News

Council member's attempt to fire city attorney met with outrage, accusations

Antonio Lopez wants the East Palo Alto city attorney gone. Mayor, vice mayor say Lopez's tactics amount to a 'power move'

An East Palo Alto City Council member's effort last week to hastily convene a closed meeting and terminate the city attorney has drawn a fiery rebuke from the city's mayor and vice mayor, who called it a "power move" and possibly illegal.

Antonio Lopez. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Council member Antonio Lopez, who was elected last November, emailed the council on Tuesday, May 18, announcing that he and two colleagues, Lisa Gauthier and Regina Wallace-Jones, had formed a quorum to call an "emergency meeting" two days later to discuss termination of the city attorney. City Attorney Rafael Alvarado is currently away on family leave.

The email took Mayor Carlos Romero and Vice Mayor Ruben Abrica by surprise. Neither had been asked to attend the meeting nor informed of any issues regarding Alvarado. Lopez had circumvented the usual procedure of asking the mayor to put the item on the agenda for the next meeting, Romero and Abrica said.

Romero and Abrica refused to attend the May 20 closed session, but they did show up for the public portion of the meeting. Before the other three council members went into the closed session, the senior members gave them an earful.

Abrica called the rushed meeting "a power move" and a disservice to transparency and community input.

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"Whether a meeting is called by the mayor, as is the normal procedure, or imposed by three members as is the case here, the matter should be approached with respect for the public to be notified with plenty of time so they may comment or ask questions about any potential major decisions. For today, barely 24 hours' notice was given and the purpose of the closed session is now hidden from the public," he said, reading a letter he wrote to the community into the public record during the May 20 meeting.

Carlos Romero. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"This closed-session meeting is a very troubling example of secrecy and underhanded tactics to avoid facing the public. It's an assault on our local institution of government, intended to democratically serve the people, not the egos of politicians. I, for one, will not participate in this farce of a 'closed' session. There are real urgent needs of the community to be addressed instead of this destructive power game playing," he said.

Romero stressed the need for a fair, transparent process to evaluate the city attorney rather than a rush to judgment. The council supervises just two employees: the city manager and the city attorney.

"Any termination or discussion of the termination of any employee of ours must be accompanied by a thorough, full discussion with counsel. The liability you are imposing upon this city by doing this in an expedited, thoughtless manner will put this city and its administration in jeopardy," Romero said.

Romero and Abrica also allege the closed meeting might not have been convened legally. Lopez's email categorized the session as an "emergency" and identified the city attorney as the subject of the confidential personnel meeting.

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Shortly thereafter, Lopez corrected his first email to state that the meeting would instead be a "special closed session" and the topic would be on a "public employee discipline/dismissal/release," no longer specifying the city attorney.

Ruben Abrica. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Tempers flared on May 20, as Romero and Abrica rebuked their three colleagues. Wallace-Jones said the accusations were unfounded.

"This feels disrespectful and belittling," she said. "Let's make it very clear: This is a public process in which council members can indeed express their opinions and more importantly, express their concerns."

Gauthier took exception to being berated by Romero.

"I am your colleague. Treat me as such!" she told Romero during the meeting.

This past Tuesday, she told this news organization that she thought it would have been best for all council members to be in the room for the closed meeting. She also hoped the council could come together collegially.

"Unfortunately, two of my colleagues were belittling and accusatory to other council members. We are not subordinate to them. I hope we can get to a point where there's more respect on the council," she said.

Romero said during the meeting that the correction of the announcement (from "emergency" to "special" and from identifying Alvarado to not identifying him as the subject of possible termination) came too late and could subject the city to expensive litigation.

Pulling back on the original language doesn't change the error, Romero said.

"Trying to legitimize it by calling it a special meeting does not give a pig another name. The lipstick doesn't change the fact that it continues to be an illegitimate meeting," he said.

Interim City Attorney Valerie Armento, who is filling in for Alvarado while he is away, said Lopez's first email did not comport with the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's government transparency law that dictates the kinds of issues that justify declaration of an emergency closed session.

"A work stoppage or something that would severely affect public health and safety; a terrorist attack or something like that," she said.

Lopez's first email "was not accurate with regard to the need for an emergency closed session," she added.

Regarding naming Alvarado, Armento said that while the Brown Act states a special meeting must say what the agenda item is about, it is not typical to name the individual in a personnel matter. She did not state that doing so is illegal, however.

Regina Wallace-Jones. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Romero and Abrica also raised concerns that Lopez, Wallace-Jones and Gauthier, in conferring to set up the special meeting, may have also discussed the city attorney's performance, which would constitute another violation of the Brown Act.

Under the Brown Act, the majority cannot meet or communicate privately to discuss matters outside of a legal meeting because, in that case, no formal notice would have been given to the public of the discussion, Romero said.

Gauthier, however, said at the May 20 meeting that she did not discuss Alvarado with the other council members. On Tuesday, she said during an interview that when Lopez asked for the emergency meeting, he didn't go into details about his concerns regarding Alvarado. She agreed to attend because she wanted to understand what was going on.

Lisa Gauthier. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"I didn't know if something urgent was going on or if there was a crisis," she said. She went to the meeting because she didn't want to discuss the issue outside of a formal meeting or to violate the Brown Act, she added.

Abrica and Romero said in follow-up interviews that they remain baffled by Lopez's actions, and why he felt his concerns about a city attorney they respect and with whom they find no fault rose to the level of an emergency and termination.

They also questioned why Lopez chose an end run around the mayor and vice mayor to schedule a meeting and didn't bring the matter up through the usual procedure that involves the mayor.

Lopez did indicate during the council's May 18 meeting that he wants the council to open up the selection of agenda items to all five council members, which, he said, would be more "democratic." But Romero and Abrica said the process is already democratic. If the mayor doesn't include a requested item on the next meeting's agenda, the council member can make the request during a public meeting and a vote can be taken by the council for the item's inclusion at the next meeting. The council member can also draft a "colleague's memo" requesting discussion of the topic for the other members to vote on. Such procedures are standard in city councils.

A related or unrelated investigation?

While Abrica and Romero say they are unaware of the reason for Lopez's urgency, Abrica said during the May 20 meeting that he's concerned that the effort to fire Alvarado might be linked to a recent and separate personnel investigation.

(Lopez, however, has stated that he simply wants the city to employ a more effective city attorney.)

At the May 18 meeting, Lopez asked that two agenda items that had been scheduled for a procedural approval be rescheduled for a full discussion. Both items were written by Alvarado and pertained to ethics and the retention of an outside firm to investigate a personnel matter.

The council members agreed to take up the two items at their next meeting.

This past February, the city retained Kramer Workplace Investigations to perform a personnel investigation, and on May 18 the council was to approve the expenditure for Kramer's continued services, according to a report written by Alvarado.

"The city has current and anticipated personnel matters that require specialized outside legal and investigatory services," Alvarado wrote. "Special circumstances exist to waive the bid procedures on the grounds that the city must perform timely personnel investigations."

The council was also set to approve a separate resolution, "Code of Ethics and Conduct for Elected and Appointed Officials," but Lopez said he has questions he'd like for Alvarado to answer.

Likewise, Lopez said that he needed the city attorney to be present to clarify questions about the outside investigative firm. Armento hadn't been involved in the personnel investigation and couldn't speak to it, the council determined.

Abrica said during the May 20 meeting that he's concerned that the sudden urge to fire Alvarado might be linked to trying to shut down the investigation.

"Let's not attack the messenger because the message makes officials uncomfortable. Why is the Office of the City Attorney being attacked and ambushed with such speed?

"Whenever city government personnel investigations are conducted as a result of complaints, and including investigations involving elected officials, the best practice has been to retain an independent investigator and not an employee of the city to perform timely investigations of personnel matters. This is what the city attorney has done and in my opinion correctly so," Abrica said.

Romero said on Tuesday that while some people could construct a possible connection between the move to fire Alvarado and the city attorney's request to move forward with a sensitive investigation based on the timing, he would not question Lopez's motive "because I can't get into council member Lopez's head."

After the May 20 closed session adjourned, Armento reported publicly that no vote had been taken.

On Tuesday, Lopez released a statement to clarify his reasons for wanting to potentially terminate Alvarado.

He said he "will be seeking to hire a working city attorney that is present and serves the city in a manner that is organizationally efficient.

"As the city attorney is the highest paid position within the city of East Palo Alto being paid a total of $228,225 plus benefits, and a total compensation package for the attorney's office of $858,935 proposed for FY 21-22, Councilmember Lopez is seeking to create long-term cost savings, and in the process, to re-invest those savings into critical city services," the announcement said, referring to Lopez in the third person.

"Our city attorney has demonstrated an inability to serve the needs of an ever-changing community. Staff needs an attorney who is present for the day-to-day operations of the city," Lopez wrote. "While he is present for public meetings, I have seen firsthand the strain that his general absence causes on our city's day to day operations."

Romero, who read the press release, said on Tuesday that it publicly airs unsubstantiated complaints about the city attorney before Alvarado even has a chance to know or address the accusations. It was "almost an indictment of the city attorney through a press release. It is akin to a public execution of his reputation," he said.

When contacted for an interview by this media organization, Alvarado said that while he appreciated the opportunity, "I have no comments about the matter at this time."

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Council member's attempt to fire city attorney met with outrage, accusations

Antonio Lopez wants the East Palo Alto city attorney gone. Mayor, vice mayor say Lopez's tactics amount to a 'power move'

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, May 28, 2021, 9:46 am

An East Palo Alto City Council member's effort last week to hastily convene a closed meeting and terminate the city attorney has drawn a fiery rebuke from the city's mayor and vice mayor, who called it a "power move" and possibly illegal.

Council member Antonio Lopez, who was elected last November, emailed the council on Tuesday, May 18, announcing that he and two colleagues, Lisa Gauthier and Regina Wallace-Jones, had formed a quorum to call an "emergency meeting" two days later to discuss termination of the city attorney. City Attorney Rafael Alvarado is currently away on family leave.

The email took Mayor Carlos Romero and Vice Mayor Ruben Abrica by surprise. Neither had been asked to attend the meeting nor informed of any issues regarding Alvarado. Lopez had circumvented the usual procedure of asking the mayor to put the item on the agenda for the next meeting, Romero and Abrica said.

Romero and Abrica refused to attend the May 20 closed session, but they did show up for the public portion of the meeting. Before the other three council members went into the closed session, the senior members gave them an earful.

Abrica called the rushed meeting "a power move" and a disservice to transparency and community input.

"Whether a meeting is called by the mayor, as is the normal procedure, or imposed by three members as is the case here, the matter should be approached with respect for the public to be notified with plenty of time so they may comment or ask questions about any potential major decisions. For today, barely 24 hours' notice was given and the purpose of the closed session is now hidden from the public," he said, reading a letter he wrote to the community into the public record during the May 20 meeting.

"This closed-session meeting is a very troubling example of secrecy and underhanded tactics to avoid facing the public. It's an assault on our local institution of government, intended to democratically serve the people, not the egos of politicians. I, for one, will not participate in this farce of a 'closed' session. There are real urgent needs of the community to be addressed instead of this destructive power game playing," he said.

Romero stressed the need for a fair, transparent process to evaluate the city attorney rather than a rush to judgment. The council supervises just two employees: the city manager and the city attorney.

"Any termination or discussion of the termination of any employee of ours must be accompanied by a thorough, full discussion with counsel. The liability you are imposing upon this city by doing this in an expedited, thoughtless manner will put this city and its administration in jeopardy," Romero said.

Romero and Abrica also allege the closed meeting might not have been convened legally. Lopez's email categorized the session as an "emergency" and identified the city attorney as the subject of the confidential personnel meeting.

Shortly thereafter, Lopez corrected his first email to state that the meeting would instead be a "special closed session" and the topic would be on a "public employee discipline/dismissal/release," no longer specifying the city attorney.

Tempers flared on May 20, as Romero and Abrica rebuked their three colleagues. Wallace-Jones said the accusations were unfounded.

"This feels disrespectful and belittling," she said. "Let's make it very clear: This is a public process in which council members can indeed express their opinions and more importantly, express their concerns."

Gauthier took exception to being berated by Romero.

"I am your colleague. Treat me as such!" she told Romero during the meeting.

This past Tuesday, she told this news organization that she thought it would have been best for all council members to be in the room for the closed meeting. She also hoped the council could come together collegially.

"Unfortunately, two of my colleagues were belittling and accusatory to other council members. We are not subordinate to them. I hope we can get to a point where there's more respect on the council," she said.

Romero said during the meeting that the correction of the announcement (from "emergency" to "special" and from identifying Alvarado to not identifying him as the subject of possible termination) came too late and could subject the city to expensive litigation.

Pulling back on the original language doesn't change the error, Romero said.

"Trying to legitimize it by calling it a special meeting does not give a pig another name. The lipstick doesn't change the fact that it continues to be an illegitimate meeting," he said.

Interim City Attorney Valerie Armento, who is filling in for Alvarado while he is away, said Lopez's first email did not comport with the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's government transparency law that dictates the kinds of issues that justify declaration of an emergency closed session.

"A work stoppage or something that would severely affect public health and safety; a terrorist attack or something like that," she said.

Lopez's first email "was not accurate with regard to the need for an emergency closed session," she added.

Regarding naming Alvarado, Armento said that while the Brown Act states a special meeting must say what the agenda item is about, it is not typical to name the individual in a personnel matter. She did not state that doing so is illegal, however.

Romero and Abrica also raised concerns that Lopez, Wallace-Jones and Gauthier, in conferring to set up the special meeting, may have also discussed the city attorney's performance, which would constitute another violation of the Brown Act.

Under the Brown Act, the majority cannot meet or communicate privately to discuss matters outside of a legal meeting because, in that case, no formal notice would have been given to the public of the discussion, Romero said.

Gauthier, however, said at the May 20 meeting that she did not discuss Alvarado with the other council members. On Tuesday, she said during an interview that when Lopez asked for the emergency meeting, he didn't go into details about his concerns regarding Alvarado. She agreed to attend because she wanted to understand what was going on.

"I didn't know if something urgent was going on or if there was a crisis," she said. She went to the meeting because she didn't want to discuss the issue outside of a formal meeting or to violate the Brown Act, she added.

Abrica and Romero said in follow-up interviews that they remain baffled by Lopez's actions, and why he felt his concerns about a city attorney they respect and with whom they find no fault rose to the level of an emergency and termination.

They also questioned why Lopez chose an end run around the mayor and vice mayor to schedule a meeting and didn't bring the matter up through the usual procedure that involves the mayor.

Lopez did indicate during the council's May 18 meeting that he wants the council to open up the selection of agenda items to all five council members, which, he said, would be more "democratic." But Romero and Abrica said the process is already democratic. If the mayor doesn't include a requested item on the next meeting's agenda, the council member can make the request during a public meeting and a vote can be taken by the council for the item's inclusion at the next meeting. The council member can also draft a "colleague's memo" requesting discussion of the topic for the other members to vote on. Such procedures are standard in city councils.

While Abrica and Romero say they are unaware of the reason for Lopez's urgency, Abrica said during the May 20 meeting that he's concerned that the effort to fire Alvarado might be linked to a recent and separate personnel investigation.

(Lopez, however, has stated that he simply wants the city to employ a more effective city attorney.)

At the May 18 meeting, Lopez asked that two agenda items that had been scheduled for a procedural approval be rescheduled for a full discussion. Both items were written by Alvarado and pertained to ethics and the retention of an outside firm to investigate a personnel matter.

The council members agreed to take up the two items at their next meeting.

This past February, the city retained Kramer Workplace Investigations to perform a personnel investigation, and on May 18 the council was to approve the expenditure for Kramer's continued services, according to a report written by Alvarado.

"The city has current and anticipated personnel matters that require specialized outside legal and investigatory services," Alvarado wrote. "Special circumstances exist to waive the bid procedures on the grounds that the city must perform timely personnel investigations."

The council was also set to approve a separate resolution, "Code of Ethics and Conduct for Elected and Appointed Officials," but Lopez said he has questions he'd like for Alvarado to answer.

Likewise, Lopez said that he needed the city attorney to be present to clarify questions about the outside investigative firm. Armento hadn't been involved in the personnel investigation and couldn't speak to it, the council determined.

Abrica said during the May 20 meeting that he's concerned that the sudden urge to fire Alvarado might be linked to trying to shut down the investigation.

"Let's not attack the messenger because the message makes officials uncomfortable. Why is the Office of the City Attorney being attacked and ambushed with such speed?

"Whenever city government personnel investigations are conducted as a result of complaints, and including investigations involving elected officials, the best practice has been to retain an independent investigator and not an employee of the city to perform timely investigations of personnel matters. This is what the city attorney has done and in my opinion correctly so," Abrica said.

Romero said on Tuesday that while some people could construct a possible connection between the move to fire Alvarado and the city attorney's request to move forward with a sensitive investigation based on the timing, he would not question Lopez's motive "because I can't get into council member Lopez's head."

After the May 20 closed session adjourned, Armento reported publicly that no vote had been taken.

On Tuesday, Lopez released a statement to clarify his reasons for wanting to potentially terminate Alvarado.

He said he "will be seeking to hire a working city attorney that is present and serves the city in a manner that is organizationally efficient.

"As the city attorney is the highest paid position within the city of East Palo Alto being paid a total of $228,225 plus benefits, and a total compensation package for the attorney's office of $858,935 proposed for FY 21-22, Councilmember Lopez is seeking to create long-term cost savings, and in the process, to re-invest those savings into critical city services," the announcement said, referring to Lopez in the third person.

"Our city attorney has demonstrated an inability to serve the needs of an ever-changing community. Staff needs an attorney who is present for the day-to-day operations of the city," Lopez wrote. "While he is present for public meetings, I have seen firsthand the strain that his general absence causes on our city's day to day operations."

Romero, who read the press release, said on Tuesday that it publicly airs unsubstantiated complaints about the city attorney before Alvarado even has a chance to know or address the accusations. It was "almost an indictment of the city attorney through a press release. It is akin to a public execution of his reputation," he said.

When contacted for an interview by this media organization, Alvarado said that while he appreciated the opportunity, "I have no comments about the matter at this time."

Comments

NotANoob
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2021 at 12:44 pm
NotANoob, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 12:44 pm

The press release from Antonio Lopez:

1. [Portion removed due to lack of substantiation or sourcing.]
2. Is a cover up attempt to by Lopez in furtherance of his bogus “man of the people” persona that he adopted for his campaign.

3. Was released just before a series of city budget meetings to make it seem like Lopez is concerned about saving tax dollars.

4. Muddy his motives and real reasons to get rid of the highly competent city attorney, whose family leave is a federally protected right. [Portion removed.]
All in all the three council members who called that bogus meeting deserved what they got from the mayor and vice mayor. Lopez, Wallace-Jones and Gauthier were trying to tone shame and deflect attention away from their poor decision-making. Their shenanigans put the city in legal jeopardy. Instead of yelling at the mayor Wallace-Jones and Gauthier should direct their anger where it belongs - -at Lopez. He likely created a serial meeting by talking to each of them separately, without the two women knowing he was doing so. But the original email begs the question, who are they all trying to protect?


Manny Rodriguez
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2021 at 1:25 pm
Manny Rodriguez, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 1:25 pm

While many of us are not familiar with the underlying reasons for this action or even care, there has been some concern that certain city officials need to be replaced.

And if Mr. Lopez (a Stanford man) says so, we will support his efforts.


Andrew Boone
Registered user
another community
on May 28, 2021 at 1:51 pm
Andrew Boone, another community
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Good job city council members Carlos Romero and Ruben Abrica for saving the day. I’ve always had the utmost admiration for the quality of your service to the local community. Hopefully council member Antonio Lopez is able to avoid such rookie mistakes from now on and FOLLOW THE LAW.


ConcernedResident
Registered user
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on May 28, 2021 at 2:36 pm
ConcernedResident , Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 2:36 pm

As a community member we need full disclosure of what is going on. Why the sudden urge to fire the city attorney in a time where he is out due to family medical leave?

Lopez clearly made a mistake. Now the question remains is he scared of the outcome of this investigation, is it the legality of the taco truck? Is there more to this that we don’t know? Is the attorney acting in an illegal manner that Lopez has seen harmful to our community?

I guess this is the mistake we pay for electing a “Stanford” literature poet with no previous knowledge, background, or interest in politics. EPA has had a history of electing the wrong people. Not the first time we elect someone into city council with no skills to further advance this city.


Hmmm
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2021 at 6:47 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 6:47 pm

This is all pretty sketchy, and when I say all, I mean all 3 of the council people calling that ridiculous meeting. Who’s the power behind the curtain? Sounds like Antonio Lopez knows little about the law and council procedures. Voters don’t need an amateur who risks lawsuits, especially coming out of a pandemic.


DriedEyes
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 30, 2021 at 2:33 pm
DriedEyes, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 30, 2021 at 2:33 pm

There is clearly a lack of accountability from Lopez, and this isn't the first instance. Anyone who becomes a public official should understand the guidelines for meetings and ask questions if they don't know. If the attorney does get fired, the attorney can sue for wrongful termination and force the city to use the city's money on legal fees. Lopez didn't think this through and seems to be looking out for himself instead of the city he proclaims to care about.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2021 at 11:24 am
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 31, 2021 at 11:24 am

[Post removed due to unsubstantiated allegations.]


Hmmm
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2021 at 5:50 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 31, 2021 at 5:50 pm

I hope there will be followup by Sue Dremann since the things Lopez wanted to delay will be discussed Tuesday night June 1.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2021 at 6:01 pm
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 31, 2021 at 6:01 pm

The Agenda has been posted for June 1st CC meeting. Alvarado is addressing under as Staff. He is answering Lopez's concerns about The "Code of Ethic's" that he was so concern about. Lets see if this answers Lopez's distraught implosive concerns. Lets see if the City Attorney has included the Acts prior to the Code of Ethic's had not come to "Fruition"?


Sunshine!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2021 at 10:17 pm
Sunshine!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 31, 2021 at 10:17 pm

How is it possible that Ms. Gauthier and Ms. Wallace-Jones did not question that the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor were not informed of this meeting? You would think that anyone with city council experience would approach with strong caution such a loaded topic being brought forth by an inexperienced council member. Any newly-elected city council member who has no experience with how the city is run and how the council works needs training wheels. I'm OK with an inexperienced person being voted in but they need to learn the ropes. So what kind of training did Mr. Lopez get?


Hmmm
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2021 at 11:10 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 31, 2021 at 11:10 pm
frustrated mom
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jun 1, 2021 at 8:58 pm
frustrated mom, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jun 1, 2021 at 8:58 pm

My Advice to Antonio Lopez,
You are a very educated young man, but you need to learn what it takes to be an effective council. Please take time to observe Mr. Romero and Mr. Abrica, otherwise, you are going to get us into big trouble and the attorney you want to fire will end up taking the tax dollars (at least two hundred thousand dollars or more) to litigate against an attorney or settled. You will do fine if you ask Mr. Abrica and Mr. Romero for help. After all, wasn't Mr. Romero helping you to get votes? I remember you campaigning together at the end. [Portion removed.] The decision to fire or hire the city attorney should be taken with all councils present not just three. You disappointed us voters.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2021 at 3:56 am
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2021 at 3:56 am

Oops He did it again?
Can He or Will He Learn? Does He want to Learn?
In tonight CC Meeting June 1st, 2021. LOPEZ began the meeting off wanting to change the Verbiage of the "Code of Ethics". [Portion removed.] Vice Mayor Abrica promptly said to him. "I Am a believer in, If it ain't broke. Don't Fix it". It doesn't surprise me that Lopez is now throwing them under the Bus. They even contributed to his campaign?
[Portion removed.]


frustrated mom
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jun 2, 2021 at 7:25 pm
frustrated mom, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2021 at 7:25 pm

How sad to know that the candidate who claimed to be Latino, and got support only from the Latino council members is now attacking them. I was so happy to know he won, but now I am not sure. He is going to be another Ana Pulido who first ignored the public to protect the former superintendent and almost paid the price of her bad choice, and now she is afraid to do the right thing because she does not want the teachers to be angry at her again. I guess Lopez is going to find out how things work for politicians the hard way. Hopefully, he follows my advice to observe Romer and Abrica and learn, do nothing but that, and once he learns then he can take decisions but first involved all members not just his favorites. At the and these two African American Council members will throw him under the bus as soon as they realized that they goof. Sorry, Mr. Abrica and Mr. Romer my respects to you. You really are the next no matter what Lopez and the two African American Council members think.


John Carter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2021 at 8:06 pm
John Carter, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2021 at 8:06 pm

Why would anyone suggest he align with in Carlos Romero, who got caught lying about graduating from Stanford Web Link

By improperly holding a closed meeting to discuss firing the city attorney without disclosing what specifically the city attorney did wrong makes many of us feel uncomfortable with you being on the city council.


Hmmm
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2021 at 10:37 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2021 at 10:37 pm

John Carter it’s good to read you didn’t like Lopez organizing a closed meeting. You can email him and let him know that. Everyone commenting should email all the council members to voice their views.


Jim Nemo
Registered user
Los Altos
on Jun 3, 2021 at 8:25 am
Jim Nemo, Los Altos
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2021 at 8:25 am

East Palo Alto is a community still trying to emerge as a modern Silicon Valley city and it is undergoing its share of growing pains.

Most of the EPA politicians and administrators are either unqualified or undereducated and in time, they will be replaced by more professionally skilled individuals.

The same transition occured in various Central Valley communities as they gradually evolved from Podunk to modern cities.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2021 at 11:12 am
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2021 at 11:12 am

[Portion removed.]
As I read Ms Dremann article, I couldn't help read that She included a troubling Statement that presumed to be release by Lopez? Unless We were deceived. We were told that The City Clerk prepared the statement? & was sent out on Lopez's behalf? As was the email with the Councilwomen names on it? And it has been Substantiated that Council Woman Gauthier denied designing the email(see video). The email was
present on the behalf of Lopez? You don't have to take my word for this. (watch the May 20th CC Meeting Video).
I'd like to "Echo" Jim Nemo's remarks that "Most of the EPA politicians and administrators are either unqualified or undereducated".
I have also discovered that they may have desires but the position of being on a Council takes more of an "Expertise" in critical areas. NOT just wanting Housing and catering. Its Admirable of them, but doesn't totally suffice.
This is also something that Supporters of Webster Lincoln wanted for the Council. Someone that had the Education that could (float) around, in & out of EVERY situation. Because of his Data seeking, and Research Background. Someone that has the willingness to do Research properly and not just say that a "City Attorney" does not Work. That is irresponsible coming from a "Poet".
As to "frustrated Mom" wanting Lopez to follow Her advice and to follow "Romero & Abrica"? It almost sounds like you are perpetrating a "Division" into the Community? I have on occasion spoken to the 2 African American Council Women. I can assure to you, that is NOT in their Characteristics of "Throwing" Anyone under a Bus. They would simply "Walk away".


Justin Riever
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 3, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Justin Riever, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2021 at 12:18 pm

To ensure a proficiently functioning local government you also have to have educated and informed voters.

To vote via taco truck incentives raises a few red flags and all upper city administrators need to be fully vetted along with a comprehensive review of their professional and educational backgrounds.

[Portion removed.]


John Carter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2021 at 12:40 pm
John Carter, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2021 at 12:40 pm

Yea, this is what happens when you vote for someone just because they offered you a taco at the polling place, or left a goodie bag with their campaign material at your front door.


Alvin Jackson
Registered user
another community
on Jun 3, 2021 at 2:13 pm
Alvin Jackson, another community
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2021 at 2:13 pm

As a visiting pastor, I have personally witnessed the current political turmoil taking place in East Palo Alto and while the problems cannot be resolved overnight, some changes need to be made.

Much of the voter ignorance stems from the city's diverse ethnic makeup, many of whom are not adequately familiar with civic and municipal matters.

A suggestion...for the time being, the current governing body of EPA should be disbanded and replaced by a theocratic governing board comprised of the city's religious leaders who will strive to develop a municipality that equitably serves all of its residents.

Police and fire services should be leased from the County of San Mateo and the existing departments disbanded.

Next, the governing board should hire true professionals to operate the city on an interim basis with an assurance of permanent employment upon comprehensive review.

Lastly, residents should be encouraged to attend the churches of their choice not only for moral and spiritual guidance but also for city updates which could be discussed and shared at post-service luncheon potlucks.

In essence, the city lacks proper guidance and those entrusted to spread the word of Christ need to step up and provide both a moral and educational compass for those truly in need of such gifts.

And given the wealth of ethnic diversity in EPA, the communal sharing of tacos, barbeque, and islander food specialties can be a vehicle for enlightenment rather than bribery.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 6, 2021 at 4:41 pm
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 6, 2021 at 4:41 pm

To Alvin Jackson. You may have meant well. But to give advice to a 2.5 mile city. Get to know the inner workings. Turmoil as to May 20th orTaco-gate? If you had researched, you would've known that East Palo Alto(EPA) was created primarily from the sources derived from the 43 Churches located within EPA. There is also in the Constitution of the United States. "The Separation of Church & State". To debate with a Pastor regarding your feelings that the Citizens in EPA are lacking from Religious intolerance is incorrect but thats what Pastors do?

EPA has lived up under a "Purity Test" for far too long!
37,000 Human Beings were NOT running about selling Drugs & etc.
For the most part 99.9% have a Moral Authority within themselves.
The City Elders within those Churches, watched as they allowed 247 Minority Businesses in being destroyed, with NO viable plan in place. NOT ALL Tax Revenue is Good Venue. Their main concerns were getting rid of the Liquor Stores that were created by Stanford University. Relieving Their Alcohol problem and handing it to someone else, not allowing Alcohol to be sold within 3 miles of the School. This is how "Whiskey Gulch" was Born.

As to ridding of the EPAPD? EPA was under the Rule of the San Mateo Sheriffs Dept. There was no connection between them and the People.
I do agree with you about Hiring Professionals with more of an Expertise in designing the City. "A City Designer". If you research the "Salaries" that are Paid in other Cities you will find that Other Cities pay almost Double.
This would attract a Higher Quality of employee. This could be paid from requesting that the "Incoming" Developers (knowingly) entering into EPA, is to repair the failing Infrastructure that San Mateo County left behind.

Most Citizens believe that, if you want to be in EPA. You Pay!
Not just come in & pretend that you are starving and are in need of Building.

If you were speaking on Breaking Bread among the Churches and not Bribing Folks to come out & Vote.


Bill Chambers
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Jun 7, 2021 at 10:27 am
Bill Chambers, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Jun 7, 2021 at 10:27 am

The question remains....will EPA ever get itself on a true and proper course?

Even in a city like Palo Alto, the PACC and city officials are not 100% on point.


Richard Geharty
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2021 at 11:46 am
Richard Geharty, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jun 7, 2021 at 11:46 am

You cannot compare EPA with Palo Alto.

They are two different worlds.


Hmmm
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2021 at 3:59 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 7, 2021 at 3:59 pm

Lots of racially insensitive and classist comments from outsiders who know nothing about our city but jump on the bandwagon to criticize. And what in tarnation from the tone deaf pastor who wants a theocracy?? Editor why are you ignoring those comments? You and some of the staff need sensitivity training or at least get a clue. At least We Told You So is making helpful comments.


Rob Johnson/Captain
Registered user
another community
on Jun 7, 2021 at 6:37 pm
Rob Johnson/Captain, another community
Registered user
on Jun 7, 2021 at 6:37 pm

EPA is what it is and it is up to the residents to envision the future of their city and to elect those who promote that vision.

As it stands, EPA does not have an all-encompassing consensus in this area and the residents will consequently wallow with the decisions of their currently elected leaders.

[Portion removed.]


Clem McDaniels
Registered user
another community
on Jun 7, 2021 at 7:54 pm
Clem McDaniels, another community
Registered user
on Jun 7, 2021 at 7:54 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Merilee Steinman
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 11:48 am
Merilee Steinman, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jun 8, 2021 at 11:48 am
Dusty Pierce
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 6:49 pm
Dusty Pierce, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jun 8, 2021 at 6:49 pm

EPA hasn't fully caught up with the rest of Silicon Valley.

It is more like a 1960s era Central Valley community except for a few contemporary amenities like Ikea.


Luwanda Jeffries
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2021 at 4:29 pm
Luwanda Jeffries, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 9, 2021 at 4:29 pm

Someday East Palo Alto will exceed the likes of Palo Alto.

Gentrification and redevelopment are fully underway and all we will need later is a major university with a nationally ranked sports program.

An exclusive housing tract that epitomizes the new EPA wealthy will also serve to enhance the allure and charm of this small but colorful community.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2021 at 6:57 pm
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 9, 2021 at 6:57 pm

@Luwanda Jeffries. I like that spirit? A University. A complete Art Institute for Music, Media, Drama, Designer & ART College(s). That would go better than what is proposed currently? Office Space for 10,000 non-resident to come in and create more Traffic :=(
Gentrification may be well on its way. Just pay the people Market Value or above.

I've been campaigning for Several Developers to come together and demolish the 600 OLD Houses. Existing there now. Between Menalto/E Bayshore/University Ave and Bay Road. Offer the Owners Market Value or $1 Million Dollars. There is still a profit margin there. Prices are still lower than the rest of the Bay Area.
Its going to happen one day. Might as well take them out of Their misery.
Constantly complaining about "Brown Water".

The Infrastructure in that location is TERRIBLE. They need Sidewalks, Some houses don't have Garages, just Horse/Buggy covering. Or they have a One car garage, that only can fit a Carriage. etc.
My thoughts are, if they can come in & destroy "Whiskey Gulch". (They've had practice). Knock them down and replace them with Double the New Housing.
Let's say 1200 or more Housing. Concerns about displacement. Let them have "First Right of Refusal".
Some of those homes have been there since The Horse and Buggy days. There are NO Meters on the Homes. All the Water comes from Well Water. The Water is Brown or White/Cloudy. There was once a pool there, gone now. (where the Water Co.)still exist. It was Put in place by the Military. It was once used to Bathe Their Horses. Prior to the 101 Freeway.

@Dusty Pierce. Its a delicate process towards bringing EPA out of the 60's way of thinking.
@Rob Johnson/Captain. I've been to numerous mandatory meetings put on by the developers. Many residents envisions or limited. That is why I suggest a "City Designer"? Some people just Say NO to everything, because they only go for what they know. This cancels out "Good" Modern progress.


Robert Deacon
Registered user
Woodside
on Jun 10, 2021 at 8:41 am
Robert Deacon, Woodside
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 8:41 am

With proper planning and vision, EPA could become the Foster City of Silicon Valley...an upscale modern community with mid-size office complexes and attractive housing tracts.

@Luwanda

Establishing a major university in EPA would be a huge undertaking. Why not consider creating something along the lines of an exclusive K-12 preparatory school with specialized training (i.e. art and the performing arts) along with a superior athletic program for the high school ages?



We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 12:57 pm
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 12:57 pm

@Robert Deacon (of Woodside)
EPA Heart of the Peninsula.
Are you saying to Luwanda to Think Small?(again here it comes)
Stifle rhetoric or EPA lacks experience?
What EPA is in need of is a "YUGE Undertaking". EPA simply needs the right fit those that will be paid properly.
No MORE of this thinking of Mid-size OFFICE Space. That is only "Hollow" building for a Community, that'll suffer thru "Dust & Traffic".
This only benefits MOSTLY "Outsiders". They enter & then exit. Besides there is already a HUGE unattractive Brick Building at the 101 entrance. The Council has also approved (a twin brick structure) across the Street (just like it) Just waiting to "Jam" up Traffic! (Something should happen to make that gone).
Too many decades Outsiders have used Your Rhetoric.
EPA is already "doing" small Homework? Too Many Non-Profits. Too many small Schools that are CLOSING. The Council Approved a Special "Primary School" Owned by Priscilla Zuckerberg. The Location was approved in an Area, where it would've been a 9th School in a 4 Block radius.
Approving something just for a "Tax Base" is getting ridiculous. Its Time for EPA to think creative along the lines of a "Creative Destination" for Thinking Adults. They pay Taxes too. The Land at University & Bay Rd. Called The Four corners has plans for A Hotel? Across the Street is still being (worked) out? Some are getting a Headache thinking about the suggestions from the Citizens, with Their "Wish-List". But I do like YOUR Vision that EPA could become the Foster City of Silicon Valley...an upscale modern community? Keep in Mind. Most People living in EPA get weary about being "Displaced" and replaced by "Gentrification". Currently a few "Gents" have moved in and have caused an uproar. They were successful in getting the "Rookie" councilperson elected. (The cause of this Article being published). They completely overlooked the "Data-Scientist" who would pay attention to details. They are mostly interested in Feeding Developers.


Ali Khalid
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 1:15 pm
Ali Khalid, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 1:15 pm

One must learn to crawl before they can walk or run.

EPA is just learning to walk and not quite ready to assume a major role on thefast track.

Most of the community is not ready for anything faster than a sidewalk.

Believe me...I reside among them.


Richard Schweiger
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2021 at 1:58 pm
Richard Schweiger, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 1:58 pm

Like Richmond, East Oakland, Emeryville, Seaside, and Compton, EPA has a certain reputation that it is still striving to overcome.

The city lacks leadership, direction and vision.

[Portion removed.]


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 3:13 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 3:13 pm

Sue Dremann and Editor, is the city attorney back at work or is he still on leave? Please update this story, thank you.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 3:19 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 3:19 pm
Efren Delgado
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 5:26 pm
Efren Delgado, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2021 at 5:26 pm

Some residents prefer East Palo Alto just the way it is as Palo Alto isn't the only local community with NIMBYs.

Voting by taco and publicized internal municipal strife are some of the city's trademarks and many of us cannot even be bothered because we're too busy working and trying to put food on the table, raise kids, avoid getting shot etc.

The city council members are easily replaceable come the next election.

[Portion removed.]


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2021 at 1:22 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 11, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Richard Schweiger speaking of city reputations, given your council’s history, you might want to acknowledge your city’s mess. Your council members are literally laughed at constantly on social media and used as examples of how not to be. If we get rid of Lopez we’ll be much better off, but you all would have to start from scratch.


Christopher Johnson
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2021 at 1:43 pm
Christopher Johnson, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jun 11, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Both the PACC and EPACC leave something to be desired.

Take a cue from Mountain View!


Helena Karteris
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2021 at 10:12 am
Helena Karteris, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 10:12 am

I suspect that the EPA resident voters need to be better informed and educated prior to marking off their ballots.

If a free taco can secure an election win for an aspiring city council candidate, imagine what a well-coordinated fleet of food trucks offering various ethnic cusines (African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, etc.) could accomplish in EPA on the part of a local candidate.

Or maybe hold the city elections in a food court.


Dex/Covid-Homeless Survivor
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2021 at 10:39 am
Dex/Covid-Homeless Survivor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 10:39 am

Improvements in ensuring public safety should also be on the city's agenda.

If you've ever wondered why EPA has a lower homeless street population than say Palo Alto or Mountain View, there's your answer.


Mabel Carlton
Registered user
another community
on Jun 13, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Mabel Carlton, another community
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2021 at 4:27 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 4:27 pm

What is the current status of this, has Alvarado returned? Has Lopez and his back up singers changed their tune? Is there any investigation into the press release and who wrote it?


Buford Lange
Registered user
University South
on Jun 13, 2021 at 5:02 pm
Buford Lange, University South
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 5:02 pm

[Portion removed.]

An unstable local government with a community plagued by gangs, poverty and limited educational levels.

As a result, less than ideal public officials are elected who in turn make less than desirable choices when it comes to hiring city administrators.

Similar to Palo Alto except that Palo Altans have no excuses for their poor elective choices.


We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2021 at 7:50 pm
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 7:50 pm

@Richard Schweiger
Be kind when you form remarks regarding EPA. The Growing Pains from appearance are lasting Longer than is wanted. I know that Appearances count. But comparing EPA with those Other Cities, solely because they are primarily Minority Cities, is Telling. You also have to know the History and know about the HARD work that goes on behind the scenes. There are details, happening by HONEST hard workers that have "Intelligence". Be aware that being a City, ALL the Citizens should be listened to. This causes (trouble). Which Ali Khalid, alluded to. This is Evident with the Fact that 26yr old “Lopez'' was Elected. Lopez tapped into a segment of EPA, that is what Efren Delgado referred to. [Portion removed.]
EPA is up against Those that have ACQUIRED Huge parcels of Land. They have an Agenda also. What I am getting at is this. There are too many Personalities that are involved that have Their OWN Agenda. EPA is the LAST entire piece of land in the Heart of the Peninsula & Everyone wants a piece of the PIE. As to Efren Delgado's remark "Some residents prefer East Palo Alto just the way it is? We're too busy working and trying to put food on the table, raise kids, avoid getting shot etc." Efren statement distresses us the most? There are those that are actively working hard in bringing EPA into the Modern World. “Being SHOT"? That statement is farfetch! The same people, "Pop" Their heads out & want to destroy the work that has been done & Others have worked towards, this is what has kept EPA Down. This applies to simple things such as "Landscaping" keeping Cars parked off of Lawns. Allowing grass & weeds to grow. Simple things. Hoarding parking. The Council is thinking NOT to create a Burden on the Lesser. What they’re doing is distressing the Older Citizens that are in Their Golden Years. Homes paid for Suffer. This needs to end. Coddling. Bring these citizens into conforming & assimilate.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2021 at 10:06 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 10:06 pm
We Told You So!
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2021 at 11:08 pm
We Told You So!, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2021 at 11:08 pm

[Portion removed.]

A Census Worker Friend advised me that they knocked on over Hundreds of Non-Minority Citizens doors. It is also a Well-Known fact, that there is a popular "Job Recruiter" for "Tech Company's" Advertising for Gentrifiers to come and move into EPA where he lives.

EPA has always been a Mecca comprised of all "Ethnic" backgrounds. There are Asians & Caucasians that have lived in EPA for over 20-65yrs. Check out The Ravenswood High School Yearbooks. The Westside shelter most. Gangs have been stomped out, (they may visit)? But there are also Gangs living in the surrounding Cities. They simply wear different clothing and carry different Titles. This was discovered decades ago. [Portion removed.]


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