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Keene: Outreach failure on trees a 'mistake'
Original post made
on Sep 22, 2009
Palo Alto's Public Works Department staff blundered when it cut down 63 holly oaks on California Avenue -- more than the "about 50" initially estimated -- last week without first notifying the neighborhood, City Manager James Keene acknowledged Monday night.
==B Related stories:==
â [Web Link
Trees: City acknowledges communication error]
â [Web Link
Canopy 'shocked' at Cal Ave tree removal]
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 12:25 AM
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Posted by an upset citizen
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2009 at 8:36 pm
One person should not have this much POWER! James Keene is who I am referring to.
This is the picture that the City Manager Jim Keene would like to portray to the public. "Supports the Council, priorities of Environmental Protection, Economic Health, and Civic Engagement for the Common Good. A primary responsibility of the City Manager is to assure that City services are performed in accordance with Council policies and within the capability of the City's resources." This is right off the City's website.
City Council member Larry Klein said in Palo Alto Weekly (June 26, 2008) Keene isn't perfect, but declined to discuss any of the new city manager's weaknesses. Klein also said he did not have any concerns that Keene has moved between jobs too frequently. Maybe the City Council and then Mayor Larry Klein should have checked into his weakness further! Please PEOPLE; let's RETHINK before we ReElect Larry Klein again!
The information that I am passing is in reference to James Keene and his Tucson LEGACY… Why did he leave the position in Tucson, what kind of destruction and deceit did he leave as his "LEGACY. " Has anyone done their homework on this man? I thought the city of Palo Alto was full of intelligent educated people? I would think that most people in this community pride themselves on our personal accomplishments, intelligence, integrity, education and common SENSE. Wake up Citizens of Palo Alto, start becoming aware of what shambles this man can leave our city in! All I know is most people that are applying for employment today, have to do everything from pee in a cup to do background, credit and reference checks. Who Checked This Man's Credentials and References?
This man James Keene became employed by the City of Palo Alto on September 2nd, 2008. His purpose in his own words were, "I hope I'm going to carry on a tradition here as a public servant first of all, being respectful of everybody."
I find it completely appalling, that a person that has worked for our city a little over a ONE year period of time is allowed to ride rough shot over the citizens and city employees.
How can one man, not even a "REAL" Palo Altoan have the gall to cut down and remove 63 Oak Trees that have been standing for Thirty Years and then blame it on the Public works department? Then failing miserable to even attempt bringing this topic of removing these trees to the citizens for open discussion is CRIMINAL. Did anyone ever consider bring in a tree arborist to attempt to save these trees? I was in the landscape business for about 25 years, and just because trees are mis-shaped or diseased doesn't mean that you cut them down and KILL them. It all should have been reviewed by a professional with the proper credentials outside of Keene's jurisdiction. All the trees probably needed were the diseased parts cut out and then properly sprayed. The reshaping is a matter of maintenance.
Blaming this on someone other than himself is completely infuriating! How could James Keene state he had no idea, do you honestly believe that a Contractor is going to step foot on city property and destroy it without a contract in hand. Does it make one bit of sense that a tree company/contractor is going to CUT DOWN 63, 30- year old trees, 3 blocks long without the promise of compensation? Who signed this contractor's check? Who approved for this amount of city's money to be used for this for this job? From what I've learned in life, blaming it on the next guy or passing the buck isn't an option when you earn $240,000 a year income, receive a $600 monthly transportation allowance and have a housing package paid by tax payer's money. As the old saying goes, made by Harry Truman "The buck stops here." In Jim Keene's cases it's always someone else's fault.
So far this man REALLY has proven that he is a public servant hasn't he. Just because this man, James hopped on a garage trucks and played garbage man for day as he did at the beginning of his career to impress "the community" doesn't prove that he is a committed, dedicated individual worthy of serving the City of Palo Alto. This is the man that's running the city? …RIGHT
What really gets me is this beautification project, which also includes repaving and restriping of California Avenue, new trash cans and news racks. Oh, and by the way the trees will only take 10 to 15 years to reach the size that we just cut down, how can you even start to justify this?
How can replacing new trash cans and new racks even start to compensate SIXTY THREE - 30 year old Oak Trees? Do you really believe that we're buying the crap you're selling us James? What about the extra $$$ that this is costing the city? So now you are trying to appease us by using larger trees that cost over $20,000 more than originally estimated. This is brilliant! The money wouldn't even be an issue if you would have left the trees in their place to begin with. One more thought on this outrage… Where were you for the two or three days that this way going on?
One of the areas of interest that I find amusing about James Keene is; as a former city manager, he said that he received many job inquiries, but he always said "No, I'm not interested", but when he got the call about Palo Alto, that was different. Well let me inform you,it was way different.
James Keene moved to Tucson in 2000 from Berkeley, California. In Tucson he essentially ran the city, and the way he did that often was controversial.
In 2002, two labor unions held a demonstration at city hall to try to convince the mayor and council to FIRE Keene for not giving pay raises to city workers at the same time he accepted a raise. How fitting.
The real reason Keene's departure from Tucson wasn't because, "it stems from family and career considerations, and not any complaint about Tucson or the City Council." Keene words. It was because three DemocratsSteve Leal, José Ibarra and Shirley Scottshopped for a fourth vote to fire him midway through his tenure.
And his last year there, he had several high-profile screw-ups, including the botched relocation of downtown's Greyhound Bus terminal and the disastrous stab at using water hook-ups to extort pre-annexation agreements from developers in the Rincon Valley.
The water fight was an especially humiliating experience for Keene, with a majority of council members complaining that the manager slipped his plans past them in the fine print of a five-page memo. After Tucson Water officials surprised developers with a demand that they agree to sign away their future customers' right to reject annexation by the city, all hell broke loose. The ensuing chaoswhich included crowds of angry Vail residents packing the council chambers to tell them to stay the hell out of their neighborhoodleft the city's water policy in shambles and the annexation atmosphere more poisoned than ever.
Even Keene supporter Carol West, an eastside Democrat, says the water-for-annexation affair was handled horribly. And Republican Councilwoman Kathleen Dunbar, who repeatedly clashed with Keene during the fiasco, made it pretty clear Keene was on her last nerve.
Keene was just arrogant enough to alienate members of the city council and to construe the city charter's provisions for a strong city manager as a mandate to run roughshod over elected officials. Who could blame him? He's definitely smarter than most of the council members. Keene had monumental failures like the transportation sales tax and picked stupid fights with the media and County Manager Chuck Huckleberry.
Tucson's downtown project and the moving of Greyhound station was also in question while under James watch while as city manager. In the Greyhound case, they thought the bus station should be moved because they didn't want poor people downtown. Leal said, "They systematically engaged in an assault on working families. It was disingenuous and mean spirited."
City Councilmember Steve Leal, stated in the Tucson Weekly August 5, 2004 "I believe the organization must comply with Keene's dreams for downtown. If they don't, he thinks it will pay a heavy price in funding cuts. They know Keene is vindictive and retaliates."
Howard Greenseth, who had served on numerous city committees focused on implementing downtown projects, agrees, "The appearance is the alliance is working as a quasi-governmental agency of the city manager's office. That's very dangerous." Greenseth was particularly frustrated by the city's failure to obtain public input about the Greyhound issue until the last minute. Instead, city staff members initially held private meetings with alliance representatives and others, including Greenseth.
Possibly sound a little recognizable? Do you see a pattern yet? The man is addicted to turmoil and discord. Is this what we want in this city?
As a Public Citizen James Keene "You're Fired!" As far as the city council members, you need to stand up and take notice of this nonsense or maybe the citizens of Palo Alto should call for a RECALL!