News

City Hall plaza to be named after Kings

Ceremony and plaque dedication planned for January

As a designated "free-speech zone," the Civic Center Plaza is an apt namesake of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell said Monday.

Four of her colleagues -- John Barton, Peter Drekmeier, Yoriko Kishimoto and Judy Kleinberg -- agreed, forming a majority that voted to dedicate the plaza in honor of the Kings in January. Councilman Bern Beecham was absent.

"This is not an issue that's all about political correctness," Cordell said. "This is about this city making a statement" supporting civil rights and free speech.

"To me the Kings represent something that is very, very important to Palo Alto," said Drekmeier, who, along with Cordell, proposed naming something in the city after the Kings last January.

"We are now a very tolerant community. It hasn't always been that way and I don't want us to forget it," Drekmeier said, recalling previous limitations on non-whites in Palo Alto. There were deed restrictions limiting sales of property to non-whites until the 1940s and a secretive Ku Klux Klan chapter reportedly existed in the 1920s and into the 1930s.

But council members Dena Mossar and Jack Morton and Vice Mayor Larry Klein voiced misgivings about naming the public plaza after the Kings.

The Kings were outstanding Americans worthy of recognition, all three agreed. But Coretta's achievements did not match up to her husband's, Klein said.

Mossar and Morton said they thought exemplary locals, such as Juana Briones, should be considered if the plaza were to be renamed. Kleinberg said Tuesday she had originally proposed honoring Briones.

Morton and Mossar also pointed out that the couple's full names create an unwieldy title for the plaza.

The Kings are linked to Palo Alto because Stanford University hosts the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, which houses King's papers. The one person the King trusted with his papers, history Professor Clayborne Carson, is a Palo Alto resident, Cordell said.

She said Coretta's accomplishments are particularly laudable because they occurred in an era when men had more advantages and spokespersons.

In the Jan. 16 memo that kicked off the effort to honor the Kings, Cordell and Drekmeier wrote that Coretta "founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and lobbied for a national holiday in honor of Dr. King, which was granted in 1983."

Married for 15 years, the Kings organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, directed the March on Washington in 1963 and led the movement that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Drekmeier and Cordell wrote.

Initially, they proposed renaming a street such as Oregon Expressway after the Kings. But after learning of numerous logistical challenges involved in renaming streets, the council and its Policy and Services Committee switched its focus to a park, plaza or other space in the city.

In June, the committee recommended dedicating the unnamed Civic Center Plaza rather than Lytton Plaza, the small parkette at University Avenue and Emerson Street that was the scene of numerous demonstrations in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- some of which turned violent.

The Palo Alto Historical Association's Landmarks and Streets Committee also considered the proposal and "saw no objection" to renaming Lytton or the Civic Center Plaza.

The city plans to purchase a high-quality $10,000 plaque before the January dedication, Assistant to the City Manager Kelly Morariu wrote in a report. (Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at btrout@paweekly.com.)

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:39 am

What a waste of money. Most people will still call it City Hall Plaza just like people still call Candlestick Park Candlestick Park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:51 am

"As a designated "free-speech zone," the Civic Center Plaza is an apt namesake of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell said Monday."

Does this mean that other areas in the city are not "free speech zones"?
Is speech regulated in certain parts of the city?

"The Palo Alto Historical Association's Landmarks and Streets Committee also considered the proposal and "saw no objection" to renaming Lytton or the Civic Center Plaza."

ANd if they would have objected???


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The process is our life
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2007 at 9:19 am

I like these parts from the PA Daily coverage of the story:
Web Link

"Several council members objected to the commemoration on the grounds that the Kings did not have enough local significance and that the community had not been adequately involved in the renaming process."

Yes, let's get the whole community involved in this--maybe we need to hire some consultants, bring it to the Planning and Traffic Commission, set up a blue ribbon panel, do some more study and then bring it back befor the council in let's say 10 years.


"I think we should take a little longer to make this decision," Mossar said, before making an unsuccessful substitute motion to have the Historic Resources Board debate what to call City Hall Plaza, since their prior discussion had been focused on the best location to name after the Kings. "

Dena- just vote on it, this did not need to be dragged out any further. As Cordell pointed out we do not need to make this another victim of the PA process


No wonder nothing gets done with this council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I can't believe it!
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2007 at 9:50 am

Every day the Palo Alto City Council looks sillier and sillier. $10,000 for a plaque?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 11:05 am

Glad we are spending time on the important stuff ;-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 30, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Just like nature provides us with warnings in advance i.e.: brightly colored poisonous toads. This Council makes it so very easy to decide whom not to re-elect.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:13 pm

They should have named the plaza after "The Color of Palo Alto". After all, it's his stuff that dominates the plaza. And his "garage" would serve as the plague.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary Carlstead
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Let's see....

$10K for a plaque to honor the Kings in :Civic Center Plaza"
$250K for "Desination Palo Alto"
$150K plus benefits (first year) and climbing for an environmental czar who evidnently has no 'job description'
$250K for a miserable website
$6M to refurbrish City Hall

This in a city that can't afford American flags to line University Avenue on the 4th of July or Veteran's Day of Flag Day.

I can't wait until the NEXT election!!



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:34 pm

terrible idea


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Mary--well said. Don;t forget that the city, run by Frank benest, also does not lower the flag willy-nilly to honor firefighters killed in the line of duty.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Casey
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:22 pm

Just when you think the City Council is out of touch, they go ahead and top themselves. Seriously. I looked around online and $2-3,000 buys a huge bronze plaque. So, when the Council allocates $10,000, it demonstrates a fundamental insensitivity to the people of Palo Alto who have to foot the bill.

Secondly, I think wasting $10,000 on a bronze plaque seriously dishonors Dr. King and his legacy. You cannot solve racism with $10,000; however, allocating those funds for educational scholarships, library books, or small business loans will do more to help the disadvantaged that Dr. King advocated for than affixing a piece of fabricated metal onto a stone edifice at City Hall.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Remember what Chris Rock said, "If you ever find yourself on MLK Street, don't walk, RUN"!! There is a reason for him saying that!
Total waste of money. I guess some people feel that they need to do this to feel good.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Casey
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:32 pm

To its credit, the City Council chose not to rename Lytton Plaza. I still remember when Burger King was open at Lytton Plaza. Imagine the confusion if Burger King was still there and the City Council decided to rename Lytton Plaza to (Burger) King Plaza.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Why didn't we sell naming rights and actually generate some revenue? Google Plaza? VMware Lane? HP Zone?

All you need to look for is the word "incumbent" on your ballot - pick anyone but "incumbent"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Its a ruse
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:38 pm

When the staff doesn't want something to happen they put a huge price tag on it. I've seen it before and that's how they probably came up with a $10,000 plaque.
Casey is right about the cost.
Nonsense and a smoke screen. Tell Mr. Benest to get real and stop wasting our money. And he shouldn't take his hostility out on councilmember Cordell.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WHY !!!!!!!!!!!!
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 30, 2007 at 3:27 pm

What did this issue _EVEN_ come up.

Fire the person who brought this issue up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Maybe we actually are)



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary Carlstead
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 30, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Unfortunatley this time there are NO incumbents running. We have to wait two more years.
MC


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 3:50 pm

It's very safe, and good for the resume, to suggest something like Cordell and Drekmeier brought forward with this resolution. It's an "accomplishment" that will look good in certain key political circles, as one forward's one career.

I have no doubt that the intentions behind this initiative were good, and that the creators of the initiative mean what they say about the Kings and our society. The Kings are cultural heros of the highest order.

That said, the midless naming of streets and other places after vey well known cultural heros - including the Kings - begins to ring hollow after while.

Why we couldn't have renamed the Plaza after a local or regional civil rights hero, is beyond me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Publius
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Yikes. $10,000. Political correctness is expensive. Remind me again why we've selected ML King, after whom every other main boulevard and public square in America is already named? How about a figure more closely associated with Palo Alto -- or even California?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2007 at 6:45 am

Truth in advertising would also mention Dr King's assisting in enslaving far more people than Lincoln freed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2007 at 8:44 am

All right Walter, I'll bite - where does that one come from?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Corey
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:48 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] If the plaza was to be re-named at all, it should honor a local hero. Good riddance to the council members who supported this and are not running for re-election. Hopefully the incumbents that voted for it will follow along with them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Idea
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2007 at 10:36 am

Idea: How about naming it Birge Clark Plaza ?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sara
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2007 at 2:39 pm


What a waste of money for a hollow gesture.

MLK had no association with Palo Alto.

His personal life like that of Ghandi does not provide a model for our children follow.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Judy Bryant
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Where was the public debate on this matter?

How about doing something like insuring public safety? There seems to be a rapist or two on the loose. Gunn High School and Castilleja School come to mind.

I would suggest that the Palo Alto Council do some real work for a change.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrocHunter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2007 at 2:22 am

Re: Citizen's suggestion that we sell the naming rights to Lytton Plaza....where do you think the name Lytton came from?? Old timers will remember that it was from Lytton Savings & Loan...located directly across the street from the Plaza, on the corner of Emerson & University.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2007 at 3:54 am

Dr. King openly advocated the defeat of the U.S. Army, something an old soldier is unwilling to forget.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2007 at 7:47 am


We need deep and lasting changes in governance in Palo Alto.

council members need to be held accountable and fired fast of recalled and dismissed.

We have a brutal rapist in town and the council is wasting time and money on stupid meaningless PC nonsense like this MLK fiasco.

throw the bums out now!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2007 at 9:01 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by All bow to Eichler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 6:46 am

How about naming the plaza Eichler Plaza. since there are so many energy sucking Eichler homes in PA and people seem to worship the ground he walked on and think his home's are the greatest design in the world--what would be better?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Duke plaza
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:11 am



DUKE PLAZA in honor of the 3 Duke University students who were falsely

accused of rape and became victims of PC faculty and race mongering

DAs, politicians and the NYT.

MLK would certainly support naming it DUKE PLAZA


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:53 am

Even MLK would find this a ridiculous amount of $ for a plaque. This is sad local government.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2007 at 11:39 am

Is this a "done deal" ? Who voted for it? Can we stop it from happening? $10,000 is a lot of money and could be used for other projects.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jefferson Starship
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Come on, Name it Christopher "Moondog" Barnett Wing Plaza. He is a permenant fixture there & was born and raised in Palo Alto! Go for it! And his sister Grace Slick is a famous musician & attended Cstellija Girls School. Forget the Kings.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Isabelle
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I can't believe it! As a local artist I can make the plaque myself and am willing to do it for free!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 2,749 views

Don't fund the rape culture at my alma mater
By Jessica T | 30 comments | 1,917 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,892 views

Campaign Endorsements: Behind the Curtain
By Douglas Moran | 10 comments | 1,022 views

Mothers, daughters, books, and boxes
By Sally Torbey | 4 comments | 810 views