Town Square

Post a New Topic

Conflict of Interest Charges Cloud Councilman\'s Candidacy

Original post made by A Mendelson, Atherton: other, on Jun 27, 2010

Councilman Jerry Carlson is expected to announce his candidacy within the next few weeks. However just as it is being launched it is threatened with derailment as a result of a vote he cast to pursue litigation against the California High Speed Rail Authority.

It is a matter of public record that Councilman Carlson voted to sue the High Speed Rail Authority on environmental grounds.

Carlson\'s vote to spend taxpayer dollars to oppose high speed rail on environmental grounds is seen by many as a clear cut conflict of interest. This is due to the fact that the former mayor lives within a stone\'s throw of the right of way which High Speed Rail is proposed.

The City attorney has been asked to review this matter and a report is expected to be forthcoming soon.

Comments (3)

Like this comment
Posted by Chesire Cat
a resident of another community
on Jun 27, 2010 at 6:29 am



This allegation is really about smearing the reputation of a good man who chose to run for elected office. It is also about the Almanac making money by driving traffic to its message board by hosting this trash.

It is a classic example of the defamation on this board. Partial truths spun into a tale that someone unfamiliar with the facts might believe. An anonymous poster, impersonating a resident, not held to account for harmful speech.

> There is an A Mendelson in Atherton. Doubtful he was up at 1AM worrying about Council Member Carlson. (Impersonation is a crime.)

> There is an allegation of a conflict of interest. There may be more than one person who believes the allegation, but it doesn't amount to the "many" described above.

> The City Attorney will likely have to render an opinion on the alleged "conflict". I think everyone knows where that's going. Tax payer dollars spent on a useless investigation.


Elected Officials represent their communities. The majority of Athertonians would prefer the HSR not cut a swath through the middle of Town. They would prefer not to endure the additional noise. They don't want the disruption caused by the years of construction.

It is reasonable that the Council Member would vote to protect the interests of the community they represent. And, yes it is also reasonable that the member, like the majority they represent, might stand to benefit from such a vote.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 27, 2010 at 8:27 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I totally agree with Cheshire Cat about the problems on the Town Forum caused by unregulated postings. The Almanac and the Palo Alto Weekly are the only newspapers that I know that permit such unregulated postings.

Gresham's Law states that bad money will drive good money out of circulation. The evidence shows that there is a Town Forum Law that unregulated postings drive out serious discussions and our community is in desperate need of serious discussions. Hopefully, the publisher will implement the requirement for all posters to be registered and for each poster be limited to the use of a single name (which must either be their own or an anonymous one which is not someone else's real name).

Like this comment
Posted by Jon Buckheit
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 27, 2010 at 11:16 am

Jon Buckheit is a registered user.

Sorry, Cheshire, I have a very different view.

I have been trying to answer the question "what's wrong with the way Atherton is run" for about a year now. To me, it really boils down to these conflicts of interest that you call useless.

I don't think anyone on the town council is stupid or incompetent. There are obvious problems with budgets, runaway salaries, pensions, outsourcing services, etc., that some flat out refuse to address, just for example. To me (and to many neighboring communities in the peninsula), it's obvious what needs to be done. Again, I don't think they're stupid. I think they have allegiances that have developed that go beyond the people who elected them.

In this particular case, I don't believe Jerry Carlson is representing the interests of any type of group in the high speed rail issue. You're probably right in that most Athertonians don't want it. He might not even be primarily considering his own property value in his stance on the issue. However, he lives so close to the proposed high speed rail that his voting on it constitutes a clear conflict of interest. It will affect his property value (but not mine; I don't have a strong view on this issue).

If excusing this conflict of interest is acceptable because you think most people think the end justifies the means, it just contributes to the degeneration of other issues where conflicts of interest get excused. I don't think this is good for the Town of Atherton.

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

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 4,687 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 1,119 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 585 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 484 views