Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - April 11, 2014

Letters to the editor

Resign from ABAG

Editor,

I have long been a supporter of regional problem-solving and participation and thought that every local city should belong to the Association of Bay Area Governments.

However, seeing that ABAG has assigned to our city a new goal of 2,179 new housing units, in a city which is already jammed (think of the high-rise fortresses along Alma), I would be willing to see our city resign from ABAG, and the sooner the better. If that means cutting back on or stopping new commercial building and housing, fine.

I don't expect Palo Alto to be just as it was when I moved here decades ago, but there must be some limits. Not everyone can or should live here simply because there are jobs here. Heck, my father commuted 50 miles by train every day, and our little rural NJ town still retains its character.

Sue Kemp

Seale Avenue, Palo Alto

Rehabilitate Roth

Editor,

Yes, I'm convinced it would be appropriate to spend city funds on rehabilitation of the Roth Building. I appreciate committing civic funds to dynamic educational and cultural institutions. Public safety, potholes and parking garages have their claims on the public purse, but Palo Alto is known also for supporting invigorating institutions. City-owned buildings shelter a number of them: the Art Center, Children's Theater, Junior Museum & Zoo, Environmental Volunteers, Avenidas, Gamble Garden, Museum of American Heritage — all these city organizations or private nonprofits operate in city-owned buildings.

Right now the City of Palo Alto has a chance to boost an exciting project and benefit from improvements to another exceptional building it owns. The Palo Alto History Museum has raised over half the cost of construction to rehabilitate the Roth Building. By partnering with the Museum, the city can hasten work to restore this asset and provide — along with seismic and energy-efficiency upgrades — a community room, a restroom serving Heritage Park and a cafe. These are welcome neighborhood amenities.

Once the building is ready, private funds will create a contemporary museum to exhibit our past and invite creative ways to think about our future. Innovation has fueled Palo Alto since its earliest days. Today there is great interest in why this area sparks invention. Though technological frontiers are today's magnets, Palo Altans historically have generated many and varied advancements. Radio engineering had an early start in town. Palo Alto Clinic doctors built the Roth Building when theirs was a pioneering multi-specialty group medical practice. The foundational period of the Grateful Dead happened here. Musicians and artists have long joined engineers, educators, researchers and imaginative investors in fueling our city's vibrant character.

Telling our stories, lighting imaginations: a restored Roth Building can make it happen. Let's do it!

Barbara Wallace

Secretary to the board of directors, Palo Alto History Museum

Lincoln Avenue, Palo Alto

History of innovation

Editor,

I strongly support the City's effort to contribute to the rehab of the Roth Building: the original Birge Clark designed Palo Alto Medical Clinic. A substantial amount of money has been raised from private donors, and it is important to have support to actually start the required seismic upgrades and renovation of the building. The plans are drawn, the lease option in place, the contractor hired and a completed building will allow the City Archives to be housed and a privately funded Palo Alto History Museum to be developed there. Palo Alto and Stanford have such a rich history of innovation, and it needs to be showcased for the current and future citizens.

As the city receives new citizens and world wide visitors, it is important to educate them to the history of our unique city and to create a look into our future with an innovative and high-tech museum.

Bill and Susan Beall

Cowper Street, Palo Alto

An educational resource

Editor,

Yes, the city council should contribute funds for the rehabilitation of the new Palo Alto History Museum. The city owns the Roth Building (site of new museum), and a public/private partnership with restoration funds coming from both the city and museum donors makes sense.

I am a longtime resident of Palo Alto and a retired teacher in Sunnyvale. Both cities have rich histories, and speaking as an educator, I know what a resource the new museum will be for teachers, students and parents. I visited the Sunnyvale History Museum with my students many times. It focuses on the fascinating story of the founding family of Sunnyvale, the Murphys, and due to its focus was very beneficial to third and fifth graders.

The Palo Alto History Museum promises a much broader scope and will be an asset to the education of students of all ages. We need a history museum, and I urge the council to become partners with the museum in the effort to rehabilitate the Roth Building.

Margo Schmidt

Addison Avenue, Palo Alto

All politics is local

Editor,

Thank you for covering the recent gathering at City Hall to protest the Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ("Group protests Supreme Court decision," April 4, p. 5). You were the only local news outlet to do so.

I do wish that you could have found a bit more space for your report, however. A photo and brief caption really aren't sufficient for a story that dominated national headlines. McCutcheon was not the first and certainly won't be the last case to undermine campaign finance laws.

Your readers would have benefited from knowing that Congresswoman Anna Eshoo thought the protest was important enough to send a representative to read a letter she wrote specifically for the gathering. Rep. Eshoo noted, "In the long term, a Constitutional amendment is necessary to restore the power of Congress to regulate money in politics ... We must win this." (Emphasis in the original.)

All politics is local, as the old adage says. With our campaign finance laws now eviscerated, as Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent, it will be crucial for local newspapers to pay close attention to this issue.

Paul George

Director, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center

California Avenue, Palo Alto

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