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Council reforms eyed for Palo Alto ballot

Original post made on May 8, 2014

Palo Alto's already crowded November ballot could soon see more expansion as the City Council considers asking voters to approve longer term limits for members, to reduce the number of seats from nine to seven and to conduct swearing-in ceremonies earlier in the year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 8, 2014, 8:19 AM

Comments (41)

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Posted by Lets See
a resident of Community Center
on May 8, 2014 at 8:55 am

Lets See.....HEALTH CARE FOR LIFE kicks in at 10 years under city benefits.

They want to extend their terms from 8 years until 12 years.

Seems to make perfect sense..........................


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

> The same memo also proposes cutting the number of seats from
> nine to seven, a subject that the full council has yet to discuss.
> Shepherd, Kniss and Price wrote in the memo that having nine
> council members is unusual for a city of Palo Alto's size.

Cities operate under the guise of "local control". We've been told in the past that we need nine members because of the large number of pies the City has its fingers in—such as a Utility, various regional matters, and the fact that Conflict-of-Interest issues pop up from time-to-time because of Members having business relationships with Stanford, or their spouses being employed by Stanford.

The City had a Council of fifteen since 1909's voter-approved Charter I. The Charter Commission actually was thinking about having a Council of as many as 35 members, at one point—but decided on fifteen as a more manageable number.

Claims that a council size of nine is "unusual" makes no sense, on face value. It might prove to be true that getting enough candidates is getting to be a problem—but that would not be because the Council is "unusual" in size. There are no rules for council size as a function of city population size.

> "I've spoken to a large number of community leaders who'd
> like to see the council reduced to seven members," Smith
> said, adding that placing the measure on the November ballot
> would save "time, effort and money."

And who exactly are these "community leaders" whose opinions are so important? Do these "leaders" have names?

Although there is clearly a lot of unhappiness with the current Council—changing the Charter so that the same people can serve for twelve more years (or longer if they change the law before their next twelve-year tenure expires) doesn't make any sense—yet that seems to be exactly what this Council is trying to do.

Maybe downsizing the Council makes sense, but extending the term limit of two four-year terms does not make any sense.
----



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Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

Agree with LET'S SEE........the proposal should include elimination of the health care benefit for council members. They are not employees. If the council is serious about retiree healthcare reform, they should start with themselves. Will add that this proposal appears to be a mechanism to extend Klein's term. Why not just reduce the council to seven but leave the 2 term limit in place?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

Seems to me that some career politicians are behind this term limit idea. I have no objection to reducing the number on the council or when they swear themselves in, but I don't want to be stuck with rotten eggs on the council.


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Posted by Judith
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 8, 2014 at 11:03 am

I think term limits is anti-democratic. If the voters want an elected official to continue serving because of success as a governing official, they should be allowed to be reelected. If the official is no good, a NO vote should suffice.


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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2014 at 11:32 am

Dysfunction extended.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2014 at 11:44 am

If you reduce the the number seats to 7, then developers only have to buy four of them.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm

The proposals regarding City Council should NOT be bundled. Let us vote separately on 1) reducing the size of City Council and 2) increasing term limits. It strikes me as manipulative to use council reduction to achieve a term limit increase. If the issues are separated and both are voted in, democracy has spoken and we live with the results.


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Posted by JerryL
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Agree with Annette. By all means these ideas should NOT be
bundled. If I had to vote on a package, I'd vote NO just
to keep my head from spinning. I might support more than one
of the proposals if cleanly stated separately.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm

What's so magic about the number 7? Why not 5, or 3, or 1? I prefer a bigger number; it boosts the chance of getting someone intelligent up there.

And yes, term limits are anti-democratic. If you don't like them, vote them out. If more voters vote to keep them than vote to toss 'em, well, that's democracy, folks. If you don't like it, move to China or North Korea or Cuba.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on May 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

When the issue of reducing the size of Council arose in 2005, I wrote an analysis that is still relevant. For anyone interested in the details, it and related documents are available at Web Link


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Anyone surprised that the PA weekly's client, Liz kniss, is supporting the change in term limits? Remember that career politician Liz changed our election cycle so that she could run for council after being termed out from her supervisor seat. Also recall that Liz did not disclose the fact that she was ill when she ran for council-- ethical candidates should disclose anything that may prevent them from discharging their duties if elected.
I am not surprised by her actions not by the fact that she constantly is endorsed by the weekly-- a cozy arrangement if you ask me.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Wow, what happened to my comment? It completely disappeared, it didn't even register as deleted.

We should NOT make a blanket extension of term limits. Instead, we should make it possible for Councilmembers who are doing a good job to ask the public if they wish to allow an extension of their term on a case by case basis. Only someone with a high majority should be allowed to stay. This should be an OPT IN situation, because of the advantages of incumbency and how that would allow terrible Councilmembers to hang on.

It's time this high tech place began to have ways for the populace to participate remotely. To register and prove their residency, and for example, vote remotely on whether to allow a Councilmember to be considered for an extension of their tenure for one term beyond the usual tenure.

Secondly, the problem of the learning curve Liz Kniss brought up would be completely a non-issue if we went with a full-time Council. If Councilmembers were actually working for us full-time, part of the time during the working day, then City politics would transform overnight. It would allow people who aren't already independently wealthy or working for special interests to serve, since right now, only those who can afford to essentially volunteer can be on the Council.

The first job of a full-time, paid Council should be to pay for themselves by eliminating redundant staff. Having full-time Councilmembers engaged in some of these Civic responsibilities also gets them much more in the open and subject to public scrutiny.

It's high time we did this. Now, since this Council won't make it so, who wants to help get that on the ballot? Contact the Paloaltoville.com people, maybe they will help since they have suggested this, too!


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Posted by Joshua
a resident of Community Center
on May 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

This stinks if you are not happy with the council. As it sits right now, I'm so disappointed in our elected officials that I'm counting the day till their term is up.

I agree with Annette - The proposals regarding City Council should NOT be bundled. Let us vote separately on 1) reducing the size of City Council and 2) increasing term limits."


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Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on May 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I think this so called "reform" stinks. Consider this:
1. If the current council wants reform, then have the decency to build in a start date beyond the reach of sitting council members. Otherwise, the conflict of interest is so glaring that no one should support it. The date the reforms go into effect sould be AFTER the most recently elected members (such as Berman) were elected. That way at least it becomes something other than a naked power grab by current members, directly benefitting them with power consolidated in fewer people, giving more power to each, and longer terms to weld that power. Putting off the effective date is often done when in such circumstances.

2. Less members - not! Remember when there have been so many conflicts of interests, particularly but not only when votes on Stanford issues are involved, that there were barely enough un-conflicted members to vote? That was with 9. With 7, it never could have happened. We live in a company town which justifies and in fact needs a larger council. Everyone and their uncle works part time, is married to someone, or has some sort of money interest in Stanford. We must recognize this. And sometimes there are votes needing a super majority.

3. Term limits expanded - really? Current council members sit on almost ALL regional committees NOW. Yet Kniss and Shephard are trying to flim-flam us by saying expanded term limits are the only way our council members can get on these committees and have influence. This is a bare faced untruth that they are promoting. Check it out for yourself.

If we are smart, we will keep things as they are re: number on council, term limits at 2, and insist any reform does NOT benefit current members (no matter how much they try to tell us it is to our benefit).


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Posted by Left of Boom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Left of Boom is a registered user.

Is the idea to reduce the size of the city council to make it more expensive to run, thereby giving developers even a greater say in the election? Instead, the council should be elected by districts with some at large seats. The "reform" is going in the wrong direction.


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Posted by Republic
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Article IV Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states:
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..."

In order to have a true Republic there needs to be one elected official for every specific interest group in order to represent each group's interests. Without representatives advocating for the interests of particular groups the Republican Form of Government ceases to exist and turns into an elected despotism.

With that sentiment in mind, the less representatives that are in congress or in this case on council the less likely that many specific group's interests will be represented with the exception of that one group that is elected, as it appears now to be in Palo Alto.

The more representatives on council the greater our republican-democracy is, the less representatives on council the lesser and more futile our republican-democracy becomes.

We should go back to a 15 member council in order to provide greater representation of those groups who are not currently nor are adequately being represented on council.

Terms should be staggered, but all 15 members should be elected on one election date in order to provide the greatest possibility of electing a true cross section of Palo Alto.

This would have the affect of spreading the controls of our government to a greater number of citizens, sharing more of the government with more people creating a stronger democracy and a more powerful government of the many People for the People.

Liz Kniss, Nancy Shephard and Gail Price don't want to share the controls of the government because they want to dictate for their special interest group and in so doing create a very weak democracy made up of a special interest group of the few for the special interests of the few.

"If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their
government be the measure of its republicanism, and I confess I
know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments
have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected;
in other words, that the people have less regular control over
their agents, than their rights and their interests require."
Thomas Jefferson


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2014 at 6:48 am

A 5 member council is long overdue. It's part of a package to professionalize our governance.

The other three reforms we need are an elected mayor with supervisory power over the staff. Full-time, paid council seats. Two year post-council lobbying ban.

There's a fine balance every city needs between purely professional staff and responsive staff. An elected mayor will help move the dial back toward a staff more responsive to the public.

A full-time, paid council will attract different candidates including candidates with an interest in governance. Our recent history is we've elected people who want to launch a political career, people who have or will have business before the council, and people who don't need the income. Today's council gives up its evenings for below-minimum wage. Move meetings to the daytime.

Final reform would be a two year post-council ban from working for anyone who has significant business with the City. We need to close the revolving door going to Stanford and big developers. No employment, consulting, professional services or lobbying.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

> I think term limits is anti-democratic.

This sentiment pops up time-to-time. Unfortunately, "democracy" is not a well-defined political system. While a lot has been written about it over the past three centuries—it's hard to find a reasonably well-crafted framework developed so that democracies around the world can embrace when they are creating democratic governments.

For instance, voting rights were very often restricted to free men, and/or property-owning men. There is no "bible of democracy" that one can buy that will provide all of the details that result in the perfect political system.

Once clear example of a problem with democracy here in the US is that we declare the winner of an election the person (or ballot question) with the most votes. There is no clear linkage between the number of people in the jurisdiction, and the number of votes needed to win an elected office. If there were a requirement that a quorum of elected voters need to vote before the election results become official—then this would change how elections work, and could easily change the political structures in many cities/states and possibly the US itself.

Here in Palo Alto—it's clear that many Council elections often only see about 33% of the voters voting, and the winners usually only get 51%-65% of the vote. So, that means that 15% to 20% of the voters end up controlling the government that lords over the other 80%-85% who did not vote for those who are declared winners.

This failure of people to not vote should not set the stage for local governments that are mismanaged, or downright corrupt. (Certainly Bell, Stockton, Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo, to name a few CA cities, should come immediately to mind.)

We have not demonstrated the political will to force people to vote. And why should we—when 15% of the political class can monopolize the rest of the people.

It's for this reason that Term Limits are a good idea, and will likely help to keep democracy alive longer than it might without term limits.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm

My point exactly, Joe: nobody has ever presented a coherent, logical argument for term limits.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm

> My point exactly, Joe: nobody has ever presented a coherent,
> logical argument for term limits.

And they may not--at least to the point where you are satisfied.

We need to remind ourselves, from time-to-time, what arguably the greatest defender of democracy in the 20th century said about the matter: "Democracy is the worst system of government--except all the rest"--Winston Churchill.

Democracy is imperfect, and actually not all that rational (from my point-of-view), but it provides sufficient degrees of freedom so that one group of people can not unconditionally control all the rest of the people all of the time.


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Posted by Need conflict of interest laws
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

What we need is not longer terms but more openness. We need Conflict of Interest laws that extend beyond the end of the term, and very important, should apply to staff.
Former Deputy City Manager just took a job with a developer who is proposing a big office project at the corner of ElCamino and Oregon Exp.- on the VTA lot. Scandalous.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm

What the weekly forgot to mention is the comments of their other favorite councilmembers Larry Klein. Last year he stated that term limits were an insult to the voters intelligence, ignoring the fact that it was the voters that decided on term limits.
Can't wait to see the weekly editorial on this ballot measure-- they will have to twist themselves into a pretzel to placate all the people they are beholden to!!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm

What is failing to be remembered in this discussion is that an incumbent always seems to have an advantage over an unknown. Quite often the incumbent is a shoe in if there are not enough candidates and if the candidates are unknown or have failed to get themselves backed by the Weekly or some "big wig" then they are at a distinct disadvantage.

It is all very well to say that a no good council member will get voted out, but this just doesn't always happen. We do need to keep term limits as they are at present. And, we need to remember that we have one council member who has been on the council before and somehow managed to get back onto the council as soon as she wanted to get back. This sort of thing must not be made any easier for career politicians.


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Posted by Guy Fawkes
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2014 at 5:51 pm

The problem with Palo Alto government is not the number of Council Members, the number of terms someone can serve as a Council Member, or whether Council Members are elected at large or by and from districts.

The problem with Palo Alto government is who is on the City Council now.

First change the members of the City Council. Then see if we need to change the number, terms, and method of electing Council Members.


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Posted by Republic
a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm

>Joe said, " Council elections often only see about 33% of the voters voting, and the winners usually only get 51%-65% of the vote. So, that means that 15% to 20% of the voters end up controlling the government,..."

Perhaps the other 67% of the citizens would come out to vote if there was a reasonable expectation that a candidate existed who would truly represent their interests should he/she be elected.

The limited number of seats on council kills any opportunity that someone without the political connections to be elected. A perfect example is the last council election in which perennial retread Liz Kniss won over well respected community advocate Tim Grey.

Liz Kniss was an ardent proponent of measure D contrary to the will of the people.
Tim Grey championed residents' rights opposing measure D

"...With all 32 precincts reporting, the campaign against "Measure D" had a lead of 6,437 to 5,036. The vote means that residents have succeeded in overturning a unanimous decision by the City Council in June..."
Web Link

>Guy Fawkes said, "The problem with Palo Alto government is who is on the City Council now. First change the members of the City Council. Then see if we need to change the number, terms, and method of electing Council Members."

We just tried that last year and we got Liz Kniss who has more conflicts of interest, externally and internally, than you can shake a stick at.

It's time to expand council to 15 members so we the people can have a say in how our city is run. I know the owner of a gas station that would like to be on council, do you really think he would have a chance going up against professional politicians while lacking their resources and connections?

It's time we start electing some of our school teachers, some of our nurses, some of our doctors to council and get rid of these leaches of the public coffers providing back door deals to their peers.

The city of Palo Alto has a highly educated and exceedingly well paid staff yet often times it is incapable of solving the city's problems so the city has to hire consultants to fix the problems that arose due to the lack of foresight of the city council and city staff.

Palo Alto seeks consultant for traffic-reduction programs
Web Link

Three top Palo Alto officials to get raises
Keene, who joined the city in 2008 and was the city's highest paid employee last year with a base salary of $247,187 and total compensation of $264,488 (including benefits)
Web Link


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm

"The limited number of seats on council kills any opportunity that someone without the political connections to be elected. A perfect example is the last council election in which perennial retread Liz Kniss won over well respected community advocate Tim Grey. "
And do not forget that the weekly only endorses candidates that have political connections ( otherwise someone would be elected that will not be of benefit to the weekly's profit goals). Also remember that Tim grey did not buy any advertisement with the weekly, while Liz had non stop campaign advertising on this forum. Think there is any correlation between endorsements and advertising dollars?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 10, 2014 at 7:20 am

My opinion -
1. the number of council members should reflect the number of neighborhoods in the city - with a representative from each of those neighborhoods. No one neighborhood should have an over-population of council members which tilt the total city outlook. The number 9 should include all neighborhoods. It seems like a good number.
2. Term limits cuts off the influence buying on the one hand - but increases the influence of the city staff which operates on its own path - thinking up ideas and investing time and energy before anyone even agrees with the idea. This shifts the influence buying that we have seen of late.
3. Of late "committees" have assumed they have more control than in reality - like the so-called "ABAG" committee. On a separate thread the committee is saying they don't care who is on the city council - what they want is going to happen. Not sure how to address that unless the city charter is updated to put down more ground rules on who is in charge here.
4. Allowing council members to participate for longer periods needs some type escape clause - if not performing than there has to be a way to get rid of them. There should be a total vote of all council members in each voting cycle to verify that the individual is representing the neighborhood of origin so that no one is guaranteed a seat if not performing the job. We are not voting in people so they can ascend to "higher office" if they are not performing the office currently occupied.
5. People running for office need to sign up to what their platform is - we see people saying one thing to get elected then do the opposite when in office. There needs to be an escape clause for council members who are functioning in direct opposition on what their election platform was.
6. Bottom line is that no one council member should get a free ticket to ride if they are not performing the job they signed up to do. Like in a corporation people will rise because of good, consistent performance on the job they currently have.
7. The big problem here is that being a council member is not a "job" - these people need to have a income paying job with it's attendant benefits. That is where the conflict comes in - high quality people have high quality jobs requiring a lot of work and travel. That is why we need the total of 9 members to balance the load of work by neighborhood so the council member has more backup on the many topics being discussed.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2014 at 8:14 am

The problem with council elections in the city is that they are all " vanilla". Candidates all,parrot the same thing-- how wonderful Palo Alto is, how much they love the city etc. there is never any real discussion of issues. Candidates are discouraged from questioning on another or critisizing each other-- that is considered a personal attack. The candidates, that usually win and get the weekly endorsement, all roll out the usual group,of former council members that endorse them-- all,part of the good,old boy network. Naturally the weekly does not ask the candidates any difficult questions-- that would be biting the hand that feeds them.
Of course the real blame goes to the voters who elect self serving egotists like jack Morton, Larry Klein, yoriko ksihinoto and Liz kniss over and over or out of touch pipe dreamers like Karen Holman and peter drekmeier.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2014 at 8:34 am

We can all wax lyrical about the type of people that should be on the council but the reality is that very few people are willing to run for election. It may be that we are a town full of very busy people who do not have the time but it is a shame if we can't have some choice.

I would like to ask Tim Gray whether he is considering another run? I think he would have a much better chance this time round as we are getting much more wary of the same old same old. I don't think endorsements from the Weekly or any past council members are going to carry the same weight as they have done in the past. I think we are likely to be much more diligent in getting candidates to answer the difficult questions, even if the Weekly doesn't ask them.

For any prospective candidate, we should get a list of the difficult questions and make sure that they answer them with real answers, not platitudes.

Questions asked should be specific and include topics about traffic, parking, affordable retail, development, infrastructure, budget, pension and salaries for city workers, utilities, top city jobs, cooperation with neighboring cities on similar issues, overlapping administration with neighboring cities, etc. etc. These should be the real issues to give the residents a real idea of what our future may look like.


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Posted by More specificty please
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm

More info on Liz Kniss' conflicts of interest please. So much goes on beneath the surface. we need to make this information public.
I do recall her strong advocacy for Summerhill homes major project when she was on the council last time. She was ferocious. And she got office space from Jim Baer.
But who is she working for now?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on May 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Baer's gratitude eventually got Kniss censored by the elections commission. Read the Weekly story here: Web Link


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

Look at the ages of the people pushing for longer terms and no limits. I am seeing the notification of health issues for the vice-mayor that are undefined. Reducing the number of council members is putting the city at risk. Extending the term limits is reducing the number of bright, more energetic people who are willing to participate in the local government.

Comparing Palo Alto to the other local cities is not a good comparison. This is a very complicated city that gets a lot of national attention. We need city council members who are knowledgeable, and have enough mental and physical energy to work tough issues. The degree of risk that any one member will support is dropping as they get older and are hampered by physical illness.

We need the full 9 council members to carry the ball forward, and we need more younger, high energy members who are willing to take on the tougher issues. We need council members that represent the full spectrum of neighborhoods so everyone is represented and has a voice in local government.

This is a national trend to bring the next generation into the full voice and participation in government. We cannot afford to fold our tenets at this point in time - there is too much to lose.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 11, 2014 at 11:07 am

I want to note a trend in the city government here:
1. There are young, energetic staff members who put together "ideas" that they develop then spring upon everyone as though they are already agreed to ideas.
2. We keep hiring consultants. Note on consultants - you tell the consultant what the end result is suppose to be then instruct them to get to that result. The consultant tells everyone what the end result is and the CC asks some question then agree to whatever the consultant told them.

If we weaken the CC then we are turning over the city to young staff members and consultants who are un-named and bear no responsibility to the implementation of the idea if it turns out wrong. We need to change up the game and put younger, knowledgeable people on the CC who can push the programs to good end results. We need representation over the whole city which suggests that 9 is more representative that 5, especially if any one of the 5 has physical or mental problems that require them to reduce their focus.

Note: I am not a younger person so this is not playing to any agenda that I have.


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Posted by Need conflict of interest laws,
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2014 at 11:21 am

People calling for younger councilmembers need to look at Marc Berman on the council now. He's 30'ish and keeps reminding us that he went to Paly High, and how much he loves Palo Alto. He's really impressed with his youth and uses it to excuse his ignorance.
He is clueless about the issues. Knows NOTHING unless it happened to him personally. His statements are always that he agrees with someone who spoke before him. He appears not study anything.
But he does know one thing: to vote for his real estate interests.


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Posted by marie
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Agree about Berman - no leadership, no inspiration, no judgement. In a recent CC meeting he said he liked having a 9-member City Council because it meant that every item on the agenda would have at least one council member who read it, so he can rely on other council members' homework. What a bore.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm

The number one requirement is to determine during the pre-election period is
what the qualifications are for the person running. That fact that someone participated in the school board is not a qualifier for running a city. Not sure what qualifications Berman had coming in to the race.

I went to the League of Women's Voters forum this week and it was clear that Coladonato was on top of his game vs Rich Gordon - state assembly.

If you watch the CC meetings on TV it is apparent who asks good questions vs dumb questions. I think the companies in the local area would be happy to sponsor employees who express a wish to be involved in the local politics.
I keep seeing "staff" members explaining to the cc how something works. If you saw what went on with the young man who was speaking about the city plan to register businesses you would see how crazy that was - we still are using a paper system and no one has converted it to a computer run system.

These discussions go in circles with no apparent plan on how to proceed. The cc is no help in directing that activity.

I know the previous mayors of Mountain View and Los Altos Hills - these are retired people but they were high level program managers of very large programs so they completely understand how to manage complex issues. They also have the financial background to understand what is going on. It is the background a person has coming in. But also the mentoring from the older members that are suppose to bring them along. I do not see that happening.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm

What's next for our city council? Ermine capes and scepters? Let's just crown them dictators while they destroy our quality of life and keep raising fees and taxes to support their inefficiency and delusions of grandeur.

Maybe the can all go play in the middle of the Grand Boulevard! You'd think they'd approved the marijuana initiative with their nonsense.

But no, that would have actually brought in tax revenue! FEH ON THEM.


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Posted by Can I Buy an Argument?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 12, 2014 at 7:48 pm

The city council meeting a week ago seemed to be a poor imitation of a Monty Python skit. It was pure political circus. Out of three hours allocated to our critical Comprehensive Plan update, council spent nearly an hour arguing over how many minutes each of them would be allotted and what they should
discuss. If you didn't catch it live, watch it outline and see how NOT to run a meeting.

Now they want to extend their terms and shrink the number of seats. What would be even more entertaining if it wasn't so serious is how suddenly, everyone on the council is a community watchdog. They were shocked (SHOCKED!) to discover that density is a major issue.Do they actually think we won't remember that their actions caused this mess? That their votes approved massive, unattractive buildings? And through their inaction, we've sent out word to developers that Palo Alto maximum zoning is the starting place for negotiations?

Clearly several members are running for re-election and hope that our highly educated citizens have a short memory. Let's not let them get away with this – remember in November. Let's leave the council rules alone and elect a coucil that supports a vision of Palo Alto we agree with.


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Posted by ELECT the Mayor
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Meh...whatever. My $.02? Reduce the Council to 5 and ELECT the Mayor, with the power to hire and fire the City Manager. Give the Mayor a 6 year term. Also, change the charter so that firm goals are set for City Managers - if they fail to meet those goals more than once, they're gone. As of now, the City Manager acts like a 10th Council member.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 16, 2014 at 7:01 am

The mayor does not need a six-year term. That reduces the representation across the city which we need. We have different groups trying to take control of city properties - educational group, business group, soccer/sports group - yes look at Santa Clara on 49er parking, conservation group, developer group. Elect the mayor for 6 years who can fire the city manager and you end up with the Oakland situation. No one wants the Oakland situation. One group will prevail over the others and the city will look out of balance. If the developer group has more money then presume that they will prevail.
However the city manager needs to be working with specific charter requirements that they are in charge of enforcing. Possibly more clarity in the city charter on what the city manager is responsible for vs city council.


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