News

Palo Alto tries to curb Mitchell Park Library costs

City hires consultants to analyze contractor's change orders, consider legal options

Concerned about growing construction costs at the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, Palo Alto officials have hired engineering consultants and an attorney to examine the spike in change orders from the project contractor.

Though the project costs remain well below the $50 million budget, construction expenses have been rising in recent months as the city's contractor, Flintco Pacific Construction, submitted 10 change orders requesting additional funds. In September, members of the City Council were disappointed to learn about the growing costs, with Councilman Larry Klein conceding, "We're not doing as well as we hoped on this deal."

At the September meeting, the council had grudgingly agreed to raise the contingency budget -- funds used to cover unforeseen work -- from 10 percent to 20 percent of the base contract.

Now, the council and Public Works staff are taking a closer look at the change orders and considering the city's legal options. At a Monday discussion of the project, Public Works Department officials said the city has brought in three consultants to help evaluate the change orders and potential claims. The city's contract administrator, Turner Construction, also brought in a senior-level person to help the department manage and control the project, Interim Public Works Director Mike Sartor said.

The three consulting contracts total $65,000, out of which $6,700 has already been spent.

Since the September meeting, Flintco submitted two more change orders totaling about $280,000. The contractor requested the extra money for work relating to a basketball court at the community center, foundation for an art sculpture, curb installations and various waterproofing, plumbing and electrical system alterations. The city has already approved $1.3 million in change orders to Flintco, according to a report from Public Works Assistant Director Phil Bobel. The company had requested more than $4 million in change orders, according to Public Works data.

The 10 change orders submitted to date have raised Flintco's compensation from its base contract of $24.4 million to $25.7 million. This, however, remains well below the engineering estimate of $32 million that the city received before it went out to bid on the construction contract.

Council members said Monday that they remain concerned about the unusually high number of change orders, though they took solace in the fact that the bond-funded project remains below budget. The new Mitchell Park library is by far the largest of the three library-construction projects funded by a $76 million bond that the voters passed in 2008. The bond includes $50 million for the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center. The city currently estimates the new library to cost about $41 million.

Though Councilman Larry Klein joined his colleagues in September in approving more contingency funds for the project, he emphasized Monday that neither he nor his colleagues want to see all of these funds to be used.

"We'll be disappointed if they're all spent," Klein said. "It's a very, very large contingency."

Klein also said he wanted to correct an impression in the community that the project now exceeds its budget. For all of its recent problems, it remains more than $7 million below the city's engineering projections.

"We're still way under budget -- that needs to be clear over and over again," Klein said. "We're demonstrating as council and staff that we really care about all of the public's money and we'll be very, very careful to make sure it's wisely spent."

Council members also indicated that they would like reconsider how much the city is budgeting for contingency costs. Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd proposed lowering the contingency amount from 20 percent to 15 percent of the base contract. Councilman Pat Burt agreed that the council should consider a different contingency amount but advised against setting a specific number at this time. Lowering the contingency rate from 20 percent to 15 percent may create expectations that could turn out to be false, he said.

"I have some concern with setting expectations that can lead to disappointment," Burt said. "And I think we shouldn't get enamored with aiming for something and implying an outcome when that's not necessarily the case."

The council voted unanimously to accept the update on the library project and to schedule another one for January, at which time members will evaluate changing the contingency budget.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by More-Dollars-Down-The-Drain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 6:46 am

> The 10 change orders submitted to date

This doesn't seem like a lot.

> The company had requested more than $4 million in
> change orders, according to Public Works data.

Now we're talking some serious money.

Without some reference, such as the number of change orders (and dollar values for those change orders) for government and private sector construction projects of this magnitude, it's difficult to believe that anyone on the City Council has the slightest idea what is going on with this project.

It's sad that the local papers are not doing some research on this matter. It's even sadder that the City Auditor has shown no interest in this matter either.

It's unlikely that the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury will be interested in investigating either. So, the taxpayers can expect to ultimately take it in the shorts.

It would have been a lot cheaper to just buy everyone in town a Kindle.


Like this comment
Posted by paloaltotreewatch
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 22, 2011 at 8:11 am

welcome to curse of the Stone Pines
- taking out 73 trees you shouldn't have
the tree spirits will punish you

..this is what we get from PART-TIME counselors.
One of the counselors even works 8-5 for another city.
This is no way to run a city.
Quit your day jobs and do the job you were elected to do.

Of course all of this reminds us of Frank Lloyd Wright:
"what you don't fix on the drafting board with an eraser you fix
at the construction site with a jack hammer"
... and we should add ....alot more money with is not yours.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2011 at 10:24 am

“… it's difficult to believe that anyone on the City Council has the slightest idea what is going on with this project.”

Too true. Obviously no one on the city staff has a clue either or else they wouldn’t be hiring even more consultants. Why are THREE needed “to help evaluate the change orders and potential claims.”

And these are in addition to the city's so-called construction manager, Turner Construction, which is obviously not doing a great job of managing anything.

Of course, the benefits of so many cooks in the soup is that there will be endless finger-pointing. Public Works has a multitude of consultants and outside firms to blame for the fiasco.

Where is Jim Keene in all this? Isn’t he accountable when the public works department messes up so badly?

“It would have been a lot cheaper to just buy everyone in town a Kindle.”

Absolutely. But the council and the “everyone must be able to walk to a library” crowd are not living in the 21st century.


Like this comment
Posted by Rachel
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

Aren't change orders supposed to be submitted before the work is completed and billed? Who is overseeing whether the project is being built per plans, and why aren't the architects/engineers who developed the plans not taking any responsibility for having provided incomplete/incorrect plans?

The City of Palo Alto and the taxpayers agreed to a certain price, and whether it is under or over the engineer's estimate is irrelevant.


Like this comment
Posted by Judith
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 10:50 am

IMHO this is a consequence of the public bidding process. A public agency, like the City, has to take the low bidder, whether he really is best for the job or not. They cannot prequalify contractors, only write as tight a spec as they can and hope nothing unforeseen comes up. Of course, it will - Murphy (of Murphy's Law) was a general contractor.

If all these posters really have construction experience, I would give their posts more attention.

Rachel - I agree that, in general, change orders should be approved ahead of time. In a public job, this slows things down tremendously - going through a long series of approvals. Also, sometimes there's no choice. If something has to ben done to meet code, all you can do is haggle about the price, but the work goes on.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

I thought we had a city manager. It seems that all he does is delegate and if there is no one to delegate to, he invents a new department or hires consultants.

When is he going to do some work - I have no idea what he does on a daily basis but it seems that it isn't real work.


Like this comment
Posted by Four Million$ and counting
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

Isn't all of that supposed to be specified by the architects? Group 4 was (and is) paid millions of dollars and praised to the sky by the former Library Director, how wonderful and how experienced they are.
Didn't turn out that way. The specs are totally inadequate and incomplete. The city or someone should have found the deficiencies before the bulldozers.


Like this comment
Posted by Alex Panelli
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

@paloaltotreewatch

You said (with regard to our City Councilmembers)

"Quit your day jobs and do the job you were elected to do."

How do you expect them to do so when a City Councilmember's monthly stipend is $600?

I would wholeheartedly support a full-time Council (with appropriate compensation) in exchange for reducing the size of the Council to 5 members. Or perhaps a strong-mayor system with a full-time directly-elected Mayor and a part-time Council.


Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

This is hilarious! So to "curb costs" we HIRE more people to figure out what is wrong!!

Are you freakin kidding!!! What backasswords people are running the system!
LMFAO


Like this comment
Posted by More-Dollars-Down-The-Drain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 11:17 am

> Aren't change orders supposed to be submitted before the
> work is completed and billed?

It all depends on the contract for the job. Remember, everything is negotiable. Someone familiar with the contract(s) for this job would need to answer this.

It should be clear to everyone -- the larger the number of change orders, the less specific the original set of plans was, or there have been changes in the plans that involve additional work. This happens all the time. Suppose, for instance, some additional money was "found" from somewhere and the people in charge wanted to increase the size of a room, or add a wing. This would mean a change order. In this particular case, no one did anything "wrong" .. but "things change" and changes are handled with "change orders".

The real issue here is how bad were the initial specs, and who had final "sign off" authority?


Like this comment
Posted by Near neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Just pay the bill and get on with it; otherwise the Engineering Consultants and the Attorney's fees will exceed the amount of the change orders.


Like this comment
Posted by in the business
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm

1. A 20% contingency is not normal for a new project under current economic times. If the construction documents were prepared properly,
5% would be more reasonable. A remodel or addition warrants a higher contingency to cover unforseen conditions.
2. Technically and legally Construction on a change order should not occur until a change order is approved. A rough order of cost magnitude is usually issued when costs cannot be detailed and to keep construction on schedule. This is signed by the General Contractor and Owner rep. (Construction manager?)
3. Without knowing what the actual change orders involve it's premature to point fingers. Accountability should be part of the change order process- ie. Unforeseen conditions, Owner directed change, design defect.
4. Construction Manager and Design professionals are hired by the City to the oversee project construction and make sure the project is built within the project budget and per the design documents. These professionals should be accountable to City project engineer/manager and that City department and ultimately to the City Council and City Manager. There should be regular project reports issued by the Construction manager to the City. These reports should indicate construction progress, schedule, costs, and issues.

5. Finally, because a project is under budget should not be a reason to spend all the money allocated for a project. The City and it's consultants have a fiduciary responsibility to deliver this and any project on time and within a reasonable budget.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

>> This is hilarious! So to "curb costs" we HIRE more people to figure out what is wrong!!
>> Are you freakin kidding!!! What backasswords people are running the system!

It's called the Palo Alto Stanford Law Graduates full-employment subsidization policy ... a general rule of always spreading around the wealth of the city to the professional network while keeping the public in the dark and preventing input as much as possible. It has not served Palo Alto very well, and in fact just continues to get worse and worse.


Like this comment
Posted by Ta-daa
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Change order authorization at 10% contingency in government work is very common. On high-end projects, 20% is acceptable. The change order amount is not the problem here. The problem is Sartar and his gang of engineers were not competent enough to build the job (write specs) in-house. (If you don't need in-house engineers, lay them off). Engineers who do not BUILD things mostly have a disconnect with real construction jobs and how to manage them. Putting on a hard hat and sitting in the car watching a contractor work is NOT project management. I am positive this is what happened with this project. You have engineers who PUSH PAPERWORK and have never driven a nail or used practical sense to write a spec.

Here's what happens next: Sartar will wordsmith the issue to council, council will approve additional funds. Then Sartar will fluff his wings with pride for "winning" that battle. Then with council approval, budget peeps will raid all funds available (aka moving monopoly money around) to save the project which WILL go in the red ten fold – a real money pit. Employees will have to endure more losses in wages/benefits to cover PWE's major F-up, and the feast de la resistance (sp?) will be WHEN the community center is finally open and PWE staff will be in all the ribbon-cutting ceremony photo ops taking credit for a "smoothly ran project with minor bumps and hurdles" and go back to their desks full of pride, and play computer solitaire waiting for the next project to come through. Not cynical. Just telling the real world how PA management works.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Contractors are selected via a low bid process.

Consultants are chosen via a selection process by internal staff.

Contractor bids are based on numbers and numbers don't lie.

Consultants are selected through an interview process by internal staff.

Plenty of individuals/consultants these days can talk the talk (interview) and cannot walk the walk (produce quality work). Group 4 has been a consultant for the city about 20 years. What is their historical track record on finished projects? Were they consistently within budget?

So one has to ask.....Did city staff get lazy and chose Group 4 because of their familiarity with city process and how they made great eye contact and smiled a lot during the interview, OR were they chosen based on their quality of previous projects while staying within budget? And just because Group 4 is a consultant, don’t think they themselves are immune to change orders. If it is public record, I would be curious of Group 4’s original cost and final costs for this project.


Like this comment
Posted by keeponbuilding
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I don't care what it costs, Greenmeadow needs this library.


Like this comment
Posted by More-Dollars-Down-The-Drain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 7:26 pm

> I don't care what it costs, Greenmeadow needs this library.

Well .. it is going to cost upwards of 100M, once all the bills are paid, and the bonds are retired. That's a lot of money for "Greenmeadow". And once all of the hidden costs are identified, the total cost will exceed $100M!

Kindles would be a He*!%^ lot cheaper.


Like this comment
Posted by Megan Fogarty
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I went on a tour of the project last week and it is amazing. This is truly going to be a unique civic space of which we will all be proud. Yes, due diligence, but please note again that the project remains under budget!


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Kindles keep getting mentioned here, but Kindles are not the same as books, and not every book is on the Kindle, and of those that are not every one is able to be read by braille machines or has text-to-speech. Not every book on the Kindle has all the footnotes or all the illustrations or all the photographs, certainly not all the color. Kindles are not the be all end all solution to books and Kindles do not give people nice safe comfortable places to read, study or do research. I have a Kindle and I much prefer a regular book if I could have one and spare the room to store all of the books read. i do think that those interested in the Kindle can afford a Kindle now, so - great let the Kindle develop and maybe it will get better or get surpassed by whatever is next ... in the meanwhile libraries are nice.


Like this comment
Posted by Waste
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2011 at 12:37 am

What a waste of MONEY! Good grief.


Like this comment
Posted by Bookman
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:54 am

Can't wait to see this great project completed. It will come in under budget and every whiner on this thread will love it.


Like this comment
Posted by Gotta Laugh
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2011 at 7:23 am

The public bidding process is flawed in that the contractors were not pre-qualified to perform the work.

If the ONLY selection criteria are:

1. You are the cheapest.
2. You have a Contractor's license.

You get what you pay for.

If you start with pre-qualified bidders, then any defects in the construction documents are flushed out during the bid period via bidder's Request for Information (RFI). This is because QUALIFIED bidders want a level playing field.

The risk you take when you go "Price Only" bidding is that the contractor will be unqualified/inexperienced and need to constantly make up for underbidding the project by seeking change orders.

In the end, if you use a pre-qualified bidder process you will see higher bid prices. However, the project overhead costs (City, Project Management, Construction Administration, Lawyers and Consultants) will be significantly less.

Its a pay me now or pay me (much more) later game.

The current experience at Mitchell Park is the inevitable result of "Low Bidder" mentality.

For a city that prides itself on being smart...the Mitchell Park Library project bidder selection process was just plain stupid.






Like this comment
Posted by I would hope so
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2011 at 7:57 am

"Can't wait to see this great project completed. It will come in under budget."

It was so over priced to begin with, it should not be hard, but PA does not have a good track record, the odds are against your proclamation.


Like this comment
Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 23, 2011 at 11:05 am

Low bid process has to be in place due to public funds use. If Palo Alto citizens want to change the low bid process, let's see how long it takes them to organize and present a bid processing change to council. Take some real action to make a change instead of just venting on a computer. I almost bet when you find out how much it will cost citizens, the tune will change. Nothing wrong with the process. Ít's the machine driving it.

Contractors are like custodians, in a sense, because they get blamed for everything anyway. City employees need to accept responsibility for their own actions or lack thereof.


Like this comment
Posted by question
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

How do you do a pre-qualified bid? The architects/engineers told me that they would list a detailed project cost such as foundation building cost,electrical, plumbling...then they would sumbit to various contractors to bid, then when does this pre-qualified come in?


Like this comment
Posted by Blondie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm

My concern is that the project manager hired by the city should be providing regular, detailed info - week by week - regarding progress and NEEDED changes. This should be on Palo Alto online so there is transparency and information for the taxpayers who are paying for this project. Don't get me wrong, I voted for it and support it.
Just give me accurate updates so I know what is going on - every step of the way.


Like this comment
Posted by More-Dollars-Down-The-Drain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

> Kindles keep getting mentioned here, but Kindles are not the same as books,

No .. Kindles are a lot better than “books”. Kindles are lighter, they can hold thousands of books, papers, and other kinds of reading materials. Kindle books are inexpensive, compared to paper books.

> not every book is on the Kindle,

Not yet, anyway. As of today, Amazon.com claims that there are about 950,000 books available on its web-site. Lots of sources are publishing in Kindle format:

Web Link

And there are other formats, such as e-pub, which is currently the industry standard. Sites like Google Books and the Internet Archive offer e-pub formats, and it’s not all that uncommon for sites to offer five or six different formats for most out-of-copyright books.

> not every one is able to be read by braille machines’

And your point is?

> do not give people nice safe comfortable places to read, study or do research.

Like their homes might?

What a crock! With laptops, netbooks, and other personal electronics devices, people capable of “research” to do “:research” anywhere they want. Needing a multi-hundred million dollar public building is simply the apex of selfishness on the part of a very small number of people.

Libraries are not necessarily “safe”, and with the homeless “occupying” too many of the urban libraries, they are little more than daytime “flop house” and places to “score” drugs. This is true in Palo Alto. The homeless have been sleep on the grounds of the Newell Street Library for a long time—damaging the outdoor lights, and the shrubbery. Unfortunately, no one has done much to correct the situation .

> i do think that those interested in the Kindle can
> afford a Kindle now

Huh? A bare bones Kindle is only $79.00. Others in the product line do cost a little more:

Web Link

And these devices will be close to free in the coming months and years--just like cell phones went from being very expensive to very cheap.

And of course, the iPad is sweeping the country. With sales of these devices exceeding 30M, and many people reading newspapers and ebooks on their iPhones, it would be hard to actually accurately estimate the number of people using (and affording) Apple-based personal electronics at this time. But, these numbers are only going to GROW!!!

Time for “library people” to get their heads out of the sand. Sadly, the taxpayers of Palo Alto are now stuck for this massive, and unneeded “public space” which will doubtless be empty of users in less than ten years.


Like this comment
Posted by Bookman
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Gee, there is a LOT of ignorance being spouted here, mostly it appears by sore losers who didn't want the library in the first place.

Here are some FACTS:
Not everyone has an eBook or how to use an eBook (even though it's pretty easy)
- Everyone knows how to use a book. Books are, most people forget, a hugely successful *technology*.

eBooks require batteries, also, they can break.
- Books don't require batteries; they don't break, and they don't cost a lot of money when you lose them, or break them.

- eBooks are not fully accessible to the reading disabled
Technology standards constantly change, requiring a "refresh" every several years (at minimum)

Kindles are a not "better" than books; they are different. btw, who is going to handle the pricing and distribution of eBooks to citizens? Certainly we are not going to ask citizens to buy their own eBooks in order to access public library materials!! Public libraries are a PUBLIC SERVICE that people support with taxes. To require eBooks as sole distribution means that the library would be required to enable those who don't have an eBook. I imagine their would be multiple lawsuits, otherwise. Have fun with that!

I don't have to turn my book "off" when a plane is taking off; I don't have to worry about my book getting to hot if I leave it in the trunk; I don't have to worry about it getting bumped in my backpack, or getting wet in the rain. My book will not require replacement every 3 years because it is obsolete.

Random House just pulled eBook contracts from libraries!! Guess what, no Random House books until this is settled.

eBook manufacturers have algorithms that let them know what and when you are reading, and are working on new algorithms that will give them more information about your interests.

eBooks have HUGE security and privacy issues.

Millions of books are not in eBook format. It will be years - if ever - before this is accomplished. What about patrons with esoteric reading interests?

eBooks are often formatted in the most basic ways - without color, style, or proper design. That's not true of newer titles, but what about the millions-of-books backlists?

ePub is cool, BUT it's the latest flavor of the day. What happens when new standards appear - and they will! Many small publishers will delay or not convert! Will your current eBook read the new formats? If not, who will buy the new eBook for the library?

It's insulting to reading challenged individuals to dismiss their RIGHT to access the same material that non-challenged readers do. If universal access is not possible via eBooks, it's a deal breaker!

You can read a book ANYWHERE - not so with eBooks. Many eReaders are horrible in daylight, where bright sun is present.

eBooks can be HACKED, to break DRM.

About libraries - libraries are EVOLVING, just like books! DO some research instead of bowing down to the Religion of Technology. eBooks are great, but in no way does that technology replace libraries. Libraries are also learning and community centers, with *experienced* information experts that can help guide the growth of intellectual capital in an ever more complex information environment. In fact, library use has gone UP since the invention of the computer and eBooks!

Homeless people are CITIZENS, with RIGHTS! You are no more special than a homeless person when it comes to accessing public services paid for by tax dollars! How many citizens have been assaulted in a library? How many people have been robbed at gunpoint in Palo Alto in the last 5 years. Get a clue! Also, you are woefully unaware of procedures that librarians take to make sure that those who are disruptive (including non-homeless people) or have poor hygiene are made to leave the library. Other procedures are being put in place to make sure that people don't sleep on public property overnight. Perhaps you should thank your lucky stars that you are not mentally ill, or otherwise challenged, instead of making general pronouncements about unfortunate people who are your FELLOW CITIZENS?!

Gee, a KIndle is ONLY $79.00 (about $90, with tax). No doubt the price will decrease. It doesn't cost me anything (except the tax dollars to support the library) to access the library. btw, a family of 4, 5, 6, and more can all afford the library for the same tax payment. AND, they can use eBooks that the library subscribes to, if they CHOOSE.

Free eBooks? Not really. They may approach "free" eventually - maybe in 4-5- years, BUT "free" will be LEVERAGED with forced ads on the screens, and a LOT of other noise and digital intrusion that readers of books may not want to put up with. Good luck reading Shakespeare as your side screed calls up a Google ad for tickets to a local theatre company, or an ad for a car that prior web searches show you have an interest in! There is no "free". Oh, and you still have to buy batteries! And you still can't get the darn thing wet, or drop it a long distance.

You bring up the iPad?!! In the context of library access? At $800 that sounds pretty elitist to me. And you further predict that the numbers of people able to afford Apple's wonderful, but expensive products, will grow? In THIS economy? Have you read the news lately?

No, it's techno-religio-universalists that need to get their head out of the sand, and realize that books are a very successful technology, and that libraries are evolving, just like books, and technology. Libraries provide MANY more benefits that reading and moving image materials.

For anyone who is in doubt, how about putting $10K on the table, right now, and betting that "libraries will be empty in ten years, or not. Put your money where your mouth is!

The library is going to be built; it will come in under budget; and, YOU will use it! How about that. If you decide not to use it, that's your loss, and an extra seat for my kid.

btw, you don't think libraries can evolve? Read and listen to the following:
Web Link

Web Link

"Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario."
Web Link (Seth Godin is widely respected as one of the most savvy tech and publishing marketing guru's out there - take his words seriously)

Happy reading!


Like this comment
Posted by Ugg
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I watched as our City Council willingly accepted their City Attorney's recommendations and handed over $21. Million to Enron's creditors without so much as a question as to how they could defend themselves against a potential lawsuit.

Now they are questioning $4. Million in change orders. Our City Council has their priorities all wrong.


Like this comment
Posted by Bookman
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Hey! Library haters! Get with the C O O L! Libraries are evolving!! Don't get left behind!

Web Link

You are gonna LOVE the new library! I promise! :)


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Better to have a central non-public repository for books, with free delivery and pickup to users. Then rent Mitchel and Main out for parties.


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2011 at 12:18 am

Good idea Walter, and we can make the Downtown library a homeless shelter.... Opps, it already is ;)


Like this comment
Posted by More-Dollars-Down-The-Drain
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2011 at 7:51 am


> Gee, there is a LOT of ignorance being spouted here,
> mostly it appears by sore losers who didn't want the library
> in the first place.

The ignorance in this posting is incredible!!! In a perfect world, pressing the "objectionable content" button would send this bilge off to the "bit bucket", but this is not a perfect world. So, here are some obvious refutations of this posters silliness:

> Here are some FACTS:

Wow! Some FACTS (but without citations, regrettably). Well, let’s examine these FACTS:

> Not everyone has an eBook or how to use
> an eBook (even though it's pretty easy)

And the point is?

By this logic:

1) Not everyone has a car,
2) Not everyone has a microwave
3) Not everyone has a child

And so all of these people will never have:

A Car, or a Microwave, or a Child.

What bent logic is this?

Ebook readers (for the most part), have an on-switch, and “Next Page” button. That’s about all you have to know to read on them. Depending on the type of reader, downloading books can be very easy, to a little tedious. Certainly people who claim that they “can’t learn how to use an ebook reader” should not be allowed to drive a car, because cars are far more difficult to operate.

> Everyone knows how to use a book.

Well, once they have been taught what a book is, and why one might want to read.

> Books are a hugely successful *technology*.

Yes, this is true. But Horses were a mode of transportation used by humans for a very long time—until the steam engine, and the gasoline engine, were invented.

> eBooks require batteries, also, they can break.

What a foolish comment. Almost everything in the world requires some sort of energy to function—even people. One can only wonder if this poster will not use:

1) His car—because it has a battery.
2) A portable radio—because it has a battery.
3) A pacemaker—because it has a battery.

The current crop of ebook readers (and personal electronics) definitely need batteries (meaning access to power and possiblhy down-time for recharging), but given that it would be difficult to find a home in America that does not have grid power, recharging a current e-book is not that difficult--certainly no more difficult than recharging a cell phone, which presumably people using paper books have heard of, and some actually use.

IBM has for some time now been working on what it hopes will be the next generation of "memories", which will increase the storage capacity for a given physical size, and decrease the power consumption requirements by upwards of 1000 times the current generation of memory devices.

Racetrack Memories Near The Finish Line:
Web Link

If and when this new memory technology is available, the next generation of personal electronics will likely be able to recharge from sun light, or through other techniques, such as “power harvesting”. It is entirely possible that for many people, these devices will not require recharging from the grid for most use.

> they don't break, and they don't cost a
> lot of money when you lose them, or break them.

Books are easily damaged, or destroyed by:

1) Water
2) Fire
3) Various Chemicals
4) Silverfish (and other vermin, like mice)

Some Ebook readers are now about $80, and will be even cheaper in the coming months and years. Used ebook readers will be quite inexpensive, as people discard older versions for newer models.

And paper books are generally much more expensive than ebooks. The initial cost of any ebook reader is recovered after purchasing from only 20-40 ebooks.

> eBooks are not fully accessible to the reading disabled

And all paper books are?

Text-to-speech will correct this problem for e-books easily, and cheaply.

> Technology standards constantly change, requiring a
> "refresh" every several years (at minimum)

And your point is?

Everything in our modern world ages, and needs replacement, over time. While books sitting on a shelf, that are never used, might require a “refresh”—of what value are they if just sit there and are not used? Most libraries have to replace highly circulated books frequently. When people drop jam, coffee, or blood, on paper books, they can not be easily wiped clean with a sponge, as the mostly plastic and metal ebook cases can.

Digital copies of ebooks do not age like paper copies do. The trade off between the paper medium and the electronic medium so favor the electronic side of the equation that there very little room for discussion of this point.

Well, seems like there wasn't much of value in this posters "FACTS". The shift to digital is not only on-going, but rapidly accelerating. Walk into any coffee shop and count the iPods, iPads, and portable computers vs the number of books being read, or used. It's easily 10-1 (or even larger) here in Palo Alto, in favor of personal electronics. It would be hard not to find those some numbers in libraries these days. Given that up to 50% of the circulation in Silicon Valley public libraries is in videos .. there are very few people actually reading books, or "doing research" in public libraries any more. These functions are quickly becoming little more than artifacts to labor union control of local government, and a refusal of a certain segment of society to live in the 21st Century.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2011 at 8:29 am

I don't think the argument is print v ebooks. I see good reason for both being around for sometime.

I like books, but they do get dirty, damaged, lost and need somewhere to be kept. However, I have some books which are of sentimental value because they have been given to me by someone special with a special note in the cover, for instance. Print books are easy to lend to someone and hard to get back. I don't buy many books, but library books can be pretty dirty too. I don't spend much time at the library as I put holds online and wait for the email telling me to pick them up off the hold shelf which I do and selfcheckout which means I use very little of the library space.

I can see value in ebooks too. Last time I was away I took 3 print books which were heavy and bulky when I was trying to take only carry on luggage and trying to read them in the dark on the plane with the overhead reading light disturbed my seat neighbor who was trying to sleep so I ended up not reading much. An e reader would have been a much easier option for me (even if I had to turn it off for takeoff and landing) but I can't see myself getting attached to an ebook the way I might be attached to a favorite book given to me by a special person.

But as I said, the argument is not one versus the other. It is the real need for so much space to store books in accessible shelves in 5 different locations in our small town.

As I said, most library borrowers use very little space for book borrowing. but they may use it for computer use or story times. These uses do not require shelves of books and in fact get in the way of other uses.

Therefore, we are looking at community center uses rather than libraries. We do need community space with computer access, space for children's programs and also we need space for community meetings and renting out by groups in our community for things like weekly niche interest groups, eg. handcrafts or AA.

So it comes down to why do we need to store books 5 places around town when we don't need them. A book and materials checkout/return desk in a community center is all that is needed.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Why not just stop the construction now. Dedicate the skeleton as a monument to the Palo Alto Way. Then automate the library into the 21st century.


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Posted by toldyouso
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

in public works, public agencies don't get to pick their contractor...the contractor gets to pick the agency. Palo Alto has no process to attract good contractors...many of the best contractors declined to bid this project because they had no pre-qualification and no prevailing wage requirement. What they got was Flintco, who is well know for bidding low and making it up with change orders and cheap subs using imported labor).


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Posted by Charlie
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Now people should be very worried about passing Measure E..


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Toldyouso, strict bonding requirements are the answer to the frailties of open bidding. Let the bonding companies vet their customers.


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Posted by fail
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

It is destined 2 fail.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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