Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - July 16, 2010

Letters

Racial profiling

Editor,

These are my comments after watching, on Comcast channel 27, Sunday's program, "Talking with Henrietta". This program will be repeated several times.

Palo Alto police chief Dennis Burns and two members of the police advisory committee were being interviewed by Henrietta Burroughs.

Two points really caught my attention. Henrietta was stopped recently by Palo Alto police when she drove from East Palo Alto to Palo Alto. She said that the officer first looked into her back seat and then explained that he stopped her because her DMV sticker was not easily readable and she should get a new one. Upon arriving home, she and others examined the sticker and saw nothing wrong.

The second point was that it was mentioned that two patrol cars were parked at the main post office, one facing towards EPA and one facing towards PA. Burns had no explanation for this and implied he didn't know about it.

It seems nothing has changed since Lynne Johnson was chief. There still are patrol cars parked and watching people driving from EPA to PA, just as there were then.

Stopping African-Americans from EPA on (pretext) pretense is still happening, as Henrietta's experience shows.

John Abraham, a statistician who analyzed the demographic data for years, showed this very thing: African-Americans being stopped disproportionately for equipment problems and not cited. Now that the data is no longer being collected, there will be no evidence of this. Future statistics that show the disparity, racial profiling, will not exist.

Natalie Fisher

Ellsworth Place

Palo Alto

Downtown business

Editor,

I was interested in reading your editorial about the Downtown Palo Alto Improvement District and have followed the problems it has recently had.

I was a merchant in downtown Palo Alto in the 1960s and '70s and remember that after the Stanford Shopping Center opened up in the late '50s, an organization was established called "Downtown Palo Alto Inc." It was an organization of property owners and merchants with the goal of improving and maintaining a healthy business environment in downtown Palo Alto. The organization had a full-time executive director and included a merchants committee which dealt with similar issues BID has been dealing with.

The interesting difference with what is happening now and what happened then is the involvement of the property owners. In the long run the people who benefit most from a healthy downtown are the property owners. Unless they own a business or service in downtown they don't seem to be involved. It all boils down to money, and by involving the property owners you can again establish a solid organization with a full-time professional executive director. The organization should stand on its own rather that operate under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce, and should actually be a member of the chamber.

There are still a number of people around from those days, including a past executive director, who would be happy to sit in on a round table discussion to help guide a new and stronger organization to benefit downtown Palo Alto.

Jan Aarts

Ohlone Street

Portola Valley

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