News

Greg Tanaka, Palo Alto's leading fiscal hawk, seeks another four years on City Council

College Terrace resident often challenges colleagues, staff on budget issues

Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka is looking to secure a second term this fall. Courtesy Greg Tanaka.

Greg Tanaka, a tech CEO who over the past four years has established himself as the City Council's most vocal fiscal hawk, announced Wednesday that he will seek a second council term.

Tanaka, who served on the Planning and Transportation Commission before joining the council in 2016, has been a consistent and persistent critic of the council's budget decisions. He is frequently the sole dissenter on expenditures that his colleagues view as routine, including utility contracts and street repairs. He was one of two council members who voted against the budget that the council approved in June (along with Lydia Kou), which cut about $40 million in expenditures. He was also the sole dissenter of last year's budget, which is ultimately adopted by the council majority.

The College Terrace resident has regularly challenged city staff on issues relating to budget and staffing, often citing his own independent research or pointing to examples from other cities. He argued at an April meeting that the city has "too many chiefs" in its management ranks and urged the council to pursue a "span of control" study, consistent with the wishes of the city's largest union, Service Employees International Union, Local 521.

On this issue, as on many others over the years pertaining to finances, he found himself in a lonely position on the council as he criticized city staff for what he perceived as excessive spending on public communications, public art projects and utility programs. During recent budget talks, he repeatedly lamented that the city has too many people working in "PR (public relations)" and questioned whether the city should be spending hundreds of thousands on a "fingerprint," a reference to digital artwork that the city had commissioned for its future public-safety building. He has pushed staff and his colleagues to defer capital projects, such as the new police building and a proposed new fire station at Mitchell Park, an area in which he found numerous allies but little success.

Tanaka acknowledged his status as the council's dissenter-in-chief in a September 2018 meeting, when he accused his colleagues of having "no backbone to stick to the budget."

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"I hate being the 8-1 vote all the time. No one else seems to care," Tanaka said at that meeting (the council had since reduced the number of seats from nine to seven). "That's what we have to do, otherwise we're burning our city. We are burning future generations. We are hollowing out the city now by not sticking to the budget."

Tanaka cemented his status as the council's regular odd man out in January, when the council was selecting a vice mayor and found itself in a 3-3 deadlock. Tanaka abstained from the vote and the stalemate was only resolved when Councilwoman Alison Cormack deferred to Tom DuBois, who was subsequently elected vice mayor. He was also the only dissenting vote on the city's decision in 2019 to pursue a business tax (an effort that the council halted when the pandemic hit) and, more recently, on approving the new lease with the Palo Alto Unified School District for space in the Cubberley Community Center.

On land-use issues, Tanaka has been generally aligned with council members who favor more permissive growth policies, including Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Liz Kniss and Cormack. His campaign has received financial support from numerous developers, including limited liability companies associated with prominent developers Thoits Brothers, Sand Hill Property Company and Sal Giovanotto in the second half of 2019, according to financial disclosures.

In announcing his plans for reelection, Tanaka touted his experience in dealing with city finances. His announcement touted his work as the Council's Finance Committee chair to "eliminate wasteful spending" and acknowledged his role as "frequently the lone vote against unaffordable staff raises." More so than his colleagues, Tanaka expressed frustrations last month with the fact that the city's largest labor union will be receiving 3% raises in December, the city's budget deficit notwithstanding.

He told this news organization that if re-elected, his overarching priority will be dealing with the economic fallout from the pandemic, an effort that he said will take years. This includes assisting struggling businesses; finding new ways to provide services to residents at a time of plummeting revenues; and addressing the changing work patterns, as more employees work remotely and office space is left vacant.

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"I think there’s some really deep ramifications that can happen from that, and given my experience on the planning commission and my experience with retail, this is why I felt compelled to run for another term," said Tanaka, whose company, Percolata, specializes in data analytics for the retail sector.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing shutdown upended the local economy, Tanaka often talks about the challenges that local businesses and residents are experiencing. He has repeatedly voted against raising the city's utility rates, adjustments that invariably proceeded despite his opposition.

Before serving on the planning commission, Tanaka volunteered in the College Terrace Residents Association, where he served as president. He was also a member of the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission, which helped develop the City Council's plan for infrastructure priorities. The council is now in the midst of moving ahead with that plan, which the California Avenue business district garage now under construction and the city preparing to break ground in the coming months on a new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 and on the new police building (which would go up next to the garage once the structure is built).

In his announcement, Tanaka cited the city's ongoing challenges, namely a public health emergency, that has precipitated an economic emergency. These challenges, he said, "call for experienced leadership, and sensible spending in a time of limited resources."

"I hope to continue to serve Palo Alto and make City Hall work for all residents, as we work together to preserve and improve Palo Alto's future," Tanaka said in the announcement.

Tanaka is competing for one of four seats that will be up for grabs in November. He and two other incumbent council members — Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou — are all eligible to see fresh four-year terms. Kou has also declared her intention to seek a fresh term. Councilwoman Liz Kniss is terming out at the end of the year.

Other candidates in the race are former Mayor Pat Burt, attorney Rebecca Eisenberg, attorney Steven Lee, teacher Greer Stone; Planning and Transportation Commission Chair Cari Templeton; and planning Commissioner Ed Lauing.

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Greg Tanaka, Palo Alto's leading fiscal hawk, seeks another four years on City Council

College Terrace resident often challenges colleagues, staff on budget issues

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 22, 2020, 4:15 pm

Greg Tanaka, a tech CEO who over the past four years has established himself as the City Council's most vocal fiscal hawk, announced Wednesday that he will seek a second council term.

Tanaka, who served on the Planning and Transportation Commission before joining the council in 2016, has been a consistent and persistent critic of the council's budget decisions. He is frequently the sole dissenter on expenditures that his colleagues view as routine, including utility contracts and street repairs. He was one of two council members who voted against the budget that the council approved in June (along with Lydia Kou), which cut about $40 million in expenditures. He was also the sole dissenter of last year's budget, which is ultimately adopted by the council majority.

The College Terrace resident has regularly challenged city staff on issues relating to budget and staffing, often citing his own independent research or pointing to examples from other cities. He argued at an April meeting that the city has "too many chiefs" in its management ranks and urged the council to pursue a "span of control" study, consistent with the wishes of the city's largest union, Service Employees International Union, Local 521.

On this issue, as on many others over the years pertaining to finances, he found himself in a lonely position on the council as he criticized city staff for what he perceived as excessive spending on public communications, public art projects and utility programs. During recent budget talks, he repeatedly lamented that the city has too many people working in "PR (public relations)" and questioned whether the city should be spending hundreds of thousands on a "fingerprint," a reference to digital artwork that the city had commissioned for its future public-safety building. He has pushed staff and his colleagues to defer capital projects, such as the new police building and a proposed new fire station at Mitchell Park, an area in which he found numerous allies but little success.

Tanaka acknowledged his status as the council's dissenter-in-chief in a September 2018 meeting, when he accused his colleagues of having "no backbone to stick to the budget."

"I hate being the 8-1 vote all the time. No one else seems to care," Tanaka said at that meeting (the council had since reduced the number of seats from nine to seven). "That's what we have to do, otherwise we're burning our city. We are burning future generations. We are hollowing out the city now by not sticking to the budget."

Tanaka cemented his status as the council's regular odd man out in January, when the council was selecting a vice mayor and found itself in a 3-3 deadlock. Tanaka abstained from the vote and the stalemate was only resolved when Councilwoman Alison Cormack deferred to Tom DuBois, who was subsequently elected vice mayor. He was also the only dissenting vote on the city's decision in 2019 to pursue a business tax (an effort that the council halted when the pandemic hit) and, more recently, on approving the new lease with the Palo Alto Unified School District for space in the Cubberley Community Center.

On land-use issues, Tanaka has been generally aligned with council members who favor more permissive growth policies, including Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Liz Kniss and Cormack. His campaign has received financial support from numerous developers, including limited liability companies associated with prominent developers Thoits Brothers, Sand Hill Property Company and Sal Giovanotto in the second half of 2019, according to financial disclosures.

In announcing his plans for reelection, Tanaka touted his experience in dealing with city finances. His announcement touted his work as the Council's Finance Committee chair to "eliminate wasteful spending" and acknowledged his role as "frequently the lone vote against unaffordable staff raises." More so than his colleagues, Tanaka expressed frustrations last month with the fact that the city's largest labor union will be receiving 3% raises in December, the city's budget deficit notwithstanding.

He told this news organization that if re-elected, his overarching priority will be dealing with the economic fallout from the pandemic, an effort that he said will take years. This includes assisting struggling businesses; finding new ways to provide services to residents at a time of plummeting revenues; and addressing the changing work patterns, as more employees work remotely and office space is left vacant.

"I think there’s some really deep ramifications that can happen from that, and given my experience on the planning commission and my experience with retail, this is why I felt compelled to run for another term," said Tanaka, whose company, Percolata, specializes in data analytics for the retail sector.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing shutdown upended the local economy, Tanaka often talks about the challenges that local businesses and residents are experiencing. He has repeatedly voted against raising the city's utility rates, adjustments that invariably proceeded despite his opposition.

Before serving on the planning commission, Tanaka volunteered in the College Terrace Residents Association, where he served as president. He was also a member of the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission, which helped develop the City Council's plan for infrastructure priorities. The council is now in the midst of moving ahead with that plan, which the California Avenue business district garage now under construction and the city preparing to break ground in the coming months on a new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 and on the new police building (which would go up next to the garage once the structure is built).

In his announcement, Tanaka cited the city's ongoing challenges, namely a public health emergency, that has precipitated an economic emergency. These challenges, he said, "call for experienced leadership, and sensible spending in a time of limited resources."

"I hope to continue to serve Palo Alto and make City Hall work for all residents, as we work together to preserve and improve Palo Alto's future," Tanaka said in the announcement.

Tanaka is competing for one of four seats that will be up for grabs in November. He and two other incumbent council members — Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou — are all eligible to see fresh four-year terms. Kou has also declared her intention to seek a fresh term. Councilwoman Liz Kniss is terming out at the end of the year.

Other candidates in the race are former Mayor Pat Burt, attorney Rebecca Eisenberg, attorney Steven Lee, teacher Greer Stone; Planning and Transportation Commission Chair Cari Templeton; and planning Commissioner Ed Lauing.

Comments

Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:22 pm
19 people like this

Tanaka's business model is having businesses spy on its customer, towards building surveillance society, run by big business.
In my personal encounters with him, he seems to have zero compassion.
For a tech guy, he does not seem particularly good in math.
He panders to the far right and quasi-libertarians.

I admire the fact he has good balance, enough to ride a motorized skateboard -- and the sense to wear a helmet - -but on the other hand I have a photo of him riding his skateboard down the halls of Cubberley right past a NO SKATEBOARDING sign, which apparently doesn't apply to him.

Why does he hold office hours in the pantry of the old Cubberley High cafeteria -- he's odd, part and parcel --?!


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:29 pm
5 people like this

GS references above Tanaka's odd stance about the Percent for Art program at the new police station: Peter Wegner has more talent in his little finger than Greg Tanaka has in his entire foot.
We need an artist on council to balance all the yes-people, tech-people and cliches.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:30 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:30 pm
11 people like this

You said it: "odd man out". Odd man, hopefully out of office.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:38 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:38 pm
11 people like this

Let's compare Liz Kniss and Greg Tanaka.
I have no idea how Greg Tanaka got into power, other than he rode the wave of a very powerful special interest, Downtown interests i.e. the developers, as GS notes and lists above.
How could a guy abstain from voting for mayor (unless, unlikely, he did what he did to clear the way for Alison to do what she did, look classy by folding)?
Liz Kniss on the other hand, ultmate politician. I don't agree with her half the time but I admire her, she has a certain charm. Amazing.
The one other thing I give Greg credit for, besides being good on a skateboard, I mention above, is that in 2009 or 2010 he came to the Public Art Commission winter party at Bryant Street Gallery - ironic, since he more recently is among it's enemies.
If we have to have an incumbent, I hope its Lydia.
My favorite newcomer is Rebecca Eisenberg who challenges status quo because she was Elizabeth Warren's protegee at Harvard Law.
Who did Tanaka study with?


Jessica Lee
College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:39 pm
Jessica Lee, College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:39 pm
28 people like this

I've attended his office hours and I gotta say- Tanaka really makes the City work for us. Tanaka has been consistently taking time out every single Sunday to hold office hours. He truly listens to everybody's opinion because he represents us. Tanaka is who we need right now to get us on the right path to economic recovery.

Another 4 years? Yes, please! Tanaka for another 4!


Maximilian Goetz
Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Maximilian Goetz, Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:47 pm
23 people like this

I'm 18 and I will be voting for the first time this November. Greg Tanaka is the clear frontrunner here -- a council member who listens to his constituents and is able to have a level head in dealing with our budget. All of those are extremely important, and even more so with the COVID-19 pandemic. I don't know of any other Councilmember who holds office hours for two every Sunday. Tanaka is a dedicated politician and father, I'm inspired and am so glad that in my first time voting for a council member, it will be for Councilman Tanaka.


Kathy
Greater Miranda
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:49 pm
Kathy, Greater Miranda
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:49 pm
31 people like this

Thank goodness someone is trying to mind the store. Thanks for running Greg. Get with it other city council members. How can you possibly give raises at this time? Time to let some people go if you can't figure out how not to give raises. No more multi year union contracts. No more hiring. Time to think about your residents instead of unionized public employees.


Neighbor
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Neighbor, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm
27 people like this

Commenting 4 times doesn't make your comments 4 times as valid, just a helpful note of advice.

Glad to see Tanaka running. very open about issues and willing to reach out to constituents. not sure if I've seen the same about other council members.


Rebecca
East Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Rebecca , East Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2020 at 4:52 pm
15 people like this

Thrilled to hear this! Hope he keeps up the good work.


Y.L
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Y.L, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:01 pm
18 people like this

It is rare to find someone fiscal responsible to tax payers and sensible to the silent majority in the community these days. Yes to Greg.


Susan
College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Susan, College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:01 pm
13 people like this

Glad to see this. I’ve followed Tanaka since he was first elected.i like his pragmatic style. He gets things done and makes decisions based on the data.


Jenna Marks
Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:02 pm
Jenna Marks, Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:02 pm
9 people like this

I will say it again and again. A councilmember who actually cares about the residents. I met with Greg a few months ago as a concerned parent who does not support the distribution of flavored tobacco products. Greg listened to me empathetically and took action to protect our children.


Bella
Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:03 pm
Bella, Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:03 pm
9 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Jennifer Meder
Meadow Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:06 pm
Jennifer Meder, Meadow Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:06 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Charlotte Johnson
Stanford
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:09 pm
Charlotte Johnson, Stanford
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:09 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Greenacres
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:25 pm
Greenacres, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:25 pm
10 people like this

I support Rebecca Eisenberg and I support Lydia Kou. I really want Councilmembers who put residents first and an end to the Build-baby-build contingent that made the train wreck from the pandemic so much worse. I once voted for Kniss long ago, but the way Fine deceived the voters in the way he didn't report his campaign contributions (according to the FPPC), and Kniss did the same (although she is still in review by FPPC, wonder why it's taking so long), and the way she regularly sided with developers against residents, I hope she leaves politics altogether. Like Greg Scharff in the past, she says whatever to get elected, then would side with developers.

Because we do not have rank choice voting, I may just bullet vote for Kou and Eisenberg. But I may also vote for Tanaka IF I think there will be a resident-focused majority. I think Tanaka was often the only person willing to stand up against everyone else on either side of issues and be completely honest and reflective. Way back before there was a referendum at Maybell, Tanaka (on the planning commission) warned that residents were going to be unhappy if they just approved things as is, and he was the only one at City Hall who saw the rancor coming. He was the only one on the commission who listened. We do need someone who is fiscally careful, as Tanaka is (as opposed to "fiscal conservatives" who are NOT).

Tanaka is capable of listening and being thoughtfully pragmatic. We desperately need a resident-focused majority for the FIRST time, so we need at least 2 councilmembers who are unequivocally resident-focused. Sorry, I don't know why Burt gets called a "residentialist."

I'm very concerned that without ranked choice voting, we will have vote-splitting again. I hope the candidates running as residentialists will self-assess their chances at a certain point and bow out so that they don't ensure we get another useless caustic developer-ist majority.


Ryu
South of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:39 pm
Ryu, South of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:39 pm
28 people like this

This guy has always seemed off to me.

Yes, you can cut city spending and rely on the private sector for development. I believe that's Tanaka's ideology, based on his real estate developer support (some of which he failed to disclose, don't forget, leading to that fine by the state campaign ethics commission) and his consistent rallying cry against even the most widely-agreed-upon spending measures.

But then what? Palo Alto gets hoards of new office space and no affordable housing. The government, there to protect its citizens, suddenly has no teeth to prevent private interests from reigning. The point of city council is to work for a better Palo Alto, not to strip Palo Alto of as many services as possible. Cutting spending is not a vision. It's a tactic - to what end, I'm not sure.

I admire that Greg has office hours and listens to citizens, and I have many friends who appreciate his dedication to fiscal responsibility. But everyone can get on board with eliminating "excessive spending." The problem is that Greg Tanaka seems to view ALL spending as excessive. I would challenge him to talk about the investments he wants to make in our community, not just the line items he can't wait to eliminate.

I'm all for a rebel but when you find yourself the sole dissenter over and over again on a politically heterogenous council, you aren't playing devil's advocate anymore - you're just a barrier to real progress.


Ineffective
College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 6:50 pm
Ineffective, College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 6:50 pm
37 people like this

Tanaka has accomplished very little other than campaign finance violations from the last time he ran for office. Being the lone vote on issues is an indication that he is incapable of getting anything done. He has been unable to convince other council members of his views. He is not colloborative, he is not convincing. I can't think of a single thing he initated and got council support for in 4 years. During this time of the Coronavirus, we need people who can work together to move the city forward. He has become quite active since he started campaigning several months ago. But ask yourself - what has he actually done?


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2020 at 7:06 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2020 at 7:06 pm
11 people like this

We need strong council members who question the city and some of the crazy expenditures, especially the recent capital spending during the pandemic. We need a lot more push back from council which should be demanding that the city staff and city attorney hear from residents about the ridiculous growth targets from MTA/ABAG at a time when office space is already going begging, layoffs are happening and workers are increasingly working at home.

I'd like to hear more from Tanaka about his stance on the ABAG/MTA targets as well as the views of all the other candidates.


StackedParking
Green Acres
on Jul 22, 2020 at 7:14 pm
StackedParking, Green Acres
on Jul 22, 2020 at 7:14 pm
27 people like this

The only thing I've seen Mr. Tanaka advocate for passionately is stacked parking garages with car elevators. I don't know why but he seems to want that in every project that comes to council. Maybe he owns stock in a car elevator company


Neighbor
College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:17 pm
Neighbor, College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:17 pm
6 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Sam
Community Center
on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Sam, Community Center
on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:37 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Angie
Crescent Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:55 pm
Angie, Crescent Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 8:55 pm
4 people like this

You forgot Raven Malone!


Neighbor
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:01 pm
Neighbor, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:01 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Name
Community Center
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:04 pm
Name, Community Center
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:04 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Jared
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:04 pm
Jared, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:04 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


LH
Professorville
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:08 pm
LH, Professorville
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:08 pm
42 people like this

So, for the Tanaka supporters, if you knew that he add already raised several thousand dollars from developers (all gifts on 12/31/19) much from entities associated with Sand Hill Property, would you feel the same?


Wait a minute! What?!
Community Center
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:23 pm
Wait a minute! What?!, Community Center
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:23 pm
40 people like this

Wait a minute, the Weekly article claims Tanaka got "financial support from numerous developers" in the second half of 2019 - but he only just announced - what's that about? That seems super shady!

He got in trouble last time for improperly disclosing big donations from office developers in the last days of his campaign in 2016. Now he's taking them before he announces he's running so that no one will notice?

Web Link




Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:53 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:53 pm
4 people like this

Every time I have watched the PACC meetings Greg asks good questions. He does understand math - I think he is an excel master - which the City Manager is not. Glad he is there.


Bad for Renters
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 10:29 pm
Bad for Renters, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 10:29 pm
35 people like this

That he is trying to hide his donations from developer yet again is at least in a way consistent with his anti- renter sentiments.

He voted against more protection from displacement, against rent increase regulation and relocation assistance for tenants kicked out of the President Hotel and more. Renters are nearly half the households in town. Why would any of them vote for him against their interests?

And why does anyone think he’s a big affordable housing advocate? He’s slipping on that sheep’s skin for the election while you let him pull the wool over your eyes. Look at his voting record.

He’ll watch the money alright - his pocket and those of the privileged where he’s getting his campaign money.


A Palo Alto Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:21 am
A Palo Alto Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:21 am
11 people like this

Greg Tanaka is dedicated to his craft; listening and acting on what concerns residents voice out. He hosts weekly office hours for 2 hours for anyone who has a concern they want to see change for which he then reflects through his questions, comments, and most importantly his vote at each City Council meeting. As someone who has attended his office hours before, I can see the effort and good intentions he has behind setting up the meeting. The office hours not only helps him understand each council agenda topic more deeply but also allows him to be able to understand the different stances from constituents.

In the above article, he is painted as a “fiscal hawk” however I noticed his continuous push for lowering the extremely high utility rates in our city. This is an important step in helping struggling local businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic. His budget decisions and motions on council have only been backed by large amounts of research, analysis, and logic.

Greg Tanaka truly is a hardworking, dedicated, understanding person who puts others before himself. He said before while responding to a constituent asking why he holds his weekly zoom office hours and he responded by describing his passion and that he enjoys hearing the constituents concerns. Although you may have a set view of Greg Tanaka, I hope you can take into account all the helpful things he has done. Tanaka has my vote and I hope he will have yours along with mine!


Republicans for Tanaka
College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:35 am
Republicans for Tanaka, College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:35 am
3 people like this

As a Republican he certainly has my vote. He’s the only conservative on council, speaking out against government size and spending. His efforts to reduce government programs, his positions against handouts to renters and low income housing, and his obstructionism have got my vote.


Pandering
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:40 am
Pandering, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:40 am
32 people like this

His pandering to business has been appalling. Fiscal hawk? More like Ann Rand disciple. Anytime a handout to business comes up he’s the first to propose even more funding. He has repeatedly put business interests ahead of residents.


anon
Evergreen Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:01 am
anon, Evergreen Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:01 am
38 people like this

This thread is a bit of a mess with so many people trying to post under Multiple names!
Skirting the rules and ring sneaky appears to be Tanaka’s MO.

Last election he changed his part affiliation from republican to democrat to get elected.
Campaigned on a residentialist platform
but took money and favors from developers. By the latter I mean the giant oversized illegal sign on the top of a building across from the train station downtown. A violation he didn’t get caught for though was fined for other violations.
His voting record has been pro business anti renters and residents period.
Sure during the recent grueling budget reductions he stonewalled on a few issues
to make it appear he is pro resident.
Honestly I don’t understand why the weekly calls him “fiscal hawk”?
He nitpicks on small issues often failing to see that his theory is incorrect, but seems to miss the big issues! “Can’t see the forest for the trees”

Bottom line: Tanaka is all business all the time, doesn’t support residents and doesn’t grasp the important issues !!!
NO MORE TANAKA!!!


resident
Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:06 am
resident, Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:06 am
39 people like this

I don't like how Tanaka operates. Yes, he does hold office hours on Zoom. He records the conversations and then uses them in his Facebook advertising. Do people he talks to even know that they are being used for advertising? If you talk to people, just hear what they have to say, don't turn around to use it in your advertising.
He recently sent an email that pretended to be a survey with a clear aim of getting names and contact information for his campaign. He seems rushed and makes judgements and decisions without getting to a full understanding of the issues.
Tanaka does not show integrity and judgement that we need on City Council. I will not be voting for him.


Thoughts
Meadow Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:10 am
Thoughts, Meadow Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:10 am
7 people like this

This comment section is a mess. It's a shame that so many people try to fake post. Either way, I am happy that Tanaka is running again. He is not perfect, but he sticks to his guns and really cares for the people of PA. He championed the project on Cali. Ave which I personally loved. His office hours provide good insight to how he tackles problems. He is a really great listener and follows up without failure. I hope he gets another four years, and I for one appreciate that he is putting our budget first. We can't continue our prosperity without proper funding and millions of dollars in debt.


Good News!
College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:20 am
Good News!, College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:20 am
9 people like this

It confuses me as to why some see him as a villain. IMO his office hours are really a great help. I once attended one and after the meeting he made sure that my problem was properly investigated. Although not every issue can be resolved, they can certainly be heard. His office hours are posted all over the place so people can see his stance and his work. I once wanted to see how he felt with development projects, so I looked at the office hour that had that topic and got it. Although I don’t agree with every vote he makes, I appreciate the amount of time he spends trying to decide on voting. For have proper backbone, and showing qualities of true leadership and care for his fellow Palo Altan, he has my vote.


Dems for Tanaka
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:43 am
Dems for Tanaka, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:43 am
13 people like this

Honestly it seems like this comment section is being weaponized by the other campaigns to hit on Tanaka. Tanaka is not a conservative, as some posts above suggest. His policies on spending are not cutting handouts, but they are saving lives by focusing on the essentials. Has no one seen his efforts to cut the utility rates and save local businesses? His analysis of information and budgeting is all to stop our city from going into financial ruin. He critiques OVER spending, not general spending. I have been voting blue for over 40 years and I am glad to say that with Tanaka l will continue that trend!


Follow the money
Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:45 am
Follow the money, Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:45 am
29 people like this

Like Liz Kniss (who has been under investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission for over three years now for hiding political contributions from developers!), Tanaka has gamed the system to hide his developer connections while ramping up his "residentialist" rhetoric come election time. In preparation for his reelection campaign, Tanaka accepted $13,000 from developers on a single day(!) in December 2019 (well before announcing his candidacy and, more importantly, while most voters aren't watching).

Just take a look at his January 23, 2020 FPPC Campaign filing: Web Link


Follow the money
Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:49 am
Follow the money, Midtown
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:49 am
29 people like this

@PA Weekly - Knowing that PA voters are concerned about the outsized influence of developers in city decisions, its disappointing that you didn't provide more detail about how unusual it is for a campaign to collect large donations outside of the closely monitored election season. And omitted any mention of the FPPC investigation that resulted in a fine for wrongdoing by the 2016 Tanaka campaign - also associated with developer money. Web Link

Also, while you promote Mr. Tanaka as a "fiscal hawk," it's disappointing you didn't scrutinize what spending he thinks is "sensible" in the time of COVID-19. In times of crisis, communities rely on government for more, not less support. Wish you'd explored how planned to offer "new ways to provide services to residents at a time of plummeting revenues" and how he would prioritize among needed services.


Whatsbeendone
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Whatsbeendone, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm
29 people like this

The article highlights he is finance chair this year but I don’t think they’ve met and done anything. Zero. The Mayor ran the budget meetings. Seriously after four years, what has Tanaka accomplished?


mjh
College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:24 pm
mjh, College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:24 pm
24 people like this

To my mind the most telling action Tenaka took was while in his first months of office. During his election campaign he had accepted a $5,000 campaign donation from a member of the Wong family. Meanwhile the Wong family were in a multi-year fight with the city to develop a building they owned on University Avenue which they wanted to be significantly larger than the city's regulations allowed. The Wong's final appeal reached the council's agenda shortly after Tanaka was seated as a new council member. Tanaka did not disclose this conflict of interest but when this $5,000 donation came to light days before the council meeting in question was Tanaka abruptly returned the $5,000 and insisted on participating in the council discussion to advocate and vote to support the Wong's council appeal. Some six months later I was told that the same member of the Wong family had reimbursed Tanaka's campaign fund the $5,000.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:33 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:33 pm
10 people like this

Happy that Tanaka is there to hold the line on spending. And the comments here! People - you are out of control. And the people who are now running to be on the PACC are out of control. The lady lawyer - her comments on FHP indicated a total lack of legal knowledge. And Lee? That is a instigator.


Ryu
University South
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:40 pm
Ryu, University South
on Jul 23, 2020 at 1:40 pm
13 people like this

LOL I was wondering why many of the early comments were mentioning the same specific talking points... now that I see someone was trying to comment multiple times under different names, it all makes sense. Mr. Tanaka should have told his campaign team to leave only one comment per person or to register for different accounts!


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Like this comment

Addendum to above: I actually support the Wong’s in that I believe that during a build baby build era they were unfairly forced to wait their turn at 429. Likewise and in a different way sandhill property does more than they are given credit for.
So I would say Eisenberg, maybe Raven Malone, maybe Lydia and then hold the nose for the next choice but never bullet ballot and not bloody likely GT


He doesn't know what he is doing!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:28 pm
He doesn't know what he is doing!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:28 pm
30 people like this

Tanaka isn't a fiscal conservative - he just votes no on everything unless it is pro development. He doesn't do the hard work to understand the issues that come before the council. He doesn't read the hundreds of pages of documentation that are sent out to council members every week and then asks stupid questions of staff. He is an obstructionist and doesn't help to move the city forward. He just gets in the way of anything that isn't development and sulks and pretends that he cares about our city's finances!


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 2:31 pm
28 people like this

>> On land-use issues, Tanaka has been generally aligned with council members who favor more permissive growth policies, including Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Liz Kniss and Cormack.

Says it all right there.

And, as far as the "fiscal hawk" thing -- "all hat, no cattle". He talks a good line, but, where are the accomplishments?


Hmmmm
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 3:12 pm
Hmmmm, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 3:12 pm
23 people like this

Nice guy....Listens politely to you and then does nothing because after four years on Council he still hasn't figured out how to be effective getting things done.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2020 at 4:06 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2020 at 4:06 pm
4 people like this

Hilarious. It's open season on Palo Alto Online by people on various campaigns. On this thread and other announcement threads as well.

This is 2020. These sorts of astroturfing comments are not effective anymore. Or if they are effective, that says a lot (unfortunately) about the residents of Palo Alto.

Still susceptible to Russian- and CCP-style of misinformation campaigns?


Anon
Barron Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:25 pm
Anon, Barron Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:25 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


PleaseWatchHim
Community Center
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:55 pm
PleaseWatchHim, Community Center
on Jul 23, 2020 at 5:55 pm
13 people like this

Watch any city council video from last year (before he started campaigning). If you can understand what he's saying and how that is helping the city then vote for him. Seriously! Try it!


check out his fb for proof
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:22 pm
check out his fb for proof, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:22 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


The Voice of Palo Alto
Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2020 at 1:21 am
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2020 at 1:21 am
1 person likes this

[Post removed.]


LH
Professorville
on Jul 24, 2020 at 6:22 am
LH, Professorville
on Jul 24, 2020 at 6:22 am
10 people like this

Latest filing, another $2,500 from Jon Goldman of Premier Properties. Mr. Goldman does not live in Palo Alto. (And, an interesting $10,000 from Richard Karp of TicTran). If you support a pro-real estate and pro-business council, Tanaka is your candidate. Question for the Weekly, why are some filings up and some not?


Asians For Tanaka
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:31 am
Asians For Tanaka, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:31 am
2 people like this

Mr. Tanaka advocates municipal
fiscal austerity and supports lucrative development projects which will enable Palo Alto to equal or surpass the ranks of larger cities.

He is a quiet & soft-spoken visionary who reflects the best interests of all Palo Alto residents.

There is a huge difference between a bribe & a campaign donation as nearly ALL candidates running for office will accept gratuities for future considerations.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:42 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:42 am
10 people like this

Posted by Asians For Tanaka, a resident of Charleston Meadows

>> Mr. Tanaka advocates municipal fiscal austerity

As above, he likes to talk about it. Results?

>> and supports lucrative development projects

"Lucrative" for the city payroll and the developers. Not for residents and resident *services*, which have been in a long decline.

>> which will enable Palo Alto to equal or surpass the ranks of larger cities.

Technically, this is known as the "Edifice Complex". (See "The Peter Principle").

This is Palo Alto, not Manhattan. We don't want or need high-rise office buildings. We don't want or need to surpass the ranks of New York or Hong Kong. Please take your Brobdingnagian buildings somewhere else where they will fit in, someplace where the uneducated are impressed by "towers".


LH
Professorville
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:52 am
LH, Professorville
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:52 am
13 people like this

@Asians for Tanaka. If Mr. Karp agrees with Mr. Tanaka's priorities and has found him to be responsive to his concerns in general, I don't have a problem with his donation. However, public officials are not allowed to "accept gratuities for future considerations". That's considered a bribe, and it's a felony.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:08 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:08 am
7 people like this

I’ve been watching Greg Tanaka for 11 years and he has never had an idea. OK check that one idea: now you can teach a second grader that 3.7 or 3.77 is smaller than four.
Every meeting every item every concept Greg will say “3.77 is smaller than four let’s pay 3.77 not four” or “The budget is 4 million if we cut it in half it is, um, 2 million
Let’s pay 2 million that 4 million that will save the taxpayers uh 2 million”.
I literally asked him once why he uses Caltech as part of his email address and he says he went there and I said you mean like continuing education community out reach?(There was a pol in East Palo alto caught exaggerating his relationship with Stanford)
He literally says I have a plan to use the Internet to spy on people for the sake of big business and apparently people give him money for that.


Asians For Tanaka
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:32 am
Asians For Tanaka, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 24, 2020 at 9:32 am
2 people like this

>> We don't want or need high-rise office buildings. We don't want or need to surpass the ranks of New York or Hong Kong. Please take your Brobdingnagian buildings somewhere else where they will fit in, someplace where the uneducated are impressed by "towers".

Many well-educated & successful business people also admire high-rise office towers.

Palo Alto will never attain the international heights of New York or Hong Kong but can embrace progress.

>> However, public officials are not allowed to "accept gratuities for future considerations". That's considered a bribe, and it's a felony.

In many countries the key is to be discreet.


barbara
Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2020 at 3:25 pm
barbara, Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2020 at 3:25 pm
1 person likes this

we all make a tacit agreement to keep our democracy working - might we be able to discuss opinions without vitriol?
i will support greg because he understands how the budget is funded and also knows how to responsibly spend those funds.
there isa nexus between public investment and infrastructure.


James Logan
College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2020 at 3:38 pm
James Logan, College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2020 at 3:38 pm
3 people like this

Most politicians are irresponsible when it comes to spending public money. Mr. Tanaka has correctly pointed out the many examples of waste and excess in the city budget and proposed reductions that will align expenses with future income. An income that will be much lower than past years and at a level that requires a conservative rather than liberal approach to dealing with city issues.


Asians For Tanaka
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 24, 2020 at 3:44 pm
Asians For Tanaka, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 24, 2020 at 3:44 pm
2 people like this

>>It confuses me as to why some see him as a villain.

Portrayed is a better word. Some Asian voters view this as xenophobia on the part of his detractors.

>>We need an artist on council to balance all the yes-people, tech-people and cliches.

Artists as a rule do not make good businessmen or bankers.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2020 at 7:45 pm
2 people like this

I like him on the board. He is on top of spending. Go Greg - you have fans.


ALB
College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2020 at 7:48 pm
ALB, College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2020 at 7:48 pm
11 people like this

I remember very well a large gathering for candidates running for council --
a kick off. I was standing a few feet away from the host who stated to Tanaka, "So I hear you are in the pocket of developers." Greg Tanaka began to flap his arms rapidly as if to take flight in a denial dance saying, "no, no that is not true." When I look at his 'fiscal hawk' votes I see a misinformed person who wanted to cut the budget regarding fire services. There is only ONE vote where he stood by the residents and that was to save the CT library. All of his other support has been given to developers.


Mark has a weird ax to grind
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:20 pm
Mark has a weird ax to grind, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:20 pm
1 person likes this

Mark seems to be a single issue voter - art. Or something. Sadly his posts aren’t credible or even understandable. I believe Tanaka voted against a $4m art mural that Weis was support. Frankly I’m glad Tanaka votes against this silly wastes like this. Not all locals have deep pockets. Has my vote.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Like this comment

To be clear: staff inexplicably cut 1 of the four elements of the Percent for Art portion of the budget for the new police station. I spoke at council, asking the item be pulled from consent calendar until this was understood— it was an LED multicolor abstract element, not the “fingerprint” Genady mentions. Voters, and council approve and expanded Percent For Art. Greg voted against this item, to protest — mootly- the project as a whole.
I later met with Greg to discuss our respective views.
If you ask Greg today, to discuss this matter, I doubt he could explain this clearly — nor name the artist, Peter Wegner —- beyond saying something inane like “$300,00 for art, that’s too much. Let’s pay 150,000)


Asians For Tanaka
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 25, 2020 at 8:40 am
Asians For Tanaka, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 25, 2020 at 8:40 am
5 people like this

In terms of art, the key decision makers for the CPA seem to have very poor taste as reflected by the 'broken bike rack' and 'unicorn palm tree' gracing the center island on California Avenue...both utter wastes of money.

When I first moved to PA, I recall a hideous wooden sculpture called 'Friends' on Embarcadero Road near the lawn bowling lanes. I was later informed that it was a 'gift' from some city in Sweden and over a period of time, I this monstrosity of ugliness was frequently vandalized until finally removed for 'safekeeping'.

Though the interpretation of art is purely subjective, there are no quality examples of good public art currently being displayed in Palo Alto and those who are responsible for their display should be held accountable.

A lousy artist or his/her work cannot be blamed...only the purchaser.

During these times requiring fiscal austerity, there is no need to be spending taxpayer dollars towards more visual crap.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Like this comment

I’d say Palo Alto’s art collection is easily worth $20m. Art is excellent stimulus spending. (In comparison, though apples to orange groves, Stanford Industrial Park alone generates $18B in leaseholds).
It worries me that our community can harbor high functioning illiterates innumerates and people who can’t see art.
At the PAHA event on tape by Brian George about Matt Bowling’s history of our City Greg Brown said the Linkopingers laughed at our story and said the soft wood carving were meant to be discarded not repaired. They were vandalized because shock jock Mancow Muller told his juvenile listeners to vandalize them, bring him the heads.
Franco didn’t like art. Picasso didn’t like Franco. Winning.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm
Like this comment

It says $7b here, five years ago, but Griego has used my number in other circumstances.
Web Link

It’s hardly the only line of I inquiry I use to describe our policy malaise but another way I describe the phenomenon that both Greg Tanaka and @Asians For Tanaka illustrate is that Palo Alto is the place where people live in $2 million homes but complain about spending $1 per capita on public art.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2020 at 1:01 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2020 at 1:01 pm
Like this comment

Societies that worship power but don’t understand art are also societies history shows that line up undesirables and non-conformists machine gun them push them into graves for example Germany Spain North Korea.


Asians For Tanaka
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 25, 2020 at 1:34 pm
Asians For Tanaka, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 25, 2020 at 1:34 pm
4 people like this

>"It worries me that our community can harbor high functioning illiterates innumerates and people who can’t see art."

^ Spoken like the pseudo-intellectuals in Cate Blanchett's 'Manefesto' (aka bags of wind).

>"...the Linkopingers laughed at our story and said the soft wood carving were meant to be discarded not repaired."

^ In other words, it was a joke on Palo Alto...sending disposable crap the Palo Alto Art Commission could label as modern European art to further exemplify its enlightenment.

How pedestrian.

> "
Societies that worship power but don’t understand art are also societies history shows that line up undesirables and non-conformists machine gun them push them into graves for example Germany Spain North Korea.

^ Talk about exaggeration. Palo Alto is not reflective of those countries.

Perhaps a vote for Mr. Tanaka will prevent further city spending for visual eyesores that only the truly enlightened consider art.

No wooden 'freebies' either and good riddance to disposable art.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 12:56 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 12:56 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 1:33 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 1:33 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 8:05 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 8:05 am
Like this comment

Greg Tanaka is ritualistic in his opposition to governed expenditure


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 8:08 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2020 at 8:08 am
Like this comment

And he likes to film it


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