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Atherton voters reject library in park

Original post made on Nov 7, 2012

After more than a year spent squabbling about a divided City Council's decision to make Atherton's Holbrook-Palmer Park the site of a new library, the town's residents finally had their chance to have their say on Nov. 6 -- and what they said was a resounding "No."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 11:45 PM

Comments (6)

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Posted by Lesson in Government
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:18 am

Here is a lesson in Government and maybe one day will become a book for the Atherton Library.

For the most part Athertonian residents let government function, trust its decisions, and do not get involved in the day to day decisions.

That changed last year when Council Member Kathy McKeithen and Denise Kupperman lead a task force to build a county library in the Park. When the residents advised this was not a good idea McKeithen and Kupperman kept pushing the idea and were helped by the votes of Council Members Widmer and McKeithen.

An internet user group called the Athertonians became the catalyst to stop the library in the park. The group first surveyed its 1800 members and found that 70% did not favor the library in the park.

Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie saw this happening and worked to negate the effects of the Athertonians. Dobbie told the City attorney to "Shut Them Down." McKeithen lead a letter writing campaign to the Almanac to paint the Athertonians as biased. Widmer edited a letter from the town to state the Athertonians made "inaccurate accusations".

For months the residents of Atherton would attend council meetings and ask for WMD to allow a vote on the issue. Finally days before the ballot measure deadline, the Athertonians sent out a petition to request a council agenda item calling for a town vote. Aftern 250 signed the petition, WMD reversed their postion and agreed to a town vote.

For some reason McKeithen and Kupperman did not publicly claim the position of Chair of the committee to Pass the Library in the park issue. No one knows who that person is.

Yes on the Library in the Park, spent $15,000 more than it took it and received "pro bono" work from experienced consultants. Yes on F ran a strong campaign. The Almanac became an endorser and gave them credit, a banner ad ran for weeks stating the Library could be built at "no additional cost to taxpayers". Yet no one knows how that could be possible.

Despite all those efforts, the Yes on F Committee was not able to change the opinion of Atherton residents and on election day and 70% still opposed the library in the park.

Didi, Valerie, Rose, and many others became leaders of a committee to keep open space in the park, stop the library in the park, and require a Town Wide Master plan on facilitie. Although greatly outspent, the power of personal relationships and common sense allowed the residents of Atherton to

Thus ended the Atherton Spring of 2012.

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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Library. Good for the people of Atherton. There aren't enough people who live there to warrant a stand-alone library. Make a deal with Menlo Park and be done with it. Further, when the voters reject something 2:1 the council members who pushed it should be pushed out.

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Posted by Atherton Spring
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 8, 2012 at 5:46 am

The "Atherton Spring of 2012" will come alive again in 2014 when Widmer and Dobbie are up for re-election.

Widmer claims to have misread the populace even after hundreds of signatures and throngs of people protested his intentions. Dobbie advocated for the library vigorously in the face of opposition.

They betrayed their constituents. They refused to listen. They need to be watched closely during their next two years. Then, they need to be replaced.

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Posted by Lesson in Governement
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 8, 2012 at 7:55 am

The watching should start now. The council did not authorize the mailing of Widmer's letter. Did he violate campaign laws in do so?

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Posted by winter of discontent
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 8, 2012 at 8:11 am

Mayor Widmer says he "misread" the public opinion and in the words of a famous public figure that calls "for a willingly suspension of belief".
Considering the calls for surveys and public input that excuse is just lame. His current dust up with the Atherton Police Officers Association is a symptom of his lack of skills in working with people and gaining a sense of resident input. To declare he wants to sunset the parcel tax in the face of knowing the police department cannot exist is another "misread" of public sentiment. Mayor you need to do things differently since we are stuck with you for a couple of more years.

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Posted by Lesson in government
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

How much of the library reserves were spent/ or wasted on EIRs, staff time, legal resources, and other reports before stopping to have the residents vote?

Mayor Widmer needs to stop stating that statements by APOA, No on F Committee, the Athertonians, and anyone who has a differnet view then his are making "false and misleading" statements.

At the same time the Widmer, Dobbie, and McKeithen are claiming the library was going to be built with no additional town funds and not consume any open space in the park.

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