V I E W P O I N T
L ET T ER S Our readers write
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green place, distant from whatever future commuter rail holds for our community. I invite open-minded residents who are tempted to vote against locating the library in the park to attend a weekday Caltrain crossing of Fair Oaks Avenue.
Wait a few minutes for another to come in the other direction. Then you may agree it doesn’t make sense to put a library at the town center. Karen Moore Parkwood Drive, Atherton
A thumbs-up for Masur Editor: I sure hope your readers will look at their whole ballot this November and cast a vote for the best person for San Mateo
The Old Guard doesn’t get it — citizens want real pension reform By Henry Riggs and Roy Thiele-Sardina
can never happen again — residents here must now vote to approve such an increase. he Old Guard doesn’t In the Almanac piece, Ms. get it. Fergusson oddly takes credit Contrary to what for turning back the formula Kelly Fergusson said in an for calculating future employAlmanac opinion piece last ees’ pensions — as members week, the “pension reform” of our group started calling bill package passed by the for from late 2009. Ironically, state is a shadow of what Gov. the new formula is pretty Brown proposed, offers almost much what the formula had zero current savings, and does been for current employees not reform the corrupt pen- before she and the council sion system. Even the inclusive increased it! * League of California Cities Last week’s opinion piece argued strongly for reflects Ms. Fergusthe governor’s origison’s unique view; nal reform and was one need only read disappointed with her distorted ballot the outcome, and arguments against every major newsMeasure L two years paper in the state ago and compare; called the so-called and not one of her pension-reform bills dire predictions then GUEST a bluff. has come to pass. OPINION T he ev iscerWe, Menlo Park ated package that voters who approved emerged may even Measure L by nearly retard meaningful reform 72 percent, can take pride. — not advance it — because We were fiscally prudent — it failed to change the state hardly mean spirited. We Constitution as the governor blamed elected officials — asked. But voters have finally not employees. Measure L caught on and want real pen- prevailed quickly in a court sion reform, not whitewash. challenge. And by demonHow sad that a City Council strating that responsible citiincumbent/candidate touts zens support fair reform, we the virtues of that flimsy inspired many of the subsepackage. quent reforms that citizens in Here is the issue in Menlo other cities have passed with Park: On Feb.13, 2007, deliber- similar majorities, and helped ately dismissing citizen input, spotlight the issue nationthen Mayor Fergusson and the wide. Citizens of Menlo Park council voted to increase pen- deserve credit. sion benefits by 35 percent. * The formula was 2 perFor example, any non-police cent of best-year earnings, employee making $100,000 with retirement allowed at a year in Menlo Park — and age 55 for all employees. It more than 26 MP employees was increased to 2.7 percent, do — could increase his/her applying retroactively for then retirement (not counting per- current employees. It is now sonal savings) from $60,000 2 percent at 60 for employees to $81,000 annually in one hired since February 2012 and stroke. Solely because of Mea- remains 2.7 percent at 55 for sure L that enormous mistake the rest.
County Supervisor: Shelly Masur. As a school board member she’s experienced in managing a difficult budget while still providing important services. I find Shelly to be the more open and the more credible candidate for a job caring for the many needs of San Mateo County residents. Gail Sredanovic Ashton Avenue, Menlo Park
BMR housing benefits the working middle class Editor: The Almanac did a good job of
providing the list of occupations for those who qualify to live in BMR units — the working middle class. The Almanac provided education and knowledge to the Menlo Park communities, especially for the one anonymous “MP Citizen” who wrote (on the Town Square forum) a very naive and stereotyped remark. The “MP Citizen” wrote: “Keep low income trash out of Sharon Heights. Put them in East Menlo Park where they belong. People who don’t have the ability or work ethic to live in a nice neighborhood shouldn’t be given handouts.”
The housing commissioner also clarified the difference between BMR (below market rate) and affordable housing. This was important. C. Contreras Monterey Avenue, Menlo Park
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John R. Johnson
October 20, 1923-September 17, 2012 John R. Johnson, who ran the Palo Alto Medical Foundation for more than two decades and served as city manager of Menlo Park during the boom years of the early 1960s, died Sept. 17 at The Sequoias in Portola Valley. He was 88. A nationally respected health-care administrator, Mr. Johnson was an active community volunteer and dedicated Stanford alumnus. He was devoted to his family, especially to his wife, Phyllis, to whom he was married for 66 years until her death last year. He loved to travel, play tennis and dominoes, and spend time with his granddaughters. Mr. Johnson was born in Greeley, CO, on Oct. 20, 1923, the son of the Rev. Rector and Elsie Bales Johnson. As the son of a Methodist minister, he moved frequently as a child, from Colorado to Arizona and eventually to San Jose, CA, when he was in high school. He met his bride, Phyllis Hackman, at the First United Methodist Church youth group. After graduating from San Jose High School in 1941, Mr. Johnson entered Stanford University, where he majored in political science. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, he joined the U.S. Navy and was sent to ofﬁcer training school. In 1944 he was commissioned an ensign, got married in Asbury Park, NJ, and headed for Guam, where he served on a minesweeper, the USS Oracle. After the war, Mr. Johnson returned to Stanford and received his B.A. in political science in 1946. In 1947 he received a fellowship in Public Affairs from the Coro Foundation in San Francisco. Mr. Johnson’s distinguished 40-year career was dedicated to serving Peninsula residents during a time of tremendous growth and change. From 1952 to 1964, he worked for the City of Menlo Park, as Assistant City Manager and then as City Manager. Menlo Park was in the midst of the post-war boom, and under Mr. Johnson’s direction the city expanded its boundaries and built a new library and police station. In 1964, Mr. Johnson went to work for the Palo Alto Medical Clinic as Executive Administrator. Over the next 23 years, as doctors transitioned from house calls to managed
care, he presided over the clinic’s growth into the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a premier regional provider of medical services. In 1987 he became Vice President of Administration for PAMF. He retired in 1991 but continued to serve on the board of directors for several years. He also served as president of the Medical Group Management Association and the American Association of Ambulatory Health Care, and was a fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives. Mr. Johnson was a fervent Stanford booster and a generous community volunteer. He served as president of the Stanford Alumni Association, as a member of the “chain gang” at Stanford football games and as a docent in the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame. He served for 32 years on the board of directors of Channing House and received the Lifetimes of Achievement award from Avenidas. John and Phyllis Johnson had a son and a daughter, Steve and Kris. “Dad was my hero and always will be,” said Kris. “He was a perfect father, a perfect gentleman and he was always there for me.” “Although we’ll miss Dad,” Steve said, “he’s back where he belongs, which is with Mom.” His granddaughters, Anna Johnson and Sarah Johnson Macek, have fond memories of summers at Lake Tahoe, evenings around the ﬁre pit in their grandparents’ Menlo Park backyard, and thousands of domino games. “He was always so delighted to see our faces,” recalled Anna. “And he genuinely cared about the happiness of those around him.” “He was the most amazing man I, or anybody had the chance to meet,” Sarah said, “and I was lucky to share so much of his life and love.” Mr. Johnson is survived by Steven Johnson and his wife Carol of Petaluma, Kristina Johnson of Truckee, Anna Johnson and Mark Heaphy and Sarah Johnson Macek and Brandon Macek, all of San Rafael. A memorial reception was held Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Sequoias in Portola Valley. Memorial contributions may be made to the Coro Foundation, 601 Montgomery St., Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111, or the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
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October 3, 2012 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 15
Section 1 of the October 3, 2012 edition of the Almanac