I find the campaign orchestrated by Ms. McKeithen and her apparently dwindling list of compatriots against the Athertonians group quite revealing. In the past, McKeithen could literally control the “airwaves” about any issue, first because she and Dobbie managed to censor the council minority members by eliminating their ability to get any of their concerns onto the council agenda, and second due apparently to close relationships with editors of the Almanac, most notably Ms. Rene Batti, who has been very obliging towards the ever headline-spewing McKeithen. Suddenly, with the emergence of the Internet and town email lists like Yahoogroups and Google Groups and even private blogs, McKeithen can no longer personally define what kind of information gets out. This appears to be infuriating for her.
I took a look back at the articles, editorials and viewpoints published by the Almanac. While McKeithen and her friends are currently up in arms over “censorship” because the Athertonian spit out a bunch of those same individuals for attacking it, it seems that for the last few years, the only partisan views being published to the town have come from McKeithen and her Library cohorts. The focus of all of their efforts have been to push their Library Project on the town no matter what controversy it caused (they didn’t seem to care about that). Originally, they attacked the blue ribbon task force (“ponzi scheme” to rob the library), then the EPC (“illegal” operations), then the Town Center Task Force and more recently, they have attacked the Athertonians Yahoogroup moderators (informing the public—oops, we mean “name confusion”) — presumably because of posts that have called attention to key agenda items.
Who are the folks pushing the library on the rest of us? I did a little research and I’ve come up with what seems like the list of McKeithen’s inner circle, whose impact, influence and power over the town, thanks primarily to a constant presence in the Almanac, are highly disproportionate to their numbers.
1. Kathy McKeithen: Member of Library Steering Committee, three-term Councilmember, Atherton’s representative on the Library JPA, and dominant player on many other town committees and commissions.
- Almanac Editorial: Accusing blue ribbon task force of stealing Library Funds (highly questionable authorship—most likely written by McKeithen, but published as an “Editorial”) – June 3, 2009
- Almanac Editorial: Accusing opponents of roiling the town by working to initiate a referendum before the library proponents get a chance to complete their EIR — (questionable biases showing, most likely written by McKeithen, but published as an “Editorial”) – December 28, 2011
- Almanac Article: Coverage of McKeithen’s harassment claims (by Rene Batti) – January 23, 2012
- Almanac Article: Arguing for Library in Park on behalf of Kathy (by Rene Batti) – April 4, 2012
- Almanac Article: McKeithen Claims the Park is Best (by Rene Batti) – April 3, 2012
- Letter to Almanac: Arguing for Library and Accusing Others of Soullessness – April 4, 2012
- Almanac Article: Correcting problematic EIR finding, on behalf of Kathy (by Rene Batti) – April 6, 2012
2. Denise Kupperman: CHAIR of Library Steering Committee, former member of Library Task Force
- Almanac Guest Opinion: Arguing for library project – September 21, 2011
- Letter to Almanac: Arguments in support of library – April 11, 2012
- Letter to Almanac: Arguing against residents choosing to keep their library small – July 4, 2012
3. Smith McKeithen: Married to Kathy, attorney, actively attends many private meetings held by Kathy with town staff, so may serve as her private legal adviser.
- Instigated an attack by McKeithen on the EPC due to a post on the EPC’s website discussing the environmental impacts of moving a county building away from the town’s transit hub, as stated by McKeithen during a council meeting (citation coming).
- Letter to Almanac: Attack of Athertonians Group
4. Jim Dobbie: Councilmember Cohort and McKeithen backer, has reliably voted with McKeithen on all library matters, appears to do whatever she tells him to. As mayor, his big initiative was to discontinue rentals of park facilities (for the library) without council approval.
- Almanac Guest Opinion: Arguing for Library Project – April 2012
5. Ginny Niles: Member of Library Steering Committee, former member of Library Task Force
- Almanac Editorial: Ginny sent this partisan piece to the Athertonians Group and seems likely to have been the author – September, 2011.
6. Sandy (Howard) Crittenden: Library Steering Committee, Arts Committee (which wants space in the new library in the park), Developer
- Almanac Article: Correcting problematic EIR finding, Crittenden is shown going out and measuring the width of Watkins Avenue with Kathy and Smith McKeithen and correcting their own EIR findings (by Rene Batti)
7. Walter Sleeth: McKeithen backer, other than always showing up at meetings to argue in favor of rushing through the library, or to attack the Athertonians Group, no known town role
- Guest Opinion: Attacking Athertonian Group: August 1, 2012
8. Marion Oster: Library Steering Committee, Chair of Atherton Heritage (stands to gain new large space for her small group in the proposed multimillion dollar library)
- Instigated an attack by McKeithen on the Athertonians’ group because of its calling attention to the agenda for the council meeting that approved an additional $86,000 of town tax funds for EIR consultants due to town controversy in November, 2011.
- Authored the opinion that claimed that the Main House in Holbrook-Palmer Park is not historic in support of the Library’s plan to demolish the Main House.
9. Karen Bliss: Former Chair of Library Steering Committee, President of Friends of the Library
10. Joan Saunders: Friends of the Library, Library Steering Committee, Library Task Force, Atherton Arts Committee
11. Pat Dobbie: Wife of Jim Dobbie and vocal proponent of moving the Library to the Park. Active as observer and cohort to ALBSC and has advocated for Library in the park to the Atherton Garden Club. Also considered by some as likely anonymous commenter on the Almanac blog.