News

Editorial: Holman, Scharff, DuBois, Filseth, Wolbach for City Council

In a field of 12 candidates, getting to five is not that easy

Watch the Weekly's video-recorded endorsement interviews with the candidates at 2014 Election Central: Palo Alto City Council

In a refreshingly issue-oriented City Council campaign that has become a bit of an in-your-face challenge to Palo Alto's political establishment, there are no simple paths to selecting the five best candidates.

While there are no official candidate "slates," the alliances of two groups of four candidates are not difficult to decipher.

Nancy Shepherd, Greg Scharff and newcomers A.C. Johnston and Cory Wolbach have the support of Palo Alto's political insiders -- that group of well-connected and longtime residents, mostly from north Palo Alto, who have dominated city politics for decades. These four are getting money and endorsements from common sources, including other politicians and office holders, and their victories will come closest to replicating the status quo political majority on the council.

On the other hand, incumbent Karen Holman and newcomers Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Lydia Kou draw their support from residents who feel the council majority has drifted badly in the wrong direction by approving developments that have increased traffic congestion, exacerbated parking problems and accelerated undesirable changes in the makeup of our business districts.

Emboldened by their election victory a year ago with the defeat of Measure D, which rejected a council-approved housing development on Maybell Avenue across from Briones Park (except for Holman, who joined her council colleagues in supporting it), this group is unhappy with the changes it sees happening in the city, particularly the trend toward densification of both housing and commercial development.

That leaves four candidates (John Fredrich, Mark Weiss, Wayne Douglass and Seelam Reddy) running as individuals who have some strong viewpoints -- generally critical of current council policies -- but lack extensive grass-roots support. Voters will find elements of each of their campaign platforms that resonate with them, but none is superior to the other eight candidates.

With this lineup, many voters will probably not cast five votes. They will go with one group of four or the other, depending on their satisfaction with the current City Council majority.

For those who believe things have been going just fine and want a council as similar as possible to the one we now have, then vote for Scharff, Shepherd, Johnston and Wolbach.

For those with high levels of frustration with the council and city management, voting for Holman, DuBois, Filseth and Kou will bring about the greatest change.

We don't believe either group, however, gives us the strongest candidates to guide the city forward and represent the diversity of opinion in the community.

As has been seen over the last year in both words and actions, the council has pivoted dramatically in response to harsh feedback from citizens about its handling of parking, traffic and development issues. There has been a frenzy of activity to address these problems that one could either generously describe as healthy representative democracy in action or, less kindly, as a cynical and politically motivated shift to preserve the current balance of power on the council.

There are also some subtexts to this election worth mentioning.

One is that all three incumbents could deservedly be thrown out for their conduct regarding developer John Arrillaga's office tower proposal for 27 University Ave. and his desire to buy 7.7 acres in the foothills.

The council's participation and acquiescence in secret discussions with Arrillaga and in briefings by the staff designed to keep the public in the dark about his controversial proposals were wrong and legitimized concerns over the credibility and integrity of our local government. That it took a Grand Jury report to elicit apologies, long after the council and staff's behavior was exposed by the Weekly, just adds to the violation of trust experienced by the community.

Another subtext is the conjecture by some that the "challengers" (primarily Kou, DuBois and Filseth) simply want no growth and want to freeze Palo Alto in time. This characterization, fostered by the city's political insiders, now includes labeling them as libertarians or Tea Party members trying to take advantage of anti-development sentiment to win office, where they can then attempt to obstruct and reduce city government. This wolf-in-sheep's-clothes speculation is disturbing both for its lack of foundation and its stealth.

While we have major criticisms of this council, it is important to also recognize they and a new city manager have successfully navigated through very bad economic times, tackled the city's infrastructure needs, made some long overdue personnel changes at City Hall, and reformed labor and pension rules and processes. There are no bums to throw out, but that doesn't mean voters shouldn't carefully assess their effectiveness.

So with this context, we recommend the re-election of two incumbents, Karen Holman and Greg Scharff, and three newcomers, Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach.

None of the candidates is without liabilities, but together we think this group would result in a better balance and be more representative of all of Palo Alto than any council in a long time. It would bring onto the council some vocal critics, which is appropriate.

Scharff has been visibly humbled by the rejection of Measure D and the associated wave of criticism of the City Council. While we join those who wonder whether his transformation over the last year is for real, we hope and believe he will be true to his campaign statements and work to assemble council majorities to adopt tough new parking requirements for new buildings, reform or eliminate the planned-community-zone process, expand retail protections, continue to pressure ABAG to change its housing allocation process and be more responsive to neighborhood concerns.

Scharff is smart, carefully studies the issues and is capable of being one of the leaders of a more diverse council if he continues to focus on listening to his constituents. He's made some significant errors in judgment, such as being enamored with large development projects that he thought would bring welcomed "vitality," but he's owned up to most of them and now says he's heard the community. Absent a better alternative, we're prepared to give him a chance to prove it.

We're supporting Holman, DuBois and Filseth because we think their strong views on limiting development reflect those of a large number, if not majority, of Palo Altans.

Holman has almost always been on the losing side of controversial votes and is often disregarded, and sometimes disrespected, by some of her colleagues. Yet she has detailed knowledge of the issues and persistently advocates for tougher treatment of development proposals, more transparency, more proactive planning and support for those in need in our community. In the wake of current community sentiment, the council is actually moving more in her direction than at any time during her four-year tenure.

DuBois and Filseth will bring valuable new neighborhood voices to the council. Both have high-tech business and entrepreneurial backgrounds similar to many Palo Alto residents. Both have done their homework on the issues and share a commitment to not grant zoning exceptions in exchange for dubious public benefits and to improving the way the city reaches out to and engages citizens. As residents of Midtown and Downtown North, they will also represent historically underrepresented neighborhoods.

Advocates of more affordable or subsidized housing worry that DuBois and Filseth may try to obstruct such projects in the future based on their opposition to Measure D, but we believe they realize the importance of the city's long and proud history of income and ethnic diversity and that they will use their positions to craft such projects that will be supported in the neighborhoods.

While new to local politics, Cory Wolbach is the type of resident we should be encouraging to run for public office. A Palo Alto native and product of our schools, he is an aide to State Senator Jerry Hill and is part of a generation that we want to encourage to step up and participate in leading our city. His state government experience will bring a helpful dimension to the council, especially as it wrestles with regional issues such as ABAG's housing mandates. While we were frustrated by his overly vague policy statements early in the campaign, he has now articulated strong support for limiting new commercial development, focusing on how the city can create more affordable and subsidized housing options and implementing additional protections of retail businesses.

We cannot recommend the re-election of Nancy Shepherd, who has disappointed us for what we view as a leadership failure in not using her role as mayor this year to reach out to the community and attempt to heal the wounds from the Measure D election, for not bringing about a more collaborative and cohesive atmosphere on the council in its wake, and for her general defensiveness over council decisions on development proposals. Her work on high-speed rail prior to being elected four years ago propelled her to office, and she deserves much credit for her successful efforts to protect Palo Alto's interests. But for what the city needs now, we think others will be more effective.

Finally, neither Lydia Kou nor A.C. Johnston has demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the issues to be ready to serve. Johnston has no history of community involvement and has lived in the city for less than two years (although he lived here previously during the 1990s.) He was uninformed on the most controversial issues the council has considered in recent years, including the so-called Gateway project at 101 Lytton. That lack of homework is not a sign of someone passionate about serving.

Kou similarly lacks confidence in addressing the issues and in debates has been unable to articulate clear and specific answers to many questions. Both would be more credible candidates in two years after getting more involved and gaining a more thorough understanding of city issues.

We recommend Karen Holman, Greg Scharff, Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach as the best combination of candidates to begin the process of reuniting our community.

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Comments

21 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I'm surprised that the editors are recommending Wolbach & Scharff. Wolbach is vague on where he stands on the issues, and worse yet, he has broken his pledge on not taking campaign contributions from developers [portion removed.]

And of Scharff, the editoral staff says "He's made some significant errors in judgment, such as being enamored with large development projects that he thought would bring welcomed "vitality," but he's owned up to most of them. At the candidate forums, I did not hear any apology, nor contrition over Lytton Gateway, Measure D, 27 University, the J Paul Project, nor how he stifled dissent by his use of committee appointments to various issues to freeze out Holman, Schmid & Burt.

Kou has been very articulate in her responses at the debate, and anyone I talk to knows where she stands on the various issues. Her work on Measure D, her work on Emergency Prepareness, and her knowledge of the all the neighborhoods of Palo Alto makes her a better choice than either Scharff or Wolbach.


7 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of University South
on Oct 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm

While I'm not at all surprised to see @common sense immediately go negative, I'm pleased to see the Weekly endorse Cory Wolbach for City Council. I think they made a great choice.

I've been incredibly impressed by Cory's ability to rise above the noise (i.e., toxic atmosphere that's taken over Palo Alto civic life) to focus on issues and solutions. Rather than call people names or insinuate ulterior and unseemly motives, Cory realizes that Palo Altans have far more in common than not and that we all want to see our community continue to be a wonderful place to live and raise a family. He'd be a great addition to the Council, someone who listens and seems eager to work with people on all sides of an issue.

Cory exemplifies civility, which is desperately needed right now. I realize he won't appeal to those screaming for heads to roll, but that's probably a good thing. While we have our challenges, I think Palo Alto's a pretty amazing place to live. There are plenty of areas for improvement, and I think Cory's the right candidate to bring our town together to chart that path forward.


17 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Thanks to the Weekly for the endorsement! I'd also like to thank them for exposing the ugly whisper campaign suggesting I'm a libertarian or Tea party member - which is entirely unfounded (and a bit humorous).

While I believe that city council should remain a non-partisan race, I'll state for the record that I have been a life-long Democrat, a Democrat for longer than one of the other candidates has been alive.

Voting records are available online, and anyone concerned about any of the candidates affiliations should look them up.


10 people like this
Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 9, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Eric F is a registered user.

The whisper-campaign thing is just weird.


16 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 10, 2014 at 1:36 am

Greenacres is a registered user.

I, too, am very surprised about this characterization of Lydia Kou. Having spent considerable time speaking to both Lydia Kou and Cory Wolbach, probably far more than the Weekly, and working with Lydia Kou, it comes across to me almost like someone mixed up their notes.

Like Tim Gray, Lydia isn't maybe the slickest speaker sometimes, and she's very humble, and that probably worked against her in the interview. But having had the chance to get to know both of them and see how much intelligence, courage and conviction they have, how well they understand and care about Palo Alto, I'm really surprised at this assessment. It's too bad Tim Gray won't run, but I would really love to see Kou win. She also just knows Palo Alto through her work in ways no one else does. She has an international background, too, that no one else does. I think she would bring a lot to the Council that no one else will.

There are more things to civic duty than development, and the one candidate I see who will make safety a number one priority is Kou, too. Every Council should have at least one person willing to go out on a limb for something like safety that everyone else takes for granted until something really bad happens, and in my opinion, that's Kou. Safety is not the glamorous issue, people can actually get downright abusive when they want to cut corners (and of course no one ever thinks they are). I would like to see the new Council deal with this top priority of civic life better, and I just don't see that happening unless Kou is there to keep it a priority.

I really like Cory Wolbach, but I actually hope he understands the value of time, maturity, and involvement -- I would love to see him get involved in local politics and run again in 4 years. Sorry, but I just feel like if he is elected now, he'll end up hurting his own future political chances (which I think are good, I think we will benefit from, and hope he will pursue), and he'll end up too much under the thumb of people who will hurt those chances before he comes into his own. That's better done on the other side of the podium. Having said that, if Filseth, Kou, Dubois and Holman were to win, I would be happy if Woldbach were the 5th. Or Scharff.

Wolbach would do better to be involved in the community first in ways that make people all around town ask him to consider running for Council out of pure desire to problem solve for our City, as has happened with Filseth, Kou and Dubois. None of them wants to be a longtime politician. Wolbach just hasn't been involved during a pretty major political season in this town. I hope he waits (sorry Cory).


7 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:32 am

Greenacres is a registered user.

To underscore my point about safety.

State law mandates 7 elements in City Comprehensive Plans: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open-space, noise, and safety.

So safety is 1 of 7 of the most important, mandated elements, though it is arguably the most important and should take top priority. Safety first.

Palo Alto has grown a lot, in many ways that impact safety, in ways we don't seem to be dealing with. Safety decisions play second fiddle to development decisions because of City power hierarchies and the de facto prioritization of development.

Of the questions the editors asked of the candidates, what percentage of those questions dealt with safety? Not whether we have a building, but safety issues themselves? At least 1 in 7? Or better yet, putting safety first? Were there any questions about safety at all? Questions regarding how safety needs and problems have changed with the major changes in Palo Alto in recent years and what to do about them? Questions about that? I'm guessing no, but would be happy to be surprised.

Were there any questions comparing and contrasting neighborhoods and their needs in a Citywide context? Again, my guess would be no.

I agree with a poster on another thread, too, there is value in diversity as well.


11 people like this
Posted by Jim45
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:33 am

Jim45 is a registered user.

It is difficult to decide which candidates to endorse with the limited time available to learn about them, especially the newcomers. The big surprise was not endorsing Lydia Kou. I have worked with her in the Emergency Preparedness Program and found her to be extremely responsive to her constituents and a real leader who sets goals and unites people to accomplish them together. She digs to the core of the issues, has more grit than almost anyone I know of and, once she gets all the facts, takes a strong stand. Lydia also has years of community service and knowledge of Palo Alto and the residents that would serve us well on the Council. We will all benefit from her being elected.


5 people like this
Posted by Long-time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:20 am

Moved from a duplicate topic:

I'm pleased to see the Weekly endorse Cory Wolbach for City Council. I think they made a great choice.

I've been incredibly impressed by Cory's ability to rise above the noise (i.e., toxic atmosphere that's taken over Palo Alto civic life) to focus on issues and solutions. Rather than call people names or insinuate ulterior and unseemly motives, Cory realizes that Palo Altans have far more in common than not and that we all want to see our community continue to be a wonderful place to live and raise a family. He'd be a great addition to the Council, someone who listens and seems eager to work with people on all sides of an issue.

Cory exemplifies civility, which is desperately needed right now. I realize he won't appeal to those screaming for heads to roll, but that's probably a good thing. While we have our challenges, I think Palo Alto's a pretty amazing place to live. There are plenty of areas for improvement, and I think Cory's the right candidate to bring our town together to chart that path forward.


1 person likes this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:22 am

Hello Palo Alto citizens:

I respect PA Weekly picks/recommendation for the five out of twelve.

However, you have your own mind; and have every right to really think a lot more that what the Weekly say.

I request/plead for your vote for the following reasons I stated in the voter information pamphlet. I am making case for ME/I because you will gain from my 'get tough' on 'Integrity' and 'Openness' and 'Innovation'. I have the energy and training. This is not a place for new comers that are light on training and experience.

[Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by trees
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:35 am

trees is a registered user.

Cory's the only candidate that knocked on my door and wanted to know what I thought about the city. He's shown himself to be a caring, considerate, and thoughtful person. Very pleased to see his endorsement here and very glad to see someone running who is focused on solutions, rather than the bitter back and forth we've seen this past year. He has a way of folding people into the discussion that I think will be invaluable to him as city council member. Other than the incumbents for whom this is there day to day, I think Cory has a better grasp of how city government works and the issues than anyone else in the field. He's articulate, meticulously prepared, and always responds with a tone of kindness. That's exactly what we need more of on the council.


3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

I want to thank the Weekly for their endorsements. I interpret that they like I are hoping for a healing process after the election so council members and the community can move beyond past differences and plan for the city's future. While we have some differences in who we endorsed I take the Weekly's endorsements as a statement of "let's move forward" after the election with hard work and a less rancorous tone.

I especially appreciate this part of their endorsement post

"While we have major criticisms of this council, it is important to also recognize they and a new city manager have successfully navigated through very bad economic times, tackled the city's infrastructure needs, made some long overdue personnel changes at City Hall, and reformed labor and pension rules and processes. There are no bums to throw out, but that doesn't mean voters shouldn't carefully assess their effectiveness."

I support posters "trees" and "long time resident" in their appreciation for the Weekly's support of Cory Wolbach. He combines legislative experience and regional connections with adding another younger voice to the council and his long time experience growing up in Palo Alto.

I look forward to the time after the election when, hopefully, the focus can return to the future.


10 people like this
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

pat is a registered user.

> Cory exemplifies civility, which is desperately needed right now. I realize he won't appeal to those screaming for heads to roll, but that's probably a good thing.

IMHO, there’s already too much “civility” (back-patting, praise, everyone deserves a trophy) and not enough accountability at City Hall. Do we ever hear of anyone being censured of fired for major problems, e.g., the Mitchell Park Library debacle or the grand jury report?


3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

Tom has impressed me through his engagement with the Our Palo Alto process, where he was a regular participant in the meetings to engage residents of all views in discussions of policy choices and residents' aspirations for the city. He contributed ideas that merited discussion and actively listened to other points of view, which I would want in a city council member. He showed an open mind on ways to achieve street-rail grade separation, which impressed me.

Having Tom in the council would give a place at the table for residents who put so much energy into the Maybell campaign out of frustration with the pace and scale of development and a feeling that they weren’t being listened to.

So my collection of three so far--definitely not a slate--Cory Wolbach, Karen Holman and Tom Dubois. No bullet balloting for me so I'm still weighing the positions of the remaining candidates and watching how the campaign unfolds.


8 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On the recommendation for Wolbach: "His state government experience will bring a helpful dimension to the council, especially as it wrestles with regional issues such as ABAG's housing mandates."

It would be most useful to have the data and reasoning underlying this conclusion, either from the PAW or from his campaign or from other knowledgeable people. For "experience", I don't include his having met various officials (which is a given).

Initially, I too thought his experience in State Senator Jerry Hill's office would be valuable knowledge to have on Council. I explicitly asked him about this at his campaign kick-off event, hoping to get a positive answer. I explicitly mentioned ABAG. However, he told me that what he was working on for Hill wasn't related to the issues facing Council (reported in my blog Web Link). I watched the PAW interview video and didn't see any mention of this. I don't find this on his website. My notes of the LWV and PAN candidate forums don't show him mentioning this.

Disclosure: I am actively working on the campaign for another candidate in this contest. However, this is being asked as someone trying to decide who to vote for. While I have ruled in/out a number of candidates, I am still very much undecided on several.


6 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Paly Alum is a registered user.

I read the Town Forum many times during the day and I can tell you that Sea Reddy has only lived in Palo Alto for two years and has misspoken because he doesn't know the history of Palo Alto.

I'm guessing A.C. Johnson, with his two years in Palo Alto is in the same situation.

We need City Council candidates who have lived in Palo Alto for many more years because they have seen the positive and negative changes of living in Palo Alto. They understand the city history and the people.

With all the families with children, it's also important that we chose those who have raised children here within the last decade so they are familiar with the school/family life that our residents encounter. [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2014 at 9:07 am

Cory Wolbach is a registered user.

First, thank you very much for the endorsement! There are more than five good candidates in this race. Thanks to the Weekly for including me in your top five.

Secondly, I'd like to clear up some confusion about donations. To my knowledge, I am the only candidate in this race to have imposed any limit on amounts or sources of donations. The purpose of my self-imposed restrictions on donations is to send a message about where my loyalty rests, and about the importance of changing whose priorities are central in City Hall. I also think large donations to local races are a variance from Palo Alto's political history. However, times change, and I may be anachronistic.

The first comment in this thread, by an anonymous poster named "common sense," inaccurately claims that I broke my own self-imposed fundraising limits. I have not accepted money from any source over $500, nor from developers, nor from labor unions. This was my pledge, and I stand by it.

I will give "common sense" the benefit of the doubt that their concern is based on sincere misunderstanding rather than malice. Two specific donations have been raised in other conversations as sources of confusion, so I will address them here.

One possible source of confusion: A friend and supporter of my campaign made a monetary donation of $500. She also has volunteered her time. As a volunteer, she provided some design work. Being a designer, she could have charged me for that work, so we listed it as a non-monetary contribution of $325. My FPPC form 460 delineates the monetary ($500 and non-monetary ($325) contributions. I appreciate the many supporters, friends, family members, and neighbors who have volunteered their time, especially when it is something they are so good at! Another local paper even made this mistake in their recent reporting.

Another possible source of confusion: The definition of "developer." I have understood "developer" to refer to a person or company that develops a property, managing the building of new structures, and working through the Palo Alto development process. Tod Spieker donated $250 to my campaign. There are some who have referred to him recently as a real estate developer, but that appears to be inaccurate. Based on my research and speaking with Tod Spieker himself, I find no evidence that Mr. Spieker is a developer by that understanding. He and his company invest and manager real estate, but he has not been a developer since the 1970s, from what I can find. That said, in recognition that some in our community use a broader definition of "developer," I am returning Mr. Spieker's donation. $250 in campaign materials is less important than abiding by my commitments and sending a clear message.

If there are any other sources of confusion, please let by know by email (available at my website www.corywolbach.com). Additionally, if anyone has specific questions about my policy positions, values, or vision for Palo Alto, please contact me by email. I would like to hear your policy recommendations as well.


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 13, 2014 at 10:31 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Cory,

Could you please state your position re ABAG and whether you support or oppose their housing mandates.

Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]




10 people like this
Posted by Peggy Duncan
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

I am seeing a full-scale effort to turn A.C. Johnston into a viable candidate by claiming that being a lawyer in a big law firm makes him uniquely qualified to be a member of the City Council. Walter Hays had a letter in the Post this morning saying the same thing. Anna Eshoo, Joe Simitian, and Rich Gordon are all providing quotes about what a great perceptive guy he is.

Contrast that to his performance in his endorsement interview, which was underwhelming. He hasn't put in much time learning about the issues facing the city.

Why are these people working so hard to polish up A.C., even harder than A.C. is himself? The political insider endorsements seem even less reliable this year than usually.


7 people like this
Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

Is Cory Wolbach Independent?

Cory Wolbach is currently is an aide to State Senator Jerry Hill, who supports high speed rail and ABAG quotas. It has been reported to me that he actually opposes high speed rail, but if so, he has been very quiet about it. Another candidate who wants to start at the top, he has no prior local involvement, other than his membership in Palo Alto Forward, which advocates for high density housing. He has many endorsements from established Democratic politicians, including current pro-development incumbent council members Liz Kniss, Gail Price, Marc Berman, and Larry Klein. He doesn't appear to have any other issues or experience other than his Democratic Party connections; for example, in early October, when contacted about the proposal to close CPI, the plating shop in Barron Park, he did not respond.
He appears poised to run for higher office after as little as one term on the City Council. Will he place his responsibility to represent us above his need to curry favor with influential politicians? How would he vote on issues where Palo Altans' concerns conflict with Democratic Party positions?

For the record, I am a Democrat, a disenchanted one.


6 people like this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:13 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

Mr Wolbach, thy doth protest too much.

An in-kind contribution is a reportable donation, and you have clearly shown that you have violated your $500 pledge with $500 cash and $325 in-kind services from one individual. You are trying to slice this way too thin - would you make the same argument that "it doesn't count" if it was $10,000 in in-kind service?

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:32 am

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by midtown anon
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

midtown anon is a registered user.

I think everyone has the right, to donate to anyone's campaign; and given the expense of running for office, it should be viewed positively.

However, what I don't support are candidates who say one thing about "limits" they put on their donations, or who they accept them from; there are too many games can and played to disguise the sourcing of campaign contributions; examples:

* use of a Political Action Committee (PAC) - people donate to the PAC, and the PAC donates to the candidates

* use of a relative to make the donation

* "bundling" - collecting donations from multiple people, each under the self imposed "limit".

* use of political party "volunteers" and "flyers" - ie. the political party sending out flyers on an "issue", but using it as a vehicle to get a particular candidate's name out.

Candidates who talk about how their limits on "contributions" I scrutinize more carefully, and they will not get my vote if I see any suspicious nature to their contributions.


7 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2014 at 11:56 am

Cory Wolbach is a registered user.

@Margaret Fruth,
I sent you an email and am awaiting your reply. I am saddened by your comments, your FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) negative campaigning, and your attacks. Assuming, as with "common sense" that you have sincere concerns, I invite you to communicate with me directly. I do not think this is the best medium. Again, I encourage everyone with specific questions to contact me at the email address available on my website (www.corywolbach.com).

@others who have read Ms. Fruth's comments and share her concerns:
I share the concern of Tom and Eric (and the Weekly/Online) about whisper campaigns. I have been subject to some myself recently. Margaret's comments bring some of them to light, so I will address them at last. Thank you, Margaret, for being direct, if deeply misinformed.

Guilt by association I will reject out of hand. That a person has worked with, been friends with, or met with another person does not mean that they share any or all views. I hope nobody in Palo Alto uses guilt-by-association to malign any candidate. (Also, I think Margaret's concerns with the senator are inaccurate, but I will let her contact his office to discuss those.)

I think HSR is a good way to connect major metropolitan centers to each other, but I am highly skeptical (at best) of the current California project. The important questions for us locally are about the potential impacts on Palo Alto. Street-level or elevated HSR coming through Palo Alto is not something I support. The work done by local community members and representatives to ensure a blended system is important for homeowners along Alma, but I am more interested in delving further into the question of trench the tracks through part or all of Palo Alto. This is something of interest regardless of HSR. The safety, traffic, aesthetic, and noise benefits may be worth the financial and construction costs. Admittedly, the disruption caused by the work of trenching would be awful; there is always a trade-off in public policy. What we need to do is fully and accurately evaluate those trade-offs. The recently released study is useful, but we need much further analysis of costs before committing to trenching.

Endorsements are something most candidates seek. I think a close reading of my endorsements list will reveal some surprises if you think I am only supported by the so-called establishment.

My community involvement includes voter registration drives; bringing people together to discuss politics and current events in an open-minded environment; and my professional work, which I have chosen to do because I felt it important to lend my modest efforts to improving state government and enabling good communication between local community members and their state representatives. I have also played my part in some efforts to promote environmental causes, expend government accountability, and reform campaign finance law.

As for loyalty, I have one: the community. As a council member, I will represent the breadth of Palo Alto. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not afraid to say "no" to my friends, to tell them when I think they are mistaken, and to act in accordance with my own conscience to promote what I see as the best for all. Palo Alto is my hometown, and I care more about its people and its future than I can put into words.

I am involved with the Democratic Party for the same reason I work in government and the same reason I am running for Council: I am willing to dedicate my time to helping change the organization for the better. Like Margaret, I have often been a disenchanted member of that party. Also, as Tom pointed out, this is a non-partisan race. I am flattered by the support I have received so far from across the political spectrum.

I did reply to the CPI inquiry, but not immediately, as I wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about before my reply. It was not something I had studied much previously, but am now very concerned. The community members who have pushed on this issue should be commended, and I support efforts to eliminate the safety threat. The community member who sent me the question now has my lawn sign in his yard, for what it's worth.

Regarding my the idea that I will be ready to run for higher office in four years, I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I am running for the Palo Alto City Council. I am not running for president, and I am not applying to the PTC. Like the other eight non-incumbent candidates, I am motivated to run because I see a desperate need and I am confident I would bring a positive change to the council. If I were looking for a resume-builder, there are better ways than running in the most competitive race in decades to serve on a council with a massive workload in a city facing numerous difficult challenges with a high-expectations community. In short, if I were motivated by anything other than love of community, there is no way I would be doing this. But I felt a duty to step up to the plate.

Other issues which concern me aside from the accelerating cost of housing: Traffic, parking, flood risk from San Francisquito Creek, sea-level rise, partnering with my former school district (PAUSD) regarding Cubberley and ensuring any city population changes are manageable to the schools, ensuring fiscal responsibility, seeing our airport managed appropriately, ensuring our homeless population in Palo Alto and the region are safe and - ultimately - housed, finding a way for the residents of Buena Vista to remain in Palo Alto, slowing the growth of office space, reforming our planning process to focus on meaningful community input. I could go on. I will not elaborate on these issues further in this forum, but, again, please do feel free to email me at votecorywolbach [at] gmail [dot] com.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Cory Wolbach has laid out positions on a number of issues and welcomed substantive discussion of them. Yet online comment here has centered on: Whether he is an independent-minded candidate or a stand-in for the Democratic Party in this non-partisan election. (Margaret Fruth) Whether he is sincere or manipulative in saying he wouldn't accept donations larger than $500. (Common Sense). Whether his emphasis on civility in civic life is flawed because charges of incivility are often used to disarm and disempower critics of the powers-that-be. (Doug Moran in his Town Square blog).

Well, he's got people's attention. I don't think it's always true, but the old saw, "There's no such a thing as bad publicity" may apply here. Better to be attacked than ignored. Especially if you're on solid ground.



1 person likes this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:52 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

I am a candidate.

I have not asked any one a dime, towards my campaign, or events.

You have my 10+ point plan.

Please read the statement I have with the ballot package.

Please, please vote for me. I will represent you and MAKE a DIFFERENCE


Respectfully


Like this comment
Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Dear Palo Alto citizens:

You deserve better!

Do not be fooled by slogans!

Demand honesty, integrity, openness, transparency and innovation from the city council and city employees and their managers.

You have the power!

Our country has given that to us all. That is why I moved to US. Current council and city management is similar to what I have seen in other parts of the world where the haves take advantage of the have not's.

You can choose better!

Wish you do! We need it.

Respectfully


1 person likes this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 16, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

[Post removed; duplicate post.]


5 people like this
Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Eric F is a registered user.

The Palo Alto City Council election is a non-partisan election, so party affiliations shouldn’t matter. However this Tea Party extremism stuff seems to keep getting propagated, most recently in a post above, since removed, by Alice Schaffer Smith, whom I don’t know but who I understand is co-chair of the Howard Dean Club of Silicon Valley.

This stuff is a distraction for all of us. So I’m going to respond here to Ms Smith’s post speculating on my party-political views.

It should be public record that for the majority of my adult life I’ve been registered to Ms Smith’s own party. I am a moderate democrat who is also capable of supporting competent republican moderates, including Tom Campbell in the 2010 Senate primary (he lost to Carly Fiorina despite my ballot).

I believe it’s a basic citizen responsibility to vote in elections, and vote your conscience. Let me put it this way: I take that responsibility so seriously that I’m willing to occasionally switch party registration in order to fulfill it. In my view that is not extremism or Party Treason; it’s civic duty.

To infer from this that I am a “Trojan Horse” subversive dedicated to what Ms Smith calls the “social values don't count vortex of the far right in America,” is absurd and inappropriate.

Anybody who knows me knows that I believe in good government, not “no” government. I hope this will be the end of this stuff, and I look forward to actually meeting Ms Smith some day.


Like this comment
Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Dear Palo Alto citizens:

Please accept Eric's explanation and move on to real agendas for our Palo Alto community.

Eric is sincere and I like him.

I wish the current city council, that has dealt with John Arrillaga come out and say what really happened?

a. When were the meetings held?
b. What was discussed?
c. Who proposed what?
d. What was the offer?
e. Did the city attorney and city manager recommend to the council?
f. Which of the city council members took what position?
g. Who is going to come out and tell us the truth?

I wish they reveal the truth.

You, the voters have the power to demand it; analyze it; decide who is speaking the truth and make your decisions.

I like Eric and Cory.

I came to US during Nixon administration in 1973. Many felt like; if Nixon told the truth; citizens would have accepted/forgiven what he did.

Covering up cost us a lot.

The Arrillaga deal is not like Watergate. But it smells some thing similar at a lower scale.

Palo Alto citizens are very educated and understanding. They will be forgiving if truth is told. We need it for our own souls.

BTW, I am also a candidate.

I would ask all the candidates including me/I to take pledge to be honest; have integrity to be open and run a transparent city hall unlike the last four years.

Citizens deserve an honest city administration and council.

No less is acceptable and they the right to demand it from us.

Please DEMAND it from us (the 12 bunch - dozen).

Eric is a gentleman so as Cory.

Respectfully


8 people like this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2014 at 7:21 am

resident3 is a registered user.

I agree with the Weekly on the first three, but Kou will be my choice for the fourth.

We need some doers, and Kou seems the most capable of that type of leadership. Organizing emergency preparedness for a whole city, and caring enough to do it are huge traits of being a doer. Working on that issue with a large community takes a lot of thinking about working with everyone, and engaging with the public to bring people together.

How many of us also got frustrated about development, and who is running? We should have had dozens running but hey, it's only three true new residentialists, one of them is Kou.

Mostly, I like her for not having the fast slick answers that the press expected. When you have to solve many problems, many big and small problems, you shouldn't expect packaged lines. If she will work as she says she will, her decisions will be from listening to residents, everything she has done in her past seems to be about listening.



5 people like this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2014 at 7:35 am

resident3 is a registered user.

I forgot that the Weekly endorsed Scharff.

When I said the first three, I was thinking Filseth, DuBois and Holman. Kou is a necessary complement to these three in my view.


1 person likes this
Posted by ssharma
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 19, 2014 at 11:28 am

ssharma is a registered user.

I endorse Mr Seelam Reddy - City Council Candidate. I know Mr Reddy for over past 2 years. I worked with him at VMware where we worked in the same IT group. Mr Reddy managed several high visibility M&A projects. He managed project plan, scope, cost/budget, risks, resources, and communication. He led meetings and managed stakeholders. I was especially impressed when he handled additional projects by putting extra effort when his boss was on leave. In my opinion, Mr Reddy is a person of high energy, honesty, integrity, professionalism, and accountability. I support and highly recommend his candidacy for the City Council.

Thanks,


2 people like this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

The money being spent on this council race is excessive - more than any past City Council race! Even more shocking is that an incumbent is spending the most. Typically incumbents can spend less and it takes more money to defeat an incumbent.

The Weekly should do an analysis on the money in this race - how much is from out-of-state, how much is from developers and builders, how much is from the candidates own families. It would be interesting to see where support is coming from. And why an incumbent needs to spend so much money getting out a message instead of relying on his record.


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Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

I agree.

Please do not be fooled by the number of same ads + lawn signs.

I am a candidate also.
www.PaloAltoLife.org.

I have not taken any contributions. It is on my credit cards.
I have spent about $500 and expect to spend around $1k total.

Some times donations bring special interest groups; so please watch out!
respectfully


Like this comment
Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

long view is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 28, 2014 at 6:57 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

responding to dear @longview

Here are my thoughts on affordable housing:

1. Yes we all agree it has gotten to be impossible to buy.
2. We need to stay away from dictating what the prices of land ought to be. It is as simple of supply and demand. That is the case all over the world, not just here.
3. Affordable to who? Who gets what preference? So let us talk about who gets on the list?
a. Single parents
b. Handicapped with disabilities
c. Seniors
d. Palo Alto city workers
e. Palo Alto police
f. Palo Alto fire fighters
g. many other

who is going decide?

What is affordable? $500k per unit? $700k per unit?

This is all complicated. We want to help each other; but it is not easy.

Here is my thought:

a. Do not be greedy
b. Do not go offer 40% more than the list price
c. Do not listen to your realtor that makes commission when the bidding goes high
d. Pray for economy to slow down
e. Buy when the buyers are desperate sell during off season like Christmas time
g. There is nothing wrong with living in neighborhood cities that are just as good as Palo Alto; like Menlo Park and Mountain View

In essence, it is very difficult to bring 'so called affordable housing' to the community when the average price is $1.5 m for a house.

If you do not agree; please tell us your reasoning.

Respectfully


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