Around Town | August 13, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 13, 2010

Around Town

RETURN OF THE EX-MAYORS ... Leave it to a local election to waken past Palo Alto mayors out of their political slumbers. Former mayors and councilmen are preparing to play leading roles in the two ballot measures that local residents are asked to vote on in November. Measure R would freeze staffing levels in the Fire Department, pending a citywide election. Measure S would change the city's elections from odd to even years. The local firefighters union wrote in its argument for Measure R that the proposal will "give you, the residents of Palo Alto, the right to decide how many firefighters you want responding to 911 emergency calls" and "the final say as to how the community as a whole should be protected." But a coalition of ex-mayors and councilmembers, which includes Dena Mossar, Bern Beecham and Vic Ojakian, is arguing that the union-backed measure is anything but democratic. Mossar wrote in the official anti-Measure R argument that the measure is "an unprecedented power play that takes budget decision making out of the hands of our elected officials." The measure would make it "nearly impossible for the Fire Department's budget to ever be reduced," she wrote. The battle over Measure S, meanwhile, has split the ex-mayors. Judy Kleinberg is backing Measure S, which proponents say will boost voter participation and save the city $1 million over the next decade. The measure was proposed by Supervisor Liz Kniss, another former mayor, who has also signed on to oppose Measure R. Former Mayor Gary Fazzino, meanwhile, has joined current Councilman Greg Schmid in opposing the election-year change. Schmid wrote in his arguments against the measure that the current odd-year system makes it easier for local candidates to reach the public and that shifting to even years would "change the nature of local elections."

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