First, thanks to Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson and Publisher Bill Johnson for inviting me to be a contributing "blogger" for Palo Alto Online. I hope those of you who read my comments find them enjoyable and thought provoking.
I have been weighing in on various matters under my full name on Palo Alto Online for a couple of years now, so some of you may be familiar with my thinking. And many people in town know me from various things in which I have been involved during the 20-plus years I have lived in Palo Alto.
Since this my first official blog, I will set the table a bit with some background. I have been married to a psychiatrist who works at the Menlo Park VA. She attended Stanford for medical school and residency, which is how I got here. The marriage is ending, but the current economic environment is making the divorce more complicated than we had expected. We have two college age children, both of whom went through Palo Alto schools, K-12.
I was responsible for the care of my increasingly feeble father, from when he became widowed unexpectedly a few years ago until he died last year. I live in Community Center. I have a beagle, who likely will get mention from time to time in my future musings.
I moved to California to attend University of California, Davis, where I got a double major in relations and economics. I then got my MBA at Harvard Business School. For 15 or so years I was a corporate-marketing type, most notably at DHL Worldwide Express when it was headquartered in Redwood Shores. I worked as a management consultant for Accenture and on my own for a period of time.
A few years ago I purchased a small business, Fremont-based Sootheze, which makes heat and cold therapy items in the shape of small stuffed animals, such as "Toasty Bears," that soothe and relax a person. (They sell at Whole Foods, so please help me work my children's way through college.)
I have been involved with various things in Palo Alto over the years. I currently am serving my second term as a city Parks and Recreation commissioner. I was president of Babe Ruth Baseball when my son played in the league, and served as chief umpire for both Little League and Girls' Softball -- I got a great deal of instant public "feedback" about my work doing those umpiring jobs. I was on the Walter Hays Elementary School Site Council, and also was involved with getting Spanish immersion introduced to the school district in the mid-1990s.
My politics are not easily labeled. I am registered as a Democrat, and I was very glad to see President Bush leave office. I think President Obama is a much more capable president.
I believe that the greatest good we get from our public institutions can be found at the local level, such as our city and school district. I believe we must act as stewards of the assets Palo Alto has, and that means investing appropriately to keep them in good condition, not letting them deteriorate due to benign neglect.
I am a skeptic on certain public projects that come over the transom from time to time, and there are others that for this community make sense to me. I think Palo Alto is fortunate to have a distinctive character, and I will discuss the pillars that I believe make up that character in future commentaries.
For a variety of reasons, this is a time where this community is at a big inflection point, where we change direction as if we were steering through an S-curve on Skyline Boulevard.
Both the school district and the city have new leaders at their helms. There are some huge capital projects underway and under consideration. The world as a whole seems to get smaller and simultaneously more robust and more fragile each year. The economy is very shaky right now, and that is affecting people in a variety of ways. My personal life has changed as my youngest left for college this past fall -- the proverbial empty nest. And there is the stuff that always is around, but at times offers up topical grist for the mill.
The Weekly did not confine me to address any set of things in particular, so if I think something is fair game and that people would like to read about and discuss I may write about it. In choosing topics I will be mindful of my position on the Parks and Recreation Commission. I will take stands, and I expect people will disagree with my points of view. That's fine by me, if lively, thoughtful discussion comes about as a result.
I do have a request from those of you who wish to comment on what I tee up. Let's keep it civil -- let's not attack people's character based on something they say or do. Please think clearly and then write clearly, whatever your opinions may be. As Aretha Franklin sang, "Just a little respect. ..."
Back at you soon.