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Judge won't dismiss defamation lawsuit

Original post made on Mar 11, 2013

The defamation lawsuit filed against a Menlo Park fire board director will proceed, according to a court ruling. San Mateo Superior Court Judge Raymond Swope ruled against dismissing the suit on March 8.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 11, 2013, 8:35 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

Gee -- do you think this is a distraction in her role as a fire director especially since one of her supporters is one of the labor leaders.

Posted by Outside Looking In
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I doubt it. That's what her attorney is for.

I think it says a lot about the witness, who was a firefighter union leader, and Ms. Kiraly's desire not to cave into the union.

Posted by Political Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm

This lawsuit is about John Woodell trying to garner name recognition. Since Mr. Woodell emerged on the local political scene riding the coat tails of his wife Kirsten Keith, he has done nothing noteworthy.

I predict that Mr. Woodell will lose the lawsuit for 3 reasons:

1) He has a witness who sits on the other side of the bargaining table from Ms. Kiraly. Kiraly is very adept at negotiations and the firefighters would benefit greatly if Ms. Kiraly were not part of the labor negotiations. Jurors could question the witness' motives.

2) This would set a dangerous precedent for losers of political campaigns to get a second bite of the apple through the court system. The courts do not want to encourage this abuse of the legal system.

3) The circumstantial evidence surrounding Mr. Woodell's cell phone being found by the vandalized Virginia Chang Kiraly for Fireboard campaign sign suggests to many that he is a person of interest regarding that event. Most people think it is unlikely that Kermit the Frog committed that dastardly deed.

Posted by citizen kan
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Outside look'en in, let us not forgot Ms Kiraly was endorsed by labor, she may not have
been their first choice but did get their blessing. This whole thing is a waste of time, look
who is involved: woodell, kiraly, labor, a union leader, bernstein, the police, the media,
it is ridiculous waste of time. Do you honestly believe if this happened in big city politics, like new york, chicago would spend this much time, money, energy on something so trivial, NO.
it is all part of running for an office, along with everything else.unfortunately this is such a low level office, everyone should be embarrassed especially all the media.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 11, 2013 at 4:01 pm

This just adds to the minutia that's going on there -- no labor contract for 5+ years; the labor group spending more than $85,000 on a local election and getting their 2 candidates elected; and a director named in an election lawsuit. All the while fire agencies in other parts of the county are pooling their resources and working more collaboratively.

Posted by The Woodpecker
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 11, 2013 at 4:01 pm

John Woodell will be remembered as the man who tried to open the gate for frivolous political lawsuits. The judge will see right through that amateurish attempt and rule in favor of the defendant, if for no other reason, than to deter people from using the courts as a means of getting back at their political enemies.

This legal stretch by Woodell will most likely harm his wife's future political aspirations.

Posted by wit out a clue
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

John Woodel has never shown any sign of running for office but a longtime concern for good government. All this is about protecting the idiot who thought it would be clever to link a dropped cell phone to meaningless mischief (I mean as if, up-ending a campaign sign in your own hood?) The question is, why did Kiraly quickly call the press when Bernstein told her he found the phone? Whats the plan, Virginia??

Posted by mountains of molehills
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

What an example of making a mountain out of a molehill. While I doubt Kiraly was as stupid as alleged, but even if she had been the suit makes Woodell seem vain and petty. is Woodell just trying to get money to make it go away? This smells like a nuisance lawsuit

Posted by get a clue
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm

wit out a clue-

Get a clue! Don't assume that Kiraly called the media. By all accounts, the media contacted her! You're assuming, and you know what they say about people who assume- [portion deleted. don't attack posters.]

As for Woodell and "good government," The Daily Post ran an article that showed that he and his wife, MP Councilmember Kirsten Keith, went straight to the top and reached out to the City Manager Glen Rojas at the time about this "incident." [portion deleted. avoid personal attacks.]

Posted by peter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm

ms.kiraly=clueless public official....has no business on a fire board.... those board members have 2 goals..get elected,become board president...ask jack nelson

Posted by Gabrielle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

This entire affair is sad and reflects poorly on all involved. I think most voters are growing tired of these characters.

Posted by Outside Looking In
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Peter: Thanks for your opinion, but the majority of the people don't agree with you, thank goodness. Kiraly is not Jack Nelson.

Gabrielle: You're correct that the entire affair is sad. If you were sued like Kiraly, what would you do? Legally, she had to respond. Put yourself in her place.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:08 am

Outside - how do you know what the "majority" think. I tend to agree with Peter. Ms. Kiraly, after 4 tries finally won an election didn't have any fire or emergency background or experience. Rob Silano was a law enforcement professional. Jack Nelson covets the job of board president. All are cozy with the labor union and have accepted its backing.

The board is busy with so many internal issues and distracting lawsuits and personal agendas that it's lost its focus. As I wrote above, central county fire agencies are working to pool their resources and assets while Menlo Park Fire is caught in a web.

Posted by Outside Looking In
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:39 am


The "majority" voted for her, and she ended up with the most votes. So, yes, I think I know what the "majority" think. You may not be part of the "majority," and that's fine. You're entitled to your opinion, just like the "majority" are entitled to theirs.

Ms. Kiraly's background is in finance. This background and knowledge is something that no one else on the board has. Steve Nachtsheim is the only other board member who has a business background. I'm glad she's on the board. She is a known fiscal conservative and did not take any union money during her campaign, despite how you try to paint her.

Obviously, the witness, former union boss Wurdinger, isn't happy with her because he is the ONLY witness for Woodell and has now enabled this lawsuit to even be filed. You have to wonder what kind of relationship Woodell and Wurdinger have, besides working on Silano's campaign. Is Kirsten Keith somehow involved with this? Did Wurdinger try to get the firefighters to endorse Keith when she ran for supervisor? What kind of tit-for-tat relationship do Woodell and Wurdinger have? Ya have to wonder!

If anything, Wurdinger may be trying to politically marginalize Ms. Kiraly so that she has to recuse herself from making financial decisions when it comes to negotiating a contract. Therefore, in light of this possibility, I hope Ms. Kiraly continues to keep this lawsuit separate from the fire district, as she seems to be doing. Wurdinger and Woodell keep bringing this back to the fire district. It would be interesting to know what kind of union interests Woodell and Keith really represent. Hopefully, this will come out if the case goes to trial.

I doubt Wurdinger's telling the truth, and I think Woodell is just embarrassed about being caught in the act! Maybe, going to trial would help shed light on this. I'm sure it would answer some questions for Ms. Kiraly, as well.

Posted by Susan Smith
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Mar 12, 2013 at 6:29 am

When one digs deeper with Ms. Kiraly, one can see there is no "career" in finance, just a few years of employment. Same with everything she does, just a but of time and she moves on. I remember writing in this forum that she was trouble, and look now. It does not matter how smart, or educated one is: if you do not carry the emotional intelligence to go with it, then, you are just like everone else. She had major problems on the Grand Jury, it is told, so it is no surprise to those who know, that is happening now. Thanks to the Almanac for their on-going coverage.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

Woodell may not have been a public figure at the time of "the incident," but he will be at the end of this lawsuit. Perhaps he figured that the best defense is an expensive offense. What a laughingstock of a crybaby! I don't have an favorites involved in this case, except the aforementioned Kermit the Frog.

Posted by mountains of molehills
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

Uh..SS Let's be fair. Out of curiousity, I just googled Ms Kiraly to better understand her "few years of employment" in finance. It's actually pretty impressive! Here are some things I found:
She was a Senior Director of the Nasdaq Stock Market.
In 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California Commission for Economic Development. She was reappointed in 2010.
She didn't just serve on the San Mateo County Grand Jury, she was the chairwoman! She has served on the Boards of a number of nonprofits, including 8 years on the Las Lomitas Education Foundation.
Let's get to the bigger picture, though. Rather than try to demonize her and minimize her considerable strengths, how about trying Outside's suggestion to ask yourself what would you do in her situation? She and Bernstein have been targeted in a lawsuit that alleges they somehow harmed Woodell about the amazing coincidence of Woodell's lost cellphone that just happened to be in the bushes beside one of Kiraly's campaign signs that had been removed.

Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Let it go to trial. Then we shall see who was wronged.

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