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Editorial: Atherton probe of Marsala fizzles

Original post made on Apr 14, 2010

Atherton council member Charles Marsala used incredibly poor judgment when he asked resident Jon Buckheit for a $500,000 loan last August, but the loan was never consummated. While Mr. Buckheit went on, in October, to sue the town over another matter, Mr. Marsala claims he never had a legal conflict on the council involving the loan request, an assertion backed up by Atherton city attorney Wynne Furth.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (7)

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Posted by John P. Johns, CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

I have filed a public reocrds request for the complete City Attoney analysis on Mr. Marsala.

My understanding is that a document provided to the entire council must be released unless it is the subject of pending litiation or it involves a personnel matter.

I do not believe that the exemptions to the Public Records Act apply in this case. To the contrary I believe that the Public Records Act is narrowly construed.

I have some experience with the California Public Records Act. The Town fought to release the now discredited Topliff investigative report upon my person pursuant to several public records act requests.

A judge ruled that I was a public figure and it ordered this report to be disseminated.

I urge all Athertonians to do as I have done, to issue a public records request for the City Attorney's full 15 page report on Marsala.

To quote that very good leader, but that sometimes not very good politician Mayor McKeithen "truth is the best disinfectant".

If the Town recevies 7,000 plus public records requests, maybe Ms. Furth will reconsider her recommendation to keep Atherton's dirty little secret a secret.

Finally, if Atherton refuses to release a public records request and it is ordered to release the public record that it has refused to release, Atherton is liable for court costs.

Just ask Jon Buckheit. The Town paid him $8,000 to do what it should have done. This figure does not include the money it paid Wynne Furth for the very bad advice she gave to the Town in this matter.

Yet another reason to show Ms. Furth the door.

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Posted by city clerk
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Keep them public records requests on Furth's report commin'

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Ms. Furth seems to be a big part of this problem. As such, I have an interesting strategy for the Atherton Town Council to consider.

Perhaps the Mayor could place an item on the agenda - in closed session (personnel performance review) - for a formal review of Ms. Furth's performance and the Council's continuing confidence in her as Town Attorney specifically in relation to the way she developed her brief to the Council on Mr. Marsala's conduct and her position to not share the results with the public. Due to conflicts, Mr. Marsala and Ms. Furth would both be recused from this review. You could even include her conduct on the Buckheit affair, which Mr. Marsala has already agreed to recuse himself from these issues.

Depending upon the Council's assessment - and assuming three of the remaining four Council Members agreed, Ms. Furth could easily find herself looking for a job when the closed session ends.

The Council should seek outside legal advice on this issue (there are several local law firms that provide legal services to neighboring towns) and have that outside attorney present at the closed session.

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Posted by John P. Johns, CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Dear Pogo

I hate to throw a wet blaket on your idea.

That wet blanked it Jerry "Ostrich" Carlson.

Mr. Carlson doesn't have the moral courage to own up to the problems facing this town, let alone acknoweldge his role in this charade.

I'll begin believing in Mr. Carlson when he shows Ms. Furth the door. I for one am not holding my breath.

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 14, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Mr. Johns -

With all due respect, it's not your decision. And by "baiting" Mr. Carlson, you aren't making his choice easier. Again, Mr. Johns, this isn't about you.

The Atherton Town Council is clearly at an ethical crossroad and I'm more interested in their answer.

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Posted by John P. Johns, CPA
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm


I know this isn\'t about me. It is about the ethical conduct of the elected officials representing Atherton.

The Town Council is a lost cause. The Town council coudn\'t even agree to continue to investigate Marsala.

Jerry Carlson could have voted to continue the investigation, but he did not. He sided with Lewis to keep the Town\'s dirty linnen in the clothes hamper to rot.

Jerry Calson has made his choice. You are making it sound as though his decision hangs in the balance. It does not.

I spoke with a long-time supporter of Mr. Carlson today. He felt as though he had been abandoned. Worse he felt betrayed. He was a long-time supporter of Mr. Carlson because he felt as though Mr. Carlson was the voice of reason. He thought Mr. Carlson stood for transparency and for accountability. He told me he was severely disappointed in Mr. Carlson.

This gentleman called me by the way to complain about what was going on in Town. I did not call him.

Finally, I disagree with your characterization of my remark. I am not baiting Mr. Carlson. I am simply expressing how I feel about Mr. Carlson.

My suggestion is to wait until November, vote for someone other than that ostrich Mr. Carlson.

The City Council at the moment is a lost cause precisely because of Mr. Carlson.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm

The good citizens of Atherton are going to soon have to make some very difficult decisions about taking back citizen control of our community.

In a democracy we get exactly the kind of government that we deserve and unless good citizens rise to the call we will continue to see a dysfunctional Town Council unable to deal with the immense challenges which our Town faces.

Who will step up and run for the three seats on the Council that will be on the ballot, assuming that more than three people even file as candidates, this Fall? Who will apply to serve on the Finance Committee?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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