Around TownSING, SING A SONG ... Palo Alto's elected leaders know all too well that it's not easy to get city residents excited about a topic as broad and vague as "infrastructure." To liven things up, former Mayor Leland Levy serenaded the council this week with a song about the subject — a subject that he and 16 of his colleagues on the city's Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission (IBRC) have been studying for more than a year. Levy's repertoire of politically laced musical parodies now includes close to 20 songs, including nearly forgotten masterpieces such as "Seventy-Six Folks" (based on the "Music Man" classic "Seventy-Six Trombones" and dealing with the council's budget-setting process), "Discussing Sand Hill" (based on Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill") and "Oh, Beautiful For Byron Sher," a patriotic homage to the former mayor, state assemblyman and senator. Levy's latest hit, "IBRC," draws inspiration from the Village People's "YMCA" and includes the following lyrics: "Young man, when you drive down the block/ is your auto in perpetual shock/ does your chassis tend to rumble and rock/ does your flivver quiver? And your/ daughter, is she living her dream/ playing soccer for her neighborhood team/ though conditions on the field are the extreme?/ What the way to make things better.../ Well, just you leave it to the I-B-R-C/ You can believe it that the I-B-R-C/ Have all talked the talk/ over each sidewalk/ every park, each plaza and tree/ Have been inspected by the I-B-R-C/ all flaws detected by the I-B-R-C." The song served as a preamble to the council's first discussion of the city's infrastructure, and it won a few fans on the council. Councilman Larry Klein proclaimed Levy the city's "Cole Porter" while Councilman Greg Schmid concluded the meeting by rising from his seat and, in true Village People style, pantomiming with his arms "I-B-R-C."
BLACKED OUT ... When Wikipedia and Reddit temporarily shut down Wednesday to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo was quick to rally to their cause. Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, has emerged in recent months as one of the leading opponents of the act, which seeks to curb online piracy but which opponents argue amounts to censorship and an attack on small companies that would need to hire teams of lawyers to defend themselves if the act were to pass. Eshoo also used her own website to signal her displeasure with SOPA and PIPA (Protect IP Act), SOPA's counterpart in the Senate. Visitors to her official site saw a black screen featuring the words, "STOP SOPA/PIPA." She also issued a statement: "Members of Congress need to hear about the consequences of SOPA, and when they do, they'll learn of the serious consequences to the Internet the bill poses. It's time to pull up the emergency brake on this legislation."
THOUSANDS OF DONUTS ... As high school students across Palo Alto sweated out first-semester finals this week, student government came up with goodies to try to lighten the load. At Gunn, student leaders provided 2,000 donuts Tuesday "to relieve the stress of finals," student Gurpal Virdi reported to the Board of Education. At Paly, students were to celebrate the end of finals Thursday afternoon with cookies and hot chocolate in the quad. "It's kind of a new thing, and the big question is whether people will bother to go," student Alex Carter said. "I predict a lot of people will just be happy to go home."
FIGHTING FOR A CAUSE ... Palo Alto's firefighters shifted their focus from battling blazes and providing medical service to another urgent cause: breast cancer. The firefighters on Jan. 13 held a formal ceremony in front of City Hall to present a $4,000 check to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation that raises money to combat breast cancer. The money was raised as part of the Fire Department's "Passionately Pink for the Cure" campaign. "We are honored to present this check to the Susan G. Komen foundation," Palo Alto Firefighter Jesus Zuniga said in a statement. "While all firefighters have made a commitment to dedicate their lives to help people in their most trying times, the Palo Alto Fire Fighters have consistently went above and beyond, helping raise over $17,000 this past year for various causes in the community."