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Yiaway Yeh won't seek second City Council term

Original post made on Jul 17, 2012

Yiaway Yeh, who this year became the second-youngest mayor in Palo Alto's history, announced Tuesday that he will not seek a second term on the City Council. ==B Related stories:==
• [Web Link Pat Burt to run for second Palo Alto City Council term]
• [Web Link Sid Espinosa will not seek second term on City Council]

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 2:02 PM

Comments (17)

Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

It would drive me nuts too, if I had a work with a bunch of people who vote with a tiny minority instead of embracing good, long-term change like high-speed rail and more — and more affordable — housing. It's too bad, he was a good councilman. His mother even called me on election day, and that most certainly won my vote. She seemed really nice.


Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

He seems completely in touch with what this area really needs, and what we, the people, truly wish. Sadly, he has sided with the council on one too many controversial issues; issues which seemed to be largely opposed by the public.

I applaud the city for saying that youth engagement is important, and yet they've been saying that for years, and nothing ever happens.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm

> Yeh, who previously worked as assistant city auditor for
> the City of Oakland

Previously? What is his current occupation?


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I think Mr. Yeh has done a great job as mayor and has been a breath of fresh air. I'm sorry to see the younger council members move on. We have been very lucky to benefit from their energy and intelligence.

Thank you for your service to our community, Yiaway.


Posted by Step Ladder, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

just curious. will he be getting free medical for life and a retirement check from calpers for working at the city?


Posted by Mark Alguard, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I observed mayor Yeh at a recent city council meeting. I was very impressed. I am sorry to see him leave the council, and expect he will continue to contribute to the community in other ways.


Posted by For-The-Record, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 8:02 am

> just curious. will he be getting free medical for life and a
> retirement check from calpers for working at the city?

No.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

Yiaway always showed alot of respect for all viewpoints and he was thoughtful about the issues.

Yiaway was the 5th vote to allow the citizens to vote on removing binding arbitration, which will help put our city's budget on a sustainable basis, even though he opposed the ballot issue. This ballot issue passed, which showed he was willing to represent the views of citizens not the union special interests.


Posted by Frank, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2012 at 9:26 am

I, too, am sorry to see Councilman Yeh go. He seemed to take a balanced approach to the city's long term financial concerns, taking into account the city's needs, while not demonizing the city's workers. Many of his colleagues, despite their usual progressive views, seem to take their lead from the Tea Party folks on the issue of government employee compensation. Councilman Yeh, along with departing Councilman Espinosa, it always seemed, treat everyone with respect and try to broker solutions, rather than taking the easy way out and pointing fingers.

As a long-time Palo Alto resident, I hope we can find a couple of similarly thoughtful folks to replace them.


Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

Within the California Ave. Streetscape "Concept Plan" was a project I worked on for many years: addressing abandoned, broken & unsightly boxes among the 289+ newsracks in that district.

Shortly after Yiaway and the others were elected, Public Works put a proposal on council's Consent Calendar that I was trying to stop. At that time, my objections were not being heeded by the staff that was at the helm of the Streetscape/newsracks. So I asked council for help, informing all of them of my concerns.

Yiaway came to California Avenue to see what I was talking about, meeting with me for almost two hours, as did Greg Schmid, on a separate occasion, who also showed great interest in the district.

Sid was out of town then, but he too, got back to me. These three new council members: Yiaway, Sid & Greg (Schmid) went the extra mile, showing how they cared about the Cal Ave district, valuing the opinion of someone that knew both the district and that issue well. I felt heard, and heeded.

Someone mentioned Yiaway "respects" people, and I agree. Yiaway respects people, as does Sid and Greg (Schmid).

Yiaway also went to Jerusalem Baptist Church in the Cal Ave district, when racial profiling was a volatile issue in Palo Alto, due to a comment made by the former chief of police at a meeting, after there were strong arm robberies by the train station.

It took not only interest for Yiaway to attend that meeting, but it took courage and wisdom. He came early & stayed late, was accessible and engaged.

Many people can claim to love an area, but what do they DO to back up their claim? Actions speak louder than words. Yiaway served Palo Alto well - as did Sid, and I'm sorry each will not seek another term, but I applaud their efforts, up to now!

I'm glad Greg Schmid is seeking re-election. He's an honorable man. Palo Alto will be well-served, to have more citizens on council with characters and integrity, similar to that of these three men.


Posted by Sally, a resident of Triple El
on Jul 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

I'd like to add my thanks to Yiaway and Sid for their exceptional service. Being a mayor and/or council member in a town like Palo Alto requires a great deal of forbearance and strength!
Thank You!


Posted by Ugg, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Will Yaiway Yeh and Sid Espinosa get medical benefits for themselves and their families for life? No, that perk has been dropped. But, Liz Kniss gets the medical benefits perk, so why is she running for City Council again?

What's in it for the people of Palo Alto?


Posted by For-The-Record, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

> Yiaway also went to Jerusalem Baptist Church in the Cal Ave
> district, when racial profiling was a volatile issue in Palo Alto,
> due to a comment made by the former chief of police at a meeting,
> after there were strong arm robberies by the train station.

The claim of racial profiling was tossed around by a few non-residents, but there was never any proof that the Palo Alto Police engaged in systemic wrong-doing, including racial profiling. What most people don't seem to know is that about 20% of those arrested by the Palo Alto Police are African Americans, while the 2010 Census shows only about 2% African Americans as residents. The Police Chief knew this fact. One can only wonder if Mr. Yeh knew this fact, and made it clear, as a Council Member, that the police have an obligation to protect the residents—which means using all of the tools at their disposal. Did Mr. Yeh stand up for the PA Police, or did he suggest that they were involved in wrong doing?

> It took not only interest for Yiaway to attend that meeting, but
> it took courage and wisdom. He came early & stayed late, was
> accessible and engaged.

Why did it take "courage" to attend this meeting? And what "wisdom" did he exhibit that might differentiate him from other Council Members, or his friends and neighbors?

The odd comment made by Former Chief Johnson was blown way out of proportion. It was, however, a convenient excuse to see her to the door. She had been in that job far too long, and this meaningless comment ended up being all that was needed to allow the City Council to effectively terminate her role as Chief of Police. Did Yeh understand that he was taking part in what might see as a "lynch mob"?


Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on Jul 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

Council meetings are WAY TOO LONG!
I attended the last meeting and I was astonished that the first item went on endlessly!!! WHY?????
It should have had a drop-dead time limit - the main item on Monday was the RPP - most probably didn't even know about the cool cities item.

I suspect the endless council meetings (in duration of meetings and each agenda item) may be why we are losing two excellent council members this year.


Posted by For-The-Record, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Given that the Palo Alto City Council is very restricted by the City Charter, it becomes difficult to understand why people run for Council, and what those that win election can do that makes them "great". Are there any objective metrics that can be applied that offer another view on a given council member's performance—other than "he listened to me"?

Certainly having the attendance of each council member available on the City's web-site would be a starter, as well as his/her voting record. This is something that the City Clerk could do, if she lived in the 21st Century. So, if we had this information—how would we evaluate Mr. Yeh's performance during his four years?

Then there is the litany of on-going problems with the City. We might want to review Yeh's positions on, and his contributions towards, solving these problems. For instance, how many whitepapers did Yeh write on which problems?

Issues involve local government transparency and on-line access have been with us for a long time. What did Yeh do to help improve citizen's access to information via the Public Records Act, as well as through the City's web-site? It might be interesting to learn what Mr. Yeh's views are about the City's response to Public Record's Act inquiries. Has the City gotten better are responding to these requests during his tenure, or worse?

Of course, we might also look to see if the cost-of-living in Palo Alto has gone up, or down, on his watch? Has he ever said anything about his views on the current, and future, cost of utilities and other Palo Alto-provided services?

It seems hard to find much in the public record that lets us come to solid conclusion about Mr. Yeh, other than his love for table tennis. While Mr. Yeh may well have been polite, and possibly even thoughtful in his comments—does that really make him (or anyone) a "great council member"? There has to be more that we can look to in order to come to conclusions like this one.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm

> Are there any objective metrics that can be applied that offer another view on a given council member's performance—other than "he listened to me"?

NO. Nor are there objective measurable objectives for anyone working at City Hall, from the city manager on down.

People mistake "niceness" for effectiveness, e.g., Yiaway's mother called me, so I voted for him.

The article says: [Yiaway] put his own stamp on the largely ceremonial mayoral position this year by launching a series of "Mayor's Challenge" competitions geared toward bringing neighborhoods together. Yeh, who previously worked as assistant city auditor for the City of Oakland, has also been a strong supporter of the city's recent efforts to engage local youth and a leading proponent of the city's aggressive green-energy programs.

Ping pong tournaments are nice, and Yiaway admitted this was a personal goal, not a city goal. He IS a very nice person.

But what did he accomplish for the city?

common sense wrote, "Yiaway was the 5th vote to allow the citizens to vote on removing binding arbitration," which is certainly more significant than anything the article mentioned.


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