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Spencer and Barnum for fire district board

Original post made on Oct 11, 2011

Of the four qualified candidates for the two open seats on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board, we believe incumbent Bart Spencer and challenger Scott Barnum are the best choices to win the four-year terms. Rob Silano and Virginia Chang Kiraly also are knowledgeable about the district, but we believe Mr. Spencer and Mr. Barnum have the edge. We did not find Steve Kennedy, a former board member, qualified to serve.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 12:00 AM

Comments (88)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Both Barnum and Spencer are excellent choices - I have worked closely with both of them and I know each of them well.

They have my full support and endorsement.


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2011 at 5:32 am

Silano and Kiraly have my vote.

They recognize the MPFPD is a bloated agency. Their campaign literature notes the tremendous increase in Administrative staff in the past years. They're right. It's a bureaucracy which needs to refocus on its core mission.

Silano has worked in public safety for most of his career, including stints at the Federal level. Kiraly's significant work in the community will allow her to guide MPFPD toward the populace's needs.

It's time for a change on the Board. Carpenter's endorsement tells me exactly where my vote does not go.

This agency's budget is huge -- more than many of the cities it serves. Thank goodness there's finally some talent willing to marshall these significant resources in the right direction.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

Roy, it's apparent from your comments that you must be a fire fighter or are a champion for their cause.

Both Silano and Kiraly have accepted the union's and fire fighter's endorsement, and we all know the fire fighters want more money. With the community demanding economic reform in government these candidates send a mixed message -- how can you say you favor reform when you side with the fire fighters who want more money?

Look at how many departments who have recognized current economic forecasts and whose employees have responded accordingly; not our fire fighters, they can't even settle their contract. So I'm led to believe that Silano and Kiraly, having accepted those endorsements, agree with the fire fighters' cause. If Roy thinks the budget is huge, maybe some fire fighters would be willing to give up their jobs too.

I agree with the editor's assessment and plan to vote the same.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 10:07 am

Desoto seems to confuse 'bloated' with an agency that has a balanced budget, no parcel tax, reserves to cover the replacement of all of its depreciated assets, little unfunded pension liability and a strong commitment to curtail above market pay and pension programs.

By Desoto's definition a public agency is not bloated if it has a deficit, huge unfunded pension liabilities and no reserves - all usually as a result of gross mismanagement.

Barnum and Spencer will continue the Fire Board on its path of fiscal conservatism without any obligations as a result of labor support or labor endorsements.


Posted by obligations, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

Peter, can you provide links to show how Bart's voting record was influenced by these obligations before 2006? After all, Bart was supported by the firefighters when he ran in 1997 and no in 2003.

Can you provide more details of your own ethical struggle when you were elected with the supported of the firefighters in 2001?

Web Link

Why didn't you simply state that you would refuse to accept union endorsements in 2005? The information you posted seems to indicate that you were disappointed not to get their endorsement.

Web Link


Posted by Menlo Moderate, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Virginia Chang Kiraly has impeccable credentials. She recognizes the need for pension reform but is also aware that pension reform should not be used as a club to beat the fire fighters into submission. She wants to be fair to both the taxpayers and the fire fighters and is extremely adept at balancing the needs of everyone without breaking the bank. This is the type of leadership we sorely need.

She has bi-partisan support from esteemed moderates from both parties such as Steve Westley and Peter Ohtaki because she has a long horizon and is honest, fair, and fiscally responsible.

Virginia Chang Kiraly is perspicacious, sees problems as opportunities, and has an intense desire to maintain the vibrancy and well being of our community. She is just what the Doctor ordered.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm

The firefighters' union has, over the last decade, become less and less interested in service to the community and more and more focused on service to its members. I have long ago gone on record as being opposed to ANY elected official accepting endorsements from unions over which those elected officials will have responsibility.

As I stated in 2005 "However, in your letter you state that the Association requests that I remove myself from the election because the Association has chosen to support other candidates and "the title `Incumbent' carries a weight with the voters that will be difficult to overcome". Since there will be a new firefighter's contract negotiated with the Board during the forthcoming term, I can understand that it is in your Association's interest to have Directors who will serve your interests. I shall be satisfied to continue to serve the interests of the citizens of the District, so I decline your request to withdraw. In a democratic society the choice of elected officials is properly the responsibility of the voters and not that of a small special interest group such as yours." Clearly there was no disappointment on my part when the firefighters' union decided not to endorse me. I was certainly stunned by the firefighters' union bold attempt to get me to withdraw from the race - I never imagined that they would so clearly attempt to thwart the will of the voters.

The union's power is profound - in the last Fire Board election they spent an estimated $50,000 - which was more than all of the candidates themselves spent in total - and yet only one of the three candidates which the firefighters' union supported was elected. I trust the judgement of the voters.

One of the Fire Board's biggest challenges is dealing with a firefighters' union that refuses to negotiate, demands outrageous salaries and benefits, and files lawsuit after lawsuit against the District. This is not a time in which the citizens want elected officials who are in any way beholden to this union.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

@Menlo Moderate -- how do you reconcile Ms. Kiraly's "impeccable credentials" with her accepting the union's and fire fighters' endorsement? Isn't that contradictory. She may be a fine person, but she and Mr. Silano have alined themselves with the union.

Don't underestimate the amount of influence the union/fire fighters will try and leverage to get 'their candidates' elected. From the post above spending $50,000 by the union in the last election seems rather costly unless one has an agenda.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Emergency the TV Show of the 70's

The crew of Los Angeles County Fire Dept. ... Paramedic Roy DeSoto (133 episodes,


Posted by Menlo Moderate, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Joe,

Virginia got the endorsement because she promised to be fair to all and not through any imagined subterfuge that she was going to roll over for the Unions. Virginia is quintesentially fair and honest.

She is not going to grind the union into the ground nor will she give into their demands. She will be fair and impartial. I have never known Virginia to compromise her integrity.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Good catch, Mr. Stogner - I was about the post that correlation as well ;-)

What's the deal w/Steve Kennedy & not finding him "qualified to serve"?

As a Menlo native & long time EPA resident, I consider myself lucky to have MPFPD handling things so expertly. They have a great relationship w/the community as well. When we've had neighborhood barbeques, they've attended as their schedules allowed, educating residents & demonstrating an ability to relate to many while politely sharing their knowledge. They go well beyond the hunky firefighter image ;-)


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

@Hmmmm -- read the article in the Almanac about Mr. Kennedy. Unfortunately it's not posted on line (editor -- can this be posted on-line?)

You will discover that Mr. Kennedy was censured by the Fire Board for inappropriate behavior and abuse of position. During the Almanac endorsement interview when asked what has changed, you will read that Mr. Kennedy produced photo of a man naked from the waist down whom he described as his apartment manager who reported Mr. Kennedy's yard as a fire hazard. The article said that "It's safe to say that Mr. Kennedy still marches to the beat of his own drum."

The article concludes by saying Mr. Kennedy wanted to see his name on a well designed station 2 in EPA and his name on a brass plaque.

I'm not sure you need much more to understand why the Almanac found Mr. Kennedy not qualified to serve unless this is the kind of candidate you want representing our communities.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thank you, Joe. I get PA Weekly, not The Almanac, so I'm not sure I can get my hands on the article - except here perhaps. Anyway, now it's a must read, given Mr. Kennedy's behavior! Note I said must read, not must vote! It takes all kinds...

Thanks again for taking the time to update me!


Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Virginia Karaly has an extensive financial background (not limited to her MBA) as well as unbounded energy for public service. The district lost its financial voice when Ohtaki left the board and really needs that covered.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Joe, I found the article online that highlights Mr. Kennedy's past & current views. All I can say is "Wow!" & repeat that it takes all kinds...

Now that he's out of the way, I need to read up on the others - I had totally forgotten about his past!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 12:19 am

I have great respect for both Silano and Karaly, which is why I was perplexed when they accepted union endorsements even after being cautioned about the pitfalls of doing so - " I strongly recommend that you neither seek nor accept the union's endorsement. I believe that their endorsement will hurt your chances for election, will brand you as pro-union and will be perceived as obligating you to the union as a Board member."

As I stated above, this is not a time in which the citizens want elected officials who are in any way beholden to this union. These are officials who will be voting on the union contract that will set the pay and pension ground rules for the next decade


Posted by Friend of mp, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2011 at 6:19 am

To Henry Riggs: Virginia does not have a MBA. She was involved in stock and bond investments. With that type of experience, those companies got billions from us in bale out money....NO THANKS. SILANO looks like a regular guy. Cut expenses and for pension reform. Pretty simple. I spoke to him when his wife and him came to my house passing out fliers. No bull, straight forward. Even Peter Carpenter has not a bad thing to say about him. He's got my republican vote!


Posted by Menlo Moderate, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 13, 2011 at 6:36 am

I have a great deal of respect for Peter Carpenter and Virgina Chang Kiraly. But we do not live in a binary world where either you are for something or against it. Right now we have 9 cities in the United States declaring bankruptcy (heard that on ABC radio this morning). When a city or a county declares bankruptcy employment and benefit contracts are usually renegotiated. If a city or county goes bankrupt things will get worse for their employees -- not better. The Fire Fighter's Union realizes that pensions and their retirement benefits can not continue on the same course; and that retirements and benefits could get dramatically worse if the County goes bankrupt.

Virginia has a great deal of financial expertise. She has the rare skill at looking at all sides of an argument and forumulating solutions that bring the maximum benefit to all. Will the Fire Fighters Union have to make some sacrifices? Of course they will. Will the cost of fire fighting go up? Probably, but not at the great rate as before. We all have to make sacrifices.

Virginia has tha ability to strike that delicate balance that allows the people in the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to receive the a high quality of fire protection and emergency respone services while affording the firefighters a decent wage.

Right now we don't need inflamatory (no pun intended) rhetoric. We need cool experienced people who are focused on solving problems rather than beating their own drum. Virginia Chang Kiraly has that rare quality and we should all be glad that we have her running for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:29 am

Happy to help Hmmmm.

To Friend of mp -- my concern with Mr. Silano is that he switched his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat solely to accept the union's endorsement. And you will notice the number of signs the fire fighters have displayed around town -- a repeat from last election. Surely they are spending lots of money to ensure his support.

It's just too cozy a relationship for me.


Posted by Fairness, a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2011 at 9:21 am

I'm really tired of all the banter against the firefighters. I have been following this union battle for the last few years, and it's time the board treat them fair- afterall- the board represents the firefighters also, not just the staff. The public needs to know the whole truth, not just Peter's opinion. These men work hard and are an important necessity to our community- our safety. I am a resident and I want to see this resolved. Silano and Kiraly will be fair for both sides. Let's help them get this matter resolved fairly, once and for all.


Posted by read it here, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 13, 2011 at 11:26 am

Here's a link to the Almanac's Voters' Guide article on the fire board race:

Web Link


Posted by interesting, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Virginia has run for every single seat she could in the county and lost badly in each election. She is not an attractive candidate, does not articulate her plan well, tries to play that smile and all get together BS and everyone sees through it. Virginia is Winkler and Duboc and she has proven to be the classic us versus you type of candidate that we are disgusted with -- vote no. Just like you all did like a half a dozen times before. Virginia = no.


Posted by Watcher, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I can understand Virginia's endorsements. However I find get more of a wealthy dilettante seeking something to do in politics. I found her billboard on 101 for he last campaign a real turn-off in local races.


Posted by Hendrix, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Hey Joe,

You have been mislead. The person informing you that Mr. Silano switched parties, solely to accept the union endorsement, left out that fact that Mr. Silano had the union's endorsement when he ran as a Republican in 2009 (Web Link). After all, Ms. Kiraly accepted the union endorsement, while sitting on the county Republican central committee (Web Link)


Posted by Why, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Kiraly lost for school board in 2009 without the Teachers Union Endorsement. She is a smart professional politician. This is her 3 time riding for office. She's qualified, maybe three times will be successful. Good luck to her. What happens if she loses? Is she done? Is it public service or ego?


Posted by Why, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

For Henry; Kiraly is no Peter Ohtaki.not even close. She was a stockbroker and bond investor. Why did she leave the profession? Ohtaki is an outstanding financial genus, helped the fire board CALPERS debt pay off. No cigar Henry.


Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Which candidates do the unions endorse?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Joe states:"And you will notice the number of signs the fire fighters have displayed around town -- a repeat from last election. Surely they are spending lots of money to ensure his support."

Look at item 19 0n next Tuesday's Fire Board agenda and you will see exactly why the firefighters' union is desperate to get a majority of the Board which owes their election to the union's support.

The current Board has adopted a compensation policy that dramatically changes the District's approach to salaries and benefits and has now adopted an initial proposal for the next round of negotiations withe the firefighters' union which calls for no wage increase, increased pension contributions by the current firefighters and a new defined contribution pension program for new hires. The union, which has consistently demanded an 11% wage increase, responded by saying that they would not even enter into negotiations until the Board meets their demands. That is why the union wants a union supported Board majority.

Let me be clear, I believe that we have superb and dedicated individual firefighters but that does not justify paying them excessive wages and unsupportable pensions. The Board's responsibility is to serve the community not, as some have suggested, to serve the interests of the firefighters' union.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Here is the web site for the Board's agenda:

Web Link


Posted by Confused?, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Kiraly taking Peter Ohtari's place on the board. It looks like Barnum is the best for Ohtari's replacement with no union baggage. I don't agree retaining Spencer, he was part of the problem by voting for increased benefits and giving the 3 at 50 for their retirement. What did he do for Measure l? Silano being union backed did more than Spencer. Signed the petition and voted for it. Spencer needs to go, how about a Barnum/Silano outcome. Peter C. gets one and the union gets one. Even and fair.


Posted by another moderate, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Virginia is passionate about safety, and she's fair. Her financial skills are solid. The comparison should be made to her opponents, not to a predecessor.
Unlike Silano, she did not accept money from the unions. There's a difference between accepting an endorsement and accepting money. That's where she drew the line, and that's impressive.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm

It is impossible to accept a union's endorsements without also accepting in lieu financial support. The firefighters' union endorsement means lots of door-to-door free campaigning and lots of free signs supporting their candidates.

Anyone who thinks the union deserves 'equal' representation on the Fire Board does not understand the fundamentals of democracy - the firefighters' union does not have a vote, only citizens who reside in the District have that right.

And if you want to meet the union half way does that mean give them a 5.5% salary increase?


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

To Joanna -- the unions endorsed Mr. Silano and Ms. Kiraly

The Almanac endorsed Mr. Spencer and Mr. Barnum
The Daily Post endorsed Mr. Spencer and Ms. Kiraly

It will be an interesting election.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Peter's right. Support is support. She took the union endorsement. What did Silano's 460 form say? What did all their 460's say? I believe Silano is the only one with a committee? Did he take firefighters union money. Do we know, Peter do you know?


Posted by interesting, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm

[Post removed; comment on ideas, but don't attack other posters.]


Posted by Where is the priority?, a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

Peter,
A) What the heck is item 24 on the board agenda? Consider 2 new positions?? These are 2 new positions at $160K for HR position and $88K IT position + benefits + 2.7 pers? Where is the 2 tier retirement you keep pushing for? Why is the admin getting new positions, raises, and contract extensions for AFSME with the same inflated salaries and retirements? Why are you creating $250,000 (plus benefits) in new salaries, and spending $2 million on lawsuits to fight the firefighters? Give them a fair contract, and end this frivolous spending. I don't want my tax dollars spent on more HR and IT.
B) Your Quote "firefighters union... responded by saying that they would not even enter into negotiations until the Board meets their demands." The way I understand it, they are NOT ALLOWED to negotiate with you until the PERB complaint is resolved. Why do you keep saying they refuse, when the reality is the legally can't?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

Priority asks:"The way I understand it, they are NOT ALLOWED to negotiate with you until the PERB complaint is resolved. Why do you keep saying they refuse, when the reality is the legally can't?"

Your understanding is wrong. There is no legal prohibition to the union engaging in negotiations regarding a new agreement - they simply don't want to negotiate until they have a Board that they can control.

Item 19 (not item 24) on the Oct 18 Agenda spells (Web Link)
out the details of the Board's initial position as a beginning to the negotiations for a new contract and shows the union's response as a refusal to even meet and confer.


Posted by Where is the Priority?, a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

Peter- you have not responded about Agenda item 24. Why is the district spending a 1/4 million dollars (not including benefits) on NEW administrative staff positions/salaries? And why are they not including a new LOWER retirement rate?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

On item 24 I have already indicated that I will vote against that item:

From: Peter Carpenter
Date: October 6, 2011 6:39:23 PM GMT+01:00
To: "Powell, Barbara"
Cc: "Schapelhouman, Harold"
Subject: Re: A citizen's inquiry

I believe that the Board has endorsed using private sector comparisons in addition to the ones cited - particularly for these two positions which have comparables in the private sector. For that reason I will oppose these salary recommendations.

Peter


Posted by Where's the Priority?, a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

Thank you, Peter! Hopefully the others will vote against as well.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

Priority states:"Hopefully the others will vote against as well."

That is what Public Comment at Fire Board meetings is for - to express exactly such a position:

"A fundamental element of democracy is the right of citizens to address their elected representatives, therefore under Public Comment #1, the public may address the Board on any subject listed on the Agenda. Each speaker may address the Board once under Public Comment for a limit of three minutes. The filing of speaker cards is not mandatory, but is helpful in creating an accurate record."


Posted by Where's the Priority?, a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:54 am

Peter - on a side note, I noticed the comparisons they used include large cities such as Palo Alto and Fremont, which I believe have over 700 employees(?). These hardly compare to 100 employees of the Menlo Fire District. Thank you for keeping this in check.


Posted by Kiraly Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I beg to differ with Peter Carpenter. It is NOT impossible to accept a union endorsement, and then not receive any money or any support. Having been intimately aware of Ms. Kiraly's reasons for accepting the endorsement, I have to say I have been quite impressed. She was VERY honest with all of her feedback to the unions, and MUCH to HER surprise, she was given the endorsement. If you are running for office, and you are a conservative in this area........what would YOU do? She did nothing wrong, in fact she has not "changed her stripes" at all. She did not change her party affiliation, she was very honest with her conservative financial principles, and the union still endorsed her. From my perspective, the union gave her this endorsement because they know that at least Ms. Kiraly will listen, and she will at least form an objective opinion on any decision regarding the tax payer's money. She will not just shut down negotiations and go home. She is a doer, she gets things done. Period. Sorry Peter, you don't get to select your successor, so please stop your assumptions and misguided opinions.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Dear nameless Kiraly supporter - Kiraly's acceptance of the union's endorsement is a fact.

The union widespread promotion of Kiraly by its endorsement, on its web site and in its literature is a fact.

My opinion that this places her in a compromising position is my opinion but an informed opinion based on over 9 years in the office which Kiraly seeks and dealing with the union whose support she knowingly courted and accepted.

As to who will be my successor - that is properly up to the voters.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Good for you Peter, Virginia has laid in bed with the union! Anyway you cut it, she's done it and she needs to live with it! Let's give Scott a chance. No union endorsement!


Posted by Kiraly Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Peter I supported you, and I voted for you in a prior race. However, your comment "knowingly courted" is an outright lie. Shame on you, you. Name me one Republican that has EVER "courted" a union endorsement. She is the the only Republican in this race and is honorable enough to NOT change her party affiliation, she also was ON the Measure L committee, and actually contributed and WORKED on the committee.(a committee where you were noticeably absent) This is a farce, you know it. You have some type of personal issue with Ms. Kiraly, that you do not wish to tell the voter, or this blog. You will never receive my vote again, nor my respect. Pathetic.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 15, 2011 at 2:50 am

Silano had the firefighters and labor council endorsement as a republican in 2009. Kiraly will be a three time loser again. You can't fool the voter three times. The voter is on to Kiraly. Peter is just telling the truth and it should hurt her. Have Kiraly take up another cause or non- profit. People in this race have to much real experience. Spencer, SIIano and Even Kennedy have more experience. Spencer former EMT, Silano former cop and Kennedy on the fire board before. Too bad for her.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

All of the candidates were invited by the union to meet with them in order for the union to decide whom it would endorse. Spencer and Barnum declined that invitation. The other candidates accepted that invitation - in my opinion that was courting the union for its endorsement. If these candidates did not want the union's endorsement then why would they have accepted the union's invitation to be interviewed? Why did they not declined the union's endorsement once it was given? Why is the union spending so much money in this attempt to obtain a union endorsed majority on the Fire Board?

As I stated above, I have great respect for both Silano and Kiraly but I believe that the Fire Board Directors should represent the citizens and not have ANY obligation or debt regarding their election to the very union which represents the vast majority of the Fire District's expenditures and whose wages and pensions will be voted on by those Board members.

As I said in my email to all of the candidates "I strongly recommend that you neither seek nor accept the union's endorsement. I believe that their endorsement will hurt your chances for election, will brand you as pro-union and will be perceived as obligating you to the union as a Board member."

I would note that I am the only poster on this blog who has held the office in question (having been twice elected with more votes than any other candidate) and has had the experience of being both lobbied and targeted by this union. I am simply trying to ensure that the voters understand the conflict of interest that is created by accepting the union's endorsement.

I am posting in my own name and not anonymously, and I accept full responsibility for my statements and opinions. I neither seek nor need the 'respect' or votes of anonymous posters.


Posted by Rob Silano, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 15, 2011 at 7:45 am

Thank you for your past years of service to our community,


Posted by Virginia Chang Kiraly, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 15, 2011 at 8:33 am

Peter,

First of all, thank you for your years of service on the board. You do bring a unique perspective to the finances of MPFPD. I have known you for many of those years, and we have always seen eye-to-eye on the need to curb pensions and be honest and open. However, now, I feel that you must stop misleading voters who really do care about this election and want straight information. If you truly care about correct information, then you could have called or emailed me for the facts-- which you never did.

Here are corrections to your misleading "facts," for the record:

1) I am NOT on any of MPFFA's literature, as you incorrectly stated: "in its literature is a fact." This was at my request.

2) Barnum DID "court" (your word, not mine) the firefighters. His interview was after mine, and I saw him as I was leaving and he was waiting. If he had taken your advice, then I'm not sure why he was at the interview. Perhaps, you should talk to him, as you are supporting him.

For the record, I did not meet with the firefighters to "court" them. I met with them to listen to what they had to say. They are a major stakeholder in our fire district, considering they actually deliver the service for which we pay 16% of our property taxes. They know that I was an active supporter AND endorser of Measure L, which NONE of the other candidates were; they know I was the foreperson of the Grand Jury that published the report on pension reform in 2008-2009, which was the impetus for Measure L. In fact, in my interview, NO FINANCIAL QUESTION WAS ASKED, SO I INTENTIONALLY BROUGHT UP THE GRAND JURY REPORT AND MEASURE L. I NEVER WANTED ANY FALSE EXPECTATIONS OUT THERE. Fortunately, the Daily Post asked for the facts and quoted me correctly when I told them I could see a Measure L-type of initiative for the fire district, if pensions cannot be settled through negotiations. I told the firefighters, "If I'm lucky enough to get elected, we can either work it out (a contract w/affordable pensions) or the citizens will work it out for us with a Measure L-type initiative." I proceeded to remind the firefighters that Measure L won with 71% of votes in MP and won in EVERY precinct in MP.

When I received their endorsement, I point-blank said: "I was very honest— brutally honest— in my interview with you. Would you please help me understand what helped you make your decision?" The President of MPFFA, who was at the interview, replied, "You'll talk to us and listen to us. We know you're not going to agree with us on some things that are important to us, but at least, you'll communicate wih us. Lack of communication is the biggest problem in that district."

Please get your facts straight.

You have not spoken with or reached out to me to find out why I accepted the firefighters endorsement and NOT their money. They are NOT doing an independent campaign for me, making calls for me, or putting me on their literature, as I'm sure you've seen by now. If they want to list me on their website as an endorsed candidate, that's their First Amendment right.

You of all people should know that I believe in full transparency and open communication, which is the only reason I am responding to you on this blog. If you truly want to educate the voters, like you claim you do, then give them correct information-- not your propaganda. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me-- you have my contact information.

For those writers on this forum, I hope my response answers some of your questions. If you have any other questions, please visit my website at: www.VirginiaChangKiraly.com. Hopefully, that will provide you with information. If you would like to contact me, there is a "contact" form that will get to me. I look forward to hearing from you.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 15, 2011 at 8:53 am

Virginia,
Thank you for posting your comments. The union's endorsement on their web site and Facebook page is, in today's world, "literature".

But let's not quibble on definitions, let's look at the facts. The union's web site says that they endorsed you because you "communicates with us about important issues." In the last round of negotiations with the union the union repeatedly attempted to circumvent the Board appointed negotiators by trying to 'communicate' with individual Board members. The Board debated this issue in public and decided that it was not in the best interest of the District for individual Board members to be 'communicating' with the union regarding the negotiations. Clearly wage and benefits are an 'important issue' to the union. So what will you do, if elected, when the union plays it's "communicates with us about important issues" card and asks you to bypass the Board appointed negotiators?

And for the record, I did ask you for your input in my email of August 30th regarding your request for my endorsement and to which you never responded:
*************
From: Peter Carpenter
Date: August 30, 2011 4:10:54 PM PDT
To: Virginia Chang Kiraly
Subject: Re: meeting w/you

My endorsement will be based on the qualifications and positions of the candidates - not on any friendship.
Please forward your info to me when it is ready.

Peter
**********
I again urge you to decline the union's endorsement and to run on your excellent record and your long list of endorsements by individuals who are actually eligible to vote for you.


Posted by Virginia Chang Kiraly, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 15, 2011 at 9:16 am

Peter Carpenter:

You're right, I do have an excellent record of being a pension reformer for the past 10 years. That track record also includes listening to all sides of an issue. Thank you for the compliment.

Yes, let's not quibble on definitions. Let's ask this question:

If Barnum or Spencer receive a contribution from you, since you endorsed them, would that be considered a conflict of interest, since you continue to try to "publicize" them on this blog?

Thank you for reminding about our email exchange, but you are partially correct about the email dated August 30. Your response was in relation to asking for my platform, which I wanted to post on my website first, before giving it to any individual. This has nothing to do w/the union's endorsements, which came out in mid-September-- well after my email exchange with you.

For the record, the "friendship" you refer to in your email is NOT about your friendship with me but w/Barnum. Here's the exact quote, extracted from my email to you: "I know if [sic] you and barnum are friends, so if you're inclined to endorse him, pls let me know." (Aug. 30, 2011)

All I wanted was a straight answer from you, which you never gave me. This email exchange dated August 30 was the last email exchange you and I had.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 15, 2011 at 9:26 am

The question remains:"So what will you do, if elected, when the union plays it's "communicates with us about important issues" card and asks you to bypass the Board appointed negotiators?"


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 15, 2011 at 9:35 am

Virginia -- while you and Peter have your debate, I would remind you and others, that while you state you did not solicit the union's endorsement, you have proudly displayed it on your website - Web Link.

You have included the measure L folks in the same box as the unions. For the average citizen reading your website that seems to be a mixed message, one that you have to repeatedly rationalize.

Additionally, if you wanted to meet with union leaders to communicate with them, as you stated in your response to Mr. Carpenter, you could have done so apart from an endorsement interview.


Posted by Roy Desoto, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

Wow. A willingness to listen alone gets the union endorsement? Could it be things are so bad with the MPFPA, MPFPD, and the Fire Board that the bar is set that low?

If Carpenter's endorsements are for candidates which advocate continuance of increased administrative expenses, expanded missions, and contentious relationships, then clearly they are poor choices.

Kiraly's responses are met only with new questions, not refutations. Apparently, she's right. Good for her for getting on the message boards and setting the record straight.

She's got my vote.


Posted by Outsider, a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2011 at 10:38 am

As an "outsider," it strikes me that the only solution to unlimited or unknown pension liability is the route that most private enterprises have taken, which is no pension or a defined contribution pension where the district's future costs, if any, are clearly defined.

My employer has a defined contribution plan with no matching. But as a taxpayer, I'm supporting defined benefit plans for public employees, and hearing candidates who tout 3% at 55 for public safety employees as "reform." (For a 30-year employee, that's 90% of your highest pay for life, adjusted for inflation, starting at age 55.)

Candidates for public office, it seems to me, should be committing to a defined contribution plan for both new employees, and for existing employees from the date of the new contract forward. I assume that government has to comply with its past contractual obligations, however irresponsible, unless it seeks relief under bankruptcy laws.

So, this whole debate about whether a candidate is endorsed by a union or not could be settled for me by a commitment to a defined contribution plan, as stated above.

Measure L, which does not apply to safety employees and continues a defined benefit plan, was a great step, but we need to make the much bigger next step.

It would be great if we could go back to the days of defined benefit plans for all, but that doesn't seem realistic in today's global economy. If it's not realistic for us as employees in the private sector, why is it realistic for our employees, our "public servants."


Posted by Scott Barnum, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

This is to provide a couple of comments on the Fire Board race generally and clarifications to posts above that reference me.

1. The individuals running in this race are all decent folks. The District and the voters are lucky to have a reasonable choice of candidates with diverse backgrounds who care to run and help their communities. Bottom line, the voters need to decide what combination of experience, expertise and key issue stances are needed as part of the composition of the board at this juncture to tackle the challenges over the next four years. The board is and should be a blend of viewpoints, experience sets and functional capabilities to optimize problem solving and make better decisions.

2. I did meet with the MPFFA group on September 8th as did other candidates. At the outset of that meeting I told the firefighters I was not there to seek their endorsement. They didn't know me from a hole in the wall. I was there to listen and learn, and vice versa, since they invited me to talk with them. That is not an unreasonable action of anyone running for this office, but particularly for a newcomer. Moreover, it is certainly not unreasonable for an association who has a vested interest in the election to get some understanding about the individuals who may be making decisions that affect their members. For clarification, I did not "court" or seeking anything from the Association other than their POV. To insinuate otherwise is simply not true. Similarly, I have had meetings with each member of the current board and the Chief to better understand the issues and challenges the District is facing, from their perspectives. In my opinion, this perspective finding is especially warranted for anyone who has not been on the board before. I would expect and think it prudent for the other candidates to do the same thing.

3. Rightly or wrongly, I have not taken and I am not taking any contributions for this election from anyone. I have filed papers that declare I will spend less than $1000 in marketing activities on this election.

4. Peter Carpenter and I know each other primarily from the Atherton Disaster and Preparedness Team (ADAPT), an organization of residents of Atherton who are helping neighborhoods and individuals get better prepared for major emergencies, in conjunction with police, fire and local government. If it is at all relevant, I think our relationship should be better characterized as working colleagues vs. "friends."

I encourage folks who are participating in or reading this blog to come to the League of Women's Voters Fire Board Candidate Forum this coming Thursday October 20th at 7pm at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers - 701 Laurel Street in Menlo Park - to listen to us candidates respond to the issues.


Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 16, 2011 at 8:09 am

I can't vote for anyone that the union endorses.


Posted by Smoky the Bear, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 16, 2011 at 10:18 am

I am not a big fan of Government Employee Unions. Trade Unions promote the interests of its members. Employee Unions are a public relations arm of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party through its irresponsible kowtowing to Employee Unions has caused many Cities to declare bankruptcy.

But the tide has turned. Some employee Unions (not the SEIU) realize that if they continue with their rapacious salary, benefits, and retirement demands that they will be an active participant in their cities' demise.

So now they are willing to compromise to avoid killing the goose who lays the proverbial golden egg. The Fire Fighter's Union has realized that it needs to compromise in order to survive. In this new environment it is wise for Fire Board Candidates to meet with the Unions, not to seek their endorsement, but to open a constructive dialog.

Scott Barnum and Virgina Kiraly have done this. But Mr. Carpenter excoriates Kiraly for being reasonable and protects his candidate Mr. Barnum for doing the same as Kiraly. This inconsistency in Mr. Carpenter's logic reveals that he is not impartial but rather endorses candidates for whom he holds sway over.

I am sure Mr. Barnum is a nice man; but we need candidates who can think for themselves and not be unduly influenced by Mr. Carpenter. For this reason I encourage people to vote for candidates who can think for themselves, listen to all sides, and make decisions based on what is best for everyone. Mr. Carpenter will be stepping down from the fire board soon. He shouldn't be trying to cling to power by fronting candidates who give the appearance of placing loyalty to him over the needs of the public.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

Smokey the Bear (another firefighter hiding behind an aptly chosen anonymous name?) is blowing smoke.

I know Silano and Kiraly better than I know Barnum.

Barnum has no loyalty to me and hasn't received a penny from me.

The tide of the firefighters' union has not changed - not only have they continued "with their rapacious salary, benefits, and retirement demands" but they have added to that a stack of law suits against the Fire District and a refusal to even negotiate for a new contract.

Put simply public employee unions have no place in local elections.

Candidates who accept endorsements from the very union that they are responsible for overseeing are placing their sworn responsibility to the citizens whom they serve in question by their debt to the union - whose wages and pensions they set using the taxpayers dollars.

Why exactly is this union spending so much money trying to get their endorsed candidates elected? It certainly isn't to promote the public interest.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thank you Mr. Barnum for your post. It seems to me that if your are going to run for the Fire District it only makes sense to try and engage all parties in conversation. I applaud you for doing so.

I also applaud Mr. Carpenter for his willingness to take the time to discuss the issues of the Fire District with the prospective candidates. Notwithstanding the idiotic attempts of Bears who have been hibernating for years to tarnish those who have served us, it is refreshing to see a soon to be former public official who wishes to share his historical knowledge with those who seek to replace him.

Might I also add that if you are the kind of person that places great emphasis on who endorses who, you might consider going shopping on election day instead of voting....

You'll have a much better day.


Posted by Smokey the Bear, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Me think he doth protest too much.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I find the comments interesting commending the candidates who have meet with the union. If Silano and/or Kiraly happen to get elected, do they plan to circumvent the negotiating process and meet apart from the normal process?

The union said they want to communicate. But as I understand the situation, the union walked away from negotiations and has not expressed a willingness to return. Additionally, they have filed lawsuits, charges and grievances. Is our fire department really that bad a place to work? After all, the fire fighters have a good job, a generous salary and retirement. They should be grateful instead of being greedy.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I find it interesting that the union continues to demand more money and continues to claim they are "underpaid." Especially when they know they are very well compensated. This is backed up by the fact that when a firefighter of my aquaintance was hired he was told he had just "hit the lottery." The fire fighters know damn well they are getting paid quite well. Especially when you consider they only have to work 10 days a month and a good percentage of them have businesses on the side which brings them even more income. If 100 qualified applicants show up for every job opening that should tell you something. They are OVER paid.


Posted by Randy, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

As a member of another local community that just went through a big battle with the fire unions, I would stay away from anyone who accepts a union endorsement or the union money - directly or indirectly! I grew up in Menlo Park and I care about the community. These fire unions need to realize who they work for and that the gravy train is long gone. It is time to pay a sensible wage and benefits that pencil out. The days of firemen making $120K+ bloated benefits are over. Nearly all of them have another line of work that they do in the 15-20 days a month that they do not work for the Fire Department. This is ALL about the money for them and cities need to real it in. They are free to quit and leave at any time. There are only a few hundred people willing to work for each position that opens up... Peninsula cities really should work together on creating one department and really get rid of the fat, waste and overlap. This really gets the unions and locally backed politicians upset. It needs to happen and we need to stop overpaying for services. The pressure is on unions nationally and it needs to stay on until this madness is brought back down to a fiscally responsible level.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

The days of slavery ended a long long time ago. If our fireman are so unhappy and under paid, feel free to leave at any time. Most if not all do not live in Menlo Park. So, safe your time and money, find a job that pays more, if there are any, and apply.

I agree the gravey train and the number of applicants apply for fire jobs out number the number of opening. Please, leave and allow others to take your place.

I also agree it is also time for the cities to combine and get the fat in management and personnel in all positions.

Good luck MPFF


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I have today received an election flyer from Kiraly. Out of the many endorsements listed on her web site she chose to highlight in this flyer only four endorsing organizations and three of them were the firefighters' union, the county firefighters' association and the county labor council. She is clearly milking her union endorsements for all that they are worth.

The question is when the bill comes due for those endorsements how will she pay it? With the taxpayers money?

Unions have no business in local elections and candidates for office should not place themselves in debt to those over whose pay and benefits they seek to have control.


Posted by Please Stop, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

What Mr. Carpenter neglects to say is that the 4th endorsement Ms. Kiraly received was from the Menlo Park Pension Reform heavy weights who worked tirelessly with Ms. Kiraly to put Measure L on the ballot in 2010. Kiraly got her endorsements from such diverse organizations because she's the adult who is even keeled, solution oriented and smart enough to listen to both taxpayers and our firefighters.

It's time to stop the demonizing of the very people who, when we need them, rush to our homes and places of businesses to save our homes and our lives.

No wonder we have such a mess on our hands with the MPFPD Board and the union. Carpenter is on the Board and he needs to take his leave. His hostility has not worked.

Virginia Chang Kiraly is strong, informed and gracious. She knows there needs to be an overhaul of the pension system. She can do the job that has been ignored.

Is it even appropriate for Mr. Carpenter, as a Board Member to comment on the election of a new Board Member? Shouldn't he step back and let the election process proceed without his making political hay?


Posted by John, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Peter - I could not agree more. Ms. Kiraly was someone that my Wife and I had planned to support but getting this flier just makes me sick. The unions do not just want to be "listened to" they want money and less work for it. I guess with several failed campaigns under her belt, Ms. Kiraly is ok with winning at any price? In order to "deal" with the unions one must sell their soul first.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I am sure the FF love her


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Please Stop - there is no way that I will ever stop expressing my opinions - particularly not based on a request from an anonymous poster.

As noted above, I am the only poster who has actually held this office (for almost 9 years in total) having been elected twice with more votes than any other candidate. I am the only poster who has actually had the experience of dealing with the firefighters' union and their aggressive tactics. And I have no intention of standing silent while that union attempts to gain control of a majority of the Fire Board.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Please Stop -- Ms. Kiraly may be informed and gracious, but that has nothing to do with her touting the unions' endorsement. She may say one thing, but clearly her mailers and website boast another. Which side is she really on?

As for Mr. Silano -- I received a mailer sent out by the union supporting him by stating "None of the [sic] Fire District's money is going towards improving safety." Does Mr. Silano really believe this? I guess so since his picture appears on the flyer. Since he is endorsed by the union, would he favor more money going to the already well paid fire fighters. How much should a fire fighter get paid?

Clearly the union is desperate to win this election and have identified Mr. Silano and Ms. Kiraly to support. As for me I cannot support anyone who is backed by the union.


Posted by Please Stop, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

9 years as a MPFPD Board Members and what has Mr. Carpenter accomplished? Either enumerate your own contribution to the effort or stop expressing your opinions and let the candidates speak. Your time is up. If your "experience dealing with the firefighters" has left the District in the condition it is now in, then it's time to take a back seat and let an election, unencumbered with your perspective occur.

There seems to be a group of competent people who are willing to volunteer their time and dedication to this job. I ask you, Mr. Carpenter to step back. Your postings are s numerous, you run the risk of being merely irritating.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Please Stop - irritating you is the least of my concerns.

I would feel irresponsible if I did not speak out based on my knowledge and experience. As for my accomplishments on the Board, I leave it in superb financial situation with strong leadership and very little in the way of unfunded pension liabilities, with a strong strategic plan, having refused to yield to the union's demand for an 11% pay increase and with superb policies to deal with future pay and pension programs. All of this would obviously be at risk with a Board majority controlled by the union.

Please Stop - what about you? What elected office have you held? Are you a registered voter in the district? Are you are firefighter or related to a firefighter? Why do you want to silence people who have intimate knowledge of the situation? Why do you choose to post anonymously - what are you hiding or afraid of?


Posted by Please Stop, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Mr. Carpenter:
Were you on the board when all this occurred or are you speaking of ideas that Mr. Ohtaki came up with and introduced to the Board? I'd like a clarification from you so that when I read your comments, I will understand just exactly what you contributed to during the time you were on the board.

If being on the MPFPD Board is the extent of your time as an elected official, you have made your contribution and now it's time for a new generation to step in.

No, I am not a firefighter and I don't know even one firefighter. I am not a union member. My intention is not to silence you but to ask that you behave like a Board Member of our fire district who does not get involved in the politics and add to the negativity that has been stewing on this online system.

We are all fortunate that 4 good people have thrown their hats in. Let them compete fair and square without your endless finger pointing and postings, some of which purposely mislead.

Those of us who remain anonymous do so because the personal attacks that you have made are frightening. Once again, take a break. Please stop.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Please Stop - I served on the Board both long before, during and after Peter Ohtaki's short term.

Nothing is gained by attacking me personally. The issues remain:

- Unions have no business in local elections and candidates for office should not place themselves in debt to those over whose pay and benefits they seek to have control.

- Candidates who accept endorsements from the very union that they are responsible for overseeing are placing their sworn responsibility to the citizens whom they serve in question by their debt to the union - whose wages and pensions they set using the taxpayers dollars.

- Why exactly is this union spending so much money trying to get their endorsed candidates elected? It certainly isn't to promote the public interest.

- It is impossible to accept a union's endorsements without also accepting in lieu financial support. The firefighters' union endorsement means lots of door-to-door free campaigning and lots of free signs supporting their candidates.

- Anyone who thinks the union deserves 'equal' representation on the Fire Board does not understand the fundamentals of democracy - the firefighters' union does not have a vote, only citizens who reside in the District have that right.

- The union's power is profound - in the last Fire Board election they spent an estimated $50,000 - which was more than all of the candidates themselves spent in total - and yet only one of the three candidates which the firefighters' union supported was elected. I trust the judgement of the voters.

- One of the Fire Board's biggest challenges is dealing with a firefighters' union that refuses to negotiate, demands outrageous salaries and benefits, and files lawsuit after lawsuit against the District. This is not a time in which the citizens want elected officials who are in any way beholden to this union.


Posted by Thomas (Sharon Heights), a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Thomas (Sharon Heights) is a registered user.

"Please Stop"...While I am in agreement with your well stated opinions as well as "Smokey the Bear", I would add that I feel quite confident that Mr. Carpenter's endorsements of Barnum and Spencer are more of a liability than an asset to those candidates to any reasonable person that has followed the Almanac blogs and has read Mr. Carpenter's pecuniary opinions.

Clearly, Ms. Kiraly's participation in Measure L demonstrates she is fiscally responsible as well as informed. I also commend any candidate with a fresh perspective and willing to take the time to listen to our firefighters. Like most residents, I do not have time to attend MPFPD meetings, but through these blogs I have come to understand that their seems to be plenty of cash for new buildings and newly created positions. The Almanac's endorsement of Spencer and Barnum, as I'm sure these two candidates will agree, is only diminished by Mr. Carpenter's endorsement since he is the poster child for all the problems revolving around our fire department.


Posted by Please Stop, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I apologize to Mr. Carpenter as he has evidently taken my comments personally. One wonders what Mr. Carpenter thinks when he says such hurtful and misleading statements about candidates.

Let me take another approach. Were you, Mr. Carpenter on the board when the contract with the union was approved several years ago? I believe the contract that the firefighters are now working under dates back to 2007 before Mr. Ohtaki joined the board. I do not know how you voted but perhaps you might inform the readers on this thread.

I am not questioning your passion. No one reading this line of comments and others in which you are a dominant poster would question your passion. I am curious about the animosity you feel about the union. Could there be, perhaps another style you might use when sharing your concerns?

I you would be so kind as to refresh my memory of the union contract and how you voted, all of us might understand better your outrage. Perhaps you were the one vote against the contract. I admit, it's all quite confusing and I look forward to hearing more from you.

My request has been that you stop your repetitious criticisms of the candidates. However any light you can shed on the contract and your participation would help all of us.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 18, 2011 at 6:44 am

In 2003 I voted to approve a five year contract with the firefighters' union. That contract expired in 2008 at which time the firefighters demanded and 11% salary increase which the Board declined to approve.

After two years of unsuccessful negotiations the union walked away from the table and has refused to return to negotiations to this date. After declaring that an impasse had been reached and after the union failed to appear at an impasse hearing the Board imposed a new contract with no salary increases but with improved and standardized health benefits early in 2011. The union has been invited to begin negotiations for a new contract but has declined the offer.

As I stated above I believe that we have superb and dedicated individual firefighters but that does not justify paying them excessive wages and unsupportable pensions.

The Board's responsibility is to serve the community not, as some have suggested, to serve the interests of the firefighters' union. The firefighters' union has, over the last decade, become less and less interested in service to the community and more and more focused on service to its members.

I believe that the Fire Board Directors should represent the citizens and not have ANY obligation or debt regarding their election to the very union which represents the vast majority of the Fire District's expenditures and whose wages and pensions will be voted on by those Board members.


Posted by Leslie Stepp, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 18, 2011 at 9:25 am

My experience working side-by-side with Kiraly was very disappointing considering the appearance of her experience...but she holds no position of any legnth of serious duration before she flits off to another place. There is a reason for this, and that reason is she can be so difficult to work side-by-side with. Given what has been happening on the Menlo Fire District, the voters of Menlo Park may desire to favor someone who is a concensus builder and who can get along with everyone for the sake of building and pushing solutiosn through the onerous system. Sorry to say I can not endorse this candidate, and suggest the people of Menlo Park look to other candididates who work well with others from the heart, not ambition of position.


Posted by Firefighter Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

For all those that bash the firefighters, please remember this:
Your family member is having chest pains at 3am- who responds to help? THE FIREFIGHTERS. You get in a car accident and are trapped in the car- who responds to help? THE FIREFIGHTERS. A child gets hit by a car- who responds to help? THE FIREFIGHTERS. Your house is flooding from a broken water pipe- who responds to help? THE FIREFIGHTERS. 24/7. I am NOT a firefighter- but I take pride in knowing we have good firefighters in Menlo Park that are ALWAYS here to help anyone in need. They deserve to be heard- and we ALL deserve board members that will listen to BOTH sides. Go SILANO and KIRALY!


Posted by it's just an endorsement, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

The conversation with regard to endorsements has been moved to:

Web Link=

so as not to continue to be titled with candidates names.

Thanks

It's Just an Endorsement


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2011 at 11:29 am

Firefighter supporter:

yes, firefighters do all of those things. They get PAID to do them. If you don't think they are over paid why do you think 100 qualified candidates show up for every job opening that comes along?

The individual firefighters are great people. Their union, on the other hand, is only working to increase the pay and benefits of their members. They are not working for the benefit of us, the tax payers.

Do not vote for anyone that has received a union endorsement.


Posted by Firefighter Supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

Menlo Voter
I too am a tax paying voter, and of course they get paid to do their job. Do you get paid to do your job? do you work for free? do you work for cheaper than market rate??? Despite what YOU think, they are working for my benefit- I can call 24/7 and they will be there for ME- and YOU. And as far as 100 qualified applicants, this is true for most jobs out there today, not just firefighters. Have you seen the unemployment rates? I rest assured at night, but it sounds like you would'nt mind having underpaid, underqualified inmates performing CPR on you.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Firefighter Supporter,

Now you play the Under Qualified Inmate card....wow. Stay focused...apples to apples


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Fire fighter supporter,

There's a difference between an firefighter (who is trained to do their job -- fight fire, give CPR, etc.) and a member of the union. It's not a union member who gives CPR but rather a firefighter.

Believe it or not, not all fire fighters are union members. There are plenty of volunteers around this country who perform these same duties.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Firefighter supporter:

spare me the rhetoric. Firefighters get paid to do their job. I was a cop. I got paid to do my job. I didn't expect the public to keep raising my compensation to unsustainable levels. And who said anything about underpaid inmates. That's a stupid statement on it's face so I won't even give it any credence by responding to it. Yes 100 qualified candidates show up for each job opening and no it's not because of the economy. It has been that way for a looooong time.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire Board tonight adopted the following policy. It would be enlightening if those Fire Board candidates who have accepted the union's endorsement would publicly state that they will adhere to this policy notwithstanding any potentially conflicting commitments that they might have made to the union.

" LABOR RELATIONS COMMUNICATIONS POLICY
MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
PURPOSE
The purpose of this policy is to set guidelines for the Board of Directors and District staff, in the interest of promoting fairness and integrity in the process, to avoid actions that would circumvent the District's designated bargaining teams to ensure that labor negotiations are conducted in good faith.
STATEMENT OF POLICY
It is the policy of the Board of Directors that all of its members and
District staff shall abide by the following guiding principles during any period when labor negotiations are occurring between the District and any District bargaining group.
1. All labor negotiations will be conducted by designated
representatives at the bargaining table. All District
representatives operate upon the direction of the Board of
Directors.
2. No individual Board member will individually negotiate with any
bargaining group member.
3. District representatives commit to keeping the Board fully
informed and advising them of all substantive proposals.
4. Each Board member shall inform the Fire Chief at their earliest
convenience and publicly disclose in open session the general
substance of any communications he or she has had with any
District bargaining group member(s) that has any reference to any
labor negotiations with the District.
5. Consistent with Government Code section 54963, confidentiality
of closed session discussions will be maintained."


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