31. Is Distorting or Covering up the Truth a lie?

As acolytes go, Denise Kupperman is proving that she’s truly ready to continue McKeithen’s legacy on the Atherton City Council.  Here are my Top Ten best,  Kupperman campaign distortions:

# 10: Photo to the right: Whose kids are these?  Denise has no kids of her own.

# 9:  “I support whatever the people of Atherton decide about Measure F.”  Ms. Kupperman, as the unbiased, guiltless candidate said this to the crowd during the candidate forum, where yet again, she failed to mention that she was the Chair of the Library Committee.  Yeah, right!  She gave $1,000 to the Yes on F campaign, the most of any donor and that is even more than she gave to her own campaign.  (She didn’t give anything to her own campaign, in fact.  She only loaned her campaign $250, which means she is intending to get it back, if she can get others to put their money in to her campaign.)

# 8:  “Experience Atherton Needs”  — Another great campaign slogan.  Is the experience that she’s talking about McKeithen’s, which Denise will definitely wield like the puppet being manipulated by McKeithen in absentia?  Or maybe the experience she is talking about is the experience that residents of Atherton have gone through in the past year, while trying to fight the effort by Kathy McKeithen and Kupperman to steamroll the library project through over all of their dead bodies?  We think she means both.

# 7:  “Keep Atherton Safe” — campaign slogan.  McKeithen’s probable motive for wanting to move the library to the park is to strip the library out of the town center, to hurt the fundraising efforts of the Town Center redevelopment group.   It has seemed that she’s against the town, in general, and against the Police Department in particular.  McKeithen might reluctantly see new Town Admin offices get built but it appears that she’ll fight like a demon to keep the town from building offices for their police, as she clearly wants to out-source police services to the sheriff, even though 99% of the rest of the town loves the town police.  Kupperman, if elected, is going to have a hard time going against that opposition, so, even though her literature is spewing more and more lovey-dovey statements (“Protect and support public safety services”), we have to assume she’ll be avidly supporting outsourcing of police services, just her mentor, McKeithen.  This slogan, however, will definitely put everyone off the trail.

# 6:  “Paid for by Elect Denise Kupperman for Atherton City Council 2012”  — one of the biggest fictions of all!  Denise reported having paid for her Almanac ads in the amount of $857.  In her disclosure forms, not only doesn’t she report getting the services that would create her lovely postcards and brochures, she hasn’t paid for anything!  (For more on this, we refer you to the number 1 lie below.)

# 5:  “Preserve our rural character and trees”  — the great illusion that Denise cares about the environment.  Her landscape plans for Holbrook-Palmer Park read like something out of an Alice in Wonderland setting.  For the library project, a land-scrapers dream “Grand Promanade” that knocks out a half-dozen heritage trees and some thirty or so other fully-grown trees, stands out as the main evidence that she has no interest in preserving rural character.  In fact, she seems to like “artificial” character much better.

# 4:  “Experience. Independence. Integrity. Common Sense.”   Love it.  Don’t know which part of this slogan is more untrue and laughable.  Think we’ll go with “Integrity.”  Zip, there.  We’ve already covered the “Experience” she provides in # 8.  Common Sense?  Does common sense lead most people to lie their asses off during a campaign?  I don’t know, possibly.

#3:  “Committee Member: Environmental Programs Committee”   Kupperman and McKeithen attacked this committee and had it suspended for almost six months, because it posted some questions about the environmental impacts of moving the library to the park.  Kupperman then applied to join this committee after its regular members had resigned and was approved as a member by her allies on the council over the summer—however the committee has not met since having Kupperman added. Does using this “membership” have a purpose?  Is she trying to confuse people about how “environmental-minded” she is.  Obviously, since there is no real substance to this reference.

# 2:   “Committee Member: Atherton Library Committee”   Kupperman’s been the freaking chair of this committee, the mastermind and the organizer.  Simple understatement?  I don’t think so!!  She buried this in a list of four committee memberships and is running away from her disastrous record as leader of this failed committee.

# 1:  “Working for Atherton”  – A campaign slogan on lots of her fliers.  Except, actually, through breaking news, we’ve just learned that Ms. Kupperman is working for the SEIU, which represents the San Mateo County Librarians who want a big, new library in our park and they don’t want Atherton residents screwing up their plans and they are probably paying all of her campaign costs and just possibly, they are writing all of her campaign propaganda and have authored all of the bullshit dished by Kupperman in all of this idiotic campaign literature, to make it seem like Kupperman is not involved in any way with the library.  So reassuring!

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30. What kind of City Council do we want?

Atherton residents will soon be submitting their ballots with their choices for two candidates to fill seats on their council—which, for the first time since the new millenium, won’t include Kathy McKeithen.  It is the town’s first opportunity to make a break from the polarizing style she brought to the council and seat new members committed to representing residents’ preferences, rather than their own ambitions.

Even residents who don’t pay much attention to town events are aware that the council, throughout Ms. McKeithen’s long tenure, has been characterized by incivility, personal attacks, expensive settlements, inappropriate and excessive investigations, revolving door of senior staff and simply ridiculous amounts of controversy.  Expensive litigation over Lindenwood urns, the Performing Arts Center and Menlo-Atherton field lights all come to mind, as do attacks on all town officials and improper charges and rebates of building and construction fees, as major drains on town funds and good will. McKeithen was perennially front and center of all of these problems.  Luckily, we have a chance to break with this past, except for one disturbing notion:  that apparently McKeithen has put forth a candidate to serve as her “heir apparent.”  That candidate is Denise Kupperman, the long-serving chair of the ALBSC, McKeithen’s Library Committee.

The Atherton Library Building Steering Committee is the group that’s been pushing McKeithen’s biggest and most polarizing of projects which is being voted on as Measure F.  So, the question must be asked: could Kupperman possibly have the town’s best interests at heart in her run for City Council, or is she, as some contend, simply McKeithen’s proxy?  Given how important the new council will be in making post-election decisions about the Library, the ballpark, the Town Center and building good relations with the new Town Manager, it is critical that Atherton residents take a very close look at Ms. Kupperman and her ethics.

Unfortunately, both Kupperman’s website and her glossy mailer that arrived at homes this past week raise serious questions about Kupperman’s honesty and integrity.  Rather than proudly assert her “accomplishments” as Chair of the Library Committee, Ms. Kupperman totally downplays her involvement. As shown here, Kupperman calls herself a “Committee Member” and buries Library Committee at number 3 in a list.  No mention of being the chair of this notorious committee!  Which strikes me as rather two-faced.  If everything the Library Committee did was perfectly legit, as Ms. Kupperman and her “Yes on F” friends so stridently assert, why does Kupperman completely fail to mention her leadership role as the Chair of that committee?  We think this omission is clear acknowledgment that, as ALBSC chair, Kupperman did not exactly demonstrate “caring civic leadership,” as claimed on her flier.  She’s white-washing her credentials, stepping away from the responsibility she’s had for the fiasco created by her Library Committee. It’s rather alarming how dishonest this presentation seems (she has no children of her own, either, as far as we know).

Clearly, McKeithen and her ALBSC supporters like Kupperman. Many members of the ALBSC and their spouses signed her Candidate Filing papers as endorsers for council candidacy—including Councilmember McKeithen and her husband, Smith McKeithen. Yet, Kupperman chooses to leave both McKeithens off her list of endorsers on her flier and her website.  In so choosing, Kupperman is clearly attempting to distance herself from McKeithen and hide the full truth about who supports her. While we can understand her reluctance to acknowledge this relationship, nevertheless, the impulse to control and limit information to prevent residents from getting the true picture is alarmingly reminiscent of the way McKeithen herself operates.

Covering up her role in the town’s great library controversy and her relationship with McKeithen are truly bad signs. We would prefer if she came clean and distanced herself by promising process reform and even to “recuse” herself from library votes for which she is conflicted.  But Ms. Kupperman is not moved by honesty and goes in the other direction.  She astonishes some in town in her effort to bolster her credentials as “Working for Atherton.”  Her flier lists her membership on the “Environmental Programs Committee” right below “Atherton Library Committee.”  Seems like this would be another one of her big, proud accomplishments — but the committee hasn’t even met once since being reconstituted with several brand new members, including Kupperman, a few months ago.  Would Kupperman be trying to burnish her own credentials with the past notable accomplishments of what had once been a very vibrant committee?  Mind you, this is the same committee that, at the end of 2011, McKeithen attacked, suspended, investigated and had pilloried in the press because of a blog post discussing the environmental impacts of moving a county library to the town’s park that she didn’t like.  McKeithen, on behalf of the Kupperman and the ALBSC, forced the committee to unplug its own website and halt work mid-stream on a $100,000 home energy efficiency program, funded with tens of thousands of both town and federal grant dollars.  Kupperman claims to have 16 years as an active and caring civic leader—and likes to depict herself working in gardens—yet she didn’t oppose McKeithen’s ongoing suspension of the EPC and the resulting waste of the committee’s efforts and funds.  Was she working for Atherton then?  Was this “caring civic leadership” that we can find credible?

In a review of other issues, Ms. Kupperman has indicated on her campaign website that she is opposed to High Speed Rail.  Yet a brief web search finds that Kupperman was recently cited by the Palo Alto Daily News as being in favor of High Speed Rail.  They wrote:

Another resident, Denise Kupperman said she likes the notion of high-speed rail combing the state with the population predictions.  “It’s difficult to implement in a suburban corridor”, Kupperman said. “But ultimately it will happen”.

So which is it? We get the all-too-familiar sense that this candidate has decided to say or do, or omit saying, whatever it takes to sound acceptable to residents. This double-speak is reminiscent of Ms. Kupperman’s obvious mentor, McKeithen.

In another disturbing incident, the recent endorsement of Elizabeth Lewis and Cary Wiest by the Atherton Police Officers’ Association resulted in the standard McKeithen-style backlash.  The APOA was accused of improper actions by the council majority, pilloried by the Alamanac and Kupperman was seen and heard screaming at both senior and junior members of the police force and town staff.  Although the issue of outsourcing the police has not formally been raised at the council level, McKeithen’s well-known hostility towards the police and calls for outsourcing all police services to the county Sheriff, has made Kupperman’s position on outsourcing naturally suspect.  Many people suspect, in fact, that McKeithen’s preference to move the library away from the town center has everything to do with depriving the town center of the library (and its tax funding) as an anchor for town center redevelopment.  Thus, the decision on Measure F is actually tied into future decisions about police, and they have a right to endorse candidates on that basis.  However, Kupperman’s response makes frightfully clear that we could be seeing a new McKeithen-like creature rising from the ashes.

Kupperman’s glossy fliers, appearing simultaneously with “Yes on F” fliers have led many people to suspect that both have been produced using library funds (or using “donated” library graphic design support that need not be reported). At the recent Candidate’s Debate forum, people noticed that Ms. Kupperman was the only candidate of four who apparently knew all the questions in advance. She came so well prepared, she had deftly written answers for each question that she read aloud! (See the link for the video of the session.)  She sounded a lot like McKeithen, who routinely read her own scripted statements. Kupperman may not have done that much to impress the crowd with her prepared speeches, but in combination, Kupperman has indeed made a great case for being Ms. McKeithen’s successor on the council.  The question is: do we want another “McKeithen?”

What kind of City Council do Atherton residents really want?  Do we want to replace McKeithen with a canddidate with the same agenda, who is both closely tied to and beholden to McKeithen?  Do we want someone who has demonstrated how well they have learned McKeithen’s unsavory tactics for manipulating facts and information to suit her goals — nowhere done better than with the Library Project?  Do we really want to place power in the hands of someone who will verbally attack those who oppose her, including town police and staff?  Or do we want to finally shake loose of McKeithen’s toxic, agenda-driven influence altogether?

My preference would be to see us select council members with a proven track record and integrity.  Elizabeth Lewis, the incumbent, has a highly respected track record and there are two other viable candidates, each with credible commitments to serving on behalf of Atherton residents and not their pre-existing agenda.  Let’s focus on these!

29. Will Kupperman be continuing McKeithen’s work?

Kathy McKeithen has declined to run again for the council.  Yet, the decision  by Denise Kupperman, longtime Chair of the notorious Atherton Library Building Steering Committee, to run for council makes it sadly clear that McKeithen’s toxic influence may not go away all that quickly.

Could Kupperman, who for the past three (?) years has been leading the charge for Kathy McKeithen on the Library Committee, not be complicit in the well-known effort by this rogue committee to impose their will on the community but pretend that they didn’t?  Kupperman is no dummy.  She’s been at the center of the process and the public face of it. As an accountant, could she fail to have noticed that the abbreviated community process did not result in any data/input/results of a fruitful community engagement process—or even a free and open discussion by the community, which sadly has never been allowed to happened. Doubtful.

Rather, she along with McKeithen have tried to make people simply believe that our community should want what is the strong preference of the joint Library team (the Library Joint Powers Authority and the Atherton Library Committee (the ALBSC) even though they were never willing to allow us that chance to actually discuss it along with all of the related issues about competition for park use and technology use and decide.  They deny their corruption of process and try to point the finger at those who have pushed back on these tactics, to say we should feel like terrible people for not supporting the library . . . !

Ms. Kupperman has been Chair of the ALBSC and working furiously on this Library “wack-a-mole” project with McKeithen for how long?  Now, she’s spearheading  the “Yes of Measure F” campaign.  Yet, on her campaign homepage, her disclosed “Volunteer efforts include:

  • The Holbrook-Palmer Park
  • Landscape Master Plan
  • The Atherton Tree Committee
  • The Holbrook-Palmer Park Foundations and Atherton Dames
  • The Atherton Library Building Steering Committee
  • Ad hoc Grading and Drainage Committee
  • San Mateo and San Francisco County Master Gardeners

Holbrook-Palmer Park?  Landscape Master Plan?  Wasn’t that done in 2005?

Let me ask you: Who fails to even mention that they were the Chair of a very high profile town committee that is working on the biggest development project in the town’s recent history on their campaign website? 

Obviously, someone who wants to re-write her own past and distance herself from prior handiwork. Someone who is aware of the controversy surrounding how her committee operated and the disrespect it has shown to the community and prefers not to emphasize her own involvement to those who are unaware of it. Also, someone who is willing to be less than completely forthright in order to get into a powerful position, so she can continue to flog her own (not so secret) agenda.

Someone has had “Chair” removed from next to Kupperman’s name on the town’s ALBSC website.  Also, with so many of the ALBSC members listed as both supporters of hers and on “Yes for Measure F”—why isn’t Kathy McKeithen listed?

This sounds like Ms. Kupperman has learned well from Councilmember McKeithen.  I am sure, if she is elected, she will carry on McKeithen’s long-standing tradition of re-writing reality to fit her own interpretations of the truth and keeping the public in the dark, especially about her own private agenda-filled actions, so she can freely point the finger at others.

27. Does McKeithen attempt to monopolize the airwaves?

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.

2.  Denise Kupperman:  CHAIR of Library Steering Committee, former member of Library Task Force

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.

5.  Ginny Niles:  Member of Library Steering Committee, former member of Library Task Force

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

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.

26. Will there be a candidate McKeithen in 2012?

Twelve years is enough time for the residents to weigh whether or not Kathy McKeithen has lived up to her representations.  These are McKeithen’s own stated qualifications and goals from 2000.

Given the recent controversies surrounding McKeithen and her Library project, these are worth a closer review.

In response to why she thought she was qualified to serve on the Town Council, McKeithen writes:

  • A broad and deep knowledge of the Council and the Town document — contracts, budgets, accounts receivable and payable, municipal ordinance, applicable law.
  • Proven track record for initiating positive change
  • Dedication to improving the Town and healing fundamental divisions.
  • Ability to communicate well and work with people.
  • Open-minded.
  • Have the time to do the job well.

I will agree with her first and last bullet points.  In fact, McKeithen’s notorious scrutiny into town documents and minute micro-managing of every aspect of town activity and town staff has been legendary . . . but I have not heard that it’s been positive. Rather, such detailed knowledge seems to have come at tremendous costs—usually in extraordinary legal fees, as the town has launched investigation after investigation, at her insistence.  Most investigations done by Atherton or outside agencies don’t seem to have uncovered any wrong-doing (other than those involving John Johns, who was seen by many as working with McKeithen to attack others).  Rather, a very large number of them resulted only in departures of town talent—not so surprising, given how demoralizing it is to have one’s reputation besmirched first, and only cleared after the fact.  Not what I would call successfully “working well with people.”

Similarly, is firing nearly all staff people with bitterness “initiating positive change?”  Is ignoring petitions signed by hundreds of residents and locking in a controversial EIR process (that cost the town nearly $100,000 more because of the controversy) “healing fundamental divisions?”  Is staunchly defending one’s own committee despite its refusal to conduct adequate public process or cooperate with other groups to do reasonable town-wide planning being “open-minded?”

2.  Responding to why people should vote for her, McKeithen wrote:

  • As someone who actively participated in the two-time defeat of the parcel tax (because like so many others I did not approve of the way the funds were being spent), I believe that I am in a unique position to understand how to begin to heal our Town and move it forward.

Is defeating the town’s parcel tax a form of healing?  It seems more like a form of punishment? It actually punishes residents and staff.  Wasn’t McKeithen, a member of the council, actually working directly against the efforts of other council members?  Is defeating the parcel tax a sensible approach to solving the problem—or is it combative and reactive, because the town really needs the funds?  Clearly, we needed the parcel tax (which passed later), so it may have been a more positive approach to support the parcel tax but cooperate with fellow council members to make sure that budgeting and proper financial oversight are established.  That could at least have been seen as an attempt to work well with others—but that wasn’t what she chose to do.  If you don’t like how your dog behaves, do you refuse to give it food?  No. You train it to behavior better.  If you choose to refuse it food, maybe you don’t like your dog.  At any rate, her statement itself exemplifies just how poorly McKeithen understands working together for solutions. She has not shown any capacity that I have seen for healing.  The stick is the only tool she uses and she uses it whenever she’s not happy (which seems to be all the time)!

  • Desire to restore credibility and trust by responding quickly and respectfully to residents’ needs, being accountable for the results, making the Town more transparent and improving communications – e.g. broadcast meetings on TV, streamline the agenda.

Far from restoring credibility and trust or responding quickly and respectfully to residents’ needs, McKeithen’s steadfast refusal to address resident concerns about her Library project has put the town through a year of really terrible convulsions. Transparency? Improve communications?  McKeithen attacked the resident email group, the Athertonians, because she didn’t like that it communicated about council agendas to residents—especially relating to the Library and EIR.  Even the City Attorney had to explain to McKeithen that she could not censor resident communications.  As the sitting council member on the Library Steering Committee, maybe McKeithen should be held “accountable” for what seems like the biggest heist of good will, trust, confidence and credibility this town has seen.

  • A belief that consensus, credibility and trust can only be built on the availability of knowledge – the opportunity to know what is happening in [our] Town and why.

The Library Steering Committee’s recommendation to the council did not sit well with lots of folks—because it did not reflect any input from any of the community workshops.  Where is the evidence that shows that residents want a library in the park?  We’d like that “knowledge” as that is what McKeithen’s steering committee was chartered to do—engage residents in making this decision.  Nevertheless, with no evidence and with McKeithen herself defending against requests for the committee to produce evidence, McKeithen’s majority approved that recommendation.  No facts, no credibility, just protests and petitions to change course.  That’s not what I call a consensus.

  • The changes that McKeithen wanted to see on the council includes:  A full and complete discussion of all the issues and the alternatives rather than a piecemeal or closed-minded approach.

Sounds good.  So why did McKeithen herself slam a resident-hosted survey showing more than 80% of resident’s wanted town-wide master planning to allow the library to be considered in the town center development.  The library wants its own piecemeal solution, and seems pretty darn closed to the idea of being located in the town center.  McKeithen accused the town center organizers of trying to steal library funds. On what basis?  Talking about alternative ideas?  On top of that, she refused to approve having a survey of the town done.  Refused even when the Park & Rec committee demanded that and when her fellow council members requested that.  Refused to allow discussion of the Master Plan on the council agenda.  In fact, McKeithen spent months suppressing discussion of the full issues that residents raised.  This seems incredibly defensive, piecemeal and closed-minded.

McKeithen convinced many to vote for her in 2000, 20004 and 2008.  She wrote then that she wanted to see the Town Council enjoy:

  • A more respectful consideration of what the citizen and other Council members have to say.

Twelve years on the council is a very long time.  Long enough for Ms. McKeithen to appear to have completely forgotten what she found so offensive when she first ran and to have become that and worse herself. Long enough that to achieve her own goal of getting more respectful consideration of what citizens and other Council members have to say (not to mention her aspiration to see term limits put in place), Ms. McKeithen should wisely choose just not to run.

11. Why is the Library Project such a fiasco?

Here are the broad-based complaints that I’ve heard about the Library Project:

A.  The Library Committee spent town tax funds to deliberately attempt to foist its predilection on the community.

B.  The process used by the Library Committee was unclear, the purpose and meaning of meetings was not communicated, and their decision-making method was both hidden and flawed and could not have reflected the preferences of the community.

C.  The Library Committee refused to actually engage the public in decision-making, rather they put on three presentations and called that “engagement.”

D. Library Committee members (in particular McKeithen, GInny Niles and Denise Kupperman) misled the public about the purpose of the steering committee—representing that it was chartered to make the decision itself after studying the issues, whereas the actual charter was to engage the public in making the decisions. McKeithen accused the public of not being capable of understanding the “complexity” of the issues for deciding where the library should go.

E.  The Library Committee was effectively “hijacked” by Friends of the Library, who just cared about doing what they and the library professionals wanted and the committee was neither bipartisan, impartial nor did it care to elicit the best solution for Atherton, based upon a broader array of community needs and priorities (such as for open space for children’s field sports).

F.  The Library Committee worked in a clandestine manner to plan the library to move ahead, offered only 2 cursory community workshops in the dead of summer, and had already begun a parallel process for moving ahead with CEQA clearance even prior to any approvals, as if they were assured of approval (which would be a Brown Act violation).

G.  The Library Committee utilized a myriad of devices (types and timing of notices and meetings) to minimize attention to the project, and maximize uncertainty and inconvenience to residents to participate, and then turned around and blamed the community for failing to show up.

H.  The Town Council members McKeithen and Dobbie and their Library Committee supporters, rather than hear what residents’ concerns were and address them, took the hardened approach of doing whatever it took to defend their flawed process.  They voted not to allow further discussion on the council agenda, they minimized additional opportunities for people to express their concerns, including surveys, they personally attacked individuals and committees with legitimate complaints about the process, and lastly, they started to seek underhanded ways to push the EIR process to move faster, while churning up a whole host of other issues (like disbanding the General Plan, threatening the tennis courts, opening up the issue of moving to a Charter City, accusing the Athertonians group of name infringement, all of which were attempts to confuse and diffuse attention on the Library.

Other complaints about the Library process?

19. Who should decide if a library fulfills the Palmer Will?

The Deed granting Holbrook-Palmer to Atherton clearly states that the Town of Atherton shall, “keep, maintain and operate said property in proper order and condition and in a manner suitable for a high class public recreation park.”  If it does not do so, the park could revert back to Stanford University.

It seems that the council majority feels entitled to decide for itself what constitutes “high class recreation” and to this council, book reading may well be high class recreation (if only as a function of the geriatric limitations of the council majority).  Still, it seems highly selfish and rather unseemly for the council to decide to supplant the use of open fields for sports and undeveloped grounds into a county library for their personal enjoyment, without getting a really good feel for whether or not this usage is acceptable to residents in other generations.