An insightful comedian said to me that voting against high-speed rail is like voting against the future.
I must make a few points regarding HSR. At the Palo Alto forum, many skeptics offered their "constructive" feedback, but as a Caltrain and BART rider many of these missed their mark.
Having HSR stop in San Jose requires a transfer to get to San Francisco. Have any forum skeptics ridden Caltrain to SFO before? If so, they'd remember taking three separate trains to get there with their luggage. Transfers are the bane of quick and convenient public transit.
Why should we listen to longtime residents of Palo Alto when planning for future transit? Their lack of vision years ago left the Peninsula with crowded highways and without BART!
Palo Alto should support HSR for the future of Peninsula transit and with a Palo Alto. station we might even get a true Destination Palo Alto.
Destination Palo Alto
Your editorial saying of the Destination Palo Alto program, "all's well that ends well" ignores an obvious and serious error in CMR 138:10, from which the council concluded the program was a success.
It is a good thing the council voted to end the program and transfer it to a regional business group, but the data suggests the program has been an abysmal failure from the beginning.
CMR 138:10 was prepared by Susan Barnes, manager of economic development, and sent to council prior to last Monday's meeting. Staff and consultant agreed there was no way to measure the results of the consultant's year long activities. Any revenue coming from the hotel tax (TOT) and retail sales taxes might have happened without the program. The staff report summarized data in a chart showing the first year program cost of $240,000 , revenue of $187,061 and a return on investment (ROI) of 78 percent.
While it is true that $187,061 is 78 percent of $240,000, this is not a ROI. A ROI of 78 percent would have yielded revenue in the first year of $427,200.
The city did not "invest" $240,000 in the Destination program; it spent that amount as a fee to the consultant. It is gone, forever! The result of the first year is a loss of $52,939! How can this be considered a success?
But it gets worse. The city has spent another $120,000 on the program for the first half of the current fiscal year, bringing the "investment" to $360,000. Add the $350,000 the city spent on the Senior Games, the total the city has spent on promoting Destination Palo Alto is $710,000.
Too bad council members (and the Weekly) didn't catch this error. I can only hope council members will refrain from believing the unbelievable, be more diligent in their oversight obligations and be more temperate in showering praise in the future.
Richard C. Placone
Freedom to marry
Last Friday, Feb.12, was National Freedom to Marry Day. Local rallies took place at county clerk-recorder's offices in Redwood City and San Jose to support same-sex couples that wish to marry.
Before last summer, when people would ask whether our daughter Kristina, a 1994 Gunn graduate, was married, I would respond "as married as she can get in California." I explained that she and the woman she loved had a beautiful wedding at Hidden Villa in 2005, with family and friends in attendance. But since they were a same-gender couple they had to settle for registering as domestic partners.
Then last summer they proudly walked up the steps of City Hall in San Francisco to lay claim to their newly acknowledged right to marriage and in a brief but moving civil ceremony became married spouses.
It didn't change their love for each other, or ours for both of them, but it's wonderful to be able to answer the question, "Is Kristina married?" with an enthusiastic "yes" and follow up with how wonderful it is to live close enough to be able to help out with their 1-year-old twin sons.
Sadly, the doorway to equal rights was closed by passage of Proposition 8. For now, argument focuses on who should prevail in the federal court case challenging the validity of the measure. Less attention has been given to the status of marriages performed before its passage, but foes of same gender marriage are unlikely to settle for any exceptions to their vision of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman..
I cringe when I think of the assaults on marriages like our daughter's should the spirit of Proposition 8 prevail.
Someday, we won't need a National Freedom to Marry Day each year, but until then the Valentine's Day season will continue to be a time to remind Americans of our constitution's promise of equality before the law. Please support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love.
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