Read news about the city of Palo Alto checking in with residents on the recent storms, a fireside chat with former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and the county taking nominations for the Behavioral Health Community Heroes Awards.
STORM ASSESSMENT ... The recent storms have certainly jolted Palo Alto, which has seen unprecedented rainfall since late December. On Tuesday, about two dozen people attended the city's virtual community event where officials provided updates on their response to the inclement weather.
City Manager Ed Shikada highlighted the key response areas, which included removing debris and downed trees from roadways and creeks, addressing power outages, setting up a community resource center and following up with residents dealing with storm damage.
Hamilton Hitchings, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, applauded the city's expanded storm drains, but stressed the need to replace the Newell and Pope-Chaucer bridges. "We're just treating the symptoms," he said.
Lifelong Palo Altan Marjorie Khosrovi raised the question of what the city's doing to address storm damage in empty homes. She pointed to an example of a tree branch that she saw rest on electrical wires near a house at Cowper Street and Loma Verde Avenue. She was 99% sure the residence was empty. Khosrovi, who takes frequent walks in the neighborhood, reported it to police. "The city has to take over when there's nobody home," she said. Shikada said those are the types of reports the city wants to hear about so staff can respond.
In her closing remarks, Mayor Lydia Kou encouraged residents to learn more about the local emergency service volunteers program, plus upcoming classes for the Block Preparedness Coordinator program and Community Emergency Response Team in February and March.
MATTERS OF THE LAW ... More than 500 people gathered for a fireside chat with former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at Stanford University earlier this month.
The Jan. 9 event at Memorial Auditorium touched on several topics, including his "formative experiences, his approach to finding common ground with others, his change of mind on the death penalty, and the role of the judiciary in furthering the rule of law, among other topics," according to a press release from Stanford Law School.
The discussion was led by Jenny Martinez, dean of the law school and former clerk for Breyer during the Supreme Court's 1998-99 term.
Breyer, 84, a Stanford alumnus, retired at the end of June after nearly 28 years. The informal, hourlong talk included questions from the audience, including a Stanford law student who asked what issue Breyer changed his stance on while serving as a justice. The answer? The death penalty. "I think the death penalty is inconsistent with the basic principles of the Constitution, which is that you have a fair system, and I don't see how you're going to have a system that is not arbitrary and doesn't have all kinds of flaws," he said.
Breyer also was asked what he'd tell law students who consider the high court to be "increasingly politicized," according to the release. "Does (the Supreme Court) work perfectly? No. What institution does? If somebody comes to me and says, 'The situation is hopeless,' I'm not prepared to go along with that. I'm prepared to say, 'What can I do next?' How can I help?"
WANTED: LOCAL HEROES ... Santa Clara County's Behavioral Health Board is seeking nominations for the 12th annual Behavioral Health Community Heroes Awards.
These awards will recognize 11 community members who have made "an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with behavioral health challenges," according to a statement from the county. Nominations are open and will be accepted through Jan. 31.
"The Behavioral Health Community Heroes Awards recognizes those individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exemplary service to county residents suffering the effects of mental illness," the statement said. "In the face of a global pandemic, Heroes have continued their mission to improve the lives of those they serve."
Awards will be presented in 11 categories, including agency, consumer/clients, educator, elected official, faith-based, family member, mover and shaker, young mover and shaker, media, program and volunteer. Honorees will be recognized at the annual Behavioral Health Community Heroes Awards, to be held virtually on Zoom on May 3 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
For more information about each award category or to make a nomination, visit bit.ly/12thAnnualHeroesAwards.