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What's become of former council coalition?

Original post made on Nov 13, 2008

The relative ease with which Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen won re-election on Nov. 4, preserving the Menlo Park City Council's 4-1 "majority," begs the question: What has become of the Jellins-Duboc-Winkler coalition that controlled the council from 2002 to 2006?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 10:50 PM

Comments (36)

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Posted by Paul Collacchi
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2008 at 8:42 am

Mr. Howell is clearly new to Menlo Park politics.

The size of the defeat has nothing to do with any platform of any candidate. It’s mostly a function of the number of candidates and open seats.

Menlo Park has a partisan system of two teams: the “Red” (business friendly) and “Blue” (resident friendly) teams. Whichever team fails to run the exact same number of candidates as open seats loses.

There are exactly two cases. A team runs too many or too few candidates for the number of open seats. In this case the Red team ran too few candidates.

The explanation is straightforward: Assume a balanced voting model in which each team attracts half the vote.

If one team runs too many candidates, say three candidates for two open seats, then (rounding off) each of three candidates will receive 50/3 = 17% of the vote, while, on the other side, each of two candidates will receive 50/2 = 25% of the vote.

Hence the expected results: Red(1) 25%, Red(2) 25%, Blue(1) 17%, Blue(2) 17%, Blue(3) 17%.

Similarly, if one team runs too few candidates, one candidate for two open seats, then each of two candidates will receive 50/2 = 25% of the vote, and the lone unprotected candidate, for whom each voter can only vote once, will also receive 25% of the vote. HOWEVER, the second vote of each person who voted for the lone, unprotected candidate will likely be cast (assume evenly) for candidates of the other team meaning that each of those two members will receive an additional 25/2 = 12.5% of the vote.

Hence the results Blue(1)=37.5%, Blue(2)=37.5%, Red(1)=25%.

Yes, of course real voting behavior is more complicated than my simple model, but if you examine the current totals you will find that Ms. Fergusson has gotten about 40% of the vote, Mr. Cohen about 33% and Mr. Ciardella about 26%.

The variations from the 37.5%, 37.5%, 25% prediction suggest that about 3% more Ciardella voters preferred casting their second vote for Ms. Fergusson than for Mr. Cohen. Mr. Ciardella’s slight increase above 25% figure suggests he was unable to attract Fergusson/Cohen voters or non-partisan voters.

So how does one interpret the support for platforms when the results can be predicted using non-platform variables? Two responses. First, carefully. Ask Ms. Duboc and Ms. Winkler who mis-interpreted voter support and over-reached. Second, it suggests that voters understand the general value directions of the two sides and currently prefer the one to the other, but this does not mean voters specifically support any or every element of the supported candidate’s platform.

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Posted by Same ol, Same ol'
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 13, 2008 at 11:00 am

Interesting analysis by Mr. Collacchi, and I do agree with the math. However, having been on the inside of trying to get someone to run for a council position in this town, I must say it is very, very difficult. We have problems that it seems no one wants to confront head on, and solve. Say what we want about Duboc and Winkler, they aggressively addressed the "union issue", and got burned, badly. It continues to this day. AND, the "union issue" is still a problem and won't go away. Who is left to confront the inflated costs associated with the union's demands? In addition, if you say "I'd like to explore developing areas of MP", then the "other side" comes at you very hard, and in some cases in a very nasty way. The Derry Project, and Measure J whereby we may have had some new housing, some new retail and a couple of new ball fields were legitimate, mainstream ideas, but not for this town. As a council person in this town, you get attacked for being "a crazy developer". Many people I have spoken to just don't want to deal with this type of political environment, they've given up. What's left is the rest of us living in a city that will soon have it's expenses bloated because of the inability to confront unions, and continued vacant lots, vacant theaters, and a steadily eroding small business climate.

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Posted by Susie B.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

The residentialists ran three candidates for three seats in 2006, but that still didn't get Vince Bressler elected, now did it?

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Posted by sees it differently
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Many of us think that the real divide in Menlo Park is between those who want unfettered growth and those who want to have planned modest growth that preserves quality of life and can be supported by the infrastructure of schools, water, streets, storm systems that the community is willing to support financially.
To say that the old coalition was not involved in this election is nuts! There was a flurry of emails sent by Lee Duboc about a number of issues, many of which came across as manufactured attacks and full of innuendos (with wording strikingly similar to language Mickie Winkler uses). Let's see how the final list of contributors comes out, as well.
Many people in town agree that the issue of benefits must be confronted, but it is folly to think that Menlo Park can do this alone. This is a statewide issue and our town has to compete for talent. Nevertheless Menlo Park can hold the line and not leapfrog ahead with compensation. What is happening sounds too much like Garrison Keillor's refrain about "all the children are above average" with escalating, spiraling costs.

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Posted by confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm

why are there two threads on this same topic?

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Posted by Bobby
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 13, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Let's see Derry Project was originally planned for 2 and 1 bedroom homes, after the sneaky petition, it is now planned for 2 and 3 bedroom homes. Seems like families with kids would enjoy a 3 bedroom home, versus a 1 or 2 bedroom home???? Not much logic in the "...quality of life and can be supported by the infrastructure of schools..." Looks like, if it ever gets built, the Derry Project will NOW impact the schools. Sounds like a "great" plan, backfired. I won't even discuss the School Impact Fees and the tax revenue we would have received by now, versus waiting, and waiting, and waiting.........potentially never to be built.

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Posted by get a clue!
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Lee, you need to improve your reading AND writing skills. You didn't get re-elected because you did a wretched job on council.

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Posted by get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Have you ever looked at how much the school impact fees are? They are a joke.
If you don't like the size of the units, tell the council. From what I heard, that was the developer's choice, not part of any deal. And isn't the delay in the hands of the property owner? No one else is slowing this down.

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Posted by voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2008 at 10:03 pm

If the property owner and developer had presented a plan that met the zoning requirements, they would have sailed through the process and could have completed their project years ago. Instead, they tried to game the system, no one liked their plan, the market turned on them, and now they have bupkes. Lesson learned, we hope?

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2008 at 9:52 am

Blame the developers for not submitting projects that meet the overly-restrictive and outdated zoning requirements. So what if to comply with the requirements results in a grossly underutilized parcel and an unprofitable project. More and more developers I have spoken to have made the decision not to even think about doing projects in MP-EVER, there are too many enlightened cities up and down the El Camino rail corridor that "get it", where good projects can and do get done, at a profit. A prediction--once the downtown visioning process is completed-maybe 2 years from now-it will still be many more years before much of the vision is realized because the good reliable developers won't opt to play.

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Posted by we get it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 14, 2008 at 10:11 am

That you, Mickie? Don't count on it. Menlo Park remains a prestige address, and part of the reason is that the zoning helps maintain a certain look and feel. If 'anything goes' becomes the norm, then property values WILL fall, and MP will no longer be attractive to developers. It is in the best interests of property owners to adhere to zoning and the general plan. Only quick-profit developers who aren't in it for the long run would benefit by our loosening our standards.

Sounds as though you are hanging out with the wrong crowd and talking to the wrong people because "good, reliable developers" understand the need for zoning. What else is new?

P.S. The El Camino visioning is working on the "outdated zoning requirements." If you don't like the old zoning, kind of hypocritical to whine about it being modernized. Which piece of cake do you not want?

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Posted by whoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2008 at 11:04 am

Sorry, we get it, I don't know who Mickie is. clarify a couple of points. I didn't say do away with zoning, and I agree such rules are needed. My point is that many of MP's zoning ordinances contain rules and limitations that go back to the mid-1980s and things (economics/demographics/populations/etc.) have changed dramatically since they were enacted. Both residential and commercial projects that would have not made sense economically then, do now (i.e. higher density housing close to transit). Second, to me a "good, reliable developer" is one who builds quality, provides value by knowing what the market wants, and makes a profit (the profit part being necessary to perpetuate the first two parts of the model). So to the opposite of your view, I would say that as revenues dry up from loss of sales taxes because businesses move to new space being built elsewhere, and no new housing is built (new consumers in town) because high density housing is all built elsewhere, as streets and infrastructure erode due to lack of maintenance/replacement, MP property values fall. Then, after the damage is done, the good developers can buy land more cheaply and redevelop and make a profit.

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Posted by get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 14, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Much of the commercial real estate in Menlo Park is in a few hands, and has been there for a long time. Their land costs are virtually nothing, thanks to Prop 13. They could build almost anything at a profit.

I wonder if they are hoping that by neglecting their properties things do get loosened up and they make windfall profits. There have been some recent and current projects along El Camino that do comply with the current zoning. So much for some of the theories espoused here.

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Posted by we get it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 14, 2008 at 5:15 pm

A reminder that zoning exists not just to ensure that a city maintain its character but to protect against swings in fashion.

Anyone remember the late 90s? Office rents quadrupled in six months! Developers were throwing up office buildings like crazy because that made the most economic sense. Then...oops. Lots of those buildings are still vacant, and some area office parks are practically ghost towns right now.

Similar situation with housing. Our last city council was big on the jobs-housing imbalance. Remember that buzz-phrase? The theory was that the people who worked in Menlo Park needed to live here, so we had to build homes to accommodate them.

But that was last year's fad, and now we're into TOD -- transit oriented development -- whose goal is the opposite: to build homes for people who DON'T work in Menlo Park. Moreover, the TOD proponents are insisting that everyone is going to want to live on the train tracks. Not anyone you know or I know, but everyone else, just because it's so delightful to have a train in your front year and will be even more enticing after high speed rail comes through and there are a gazillion trains a day.

Are you seeing a theme here? Here's a hint: developers are eager to make a quick buck by glomming on to the latest fad. But our city planners, if they are smart and farsighted, have the longer-range, big picture always in mind. Zoning is for long-term investment, not day trading, and that's why I appreciate that the current council is focused on doing the job right.

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Posted by Paul Collacchi
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2008 at 7:35 am

Suzie B:

The "rule" is not that if a team runs the same amount of candidates as seats it will win all; the rule is that if a team does not run the same number of candidates as seats it will hampered by vote-splitting.

The Robinson, Cline, Bressler election (2006) saw two teams of three candidates each pursue three seats, so there was no vote-splitting effect negatively impacting either team.

Historically, it has been rare to for one team to sweep the three-seat election, though each time there is a near sweep. 1990(*), 1994, 1998(*), 2006 were near sweeps. 2002(*) was a sweep. (*) indicates that one team had more or fewer candidates than seats.

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Posted by keep menlo great
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 15, 2008 at 9:52 am

whoRUpeople writes above: (a resident of another community)
Blame the developers for not submitting projects that meet the overly-restrictive and outdated zoning requirements. So what if to comply with the requirements results in a grossly underutilized parcel and an unprofitable project.

There is nothing wrong with our present zoning requirements. If you want a lovely small town atmosphere, a walkable community, you don't change the zoning requirements so that developers can make more money. The last time I looked, they were still driving their $80K autos and pulling down mid 6 figure to 7 figure incomes. They always want more. Give us more density, don't count all the floor space. Let us build without so much parking -- we don't need all that parking -- (and if it turns out we do, we will just park on the streets) Look at 64 Willow Road. Here was s project that was to be a re-model and in truth was a completely new project. No CEQA examination, no traffic study. The pro development Planning Commission let it go though without any oversight. Greedy developer indeed.

No, whoRUpeople, you represent the worst of the development community -- take your wares to Redwood City where they will let you build 6 story structures and want to look like a mini San Francisco. We have quite enough traffic here my friend -- take yours elsewhere.

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Posted by we get it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 15, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Keep, I agree with you on everything except the responsibility for 64 Willow. That project was/has been a huge nightmare, but don't blame the commissioners, blame staff. At some point along the way, they realized that the "remodel" was a total demolition and a brand new building but instead of bringing the change to anyone's attention, they allowed the developer to do whatever he wanted, sometimes issuing permits retroactively.

Many (not all, but many) members of the planning and building staff have stated that they think of themselves as working for the developers, since the developers pay fees to the city. Wrong mindset. We need to have city staffers who understand that they work for us, the residents, property owners, and taxpayers.

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Posted by keep menlo great
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 15, 2008 at 9:36 pm

-- we get it --

Of course you are right for my not also including staff for the 64 Willow Road debacle. Staff should have brought the project back to planning when they were approaced for a demolition permit, if not well before that time.

I pointed to the planning commission because I heard during their review of the project, one member of the commission state "well I always looked at this project has being a new project and not a remodel". An amazing statement. He knew it was a new project and he made no effort to have the project properly reviewed.

keep menlo great

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Posted by what?
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 17, 2008 at 10:41 am

"Many (not all, but many) members of the planning and building staff have stated that they think of themselves as working for the developers, since the developers pay fees to the city."

You've actually heard them say this? If so, have you spoken with people on the council about this distorted mindset? If staff members think of themselves as servants of the developers rather than the public, we're screwed. Anyone know if individual council members are aware of this, and if they're working with the city manager to try to correct the situation?

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Posted by Phil Giurlani
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 17, 2008 at 11:05 am

As a person that deals with our city staff on a reglar basis, I can guarantee you that the they do not favor developers. How 64 got through is a mystery to me, but everybody with an application has paid the price since then.

Keep, how can our city survive, while providing adequate services, without growth? I think it is unrealistic to believe that we can bury our head in head in the sand while the region continues to grow around us.

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Posted by huh?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm

There's growth and there's growth. For the city to provide services, it needs sales tax revenue growth. Neither housing nor professional offices provide this.
Let's get back to the thread. Former council member Lee Duboc (and no doubt Mickie Winkler) are sending out commentary all the time, filled with innuendo and conspiracy theories. I had hoped the election results would help them put their energies to more productive use, like volunteering to help fix things rather than keep trying to stir up things.

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Posted by History
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler, Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler.........there, now that should keep you happy "Huh?" for a few weeks. Why do these blogs continually bring up these two individuals? They haven't been on council for almost a year?? They are not the ones delaying progress now, and won't be the ones continuing to delay progress in the future. I think that will be our current council. Mark these words and others, what you see right now in MP, is what you will have, as long as the current council stays around. HELP!!!!

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Posted by Borg Warner
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Nov 18, 2008 at 11:21 am

Cal-trains has the last vote on everything.
Shut-up and move.

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Posted by huh?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm

The thread started about the old coalition. It's up to everyone to move things forward, and it would be nice to see some of the experienced people involved in helping rather than in sniping.

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Posted by we get it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 18, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Huh? is right. Most former council members return to their prior lives; some re-emerge as a grise eminence (see first post above as an example) or other behind-the-scenes helper. Then there are a few who continue to assert themselves as oppositionalists.

The MP voters who cast Lee and Mickie out of office would be glad to see them gracefully retired from public service (in their case, disservice). Instead, they continue to promote themselves with poison pen emails and rumor-mongering. Of course, they are free to express their own opinions, but if they truly have something to offer, then why aren't they offering it? Sitting on the sidelines with snide criticisms isn't helpful and it interferes with the current council's efforts to nurture a collaborative governing environment.

Many of us are doing what we can, volunteering in big and small ways to help the city. Always room for more volunteers, including former council members who should be getting tired of licking their wounds.

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Posted by Once Again
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I really enjoy reading a no growther's apparent attempt to "move on". With comments like:
"in their case, disservice" and "rumor mongering" and "snide criticisms" and "former council members who should be getting tired of licking their wounds." THIS is exactly the problem, unless you agree with an agenda that promotes no growth, and higher costs thru Unions, you are viewed as not "nurturing a 'collaborative' governing environment." As we continue to sit here with absolutely nothing accomplished, except for Tesla motors of course (0 cars sold), Derry Project (no ground broken), Green Ribbon Committee (nothing tangible accomplished), lots of expensive surveys of course (the 3rd or 4th one now being done on The Willows, as we speak), charging upwards to $20K a curb cut for the schools versus $3K in Atherton, (actual example) suing HSR (congratulations, we will have nothing after this is completed.) If you no growthers want ANYTHING to be accomplished, try saying "yes" to something, or at the very least, be creative. Our town is slowly but surely falling behind our neighbors, and you're taking the equity in our homes with it! You guys "volunteer" by sending Hit Pieces, bad blogs, ridiculous LTE's and spread vicious rumors about any one that has served, and hasn't agreed with you. Try getting a job, and do something constructive during your retirement, the new and younger people want to improve things!!

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 18, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Can someone tell angry Lee Duboc that her emails are more effective than her vitriolic garbage posts?

For the first time in dozens of years, our leadership is actually developing broad plans so that we can all see what types of services and buildings and businesses we want.

I agree with Lee, this is in direct opposition to her shallow four year government reign when she forced a new zoning ordinance down our throats, forced golf courses and baseball fields on a garbage dump with no level areas and gave away our pool without any public bidding...and saw failure after failure as a result of not working with the public.

And in that entire time, we saw no business development plan, no downtown plan, no plan for our M2 district, no plan for our playing fields, no plan for grade separations...nothing but a minority agenda that they believed they could mandate with three votes.

Now we have some real business people, some adults on council. And they have been forced to clean up the crap from one of the worst councils in our city's history.

Every organization needs plans and not just a 35 year old general plan that it predates everyone in the city and on council.

Our town is catching up, but you Lee, you are too ignorant to know it because you spend your time listening to people like you, not engaging in real idea exchange.

Now go away and kick your dog or something.

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Posted by Truth Is An Idiot
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 18, 2008 at 7:55 pm

A new low for you Truth, I always knew you were one of the best at fabrication, but it's getting funnier and funnier. You were against the pool because you wanted the unions to retain it @ $0 benefit to MP. The dump, is that "beautiful place" that you sought so aggressively to save because it was so beautiful, and open, at the expense of additional space for our children.(which, by the way, would have been very safe and secure) If you're talking about "business people", I assume you are only talking about John Boyle. He's the only one with an analytical mind that approaches everything with fiscal responsibility. Kelly attracts car companies that don't sell anything, Heyward attracts his own ego, Rich attracts
a sincere attempt to understand why in the world he has associated himself with these nuts, and Andy attracts........................I REALLY don't know what he attracts? Does anyone know?

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Posted by we get it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 18, 2008 at 9:46 pm

The dump was not a viable place to build a golf course or soccer fields. No need to rehash that whole debate. Measure J lost by a huge margin because the voters, including those of us with kids playing sports, understood that.

Outsourcing the pool was the right thing to do. Outsourcing it without any bids (illegal) for $0 (downright stupid) was the wrong thing to do. The voters are still paying off the bond for that pool, while Tim Sheeper pockets the profits. He was more than willing to pay rent, but the prior council gave the store away!

Lee and Mickie thought they could operate their government-by-cabal without any recriminations. They were wrong! They believed that the Menlo Park "silent majority" was on their side, that the people who complained were in the minority. Wrong again: check the lopsided 2006 vote. They knew the car dealerships were leaving town and they did nothing. So much for their track record.

Time to pull up your socks, ladies, and get to work. The nasty campaign isn't convincing anyone, and it's not at all productive. You can't rewrite history, but maybe you can try to offset the damage you did by making a positive contribution.

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Posted by funny smellin'
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 19, 2008 at 12:17 am

Boyle analyzed that high speed rail plan and he did not do us any justice.You know the plan that did not exist? Boyle voted for a $10B bond in one of the worst economies of our entire empire. Still no viable financial plan to speak of and you Boyle cronies are too proud and ignorant to admit the mistake.

This one will come back to haunt us all. I am very disappointed that your fiscally responsible pal jumped ship on Menlo Park to please his regional development buddies.

He'll have a job after this with those guys. He earned it.

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Posted by some history
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2008 at 8:02 am

Boyle, who comes from a venture capital back ground, supported High Speed Rail in spite of the obvious destruction to Menlo Park and in spite of the fact there was no business plan. Thank heavens there are 4 others on council who know better.

Now one can get some visibility into this councilman, who was fired from his position when the group he headed went into bankruptcy. He is glib and looks impressive, but behind all of that is a an empty suit.

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Posted by Bla, Bla, Bla
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 19, 2008 at 9:17 am

Didn't HSR pass in Menlo Park 57.4% to 42.6%??? I guess MP voters wanted their town to experience the "obvious destruction to Menlo Park". Absolutely ridiculous. And of course, you "retired, don't have a job, stay at home, nuts" need to get personal with negative comments about Mickie or Lee or John. I guess they really scare you??? P.S. John Boyle was never fired, again stop spreading vicious rumors, and stop with the personal attacks.

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Posted by blah, blah black sheep
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Boyle's companies tanked and he went down with them. Whether or not he was technically fired or left as part of a "mutual agreement" is irrelevant. That leaves him, Mickie, and Lee among the "don't have a job, stay at home, nuts."

By the way, I'm not sure which is dumber, assuming that everyone on this board is retired or disparaging those who are retired.

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Posted by Prejudiced Against Black Sheep?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 19, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Basically, disparaging those who are retired and have nothing better to do then tear into people that actually contribute, AKA John Boyle, who is retired. I guess no reply to MP's decision to pass HSR? Are we counting on the 4 council persons to continue on with their lawsuit, just as we are continuing on with the judges to try to turn over the Prop 8 decision?? Isn't that kind of against the will of the people?? I wasn't aware that we now live in a Kingdom?

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Posted by bahhhhhhh
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2008 at 5:16 pm

As someone noted on the other thread, "the people" also supported Jim Crow laws and the Nazi party.

Momentum against HSR is growing as mid-peninsula residents are beginning to understand just what they voted for. Not a pretty choo choo but an expensive and destructive pork barrel project. Check the Palo Alto forum: they were clueless, and they're beginning to get it.

As for Prop 8: just plain bad and arguably illegal. An example of the flaws in the proposition process.

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Posted by Not worth it.
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 19, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Wow, this is getting dumber and dumber. We're actually evaluating the pulse of the people off of blogs??? I hope the Mormons get their way and are allowed to have 8 wives! That sounds much more acceptable! I believe the world has gone crazy.

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