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PA City Council should not be politically partisan
Original post made
by Diana Diamond, Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 1, 2008
Seven of the nine Palo Alto City Council members have this weekpublicly endorsed Sen. Barack Obama as their choice for president of the United States. Why? I thought we had nonpartisan elections in Palo Alto and partisan politics were a no-no.
When the Palo Alto City Council election occurred, a mere three months ago, I had no idea who of the candidates were Republicans or Democrats, or who they, as candidates, were endorsing for president. It was not, and should not have been, an issue.
That is why I am upset that on Monday night Mayor Larry Klein issued a statement that said, Obama, D-Ill., offers the best possibility for transforming "the toxic, partisan bickering in Washington.
"We believe that Barack Obama has the vision, passion and ability to change this unhealthy Washington atmosphere," said the statement signed by Klein, Vice Mayor Peter Drekmeier and council members John Barton, Pat Burt, Yoriko Kishimoto, Greg Schmid and Yiaway Yeh.
Councilmember Sid Espinosa said he was supporting Hillary Clinton; Councilmember Jack Morton said his constituents are "more than capable of making up their own mind" without his endorsement.
Hooray for Morton!
I think most of us have made up our minds who we are going to support on Super Tuesday, and we don't need the help of the Palo Alto City Council.
Which brings me to the larger question that frequents council discussions. Should the council vote on national issues?
Some are purists, saying never. Others are enthusiasts, saying always.
I would say occasionally, with cautious consideration. Yes, when this country is about to get involved in a war in Iraq. Yes, because maybe the president needs some feedback from constituencies like Palo Alto and other cities on major events affecting our country like wars.
But no for most other issues.
And I go back to my original theme we did not elect our city council members on a partisan slate. We elected them as individuals, without knowing their political points of view. They should remain nonpartisan.
Let's keep it that way.
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Posted by James
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 2, 2008 at 8:33 pm
Cry me a river, they are certainly entitled to make their opinions public. Whether or not people want to agree is an entirely different matter.
They don't have to decide between endorsing a candidate and working on making the city a better place. Ideally, we shouldn't be crying foul over actually expressing political views (hello, it's PALO ALTO people). Instead, we should be saying that, along with making such statements, they ALSO need to focus on the issues within our town.
"I want more than a speech maker; inspiration doesn't put bread on the table."
Agreed! But many of his supporters like me agree that he has an economical plan to "but bread on the table", but if you think a $600 check will sustain that notion while not increasing job employment, I wish you the best of luck.
I would recommend as well not to discount the power of rhetorics in motivating people to be their neighbor's keeper and to do good work within the community and our nation. Thus I offer Caroline Kennedy's OpEd from the NYT:
A President Like My Father
By CAROLINE KENNEDY
OVER the years, I've been deeply moved by the people who've told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.
My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.
We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn't that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country just as we did in 1960.
Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates' goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.
Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics to become engaged in the political process.
I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents' grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.
Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Caroline Kennedy is the author of "A Patriot's Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love."