Gray injects green into council campaign

Financial consultant takes funding lead with a $30,000 contribution to his own campaign

Tim Gray's dark-horse candidacy for the Palo Alto City Council received a major boost from a $30,000 contribution that the financial consultant has injected into his own campaign.

Gray, who has twice run unsuccessfully for a seat on the nine-member council, is hoping that third time will be the charm and he's got the funds to prove it. While he ran his first two campaigns on a shoestring budget, his recent $30,000 contribution has given him the largest campaign chest of the six candidates in the race.

Gray, whose top issue is fiscal responsibility, told the Weekly that he is not accepting contributions for his council campaign. His decision to fund the campaign exclusively with his own money, he said, is intended to reinforce his status as an independent candidate.

According to campaign-finance records filed Friday, Oct. 5, attorney Marc Berman also remains flush with cash. His $23,846 places him second behind Gray, though his funds have come from a diverse network of donors. These include economist Stephen Levy and planning Commissioner Alex Panelli, both of whom served with Berman on the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission, a panel that analyzed the city's infrastructure needs.

Councilman Pat Burt edged former Mayor Liz Kniss for third place in fundraising by the Sept. 30 deadline, with $11,075. Burt's large field of donors includes various neighborhood leaders, including Karen White, Annette Glanckopf and Norm Beamer; established politicians such as Assemblyman Jerry Hill and state Sen. Joe Simitian (each contributed $100); and local developers. Two entities associated with prominent developer Charles "Chop" Keenan had each contributed $500 to Burt's campaign. Mark Gates of the real-estate company Hamilton Management chipped in another $500.

Burt also received $500 from Jim Baer, a prolific consultant who has been involved in most of the city's recent major development applications. These included the recently approved Lytton Gateway development, a four-story structure pegged for Lytton Avenue and Alma Street. Two of the partners involved in the Lytton Gateway project, Lund Smith and Boyd Smith, each gave $500 to Burt's campaign. At the same time, Burt received a $250 contribution from the California League of Conservation voters.

The other incumbent in the race, Greg Schmid, reported $8,059 in contributions as of Sept. 30, though his contributions came from very different sources than Burt's. Some of the city's leading critics of major new developments, including former council members Jack Morton ($150), Emily Renzel ($200) and Enid Pearson ($100) contributed to his campaign. Land-use watchdogs Bob Moss and Fred Balin have also chipped in $100 each. The retired economist also received $100 contributions from former mayors Yoriko Kishimoto and Gary Fazzino and from state politicians Hill and Simitian.

Kniss, meanwhile, ended the reporting period with $10,921 in cash. The termed-out Santa Clara County supervisor has received contributions from numerous local residents and former officials. Kishimoto and Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd each contributed $100. Kniss has also received $500 from the campaign of her fellow Supervisor Ken Yeager.

The sixth candidate in the race, Mark Weiss, isn't raising any funds for his campaign.

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Posted by Just-How-Much-Does-A-Palo-Alto-City-Council-Seat-Cost?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

> Gray, whose top issue is fiscal responsibility, told the Weekly
> that he is not accepting contributions for his council campaign.
> His decision to fund the campaign exclusively with his own money,
> he said, is intended to reinforce his status as an independent
> candidate.

Interesting. Let's see if he can buy this Council seat.

What would be more interesting would be his actually analyzing the City's current, and future, financial situation--providing the voters some idea of what problems he sees/foresees, and how he would redirect the financial management of the City's affairs to avoid/mitigate these problems.

Like this comment
Posted by Cynthia
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 9, 2012 at 10:45 am

Grey "backs pot shops" a Post front-page headline is saying this morning. A sad revelation, to be sure. Tim Grey is NOT a guy I want representing me.

Mr. Grey's $30,000 "contribution" to his own campaign is actually a loan. The difference is, whatever he doesn't spend he can take back. Mr. Grey, with no campaign and no community support really, can only blow that kind of money with big buys of newspaper ads over the next 3 weeks.

We will all see how this plays out. Not well for Mr. Grey, I predict.

Like this comment
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 9, 2012 at 10:47 am

The headline is extremely appropriate

Like this comment
Posted by Daddy Warbucks
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Oct 9, 2012 at 10:51 am

Any number of wealthy Palo Altans can try to buy a council seat. Most of the other candidates for city council have established records of public service and community involvement, and have received broad support from the community. What has Mr. Gray done in the community to indicate he's qualified to serve on the city council? He clearly enjoys running for office, but has he done anything recently that would make me want to vote for him?

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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

Far better to have a candidate fund his own campaign than be on the take and beholden to special interests (like Mr. Burt appears to be to developers).

One man's opinion.

Like this comment
Posted by Big picture
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

Burt and Kniss are not honoring the Palo Alto tradition of voluntary contribution limit of $350 per person. Berman, Schmid and Gray are. The lack of contribution limits makes it all the more difficult for candidates in future races to launch effective campaigns without the support of big money interests.

This story doesn't give the whole picture of the total campaign funds for Kniss. How can she be in third place with something less than than $11,075 in contributions, have paid for advertising and flyers, and still have $10,921 in cash at the end of September? Something is not being reported in this article, maybe her loan/contribution to her own campaign? If so, how much?

How much are all the candidates loaning/contributing to their own campaigns? How much are they spending?

Like this comment
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

Gray's got my vote on several counts, especially his fiscal responsibility and willingness to engage with voters like he's doing now and has done in the past. If you watched the 2-hour long candidate forum -- as only about 36 people did -- you'll see his answers were specific.

At least he's not calling my like Liz or writing to me asking for donations like Burt.

And I'd STILL like to hear more answers from the candidates about the traffic mess and fighting density.

I'd also like to know what's being down to preserve the character of the community and some of the wonderful old houses. I'm still crushed about the Birge Clark on Webster that was destroyed to make room for another characterless Casa Magnificaca.

Like this comment
Posted by JM
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2012 at 11:17 am

If a successful campaign had to spend money, which is the case no matter we like it or not, I would rather it came from candidate's own pocket.

We have heard so many stories about special interest groups in DC or from SPC. Funny when the it came to our doorstep, the feeling seems different. After all if I gave some one political contribution, I cannot resist to enforce my viewpoints through the candidate's position than say, just complain it here in the forum.

Plus, Gray's contribution is a kind of "vote with your wallet". At least it shows his determination to serve the community in his unique way.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Kniss' list of supporters and donors is an honor roll of ALL the major developers. She has a history of supporting them and they are returning the favor.
Developers and their supporters for Kniss:
Chop Keenan, Roxy Rapp, Walt Hays, Lanie Wheeler, Jim Baer, Owen Byrd, Tony Carrasco, Kathy Schmidt, Lanie Wheeler (on Chamber of Commerce, she always supports developers).
They know what they are paying for.

Like this comment
Posted by Daddy Warbucks
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Oct 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

People keep saying that Mr. Gray "is a breath of fresh air" and "engages the community," but still no one has offered a specific thing that he has done in the community in the last few years other than run for office every election cycle. Not one. I'm not trying to be mean, but I am very curious - what has he done? Any boards or commissions? Any leadership roles on community initiatives? His own website doesn't even list anything.

As for the argument that it's better to self-fund your campaign - I strongly disagree. If that were the case then only rich people could run for office. What kind of a society would we have then? Why not raise money in low dollar amounts from a broad group of supporters? I don't advocate taking money from special interests, but we can't equate those contributions with those from ordinary Palo Altans interested in the future of our community.

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm

"Civic Engagement" is so much more than City activities. I must ask your permission to offer a different perspective puts the word "Civic" into a much broader and inclusive definition:

I was spurred to community service in 2007 when former Mayor Vic Ojakian lamented the lack of community participation in City government. I was inspired, and having worked in Community Service nearly all of my career, most notably as a member of the Finance leadership that created the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. I was well-trained in the Stewardship of a Public Trust, and I had learned what can be accomplished with the spirit of cooperation and a clear shared vision.

I felt the City could use not only my financial skills as a Certified Public Accountant, but also the skills of finding common ground in a large organization with competing priorities. I learned by jumping in and attending meetings, speaking at council, and writing letters to the editor advocating Citizen Participation, greater inclusiveness of the residents in Government, financial discipline, and freedom from special interests.

The Stanford Hospital and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital expansion was a major issue for the Council, and I advocated for the life-saving benefits that the project offered, with fairly quantified mitigations for the traffic and housing – which was resolved on a very positive basis for the City. Since my wife works at the Children’s Hospital, and Hospital expansion was a top issue even past the 2009 election, it was viewed that the fact that I could not be an suitable representative on this issue. Even though I only spend $800 on my campaign in 2009, I contributed by bringing Financial Discipline to the forefront of the conversation. I was the first to point out that the Labor Union funding of the local candidates represented a Conflict of Interest. It was at first very controversial, and then later understood to be an accepted truth.

The letters to the editor and times I have spoke to the Council are too many to mention, but I have been consistent vocal advocate for financial discipline, transparency in government, and community justice (City government is our first line of defense for constitutional issues.)

Finally, Civic Engagement is so much more that City activities. I was recruited by Dr. Walter Bortz (Palo Alto Physician and Healthy Aging Expert) to serve on the Board of Directors of the Age Center Alliance and served many years on the Board of Directors for East Palo Alto Teen Home (mission was to allow young girls to finish high school by providing them with a safe place to live.)

My advocacy for responsible government continues. The web site restates the letters to the editor and Council presentations that most recently have been around Financial Discipline, moderation of Mega Projects and proper valuation of Community Benefits, and moving forward in matching the progress of our neighbor cities in the public access of our waterfront.

Any parent will tell you that just having children in school and the related activities is Civic Engagement. Especially when one parent is a girl scout leader and PTA president for a couple years. Community Service is not just offered by the individual -- it really takes the cooperation from an entire family. I want to recognize my wife Susan and our three children for cooperating with this important community conversation called City Council Election.

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I want the residents to know that I am sincere in my offer of community service.

There is still a high degree of voter skepticism that the candidates will represent their best interest, so it is important that I show that I am independent, and that my motive is true community service.

Please accept a quick story that has sharpened my clarity about the City Council Election:

I was talking with a newspaper reporter about the election campaign and my 13-year-old daughter tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Dad, just tell them that you want to stand up for Palo Alto."

After phone interview I asked her about what she had said. Her answer: "Just tell them that you are Standing up for Palo Alto. You know -- we need to protect places for people to buy things, keep places for people to walk and ride bikes, and keep Palo Alto from having so many big building out to the curb that it is not fun to live here anymore."

She responded, "Forget the the philosophical talk, like 'Shared Community Vision yeah yeah yeah' and just say you are going to Stand up for Palo Alto."

When I explained that it means that I am going to fight for the things that people agree are important, she said "Good, then just say that. We need you to help Palo Alto."

Sometimes, there is nothing more to say.

Like this comment
Posted by Go Tim!
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Tim, you are doing a great job standing up for Palo Alto and fiscal responsibility. Keep up the good work!

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Dear Cynthia and others that have a concern about my answer to the Daily Post about my answer to the Daily Post:

I was asked how I would personally vote on the Medical Dispensing and I stated that I would vote for it. That is Citizen Gray who, having years of experience in the healthcare field, feels that providing a safe and well-controlled dispensary near a major cancer treatment campus is appropriate.

Both Citizen Cynthia and Citizen Gray will have one vote at the polls.

Candidate Gray wants to stay focused on creating a financial balance for Palo Alto, and stand up for moderated progressive growth as allowed within out Comprehensive Plan -- not the numerous examples of excess that I feel threatens to destroy the character of our neighborhoods. Moderation is needed, and we need to respect the diversity of opinions on many different topics, and stay focused on the big-picture issues that impact our quality of life.

When all the Citizens' votes are tallied, then Councilman Gray and the other representatives will simply implement the will of the people as expressed in the ballot box. No more and no less.

I know how you feel in wanting to preserve our safe neighborhoods. I had the same concerns, until I learned that far from presenting any risk to my children, measures can be in place that would make it no more disruptive than someone traveling to Stanford to get chemotherapy. Voters have already expressed the will of the people to allow this very important remedy to unfathomable pain and suffering of people fighting for their life.

Should our community accept the Medical Dispensaries, we can trust Chief Dennis Burns and his department to implement world class community protection.

I plead with you to be tolerant of a diversity of personal opinions, and know that Candidate Gray will stay focused on doing the hard work to promote financial balance in City Operations.

Thank you for having room in your heart for a personal opinion that may be contrary to how you feel. We can agree to disagree on some things. Thank you so much for your time in reading this.

Timothy Gray Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Independence Has A Price -- Free from Contributions and Endorsers

My campaign is a model of loyalty to the residents of Palo Alto.

I have chosen to be independent, in fact and in appearance, by not accepting contributions and not seeking endorsements.

That is a difficult way to Win an election, with so much Special Interest money flowing into the Council campaigns. Independence, in fact and in appearance, are so important for the Council to regain the trust of the residents, who have become extremely skeptical of City Government as "Mega Project" rise up around them, streets and sidewalks deteriorate, and leaders strategize how to pay for past excesses with debt that gets handed to our children.

With no conflicts of interest, I feel I can offer an open mind and be a true representative of the greatest good. One voice in nine Council seats does not control the direction, but I think there is room for a financial advocate on the City Council Team, and I believe I can offer a special blend of Advocacy and Cooperation to makes things at least one shade of Gray better.

Timothy Gray

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

> Since my wife works at the Children’s Hospital, and
> Hospital expansion

So .. this would disqualify you from voting on all Stanford-related issues, wouldn't it?

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm

> My campaign is a model of loyalty to the residents of Palo Alto.

Are you kidding? Can you actually offer concrete examples of your "loyalty" to Palo Alto?

Pleezzeezzee ..

Like this comment
Posted by Tim Gray Supporter
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I don't know Tim, but anyone who wants to replace the clownish government we currently have running the city in the name of fiscal responsibility has my vote. And I'd far rather him spend his own money to do it than be a public employee union stooge like most of the rest of the council

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Tim, you have a pretty good chance of getting elected if you can give the votes an understanding on how you will vote. It's un-predictable what issues will come before the council the next four years; "loyalty to the residents of Palo Alto" just doesn't give me that insight - Palo Alto has residents of all sorts of views.

I think there are several categories that you should give us some insights on:

* Land use & zoning changes

* Environmental mandates

* City workforce compensation

* Service prioritization & spending

* Taxation

You need to articulate your views in way that we the voters will be able predict how you would vote on a specific issue.

Scharff did this in the last election when he talked about the abuse of the PC zoning process, which gave the impression that he would give greater consideration to the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Scharff turned out to be very pro-developer (the quote that will haunt him for a long time was when he said of the Lytton Gateway project that the building itself was a public benefit for granting the PC zoning change).

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm I welcome the request for detail and hope this web site provides a starting point. Also, please look at my answers to the Palo Alto Neighborhood Questionnaire at Web Link.

Also, please see the words of wisdom from my 13 year old daughter.

Thanks for asking.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2012 at 6:45 am

With the exception of the pot shops, I have not heard a word about Tim Gray which I dislike. It is time for some changes in Palo Alto and Tim appears to be the only candidate who wants to be accountable to the people of Palo Alto first.

I think what he stands for is evident to anyone who reads or listens to him.

Thanks Tim.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 10, 2012 at 11:51 am

@Timothy Gray - I'm curious about your thoughst on public safety and crime.

Do you think the Palo Alto Police Department needs a new facility.

Would you have the department decrease, hold steady, or increase the number of officers?

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

Actually I filed Form 470 campaign disclosure which is for candidates who have not formed a committee, do not anticipate accepting contributions up to $1,000 and do not anticipate spending up to the threshhold of $1,000.
Web Link

I have not spent any money on my campaign to date.

I agree that candidates who accept money from the developers likely compromise their commitment to their constituents.

There is more info on my campaign on my blog.
Web Link

Also, in a related matter, I believe I am the first person in Palo Alto to suggest that Council issue a declaration in support of the grassroots nation-wide initiative regarding a Constitutional amendment to overturn "Citizen's United".

I have lived here on and off since 1974 and am known to many people here. The word of my campaign is spreading such that I just might take that fourth seat, especially if the posters above are typical of the current sentiment about the need for change. Either way, I will continue to speak out and act in my own way towards keeping Palo Alto as great as it has been in its 110-year history and not let it be ruined by the boom town mentality of the builders.

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Mr. Recycle,

I am a fan of the Community Policing model that was modeled by retired Palo Alto Officer John Costa. I can only express some principals that would inform my thinking. We can look to best practices that have been implemented in areas around New York City that have crime rates lower than Palo Alto without higher staffing ratios. In those areas, the City Councils mandated that a higher percentage of all police, no matter the rank, were out on the streets and desk time at the police station was limited. Further, more time was spent on the ground in neighborhoods vs. driving in cars. This makes sense to me as I would want an officer stopping a robber vs. giving a ticket on Alma for going 42 m.p.h., however, we do need traffic safety, so I am not saying to drop all efforts in this area.

I trust Chief Dennis Burns judgement, so I would want to ask him how we compare with other Cities, and also communicate to the public the best practices used in other Cities and then how he is managing to attain those best practices.

My advocacy is for Fiscal Restraint, however that does not mean that we spend less on Public Safety. Any reduction in City services would be based on a broad consensus of community priorities, vs. my personal opinion. Currently the Police Advisory Commission is closed to the public, so we do not have a public venue to discuss these issues, and look at empirical data that can be explained by the Chief in a public forum. We should have a venue that allows the citizens to hear from the Chief what best practices are being followed and how he has implemented the specifics in Palo Alto. Public Safety is a joint venture of the community, and not something we just delegate to the Police.

I look forward to learning more about how we can work with the Police to make Palo Alto safer.

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