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An Open Letter to Mayor McKeithen

Original post made by John P. Johns, another community, on Jun 12, 2010

Dear Kathy

I regret to advise you that I will be unable to attend next week's city council session as I have been called away on business in Alaska.

I had hoped to be present to personally recommend an independent investigation into the handling of building permits and subsequent inspections on all permits issued to current and former City Council members who's permits were deemed problematic as a result of my Phase III audit of the Building Department. The scope of this independent (meaning Ms. Furth would have nothing to do with it) would include building permits issued to the following individuals:
Elizabeth Lewis
Alan Carlson
Jim Janz
Charles Marsala
I believe that such an investigation is warranted because two standing members of the City Council (Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis) both had a significant role in determining the course of action in my termination and subsequent legal battle with the Town.

I also have reason to believe both of these current City Council members acted in a self-serving manner and without regard to the public interest in charting a course of action by the City vis-a-vis my person. The conduct of former city councilmen Jim Janz and Alan Carlson should also be examined as well to determine whether their actions were improperly influenced with respect to my employment matter.

It is now an established fact that the City made a grave mistake in doing what it did to me. Unless a full examination of what transpired is done, I fear that the same thing could happen to someone else who calls attention to misconduct of highly placed elected or appointed officials. As you said when you voted for a Phase III audit of the Building Department "daylight is the best disinfectant".

If this administrative investigation were identify activity that suggests a crime has occurred, such as honest services fraud, a violation of federal anti-corruption statutes, I would also suggest that the matter then be referred to the US Attorney.

Now that my litigation with the Town has ended, I would most certainly welcome the opportunity to be of service to your council if such an investigation were authorized.

My current hourly rate is $150. I believe I could provide you with a very thorough analysis in 300 hours at a cost $45,000.

As a point of order, I would respectfully submit to you that it would be within your power to call for a sole source selection of me as a consultant to perform this study because there are three items on the June 16th regular agenda which are pertinent to this matter. These include items 18, 24 and 28. All you would have to do is to make a motion that the budget of any one of these three items be amended to include the cost of my services.

In response to the question why would anyone in their right mind invite me back to do this study? Well the answer is simple. I have a distinguished record of service with the Town, as is documented by having been awarded the Atherton Civil Interest League 2004 League of Merit Award and a resolution of commendation by your City Council. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only town employee who has received both of these awards in the Town's 80+ year history.

I have also taken the liberty of inquiring of several firms who provide building inspection and permit processing services to the communities, including Kutzman and Associates. None of the firms I spoke with would touch this project with a ten foot pole. They know better than to bite the hand that feeds them.

As another point of order, in view of the sensitivity of this matter, I would respectfully submit that neither Elizabeth Lewis nor Charles Marsala would constitute disinterested parties. This is due to the fact that the conduct of both parties would be within the scope of this review. As such it is reasonable to deduce that neither individuals could, not even by a stretch of Wynn Furth's imagination, be considered disinterested parties.

Again, I would also respectfully submit that you, as Mayor of the Town of Atherton would, as a point of order be duly empowered to make a motion and that for this motion to pass only two of the remaining 3 council members would have to approve the motion. It would also be reasonable to expect that Jerry Carlson, who was the one who originally made a motion to have me conduct the Phase III audit of the building department would be more than happy to have me come back.

When I was the Finance Director, it was frowned upon to have direct contact with City Council members by staff without the prior approval of the City Manager. Such conduct was frowned upon because it was seen as a possible undermining of the City Manager. Nonetheless Jerry and I had many private discussions pertaining to Town business. I therefore considered him to be both a friend and a mentor. I would very much look forward to re-establishing that friendship.

Best Regards,

John Johns

Comments (16)

Posted by John C. Shenk
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

You have to be kidding Mr. Johns. Is the Pope going to anoint you a Saint! Why don't you give back the $225,000 the City gave you and they can use a portion of that money to pay for something that is of value to the city.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm

John Shenk? Would that be John Shenk the developer? You don't have a dog in this hunt do you?

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Check out John C. Shenk Facebook and see Charles and Elizabeth on his friends list. Wow

Posted by BIG Development
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm

What a surprise. BIG development like John Shenk or Steve Ackley being against Johns Johns or Kathy McKeithen, and being joined at the hip with Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis. Who would have figured? Could it be because Charles and Elizabeth want them to suck all the money out of this town, and McKeithen is trying to stop them?

Tell you what, Mr. Shenk. If Johns gives back the $225K to the town, will you give back all of the money you've made on development to the municipalities that you've been involved with?

How about if Mr. Johns gives back the $225K, your Facebook buddy Elizabeth Lewis gives back all the money to the town involved in building her illegal house, and also spends money to get it to conform to code?

How about if Mr. Johns gives back the $225K, your Facebook buddy Charles Marsala gives back all the money to the town involved in dealing with his $500,000 loan fiasco?

What do you say, Mr. Shenk? Elizabeth Lewis, feel free to chime in as well.

Posted by Better Deal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm

BIG Development, I'd be satisfied with Charles Marsala giving back the $400,000 in legal fees he caused the town to spend if Johns would give back the $225,000.

Posted by John P. Johns, CPA
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Sent via Linkedin

Dear Mr. Shenk:

Join my network, you'll get to know me better and you will learn how I can help make Atherton the kind of government you can respect and trust once again.

John P. Johns, CPA

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 15, 2010 at 7:34 am

Mr. Johns:

I'm betting Mr. Shenk likes it just the way it is.

Posted by gunsmoke
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

That ex finance director better watch his back. He's upsetting the rich and powerful. It's like the Chief of Police said to him a few years ago. There are people in town who are used to getting what they want and they don't play nice.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

Gunsmoke, I'm not sure if you are talking about X Atherton Police Chief Robert Brennan or not but I can tell you this, because of citizen involvement Sheriff Deputy Robert Brennan is now not to have any contact with X publisher/reporter Brian Bothum who is in SMC jail.

Also Mr. John Johns does not need to watch his back, he needs to keep moving forward.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

As much as I respect John Johns I believe, as I have stated elsewhere in this Forum, that the Council needs to set up an independent individual who is in no way associated with the Town to investigate any substantive allegations regarding a member of the Council. Individuals like the Town Attorney and John Johns would come to such a task with the perception, if not the reality, of personal conflicts of interest.

Any such review must be perceived an truly independent.

Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

I will withdraw my offer to conduct this study when Wynn Furth recuses herself from further involvement in the case.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Mr. Johns:

don't hold your breath waiting for Furth ot recuse herself....

Posted by Train wreck
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 16, 2010 at 12:21 am

Wynn Furth has a job performance review tomorrow night at the 5:30 meeting......
Jerry Carlson won't vote to fire her because he likes having someone around to take the blame for his own bad decisions. Maybe no one will notice, or maybe Jerry will swing soon himself.

Posted by double trouble
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jun 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

Jerry Carlson is in need of a performance review. He let this nonsense go on for far too long.

One has to wonder what secrets he is hiding. With guys like Buckheit and Johns standing watch over Town, we will soon find out.

Posted by americanangst
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 16, 2010 at 11:37 am

The John Shenk who commented on this site is definitely not a developer. You are confusing him with a Palo Alto developer with a similar, but spelled differently, last name.
As for Mr. Johns "offer" to investigate for a fee of "only" $45K, I'm happy to see he hasn't lost his sense of humor. Or perhaps he felt obliged to offer us a moment of comic relief from the nightmare that began when an investigation of Mr. Hood's office was initiated.
Wasn't it under Mayor McKeithen that this was authorized? As a lawyer, I trust she felt there was ample evidence then to investigate the claims against Mr. Johns? Why did she turn down his offer to settle with Atherton for $10K - a decision that ended up costing what now amounts to about $700K??? What do we not know? Or are we all just sheep?

Posted by Lots of angst
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

What are you talking about? Charles Marsala derailed the $10K settlement, not Kathy McKeithen. And Shenk is in the real estate industry.

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