9. Why would McKeithen promote Widmer over Lewis?

This question refers to the whole, extremely strange and rather suspect Vice Mayor/Mayor selection thing that happened in December 2011 and which had some follow-on weirdness in 2012.  Anyone else care to speculate?  This episode with the Atherton council went largely unnoticed by many in town. Yet, this small act and possible major violation of the law, set the stage for much of the subsequent hostile actions perpetrated against the residents of the town relating to the Library Project.  Love to hear what others think, as it is possible to suspect that this little incident, more than any other, reveals the ugly under-belly of the beast that we are dealing with.

As I understand it, Carlson nominated Lewis, whose turn it really was, having had three years of service on the council.  Lewis probably seconds that motion.  Then they vote.  Carlson and Lewis vote “Aye” and Dobbie and McKeithen vote “Nay.”  Widmer stuns everyone by abstaining from this vote, so the nomination fails.

Think about this.  You are a brand new council member, newly seated five minutes ago.  The next most junior council member colleague of yours who has already served three years on the council, was just nominated to be Vice Mayor, according the the council’s long-standing protocol of nominating that member of the council who has served the longest without having been Vice Mayor.  What do you do to launch your political career?  Abstain, force that nomination to fail?  For what beneficial purpose?

I don’t know about others, but I find this little episode to be hitting a nadir in the chambers of Atherton’s not always so genteel politics. What happens next is both surprising and not so surprising: McKeithen and Dobbie nominate Widmer and the three vote to put him into the Vice Mayor seat.  Just like that.

It happened so fast, people changed seats, and then the meeting moved right along. A lot of us were just staggered, downright uncomprehending.  It seemed to be merely outright meanness by Widmer.  We didn’t really have any clue of why McKeithen and Dobbie would line up like that, until this past fall, when residents begin to call out their concerns about the ALBSC and we started to see Widmer squirm under the spotlight of McKeithen’s botched Library outreach job and so many suppressive council votes.  He didn’t seem at all convinced about what the ALBSC was doing, yet dutifully marched in step with McKeithen, despite awareness of all of the ALBSC’s “failings” as he called them.

It was John Danielson who let slip a little information:  he said Dobbie prided himself on having mentored Widmer.  It makes you wonder what that mentoring consisted of.


5 thoughts on “9. Why would McKeithen promote Widmer over Lewis?

  1. Agenda Control. As Mayor Widmer refused to put numerous requests for discussions on the library on the agenda. After months of public effort he called a special meeting with the library on the agenda. In 2010 the council discussed outsourcing the police, in 2011 they outsourced Public Works and Building Depts, yet they have not placed these items on agendas for the public to comment on.

  2. D.R.,

    This is a fair question to ask. Hopefully, either Widmer, McKeithen, or Dobie will comment on it. , The Brown Act prevents a majority of the council from discussing an upcoming agenda item. Which in this case would be the Mayor and Vice-mayor elections.

    After Carlson nominated Lewis to be vice-mayor, no one seconded the nomination forcing Lewis to second it herself. A vote was called with the agenda item failing to pass by 2-2-1 vote. Wimder abstained.

    Immediately after that, Widmer was nominated to be vice-mayor by Jim Dobbie with a second by Kathy McKeithen. If someone told Widmer not to second the Lewis motion and/or not to vote for Lewis when the vote was called and that someone had word of support that Dobbie and McKeithen were ready to make Widmer Vice-Mayor, then there is a Brown Act violation.

    Maybe Widmer will take some time to explain what happened that night on this blog: Did he discuss with anyone before the meeting not second Lewis for vice-mayor nor vote for her? And why did he Abstain?

    Charles Marsala
    Atherton Council Member 2002-2010

  3. There should be a separate question: How much money did McKeithen’s efforts cost Atherton regarding the John Johns termination? The answer is more than $1,000,000. Why would she help someone who has a lawsuit against the Atherton? Did she owe him a favor? Why didn’t the police investigate Johns’ claim in 2010? Johns offers evidence to support his claim that McKeithen gave him Closed Session information to allow him to get more money from Atherton.

  4. Additional Brown Act Violations, Misuse of Public Funds, Honest Service Fraud

    John Johns emailed Police Chief Guerra on October 18, 2010 stating; ” I respectfully request that a criminal investigation be initiated upon Kathy McKeithen for having violated the Brown Act and for having lied about having done so underr oath…….The reason that I am writing this e-mail is, first and foremost because of a double standard that I see Ms.McKeithen having applied . She seems to insist that her adversaries be held accountable for what she perceives to be a failure to respect the rule of law, while being blind to her own indiscretions…… In retrospecct I believe Ms. McKeithen issued this rebuttal because what she revealed to me was probably discussed in closed session and that she feared criminal prosecution. in essense Ms. McKeithen realized that she could be convicted of a misdemeanor is she stood by what she told me. I will also say that I am aware of many instances in which Ms. McKeithen revealed the substance of closed session discussions to me directly or through uninvolved third parties. For example, most recently I was made aware of the fact that, during my negotiations with the Town on a settlement Ms. Rainey would be leaving her firm before the end of March at a time before her departure was announced in public….These unauthorized disclosures have occured over four years. For example in August 2006, Ms. McKeithen revealed to me that the City Council, in closed session read the Lance Bayer report on Mike Hood. ….She told me that Councilman Alan Carlson teased her about how many calls I had placed to her on my cell phone. …I also heard directly that Kathy McKeithen and through an uninvolved third party that Ms. McKeithen had voted against granting me a settlement during the same October 3rd 2007 closed session because she felt as though I deserved more money than what had been offered…. I also believe that Ms. McKeithen has, in the past, and currently acts with total disregard for the rule of the law….It is for the above reasons that I respectfully reiterate that a criminal investigation of Ms. McKeithen for unauthorized disclosures of closed session discussions be initiated I am aware of three people to whom Ms. McKeithen has relayed the substance of such closed sessions to. I suspecct there are more….. I am carrying at the moment is the knowledge that she knows that I know, she has acted improperly and that she prefers I remain banished frmothe kingdom , so to speak.”

  5. Looking at the tape of the meeting, the evidence it very strong that Dobbie and McKeithen got word to Widmer not to vote for Lewis with two years on the council for Vice Mayor and they would nominate newly elected Widmer over Lewis for Vice Mayor.That is a Brown Act Violation.

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