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Bonds for libraries, 'COPs' for police building
Original post made
on Feb 12, 2008
Recognizing that a $69-million public safety bond measure is unlikely to garner the needed two-thirds voter support, the Palo Alto City Council voted 7-2 Monday night to draw on other city revenues to pay for the project even though that boosts the building's cost to $81.2 million.
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posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 7:15 AM
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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 13, 2008 at 12:36 pm
To follow up Dave's comment, Palo Alto is currently out of state-mandated compliance in several areas, in the current building. In other words, Palo Alto is, in essence, violating state law by continuing to operate in this shabby facility. I wonder how many Palo Altans would want their child interviewed in the present facility should - god forbid - anything untoward happen to that child, or themselves. A simple tour of the facility shows the dilapidated condition.
What is happening here is that a very small group of residents have, over years, found ways to intimidate policy makers by threatening to raise Cain among certain blocks of voters who are needed to pass the incredibly high bar of 662/3 + 1 for bonds or parcel taxes. Many of these individuals are to be found protesting improvements in almost any infrastructure bonds that come forward.
The great irony about this situation is that much of our infrastructure neglect - for storm drains, libraries, public safety, and schools, necessary housing infrastructure, retail infrastructure, etc, etc. has been encouraged by these same residents - many of them early recipients of the benefits of Prop 13. This is unfortunate, because those recipients of the early benefits of Prop 13 simply shifted the cost of responsibility for infrastructure maintenance to more recent property purchasers.
The double irony here is that we now have residents regularly shelling out $2-3M for a home, but finding - much to their dismay, that the infrastructure in our great city is crumbling, and quite at odds with the price they have paid for their homes. Yet, when many of these newer residents seek out help in the name of having money spent to bring their city up-to-date, their efforts are frozen out by a minority of voters.
Imagine, we are living in a city, in the middle of Silicon Valley, where we have to have a full out campaign just to pay for storm drains. It's absurd. The same goes for the police building. The same can be said for housing developments that have been forced to a vote - costing out city fiscal, political, and social capital - just because we have a minority here who consistently vote against every attempt to keep our city up to date.
I am delighted to see our City Council move forward with COPs for the Police Building, and begin to get creative in looking for innovative ways to raise revenue to pay for other things that need fixing.
What has happened is that our city has begun to innovate its way out of the constraints introduced in the first part of this century. A triple irony is that these innovations have come as a direct result of an adaptation to the tactics that have been put to work by a minority that works hard to keep our city from becoming whole, while at the same time finding ways to make lots of noise about the fact that things are broken down - blaming everyone but themselves.
It may seem odd to blame some diffuse "minority" for many of the problems that Palo Alto is currently facing, but anyone who has been around long enough in Palo Alto knows that this minority exists. They have, in the past, been enabled by policy makers who were riding a wave of municipal success that they thought would never end - a very human failing. Of course, it did end - so now we have to find ways to right the boat, and do what new things need to be done to overcome naysaying, and the politics of negativity.
I think we're entering a new phase of governance in Palo Alto. There are still policy making voices that appear attached to the old school, who continue to obsess about the cost of infrastructure, without considering its benefits, or the investment in municipal sustainability that good infrastructure represents. Thankfully, in the last two City Council elections, we have seen a shrinking of the old school policy-makers on the City Council. Currently, we have a great group, one that appears able to continue the focus brought by the last Council.
Say "YES!" to a new Palo Alto, a city that will find new ways to go forward, and once again meet the needs of all, satisfying the vast majority of citizens, and giving those citizens the safe, culturally rich city that they want, and deserve.