RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE ... Palo Alto City Council candidates Tim Gray and Mark Weiss have one thing in common: Each thinks the city's political process has become far too exclusive and too welcoming to entrenched politicians. Both had run for council in 2009 and both finished near the bottom of the 14-member pool. Both are planning to run again in November. But they have one major difference. Gray, whose 2009 campaign chest totaled of $800, said he plans to make a "big loan" to his campaign in hopes of being more competitive this time around (though he said he will be the campaign's sole funder). Weiss, who often bemoans the influence wielded by local developers, is less interested in money. He told the Weekly that he will not accept donations and he will put together his campaign ideas through "crowd sourcing" — that is, figuring out between now and November what residents would like to see on his platform. "I'm trying to be someone in the election who is creating an alternative to a machine, or to a system that cranks out a particular type of candidate," he said.
JEAN MAPPING ... Shoppers too busy, too lazy or too technologically hip to walk into a traditional fitting room now have a new and quintessentially Palo Altan option at their disposal: sizing pods. The company Bodymetrics last week unveiled its first Northern California "body-sizing pod" at Bloomingdale's at Stanford Shopping Center. The company had launched its first California program at a Bloomingdale's in Los Angeles, where according to Bodymetrics "shoppers were able to quickly find perfect-fit jeans that match their size, shape and style." Before that, it provided its body pods to Selfridges, a department store in London. So how does it work? According to the company's announcement, shoppers step into a private pod "where their body is carefully mapped with hundreds of measurements and contours to determine the best jean from all leading brands in stock at Bloomindale's." The statement touts the mapping process as one "designed to find styles of jeans that will fit, flatter and accentuate shoppers' unique shape."
SECOND IN COMMAND ... Palo Alto's Department of Planning and Community Environment is often Ground Zero for City Council dreams and resident protests. Its to-do list includes some of the hottest community issues, from high-speed rail and cellular antennas to new bike paths and the controversial redesign of California Avenue. This month, the department added a new high-level staff member to help deal with the workload. On Aug. 6, the city's newly hired Assistant Planning Director Aaron Aknin had his first day on the job. Aknin, who had spent the past five years as planning director in San Bruno, is filling a position that has been vacant for more than a year, ever since the retirement of Chief Planning Official Julie Caporgno (city officials decided to change the position title). Department Director Curtis Williams said Aknin's responsibilities will include the overall day-to-day overview of the department, giving Williams more time to focus on City Council priorities. Aknin will also be involved in special projects, including high-speed rail. Williams said the city had recruited for the position three times but did not find a satisfactory candidate until now.