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Menlo Park: Council approves updated travel policy

Original post made on Sep 12, 2018

The Menlo Park City Council voted unanimously (with members Rich Cline and Ray Mueller absent) Sept. 11 to approve changes to a 1991 travel policy and more clearly lay out which kinds of council travel can be reimbursed and what protocols should be followed when considering taking trips funded by third parties.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 11:58 AM

Comments (6)

20 people like this
Posted by Greg
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2018 at 12:24 pm

The city council missed the whole point of George Fisher's presentation, and instead got wrapped up in the mechanics of reimbursement for foreign travel and vetting of who can sign what. The mere presence of MP council members at these "technology cooperation fests" creates the implication that MP is supportive of these efforts to move our technology and intellectual property offshore for the benefit of China - whether they sign anything or not is a minor detail, as their participation in the conference suggests MP approval (not to mention wearing a pin that falsely identifies the participant as the mayor of MP).

9 people like this
Posted by Something's rotten in MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2018 at 8:22 pm

Something's rotten in MP is a registered user.

Greg, I hope you realize that missing of George Fisher's main point was no accident. That's a technique one Council member uses skillfully so as to avoid the real issues. The two people who might have pulled the topic back from the trivial, or tangential issues, were absent. Our City Manager and City Attorney should also be showing leadership here. While council might have to approve policy, the City Manager should be making policy recommendations designed to fix serious problems in MP. I hope the new Council will hold McIntyre accountable for delivering and not allow him to essentially put the blame on Council as his excuse for non-action. Residents and our small business owners deserve better.

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Posted by The Willows
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 12, 2018 at 11:22 pm

The Willows is a registered user.

Council did not ignore George Fisher's main points, they gave staff direction to address two specific elements; creating additional guidelines to clarify when council can sign documents and that FPPC approval should be obtained before taking reimbursement for international travel. Last night, the city attorney clarified that no document have ever been signed abroad without council approval. Also, council members already have FPPC letters for these trips. The additions to the travel policy merely codify what has already been taking place.

Greg suggests (above) there is an effort to move technology and intellectual property offshore for the benefit of China, and that the presence of a Menlo Park official in a photo implies that the City of Menlo Park is supportive of this specific plot. One could also suggest that the presence of an American Flag in council chambers implies the City of Menlo Park is supportive of separating families from young children and putting children in cages. These are equally flawed arguments.

6 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2018 at 4:31 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

More is involved than the presence of a Menlo Park official in a photo. The Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Zone Website Web Link# includes the following quotes in its explanation below the photo in question:
“. . .

Recently, mayor Leonard Siegel of Mountain View, mayor David Haubert of Dublin, mayor Kirsten Keith of Menlo Park, and the CEO of the Silicon Valley-based management consulting group Him Group, Michael Kasperzak, visited the Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone along with 4 other technology companies from Silicon Valley. The crux of the group’s visit was the aspiration to extend the spirit and mature startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley to Chengdu, and to establish a partnership network formed by major Sino-U.S. economic and trade organizations.

On March 27, Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, the Silicon Valley city cluster (Dublin, Mountain View, and Menlo Park), and Him Group, a management consulting firm based in Silicon Valley, had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the establishment of the “Chengdu-Silicon Valley Technology & Finance Center”.

. . .

The "Chengdu-Silicon Valley Technology & Finance Center" consists of three primary business units, including the establishment of the "Chengdu-Silicon Valley Technology Transfer Center" and the "Chengdu-Silicon Valley Financial Services Center" in Chengdu, as well as the "Chengdu-Silicon Valley Free Trade Zone" in Silicon Valley.

The Chengdu-Silicon Valley Technology Transfer Center will select exceptional projects and provide a platform to introduce high-tech projects to Chengdu, while accelerating such projects from Silicon Valley. The center will maximize the potential of its role as an incubator for firms in Silicon Valley, and an accelerator for firms in China.”.

A certified translation was sent to Peter Ohtaki and Bill McClure at Mayor Ohtaki’s request on April 25, 2018.

In addition Kirsten Keith tweeted a reference to Lenny Siegel’s “outstanding summary of our recent trip to @Chengdu_China. Siegel’s summary of March 28, 2018 stated:

“The Chinese are interested in obtaining Silicon Valley technology, and our visit served as a positive counterpoint to President Trump’s declaration of a trade war.”

More is needed than the minor changes made to the travel policy. Menlo Park should place a moratorium on its representatives travelling internationally at the expense of Foreign Governments or purported Charitable 501c3 organizations without prior consent of City Council after full disclosure.

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Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 25, 2018 at 4:13 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

The moratorium is particularly needed in view of Keith's statements during the travel policy discussion that she particularly treasured the ability to spend spring break with her daughter in China and that nobody translated the documents being signed or what explained to her what China was exploiting by promoting her attendance, with Menlo Park Mayor's pin, at the Chengdu signing ceremony photo shoot for which she was receiving travel reimbursement. Staff subsequently gratuitously suggested that perhaps the US Government should prohibit these trips.

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Posted by The Willows
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 26, 2018 at 4:17 am

The Willows is a registered user.

During the council discussion, Keith did say that documents should be translated in general, but she also clearly stated that she has never signed any documents, or has she ever been asked to sign any documents, while traveling. It's clear from that discussion that no council member has ever signed any documents without council permission.

By the way, Menlo Park does not have a "Mayor's pin." There is no "pin" that belongs to the mayor or that is pinned on a council member when they become mayor. The city provides name badges. Not so in Ireland. The mayor of Galway does have an elaborate necklace (Web Link). Other than the giant necklace, nobody in this photo is wearing a pin or a name badge. Notice the caption reads, "Catherine Carlton Mayor of Menlo Park." This is not Keith impersonating Mayor Carlton. Keith was mayor at the time, but she wasn't wearing a name badge to help the photographer out. If you Google "Mayor of Menlo Park" you always get Catherine Carlton. If you Google "Kirsten Keith" the first result reads, "Mayor Kirsten Keith - City of Menlo Park - Official Website." The Internet is full of errors like this that cascade out of control.

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