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The Selling Of Palo Alto

Original post made by Roger Pierno, College Terrace, on Feb 4, 2008

Below is a letter I sent to the Palo Alto City Council regarding a proposal to loosen up the restrictions on putting private names on public lands and buildings; this is on tonight's agenda:

Dear Honorable Council Members,

I am writing to you because I am disturbed about a proposal before the Council, that I read about in this morning's Palo Alto Daily News, concerning liberalizing the process for the naming of public property by private corporations. I am completely against any public property being named after a private corporation in exchange for money. Honoring a special person or company because they have done valuable and worthwhile deeds for the City, without monetary compensation, is acceptable. But commercializing public assets is degrading and not fitting of our fine city.

Mayor Larry Klein reportedly said "… universities, museums and hospitals all use similar funding options and that it would lessen the fiscal burden on the city's tax payers…. I've thought about it, and I don't have any problem with it…. I think it's where the world is going. If someone wants to put up ten or twenty million dollars, I think that's a fair trade for us."

The problem with the Mayor's view is that it reflects the same "world" delusion that you can get something for nothing. The Mayor and others are also falling prey to the dogmatic conservative drumbeat that government is bad and private is good. The great cost in commercializing public assets is that they are then in appearance, and in many ways in fact, no longer public assets. The public begins to view them as just another theme park or shopping mall. The City also becomes addicted to money from powerful corporations that then demand greater access to public assets at the threat of withholding their money. The fact the universities, museums, and hospitals sell naming rights isn't relevant to Palo Alto as they don't have a tax base and many of them are private as well.

If we need to raise money for a particular project, then let us have a discussion of the project's merits, have the Council or residents approve it, and then raise the funds for it from the citizens of Palo Alto. Palo Alto is a rich city with no real shortage of funds from residents for worthwhile projects or services.

It seems the easy way out for staff to suggest and for the Council to approve the selling of Palo Alto to the highest bidder, but I beseech you to resist taking this path. Palo Altans are not afraid to open their pocketbooks for worthy causes. In the end, our city lands and buildings are some of the last public places in which we can hide from the onslaught of commercialization.

Comments (47)

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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm

"The great cost in commercializing public assets is that they are then in appearance, and in many ways in fact, no longer public assets."

Why not? Please explain your rationale for this assumption.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I strongly disagree with the sentiments expressed in this letter.

I feel that if we as a city can waste taxpayers money on renaming the Plaza outside City Hall after someone, we can at least recoup that money in the future by naming buildings after someone who has sponsored towards the cost.

As an example, we need a new police building and money spent on our libraries. Should taxpayers once again be asked to dip into their pockets again and again to pay for these. There will also be a bond for the schools at the same time. This sounds like triple dipping. Most Palo Altans are tired of having to pay time and time again for the bad money management of the City and School Boards.

If some of our fine businesses are willing to fund these projects and in return expect naming rights, that is fine by me. We should not only allow them to do this, but actively encourage it.

And for those who do not like it, I see very little difference between honoring dead heroes and honoring those who want to pay for it. After all, Candlestick Park is still called Candlestick Park regardless of who is the latest corporation with their name on signs.


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm

With company names emblazoned on public buildings, the public will view those buildings as extensions of those companies, and not solely public property. Also, with the City relying on private funding, the City could effectively lose control of the buildings. What if a company objects to a certain group using a building with their name on it? They may withdraw or not renew the agreement, leaving the City with replacing that money. The City will be under great pressure to acquiesce to the demands of that company rather than lose funding.


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Posted by Susanne
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:33 pm

The Bush administration has been quite successful in starving the government (repeated tax cuts) combined with huge spending. Then the door is open to large corporations to take over public assets and government functions. (for example, the war is hugely conducted by contractors not the Army.)
If the big money folks are really public minded, a plaque thanking them should be adequate. Naming buildings and city assets for big corporations is sleazy. It cheapens the public sphere.
Thanks to Mr Pierno for speaking up.
PS Mike, it would be nice if you allowed other people to express their views and did not overwhelm the public space. You are all over, so we already know what you think.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Roger, I hear your concern, but not sure I share it. Naming rights are a pretty common thing these days and don't tend to exhibit the problems you identify. By nature, they are long-term contracts with no "outs," so the idea that that a sponsor could pull their name (and money) if they object to something probably wouldn't happen. (They could probably pull their name, but still be obligated to pay the money.)

There will be tension when the contract comes up for renewal (every 10 years maybe?), but since you can see the issue coming a long way away, you can figure out what the market price is likely to be and make sure you have another buyer if the current one may bail out.

I agree, we should tread carefully, but I think it is an idea worth exploring carefully.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Starve big government, I'm all for that. I doubt that taking donations for names will have any effect either way, though.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Roger Pierno:"With company names emblazoned on public buildings, the public will view those buildings as extensions of those companies, and not solely public property. Also, with the City relying on private funding, the City could effectively lose control of the buildings. What if a company objects to a certain group using a building with their name on it? They may withdraw or not renew the agreement, leaving the C"

Why shouldn't the public recognize the largesse of a private donation? Further, I doubt that most citizens think that "Monster Park" is owned by Monster.com.

There are literally thousands of public buildings - and programs - that have been funded by private funds. What about the Lucy Stern Community Center? Do citizens think that Lucy Stern, or her family, "own" the center? I doubt it.

It's astounding to me that anyone would consider a private donation made with the intention to furthering the public good, a burden on the public. Only in Palo Alto do we see nonsense like this put forward as serious thought.


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Posted by Supporter
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2008 at 3:29 pm

I disagree, if an individual or corporation wishes to donate millions of dollars to help rebuild Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, I have no problem having their name on the building.

Likewise, if an individual or corporation wants to donate to help the Palo Alto Historical Museum get off the ground, their name can also be placed on the building.

After all we have used Pierce Mitchell, Eleanor Pardo, San Jesus Ramos, Ester Clarke, Enid Pearson and a few other individual's names to label our parks and open spaces.

I support Mayor Klein, if individuals or corporations are willing to donate generously to help the taxpayers of Palo Alto refurbishing the city; they should be rewarded with their name on a building or public space. This is clearly the wave of the future.




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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2008 at 3:52 pm

Mike, by your use of the term "largesse" you have swallowed hook, line, and sinker what the big corporations are feeding you. Corporations make no gifts, they don't care about "furthering the public good," their share holders expect a return on investment and that translates into advertising in this case. Individuals like Lucy Stern make gifts, and yes they have their names put on the buildings, but they have a higher purpose of making society better and inspiring the rest of us. Corporations have no such goals. They simply want more people to see their name and buy more of what they sell. And when a City puts a company name on a public building the City is saying buy this company's stuff, diminishing the public purpose and the public worth of the building in the process.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Since when is a private company not a part of the community it lives in, or sells products to?

Since when has it been declared that a corporation cannot be a responsible and giving member of a community?

Since when has it been shown that the intentions of a corporate philanthropy group any less well-intentioned than a gift from a private donor?

Since when has it been shown that no corporation is interested in furthering the public good? The Hewlett Foundation, and Gates Foundation, come immediately to mind.

Since when have all non-corporate donations been made without the intention to somehow profit personally from said donations?

Your assumptions are based on unfounded hearsay, and a lack of knowledge of just how hard, and sincerely, many corporations work to increase the public good.



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Posted by Adam
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Mr. Pierno. I suggest that Palo Alto Citizens will not necessarily open their pocket books for "worthy causes". The only time I can recall it happening this century was for school bonds.

There are at least two very worthy and needed facilities that polls show won't be funded if sent to the voters - a library and a public safety building.

When a corporation puts up money for naming rights, they contractually agree either to pay the entire amount up front or pay in installments. There is no other power inherent in doing so, and the City can't "effectively lose control of the buildings". There is no "addiction" to private money - it would be the same as any other gift with no future commitments.


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Posted by Citizen Kane
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:42 pm

If a politician is willing to sell the name of a building for ten million or twenty million dollars, for how much money is the politician willing to sell his vote?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Citizen Kane,

How much are you willing to fork over for new public infrastructure. Looks like we all know the answer to that question.

Your assumptive accusations insult the name of Orson Welles, who would turn over in his grave if he knew a cheapskate was using one of his creations to limit creative possibility.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

If a public building in this City was named for a Corporation that paid to build it, I would not think the City was endorsing its products and wanted us to buy them. They are too intelligent to think that we, the public, could be used this way, after all we are too intelligent to think that, aren't we.

No, if a public building in this city was named for a Corporation that paid to build it, I would think that this was a way of saying "Thank you" to them for having pride and foresight to benefit the city where they exist and where many of their employees call home.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2008 at 10:11 pm

"Palo Alto is a rich city with no real shortage of funds from residents for worthwhile projects or services."

If this were true... then why don't we have a new police station? Why are our schools facing a huge projected deficit? (yes, Arnold cut funds, but it still means we're short on money.)

I wish "Palo Altans [were] not afraid to open their pocketbooks for worthy causes". Unfortunately, as many worthy defeated measures have shown, this is not the case. I don't know anyone who likes higher taxes... even for good causes.

I support Larry Klein's proposal!


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2008 at 5:30 am

Only in the bizaro world is refusing to grant all the increase in budget demanded considered starving.
I would like a return to the old rule of naming nothing about someone until they had been dead ten years.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 5, 2008 at 7:29 am

I agree. Our public facilities should not be renamed for compensation.

I will go further than that. "Lessen the financial burden?" Who approved spending $500k on a website? A dysfunctional one at that?

What about outrageous salaries?

Let's see what you want to do with our money before we consider irreversible steps to get more.


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2008 at 10:38 am

Adam and Joe,

The reason needed and worthwhile projects don't get voter approval is because a small minority is able to control and reject any tax increase. I was watching the Council discussion on improving our libraries last night. They said that it would cost about $180/year for the average parcel with an assessed value of about $650,000, and much less for most people owning their homes over 20 years as their assessed value is much lower. This is a pittance compared with the expected improvements, yet that minority that want no tax increases for any reason could easily vote down the bond measure. This doesn't quite seem fair for the rest of us.

Joanna,

As far a outrageous salaries go, most salaries are actually in line with the rest of the public and private sector. Yes, there are several high paid managers, maybe too many and too highly paid, but they makeup a small percentage of total City workers who generally provide excellent service.


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2008 at 11:13 am

Roger, you object to the proposed naming opportunities but lament California's system of minority rule where any kind of specified-use tax increase is proposed. So how would you propose paying for needed public facility improvements?
My personal view is that we should encourage both individual and corporate philanthropists and recognize their contributions. "Selling of Palo Alto"? Hardly. Instead, we'd simply be providing some nominal and appropriate incentive to those who might consider financially collaborating with the city in public-private partnerships.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2008 at 11:32 am

as I drive past Candlestick Park I consider that I would object to any company I owner stock in wasting money purchasing such naming rights.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Perhaps Roger will donate to a new library/community center; and we can put his name on it. $180 may not be much to you, but to a elderly retiree on Social Security it is a lot of money.



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Posted by Just-Say-NO!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm

> Mayor Larry Klein reportedly said "… universities,
> museums and hospitals all use similar funding options
> and that it would lessen the fiscal burden on the city's
> tax payers….

It would be nice if Larry Klein would provide a list of public universities, museums and hospitals that have sold their names for money. Private hospitals, universities and museums are free to do with their property as they see fit. Cities are different--they don't belong to anyone--and certainly not the friends of Larry Klein!

> If we need to raise money for a particular project, then let us
> have a discussion of the project's merits, have the Council or
> residents approve it, and then raise the funds for it from the
> citizens of Palo Alto.

The City has billions in assets -- better to sell of some of the least used of these assets and stop taxing Palo Altans to death!


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Karen,

I don't have an answer on how to fund what we need. The idealist in me hopes that a good education campaign would persuade enough people to support what we need. The dreamer in me wishes that the anti-tax crowd would move to a city of like minded people and leave Palo Alto as the oasis it has the potential to be. The realist in me has to accept compromise, but only to a point.


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Posted by Just-Say-NO!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 3:17 pm

> The dreamer in me wishes that the anti-tax crowd would
> move to a city of like minded people and leave
> Palo Alto as the oasis it has the potential to be.

How democratic!


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I can dream, can't I? Dreaming has nothing to do with democracy. But democracy requires an open discussion and compromise. Do you have a problem with discussion and compromise, Just-Say-No!???


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Posted by Just-Say-NO!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm

> Do you have a problem with discussion and compromise,

If it means giving up my freedom--Yes!
If it means having to accept a lie--Yes!
If it means allowing people who lie to me to govern me--Yes!
If it means carrying someone else's water--Yes!

And the list goes on ..


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Roger, Compromise is possible only if the other side's mind is open on this issue - it will not change...guaranteed. JSNo has blinders on.

I think private naming is a good thing, if it's done in a thoughtful way, and contributes to community.

We have, essentially, about 10% of hard-core JSNo's in Palo Alto's residential pool. They are residents of a certain mind - a mind that does not want to spend money on government services...that's their right.

About 3-5% of those are active. They use fear and distortion to drum up just enough resistance to keep bonds from passing.

Not this time. Palo Alto has been ruled by minority vote for too long. What have we gotten in return?

The VERY SAME people who work their buns off to defeat bonds for infrastructure and services are the VERY SAME people who complain about the poor quality of service, and infrastructure.

We have to move beyond "no" in our community, or we will become a shell of what we're capable of.

We need to broaden our information campaigns, and speak in plain language about the benefit of things like libraries, police protection, schools, etc.

We're making a dent, and on our way to running the obstacle of "no" right into the ground - no quarter will be given to the FEW who have used distortion to keep our community down. We will crush the opposition, and grow Palo Alto back to the community it has the potential to be.

"Just say no" - watch our dust!


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Posted by Jay Thorwaldson
editor emeritus
on Feb 5, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Jay Thorwaldson is a registered user.

FYI, additional commentary on naming of city buildings and facilities can be found in another Town Square thread when Becky Trout of the Weekly first reported this story last Nov. 15: www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=6416 -- comments attached to story.

Seems to me there is a deep tradition in Palo Alto relating to naming facilities for individuals, often persons who contributed funds to build a facility. The Lucie Stern Community Center comes to mind.

Other named facilities are for people who put great personal effort rather than dollars into creating or preserving them, such as the John Fletcher Byxbee Jr. Recreation Area in the baylands, along with the Harriet Mundy, Lucy Evans and Emily Renzel marshes.

The rub for most of us, I think, comes when corporate names get thrown into the mix. The Chevron Duck Pond? The H-P City Hall? Ouch.

-jay


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Jay, I agree it sounds 'strange.' But naming of stadiums and bowl games was unheard of not so many years ago and now it is just part of the scenery (the HP Pavilion sounds pretty natural now, doesn't it?). If our corp citizens want to lend their name and funds to buildings, then HP sounds as good as Lucie Stern to me. If we are innovators here in Palo Alto, perhaps we can innovate in revenue.


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Posted by Just-Say-NO!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 7:58 pm

> who complain about the poor quality of service, and infrastructure.

People who complain about poor quality of service do so not because there is an insufficiency of money, but a dearth of management. Unions have taken control of the city and are delivering services far below the cost-benefit of the private sector. Waste has become so common place that no one in the system understands any other way to operate.

> We need to broaden our information campaigns, and speak in plain
> language about the benefit of things like libraries, police protection,
> schools, etc.

Such a fabrication of the facts, and intimidation of those who believe that reforming the system would provide all of the funds necessary to provide the services that are needed?

Special interests, of course, are not going to be happy -- because for decades they have diverted the money that has flowing into the city's coffers into their pockets--rather than provide funds for infrastructure, for instance.


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Posted by just more trial balloons
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:07 pm

This is all more of an academic exercise than not. Palo Alto has been so anti-business over the years that it is difficult to hold any businesses here that are not on the Stanford lands. It's extremely doubtful that any large business would want its name associated with palo alto city government.



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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 6, 2008 at 9:48 am

"Halliburton City Hall" does have a certain ring, though.


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2008 at 10:49 am

Mike,

If you are still reading this string, I think we have a campaign slogan:

Don't "Just-Say-NO!": THINK!


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Posted by Just-Say-NO!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 11:21 am

The current budget is about $130M a year. Ten years ago, it was about half that much. This city has seen over $1B drift through its fingers over the past ten years. And where has the money gone? $160K+ for second-rate department heads, about 150 people making more than $100K a year! Key managers having more vacation than work days (or so it sometimes seems). And very little to show for this money other than pay stubs. Employees working less than 40-hour weeks.

In ten years, it is very possible that the budget will double again (or come close to doubling). If the city were to carve off only $5M a year and put that into a reserve fund--then this would be generate at least $50M (and considerably more if properly invested). Certainly having $50-$100M available every 10 years, and perhaps selling off some of the cities sizable assets and investing that money also--would provide more than enough to provide for continuous maintenance/refurbishment without constantly attacking the property owners--so many of whom are now on fixed incomes.

Yet--all we can come up with is Larry Klein's suggestion that if the Bin Laden family of Saudia Arabia wanted to have city hall named "the Osama Bin Laden Center" he would have no problem if the price was right! Yeah .. that's good ole Larry Klein .. always coming up with another good idea.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Can we hope that 'at least' the building, park , whatever, is named for someone who actually set foot in Palo Alto and had some 'real' connection with it?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2008 at 7:23 pm

I like the "Gates Libarary". How about the "Apple Recreation Center'? Or, the "Intel Library". How about the Google Recreation Center", or the Hewlett Library? They all look sound good to me, and would be welcome additions to our community. What astounds is that some of the folks who "just say no" would rather see our institutions die than take a well-meaning donation that is given, sincerely.


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Posted by Susanne
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 6, 2008 at 10:39 pm

If the corporate donors are so public minded, a more modest thanks should be appropriate. Naming buildings and city assets for big corporations is in poor taste.
It has been pointed out that there is a difference between naming to honor local people who have made major civic contributions, and corporate sponsors. Big difference. And a library is different from a commercial ball park.
Museums and parks and houses of worship acknowledge donors with a plaque in the lobby. That would be appropriate thanks for a well-meaning, sincere donation.


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 7, 2008 at 6:28 am

I agree with Walter, the Mineta San Jose Airport, Bush Intl Airport in Houston, etc are examples of major facilities named after living politicians. I don't care for it. Great consideration should be given to naming major public facilities,institutions.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:31 am

I agree with k about living politicians. But, we are discussing something else.

I see nothing wrong with naming rights for our libraries or school buildings or other public buildings. We have to have a name for them or they end up being called the new building, or the ugly building, or some thing. We can thank sponsors by calling a building by their name. We will use it in every day language and not even think twice about what the name represents.

If Little League teams can do with it particularly when often the individuals on the team have no idea what the sponsor does, then I think we can get by too.


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

Jay Thorwaldson suggests we might cringe at the Chevron Duck Pond or HP City Hall. But we're not talking about naming existing parkland or facilities; instead, we're talking about naming new facilities that we need to encourage private-sector philanthropists to help fund.
Philosophically I have no problem with individual or corporate benefactors being appropriately recognized for significant contributions toward our needed new facilities. An HP Tech Center at Mitchell Park might reasonably become part of a new library facility.
To settle this, perhaps we should ask individual or corporate philanthropists to supply a list of names and allow the Council to select from among them, or suggest that specific names would be subject to Council approval.


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 7, 2008 at 11:38 am

I have to draw the line at naming a City asset, new or old, with a company or corporation name. The only reason any company wants their name on a building is to have it recognized in the market place; to advertise and sell more of what they sell.

Can't we have some places in our lives where we are not exposed to marketing? A company plaque on the wall I can live with. Naming a building for a philanthropist is OK too. But come on, don't you think we need some places where we can get out of the rat race to buy, buy, buy?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Roger, you seem to have a dim view of all corporations and their motives. That's fine, but I don't. Corporate philanthropy is a big activity, and corporate citizens are an important component of many communities, certainly including ours. Palo Alto would not be what it is without Silicon Valley.

I think we can distinguish between long-term good corporate citizens and I-want-a-billboard companies, just as we do with people. How does the "Larry Ellison Library" strike you - greedy or good? I would prefer the HP Library to the Ellison any day.

So we shouldn't auction off our naming rights just to the highest bidder - it should be highest bidder with merit.


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Posted by Roger Pierno
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Fred,

I don't have a dim view of corporations and I fully understand their motives, actually motive, which is to make money and turn that into a net positive return to their investors and shareholders. That is their only motive, period. If corporations stray from that mission, they are subject to shareholder law suits. A Company name on a build is advertising to increase profits.

And Fred, Silicon Valley would not be what it is without Palo Alto. HP, Varian, Xerox PARC, Google, Yahoo,... all started in PA.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 5:33 pm

One other thing big corporations do is pay taxes and generally speaking they want to pay less (don't we all). For this reason many big companies do philanthropic activities to help out others while helping out themselves. If in return they get a little bit of putting their name out there in the public realm, so much the better.

For instance. I know Intel is a big company with chips in nearly everything I buy which is electronic. Does it influence me in my decision to buy what I am buying. No of course not. They know that. So, why do they advertise on TV? Maybe I am a buyer for an electronics company, but the likelihood is that I am not. Therefore why do they advertise? The answer is just to get their name out there and have the persona of a well known product.

Consequently, they may want to put their name on our library. They may get a tax break. They may get us to know their name. They don't necessarily expect sales to go up in Palo Alto as a result.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Roger, while there is truth in what you say about corporations following self-interest, I think that many corporations, like people, follow self-interest "well understood," to use Tocqueville's phrase. As Resident points out above, corporations and people can and often do "do well while doing good" and there is nothing wrong with that.

On whether the companies make Silicon Valley or the towns make the companies - I think that is a bit of a stretch on your part. HP would have been fine in any local town; it just happens to be in PA, which happens to be convenient to Stanford. We are special because of our citizens, human and corporate - apart from them, we are just a sleepy suburb with falling down libraries, I'm afraid ;-(


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Roger makes an excellent point: "The only reason any company wants their name on a building is to have it recognized in the market place; to advertise and sell more of what they sell."

Where's the ROI for naming buildings in Palo Alto? The audience is too small to be worthwhile. Also, to sell naming rights you have to offer something worth naming, like a major league stadium. The KBR/Halliburton Public Safety Building would return little of its sponsor's investment, and I doubt there's much more payoff in a Yahoo! City Hall.

Another dud.


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Posted by ?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 6:46 pm

The X rated ones may prove interesting though.

I believe that Genentech had to change their name somewhat in Italy as when they coupled their name with the Italian for Italy (Italia) as the abreviated version they had hope to use (Genete____) became something quite obscene.


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