at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 08:51by Los Altan
|Mayor’s email irks business owner|
|Written by Diego Abeloos - Staff Writeremail@example.com|
|Wednesday, 24 October 2012|
Los Altos Pharmacy owner Bart Nelson has accused Los Altos Mayor Val Carpenter of playing strong-arm politics with Safeway officials.
According to Nelson, Carpenter contacted Safeway representatives Oct. 8 in what he believes was an attempt to force the removal of political signs posted on his pharmacy’s storefront window. Nelson, who announced in September that Safeway is buying his 78-year-old business, is displaying signs for Los Altos City Council candidates Jeannie Bruins and Jerry Sorensen.
Nelson told the Town Crier that his transaction with Safeway, which has a policy against displaying political signs, wouldn’t be finalized until December.
Nelson said he believes Carpenter sought to pressure Safeway, set to break ground on a new downtown grocery store in January. He called Carpenter’s action “a totally inappropriate misuse of the mayor’s position.”
“Why was the mayor contacting Safeway in the first place?” Nelson asked. “They don’t get into politics. It’s total intimidation.”
Reached by the Town Crier, Carpenter said her email to Safeway officials was simply an inquiry into their political signage policy and that Nelson is misconstruing her intentions.
Specifically, Carpenter said she was aware that the grocer previously had a policy of not displaying political signs, based on her own campaign for city council. When she noticed the two political signs in Nelson’s pharmacy, Carpenter said she contacted Safeway under the assumption that the pharmacy’s ownership transfer was already complete.
“I just wanted to make sure it was fair,” she said. “I assumed (Safeway) already owned the pharmacy.”
Carpenter said she also inquired about adding signs for candidates she hopes will win seats on the council – Megan Satterlee, Jon Baer and Jan Pepper – in the event that Safeway’s policy on political signs had changed. Nelson simply misinterpreted her email, she added.
“My view is that Bart Nelson once again got his facts wrong,” she said. “It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.”
The email in question
Both Nelson and Carpenter provided the Town Crier with copies of the email in question, in which Carpenter writes:
Greetings! Congratulations on Safeway’s recent purchase of Los Altos Pharmacy. I’m looking forward to transferring my prescriptions from Walgreens to your beautiful new Safeway store in downtown Los Altos next year.
As you may know, there is a Los Altos City Council election this fall, with one incumbent and five challengers running for three seats. I wanted to bring to your attention that Los Altos Pharmacy is displaying campaign signs for two of the challengers.
My understanding from my own campaigns for Los Altos City Council is that Safeway corporate policy is to not allow any campaign signs on your properties. If that is still the case, I’d appreciate it if you would so inform Bart and Kent Nelson of Los Altos Pharmacy and direct them to remove the signs ASAP. If that is not the case, I’d appreciate your displaying campaign signs on your Safeway property for incumbent Megan Satterlee as well as Planning and Transportation Commissioner Jon Baer, both of whom voted in favor of your new store in downtown Los Altos.
I look forward to hearing from you on this issue at your earliest convenience.
Mayor of Los Altos
Council candidates react
Nelson, in turn, emailed Satterlee, Baer and Pepper Oct. 15, asking them to “immediately and publicly repudiate” Carpenter’s support for them.
Satterlee responded to Nelson via email, calling Carpenter’s actions a case of incomplete facts about Nelson’s deal with Safeway. Nelson provided a copy of Satterlee’s email to the Town Crier.
“I see no implied or real threat to Safeway or its upcoming permit needs,” Satterlee wrote to Nelson. “I read an inquiry about corporate policy and a request based on a misunderstanding that the deal had in fact closed and the property had changed hands.”
Baer echoed those sentiments, telling the Town Crier that his understanding of the situation was that Carpenter’s email was “written on the basis that (Nelson’s) transaction was announced.”
“I think Val raised the question of ‘has your policy changed?’” he said, adding that he believes Carpenter acted on “a lack of perfect information.”
Satterlee, meanwhile, added that she would work to clear up any misgivings Nelson had toward political expression.
“As long as you are the property owner and not bound by Safeway’s corporate policy, you should feel free to post any sign you want as long as it complies with city regulations,” Satterlee wrote to Nelson. “If Safeway is representing this as anything other than that, please let me know and I will endeavor to clear up the confusion so you can express your support for your candidates.”
Pepper, meanwhile, told the Town Crier in an email that she does not “condone such actions by an elected official in this campaign or in the civic affairs of Los Altos.”
Pepper added that she has not accepted endorsements or contributions from current councilmembers – including Carpenter – since the start of her campaign.
“I have chosen not to seek or accept endorsements or financial support from anyone on the current city council,” she wrote. “I am also not accepting endorsements or financial support from any business interests (such as property developers) that may be coming before the city council in the future.”
at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 08:51by Los Altan
Carpenter's claim that this was merely an inquiry into Safeway corporate policy and not an attempt to strong arm Nelson into a change of political signage is not believable. If that were true, why did she send the email to the person at Safeway who was in charge of dealing with city permits? Why did she include the request to direct Nelson to remove the signs and/or replace them with signs for candidates who she supports? Frankly, the actions of Mayor Carpenter and her lack of truthfulness on the matter are disgraceful. The attempts by Satterlee and Baer to defend the mayors actions are equally disturbing and neither one will be getting my vote.
2"North Los Altos Resident"
at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 11:18by Susan
This together with the flyer I received showing Mayor Carpenter's support of candidates that are NOT f the candidates displayed at Los Altos Pharmacy lead me to believe that Mayor Carpenter is not a team player and may not work well with ANYONE voted into those open seats. Really unprofessional and disappointing. Ms. Carpenter, your actions are speaking volumes to this voter.
at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 13:14by Parent
Our mayor has been shameless during this election season and should be ashamed. And kudos to Robin Chapman for breaking his story last week on her blog.
at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:19by Shocked in Los Altos
Satterlee and Baer's statements make no sense and just engulf them in the controversy.
It doesn't matter if Carpenter had her facts wrong. Threatening city permit issues is scandalous whether or not the purchase was complete.
And we know it was a threat because she sent it to the person in charge of city permits not the person in charge of store signage. And to make sure he didn't misinterpret Carpenter reminded him that Carpenter, Baer and Satterlee voted for the store and thus had power to vote against in the future. Note how she mentions that Jon Baer is Planning and Transportation Commissioner but didn't give any title for Megan Satterlee. I guess Megan's role on the North County Library Authority doesn't threaten Safeway.
I understand Satterlee and Baer are beholden to Carpenter but I think they shouldn't have become part of the controversy.
5"Los Altos Resident"
at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 15:13by Rick
This episode is yet another indication of the dysfunctional culture we have in and around our city council. It continues to amaze and disappoint me that elected officials can be so clueless about conflicts of interest and the abuse of power and authority.
Mayor Carpenter's email to Safeway officials was clearly not just an "inquiry" into their political signage policies. It was an inappropriate request to either remove the Bruins and Sorensen signs or also display Satterlee, Pepper and Baer signs.
In other circumstances, I would hope that there would be consequences for the actions of Ms. Carpenter, but I predict that her cronies on the city council will prevent this from happening.
Let's vote some fresh faces into city leadership!
at Thursday, 25 October 2012 07:45by Brett
Carpenter's email to Safeway was petty and vindictive. Her explanation to justify it is disingenuous. Her further attempt to blame this all on on the intended victim (Nelson) of her strong arming is outrageous.
In any normal town this mayor would be facing censure from the city council. Unfortunately, our city council is so completely dysfunctional as to sweep this incident under the proverbial rug and pretend that it did not happen. I agree with the poster above. Throw them out! We need new city leadership!
at Friday, 26 October 2012 23:26by Another Stanford Grad
It is appalling and dumb to send a threatening campaign email to your opponent’s supporter and sign it “The Mayor of Los Altos”. Shame on Val Carpenter. Everyone knows you don’t put anything in writing! My goodness! What ever happened to picking up the phone or pressing the flesh – you know “old-fashion” influence peddling – the kind that leaves less of a trail? This email reflects someone who is intoxicated with power and lazy.
Satterlee’s comments are equally inane and mind-numbing. Her purposefully narrow obfuscation is designed to pacify the feeble-minded. She unwittingly reveals more of herself than she intends, despite trying to put everyone to sleep with her “don’t worry, be stupid” answer to the Town Crier. She’s too clever by half.
With Baer, the article had me at the word “echo” because echo has been a recurring theme of his campaign at candidate forums – He echos the other candidates.
Vote for the amateurs. They haven't been corrupted yet!
at Monday, 29 October 2012 11:09by Los Altan
It's sad that so many are outraged by the mayor's conduct yet she has yet to offer an apology or even address the issue7. Instead she tweeted another list of meetings she attended this week and wants to pretend that this incident is nothing worth commenting on. Where is the leadership???
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