Palo Alto Weekly

Notes & Comments - October 5, 2007

This week on Town Square

City won't fall apart

Posted Oct. 2 at 7:54 a.m. by A Children Library Supporter, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood:

"No way will I support a $50 million bond issue for Mitchell Park Library. And I will not support $45 million for a new police headquarters. I don't believe these cost estimates and I don't think the city will fall apart if we don't do these upgrades. I have grown weary of the 'let's put a bond on the ballot' storyline.

And yet the City Council just keeps spending money on architects' fees for these projects that will never be approved."

Time to focus

Posted Oct. 2 at 8:06 a.m. by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood:

"If the city plans to keep all the library branches open, then I will not vote for the library bond. As far as the police bond, I do not trust our City Council — it wastes too much money on consultants, architects, useless Web sites and 'boutique' commissioners that the city does not need.

Kishimoto and company need to start focusing on the city's real problems. Maybe then I will vote for something that they propose."

Presumptuous council

Posted Oct. 2 at 8:37 a.m. by Natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood:

"Interesting that Palo Altans are called 'cynical and unaware' and that the consultants claim the information is not 'penetrating' our stupid, thick skulls. I would hardly call Palo Altans unaware. The problem is that we are all too aware of what goes on — irresponsible spending, refusal to take responsibility or accountability (can you say 'unworkable, overpriced Web site' and 'expensive, unnecessary green consultant'? If you took the cost of those two things alone you'd have about $500,000 or so).

It is even more irritating to see the spin pathetically being launched at the awareness of the Palo Alto citizenry. Give me a break. Conservative, sound, long-term fiscal policy — that's the ticket.

If we saw even an inkling of that we would no doubt be much more willing to take on those bonds. But no one likes to be taken for a ride, let alone asked to ignore the facts and just write a check. Palo Altans may be cynical, but the council is presumptuous."

A 'cynical doubter'

Posted Oct. 2 at 9:23 a.m. by Bebe Purcell, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood:

"Add me to the list of cynical doubters. For too long the Palo Alto establishment, along with the management and employees unions, has run the city as a private club. They only pay attention to the majority of us non-members when they need money.

Compare Palo Alto to any other city on the Peninsula: We're rolling in money. We spend double the money per capita as most other cities. For this we're told that we have better services and amenities than those other benighted cities.

Do we? Mountain View built a brand new state-of-the-art library without a bond or new taxes. They have around half the number of employees we do and they spend around half as much per resident. Their streets are in good repair compared to ours. Recently one of their public works managers, asked to describe Mountain View's procedure for street maintenance, said: "Well, we try to anticipate our needs in advance and then make room in the budget for them." Imagine that — they actually budget for maintenance and repairs.

Of course there are downsides to living in Mountain View. For example, their mayor has had not one photo-op publicizing the city's global-warming policy.

The last time we voted to give the grifters at City Hall more of our money was to fix the storm drains. Guess what: They made a mistake and now they can't fix everything they told us was direly needed with the money we gave them. In fact they can't even fix half of these urgent needs. So far they haven't had the guts to come out and ask for more money. I guess the 'needs' weren't so urgent after all.

So now we 'urgently' need a police station and a library, according to the consultants at City Hall hired to manipulate us into voting to lavish more money on our overlords.

Fool me once…."


Posted by Carol Mullen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2007 at 5:22 pm

It appears that our MacMansions will not get matching MacServices. Even their friends are unwilling to buy them MacSewers, MacPoliceStations, MacLibraries.

These are orphaned projects.

Stanford Medical Center will need MacServices. In fact, it already does, and Palo Alto will not pay for them.

Perhaps it's time to consider separating Stanford services? Could they possibly administer their services less effectively and efficiently than the City now does?

Posted by Another Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2007 at 11:09 pm

I suspect those who pushed the storm drain tax got their storm drains in their street (new ones to replace the old as there was some water on their street when it rained) and now --to H with everyone else.

The mayor dosen't run the city. The council majority (developer backed and live in N.Palo Alto enclaves) dicides where the city is headed and does. (New "Heritage Park--and Clark building---$10, to 20 million). and tunnel under r r tracks to nowhere)

A new Mitchell Park library and community center bldg is needed, but the police building is over sized and gold plated and is proposed in a terrible, isolated location. N.Palo Alto has a "main library,fancy art center, theater and community center and childrens library.
S. Palo Alto has a old, small library, small bldg next to it and a old run down Cubberly bldgs that are used by Foothills college and other private groups.??

Posted by JW, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 9, 2007 at 6:57 am

Congratulation Palo Alto Weekly for having the guts to print the weblinks of October 2nd, mostly from "Knowledge, support low for Palo Alto Bond Measures", and for encouraging "free speech" and the free flow of ideas in Palo Alto.

At last we have a forum where Palo Altans can be open and express their views I hope our Staff and City Council will read and take note. And, I hope this will encourage others to step forward and express themselves pro or con in a helpful and constructive manner.

Posted by Tim Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 14, 2007 at 6:52 pm

This is Tim Gray, candidate for Palo Alto City Council. I am urging the current City Council to declare Financial Discipline the most urgent need for Palo Alto. See my web site: Web Link

Financial responsibility must be demonstrated before we can earn the trust of the community to approve bond funding. It's easy to talk about infrastructure, but the citizens will not fund the needs if we can't demonstrate best practices. The City must triage financial discipline to the top of the agenda if we really want the bond measures to have any chance of approval.

Just look at the standards that the large charitable foundations have for supporting not-for-profit organizations -- i.e. "your own house has to be in order before funds will be provided."

Applying benchmarking to the budget and demonstrating best management practices must be achieved before the City can ask tax payers to chip in. What is standing in the way of the library and public safety facility bonds is the belief that the City has not demonstrated adequate financial care in daily operations. It is urgent that we address that concern head-on.

We can fund things like street improvements and underground utilities if we apply just a little fiscal discipline in City operations, and stop thinking that just because there is the appearance of a little surplus, we can just spend it.

Infrastructure needs that can be conveniently overlooked in any one budget year, but that is taking the politically expedient path of not having to say no. I am not a not a name caller, but our current infrastructure deficit is an accumulation taking the easy path vs. taking a stand for the long-term health of the City.

I am not taking contributions and I am not seeking endorsements. I will take a stand for the long-term vs. the politically expedient. I know that my independence will offer a voice really needed by the City. See the "Budget" section of my web site: Web Link

Best regards, and offered in the spirit of cooperation.

Tim Gray

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