News

Guest Opinion: Council reduced the size of the Human Relations Commission because of me

City silences underrepresented voices on a commission explicitly set up to advocate for underrepresented voices

Steven Lee is a Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner whose seat was recently eliminated by the City Council. Courtesy Steven Lee.

Last Tuesday, the Palo Alto City Council without saying a word reduced the size of its Human Relations Commission (HRC) from seven to five seats. During a national outcry to address systemic racism in our country, five council members voted to shrink the commission tasked with addressing systemic racism, with only council members Greg Tanaka and Lydia Kou voting to preserve it as is.

Members of the community have asked in the days since, why did the council do this?

Although the city gave dubious rationales, including a purported lack of volunteers, the real reason is me. They eliminated my seat despite, or perhaps because of, the work I've done during my term to fight bigotry and sexual harassment, push for police reform and swifter action on teen vaping; increase funding for mental health and homelessness services; increase access for special needs families and individuals of all abilities; and be an advocate for women, LGBTQ+, immigrants and other marginalized communities.

My interactions with the council over the three years of my term reflect a City Hall culture that is unaccountable, resistant to change and dissenting views, overly deferential to a staff that is unresponsive and out of touch with the community's needs. Although this might seem "inside baseball," the story of the Human Relations Commission provides insight into systemic issues with our city government.

Police reform

By now, a vast majority of our community agrees that Palo Alto needs substantial police reform. That consensus, however, is relatively recent. When I advocated for police reform during my term, colleagues both on the HRC and the council chastised me for overstepping our commission's role and damaging our positive relationship with the Palo Alto Police Department.

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This happened, for example, when I pushed back on the PAPD's proposed body camera policy two years ago. The PAPD, city staff and the council hoped the HRC would simply rubber stamp it, but I had questions and concerns regarding police transparency, accountability and protocol. I wanted a more comprehensive and public review and revision of those policies — which never happened.

As another example, one year later, a local news outlet requested PAPD's use of force records, as required under AB1421. Although many neighboring cities generally chose to comply with these standard records requests, Palo Alto continued to conceal those records over my and a fellow commisioner's objection.

In both cases, my public advocacy earned me a reputation as a troublemaker amongst the city establishment.

Homelessness and mental health funding priorities

I was similarly punished for speaking out for the homeless and mentally ill. As part of our regular bi-annual funding review, I urged greater attention to Palo Alto's growing problem of homelessness and its crisis-level need for mental health services. Given the large and growing numbers of families and individuals living out of cars in Palo Alto, and the still-large numbers of suicides, I was surprised that these priorities were not shared by other commissioners. Rather, perplexingly, I was criticized for going against the grain and holding opinions that diverged from the status quo.

Gender equality

In February 2018, I proposed a gender equality initiative that had been vetted and approved in many cities nationwide, known as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW codifies well-accepted gender equity principles, including examining hiring and salary practices and implementing best practices to level the playing field. After some vigorous debate and despite much initial pushback from my colleagues, we unanimously recommended to the council that it should enact a CEDAW ordinance.

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To the numerous women in our community who had pushed so hard for a CEDAW ordinance, this was a big win. Unfortunately, their victory was short-lived. Over the course of eight months, the council continued to postpone its consideration and eventually it simply referred the ordinance to its Policy and Services Committee, where it continues to linger, unaddressed, after almost two years.

Off the record, council members have told me that they don't think gender discrimination is a problem in Palo Alto nor do they plan to bring it back to council for a vote and implementation.

Sexual harassment

The council's lack of concern over sex discrimination was reaffirmed in its recently handling of the Downtown Streets Team contract. Despite well-publicized credible accusations of serious incidents of harassment by Downtown Streets Team leadership, the council summarily approved the contract's renewal. I and a colleague strongly advocated for the very standard practice of providing records and reports regarding the alleged harassment prior to signing a new contract with the alleged harasser. The council, however, viewed my demands for transparency — the same transparency a private organization would seek as a matter of course — as overstepping and intrusive.

In actions that a reasonable person could perceive as retaliation, the council pushed for canceling HRC's meetings, and ultimately, as happened last week, reducing the size of the commission to eliminate incumbents, such as myself, who were up for reappointment. The thought of retaliation would not have occurred to me if these decisions were not accompanied by private text messages and emails from council members, scolding me for speaking out against their status quo.

These stories are just some of the many things that have happened behind the scenes in the pursuit of change and progress.

But even as I've been disappointed with and rebuked by the Palo Alto establishment, I have and will continue to find comfort, inspiration and strength to fight the good fight from you — my fellow Palo Altans and neighbors who speak out and work tirelessly every day to make Palo Alto a more welcoming, inclusive, forward-looking and responsive community for all.

It is with you — and because of you — that no matter what comes, I will continue to serve this amazing community as long as I can and in whatever ways that I can. Onwards, Palo Alto!

Steven Lee is a Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner whose seat was recently eliminated by the City Council. The views expressed above are his alone. He can be emailed at [email protected] and followed on Facebook at facebook.com/StevenLeePaloAlto.

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Guest Opinion: Council reduced the size of the Human Relations Commission because of me

City silences underrepresented voices on a commission explicitly set up to advocate for underrepresented voices

by / Contributor

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 6:58 am

Last Tuesday, the Palo Alto City Council without saying a word reduced the size of its Human Relations Commission (HRC) from seven to five seats. During a national outcry to address systemic racism in our country, five council members voted to shrink the commission tasked with addressing systemic racism, with only council members Greg Tanaka and Lydia Kou voting to preserve it as is.

Members of the community have asked in the days since, why did the council do this?

Although the city gave dubious rationales, including a purported lack of volunteers, the real reason is me. They eliminated my seat despite, or perhaps because of, the work I've done during my term to fight bigotry and sexual harassment, push for police reform and swifter action on teen vaping; increase funding for mental health and homelessness services; increase access for special needs families and individuals of all abilities; and be an advocate for women, LGBTQ+, immigrants and other marginalized communities.

My interactions with the council over the three years of my term reflect a City Hall culture that is unaccountable, resistant to change and dissenting views, overly deferential to a staff that is unresponsive and out of touch with the community's needs. Although this might seem "inside baseball," the story of the Human Relations Commission provides insight into systemic issues with our city government.

By now, a vast majority of our community agrees that Palo Alto needs substantial police reform. That consensus, however, is relatively recent. When I advocated for police reform during my term, colleagues both on the HRC and the council chastised me for overstepping our commission's role and damaging our positive relationship with the Palo Alto Police Department.

This happened, for example, when I pushed back on the PAPD's proposed body camera policy two years ago. The PAPD, city staff and the council hoped the HRC would simply rubber stamp it, but I had questions and concerns regarding police transparency, accountability and protocol. I wanted a more comprehensive and public review and revision of those policies — which never happened.

As another example, one year later, a local news outlet requested PAPD's use of force records, as required under AB1421. Although many neighboring cities generally chose to comply with these standard records requests, Palo Alto continued to conceal those records over my and a fellow commisioner's objection.

In both cases, my public advocacy earned me a reputation as a troublemaker amongst the city establishment.

I was similarly punished for speaking out for the homeless and mentally ill. As part of our regular bi-annual funding review, I urged greater attention to Palo Alto's growing problem of homelessness and its crisis-level need for mental health services. Given the large and growing numbers of families and individuals living out of cars in Palo Alto, and the still-large numbers of suicides, I was surprised that these priorities were not shared by other commissioners. Rather, perplexingly, I was criticized for going against the grain and holding opinions that diverged from the status quo.

In February 2018, I proposed a gender equality initiative that had been vetted and approved in many cities nationwide, known as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW codifies well-accepted gender equity principles, including examining hiring and salary practices and implementing best practices to level the playing field. After some vigorous debate and despite much initial pushback from my colleagues, we unanimously recommended to the council that it should enact a CEDAW ordinance.

To the numerous women in our community who had pushed so hard for a CEDAW ordinance, this was a big win. Unfortunately, their victory was short-lived. Over the course of eight months, the council continued to postpone its consideration and eventually it simply referred the ordinance to its Policy and Services Committee, where it continues to linger, unaddressed, after almost two years.

Off the record, council members have told me that they don't think gender discrimination is a problem in Palo Alto nor do they plan to bring it back to council for a vote and implementation.

The council's lack of concern over sex discrimination was reaffirmed in its recently handling of the Downtown Streets Team contract. Despite well-publicized credible accusations of serious incidents of harassment by Downtown Streets Team leadership, the council summarily approved the contract's renewal. I and a colleague strongly advocated for the very standard practice of providing records and reports regarding the alleged harassment prior to signing a new contract with the alleged harasser. The council, however, viewed my demands for transparency — the same transparency a private organization would seek as a matter of course — as overstepping and intrusive.

In actions that a reasonable person could perceive as retaliation, the council pushed for canceling HRC's meetings, and ultimately, as happened last week, reducing the size of the commission to eliminate incumbents, such as myself, who were up for reappointment. The thought of retaliation would not have occurred to me if these decisions were not accompanied by private text messages and emails from council members, scolding me for speaking out against their status quo.

These stories are just some of the many things that have happened behind the scenes in the pursuit of change and progress.

But even as I've been disappointed with and rebuked by the Palo Alto establishment, I have and will continue to find comfort, inspiration and strength to fight the good fight from you — my fellow Palo Altans and neighbors who speak out and work tirelessly every day to make Palo Alto a more welcoming, inclusive, forward-looking and responsive community for all.

It is with you — and because of you — that no matter what comes, I will continue to serve this amazing community as long as I can and in whatever ways that I can. Onwards, Palo Alto!

Steven Lee is a Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner whose seat was recently eliminated by the City Council. The views expressed above are his alone. He can be emailed at [email protected] and followed on Facebook at facebook.com/StevenLeePaloAlto.

Comments

Thank you
Community Center
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:24 am
Thank you, Community Center
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:24 am
18 people like this

Thank you for your service on the committee.

I too was and still am concerned about PAPD's reluctance to release incriminating body cam footage of their officers and tends to make up excuses (like its under investigation, although the law says it should only be held if it interferes with investigation but PAPD conveniently misinterprets that law as release of body cam footage always interferes with their investigation, which is BS).

However, sometimes the Federal, State and County are more appropriate places to create laws so its important to choose. PAPD is city department and down Downtown Streets are city issues, where as female discrimination should be done at the state (or Federal) level. I'm not discounting the need for it, it's just important to under appropriate jurisdictions.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:29 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:29 am
42 people like this

Mr. Lee appeared on Facebook to solicit comments from people who do not live in this community. It was like taking information generated by a local, city commission and speaking about it on a national format. He was making PA's business national in a forum for his political advancement - my opinion.

Suggest that in the future anyone that is working on a city commission sign an agreement that states they will not air city grievances on a national forum. I gather from other comments in the past that Mr. Lee was planning to run for city council.

Our mayor also made comments in a published newspaper that were inappropriate.

We have also seen threats of law suits published in a national paper. Very inappropriate.


Political Stunt
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:42 am
Political Stunt , Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:42 am
56 people like this

Mr. Lee is a political opportunist and is taking the council's reasonable decision to reduce commission sizes as a personal attack on him. If the council didn't want Mr. Lee on the commission, they would have simply not-reappointed him. [Portion removed.]


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:20 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:20 am
24 people like this

Thank you, Steven, for your service, and for this exceptional letter. I support you entirely in this!


Longtimer
Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:22 am
Longtimer, Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:22 am
60 people like this

Mr. Lee - This is probably not what you want to hear. It’s not the issues you embrace, it’s your bullheaded approach to addressing them. Having watched you in action, I admire your preparation, your grasp of complex issues, and your attendance.

However, you clearly have an ego and think your way is the right way, the only way. [Portion removed.] The HRC is a collaborative body, and we need people who come to the work with greater humility and willingness to collaborate.

[Portion removed.]


Lee has got it backwards
Evergreen Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:37 am
Lee has got it backwards, Evergreen Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:37 am
53 people like this

I agree with many of the causes the HRC has worked on, and don’t always agree with council decisions. But in this case, Mr. Lee seems to be flipping a democratic process on its head and complaining that he didn’t get his way, and anyone who disagrees with him is “unwoke” “racist/sexist” or “retaliating”. Truly poor form.

Having watched many HRC meetings, Mr. Lee is uncompromising, non-collaborative, and takes his role as a social justice crusade, instead of its role as an advisory committee. [Portion removed.]


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 12:07 pm
4 people like this

I ran for City Council, came in 6th place. Four were seated (Kniss, Berman, Schmid, Burt). But then we went from 9 to 7, to spite me, who advocated going from 9 to 11.


Take a Breathe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:26 pm
Take a Breathe , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:26 pm
13 people like this

Gee, how about just thanking Steve for the good issues he advocated for and give nastiness a rest. You did support good things Steve.
Also let it be said that the city council reduced the size of some other Commissions along with the HRC.


Green Gables
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2020 at 2:09 pm
9 people like this

Reducing the City Council from 9 to 7 had nothing to do with Mark Weiss. Other towns larger than Palo Alto had fewer Council members. Why would Palo Alto need 11 members??


mjh
College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2020 at 3:24 pm
mjh, College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2020 at 3:24 pm
9 people like this

Or is Mr. Weiss being sarcastic?


Barron Parker Too
Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 3:45 pm
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 3:45 pm
27 people like this

You say: "a vast majority of our community agrees that Palo Alto needs substantial police reform."

There is no evidence for this, and, anecdotally, none of the people I talk to in Palo Alto have a problem with policing here. So, again anecdotally (since we haven't had a survey), I conclude that your statement is nonsense. [Portion removed.] It's good that you quit -- we don't need people with such a strong bias against the police on the HRC.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 3, 2020 at 6:35 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 3, 2020 at 6:35 pm
4 people like this

I have to admit that I am confused now as to the role of commissions - how people end up on commissions, and what the end goal of a commission is. We elect City council people - right, wrong, or whatever. But we do not elect commissioners and most do not even know they exist - I didn't. But we collectively have a group of commissioners who think they run the show for their area of concern. They focus on an issue and expect that what ever opinion they arrive at is how it will go down. And the residents of the city are mostly blind to this activity. Until the apple cart gets rocked over and they do not get their way.

We have paid employees of the city - I always expected that the paid employees were hired for their expertise in what ever job they were hired for. Is that the case or are the employees someone's child, sister, or brother? If we have paid employees then what is their role relative to the commissioner's role? What is the hierarchy in decision making?

If the commissioner is a paid employee of some firm that does business with the city then are they directing contracts to that company? A conflict of interest. We have a lots of "consultants" a coincidence? -

I am sensing that there is a conflict of interest here across the board. The city needs to clarify what the relationships are and how the decisions are made.


KTE
Community Center
on Jul 3, 2020 at 8:04 pm
KTE, Community Center
on Jul 3, 2020 at 8:04 pm
19 people like this

Stephen. Are you really surprised? When I did a petition to save the Palo Alto Animal Shelter from the evil intent and then city manager James Keene, the city went after me personally with a public letter that was even placed on Nextdoor. Then their shills started in digging up any dirt on me they could. All because we wanted to save our 100+ year old animal shelter and becoming the back lot of a Honda dealership. This city is taking itself and to a shameful direction. They do not represent the residents of Palo Alto. They represent only those with power and money.


Kathy
Greater Miranda
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:04 pm
Kathy, Greater Miranda
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:04 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed.]


Carl
Evergreen Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:17 pm
Carl, Evergreen Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:17 pm
15 people like this

I don’t know the entire story behind the reduction in member of the HRC, but I definitely agree with Mr. Lee on one thing. The City staff is unaccountable and unresponsive to residents. They are responsive only to themselves (they know best) and to the businesses who have time to spend all day at City Hall telling them how wonderful they are and how much money they will give to certain Council members to further their political ambitions.


JG
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:01 am
JG, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:01 am
13 people like this

Thank you, Steven for the good work that you have done. Many in Palo Alto are oblivious to the opportunities that present in this town to do things right. Racism, homophobia, and gender discrimination are a part of Palo Alto’s history and present. It’s a town built on white supremacy, just like most of California. Bringing attention to these matters is why the HRC is so important. The fact that council could not provide a legitimate reason for the reduction speaks volumes. Just give a real answer. COMPLACENCY EQUALS COMPLICITY.


Another PA Resident
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:06 am
Another PA Resident, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:06 am
4 people like this

Steven, you may have good intentions, but I think it's unseemly to have an HRC tasked with fighting racism which is itself composed of only one under-represented minority out of 7 people. Let's make room in these types of leadership committees for those who have historically been underrepresented by our government.

Please find a different way to contribute.


Resident
Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:20 am
Resident, Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:20 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Observer
Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 6:23 am
Observer, Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 6:23 am
13 people like this

Anyone reading this article really should review HRC meetings and talk to current and former members. [Portion removed.] Rather than working to address issues together as the HRC has done for many years, Mr Lee has sown dissent and disrespect, causing several good hearted people to quit rather than battle him. [Portion removed.]


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:37 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:37 am
6 people like this

What is Mr. Lee's resume? Where did he go to school, what did he major in, and where does he now work. Does he work for a company that has a contract with the city for any consulting jobs? Clearly he has political ambitions but someone has to be paying the freight here.

That comment is addressed to all of the disgruntled "Commissioners" whose pet projects have not panned out. I appreciate when experienced people that we have known in the city participate in helping to guide progress. But now we have people that are not generally know in the community who are slugging it out in national formats.
For the next go-around in "Commissioners' suggest that the local papers tell us who they are - what credentials they have and where they work. If they work for a company like Google then you can already tell why they are there.


NoProof
Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:47 am
NoProof, Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:47 am
13 people like this

Irresponsible to run this "opinion." He presents as "fact" that the commission was downsized to target him. How can he possible know this for a fact? He may suspect it, but he states it as a fact. On the other hand, if that is what happened, sounds like it was a good move on council's part.


Helen Young
South of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:57 am
Helen Young, South of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:57 am
16 people like this

I worked with Steven for several years as we tried to help Palo Alto become a CEDAW city, and found him to be selfless, dedicated and always respectful. His training as a lawyer has given him a logical, thorough mind which, combined with his deep sense of justice for the underrepresented made him an asset to the Human Relations Commission. Thank you, Steven.


Kathy
Greater Miranda
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:30 am
Kathy, Greater Miranda
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:30 am
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


long sun
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:38 am
long sun, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:38 am
6 people like this

I'm one of those moderates with lean towards liberalism. I think the far left especially here and the far right elsewhere has practically made our country ungovernable. I see very little difference between the far left and far right beyond the nuances of their authoritarianism.

shrinking commission sizes is good, it will save money and make them more effective.

There are actual services the city supplies And they just seen to have cut everything regardless of their actual use to citizens and the city. My notion of the Palo Alto police for example is that they're quite good except for a few individuals. Those individuals cost money and make problems; get rid of them. And if the police union makes this difficult, then get rid of the union.

On the other hand the city has severely cut the planning and approvals department and their inspectors jamming up construction and necessary work everywhere even though these city functions pay for themselves.


CLS
University South
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:47 am
CLS, University South
on Jul 4, 2020 at 10:47 am
9 people like this

Thank you for your service, Steven. I agree with many points you bring up, particularly PAPD reform - and hope people in the greater community will look more deeply and honestly at why we continue to be content with the status quo. As JG said in another comment - COMPLACENCY EQUALS COMPLICITY.


Barb Jaarsma
Palo Verde
on Jul 4, 2020 at 11:19 am
Barb Jaarsma, Palo Verde
on Jul 4, 2020 at 11:19 am
15 people like this

I've followed Steven Lee's tenure as Human Rights Commissioner for years now, and while we don't agree on every single topic, I wholeheartedly applaud his passion about these issues and his unwavering conviction that his research and understanding of the nuances and concealed motives of the various players is as thorough, as detailed, and as complete as possible.

I hope he DOES choose to run for City Council. If he does, he already has my vote.

As an aside and FYI, the Human Rights Commissioner position is a volunteer position. No pay, no medals, and - judging from many of the anonymous comments above - very little respect.

Thank you, Steven.



.


musical
Palo Verde
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Gabe Kralik
Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 3:36 pm
Gabe Kralik, Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 3:36 pm
16 people like this

Steven Lee is a young talent at the start of what should be a long career of representing the vulnerable in our community, fighting their epic battles which few dare to take up. I had the front line experience of serving with Steven on the Human Relations Commission during the past two years, a portion of that time when I was the Chair. He was exasperating, frictional, inquisitive, indefatigable and downright bull-headed in his advocacy. Nevertheless, what impressed me the most about Steven, was his natural way of connecting with real folks, people with difficult problems. They could always approach Steven, trust his sincerity, and count on his unwillingness to give up their causes. Mistakes, of course, are going to be evident early on in one’s public service career. Steven made a few. However, Steven also made a point of learning from his colleagues and others in positions of polish. Steven did begin to implement their collaborative and productive strategies, finding important allies for his causes. I saw a big difference in two years’ time. While on many, many, things I didn’t agree with Steven at all, I sure did enjoy working with him -- always present, always prepared, always engaged, and always speaking up. When we did agree, for example, on addressing (ok, attacking) the youth vaping issue, he was special, capably protecting the interests of our citizens against bad actor corporate interests. He is going to find a place, even if we don’t appreciate him right now. And, for the record, I agree that the cutting the number of HRC Commissioners to five will have a detrimental impact on the diverse representation that group needs to be effective.


Eyemax
Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 4, 2020 at 7:27 pm
Eyemax, Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 4, 2020 at 7:27 pm
10 people like this

Your editorial left out a number of salient details. For example, remember when you viciously attacked a volunteer group and reduced the co-chair to tears? Remember when you tried to defund nonprofits that serve the elderly in order to support your prioritization of homelessness, only to turn on Downtown Streets Team within a year? Remember when you bombarded staff and HRC colleagues with so many texts and emails that the City Attorney's office had to get involved? Remember when you publicly disrespected female colleagues and councilmembers, including then-Mayor Liz Kniss? Oh, and you also forgot to mention that Council is now developing a process for removing commissioners who bully, threaten and harass community members and colleagues. [Portion removed.]


Hans
Professorville
on Jul 4, 2020 at 7:33 pm
Hans, Professorville
on Jul 4, 2020 at 7:33 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:34 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:34 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Heidi Schwenk
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm
Heidi Schwenk, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm
10 people like this

Hello Steven,
Well, many Palo Altoians who didn’t know about who you are, and your passion for critical civic and social justices and causes, do now. Thank you for publishing your opinion. My first thought after reading your opinion is, “you should run for city council of PA!”. Palo Alto citizens need you!

Speaking up and using your voice to give the community your opinion in our local paper about critical issues, such as homelessness, and other important societal issues is very helpful. Transparency is vital to a democratic republic. Many Palo Altoians are dedicated to raising a family and working; too busy to attend city meetings or read notes from all the city departments, if they are even available.

After reading all the comments it is apparent that some people approve of you personally having had experience working with you and obviously others think your passion is misguided and ‘bossy’. Everyone is free to have their own opinion of another person, however, many comments read as angry rants, bullying you and your decision to post your opinion about the loss of your HRC position. Thank you again for airing your opinion about your reality and how the City Council decides to make decisions. I was hoping the CC would remove PR people instead of HR. Especially because so many companies are hiring HR consultants and employees to help them navigate the tremendous need to help their employees cope with the Pandemic caused anxieties, fears, and racial issues!

You have brought light to another situation that the PA City Council has created; more problems for the citizens of Palo Alto to deal with the best they can. I am in complete agreement that the PA Police Union / Department needs reform. And if defunding is the means to the end of police being stopped from abusing their power, then it needs to happen sooner than later! No more teenagers, twenty year old males and females should be treated inhumanely and illegally or disrespectfully.


Fairmeadow
Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:03 am
Fairmeadow, Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:03 am
6 people like this

The “Sound and Fury” of a truly misguided individual that will hopefully correct himself before coming to grief.


YSK
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 5, 2020 at 1:29 pm
YSK, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 5, 2020 at 1:29 pm
2 people like this

"Oh, and you also forgot to mention that Council is now developing a process for removing commissioners who bully, threaten and harass community members and colleagues."

You forgot to mention how the City Council allows shills to do that to small business owners thus chasing them out of town quite successfully leaving Palo Alto to revel in generic mediocrity while collecting those special deal dollars.


musical
Palo Verde
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:16 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:16 pm
Like this comment

@Fairmeadow, my Shakespeare quote was deleted. And it wasn't even about all the lawyers.


marianne mueller
Professorville
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:58 pm
marianne mueller, Professorville
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:58 pm
2 people like this

thank you, Steven for your service and advocacy and I hope the council reinstates the two positions since we do need seven people not five to address all these important issues that you outline.


Rebecca White
Greenmeadow
on Jul 6, 2020 at 9:23 am
Rebecca White, Greenmeadow
on Jul 6, 2020 at 9:23 am
2 people like this

Steven, keep being outspoken and rattling the cages. Someone mentioned to me last week that we need people in city government who aren't divisive. Whereas I believe we need people in city government who have the courage to speak up, and the strength to change the cycle of sycophancy. More people who aren't worried about getting invited to the holiday parties.


Anon resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:11 am
Anon resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:11 am
2 people like this

Responding to these comments:

"Suggest that in the future anyone that is working on a city commission sign an agreement that states they will not air city grievances on a national forum. I gather from other comments in the past that Mr. Lee was planning to run for city council.

Our mayor also made comments in a published newspaper that were inappropriate.

We have also seen threats of law suits published in a national paper. Very inappropriate."

What is wrong with making comments and statements public? If you truly believe local news and goings on have no place with a wider audience, then you wouldn't hear of any news whatsoever unless it came from your neighborhood or the federal or state government. You cannot censor who shares what with whom. You're reducing an entire city and its politics to a family matter. If a local jurisdiction was accused of racist policy, do you believe that information should be kept within the city lines only? That no one else has the right to hear about it? Your statement is completely ignorant and ignores the fact that people have a right to know what is going on in public places whether they live there or not.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 6, 2020 at 1:22 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 6, 2020 at 1:22 pm
Like this comment

The SJM is owned by the same news organization that owns the Baltimore Sun. They share many of the features exclusive of the local news. When you see a very large article in the SJM it is very possible that the Baltimore Sun will pick up on it if they need a space filler. I explain to my relatives that live in a Baltimore suburb, that grew up in California - that the state is going to the dogs. They already understand that - given that they have a star nephew that was at a SOCAL University and decided to quit that school and is now at a university in Montreal, Canada. He could not stand where he was in SOCAL.
Publishing articles where unpaid Commissioners of a relatively small suburb in NORCAL are busy savaging the city council who are elected by the residents proves the point. Keep handing out reasons why people should leave this so-called "paradise" - People who do not live here do not understand all of the nuances that are not mentioned in the paper - and hang on the nuances that are printed in the paper and inflated to a noxious degree.


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