Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - December 10, 2010

Letters

Anti-rail signage

Editor,

An organization opposing the proposal for high-speed rail through town has placed signs near the railroad tracks reading,: "Here Comes High Speed Rail — There goes the Neighborhood."

I noticed the signs but didn't think much about them until reminded that the phrase "There goes the Neighborhood" comes from the 50s or 60s when white residents used it as African-American families began to move into their neighborhoods and they moved out.

I don't believe the sign makers meant to hurt the feelings of those among us most conscious of and angered by the earlier use of the phrase. However, it does seem clear that consideration of those feeling was missing in choosing the words on the signs.

We have said that we want Palo Alto to be an inclusive city, but while this may not be the biggest deal, this sign's language has surely caused some feelings of exclusion among our citizens.

This is a good example of where we need to be the change we want to see.

Jim Phillips

Ferne Avenue

Palo Alto

Meeting policy

Editor,

I don't understand the potential policy that would prohibit City Council and commission members from meeting with applicants — be they developers, homeowners or community groups.

It seems to me these City Council and board members are there to gather information and to make informed decisions. I trust them to do that. Last minute two- to five-minute presentations by organized opposition and a staff report are not adequate ways to get good information, especially on a significant project.

These officials are not seated to be judges-on-high, without significant input behind a project or without community contact.

If someone is suspicious and doesn't trust an elected or appointed member, a simple announcement that a member has talked with someone should do.

"Yes, I met Mr. X at the development site and took two phone calls from Ms. Y and Mr. Z, the neighbors opposed to his project."

I have often heard members say that they had met with an applicant to look at the site, but never anyone who mentioned contact with a neighbor.

However, if as the potential policy states there can be no contact with a development proponent, then, there should equally be no contact with anyone else: neighborhood groups, neighbors, friends, husbands or wives who might have an opinion, a position or a fact to provide, especially if discussed over dinner or a glass of wine.

Lets keep political correctness even-handed.

Ken Alsman

Ramona Street

Palo Alto

Wilderness protection

Editor,

Dec. 6 marked 50 years to the day since President Eisenhower established what would become one of America's most beloved natural treasures: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Big mammals, such as the iconic polar bear, and millions of the world's birds come here each year, seeking refuge from a world of encroaching hazards to receive their most sacred needs: sustenance and safe harbor for bearing their young.

The Arctic Refuge remains wild, so the cycle of life continues. As Americans, we have a moral and civic duty to ensure that this cycle is not broken.

This anniversary presents an historic opportunity to finally protect this last, vast American wilderness.

I urge our representatives in Washington, D.C., to close the book on a debate settled by the American people long ago: America's Arctic is more valuable for what lives upon the land than what lies under it.

Carol Taggart

Valparaiso Avenue

Menlo Park

Mr. Palo Alto

Editor,

If anyone deserves the title of Mr. Palo Alto, that person is Jay Thorwaldson, who has just announced his retirement as editor of the Palo Alto Weekly.

He has worked here as a newspaperman for what seems like forever. He's an old pro, as we in the news business say, and we are fortunate that he will continue on the paper as a columnist.

In all fairness, I have to admit that I've known him for decades, and wrote for him when he handled public affairs for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. But that won't bother anyone who knows Jay.

Palo Alto and the surrounding area are a better place to be live because of Jay and I wish him well in the future.

Harry Press

Escobita Avenue

Palo Alto

Thanks for MROSD

Editor,

In the article about Jay Thorwaldson's retirement in February, what is missing is his role in publicizing and advocating the formation of Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

His influence was significant.

I hope he will write an article about the founding of MROSD.

Given today's political climate, MROSD would never come into existence. Thanks for Jay Thorwaldson.

Ruth Waldhauer

Diablo Road

La Honda

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