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Block parties censored content

Original post made by andy cohen, Menlo Park: other, on Jun 27, 2010

I understand on good authority that Nancy Couperus has been told by the Chamber of Commerce she cannot have a table during any block party, not even in front of her own commercial property. I believe this was instigated by some city staff member(s).

It seems to me this is wrong, plain and simple. The best government is one that is open and transparent, not conducted in secret, but this decision was not openly arrived at, and I would like to know who is responsible.

I condemn this action however it came about.

Comments (17)

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Posted by freedom of speech
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm

As far as I know, the Chamber of Commerce doesn't control our legal system. What will they do if she puts out a table, have her arrested for...what? Not playing by their rules? As long as she abides by the law, what is the problem?

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Posted by my take
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Ask Fran Dehn from the Chamber, "what is the problem".

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Posted by Joan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 28, 2010 at 8:23 am

Andy, Doesn't the city co-sponsor these block parties? Maybe the council should take a position on this kind of nonsense. What are you planning to do?

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Posted by just asking
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Could you please reveal the source of your information? Many groups have put up tables at the block party for all sorts of causes and businesses and neither the Chamber or the city had a problem.

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Posted by I saw a table out there 6/23...
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Huh - I was at the City Block Party last Wednesday and there was indeed a table out there for the opposition to the El Camino Downtown Specific Plan. I dont' agree with their entirely "anti-change" approach, but they were there - and have been at the Farmer's Market too. Although I disagree with them, I respect their right to communicate their point of view.

I see no evidence of censorship of any kind. Is there hard proof? If so, I am sure we can enlist the City Council to make sure it never happens again.

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Posted by more info needed
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I've worked with the Chamber/Fran before and find this a bit strange and was curious where you heard this from. Maybe it was as simple as she just refused to pay for the table/spot which every table has to do, and that is why she was denied a table.

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Posted by Sam
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Sounds like another example of someone posting mis-information without facts, only hearsay. Even so, the situation is better remedied between the parties and not here. Some have nothing better to do than try to tarnish an event beneficial to the city.

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Posted by Nancy Couperus
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2010 at 4:44 pm

What Councilmember Cohen reported is correct. The Chamber President did say that the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance would be permitted at the next block party, but only in the "free speech area." We were at last Wednesday's block party, and we had signed up in advance and had paid our fee. A refund was issued to us after the party on Wednesday evening. We were told that our activity was "political" and therefore did not fall under the criteria established for the block parties.

Nancy Couperus, co-founder of the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 28, 2010 at 7:01 pm

My My. Free speach in Menlo Park. Spare us oh great chamber of commerce. What is the matter with you people? Haven't you ever heard of the first ammendment? People have the right to speak out and it IS a public street and thus subject to all freedoms granted by the first ammendment. Chamber of Commerce - you're making yourselves look like idiots.

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Posted by freedom of speech
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 28, 2010 at 7:09 pm

You got it, Menlo Voter. The whole street is a free speech area, and since when did business owners talking about their concerns become "politics" and therefore evil? Does anyone else see the irony of the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance being banned from downtown?!?

Nancy, we are with you.

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Posted by Confused and appalled
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

I'm confused - you said you were there on Wednesday night but they refunded your money. Why did they provide a refund if you were there?

Despite my confusion, I completely agree with what other posters have said - whether or not anyone agrees or disagrees with your point of view, unless you're inciting violence and/or putting citizens in danger, this is America and these are public streets - you absolutely have the right to express your point of view! I'm appalled!

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Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 29, 2010 at 8:29 am

There should be no confusion. Nancy Couperus and her group,(Menlo Park Downtown Alliance) were at the party.

They were told they are not welcome at future block parties, although they can go to the "free speech" areas. This message was delivered by Frank Dehn in person.

It certainly cannot be mistaken for anything other than an attempt to suppress this group's opposition to the Downtown Plan, as presently laid out.

Shame on the Chamber --- shame on Fran Dehn for being the messenger.

An investigation is certainly in order.

Friends in the Chamber have told me, they don't know how this came about. Did the Chamber Board really issue this decision?

Lots of questions.

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Posted by Marcy Magatelli
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 29, 2010 at 8:36 am

Wow! Things do get twisted, in a hurry, in this open forum! What Nancy said was, that the group had reserved & pre-paid for their spot. It was after, this first block party, that they were told, that the chamber viewed their message as "political" and would allow them, in future block parties, but only in the designated area "free speech", for which, the chamber does not charge. As a jesture, they refunded the fee paid for last Wed.'s event.
Now, for the writer of "I saw the table".. The Downtown Alliance is absolutely NOT "totally anti-change"! If you read the information they have provided to the public, you would see that they are in favor of beautifying and improving the downtown shopping district in many ways, and have outlined some alternatives towards that goal. They simply do not want their "actual experience" and needs, as business and property owners, to be ignored, by the city's planners & consultants. Some of the "new" plans would clearly destroy the few sucessful businesses, still standing in Menlo Park. Read the literature. Would you really want to loose our fabulous, year round Farmers' Market, organized and run by volunteers, to a enclosed warehouse full of commercial vendors, permanently wipping out most of the park lot? or a 4-story garage w/condos on top, towering right behind Flegel's?

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Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 29, 2010 at 9:33 am

Also, the City itself was well represented with plenty of staff. They are quite happy to promote the Bohannon project and Downtown Plan.

This is all part of the agenda, being pursued by the present City manager

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Posted by Joseph
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Now the City of Menlo Planning Department is out Marketing their
zoning changes at the recent Block Party. They are agressively pushing their proposal for five story parking garages, and the seizure of surface parking downtown. This with the help of the Chamber of Commerce. They seem to be disparaging anyone that is against their plan. What is their goal?
What depicts the City, and their methods was green shirted City guy that was doing his Dickie Smothers routine with a yo-yo in front
of the booth.

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Posted by What??!!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 30, 2010 at 10:24 am

Ok, it was a POSSIBLE 2-story parking garage, then I read a 4-story parking garage, now it's become a 5-story parking garage?? Talk about "free speech", I guess anything is game here, including obstructionist propaganda? I like our community, I like the "village feel" however, we do need to seriously look at some development and some improvements. I consider myself levelheaded and willing to consider all options, and I think most people feel the same way. What really sucks is the obstructionist point of view where they try to defeat any and all improvement thru fear. Are we happy with the 12+ vacancies on Santa Cruz? Are we happy with a boarded up theater? Are we happy with 3 vacant car lots, with gang markings? Menlo Park is better than this, much better than this. We've had a VERY transparent process with the revisioning process, everyone had their say, now because a FEW don't like what most of us say, they want a new agenda? Please help by not supporting their very selfish ideas.

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Its my party and I'll cry if I want to.....You people use the term, party, very strangely. Free speech areas, pay to play tables, chees! Be careful, the light beer guys will come through and take all your light brew over to a town that really knows how to party together.

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