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Publication Date: Friday, October 05, 2001

Memos draw attention to Kernan campaign Memos draw attention to Kernan campaign (October 05, 2001)

Supporter list, school fee agreement cause concern

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Two memos sent to the Pleasanton City Council have raised questions about school board Trustee Patrick Kernan's bid seeking re-election to another four-year term in the Nov. 6 election.

One memo, sent to the mayor and City Council members by City Manager Deborah Acosta McKeehan, stated that Kernan had included her husband, Jim McKeehan, as a supporter on his campaign letterhead. She said her husband had not agreed to have his name listed as a supporter.

"While my husband's name appears on the letter, permission was not given for this to occur," Acosta McKeehan wrote. "Jim has taken no position in the School Board election and does not intend to do so."

She stated that she makes it a practice to remain totally apolitical and this has not changed since she has remarried and changed her name. Jim McKeehan is vice president of Signature Properties, which has done extensive development in Pleasanton and has committed to fronting the costs and building Neal Elementary School on Vineyard Avenue.

"It is our decision and intent that our family name not be used in elections in any manner," she said in the memo dated Sept. 26.

Kernan explained Tuesday, "I work a lot with Jim and know him and he's a good friend. I left a message awhile back and when I didn't hear from him I assumed I could use his name."

Kernan said he offered to send out another explanatory letter but Jim McKeehan told him that was not necessary. Kernan's Web site at does not include McKeehan as a supporter.

Also an e-mail was sent to the City Council on Sept. 20 by Kernan's wife Marcia, blasting Councilwoman Kay Ayala for delaying the school fee agreement that involves developers, the school district and the city.

"Has Kay acquired that much control over the rest of you that she can single-handedly destroy the whole of Pleasanton?...Are we now seeing the beginnings of a Pleasiban led by 'Ayala bin Laden'?" wrote Marcia Kernan. She noted that the e-mail expressed her personal dismay and her husband knew nothing about it.

Ayala's only comment was, "She may want to take a look at the community character traits that were adopted by the school district."

At the City Council meeting Sept. 18, Ayala removed an item from the routine consent calendar to OK the school fee agreement, which meant it was postponed until the next meeting. Any one council member can remove an item, in order to study an issue further. Trustee Kernan accused Ayala at the Sept. 18 meeting of holding up school construction.

At the Oct. 2 meeting, after two hours of public hearing and discussion, the council authorized the mayor to sign the Cooperative Fee Agreement by a 4-1 vote, with Ayala dissenting. Many speakers supported Ayala's decision to delay the item.

"I want to commend Councilwoman Ayala for her courage," said Mayor Tom Pico. "It was totally appropriate to make sure her questions were answered."

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