Publication Date: Friday, December 07, 2001
Appalled by allegations about Ambra
My wife and I are absolutely appalled by the allegations concerning Mario Ambra's improprieties. Threatening civil servants who are only doing their jobs for one's own gain is a gross abuse of office.
Like all citizens, he should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Nonetheless, I can't see Mtn. View continuing with business as usual under the circumstances. How can we trust him to be unbiased in the selection process of new planning commissioners, for example?
I consider charging the city for a tuxedo and the fire hydrant incident penny ante compared with his alleged attempts to subvert the planning process. He's indeed lucky that the most he has to lose is his office and that there are no criminal penalties. Unless he has some reason for emulating the last year of Nixon in office, he should resign now.
I certainly don't consider the 50-odd Ambra supporters crying "witch hunt" at the City Council meetings as representative of the city electorate. Some of us are a little too busy to attend city council meetings or form "friends of" committees, but if this issue drags on for much longer, then some citizens may indeed find the time for a "Recall Ambra" committee.
There is something rotten in Mtn. View. For a paper that claims objectivity, in this case, the Mtn. View Voice, the latest attacks on Mayor Ambra have these assertions falling on deaf ears.
Even though the editorial suggests impartiality, it's obvious the mayor has been tried and convicted by the editor of the Voice. Whether the editorial page, calling for the mayor's resignation, or the front page, editorializing under the guise of reporting, the bias and rhetoric of this newspaper is not missed.
Words like "vicious," "attack," and "storm" are applied frequently to anyone supporting the mayor or fire chief. Note how often the mayor is referred to as "Ambra," while Ms. Lieber is always referred to as the "vice-mayor." I don't recall Mayor Ambra ever referred to as vice-mayor last year when he served in the position. This is another "subtlety" not lost on a public sensitive to media bias.
Tuesday night the women on the Mtn. View City Council (along with Mike Kasperzak) voted down those commission appointees who they thought might be friendly to the mayor. This was no "Gosh, I just hadn't the time to think about this until I sat down at the table tonight," as Ms. Stasek claimed. This was blatant discrimination against those commission appointees who they perceived to be proponents of the mayor.
And, Mr. Faravelli, there were those in the audience who felt you played right into these women's hands when you resigned from the Appointments Committee. We appreciated your expression of outrage at what these council members were proposing, but please reconsider resigning from the post.
The Mtn. View Voice in the meantime needs to be reminded that Mayor Ambra has yet to have his day in court. It is wrong, it is unconscionable, to be jumping to conclusions.
I take exception to the Voice's call for Mayor Ambra's resignation.
While I agree that the citizens of Mtn. View deserve honest representation, in my book Mayor Ambra is innocent until proven guilty. I have enough faith in our system of justice to believe the decision about his integrity should be made in court rather than by the press conferences of his accusers. Up to this point, we have only heard one side of the story.
As your editorial pointed out, Mayor Ambra was elected because he has been perceived as the voice for the "little guy," the average Mtn. View citizen and homeowner. As such it is his duty to be a thorn in the sides of the special interests for whom Mtn. View has been a gold mine. Sure he gets in the way of smooth functioning of the city, just like the Bill of Rights gets in the way of smooth law enforcement. The citizens of Mtn. View voted for and deserve their voice on the city council.
Let's let our mayor have his day in court.
Mtn. View residents, wake up! Don't be misled by Home Depot-hired name takers who were imported from Half Moon Bay and San Jose. I personally spoke with two different individuals who were outside local supermarkets. I inquired about their places of residence and found them to be from out of town.
I also inquired if they knew what Home Depot was trying to do to a residential area, and our local city council. They really didn't know. I proceeded to tell them. Their answer : "It's just a job to me to take these signatures." You see how interested Home Depot is about the impact their Big Box and its inherent traffic problems will have on two very nice residential neighborhoods.
I also want to implore Mtn. View residents who signed those sheets to think how it would impact your insulated neighborhoods to have 100+ pickup trucks and up to 30+ semi, double trailer trucks driving through your insulated neighborhoods each day. It's the noise and traffic that will deeply impact our neighborhoods and the safety of pedestrians in the Dale Avenue and Sylvan Avenue neighborhoods who will have to live with your vote! You won't be affected but we will.
Being able to run down to the Home Depot to pick up a pound of nails, some light bulbs etc. is a convenience you could find at one of our local hardware and/or lumber stores and support our local merchants. If you are building or are a contractor, you could drive 5 miles to Sunnyvale or East Palo Alto to purchase those big items.
Why do we need a big box at the gateway to our city? Let them find a place in a commercial area where the traffic impact will not affect our citizens. Mind these words. Home Depot is Big Money and they don't want to lose this battle. They want to use their power to manipulate your vote.
Does it mean anything to you that the Environmental Commission and the City Council are recommending other uses for that area, taking into consideration the traffic and environmental impacts? Wake up, Mtn. View, your neighborhood could be next!
And when you are using Hwy. 85 or driving the El Camino to get back and forth to your nice neighborhoods, note the traffic now at Grant Road/El Camino and at Continental Circle/Sylvan/El Camino intersections. Imagine fighting those lights with a huge semi truck. Your commute will be greatly hindered by their presence and now you will be affected. So therefore, heed these thoughts when you sign those sheets and when you vote if it comes to that. Voting is a democratic process, but Home Depot just duped you!
The articles about Mayor Ambra's conduct as described in recent issues of the Voice indicate to me that there is some confusion about motives and responsibilities down at City Hall.
Did the City Attorney leak the story to the local press? The Voice story author got the information from the County and reported the facts. The City put out a press release about the Civil Grand Jury action, but stated that there would be no comment from staff. Quotes in the Nov. 23 Voice were take from the transcript of the jury proceedings, not by any conversations here by the City Attorney.
Was the complaint by the City Attorney just a political "trick"? There may be some misunderstanding in the community about the motives of the City Attorney and his relationship with Councilmembers. This misunderstanding is fueled by statements such as that of a Fire Department employee which was quoted in the Voice, stating that Ambra was, " ... just set up, politically."
The City Attorney is appointed to his job by the Councilmembers, including the Mayor. He is not a politician! His job security is based on what the Councilmembers think of the job he is doing. I'm sure that the decision of the City Attorney to go to the District Attorney was a very difficult one - one that took him many conversations with the Mayor over several years. Believing what he did, it was a decision that he could not avoid, if he was to do what his job required: protection of the interests of the city.
How is Mayor Ambra's reputation protected? After the investigation, if the District Attorney did not think there was probable cause to believe that Ambra committed the offense of "corrupt misconduct", it would not have gone to the Civil Grand Jury. If the Civil Grand Jury hadn't agreed that there was probable cause, we would never have heard of the charges. In this way Ambra was protected if the evidence wasn't there. We'll have to wait for the jury trial to see if in fact the allegation is true or false. How are Councilmembers supposed to know what they can and can't do?
As part of the indoctrination of newly elected Councilmembers, they are cautioned about their personal dealings with city staff members and with their personal dealings that involve things of dollar value. Councilmembers only have authority as a council, never as individual. Sometimes that's frustrating when you want to see something done, but they must deal through the City Manager, or City Attorney, or City Clerk.
In the past there have been times when a Councilmember has stepped over the line. I could even give you a personal story, but I won't. In each case that I know of, the Councilmember stopped whatever he/she was doing or was about to do. That was the end of the problem.
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