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Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - June 13, 2007

Letters

City shell game

Editor,

The proposed utility rate increases and water surcharge are excessive. Seniors on fixed income and Social Security are already strained.

Will the Council pass the increases? It recently approved $225,000 for a consultant to determine if Palo Alto should continue using PASCO as a refuse hauler. That company provided good service for years. None on the highly paid staff could do that? Last week it approved $26,200 for a consultant to evaluate top management positions, which previous councils had done.

Those expenditures equal the average utility increases for 750 senior households. According to the June Avenidas newsletter, ages 60-74 represent the biggest active voting bloc in this country. Here the upper age limit is higher. Palo Alto seniors consistently vote, are politically savvy, and involved.

The city wants $50 million for a public safety building and $40 million for libraries. Will these pass? It depends on how angry voters are after getting the utility bills for another year, if rates increase as planned in 2008 and voters analyze their property taxes.

We question the legality of the "shell game" whereby the city uses the utility fund as a profit center for the general fund.

When voters perceive that its city isn't well run, finances aren't well managed and promises aren't kept, their only recourse to fight city hall is the ballot box. The council should tread carefully and not step on this awakening tiger's tail.

Robert and Mary Carlstead

Walter Hays Drive, Palo Alto

VTA's shuttle myth

Editor,

As the PTSA Traffic Safety Representative for Gunn High School, I attended the public meeting recently held by VTA at which the proposed elimination of the 88 bus route that serves Gunn was presented.

I was very disappointed to hear VTA continue to promote the myth that Gunn students living on the Charleston/Arastradero corridor have the option of riding the Palo Alto Shuttle to school. During school commute hours the shuttle is full by the time it reaches this corridor. Why would these students be buying a VTA bus pass if riding a free shuttle were an option?

Gunn sells approximately 100 VTA bus passes per month. This number has increased substantially in recent years since Gunn began subsidizing the cost of the passes (using money raised from the sale of parking permits at Gunn) in order to encourage bus ridership and help reduce traffic congestion. Withdrawing the VTA service to Gunn would result in a substantial increase in car commutes at peak hours.

Student enrollment at Gunn has been increasing and is projected to continue to do so. We therefore ask VTA to continue to serve the Gunn community with the 88 bus.

Christine Fawcett

Leander Drive, Los Alto Hills

Tolerance for youth

Editor,

We were dismayed to hear that a student from Palo Alto High School was arrested and charged with a felony for a senior prank. Since when does a senior prank warrant such intolerance?

Senior pranks that do not have any malicious intent have occurred year after year as a rite of passage for our youth. And yes, sometimes there are consequences such as having to pay for any damage that was done, but this complete overreaction is not warranted.

We have to wonder, do we no longer have any tolerance for our young people? It hurts us deeply when we think that our community cannot support our youth. In addition, we were driving home last weekend and the police were in front of a house that had recently been toilet-papered. Again, we wondered, isn't this a bit out of line?

When we were growing up, a senior prank simply warranted an apology. Let's reconsider how we treat our young people.

Becky Brewer

Jefferson Drive, Palo Alto

Sleep vs. school

Editor,

Thank you for your articles about teen sleep and school start times. This is an issue where the health and the success of the majority of our students is being sacrificed to the convenience of more powerful interests.

About four years ago I had conversations with some Paly administrators about this subject. They were aware at the time of the research showing the need for later start times, but brought up the same excuses that you mention in your article -- after-school athletics and the teachers' unions.

They have apparently made no effort to work out any way to improve the situation in those four years.

The quote attributed to Athletic Director Hansen -- "Good luck. How are you going to do that?" -- sounds almost like a dare. I believe there would be ways to work it out if people are interested in making the effort.

I ask the school board to take up the challenge and appoint administrators who will work for the benefit of each and every one of our students. Not just those privileged few who make the cut to participate in intramural sports but all the students.

Chet Wood

High Street, Palo Alto

Move on from Mandarin

Editor,

I agree with the school board members who said it is now time to move on from the Mandarin immersion discussion.

Yes, it is time -- time to focus on electing school board members who will show real leadership, make policies that are good for a broad array of students and who will do their job supervising the superintendent, not bury their heads in the sand.

We have one such member now in Gail Price, but two other seats are open this fall and two more in 2009. We need strong candidates who can get the district back on course and people willing to put the same kind of energy into getting them elected as they have in fighting the good fight on this issue. Our kids deserve nothing less.

Wynn Hausser

El Centro Street, Palo Alto

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