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Broken City Promises? Examples Wanted

Original post made by Terry on Oct 3, 2007

With bond issues on the horizon, I thought it would be useful to compile the City's track record on delivering against what they promised on previous special tax and bond proposals. Some recent examples - storm drains, for instance - are easy; older ones - the utility user fee - are harder to track down.

I called this topic "Broken City Promises" - but not all the results need be bad. If the City did what it said, tell about that too.

Contribute your example of what the City said (and when), and what you perceive was actually delivered (or not). I will try to compile and verify and feedback via the Forum.

Comments (78)

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2007 at 1:02 am

Terry, Count your blessings. You're very safe; the water and electricity runs, the trash gets picked up, and you're not driving on dirt roads. I assume you have plenty to eat.

Instead of droning on with endless gripes about the city, look around and thank your lucky stars that you live here.

Sure, our city can improve, but there seems a small coterie of folks in town - in every town - who are never satisfied, because "they can do it better". the funny thing is, I never see any of these people in public office. I wonder why.

Posted by Donn, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2007 at 6:34 am

I think this is a terrific idea. It is true, as John M says, that we are fortunate to live where we do. However whether you think the city is managed well or whether you think management is a disaster, things can always be done better.

In our system, change works best when pressure comes from below. And so when citizens point out faults in the way leaders are doing things, or when they hold leaders to the promises they've made, we get a better city to live in.

I have lived in Palo Alto for 35 years, and I tend to agree with the gist of Terry's post that things aren't working as well as they should, and that much of what the city promises us when they're touting new bonds or taxes turns out to be empty rhetoric.

Terry mentioned the Utility Users Tax. I was around when that passed, and my recollection is the same as a poster on another thread here:

"You are right on with your comments about the Utility Tax. I am one of the dwindling oldtimers who recalls the Utility Tax campaign and the issues surrounding it. It was passed almost 20 years ago. At the time it was put on the ballot, the advocates of the tax and the council promised that even though the tax contained no sunset provision, we'd be allowed to vote on 'renewing' it again in 10 years. I believe there was a technical reason put forward for why they did it this way.

I recall this "promise" of a revote very vividly. The vote on the tax was extremely close, and there is not much it would not have passed but for the revote promise.

Perhaps someone can find something online about the vote and campaign back then. I don't know how to do a search for that kind of thing.

As you point out, we're still paying the tax as the promise of a re-authorization vote was forgotten almost as soon as the original initiative passed.

The progeny of the crew that was running the city then still are in control. I don't trust anything they say that's not legally binding."

This in my mind was the start of the long decline in trust between the residents and the "class" that seems to lead our city.

The only way we will change things - to improve as John M. says we can do - is if we make our voices heard. So I think the droning and endless griping John M complains of is our duty.

And if the city leaders put forth proposals to spend more our money without demonstrating the wherewithall to manage the funds they currently have well, it's our duty to vote against their proposals.

They'll likely exempt me from any of the taxes they propose because I'm over 65 - just like they have done with previous bonds. But I'll still be voting against them if they don't find some new strength of character and show some spending discipline.

I'll do this not because it'll save me money. It won't. And I'll do this not because I don't like libraries. I do. I'll do it because it's my duty to send them a message that I hope will make our city better.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:37 am

To John M
Yes do not think Enron was wrong if you did not lose your life's savings. Do not think that the German's were wrong for the way the Jews were treated during WW2 if you are not Jewish. I am German. So I guess that 2 wrongs do make a right? Next time you go to the store Pay $300.00 for a can of coke, you can afford it. Is not wrong, wrong.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:03 am

Donn, I believe the proceeds from the Utility tax go to support the Cubberley Community Center. The lease on Cubberley was for 25 years, therefore, they needed the proceeds for at least 25 years. I think the lease has been extended or will be in a few years. Anyway that's where your Utility tax dollars are going.

Posted by Donn, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:12 am

Actually, neighbor when the Utility User's Tax was voted on, I recall that half was to go for the Cubberly Lease, and Half was to go for patching up the sidewalks in town. And shortly after the passage, there was a burst of activity on the sidewalks, which since has abated - leaving the sidewalks still in unsatisfactory condition.

I don't think the current U Tax revenue is dedicated to the Cubberly Lease, and I believe that the revenue from the tax has increased markedly in the past 20 years or so, and now far exceeds the amount of the lease payments.

But whether or not it is still tangentially related to the Cubberly Lease payments, the fact is that we were promised a chance to re-vote on the tax 10 years after passage as I recall it.

That did not happen. That's why I posted in in this thread, since it seems like a text-book case of broken promises -- the subject posed by the originator of this discussion.

Posted by Old timer, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:14 am

Here's another easy one: the city web site
I dont know if this qualifies, but the lack of integrity in keeping the Utilities Director on after such bad management was exposed, so that he could maximize his retirement dollars.
Isn't it the city manager who is supposed to manage our money?

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2007 at 12:14 pm

And another easy one: "The Opportunity Center will NOT become a magnet for the homeless". Our Council promised that that statement was true, even though they knew it to be false.

Posted by Carole, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 4, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Oh, and don't forget the promise that BMR housing would be for police officers, firemen and teachers. There ae currently 170 BMR units in town, and there are zero of the above city support employees living in them.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 4, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Don't foget the promise to Palo Alto voters to keep Foothills Park exclusive for Palo Alto citizens. Other nearby cities were offerred the opportunity to help pay for it, and they refused, even though they understood that they would not, henceforth, be able to use it.

Now we have Council members attempting to break that solid promise.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2007 at 7:14 pm

Lets not forget the Paramedic Transport Fire Engines [2 of them] purchased for a program that the City does not have. The past Fire chief tried to put together a program that had no union approval. The plan was to get these two engines and ram them down the throats of the firefighters to force this program to happen. Knowing that the union President owed the Chief big time and would rollover like a trainned dog. Then the 2 engines custom made per the assistent chief specs were so poorly designed that they were unsafe and unuseable. But he was going to try anyway. Then the firefighters twisted the union presidents arm to stand up to the chief and say no way. The money was spent/wasted and no program??? At least a $500,000.00 waste of money, at least.This is being kind!! Station 8 could of been openned for 4 years on this money wasted.
Now where in the budget is this program? See it makes mismanagement of the public's money much more simple if you do not tell them you are spending the money in the first place. Keep them in the dark.
Now would you spend the money and waste all the effort put into this program on something that had not yet been approved?? It is a change of working conditions and must be voted on. Then to show how enept they are. The 2 custom built engines are unsafe and junk. So
the program went to vote with these 2 engines already built and paid for with tears of bad blood to go with them. And yes the program was voted down. NO program.. We will leave the Basic Life Support Ambulance program for later.. I think the word is FRAUD on this one? John M maybe this program is not so bad the little red light on the roof works. What;s hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted? Ask the current Chief about them. Let me guess????? No comment.. Ask the union president about them. Whe I asked about why are we building 2 engines that we have no program for and that maybe we should vote on this first. I think the answer went something like this. they can build anything they want to,that does not mean we have to use them. This means let them build them and I will rollover and let them stuff them down your throat. I think it is alot harder to stop something once it is built and the money spent. I think that was the plan?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2007 at 7:18 pm

What about the Eruv? Wasn't that dismissed years ago and then all of a sudden approved earlier this year? It may not have been a promise, but it was definitely a change of mind done behind everyone's back.

PS Iam not necessarily against the Eruv, just the way the whole thing happened.

Posted by another resident/shopper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Here are a few: Undergrounding power lines. This was a city-wide program started about 40 years ago and fees were even collected for it and only "exclusive" areas of the city have them. When areas where well connected people lived have their undergrounding complete the citys says "we don't have the money,sorry. or even, about 20+years ago when I asked for our neighborhood they said the program was stopped. This was a direct lie. It has been proceeding in select neighborhoods even now and one is where the city manager lives in Midtown I believe. This is a "those who don't have undergrounding pay for those who do by higher electric rates"

Anoter: Controlling traffic, speeding,etc on Charleston and Arasterdro Roads. This is a school corridor with about 11 schools on it, but no new,continuing action is being taken to complete it. Also these roads have signs: No trucks ,but the police say the truck ordinance is so poorly written that they don't bother to enforce it..This may not fit the criteria of the subject.

Another: A city with low utility rates. The rates for homeowners is about what PG&E charges and much higher than City of Santa Clara. A tax has apparently been placed on the utilities (or equivalent) to balance the budget and to keep from charging the big corp.users from having to pay high rates. They may even have long term contracts and have much lower rates. Also most of the low cost electricity the city buys from lower cost sources no doubt goes to the big users,corporations (a reason to be on the council and run the city) Also the Enron millions probably went to city stockholders in the Enron co. (I am being cynical_)

Posted by Voter, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2007 at 10:59 am

In a litany of poor decision making, placing the 2002 bond measure for the new library/community center at Mitchell Park over the tennis and paddle ball courts, ranks pretty high. Finally, after many South PA residents complained, they attempted to place this huge 70,000 sq. ft. structure between the tennis courts and Middlefield Road, but it really didn't fit, and the bond measure was defeated.

Now they want to put another library/community center bond measure on the ballot in 2008. Again, they've come forward with the biggest and most expensive option. The building will have several offices set aside for "technical staff" which will be transferred from the Downtown Library. Not to mention a restaurant guaranteed to be in direct competition with locally operated coffee shops which generate retail tax dollars for the City.

Posted by PA mom, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 5, 2007 at 11:18 am

Undergrounding wire - the city will be happy to put your wires underground - for only 10K! If you happen to be the first in your neighborhood to want your electrical underground, you get to pay for the main box and then the wiring to your house. If a neighbor has already paid for the box, you can run off of it for only 5-6K.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 5, 2007 at 11:28 am

Resident, regarding the eruv--the city council never voted it on a decision years ago--they were too afraid to actually go on a record with a vote. Liz Kniss was the mayor at the time.
they made a suggestion on how to implement the eruv, which would not have passed muster as a real "eruv", then sat back and patted themselves on the back for a job well done.
Since that time there have been court cases allowing eruvs. Also the jewish community dealt directly with the various agencies and private property owners to use their property for the poles for the eruv.
So the city council did not have to vote on it ( and I am sure they are glad it worked out that way--imagine the city council voting on a tough issue!!!)

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 11:32 am

How about "broken citizen promises"?

It's the responsibility of every citizen to look at the whole picture, instead of cherry-picking separate problems.

Name one successful private company that doesn't make mistakes. Just one.

What we need is the whole picture. Palo Alto has done very well, relative to its neighbors - and still is prominent on the Peninsula. We do have problems, but we are certainly not in the dire straits that all the whining above would indicate.

We need positive voices in our city. There is a difference between constructive criticism and the contant whining on, and drone of negativism that we see from a small core group in this forum.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 1:13 pm


Yes, we citizens whine, sometimes unfairly. However, once we cast our vote, we are close to powerless, unless we are part of the inside track. We have one REAL power, and that is to control the power of the purse, when bond issues are put before us. I think you are seeing some of this power coming forth in the various threads related to upcoming bond issues.

If we citizens agree to pay for things that are illogical, then we deserve the consequences. At least we got the chance to vote on it.

Your analogy about private firms is weak, IMO. Private firms that screw up too many times go out of business. Government never does.

A positive view of our City would also be a realistic view of what we can afford, and a solid prioritization of goals. This would include CUTTING some things. Those cuts should be smart (e.g. closing the Opportunity Center, and using that building for something that actually enhances the value of Downtown}. In general, we should be looking for the "kill two birds with one stone" solutions. A good example of a positive thing that solved several problems was the Mayfield playing fields deal...and it did not cost the City very much.

If the Council decides to go along with the ABAG (3500 new units, including 1700 BMRs), I suspect you will see a citizens revolt, possibly involving recall elections. Such a revolt would be a very positive, and forward looking (thus progressive) approach.

So, Mike, it all depends on what "broken citizen promises" you are talking about. Can you provide some examples?

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:20 pm

The purchase of a hugely expensive tall ladder truck for the fire department for several hundred thousand dollars. The purchase was shared with Mountain View and since Palo Alto does not have a fire house tall enough to accommodate it, the fire truck is permanently parked in Mountain View. I wonder if we've ever been used?

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:25 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

What we're seeing here is a subset ofo what has happened in our city for the last 20 years - i.e. a SMALL group of people who are vocal, know city process, [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]
the result:
1) Failing infrastructure
2) Serious jobs-housing imbalance
3) Poor relations with Stanford
4) Lousy retail mix

This is all due to ultra-fiscal conservatives who will use any distortion necessary to deter people from voting in a revenue bond, and NIMBYs who use process to delay important development.

We need to look past these minority groups, and continue on the path our last Council has set. I'm encouraged by the new Council members that will serve, as they all seem to understand the need to repair infrastructure, as advised.

Next step - 80-85% "yes" votes on city and PAUSD bonds, coming up.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Neighbor, could it be that the Mt View firehouse is strategically located near some Palo Alto neighborhoods?

Your post is a perfect example of the distortion I was referring to above. Look at the big picture, instead of jumping to conclusions.

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:30 pm

I support the ABAG numbers; and they will eventually come to pass without a revolt - unless we're talking about a "revolt" of the vast minority of citizens here who have kept our city from growing in a measured and sustainable way.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:42 pm

John M - where do you propose we build 3500 units of housing?

Posted by Carney, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 5, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Interesting that a tiny group of naysayers with no leadership and almost no money can manage to take over decision making process from a city establishment that spends thousands of dollars - both from special interests and from money the council votes for polling and consultants.

Who knew that these minority group of "ultra fiscal conservatives" could control a city that votes 75 to 80 percent for Democratic Candidates in every election? We Palo Alto voters are such gullible pushovers for right wing arguments.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Carney, there;'s a difference between political liberals, and municipal conservatives.
Political Science 101

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 3:32 pm

"where do you propose we build 3500 units of housing?"

In Palo Alto - right next to your house, and mine. That's been happening - and will continue to happen.

I suggest that those who want to return to the past, return to rural America, if you can find anyplace in rural America without a WalMart, that is. Wisdom often escapes development in those who seek nostalgia.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2007 at 3:34 pm

While this does not relate to bonds, the system of tearing up our city streets for various purposes (I don't even know where the undergrounding is occurring, so I don't think I mean that!), working on them, patching, covering with huge metal plates, THEN tearing up again for another purpose has not given the appearance of great planning and coordination by city officials. One would think taxpayer money may be wasted. I have lived in another city with much smoother roads. I believe there have been discussions/articles about this a ways back.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2007 at 5:05 pm

"Where do you propose we build 3500 units of housing?" I think that site has been identified as East Meadow Circle.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Mike , Neighbor is much closer to the truth then you are. There are two issues here. One would be the ladder truck that Neighbor speaks of. The second would be the First line ladder truck. This being truck #6,that is in service as the primary ladder truck. Both are a joke and show how enept the leaders of the Fire Department have been {are,no comment}.
The truck that was puschased with Mt View was a back up {Reseve}truck the idea was that this truck and the cost for it would be shared with MV. How do you share a truck when both City's need it? When the primary truck at CPA has been down for service or broken the plan was to use the back up truck. Oops MV is using it so CPA can not. So this ladder truck {TRUCK#6} was replaced with a pick-up truck. Yes replace a very important piece of specific needs emergency equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars with a pick up truck? Pay for something that you can not use, leave the citizens of Palo Alto SOL if they need this equipment. So the powers to be say so what, we will call a differant city's truck to respond.Your talking 15/20 minutes if you are luky. Just hope you or your child,wife,mother are not on the ledge when the fire forces them to jump out the window 6 stories to the ground. Because there is not a ladder truck to help them/you. This truck also carries all the ground ladders and lots of other important things that do not fit into or come on a PICK_UP truck. Built FORD tough will not cut it in this case. What's that mike it is not the fall that hurts you but,the sudden stop? This has happened several times 8/12.This is the present condition.
Now this reseve truck would be placed into service for a large scale event/disaster off duty firefighter would come in to staff this ladder truck and place it in service. At best it would take a very long time to do so. Someone would have to go get it bring it back and then staff it. Add 1 hour or more to the in service time. If the truck is there? And this event is linited to Palo Alto. Now if this is a LARGE event MV fire would staff and use this truck in MV. Meaning the citizens of Palo Alto paid for a truck they needed but, never got to use. GREAT plan. There have been many other issues with this plan.
Oh and yes we have purchased fire engines for the City of Palo Alto that when they got her did not fit into the stations that they were purchased for. Oops!
Now a little more substance/information, the City of Palo Alto had 2 ladder truck until this BRILLIANT plan. When a New truck would be purchased the one that this new truck replaced would become the reserve/back up and this cycle would continue. Will what happened was that the back up truck became unsafe and the ladder would not worked. We used it for sometime this way. It looked ok but we could not use the ladder. FOOLED YA did'nt they. So since all the money had been wasted on other screw ups something needed to be done. Hey Rocky watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. And the union says nothing?
When it was time to replace the Ladder truck the Fire Department formed a comity to recommend what type of truck to purchase. After much effort and hard work ,the comity comes back with there report. This report listed in order what type of equipment to purchase #1,#2,#3 it also recommendes against a specific type of ladder truck {#4}. Yes #4 was the one the City purchased. Thanks Chief, That was a boost for moral. And real good for the citizens also. And the union says??? Nothing. Real strong union there holding the CPA hostage??? Oh yes and there has been far more problems then there should be with this program {TRUCK}
So not so fast Mike, back it up and get your story straight. This just a part of the huge problems the Fire Department has had with equipment. The money was there,the money was spent. The wrong equipment was purchased and the money was wasted. And the CITIZENs and the firefighters {city employees pay the price} No accountability. None these people just get more pats on the back form the city. [No comment] If anyone starts a list I will help with the Fire Deparments smoke and mirrors. Truth resistent force field of cover up ,shut up. Yes everyone does make a mistake{I sure know this} but where does it stop???? How many,how large$$ of mistakes are you willing to eat? Should not the justice for these mistakes be fair for all? And should not the price one pays for there mistake/s be equal for all? Just in dollars only, Millions have been wasted in the Fire Department. $$$Millioms$$$ and the union says nothing...

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2007 at 5:59 pm

Mike; When has a promise broken by a CITIZEN cost the CITY of PAlO ALTO and its CITIZENS MILLIONS of dollars? When has a citizens broken promise cost services to the CPA,CITIZENS. Services that have been paid for but, not provided?

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Fireman: "How do you share a truck when both City's need it?"

How often will both cities need the truck at the same time; what are the odds of that? Also, multiple alarm fires see municipalities sharing equipment (e.g. Walgreens fire).

I don't see the problem.

Instead, I see a department that has made the occasional mistake, making good on its mandate.

It sounds like you have a beef with the union. Why?

Seems to me that the fire department is putting out all the fires that come its way - with no citizen or fire personnel casualties. I fervently hope that latter remains the case.

I deeply respect our firemen and public safety officers. They put their life on the line. When I hear about these problems from personnel (anonymous, or not) who are currently employed by the city, then I will perk up.

Right now, this all sounds like sour grapes, even though there may be a grain of overall weight in these stories on your side.

About movies: c'mon over fireman, we can all share some popcorn

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 8:19 am

#1 You can not share a ladder truck. Simple.

#2 If it happens one time that is too often. The Citizens pay for 24hour service,7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you do not provide this service you are gambleing with there safety and lives. Huge gamble a humans life. Not to mention hiding something. Take a look at the Walgreens building. Not so hot? Is it still there? Oh and when it does happen they could rent one if they cared.

#3 I would not think you would see the problem and it shows. You can lead a horse to water but you can't etc,etc.

#4 I do not think you see what is going on, I do not think you want to see. Remember I was in the department you speak about for 20 years. Who would know more about the workings of this department and the secrets that they must hide. Me or you. Smoke and mirrors maybe?

#5 members of the union have sold out the public and the firefighter/Fire service big time. it is the job of the union to protect the firefighters and be a check and balance for the CPA. They have fail big time.

#6 Fires will go out by themselfs. It is not to hard to put the blue stuff {water} on the red stuff "fire". Life is the #1 priority. EMS {Emergency Medical services" would be the big part of the job of a fire department. So where has all the wasted money gone? Burned up at WALGREENS? I also think they had trouble getting equipment from Menlo Park. Would you like to be the one waiting on the ledge? I think you will find that the problem was on PA side, Old NO COMMENT would like you to think it was MP. Who was doing the asking? MP's chief first comment was "I do not know what happened but, we will look into it. I have much respect for there chief. PA's chief tried to blame MP with out even knowing what had happened. I have no respect for PA"S chief The leader of this Department and City have a duty to the public/citizens. I do not thing wasteing Millions of dollars and covering it up is part of that duty?Being enept is also not one.

#7 I do not think you respect them as much as you say/think. I was who you speak of. 20 years in the PAFD. Several more in the 911 system
I do not hear you supporting me. When you work for a City you have a modified FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT If you speak out against the CPA even if evrything you say is true you can be fired for telling the truth. {BLACK MAILED?or listed?} Now lets see why did Ms Harrison get 3 weeks shore leave. What is happening to a Gentleman named Brandon. True to your form and the CPA's form. KILL the messenger and burn the letter.Hope there are no other copies and prepare to deploy the SMOKE and Mirrors. This makes anonymous the safest and most popular form. Go figure. Also many have tried to reach the public and they do nothing to stop it or support the people who are trying to make a positive change. So what happens is that they are told to not care or do/say anything, this being out of survival. I do hear you asking for sustance but not wanting to touch it when you get it.

#8 Sour grapes yes. Why would they have turned this way. You might ask? What would cause a person to write this stuff and act like a crazy fool. Maybe a love of the fire service and a commitment to the public/citizens? To start. Then a whole lot of BS.Throw in a" this is illegal what the city is doing and misleading the public, are you not going to do/say something? The City is not the only ones hiding behind the smoke, holding up a mirror. ALL GAVE SOME<> SOME GAVE ALL. No where is there room for a third line { And some took all they could anyway they could get it}as members of this union do. It is/was a MATTER of PRIDE for me.

#9 What could/would we talk about over popcorn. How to get the Grand Jury to look into The City of Palo Alto. How we could get all the wasted $$$$$ back and who and why all the stories/lies started and who started them? How your, I want to be a City manager report is going. The one you have to turn into Frank Benest.

Mike tell me if this sounds like something you have heard before?
"Your post is a perfect example of the distortion I was reffering to above. Look at the big picture instead of jumping to conclusions". STRATEGICALLY located has nothing to do with the Ladder truck you talked about or what YOU told Neighbor. This truck sits there with no personel staffing it,it is in storage until needed. DISTORTION

I think the picture many Citizens/firefighters and myself are looking at is not the same one you are looking at.It can't be? How could this picture look so differant to you?? The whole picture is huge and very hard to look at. Nauseating and hard to grasp but, there it is.

Mike I do not want to sound like too big of a smart butt,however, if you have been through what I have and had to watch what others have had to put up with"ENDURE" while working for the City of Palo Alto. Then watch what these leaders sell the public huges amounts of crap and nontruth to save there jobs and not go to jail, you might be headed down that same road. Mike I mean you No Disrespect, None. I just find it hard that you ask for substance,however, when it is given to you. You do not want to touch it or even look at it? Like so many others in this CITY. So Mike once again I wish you nothing but happiness in your lifea long with good health and fortune. I respect you. We are all made of the same stuff Blood,sweat, and here in PALO ALTO to many tears.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 8:56 am

Mike one last thing. I do not think the Employees/firfighters doing a good job has anything to do with the leadership of this City. I did a good job. No matter how hard the leadership tried to make it. No matter how hard it was because of there actions and lack of action.
I could have/would have done a better job if these leaders did not screw so many things up. The citizens paid for this better job but we could not provide this service to them. Are hands where/are tied with huge amounts of, inadequate,nonfunctioning,uncooperative,incompetent,inferior,short-sighted,thoughtless,unethical LEADERS. Who lead with deception and threats. Misleading the citizens being one of there most used tools. There is a piont where inept and unethical cross the line and become illegal. That line was crossed many years ago in Palo Alto by many leaders of this City... It seems that that is the way. The Palo Alto way. Broken promises?, It goes some much deeper than that.

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 10:41 am

Re: the Utiity Users Tax. It would be really nice if those who like to complain and criticize would at least get their facts correct first. The bulk of that money is paid to the school district for the lease on Cubberly and the "covenant not to develop" the property. The City merely passes the money through to the school district. That's what the voters wanted at the time because the district was in the process of closing Cubberly due to declining enrolement and was proposing to sell the property for residential development.(gee, there's where the ABAG housing numbers could have been accomodated..).

As far as the sidewalk repairs are concerned, the City spends $2M per year on that program; only $400k of that is from the UUT which is the original amount promised from the vote. Does anyone realize that construction costs have gone up over the past 20 years, while that funding level has beeen constant?????

So, I think UUT is an example of promises KEPT! The Cubberly Community Center is there, the property hasn't been sold off and developed by PAUSD, they get the pass thru of the UUT funds to supplement their educational programs, and, oh yeah, the sidewalk program is still in existence. Maybe some of the complainers would like to live in those other Cities they praise so highly - but they might want to check out the real facts of the matter first, like the fact that other Cities require sidewalk repairs to be done at property owner expense rather than funded from the City budget.

Maybe if Palo Alto didn't have programs like that (and many others which other Cities don't provide) the funds could be reprioritized for other needs. When it comes to budgeting from a finite resource you can't do it all - which is a fact many Palo Altans seem to ignore.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 12:12 pm

CH Ncider, Thanks for that perspective. Frankly, I think we need more of this kiind of perspective in these forums. The city needs to counter innuendo and rumor that goes unchecked in these forums. Why should misinformation be permitted to rule the day?

Palo Alto is a great place to live. Sure, our policy makers and city staff make the occasional mistake. And yes, sometimes bad things happen (like the utility scandal a few years back). But overall we have a very good, and functional city administration.

Thanks again for your perspective

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 1:01 pm

CH Ncider,

Here is the actual description of the UUT. I see nothing that says that these moneys are reserved for anything, other than the general fund. If I am wrong, please correct me. If not, please back away from the statement that only $400k is available for sidewalk repairs.

"2.35.030Disposition of tax revenue.

The tax imposed by this chapter is for the purpose of raising revenues for the general governmental purposes of the city. All of the proceeds from the tax imposed by this chapter shall be placed in the city's general fund."

Web Link

Posted by Donn, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 1:51 pm

I originally posted about the Utility Users Tax. Mike and CHNcider mischaracterize my complaint about promises not kept.

My complaint has to do not with what the revenue from the UUTax is spent on. It has to do with the fact that we were promised a chance to vote on whether to keep the tax 10 years after initial passage. This was, to my recollection, a very specific promise - one on which the original vote to pass the tax depended.

Once the tax was passed, there was nothing more said about a re-authorization. This violated a promise by the Council that put the tax on the ballot.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Birds of a feather. Distort together??

It is hard to say too much when you get caught.INNUENDO'S become fact real fast. Silence speaks louder then most think. If you give the truth the chance, it can stand on it's own. If you infect the truth with toxic thought's before it reaches the light of day. You will kill it before it reaches the citizens/the people who live on this planet.
We all shape this world,"CITY", neighborhood are own family's by what we say and don't say. What we DO and DON"T due.When we do it and when we do not act.

For better or the Palo Alto way.

There are too many good,informed,caring people in this town to let this type of Distructive leadership continue. These people must not be allowed to go unpunished. For they have punished far to many people and peoples dreams to be let off with no accountability for there actions and there unethical,illegal ways.

CH Ncider; I have proof of everything I have said. I have so much more to say. That I have proof to back. I would very much like to see these issues addressed in public. Where there is open excange of information with informed CITIZENS Ill-advised,inappropriate,mismanaged,untrue,unethical,regrettable,inept,illegal should not be the words to discribe so many/any actions of the City Counsel,City manager or Management of the City anyone lives in.

John's answer to you show that some people out there are watching you. Shows that some people are informed. Maybe some will want to take the next step and do something about it?

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 2:55 pm

John is partly correct - that is what the ballot language said, but it is not what the campaign discussion promised.

The ballot was structured that way due a legal requirement of Prop 13, which mandated that a general fund revenue measure could be passed with a 50% + 1 majority, while a dedicated purpose tax would require a 2/3 approval. (note that those requiremants have since been superceeded by 218) So, given the strong desire of the community, the then School Board - which, interestingly enough had Liz Kniss and Joe Simitian as members - and the then Council to do every thing possible to preserve the Cubberly site from development and ensure passage of the UUT measure to do so, it was decided to structure the measure a a General Fund revenue. The campaign literature was where the committments to both the PAUSD funding and the sidewalk amount were made.

So, yes, John is correct in theory, the ballot language didn't make that committment. The money could be spent on virtually anything. Should the sidewalk amount be icreased by transferring less to PAUSD?
Should the PAUSD transfer be eliminated and spend the money on Libraries? The theoretical permutations are endless...... Perhaps the consistency of maintaining the programs as promised in the campaign efforts is a committment kept.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 3:40 pm

CH Ncider,

Thank you for the explanation.

General fund revenues, as you state, are fair game for the whims of the Council. For instance, the Council could decide to spend $150k per year on an environmental czar (just for starters), instead of PAUSD or sidewalks. They could also decide to guarantee loans on various pet projects. It is just money, period.

I prefer to let the Council have such flexibility, but I simply do not agree with the upcoming bond issues, because I think they are part of the excessive attitudes that have driven us in the direction of "we want, thus we must have". I want SMART decisions, not just politically expedient decisions.

As I have said before, the branch library system is something that must go. Rigged polls, aside, this WILL come to pass, unless Palo Alto suddently reenters the dot-com boom on a permanent basis. In the end, the Council will express the will of the people, in a rough way, but it cannot print money. Thus, the people must tone down their overheated desires and dreams, and come to terms with reality. A no vote on the upcoming bonds will be a good first step. Then we can step back (actually forward), and do the sensible thing, which is to build a new police station at the current site of the Downtown branch library.

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:02 pm

John - Actually, your postion is extremely close to that which staff has taken several times in the past - and been heavily criticized for doing so. Former City Manager June Fleming (who, it may be remembered by some, was the City Librarian in a prior career position) had made the recommendation to reduce the number of branch libraries and was publicly castigated by a resident as being "a book burning neo-Nazi" for doing so. A pretty warped characterization of a black woman libraian, wouldn't you say? Former City libraian Paula Simpson was essentially driven out of town for likewise recommending a reduction in the number of branches. After a while even bureacratics tend to pick up on such subtle hints.....

As for the Police Building on the Downtown Library branch site, I had to chuckle when I read your suggestion. That is exactly the proposal City staff made 5 years ago, and (big surprise, huh?) it was shot down by local neighborhood opposition.

In this City, vocal minority will seeems to rule the day. Sad, but true.......

Posted by PA FIrefighter, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:10 pm

Let's set the record straight. He does not speak for the men and women of the PAFD. He needs to get over his "issues".

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:28 pm

John, Your preferences are more about your sense of what's "right" that what the people in this community have expressed a desire for, have been willing to pay for, and will continue to pay for - because they have pride in community that surpases their own need to be "right".

In fact, in other threads, you claim to "want infrstructure", based on the premise that we know all the "facts" that bear on any one particular infrastructure need.

As pointed out in other places, your threads - and a few others - consistently make claims and make unfounded and largely negative assumptions about city operations, and the people involved in them.

Then, when someone like me or CH Ncider comes along to point out facts, or provide a perspective than explains why things are as they are - and why/ho the city is running as a result - you conveniently (for yuor own purposes) look past that information, refusing to fold it into your point of view.

The fact is what you just claimed. You *don't* want a branch library system. This runs counter to what you have claimed in nprior threads.

Nor do you appear to want anything else brought up to par in our city, unless our officials somehow manage to meet your personal expectations (which appear genuinely fuzzy, because there is no base of firm interrogative that you seem to be operating from, other than you are "against" the plainly stated preferences voiced by our citizens in polls, etc.).
There is no way to know what you want, other than "I want SMART decisions, not just politically expedient decisions". There is simply no pleasing someone whose apparent need is to run counter to prevailing opinion, and operation.

I point all this out at somem length because there are several contributors to this forum who know just enough about our city to be able to present a surface case for change, based on what almost always turn out to be rather uninformed preferences. What's unfortunate is that when those uninformed preferences are offered an opportunity to evolve with factual information, you don't change them. So, what's the real subtext to your disapproval? I wonder.

I get the sense that there is something else going on with those who want to trash city hall and policy makers, wantonly - without regard for citizen input, or facts presented contrary to mistaken notions, opinions, or arguments.

"Rigged polls"? you say...What rigged polls? Again, you show that anything brought before you that contradicts your heretofore mistaken assumption (like poll data) must be corrupt. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Every one of your preferences runs completely against the grain of what the majority people say they want here. Perhaps it's time to settle into that reality; or, quietly suffer disappointment without making outlandish cases that defy known fact.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:31 pm

CH Ncider,

I agree with your description of past events. The greasy wheels got the grease, so here we are, again, with a bond issue that is profligate, and NOT smart. I will vote "no" until we get it right.

Now, let me describe a real success: The Mayfield playing fields issue. The playing field folks got together, explained their issues, met with City staff and had a simple list of practical solutions. In contrast, the Friends of Libraries had a never-ending wish list, one that they could not agree on internally. FoL is a real mess, another reason to defeat this library bond issue. By contrast, Got Space?, the interest group that grew out of the playing fields issues, has simple and straightforward goals, and does not demand hyperexpensive (and foolish) bond issues.

These things CAN be done right. We just need to demand as much.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:41 pm

What an interesting discussion.

CH Ncider, your perspective is very useful, thank you for sharing it. It is alarming that, as you say, a vocal minority defeats practical recommendations from the professionals at City Hall.

Question - why do you think this happens? All towns have their NIMBY's and vocal cliques - why in PA does the Council pay heed to these groups over time and on such a wide range of issues? Is it the particular people on the council; the size/make-up of the council; laziness on the part of the "silent majority"?; or ?? Because it does seem like there are simple, practical ways to move forward on several issues, but we clearly have issues with doing so.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:45 pm

I may not speak for you. But I know I speak for many. You can not speak for the members of the Palo Alto FireFighters yourself. You can only speak for yourself. No one can speak for all. Look above and tell me what is not true?? Remember I do not hide who I am. Andrew J Jentzsch. That's me and you would be? One of the members who have followed the "Its not what you know, but how low you will go" We have some great people and great firefighters in the Palo Alto Fire Department. We also have are share of rats. Remember I may not still be there but we all have FRIENDS. And all the documentation I still have ,all the letter about the Transport engine, all the minutes from the safety meetings. The union survey. The letter asking what the hell the president is doing. As I said all questions? Stuff like that. And my story to tell. If you think you speak for the FD well then lets go. Bring it on. I would like the union president to be sitting with you when we do. How about the City's TV channel. The one the Counsel meetings are on. OK? How many firefighters do you think read this. Much of what I say needs no one or thing to stand up for it. Its FACT. Go back to the staion and share this with all. Please I am asking you to. Lets see who they support me or you?? Well? Paranoid? And the record you want to set straight must be yours?. I have held back from taking this to the members, I fight my fights alone when the enviorment is too dangerous for my friends but, I don't hide. You show me yours and I will show you mine. Tell the public about the Paramedic Transport Fire Engine program and how much it cost. I will let you review my list. Where and when. Remember I pick a public forum with real people.... So speak for yourself unless you have something real to back up what you say.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Terry, "It is alarming that, as you say, a vocal minority defeats practical recommendations from the professionals at City Hall."


This is the single most ironically insightful thing you have ever posted.

John, Your comments about FoPAL are way off base. Again, you are illustrating a very poor understanding of a fine and dedicated non-profit that has contributed 100's of thousand's of $$$ to our library.

Terry's quote above is appropos to your query, and your opinions...

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 5:10 pm

John - If by playing fields you are referring to the new soccer fields at El Camino and Page Mill, please remember that, while there were in fact a number of folks involved in creating that success story, the bottomline on how it was effected was as a condition of development approval imposed by the City on expansion of projects in the Industrial Park. Stanford provided the land and paid for the construction. Think maybe the staff (and City Manager Frank Benest in particular, who took a personal leadership role on the project) and Council at City Hall and Stanford deserve some credit for making that happen?

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 5:24 pm

CH Ncider,

I did not mean to diminish City staff on that deal. Don't forget Vic Ojakian. However, I think you need to consider the fact that the Council was coming off of some defeats (e.g. historic housing), and they really needed a success.

Stanford wanted to build the VMware development on Hillview; PA wanted some 'free' land to build playing fields; Stanford and PA wanted some housing.

The Mayfield deal is exactly the TYPE of thing I am talking about. We (I mean PA and Stanford) need top end development in the SRP; we need playing fields; we need smart housing. It was a deal that understood the basic issues, and it was backed by an interest group that kept things simple.

I don't think we are too far apart, CH Ncider.

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 5:33 pm

John -

Agreed! And, I certainly did not by any means intend to diminish Vic Ojakian's role - he was on the Council at the time, which I did give credit to.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 6:45 pm

"Former City Manager June Fleming (who, it may be remembered by some, was the City Librarian in a prior career position) had made the recommendation to reduce the number of branch libraries and was publicly castigated by a resident as being "a book burning neo-Nazi" for doing so. A pretty warped characterization of a black woman libraian, wouldn't you say? Former City libraian Paula Simpson was essentially driven out of town for likewise recommending a reduction in the number of branches. After a while even bureacratics tend to pick up on such subtle hints....."

CH Ncider,

I am getting back to your pervious post. Palo Alto citizens can be really spoilt brats, not to mention insensitive bigots. The irony is that such statements come from erstwhile "liberals". But back to the main point. Passing stupid spending measures does not make something smart. I say, stand tough on what was right back will eventually be seen as the right thing. June Fleming and Paula Simpson will be hailed for standing up and taking the heat. Eventually, there will be a bond issue that really DOES solve our library and police station issues. We are not there yet. We will need to defeat these turkeys that are being presented, until we get there.

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 7:04 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2007 at 9:03 pm

I'd like to respond to Terry's question; "Why do you think this happens?"

Some one famous once said "Politics is the art of compromise". Here in Palo Alto we have just the opposite. Few are ever willing to compromise, and if they can't have it 100% their way instead resort to slash and burn warfare. We seem to be so intense and focused on our own points of view that we fail to realize or care that there might be others which are equally valid in the bigger picture scheme of things.

The Palo Alto default behavior isn't just simple NIMBYism; it goes far beyond our own backyards to something like "no loaf at all is better than half of one that isn't my personal favorite type of bread".

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Thank CH Ncider, though that is bad news to hear. Who fails to compromise - the NIMBYs/special interest groups? The people on the Council? Both?

It seems like if the Council doesn't stand up to that behavior, people rationally decide that it's a good strategy - the narrow interest groups get what they want if they throw a tantrum long enough. What I have heard (and don't have enough experience to know first hand) is that the Council tries to never say "no" to the vocal objectors - is that true? That seems like a pretty bad strategy. Do you think we can get that to change??

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2007 at 10:00 pm

CH Ncider
'Some one famous once said "Politics is the art of compromise". Here in Palo Alto we have just the opposite"

Here, I have to disagree, because the tendency here - until very recently - has been for policy makers to obsessively encourage compromise at the policy level, in an attempt to please everyone. Thus, the "Palo Alto Process".

THere's no doubting that a demographic such as ours will often be at serious odds on matters of policy; this is why we require policy makers who have focus, and determined visions - with the additional ability to say "I';ve heard enough; now it's time to act".

I do agree that residents here can dig their heels in to a point where they're mired in the mud, and unmoveable. Again though, this is why it takes fortitude to work on policy in Palo Alto.

Terry, the comments above also refer to your last post. You ask "Do you think we can get that to change??". Yes, if the will isi there, and our policy makers lead. I am encouraged with this last Council, and think the next Council will do even better.

Posted by Want to vote, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 6, 2007 at 10:08 pm

John M says " the next Council will do even better."
Who do you think will be more effective?

Posted by Tim, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 10:08 pm

To Fireman: It's time to move on. This has been going on for some time. Have a good life my friend.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2007 at 11:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Weak arguer, a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2007 at 12:59 am

You criticize the residents I mean the Nimbys or your usual slur, the vocal minority, and the council, but you leave out the major player in every conflict: the developer. The real elephant in the room.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2007 at 7:59 am

Weak arguer - Thanks, you make my point far better by example than I did. At least you are aptly self titled! Actually, the deveolpers don't like staff any better than you seem to do. They think of staff as being far too demanding and unreasonable. I guess maybe if the developers and residents are equally dissatisfied staff must have struck an equitable balance between the two factions.

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2007 at 8:06 am

Terry - I do agree with John M that the current Council has made major strides towards displaying effective leadership and making some tough decisions. I am hopeful that there seem to be at least 2 or 3 Council candidates who display those same characteristics.......

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2007 at 8:18 am

CH Ncider
If what you say is true. Why then do developers making Millions stacked on top of millions not help to or build Fire Stations, Police Stations,infrastructure as part of there deal with the City. Seems to be quit common for other City's and Town's.. Pay to Play?

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2007 at 9:17 am

Fireman - A halfway reasonable question, at last!

First and foremost, it has to do with the magnitude of the development involved and the service area requirements of said development. Those "other Cities" you allude to do sometimes require construction of new stations as a condition of development that creates new service area demands. North San Jose and Evergreen Valley come to mind, where massive new areas were being opened to development. I think we all know that's not the case in Palo Alto, where the urban service area boundary is almost completely built out and not likely to be expanded. Within that boundary we already have fire stations numbered up to station eight. Name me another City that has that ratio of stations to population? Almost sounds like the debate over branch libraries, doesn't it? But God forbid anyone should suggest a station consolidation study - the firefighters and the union come unglued!

As far as money goes, I'm not sure when and where you think any single development project in Palo Alto made "millions stacked upon millions" and would have resulted in a legally enforeable need for a new station due to a service area demand increase created by the new development. Remember, state law requires that there be a direct connection or "nexus" between the project's service demands and the mitigation requirements. You can't require them to build something just because you think they're making too much money. The fact is, ith the number of stations we already have, coverage and response times are better than industry standards.

With regard to large developers, it should be remembered that the biggest single "developer" in town - Stanford University - already pays an ongoing 25% of all Fire Department costs each and every year in return for the service they receive. Name me one other City around here that has any kind of deal like that with any major property owner! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2007 at 10:02 am

CH Ncider keeps missing the point. He keeps criticizing the council and the people who live here (nimby, vocal minority, naysayers). He forgot the developer. Now he remembers to criticize the staff too.
Maybe he would like to run the town himself, he's tired of these democratic processes. Then we could get more 195 Page Mills, more Ricky's monstrosities, and more Classic communities, just for starters.
Get real CH Ncider, the majority of us don't like what is happening, no matter how many times you write.

Posted by CH Ncider, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2007 at 10:23 am

Citizen - Thanks for sharing. I'm not really concerned with changing your point of view or not. What I am trying to do is to make sure all of the facts and perspectives are presented here. Your right to speak and mine are both equally valid - THAT is what true democratic process is really all about. It's called the First Ammendment, and is why this web site and blog exist in the first place.


Posted by Another Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2007 at 10:26 am

About promises not kept: Synronized traffic lights. These were supposto be installed many years ago on many of the main streets to keep the traffic flowing smoothly.

The city keeps coming across as the most backward and hick town in regards to technology. I doubt that the traffic engineers (if there are any in town)ever go out of their offices and drive the streets.

As far as fire stations the city needs 2 more in the western part of the city as there are none there now (full 24/7 stations).

South Palo Alto has been a 2 story residential area until fairly recently and higher building need different fire trucks,etc to fight big buildings so the developers need to pay for this equipment.

It has been projected that the Alma Plaza high density housing project will produce a 10 million $profit or more even more than this.

Posted by John M., a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2007 at 10:59 am

Want to Vote: I like Dykwel, Esponiza, Yeh, & Burt.

Posted by Noah, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 7, 2007 at 9:38 pm

Storm drains. Fee added to utility bills to fund storm drain improvements. A year later they're backing out due to increased costs. oops.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Another Observer, if you read the previous postings you will see that PA already owns a tall ladder truck to fight fires in taller buildings. This ladder truck is owned jointly with Mountain View and parked at a Mountain View fire house. What PA needs is to raise the roof of a fire station in Palo Alto to accommodate the tall ladder truck. We don't need anymore fire houses; we need to expand the ones we've got.

Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2007 at 6:55 am

The Enron debacle was probably the biggest mistake our city government past or present has ever made. We were being sued by the creditors of Enron for $21 Million for a contract we had signed with them but which Enron had never delivered on. We were told, at the time, it would be cheaper to pay the claim than fight it. Meanwhile, Suquamish and Santa Clara fought similar claims and Santa Clara. I think, paid only a small portion of their claim.

The City Attorney who gave our City Council this bum advice left soon afterwards for another job in Colorado. Meanwhile we are out $21 Million, this is not small change!!

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2007 at 7:23 am


Much has been made about that $21M deal with Enron. PA entered into the contract, because we needed a reliable source of electicity, during a period of electrcity shortages. The fundamental issue was that California was using more electrons than it was producing. This sad situation occurred because California had steadily refused to build more base supply of electical generation, especially nuclear power plants. Many PA citizens refuse to deal with the reality that nuclear is crucial, and that imported electricity from out-of-state power plants often comes from dirty coal-fired plants, thus displacing the pollution into other peoples' lungs.

It is time for Palo Alto to actively embrace nuclear power. Wind farms in flyways of migratory birds will not do the job, even when coupled with solar arrays and conservation.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2007 at 10:44 am

EN Cnider: I have read what you and several other Citizens have talk about.I have been impressed on both sides. How the written word guides/or can, the use of money,PUBLIC money.
^How was it used? In real life???. In the "THE CITY of PALO ALTO"
How much was spent on side walks?
How much needs to be spent on sidewalks?
What condition are they in and how much will it cost to fix them?
Is the money there to fix them/ SHOULD THE MONEY BE THERE TO FIX THEM?
What was the PROMISE?

Any project needs basic CORRECT... Real world...information and a check list to "Judge it".. Judge the project...Then judge the people who ran the project.

Developers do build Fire Stations and Police Station or help.
Why not here?
The Sandhill project was a large project.
What did the City get for that?
This project added work load to the FIREfighters/PARAMEDIC's.
More people more calls. This takes away from the service from the citizens who lived in Palo Alto before this development. What did the Fire department get,what did the City get,what did the Citizens get.. I think the Fire Depart might have gotten {Strobe lights on the top of the rigs}

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The firefighter have a contract with the city for NUMBERS OF FIREFIGHTERS and PARAMEDICS.... Not the NUMBER OF STATIONS..
You can and the city could put the whole Fire Department into one building if they wanted to do.... This would not effect the Union Contract one bit. Now talk about cutting staffing and that is a differant story.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Forget About Nuclear Power, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 8, 2007 at 11:24 am

John, Of course, the sortage and cost of electric power production has nothing to to with market manipulation. NOT!

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2007 at 2:22 pm


The opportunity for any market manipulation that occured was provided by a shortage of electcial supplie within the state of California. California (and Palo Alto) were so desperate for electricty that they were willing to buy at high rates from other states. Remember when the state ow Washington was selling us electrical at the cost of shutting down its own aluminum plants, becasue they could make more money that way?

I become flabbergasted watching Palo Altans, such as yourself, refusing to wake up to electrical supply reality. If we don't produce our fair share, we will always be at the mercies of the market.

There is no other answer, at this time or in the next few decades, than nuclear. Nuclear is the greenest of all major energy sources, and we should support it.

Posted by Forget About Nuclear Power, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 8, 2007 at 3:59 pm

The market is already beinning to demand appropriate incentives, alternate fuels, and new consumer behaviors. Deadly nuclear waste and accident-prone technology are not among those incentives.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Many of the "alternate fuels" are carbon based, including biodiesel, ethanol. Solar is great, but the sun does not shine a night. Wind is sporadic, and it is a major killer of birds. Conservation and efficiency are great, too, but they hardly keep up with increased demand. Nuclear is NOT deadly in this country. Three Mile Isalnd was a ssuccess, not a failure. Chernobyl was a disaster, but it did come close to killing as many people as are killed in coal mines every year. The deadly wastes you talk about are actually a resource (for breeder reactors). Any remaining wastes can be stored or injected into a subduction zone. If Nevada was smart, it would gladly accept the current nuclear wastes, then sell them back to the nuclear industry at an extreme premium. Yucca Mountain could be a real bonanza for them.

Properly regulated nuclear power is the cleanest and greenest form of electrical energy going forward. It should be a major part of the mix. If Palo Alto leaders tell us that we can get by without nuclear, they are not telling the truth.

Posted by Forget About Nuclear Power, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 8, 2007 at 7:01 pm

John, you are always talking about "the market". The market, it seems to me, is working fine - and, what the market seems to be saying is that nuclear power is a loser. You appear to be out of step with your highly touted market. Se la vie...

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2007 at 7:25 pm


Yes, I am for open and free markets. No apologies. However, nuclear is not part of a free market, nor an open market. It is constantly hung up in litigation by the luddites. It is also hung up by the political limitations of the luddites. If these contraints were removed, nuclear would (not could, WOULD) provide an enormously bright future for mankind (inclduing, even, Palo Alto). It would also go a long ways towards reducing CO2 emmissions.

I am all for allowing free markets to develop solar and wind and oil and coal and nuclear. In the end, the greenest of these is nuclear.

If Palo Alto is about green, then why doesn't it support nuclear? Yoriko, are you listening?

Let's not forget that nuclear would contribute to getting us off the foreign oil dependence.

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