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Second Thoughts Over Investigating Corruption in the Atherton Police Department

Original post made by Slacker, Atherton: other, on Apr 13, 2011

About a month ago, Peter Carpenter called the FBI over his concerns about misconduct in the Atherton Police Department.

In what appears to be an about face, he's written an open letter to the City Council asking that they butt out of investigation that is to be launched by the Interim City Manager, John Danielson. (Mr. Danielson has so far refused to place this item on the regular agenda for discussion.)

Carpenter's reasoning seems to be that even though the problem of police misconduct is severe enough to warrant the intervention of the FBI, the Atherton City Council shouldn't be involved.

Perhaps Mr. Carpenter can explain himself. Has he changed his mind? Should we call off the FBI investigation? Should we tell the FBI that Mr. Danielson, who's domain includes the richest zip code in America isn't inclined to spend more than $15,000 on an investigation. Is Mr. Carpenter now of the mind that what's been happening in Town is all smoke and no fire?

Or is it that Mr. Carpenter's level of contempt for the City Council is so high that he considers everything that the City Council does as political theater?

Either Mr. Carpenter has had a change in heart or he thinks the goings on in our Police Department are much too important for the City Council to meddle in.

Mr. Carpenter maybe you should explain yourself more fully. Have you had a change of heart or is it that you trust Mr. Danielson more than you do our City Council?

Comments (6)

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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:18 am

Isn't it possible that both Mr. Carpenter and or Mr.Danialson have concluded that there is in fact something wrong the the police department--but that the problem stems from no clear direction, no actual leadership and far too little accountability required of these officers by any of the recent Chiefs or City Managers, or even a coherent unified mandate from the City Council.
Perhaps Danialson has concluded that the council has been part of the problem all along and therefore the APD has a better chance of meaningful correction or at least a healthier future though a bypass technique which might eliminate the extremes of both blind faith and lingering suspicion which have occupied so much of the councils thinking.
It was certainly the conclusion of several Grand Juries, that the council needed to choose ethical experienced and clear sighted management, and then back off.
The Council's subsequent selection of Prostman Gruber, Furth, and Guerra was an expensive but perfect failure. Why trust them again to make the worst possible choices.
Let Danieson and Carpenter take a shot at selecting the council's next team of gladiators. At least these guys don't have the proven track record for making bad choices that the council has exhibited repeatedly.

Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:39 am

The FBI investigation is not focused solely on the Atherton Police Department.

At this juncture, they are also looking at a number of other entities in San Mateo County.

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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:47 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

No second thoughts here and no need for someone else to try to read my mind or put words in my mouth.
I trusted the Council's judgement in selecting Danielson.
The Town Ordinances make Danielson's responsibilities clear on this matter.
When the investigation is completed the Council, then with facts in hand, may then choose to review the matter.

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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2011 at 7:17 am

Dear Peter

When I was finance director I assisted in two personnel investigations and was the subject of a third.

In addition to my eight years of experience as a Atherton's finance director (two of which were spent successfully prosecuting my wrongful termination) case I have 20 years of experience in forensics and auditing.

I speak with authority when I say that $15,000 is not sufficient to conduct an investigation of misconduct in the Atherton Police Department and Guerra's efforts to cover up such misconduct by way of sham internal affairs investigations.

I know from experience that the best way to stymie an investigation is to starve it of the resources it needs. I saw Jim Robinson, my former boss do the same thing. He got hammered by the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury for doing so.

To ask that Danielson request of the City Council for the spending authority to get the job done and done right is not unreasonable.

To call into question Danielson's motives for refusing to do so isn't slander, it is what we call professional skepticism.


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Posted by Slacker
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 14, 2011 at 7:46 am

There are a few misconceptions in Ed's post that warrant correction.

Successive San Mateo County Grand Juries did not conclude the Atherton City Council should remain uninvolved in managing the affairs of the Town.

The 2007 Grand Jury faulted Mr. Robinson for failing to bring to the City Council's attention or acting upon instances of serious misconduct by town employees.

In 2008 the Grand Jury criticized one member of the City Council for conducting an investigation of Atherton's Finance Director "independently". The Grand Jury did not name the councilman who was meddling in the Johns investigation. However it was later revealed that former Councilman Charles Marsala was the culprit.

In the current situation, no one is suggesting that the Council intervene. All that is being suggested is that the City Manager follow its own purchasing ordinance by approving the selection of an independent investigator and the expenditure of funds necessary to conduct a proper investigation before the investigation begins.

By having the City Council vote on this matter, it will demonstrate that the Council is serious about addressing corruption in the Police Department.

"Ed" is also mistaken in asserting that Guerra's choice of Police Chief was the City Council's. The Council was not involved in the selection of Guerra as Chief.

Finally, Mr. Carpenter is neither an elected official or an employee of the Town. Mr. Carpenter has no business "selecting the next team of gladiators".

If Mr. Carpenter desires to participate in the gladiator selection process, he should run for office or fill out an employment application.

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Posted by peter carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Slacker, an interesting self chosen name, states:"All that is being suggested is that the City Manager follow its own purchasing ordinance by approving the selection of an independent investigator and the expenditure of funds necessary to conduct a proper investigation before the investigation begins."

The Town Manager does not need Council approval to conduct this investigation - read the Town Ordinance regarding the responsibilities of the Town Manager.

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