Menlo Park's Future

 

Candidate Endorsements by Our Local Newspaper

Fellow Residents,

Our local newspaper has endorsed the two City Council incumbents.  I was struck by how weak a case the editor made in his endorsement.

The primary responsibility of a City Council member is to make sure that our public budget is balanced and sustainable.   Yet, nowhere in the paper’s endorsement was this mentioned.  Let’s review what the incumbents’ budget record is –

·         They have voted for a budget that projects deficit spending for the next decade.

·         They have been responsible for a two-year period in which our General Fund Reserve has shrunk by one-third.

·         They have voted for a budget that does not include either the cost of the El Camino Real/Downtown study or the costs of many of the priority projects the Council has committed to.

·         They have failed to even consider any cost-cutting options available.

 In a separate part of the paper, there was a mention of the “employee cost” problem.  Yet, even though this was seen as an important issue by a reporter, the editor responsible for the endorsements obviously did not feel the same, as he ignored the incumbents’ record:

·         They voted for new employee contracts that included a 35% pension increase for all non-police employees.  (NOTE: If the employee pension fund falters, as it is doing, the City is left holding the bag.)

·         They hired a new City Manager at a salary $40,000 higher than the last City Manager; and recently voted to give him a $4,000 bonus as well. 

·         The paper did not ask—or report on-- how the Municipal Employee Union endorsement will affect the decision-making of the incumbents.

 

The editor praised the incumbents for creating a “Green Ribbon Taskforce”, yet failed to take them to task for failing to do anything really meaningful such as –

·         Creating housing next to both the railroad station AND downtown, so that people can use public transportation and walk to nearby amenities. 

·         Supporting the biggest mass-transit project that has come before our State.  (NOTE: Menlo Park is one of only two cities in the entire State that is suing, not endorsing, the High Speed Rail project.)

The endorsement did mention that the editor supported the incumbents for their El Camino Real/Downtown Visioning process.  Yet, the endorsement failed to note that:

·         The process will take another two years to complete and is not yet funded.

·         Neither of the incumbents has met with one of the largest land-owners on El Camino Real, Stanford University.

·         The incumbents dropped the effort to streamline our City’s business permitting process which is so subjective and intricate that many small businesses cannot get past the planning to the implementation point.  In fact, one businessman stated at a City Council meeting: “You would have to be brain dead to locate here {Menlo Park}.”

Now, more than ever, we need an objective, critical local press.  In a perfect world, we would all go to council meetings, view the streaming web site of each council meeting, and/or watch the meetings on local cable.  Without this we rely on our local press to be an objective and thorough witness. 

As always, I enjoy corresponding with you, so please write to me at: menlofuture@gmail.comIf you would like to read any of my past emails go to http://menlofuture.weebly.com/index.html

Thanks,

Lee Duboc

Interesting Response from Editor of Almanac to My Last Email on Censorship.

My last email about the way our hometown newspaper has turned away letters-to-the-editor elicited a response from the editor, Tom Gibboney.  About the letter written by Mark Gilles, which I reprint below, Mr. Gibboney writes: “I think the letter was false.”  Gibboney and I disagree on this.  Furthermore, Mark Gilles is not only a life-long resident of Menlo Park but a person with extensive experience in the financial and banking fields with a perspective that should be shared.  So, I print Mr. Gilles’ letter once again so you can decide for yourselves.

Dear Editor,

Whatever happened to the Derry Project?  It’s been two years since Morris Brown ran a petition drive to stop the project and there seems to be nothing happening.  Mr. Brown and his supporters claimed to have improved the project and increased the benefits to the City; however it now appears that they may have only succeeded in killing the project.

The city council for its part was more than willing to abdicate its responsibility to Mr. Brown and has apparently washed its collective hands of the project, moving on to other areas of interest such as the “greening” of our City.

Study groups and committees are well and good but it seems that those interested in the environment should have embraced this project.  Among its most compelling attributes was that it was in tune with environmentally sound principles such as proximity to public transportation, and provided an opportunity for our local merchants.  So now with the present economic situation casting doubt on the economic viability of any new development the citizens of Menlo Park are left with nothing.  In light of current realities Mr. Brown and his supporters claims of having done a better job than our elected officials’ rings hallow.

We need elected officials who will actually do their jobs, not delegate it to the loudest special interest group.  Unfortunately they allowed a vocal and ill-equipped minority to take over the process and we are all worse off as a result.

Mr. Gibboney also claims that he printed the letter from Mary Gilles that I printed in my last email.  He is right on this one!  I pulled the wrong letter.  So, below I print the letter that he failed to print.

Dear Editor,

Over the past two years, it has been quite interesting to hear how the majority council believes they are so inclusive and creating a transparent government.  While in fact, there have been several instances – important ones – where this has not been the case.

Their most recent OPAQUE action was the secretive closed session council meeting to bring the City of Menlo Park into a lawsuit against High Speed Rail.  Now, I’m not necessarily a proponent of what I’m hearing about HSR.  In fact, the whole subject seems to be HIGH ANXIETY and definitely a THIRD RAIL with many of the citizens.  However, I’m truly amazed that two of the three present council members actually engaged our City in a lawsuit without ever having any public input on the topic.  Talk about High Speed Decision!  What happened to process, inclusiveness and transparency?

I think the residents of Menlo Park deserve an explanation of how this lawsuit became a closed session item AND why the idea of joining in such a lawsuit was never presented to the residents.

Mary Gilles, Hermosa Way

Mr. Gibboney claims he did not receive-- “to the best of my knowledge”-- the letters from Hank Lawrence (praising the service of former Planning Commissioner, Lou Deziel) and Bob Anderson (vetting problems with local mail distribution).  However, in the phone conversation he had with me Mr. Gibboney also suggested that while he was on vacation, the letter might have been overlooked by the employee left in charge.  Which is it?

Mr. Lawrence has personally assured me that many of his letters were rejected by the editor.

In light of the above, I find Mr. Gibboney’s claim that: “In all but the busiest times, we are able to publish virtually all letters we receive” rings pretty false.

The full text of Mr. Gibboney’s letter is printed below:

Hi Lee,

Here is my reply on the "censorship charge." Also, if this issue
should ever come up again I would appreciate a call first, so I could
at least provide a response. Needless to say, I would like the
following to be published "uncensored."
 [Note: This is a courtesy Mr. Gibboney never extended to me, in his editorials, in letters written to the Almanac and in Guest Editorials in which fallacious and misleading statements about me were made. Lee Duboc]
In regard to Mark Gilles, he makes a wild assumption that his letter was not published because the editor did not agree with his position.  In fact, Mark and I exchanged several emails about his claim in the letter, which I considered totally false.  I take sole responsibility for all the letters published in the Almanac, and in this case, I believed his charges were not true, so I did not publish the letter.  This obviously {was} my right and responsibility.

The worst claim is the second one that Mary Gilles’ letter about Almanac reporter Rory Brown’s story titled “Where was the Public Discussion on Lawsuit” was not published.  In fact, it was published in the Sept. 24 Almanac on Page 23.  Look for yourself.

As for the claim about letters from Hank Lawrence and Bob Anderson, to the best of our knowledge, we never received them.  Please ask Hank and Bob to submit them again, noting Letter to the Editor in the subject line, and we will get them in as soon as possible.

Finally, what disappoints me about this charge is that it is being made by people who together have had hundreds of letters published in the Almanac.  In all but the busiest times, we are able to publish virtually all the letters we receive.  I hope your readers understand that our door is open to all letters, but we do draw the line when someone makes a claim that we believe is untrue.

Thank you,

Tom Gibboney, Editor and Publisher, the Almanac