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Fire district candidates say race hinges on micromanagement versus progress

Original post made on Sep 4, 2020

The race for a seat on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board is heating up, with incumbents Virginia Chang Kiraly and Rob Silano facing a challenge by longtime former board member Peter Carpenter and Sean Ballard, the resident representative of the district's finance and strategic planning committees.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 4, 2020, 12:00 AM

Comments (37)

14 people like this
Posted by Maria Amundson
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 4, 2020 at 3:16 pm

Maria Amundson is a registered user.

Peter and Sean have my vote. So many important Fire District issues seem to be stalled. For the Board to not have even agreed on the 2020 objectives yet is telling. Also, in terms of disaster preparedness, we need a Board that will more fully engage local neighborhood volunteers, which both Peter and Sean have been doing for years.


10 people like this
Posted by Annetta McCarty
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 4, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Annetta McCarty is a registered user.

My husband and I are voting for Peter Carpenter and Sean Ballard, without question! We can't think of two finer, more qualified gentlemen for the job. We'd be hard-pressed to find, and fortunate to have, men of their caliber serve our community as Directors on the Fire Board. Vote for Peter and Sean!


10 people like this
Posted by microbarny
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 4, 2020 at 3:42 pm

microbarny is a registered user.

I have worked with Peter Carpenter for 15 years and Sean Ballard for nearly 10 years as an organizer of the citizen emergency response group Atherton Disaster And Preparedness Team (ADAPT) and as a board member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)/Community Crisis Management (CCM) Executive Boards.

Peter is well-known, very experienced in both public safety and with our Fire Board itself having served multiple terms (16 years) as a board member and board chairman. He knows the various community governments within the Fire District and their inner workings. And he is a strong advocate for good governance.

Sean, while not as well-known, has been involved with emergency prep in our community in leadership roles for some time. Most importantly, for the last two years, Sean has served as Chairman of the CERT/CCM Executive Board, elected by his fellow board members, and has done an excellent job in leading this group and interfacing with both the Fire Department's leadership and the Fire Board itself. He has a very even handed and steady management style and personality. Sean is very strategic and financially astute, given his professional career in financial services and investment management.

The Fire District is an often unknown and misunderstood entity. This election, please take some time to find out more about the District and its activities - its budget, its challenges/needs, the implications for our communities' safety and quality of life and the candidates running for the board seats.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 4, 2020 at 7:48 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Peter did a great job on the board before and his leadership is needed again. Kiraly needs to go. She should not be serving on two boards at the same time. What the fire district does and by extension the board that oversees it is extremely important. It needs better than the current state of dysfunction it is experiencing.

The fire fighters don't like Peter because he wouldn't give them whatever they wanted.

Peter has my vote.


7 people like this
Posted by Ken Friedman
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 4, 2020 at 9:59 pm

Ken Friedman is a registered user.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District posts their Board meetings on YouTube:

Web Link

Watch the Board meetings and let the candidates’ actions speak for themselves. I think several of the current Directors do not understand that the skills necessary to be managers of Public Safety entities are different than those required of Board members of Public Safety entities.

I support Peter Carpenter and Sean Ballard. Peter served the Board faithfully for many years (watch his meetings and compare). Vote him back in!



ir experience with being


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 5, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

". The district typically fixes up the homes and rents them out until starting fire station expansions. But at Station 77, the board has let a home languish for two years without so much as a coat of paint and won't let the fire chief take care of it."

How the Fire Board has dealt with this very simple issue is a litmus test for good governance. The Board's oversight responsibility dictates that the Board recognize the Fire Chief's expenditure authority to maintain this house in a manner that is a credit to the District and respectful to the neighborhood.

Perhaps the Board will come to its senses at the Sept or October Board meeting.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 6, 2020 at 3:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note that September is National Emergency Preparedness Month.

There is an excellent discussion on the Weekly's Town Forum:

Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 21, 2020 at 12:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire Board will have a Special Study Session on Tuesday at 4 PM to discuss this important issue:

"REGULAR AGENDA
The public may address the Board on any subject listed on the Regular Agenda. Each speaker may address the Board once for
a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards
is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record. Each speaker will be called upon to speak by the President when the item is heard.
1. Discuss the Future of Community Crisis Management (CCM) and Volunteer
Organizations Within the District"

This is my recommendation to the Fire Board:

Dear Fire Board,

• The economic impact of Covid 19 on those entities which rely heavily on Occupancy Taxes and sales taxes will be profound and long lasting. Those entities will have to reduce their current scope of activities and they will certainly be unable to undertake ANY new activities.

• Notwithstanding the fact that, under California law, the responsibility for emergency planning and civilian disaster preparedness rests with the cities/town the Fire District is the only entity that has the skill and resources to actually provide a meaningful response in the event of a disaster.

• I urge you to not waste your time and efforts by operating at the margins in fine tuning the existing efforts that have very little chance of ever providing a meaningful citizen-based response capability.

• Therefore, the Fire District should enter into MOU’s with Atherton, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto to become the lead agency in event of a disaster, to operate a Combined Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and to train, equip and routinely exercise a large number of citizen volunteers that can operate at the individual residence and neighborhood level.



Respectfully submitted,



Peter F. Carpenter

Menlo Park Fire Protection District

• Director (2001 – 2009)

• Director (2010 - 2012)

• Director (2013- 2018)


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is strange that none of the involved volunteer organizations seem to have been invited to this special meeting.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 16, 2020 at 7:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a great place to find out about all four candidates including their answers to the Weekly and Labor Council questionnaires:

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 16, 2020 at 8:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My apologies.

It turns out that neither Silano or Kiraly, who received ALL of their in-kind contributions from the union, have NOT posted their answers to to the Labor Council questionnaire.

What are they hiding?


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2020 at 8:03 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

When thinking about who to vote for for the fire board one should consider who will be sitting on the citizens' side of the table during contract negotiations, those that were financed by the fire fighters unions or those that were not. Those that the fire fighters union would like to see on the board or those they would not. Think, why would the fire fighters unions rather see one candidate vs another on the board? The answer is clear. The unions want someone sitting on THEIR side of the table during contract negotiations, leaving no one on the citizens' side of the table.

For those that think the fire fighters get insanely high salaries. Keep the above in mind when you vote for board members. Peter has shown he can and WILL stand up to the unions. Silano and Kiraly are financed by them. It's clear to me that Peter and Sean are the ones we need on the board.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 17, 2020 at 8:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

12. Would you support the use of binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor?

Carpenter:

No, because as an elected official I must be the one that makes the hard choices involved and I could not delegate that responsibility to others.

Ballard:

No, I believe that this responsibility falls to the elected Board Members.

Kiraly:

She told the union but not the public

Silano:

He told the union but not the public


4 people like this
Posted by Some Perspective
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 17, 2020 at 11:57 am

Some Perspective is a registered user.

Regarding the post (above) on binding arbitration, it may not be accurate to declare "told the union but not the public" if both candidates also provided their answers to local newspapers. The purpose of providing information to news organizations is to make it public. It's a shame the local papers don't find this information newsworthy. The Voter's Edge site (Peter provided above) would be a good place for candidates to post questionnaire answers; I hope they will.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 17, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" if both candidates also provided their answers to local newspapers"

They did not provide copies of their answers to the union questionnaire to anyone except the union. So the local papers were unable to report on their answers.

And the newspaper questionnaires did not ask the critical labor specific questions like the one on binding arbitration that was asked by the union.

Only they and the union know what answers they gave.


6 people like this
Posted by Mark Balestra
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Mark Balestra is a registered user.

When it comes to certain local ballot issues, I am not proud to admit I have, on more than one occasion, deferred weighing in on specific issues about which I’ve felt insufficiently informed.

I am reaching out to urge you to learn about the issues at stake in the November 3rd election involving the two contested seats on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board. The District includes 7 stations across 29 square miles including Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto. In addition to the superior service that our fire department provides to the community, it also operates an elite Community Emergency Response Team and an Urban Search & Rescue Task Force. In the coming term, the Board will be tasked with finding an able replacement for the District's highly regarded (outgoing) Chief, solidifying the department's future in the face of forces seeking to break up the District and innovating to adapt to the growth and changes in our community.

Given the devastating impact of the ever-more-pervasive fires in our region, I would suggest that the effectiveness of our own Fire District is more critical now than ever.

There was a pretty thorough analysis of this upcoming race printed in last week’s Almanac. You can read it here: Web Link

While you're at it, I encourage you to consider voting for Peter Carpenter. A prior MPFPD Board Member, Peter served in the Air Force, in the U.S. OMB, as Executive Director of the Stanford Medical Center, on over a dozen non-profit boards and even as a “smokejumper” for the U.S. Forest Service (albeit some years ago). I have known Peter for more than 25 years and hold his judgement & values and his dedication to this community in the highest regard.

Most importantly, if you haven’t already, please take the time to learn why this election is essential to our community and join me in casting an informed vote for these seats on MP Fire Protection Board.


4 people like this
Posted by Director Rob Silano
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 18, 2020 at 9:05 am

Director Rob Silano is a registered user.

Hi Peter:
“ Only they and the union know what answers they gave.”

FALSE:
Almanac got mine in August. This is their media, they can publish it if they want. It’s their web-site: not yours...

Thank you: be safe: take care.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 9:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Rob - How did you answer this question:

12. Would you support the use of binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor?


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 11:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:38 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
In the absence of a much needed public debate it would be useful if Kiraly and Silano posted their answers (which are already documented) to the San Mateo Labor Council's questionnaire on this Forum.

Those answers would give us some insight as to why the County Firefighters' Union endorsed them and has provided substantial in-kind contributions to their campaigns. What is in it for the Firefighters Union 2400?


14 people like this
Posted by Director Rob Silano
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 18, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Director Rob Silano is a registered user.


On August 24, 2020, I emailed Sue Dreman both my answers from the Almanac questionnaire and the union questionnaire. I have called Sue Dreman recently to reiterate the Almanac has my permission to publish those answers.

Regarding arbitration, you and I have both voted for contracts that include arbitration. In all my years serving as a Director of Menlo Park Fire, I've never been presented with a contract to vote on that did not include arbitration.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 4:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Rob - The question that the Union asked and which you answered was:

12. Would you support the use of binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor?

What was your answer? Why are you hiding it?

And I have never voted for a contract which required "binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor"


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2020 at 4:33 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

If Silano and Kiraly have given their answers to the union to the Almanac I'd like to know why they haven't published those answers. Seems strange if they actually have them they wouldn't publish them.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the MOU language re arbitration regarding INDIVIDUAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION:

7.5.7. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
In the event of:
Punitive action consisting of discharge, demotion, suspension, or denial of promotion on the grounds other than merit;
and
Within 15 days after service upon the employee of the Notice of Discipline the Union gives written notice to the Fire
Chief that the Union is willing to represent the employee in an arbitration over the disciplinary action;

********

As stated I would never and the Fire Board has never voted for a contract which required "binding arbitration to settle economic disputes between management and labor"

Have Silano and Kiraly told the union that they would support such binding arbitration?


8 people like this
Posted by John D'Amico
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2020 at 6:02 pm

John D'Amico is a registered user.

Enough already. The election is around the corner. The tag team of Carpenter and Ballard are using the Almanac as their campaign platform. The candidates' positions are clearly known and well documented. And why does Mr Carpenter question the firefighter's endorsement of Silano and Kiraly so much? I think the endorsement of our first responder firefighters is huge! I believe the on again, off again thinking of Mr Carpenter is too insecure to serve on the fire board.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"And why does Mr Carpenter question the firefighter's endorsement of Silano and Kiraly so much?"

Because the voters should be very worried about what Kiraly and Silano promised in order to get that endorsement.

And why do Kiraly and Silano refuse to answer the simple question of what they promised the union in order to get their endorsement and in kind support?


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" The candidates' positions are clearly known and well documented."

Hardly. Compare what Carpenter and Ballard have posted on

Web Link


with what Silano and Kiraly have posted there.

Back room promises to the union have no place in an election.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 18, 2020 at 6:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The tag team of Carpenter and Ballard are using the Almanac as their campaign platform."

There is nothing stopping Kiraly and Silano (partnered on the union mailer even though they truly dislike each other and are incapable of working together) from also participating in this Forum except their unwillingness to answer questions.


6 people like this
Posted by Some Perspective
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Some Perspective is a registered user.

Peter, you have highlighted important issues voters deserve to learn about. After reviewing the questionnaire answers you posted to Voter's Edge, I'm concerned voters may not have the time to compare candidates based on those answers. I hope the Almanac can pick four answers that best differentiate the candidates to summarize and publish in a chart with some analysis. It's disconcerting this information related to the union questionnaire was not included in previous articles.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 19, 2020 at 12:53 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Why do Silano and Kiraly stand silent when asked about why the union has supported them?

What commitments have they made to the union to garner their support?

Should not the voters know what deals may have been made by Silano and Kiraly to obtain the union's substantial in kind support?


5 people like this
Posted by The whole story
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 19, 2020 at 1:13 pm

The whole story is a registered user.

I voted for Rob and Virginia. I know them both to be dedicated volunteers with a genuine desire to serve the community. I don't know Peter personally, but for years have seen him try to dominate almost every discussion on Town Square -- I can only imagine what he's like in meetings -- and the fact that he and Sean are using this forum to promote their candidacy is offputting.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 19, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"he fact that he and Sean are using this forum to promote their candidacy is offputting."

I have urged Silano and Kiraly to participate in a public dialogue on this forum:

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:38 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
In the absence of a much needed public debate it would be useful if Kiraly and Silano posted their answers (which are already documented) to the San Mateo Labor Council's questionnaire on this Forum.

Those answers would give us some insight as to why the County Firefighters' Union endorsed them and has provided substantial in-kind contributions to their campaigns. What is in it for the Firefighters Union 2400?

********

The problem is not that I am posting but that Silano and Kiraly are not. Please urge them to do so.


7 people like this
Posted by MenloStark
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 19, 2020 at 7:22 pm

MenloStark is a registered user.

Sean is calm and dedicated to helping keep Menlo Fire world-class. I truly don’t understand the drama in these comments but I know him and he’s earned my vote


4 people like this
Posted by John D'Amico
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 20, 2020 at 8:01 am

John D'Amico is a registered user.

Mr. Carpenter- The domineering persistence of your comments on the Almanac is "bully-like" and frankly dictatorial in nature. That type disposition in itself is very concerning since fire board positions have a shared responsibility- one that requires compromise and general consensus; qualities that you certainly don't show in your comments. Moreover, with family members who have served as firefighters (no, not the mob as you suggested in your earlier comment) it disturbs me that you imply some nefarious quid pro quo conspiracy between the firefighters union and their endorsement of Mr. Silano and Ms. Kiraly.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 20, 2020 at 8:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"you imply some nefarious quid pro quo conspiracy between the firefighters union and their endorsement of Mr. Silano and Ms. Kiraly."

Wrong - I simply want Silano and Kiraly to tell the voters what answers they gave to the Labor Council's questionnaire.

Their apparent unwillingness to do so is troubling. Why won't they speak up?


4 people like this
Posted by Some Perspective
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 20, 2020 at 11:37 am

Some Perspective is a registered user.

In this race, there was a push to focus on micromanagement and the situation with Atherton. The Almanac published a comparison of the candidates and their positions on these issues.

Peter has now raised new questions related to key positions in the union questionnaire, but the time for introducing new issues into the debate may have passed as so many people have already voted.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 20, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Fire board positions have a shared responsibility- one that requires compromise and general consensus;"

If you review the minutes of the 15 1/2 years that I have served on the Fire Board you will find that I drafted the majority of the motions passed by the Board and that I usually revised each draft three or four times to reflect the input of my colleagues. For the first ten years most of those resolutions passed 5-0. After Bernstein joined the Board the vote was generally 4-1.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 21, 2020 at 7:49 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

D'Amico:

If you don't think there isn't any quid pro quo expectation by the firefighters unions for their endorsement, then you are naïve. Years ago I met with the then president of the union to talk about their wage demands. When I expressed some sympathy toward their side of things he was quick to ask me to run for the board. They badly wanted Peter off the board as he was standing up to their absurd wage demands and they weren't happy about it. The union wants board members sympathetic to their wants. That's why voters should be concerned about the unions endorsement of candidates. You can be sure the union didn't endorse Silano and Kiraly because they thought they wouldn't be sympathetic to them, at a minimum and expect something at the maximum.


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