Aug 26 2011

Open Letter to Council Member Wieler

An August 25, 2011 letter from Kathleen Quenneville, who served on the Task Force on Undergrounding of the League of Women Voters

Dear Council Member Wieler:

I guess you didn’t really mean it when you apologized for your “Piedmont Taliban” article in the Piedmont Post.  That may be inferred from your “Nattering nabobs of negativity” article in the August 24 Piedmont Post.

I thought you recognized that name-calling was not a productive means of encouraging dialogue about the issues on which we disagree.  Apparently that is not the case.  It is shocking that you would unilaterally dismiss those who criticize Piedmont’s governance as “people who are never satisfied and who will show up and complain at every public meeting.”  This illustrates that you do not understand your fiduciary responsibilities and are not fit to serve on the City Council.

As a Council member, you have duties of care and loyalty.  This means that you are obligated to make informed decisions in the City’s best interests.  The good citizens who are taking the time to follow City events aren’t doing this because they are complainers.  They are doing it because they see serious issues with how Piedmont is being run, and they wish to call it to the Council’s attention in the hopes that the Council will improve things.  You should thank them for taking the time, rather than call them names.  I, for one, have spent countless hours on the League of Women Voters Task Force shadowing the Audit Subcommittee.  Frankly, I would rather have been doing just about anything else, but the Council’s inadequate response to the undergrounding problems compelled me to volunteer my time.

Notably, even the very diverse Municipal Tax Review Committee in a unanimous report sounded alarm bells.  Their report commented that the City is on a path that is not financially sustainable.  The Committee found that even if the tax were renewed at its current level, if would not be sufficient unless significant changes were made.

If you must call names, call the people who are speaking up “canaries in the coal mine.”  If you and the rest of the Council ignore the canaries (sticking with your bird analogy, are “ostriches”), all of us will be the worse for it.  In the meantime, the Council should not wonder why Piedmont is becoming an increasingly divided community, as that’s the very atmosphere this dismissiveness is fostering.


Kathleen Quenneville

2 Responses to “Open Letter to Council Member Wieler”

  1. I do not know Kathleen Quenneville, but I certainly like her message and how she wrote it. She is exactly right about the duties of care and loyalty. I too have experienced the arrogance of some (certainly not all) council members over the past few years. I am particularly upset that none of them seems to ask where the City Manager and City Attorney were, let alone them or their predecessors, when the undergrounding projects were structured to expose the entire taxpaying public to significant loss for the benefit of a very few residents. I am prepared to join forces with council candidates,, contributing what skill and money I have available, who will explicitly campaign on a platform that assures City management is held accountable and that gifts to private residents stop. I plan to be active in opposition to any tax measures that are not coupled with reasonable assurances such misuse of public funds will stop.

  2. I share Mr. Clark’s frustration. I have asked before both City Council and the Audit Committee about Peyton’s role. My last letter to the Audit Committee, in part, stated: “City Attorney Peyton reviewed the contracts for form and content that transferred unlimited liability to Piedmont taxpayers. I asked both this Committee and City Council why City Attorney Peyton’s role in this has not been examined, and why the City has not attempted to collect from Mr. Peyton’s insurance. There has been silence concerning George Peyton’s responsibility”

    I have yet to receive even an acknowledgment of the question. That the construction contracts were grossly defective by transferring unlimited liability to taxpayers, and that City Attorney reviewed them, is quite factual. Barbieri and Chiang agreed at the 8/23 Audit Committee that their report could ignore what they deemed “opinion” and again ignored any discussion of George Peyton.

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