

Atherton's city attorney may have ruled that Councilman Charles Marsala broke no law when he requested a $500,000 loan from a town resident preparing to sue the town, but two of his city council colleagues remain unswayed. At a rancorous and well-attended special City Council meeting held Wednesday, April 7, the divided council took no further action in the matter, despite Mayor Kathy McKeithen's call for an investigation into the matter.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 8, 2010, 11:53 AM

Comments (60)

Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Everyone from Atherton just waiting to crucify or lynch Marsala are either too embarassed at this episode, which was a waste of time and money and have failed to conclude that this entire issue was such a matter of an entire town angry at Marsala for the suit, and at Buckheit will more than likely end up winning his lawsuit.
This will be worse news than for the do gooders who actually believe that ethics reign in this culture and in our County, especially.
This should be in the funnies and I give credit to Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis for speaking out while the rest still feel Marsala is in a "coma".
It seems like it is all about the "pride" the community has in its police force and doesn't want to see it discredited.
Well, the police act inadequately and sometimes downright stupidly on a daily basis if one reads the news around the world.

Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Contrary to the opinion evidently shared by the Atherton City Council, much of that community, its police force, and perhaps even the Almanac, attorneys do not "make rulings"; they render opinions. Good attorneys render opinions based on their knowledge of the law in order to provide wise counsel to their client, while a poor attorney will provide counsel that supports what their client wants to believe to be true. A poor attorney will get their client sued more often than not. Guess what kind of attorney I think that City has on retainer.

Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm


Posted by huh?
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm

What can be more important than the issue of whether or not a member of the council is abusing his position for personal gain?

This is serious business and unanswered questions remain.

Marsala did a mea culpa. However there are more sins to confess to.

Posted by Fedup
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:16 pm

The next time Kathy McKeithen wants to start another witch hunt, please have her look in the mirror. As a long time resident of the town, I have never seen a council person cause so much dissension as Kathy has. It's time for her to move on and let the town get back to business.

Posted by Warhol Warrior
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Kathy McKeithen,

Andy Warhol said in 1968 that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

It's over now. You split your 15 minutes of fame with Charles Marsala! How does that feel?

I hope you enjoyed your 7.5 minutes. You are officially a "has been."

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

It's funny that no one appears to be the slightest bit concerned that an elected official solicited (and freely admits it!) $500,000 from a citizen.

That doesn't bother you???

Posted by Sam
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Now McKeithen will go after the City Attorney. Anyone that goes against her position is attacked. Just ask Hynes and others.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Pogo asks: It's funny that no one appears to be the slightest bit concerned that an elected official solicited (and freely admits it!) $500,000 from a citizen.

That doesn't bother you???

Apperantly it doesn't. Sad.

Posted by Average Guy
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Your statement proves one thing: Atherton is not the real world because Athertonians have no idea how the average guy lives.

Is it your intention that "elected officials" shouldn't be permitted to seek a loan from a "citizen." Are you saying that elected officials should only borrow money from non-citizens? Do you want to make a green card necessary for somebody to lend money to an elected official?

Maybe it is that an elected official should be expected to never borrow money. Would it be a better system if only the rich owning property free and clear should qualify for elected office?

You nailed it: Marsala "freely admitted" soliciting the loan. Disclosure and transparency are important. Parsing your statement I conclude that part of your complaint is that Marsala freely admits that he solicited a loan. Under your logic, denying it would have been the way for Marsala to go.

Please, please, please, go back to cashing your trust fund checks, ordering your gardener around, driving your kids to the psychologist, and giggling at us working stiffs who really need mortgages and credit cards to make ends meet.

Posted by thetruthshallsetyoufree
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

POGO--It bothers a lot of people! Unfortunately, Elizabeth Lewis & Jerry Carlson are not among them.

Posted by Vendettas "R" Us
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Sam raises an interesting point.

If she had the chance, everyone knows that McKeithen would have waterboarded Marsala to have him admit where he lives and who pays him.

I wonder if the report the City Attorney wouldn't let McKeithen publicize included a legal opinion stating that it is illegal for the Mayor to waterboard a member of the Council?

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]

Posted by dick cheney
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm

My friends at the NSA tell me Marsala's working overtime using one alias after another to attack Kathy. Way to go Charlie. If you need help waterboarding Kathy. Lemme know I'll help you hold her down.

Waterboarding Kathy to get her to confess that secret terrorist connection with Buckheit is the way to go, It's a no brainer.

Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm

People can say anything they wish here subject to the conditions of posting.

The reality of all this will show in what you vote for when the time comes, and the real usefulness of these events is in revealing public information to the public so that the electorate can function in the manner in which it was intended.

Personally, as regards character, education and integrity, I find most of the comments here pathetic and lacking in any sort of reality-based ethical substance. Nothing happens with true anonymity. Have you no sense of yourselves?

I have a history of being the last comment on threads.

Why is that? Go ahead, respond with something demeaning or irrelevant.

You should hear what I have heard responsible people in other townships say about how this city functions.

The last ten years have been acutely embarrassing for you all and you should know that.

Do you really think the rest of the Peninsula is as blind to how you appear as you are?

They're not.


Posted by crimes of passion
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm

At last night's meeting I heard people speak about the politics of personal destruction. I heard people make excuses for the behavior of their friends while attacking their enemies while calling the enimies of their friends petty and vile for retaliating after they had been attacked.

I saw a fight break out over documents that had been handed out.

I saw no gentility, no decorum, not even sportsmanship in what has become a blood sport in Atherton.

The loudest complaint I heard was not about how Marsala may have betrayed his office but the fact that he might have made the Town look bad.

This is Atherton, a jewel in the middle of the peninsula that cannot even govern itself.

What people on the rest of the peninsula gloat over is just how miserable one can be in one's 10,000 square foot custom build mansion sitting upon an acre of pristine gardens.

How people feel on the rest of the peninsula is quite smug actually. Because they see from the Atherton experience that money does not buy happiness. Quite to the contrary it would seem.

Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Money can't buy you love.

Only devotion can.


Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Average Guy -

You seem to be anything but.

Even the most average guy would know that my point had nothing to do with the citizenship status of the lender. Again, a very clumsly change of subject. Even an average guy should be able to do better than that.

People who need money are certainly free to get loans and I presume someone as successful as Mr. Marsala would have heard of a bank. It's hard to go a mile without seeing one. Picking on a litigant with your town is hardly a good decision. Even Mr. Marsala admits that lapse of common sense.

As for your suggestion that I "go back to cashing your trust fund checks, ordering your gardener around, driving your kids to the psychologist, and giggling at us working stiffs who really need mortgages" it may interest you to know that I don't have a trust fund, my kids don't go to a psychologist and I do have a mortgage (from a bank) which I occasionally struggle to pay every month. I do plead guilty to having a gardener, however.

Posted by What?
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

I saw the pitch forks... the same ones that have been brought to Atherton town meetings for years. They are mostly held by 40+ year residents who are proud to announce thier status. They feel entitled to be the authority on everything in town, and if you are under 70, hey, put a lid on it.

What stuck me the most, is the mayor's unveiled hatred of Marsala. In a flurry of accusations, she even stated that we can't be sure Marsala is paying market rent for his new place, and that maybe his rental is a form of bribary. I guess if Marsala is standing outside a building, how do we know he's not planning on breaking in, or setting it on fire? I mean, there he is, standing there. He must be up to no good.

The other issue- the reason the loan request was was a bad idea at best- that people are failing to focus on, is the fact the police department is corrupt. Hello? At least one officer has admitted in court that a police report was falsified. Shouldn't we all be nervous about calling the police now? Where is the town outrage? If we should be angry with the council, it should be over their 4-1 vote against the citizen police oversight comittee and their unwillingness to clean house at police headquarters.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 8, 2010 at 11:48 pm

As I drove through Atherton my way home tonight, for the first time in my life, I had a totally different view of this town.

I wondered what I would do if I were stopped by an Atherton police officer. I wondered if the police officer would be honest and respectful or abusive. I wondered how I would react.

I grew up in the South and remember quite well being scared and nervous as we drove through certain towns. I never expected to feel that way again, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It's very sad that I felt the same way tonight.

Posted by For those who weren't there
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

A brief synopsis, in the style of a live report, along with my commentary, from last night's meeting:


Marsala did not actually get the loan, so he didn't break any laws. There might be some common law stuff (whatever that means), but I don't think so.


KM: Did you simply take Charles Marsala's version of events as fact in your report?

WF: Yes, Gruber told me to analyze, not investigate.

[Gruber-->Marsala: You owe me one].

KM: I have another version of this report, a much longer version, that basically says Marsala is guilty. Why?

WF: You can't talk about that.

[At this point, Elizabeth Lewis barges in to the conversation, and demands that it stop. McKeithen refuses].

KM: Isn't that a public record?

WF: Nope.

KM: How can there be different versions of the same thing?

WF: I prepare one version for public consumption, and one for the council. Nothing wrong with that.


No quarrel with Jon Buckheit, he's doing what he thinks is right. Maybe I made a mistake, but I had no bad intentions. Everyone makes mistakes. I'm human, so are you. [This actually comes across quite well].


End the meeting now, let's call a vote. Furth exonerated Charles, and that's the end. McKeithen says there must be public comments first.


He starts drawing parallels with other examples of conflicts of interest in Atherton, including development. He's done his homework, and the developers in the audience are getting agitated. The two minute warning buzzer goes off, and Randy Lamb starts yelling at McKeithen that Buckheit is getting too much time (but it hasn't been three minutes yet, just two). They argue, McKeithen says he can have all the time he wants. He continues for awhile, but basically does not tear into Marsala.


Furth is looking at this issue in a vacuum, and it should be looked at in the context of other bad behavior by Marsala. Elizabeth Lewis built an illegal house. He leaves the papers at the council desk. Furth never investigated Marsala. If anyone knows what an investigation looks like, it's Johns [not sure whether this meant the investigations he preformed for Atherton, or the investigations that Atherton had done against him after firing him].


You need to resign / your'e a disgrace / you're a nice guy, but you need to step down.

OTHER STATEMENTS BY FRIENDS OF CHARLES (most not living in Atherton)

Charles is a good guy, has devoted a lot of time to Atherton, leave him alone.


How can we consider this crap when the environment is at stake? You're adding pollution to the environment by just holding this meeting, McKeithen.


Wynne Furth, can't we pay you to just come up with one version of the truth? [Perhaps best line of the evening].


Most of it is spent on why he's been maligned for not showing up at the previous meeting. You screwed up, Charles, and I'm really upset that you didn't tell Furth about your shenanigans with Buckheit (not that you did it in the first place; if you told Furth, we could have come up with the right damage control to deal with this).


Kathy McKeithen is pursuing a vendetta against Charles. He's salt of the earth, and this isn't right. Buckheit, you're a temperamental brat for doing this based on the police commission vote. Anyway, we're starting a police camp and that's all you really need or deserve anyway.


Public officials need to show some ethical backbone. Marsala doesn't have one.


I'm not on a witch hunt. I'm misunderstood, and I'm doing what I think is right.


Split decision, as reported.


Fracas between Elizabeth Lewis and Melinda Tevis, as reported.

Posted by Kathy McKeithen, Mayor of Atherton
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:47 am

As I read some of these comments I am saddened by the incredible enmity some of your feel. "Disappointed", you refer to me with "shame". How can you possibly tell me what I should feel? Do you really have any idea what I do? Do you know how much time I spend reviewing budgets, bills, attending meetings, addressing residents' problems, saving you money? Do you have any idea how genuine my concern is for this Town? Can you fathom how sincerely sorry I feel for you?

If I feel shame, it is for the people of this Town who refuse to become engaged, who would rather hide from the truth and call others names because that is so much easier than actually becoming involved, facing the truth and dealing with it, sticking one's neck out, actually doing something-- by his/her actual name -- and possibly becoming a target by the likes of people like you -- who appear really to not know any better.

I have caused monies purposely and improperly taken from the Atherton Channel District to be returned to the proper account so that the Upper Channel could be restored and Walsh Road would not be undermined. I started the Town's emergency preparedness group, pushed for a second well in the Park for an emergency source of water, worked for computers to be placed in every police vehicle so each could be a remote command post,helped established an alternate and safer Emergency Center. I worked to clean-up a Building Department which many in Town believed was in need of, let's call it "positive change". I called for the first forensics audit of the Town which led to the first and every successive clean audit the Town has ever received. I kept millions of dollars of library donor funds from being diverted. "Mr./Ms. Fed Up" --if this is what you mean by causing dissension then I am guilty. For it is my belief that the more one tries to accomplish, the more one makes enemies, and no doubt, I am no exception.

"Mr./Ms Vendettas "R" Us" - If I was so keen on waterboarding and the legal opinion said it was illegal, why would I be working so hard for the public to have access to all of its contents? Why would I want transparency? Your logic is faulty. I have no desire to physically or mentally hurt anyone.

As a public official I have promised to represent all of you who live in the Town of Atherton. This promise does not come with any requirement that you agree with me or even like me. It does not mean, however that I can view your comments with much credibility when your do not get your facts right (Posted by What? --listen to the tape of the meeting - at least one of your "flurry of accusations" is incorrect), do not have enough courage of your convictions to state your real name, or are sorely lacking in the civility all human beings owe one another.

With regard to the inquiry regarding Councilmember Marsala, this inquiry was made in response to PUBLIC requests - not on my own initiative. At the beginning of the discussion at the end of March and the meeting on April 7, I stressed that the inquiry had to be made with decorum and with respect for all Councilmembers, including and especially Councilmember Marsala, as well as all speakers.

Yes, there are many big issues facing the Town of Atherton just as there are facing almost every town and city in the country these days. But when did it become so wrong to want to know if one's representative was honest?

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:50 am

Kathy McKeithen says:"If I feel shame, it is for the people of this Town who refuse to become engaged, who would rather hide from the truth and call others names because that is so much easier than actually becoming involved, facing the truth and dealing with it, sticking one's neck out, actually doing something-- by his/her actual name "

So true - Thank you Kathy

Posted by I carry a badge
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:08 am


Hey, watch your mouth...

Posted by John P. Johns, CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

I once felt shame at having been expelled from Atherton after being subject to allegations of misconduct by Councilman Charles Marsala and by his allies.

It was reported in the Palo Alto Daily news that I spoke out against Mr. Marsala on Wednesday evening. I was quoted accurately as saying that that Mr. Marsala had abused the public trust.

Some may think that I reveled in the opportunity to retaliate against a former nemesis. Some will allege that I was one of those who, along with Kathy McKeithen were pursuing the "politics of personal destruction". One might conclude that I truly enjoyed my three minutes of "pay back time".

I did not and do not. I take no joy in leveling the very serious and very well documented allegations that I did against Councilman Marsala.

I also presented evidence of misconduct by another member of the Council. Ms. Elizabeth Lewis. To put it bluntly, Ms. Lewis has engaged in permit fraud and conflict of interest.

A damaging and tangible indictment of Ms. Lewis was how she behaved upon conclusion of the meeting. Ms. Lewis was involved in a tussle with Ms. Tevis to retain the very evidence of her and Marsala's misconduct that I presented for distribution to her and her colleagues on the Council.

It is arguable that Ms. Lewis should be brought up on charges of assault and battery. We know that the San Mateo County District Attorney has prosecuted this kind of behavior before. Just ask Troy Henderson. Just ask that former high school athletic coach whose name escapes me.

After the meeting, in an attempt to discredit me Mr. Joe Lewis, Ms. Lewis' husband called me "disturbed". Mr. Lewis is right. I am disturbed by what is going on in Atherton, deeply disturbed.

The problem with you Athertonians is that you have been lied to for so long that you do not know whom to believe.

During his public comments, Mr. Lewis referred to his home construction project on 1 Emilie Avenue in 2006 as a remodel. I could not believe my ears. This was a boldfaced lie. Yet nobody who attended even batted an eye at this boldfaced lie. Lewis' residential construction project was a complete demolition and an entirely new residence. Ms. Lewis signed the permit as an owner builder, Ms. Lewis misrepresented the nature of her construction. Ms. Lewis lied on her permit application. For all we know Ms. Lewis lied to her husband, who unwittingly repeated that lie.

Because of the ignorance, apathy and denial inherent in Atherton Mr. Lewis, perhaps fully believing what he was saying repeated the boldfaced lie of his politician wife, Elizabeth and nobody even flinched.

Ms. Lewis took political contributions from Mr. Steve Ackley, yet she did not recuse herself from voting to return $1.6 million in Road Impact Fees.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Ms. Furth.

Now that you have written your summary memorandum without releasing the full memorandum, exonerating Marsala, try and tell us all that Ms. Lewis isn't guilty of a conflict of interest even though Mr. Ackley was a claimant for a refund in road impact fees and even though he will be one of the principal beneficiaries. Clearly Ms. Lewis was a beneficiary of Mr. Ackley's munificence in the past. All one has to do is connect the dots, to look at Ms. Lewis' campaign finance statements.

Wyne Furth should be fired for the lack of respect for truth her report revealed. It is my understanding that Mr. Buckheit was indeed a participant in litigation with the Town at the time of Marsala's loan request. Mr. Buckheit had a mandamus proceeding demanding the Town produce public records that were necessary to support a civil rights lawsuit that he was about to file. Ms. Furth even refers to this mandamus suit in her report.

I remember reminding Jim Robinson of his statement that "if there is a cancer in Atherton we must cut it out". This statement was in reference to "a bad apple" that I told him I suspected was in our midst.

I remember expressing dismay to Mr. Robinson that he had not taken action against this employee. I reminded Mr. Robinson of his cancer metaphor. Mr. Robinson responded cryptically with another metaphor to illustrate the futility of cleaning up Atherton. He asked me in reply "what if the patient dies on the operating table?".

I no longer feel shame at having been expelled from Atherton. The official record will soon read that I resigned on good terms, that I left voluntarily.

I would like to remind this community however, that we are judged by the company we keep. As such I do hope that Atherton manages to clean up its act. I do not want my reputation to be tarnished by having worked for a town that has become the laughing stock of the Bay Area and beyond.

I have left Atherton's employment. I have not exited the stage however. I will continue to be a boil that Ms. Lewis and Mr. Marsala will find it possible to lance. (From my two year ordeal, my hide has become much too tough for that.) I will be a burr in their saddles.
I will attend City Council meetings to continue to call for an investigation of Councilman Marsala by the California Attorney General. I will ask that the scope of this investigation include the conduct of Ms. Elizabeth Lewis.
I will remind readers of this post that Ms. Wynne Furth’s report was not an investigation. It was an “analysis based upon stipulated facts”. You gotta be kidding Wynne…..
Just one follow-up question I have for Ms. Furth. Did Jon Buckheit stipulate to the “facts” provided to you by Mr. Marsala or did you just take Marsala at his word?
If you perceive me to be some gadfly, some disturbed individual on a witch hunt, joining forces with the likes of other disturbed people such as Kathy McKeithen, Jon Buckheit, Peter Carpenter, Tim Wulff, Melinda Tevis, Carol Smith, John Ruggerio, and so on then so be it. You will have underestimated me and you will have underestimated the company that I keep.

I caution those of you who prey on the apathetic and ignorant majority that now govern this town. The ranks of those who want to clean house are growing daily, hourly, minute by minute.

The day of reckoning is coming for those of you who have been placed in a position of trust in Atherton Town Government and who have abused that trust. You may feel smug for now, you may feel invincible at the latest stalemate. However your day of reckoning will soon come.

This is no idle threat. This isn't bluster or bravado. This is a statement of resolve.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:36 am

Badge -

Take your best shot.

Posted by unarmed but dangerous
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:05 am


Badge better have plenty of ammunition. There are many who are outraged at the conduct of Marsala and the pernicious, personal and baseless attacks on those who dare try and hold him accountable.

Badge will need plenty of ammunition because the messengers he or she would like to shoot are many and their number is growing.

There is a civil war in town, between those who, like Kathy believe that daylight is the best disinfectant and those who wish to wallow in denial.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:22 am

And I stand with you.

If ever we needed an example of what's wrong with Atherton, Badge's last post would be Exhibit B... right behind Mr. Buckheit's experience.

What Badge doesn't know is that no post is truly anonymous.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Pogo and unarmed, I stand with you also.

I think Badge does know that no post is anonymous, He/She just doesn't care.

Why should he/she the Town of Atherton has still protected the Police Officer who has committed a felony against Mr. Jon Buckheit.

Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I would like to ask the Almanac a separate, but I believe important question. Why didn't the posting by "I carry a badge" violate the terms of use?

Posted by Renee Batti
associate editor of The Almanac
on Apr 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Renee Batti is a registered user.

To WhoR... and everyone else who was offended by Badge's post: Maybe I'm naive, but I sincerely thought it was a joke. The language was bad-movie cliche, rather than threatening, I thought. This underscores how difficult it is to monitor a forum with unregistered and anonymous posters. We try to be fair and consistent, but sometimes it's a guessing game.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Dear Renee,

If this was any other Town or Police Department you being naive would be acceptable.

This is Atherton California, where a few residents and the Police Department are holding all the other residents hostage. This is no joke.

I would take that post down.

If you want to write a story interview Gruber and Guerra and ask them who is the Police Officer who committed a felony against Mr. Jon Buckheit.

After you do that lets see what your thoughts are.

Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

You are all FULL of lawsuits.

Posted by John P. Johns, CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Yes, Ms. Batti. I fear you are niaive. There is much that has gone on in Atherton that your paper has not been reported upon.

The fact that members of the City Council are communicating to members of this community through this board, rather than through interviews with reporters on your staff speaks volumes.

I mean no disrespect. I know you mean well, but wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I suggest that everyone who feels that 'Badge's comment was intimidating, hostile, threatening and utterly inappropriate object to Mr. Hines.

How is it possible that this crass, offensive, substance-less comment does not violate terms of use?


a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:03 am

You are not saving Atherton residents money when you pay out tax payer money in stupid lawsuits, especially for a bad hire. Who are you kidding? And your laundry lists of so called things you do for the town, how have you had time to do anything worth while with all your witch hunts? O.k. I'll give you credit for reviewing the budget, after all, if you your going to use tax payer money to settle yet another lawsuit, then you probably should know how much is in the piggy bank. Your response to how sorry you feel for the town demonstrates how disconnected you are from reality. You have shamed the town of Atherton, read what other people from other cities on the peninsula are saying about Atherton. You have made Atherton the laughing stock of the peninsula, and you have the audacity to tell the people of Atherton you feel sorry for them? You should feel shame. People pay a premium price to live in Atherton, the least you could do is create a town that justifies the hefty price tag, like updating the library, creating a real park for kids and their families to enjoy, and updating the police station that looks like it wouldn't survive the next earthquake. Sorry you get no kuddos here.

Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

Sometimes the best leader is not the best politician.

There are definite problems in Atherton that are very serious. I'm not sure anyone can argue with that. I believe Kathy McKeithen, almost single handedly, has tried to address these issues rather than pretend they do not exist. I am not just talking about the recent Marsala issue, of course. There are many others. The test for whether a challenge, especially done in the face of great opposition, is a heroic act versus a witch hunt should rise and fall based on whether the challenge is about a legitimate issue. I have looked into several of the "witch hunts" Kathy has been accused of leading and have personally concluded that the problems underlying them were highly legitimate. (Building department audit, police audit, water channel issue, to name a few).

If you happen to get into a problem with the Town of Atherton, as I have, you will likely be faced with a wall of silence and denial. That, unfortunately, is the standard operating procedure, even to this day. If you are the one with the problem, I can assure you that you will not appreciate that nor think it is fair. Ms. McKeithen does not take that approach of silence and denial, and it is quite refreshing.

She is not the type of politician who kisses babies, slaps backs, or does self promotion in the media. There has also never been an allegation, so far as I can tell, that any of the work she has done has been for some ulterior motive for the personal (e.g., financial) gain of herself or her supporters. This is not true across the board on this council (the presence of such allegations, at least).

I will take that great leader over great politician any day. I will also take the public servant whose motivational factors consistent solely or his or her sense of right versus wrong, over the public servant who has special interests at heart, any day -- even when that former politician is wrong.

I am very sure that if you were the one with the problem, you would not feel that anyone addressing that problem was on a "witch hunt". I think Ms. McKeithen is one of the most personally impressive people I have met in my life (and I have had the fortune, or misfortune, actually, to travel in some rarefied circles).

Posted by Kathy McKeithen
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Dear "Are your Joking"

You make a good many general accusations without indicating any knowledge of the facts. While I am a very busy person, I have always believed it was my duty to take the time to help anyone in need of assistance and you seem to be one such person.

Kindly give me your name and telephone number and I would be happy to call you and arrange a time and place to meet of your choosing so that we can discuss just how I am in the midst of working to have a new library more than twice the size of the existing one (hopefully a green building!) built, as well of some other projects to improve the quality of life in Atherton and save Atherton money (including the anticipated $1.1 M which will likely be transferred out of general reserves at our next meeting -- which should require a 4/5 vote but which will be changed by my fellow councilmembers at that very same meeting to require only a mere majority).

It is always so easy to accuse, so difficult to learn, but I am willing to listen to you. Will you listen to me?

Best regards,

Kathy McKeithen
Mayor of Atherton

Posted by kathy McKeithen
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm

To "Are You Joking"

Pardon me. I misspelled your "name". My apologies.

Kathy McKeithen

Posted by John P. Johns CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I agree with Peter Carpenter.

Personal attacks by anonymous posters have no place on this forum.

Peter is wise to ignore such postings.

ARE YOU JOKING! appears to have taken a swipe at me as well with the comment over "paying out money over stupid lawsuits for bad hires".

Yes the Town has agreed to settle with me. Jerry Carlson is a rare moment of having come to his senses and in an uncharacteristic display of leadership was the deciding vote, with Elizabeth Lewis and Charles Marsala voting to continue pursuing an ill advised victory at all costs approach.

Imagine that, these two politicians spending $400,000 of your tax dollars to persue their own agenda.

ARE YOU JOKING! is trying that well worn approach of accusing their opponents of what their camp is guilty of.

I got news for you ARE YOU JOKING! That old dog won't hunt.

For news of my settlement go to:

Web Link

Like Charles Marsala is appears as though this newspaper has chosen to remain silent on the matter.

Yes, I do intend to go to Disneyland with my family to celebrate this hard fought victory. No I do not expect a call from any time soon from Charles Marsala. Perhaps you the taxpayers in Atherton will see fit to demand an apology from him for wasting money defending the town in what was always a lost cause.

Posted by Kathy McKeithen
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

To "Are You Joking"

I have another thought for you. You clearly have strong ideas as to what is wrong with the Town. After a review of the facts, do you have some specific suggestions to make it better? If so, why not pick up a copy of our Council packet to study (or obtain one online complete with monthly expenses and financials) and actively participate in our next Council meeting on the 21st of April?

The next day please join me at 8 a.m. for the Library Needs Task Force meeting at Town Hall where we will be discussing at length the new library and the survey results.

Later on the 22nd, at 2:30, please come to our Finance Committee meeting (also, might I suggest you apply to that committee as a volunteer - I recently urged it be expanded to include 3, not 1, citizen members, as had been urged but no one has yet submitted an application and the deadline fast approaches) to have your views formally included concerning how your money is invested and spent?

Finally, at 4:00 p.m. on April 22, 2010 we have a Classification Study meeting which is expected to last only a couple of hours, if you can spare the time, but I am not certain that one is open to the public. Let me know if you want me to check.

Kathy McKeithen
Mayor of Atherton

a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm

[Post removed; stick to the issue and don't attack other posters]

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I wish to disagree with ARE YOU JOKING's reference to out of towners thinking Atherton is a laughing stock. He may be referring to my prior remarks but his conclusion is totally off base. These problems are not laughable, they are deplorable. Quite the contrary, as a friend and neighbor of your beautiful city, I'm truly saddened by this latest scandal.

Kathy McKeithen, who I do not know, appears to be one of the few leaders in Atherton who is unwilling to bury these serious allegations. She has insisted on bringing them into the daylight and, for that, I congratulate her and thank her.

It is disappointing that other members of Atherton's Council are unwilling to join her - they either dismiss the charge, confuse the issue, refuse to make documents public, or tear documents out of a citizen's hands. Whether you like Mr. Marsala or not, surely you can't object to shedding light on this troubling issue. I'm flabbergasted that the good people of Atherton would stand for this.

Mayor McKeithen - the disingenuous reply from ARE YOU JOKING to your sincere offer to meet and discuss these issues shows everyone what a fraud he is. He doesn't want to expose corruption and get rid of bad actors, he only wishes to tear you down. JOKING says actions speak louder than words, yet ironically he isn't even willing to take the most trivial action to meet or speak with you. (Personally, I think you should have challenged him to run for office if he has such good ideas!) In his attempt to demean you, he only exposes himself as a fraud.

How anyone can ignore an elected official's solicitation of $500,000 - especially your town attorney and other Council Members - is totally beyond me. It is my greatest hope that the good citizens of Atherton will rally behind their elected officials who are truly doing some very difficult work.

Posted by financial advisor
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Marsala should ask Johns for a loan. He isn't in litigation with the town any more so there would be no conflict of interest.

Posted by I gave at the office
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 11, 2010 at 9:14 am

Financial Advisor,

Based on Johns own statements, most of the settlement money will be in the account of Johns lawyer. I am glad Johns has enough of the $225,000 left over to go to Disneyland. Would the lawyer make Charles a loan?

Posted by theatre critique
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 11, 2010 at 9:23 am

When Buckheit joked that he had a special on 15 and 30 year fixed loans, Marsala laughed just as hard as everybody else in the council chambers.

Marsala\'s laughter was all an act.

Posted by Send them all to acting school
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

Right. If anybody laughed at that it was an act because it's not funny.

I am curious about how John Johns knows who voted for or against his settlement. Is that report public or is St. Kathy shooting her mouth off about what goes on in the council closed sessions. That would be very good reason for Buckheit to keep up his own act about how saintly she is, she'll settle with him too at Atherton's expense.

Posted by you\'d be surprised
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

Actually it was Marsala who has been doing the talking. Just ask one of the many who have been involved in litigation with the Town during the past few years.

Posted by shocked
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

I'm shocked, shocked to learn that one or more members of the City Council may have violated the Brown Act.

Somebody call the Police!

Posted by The Union
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

Send them all to acting school, how right you are. Settling Buckheit's suit would have a negative effect on the morale of your Police Officers as it might send the message to them that it is unacceptable to falsify police reports. With Marsala's vote gone, we fortunately still have Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson around to protect our police officers and their morale.

Posted by Friend
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Perhaps Mr. Johns will post the porn that was removed from his Town laptop. Now that would spice up the discussion.

Posted by John P. Johns CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Dear "Friend"

Now that you brought it up. You should be aware that the porn on the laptop I returned was "discovered" by the Atherton Police Department.

Yes, the same Atherton Police Department who falsified Jon Buckheit's police report. The same police department who's second in command at the time of my employment with the Town falsified his timesheets so that he could fatten up his final paycheck.

In fact Atherton falsified evidence tags it associated with its investigtion of the so called "crime". These evidence tags were altered to make it look as though they had not taken possession of a digital film scanner the Town's investigator said was missing (with the inference being that I stole it).

These evidence tags were also altered to make it look as though the computer I surrendered on the morning of August 31, was recovered at the time the Atherton Police Department raided my office. I obtained this evidence through a public records request.

Yes, my "Friend" you have managed to spice up this discussion. Thank you for contributing.

I have filed a citizen's complaint over the Police Department's violation of my civil rights and the falsification of official documents. I also expect to be a star witness in Mr. Buckheit's case. A role which I will not enjoy but one which I will not shy away from.

My citizen's complaint was signed by Peter Carpenter as well by the way.

Perhaps you my "Friend" will encourage the Police to look into this matter along with the altered police report of Mr. Buckheit.

Posted by just a thought
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2010 at 12:59 am


Hadn't read this thread 'til now.

Two things:

1) I really do support Mr. Carpenter's position that all comments should be with known identity, because it removes the threat of anonymous intimidation. People who are intimidating and rude should take public responsibility for their comment. I realize this represents a 180 degree reversal from my previous position with Mr. Hines and Mr. Carpenter, but forgive me, at least I have a learning curve, however flat-line that might be.

2) Before all we anonymous posters are appropriately shut out, I just have to comment on the classic perspective of 'Are You Joking?'.

This is denial at it's best:

Kathy McKeithen is responsible for the Town's ill-perception by other communities....

C'mon...think careful on this one.

How about the best way to control the Town's perception, is to make the Town a municipal ICON as it should be.

The intellect of 'Are You Joking' is about 13 years old.

I.E.: YOU are responsible for revealing the reality of how MY values actualize in the world; If it weren't for your revelation, my denial would be sound, and all would be well.

This person couldn't have described themselves or the situation better.

It's truly laughable, and I bet they can't understand a word I've written.


Posted by friend
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I did not see a denial of the laptop for viewing porn by Mr. Johns. Hmm

Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

THERE! Now go and save the Jackling House!
Don't any of you do useful things?

Posted by WTH
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Don't any of you do useful things?

Do you?

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

If everyone who ever viewed porn at work were fired, we'd all be unemployed.

There are worse things than looking at naked people... like soliciting $500,000.

Posted by Pam Stover
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm

The behavior of both Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis and their supporters is very disturbing. They seem to avoid answering the tough questions, all the while having their supporters post anonymous comments attacking people who call attention to the lack of ethical behavior amongst these two elected officials.

Jim Dobbie called it dead on, he referred to these people as cowards.

a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I'm am smarter than you know, in fact smart enough to have made a comment that obviously got under your skin, and smart enough to have noticed that you criticize my IQ, while stating your own is "flat line", hmm. It seems like you were attempting to swing at me, and I guess you hadn't noticed you hit yourself.

No one has to reveal who they are, to you or to anyone, which may work to your advantage considering your faux pas. With regard to your so called other reality, if you can't take the heat JAT, then stay out of the kitchen. My message, unlike yours was not intended to schmooz and defend bad leadership, but simply to point out what has happened, or in this case has NOT happened in Atherton as a result of it.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Are You Joking -

You lost credibility when you refused to accept the Mayor's offer to speak with you after she spent quite a bit of time addressing your concerns.

Didn't someone say "actions speak louder than words?" Oh, wait, that was YOU...

Posted by POGO
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I don't have to sit in front of Kathy and repeat myself. I took the time to write my concerns, and as a Mayor, her taking time to address my concerns is what would be expected of any person in her role. Furthermore, my concerns are the concerns of many, so should I expect them to meet me personally for a follow up? No. But thank you for your concern over my credibility. It is not necessary.

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