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Palo Alto council to hold strategic retreat Saturday

Original post made on Jan 20, 2012

The Palo Alto City Council will set its annual priorities and consider ways to fix up the city's infrastructure when it meets Saturday morning for its annual strategic retreat.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 20, 2012, 9:34 AM

Comments (10)

Posted by bill g, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Residents should take this opportunity to listen to our leaders as they weigh in on the City's problems and opportunities. Too often people offer opinions on City matters when they have no background but merely opinions.

This is a chance to evaluate our leaders and how they approach their job. It will help to evaluate them more accurately when any run for public office again.


Posted by Council-Members-Know-What?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm

> Too often people offer opinions on City matters when they
> have no background but merely opinions.

The qualifications for City Council are:

1) Being a US Citizen
2) Being registered to vote
3) Being a resident of the jurisdiction for 30 days prior to an election.

There is no requirement to be a property owner. There are no laws requiring that people running for City Council have any minimum level of education, such as a college diploma. There are no requirements that candidates for City Council post their resumes in a public place, or even to tell the truth about their experience--which presumably becomes their "qualifications" for being on the Council.

And once on the Council, there is no legal requirement for them to talk to any member of the public about anything. They are not ever required to tell the truth about matters involving public business. On matters involving potential ethical violations, the City government assumes that the Council Member will recuse himself/herself without having any requests to do so by the City Manager, or City Attorney.

So .. what qualifications do City Council Members bring to the table that makes their views/opinions more valuable that people who live and work in the Silicon Valley?


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

"Palo Alto council to hold strategic retreat Saturday"

The Weekly may want to rethink the headline. Or maybe it is really an accurate reflection of how the council operates--strategically retreating from making any important decisions.


Posted by bill g, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Council-Members.....My statement was not about qualifications; it was about people who don't have any background or knowledge about a subject spouting off. Council Members almost always do have background and knowledge.

Saying they don't have any of the requirement you list is a non sequitur.




Posted by Council-Members-Know-What?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

> My statement was not about qualifications; it was about people
> who don't have any background or knowledge about a subject
> spouting off.

You mean like City Council Members rambling on about Vietnam, or Global Warming, or endorsing Barack Obama for President, when they should have been dealing with local business?

Occasionally, there is someone elected who knows something about some aspect of City operations, but very rarely. Some, like Jim Burch (who was incredibly uneducated, ill-mannered and often just rude) rattled on with nothing of value to bring to the discussion.

So .. given the choice of listening to the people that have been purchased by special interest money ramble on, some of the opinions expressed herein are a bit more refreshing than the scripts read by the Council.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Bill G says "Council Members almost always do have background and knowledge" - but how do you explain how the our infrstructure backlog stands at $500 million dollars? what sort of knowledge let's that happen?

And what about when the council in 2006 voted to raise pension benefits and now we have to cut back on services to fund that liablity and the city is still falling behind in it's pension obligations? what sort of knowledge votes for this?

And what about when the council voted in 2008 to endorse the High Speed Rail bond? what sort of knowledge did the council have that voted this way?

Shall we go through more examples where the knowledge of council members provided poor decision making?


Posted by Kate, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

And what about the council which allowed Frank Benest to stay in his PA funded home until his youngest graduated from a PAUSD high school - I think the child was five at the time. Then when Benest left, he stayed in the house and the Council/city had to get in the real estate business and give Keene a generous house deal. Like a governor's mansion ((which even California no longer has,) maybe PA should have a house for the city manager - and when he leaves, the next one moves in. Mention anything 'green' and this and previous councils absolutely bow. Damn the money - full speed ahead. Councils have to make a 'statement', and for some members it is done with an eye on future public office or on $$$ for the campaign chest or being pals with special interest groups. It's the disease of politics.


Posted by bill g, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Everyone's points are well taken.

But instead of ranting in a blog, attend the retreat, get a sense of how each of the present Council members stacks up and hold them to task. How? By sending them e-mails and showing up at Council meetings and speaking out. Those are much more likely to make a difference than writing opinions in a blog.

Council members are elected by people who participate and vote, not by those passively complaining to the air.

I agree past Councils did many stupid things. Let's be proactive and complain when a patently ridiculous decision is to be made.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Bill G. says "But instead of ranting in a blog, attend the retreat, get a sense of how each of the present Council members stacks up and hold them to task. How? By sending them e-mails and showing up at Council meetings and speaking out. Those are much more likely to make a difference than writing opinions in a blog."

My experience with speaking council meetings, is that there is no schedule for when a topic will be discussed, and the council allows a speaker only 3 minutes to talk. Unless there are masses of people who line up to speak, or someone who is connected to several of council members decides to whisper in their ear, they will ignore most input. For example, on the High Speed Rail endorsement, there was a speaker who highlighted several of the potential issues (the elevated platform wall, etc), but the council voted anyway 8-0 to endorse. They didn't even bother to refer the matter to Planning & Transportation for input, because (1) the Sierra Club endorsed HSR, and (2) Dridon was a buddy of Klein & Kishimoto at the time. Since the HSR issue blew up in Klein's face, he's not so buddy-buddy with Dridon anymore.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2012 at 8:27 am

I agree with common sense. We can't all adjust our lives to turn up to wait for hours for our 3 minutes to speak. Likewise, emails may or may not be read or answered.

There was at one time a city website place where we could "blog" on issues for the council to garner input, but the only time I looked there was only the topic they were asking for input on which wasn't the one I wanted to talk about, and when they asked for questions the multiple choices didn't cover my reply. Has anyone seen any more of this place lately, and is it monitored or useful. They should really advertise it more if they want us to use it.


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