FROM RUSSIA WITH DISTASTE ... During a discussion of the appeal of a Modernist building at 240 Hamilton Ave., which appellant Doug Smith said wasn't compatible with the historic character of its surroundings, a horde of residents showed up to speak on the item and each got a scant one minute, leaving ample time for council members to pontificate about their tastes in architecture. The conversation turned (for better or worse) to the overall merits of Modernist developments and their place in the city. Councilman Larry Klein contrasted positively the smooth, almost all-glass Apple store on University Avenue, to the character of historic Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, which draws tourists in part for its pristinely preserved traditional architecture. "That's a museum," he said. "It's not Palo Alto." While his comments were generally complimentary of Williamsburg, he was less flattering about an East Coast academic institution of some note. "The University of Maryland architecture was so boring it almost made the Soviets look good," he said. City Manager James Keene, who got his bachelors and masters degree from the school and has taught classes there, was sitting only feet in front of him. Keene, whose pride appeared unbruised, turned around and asked the public if there were any other graduates of the school before saying that he agreed with Klein. "Yes!" one attendee yelped from the back of the room.
ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS ... the police gave to thee, a DUI crackdown. Friday, Dec. 13, Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns again takes to the patrol car alongside a trusty tweeting sidekick to hunt for over-served holiday revelers from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The live Twitter.com event will kick off the "Avoid the 13" DUI crackdown, which includes 12 other police agencies in Santa Clara County and runs through Jan. 1. Chief Burns' last venture didn't nab any drunken drivers, but the department's twitterer sent out dozens of tweets about the goings-on of the not-so-seedy underbelly of Palo Alto's nightlife. The department plans to send out between 100 and 200 tweets during the six-hour period, some likely to be interesting. This is the seventh virtual ride along the department has hosted.
A NEW NAME FOR PALO ALTO ... A discussion about a tree plan at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course on Tuesday night got Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Ed Lauing thinking about branding. Discussing whether to add more trees or develop a marshland restoration plan to compensate for removing 543 trees when the golf course is reconfigured, Lauing considered full replacement of the trees rather than a hybrid plan that would replace hundreds of trees and improve wetlands-wildlife habitat. "This is Palo Alto. The phrase could be Trees'R'Us," he said, describing the mindset of residents.