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!

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!

28. Will the smell linger?

With the recent decision by Kathy McKeithen not to run for her fourth term on the Atherton City Council, many residents have heaved a big sigh of relief. We may not be expecting town politics to ever be genteel but now, at least, we don’t need to fear McKeithen’s blurted “I think” accusations against her political opponents, ranting from her seat on the council about what she thinks they’ve done (with or without any factual basis) after public comments, when the accused is not in a position to speak and defend themselves because of the end of “public comments.”  It was a cute trick, if a little over-used.

Those decorum-defying episodes kept many people from ever wanting to step foot in the council chambers and were not for the weak of heart. Yet, some of us wonder if, with McKeithen off the council, it will ever be safe to take a deep breath here in Atherton.  Even at the height of her power on the council, McKeithen did not limit her tirades and attacks to her public official persona.  Many suspect that she spent late nights keeping sharp by putting people in their places through an array of anonymous personas who made appearances on the Almanac Town Square blog.  In such cases, readers got a strong whiff of McKeithen thru her typical-sounding rant, without the actual sighting.

Take this Almanac article concerning the Council’s controversial 3-2 Vote “Preferring” the park site.  Read down about 25 comments from folks all distressed about the council’s vote, to where you find a commenter writing as “Smell A Rat.”  Here’s what they write:

Posted by Smell a Rat – Use Common Sense, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2011 at 9:17 am  I would suggest that many of you who wrote would be better off spending some time educating yourself as to the facts rather perpetuating misinformation and setting forth narrow-minded views.As to Park & Rec’s comment – the 300 signatures requested that a Master Plan be done, not a survey of whether the library should go into the Park. One might reasonably ask, if a Master Plan is so important, why didn’t Ms. Fisher (former Mayor – isn’t every council member?), a member of the Town Center task forces looking into the building of a new Town Center for years, require that a Master Plan be done as part of that much larger project? Why only now when a library might be going into the Park and the library committee has already stated on its own that it believes the Park Master Plan needs to be updated?To Davena Gentry – Holbrook Palmer Park was given to the Town to be a high class Public Recreational Park. At the time the gift was being considered, the number one use envisioned by the residents of Atherton was a LIBRARY. Just where do wedding and corporate events fit into public recreation?To Atherton Voter – “The new building in the Park is a new community center with abundant meeting rooms…. why are libraries closing across the country as digital books become the norm?” There is no indication that the new library would have anything more than one small meeting room, and perhaps not even that if the community did not want it as determined in the design and size phase. As for libraries closing – why are local private schools expending millions to build state-of-the-art libraries and new libraries drawing record attendance? Your facts are simply wrong. Do the research.By law, and as the recipient of federal monies, Atherton cannot restrict use of the Park to Atherton residents. And why should we? Perhaps Menlo Park and Redwood City should consider charging us a fee? Maybe Burgess should be off-limits to Atherton residents and Little League teams? If we intend to close off the gate to Felton Gables because they won’t let school children pass over private property (and as was suggested even restrict their right to build gates that back up to the Park on their own land) why not have guards posted to keep out any non-Atherton residents? Remember they tried that along Connecticut beaches? Illegal, let alone unconscionable.To Wedding Planner – “Someone pays the town $3,000 or more to use the facilities for a few hours and the council thinks this is not profitable? How?” How? Because there is such a thing as EXPENSES. Look at the materials from the October 19, 2011 council meeting (they are on-line) that relate to continuing to rent out the park. Look at the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS of taxpayers’ money which has gone into subsidizing these mostly non-Atherton parties just the last few years. It is precisely these costly events (with no guarantee that changes can be put into place to make them profitable) that have contributed to “hard pressed [financially] Atherton”. And what about the wear and tear referred to in a recent article? The town received $1,050 this summer for a corporate event for 500-800 people. Our park effectively could not be used by residents at the time, suffered foot-traffic (at a minimum), and with overhead included probably ended up costing the residents money — but wait — maybe the residents like paying for parties to which they aren’t invited more than they like having non-residents borrow books.What a bunch of close-minded, selfish people we have become. As for the petitions, incredibly biased surveys (complete with prejudicial and misleading cover letter) and the new Town Center, I refer you to my comment posted there. For years I have read on these blogs about Atherton’s negative press. The lawsuits are nothing – they happen in the best of communities for no fault of their own. What we should be ashamed of is so much of what has been written here – the” keep everyone else out” attitude, the failure to think in terms of a community. In supposing we are somehow better than others, we have truly come off worse.


Posted by atherton voter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2011 at 9:47 am[Post removed. The quote is from an anonymous poster. Please don’t attribute to a named person.]


Enough people recognize McKeithen’s style that the commenter after this quote seems to have called her by name—yet the Almanac deleted that, probably at her request.

Here’s a tiny bit of analysis:  This writer uses some very interesting techniques to argue his/her points.  In this instance, despite over 25 comments posted prior to this one which argued against putting the library in the park, this writer has an “I know better than you” arrogant tone.  She sites tons of facts—but not all are correct.  For the parents among us, also note the bullying way the writer picks out others to address directly, in a sequence of attacks. This is a frequent McKeithen technique.  Note the multiple condescending insults, the open-ended, insinuating, colorful questions and slick transitions, diverting attention from the substantive issue to her own distracting issue or accusation (even though not really relevant) while failing to address the underlying concern. Note the direction to see her own prior comments (giving herself away, really.)  Finally, notice how the closing lament is for how bad and heartless all of us have become (and the author includes herself), because we dare question using our park for a library.  This lament has a similar format to the one that McKeithen used in her signed Letter entitled: Has Atherton lost its soul over library issue? where she writes:

I realize that we have become a town of beautiful gated homes but are at risk of losing our soul.

Just a final observation about the sense of impunity and arrogance that could be read into the language of “Rat” (as other commenters called this author) when she writes:

One might reasonably ask, if a Master Plan is so important, why didn’t Ms. Fisher (former Mayor – isn’t every council member?), a member of the Town Center task forces looking into the building of a new Town Center for years, require that a Master Plan be done as part of that much larger project?

The little toss-out — former Mayor – isn’t every council member? — seems to be a gratuitous jab aimed at the councilmember that McKeithen herself—in concert with Widmer and Dobbie—kept from becoming Vice Mayor in the ordinary course of council business earlier that year. A little masked gloating, perhaps?

For those of you who are gluttons for punishment, read this Editorial by one of the Almanac Editors (who chooses not to be named), which piece could easily have come directly from McKeithen’s own typewriter.   Then read down to the comments posted by Thank you, copied below:


Posted by Thank you, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Dec 29, 2011 at 7:55 amA big Thank you to the Almanac for seeing through the machinations of Didi Fisher, Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis. The money for the library must stay with and for the library, not a town center, police station, etc. The residents of this community are indeed fortunate that over a multi-year process, the public and their elected representatives came up with an outstanding plan to build a fabulous library in the park. I continue to disagree with Peter Carpenter. There is no precedent for taking 3-2 votes to the citizens because of “deadlock.” That’s simply grandstanding.
Posted by Thank you, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Dec 29, 2011 at 9:11 am>>> It seems that the use of library funds use,in spite of clear statements to the contrary, are going to be used to build a new town center. Nothing could be further from the truth as they cannot be used except for library purposes. That should not be difficult to understand, “Thank you”Just a red herring. Marsala cooked up a Ponzi scheme a few years ago to have the library buy a decrepit building from the Town, which would then turn around and build a glorious new police station with that money. There are some very sneaky and horrible schemes that have been cooked up to pilfer the library money while still making it seem like it’s still for the library. That just won’t work, and won’t be allowed.

In the first comment, Thank you seems to be thanking the Almanac Editors for “seeing through the machinations of Didi Fisher, Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis” — ie for publishing her letter as an “editorial.”  (Somehow I doubt the editors of the Almanac are following that closely what is going on in Atherton or that they would, if they were talking to anyone but McKeithen, insult good people like this).  Then a little self-serving back-patting (how fortunate the town has been), combined with the standard distortion of the facts of the ALBSC’s faulty and barely one-year long process (propaganda used many times by ALBSC members), and, to finish off, throwing in of an insult of another’s “grandstanding” (of which no one is more guilty of than McKeithen herself—another common occurence).

In the second comment, Thank you uses McKeithen’s trademark “headline-grabbing,” if utterly unsubstantiated vocabulary (i.e. red herring, Ponzi scheme, decrepit, very sneaky, horrible schemes, cooked up, pilfer, etc. to demonize the intentions of others (without any facts presented).  Thank you finishes off with a wonderful authoritarian flourish, worthy of someone who thinks they control the whole town!

The question that will be answered only in the coming months and years, even after this election is behind us, is will McKeithen’s toxic influence linger, like a stench, over Atherton politics even when she’s no longer visibly on the council?

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.

21. Why don’t residents know what lies behind a string of rash council actions?

During the town’s Library EIR comment period, the council took a string of rash action that has been largely unexplained and rather concerning.  What are residents to make of the council’s abrupt dismissal and disbanding of the Town’s General Plan Committee?  It appears to be a strategy by council members to “tighten their grasp on power” (phrase stolen from a report on Egypt’s Military)  ahead of town action on the Final Library EIR.  The first any of us heard of it, was when one member sent the below message:

FROM: david@davidhenig.com
DATE: Wed, 9 May 2012 16:55:00 -0400
SUBJECT: Atherton General Plan Committee disbanded

I just received notification from the Interim City Manager
thanking me for my service to our community and informing me that “Council voted to dismiss the General Plan Committee and assign the duties and powers to the Planning Commission.”

David Henig
59 Sutherland Drive
Atherton, CA 94027
M 415.205.3900 H 650.234.8375

For the council to take such an action, without legitimizing either the reason or the timing with the community is yet another instance of council secrecy, disrespect for the intelligence of residents, disrespect for process, failure of the council to act in the best interests of the town (rather than the Library Project), and a failure of the proverbial “transparency.”  Such rash actions also alarmingly suggest that the council is not being led by Mayor Widmer, who we think of as being more deliberative but is still being directed by Kathy McKeithen (who, by virtue of having a guarantee of Mr. Widmer’s support in such screwball tactics) seems capable of doing whatever she wants in support of the Library Project).

It seems painfully obvious that this council action simply stems from McKeithen’s disinterest in having the General Plan have any opportunity to weigh in on the Library Project — since its members included Council members Carlson, Lewis and former council candidate, David Henig — all of whom support the notion of democracy in Atherton, unlike (McKeithen, Dobbie or Widmer), and would like to see residents having a say on the Library Project.  More troubling, however, is that McKeithen is also now attempting to install her own lieutenants—her husband, Smith McKeithen, and her henchman Dobbie’s wife, Pat Dobbie—on the Planning Commission.  (Also, not unlike the Egyptian military’s tactics.)

Here is what one resident had to say about this move by the council, which really sums up the issue:

David,

In my opinion, the rather sudden dismissal of the General Plan Committee accompanied by the granting of its authority and powers to the Town Planning Commission will give the Council increased ability to determine the outcome of all issues related to the future development of our community: e.g. changes in zoning and approval of large projects such as proposed construction of the Town Library in the park.

I fully expect the next move to be a dissolution of the Town Center Committee – another citizen group that has met for more than two years to study the needs of the community for new administrative and police facilities and that has presented two fine architectural visions for such a project.

When the opportunity for resident involvement is taken away, the very few will wield the hammer of their personal agenda. I would like to know Where, When, Who and Why this decision was made.

Sheri Shenk
66 Virginia Lane

23. What’s with all this hugely amassed library money?

Everyone solving mysteries has heard the expression “Follow the money.”  In the case of the proposed Atherton library, there clearly is something up with all that amassed library riches.  I am not suggesting that there is any indication of thievery, bribery or embezzlement going on. Rather, there are just a lot of strange facets to the facts, as we have been told them.  I am wondering if anyone has any answers to these questions:

A.  How much of Atherton’s total tax revenue is allocated for Library purposes?

B.  What percent of the town’s total income is that?

C. What has it cost us to run our Library historically?

D. Who is responsible for watching how Library funds are spent?

E. If there is so much money available, why would those deciding how to spend Atherton’s money not approve the $300,000 in seismic upgrading that (in 2009) was deemed necessary to make the existing building safe—but instead allow the space to continue to be used in an unsafe condition?

F.  Does the Library pay “rent” of any kind for its use of one of the town’s new in-town locations? If not, why not?  What about paying for the wear and tear? Electricity? Heat?  Who decides which is yes and which is no?

G. If the Library funds have to be used “only” for library purposes and they don’t pay Atherton rent on even the use of the existing facility, why would it be acceptable for those funds be used for “construction” of a new facility? Construction is not a library service.

H.  Who is authorized to make those decisions and how are those decisions made on behalf of Atherton and its residents?  Why don’t Atherton residents get to decide these questions and use their judgement?

I.  If the Library went into the park, and, for example, the Dames ran out of money to pay for the high costs of watering the lawns around the library, would the library pick up those costs to keep the park beautiful? How about adding flowers in the borders, more trees, a couple of lovely outside seating areas?  Seems like there is plenty of landscaping activity anticipated by the project EIR.

J. If demand for Atherton’s new library were so high, that it was clear that more parking spaces were needed in the park and McKeithen and Dobbie succeed in grabbing the tennis courts to use for Library Parking overflow, could the Library funds be used to pave over the tennis courts and lay new roads throughout the park?

K.  If the Library funds can be used to pave or beautify broad swaths of area surrounding it in the park, why couldn’t this work in the Town Center?

L.  If the Library funds can be used to build luxurious-sized “Community meeting rooms” that are large enough for the council to meet in and the Town Council wants to meet there—but the Library wants to hold “Movie Night” for ten-year olds—who gets to use the space?

24. What motivates Kathy McKeithen to cast aspersions towards the Atherton Police?

It seems that Kathy McKeithen will jump on any opportunity to condemn and point her finger at the Atherton Police.  While virtually every other Atherton resident I ever speak to is absolutely ecstatic about the job the Atherton police do, McKeithen has been known to froth at the mouth anytime she gets a chance to accuse the police of something.  I would love to know what underlies this set of hostilities, which seems to go way back.

Extremely concerning is how, motivated by her publicly-known hostilities towards the police, she has twice worked in opposition to fellow council members to defeat the Town’s Parcel Tax (which is designed to primarily fund Police costs, I think), even though its defeat cripple town finances, since a portion funds other town needs.  How is trying to defeat the Parcel Tax in the best interests of residents?  Aren’t there other, far more effective ways to address organizational concerns with the police, if that is what her concerns are?

I find it highly unprofessional for one of the town’s most senior council members to level the kinds of vague accusations that Kathy utters fairly often in public—but in the case of the police, towards a highly professional organization that not only works full time but also puts their lives on the line to protect and defend us.  Nevertheless, it appears from the range and breadth of her accusations, no person, council colleague, volunteer committee or respected profession is immune from finger-pointing by McKeithen.  With behavior like this, my analysis suggests that either she just completely lacks the kind of effective people management skills that are needed to address her “fears” in an appropriately professional way (such as meeting with the Police Chief) or her reasons for issuing utterings like this are not actually to get to the bottom of what is happening—but possibly just to spread fear, doubt or hurt reputations.  It is really difficult to understand what the public benefit could be of a council member talking like this at a council meeting but here, according to Almanac reporter, Rene Batti in this linked Almanac article, are McKeithen’s latest vague, unsubstantiated insinuations involving the police:

The difficult job of serving on the Atherton City Council for the past 11 years has been made nearly intolerable by incidents including vandalism at her home, an unexplained incident of police cars driving around her property . . .” Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen declared during the Jan. 18 council meeting.

Regarding references she made during her statement to problems she’s encountered outside the council chambers, Ms. McKeithen told the Almanac that “odd things are happening.”

One example: Multiple incidents of vandalism to her irrigation system. The system’s hoses were “cut up into 12 or 15 pieces,” and hers is the only residence in her neighborhood to experience the vandalism, she said.

Although she said she suspected the incidents were occurring while she was away at Wednesday council meetings, police department records show that the two occasions that officers were called out were on July 22, a Friday, and Aug. 22, a Monday, according to Lt. Joe Wade. But the reports say that it was unknown when the vandalism occurred.

Lt. Wade said that on the second call to the McKeithen home, officers were told that there had been a third incident as well.

Officers had offered to begin patrol checks around the house after the first call, but the offer was declined. In August, the patrol checks were requested, he said.

There are no suspects or leads in the case, Lt. Wade said.

Ms. McKeithen said her concern over police cars “on at least one occasion totally circling my house” stemmed from an incident reported by a family member after she returned home. When she called the police department and was told officers hadn’t been at her house, she called other jurisdictions and was told none of their officers had been in the area.

She questioned whether the incident had actually occurred until neighbors asked her what the police were doing at the house that day, she said. But “no one in the police (department) will own up to that happening,” she added.

Another incident involved “two people dressed in black in my backyard, with knapsacks,” she said. Suspicions of being targeted also led to her hiring a professional to check for eavesdropping “bugs” in her house, she said.

When asked who she thought might be vandalizing and trespassing at her home, she said, “I have no idea.”