Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 8:58 am
I strongly disagree with the Weekly's endorsement of so much old blood. I would favor new faces and in particular Tim Gray who is doing so much to reach out to residents and willing to put forward his common sense views on important matters that face us, namely the budget and infrastructure concerns. Tim Gray is like a breath of fresh air and it is a great shame that he was not elected last time.
ps I do not know Tim Gray and have no part in his campaign.
Posted by same same but different, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 9:46 am
Anyone really surprised by these endorsement? Typical Weekly cheerleading. Naturally, the cynical and self-serving manipulation of our election process by Kniss is glossed over and of course, being part of the Palo alto establishment she gets her usual endorsement from the Weekly. The Weekly ignores the failure of our council members to deal with the real issues and supports re-electing the two sitting members. These endorsements are probably what the editor feels will be in the best interest of the Weekly and not the city of Palo Alto
Tim GRay probably lost his chance of an endorsement after bravely posting the following a few months ago:
Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Look behind the numbers and you will find that the Weekly's endorsements have nearly a perfect correlation with the size of the campaign advertising budgets.
This is neither a compliment or criticism -- it is just an observation that may lead to understanding the Weekly's decision. Remember, this is the same Advertising Circular (the word newspaper intentionally left out) that asks for charitable contributions to "support local journalism" when a more forthcoming request would be for the publisher to simply ask for people to make deposits to his personal bank account.
Does anyone else feel repulsed by the ethics of disguising a profit making venture as a "charitable cause"?Respectfully shedding some light on what seems to be a sacred cow topic.
Posted by same same but different, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:22 am
"Woops! I guess I need to learn to subdue my directness: or not."
No, Tim, your original comments were right on. There is "bad for Palo Alto" relationship between the Weekly and the City Council. You were correct on how endorsements are given out and it is clear to me it is a "what is best for the weekly" mindset that is in play.
You have my vote for sure. The problem is I cannot find 3 other people on the ballot that I can vote for without puking afterwards.
Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:41 am
Voters can select one candidate, so one vote for Gray helps with the election math.
In my interview with the weekly, I sincerely offered that I was appreciative of the service provided by Palo Alto Online, and would be willing to buy a subscription, but said "I am not willing to make a donation." Also, the reporting by the Weekly's Gennady Sheyner is top quality and represents excellent journalism.
Criticism is poison, so I do want to keep the conversation focused on how we can stand up for Palo Alto. Thanks for your endorsement of candor.
Posted by Jo Ann, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:47 am
I watched the entire 2-hour video of the council candidates. I highly recommend it.
I'd like to hear answers from all the candidates on what they're going to do about the gridlock around Town & Country Shopping Center and the idiotic timing of the traffic lights. Why do we have red lights at the school crossing at midnight?? How long does it take to fix something like that?
Related to that, I'd like to see an analysis how much that traffic mess costs in the lost tax revenues as people like me shop at the Trader Joe's in Menlo Park specifically to avoid it.
I'd also like to hear what they're doing to rein in utility rates.
I'm tired of getting expensive surveys, mailings and other marketing materials from the Utility Dept. asking what it will take to get me to spend MORE when they should be trying to cut our ridiculously high bills.
Tim Gray's got my vote. Burt lost my vote with his stance on Cal Ave. where he said he couldn't understand the opposition of the merchants and others and thus decided to ignore it.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:49 am
If your prioritize keeping the character of the city the four to vote for are Greg Schmid, Tim Gray, Mark Weiss, and Liz Kniss (maybe - Kniss has a history with Jim Baer, so what she says now may not be how she votes once she is elected).
If you are for more development, higher density development, granting of more PC Zoning, then vote for Pat Burt, Marc Berman.
If the budget is more of a concern, vote for Schmid, Tim Gray, Pat Burt, Liz Kniss (maybe).
If you are more concerned with union issues, vote for Berman & Weiss.
Posted by Ernesto USMC, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:53 am
Gray has demonstrated the greatest understanding of sound business practice, which in my book makes him most likely to take on special interests that are slowly bankrupting this rich city (union entitlements...)
The two incumbents at least voted to let the public vote on revoking the long-abused binding arbitration legislation that has led us to grossly overpaid firefighters retiring in their early 50's with six figure taxpayer funded pensions. They have done far too little to right the ship, but have at least moved in the right direction.
I will probably leave the fourth vote blank. Kniss and Berman are terrible. They'll both serve as little more than union-puppets.
Posted by Kniss, really? No!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:02 am
Kniss feels the council is too easy on developers? Really? Yet when she was on the council and the Hamilton Project came up for a vote. (The Hamilton Project was massive, and overshadowed all of the smaller adjacent houses and buildings.) She was all for it then and voted it in. And I believe she was all for Baer building, the Cowper- Webster parking lot that he was to hand over to the city for free public parking in 15 years. But that never quite happened. Only 2 floors are available for free. The rest are permitted- which was not the agreement.
Kniss has always supported and voted for developers. I will not vote for her!
Posted by Voter, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:05 am
I'm voting for the two who seem honest and thoughtful, namely Schmid and Gray. They have the residents in mind, not just the big money interests. (Long time support for very big development by Kniss is well known.)
Not on the Take, that's my priority: I'm voting for Schmid and Gray.
Posted by Voter, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:11 am
She also rammed through the SummerHill development just before her term on the council was ending. Rammed it, yes-- as chairperson, cut off any opposing voice and forced the vote. She isn't just the plastic smiley face in her ads.
And developer Jim Baer gave her office space on El Camino and forced her opponent out of the office when she ran for the county seat. It was ugly.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:30 am
Since I favor the residential parking permit program (RPPP) in College Terrace, and I also support other neighborhoods that are impacted by intensive parking pressures, I would ask the candidates to reveal their views on the spread of RPPP in other neighborhoods.
Posted by Bailey, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm
You say the experience gap is too great for Tim Gray and yet you endorse Berman who has no experience on any kind of board or commission other than being one of 16 IBRC members? Tim Gray has been working in the community for many years, and has a track record. Berman just got here in 2009. He's a carpet bagger. If he loses here, he'll move on to another town.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Weekly was impressed by Berman's Democratic Party ties rather than his ties to the community.
Posted by Bailey, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm
One more thing -- you failed to discuss Berman's pro-union views. He went down to the San Jose labor council to get the endorsement from the unions representing city workers. He did the interview and filled out the endorsement form. Then he decided the endorsement wouldn't help him in Palo Alto, so he declined to accept it. I got to think he's secretly a union backer but feels the label would sink him in the election.
Posted by pants on fire, a resident of Stanford, on Oct 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm
Well said, No-Change-Coming-To-Palo-Alto. I have been wondering for a long time the rationale behind the Weekly's endorsements. Maybe we need to follow the political affiliation and the money.
As another poster stated, Tim Gray did not get endorsed because of his views about the Weekly and how they conduct themselves.
Will vote for Gray--but definitely not for Kniss. I remember an issue when she was mayor that she would not even bring to a vote--probably afraid to go on record with a vote on the matter (BTW, Voter, nice comment on the plastic smiley face). I cannot state what my conclusion on that matter is, since it would probably be deleted--suffice it to say she demonstrated a distinct dislike for a certain group of people in the city.
Posted by Annette, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm
We're in a hole that took several years to dig. With the exception Schmid, I don't see the upside to putting past and present hole diggers back in office.
Tim Gray is giving us a 3rd chance to benefit from his expertise. I am going to vote for him b/c I think his financial acumen will be helpful, he strikes me as being reasonable, and I think he will bring new thinking to the Council.
Posted by More candidates Please, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm
As I watch many of the City Council Meetings, I am disappointed at the two current members running again. I will not be voting for either of them because frankly they've made some wrong decisions. Neither will I be voting for Liz Kniss, she needs to retire.
There will, of course, be some blank spaces on my ballot but that's better than betraying my conscience.
Note that Pat Burt gets contributions from Jim Baer, who has represented before city council developers who have requested PC Zoning changes which lets them build huge building which exceed existing zoning limits. I would guess Jim Baer also gets a bunch of his associates to donate as well.
Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2012 at 10:16 am
Two quotes from two different Weekly stories create a stark contrast worth noting:
From today's Campaign Contributions story linked in the above post:
"Financial consultant Timothy Gray has the largest war chest of the six hopefuls after loaning himself $30,274 on Sept. 28, according to campaign statements filed with the city clerk's office. Due Friday, the Fair Pol itical Practices Commission-mandated forms cover contributions and expenditures made between July 1 and Sept. 30."
From the Weekly's Endorsement Story:
"...Gray is limiting himself to a modest amount of his own funds. As a result, both are long-shots, and many political activists have proclaimed that there is not a real race this year."
It is suspicious when the announcer calls the race before its over.
The contrast provides just one more data point that speaks for itself. Web Link
Posted by For new blood, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm
Watch the Kniss interview. She's clueless about what's going on in the city. Almost a parody [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. Berman has my vote (don't bother with Bailey, she's trying to raise a cloud of FUD around more than one race ). And Gray, who will make things a little less cozy on the Council.
Posted by CaptainObvious, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm
For folks surrounding me to claim to be so bright, it's hard to figure out where they are getting their facts about Berman and the Union. If it was on the record - and accurate, then produce it. Otherwise you're just regurgitating the same lame, elementary write-up in the other local rag.
As for Gray, at least we'll have some direction.
Oh and speaking of traffic, unrelated to T&C, how about a few sensors on Page Mill. 3~6 minutes per light turning? I thought this is full of Technology around here? Come down off the hill with me to commonsenseville.
Posted by Traffic blocking emergency care, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm
speaking of traffic,
someone suggested turning University Avenue into a pedestrian aerea, to accommodate the Arrillaga office project. Which means transferring the problem to Hamilton and to the neighborhoods.
But If you close off University, there is nothing left to reach critical medical services located at PAMF, and at Stanford. Already NOW you better hope you do not need access to medical attention during a Stanford football game or rush hour.
Even if you ran over to get medical help from your house (if you could), your nurse or doctor may not be able to get to work because of the gridlock. Certainly an ambulance would be stuck too.
Blocking off traffic and access to El Camino for Palo Alto residents because of this project is the most irresponsible thing. Offices need to be zoned OUTSIDE traffic push points, and certainly away from anything that blocks medical attention.
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm stephen levy is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I am all for new blood and young residents on the council and was sorry to see Espinosa and Yeh decide not to run again.
I have endorsed Mark Berman, only the second candidate I formally endorsed since I have lived in PA.
I served with Mark for more than a year on the IBRC, which provided a great intensive course in local PA finance issues. I was very impressed by his intelligence, thoughtfulness and willingness to be engaged.
Posted by Burt Clean Up, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm
Pat Burt and Jim Keene have done a good job the last few years in cleaning us the leftover mess within Palo Alto city government. No more scandals, no more lawsuits, no more hysterics, no more cronies gone wild in City Hall on Hamilton Avenue. Pat Burt deserves re-election!
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2012 at 11:28 am stephen levy is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
To Timothy Gray
Help me understand some of your positions. I am open to voting for people I don't agree with entirely if I think they bring a fresh and helpful perspective to the council.
I see theses campaign signs that say "spend less". We are all so tired of the presidential candidates talking about taxes and budgets without much specifics, I was hopeful you could say what spending you advocate cutting.
Second, you say cut spending somewhere to be able to spend on infrastructure. Do you think all of your cuts will be available to be redirected or do we need to control the growth of spending mostly to take care of rising costs relative to revenues?
Finally, I either don't understand what you are saying about financing major investments like the public safety building or we just disagree.
Are you saying we should save up a fund (reserves) from reducing General Fund spending and wait ten to fifteen years to get a new facility becasue you oppose borrowing for long-term capital projects. Do you also oppose borrowing for school facilities? Shouldn;t we distinguish between operating budgets where the IBRC does advocate building a reserve and long-terrm capial investments.
P.S. I really do vote for candidates that I sometimes disagree with. I strongly think Greg Schmid is wrong in his arguments that the ABAG regional projections are too high. I also disagree with his position on Palo Alto and the RHNA housing planning target. But I will vote for Greg becasue he is honest, dedicated and brings a set of skills and perspectives to the council.
Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm
You ask many good questions. I can answer with more detail in a private correspondence, but in general, I am advocating for us to take an Infrastructure first approach to budgeting so that we don't get further behind in maintaining our streets and sidewalks (fully fund "keep-up" and also set aside a few more million to the "catch-up" category. We should also set aside reserves for replacing our newer facilities from day one, so that we have a meaningful pool of money to repair and replace them as needed.
With the money that is left, we can, as a town inventory and prioritize City services and spend what is left according to a general consensus on what is important. If there is not enough money in the budget to spend on the least important, then those are the items subject to reduction. That kind of soul-searching requires the Council to engage the residents in sincere Citizen Participation. Even if I had an idea of the least important services, I could not act on my own opinion, because I am elected to be a representative of the Will of The People. Yes, even my own opinion can be a special interest that has to be set aside. (Read more about this at Web Link )
In lean times, we may decide that the cuts are too painful and we might choose not to fund some of the reserves. In times of plenty, we may fund extra. But the problem is that even for richer or poorer times, we have consumed our revenue on operations and failed to establish proper reserves. That is the concept: Just because you can put off fixing your roof until next year, does not mean that you spend the money now.
Now realistically, because our history of overspending, and not keeping up with prudent repairs, nor setting aside reserves, we may be in so deep of a hole that we have to ask for a "bailout" by borrowing in the bond market. I agree that we need a new Public Safety building, however there is this not-so-unwarranted belief by the residents that any amount of money put on the table would be spend by a City Structure that has an insatiable appetite for cash.
With that kind of skepticism and division between the voters and the City, acceptance of a big bond measure is unlikely and it would be unwise to spend cash on failed attempt. However, if the City demonstrated that it was willing to prioritize and make meaningful sacrafices in City operations, then some trust could be restored.
Demonstrating good financial stewardship is the key: As an example, when I worked for the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, we needed millions to build new programs and to recruit new physician specialties. However, the Packard Foundation (the one with Billions) simply stated (and I paraphrase) "Before we give you this extra money to grow, you need to meet some spending benchmarks are prove your financial stewardship before we release the funds. It was painful on operations, but the organization reached consensus and achieve some meaningful spending reductions. With that trust, funds were provided, and the wonderful growth in services is a story that everyone knows.
We might even keep this story of earning trust in mind as we creatively pursue some public and private partnerships. Instead of cutting, there may be a way to gain some outside funding to provide the Infrastructure first budgeting balance.
There continue to be stories about how Palo Alto has an adminstrative budget equal to Cities two times the size. Let's get the numbers and either show that is untrue or face the reality that some reduction is appropriate. It is never painless, but we have to keep our eye on the greater prize of gaining community unity through increased trust, which will allow residents to more enthusiastically investment that the City needs for the future.
There are other factors like searching for cost savings through regional cooperation, and inspecting once more if there might be functions within the Public Safety Building that might be share with other agencies. For example, we know that disasters are no respecter of political boundaries. I can't say what this increased scrutiny will yield, but we owe it to the residents to vigorously explore every option and in doing that, the City will be rewarded with greater unity and trust.
Thank you again for sincere interest in thinking in a the bigger picture with a more expansive timeline, and seeing that what we choose today will really determine whether we have resources tomorrow to continue our path of being a place of innovation. The alternative is a future where a large amount of cash will have to dedicated to servicing debt, and that diversion of resources will limit our ability to create the future that we all want.
Timothy Gray www.Vote4Gray.com is my campaign web site
Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2012 at 10:23 am
I'm for Tim Gray.
The Utilities Department will never tell you ways to reduce your utility bill. It cuts into their budget (raises, bonuses).
Neither will the City Council make this a priority as long as Utilities' profits go to the general fund.
In fact, Utilities is the golden egg-laying goose for the city. It enables them to in effect, raise taxes on us without being held accountable. Because where else are we gonna go to get water or sewer service?! It is an end run around Proposition 13, the will of the people. And people like Pat Burt are all for it.
This will continue until voters get wise and demand that Utilities return profits to the residents, and any services that are not cost effective be outsourced to other cities.
And don't even get me started on water rates. We have the highest rates in the country. And the City Council laughs all the way to their retirement benefits.
Posted by DS, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm
I've been following this race fairly closely, and ideally would like to see Bermanjoin the council. Despite his relatively young age, he's really quite knowledgeable about the issues and is incredibly passionate about serving his hometown. Someone on this forum lobbed a 'carpetbagger' charge, which is nonsense - Vermanspent his whole youth here, attended out schools, and after attending law school immediately came back home and got involved in his community on a number of committed, boards and other volunteer activities. There are some other decent candidates, but I've had the pleasure of meeting Berman and working with him locally, and everything i have seen suggests he would be a tremendous asset to the council.
Posted by More nonsense, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 1:50 am
Do you really think that any of these candidates are going to be able to keep their campaign promises? How can they do that if they need 5 votes to support their motions, with the added complication that the Council changes out seats every 2 years. So, how does one build a constituency on the Council, long term? It's almost impossible.
Add to that the "appointed Mayor" fiasco. Now, these Mayors are all good people, but it's really a ribbon cutting position - i.e. no power.
So, who is in charge of the city? Who is responsible for setting strategy? It's not the City Manager, because s/he reports to Council.
Palo Alto is able to muddle through because of the wealth of its residents, and certainly not because we have a forward-looking governance structure. Sure, we muddle through, but how much BETTE might it be if we elected a Mayor who had just enough separation of power to set strategy; hire and/or fire a city manager; and. was ACCOUNTABLE to the electorate for getting things done, or not.
Palo Alto is a great place, but we are stuck in this karma wheel of inefficiency, and endless debate on most issues, because *nobody is in charge*.
As for the Weekly, they have a few good reporters, but it's mostly an ad rag with more money than the other ad rags in town. Bill Johnson is a smart business person; he bought property in the burgeoning Cal Ave District (he even cut down a beautiful old tree to accommodate his building, but not a peep in the Weakly about that :) The Weekly is essentially a "closed shop" newspaper; it's more a social thing with lots of back slapping amongst old politicos and insiders who get the nod. Palo Alto could do better, but again, the wealth of this city mitigates "good enough". As long as everything muddles along, people are happy; they have busy lives.
SO, again, the election really is inconsequential, because the governance structure "owns" the Council Members. They have to adapt to it in ways that keep them from optimizing our city's potential, and that's the way things will remain until we become serious about changing governance to elect a Mayor, possibly shrink the Council, and end the "strong city manager" model of government. I don't think it will happen. Why? Because everyone is "comfortable". It's a wealthy town. Who cares, really? Except for those that follow these things, and that's a vast minority.
Go ask almost anyone who the Mayor is; the City Manager; the Council members. I've asked. Most people don't know. They're happy not knowing; they don't 'need to know, because they're mostly comfortable enough to be able to buffer local inefficiencies. That's the way it is, in October, 2012.