News

Editorial: The voters speak

Palo Altans send a warning to incumbents looking to seek re-election in two years

Tuesday's local election should send a strong message to current office holders about what will help them win — and lose — local races.

And we are hopeful that results will reverse a disappointing pattern of bad behavior on the Palo Alto City Council, where a trend toward disrespecting those with differing political views has created unhelpful animosity and division.

A perceptive and discriminating Palo Alto electorate showed Tuesday that it won't hesitate to punish candidates for their perceived divisive behavior, is skeptical about those who spend excessive amounts trying to get elected and is willing to impose new financial obligations to support the schools and city infrastructure projects.

Voters also overwhelmingly embraced term limits for school board members and rejected a poorly conceived measure to regulate local health care providers.

Local election results brought more clarity than usual to how voters feel about the conduct of the officials it elects and the policies they support. In the Palo Alto City Council race, voters resoundingly rejected incumbent Cory Wolbach, relegating him to fourth place behind Alison Cormack, a newcomer with a history of collaborative community work but with no record to defend, and Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois, the other two incumbents who are generally on the opposite side from Wolbach on land-use and development issues.

Wolbach lost across the city in spite of running a well-organized campaign with support from a who's who of many Palo Alto political veterans, including Mayor Liz Kniss, and the county Democratic Party. Two factors were at play: Wolbach's allegiance to the less restrictive development philosophies of Kniss and Councilmen Greg Scharff, Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka, and his inability to live up to his 2014 campaign rhetoric about civility in local government. Wolbach, along with Scharff and Fine, seemed incapable of or disinterested in working constructively and thoughtfully on controversial issues with those on the other side — Filseth, DuBois, Karen Holman and Lydia Kou.

But Palo Alto voters are also clearly demonstrating continuing concern about the direction of the city. The strong support of DuBois and Filseth suggest that frustration with traffic and development policies has, if anything, intensified since the council majority changed two years ago. Cormack, whose strongest support came from south Palo Alto neighborhoods and who made the city's poor communication on traffic and bike transportation projects an important part of her campaign, drew support across the political spectrum from voters willing to give her a chance to demonstrate her independence from either of the city's two traditional political camps. We hope that turns out to be true.

Meanwhile Scharff, the politician most responsible for creating the divisive environment on the council, was defeated by a landslide in his effort to pivot to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board after being termed out on the City Council. He spent more than $100,000 on the campaign, mostly of his own money, in an attempt to beat his longtime political nemesis Karen Holman. He not only underestimated Holman's support in the community, but his unprecedented spending on mailings in an election without any issues differentiating the candidates turned off voters.

In the school board race, incumbent Ken Dauber easily won re-election, but the second seat may not be decided for weeks given that only 26 votes currently separate Shounak Dharap and Stacey Ashlund, with Kathy Jordan trailing behind Ashlund in fourth place by only 79 votes.

There are lots more votes to count in this race, so any of these three could wind up the winner. Two years ago, 6,000 to 7,000 more votes were added to the tally of the winning candidates from the results available two days after the election. These yet-to-be-counted ballots are those returned on Election Day to polling places and those received through the mail this week, so they will reflect the decisions of voters who waited until the last minute to cast their votes.

With the late effort organized late last week by Paly parents against Kathy Jordan's candidacy due to her treatment of student journalists at the Paly Campanile, the school newspaper, the final tally should give an indication as to whether that effort cost Jordan any votes.

Regardless, the fact that Dharap, a 28-year-old Gunn High School graduate and lawyer running for the first time and with much less financial support than either Ashlund or Jordan, could be competitive signals that the approval of term limits will be good for the community in the future.

In both the school district and in city government, voters appear to mostly want less drama and more focus on good fiscal management, good communications and greater integrity of decision-making. We hope those elected officials whose terms aren't up until 2020 are paying attention.

Weekly journalists discuss the election results on an episode of Behind the Headlines. Watch the show on YouTube or listen to the podcast version, available through Apple or Google Play.

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

Comments

30 people like this
Posted by Fake News
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 9, 2018 at 6:43 am

The Weekly's characterization of the election is not borne out by the facts. Cormack made it clear early on that she would have not supported cutting the office cap in half. Scharff endorsed Eric Filseth in this race and provided the vote to make Filseth Vice Mayor. The Vast Majority of council Votes have been been unanimous to 6-3. The Weekly exaggerates this narrative of a council that is divisive. There are fundamental policy divisions in Palo Alto, One only has to read Lydia Kou's Tweets to see how divisive Kou is. The weekly political bias is clouding the narrative.


19 people like this
Posted by RESIST !!!
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:07 am

I have been watching council closely the last 3-4 election cycles and disagree completely with the analysis of this paper and this editorial in particular. The bad behavior on council will only continue. Eric especially has made disaparaging comments of public commenters while they are in chambers, and written letters to other local publications suggesting some community members should leave. That is definitely NOT my idea of ideal council member behavior.

Media is important in democracy. But make no mistake, when the only media voices in an area are biased toward one point of view, or a group of people, and suppress the ideas and visions of other points of views, this is the dark side of media and dangerous foundation to restrict the range of current and future democratic participants. RESIST!!!


28 people like this
Posted by Max
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:16 am

This editorial is a little bit ridiculous. It seems like the mindset going into writing this was to try to trash and already defeated opponent. I know another politician who makes that his main platform. I pity you guys!


20 people like this
Posted by Thomas
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:17 am

Incumbents have been defeated up and down the Peninsula and into the South Bay. Interpreting the will of voters is challenging and must be done carefully and with humility. This editorial fails to do that. Eric and Tom were not overwhelmingly supported by the community - if other strong challengers were in the race, they almost certainly would have suffered the same fate as incumbents in Menlo Park, Los Altos, and Mountain View.

Voters are clearly discontent with the status quo. But different voters vote for different reasons. I supported Cory because, unlike many of his colleagues, he is honest about his positions and considerate of the views of others. I never have felt that way about Tom and Eric. I don't agree with Cory on everything, but he earned my vote because he has always acted with integrity.


22 people like this
Posted by Nonsense
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:27 am

This is the sort of one sided reporting that you see on Fox News. This paper sees only the transgressions of those who truly are suopportive of housing development and never the transgressions of the NIMBY leadership.

I have found Kou and DuBois and Filseth to be utterly unprofessional in their near constant twisting of the truth. They Can only be considered supportive of actually housing developments if you consider opposing them supportive.

This paper has become a voice of advocacy as oppose to a voice of truth. The reporting and editorial sides of the paper appear to be indistinguishable from each other. I’m guessing that if you agree with this perspective than you also believe that CNN reporter Jim Acosta was completely out of line when questioning Trump. But one could only come to that conclusion by blinding themselves to the real unprofessional, the President himself.

It’s the same here in Palo Alto and on this news website. It matters not to this paper and it’s reporters what is really happening. They want to lay the blame for everything at the feet of those who are advocating for more housing and compassion. And those who are fighting for quality of life, well they are given a pass.

I for one believe that Cory Wolbach fought the good fight. He is a champion of the causes that should matter to all of us. Scharff and Fine also advocated for policies that were more progressive than the residentialist who can do no wrong in your eyes.

In case I haven’t made it clear, we are not blind to your biased reporting. Whether it has to do with the progressive council members we have long supported or the planning commissioners who have to endure the same nonsense or our local advocacy groups that you constantly throw shade on.

God I wish there was a better paper in this town. Until then, I am going to avoid this one from now on. Enough is enough.


18 people like this
Posted by Civility Hypocrisy
a resident of University South
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:34 am

Civility Hypocrisy is a registered user.

As someone new to this city, I am struck by both the power of this publication and the strong bias against "pro-development" candidates on the part of the editorial board. It is clear that the real-estate industry is well defended by their patrons.

Of course editorial boards will and should have a perspective; however, this editorial board is biased to the point of losing touch with reality. Structurally, Cory was doomed from the start in that he did not have a "slate" of candidates with whom he was running whereas Tom/Eric were teamed up and organized against him with dishonest attack ads. In the council chambers, I have witnessed incivility on the part of "residentialist" members--the weekly seemingly only has a objection to the behavior of people with anti-housing agendas.

Moreover, if the weekly is genuinely interested in fostering a civil public discourse, it should look to this comments section (I would suggest clear rules and non-anonymity). Personal attacks and gossiping are regular events within the weekly's toxic comments section. Although there is some arbitrary-seeming censorship of parts/all of comments, certain abusive commentators continue to be abusive and their posts are read by many people by the time the get deleted. IF the weekly has a genuine interest in improving civil discourse in Palo Alto, I encourage them to take a look at how they can improve their own behavior.


40 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:38 am

Thanks for the well-written editorial. There was strong support for DuBois and Filseth, which is why they won re-election. I'm not sure where these other posters are coming from. Maybe they read the election results upside-down?


18 people like this
Posted by FearOfRetribution
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:55 am

I totally disagree with the Editorial Board on this article, and caution the Board for being so openly hostile to our dedicated, essentially unpaid representatives.

In truth, any long-time observer of the Council would observe that incivility in Chambers is clearly linked to a frustrated “residentialist” group that lost their majority in prior elections and has recently resorted to non-sensical arguments and “pack dog” behavior. One only has to listen to Councilwoman Kou’s comments or read her regular emails to verify. She very often is caught making comments from the dais that are non-sensical and/or that she is clearly reading or parroting from resident emails without appreciation for the implications. It is sometimes shocking to see how uneducated her positions are, yet her stances are adamantly partisan and uncivil towards her peers. An uncivil and strongly partisan position should be backed by conviction and knowledge of issues. By contrast, Councilman Dubois is one of the smartest yet most manipulative members that intentionally attempts to knot up legislative processes that aren’t going his way. His crafty efforts at propposing amendments to legislation appear innocuous and well-intended, but are often revealed to be what they are: efforts to block forward progress on legislation. Of course, he always gains the support of his peers (Kou, Holman and Filseth) on these excursions given their pack-wolf mentality.

Importantly, Councilmen Wolbach and Scharff are dedicated servants of our community. While we might not agree with their objectives or bias, they are both incredible knowledgeable, hard-working, well informed representatives of the community. Go after their positions, but disparaging their character is beneath the notion of impartial media that you should represent.

I wish the Editorial Board would be less biased in their coverage of leftist/anti-development, “residentialist” community. We need a balanced, unbiased and objective media to consider the important issues facing our community: Stanford GUP; out of control traffic and congestion; lack of affordable housing for our teachers and City service providers; lack of parking; et cetera. Sticking our heads in the ground with anti-development, “residentialist” rhetoric will not get us there and biased coverage promoting inaction will only inflame all of these problems.

Sincerely,
“Fearful of Retribution”


58 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:12 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Notice, again, the bulk of pro development posts, all written within less than an hour from one another, using identical style and wording. This is the same old PAF practice which they keep deploying. Apparently, they will keep deploying it even after their guy Cory Wolbach was defeated. It's also called the bots tactics.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:14 am

The difference between 2018 and 2016 was the difference between a midterm and a Presidential electorate, not the candidates. Midterm turnout was a hair over half of turnout from two years ago, and the voters are older and more likely to be homeowners. 2014 was a great year for residentialists across the Bay Area, 2016 was everywhere a wave election for pro-housing candidates, and 2018 was a tough cycle for a candidate whose signature issue is housing.

This wasn’t about Cory or Tom or Eric - this was about the electorate. And, in 2020, when the 40% of Palo Alto who are renters turn out to vote against Trump, we will see a pro-housing election again.


44 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:15 am

Thank you Weekly for a well-stated editorial. I agree. I hope with Wolbach and Scharff out, the council can return to a more collaborative approach, which can attain our community's goals through compromise. Our leaders can help us unite or divide - it's up to them.

On the school board, Jordan's success seems due a well-run campaign and unprecedented amount of money, against the relatively weak efforts of Ashlund and Dharap. Whatever the outcome, I hope they can continue their trend toward plodding progress on nuts and bolts and away from drama and mismanagement.


22 people like this
Posted by Close council watcher
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:20 am

I watch council pretty closely. I go to many of the meetings, and watch others online.

The Weekly is doing a disservice to the community with their reporting. They have bought a narrative about who is being more collaborative, and has laid the label of "uncollaborative" at the feet of Wolbach, Fine and Scharff. This is patently incorrect.

There are probably dozens of instances, but one is pretty illustrative. Wolbach, Dubois and several colleagues from the "Dubois camp" worked together on a colleagues memo supporting certain renter protections. That is a pretty big deal. It is not easy to hammer out compromises in these sorts of documents. Then, during the live session, Dubois inserts proposals that were clearly already debated and dismissed by his cowriters of the memo.

Now, imagine that you are at work. You collaborate with your colleagues on a big proposal that will be reviewed by your CEO. You hash out several compromise positions. And then, _in the meeting_ one of your colleagues who worked with you on the proposal goes rogue and starts undermining the group's work. That colleague would be rightly criticized as sabotaging a difficult process.

That colleague was Mr. Dubois. Mr. Wolbach called him to account, and is now the one being criticized.

Palo Alto Weekly: you have to do better. It is not enough to just accept a surface narrative as truth.


11 people like this
Posted by Won't Get Fooled Again
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:22 am

News reportage will always be editorial to a certain extent. True objectivity is an ideal and non-existent in the real world.

>> I am struck by both the power of this publication and the strong bias against "pro-development" candidates on the part of the editorial board. It is clear that the real-estate industry is well defended by their patrons.

The local RE industry clandestinely supports this bias via the countless and costly housing ads that appear in the back of the publication. Ad revenue is critical to the fiscal survival of most publications. The RE business and its representatives are akin to a silent lobbyist. Thus one favor deserves another in return.

The old adage "Don't believe everything you read" applies when making key decisions. The same goes for the words in that old Who song..."Meet the new boss. Same as the old bass."


2 people like this
Posted by Won't Get Fooled Again
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:23 am

typo > "Same as the old BOSS."


15 people like this
Posted by Hubris
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:55 am

Put simply, the weekly does not speak for all residents.

This editorial board has a clear bias against rational housing and transportation efforts, and takes it out in frustration against the current council majority by accusing them of incivilty and divisiveness. Not a word about the nastiness, manipulations, and slowing down of everything by the residentialists.

Really poor editorializing. As others have said, time for a new local paper.


10 people like this
Posted by Grace
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:07 am

Caswell should have had the grace to step aside from SCHOOL BOARD (where she has been in power for more than two terms already), so that two of these three tied, broadly supported school board candidates could serve. She only won last time because there were so many open seats and so few running. Her failure to step aside now speaks to selfish motivations over serving others.


8 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:13 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


33 people like this
Posted by Grace
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:13 am

@mauricio,
Good points. If citizens want the kind of City that supports residents and actual housing, and doesn't let developer interests use false arguments about densification and housing (that never achieve results except developer profits) to destroy quality of life (and what affordability we once had even during very competitive good economic times), they will need to form a grassroots coalition to overtly assert their vision. A group to overturn the worst of the dangerous and traffic-worsening road changes taking place on Arastradero right now could be one way to help. We only had a good quality of life here 10 years ago because of efforts in the past of many residents to ensure Palo Alto remained a low-key college town rather than just another extension of a dense urban metropolis between SJ and SJ. Those efforts have been under attack and will remain under attack unless residents now step up to the place. An election like this is not enough.


57 people like this
Posted by Weekly Reader
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:30 am

The de-legitimizing rhetoric in this posts is classic authoritarian. The paper is "biased," it is "Fake News" (first poster), it must be "resisted!" (second poster), it is "against rational efforts," it is a "silver spoon microphone."

It's not surprising that this is the same kind of rhetoric Trump uses to try to undermine his critics. It is classic authoritarian to discredit public institutions and sow distrust.

I don't always agree with the Weekly but I do always find their views thoughtful and well-informed and the reporting exemplary, on both school and city affairs. Without the Weekly, Palo Alto would not be the community it is.

If you disagree with the editorial, fine. But tearing down community institutions has obvious perils - living in the time of Trump, it couldn't be a more clear and present danger.


34 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2018 at 10:30 am

Novelera is a registered user.

@Mauricio. As usual you are right on and can spot the astroturfing in the early posts. I don't know for sure that it's Palo Alto Forward, but it surely is suspicious to see the coordinated times of publication of comments criticizing the excellent editorial by the Weekly. And I'm upset by the denigrating remarks about Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth. We are LUCKY to have such dedicated council members as these two.


26 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 10:33 am

Five out of six voters rejected Wolbach and what he stands for.

Cormack had Kniss and company's support, but never endorsed any of their policies.

Absolutely nothing she can claim a mandate for, and with all the last minute independent expenditure money, she needs to tread lightly to show she's not beholden to the Apartment Association and Carl Guardino.

Good job PA voters! Let's see if Fine, Tanaka and Kniss can tack to the center to solve real problems like the President Hotel evictions, or if they double down.


37 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2018 at 10:37 am

Cory Wolbach supporters who are using this forum to bash Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, and the Palo Alto Weekly are doing Mr. Wolbach no favors.

My impression is that Mr. Wolbach desires a career in public service as an elected official. If this is the case, he needs to use this defeat as a learning opportunity and listen to feedback.

The Palo Alto Weekly, the Palo Alto Daily Post, and the San Jose Mercury News all endorsed Mr. DuBois and Mr. Filseth, but did not endorse Mr. Wolbach. Surely, there is something to be learned.


10 people like this
Posted by Adora1
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 10:50 am

Adora1 is a registered user.

"Scharff, the politician most responsible for creating the divisive environment on the council, was defeated by a landslide in his effort to pivot to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board after being termed out on the City Council".

"Wolbach's allegiance to the less restrictive development philosophies of Kniss and Councilmen Greg Scharff, Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka, and his inability to live up to his 2014 campaign rhetoric about civility in local government".

UNBELIEVABLE! That this is supposedly a "news" (I used the term very loosely these days), outlet and you continually print libelous statements like this. You have become nothing more than a print version on TMZ. Clearly playing favorites and your "give the people what they want", mantra has become more important than reporting the truth.

I have attended EVERY council meeting for the last 4 years and have witnessed the following:

Vice Mayor and subsequently Mayor Scharff's ability to run a not just a Council meeting, but OUR city with intelligence, fairness, and even-handedness. He is a clear thinker who has a definite grasp of every aspect of the issues of our city and forward-thinking ideas of how to solve them. He is a natural leader and he and (Mayor/Vice Mayor) Kniss worked cohesively to get things done. Without his intellect on the Council, I shudder to think of the direction we are headed.

As far as his campaign for the Midpeninsula Open Space District goes, it was a foregone conclusion that Holman would have that seat. A FACT she openly admitted. When the departing member Hanko informed her friend Holman that she was leaving and she wanted the seat to be hers. She also had already convinced the entire board that Holman was the only choice for the position. Which in turn, spilled over to all of the appropriate endorsements, which in turn, equaled all of the votes. See how that works. Perhaps if PA Online did some research they too would discover some FACTS for a change. #Factsmatter

As for Corey, he is a well thought and careful planner and visits all aspects of whatever issue is put before him. His is a voice of intelligence and reason, always prepared to hear both sides and weigh all options and potential outcomes. He fought hard and ran a good campaign. He has done well for our city and we should be wishing his well and thanking him for his service instead of tearing him down.

I marvel as to how Kou ever was elected in the first place, since she has given the perception of being nothing more than a puppet of Holman's, with the majority of her recitations simply "I agree with what Karen said". Her solo ability to stay afloat on this Council baffles me. Time will answer that question, yet I hope it won't be too late for the citizens of our wonderful city.

I take a sliver of solace that Mayor Kniss and Councilmember Fine are still aboard. The final 2 voices of intellect, reason, and political experience that may be our only saving grace.

Clean yourself up PA Online or you may be looking at some lawsuits for libel. And you can count me among the others in this thread who are gravely disappointed in your reporting of this piece. It is juvenile, vindictive, and mud-slinging. Maybe you should stick to reporting to the Garden Club for a while, it's much less contentious.






31 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 11:34 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

"A perceptive and discriminating Palo Alto electorate showed Tuesday that it won't hesitate to punish candidates for their perceived divisive behavior, is skeptical about those who spend excessive amounts trying to get elected and is willing to impose new financial obligations to support the schools and city infrastructure projects."

That pretty well sums it up and that statement is not biased. Whether you think the Weekly is biased or not, it was the electorate that voted on Tuesday. And thank you Weekly for recognizing us, the electorate, as "being perceptive and discriminating".

I try to watch CC meetings every Monday night on Channel 26 or streamed on the Internet. You can read about it in Tuesday's papers but unless you actually see the members in action, and hear their voices, and observe their body language and attitudes, you miss out on a lot.

Three candidates ran on their records. Two were re-elected and one wasn't. That should be acceptable to all of us who believe in the principles of democracy. Why is that so hard to understand and accept? They all campaigned and had a chance to convince voters to re-elect them. Was the Weekly to blame? Did it misrepresent their records? I don't think so. Did our two local newspapers and the Mercury News get it wrong with their endorsements? Supervisor Joe Simitian really played it safe by endorsing all three of them plus Alison Cormack.

Come on pro-growthers. Don't despair. There's still a chance you will hold sway...if Alison falls into line, as some are suggesting, because of the huge amounts of outside donations to her campaign.

"mauricio" might have it right about the rush by early commenters, all slanted one way in criticizing the article. PAF is a likely suspect but whoever they are they need to learn how to become better chameleons and blend in with the other commenters.




34 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 11:34 am

Not just the Weekly, but the Post and the Mercury News all supported Cormack, DuBois and Filseth. It was a clean sweep, which suggests two possibilities.

First, that there was a coordinated deep-state conspiracy within the right-wing local media to undermine Wolbach, the true candidate of the majority and the only one with a social conscience and the community at heart, as recognized by the local political establishment, labor unions, lots of regional money, and the YIMBY/PAF movement.

Second, that Wolbach was the weakest major candidate, who flip-flopped too much, was stronger on politics than policy, ran against his record, and sometimes lost his cool when people disagreed with him. But had the support of a committed and vocal minority, apparently about 18% of voters.

You decide which.


5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 11:56 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Weekly Reader
Thanks for putting that into perspective with the current events at the national level. The Weekly is a combination of news and opinions. I think most people can distinguish the differences. I read and I watch their TV interviews. They are very informative and the hosts are always polite, but, yes, they do ask hard questions at times, and that is just part of a good journalist's responsibility.

Just a silly aside: I like your online 'handle'. I went to a one room country school house in Montana until the 5th grade and I remember reading my 'Weekly Reader' back then...circa 1943.


23 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Just to make sure everyone understands, when an article is titled "Editorial", by definition, it means it is the opinion of the editors. It is meant to be an interpretation of the facts and not a strict presentation of the facts.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 12:35 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Arbitarian
I think you're right. I know Cory very well, consider him a good friend, and politics is in his blood. He lives and breathes it. I won't go so far to say that's the only thing he knows, but it is primarily, I think, because of his educational and work experience background so far. He is passionate about his views, especially on housing, and I think he might do well at the next level, drafting off Marc Berman, to the state level. He has too much fight left in him to just fade away and off the political map.

Just another one of my asides...probably unimportant and frivolous at this point. Cory wore his Democratic Party badge proudly and openly. I don't know if that worked for him or against him this time. What I do know, or what I've been led to believe, however, is that the position of a city councilmember is not a political office...wink, wink. The ballot shows no party affiliation, although it wouldn't surprise me if all candidates running this year were registered Democrats. Pity the poor registered Republican who thinks they can get elected in this town by wearing their badge.


7 people like this
Posted by speaking of grace...
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2018 at 12:44 pm

speaking of grace... is a registered user.

Thank you, Council Member Wolbach, for your four years of volunteer service on our City Council. I didn't agree with you on every issue, but we agreed on most. I sincerely appreciate your service to our community.

I disagree with the Weekly's assessment, and I wish the editor had exercised better judgment and grace in writing this piece.

Congratulations to Karen Holman. Her longstanding commitment to preservation of open space was recognized and rewarded. Thank you for your many years of service on the Planning & Transportation Commission and City Council.


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Great editorial thank you weekly staff!!!

Perhaps we could the name calling to Trump and his cronies ????


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Typo. Sorry Meant to say perhaps we could LEAVE
The name calling to trump....


23 people like this
Posted by party affiliations
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:20 pm

@Gale Johnson

My understanding is that Greg Tanaka was a registered Republican but changed his registration to Democratic under the auspices of Liz Kniss, who then used her influence within the local Democratic chapter to get their official endorsement. Adrian Fine also changed his registration to be included on her slate. The local Democratic party placed a series of official ads in the local papers and also sent out expensive mailers recommending these two candidates featuring a prominent photo of Liz Kniss.





8 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Given the level of voter turnout I wouldn't read too much into what the election results mean vis-a-vis the community's prevailing position on anything beyond who/what won and who/what lost.


5 people like this
Posted by What's the Deal?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Curious. What are the actual benefits of being elected to the PACC?

Beyond the atypical 'being civic-minded' and 'I am honored to serve' spiel, what's really in it for them? There must be something else.


5 people like this
Posted by Out of touch
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2018 at 4:23 pm

This editorial attributes Wolbach’s loss to his supposed allegiance with the pro housing majority of council.. does that mean any new housing is dead in Palo Alto. Even though they’ve been lackluster on housing, the weekly never criticizes DuBois or Filseth or Kou or Holman for that. Especially when city surveys routinely point to housing as the number one issue.

As for the civility criticism - I haven’t seen it. I think the editorial is using that as a cudgel to register dissatisfaction that the residentialists are not in the majority.

Overall, this seems like a piece of advocacy for the no change side of council.


1 person likes this
Posted by Astroturf
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2018 at 4:29 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Posted by Out of touch, a resident of College Terrace

>> This editorial attributes Wolbach’s loss to his supposed allegiance with the pro housing majority of council.. [...] housing as the number one issue.

"pro housing majority"??!?!

The campaign is over, but, here-we-go-again, apparently. "Pro-housing" is meaningless for anybody who supports more office space. Cap office space, and, let's see what proposals are on the table. As long as office space growth is allowed to outpace housing, the city falls further and further behind.


2 people like this
Posted by Astroturf
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2018 at 4:53 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2018 at 5:07 pm

midtown senior is a registered user.

I've heard from other Midtown and Palo Verde voters that their votes were "anti-incumbent," largely due to the Ross Road fiasco. With only three seats open, it seems that Wolbach had the least support of the incumbents. Perhaps the vote for Cormack was a protest vote and new faces will displace more of the present Council members in the next election.


6 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 5:30 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: The Weekly's characterization of the election is not borne out by the facts.
QUOTE: Just to make sure everyone understands, when an article is titled "Editorial", by definition, it means it is the opinion of the editors. It is meant to be an interpretation of the facts and not a strict presentation of the facts.

Now that we've got that straight...

QUOTE: ...I am struck by both the power of this publication and the strong bias against "pro-development" candidates on the part of the editorial board. It is clear that the real-estate industry is well defended by their patrons.

You sometimes have to read between the lines + check the commercial advertisements. Ad space revenue can influence certain factors.

QUOTE:Curious. What are the actual benefits of being elected to the PACC?

Beyond the atypical 'being civic-minded' and 'I am honored to serve' spiel, what's really in it for them? There must be something else.

(1) A possible stepping stone for future political aspirations/ambitions (i.e. mayor, county supervisor, state assemblyman etc.). Few city council members ever get beyond those broader elected positions.

(2) Networking opportunities/connections for later employment or investment opportunities.

(3) Ego-gratification

(4) An excuse for getting out of the house a few times a month.





30 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:01 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Quote: Wolbach, the true candidate of the majority and the only one with a social conscience'

You cannot be serious. I am a left wing Democrat, and I consider Wolbach to be an opportunist and a water carrier for the RE industry. There's nothing progressive about him. Mega development and disregard for the environment are not progressive values. I consider his mentor, Liz Kniss, to be a showcase for what's wrong with my party. The fact she had hand held two Republicans into the CC a year ago says everything we need to know about her. She is a DINO, as is Wolbach.


29 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Removing Wolbach was a start. Kniss, Fine out next. Palo Alto for Palo Altans. Reduce housind demand and make it more affordable by cutting off the oxygen to developers building office complexes. Palo Alto is a residential community, not an office park. Fight back!


12 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2018 at 8:45 pm

To my shame, I voted for Liz Kniss when I lived in MountIn View. I didn’t pay attention to politics then and voted for a woman on the assumption rhat a woman would care more for her community than outside developers. How wrong I was. Mountain View is now overrun by RV slumlords since development forced our service workers out of the housing market and tossed them to the slumlords and payday lenders. Sad.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 10, 2018 at 10:31 am

It is likely that Cormack was the first or second choice among the pro-development voters and was the third choice for many of the slower growth voters.
Wolbach did not lose because of his pro-housing position. He lost because his actions in office defied the platform that he originally campaigned on. Then he campaigned this year against his own record. Voters and the press watched him in action and they were no longer taken in by his rhetoric.
In 2014 he ran in favor of slowed commercial growth. In office, he led the charge (allied with Tanaka, Fine, Scharff and Kniss) for high office growth under the Comp Plan, weakening the annual office cap, eliminating the downtown office cap. He, Tanaka and Fine even supported legalizing full scale offices in R-1 neighborhoods. His campaign season reversal on the Comp Plan office cap did not fool most voters.
He also campaigned on addressing transportation and more meaningful public engagement. After then Mayor Burt got the council to agree to creating a stakeholder group to come up with proposal for a business tax of some form to pay for local transportation improvements to go on the 2018 ballot, Wolbach reversed himself again. The result is that the city does not have funds to the implement trip reduction programs, expanded shuttles, etc that we need. Last year he opposed a citizens advisory group on grade separations. Another position that he reversed on in 2018 as the campaign approached.
Lastly, he campaigned in 2014 on bringing civility and respect for differing viewpoints. In office, he frequently questioned the motivations and sincerity of his opposing council members, rather than focusing on the issues. He even voted against stronger renter protections last year based on questioning the "sincerity" of the proponents. He used his questioning of their motivations to vote against their efforts while claiming to agree with them in principle.
The good news from the election is that while voters lean toward trusting campaign promises, they eventually see through inconsistencies and seek authenticity. Cormack seems to have good competencies and commitment to the community. Hopefully, she will be as non-ideological as she claimed to be during the campaign. Early tests may be around whether to re-institute a downtown office cap, which she said she during the campaign that she supported. That action would make residential development more feasible in the downtown while addressing traffic and other impacts. It also might prevent the President Apartments from being converted into a high end hotel.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 10, 2018 at 10:46 am

Online Name is a registered user.

It took almost 30 posts for Abitarian to remind readers what an editorial is. If anything, the paper's "straight news" coverage is gushingly positive as in says "long awaited X project inches toward review" which always makes me want to snark "awaited by whom" and to wonder where the follow-up coverage is when Project X never happens.


1 person likes this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
20 hours ago

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@party affiliations,
Thanks for that reminder. Kniss was a clever arm twister when she offered to help them out to be elected by changing party affiliation. And that Democratic Party endorsement is powerful in this town. I even remember some uncomfortable experiences/moments in AAUW gatherings. The local chapter is primarily a Democratic Party lobbyist organization for women. I think my wife and I would have been more welcomed and felt more comfortable at AAUW functions in Montana, our home state.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
20 hours ago

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@midtown senior
I think and hope your assessment is correct. People don't like to be ignored and those serious petition signers were basically ignored. We'll never know the full story behind the project but I know the residents living on Ross Rd weren't the driving force behind it, crying out for a bike boulevard to be built on their street. I think it was the bike lobby, the city's recently resigned Transportation expert, and folks living in the north end of town who just felt we needed that boulevard down here, so they could enjoy it on weekends. I think they need one of those on Hamilton Ave, certainly in the Crescent Park area.


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Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
20 hours ago

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Resident
I won't challenge you on your review of Cory's record because I remember many of those cases you point out. And that makes sense because of his poor showing in the election. As for Alison...I wish her well and am anxious to see some early indication of her voting record to see if it matches her campaign rhetoric. If she turns out to be a steady supporter of the pro office growth agenda (her campaign mantra was she was always willing to listen), then it will be two more years of a slugfest until the next election.


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Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
19 hours ago

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@R.Davis,
Thanks for your clarification on editorials. I didn't need it but others might have. And also for your answers to the question..."Curious. What are the actual benefits of being elected to the PACC?"

#1 Too often, and sadly, it is the reason. And it works sometimes. It worked for Marc Berman. Cory will probably give it a shot. The false veil of being non-political will be lifted.

#2 is a legitimate and worthwhile reason. They need work somewhere and why not use their contacts for employment opportunities. Good ideas are needed and non-profit causes are good. They could fit in very well. Low pay probably but they would have a good feeling about 'being civic-minded' and 'honored to serve'.

#3 The worst and possibly the biggest and most abused reason. But the fact is anyone running for office has to have an ego. It's just a matter of how big and how well it fits.(

#4 Okay, you finally got to the humorous part. We needed that, and thanks.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
17 hours ago

Reason #5: because it needs to be done. But because it doesn’t really pay much, the pool of people who can do it in an expensive area like Palo Alto is limited; so if you find yourself able to be in that pool, you ought to take your turn.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
10 hours ago

I am disappointed in this publication's lack of respect for our public servants. Regardless of outcome or views, I would hope that any public servant, residentialist or not, would be thanked for their hours of service to our community. The tone and lack of civility in this editorial reminds me of a young paper desperate for readership. I truly expect more.

I hope a nicer editorial is written soon to reflect proper class and etiquette of such an established news source.


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