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Politics, Intimidation and Your Police Department

Original post made by Tim Wulff, another community, on Dec 1, 2010

Hello, my name is Tim Wulff. I worked in the Town of Atherton Building Department from 2004 to 2008 as a plan reviewer. I assisted Mr. Johns as a technical expert in his examination of the building department. I am known to a few people, but at my own repeated and adamant request, my name has not been widely publicly mentioned due to my fearfulness of retribution against me.

I want to make it clear to all that I have no intention to harm anyone nor to pursue any involvement with the political situation in this county. My goal in making the declaration which follows is to try to help the situation, yet I do understand that in a finite gestalt, providing help to one means deprivation of another. So any explanation of this intention necessarily devolves to the fact of my placing a higher value on the dispensation of truth and it this value which I have tried to serve for many years now. If I am to be faulted then, it is for my devotion to this value, even to the extent of my own detriment.

In my position as plan reviewer and audit investigator, I had a unique perspective on the events which occurred during the latter stages of the events which occurred during Mr. Hood’s term of office. Because of the continual consultation which Mr. Johns sought with me and my eye-witness experience and relationships inside the building department, I was privy to a perspective that was exceeded in scope and depth by few, if any, others. I have no intention to be a public person. I have no agenda to pursue in any regard. At this time this is the only public statement I intend to make.

In the fall of 2007 Mr. Johns was fired by the Town of Atherton and filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. I was initially represented by his attorney and was asked to submit an affidavit in support of Mr. Johns’ character and workplace performance and conduct. In this capacity, I was subpoenaed to be deposed by the Town of Atherton attorney, Mr. Leon.

Now I think I share a fairly universal sentiment in my aversion to being deposed by anyone for any reason much less something as threatening and highly charged as this situation, and consequently I decided to make an attempt to make my inclusion on the witness list unpalatable to the Town Attorney. I met with Michael Stogner and together we put together a file of factual evidence attempting to demonstrate the connection between the events in the Town of Atherton regarding which I was to be deposed, and other entities in the County of San Mateo by compiling a file of information showing relationships between individuals and facts regarding the nature of certain organizations such as The Service League of the County of San Mateo and a Homeland Security computer surveillance system and organization called REACT.

Now comes the interesting part. Michael and I completed this file on Sunday afternoon, and my deposition was scheduled for the immediately following Tuesday. Well, previously I had sent an email to every contact on my email list. This included building department personnel, council members, engineers, architects and contractors as well as personal friends. I was very concerned based on events that had occurred that my email and computer were under surveillance and I simply wanted others to cease and desist from sending me emails regarding the situation with the Town. I am not stating here that this desire was or was not related to the content of this particular email and I believe that I am constrained from describing what was said in it as this email is now part of the case file in Mr. Johns’ suit which is sealed by agreement. I have always been fearful that the Town of Atherton will bring suit against me at the least provocation and I have no means whatever to defend myself should this occur. Consequently, I will not state publicly what the content of this email was.

However, I can state that I ceased using my email in this time frame due to my concern, and sending this email stimulated a response that I could never have dreamed possible nor that I ever intended.

On the following Monday, on the night after Michael and I prepared the file and the night before my scheduled depostion, there was, apparently, a special, private session of the Town Council. I was told by a Council member that this meeting was held and was called for the express purpose of discussing my email. I have no idea, nor was ever informed by anyone what actually occurred in this meeting.

On Sunday night after meeting with Mr. Stogner and preparing my case file, I was alarmed to find the he had sent me an email listing the items in the file by sending me a cover sheet itemizing the contents for the purposes of clarity – a sort of table of contents. I was concerned about the exposure this email potentially created, but there was nothing I could do about it.

On Monday night, I left the completed file on the passenger seat of my car in my driveway on Nora in Atherton after performing a final review and preparation.

Tuesday morning as I was preparing to drive to meet my attorney in Burlingame to pick her up to go to the deposition in Walnut Creek, I heard a loud two tone beeping outside the house. It was an alternate high to low tone. I walked into my room and back out, a span I later timed at about 6 seconds and then walked to the kitchen window. There, parked in the drive around, right in front of the window was an all-black Atherton Police car with no occupant. I then walked out of the kitchen, through the laundry room and out the side door and out to the drive where my car was parked near the back gate. As I cleared the garage, I looked to my right and saw a police officer just getting into his vehicle and closing the door. The time elapsed to this point did not exceed 20 seconds from my initially hearing the alarm sound and may have been less. The alarm stopped by itself prior to my reaching the car.

I waved at him and he saw me and backed up to where I was standing by my car. He rolled down the passenger side window and I said, “Hi, what’s going on?”

He responded as follows: “I was just driving by and heard your alarm going off and stopped to see what was going on.” Then he volunteered this information: “Sometimes they just go off from the wind, or if you just touch the car or jiggle the handle”.

I nodded and asked him his name. He responded: “Tim”. I said, “And your last name?” He responded, “Tim Lynch”.

Goodbyes were exchanged and he left. I then departed to my deposition. Please, recall that this sensitive file was on my passenger seat in open view.

There are two problems with this:
1) My car does not have an alarm. It has a one tone panic button only. I subsequently had it examined by alarm experts to ascertain this. I know more about this that I will not go into here.
2) The time frame does not support the officer’s contention that the alarm was sounding prior to his being in my driveway.

I then proceeded to Burlingame, picked up my attorney and we drove to Walnut Creek. Just as we pulled up to the location for the deposition, she received a cell phone call. My deposition was canceled. She got out and I drove home. On the way, I phoned Ms. McKeithen to inform her of these events. I want to stress that Ms. McKeithen is an attorney and never revealed to me any content of any meeting or confidential information of any sort in the few conversations that we had and that this fact was a source of some frustration to me from time to time, but I admire and respect her conduct in this regard. Her only response was that based on what she had heard discussed at the Council meeting the night before that she found it inconceivable that my deposition was canceled. I leave it to you, dear reader, to speculate what process of acquiring information, motivation and thinking on the part of others may have lain behind these events.

For my part, I recognize that causality as regards what happened can only be speculative, and that there is no legally provable liability on anyone’s part that I can discern based on what I know at this time.

Nevertheless, I am making this statement because of larger concerns, and the responsibility I feel to the greater good to report my experience in this one instance.

Whether or not there is causality in this instance or not, and I am not making that assertion because I cannot possibly prove it, we nevertheless have as elements of this situation the following: a political dissident; police presence; an experience on the part of a Town resident of feeling completely threatened and intimidated in his own home.

I am deeply convinced that events such as are occurring in your Town are not about personalities, circumstances or events. I am convinced that when power is abused, it is because it is unchecked, and when this occurs it is because of a flaw or flaws in the mechanisms and design of governmental structures and laws. The Founding Fathers, while rejected and despised as revealed through the actions of our courts and governments, were profoundly wise in the Constitution they created, and checks and balances are powerful and effective tools to prevent the unopposed abuse of power. When un-opposable abuses of power occur, in my opinion, this can only happen when needed checks and balances are not extant in the governmental design. The appropriate remedy is not replacement of individuals or the addressing of events or attempts to alter circumstance, but the creation and implementation of appropriate and needed checks and balances of the abused power of office.

I wish you all well. And I continue to believe that in spite of the short-term chagrin that might be caused to empowered and represented special interests by appropriate change, enhancements to the common good must certainly, ultimately benefit each one of us as individual citizens.

I want to emphasize that I have no interest in harming anyone individually and I never have. I do have a desire to alter governmental structures in response to the abuse of power by governmental entities. I also recognize the unlikely nature of that occurrence in our current environment and looking forward into the future.

In closing, I want to address the issue of the involvement of armed law enforcement officers in the political process as representatives of sitting empowered government officers and any particular political agenda.

This is utterly reminiscent to me of the Fascist regime of Nazi Germany. It is the exact same political/governmental structure. If, in fact, this is occurring here, it is frightening evidence of our proximity to the imminent emergence of totalitarian government in the United States.

Political involvement of the police during the performance of their duties is utterly unacceptable, and is, in my opinion, a violation of their Oath of Office. Officers are sworn to ‘protect and defend’, and ought not to perform professional duties which are based on attitudes of political discrimination or the execution of a transitory political agenda.

If, in fact, this is the case in your Town, given where and who you are, this is a grave warning to us all about what awaits us soon in the future, or perhaps it is better said that these occurrences harbinger that the future is no longer and has become the present, for the fact that these things have occurred means that they can occur and will occur when individuals who are empowered choose to do so for whatever reason, and your situation gives every appearance of the fact that they are no longer able to be restrained. In this regard, the mechanisms of government are flawed and must be corrected or politically dissident individuals will continue increasingly to suffer oppression.

I would maintain that these above statements must be true or miscreant individuals would not have been able to execute their agendas from within governmental positions with no recourse upon their actions.

Comments (4)

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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Tim - Thank you. It takes a lot of courage to make the statements that you have made.

We, the citizens, need to find a way to pull back the curtains on what is happening in our Town. I do not know what the truth is but we will never find it unless we tear away the curtain of secrecy that exists.

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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Tim, I am proud of you, I know you have thought about this for a VERY long time. What you are saying is Important, and you have said it well.

Thank You

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Thank you Tim for making this statement. I'm sure it took a great deal of courage to do so.

It occurs to me that part of what has brought this on is a structural defect in how the Atherton Police Department is organized and the duties they perform. The Atherton PD is really just a glorified private security force. I think you would be hard pressed to find officers watering people plants, having alarms ringing directly at police headquarters and a whole host of other services which the APD provides in any other city or town in the bay area. I think the PD providing these services has blurred the line between what a police force is for and what a private security force is for. In blurring that line it has allowed for officers potentially crossing the line with little or no consequence and in some cases they may even be rewarded by those in political power. This goes to the heart of the problem which I suspect is the culture of the APD. The culture has been changed from what you would find in a typical police department to what they have now. I think this culture was changed by the structural defect in the mission and duties of the APD. In my opinion, if the problem with the APD is to be adequately addressed the citizens of Atherton need to understand what services a police department provide and hire out the other services they want to a private security force. Until that happens I suspect things are not likely to change any time soon.

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Posted by Tim Wulff
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Tim Wulff is a registered user.

Menlo Voter:

Thank you it is gratifying to see that someone can follow along and begin a thought process about the relevant aspects of the situation. I don't necessarily have the right answers, but someone out there does.

Unfortunately, this issue is far from being contained to the APD, and that is not my view, nor what I stated and when I speak, I try very hard to make sure it is not idle and has substance and careful thought behind it.

Let me share a story.

Recently, Michael Stogner told me of an incident in San Carlos where a young man who is helping him with his projects was simply parked in his car on the street outside his residence listening to music in the afternoon. A Sheriff's deputy came up to his window and accosted him, requiring to see his ID and explain what he was doing there.

Then the officer made the comment: "You're helping Michael Stogner, aren't you?"

Now I ask you. Why does a Sheriff's Deputy have name recognition of such an individual? I make no statements of accusation or assertions of fact I cannot prove. I just ask you all to think about this because it reveals in a single incident what is going on with the County government.

This issue is a structural one involving the legally ordained relationships between law enforcement, District Attorney's Offices, and sitting governments and it is really frightening.

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

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