Town Square

Kniss, Schmid, Burt, Berman win council election

Original post made on Nov 6, 2012

Palo Alto voters gave the city's political establishment an enthusiastic vote of confidence on Election Tuesday when they re-elected Pat Burt and Greg Schmid to the City Council and restored former Mayor Liz Kniss to her familiar position behind the dais. Joining the veteran trio will be attorney Marc Berman.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 9:06 PM


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:20 am


You write "Palo Alto voters gave the city's political establishment an enthusiastic vote of confidence on Election Tuesday ..." - however, only one candidate, Liz Kniss,the non-incumbent, received votes from over 50% of the electorate, while Pat Burt the incumbent got re-elected with votes from only 44% of the electorate (and barely escaped coming in 4th place for 4 seats). If this was a vote of confidence, I would expect the incumbents to receive 60-70% of the vote, and be coming in 1st or 2nd place. I used as the number of voters, the votes on Measure C, a local issue as the base.

In 2009, 3 of the 5 council member elected received votes from over 50% of the electorate.

In 2007, 3 of 4 council members elected received votes from over 50% of the electorate.

In 2005, 5 of 5 council members elected received votes from over 50% of the electorate.

A follow up article exploring the reasons for this, and how it will affect future governence would be of great interest.

Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:09 am

I guess I am destined to go fishing instead of going to City Council meetings in the next few years.
The 5,000 votes I got for my brand of Environmental preservation, fiscal restraint, and socially progressive outlook didn't win over those entrenched in the machines. Back to fishing for Salmon and Steelhead. Thanks for all the kind cheers. I modeled participation in democracy for my children and started friendships with some pretty enlightened people.

Hakuna Matata! My two pleas -- 1.) Beware of those promoting commercial agendas waiving green flags. 2.) Watch out for bureaucrats packaging "noble causes" as reasons to gain support for big bond issues. And please, don't be afraid to say "the room is full" before El Palo Alto wilts in the shadow of LA-style towers.

Thanks for taking notes,

Tim Gray

Posted by shoddy reporting, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:15 am

Sorry you lost, Timothy. You bravely attacked the way things are done here [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]. Maybe next time.

Posted by Anne , a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:31 am

Thank you, Timothy Gray, for running. I'm sorry not enough of my fellow citizens appreciated your level-headed approach to the issues.

Posted by No-Mandate, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:38 am

With about 37,000 registered voters, none of these candidates received more than about 33% of the total possible votes from the electorate. Either these people chose not to vote at all, or did not vote for City of Palo Alto government candidates.

The data posted for City government elections shows the winner with 24%, but what that particular statistic is supposed to mean is not exactly clear--particularly since the number likely was generated by the Registrar of Voters.

None of these candidates have much of a mandate. The Weekly's claim that Kniss was "enthusiastically endorsed" has already been called into question by a previous poster. Sadly, the Weekly is not a newspaper--but a stealth Public Relations effort for "the Status Quo".

Posted by The election, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

I don't think Burt's poor showing had anything to do with his being busy. Some people noticed how tied in he is with major developers and how he always votes for them.
Kniss was able to hide her similar alliances because people do not remember her earlier time on the council. Her loyalties to big development were obvious and strong. She has expressed no opposition whatsoever to the Arrillaga mega project. She just changes the subject. Slick.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2012 at 9:24 am

So sorry Tim.

We needed you.

Instead we will have same old, same old. Some of us understand better than others.

Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 7, 2012 at 10:11 am

Thanks for the nice comments. Let's give the elected council a chance to make good decisions, and shine a bright light on the topics if something looks shady. Hope for the best and keep our eyes open.

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

Tim: I join those who are sorry that you did not win; we would have been well served by you. Your voice of reason and fiscal responsibility is badly needed. Thank you for trying.

Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

Sorry you did not win, Mr. Gray.

As for the pro-developer candidates, to quote from "No-Mandate:"
<Sadly, the Weekly is not a newspaper--but a stealth Public Relations effort for "the Status Quo".>

What would you expect from a publication whose major advertisers are real estate brokers? They are not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

Posted by Censorship, a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 7, 2012 at 11:07 am

Looks like the weekly is in "saving face" mode. They are censoring a ny and all comments critical of their actions. While labeling them as "disrespectful and offensive" . In reality the weekly's actions are the ones that are disrespectful and offensive.

Posted by Robert, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 7, 2012 at 11:57 am

Pat Burt re-elected? What did he accomplish to justify that? About the defining issue of the last few years for Palo Alto -- viz., HSR -- all Burt did was to urge time and time again that Palo Alto "go slow", "not alienate CHSRA," "we want to be part of the discussion with CHSRA." He resisted as long as possible putting PA on record (per Klein's strong initiative) as being against this HSR. All this when Burt was on the City Council that enthusiastically and unanimously put Palo Alto on the record as being for Prop. 1 before the Nov. 2008 vote. I fail to see that Burt's position of diffident and belated (perhaps even reluctant) opposition to HSR got Palo Alto ANYTHING. The only thing that might stop HSR on the Peninsula is the law suits and I didn't hear Burt pushing for Palo Alto to pursue those. No, it took Menlo Park and Atherton to file the lawsuits and Palo Alto, much further downstream, only gave the suits verbal support. Another example of no accountability. Where are the regular and non-rich members of the community on this City Council? Where are the members of the City Council who are committed to defending Palo Alto against the insatiable lust for mega-development by local developers that will lead to greater and greater degradation of this community? I don't see the PACC really fighting to preserve the quality of life in this community. I see the PACC as basically allowing the developers to steam roll them into acquiesce in plans for ever more dense developments and greater traffic in this community. Question: how many members of the PACC have gotten campaign contributions or other favors from developers that do business before them when they have their PACC hats on? I'd like to know the answer to that question. The day that the PACC rejects a mega-development proposal on quality of life grounds will be the day that hell freezes over.

Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

I was really hoping there would be no more Liz Kniss in Palo Alto politics, so I am disappointed. She is spread pretty thin as is, does she not have enough to do in other political arenas?

Pat Burt, I suspect, is in the pocket of the developers. I truly hope he proves otherwise.

Posted by FreePress, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

FreePress is a registered user.

Legitimate positions open themselves up to be challenged by those who disagree, thus I put forward the following assertions in order for Pat Burt, James Keene and Police Chief Dennis Burns to challenge and refute the assertions presented:

City Councilman Pat Burt condones the deliberate violations of city policy committed by police chief Dennis Burns and city manager James Keene. By refusing to hold Chief Burns and City Manager Keene accountable Mr. Burt is refusing to represent the interests of the people of Palo Alto and therefore should no longer be a city councilman. The election is the people's process of hiring and or firing fellow citizens from representing them. We need to terminate Pat Burt's employment with the city.

Tony Ciampi

Posted by Sara Armstrong, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Sara Armstrong is a registered user.

I disagree with Robert's comments about Pat Burt's efforts on High Speed Rail.

Pat was among the first members of the City Council to understand the implications of the HSR initial proposals and for over three years has taken a proactive role in advocating for Palo Alto and supporting the modernization of Caltrain. He spearheaded efforts to collaborate with sister cities along the route and has worked with our state representatives to develop unified, workable vision for the peninsula.

This is a very complex issue, and there have been many changes since HSRA's rolled out their initial plans to the community in 2009. Pat has consistently been on the front lines and has a deep understanding of the issues, both local and systemic. He has served on the Council's Rail Corridor Subcommittee, was a founding member of Peninsula Cities Consortium, and has spent countless hours working with groups throughout the peninsula and state. We are lucky to have Pat Burt serve our community for another four years.