News

Palo Alto Forward claims 'impersonation' over PAC

Former council candidate Tim Gray said he was trying to keep residents from getting 'duped'

Since Palo Alto Forward came into existence in 2014, its members have been among the city's staunchest advocates for more housing options and transportation improvements.

Last week, however, members were distressed to learn that the name of their group was taken by Tim Gray, who until recently served as treasurer of their ideological rival, Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ), and registered as a political action committee (PAC).


Timothy Gray

Elaine Uang
Gray, who now serves as treasurer for the campaign of City Council candidate Lydia Kou, told the Weekly last week that he decided to register the name to prevent citizens from "being duped" by Palo Alto Forward. He noted that in 2014, shortly before Palo Alto Forward came into existence, the City of Palo Alto used the website paloaltoforward.org as part of an outreach campaign for its Comprehensive Plan effort.

According to emails exchanged between Gray and city officials, the city stopped using the name in 2014. That's when the newly formed citizens group picked it up and registered the domain name.

Elaine Uang, one of the cofounders of Palo Alto Forward, told the Weekly that the group approached the city in August 2014, at which point the city confirmed that "they had finished using the name and that the city did not object to our use of it when the domain expired."

The city, she noted, has never taken issue with the group's name. The same, however, cannot be said for Gray, a former council candidate who was one of the leaders of the 2013 referendum that struck down the zone change that would have enabled a housing development on Maybell Avenue.

Many leaders of the referendum campaign, including Cheryl Lilienstein and Joe Hirsch, went on to found Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a citizens group that favors slow-growth policies and has endorsed Arthur Keller and Kou in the current council election. Its former members include council members Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth and its website states that the group encourages "development projects that do not adversely impact quality of life and seek proper application of the Comprehensive Plan by City government."

While Gray is a member of the group's leadership team, the PASZ website notes that he is currently "on sabbatical for the 2016 election."

According to Gray's filing with the state Fair Political Practice Commission, he registered Palo Alto Forward as a political action committee in June of this year, the same month that he took over as treasurer of the Kou campaign (he had recently resigned as treasurer of the PASZ political action committee).

The description of the new committee reads, "Unified neighborhood leadership that seeks (to) protect neighborhood quality of life from excess density. Solutions must come first."

Gray told the Weekly that in registering the name, he wanted to protect the city's brand. He said he does not intend to solicit any contributions or do anything apart from ensuring that no other group uses the brand to further its agenda. He said he wanted to "prevent this deception that I had experienced from being foisted on other community members."

"It belongs to the city and most of the citizens think of it as an extension of something that the city has provided," Gray told the Weekly last week. "It doesn't belong to them."

But members of Palo Alto Forward found this explanation laughable.

"It's completely disingenuous to knowingly file an entity under a name of another group that exists in the community," Uang told the Weekly. "That's pretty much impersonation."

She also noted that the group never had any intention of starting a political action committee and that it has not such ambitions today. No one, to her knowledge, has ever been confused about what the group stands for or who serves on the steering committee (the information is on the group's "About" page).

While members of the group's steering committee, which include economist Steve Levy, planning commissioner Eric Rosemblum and former planning commissioner Kate Downing, have made financial contributions to council candidates (including Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine), the group has not formally endorsed anyone in either 2014 or in the current election.

And while its members advocate for more housing and transportation options, Uang said the group doesn't see itself as a political organization, but as one that hosts community education events and encourages civic engagement through those events. It is currently in the process of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit, she said.

"We have never taken money from anyone, and we certainly have not spent money on electioneering or politics," Uang said.

Sandra Slater, who is also a co-founder of Palo Alto Forward, called Gray's registration of her group as a political action committee "playing dirty." The move, she said, represents the trickling down of dirty politics from the national level to the local level.

"To have Lydia Kou's treasurer call us evil and say he has to protect the community from deception is ludicrous," Slater said, "If they win the election by playing dirty, it's a really sad commentary on the future of our democracy."

Uang also called Gray's registration of her group's name as a political entity a "demonstration of how low and how corrupt" the campaign has become. But while she said she takes Gray's action seriously, Palo Alto Forward also had some fun with the item. Over the weekend, the group posted on its Facebook page that "Halloween came early" this year.

"Tim Gray, Lydia Kou's treasurer, is 'dressing up' as Palo Alto Forward and filing legal documents using our name. The real Palo Alto Forward is not a PAC -- we've never been one, and we don't want to be one. We are a group of volunteer residents who care about creating housing and transportation options for our community."

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

71 people like this
Posted by outrageous!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

This is so outrageous! To see the Kou campaign to step so low! Just wow! It's one thing to not like another group's view point, but to form a PAC in their name is so over the line. Were they going to try to take in donations from people who thought they were giving to the real Palo Alto Forward? Or were they going to seek funds from nefarious sources and then claim that Palo Alto Forward is associated with them! This is just so dirty. And for what? Why is a group that seeks more housing and better transportation in Palo Alto worth committing fraud over? They're hardly advocating anything remotely radical, they're advocating the same position which the state of California itself takes and basically every book on city planning ever.


62 people like this
Posted by Scared for our future
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

This is simply outrageous. It is unethical and quite likely illegal. And since Timothy Gray did this in the same month he filed papers for the Kou campaign, it very much sounds like the kind of dirty campaign trick that Palo Alto has so far been innocent of. What did Lydia Kou know about this? The voters of Palo Alto deserve an answer.

I hope Palo Alto Forward takes action against Timothy Gray and the Kou campaign to the full extent of the law.


89 people like this
Posted by sheep's clothing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:25 am

PAF tries to toe the line to remain a tax-exempt organization, rather than a PAC. However many of their members are clearly donating significant funds to and advocating for the high-density housing advocates, particularly Fine and Tanaka.


89 people like this
Posted by Is this really news?
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:28 am

So Tim registered PAF name as a PAC but hasn't taken any money for it or used it? Is this really news. I would think taking a name used by the city and repurposing it for pro-growth agenda would be worse. Regardless this all does not seem newsworthy, except by the PAF folks trying to create a sense of false outrage to get some votes.


100 people like this
Posted by sheep's clothing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:30 am

The relationship between Palantir, a for-profit company occupying nearly 20% of downtown real estate that would benefit from new housing for their employees, and PAF, a tax-exempt advocacy group founded largely by persons with connections to Palantir, doesn't pass the smell test IMO.


38 people like this
Posted by outrageous!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:30 am

There's nothing wrong with members of a non-profit to have personal lives and give personal donations. That's legal and ethical. No one would work for a non-profit if it meant they couldn't hold personal political views and make person political donations as they see fit. The non-profit status isn't meant to muzzle citizens from political participation. It's just meant to ensure that any funds the non-profit receives don't go to political use. And it doesn't sound like that's happening.


38 people like this
Posted by Randy P
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

Randy P is a registered user.

This and the smear video before it...The nasty politics of Kou and Keller's Council campaigns have cast a dark cloud. Our town has no place for people who behave like this, and certainly not on our City Council. They were never getting my vote regardless but I hope this will show others who they are and encourage people to rethink who they plan to support.


65 people like this
Posted by anon evergreen park
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

anon evergreen park is a registered user.

How has PAF Funded their events if they say:

“We have never taken money from anyone, and we certainly have not spent money on electioneering or politics,” Uang said.

Have they spent their own money on their food truck, ice cream socials, educational events etc???

Earlier in the election season there was a phone poll that seemed very biased, that no campaign has listed an expenditure to date....mysterious. Who knows who paid for that???

Palo Alto Forward seems very "political" to me, which is fine they have their point of view, but to say they are not trying to influence politics in Palo Alto is the MOST disingenuous statement i can imagine!!!!


45 people like this
Posted by try, try again
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:37 am

Sounds to me like the revelations that Palo Alto residents have donated more to Kou than developers and PAF members have to Fine, Tanaka and Kniss has failed to elicit sufficient voter outrage and Sheyner is trying once again to find fault with this popular advocate for Palo Alto residents as Nov 8 rapidly approaches.


53 people like this
Posted by Commonsense
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:37 am

This is terrible. First it's Kou and Keller claiming that Fine is in favor of high rise luxury condo developments and now this. I would hope the winnwers of this election win on their own merits and positions, not due to their ability to lie and deceive. Tanaka, Fine, McDougal and Kniss are not "pro development" as characterized by their opponents. However, they do realized that we live in an extremely vibrant and growing region and preparing for the continuing changes is essential.


79 people like this
Posted by Dirty tricks
a resident of University South
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:41 am

This is outrageous. If Lydia Kou wants to show that she wasn't involved in this, she should issue a statement and cut ties with Timothy Gray immediately.


52 people like this
Posted by new low
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:42 am

Kou and Keller campaigns are finding ways to sink to new lows almost every day now. First they had a video attack ad, then a fancy attack mailer produced by a political consultancy firm out of Sacramento. I guess we know how they are spending all that money they got. And now Tim Gray has impersonated another organization and Keller and Kou knew exactly that this was going on. How can he claim not to know about PAF, c'mon?

Wether you agree with PAF's positions or not is really not the issue here. Kou, Keller and PASZ are doing highly unethical and probably illegal things.


42 people like this
Posted by anon evergreen park
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:43 am

anon evergreen park is a registered user.

To be quite clear here ...Mr. Grey's action last was June before he was Treasurer, and had nothing to do with the Kou Campaign.....How would it even help her?

If this happened last June when did Palo Alto Forward folks get wind of it??? why release it now just days before the election???


56 people like this
Posted by Scared for our future
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:46 am

@anon evergreen park - How do we know it had nothing to do with the Kou campaign? He filed papers for her the following week! That's a pretty big "coincidence".

He said in the Post that he wanted to "prevent evil". Maybe he wanted to stop them from registering as a 501c3 by showing that they were political? Maybe he wanted to solicit donations in their name? Maybe he wanted to run a deceptive ad from "Palo Alto Forward"?

We need a clear statement from the Kou campaign that she wasn't involved. I agree with the other poster who said that Kou should cut ties with Timothy Gray immediately.

This cannot become acceptable behavior in Palo Alto.


51 people like this
Posted by strange local election
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:47 am

Does anyone else see the strangeness of this local election?

First you have giant donations: $160k from 5 families that went to 2 candidates and PASZ's PAC.

Then you have this: PASZ and Lydia's treasurer registering a PAC in Palo Alto Forward's name "to prevent evil" (or because he was confused... from the article, I can't tell which).

I've been to a bunch of Palo Alto Forward events at Sandra Slater's house. They are a bunch of mostly middle-aged people who are advocating for transit-oriented city planning. Or, as the rest of the world calls it, "Europe".

The amount of vitriol thrown at them is crazy. The justification of $160k donations AND this obvious dirty trick by Tim Gray is inexcusable.

Some Palo Alto residents need to take a good hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they are so angry that they would tolerate (or even encourage) such awful behavior.

Even worse: this is being done on behalf of our elected officials. Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Lydia Kou are are the heart of PASZ. SMDH, as the millennials would text.


36 people like this
Posted by Dirty tricks
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:51 am

It is really disappointing and discouraging to see these dirty campaign tricks from the Kou campaign in a local election. And shocking that people here are defending the Kou campaign's dirty tricks.


60 people like this
Posted by Concerned Grandma
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:55 am

I've been to a few of the Palo Alto Forward events -- they're educational and encouraging of discourse -- I may not agree with them 100% of the time, but I applaud their integrity and willingness to look at the issues. I went to several events: one on parking alternatives, one on granny units, one with Yoriko our former Mayor, and a walking tour of downtown to look at various types of housing. As to who "pays" for those events, the ones I've attended have been either in a public library or someone's home with a few snacks. Hardly something where "big money" has played a part. As far as I know they don't endorse and have opened up their events to the whole community. Seems like the Kou campaign feels threatened by this -- wow, says a lot for her and her ilk.
I say she should be held accountable for this -- and for the lies she's spreading about her opponents. We're above this type of campaign in Palo Alto, let's not let this type of dirty tricks filter down into our city.


66 people like this
Posted by Is this really news?
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

Every time we're on verge of making progress in this city, PAF comes out against it. They published a long opinion piece on why they were against the office cap, filled with faulty logic, after all, multiple of their board members, including Kate Downings husband, are Palantir employees. They say they are for more affordable housing and then actively fight against below market housing and increased development fees for it with arguments that fail to recognize the local circumstances. They make parking and traffic worse with their advocacy for approaches that increase these problems. Adrian Fine is running on a platform that is opposed to his numerous pro-fast-growth statements prior to campaign season.


73 people like this
Posted by Expose their shameful behavior
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

As a lifelong resident of Palo Alto for 40+ years I am absolutely outraged that this is what our election has come to. Ugly video ads telling lies about other candidates, and now this. In my opinion every voter in Palo Alto should find these pathetically desperate and shady tactics alarming. You will not see Tanaka, Kniss, McDougall, or Fine stooping to this level whatsoever. Thankful there is a group like PAF that tries to unify our community while creating smart, meaningful housing and transportation options for our ever changing city. And thank you to Gennady Sheyner for writing this article and further exposing these people for their shameful behavior. Extremely important and news worthy!


67 people like this
Posted by So Slimy
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

These are the kind of stupid local dirty tricks that low-quality local politicians deploy with regularity.

The whole thing is really silly and speaks to the lack of seriousness of PASZ, Timothy Gray, and the candidates he's supporting.

The idea that this happened without knowledge of the PASZ candidates (Kou and Keller) is really far-fetched.


52 people like this
Posted by Wait a minute
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:04 am

Palo Alto Forward's website says they are a "non-profit organization." But now they're saying they're only applying to be one. Neither the State of California nor the IRS list them as a non-profit organization. So what's going on?

Talk about misleading .. for an entity to claim they're a non-profit organization but not actually be one is very bad -- and perhaps criminal if they've solicited donations within California.


36 people like this
Posted by Marcello
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:07 am

Any lawyer interested in a pro bono action, or at least to advise on what could be done here?
Tim and his crew are really a wonderful piece of work and deserve an appropriate treatment.


63 people like this
Posted by Give me a break
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

Once again PAF backers are spewing posts trying to distract the voters.

The story here is NOT that Tim Gray registered a PAC and did nothing with it. The huge story is that Palo Alto Forward is illegally acting like a PAC without registering as a PAC. That is the outrage!


67 people like this
Posted by Too funny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

The comments here are pretty hilarious.

PAF came out with the Trump slurs, the Chamber chimed in, Fine et al do a 180 on positions, 90percent of the developer dollars goes to them.

And then they call 'foul' because residents step into level the playing field, and because Keller and Kou highlight the flip flopping.

Re the business with Tim Gray. Maybe PAF really is supported by a bunch of 'concerned grandmas' per above. How else could they find themselves in the embarrassing position of not owning their UR? I thought they were a bunch of Palantir engineers, but obviously not.


22 people like this
Posted by Dirty tricks
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

Is This Really News alleges that PAF "actively fights against below market housing." Give a single example, please.


77 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:16 am

Really? This kind of electioneering is happening in Palo Alto? It sounds more like my home state of New Jersey under Chris Christie. I thought more highly of my adopted City Palo Alto and the people advocating for it. The amount of money thrown around in this election is unbelievable. Luckily most studies show that money doesn't always buy votes. Let's hope so or those few families who donated so much money will be buying this election. Also, stealing Palo Alto Forward"s name and misrepresenting it? Really?


53 people like this
Posted by Affordable housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:18 am

The idea that PAF "actively fights against below-market housing" is such a smear. Just today, they organized a letter-writing campaign in favor of the new CalPark affordable housing development, and over 100 members have already sent letters.

Who is famous for actively fighting against below-market housing? Lydia Kou, Timothy Gray, and the rest of the PASZ crew.


56 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:25 am

6Djockey is a registered user.

PAF is a front for those who support higher density development but don't want to admit it. Their members heavily fund some of the pro-development candidates. There's nothing illegal about that. But for them to claim they don't want to influence elections is obviously not true. And to highlight Adrian Fine's quotes that show he is a pre-election, born-again residentialist is not improper. It's informative.


62 people like this
Posted by PAF and big bucks
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:29 am

PAF and big bucks: I was polled *twice* with their misleading questions. Once by California Opinion Surveys, and the other by Precision Research. It took plenty of money to pay for these push-polls.

Many of the leaders of PAF make money from development directly or indirectly through their employers. The "just folks" pretense is being unmasked.

* Elaine Uang - urban architect; major donor to Marc Berman
* Sandra Slater - designer and co-owner, Drew Maran Construction Inc
* Steve Levy - economist, consults and advocates for housing
* Eric Rosenblum - Palantir employee
* Mehdi Alhassani - Palantir employee
* Kate Downing - corporate lawyer; husband Steve is long time Palantir employee


11 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:35 am

This, in an area where residents are considered among the top educated in the nation.

Our esteemed city leaders were finished with that name? Other cities use similar names. By doing so, no city is ever just finished with a name like this.

Time for residents to wise up, to rise up & to speak out that this is not acceptable, if this report is accurate.


27 people like this
Posted by Scared for our future
a resident of University South
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:36 am

@PAF and big bucks - do you have a single shred of evidence that PAF was behind a poll? If you do, you should take it to the Weekly and the Daily Post.

We do, however, know that PASZ was behind a poll - they disclosed it as a $10000 donation to Lydia Kou and Arthur Keller. (It must have been quite a poll!) I don't have any evidence that it was a push poll. But perhaps you should check it out, if you know that you were contacted by a push poller. Perhaps PASZ was testing out opposition messaging and you confused it for a push poll.


24 people like this
Posted by Dirty tricks
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:39 am

"Palo Alto Forward's website says they are a "non-profit organization." But now they're saying they're only applying to be one. Neither the State of California nor the IRS list them as a non-profit organization. So what's going on?"

What?? There is no problem with a group of community members working together to organize community education activities, and using a name for the group. It is super-common for local, grassroots, no-budget groups to operate without formal incorporation, and to incorporate later if the group decides it wants to handle money.


33 people like this
Posted by Not Palo Alto behavior
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:43 am

All of this smacks of low-brow politicking. First, two candidates receive 80%+ of their financing from 5 wealthy families. Then they use that money to run attack videos and mailers against 30-year old Adrian Fine (who, by the way, grew up here). And now Lydia Kou's treasurer has taken the name of a group he's ideologically opposed to?

As someone above wrote:
"Wether you agree with PAF's positions or not is really not the issue here. Kou, Keller and PASZ are doing highly unethical and probably illegal things."

Palo Alto Weekly: keep reporting on these dirty tricks


36 people like this
Posted by anon evergreen park
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:47 am

anon evergreen park is a registered user.

To Answer poster "affordable housing"

From PAF Founder's Elaine Uang's Twitter page:

Web Link:

She states "sadly, affordable housing make all housing more expensive to build and everyone loses.Elaine Uang added,"

Doesn't sound like she supports affordable housing at ALL!


22 people like this
Posted by Dirty tricks
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:53 am

Anon Evergreen - Elaine was referring to a specific ballot measure in San Francisco, Proposition C which mandated a 25% share of below market rate housing. But a study by the SF city controller indicated that setting the share at 25% would suppress the creation of new housing, and would therefore result in less affordable housing being created.

Web Link

The details of policy are important in order to get the desired result which is to improve housing affordability.


62 people like this
Posted by Resident 11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:55 am

Resident 11 is a registered user.

Let us keep the focus on the positions of the candidates and the goals for our city. Do we want people on City Council who have repeatedly advocated for developers' rights, and who are aligned with companies like Palantir that are doing their best to influence City policies? If so, look at who the Chamber of Commerce endorsed, and vote for Fine, Tanaka, McDougall and Kniss.

Or do we want people on City Council who have consistently advocated for residents and for (truly) low income housing, and will continue to do so? If so, vote Keller, Kou, Stewart, and Stone.

Please look at the important issues facing our city's future, and vote accordingly.


36 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:56 am

It seems to me that Palo Alto politics are in danger of crumbling into the same category as national politics. I haven't seen so much panic and vitriol in local politics in all the time I have lived here.

What really disturbs me most is that so many people who do not live in Palo Alto are trying to influence decisions that do not affect them as non-residents of Palo Alto. The future of Palo Alto should be decided by those who live in town, who own or rent in town. These decisions should not be influenced by those who do not live here. The fact that some of them may work for a business in town or even own a business in town is irrelevant. Palo Alto decisions must be decided by Palo Alto residents.

Now I won't comment on Tim Gray's action here, but I can definitely see where he is coming from and why he wants to make a stand. The ethics of Palo Alto politics is suffering from underhand activities to attempt to get those of us who live here to succumb to voting pressure from outside influences.


21 people like this
Posted by Affordable housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:57 am

@anon evergreen park: Thanks for offering a link to the tweet. It shows how you are taking it out of context. She was quoting a tweet about to SF's new rules that mandate 25% of any new housing be BMR. It's such a high fraction that the California Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that it will reduce the total number of affordable units built. So, yes, SF's new affordable housing fees are too expensive and "everyone loses."

Ordinarily, I would expect someone to include that kind of information in a statement. But, given that she only had 140 characters, I think what she meant was pretty clear.

This is exactly the same issue we are seeing here in Palo Alto! Both of the affordable housing groups Palo Alto Housing Corporation and Silicon Valley @ Home have spoken out against the proposal to raise affordable housing fees in Palo Alto to a similar level - they feel that it will reduce the number of affordable units overall. They recognize the fees are too expensive, but - since they get their money from these fees - they clearly aren't against all affordable housing!

She's spoken repeatedly at Council on behalf of Palo Alto Forward in favor of both BMR housing and strong action to retain Buena Vista. Those of us who follow affordable housing know who supports it and who doesn't. It's pretty disingenuous to take one tweet out of context and try to discredit her with it.

I'd call it a new low, but we've seen too many of those in the last couple weeks.


58 people like this
Posted by Transparency
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Transparency is a registered user.

Kou and Keller have been 100% transparent, and have taken the heat for their actions. PASZ have played transparently too - in declaring their poll.

The dark money is that money behind the polls that were not declared, and the money spent by Palantir on full time employees who run PAF and advance the cause of Palantir on local commissions. That's the money trail we really need to be following. PalantirForward as it should be henceforth known is just a pawn in a much bigger game.


22 people like this
Posted by shady tactics
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm

There's no glossing over this, whether you're on board with PAF, PASZ, or whoever else. This is really bad. Trying to pass off a PAC as being another organization is dishonest and fraudulent. To the commenters trying to downplay this, I don't think anyone is fooled.

Was this part of Lydia Kou's campaign strategy? We can't truly know, but she's keeping some shady company. Thank you, Gennady for exposing this.


37 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:05 pm

To the anonymous Evergreen Park resident from College Terrace who made this comment:

How has PAF Funded their events if they say:

“We have never taken money from anyone, and we certainly have not spent money on electioneering or politics,” Uang said.

Have they spent their own money on their food truck, ice cream socials, educational events etc???

----

Yes. That is exactly what happened. We put in our own money. I personally put in a hundred dollars towards the food truck, and so did other members, and one of us was kind enough to pay for the rest himself. Same for the ice cream. We're not a PAC. We truly are a loose affiliation of individuals. I personally do not and have never worked at Palantir. I moved here when I was four, went to Gunn, and then went to Stanford. It saddens me that people automatically assume that PAF is a bunch of developer shills or Palantir shills, rather than people who actually live here who'd like to keep living here.


39 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Tim Gray did PAF a favor. It is now upfront and honestly a PAC, even if its members do have to pay for ice cream and food trucks out of pocket.


36 people like this
Posted by Dirty politics reminds me of McCarthyism
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm

How does impersonating your opponents strike anyone as fair political action? How does receiving over $160,000 from a handful (five) of families strike you as anything else than "dirty money" meant to sway an election where everyone else makes small donations ($2000 or less qualifies as small at this point). Isn't this the kind of thing most of us say we are against when we decry Citizens United and its effect on having money say politics? It smacks of McCarthyism to me, particular when Lydia Kou's treasurer, the former treasurer of PASZ says that he did it because the opponents were"evil, i.e. that in his mind the ends justifies the means. McCarthyism, something I was born into and we rejected as a nation.

This "dirty politics" characterizes the Kou, Keller, Stone and Stewart campaign. It is being supported by Dubois, Filseth and Holman. We should be disgusted. There is no apologizing for this kind of politics in Palo Alto.

Vote for the candidates who are fair and balanced and don't allow for a dirty tricks campaign. That means DON"T vote for Lydia Kou, Greer Stone, Arthur Keller and Stewart. They support these kinds of dirty tricks indirectly at best and probably directly.


15 people like this
Posted by @PAF and big bucks
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:28 pm

@PAF and big bucks is a registered user.

I too think Palo Alto should know who was behind the other non-declared polls in this election, and where the REAL dark money is flowing.

Please file a complaint with the FPPC so we can get to the bottom of it.
Web Link


23 people like this
Posted by Midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

"Gray told the Weekly that in registering the name, he wanted to protect the city's brand." Protect against a nonprofit organization that seeks to find smart solutions to our city's issues? Who is this guy? I am actually really sad that Lydia Kou would engage in these dirty tactics.


68 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Recent development decisions have put growth before solutions. Blind allegiance to development has eroded our quality of life.
Palo Alto is not a real estate speculation, it is a place where people live and enjoy a quality of life. We can embrace the noble goal of making room for more people, but solutions first!
When small zoning changes deliver millions to developers, it is no wonder that pro-development candidates get recruited by a major political party, even though they were never in that party. The promise of political advancement attracts youthful ambition that advocates rezoning, which hands millions of dollars of profits to developers at great cost to the community. Official City of Palo Alto outreach committee names are hijacked by private groups to advance high-density building while using the Goodwill and valuable branding that the City paid for. That political advocacy goes unreported, contrary to the laws of the State’s Fair Political Practices Committee that are designed to provide transparency and prevent that kind of deceptive manipulation. Those exposed resort to name calling.
Love of community and standing up for wise growth is at the heart of this election. We must stand up for our City while it is still worth fighting for. Donating out of a true love of community is different than outside money buying influence to up-zone properties -- all without paying for the extra infrastructure costs which residents have dutifully funded. Great schools, sewage, water, and streets cost money -- and yet those with blind ambition advocate handing out new building rights as if those resources are free.
Such naïve action will inadvertently cannibalize the quality life by playing into hands of developers with reactionary decisions that undo years of discipline.
The very thing that has made this place desirable is now under attack by those that demand instant gratification. God give us the wisdom to find a way to work together.

Timothy Gray


31 people like this
Posted by shady tactics
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Really, Tim? If that really is you?

What you've done is incredibly dishonest, and I have no idea what you're talking about in your rant, but it's not a defense.


45 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

This is silly. We have all had the experience of being deprived of using a domain name, finding someone had already scooped it up - often intentionally to deprive use by others. The only difference here is a guy reserved a PAC name. Big deal. This is hardly rare, so calm down pro-development PAF and surrogates for Fine and Tanaka.

You know the Palo Alto Forward PAC name was reserved in June, way before any campaigns existed, candidates had filed to run, many candidates hadn't even decided to run, let along campaign committees formed or who would do what task - such as treasurer. One individual on his own reserved the name and now in the last 2 weeks of campaigning, pro-development supporters are trying to smear strong opposition candidates endorsed by the Weekly. So sad.

PAF deflects its own responsibility in starting this by sending out private communications to people that included the City Manager's phone number and name, "Palo Alto Forward", which it then took from the City as its own. PAF is now turning to little conspiracy theories, claiming victimhood while trying to suck in opposition candidates like a black hole to stars. No one made PAF use its name for its private group. Or made it give the highly inappropriate appearance that its early private communications were sanctioned by the City by putting the City Manager's phone number on them till you had to cease and desist.

We all know the politics here - pro-development PAF and surrogates are yelling foul cause they can. But yelling foul isn't a progressive policy. It's only yelling to try to deflect your responsibility for this onto a political opponents who, unlike PAF, have nothing to do with this.


59 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:13 pm

@shady Tactics:

First, I have used my real name. (contrast intended.)

Second, I have simply filed the report as required by the Fair Political Practices Commission. I have been completely transparent. (Contrast intended)

I have not used or publicize the name for any benefit, except for the purpose of returning it to the City of Palo Alto for its value to used by the City or to be retired. It is an asset that the City is prohibited from giving away. That would be inurement.

The outrage is that I have unveiled a manipulation of the voters. The impersonation is of a named used by the City of Palo Alto sanctioned activity that has been used to promote a private agenda. Who should be upset, other than every resident of Palo Alto that now knows about this trojan horse that has tried to hide behind the label of "education"? I make no apologies for exposing this truth. This is not an opinion -- it is an observation.

Respectfully,

Timothy Gray


45 people like this
Posted by Who is really shady?
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Here are some questions to help you figure out how to vote:

1. Would you rather support candidates who have been getting support and donations from local residents, or those who have received donations from developers who don't even live in our town? Do you really think money from outside developers come w/ no strings attached?

2. Would you rather support candidates who have had well known positions on managing growth for a long time, or those who have been flip-flopping and quiet lately ('listening mode' is an euphemism) to hide their true colors? Remember we got burned by two of them during the last election cycle.

3. Would you rather support candidates who want to maintain our quality of life by limiting growth, or those who want to push for more development first, and deal w/ the consequences later?

Thx.


28 people like this
Posted by shady tactics
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Tim, let me get this straight.

You felt it was vitally important to impersonate an organization that hasn't taken in money, given out money, or endorsed candidates.

I get that it's important to you to fight housing like you did at Maybell, but this is "imagining demons" territory. I hope that Lydia had no idea what you were doing.


28 people like this
Posted by Scared for our future
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:31 pm

@anon - you claim "the Palo Alto Forward PAC name was reserved in June, way before any campaigns existed". Actually, Timothy Gray reserved it only seven days before he filed papers for Lydia Kou's campaign. If it's a coincidence, it's a big one. There's no evidence yet that Lydia Kou knew about this, but she has associated herself with someone who embraces this kind of shady activity and states a few comments above that he won't even apologize for it.

If she stands by Timothy Gray at this point, she's saying with her actions that this is acceptable behavior.



22 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

How interesting that our residentialist, PASZ neighbors are so eager to allege corruption, ulterior motives - unfairly tarring their fellow residents as bought and paid for - but when it comes down to it, they are the ones with the dirty tricks and questionable principles - putting up videos unfairly accusing other candidates, or impersonating other organizations.

Does anyone honestly buy that lame excuse Tim Gray came up with? (“It belongs to the city and most of the citizens think of it as an extension of something that the city has provided - it doesn't belong to them")

Next, Tim is going to try to wrest away the name "Palo Alto Networks" from the company with that name, because what if the city of Palo Alto wants to start a technology company? It belongs to us, the people! And let's not forget Palo Alto Bicycles! What if people think that Palo Alto is endorsing certain brands of bikes! Maybe if he tries, I might believe him. But I'm sure he won't because it's idiotic, just like his excuse.

This is no big thing, but I think the fact that it's not a big thing makes it worse. Just sad, man.


44 people like this
Posted by @dirty tricks and @scared for our futures
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

@dirty tricks and @scared for our futures is a registered user.

This was how the negative tactics all began (although none of you were so alarmed backed then because he was, after all, one of your own).

Courtesy Mike Greenfield, husband of Elaine Uang (Founder of PAF), his blog 9/8/2016

"The Trump-Burt-Kou approach of putting up walls (literal and figurative) embarrasses me as an American and as a Palo Altan. I’m ashamed that a major presidential candidate wants to impose religious tests on people coming to the USA. And I’m embarrassed to read that my mayor is telling companies to go away from Palo Alto."

Both Cory Walbach (sitting city councillor) and Eric Rosenblum (sitting Planning and Transportation Commissioner) retweeted the blog.

Greenfield has the audacity to say an immigrant woman who is a life-long democrat has something in common with the most xenophobic, misogynistic Republican we've ever seen. And then two Palo Alto officials pile on. Nothing that has happened since compares to this low point.
These kind of dirty tricks do indeed make me scared for our future.


15 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:54 pm

It seems to me that Tim Gray is being disingenuous in claiming he reserved the Palo Alto Forward PAC name to protect the city's brand.

While the city's use of the phrase "Palo Alto Forward" for outreach purposes was certainly little known nor long remembered, the community organization currently using the same name has become quite familiar to those who follow city news.

That said, I continue to support Lydia Kou -- along with Arthur Keller, Stewart Carl, and Greer Stone -- because I agree with their positions. I am not going to switch my vote to someone with whom I disagree because of Mr. Gray's behavior.

Also, it is my feeling that Palo Alto Forward (PAF) is being far more dangerously deceitful in registering as a not-for-profit as opposed to a political organization.

PAF's mission is to impact housing and transportation and the activities they pursue toward this end are most definitely political in nature; i.e., they work to influence city voters and public policy.

For example, PAF will soon publish a "scorecard" rating city council candidates. This is "political action". There is no other name for it.

Accordingly, the people who support PAF with cash or in-kind donations should not be entitled to tax deductions or anonymity. Transparency should be required.


14 people like this
Posted by Dirty tricks
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:06 pm

I have no idea of PAF plans to do a scorecard or not, but I am familiar with nonprofit rules. An educational nonprofit (501c3) is allowed to do voter education such as candidate forums and questionnaires, and to evaluate candidates using a scorecard on policy issues. But a 501c3 is not allowed to endorse candidates nor to campaign on behalf of candidates. PAF isn't incorporated, but if they want to incorporate as a 501c3, a scorecard is something they could choose to do.

Individuals who participate in a nonprofit, of course, are free to separately exercise their rights as individual citizens and personally endorse or campaign for whoever they want.


41 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Is registering a domain name really any more outrageous than what the Chamber of Commerce did? Once again we have the pot calling the kettle black. And since this happened in June why did PAF wait until now to express its outrage? Perhaps for political reasons?? Campaign tactics come and go but the issues remain the same: what is best for the City of Palo Alto and its residents and who do you think can best represent you?

It's not too late to ignore all the nonsense and focus on the issues. And if that isn't satisfying, it seems there could well be plenty of interest in an OPA (Outraged Palo Altan) group.


21 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:09 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@dirty tricks and @scared for our futures -

The low point you describe doesn't actually seem all that low. I don't know Mike Greenfield, but I think he point he was trying to make is that those in Palo Alto who think that blocking new people and businesses from entering Palo Alto, thinking that that will somehow protect our quality of life, are misguidedly placing blame in the wrong place and undermining what makes Palo Alto special. Kind of like Trump, and his wall.

Is that a dirty tactic? I didn't make the argument, but I personally don't think so. I think the supporters of Trump's wall also want to protect the place they knew and loved, and lament how it's changed so much. It's literally the same thing I hear in these forums constantly about Palo Alto. So that comparison seems legit.

And in those same forums, there's quite a bit of grumbling about foreign and Chinese investors. Let me tell you, as an Asian, that sounds and feels a little racist. So there's that.


13 people like this
Posted by @dirty tricks
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:21 pm

@dirty tricks is a registered user.

I think you'll find the scorecard steps over the line for a nonprofit. A 501C3 is allowed to spend only a percentage of their effort on voter education, which I believe is 25%. Since you have a budget of zero dollars, 25% of zero, means you have nothing to spend. And in case you were wondering even if people are working for free on it, this will still be frowned upon by the FPPC. I'd say they should get clear legal advice before sending out a 'scorecard'. There is no question that will be deemed to be politically motivated.


52 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:26 pm

@Shady Tactics,

I ask the courtesy of using correct facts. You will find that the registration of the name was spring of this year and April 27 the name was registered with the IRS.

2. The papers were filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission in June.

3. The legally required report of activity, which was "No activity", was filed at the same time all COMPLYING organization file for January to June reporting period.

4. Each person that volunteers in local campaigns retains their free speech rights to engage in activities. I was not asked if I was voting for Donald or Hillary. Nor was I asked if I was in the Green Party, the Democratic Party or Republican Party. Same goes for other political activities -- respect for privacy and free speech.

5. The real impersonation that is at issue hear is a Private organization Impersonating a former City-sanction group. The good-will and tens of thousand of dollars the City of Palo Alto spent on developing the Brand awareness was simply taken and applied to pursuing a private agenda. That is the impersonation that is being revealed. If the organization that currently is holding itself out to the community as PAF was really pursuing an organizational structure, they would have discovered that the name is already in use. When that happens, generally a different name is chosen and would have just moved on or requested the name from me without going to the paper, pursuing headlines, and making accusations.

Thanks for being open the these factual observations.

Tim Gray


6 people like this
Posted by NothingToSeeHere
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:28 pm

Pretty silly on all sides. Whether. PAC or. Nonprofit they are clearly political. And should file with fair Political practices. Tim Gray, pretty silly as well.


6 people like this
Posted by Duveneck neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Can anyone give me an unambiguous list of those running for City Council who are, and are not, supported by developers and landlords?


24 people like this
Posted by Duveneck neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Dear Tim Gray,

Your comments are nothing but a rationalization for behavior which is pre-emptive and combative, and frankly off-putting at best.

If you have a problem with Palo Alto Forward, then shutting off a means for them to identify themselves unambiguously is hardly the way to express it. If the City did not assert their right to the URL, then the City obviously did not ask you to assert that right on their behalf, either.

OTOH, I can't tell whether I should vote for your candidate any longer (which I had been inclined to do). The other comments on this thread do not resolve outstanding questions. So, let me ask you point-blank: 1) Does/has your candidate/Lydia Kou, accept/ed campaign contributions from Palo Alto developers and landlords? 2) What is your candidate's stand on development of housing and transportation? (Pointing me to a URL with explanation is sufficient.)


46 people like this
Posted by Resident 11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Resident 11 is a registered user.

@Duveneck neighbor: The candidates who are supported by developers are Fine, Tanaka, McDougall, and Kniss. This is based on their record of advocacy for developers' rights. See this article for a recent endorsement of those four from the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce: Web Link. If you want to densify and urbanize Palo Alto, vote for this slate.

The candidates who have and will vote with the residents' interest in mind, and who will advocate for truly low-income housing, so we can remain a diverse town true to our roots, are Keller, Kou, Stewart, and Stone.

This election is really important. Please vote, and ask your neighbors to vote as well.


54 people like this
Posted by @duveneck neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:08 pm

@duveneck neighbor is a registered user.

Kou, Keller, Carl and Stone are the four who are not backed by developers.
They believe in office caps and impact fees for developers. They represent the interests of residents and small business, and care specifically about affordable housing for those that serve the community.


65 people like this
Posted by Want outsiders deciding Palo Alto's future?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Want outsiders deciding Palo Alto's future? is a registered user.

As Resident says above: "What really disturbs me most is that so many people who do not live in Palo Alto are trying to influence decisions that do not affect them as non-residents of Palo Alto. The future of Palo Alto should be decided by those who live in town, who own or rent in town. These decisions should not be influenced by those who do not live here. The fact that some of them may work for a business in town or even own a business in town is irrelevant. Palo Alto decisions must be decided by Palo Alto residents."

I really agree with this. Palo Alto "Forward" frequently solicited people from outside of Palo Alto to urge the densification of Palo Alto. I saw it several times directly myself. It is very disturbing. People who live in Palo Alto must determine its future. Not developers who want to build here, or tech workers (e.g., Palantir) who want to live here.

Vote Keller, Kou, Carl, and Stone to retain leadership of our City.


21 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Do you believe we need to build more housing of all kinds in Palo Alto?

For Kou and Keller, the answer is no.

They say they want more affordable housing. But every time we have the opportunity to do it, they somehow find a reason not to back the proposal.

If developers won't build this housing who is going to do it?


17 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:29 pm

"Kou, Keller, Carl and Stone are the four who are not backed by developers."

Your point being? These candidates are backed by those trying to ensure that their property values continue to increase a rate much higher than inflation - probably MORE of a financial incentive - through scarcity of housing.

What's really funny is that it's the people who allege the other side of doing dirty tricks are the ones who are guilty of it.

What a bunch of hypocrites.


33 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm

This bunch can't even manage its own brand. Why should we believe they could move Palo Alto forward?


23 people like this
Posted by Duveneck neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Thanks for the inputs regarding the various candidates.

I have another question.

I attended the candidates' forum at City Hall last month, moderated by Joe Simitian. Adrian Fine impressed me with his energy, but more importantly with his clear ability to think outside the box regarding the current issues facing the City, its government, and in particular its residents and businesses.

Why should an endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce preclude having his insights available to the Council?


33 people like this
Posted by Resident 11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 24, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Resident 11 is a registered user.

@duveneck -- Absolutely nothing prevents you from voting for whoever you want to. You should vote!

You asked who is supported by developers, and you got your answer. In a rare move, because of the importance of this vote and the direction it will set for the City, the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the four people that it thinks will be most supportive of developers' rights, based on their track records. If you like Fine, and his track record, then vote for Fine. But you should be aware that nearly 1/3 of the contributions to his campaign come from developers or builders, and there is a reason that developers support him. For example, he is on record as wanting to abolish our height limit and the parking minimums that developers (currently) need to heed.

If you want to urbanize Palo Alto, then you are probably a good fit for Fine. I know many young people who commute from SF because they like the urban feeling there, yet because they don't like the commute, they would much rather have Palo Alto be a (dense, bustling) city where they could live. That's not my preference, but I assume it's where Adrian and his ilk are coming from.

I'd add that I'm not sure where the money is going to come for the infrastructure we would need to urbanize and densify Palo Alto, but that will also be an interesting discussion if we start transforming into the city they envision. Such a big shift will not come cheap if we want to do it well.


29 people like this
Posted by PAF and big bucks
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 4:40 pm

>Why should an endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce preclude having his insights available to the Council?

You may have an outdated idea of the composition of the Chamber of Commerce. It's not an organization of small businesses, though they may have one or two, it is primarily composed of large developers like Stanford, and Microsoft, and money lenders and managers. And of course Palantir. The CEO doesn't even live here.
Web Link

Peter Stone, Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation
Judith Kleinberg, CEO/President, business law attorney
Jeffery Phillips Garden Court Hotel General Manager
Rebecca Teutschel TNT, Inc., Certified Public Accountants
Jon Kiya, Senior Vice President and Team Leader of Boston Private's Specialty Lending Group
Mike Love, Microsoft
Erin McDermit, Attorney At Law, Shuman Snyder LLP
Bob McGrew, Palantir Technologies, Inc.
Susan Graf, Owner, S. Graf Ltd.
Ramsey Shuayto, Asset Management, Stanford University Research Park
Janaki Kumar, SAP Labs, LLC


37 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 5:21 pm

"...the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the four people that it thinks will be most supportive of developers' rights..."

Rights?

More like wishes.

Developers have no inherent "right" to the extravagantly profitable spot-zoning development privilege giveaways called PCs that have ravaged our city character of late. Only complicit councilmembers such as the time-proven Kniss and the obviously eager Fine can make them happen.


35 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 6:03 pm

I recently had an exchange with an ex-colleague on Facebook after she claimed that "Palo Alto Forward is funded by developers".

I don't think that she really knew that much about us, but she just heard rumors about this sort of thing and repeated them. Many of us do this all of the time.

But here's the thing... this sort of name-calling is hurtful and wrong. What if Palo Alto Forward is exactly what we claim to be: a bunch of RESIDENTS (read: fellow parents at your kids' school, fellow co-workers, neighbors) who believe that Palo Alto is moving towards a path of wealthy exclusion through restrictive housing, and want to promote a different set of policies? Why would you denigrate and bully people who are volunteering their time and effort to study these issues, engage with their neighbors, and advocate for change? People seem genuinely suspicious that we would fund an ice-cream social out of our pockets or host a gathering for a speaker about "Mobility as a Service" in Helsinki without forming a PAC.

I personally believe that the folks that PASZ is supporting have a vision that they believe will benefit Palo Alto residents. I believe that the folks that I personally support have a _different_ vision that will benefit Palo Alto residents. Demonizing either side is really not helpful, and it makes this sort of meanness pervasive.

In that context, this move by Tim Gray is really in bad faith. I would never think of co-opting PASZ's website or registration, or any of the candidate's identities. For those commentators who are sneering "well, it shows that Palo Alto Forward is not professional enough to register their own PAC"... that's pretty sad too. We are a _volunteer_organization_ that holds educational events and does policy research on our own time. It's sad to think that every time a citizens group gets together, they should have to lawyer up lest other people in town start impersonating them and registering shadow entities using their names, like patent trolls and domain name pirates.

I really wish that our city officials and candidates that see this sort of behavior publicly repudiate it.


25 people like this
Posted by Disgruntled
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 6:24 pm

What a joke. This just goes to show how inept the anti-housing anti-development leadership is. Kou, Filseth and Dubois are one in the same. If they continue to receive support from the community it is because the majority of the community wants to continue to turn a blind eye to the housing problem. Any effort to increase housing stock is met with obstruction by these three. And the tactics, whether shady or direct are shameful nonetheless. Stop trying to scare us. I for one will not let the door behind me close. I will continue to support and encourage more housing stock in our fair city.


20 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 6:32 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@curmudgeon: "This bunch can't even manage its own brand. Why should we believe they could move Palo Alto forward?"

This logic is ridiculous. Why should Palo Alto citizens need to take precautions against this kind of antisocial, dishonest behavior? It's like we have our very own James O'Keefe. Is this the kind of politics we want?

Lydia Kou should disavow this guy, but instead, his name continues to be prominently featured on her website. Maybe because it is exactly the kind of politics she wants?




24 people like this
Posted by @Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 6:42 pm

You want the candidates (and current leadership) to repudiate this behavior? Good luck with that. The established "no growth" city council members and the candidates running now with that same ideology are not going to call this sort of behavior out. They think it's great. And even if they did speak out against it, it would be disingenuous. You know it and I know it. It would be lip service. Just like when they say that they support affordable housing. Or that they support more housing. The truth is they see no benefit (to themselves) in improving access to housing in Palo Alto. They view making our housing element comply as a sham exercise. They accept no responsibility for the housing crisis afflicting our region and they believe that only solutions that are "developed" in other towns are acceptable.

PEOPLE, every town on the peninsula has to step up. We need to identify and encourage multi-family housing opportunities. Maybell wasn't a bad project. It was defeated by less than 1000 votes. In a city with 60,000 residents. I mean seriously, what sort of town opposes a senior citizen affordable housing development that is 5 stories tall and sits adjacent to a 10 story tall apartment building. And the (aged and gray haired) opposition made up mostly of neighbors to the proposed project disingenuously argued that the site was not an appealing one to seniors. Laughable. Nearly 90% of the opposition was over 70 years old. The neighborhood surrounding the project is chalk full of seniors. It doesn't matter to these people that they are being hypocritical. And they don't care how they win. Any tactic will suffice. All we can do is hope that Palo Alto Forward will go high when they go low.

And remember, PALO ALTO IS ALREADY GREAT. WE DON"T NEED KOU OR KELLER TO MAKE IT GREAT AGAIN! They're just preying on you, using fear like another political candidate that I'll leave un-named.


28 people like this
Posted by @Eric Rosenblum
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 7:37 pm

@Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

Firstly I appreciate the fact that you are using your real name....

But, now in hindsight, given your comments above, do you think Mike Greenfield's blog was appropriate? And do you think it was appropriate for you, as a commissioner on the Planning and Transportation Commission to retweet it...when it publicly maligned both Lydia Kou and the Mayor of this fine city. I can understand that you might not agree with their positions, but can you endorse that behavior and even encourage it, given your stated position above.

I also wish "our city officials and candidates that see this sort of behavior would publicly repudiate it"


12 people like this
Posted by to the ageist lunatic
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 8:14 pm

to the ageist lunatic is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by outrageous!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2016 at 8:43 pm

[Post removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by @outrageous
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:07 pm

It's pretty easy to read the comment, and see that he's right where Alcheck and Downing are. That is to say, if one has no obvious utility, one should push off. Over 70, and you're just holding up progress. Given his reference to Trump's slogan - might even be the same guy who kicked this off. Clearly an angry young man. But why so angry? It's as if he blames his personal misfortune on the inhabitants of this city. Hope things improve for him


23 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:58 pm

With regards to Mike Greenfield’s post on Medium (Web Link), I do think that he raises a valid point.

The national election—especially at that time—was seen as a referendum on immigration. There are those who vehemently believe that our current influx of people is harming America culturally and economically, and that our social infrastructure simply cannot handle them. There are others who believe that immigrants are the lifeblood of our country, and that we need to enact policies that reflect this. No one is advocating open borders. It is either a closed border (in Trump’s case, a literal wall) or an overhauled immigration policy.

Mike was saying that the local election is a microcosm of this issue. It is a referendum on how many new people, and what kinds of people, we want to accept in Palo Alto. Setting aside the truly awful among his legions, many Trump probably aren’t bad people: they see the country as already too crowded, and that the new comers make their home seem unfamiliar. In Palo Alto, Kou and Carl have taken the hardest lines, believing that we already have too many people (and especially jobs), and that we need to dramatically slow down. I believe that the motivations of this school of thought at the local level are similar to motivations at the national level.

In retrospect, comparing anyone to Trump is probably so inflammatory to be counter-productive to discussion, so I probably should have pushed back a bit at this rhetoric. However, I still believe the underlying point to be valid.

I think that there’s a big difference between categorizing people’s policies, and the bad behavior that I’m critiquing.

The bad behavior that I’m referring to is nothing like a policy critique, though. Some examples:
- Claiming Palo Alto Forward is a “front for developers” or “funded by developers (or by Palantir)”: this is objectionable because it is a baldfaced lie, and because that lie makes other people feel that they can completely disregard policy recommendations (because they must be tainted)
- Tim Gray appropriating our organization’s name for his PAC: this is just crazy (and super sleazy). There’s no excuse for this

So... go wild on a policy critique if you want. (FWIW, the policies that we're advocating closely match Gov Brown and Pres Obama's recent recommendations for by-right housing and local zoning incentives to create more housing).

But don't repeat lies about shadowy developer groups or corporate interests, and then use that as an excuse to demonize someone else's point of view.



41 people like this
Posted by Much to do about nothing.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm

The current Palo Alto Forward apparently doesn't want to register as a Political Action Committee. A resident apparently registered Palo Alto Forward as a PAC, but hasn't done anything with it yet. So, why does PAF care that someone registered it if it doesn't want the registration itself? How is PAF harmed when the registrant hasn't done anything with it? A complaint without any damages doesn't really elicit much sympathy from ordinary residents in Palo Alto.


45 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

The faux outrage is outrageous. PAF just wants to distract from their candidates unpopular opinions..


27 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:57 pm

"@curmudgeon: "This bunch can't even manage its own brand. Why should we believe they could move Palo Alto forward?" This logic is ridiculous. Why should Palo Alto citizens need to take precautions against this kind of antisocial, dishonest behavior? It's like we have our very own James O'Keefe."

I respect political opinions I disagree with that come from solid, evidently competent organizations--organizations that know how to, among other basic things, legally protect their own name against obvious forseeable chicanery. Palo Alto "Forward" flunks this most elementary test.

On the other hand, I very much respect a well executed Dick Tuck caper such as this one. For now, PAF should at least copyright the color of red-faced embarrassment.


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 12:54 am

Eric Rosenblum says he should have pushed back on Mike Greenfield’s "counterproductive rhetoric" on Donald Trump, but evidently Greenfield’s factual untruths on Burt and Kou were no problem:


“Mayor Burt and “residentialist” candidates for office like Lydia Kou instead repel newcomers with policies that make it impossible to build new housing.”

It is not impossible to build new housing in Palo Alto, though property owners usually prefer building office space, which is more lucrative.


“Residentialists like Lydia Kou oppose major improvements to transit infrastructure”

Burt and Kou etc have not opposed better transit infrastructure such as Caltrain electrification and grade separation, though some have questioned whether Measure B is written securely enough that Caltrain will ever actually get the money for it. Unless you mean HSR which many people oppose.


“Trump, Burt, and Kou all seek to return America to its suburban, homogeneous, 1950s self.”

Nobody advocates to return America to its suburban, homogeneous, 1950s self.


“The Trump-Burt-Kou approach of putting up walls (literal and figurative)”

Neither Burt nor Kou advocates increasing barriers to building housing.


“the Burt-Kou never-build-anything approach”

Neither Burt nor Kou advocates never building anything.


“Consistently favor policies that increase per capita automobile use.”

Nobody advocates policies that favor more car use per person. Unless you mean autonomous vehicle adoption.



Mustn't have that counterproductive Donald Trump rhetoric though.


44 people like this
Posted by For liveability options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 2:12 am

I'm getting pretty sick of the PAF nasty electioneering and negative propoganda. Is anyone really buying it? Except Gennady Shaynor? Lydia Kou is being smeared left and right by PAF, who then cries foul if anyone describes them by what PAF members do: advocate for high-density urbanization of Palo Alto. And attack others, then whine that they are being attacked, it's just too too much. The same PAF posters keep flooding all discourse and posting the same lies and smears, aggressively over and over again.

I do not see how this is anything except PAF trying to smear residentialist candidates again. Gray did nothing with this at all. He is being accused when PAF is the only party trying to use this or be public about it.

Folks, the ugly assaults on Palo Alto residents will only continue if the high-density urbanization candidates like Fine and MacDougal get power. They claim they are for "options" as long as those options are the high-density transformation of Palo Alto into a company property for Palantir. Palo Alto taxpayers built this town which is literally being coopted by a company for its own selfish purposes.


33 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:21 am

I wish we wouldn't keep hearing that people want to return to the 50s or the 80s. I honestly can't see that happening. For a start, at one time there were 3 high schools, now we have 2. We had over 20 elementary schools, we now have 13. Midtown had 3 supermarkets and there were more supermarkets around town which we have lost. I have lost count of the number of VTA routes we have lost and we are being threatened to lose more.

Our infrastructure is the biggest reason for stopping the frenzy in growth that is being proposed. We can't stop this two way commuting (yes two way commuting as people do commute out of town as the onramps, passengers waiting for Caltrain on our stations and the station parking lots show), by building more homes in town. We need to get better public transit, both in town and all along the Peninsula as well as the entire Bay Area, we need to think about water, sewage, power, broadband, roads, parking, bike safety (both while riding and security while parked), recreation, social and pastime facilities, etc. etc. etc.

Stack and pack housing with people unable to park or have facilities to live a good quality of life in walking distance is not a solution that makes sense to me. None of us can find all our needs in town. Our homes have to be somewhere to live and to be used as a base I agree, but we also need to have access to family and friends who live elsewhere, to pastimes, to recreations and to socialize across the region in a reasonable fashion. Self driving cars is a ridiculous supposed solution as they still need to operate on our roads and need a lot more time to recharge in a parked facility than a quick tank of gas fillup while the driver remains with the car.

Sensible growth means getting the infrastructure in place for what we have now, rather than increase the problem and hope the infrastructure can come up to par. I doubt that our present infrastructure can do that since it is working stretched to capacity anyway.


33 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 25, 2016 at 6:29 am

There are some really ugly posts on here; particularly the ones that malign seniors. Since when is it wrong to continue to own the single family home that you worked hard for and enjoy? Or to want your community to not be overwhelmed by the problems that accompany density? I appreciate those CC members who keep a distance from this b/c CC has an obligation to try to hear issues as objectively as possible. As I read posts by and about certain Planning Commissioners I am struck by how strongly biased some on that board appear to be and how unlikely it would be to get a fair hearing before the PC unless advocating for density.


26 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2016 at 6:53 am

"I do not see how this is anything except PAF trying to smear residentialist candidates again. Gray did nothing with this at all. He is being accused when PAF is the only party trying to use this or be public about it.

Folks, the ugly assaults on Palo Alto residents will only continue if the high-density urbanization candidates like Fine and MacDougal get power. They claim they are for "options" as long as those options are the high-density transformation of Palo Alto into a company property for Palantir. Palo Alto taxpayers built this town which is literally being coopted by a company for its own selfish purposes."

Pot. Kettle. Black.


34 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 25, 2016 at 1:25 pm

The fact that the residentialist candidates are receiving donations from local residents who actually care about Palo Alto, while the PAF candidates receive donations from developers who don't live in Palo Alto and care only about lining up their pockets, and from those who hope that electing PAF candidates will get them closer to a Palo Alto zip code speaks volumes. Getting donations from local residents is a badge of honor, getting donations from developers, not so much.


29 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm

"Getting donations from local residents is a badge of honor, getting donations from developers, not so much."

I agree. The novelty here is residentialist candidates receiving large donations from civic-minded residents. Pro-development candidates getting huge "contributions" from developers is hardly news.


34 people like this
Posted by For liveability options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

"The Trump-Burt-Kou approach of putting up walls "

Huh? Kou is from Africa and Asia, has an international perspective, and is one of the most thoughtful civic volunteers in town. This smear campaign to try to pin a national poltical framework that isn't even true is what is low here, and it's all being done by the PAF crowd.

No one is trying to put up walls, except Palantir trying to wall off downtown for themselves, and the density crowd trying to turn El Camino into a wall of high buildings.


4 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

"Huh? Kou is from Africa and Asia, has an international perspective, and is one of the most thoughtful civic volunteers in town. This smear campaign to try to pin a national poltical framework that isn't even true is what is low here, and it's all being done by the PAF crowd."

Clearly analogies are lost on you. Kou and most residentialists are trying to keep people and companies out of Palo Alto. Restrict building. Keep professionals out. Make low-income people commute from the Central Valley.

The wall analogy is apt here. Truth hurts.


13 people like this
Posted by Walls?
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 26, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Yes, it costs a lot to live in Palo Alto. Yet many houses and homes are sold and rented in Palo Alto to people from outside Palo Alto.

In what way is this a wall? Would there be less of a wall if there were twice as many people in Palo Alto while it still costs more to live there than nearby cities?




20 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm

To Mr Rosenblum: the Maybell development was not right next to a high rise. It faces and was immadiately adjacent to single family homes and a park in a residential neighborhood. It was on a very narrow street that was designated a safe route to school. As such it was completely out of character with the neighborhood. In addition it was a very flawed development as no services or security would be provided for residents. Should any resident need assistance due to illness or advanced age that resident would be required to move out.
Can you imagine the trauma for an older person whose physical or mental health is compromised needing to suddenly find another home on their own?
Second, the list of those who need BMR housing encompasses all of Santa Clara county. It would not give any preference to local residents. Most likely few Palo Alto senior residents would be able to secure a unit at Maybell.
This is the truth. The rest of what you read regarding Maybell is false.
Many of the posts an this article are inflammatory and intended to skew the vote in favor of continuing high rise large developements. This is not what Lydia Kou and Keller represent. They are for reasonable, controlled increases in housing and limiting increases in office conglomerates. PAF are supported by large developers. Kou and Keller are supported by neighborhood residents who want to see lower growth.
I do not know why some are trying to smear Kou. The claims against her are totally contrary to the woman I have known for over 10 years.


15 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 10:41 am

After Cory's misrepresentation of his positions and those of the Palo Alto Forward group, what did you expect to happen? Palo Alto Forward is just another lobbying group who neglected to register.


13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

PAF is used, quite willingly, by developers and a certain downtown tech firm to push a massive development and densification wave. They are without a doubt a lobbying group that failed to register as such.


4 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

I attended a few PAF meetings before, all the accusations from Kou's supporters are utter BS.

Wake up: what interests do you think she will represent, if she gets 160.000 dollars from just five families?!?


14 people like this
Posted by OutsideMoney
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:51 am

OutsideMoney is a registered user.

@Marc from Mountain View -- what about the fact that 40% of Fine's donations are from people who don't even live in Palo Alto?

I am very, very grateful to the Palo Alto residents who stepped up to help fund Kou and Keller for Palo Alto City Council, because they could not have competed otherwise with so much outside and developer money.


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

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 13 comments | 2,275 views

Post-election reflections -- and sponges
By Diana Diamond | 13 comments | 1,704 views

Couples: Philosophy of Love
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,458 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 987 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 511 views