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Woodside: Anonymous campaign blossoms for council seat

Original post made on Oct 27, 2015

Chris Shaw, a write-in candidate, is up against Nancy Reyering for a seat on the Town Council, but to the extent that he has a campaign, it's one that is "running itself," Mr. Shaw said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 9:01 AM

Comments (27)

Posted by hmmm?
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 27, 2015 at 1:00 pm

You're raising some good points.

Looking at how biased this "article" is however, one may reach the conclusion that the Alamanac is endorsing a specific candidate.

If this is the case, you probably should state this upfront...

Posted by See the Light
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:46 pm

“Not fond of anonymity”? Shaw is letting someone else run his campaign - but guess what? Those shadow figures aren't anonymous any more: Council members and an angry mob. How fascinating. We have a puppet up for election.

Posted by Harry Doyle
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm

In referring to anonymous violations of law as a "blossom", reporter Dave Boyce shows some questionable moral values. Disclosure laws exist to prevent special interests from manipulating elections in secret, creating puppets out of elected officials.

When a candidate professes that he is not involved in his own campaign, the obvious question then becomes "who is running his candidacy and why?"

Anonymous mailings and lawn signs are no minor technical violation. Someone is clearly trying to influence an election surreptitiously. This reporter quotes a communication from the "candidate to three sitting Town Council members discussing how to distribute election material. California's Brown Act prohibits elected officials from colluding in private, but this reporter fails to mention the Brown Act at all.

This publication should be shining a light on our local government's trustworthiness or lack thereof, and the voters of Woodside deserve to know who is behind all this. It's time for a real investigation, and serious penalties if crimes have been committed.

Editor's note: There is not likely a Brown Act violation since it's not a matter about to come before the council. The election will be decided by the electorate, not the council.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside School
on Oct 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm

It seems quite relevant that the backers of the write in candidate seem to believe laws don't apply to them.

Posted by Toni Orban
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 28, 2015 at 5:45 pm

I am a Woodside Resident and am mostly un-involved and uninterested in Politics, exception this local ballyhoo with the ASRB, "Fencegate" and mudslinging going on here in this small town. That is par for the course I supposed in politics...but jadedjournalism is unethical! This articles wreaks with bias. You clearly are impartial. You should be ashamed of your self trying to pass this off as journalism.

Posted by Voter
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 28, 2015 at 8:19 pm

This is hilarious! This is not journalism. Between the Almanac's biased coverage of the school board election and now the town council election...the Almanac must really think voters are dumb, deaf, and blind.

Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 28, 2015 at 8:32 pm

It isn't against any law for a private individual to try to help a candidate without that candidate's knowledge or permission. It's against the law for private individuals to coordinate their efforts with a candidate with the intent to subvert the law.

Did the people who support Reyering get her permission to post here? Well, the people who support Shaw didn't ask his permission before trying to help him, either.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2015 at 10:49 pm

To Woodsider:

California's Political Reform Act specifies that lawn signs and mailers must include a "Paid for by" disclaimer. Paragraph 84506 details the requirements for independent expenditures, as you put it "without that candidate's knowledge or permission."

The Shaw advertisements are illegal because the payer's name is conspicuously missing.

But more importantly the candidate says "I'm not involved." Everyone else says "I didn't do it," and the real culprit is staying mum. As usual the cover up is worse than the crime.

My guess is real estate developers. Their profits are always at stake in local elections.

Back to your point, the FPPC says that disclaimers are recommended but not legally required on websites and blog posts. A summary of these laws here:

Web Link

Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 29, 2015 at 9:35 am

To "citizen' who claims that yard signs in support of a candidate are in violation of campaign laws because there is no "paid by" disclaimer on the signs. You are wrong.

Yes, Under California’s Political Reform Act, committees must put “paid for by” disclaimers on campaign advertising.

But who is a committee ? How does the law define a committee?
"A person or entity qualifies as a committee under the Act if they receive contributions from others for political purposes of $1,000 or more per year; if they make independent expenditures on California candidates or ballot measures of $1,000 or more per year; or if they make contributions to California candidates or ballot measures of $10,000 or more per year."

There is no violation of law. You have no proof that yard signs required an expenditure more than $999 and only one person contributed to cover the cost of yard signs .

Stop misquoting the law to engage in a slander campaign against a candidate.

Posted by Woodsnide Resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

With all of these Reyering endorsements, why has no one sitting on the Woodside ASRB offered an endorsement?

Posted by Citizen
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2015 at 11:33 am

Yes, let's return to the campaign of slander against the other candidate. With absolutely no proof, of course.

Posted by hmmm?
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

@Woodside Resident:

Maybe it is because they don't want her to have to leave the ASRB so that the troika can continue its little games? <insert sarcasm here>.

That's the ultimate irony...elected, she has to leave the ASRB, not elected she gets to continue to impose her "views" on the board. It's a lose lose situation really, but between the 2, I would rather see her stay on the ASRB (the last part of this sentence makes me cringe...)

Best of luck to the newest member of the ASRB btw, I have a feeling he may create additional fireworks regardless of the outcome of this election.

Posted by WoodsideResidentWH
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 29, 2015 at 12:31 pm

As a Woodside resident I can't wait for the election to be over. I find a hard time believing there are residents in this Town who are so adamant that they make false accusations against a candidate of breaking the campaign laws, use street terms like 'angry mob', 'mudslinging' for supporters of a candidate, even go to the extreme of making accusations against a journalist, calling him names for what he reported, and acting against one of the most important foundations of our democracy "freedom of press" -( eg. Toni Orban comment ).

Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 29, 2015 at 6:02 pm

People should read their own links.

Thank you to the other poster named Woodsider (not me) who noted that the link that Citizen provided to support their point actually REFUTED their point. Under California election law, COMMITTEES are required to make disclosures. But the law defines a Committee as:

"A person or entity qualifies as a committee under the Act if they receive contributions from others for political purposes of $1,000 or more per year; if they make independent expenditures on California candidates or ballot measures of $1,000 or more per year; or if they make contributions to California candidates or ballot measures of $10,000 or more per year."

There is no evidence that any of these qualifications have been met.

Again, Chris Shaw says he has no knowledge of these people. Does Reyering have knowledge of everything her "people" are doing on her behalf?

Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm

My disappointment with Reyering is that she doesn't own what she has said in the past.

If she wants to reduce our property lines by 20 feet on three sides, she should own it. She should just admit that she wanted to pass a fencing regulation that forced one acre property owners to devote a fourth of their property to wildlife. For larger properties, the percentage is less, but it is still material.

Reyering denies this, yet dozens of us heard her say those very words at a town council meeting last year. I'd have more respect for her if she would say, "yeah, I do believe that" or say she's changed her mind than trying to convince us that our eyes and ears deceived us. Why is Reyering so afraid to present her positions that will restrict our ability to develop our own properties?

That's not the kind of leadership we need in Woodside.

Posted by Greg Raleigh
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Dear Dave Boyce,

I just read your article – a few days after it came out. I was a bit confused by the story and its purpose. Do you believe it is wrong for citizens to organize in small grass roots groups via email to support a volunteer write-in candidate? It is well known that Woodside has a small group of politically active people attempting to impose their unpopular policies and personal bias’ on residents. Why is a perfectly innocent email is being trumped up into a false narrative that impugns Chris and his grass roots campaign?

Woodside is a small town democracy. Chris was recruited by his neighbors and friends. He is a hero because he stepped up to try to help us fix what has been going wrong in our government - despite the high demands of his CEO job. Chris agreed to be drafted in this way by our community because he shares the desires and views of the under-represented mainstream in Woodside. The article insinuates that Chris Shaw did something wrong because his neighbors became excited about his candidacy.

I personally received many emails last week from many different people who were spreading the word that Chris had decided to run. The email you received and that I was copied on was only one of these. Why did you call out perfectly innocent Woodside citizens just because we were copied on email conversations that were supportive of Chris – including people like my wife who not only had no active or passive involvement whatsoever in anyone’s campaign but did not even reply to the email?

The majority of Woodside citizens, including many of our current Council members, who know about the ballot candidate’s track record on the ASRB became highly concerned when she announced that she would run for Town Council in Woodside District 3. While she believes she is doing the right thing, the problem is that she does not represent the views of the majority of the citizens of Woodside. Her record on the ASRB show she very consistently takes actions that reduce the rights of Woodside citizens to improve our property in reasonable ways. This is why the majority of our community is not in favor of her approach, her policies and her views. If elected, she will influence our ordinances and government decisions in ways that harm our interests and this will increase the growing controversy about Woodside’s government. In contrast, if Chris is elected he will moderate our politics and make things better for residents, moving us back toward harmony in our community.

Due to these factors, and in the best democratic traditions of our society, there has been a spontaneous outpouring of organic community support for Chris. His long shot write in campaign has spread by word of mouth, email, NextDoor Woodside, a few dozen campaign signs and a postcard. It is inaccurate and unfair for this positive community response to be characterized as possibly being an election law violation.

In the past you have also been provided with similar misleading “tips” intended to convince you to write articles that would have mischaracterized and smeared the attempts of Woodside residents’ to use our democratic processes to convince our government not to harm our interests. These “tips” came from within the same small minority in our politics that is attempting to gain power and impose their will on us. In these past discussions you practiced good journalistic restraint by researching the facts to provide balanced reporting. This time you reported the wrong, misleading story.

The real story about Chris’ late breaking campaign is this. It is very unusual to have a contested election in Woodside, and even more unusual for a late write in candidate to mount a meaningful challenge to a ballot candidate – 28 years since the last time a write in won. Chris is by far the underdog and yet his tiny grass roots campaign has captured the support of many of our citizens. This clearly shows that Chris is a very strong candidate and that there is significant controversy surrounding the policies of the ballot candidate.

Even though Chris has a steep uphill climb, if everyone who is concerned about the composition of our Town Council and still has a ballot sitting around the house were to print “Chris Shaw” in the write in line under Nancy Reyering’s name and then turn in their ballot, our community can still pull off a democratic win. Either way, Chris’ candidacy is just one more sign of a new public awakening that will move Woodside’s government back in the direction our community wants it to go.

Democracy is alive and well in Woodside, Dave. Please report accurately and without prejudice. You are the only reporter on the Woodside political beat and our community needs balanced and fair information to help us improve what needs to be fixed.

Greg Raleigh

Posted by a Voter
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 31, 2015 at 1:40 am

"It is well known that Woodside has a small group of politically active people attempting to impose their unpopular policies and personal bias' on residents."

Your small group? or theirs...

"The majority of Woodside citizens..."

And your data for that?

"He is a hero....?"

Not just an ordinary candidate, like the many generous volunteers who came before him and the many who will follow?

..."the under-represented mainstream in Woodside"

Those who agree with you?

..."the majority of the citizens of Woodside"

Them again!

..."the majority of our community"

And Again!

This may be the first write in vote in 28 years. And I think it's likely the most hyperbolic and nasty contest in as long. This is a small community, you are all going to see each other in Robert's, in the Library, at the School, in Buck's, riding your horses, on your bikes, on the trails. Can't you disagree without being disagreeable or present your views without claiming to represent the vast majority of Woodside, who surely haven't enlisted you to represent their views? I suspect the vast majority of Woodsiders are going about the everyday business of life and don't think "The sky is falling, the sky is falling". And no, I don't have any data on that, just a suspicion. I do hope the vast majority of Woodsiders exercise their right to vote.

Posted by good of the many
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 31, 2015 at 11:54 am

Chris Shaw is well known and liked in the school community, and has made statements to the effect of gathering the diverse opinions of our residents, and taking in public feedback if elected.

This would be revolutionary (and good) in our small town where people are hand picked for positions and then speak only with their friends. Our politicians must represent the good of the many, and those with less resources, not just themselves.

Please vote. Only a few days remain to mail in ballots.

Posted by Facts
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 31, 2015 at 1:52 pm

For the first time in 28 years, Woodside has a write-in candidate for a council seat supported by a grass-roots movement. Why did this movement that actually started as a protest against restrictive fence regulations in 2014 continue into this election year? There are certain facts:

Woodside has not been enjoying the real estate driven growth of wealth in nearby communities like Menlo Park and Atherton. This is because the Town has a terrible reputation. Everyone who lives in the Bay Area knows how hard it is to build or remodel in Woodside. This reputation is well-deserved. Anyone who built or remodeled in Woodside would attest to the fact that going through an ASRB review is arduous, time consuming and costly. The situation is so dire that some contractors refuse to take any job in Woodside.

One of the candidate's record on the ASRB was consistently taking actions that reduced the rights of Woodside residents to improve their property usually hiding behind the subjective criteria of "preserving the rural character of Woodside" . While shrinking in numbers, there is a very vocal community in Woodside who don't have to work thanks to their trust funds and enormous wealth acquired through family connections who have the time to get into town Committees and dominate policies. Their homes are not their major source of wealth building. Yet Woodside's population characteristics have changed during the last decade. There are more families who have to work sometimes on a 24/7 schedule and do not have the time to take volunteer positions in town committees nor do they have the wealth or time to enjoy horse back riding. Their homes are their major source of wealth yet the decisions and policies made in Town Hall such as decisions made by the ASRB are dominated by citizens whose homes are not their major source of wealth and who want to impose their own views of rural and their esthetics on residents who want to improve the value of their properties.

The main driver that gave rise to the grass roots movement is mainly Working class families whose major source of wealth is losing value because of restrictions on home improvements imposed by town policies dominated by a more wealthy group whose homes are not their major source of wealth.

Posted by Citizeninput
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm

We used to live in Woodside in my childhood home that needed a serious remodel. Staff in the planning department was helpful and did their best to make our project go through a smooth ASRB review. We could not believe the type of feedback we received from some ASRB members. Instead of going through the emotional trauma of dealing with the ASRB, we sold our house and moved to Atherton. Woodside is a town taken over by volunteer citizen committees. They have to abolish the committees, particularly ASRB. There are more modern and much more accurate ways of getting citizen input such as voting online.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside School
on Oct 31, 2015 at 2:46 pm

It looks like the California Fair Political Campaign Committee didn't consider the anonymous campaign materials OK. They convinced Chris Shaw to turn in his backers.

Web Link

Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside School
on Oct 31, 2015 at 3:06 pm

I just have to respond to the above resident of Skywood Acres. Real estate prices in Woodside are stratospheric. Here's an example - a two bedroom home for sale for nearly $10 million (and very in need of a remodel) Web Link .
The other problem with your argument is that property values really only matter if you plan to sell your home and leave Woodside. If you want to stay in Woodside, it's not maximizing property values that you're interested in, it's having a livable community. And as someone who has served on various town committees for the past 17 years, and who also has to work very hard to pay my mortgage; I have known very few people who served on town committees because they were independently wealthy. They did it because they love our town and want it to stay the best place to live on the Peninsula. Not to sell their homes for maximum return. Many of those of us who give our time to the town can't think of any place we'd rather live than Woodside. If Chris Shaw is like many of the families who have moved to Woodside recently, he's making plans to move as soon has his youngest graduates from 8th grade. That's not the type of person who cares about the future of our town - just his present.

Posted by AnotherWoodsider
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Oct 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm

First, I'm surprised at the amount of press the Almanac dedicates to one who didn't register to run vs. that allotted to all the candidates who managed to file to run on time.

Second I have to wonder about a campaign of mudslinging against someone because of their time on the ASRB - the current town scapegoat for all the community ills - which attempts to carry out planning requirements and guidelines stipulated by the Town Council (Is that "kill the messenger"?) Ironically, the same vitriol is not directed at fellow ASRB member and council candidate, Livermore.

Finally, I have trouble making sense of it all - a candidate who can't file timely like everyone else in the election; has never bothered to serve on ANY town committee during all his his years in Woodside (volunteering for your own kid's school and baseball team doesn't count) but now thinks his presence is sorely needed to guide the Town Council; has a campaign of which he knows/controls nothing - mailers, illegally placed signs, funding; who thinks he represents "a different generation" (10 yrs is not). I know neither candidate personally but this ugly election brings to mind both the words of Judge Judy - "If it doesn't make sense, it's a lie", and the old idiom "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

I'm an outsider. I'm a builder. I don't build in in Woodside as it is pretty much impossible to price work for a client then wait two years to actually build the project. And, no, that's not an exaggeration. The planning process in Woodside is broken. Badly. The job of the WSRB is to review projects for compliance, period. The words "I like it or I don' like it" should not be uttered by this board. What they "like" is meaningless. The only thing coming out of their mouths should be "it conforms to the regulations or it doesn't." Period. They aren't there to impose their personal tastes, They are there to determine if the plans before them conform or don't.

People that have been before this board have heard "I don't like it." Too damn bad Mr or MS board member. What YOU Like doesn't matter. What matters is if the design complies. In my outside observation the people of Woodside are being held hostage by a minority who wish to impose their opinion of what they "like." vs the actual zoning ordinance.

There's a reason many builders and architects pass on projects in Woodside. The current ASRB/Planning mess is the reason.

Think about that when you cast your vote.

Posted by a Voter
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 31, 2015 at 11:58 pm

I'm amazed at the claims made by some posting here that the citizen volunteers serving on Town committees, notably Town Council, Planning Commission, and ASRB are non-working trust fund babies who were hand picked and talk only to their friends. You would be surprised, I guess, to find out that the many committees serving the community's interest are full of hardworking people in a variety of careers taking time from their busy lives to do something for their community. And about only talking to their friends, they hold noticed public hearings where everyone can come and learn and speak. Finally, if you think they have been handpicked so they all agree, you clearly haven't been to a meeting. You ought to try it.

Posted by Woodside resident 24 years
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm

The ASRB has been out of touch with much of the community for years, and is getting worse each year. They waste our money, impose their opinions way beyond their 'authority,' wield almost unchecked arbitrary power to delay cases, and substitute their personal preferences for our rights to our own property. (Go to a meeting and listen to how many times they say "I'd like to see..." or "I think it would be nicer if...") The Town a Council has gotten just as insular and detached from the homeowners, thinking that the Council is helping things by overspending the budget to ADD MORE staff to the ASRB and Planning Commission, rather than reigning them in and cutting back all the unnecessary work that they do. I support Shaw and anyone else who wants to reduce and limit the overreaching ASRB, Planning Commission, and Town Council.
While I'm sure that the supportive comments from people who are personal friends of Reyering are sincere, I have watched her in action at meetings, and I assure you that she should NOT receive the vote of anyone who values his or her property and home rights.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside School
on Nov 11, 2015 at 7:29 pm

To those complaining about Woodside's property values being lowering than surrounding communities. Apparently Forbes Magazine doesn't think so. They show Woodside as the 7th most expensive real estate in the entire country. Web Link

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