Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 5, 2010

Around Town

A GIANT VICTORY ... When Palo Alto officials met Monday night to discuss the top recreational issues of the day, it was clear they had other things on their minds. The clues were everywhere — from Councilman Larry Klein's orange sweater, to Park and Recreation Commissioner Sunny Dykwel's San Francisco Giants T-shirt, to the iPad on City Manager Jim Keene's lap flashing baseball stats, to the frequent glances staff shot toward the muted TV screen. The Parks and Recreation Commission, which advises the council on topics relating to local sports fields and recreation, experienced "Giants Torture" in the worst way possible — their annual meeting with the council fell on the same evening as Game 5 of the World Series between the Giants and the Texas Rangers. Though heads frequently swiveled toward the TV, discussions remained largely on point, spanning such topics as bike improvements, youth programs and new amenities at El Camino Park. Councilman Greg Scharff was talking about El Camino Park when Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria whacked a three-run homerun, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead and prompting an excited Keene to interject with an update. "It's clear where our priorities are," quipped Commissioner Paul Losch. The meeting was scheduled to adjourn at about 7 p.m. so that the council could get to its regularly scheduled Monday meeting, but no one seemed to be in a rush. Minutes before the hour approached, one commissioner asked how much time the group had before adjournment. "About an inning," Mayor Pat Burt replied. The council ultimately managed to stretch out the joint discussion and the subsequent intermission until past 7:30 p.m. Council members lingered in the small conference room to watch the Giants' freakish, fuzzy-bearded closer Brian Wilson finish off the Rangers, giving the Giants their first World Series since the team moved to San Francisco and giving the council a chance to high-five and congratulate one another before proceeding to their regular meeting.

SILVER LINING ... Democrats took a political pummeling across the nation Tuesday, but things looked a little brighter in Palo Alto on Election Day. At the Democratic headquarters on El Camino Real, local politicians and operatives gathered late Tuesday to celebrate the election of Jerry Brown to governor, the political survival of Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, and the election of San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon to the state Assembly. Gordon and Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, both gave the group a pep talk celebrating the parties' victories, at least in California. "We have achieved some incredible results in California," Gordon said. "We're unlike the rest of the nation and thank God!" Attendees also cheered the voters' rejection of Proposition 23, a proposal funded by Texas oil companies Tesoro and Valero that would have suspended California's law governing greenhouse-gas emissions. "Just as our beloved Giants beat Texas, we gave the boot to Texas oil companies and defeated Proposition 23," Gordon said to loud cheers.

FIXING THE CITY ... Palo Alto officials agree that the city is full of aged and damaged infrastructure that urgently needs to be repaired or replaced. In September, the City Council appointed an 18-member task force to go through the city's $500 million infrastructure backlog and think of ways to fund the needed improvements. Now, the city has a new problem — getting 18 volunteers to attend a meeting. After more than a month and a half, the task force has yet to hold a single meeting because of scheduling conflicts, the council learned this week. Its first meeting is now scheduled for December. This bit of news frustrated Councilman Larry Klein, who hoped the committee could complete its work next year and pave the way for a bond measure on the November 2011 ballot. "If people can't make the meetings, they ought to not be on the committee," Klein said.

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