Finances, infrastructure highlight 'State of the City' | March 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 5, 2010

Finances, infrastructure highlight 'State of the City'

Palo Alto must become leaner, greener and better prepared for emergencies, Mayor Pat Burt says

by Gennady Sheyner

A huge budget gap may force Palo Alto to cut staff and services but it should not keep the city from rebuilding its infrastructure and preparing for emergencies, Mayor Pat Burt said in the annual "State of the City" address Monday night.

This story contains 791 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at


Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 5:58 am

Thank you for realizing palo altos and our states infrastructure in general needs to be brought back to first world status. But stop using it as a pretext for more taxes. We give you plenty of money. Cut the waste. You know where to find it. It's predominantly in the bloated public education system. There are plenty of non-vital programs there that could save the city tens of millions of dollars a year withouth affecting the kids one iota. The only ones affected will be unions, who only care about themselves, so why should we care about them?

Posted by Ron, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 2, 2010 at 7:12 am

Time to cut all those expensive fringe classes in our public schools. Put all the money in core academics like math and science and proper English. We don't need those liberal music and art and foreign language programs. When I was a kid, we had 35 students in every classroom and I turned out fine. Why can't today's kids toughen up? You don't lots of teachers if the kids will just learn to focus on their lessons.

Posted by Jim, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:56 am

So Mr. Burt wants to increase taxes by resurrecting the business license tax, and now, installing red light cameras? Really? That's the best he can come up with? How about his plans to develop a team focused on identifying industries and companies that we should be courting to establish businesses in Palo Alto? We need increased revenue strategies too.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:02 am

Mayor Burt works to bring Tesla into Palo Alto: Web Link
Now he's going to hear it from the NIMBYs who don't want any more jobs and traffic in this city.

Posted by Jim, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

I don't see a lot of people buying tesla cars...we need bigger box retail and dealerships of affordable cars for regular folks. Say no to red light cameras!

Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:57 am

NIMBYs, are not an enemy of conservatives. It's their cries that often prohibits the overdevelopment of our culturally homogenous areas. They've often prohibited section 8 housing for instance, which was created specifically to bring certain demographics into our communities that conservatives don't want to be in their communities. Conservatives can ally with NIMBYs to accomplish many conservative goals

Posted by rersident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

To Gunslinger and Ron -
The city's budget and the schools' budget are two different things. They are not in any way related except by geography, and even then there are places where the school district overlaps other cities.
Ron, you may say you turned out fine, but you sound pretty hostile to me.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:04 am

What kind of enemies are you talking about? NIMBYs and conservatives are the same people. By definition, they are both opposed to any kind of change.

Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

Ron, I completely agree with your perceptions on the bloated school system. You phrased it extremely eloquently. I'm not sure I understood your question about NIMBYs versus conservatives. I was trying to say that they were allies to conservatives, assuming you were a conservative. If you're not I may have jumped to conclusions. But I still loved what you had to say about the school system and asking people to toughen up

Posted by Bob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm

> They are not in any way related except by geography,

Not true .. there is a ~$5M transfer from the the City to the PAUSD for leasing the Cubberley Center .. and another $2-$4M for more hidden subsidies of the PAUSD, such as the CPA involved in grounds maintenance, Children's Daycare using both PAUSD property and is funded by the City, the Traffic Guards cost about $350,000, some subsidies of PAUSD utility infrastructure has been provided by the PAU. There are (or have been) police assigned to some of the schools, and a library "liaison" cost the better part of $100K for a few years.

Unfortunately, no one is really keeping track .. so the dollar amount is a little hard to know .. we just have to estimate.

Posted by Carl, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Taxes, taxes and more taxes. Lets look at our overhead costs. Police ooficers, who generally make 100k a year plus full benifits can retire in 20 years with 90% of their slaary and then go to work for the county sheriff for an additional pay-check. Is this the retirement we need to support?

Hire a 25 year old and at the age of 45 they can retire and increase their salary to 170k a year. Palo Alto has over 15 officers who retired and are now sheriff.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Maybe we should turn the management of the city government over to the Post Office, at least they know when they don't have enough money to provide the services, and are willing to shut down the low-use facilities--

Post Office May Close Branches:

Web Link

Palo Alto doesn't need a Children's Theater, Zoo or five library branches. Time to cut the fat and return to city basic services.

Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Rersident, I'd like to address what you said to Ron. You call him hostile. Why? Because he wants us to be a little tough?

Posted by Wha?, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm

These methods are exactly what is wrong in Washington and elsewhere - hard stances, never giving an inch, labeling etc. Both sides need to realize this can only be a community when you agree to disagree without labels and name calling. When we all agree this is OUR community that we need to make better we can move forward.

Posted by amazed, a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Have I missed out on an important factor regarding info on the budget deficit?
Like has the (2009 announcement about the) $4.8million dollars that was reported missing fron the city's budget department, per Lalo Perez. Has the money been found? If not, is the department presently under investigation? If has not been found, or if it has been found why the silence?
Or is this just a case of "if we keep quiet about the $4.8million dollar issue, then it will go away."
Citizens want to know.

Posted by No red light cameras, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

It looks like rather than make tough decisions regarding our financial crisis, Mayor Burt will be relying on another go around with the business tax and red light cameras to fund our city's bloated payroll.
In fact in today's Daily Post he is quoted as being in wonderment over how much revenue you can raise from one camera--he also claims that no one has raised any objections over using the cameras. Mayor Burt should read these forums and the letters to the editor (in fact there is a good one in today's Daily Post about using red light cameras as a revenue source--which makes it a for profit business). Of course given our council's history of ignoring any criticism or comments that they do not agree with--I would not be surprised if he ever claims that he heard from someone that opposes this.
At least the council is looking at having another downtown farmer's market--that is an important issue that needs to be addressed ASAP.

Posted by Jenny, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2010 at 11:57 am

I'll vote no to a business tax but red light cameras are a great idea. Since I'm a little old lady and drive like one I'll never get caught with a red light camera but if you're stupid enough to run red lights you deserve to be fined $380.

Posted by ticketing dogs off leash, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

would surely remedy our budget shortfall.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:36 am

So we have a budget 'shortfall' and the City Mgr. today announces another expensive new hire (oh sure, it was a 'vacant position' left by Emily Harrison) - an assistant city mgr. probably in the $150K plus range plus benefits. Elmslie is promoted - or demoted - some job for 'economic development and the beat goes on. WHEN is the city council going to step in and say NO??? The council now has to 'put up or shut up'. Also the 'green czar' is starting to 'irritate'. Threatening the people of Palo Alto with sanctions over what goes in the garbage can is not going to win friends and influence people or telling us how to use our water allotment. This is a smart, educated city. We can 'figure it out'.

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