News

Editorial: Our election recommendations

Also, information on returning vote-by-mail ballots

The Palo Alto Weekly recommends the following candidates and ballot measure positions. Click here for our full editorials on all local offices and measures.

Reminder: Vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day, Nov. 6 (no postage required), or may be turned in at any time between now and 8 p.m. on Election Day at a 24-hour outside drop-box at Rinconada Library (1213 Newell Road) or to any polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Please vote!

House of Representatives

Anna Eshoo (D) (Incumbent)

State Assembly

Marc Berman (D) (Incumbent)

Palo Alto City Council

Eric Filseth (Incumbent)

Tom DuBois (Incumbent)

Alison Cormack

Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Trustees

Ken Dauber (Incumbent)

Shounak Dharap

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Board of Trustees

Karen Holman

Santa Clara County Sheriff

Laurie Smith (Incumbent)

Measure A (Santa Clara County)

Extension of 1/8 cent sales tax

YES

Measure E (City of Palo Alto )

Increase in Transient Occupancy (Hotel Tax) to fund infrastructure projects, including a new public safety building

YES

Measure F (City of Palo Alto)

Regulates local health care providers and imposes limits on what can be charged for health care services

NO

Measure Y (Palo Alto Unified School District)

Establishes term limits of two consecutive four-year terms for school board members

YES

Measure Z (Palo Alto Unified School District)

Bond measure for $460 million in school facility improvements

YES

State Propositions:

Yes on Prop. 1 — Affordable Housing Bond

Yes on Prop. 2 — Housing Bond for the Mentally Ill

No on Prop. 3 — Water Bond

No on Prop. 4 — Children’s Hospital Bond

No on Prop. 5 — Property Tax Transfers

No on Prop. 6 — Gas Tax Repeal

No on Prop. 7 — Daylight Savings Time

No on Prop. 8 — Regulation of Kidney Dialysis

Prop. 9 — (Removed from ballot)

Yes on Prop. 10 — Local Option for Rent Control

Yes on Prop. 11 — Ambulance Employee Breaks

No on Prop. 12 — Confinement of Animals

For complete 2018 election information, check out the Palo Alto voters' guide.

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Do No Evil
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 26, 2018 at 11:27 am

As a parent with high-school kids,I am strongly against Palo Alto Weekly's endorsement of the two school board members. [Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by CMG
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm

CMG is a registered user.

Unless I'm reading prop 11 wrong, a yes vote means you want private ambulance workers to continue to have to be on call during their breaks, so you actually want to vote no.


32 people like this
Posted by NO on Z, BECAUSE You Support Schools
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 26, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Community leaders and the Weekly would never have the courage to tell us not to vote for Measure Z, just like they didn’t have the courage to tell us to vote against the last tax proposal that was almost instantly spent on raises (on the heels of already generous raises) instead of on reducing class sizes, hiring mental health workers (the issue of having to lay off teachers if we didn’t approve it was clearly just a lie, too).

Vote NO on Measure Z. Do it because you support the schools!

Here’s why:

This is not a choice of whether you want the schools to get facilities funding. The district will come back and ask again, probably in the next election, that is guaranteed. But the district does not have a great track record with blank checks, which this is. And it was written without any plan for Cubberley.

Lawmakers will tell you that if the bond is not specific enough with accountability measures, the community has absolutely no way to enforce that it will be spent well. Contractors and those who profit from us make the most money if they get the district to spend on these major buildings here and there instead of doing what was, for example, promised in the last facilities bond well. If that had been done, our elementary schools and could have largely been redone as new along with the upper renovations. Did we get that? No. Are you willing to risk that we will spend this money and once again still have mostly dilapidated schools with a few whiz bang buildings at the end of it, and not even as many as we could have gotten for the money? Compare to the whole Mitchell Park community center, which was about $40million and is the equivalent of about one elementary school — did we get the equivalent of 10 completely brand new schools for the last bond? No. The Gunn athletic center was about $12 million. Did we get the equivalent of about three dozen new Gunn athletic centers? No.

Our kids deserve to get a bond that ensures the money will be spent well, especially since we are still paying for two previous bonds and a tax that was instantly spent on something else. The district has shown us that they only listen when we vote down a proposal. They will ask again, that’s not a concern. But voting NO on Z gives us a chance to get a bond that actually does what it says and actually helps our kids.

The Trump tax changes have been particularly brutal to average families already hanging on in this expensive area, while benefiting the many billionaires who live locally. The community should reject this measure, too, in order to allow the district a chance to respond to these conditions and — for once — raise a capital campaign first. The district had two major donations within recent years, to replace the Paly Athletic center and to renovate Addison (since the bond never did anything like that as it should have for most of the elementary schools), totaling $80-90million dollars in just two donations.

In one of those cases, the donor argued successfully to the community to allow a no-bid contract with the donor’s contractor, and a lease leaseback arrangement that is not favorable financially to the district, after arguing successfully (and getting the board to agree) that the district hasn’t handled the facilities construction well. The board acknowledged this, why would we approve another huge bond without making sure the bond is written so we get better?

We should not just be asking those who are already least able to afford it to be paying for this, without first having gone to the billionaires and multi-millionaires in the community with a capital campaign asking for donations. The district has shown it is more careful with those donations anyway.

You can vote NO, knowing (based on past experience, too) with 100% confidence that the district will come forward with another bond. But voting NO on Measure Z is the only way to get them to come up with a better plan which includes accountability.

VOTE NO on Measure Z, and ask the district to first ask for donors who did well from the tax cuts, not raise the money on the backs of already struggling families who got stuck with huge tax increases last year.


1 person likes this
Posted by Zayda
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Zayda is a registered user.

@CMG
Prop 11 can be a little confusing, but there were NO arguments AGAINST Prop 11 in the information booklet. Under normal circumstances, OSHA,and the State of California, requires a mandatory break for employees after a given number of hours and apparently a court ruled to enforce that. But emergency responders are in a different situation. Granted that Prop 11 looks like a union sponsored ploy to give the EMTs an some extra pay and/or a ploy by the ambulance companies to avoid adding extra personnel, but it is a small price to pay for having the fastest response available when you need it. VOTE YES ON PROP 11.


4 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Proposition 11 is another one of those industry-paid-for propositions on the California ballot. American Medical Response. From Pete Rates the Propositions:

Here’s the backstory: For many years, fun-loving private ambulance company American Medical Response (AMR) has required its ambulance crews to remain on call during their breaks. They must keep their radios on and respond to emergencies and orders to reposition. Keeping crews on call during breaks allows AMR to avoid hiring more crews or repositioning other ambulances to maintain coverage, saving AMR lots of money.

Private ambulance companies commonly require their ambulance crews to remain on call during work breaks. A recent court ruling suggests this is a violation of state labor law. Prop 11 would allow on-call breaks, and apply retroactively so the companies aren’t liable for past violations.

If nothing else, vote NO on Proposition 11 to discourage other for-profit companies for putting propositions on the ballot designed to deceive voters. The pitch is that we regular folks, when we fall down clutching our chests, will get faster service if the drivers have to always be on call, even during legal lunch or dinner breaks. The private ambulance company could achieve the same thing by paying for enough drivers.


3 people like this
Posted by Voting No
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2018 at 9:35 pm

If you dig deep enough you find that the propositions are simply one group of Californians attacking another group. It’s not always obvious who the targeted party is, but if you dig you’ll find it.

I’m voting NO on all propositions.

Grow up California. Stop the special interest assault.


2 people like this
Posted by Zayda
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 29, 2018 at 2:35 am

Zayda is a registered user.

@Novelera
There are some very interesting nuances in Prop 11. There are many jurisdictions where there isn't adequate ambulance coverage by the fire department, so they contract with private ambulance companies. If the companies had to add additional ambulances and personnel to cover mandatory breaks, that extra cost would be passed on to the public and would be much higher than paying the existing crews during their breaks. So it might seem like an obvious YES vote on Prop 11.
The sticky part is the lawsuits which have been filed stating that the practice was illegal IN THE PAST. Prop 11 would eliminate the penalties for this, but it isn't clear whether the personnel were paid for breaks in the past. If not, the companies should be liable for back pay. But if you agree with the premise that emergency responders should be on-call during their breaks, then there shouldn't be any additional penalties to the companies if this was the practice in the past.
What's the old saying? The devil is in the details.


1 person likes this
Posted by NO on Z, BECAUSE You Support Schools
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 29, 2018 at 9:24 am

I am still confused. I think it’s impractical to always have enough staff that breaks are never interrupted. But I don’t want companies abusing that. I also don’t want laws that draw a hard line and don’t allow discretion. Given that, do I vote yes or no on 11?


11 people like this
Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Vote NO on Measure E.

The City of Palo Alto is targeting a single business industry, the Hotel industry, to fund the building of its infrastructure and pet projects.

Furthermore, the language on the ballot is misleading indicating the increase is 1.5%. It demeans and disrespects voters doing this.

Measure E increases hotel taxes from 14% to 15.5% putting Palo Alto as the city with the highest hotel tax in the state of California.

In 2008, the tax was raised from 10% to 12%.
In 2014, the tax was raised from 12% to 14%.

Where is the accountability from the TOT funds raised in 2008 and 2014?
When does Measure E sunset? It does NOT.
Why are the funds not specifically directed to an Infrastructure Fund?
Why are the funds going into the City's General Fund?
Why is the burden upon hotels and Measure E funds to address "parking impacts" when it is created by the tech office businesses?

The hotel TOT will be raised 5.5% in a short 11 years and while it is a tax on business, this could very well have consequences. Such as, sick persons coming to Stanford Hospital for lengthy treatments, their families will need to stay at hotels and will be paying this tax. It is not the price of a cup of coffee as a Council Member characterized it to be.

If the hotel room per night charge is $250, a 15.5% tax will take the hotel charge to $288.75. The 15.5% is $38.75 and is significant.

Please demand transparency and in this case, accountability.
Vote NO on Measure E.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2018 at 11:41 pm

> "The hotel TOT will be raised 5.5% in a short 11 years"

10% to 15.5% looks to me like a TOT rise of 55%. On top of inflation.


6 people like this
Posted by Facts Matter
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:47 am

The San Jose Mercury just came out with their endorsements for city council. Filseth, Dubois and Cormack were their clear choices, the same as the Daily Post and the Weekly, Web Link.
After watching Wolbach in action for four years, all three papers decided not to endorse him. That's a rarity for an incumbent.
It will be interesting whether all of the money he has raised from outside Palo Alto, including from labor unions, will get him re-elected anyway.


11 people like this
Posted by Greene and Paly parent
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2018 at 8:45 pm

We need school board member that are able to support all our students. I am very concerned with repeated portrayals of our Chinese community members that support Kathy Jordan candidacy as a smaller disoriented group. The root of the issue is that a silent majority of our students that are from immigrant families are being sidelined. Our students are:

- 12% hispanic
- 38% Asian (mostly Chinese and Indian)
- 5-10% immigrants/visitors from elsewhere

The majority of these students are at the two extremes in term of their academic needs. The painful issue is that curriculum an instruction-limited programs created for the middle established minority does not serve them well. One particular sore point is the middle schools mathematics program. With limited rigid options, inadequate placement, and non-specialist 6th grade teachers, the program is ineffective (in pace or level) to the majority of these students.

Most of our neighboring districts responded in the past 5 years to these diverse needs and implemented much broader and stronger MS programs. These include Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos, Belmont Redwood-Shores, and all work with much lower student/year cost than PAUSD!. These programs allow more students to learn to their potential at school. The broad programs include school-time targeted timely intervention support for students that fall behind and at the high end, an organic pathway to HS Geometry by 8th grade (a high pathway that PAUSD does not offer but 40% of Cupertino and Saratoga students take), and also a pace-balanced MS pathway that helps more students succeed in 8th grade Algebra (without tutoring!).

The experience of our neighbors is that children of immigrant families disproportinally benefit from the broader program. But PAUSD that seems to be controlled by a vocal established "middle" minority resist this needed breadth. This narrowness comes at huge cost to immigrant families: Some students irrevocably fall behind whereas others must choose between stunted growth and taking their math/STEM education privately after school.

Unfortunately, the support for this curricular narrowness seems to come from some influencial members of the established minority that seem to harbor a (debunked and misguided) widespread conflation of the need for stronger academics (that comes from immigrant families) with emotional unwellness and also harbor unconscious biases against parenting styles different than their own (portraying them as clueless and even harmful). This percolates to staff and even policies designed to factor out families instead of work together (against state recommendations), which harms students even more. Moreover, some board members and candidates seem to tip toe around and play out to these falsehoods instead of fight them off.

Education board candidate Kathy Jordan has a record of standing up for the truth. She does not play out to falsehoods, no matter how popular, and showed willingness to listen and understand the concerns of all families. Kathy also understands and appreciates the beautiful diversity we have here at Palo Alto and works towards creating programs that allow all our students to thrive. We all need this now.


6 people like this
Posted by JLS parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 1, 2018 at 9:00 pm

What an odd post. Who exactly believes that high achievement is connected to "unwellness"? What's the connection between math ability and immigration status?

From what I have seen, Jordan has been making the case to some Chinese immigrant families that our school district is in a state of decline. That's false. I have seen great positive strides in wellness and in support for a wide range of students in middle school, including getting more students to algebra in 8th grade.


4 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2018 at 11:22 pm

I have not followed the school district's issues since my children were students in Palo Alto schools from 1991 to 2011.
I do remember an incredible waste of money those many years ago with Building for Excellence. I remember millions of dollars of architectural plans for JLS created only to be scrapped for a variety of reasons. I remember state requirements for school sites being entirely missed because of poor oversight. I remember many an opportunity for correcting long standing problems lost in the shuffle with Building for Excellence; those problems exist to this day. I was one of a group of JLS and Gunn parents who tried but failed to be a part of the process; we were refused inclusion.

In reading what has been written lately about district financing, it apears that history may have repeated itself.
I truly hope the school board will carefully manage district money with openness henceforth, so as to improve public confidence.


5 people like this
Posted by Greene and Paly parent
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:37 am

@JLS parent
You raised some interesting questions that I believe I can address.

"Who exactly believes that high achievement is connected to "unwellness"?"

The conflation of academic challenge with unwellness seems to have been initiated with the first suicide cluster nearly a decade ago. Our town was in shock,
we looked for reasons. Academic stress was blamed, certain parenting styles were blamed, and this led to curbing challenge and disrespecting (some) families.... These conflations were debunked (also by the recent CDC report). The district made progress to promote wellness and address academic stress (primarily by putting guidelines on homework load and frequency), but still seems guided (in policies and direction) by the wrongful conflation of the mere availability of suitable challenge with unwellness. Some concrete examples are (i) math lane "recommendations" that discourage challenge and frequently divert students from learning to their potential and (ii) calls to place hard limits on the number and how early AP courses can be taken.


"What's the connection between math ability and immigration status?"

Understanding math ability is complex. But to substantiate my claim of where the need for a broader program comes from, we can look at enrollments in current courses offered by our district. We can see that Latino students disproportionately populate the "lowest" lanes: "Math 7" in 7th grade and "Algebra" in 9th grade. We can see that the "highest" 75%+ (estimate) of "BC calculus" students and 95%+ of "accelerated" students (Geometry before 9th grade) are from immigrant families. This shows us that the greatest need for either additional support or for additional challenge comes from immigrant families. These families need to be heard.

"....our school district is in a state of decline. That's false. I have seen great positive strides in wellness and in support for a wide range of students in middle school, including getting more students to algebra in 8th grade."

I agree that there is positive progress towards wellness. Academically, however, especially for middle school STEM, we are not keeping up with some districts around us and across the country. We simple do not have the breadth to support many of our students and they emerge from middle school not nearly as well prepared for high school (even our high schools) as students from Los Altos or Saratoga or a private school.

As for "getting more students to Algebra in 8th." The vast majority of PAUSD students (70%+) get to 8th grade Algebra and this for years had been the PAUSD primary pathway (math 6, 7A, Algebra). But this pathway is highly imbalanced in pace which means a lot more material is packed into 8th grade (most of CCSS M8 as well as HS Algebra 1). Many affluent families get tutors to support their students but other students fall through. Other districts (Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Los Altos, Belmont) have balanced pathways with specialist math teachers and more prealgebra done during 6th grade. This allows more students to succeed in 8th grade Algebra (which is a critical step stone for high school calculus and STEM career)


3 people like this
Posted by PROP 7!
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

No on Prop. 7 — Daylight Savings Time

As an alumni (read: victim!) of Gunn High School I can assure you that kids getting home at 5pm when it's already dark and being forced into their studies in the night is far worse than waking up without the sun in the sky 30 min later than usual. Yes on prop 7!


2 people like this
Posted by Greene and Paly parent
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:05 am

@JLS parent

This is a followup on the post that the PAUSD middle school STEM program is disproportionally unsuitable for students from immigrant families. In a timely manner, Don Austin in his weekly board update letter just made available some incredible data that exposes the issue. See

Web Link

and in particular, smarter balanced scores of the same group of kids 5th to 8th grade:

Web Link

The data shows that socio economically disadvantaged students, more than half of them Latino, have stunted growth in math during the critical middle school years. The data shows that the Asian students are so much above the grade level programs (a whopping 160 points above state standards) that it is clear that the school courses are not suitable to most of them in pace or level. The districts around us offer broader programs to support all students (a higher lane with 40% enrollment, school-time intervention support, and balanced pathways). At pausd, students from immigrant families are sidelined.


3 people like this
Posted by Greene and Paly parent
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:06 am

This is a followup on the post that the PAUSD middle school STEM program is disproportionally unsuitable for students from immigrant families. In a timely manner, Don Austin in his weekly board update letter just made available some incredible data that exposes the issue. See

Web Link

and in particular, smarter balanced scores of the same group of kids 5th to 8th grade:

Web Link

The data shows that socio economically disadvantaged students, more than half of them Latino, have stunted growth in math during the critical middle school years. The data shows that the Asian students are so much above the grade level programs (a whopping 160 points above state standards) that it is clear that the school courses are not suitable to most of them in pace or level. The districts around us offer broader programs to support all students (a higher lane with 40% enrollment, school-time intervention support, and balanced pathways). At pausd, students from immigrant families are sidelined.


8 people like this
Posted by Chinese Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:22 am

@Greene and Paly parent: Latinos aren't doing any academics outside of school while Asians are doing tons of it. So you want higher lanes for the Asian immigrants who are studying immensely with tutors outside of school time? That's what they do in Asia, not America. Those who want more for their children can send them to Harker in San Jose.


12 people like this
Posted by The Numbers Game
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:35 am

> Latinos aren't doing any academics outside of school while Asians are doing tons of it.

Why is that? Do Latino parents (in general) place a low priority on developing math skills? Is this strictly based on lower socioeconomic factors OR perhaps a lack of overall interest?

>> What's the connection between math ability and immigration status?

Language barriers are one thing. Numbers are a universal language. The Chinese seem to be very adept at numbers despite any language barriers. Latinos not so much.

If a child can handle matrix algebra on the kindergarten level, more power to them. The others will simply be left behind.


4 people like this
Posted by Chinese Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:02 pm

@The Numbers Game: Surely you jest! Chinese prioritize academics in their culture while the Latino culture doesn't. That's why Asians are a minority in the U.S. yet they don't qualify as minority status in admissions because there are too many college applications from Asians. In fact, private colleges expect higher grades and test scores from Asian applicants than from any other race or ethnicity.


15 people like this
Posted by The Numbers Game
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:10 pm

> Chinese prioritize academics in their culture while the Latino culture doesn't.

Why is that? Is it because Latinos tend to focus more on the vocational trades (e.g. construction, road work etc.)? Or is it based on an aversion to developing advanced math skills?

The vocational trades require arithmetic skills but not so much in terms of matrix/linear algebra.

As aforementioned, language barriers do not really enter the picture in terms of mathematics.


5 people like this
Posted by Chinese Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 7:37 pm

This doesn't relate to the thread but anyway . . . Chinese focus on math as early as preschool. They are memorizing the multiplication table in kindergarten. If every culture did that, they too would be good in math.


6 people like this
Posted by Chinese Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 7:50 pm

In addition, Chinese are learning math the traditional way so it's easier than the new-fangled math that America teaches, trying to reinvent the wheel but constantly failing. Kids need to memorize their math tables, there is no way around it. America should quit trying to make math FUN. Learning isn't always fun. The other issue is that elementary teachers are not mathematicians so they don't enjoy teaching math and if they cannot explain it well (due to deficient math programs), children may not understand, which leads to frustration. Too bad elementary schools can't have math teachers and return to traditional math programs.


3 people like this
Posted by Greene and Paly parent
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:23 pm


The issue is that the PAUSD middle program is such that only kids with external resources can realize their potential. At Greene 3/7 6th grade teachers are not effective and teachers are not specialist. The pace to the critical step stone of 8th grade Algebra is highly imbalanced and many families of kids that do not have good foundations get tutors when the kids struggle in 8th grade.

The difference in achievement between Latino and whites comes from resources: The ability to compensate with tutors for imbalanced or low quality instruction or quickly intervene when needed. For Asians education is highly prioritized in the culture and also most of the parents here are the cream of where they came from. So these kids supplement unsuitable school courses and are prepared when and if the pacing becomes suitable. The issue for them is the missing higher lane in middle school that would allow them to learn at school instead of after school.


5 people like this
Posted by Math tutoring
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:10 pm

Math tutoring is a registered user.

This is an interesting thread. I think it's important to distinguish between kids who are truly good at math, which I expect is race agnostic (though we have a big selection bias here), and kids who spend a lot of time on math, which I expect is more of a cultural issue.

What I see is that Asian/Indian children spend a lot of time in math after-school programs, starting at a young age. Because of this, it appears that they are smarter, when in fact they are just "ahead". They are bored in the school curriculum, because they've already learned it, as their families have decided to spend extra time on math.

Does the school district have an obligation to provide a special lane for these kids? I have a hard time with that. In a sense, they are bypassing the curriculum. I'm constantly telling my kid, who see lots of 7th graders in 8th grade algebra, that it's not that they are smarter, it's just that they know more, because they've spent a lot more time on it. I don't want my kid to be discouraged just because he has never been tutored or had after-school math. But it's tough to change that impression.

I generally feel like we are in a race to nowhere with all this 'get ahead' tutoring, and it has put our schools in a tough place, while also masking the real ability differences. I suppose that is the intention, though.


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

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