Nothing but questions!!

Kathy McKeithen got elected to the Atherton City Council in 2000 on a platform that had the following priorities:

  • Bring accountability, transparency, and responsive stewardship to town government
  • Create an environment that fosters respect and openness to citizens and town employees; seek input from Atherton citizens
  • Establish term limits so that new people with new ideas can keep the Council from becoming complacent

Councilmember McKeithen is soon to be completing her THIRD TERM.  She has now been on the City Council for twelve years.  Much like her commitment to TERM LIMITS—she seems to say one thing and do the opposite.  If she actually were doing what she says her priorities are, it is very likely things in Atherton would be okay.

Unfortunately, residents don’t feel respected at all.  Resident input on important matters, such as McKeithen’s pet library project, has been utterly ignored while her committee mushes ahead doing what they want.  And there is a lot that is going badly in Atherton.  Residents recognize that the town is having many, many problems.  The town has now gone nearly two years without having been able to hire a permanent town manager.  The last Interim Town Manager the town had quit abruptly six months ago.  There is yet to be any appointment.  The council is completely divided: the majority appears to be going “rogue” and, with no professional management to provide guidance, the council majority is taking actions with virtually no accountability to what is in the best interests of residents.

While the town has had continuous controversy and acrimony over the last twelve years, things are much worse than they ever have been and Kathy McKeithen is in the center of it all.  It seems like a good time to take a good hard look at what she is doing and whether or not McKeithen has lived up to ANY of her stated priorities.

The problem is, not only isn’t there any transparency, there isn’t any coherency either. Her notion of “responsive stewardship” feels more like covert deconstruction and conspiratorial agendas to strip rights (and now the park tennis courts) away from residents.  When one looks merely at the facts of what Kathy does, it makes little sense.  I find that I have many more questions about Kathy McKeithen—and especially why she does what she does—than I have answers. I wish I had the answers.  I am therefore going to do what I can, and write down my questions.  I am hoping that those of you who read this, can fill in some answers.  I’ll attempt to provide some answers or simply theories about why she does what she does, but please add your own insights where you can.  Use the open comment links but it is best that everyone respond anonymously.  These are perilous times in Atherton and, given what we know, anyone who ventures to critique Ms. McKeithen will get accused of something!


1. How many people have been accused by Kathy McKeithen?

I believe I have only a partial listing but, as far as I know, the list of those who Kathy has directly or indirectly (through her lieutenants) attacked or accused of some wrong-doing at some point include:

* Highlighted names come from a commenter

2. How many of those accused were ever found guilty of anything?

Atherton has lost most all of the members of the council ever attacked, plus all of the town senior management attacked, numerous veteran town staff (including many long-term, highly dedicated employees not mentioned because no specific accusations were publicized) Police Chiefs, Heads of Building Department, Public Works, Town Managers, Finance Directors, City Attorneys and others. These departures have cost Atherton dearly in the value of the accumulated expertise and stability: how many of her accusations have ever resulted in findings of real malfeasance?

3. How many lawsuits has McKeithen supported on behalf of her Lindenwood neighbors?

Lawsuits that the whole town had to pay for but which were not in the best interests of the whole town, but just those who reside near Kathy in Lindenwood, include:

  • 1.  Lawsuit to prevent Lindenwood Urns from moving to the other side of Atherton.  Total cost to Atherton was: $_____________?
  • 2.  Lawsuit over Menlo-Atherton High School installing stadium lights.  Total cost to Atherton was:  $_______________?
  • 3.  Lawsuit to prevent Menlo-Atherton High School from building the Performing Arts Center.  Total cost to Atherton residents was:  $_______________?

Atherton lost all of these lawsuits, as far as I know.  Does anyone know what the total damage to the town was from McKeithen’s eagerness to help her biggest supporters?

Were there others?

4. Why does McKeithen attack the Atherton Police?

I know that Kathy McKeithen has opposed the town’s renewing Parcel Tax in the last two campaigns for it.  Why does she oppose the Parcel Tax, which is used primarily to help maintain the level of support that Atherton residents want from their Police Force?  For someone who claims to be trying to improve town finances, this seems rather strange.  Why has she made accusations against the police?  Why does she seem to have such a bad rapport with the police, whose union has chosen to videotape most all of the council meetings?  Why do they think that residents should be made aware of what McKeithen is doing?  What does the police force know that residents don’t know?

5. Why is it that McKeithen gets anything she wants published in the Almanac?

McKeithen is certainly brazen about making unfounded accusations publicly, especially from her seat on the council bench.  Frequently, her accusations are reported in the local paper instantly, as if the story was written simultaneously with her attacks. Also, it seems that many of those who support McKeithen’s positions get published “viewpoints.  It seems that few of those who have opposing voices get published. Why is that?  Does McKeithen have some personal connection with the management of the Almanac?  She seems to wield the power to get published at will to her political advantage—is this why the playing field is so uneven in town and people are so afraid of her?  The risk that the paper will publish anything she comes up with?

6. Why doesn’t McKeithen support efforts to revitalize our town center?

In her twelve years in office, McKeithen has built little.  Instead, she seems to have made it a priority to break things, particularly individuals, including fellow council members, town staff and others who oppose things that she wants.  She hasn’t done anything to significantly improve Atherton that I am aware of.  She has successfully squandered much town money  opposing town-supported development efforts (like the PAC), and has attacked and pushed off multiple initiatives to revitalize the town center — merely by accusing those trying to move that effort forward of being “developers.”  So disdaining of opportunity of do anything to improve the town center, one would think she liked seeing it growing increasingly shabby . . . which maybe she does.

Thus, it shocked many of her former supporters when, as a big change of her whole orientation in which she had steadfastly opposed all improvements to Atherton, they found that McKeithen ardently and passionately supports the desire of the County Librarians to complete a massive development for a new Atherton Library—not where the town wants it (where it currently has been, in the town center), but smack in the middle of the town park!

Such a curious about-face.  What could cause such a change of heart to the dismay of many?  Does she suddenly love reading?  We don’t think so.  Speculation has it that she can accomplish multiple goals with this pet library project:

1.  By winching the library out of the town center, she can cause one town building to be abandoned, possibly creating true urban-like blight in self-identified “rural” Atherton.

2.  Without the Library as an anchor structure, she can throw a big wrench into the existing Town Center Task Force’s efforts to revitalize the town center, since not having the library there may well reduce the ability of that group to raise private funding. It will also greatly diminish the ability of that group to build decent community meeting space, which the town desperately needs—in the town center—since the library won’t be there to share the cost of building that kind of space.

3.  Lastly, in the kind of quirky logic that only Kathy seems capable of, it appears that by aggregiously denying residents any say at all and then going to war with the whole town to suppress all the controversies she herself creates, she’ll be flexing those all-powerful council muscles and showing her County Library buddies that it is her doing that allows them to build their white elephant in Atherton’s sole park, over all of the objections of the whole community.  In this way, Kathy can get on the good side of the team that holds all of the tax money and she’ll be viewed as a library hero.  This will really help her chances of possibly getting her name put on the library and not even have to contribute a cent!

Other hypotheses?