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City Council Changing the World
Original post made
on Feb 21, 2007
While channel surfing last night, I caught the City Council discussing the need to increase their allowance for travel by a few thousand dollars (full disclosure, I have never seen the City Council in action before). I will not debate the merits of this. I understand having run businesses that budgets are a useful starting point and reality often necessitates mid-course corrections. There was active discussion among board members to justify this added expense. One city council member (I am sorry that I don't recall who) noted that Palo Alto needs to participate in state, regional and national meetings because of how highly respected Palo Alto city government is. I am paraphrasing the comments here but the gist was, "People want to speak to us to find out how Palo Alto does things so we have the chance to have an impact on a national level." As the self-congratulations and self-important comments continued, I suddenly had visions of Palo Alto as that "shining city on the hill" that Wintrop envisioned for the New World. Then reality set in. The City Council has certainly had its issues in recent years (the civility debate which did become a national embarrassment, frustrations with the Palo Alto process, loss of retail revenues, etc.) I have always felt that we can certainly learn from other city's leaders as much (and perhaps more) than they can learn from us. I think a little more humility and listening might be useful to ensure that our leaders can meet the challenges in the year ahead.