News

FPPC continues probe of Kniss' campaign

After two years, case remains open and even its target doesn't know why it's taking so long

When the state Fair Political Practice Commission opened its probe into Palo Alto Councilwoman's Liz Kniss alleged campaign violations in March 2017, there was little indication that two years later, the agency's Enforcement Division would still be working on the case.

As the investigation has passed the two-year mark this week, there are few signs that the end is approaching. The case is not on the agency's March 21 agenda, which means it will be at least another month and a half before the FPPC can issue a resolution. And the agency has been tight-lipped about the case, citing its policy of not commenting on open cases.

Even so, the sheer length of time it's taking the FPPC to investigate Kniss suggests that the agency believes that her case is more complex than the 77 percent of its cases that qualify for a "streamlining program" and that usually get resolved within two or three months. These, according to FPPC spokesperson Jay Wierenga, tend to be "minor, technical, lower level violations that can be cleared up rather quickly."

In 2017, the agency resolved about two-thirds of its cases within 180 days, with some taking just a few months, Wierenga said. Between 75 and 85 percent of the cases were completed within a year. The February 2017 investigation against Councilman Greg Tanaka for reporting violations was resolved within seven months and resulted in a $733 fine. The complaint against Councilman (now Vice Mayor) Adrian Fine, who failed to include his campaign's FPPC number on an October 2017 mailer, was closed within two weeks (the FPPC issued a warning but did not impose a fine in this case).

The reasons for why some cases take much longer vary greatly, Wierenga told the Weekly. Each case, he said, has its "specific facts, allegations, evidence (and) personalities and therefore one cannot simply put a cookie-cutter, time's-up-type of time frame on things."

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"Witnesses change testimony, or the witness testimony is contradictory, so then obviously more investigation is needed to determine the accuracy of any and all the testimony, with facts and evidence needed," Wierenga said in a February email, referring to the agency's general process and not Kniss' specific case. "Collecting the facts and evidence can also be a time-consuming endeavor. Again, some of this can be seen in terms of whether people are cooperative or less than cooperative. Some cases also involve a great deal of complexity to figure out if certain votes or decisions led to certain outcomes, and that may include looking at numerous votes or decisions previous that lead up to one in particular."

The Kniss investigation, which was prompted by a citizen complaint, centers on her failure to report in a timely manner the contributions she had received from developers during her 2016 re-election campaign. At issue is the 31 contributions, totaling $19,340, that she received before the Nov. 8, 2016 election but that her campaign did not report until Jan. 11. The contributions, many of which came from local developers, all arrived in the final days of a campaign that previously pledged not to accept developers' contributions.

Kniss said that to her knowledge, these factors had not been at play in her investigation. There have been no witnesses in this case except her attorney, who was handling the campaign, and her treasurer, Tom Collins, who was charged with reporting the checks but who was waylaid by a knee surgery in the final days of the 2016 campaign — a circumstance that he said kept him from opening the envelopes, depositing the checks and reporting the contributions to the FPPC.

Kniss told the Weekly that she has not spoken to the FPPC in well over a year and has not heard from the agency about the investigation since she received its March 10, 2017, letter notifying her of the investigation. She said she had hired an attorney to work with the FPPC to resolve the complaint. The attorney worked with Collins to respond to the FPPC, she said.

"I don't think I've talked to my attorney for more than a year," Kniss said (she declined to name her attorney). "I don't know what you'd do about something when you have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. I'm going to presume my attorney is doing his job."

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Kniss said the only time she contacted the FPPC was before the investigation when she called the agency's Legal Division for advice. At that time, she said, her campaign was advised that because the envelopes containing the checks were not opened until well after the election, they did not have to be reported until the January campaign statement (even if the developers made their contributions well before the election, as several told the Weekly they had).

The late donations included several checks greater than $1,000, including ones from Thoits Brothers, Hatco Associates LLC, Palo Alto Improvement Company and Joseph Martignetti Jr. All of these were sent in before Election Day and, as such, should have been reported in a special Form 497 filing within 24 hours, but they were not. The campaign also received a $2,500 contribution from the California Association of Realtors, which was not reported until Jan. 11. The realtor association's own filing, however, shows that it made the contribution on Oct. 18, well before the election.

In seeking legal advice, Kniss' treasurer Collins told the FPPC in an email that the $2,500 contribution "was not shown on a Form 497 because it was not opened, posted or deposited until November 18th well after the election date of November 8th." The FPPC's legal staff (which functions separately from the agency's Enforcement Division) offered Collins what appeared to be reassuring advice: because he didn't open the envelope until Nov. 18, the $2,500 was not considered "received" until that date and, as such, did not have to be reported in a Form 497 within 24 hours of the envelope's arrival in his mailbox.

Though no one disputes that the contributions from developers were reported well after the election, Kniss maintained that her intent was never to conceal these contributions and characterized the complaint against her as "innuendos and false accusations." Rather, it was nothing more than a health emergency that kept her treasurer from meeting the regular reporting deadline.

She did not dispute that her campaign changed its policy about accepting developers' donations, but argued that this was due to changing circumstances. Two of her competitors in the 2016 election, Lydia Kou and Arthur Keller collectively received about $100,000 in donations from five families, some of whom also later supported the 2018 campaigns of Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth (the major contributors include Tench and Simone Coxe; Gabrielle and Thomas Layton; Helyn MacLean; G. Leonard and Mary Ann Baker; and Michael and Paula Rantz).

Kniss said the investigation, despite its length, has neither been a distraction nor has it dented her political clout. In January 2018, her council colleagues voted to appoint her mayor (her third such honor). The only council member who mentioned the FPPC probe was Councilman Tom DuBois, who suggested that the council should reconsider its vote if the FPPC completes its investigation and finds violations (this became a moot point after the year ended with no FPPC findings).

"I do think we owe it to the community and to the institution of the Palo Alto City Council to maintain the level of standards the community demands," DuBois said at the Jan. 8, 2018 meeting.

Kniss, for her part, pushed back against any suggestion that her policy of accepting checks from developers — after her campaign initially said it would not do so — was in any way inconsistent with these standards. Any politician who can't change his mind, she told the Weekly, is not worth his or her salt.

"I changed my mind about taking those larger checks than I would have when I realized that I have stiff competition from five families that were donating in the five and six figures," Kniss told the Weekly. "When you're running for office, you want to win. You certainly don't want to lose because you didn't have enough money."

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

FPPC continues probe of Kniss' campaign

After two years, case remains open and even its target doesn't know why it's taking so long

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 11:25 am

When the state Fair Political Practice Commission opened its probe into Palo Alto Councilwoman's Liz Kniss alleged campaign violations in March 2017, there was little indication that two years later, the agency's Enforcement Division would still be working on the case.

As the investigation has passed the two-year mark this week, there are few signs that the end is approaching. The case is not on the agency's March 21 agenda, which means it will be at least another month and a half before the FPPC can issue a resolution. And the agency has been tight-lipped about the case, citing its policy of not commenting on open cases.

Even so, the sheer length of time it's taking the FPPC to investigate Kniss suggests that the agency believes that her case is more complex than the 77 percent of its cases that qualify for a "streamlining program" and that usually get resolved within two or three months. These, according to FPPC spokesperson Jay Wierenga, tend to be "minor, technical, lower level violations that can be cleared up rather quickly."

In 2017, the agency resolved about two-thirds of its cases within 180 days, with some taking just a few months, Wierenga said. Between 75 and 85 percent of the cases were completed within a year. The February 2017 investigation against Councilman Greg Tanaka for reporting violations was resolved within seven months and resulted in a $733 fine. The complaint against Councilman (now Vice Mayor) Adrian Fine, who failed to include his campaign's FPPC number on an October 2017 mailer, was closed within two weeks (the FPPC issued a warning but did not impose a fine in this case).

The reasons for why some cases take much longer vary greatly, Wierenga told the Weekly. Each case, he said, has its "specific facts, allegations, evidence (and) personalities and therefore one cannot simply put a cookie-cutter, time's-up-type of time frame on things."

"Witnesses change testimony, or the witness testimony is contradictory, so then obviously more investigation is needed to determine the accuracy of any and all the testimony, with facts and evidence needed," Wierenga said in a February email, referring to the agency's general process and not Kniss' specific case. "Collecting the facts and evidence can also be a time-consuming endeavor. Again, some of this can be seen in terms of whether people are cooperative or less than cooperative. Some cases also involve a great deal of complexity to figure out if certain votes or decisions led to certain outcomes, and that may include looking at numerous votes or decisions previous that lead up to one in particular."

The Kniss investigation, which was prompted by a citizen complaint, centers on her failure to report in a timely manner the contributions she had received from developers during her 2016 re-election campaign. At issue is the 31 contributions, totaling $19,340, that she received before the Nov. 8, 2016 election but that her campaign did not report until Jan. 11. The contributions, many of which came from local developers, all arrived in the final days of a campaign that previously pledged not to accept developers' contributions.

Kniss said that to her knowledge, these factors had not been at play in her investigation. There have been no witnesses in this case except her attorney, who was handling the campaign, and her treasurer, Tom Collins, who was charged with reporting the checks but who was waylaid by a knee surgery in the final days of the 2016 campaign — a circumstance that he said kept him from opening the envelopes, depositing the checks and reporting the contributions to the FPPC.

Kniss told the Weekly that she has not spoken to the FPPC in well over a year and has not heard from the agency about the investigation since she received its March 10, 2017, letter notifying her of the investigation. She said she had hired an attorney to work with the FPPC to resolve the complaint. The attorney worked with Collins to respond to the FPPC, she said.

"I don't think I've talked to my attorney for more than a year," Kniss said (she declined to name her attorney). "I don't know what you'd do about something when you have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. I'm going to presume my attorney is doing his job."

Kniss said the only time she contacted the FPPC was before the investigation when she called the agency's Legal Division for advice. At that time, she said, her campaign was advised that because the envelopes containing the checks were not opened until well after the election, they did not have to be reported until the January campaign statement (even if the developers made their contributions well before the election, as several told the Weekly they had).

The late donations included several checks greater than $1,000, including ones from Thoits Brothers, Hatco Associates LLC, Palo Alto Improvement Company and Joseph Martignetti Jr. All of these were sent in before Election Day and, as such, should have been reported in a special Form 497 filing within 24 hours, but they were not. The campaign also received a $2,500 contribution from the California Association of Realtors, which was not reported until Jan. 11. The realtor association's own filing, however, shows that it made the contribution on Oct. 18, well before the election.

In seeking legal advice, Kniss' treasurer Collins told the FPPC in an email that the $2,500 contribution "was not shown on a Form 497 because it was not opened, posted or deposited until November 18th well after the election date of November 8th." The FPPC's legal staff (which functions separately from the agency's Enforcement Division) offered Collins what appeared to be reassuring advice: because he didn't open the envelope until Nov. 18, the $2,500 was not considered "received" until that date and, as such, did not have to be reported in a Form 497 within 24 hours of the envelope's arrival in his mailbox.

Though no one disputes that the contributions from developers were reported well after the election, Kniss maintained that her intent was never to conceal these contributions and characterized the complaint against her as "innuendos and false accusations." Rather, it was nothing more than a health emergency that kept her treasurer from meeting the regular reporting deadline.

She did not dispute that her campaign changed its policy about accepting developers' donations, but argued that this was due to changing circumstances. Two of her competitors in the 2016 election, Lydia Kou and Arthur Keller collectively received about $100,000 in donations from five families, some of whom also later supported the 2018 campaigns of Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth (the major contributors include Tench and Simone Coxe; Gabrielle and Thomas Layton; Helyn MacLean; G. Leonard and Mary Ann Baker; and Michael and Paula Rantz).

Kniss said the investigation, despite its length, has neither been a distraction nor has it dented her political clout. In January 2018, her council colleagues voted to appoint her mayor (her third such honor). The only council member who mentioned the FPPC probe was Councilman Tom DuBois, who suggested that the council should reconsider its vote if the FPPC completes its investigation and finds violations (this became a moot point after the year ended with no FPPC findings).

"I do think we owe it to the community and to the institution of the Palo Alto City Council to maintain the level of standards the community demands," DuBois said at the Jan. 8, 2018 meeting.

Kniss, for her part, pushed back against any suggestion that her policy of accepting checks from developers — after her campaign initially said it would not do so — was in any way inconsistent with these standards. Any politician who can't change his mind, she told the Weekly, is not worth his or her salt.

"I changed my mind about taking those larger checks than I would have when I realized that I have stiff competition from five families that were donating in the five and six figures," Kniss told the Weekly. "When you're running for office, you want to win. You certainly don't want to lose because you didn't have enough money."

Comments

resident
Midtown
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:36 pm
resident, Midtown
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Kniss's explanation doesn't make any sense:

1. She didn't know about the contributions until well after the election
2. She changed her mind about taking the contributions when her opponents got big contributions before the election

Since she won the election without knowing about the developers constributions, then why not just give them back/return the checks and maintain her campaign promise.

Developers don't hand out money randomly. Usually there is some contact so that the developers know a candidate has some alignment with the developers goal.

It appears to many that Kniss was gaming the system, and committed to advertising, mailers, etc. assuming more money was coming to fund the costs. What suckers we all are.

By the way the PA Weekly should mention they do have a conflict of interest because of the spending that Kniss did with the news organization on advertising.


jh
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm
jh, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm

"Kniss said the investigation, despite its length, has neither been a distraction nor has it dented her political clout. In January 2018, her council colleagues voted to appoint her mayor "

You only have to look at the developer friendly council majority to see the political reality as to how that came about.


Abitarian
Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:13 pm
Abitarian, Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Regardless of whether or not the FPPC eventually penalizes her, the basic facts -- which Ms. Kniss acknowledges without apology -- are not in dispute.

Voluntarily, she pledged her campaign would not accept donations from developers. Ms. Kniss did accept such contributions, but failed to meet state law reporting requirements.

Specifically, Ms. Kniss accepted donations from developers before the election but falsely dated them as received after the election and accepted donations from well-known developers but falsely reported their occupations/employers as "unknown."

Ms. Kniss dismissed these irregularities as justified by her campaign treasurer's convalescence and minimized them by stating "almost every return to the FPPC will have some errors."

This explanation lacks credibility. She accepted and reported non-developer contributions within the same time period. Ms. Kniss, a veteran of nine previous elections, surely knew her campaign was prohibited from accepting any contributions during her treasurer's absence. And saying "others did it, too" never excuses one's own misdeeds.

While it is customary to address elected officials as "The Honorable...", Ms. Kniss' words and actions have been anything but honorable. Shame on her.


Better informed
Registered user
Midtown
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:20 pm
Better informed, Midtown
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:20 pm

The uncommon delay in the Kniss investigation (which facilitated her intervening election as mayor and powerful endorsement of candidates in 2018 election) is a fundamental source of waning public trust. With only a few witnesses, and contemporaneous evidence aired in both news reporting and public filings by donors, this case did not require extensive investigation. That Kniss hasn't "talked to" her lawyer in a year suggests that her case was simply back-burnered. The public can't help but wonder what strings were pulled to grant politically powerful Kniss a two-year plus free ride to exert continuing influence over local policy and politics.


anon
Evergreen Park
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:33 pm
anon, Evergreen Park
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:33 pm

The idea that Kniss is not responsible for campaign violations due to a scheduled surgery is absurd.
Letters to campaigns, possibly containing checks are required to be opened in a timely fashion as they are required to be reported in a timely fashion.

The fact that her campaign treasurer had scheduled surgery is not excuse for hiding the information from the electorate.
Kiss's campaign manager, former planning commissioner Susan Monk, should have fulfilled the obligation herself or designated another to do so.

Casually throwing out the statement that "any politician who can't change his or her mind isn't worth their salt" is troubling indeed. She violated a campaign promise made to the public to win the election.
We are not talking about evolving a policy as data and circumstances change.

Winning at any cost; without conducting oneself in an ethical manner is a hollowing out of what it means to serve the public and take an oath of office.

Regardless of if you believe long time public servant Kniss has behaved unethically in the past, this time there is a clear violation of campaign law, resulting in withholding information from the voting public crucial to making their decision.

One might imagine that what is delaying the FPPC's ruling is not the violation thatoccured, but what the punishment should be.
That might be fair. However what is not fair is that Kniss should be allowed to serve her term under a cloud of dubious integrity and lack concern for ethics and law and respect for the people she serves.




Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2019 at 3:17 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Since this is still under investigation, why isn't she recusing herself?


Profit for all
Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 3:56 pm
Profit for all, Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Online name-- this is not the typr of investigation where one has to recuse themselves.
What do you object to? The fact that it is kniss? Or the size of the donations? Do you object tti the large donations given to the pasz gang?
I am sure that the people that donated to them are expecting something in return.
The weekly and its owner has certainly profited for all these donations.


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:34 pm
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:34 pm

The FPPC will never conclude its investigation of Kniss, because the entire point here is to save her political career. The "investigation" has already taken two years. It took much less time to investigate the Pearl Harbor fiasco after the 1941 attack. This probe could have been concluded in a matter of weeks, possibly even days. Liz Kniss is being given cover by a corrupt agency that has no intention of doing justice.


Where’s the beef?
Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm
Where’s the beef?, Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Mauricio- since you are once again making grave accusations against an organization that is not doing what you want them to do, I would like to ask you to provide the proof that the FPPC is protecting kniss’ carrer and is corrupt. Please provide real proof- documents, emails etc showing the claims that you making are factual. Otherwise it counts like more sour grapes from the PASZ crowd.


Guy Fawkes
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 5:14 pm
Guy Fawkes, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Weekly,

Can you report on whether her campaign was in debt based on expenses and money reported as of election day? As the first poster says, her explanation makes no sense. She said she didn't know about the money until after the election but decided to take the money to keep up with other candidates. Huh?

Did she run up a debt and need to call her developer friends to make her campaign whole? Did she know what size checks were in those unopened envelopes and is just playing a game with the law? Clearing trampling its intent?


Civic Responsibility
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 7:14 pm
Civic Responsibility, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 7:14 pm

People are making great points but putting way too much stock in the FPPC, like Democrats are in the Muller investigation (Mueller is a Republican. Where is the evidence that ANY Republican can do anything but twist themselves into a hypocritical pretzel to put the party over their country and Constitution? Where is there ANY evidence that any modern Republicans can even rise to behaving in the responsible, intelligent, and ethical manner of past Republicans like Eisenhower? I can't think of one.). The FPPC isn’t the FBI, either. They are a weak, toothless, nearly absent entity. They haven’t done anything in two years because no one wants to deal with what clearly was a serious campaign violation by a seasoned politician (powerful) who should have known better.

The article above seems to have missed that the FPPC said that Adrian Fine “misled” voters. They aren’t cops. They aren’t going to DO anything. They gave that information to the public, and what has the public done with it? Nothing. Fine will become the next mayor, with all the negatives that entails for our city’s future, unless voters take it upon themselves to do their duty as citizens and use that information to recall him. They don’t need the FPPC to tell them that Kniss did something wrong. Kniss even admitted in the paper that she was concerned that citizens had a negative impression of developers.

She also declared a very large donation in tech services from a company — which company? Was it Palantir or Facebook or a company that stood to gain by the public rolling over for their takeover of civic spaces and even funding their short-term entry level workforce housing wants? Why wasn’t that disclosed?

I’ll bet, just like with Muller, those who know something is wrong are just waiting around for some entity that is never going to move the dial one iota towards justice to fix things. Wake up.


One incident
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:38 pm
One incident, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:38 pm

My favorite Kniss recollection is when developer Jim Baer ousted her opponent (for Supervisor) from office space in Palo Alto and gave the space to Kniss.
That was in the year 2000 I believe. She has always been a steel hand disguised by a velvet glove.
Not a trustworthy public servant by a long shot.


Oldster
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 15, 2019 at 4:57 am
Oldster, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 15, 2019 at 4:57 am

So far there are over 40,000 views in the Town Square on the college admissions fraud story but only a couple hundred on this story.

The Democratic Party Machine in Sacramento has been slow-walking this election fraud scandal figuring the public cares more about Hollywood actors forking over piles of cash to get their unqualified kids into "better" colleges than this sort of egregious election fraud.

We saw an extremely experienced Palo Alto politician before the 2017 vote declare she would not take developers' cash and then we see she did. She thought she could bamboozle us by filing late and grossly incomplete mandatory reports gambling we'd believe her line that she and her people didn't know much of her election last-second cash had indeed came from locally famous developers.

Congrats Palo Alto. The Machine is right about us. "Shallow Alto" lives.

But, I do not give up hope. At least the Palo Alto Weekly is keeping alive the story of how Sacramento works at the moment and history will never forget the shamefull asterix on a local politician's career no matter how long it takes for Sacramento to do its job.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2019 at 5:56 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2019 at 5:56 am

"I'm going to presume my attorney is doing his job."

It's pretty clear that he is.

" FPPC's legal staff (which functions separately from the agency's Enforcement Division) offered Collins what appeared to be reassuring advice: because he didn't open the envelope until Nov. 18, the $2,500 was not considered "received" until that date . . ."

What a ridiculous rule. Candidates take note: make sure all donors put a return address on their donation envelopes and instruct your team to not open certain envelopes until after the election.

Maybe there should be a donations deadline for future elections that is early enough in the process to avoid this nonsense.

"Any politician who can't change his mind, she told the Weekly, is not worth his or her salt."

That pretty much sums up the crux of our problems: POLITICIANS are running this City. Priorities matter and people who are focused on their political careers and next steps and reelection vote in ways that serve THEIR purposes rather than the City's best interests. This is true at all levels of government and acutely impactful at the local level.


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 15, 2019 at 6:11 am
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2019 at 6:11 am

But we all know why a probe that should have lasted no longer than several days has taken two years with no end in sight. Her guilt is obvious and indisputable. I am a progressive, but she is well connected and, shame on my party, who in this case has sunk to the GOP gutter level, which is very hard to do, is protected by the Democratic machine in Sacramento.


Civic Responsibility
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:26 am
Civic Responsibility, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:26 am

The Democratic Party sellout to developers is going to destroy the ascendancy of the party in California. The using of liberal push button issues like affordable housing to push policies that put more money in the pockets of developers while hurting ordinary Californians and displacing low-income residents and causing land values and costs to skyrocket (the opposite of what they promise)is the equivalent of the Republicans using fundamentalist Christians like some kind of cult to tell them one thing to get votes while they do exactly the opposite of what Jesus would do. The difference is that California liberal voters have a history of switching sides when they figure things out.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:39 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

This is serious stuff. In the recent election, Alison Cormack had money from developers, Pat Boone declared he would not take money from developers. Alison had name recognition from being involved with the Mitchell Park library. She also had lawn signs and glossy flyers arriving at homes many times. Pat Boone may have been known to some from being a tv reporter, but he had no money for lawn signs or glossy flyers. Alison never answered questions about how she would vote. Pat was open and honest and yes occasionally he was noticeably not well versed in certain local issues, but it was clear that he was going to look into things before he voted on an issue and that he was going to listen to residents and not to developers.

We can now see exactly how Alison Cormack hoodwinked voters.

Pat Boone has already declared he is running in 2020. My suspicion is that he will be much better organized and have a lot more support in 2020

Unfortunately, money in politics, just like college applications, gets results and those who try to do it the honest and open way suffer. As shocked as we all appear to be in the college application scandal, we should be similarly shocked about the same happening in local politics.

Vote for Pat Boone, 2020.


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:20 am
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:20 am

Kniss's "explanations" are on the level of 'The dog ate my homework'. They represent profound disrespect for the public. People like her always believe they can get away with that kind of tripe because of their connections to the rich and powerful. Her Marie Antoinette style comments about Palo Alto's traffic should have alerted voters who foolishly supported her due to name recognition as to who she actually is.


jguislin
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:50 am
jguislin, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:50 am

We, the voting public, are a big part of the problem because we have elected officials like Kniss multiple times, in spite of misleading statements, unkept promises and outright support of developer interests over those of residents. For a town that prides itself on a highly educated populace, we appear unable to see through political campaign rhetoric and focus instead on a series of betrayals that deplete our trust in government. It is time for better informed civic engagement.


Funny man makes me laugh
Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:05 am
Funny man makes me laugh, Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:05 am

Mauricio- thanks nice again for providing us with a good laugh. Your hysterical, false statements ( her guilt is obvious and indisputable) are just laughable. Do you have any proof of her “guilt”? Have you provided that proof to the FPPC? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
What we need is an investigation into the large contributions made to the PASZ crowd and their wannabe Arthur Keller and what these donors are getting in return .


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:07 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:07 am

In many ways, local politics are more important to the ways we live our lives and many Palo Alto residents are more in touch with national and statewide issues than they are about local issues.

A few weeks before the last election I was chatting with a fellow Palo Altan about politics in general and noticed that she was only talking about state and federal issues. She was very involved in her political party circles and very concerned about the big issues. I then asked her who she liked for city council and she told me honestly that she didn't know anything about who was running or what the issues were. She lives right beside Ross Road. She doesn't like what is happening at San Antonio. She is missing local restaurants and amenities. But, she had no idea who to vote for in local elections and what the issues were.

Too many people in Palo Alto, even well educated and opinionated on various national issues, just don't take the time to educate themselves on local issues. That is not the way it should be to vote for local city council. I would like to change all that but I can't see how.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:15 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:15 am

Posted by Civic Responsibility, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> The Democratic Party sellout to developers is going to destroy the ascendancy of the party in California. The using of liberal push button issues like affordable housing to push policies that put more money in the pockets of developers [...] the difference is that California liberal voters have a history of switching sides when they figure things out.

You make a lot of good points. Since most of those liberal voters will feel forced by the Republican candidate to vote for the Democratic candidate, it makes the primaries, and, local races, all the more important. Please folks, learn about the issue and the candidates before the primaries this time. It is really important.


Better informed
Registered user
Midtown
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:24 am
Better informed, Midtown
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:24 am

Unlike Kniss, both PASZ and the candidates they supported properly reported their donors BEFORE the election. Because of their proper financial disclosures, voters were able to make informed choices. Untrue for Kniss who misled voters by explicitly stating she had no developer donors and then revealed them only AFTER the election, in violation of the law.


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:25 am
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:25 am

My experience over many years with many highly educated residents who were remarkably informed about national, state and international affairs, was that they were shockingly ignorant, and very uninterested about Palo Alto politics. They had no idea what candidates and politicians like Kniss, Fine, Scharff, Keller or Tanaka actually stood for and what the differences between them were. Unless they were involved with groups that supported or opposed massive development, they mostly voted based on name recognition or endorsements by politicians and parties they supported. Their excuse for their lack of interest were pretty much uniform: lack of time, national and state politics are much more important.

Resident above is correct, people in P.A don't take the time to educate themselves on local politics, which is a major reason the town still has Liz Kniss to cope with.


Anonymous
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:45 am
Anonymous, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:45 am
@funny man makes me laughlaugh
Downtown North
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:20 pm
@funny man makes me laughlaugh, Downtown North
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:20 pm

don't want to point out the bleeding obvious BUT
no investigation required for the donations made to arthur keller.

heads up, he didn't win!

also, no shade there. unlike liz, arthur reported all his gifts. that's why they got so much publicity. liz and her gang did all they could to find some dirt. they couldn't, so the most they came up with was ....some residents made larger gifts to offest the money rolling in from developers ........which Liz claimed she wasn't accepting. Oh, but yes, she was.

Liz Kniss [portion removed] does not play by the rules, and then tries to undermine those who do.
Dante would have field day with our very special LK.


Kniss won- Get over it
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:00 pm
Kniss won- Get over it, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:00 pm

@@funny- and yet kniss gets the most votes in each election. Indicating that a vast majority of voters support her. Which leads me to conclude that the [portion removed] charges leveled against her are coming from an angry, bitter minority that do not respect the will of the minority. Or it could be that these posters just cannot stand a strong woman in power.
But glad your realize that keller and what he stands for was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters.


Council watcher
Community Center
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:39 pm
Council watcher, Community Center
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:39 pm

Agree, Kniss is a [portion removed] political hack, along the lines of many local politicians. That she won elections is the problem, not somehow a justification [portion removed.]

Nothing to be done but to recognize it,and give her the disrespect she deserves.


Rainer
Registered user
Mayfield
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:58 am
Rainer, Mayfield
Registered user
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:58 am

Arthur Keller's "lopss" was and is very suspicious. It reall7y felt like voting machine manipulation in one precinct.

Concerning the PASC-supporting citizens, there was never any question that that money was given for citizen cause, no back deal with developers. No lwading bPASC member makes money from Real Estate Development65, unlike nearly all Palo Alto Forward members.

PASZ and the candidates they supported properly reported their donors BEFORE the election. And the 5 families who did support Keller and Koo, to put them on a footing equal to the developer sycophants, had no ulterior motives. It was pure civic duty acting.

Some of the blabbermouths above should count the "likes" (or the lack thereof). Unfortunately the Weekly has no dislike button.


Rick
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:12 pm
Rick, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Our quality of life has been going steadily downhill for years. Obviously one or more council members and/or mayors have been working against our best interests. So, the only question is in who's interests HAVE they been working? That is the only question.


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 16, 2019 at 1:51 pm
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 16, 2019 at 1:51 pm

To Rick above: It must be a rhetorical question, because we know exactly who they are representing: companies and real estate developers. We also know who the DO NOT work for:Palo Alto neighborhood and residents who are not corporate officers or real estate developers.


Voter Support?
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:07 pm
Voter Support?, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:07 pm

"Indicating that a vast majority of voters support her."

Candidate Liz Kniss knew that if she took voter money she would lose a lot of support. That's why she made it one of her platform issues, otherwise why do it unless you think this will influence the vote? And people believed her and voted accordingly.

Sadly, we can never say a "vast majority of voters supported her" when they did so under the false assumption that she would not take developer money.


Voter Support?
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:53 pm
Voter Support?, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Mar 16, 2019 at 3:53 pm

"Indicating that a vast majority of voters support her."

Corrections to above post.

Candidate Liz Kniss knew that if she took developer money she would lose a lot of support. That's why she made it one of her platform issues. Otherwise why do it unless you think this will influence the vote? And people believed her and voted accordingly.

Sadly, we can never say a "vast majority of voters supported her" when they did so under the false assumption that she would not take developer money.


Revise history
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2019 at 8:32 pm
Revise history, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2019 at 8:32 pm

"Sadly, we can never say a "vast majority of voters supported her" "

Live the revisionist history on this thread. Kniss got the most votes. Period. A majority of the voters supported her.

Then there is the claim about keller's loss being fishy. The majority of the voters felt that keller was not qualified for the council.

But keep on saying whatever matches you sleep at night.

Kniss would lose the TSF vote, but she won the vote that counts


@ReviseHistory from a late middle aged woman
Professorville
on Mar 16, 2019 at 8:56 pm
@ReviseHistory from a late middle aged woman, Professorville
on Mar 16, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Liz won because the Democratic Party stepped in to support her, because most women in Palo Alto over the age of 65 think of her as some sort of icon, and because many people in Palo Alto don't follow local issues. But, her cognitive status is dubious, she is thick as thieves with developers, and, perhaps the corporate cronies in Palo Alto are whispering sweet nothings in her ear making her feel younger.



Revise history
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:01 pm
Revise history, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Late middle aged woman- despite your sexist and insulting comment, kniss had multiple times gotten the most votes
Get over it. While she is not popular with the TSF crowd, she is held in high regard by the voters. Too bad for you.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm

"My favorite Kniss recollection is when developer Jim Baer ousted her opponent (for Supervisor) from office space in Palo Alto and gave the space to Kniss. That was in the year 2000 I believe."

Coincidentally, during that same year then mayor Kniss had successfully pushed through the council a very big project for Baer on the old PA Clinic site.


Sally
Midtown
on Mar 17, 2019 at 12:14 am
Sally, Midtown
on Mar 17, 2019 at 12:14 am

Immoral in my opinion. Scheduled surgery is not an excuse for not opening the envelopes, she knows the rules. Changing her campaign promise and not disclosing to voters ahead of the election is not illegal, but morally wrong.


Anonymous
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2019 at 6:50 am
Anonymous, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2019 at 6:50 am
One incident
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 1:57 pm
One incident, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Kniss' misrepresentations are well-known by now. Like any political pro she has surrounded herself with corrupt supporters.
-Susan Monk was her campaign manager during developer-gate, did her boss's bidding and did not report donations, was rewarded with a seat on the PTC;
-Alison Cormack was given major support by Kniss and now returns the favor;
-Adrian Fine is a loyal follower and leader;
-Greg Tanaka (Republican) was escorted by Kniss to the Democrats meeting by Kniss and he got the Dem's endorcement;
-Cory Wohlbach did his best, but the residents saw through his duplicity.

All of them support developers and development.


Civic Responsibility
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2019 at 9:58 am
Civic Responsibility, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2019 at 9:58 am

"Mueller is a Republican. Where is the evidence that ANY Republican can do anything but twist themselves into a hypocritical pretzel to put the party over their country and Constitution? Where is there ANY evidence that any modern Republicans can even rise to behaving in the responsible, intelligent, and ethical manner of past Republicans like Eisenhower? I can't think of one."

Told ya.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.