Letters | October 24, 2008 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - October 24, 2008


Silent majority speaks


I am usually part of the "silent majority" on campaign measures; however, the importance of Measure N for our libraries is too great to not speak out.

When my family moved to Palo Alto, we were shocked and disappointed at Palo Alto's libraries. We chose Palo Alto for its values of "lifelong learning" and education. Unfortunately, our current libraries do not reflect this. Library visitorsm, especially to the Mitchell Park branch, see that the library is bursting at the seams. There is limited space for programs, and no small group and meeting space. Los Altos, Mountain View and even San Francisco (where getting anything done is a colossal challenge) have better areas for technology and space for new ways of learning.

Especially exciting are the plans for Mitchell Park. The architects developed a functional and cost-effective design that unites the library with the community center. This center will serve many purposes such as safe places for youth and tranquil spots for seniors looking for ways to learn. In addition, the community center could be a revenue source from fees collected from weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.

We cannot afford to think short-term. If Measure N does not pass, we will be stuck with woefully inadequate facilities.

Measure N addresses many prior concerns including the desire to maintain the satellite libraries, upgrade the Downtown and Main Libraries and re-develop the Mitchell Park library and community center to address current needs. This is a great opportunity to build our legacy. Vote for Measure N.

Leslyn Leong

Rosewood Drive

Palo Alto

More N support


As the parent of two school-age children, I recognize the value our libraries provide. As a regular patron, I am acutely aware of the embarrassing state of our library facilities, especially in a city that prides itself on its public resources. That's why I'm voting yes on

Measure N.

No one visiting our libraries needs an auditor to tell them that these buildings are cramped, dilapidated and pale in comparison to our neighboring communities. After 50 years the time has come to renew our investment and bring these facilities into the 21st century. Surely this is worth the cost of a latte per week.

Measure N is about more than books and a quiet place read. It is also about creating civic spaces that enhance our community. The planned meeting and program spaces will accommodate changing educational, service and social needs over time, plus provide reliable structures in case of disaster.

Those who claim to support libraries but say they will vote no because they want a different plan are offering voters a false choice. We are not being asked to choose between this plan and one featuring a centralized library. Like it or not, that ship has sailed. Rather, this is a choice between much-needed modernization and continuing deterioration.

Maintaining a first-class city requires responsible investment. After years of discussion, it's time to stop talking and start acting so we can move forward with this well-thought-out and essential project. I urge a yes vote on Measure N.

Wynn Hausser

El Centro Street

Palo Alto

Fuzzy math


The opponents of the Measure N library bond love to write about numbers but they might need a new calculator to redo their fuzzy math.

Just a handful of library foes have written dozens of letters to local papers, yet their numbers are minuscule compared to the more than 1,000 individual supporters and dozens of school and community organizations that have officially endorsed Measure N.

Just bike, walk or drive through any neighborhood and see all those orange signs of support. Library foes use fuzzy math in their Mitchell Park Library cost estimate ($1,490/sqft) vs. the actual cost estimate ($455/sqft).

Library foes don't mention the extra miles that will be driven if branches are closed. They don't mention the school kids and seniors that would lose a walkable destination in their neighborhoods and near their schools. They don't mention the young entrepreneurs that move away to cities that offer meeting space and better resources.

It is time for Palo Alto to once again be a leader in education and equal access to information. See www.BetterLibrariesForPaloAlto.com for more.

Vote Yes on N.

Leo Hochberg

Forest Avenue

Palo Alto

Farewell to Lonnquist


Sandra Lonnquist, Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, has brought more programs to the Chamber than previous presidents and CEOs. She was especially effective at reaching to the various shopping districts and working with Palo Alto Neighborhoods.

I will be eternally grateful to Sandra for her vision that led to Palo Alto Business Goes Green (PABGG) at the Chamber. After Don Weden's Jan. 28, 2006, presentation, "Winds of Change: Adapting Our Communities to the Changing Realities of the 21st Century," which I organized, she said, "We need to bring this to the Chamber."

Our first event, "Focus Palo Alto 2006," featured world-acclaimed climate scientist Stephen H. Schneider, of Stanford University and his keynote, "Business and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities." This event led to increased global climate-change awareness by the business community as exemplified by the second FOCUS event on cleantech, close cooperation with Stanford on sustainability issues, the expanded Certified Green Business program, Jim Baer's WAVE ONE and Community Environmental Action Partnership.

Sandra was always there working to make PABGG succeed and serve as a model for other community and business groups.

I will miss her introducing me as the "Green Goddess"!

Carroll Harrington

Melville Avenue

Palo Alto

End inhumane treatment


This November 4, I urge all California voters to vote yes on Proposition 2. This is a very modest measure that will end the cruel and inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs and veal calves.

Prop. 2 will require that such animals be given enough room to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around. Such farmed animals are currently forced to live under conditions that are so inhumane that that they cannot even make these minimal body movements.

It is common sense that no living creature should be treated in such a manner. Unfortunately, factory farms do treat animals in exactly this way, with complete disregard for the wellbeing of their animals, the quality of food they produce or the impact that they have on human health and our environment. We wouldn't force our pets to live in filthy, cramped cages for their whole lives and we shouldn't force farm animals to endure such misery, either.

Prop. 2 is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, the Palo Alto Humane Society (as well as other humane societies throughout California), the Center for Food Safety, the California Veterinary Medical Association, Consumer Federation of America, United Farm Workers, more than 100 California farmers and numerous California businesses and elected officials.

Please vote yes on Prop. 2. It is a reasonable and common-sense reform that prevents cruelty to animals and will improve food safety. Prop. 2 is better for the animals — and for us.

Jennifer Knapp

Page Mill Road

Palo Alto


Like this comment
Posted by Vote NO on N
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm

"Rather, this is a choice between much-needed modernization and continuing deterioration."


By voting "yes" to this bond, you are saying you agree to continue to pay twice as much as our neighbors for an inferior library service. Indeed, a "yes" vote on this bond also tells the council that you agree to increase our annual library budget by $1.1million and the corresponding decrease on other services to fund this.

Please provide people with the information to make that choice. If Palo Altans agree that Palo Alto should continue to outspend out neighbors with no appreciable gain the so be it. Don't try to tell them that this is "a choice between "modernization and continuing deterioration". That is just plain wrong.

Like this comment
Posted by but seriously
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I no longer buy lattes regularly. Can't afford 'em. Contrary to what many claim, our family will have to choose. Since PiE is the only discretionary donation and the others are mandatory taxes, if Measure N passes we will absolutely have to decrease our PiE donations. Which is a shame because my kids use school a lot more than the branch libraries. With the economy in its current state, a lot of people will

Like this comment
Posted by Save our libraries!
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:26 pm

"if Measure N passes we will absolutely have to decrease our PiE donations."

if Measure N passes we will absolutely go down because of PAUSD and Library programming that supplements PIE

Like this comment
Posted by Save our libraries!
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:27 pm

I meant to say that the NECESSITY for PIE donations will eventually DECREASE if Measure N passes.

Like this comment
Posted by bottom of the barrel
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:31 pm

You are seriously suggesting we reduce our donations to PiE in favor our this bond.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Save our Libraries - thanks for sealing my vote against measure N. You have absolutely no understanding of PIE. PIE funds classroom personnel, not books. Schools are not allowed to fund supplemental classroom personnel through any other sources, besides PIE funds, which are distributed equally to all schools based on a per student basis. Since its the schools only ability to fund personnel (like classroom aids), they normally spend PIE funds mostly on personnel.

PTA donations and other sources are allowed to buy books, computers, anything else.

So improved libraries have absolutely no bearing on the need for PIE funds, and your ignorance of this fact, and willingness to damage our schools in the process, tells me that you can not be trusted on this issue.

I will vote no.

This is my first posting on this subject.

Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:52 pm

Save, I'm emailing your post to my friends on the PIE board, so they can enjoy your suggestion that people cut their PIE gift if N passes.

Hopefully after they finish chocking on their lattes they will get busy correcting that impression!

Like this comment
Posted by Silent Majority
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2008 at 3:59 pm

You see Yes on N signs a lot; and they have a fancy web site, poltiical consultants, mailing after mailing, a real organized campaign.

You don't see many people opposed. That's because it is no fun to oppose a library project and people aren't going to brag about it. And it no fun telling people you don't really have another $300 to spend. And that insulting line about lattes - do you really want to tell people you've switched to just plain coffee at home? But believe me, in the privacy of the voting booth, you will see it.

We have been a spendthrift city. I've often thought that only a crisis would change things. Now the crisis is here. Our sales tax revenue is going to plummet - car sales are down 30%, retail sales at high end retailers down 20%. Property values are going down. We are going to build a public safety building that will cost $5+ million a year, and more than expected since interest rates have jumped since that estimate. It is crunch time folks.

Hopefully, with a new city manager and a new sense of fiscal reality, we will finally clean up our act and get our city's fiscal house in order. Passing a whopper of a bond - $76 million dollars! - is the last thing we should do. Let's get our act together Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by One number says it all
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm

$1000 per square foot.

No on N

Like this comment
Posted by The News
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2008 at 4:29 pm

We know the stock market is off almost 50% from a year ago. But we still have jobs right? From the Wall Street Journal today:

Layoffs Sweep Silicon Valley

There’s a dream at the heart of every tech startup, the corporate saplings that hope to grow into the next Microsoft of Google. But the dream has turned nightmarish of late: Funding is harder to come by, layoffs are spreading, and in general these companies are bracing for a prolonged dry spell.

The ranks of startups shedding staff is growing by the day. Oddly-named companies like Wikia, Imeem, and Mahalo have all cut jobs this week. Mahalo’s CEO, Jason Calacanis, in an email published by TechCrunch, wrote that “while I anticipated and prepared for the ‘internet winter’ we’re now facing…I failed to realize how bad the situation would get. It’s much worse than I thought it would be, and ignoring market conditions today would only mean deeper cuts down the road.”

And Yahoo. And EBay. Those are your neighbors. A latte a week huh? Not a lot of lattes for those folks. Vote No on N.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2008 at 5:51 pm

We know that the Yes on N people have money to spend. They can afford multiple lattes a week, so much so that they won't miss one. They can afford lots of fancy orange signs around town. They can even afford to put a full page add in today's Weekly just to show how much money they have to spend.

For those of us who don't have much money to spend, if N passes, we will have to pay out more money than many of us can afford. We will have no choice in the matter. We will consequently have to cut out other things elsewhere. It may be soccer or ballet lessons, or it may be PIE.

I don't think the wealthy Palo Altans get it. It is going to cost us too much. We don't want our property tax bill to go up. We don't want to appear to hate libraries, we certainly don't. But, we can't afford an increase in tax which is what this bond will do. There may not be many foreclosures in Palo Alto yet, but wait and see. People are losing jobs, houses have cost us a lot.

We can't afford the much more than $139 than most families will have to pay.

Like this comment
Posted by it's the advertising revenue, stupid
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 24, 2008 at 6:11 pm

"They can even afford to put a full page add in today's Weekly just to show how much money they have to spend. "

That explains the editing bias in these threads!

Like this comment
Posted by unbelievable
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 25, 2008 at 11:00 am

Leslyn Leong,

"I am usually part of the "silent majority" on campaign measures; however, the importance of Measure N for our libraries is too great to not speak out."

Yeah, right! Let's take a look at the list of members of betterlibrariesforpaloalto! Oh, look, there's a "Leslyn Leong" listed. So much for your claim to be part of a "silent majority" - how disingenuous.
You people really will stop at nothing to get this bond through.

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