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Menlo Park paid consultant to draft talking points, letters to editor on Measure M

Original post made on Nov 9, 2014

Invoices show that the city of Menlo Park paid $5,125 to a consultant for drafting talking points, letters to the editor and website content related to Measure M, the specific plan initiative. Mayor Ray Mueller said he is concerned about the city's dealings with the consultant and expected "to meet with my colleagues to discuss appropriate action."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, November 9, 2014, 11:27 AM

Comments (70)

Posted by Lettergate scandal widens
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

In a May 21 email Cherise Brandell confirms to Malcolm Smith that talking points were delivered to council.

LTE's were proposed as part of the April 5th Statement of Work which is referenced in the signed contract.

Regardless, MacIyntire has no legal right to destroy public records, particularly embarassing ones. Verbatim phrases in city paid LTEs could be matched against the hundreds of anti-M emails and other materials to see whether or not they were passed on.

News releases proposed by Smith can be checked against those issued by the City to see whether or not they were re-edited by Staff prior to release.

Finally, it is likely that Smith work product was delivered to the City via email, either as text in the email or as an attachment. Has the City destroyed these emails, too?


Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 9, 2014 at 4:12 pm

A significant motivation for Measure M leaders was a lack of trust in city staff over Stanford's role in guiding Specific Plan criteria. Now they can say'I told you so.' Trust and credibility, once lost, are almost impossible to regain. So the way forward looks difficult. Once again, Menlo Park manages to perpetuate the dysfunction built into its DNA.


Posted by No more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

McIntyre had just forgotten about the new releases? And yet he remembers destroying them?! Does he not know that the coverup is always worse than the crime?


Posted by a bit more info
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Here is the Almanac trying to do a half decent job of covering this outrage.

The original article

Menlo Park: Consultant's proposal was rejected

Web Link

also by Brundage really amounted to the reporter not caring at all about finding out what really had taken place here.

Everyone should understand here, that using public funds and resources to defeat a citizens initiative (or referendum) is blatantly illegal.

Coverage of this issue has appeared in the SJ Mercury and at least 3 articles in the Daily Post, by Silverfarb.

There is certainly a lot more to be revealed. There were meetings between McIntyre and members of the No on Measure M group.

Destroying work product by McIntyre is absoutely outrageous.


Posted by Menloshopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm

re: 'Destroying work product'. Was this written on a typewriter? You mean it is not on the back up of somebody's hard drive? It is going to be an interesting week folks. What's incredble is that the city didn't need to do this, plenty of resources were being mobilized against M anyway.


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

A couple of points.

First - I actually signed the petition to put Measure M on the ballot. I leaned to voting for Measure M. Then, I did more reading regarding the various incarnations of the DSP - and read Measure M - and decided to vote against. My reasoning was that development in Menlo Park is a "political" process - and should be handled by the city council as they are elected and will be changing/adapting over time - versus being frozen in time by a ballot initiative.

Based on my belief that this is a "political" process: I offer the well-intentioned SaveMenlo people some advice. Try to develop compelling candidates. The three non-incumbents each polled an average of 2525 votes, Web Link This is 13.4% of the 18,819 registered voters in Menlo Park.

If you don't win elections - you won't set the directions. Trying to litigate your way to popularity is fruitless and will only result in backlash. This was an election year where 3/5 city council members were up for election - and all 3 incumbents won. What does that tell you about the non-incumbent candidates?

Campaign more effectively next time.


Posted by no more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

The City manager and his team spent the weekend in half moon bay. This after they were criticized for spending a large sum of money last year for the same retreat. I am sure they're celebrating the measure M defeat while enjoying some fine wine and seafood. way to thumb your nose at the taxpayers. will we be funding his legal defense team too?


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

Regarding work being destroyed - because it's not deemed useful. It happens all the time. Both when I was working full-time and later as a consultant.

You do a design based on a certain product definition - the definition changes - the work is not required. Nobody cares - it goes off into the ether. Last week I generated 3 potential solutions for a customer's problem - one seemed to be useful. The rest -- gone.

Don't make mountains into molehills.


Posted by No more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm

This concerns a City manager destroying incriminating evidence.

This mountain of a mess continues to grow because the excuses are not believable and the illegal nature of spreading propaganda to defeat a citizens initiative.


Posted by George C. Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm

On Monday, November 3, election eve online, and on Tuesday, November 4, in print The Almanac under the headline Menlo Park: Consultant’s proposal was rejected recited the following statements:

"Mr. McIntyre said the only piece of work the city hired the consultant [Malcolm Smith] to do was write content for the city's website about the specific plan and the initiative."

"A consultant's proposal that Menlo Park take a proactive role in swaying public opinion with regard to the specific plan before the Measure M initiative qualified for the ballot was rejected, according to City Manager Alex McIntyre".

These statements were false and the Almanac Election Eve and Day Headline was false. City Manager McIntyre attached to his November 5, 2014 email to council on the City Council Email log, a March 5, 2014 agreement with Smith and a March 5, 2014 Scope of work, which specifically included as its objective:

”that the City seeks to clarify the impacts resulting from the initiative and gain a more positive public profile of its position and the plan by educating and informing the community about the value and importance of continuing with the existing Plan, respect for the extensive public process that led to the Plan, and how the Plan helps sets the stafe for a healthy, economically-viable futre for Menlo Park.”

The March 5 scope of work goes on to state

” In order to accomplish the City’s communications goals . . . a range of communications tools be utilized, in summary-producting key messages for Council and staff, creating news releases, letters to the editor and opinion pieces, cultivating personaly contacts to achieve positive (or factual/neutral editorials and feature stories, creating an informational web page, and distributing information via social media.”

The March 5 scope of work accompanying the March 5 agreements states that the “related communication tasks included in the scope of work are

1. Refine key messages and talking points which serve to state the City’s position, and refute the arguments for Plan revision . .
2. Prepare 2-3 News releases at key milestones
3. Draft letters to the editor . . .
4. Write 1 or 2 opinion pieces for submission to selected newspapers (city to identify and contact possible signatories)
5. Assist in preparation and materials for editorial board meetings, one on one reporter meetings, and presentations to interested civic groups, or the League of Women Voter (city to schedule)
6. Create content for an informational/educational web page, . . . regarding the possible ballot measure for the City’s website, making it a transparent, credible, honest source of information for the community . . .(emphasis in original”
Services within this scope of work were invoice and paid.

City Manager McIntyre attached a briefer scope of work of March 19, with the handwritten notation Amended, but no evidence it was agreed to or amended the March 5 scope of work. In any event the March 19 document is only a summary and does not omit any of the above activities.

McIntyre admitted in his November 5 email to council:

“Malcolm also developed for the staff some draft editorials and talking points that were never used as well as two new releases, which were used. “

In short, the city entered into a Contract and Agreement on March 5 to campaign for the specific Plan and refute arguments for specific Plan revision of Measure M by a variety of methods. Work was performed and paid for consistent with the Agreement and Contract. The City web page written in the context of the Menlo Park-Smith agreement was false and misleading. City council refused requests to investigate the website and staff, until production of the Smit-City documents.

The current apologia by the Almanac for the false election eve and election day headlines purporting to state the proposal was rejected, when it was actually agreed to, and defensively claim that not all the work was done, even though Smith billed for it and the city paid for it, and continued relying on only on McIntyre’s inconsistent claims and recollections without adequate review of existing documentation ia basically pathetic. The City and the Almanac have much more explaining to do and documents and facts to produce to consistently explain their actions.

Measure M is without question over, however the credibility of City Council and Staff are very much at issue as the Specific Plan proceeds. City Council must be responsible, investigate fully and accurately and completely account.



Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"City Council must be responsible, investigate fully and accurately and completely account."

Absolutely correct.

And in the meantime it would be useful for the lynch mob to retire to their parlors.


Posted by Cool, calm, collected
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Right, because only one poster on this board is allowed to regularly show hysteria and point fingers. And he doesn't even live in Menlo Park!

Re: "try to develop compelling candidates." The challengers were not members of the SaveMenlo group, but rather, candidates for council who aligned themselves with SaveMenlo because they themselves had seen the failures of the current council. Which is really what Measure M was all about: residents taking matters into their own hands after the council failed them. But perhaps we can all agree that it's hard to fight city hall -- especially when city hall is using our tax dollars to torpedo the initative process. How arrogant of staff and council to believe that they could succeed in this illegal undertaking. Measure M has moved mountains in this city just by exposing the corruption at its core.


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

Seriously, Malcom Smith billed somewhat north of $5k for this work. Estimate $200-250/hour. So we're talking 2-3 days spread out over several months. I'm guessing for the lion's share of this time - he wordsmiths the website - talks with the city attorney and others to make sure it's consistent with what the city wants and matches key stake holder view points. Somewhere along the line he generates a generic campaign proposal --- refine key talking points, prepare 2-3 milestones (amazing amount of work to craft that sentence), draft letters to the editor, op-ed pieces....

This is just generic boilerplate for a communications proposal.... the real trick is the specifics. There's nothing here.

SaveMenlo people, you are talking to the wrong end of the horse. If you feel 25 hours time of a communications consultant threw the election --- don't litigate it to death. Go and hire Malcom Smith so you win next time

With all due respect, you guys need Kübler-Ross grief counseling. You are stuck between anger and bargaining. You need to move on - to depression and acceptance. How will you deal with the next campaign? That's the question.

As Jimi Hendrix said "I'll see you on the other side."


Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm

If the City Council was presented with and discussed "talking points" regarding Measure M outside of a noticed public meeting, then that was a violation of the Brown Act.

If the impetus for this came from the City Manager or other city staff, then this can not be seen as an innocent mistake.


Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Calm:

get a grip. There is an on going investigation. Let's see what it reveals before we start lynching people shall we?


Posted by Cool, calm, collected
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 9, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Malcolm Smith? More like 65 hours. That's 8+ full-time days of work.

But he didn't do anything wrong -- he was just responding to a request from city staff. They're the people who abused the public trust and broke the law. And if the city council was complicit -- and it appears that some of them were -- they're in trouble too.

Sounds as though a few of you are running scared. Trying to change the subject or wondering if you can somehow nail SaveMenlo on a legal technicality, or maybe even compel the powers that be to commit further criminal acts with an aborted "investigation" or more "missing documents"? Wish I could feel sorry for you, but mostly I feel pity for a city that has been the victim of your greed, dishonesty, and amorality for way too long. You got away with it, but now it's time to pay!


Posted by downtown property owner
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 10, 2014 at 12:16 am

If city staff did not have a view on M and was not inclined to both inform and defend the work product of 1.7 million dollars, hundreds of local citizens, staff and six plus years, they would be some combination of crazy, stupid, or incompetent. As a taxpayer who paid them to do their work, I would expect them to defend it. What is so inconceivable about that? Agreed that they should not withhold information or requested assistance from all sides, but the need to inform and defend still exists and is entirely rational.

Perhaps those following this non-story should remember that NO partisan work product of Mr. Smith saw daylight during the campaign, and that anything that staff said during the campaign was but a soft whisper compared to the LOUD and INCESSANT din of both the pro and anti M sides. To think that staff did anything to affect the outcome of the election is beyond ludicrous.


Posted by impartial
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2014 at 12:56 am

How can the city create impartial analysis without first generating rebuttal to whatever Save Menlo created? The term "impartial" would imply treating both sides equally, but they were given only one side by Save Menlo.


Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 10, 2014 at 2:48 am

Above "impartial" writes:

"
Perhaps those following this non-story should remember that NO partisan work product of Mr. Smith saw daylight during the campaign"

An amazing statement since McIntyre is claiming the work product of Malcolm Smith has been discarded (after first his claiming there was only work product from Smith done on the website). So we don't know what did or did not see daylight do we?

The whole issue of the City spending $165,000 on the Wise report, a report whose scope eliminated looking at what the Visioning for the Specific Plan had concluded, really was just more of the City Staff aiding the No on Measure forces.

It may well be all of this activity is illegal.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 10, 2014 at 11:57 am

Is "SaveMenlo" willing to publicly disclose all of its members' communications so that the citizenry of MP may assess how they conducted themselves with respect to the instigation of the initiative, signature gathering process and campaign for M?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The whole issue of the City spending $165,000 on the Wise report, a report whose scope eliminated looking at what the Visioning for the Specific Plan had concluded, really was just more of the City Staff aiding the No on Measure forces."

Here is what the Elections Code states:
"9212. (a) During the circulation of the petition, or before taking
either action described in subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 9214,
or Section 9215, the legislative body may refer the proposed
initiative measure to any city agency or agencies for a report on any
or all of the following:
(1) Its fiscal impact.
(2) Its effect on the internal consistency of the city's general
and specific plans, including the housing element, the consistency
between planning and zoning, and the limitations on city actions
under Section 65008 of the Government Code and Chapters 4.2
(commencing with Section 65913) and 4.3 (commencing with Section
65915) of Division 1 of Title 7 of the Government Code.
(3) Its effect on the use of land, the impact on the availability
and location of housing, and the ability of the city to meet its
regional housing needs.
(4) Its impact on funding for infrastructure of all types,
including, but not limited to, transportation, schools, parks, and
open space. The report may also discuss whether the measure would be
likely to result in increased infrastructure costs or savings,
including the costs of infrastructure maintenance, to current
residents and businesses.
(5) Its impact on the community's ability to attract and retain
business and employment.
(6) Its impact on the uses of vacant parcels of land.
(7) Its impact on agricultural lands, open space, traffic
congestion, existing business districts, and developed areas
designated for revitalization.
(8) Any other matters the legislative body requests to be in the
report.
(b) The report shall be presented to the legislative body within
the time prescribed by the legislative body, but no later than 30
days after the elections official certifies to the legislative body
the sufficiency of the petition."

This was exactly what the Wise report covered. The Council and City staff did exactly what was specified in the law with regard to the Wise report.

Yes on M NEVER provided any analysis of Measure M or its impact. In fact they diligently failed to ever quote the actual text of Measure M in any of their campaign material or in any of their Town Forum postings.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The updated Almanac article clearly states:
"The Almanac did not find any council members or groups that campaigned against Measure M who were given talking points by the city or asked to meet with the press."

So exactly what and where was there an illegality?


Posted by Robert DiMenna
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm

We the people voted, measure M was defeated, get over it.


Posted by Evidence is there somewhere
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Seems to me if McIntyre met with the Councilmembers and/or provided them with No on M talking points, there should be some records of who met with whom and when and what documents were provided.

Also seems to me that, although McIntyre says he "threw away" the letters to the editor and other things Smith drafted that he claims didn't get used, that the City should have email trail on that or electronic copies somewhere, or at least Smith may still have that if the City destoryed theirs. The Grand Jury should subpoena those documents. Only then can it be compared to what actually was put out to the public arguing against M on the City's dime.

Next, we should look into all the secret meetings that Councilmembers have been having with the two developers proposing these surprisingly large and office-heavy projects. The Palo Alto Council already got into trouble for having such meetings with Arrillaga -- I suspect that "other shoe" is likely to drop in Menlo Park too. It's especially worrisome given the secrecy revealed in this whole matter with Malcolm Smith and what is increasingly looking like a misuse of City funds to support the No on M campaign. If so, this all looks like a shameful breach of public trust. Councilmembers and staff leadership should know better.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Only then can it be compared to what actually wasOnly then can it be compared to what actually was put out to the public arguing against M on the City's dime.

That is what is called a false premise.

There is no evidence that the City put out anything "public arguing against M on the City's dime."

Can you produce one such document?


Posted by Sickened
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The Almanac must be so proud. The paper bought the whole bag of dung and then dismissed the story until every other local paper humiliated them.
Our town paper mirrors our silly council and our dishonest city staff.
This is a banner day in the history of the city.
Which city council member is going to clean this up? The city manager should be fired. Cogan also.
Will the council meet in private with McIntyre and an attorney and all get in the same pew, praising the Lord and evoking the bible?
[Portion deleted.]


Posted by No more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

' To think that staff did anything to affect the outcome of the election is beyond ludicrous.,'

Yes, totally ludicrous. I mean just look at what they paid the consultant to produce for them. hardly enough propaganda to sway public opinion. However the fact that Menlo Park city staff paid the consultant to produce propaganda crossed the line. Denying and destroying evidence doesn't bode well for them. But you're right, probably no need to have another vote. I accept that measure m was defeated. The dirty tactics employed by City Staff may be a tempest in a teapot, but this is just one too many tempests with this group of managers. the teapot runneth over.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"However the fact that Menlo Park city staff paid the consultant to produce propaganda crossed the line."

Once again, presuming facts not in evidence. Please quote the "propaganda" that you specified.

"The dirty tactics employed by City Staff may be a tempest in a teapot,"

Once again, presuming facts not in evidence. Please quote the "dirty tactics " that you specified.


Posted by No more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm

See the invoice for the some of the evidence.
and the City managers trash for the rest.




Posted by Sam Tyler
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Here we go, another tempest in a Menlo Park teapot. You folks know the rest of the peninsula mocks us, right? Other communities rebuild their downtowns, provide more affordable housing, build bike routes and improvement mass transit. What do we do that is perceived as positive? Nothing. We shove our affordable housing and new offices anyway from the downtown and mass transit.

This current "mess" is yet another Menlo Park example of massive negativity based on so little information. I had hoped the Measure M people would try to move on after their significant defeat. But since these people are the same minority who didn't get their way during the six year specific plan process, why should I expect anything different from these people? There has been so much time and negative energy wasted on finding conspiracies behind every tree while we have so many other community problems that go unnoticed. Sad... Very Sad.


Posted by Sickened
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Sam Taylor or is it Malcolm Smith in disguise?
You reveal your ignorance about by uttering the words"affordable housing" that you claim was chased away from ECR. Neither stanford or Greenheart had affordable housing in their projects.

Yes, I know the rest of the peninsula mocks us but some of the mockery comes from our council doubling the density developers can build without giving zip to the city. Palo Alto would never make that mistake. Palo Alto shut stanford and Arrillaga down and they went back to their caves to rethink the massive office complex they were proposing.

I'd like you to state that you believe there was nothing wrong with our city manager violating a state election law that makes it illegal for a city to meddle in a citizen initiative. Is this a federal crime? No but it was wrong. Surely you must know that. call it a tempest in a teapot OK but the city manager was wrong to have done it and wrong to lie about it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Did Peter Carpenter recommend Malcolm Smith to the city?" NO

"Did Carpenter give Smith's name to McIntyre', Cogan or Ohtaki and they in turn contacted smith?" NO

"Carpenter has stated the Fire Board hired Smith when the Chief was on medical leave. " WRONG, I made no such statement. I stated that Smith was hired by the then acting Fire Chief.

I have nothing to hide - no even my name.


Posted by Sam Tyler
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm

In response to "Sickened"

First and foremost, Menlo Park is located within the United States of America, so there is a presumption of innocence until proved guilty.

Second, I did not specifically associate affordable housing with the Specific Plan, you did. Long before the Measure M initiative qualified for the ballot, our city was rightly sued because we collectively thumbed our nose at State Housing laws for years. Our solution? Shove new sites away from the Caltrain Station and existing services, and put them out into Belle Haven. That is same thing we did with Facebook. We shove new offices out to the edge of town yet we bemoan the lack of vitality in our downtown.

Finally, I have yet to see any proof that our city manager violated any law. On the contrary, this is yet another example of mean and nasty people treating our city staff badly. No wonder they leave. Do not tell me what I know or do not know. Show me facts.


Posted by No more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm

It,would,be terrible for the developers if the current City Manager left. he has been after all very supportive of their proposals over residents concernns, and put his neck out hiring a consultant to spread propaganda against a citizens initiative. Understandable that those who stand to make a buck would prefer that this incident just be swept under the carpet..thrown in the trash, what have you.


Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:01 pm

@Sam Tyler who wrote:

"Finally, I have yet to see any proof that our city manager violated any law. On the contrary, this is yet another example of mean and nasty people treating our city staff badly. No wonder they leave. Do not tell me what I know or do not know. Show me facts."

You looking for proof, then look at the thread:

Web Link

and view the comments from attorneys Tom Jordan and George Fisher. That should convince anyone that the proof is indeed in hand.

I doubt it will convince you or Peter Carpenter, however.


Posted by No more blight
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:10 pm

It's the grand jury that will need convincing. Seems obvious enough that the Council was in the know, they can't investigate themselves. Very unlikely they will take any action against the city manager and risk being exposed by him.


Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

ah yes, George Fisher. The one who equates number of words with value. You boil down his garbage and it's still garbage.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"You looking for proof, then look at the thread:"

I looked and still no proof.

Why does Morris think that a link to garbage provides proof of anything?

Oh, and Morris we are still waiting for your explanation of the secret agreement you entered into on the Derry project - who got what???


Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

no more blight:

why yes I wrote that all by myself. Why? You don't like the truth? In case you're wondering I've been posting here under the same handle for years and I am a registered user unlike you. I don't take direction from anyone as to what I post. Do you?


Posted by Bedfellows can't shed Carpeneter-Malcolm-McIntyre Hydra
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Old Boy Network is not news in our Town
The Towne Club above current Cindy's Flowers on Oak Grove is where MP Council and decision making was made for years
Same old same old in this anything goes legacy with same City Attorney Law Firm for decades in MP(:


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is no evidence that the City put out anything "public arguing against M on the City's dime."

Can anyone produce one such document?


Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"There is no evidence that the City put out anything 'public arguing against M on the City's dime.' Can anyone produce one such document?"

We'll need to see the sum total of work Malcolm Smith delivered to the city as well as his many email exchanges before we can make that determination, Peter. Why, then, is that work and communication not available to us? At this point we simply have no idea what Smith delivered nor how it may have been used (other than the website content, perhaps, which others in this forum have shown to contain possible bias). Like you, I'm reserving judgement until all the facts are before us, but it is alarming how little information we've received from the city thus far (almost three months after Heyward Robinson's original public records request).

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Fern states - ""There is no evidence that the City put out anything 'public arguing against M on the City's dime.' Can anyone produce one such document?"

We'll need to see the sum total of work Malcolm Smith delivered to the city as well as his many email exchanges before we can make that determination, Peter. "

No, the law speaks any communications the City had with the public that expressly advocated a Yes or No vote on Measure M, not what the city staff discussed amongst themselves.

There are NO examples of a City communication with the public that expressly advocated a Yes or No vote on Measure M. NONE.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the law:
CAL. GOV. CODE § 54964 : California Code - Section 54964

(a) An officer, employee, or consultant of a local agency may not expend or authorize the expenditure of any of the funds of the local agency to SUPPORT OR OPPOSE THE APPROVAL OR REJECTION OF A BALLOT MEASURE, or the election or defeat of a candidate, by the voters.

(b) As used in this section the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "Ballot measure" means an initiative, referendum, or recall measure certified to appear on a regular or special election ballot of the local agency, or other measure submitted to the voters by the governing body at a regular or special election of the local agency.


(3) "Expenditure" means a payment of local agency funds that is used for communications that expressly advocate the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure, or the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, by the voters. "

There are no public communications by the City which SUPPORT OR OPPOSE THE APPROVAL OR REJECTION OF MEASURE M.

Feel free to post specific examples of specific language that violates the law.


Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"There are NO examples of a City communication with the public that expressly advocated a Yes or No vote on Measure M. NONE."

If it turns out that Malcolm Smith's work was used to advocate such a position in an op-ed, a letter to the editor, in forum comments or in email communication of any kind, to anyone, then we have a problem. We won't know that until we see both his work and his email to city staff, something which should have been made available long ago. Perhaps now that Sheriff Ray is back in town full disclosure will move forward.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - You are not paying attention. It is not Smith's communications with the City that might violate the law but the City's communications with the voters.

(3) "Expenditure" means a payment of local agency funds that is used for communications that expressly advocate the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure,"

There have to be " communications that expressly advocate the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure,".

I challenge you to post any such communications that the City has made to the voters.

Hint, there are none.


Posted by keep an open mind
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Peter,

What Gern is saying is perfectly logical and correct. I don't KNOW that city-funded anti-M letters or op-eds were published during the election season because the city manager is saying he DUMPED THE DRAFTS. On the other hand, you don't KNOW that city-funded anti-M letters or op-eds were NOT published during the election season because the city manager is saying he DUMPED THE DRAFTS.

Come on, Peter. You're a responsible elected official who has many times fought for government transparency. Why are you not acknowledging that, until we can see those drafts that the city manager says he trashed, we can't know one way or the other? (I won't even go into the credibility question over whether he really did trash the work products of a publicly funded contractor even before election season was over. Would a responsible top manager do something so lame?)


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Yes, have an open mind but also use that mind to understand that there is a relevant legal standard.

The legal standard is not what the City staff considered saying to the voters but what they DID say.

What they did say to the voters is, by definition, already in the public domain.

So far nobody has produced a single City communication to the voters that "expressly advocated the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure."


Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"Gern - You are not paying attention. It is not Smith's communications with the City that might violate the law but the City's communications with the voters."

That's exactly my point, Peter-- being able to see Smith's work and communication with the city will help to make clear whether the city used that work, legally or otherwise. Your assertion that such use by the city did not occur, when you have no idea what Smith delivered to the city, is clearly premature. By way of example, if an anti-M op-ed, letter to the editor, or stream of comments in this forum closely followed verbiage provided by Smith to the city then we might have something worth investigating. There are any number of ways the city can and does communicate with voters outside its website and the occasional mailer.

Gern


Posted by keep an open mind
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm

OK, maybe I wasn't clear enough. My point is: How can we KNOW whether or not the city "expressly advocated the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure" through, for example, submitting a letter or op ed to a local newspaper? If the city can't show us what Malcolm Smith submitted (and was paid by the taxpayers for), we can't VERIFY the city manager's claim that those letters and op eds weren't used. If we can't see the "drafts," we can't compare them with letters and op eds that actually made it into local newspapers during election season to VERIFY that they really were rejected by the city. Are you saying we should blindly trust City Hall?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Your assertion that such use by the city did not occur, when you have no idea what Smith delivered to the city, is clearly premature."

No, what is pertinent regarding the law is what the City actually said, not the provenance of those words.

There is no way to advocate without advocating so please show the City's public statements that violated the law - the law does not care who proposed, drafted or wrote those words.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Open mind - Can you post any op ed or letters to the editor which advocated for or against Measure M that were authored by Smith?

Can you post any op ed or letters to the editor which advocated for or against Measure M that were signed by a City employee?


Posted by keep an open mind
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Peter, I can't believe you're really not getting what Gern and I are saying. But giving you the benefit of the doubt one last time, I say before signing off for good:

How would I know whether a letter I read in the Almanac or the Daily News against Measure M had been ghostwritten by Smith, who was commissioned and paid by the city, if I CAN'T SEE WHAT SMITH SUBMITTED TO THE CITY? goodbye


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Gern, KAOM

I think what Peter is aking is simply this: "please show me a written communication from the city that is demonstrably illegal."

Pretty straight forward - no hypotheticals.

I think the premise is that the law pertains only to demonstrably illegal actions.

Internal memos - that weren't communicated to voters - even if they exist aren't illegal - because they weren't seen by voters and couldn't have reasonably affected their votes.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Open mind - Can you post any op ed or letters to the editor which advocated for or against Measure M that were authored by Smith?

Note that both the Post and the Almanac verify the identity of authors of Op Eds and Letters to the Editors.

Can you post any op ed or letters to the editor which advocated for or against Measure M that were signed by a City employee?


Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"Internal memos - that weren't communicated to voters - even if they exist aren't illegal - because they weren't seen by voters and couldn't have reasonably affected their votes."

@FF, I don't know that your position is correct, legally, but I'm not at all sure why you think KAOM or I take issue with it. Yours is not at odds with my earlier statement, repeated below:

"By way of example, if an anti-M op-ed, letter to the editor, or stream of comments in this forum closely followed verbiage provided by Smith to the city then we might have something worth investigating. There are any number of ways the city can and does communicate with voters outside its website and the occasional mailer."

The point is city staff may well have used Malcolm Smith's work without having signed their names or the city seal to it. We need to actually see Smith's work and communication with the city before we can ascertain whether that work may or may not have been used, is all.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The point is city staff may well have used Malcolm Smith's work without having signed their names or the city seal to it"

1 - If those recommendations or ideas were not communicated then they cannot have violated the law.

2 - If the City staff used Smith's work or any other source did they then communicate to the voters anything that "expressly advocated the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure." ?

Please post any such communications.



Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Gern

I think the issue is "demonstrably" versus "hypothetical".

... If an anti-M op-ed, letter to the editor, or stream of comments in this forum*closely* followed verbiage provided by Smith we might have something worth investigating..."

The above statement shows both a hypothetical condition (if) and a subjective test (who defines closely?). There are three or's concatenated - any of which would be an acceptable condition for the hypothetical.

That's not the way the law works. You can't test to see whether the person is a witch or not by throwing the in the the well to see if they drown or not (the hypothetical).

What demonstratably illegal communication from the city is there?


Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"What demonstratably illegal communication from the city is there?"

I have never stated in this thread that anything illegal did happen, of course -- I am not a lawyer. My position is that the sooner we see Malcolm Smith's work and communication with city staff the sooner we can rule out unseemly, unethical, or illegal activity and, hence, the sooner the city can move beyond this, whatever "this" turns out to be. I'm hoping nothing illegal occurred and will assume that is the case until facts show otherwise. The sooner we see the evidence -- all the evidence -- the better for everyone concerned, a position I'm certain you share.

Gern


Posted by cut to the chase
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

So, if:

1. the draft anti-M letters to the editors are retrieved by the city and made available to the public, and

2. one of the anti-M letters was found to have been printed in a newspaper in October with the name of an anti-M resident who was not a city employee,

would you agree that there could be a reasonable doubt about the city's story that the drafts had been rejected and trashed?

I do not have an opinion about whether the above scenario reflects reality. I can't, because I don't have evidence. But it is impossible to have the required evidence because the city has not made the drafts available to the public.

I want to be able to review the drafts in order to ascertain whether the drafts were rejected or were used. If the Smith-drafted letters were used after the initiative qualified for the ballot, the city would be in violation of the law because the letters were publicly funded and used to influence the election. Again, I don't know if this scenario is a probability, only a possibility, and I want an answer.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern states - "The sooner we see the evidence -- all the evidence -- the better for everyone concerned, a position I'm certain you share."

For once, Gern and I agree.

I believe that the City has failed the stupidity test, but being stupid is not illegal.

I have seen no evidence that they violated the law. The above posters' claims relate to what happened before the election therefore any such evidence would have already been in the public record. To have violated the law the City would have had to communicated to the voters "expressly advocating the approval or rejection of a clearly identified ballot measure." There is zero evidence of any such communications.


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@cut to the chase

I believe in law cases you start with a **specific** violation - and then investigate - and even then we presume innocence until proven otherwise. The process doesn't start the investigation based on hypotheticals to see ***if*** a violation occurred and then look for evidence. (An action which presumes guilt - prior to having evidence.)

What specific letter to a newspaper or op-ed do you think was written by a city employee and why you think it demonstrates a violation. Is there an actual violation that you know of?

BTW - before you ask - I am not nor ever have been a city employee - of any city I've ever lived in. I just have a healthy respect for due process.

This will be interesting to watch -- what information will the grand jury ask for -- will they find probable cause that a violation occurred.


Posted by cut to the chase
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Sometimes I feel as if I've walked through the Looking Glass when I search for logic on this forum. I'll try to cut closer to the chase: In my previous post, I wrote:

"I want to be able to review the drafts in order to ascertain whether the drafts were rejected or were used. If the Smith-drafted letters were used after the initiative qualified for the ballot, the city would be in violation of the law because the letters were publicly funded and used to influence the election. ... I don't know if this scenario is a probability, only a possibility, and I want an answer."

Your problem with that?


Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, there might be a pro-M'er who would have actually listened to the facts offered and/or views expressed by those opposed to M...

So assuming for the moment that some actual evidence of MP officials "expressly advocating" against M ever comes to light: Did it persuade any pro-M'er to change his/her vote?

And the tactics and communications of the pro-M'ers are equally relevant, despite the fact that the law may hold MP officials to a higher standard (another reason not to have initiatives like this).


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:52 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@cut to the chase

So you want to see all drafts to see whether they were used or not?

Then you wan the dates to make sure the dates are pre-acceptance of measure M.

My question is - how would you know if a draft was used or not? Would you have to review written communication from every MP city employee - from June 19 until the election?

So would subpoena all communications from MP employees over a 5+ month period?




Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If the Smith-drafted letters were used after the initiative qualified for the ballot, the city would be in violation of the law because the letters were publicly funded and used to influence the election. "

This presumes facts not in evidence -
1 - Did any of the Smith drafted letters expressly advocate for or against Measure M?
2 - If yes, then did the City use any of those letters?


Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:46 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@cut to the chase

Sorry about the poor typing on these mobile devices. Back to a keyboard.

To continue -- if you are proposing that 5+ months of communications for all Menlo Park city employees are checked to see if they match or relate to the Malcolm Smith drafts, then it seems like a lot of work. I know I get say 50 emails a day --- times say 30 employees you are at 1500 emails a day --- times 5+ months another 120 days so now we could conceivably be at 180,000 emails to cross check to the Malcolm Smith emails.

Seems like a lot of work to sift the proverbial haystack for a needle you don't even know existed.

Then - who would check these emails or communications to see if they matched the Malcolm Smith work? Lawyers? Maybe there are paraphrasing passages? How long would it take to check 180,000 emails for Malcolm Smithisms? Even at 5 minutes per email - we're talking upwards of 10,000 hours. What would a lawyer charge $400-500/hour? That's a helluva lot of expense -- when we don't know what we're looking for.

To my way of thinking - it makes much more sense to identify a specific letter or op-ed to a newspaper that you think came from the city - and then look at the Malcolm Smith "product" to see if it vaguely fits - then see if the letter or op-ed could possibly come from a city employee.

Just a thought experiment.

Cheers,


Posted by Sam Tyler
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 12, 2014 at 10:06 am

"BEEP BEEP BEEP". That is the sound of a truck in reverse. It is also the sound of some of our community members continuing to move backwards and not forward after the election. We have a chance to improve our city, and we continue to be burdened by a vocal minority that opposes everything and anything that hints at advancement in our community. Does anyone really believe that "Malcolm-gate" influenced anyone? Mr. Smith did not create the blight on El Camino Real, we collectively did by our draconian zoning policies.

The election is over, and a significant majority of the community chose not to vote, and those who did vote, soundly defeated Measure M. This tells rational people that the majority of people in this community did not buy into the Save Menlo/Measure M misinformation. And there remains no proof that any laws were violated by the City Manager.

Please move forward and engage in the hard work of making positive progress.


Posted by downtown property owner
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 12, 2014 at 10:26 am



Thanks Mr. Tyler, for summarizing the essential issue in two paragraphs more informative than the 67 msgs that preceded yours. I now know I have to stop coming here because the Savemenlo folks are going thru their Kubler-Ross five stages of grief. The more the rest of us respond, the more they seem stuck in stage 1, "Denial". They are looking for villainy. They are finding it hard to accept that No on M was not just a 'No' for this election cycle, it was an affirmation of the seven years it took to get here. They believe, that if the "public only knew", we would have voted for M. I'm done, I'll leave them to evolve thru the remaining stages and hope they re-emerge with modesty and insight.


Posted by Cool, calm, collected
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 12, 2014 at 10:32 am

Some of you are sounding a little hysterical. Your efforts to muddle the issues may have helped you defeat M, but they aren't going to work now.

When the truth emerges, who knows which names we will see attached to ghost-written letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and posts on the city council email log? A few of you are going to be mightily embarrassed. I've got the popcorn ready.


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