MJ Lee Statement on Dale Pfau’s Toxicity

MJ Lee original statement on Dale Pfau on Oct-13-2022

During The Almanac’s Portola Valley Town Council election forum on Sep-29-2022, disparaging comments about me were cited from Dale Pfau’s emails. These emails became public record because of the lawsuit brought by Lloyd Day (“Rusty”) et al against the Town and the volunteer Wildfire Preparedness Committee (WPC).

I was crestfallen to hear Dale Pfau had written that he “is skeptical of anything MJ says”.

But I was not surprised. When I first joined the WPC, four females individually warned me that “Dale doesn’t work well with strong women”. These were former or then-current committee members. Let’s add three more female volunteers to that list. Also for months, a member of the committee had confided to me about Dale’s bullying phone calls and emails.

So, I was glad that Mayor Craig Hughes revealed what was in the public record. Because for people who care about the character of our Town’s leadership, we now know Town Council candidate Dale Pfau from his own words.

I also take issue with Dale Pfau’s claim that members of the WPC had “hijacked its charter”. In Mar-2022, the WPC voted to move evacuation from the WPC to the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC of which Dale is Chair), so that the WPC could focus on wildfire mitigation.

Dale Pfau said evacuation would extend EPC meetings beyond one hour, which was a problem because their members “have real jobs” (video is here). Most WPC members were offended, especially because at that time, the EPC was all males.

Subsequently, the EPC concluded that the Town’s evacuation plan had historically rested with them, and the EPC accepted responsibility for the traffic study, where it did not lose a step.

In Portola Valley, residents, volunteers, and town staff are passionate about what they do. We all care. The Town’s leadership has greatly helped me try to do a good job and be productive. But my and others’ reputations have been harmed by Dale Pfau who, on the record, has deflated, demeaned, and devalued fellow volunteers.

Our Town needs thoughtful, respectful leadership.

Update Oct-19-2022 and Oct-20-2022

On Oct-19-2022, former Portola Valley Mayor Jon Silver posted on the Town’s neighborhood forum (PVForum) the following information from his Public Records Act request.

These are the emails from Jon Silver’s Public Records Act request. Highlighting is his.

A quick summary of Dale Pfau’s toxic comments

Here is a summary of the email comments that exhibit Dale Pfau’s derisive and bullying behaviors.

  • 2021-12-07 – “Not sure I trust Jennifer [JY] on anything right now.”
  • 2021-12-08 – “Is this woman [JY] clueless or what?”
  • 2021-12-13 – “I am trying to get someone to talk about fire maps – a qualified fire professional not from WFPD or seduced by [Town Manager] Jeremy.”
  • 2022-01-07 – “Her [JH] appointment is on the calendar for the next town council meeting – this is a disaster. No one will work with her.”
  • 2022-01-08 – email trying to stop JH’s appointment to the WPC
  • 2022-01-11 – “…please forward me Sarah’s agenda. We will completely ignore it, but I would like to see what it is.”
  • 2022-01-25 – “I have a healthy skepticism of anything from MJ.”
  • 2022-01-27 – “I would have preferred to not have Grandy talk; I am working that issue differently.”
  • 2022-01-27 – “Push Grandy out!!!”
  • 2022-01-27 – Chair’s email to Sarah Wernikoff saying that Dale has “texted 3 times and called several times – give me a break” as Dale tries to prevent Bob Grandy from presenting to the WPC on Feb-2-2022
  • 2022-02-03 – Sarah email that “Dale just sent me a text – “I am beyond furious” — do you know what that might be about? He’s calling me at 11″
  • 2022-03-07 – “I think Jennifer H. is insurance; BTW IMO Insurance is more important than the other shit she wants to do.”
  • 2022-03-11 – “Insurance is a hot topic … Good rat hole for Jennifer.”

Some old-school people might say, oh you need a thicker skin. That overlooks the very reason I am making my statement. When you consistently treat others as less than yourself, or when you bully them, and people say nothing, then everyone, even the victims, accept it as normal behavior.

In today’s society, this should no longer be acceptable behavior, especially for someone who wants to be on the Town Council. As an Asian-American female engineer and scientist for 50 years, I can attest to the damage that occurs when this kind of behavior is normalized. Please do not support Dale Pfau in his candidacy. We are so much better than that.

Update Oct-31-2022

I submitted a version of this webpage to our local newpaper, The Almanac, and it was posted in their Viewpoint section on Oct-28-2022, minus the above quick summary.

Public Comment to PV EPC on Nov-3-2022

I submitted a version of my letter to the Portola Valley Town Council and to the PV Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC).

On Thursday Nov-3-2022, I made a public comment in the PV EPC meeting to ask that their committee members not remain silent on Dale’s behavior. When that meeting recording becomes available, I will put the link here. In the meantime, here is a link to a practice video that I recorded. Here is the text of my 1 minute statement.

This week, you received a letter from me. I wanted to make sure all EPC members were aware of the disparaging  remarks Dale Pfau made about female members on the Wildfire Preparedness Committee. I ask EPC members to speak up and disavow this behavior by your Chairperson.

Some people in Portola Valley don’t hold Dale accountable. They say,

oh, Dale was just upset.

Or — maybe you provoked him.

Or — gee Dale hasn’t done this to me. 

When people make excuses like this, they deny support for victims and add to the pain.

But to me it is worse to act as if this incident did not happen.

So I’m asking you to speak up. Don’t be a silent bystander. Let Dale and the public know these offensive comments are unacceptable. If you call out this toxic behavior, you will help eradicate it. And, you will be supporting the victims. But if you stay silent, then you encourage bad behavior to become our Town’s culture.

MJ Lee public comment to PV EPC on Nov-3-2022

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