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Portola Valley Town Council forum billed as 'residents only,' attempts to exclude journalists

Original post made on Oct 14, 2022

A candidate forum for the Portola Valley Town Council race on Thursday evening attempted to exclude journalists and all non-residents of Portola Valley. This reporter showed up anyway.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 14, 2022, 11:55 AM

Comments (34)

Posted by Bike Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Bike Menlo Park is a registered user.

Thanks, Cameron, for doing your job and working to increase transparency in what should have been a public event. Candidate forums should be public--isn't the whole idea for candidates to share their viewpoints with the voting public?


Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 14, 2022 at 1:26 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Bravo, Cameron. And shame on the community leaders who wanted to somehow exclude the public from this event.


Posted by CyberVoter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 14, 2022 at 1:32 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

Since the Almanac & others report the news in their bias, I am sympathetic to the citizens of PV who would like to speak their mind & not be painted as "Bad People" by the Almanac.

Anyone that actually asks questions about over spending & irrational programs that "sound good", but are actually wrong, is then vilified by the press!

Be prepared for more such private sessions!


Posted by lelkins
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 14, 2022 at 2:20 pm

lelkins is a registered user.

Thank you for defending the freedom of the press. I don’t necessarily see a problem with excluding non-residents (although I don’t understand the reason either) but the local newspaper should absolutely be admitted to an event such as this.


Posted by Kristin Brew
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:07 pm

Kristin Brew is a registered user.

I hope we can have an article about the meeting and the questions/issues discussed.


Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:10 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To Reporter initially barred from meeting: Not surprising; rich people can pretty much do what they want, and get away with it. They are often short on transparency and ethics. I suspect many of these people are probably Trumpsters.


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:34 pm

Meg is a registered user.

I will certainly support professional journalism in reporting on open public meetings. But this was a privatly funded meeting of residents. I guess we can all just traspass on people's privacy now? Since the Almanac can now be unfavorably compared to the Enquirer or some of Rupert Murdock's worst gossip sheets, I really see no reason why they should be granted the privilege afforded to professional journalists. The Almanac has become the sort of paper that goes through people's garbage and peeps into back yards hoping to get the intellectual equivalent of a naked celeb pic. No surprise that Maryanne resorted to nasty language and bullying either. That is her regularly approach to
" best foot forward." All to be expected in this situation from this group.


Posted by Danna Breen
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:54 pm

Danna Breen is a registered user.

Please also report on the wonderful meeting the residents of our town did have last night and that we finally got to host our own candidates with our constituents. It was wonderful and as a resident I’m very proud of all of us for the sanity and professionalism of the gathering. I’m sorry that there is this distraction from the community story.


Posted by WP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 4:10 pm

WP is a registered user.

Bravo for the free press. If Neil Weintrout wants to fund a candidate forum at his own home, then of course, the press would need to ask to be invited. But a forum of all the candidates at the Town Center seems like a public meeting, which should be open to people who have an interest in the election. The Almanac provides a vital public service in covering events like this of local interest. Special thanks to reporter Cameron Rebosio for daring to speak truth to power and challenge people who evidently don't fully appreciate the special role a free press plays in American culture and society.


Posted by Former PVSF board officer
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Oct 14, 2022 at 4:28 pm

Former PVSF board officer is a registered user.

Perhaps the desire of the organizers to limit the meeting to PV residents had something to do with what happened at the recent Town Council meeting (via Zoom) where residents were allowed to comment on the housing element:
Nearly half a dozen professional (presumably paid) YIMBY activists attended and took up limited meeting time with their comments. (Last night's meeting was so well attended that not all residents who wished to ask questions were able to do so due to time constraints. Names were drawn randomly out of a hat to allocate time for each <1 minute question.)
Worse, one of the activists at the Town Council meeting denigrated and ridiculed PV residents who spoke, by name, on his Twitter feed, live, as the meeting was in session.


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:02 pm

Meg is a registered user.

The town rented the space. Citizens paid out of their own pockets to hold a discussion with candidates where people would feel free to ask questions without having the peeping, name calling, etc. Tha Almanac crashed the party bringing along a nasty mouthed political hack


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is NO justification for a public facility being rented for an event which discriminates on any basis.

How would people react if the person who rented the town space held an event that excluded non-whites or homosexuals or, god forbid, persons of a liberal persuasion?


Posted by PV Volunteer
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:30 pm

PV Volunteer is a registered user.

This article is a disappointing substitute to the one that should (and could) have been written about the excellent candidate forum that took place last night. Attendees, including myself, were treated to an open, honest and civil question and answer session that allowed each candidate a fair chance to make their responses to questions asked. Much more than electric stoves. Anyone present at this event will have a much clearer idea of how to make their candidate choices, and why. Democracy was the real winner.


Posted by Danna Breen
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:58 pm

Danna Breen is a registered user.

I held a public meeting tonight in my home for Tim Dec running against marc Berman, because he feels that sb9 and 10 are flawed bills. I invited everyone in portola valley, I guess I should have notified the almanac. My bad.


Posted by Jon Silver
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 10:05 pm

Jon Silver is a registered user.

My dear friend Danna, a meeting in your home is nothing like a public meeting in a public building at our Town Center about an election that affects us all. Who bars the press?

Authoritarian regimes and “private” Trump fundraisers do; when the “lame-street” press is allowed into a Trump rally, abuse and threats are often heaped upon reporters; this is not the America I grew up in, or that my father went to war to defend. He didn’t fight the Fascists to raise his family in a land of fear and prejudice—or where the press was despised and barred from otherwise public events.

66,000,000 souls gave their lives in that war; why do we now forsake the values they died for?
Btw, if a reporter had shown up at your event would you have chucked her out, or welcomed her knowing that through her reporting more voters would have heard Tim’s message?

I think knowing you as I do, I am certain that you would have graciously welcomed her. I can’t imagine you grabbing her by the shoulder, as Neil regretfully did on Thursday evening, and muscling her out.

Also, a struggling candidate such as Tim Dec I am sure would be delighted by any press attention that he could get.

I have always wanted press coverage of events which I have organized.

We should not fear the free press; unlike what our good, departed Pres. Trump said, the press is not “the enemy of the people”.

We become our own enemies if we think so.

In love and friendship,

Jon Silver


Posted by GMS
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 14, 2022 at 10:28 pm

GMS is a registered user.

I attended the meeting and was able to ask a question. I agree with Danna that is was a good gathering and the candidate forum was handled well by Judith Murphy and the candidates. However, I disagree with Danna that this was simply a distraction. In fact, you could say barring the press was the real story. How could we have come so far down this road where we as a community are wiling to be described as the town that bars the press from political events. Yes, I say political. How can you really think of this event as not being a political event about an extremely important election in a community building. Please, let's not go any further down this road.

Jerry Shefren


Posted by Jon Silver
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 10:59 pm

Jon Silver is a registered user.

Dear readers, I am going to go out on a limb, and I will apologize on behalf of, what I am pretty sure are, a solid majority of Portola Valley residents and voters for the harsh treatment that the Almanac reporter was subjected to in my hometown, at an event which I had agreed to co-sponsor.

True it has been many years since I left office, but having (allegedly) grown up in Portola Valley, serving four terms on our Town Council, and three terms as Mayor, I perhaps flatter myself that I still have some connection to (as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the intellectual fathers of our American Revolution, called it) “the common will”. This is I think another way of saying the “pulse of the public”.

The Town I grew up in and served in office, welcomed the free press and “outsiders”.
To do otherwise disgraces our heritage.

Regrettably I expect my beloved Portola Valley will soon join our “sister city” Woodside as the butt of jokes and fodder for late-night TV: “Exclusive Portola Valley residents exclude ‘outsiders’ and the press, whereas tonier Woodside declared every square inch of their Town ‘endangered Mountain Lion habitat”. Is that the kind of fame we want?

I am glad that I agreed to cosponsor this candidates’ evening, but I did not agree to exclusionary rules. I could not have ethically done so. Nor was I consulted prior to their imposition. What does that say about openness?

The odd thing is that the very thing the excluders sought to ovoid, they brought on themselves; that is, criticism and unfavorable publicity from people far and wide.

I believe it’s a “trope” in literature and folklore that when an Oracle prophesizes a terrible potential event, if the recipient of such a prophecy seeks to avoid such an outcome, they instead bring it about.

I think that is what happened here.

(To be continued; I am not known for my brevity!)


Posted by Jon Silver
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 10:59 pm

Jon Silver is a registered user.

I am so proud of, and have so much love for my native Portola Valley that I often apologize to non-PV residents for my excessive Portola Valley “chauvinism” as I rhapsodize about our Eden on Earth.

In the future I may still need to do so, but only after blushing a bit for our own self-created shame.

Jon Silver


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 15, 2022 at 7:49 am

Meg is a registered user.

Oh please Jon, give it a rest. My party (the active liberal wing of the Dems, as apposed to those who support do nothing PV incumbents) holds private parties all the time. I am not at all a big money doner, but have been to several candidate events where the press was not involved. These have taken place for over 40 years. I meet Clinton, Boxer, Harken etc. I can remember seeing a helicopter land at what is now town center with President Carter in it a long time ago. He was going to a private meeting with voters. You see hard working liberal politicians need to be able to hear from their constituents without the voting public fearing being called bigots, A$$h..., latigious, sexist, etc. And since these are exactly the kinds of scandal-sheet reporting hit pieces the Almanac has restored to, there is a legitimate reason to exclude them. This low muckrakering article just makes my point. No real reporting on the local issues. Just a replay of a "soon to be Ex-Councle member" swearing at and bullying residents so the Almanac could claim a pyrrhic victory. Pathetic


Posted by pvsusa
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 15, 2022 at 8:14 am

pvsusa is a registered user.

It is incredibly difficult to use any part of the Town Center for a private event. (Not long ago The Friends of the Library gave up and held their event at Alpine Heelsewhere.) Somehow our good friends managed to rent it for that purpose and therefore had the right to invite whom they wished, just as if it were a wedding reception or a memorial service.

I am truly saddened that the reporter chose to focus on the sensational rather than the substance of the meeting. It seems her agenda did not include covering meeting itself, so why did she bother to come, except to create a media spectacle.


Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 15, 2022 at 8:58 am

Dave Ross is a registered user.

Judging from recent chatter on PVForum, the community's moderated online forum, the resistance to allowing press (specifically the Almanac) stems from a few folks' disagreement with its endorsements. In fact, one vocal resident has asserted that The Almanac "doesn't deserve a voice" in the Town's affairs. A few also believe the local news coverage is not "objective" (whatever that means). It seems folks want a news outlet that supports their views or none at all (I doubt these same people would have reacted so stridently had the Almanac endorsed the council challengers).

Fortunately several vocal critics of Town government are very concerned about a perceived lack of "transparency." I hope every one of them appreciates the Almanac's efforts to attend and report on newsworthy events. After all, "Democracy dies in darkness" - WaPo.

Ms. Rebosio, it would be great if you could follow up your piece with more reporting about the contents of the debate itself.


Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2022 at 10:58 am

Resident is a registered user.

Dear Almanac,

If you are being excluded from town council debate forum in Portola Valley, why not spend the extra time you will have with that exclusion covering the city council election in East Palo Alto? I know your answer might be that East Palo Alto falls in the coverage area of the Palo Alto Times, but with I think only three (?) (maybe less) articles on an election in San Mateo County (our shared county) covering an area that has kids who attend schools with your kids, residents who work and shop next to your residents, and by all orders of measure is closer to Menlo Park than Portola Valley, why not step in and interview some of our candidates? Maybe even conduct an in person debate or town hall.

Your call Almanac. I know the message I get from your almost complete exclusion of a neighboring community. Maybe you see it differently. Or at least tell yourself it is different, but you still know it is for the same reason.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 15, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Resident is a registered user.

I appreciate the Almanac’s wish to attend the meeting. But is the Almanac really neutral in its reporting when it has already endorsed the mayor? I do not think the Almanac can present itself as a “neutral” member of the press when its already given its endorsements to alternatives presented by the PAC.

I would ask the Almanac. Would you give the PAC (which is representing an alternative) an equal amount of editorial space to give their opinion?

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 16, 2022 at 9:45 am

Meg is a registered user.

I have been thinking about why I feel so disturbed by this action by the local press and an elected official. After some consideration, I believe this was a small but locally significant attack on people's rights under the first amendment of the US constitution. The first Amendment not only protects freedom of the press, but also states that the Government (government officials like Derwin) "shall not prohibit right of the people peaceably to assemble." Furter the California Construction Article 1 section 1 gives each citizen an "inalienable right" to pursue and obtain "privacy". I do not believe the actions of a local Council member (no matter how indebted she is to the Almanac for protecting her privacy or that of her families) live up to the specificic laws that protect both freedom of the press and our right to prvacy. Nor do the actions of the Almanac. What next? Will these people claim the right to barge into medical offices or funerals.


Posted by Kevin Forestieri
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2022 at 12:55 pm

Kevin Forestieri is a registered user.

@Resident

Our editorial endorsements are decided and written by editors, not staff writers. Our reporting remains neutral and there is a (hopefully) clear wall between objective news and the opinions expressed by the editorial board. Feel free to reach out if you want more clarity on the process.

We strive to run diverse guest opinions and letters to the editor, provided that they meet our standards and do not contain false or misleading statements. As you may know, our Aug. 26 issue of the paper included a critique of Portola Valley's housing plans by a member of Our Future Together.


Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 16, 2022 at 6:00 pm

Dave Ross is a registered user.

So, do I have this right? If the Almanac endorses the incumbent, it loses all credibility because ... endorsement? Does it follow that every news organization that has given endorsements is not credible, trustworthy or has a hidden agenda? If the Almanac had instead endorsed the "PAC" candidates, would it also have lost credibility as a non-"neutral" reporter of political news?

Does it also follow that every news organization that publishes an editorial opinion or accepts advertising, or reports news imperfectly (according to any reader who disagrees) has proven bias?

C'mon, folks. Take a deep breath and get over yourselves. Vote according to your beliefs and interests, and accept the outcome. Please also accept that others may have opposing opinions and be, sometimes ... imperfect.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 17, 2022 at 7:22 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Well said Dave.


Posted by PV Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Oct 18, 2022 at 7:26 am

PV Resident is a registered user.

Top Ten reasons this is embarrassing for us in Portola Valley:

#10 Weak snack game
#9 No one has sued the Almanac yet. C’mon people!That’s how we get stuff done now.
#8 Trying spastically to “get” Derwin by recording her on-camera for the record, when she then recites exactly what she said for-the-record, and the biased newspaper that was never gonna report anything bad about Derwin reports it.
#7 Incomplete wardrobes. What’s a delusional paranoid conspiracy w/o proper foil headware?
#6 Death of journalism because…uh…the reporter showed up after she was specifically told not to do news stuff.
#5 Boomers trying to go gotcha-viral on TikTok
#4 Hand-scrawled sign that recalls childhood forts with “No Girls Allowed” signs
#3 Weintraut, who is not my Pfavorite when it comes to mansplaining & marginalization. A real man would’ve cowed Loulan & Derwin.
#2 Gentle self-righteous waft of amateur authorianism
#1 Trying to squash coverage of a public election forum held on taxpayer-funded public property


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 20, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Meg is a registered user.

10. Snacks were great.
9. No one has even threatened to sue. That was a little fib Mayer Hughes told the Almanac - the referd to lie in the article
8. I assure you Derwin doesn't want you stirring this pot. It can only hurt her. So maybe mind your own business on the relationship between Derwin and the Almanac
7. More nast name calling (delusional paranoid conspiracy) exemplifies why we need new faces in town goverment. Civility is not important to the current crop
6. Death to the rights to assemble and privacy. If we were having a meeting on how to protect woman speaking abortions and a Texas news paper crashed it the song you sing would change. Hypocrisy?
5. Ticktock is another way Gen-Xers give up their privacy.
4. No girls allowed. Reference to such sexist retoric must make you a sexist? That seems to be the leap I hear from supporters of the current town crowd.
3. More name calling and uncivil nasty talk. Did you learn this at town center?
2. Gentle wafts of democracy
1. Trying to privately assemble at a town location paid for by private resident's donations and maintained by fees charged to users. Or they should cover the costs but since we have not seen town accounts for years and everything that gets done seems to require multiple consultant contract we can not tell for sure


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 20, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Meg is a registered user.

10. Snacks were great.
9. No one has even threatened to sue. That was a little fib Mayer Hughes told the Almanac - the one referd to in the article
8. I assure you Derwin doesn't want you stirring this pot. It can only hurt her. So maybe mind your own business on the relationship between Derwin and the Almanac
7. More nast name calling (delusional paranoid conspiracy) exemplifies why we need new faces in town goverment. Civility is not important to the current crop
6. Death to the rights to assemble and privacy. If we were having a meeting on how to protect woman speaking abortions and a Texas news paper crashed it the song you sing would change. Hypocrisy?
5. Ticktock is another way Gen-Xers give up their privacy.
4. No girls allowed. Reference to such sexist retoric must make you a sexist? That seems to be the leap I hear from supporters of the current town crowd.
3. More name calling and uncivil nasty talk. Did you learn this at town center?
2. Gentle wafts of democracy
1. Trying to privately assemble at a town location paid for by private resident's donations and maintained by fees charged to users. Or they should cover the costs but since we have not seen town accounts for years and everything that gets done seems to require multiple consultant contract we can not tell for sure


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 20, 2022 at 12:52 pm

Meg is a registered user.

10. Snacks were great.
9. No one has even threatened to sue. That was a little fib Mayer Hughes told the Almanac - the one referd to in the article
8. I assure you Derwin doesn't want you stirring this pot. It can only hurt her. So maybe mind your own business on the relationship between Derwin and the Almanac
7. More nast name calling (delusional paranoid conspiracy) exemplifies why we need new faces in town goverment. Civility is not important to the current crop
6. Death to the rights to assemble and privacy. If we were having a meeting on how to protect woman choice, and a Texas news paper crashed it, the song you sing would change. Hypocrisy?
5. Ticktock is another way Gen-Xers give up their privacy.
4. No girls allowed. Reference to such sexist retoric must make you a sexist? That seems to be the leap I hear from supporters of the current town crowd.
3. More name calling and uncivil nasty talk. Did you learn this at town center?
2. Gentle wafts of democracy
1. Trying to privately assemble at a town location paid for by private resident's donations and maintained by fees charged to users. Or they should cover the costs but since we have not seen town accounts for years and everything that gets done seems to require multiple consultant contract we can not tell for sure


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 20, 2022 at 12:54 pm

Meg is a registered user.

10. Snacks were great.
9. No one has even threatened to sue. That was a little fib Mayer Hughes told the Almanac - the one referd to in the article
8. I assure you Derwin doesn't want you "suppor". So maybe mind your own business on this one
7. More nast name calling (delusional paranoid conspiracy) exemplifies why we need new faces in town goverment. Civility is not important to the current crop
6. Death to the rights to assemble and privacy. If we were having a meeting on how to protect woman speaking abortions and a Texas news paper crashed it the song you sing would change. Hypocrisy?
5. Ticktock is another way Gen-Xers give up their privacy.
4. No girls allowed. Reference to such sexist retoric must make you a sexist? That seems to be the leap I hear from supporters of the current town crowd.
3. More name calling and uncivil nasty talk. Did you learn this at town center?
2. Gentle wafts of democracy
1. Trying to privately assemble at a town location paid for by private resident's donations and maintained by fees charged to users. Or they should cover the costs but since we have not seen town accounts for years and everything that gets done seems to require multiple consultant contract we can not tell for sure


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 20, 2022 at 12:57 pm

Meg is a registered user.

10. Snacks were great.
9. No one has even threatened to sue. That was a little fib Mayer Hughes told the Almanac - the one referd to in the article
8. I assure you that no one want you stirring this pot. So maybe mind your own business.
7. More nast name calling (delusional paranoid conspiracy) exemplifies why we need new faces in town goverment. Civility is not important to the current crop
6. Death to the rights to assemble and privacy. If we were having a meeting on how to protect woman speaking abortions and a Texas news paper crashed it the song you sing would change. Hypocrisy?
5. Ticktock is another way Gen-Xers give up their privacy.
4. No girls allowed. Reference to such sexist retoric must make you a sexist? That seems to be the leap I hear from supporters of the current town crowd.
3. More name calling and uncivil nasty talk. Did you learn this at town center?
2. Gentle wafts of democracy
1. Trying to privately assemble at a town location paid for by private resident's donations and maintained by fees charged to users. Or they should cover the costs but since we have not seen town accounts for years and everything that gets done seems to require multiple consultant contract we can not tell for sure


Posted by Clevenger
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 20, 2022 at 3:44 pm

Clevenger is a registered user.

Please check/learn to spell and pay attention to grammar. Otherwise, one’s apparent ignorance is difficult to ignore.

The mayor is the top town official, not the meyer.

Death to the rights to assembly and privacy, or Death to the rights to assemble and to enjoy privacy.

Tik Tok, not Ticktock.

Rhetoric, not retoric

… paid for by private residents’ donations, not resident’s donations (unless it was just one resident who donated).

And punctuation faults too numerous to mention.


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