DEPARTURES ... While Palo Alto's planning officials welcome the department's new assistant director, the Office of City Attorney is preparing for a departure of one of its veteran attorneys. Assistant City Attorney Don Larkin, who specializes in land-use issues and who has been a fixture at Planning and Transportation Commission meetings during his seven years with the city, has accepted a new job at the Santa Clara County Office of the County Counsel. Larkin, who briefly served as the city's acting city attorney after the 2011 departure of Gary Baum, said his last day in Palo Alto would be Aug. 31. City Attorney Molly Stump said the department is now recruiting for Larkin's replacement. "Don's service here was distinguished," Stump said. "He did wonderful things for the city."
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? ... That's the question Palo Alto's elected leaders are asking these days as they prepare to ask voters to approve a bond measure in 2014. The city has a laundry list of pricey infrastructure needs, with a new public-safety building heading the list, and council members have been scrambling over the past year to find ways to pay for these items. Earlier this year, they agreed not to rush into a bond measure in the current election season. Instead, they decided to spend the next two years coming up with a proposal they can send to the voters for possible approval in 2014. Such proposals haven't always been a hit with the electorate. While voters had overwhelmingly supported recent bonds to pay for school and library improvements, they soundly rejected the city's 2009 proposal to raise revenues through a new business-license tax. To craft a winning measure, the city is looking to enlist a professional polling and public-opinion-research service. Last week, the city released a request for proposals for a company that would spend the next two years helping the city identify the level of community support for infrastructure projects, the level of "tax threshold" the community is willing to support, optimal election timing and "effective themes/messages," according to a report from the office of City Manager James Keene. The city plans to award a contract in late October. Meanwhile, the City Council plans to consider at its Sept. 18 meeting a schedule for placing a possible bond measure on the November 2014 ballot.