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Year in review: Fire district fights fires and controversies

Original post made on Dec 29, 2017

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District has had a busy year, and not just in responding to fires and medical calls in the district or to disasters and emergencies elsewhere.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 29, 2017, 11:25 AM

Comments (12)

35 people like this
Posted by menlo parkresident
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 29, 2017 at 3:44 pm

This summary is a perfect example why the towns who are affected by the totally out of control fiefdom and boondoggle run by Carpenter and the Fire Chief don't take a big hose to this overpaid, overpriced mess and clean out the barn.


32 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note that the Fire District:
• Maintained acceptable emergency response times in spite of significant growth and
increasing traffic congestion and gridlock
• Maintained fiscal responsibility with a balanced budget, no parcel tax and with well funded
and carefully targeted reserves
• Achieved 98% resident satisfaction with the Fire District’s level of service
• Continued its multi-year station replacement plan using funded reserves
• Made strategic property acquisitions for critical fire station replacements using funded
reserves
• Deployed to 9 wildland fires, 2 floods and 3 hurricane incidents, almost all costs were
reimbursable and District employees gained invaluable experience while maintaining full
local coverage. (The firefighters received overtime pay which may be shown as “regular
pay” or salary in media reports which is a misrepresentation of the facts)
• Established national leadership in the adoption of new technologies, specifically Drones

No other local government can come close to those accomplishments.

The performance envy and lust for the the District's carefully conserved taxpayer revenues by other less well performing local entities cannot distort these facts.


50 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Peter,

You forgot to mention a number of accomplishments:

* made the news with the exorbitant salaries and overtime paid to personnel

* Alienated a good portion of Belle Haven by trying to force longtime residents to sell their property to the Fire District for the expansion of a station

* Alienated (thanks to you) both Atherton and Menlo Park City Councils

* Bringing up the idea of limiting Public Record requests to the MPFPD while at the same time asking Atherton for huge amounts of information under the Public Records Act (the first request coming from you as the President of the MPFPD and later amended to you as a private citizen. Hypocrisy lives!

* Made the news for infighting on the board when you failed to invite a member of the board to a meeting she should have been part of and then attempting to stab her in the back by pushing a complaint filed by a third party. Nice team player

Shall we go on with the amazing accomplishments under your tenure as president?

"The performance envy and lust for the the District's carefully conserved taxpayer revenues by other less well performing local entities cannot distort these facts."

If you think paying personnel salaries and overtime as mentioned above and buying properties for $6+ million is preserving the tax payer money you are crazy.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" buying properties for $6+ million is preserving the tax payer money you are crazy."

Crazy like a fox.

The properties were all bought at or below market prices with cash and without incurring any taxpayer debt or the use of a parcel tax.

All of the properties were purchased as part of the District's responsibility to continue to provide superb services to an ever expanding population.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"" buying properties for $6+ million"

Brian - You are not paying attention, The total expenditure for these strategic property acquisitions was $16 million.


18 people like this
Posted by No Way to Run an Airline
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 29, 2017 at 7:34 pm

No Way to Run an Airline is a registered user.

Observing that the Fire District is spending $40 million to run a $30 million operation is not envy and lust, it's common sense and good judgment.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 30, 2017 at 9:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Airline - The Fire Board would welcome your specific suggestions as to how costs can be reduced without lowering the level of service.

Here are the budgets and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports:

Web Link

And here is the contact information for the individual Fire Board members:

Web Link


30 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 30, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Peter,

I was referring to the single property in Atherton, but maybe you were not paying attention. As for fiscal responsibility the MPFPD is far from it. It is good you collect more money than the three cities you cover combined, it is easy to spend money when you are getting way too much of it. Time for that to change.

I did notice you failed to comment on my other points. Guess your year has not been so hot after all.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 30, 2017 at 7:43 pm

“i was referring to the single property in Atherton, but maybe you were not paying attention”

That property only cost 4.6 million - if you were paying attention.


19 people like this
Posted by Lynne E
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:31 am

Great article Barbara. Thank you!!


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2018 at 6:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

On Friday Jan 12 the Town of Atherton will release, probably as part of the Council’s packet for its Jan 17 meeting, the report from the Matrix Consulting Group.

Matrix was hired by the Town Council to do a so-called “Fire Services Fiscal Review” that included the following objective:

Web Link

It is important that the entire community being served by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District be aware of this study and of the very serious implications of any effort by the Atherton Town Council to extract property tax revenues from the Fire District - which would significantly lower the level of service that is being provided by the Fire District to ALL of its residents.

While no decision has yet been made regarding this issue, once this item appears on the Town Council’s agenda they could take action without any further notice to the community and without any notice to the non-Atherton residents of the Fire District. The new Atherton Mayor has already stated that one of his key priorities is "acting on the fiscal review of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District."

I am concerned for a number of reasons:
1 - The Town has had this report for months
2 - In order to keep from having to disclose this report the Town has labelled it as a draft report/working papers
3 - The then Town Mayor had this report with him at the Dec 12, 2017 Joint Meeting of the Fire Board and the Town Council and yet he made no attempt to share it with the Fire Board or the citizens in attendance at that meeting,
4 - The report has been circulated amongst the members of the Town Council - potentially to develop consensus on a course of action before the Jan 17 public meeting
5 - The report has not been shared with the Fire District
6 - The planned Jan 12 release date is the latest legally possible release date for an item which will be considered by the Council at its Jan 17 meeting.

All of these actions are inconsistent with the obligation of the Town Council to conduct its business in public and to seek input from affected parties before making any decisions on such an important issue.

*********************
Also, there is a fundamental principle of good governance/good management -

"Don't fix it if it is not broken."

In a carefully conducted, independent survey carried out last year by Zuma Strategies (which I paid for but over which I had no control) an amazing 98.5% of the resident’s (and 100% of the Atherton residents included in the survey) were "satisfied with level of service provided by our local fire department" and only 9.5% of the residents supported "a separate department for Atherton residents”.

Methodology
Survey Dates: • 6/14/2017 – 6/24/2017
Sample Size: • 202 completed surveys*
Sampling Error: • +/- 6.9% at the 95% confidence level
Unit of Analysis: • Adult Residents
Survey Medium: • Facebook
Population: • Residents within Menlo Park Fire Protection District
Screens • Age, Language (to minimize Latino oversampling)
Languages • English
Quotas • Location, Gender, Latino
Corrections • Weighting for Female Oversample (Actual pop is 50.5% female)
Principal Researcher • Craig R. Everett, PhD

*National polls typically survey about 1 out of every 200,000 people in the target population.
See: Web Link

This survey sampled 1 out of every 400 adult residents of the Fire District and did so by exactly matching the demographics of the respondents to the latest census demographics.

*********
Hopefully the Atherton Town Council will resist the temptation to engage in disruption of an emergency service that is widely perceived as doing an excellent job and instead focus its attention on important Town provided services.


11 people like this
Posted by Roy D
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 9, 2018 at 8:48 am

"I don't want to solicit their input," Mr. Carpenter said about the report, which suggests possible future fire stations locations, "because it's not their decision to make."

What goes around, comes around ...


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