Letters | February 26, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 26, 2010


Nominate Palo Alto


Google is looking for a few good cities in which to build a fierce-fast open-fiber network as a test bed. The community must be welcoming, have the capability of significant innovation, and see that things are done fast and right, from the start.

Palo Alto is a good candidate for Google. To make ourselves a great candidate requires a broad community uprising to "Nominate Palo Alto" by March 26.

iPaloAlto.com, a local website that has been reporting on Palo Alto open fiber for several years, makes it easy. Or you can go directly to the Google Nominate Palo Alto site google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/public/options .

Your answer to Google Question 6 may be as simple as, "Palo Alto is perfect for Google Open Fiber."

When you click "Nominate Palo Alto," you are participating in "Palo Alto civic engagement" for a shot at landing $50 million worth of community infrastructure and all the benefits that go with it. When you study it closely, as I have, deciding to support Palo Alto for Google Open Fiber becomes the biggest no-brainer in history.

Bob Harrington

Adviser to the Mayor — Broadband

Fulton Street

Palo Alto

Public recycling


Finishing a bottle of water last week at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto, I went to dispose of it and found that my only option was to place it in a trash can. I was frustrated. Instead of recycling I was reconsidering why the Peninsula pats itself on the back for being so green with so many clear deficiencies in its practices.

As much as I appreciate the intent of our communities' long-term policy goals, I'm disappointed that often the means to achieving them are not available. It would be like Ford calling for a 30 percent increase in the fuel efficiency of its vehicles but only building trucks and SUVs. The desired result might be great but what's the point if there's not a policy in place to achieve it?

As a community, it's time to raise the expectations we have for what it means to be environmentally responsible. We, the customers of business, should encourage businesses to be environmentally conscious in their practices and not accept things like a waste-disposal area without a recycling option. If business resists, we should consider taking our business elsewhere.

This practice isn't anti-business, but rather pro-business for those who most deserve our support. Just like the movement to end smoking, the true success came not with city, county, state or federal regulation but rather when the social consciousness of what is acceptable behavior changed. In the same manner, I hope our expectations for business in regard to recycling also change.

Instead of regretting everything we haven't done with the environment in the past let's spend our time reevaluating everything we still can do.

Richard Hackmann

Embarcadero Road

Palo Alto

Small-plane dangers


The recent airport tragedy reminds us how dangerous small planes can be, but they are far more dangerous in another way: Virtually all small planes run on leaded gasoline. Yes, the same fuel that was outlawed for automotive use 35 years ago as being an unacceptable health hazard is sprayed into the air above our heads every day!

Airplane fuel contains two grams of tetraethyl lead per gallon. In everyday terms, for every 227 gallons of fuel consumed by just one small airplane (and small planes use a lot of fuel), one pound of lead is sprayed into the atmosphere as millions of microscopic particles that rain down on every man, woman, child, pet and vegetable garden in Palo Alto. Multiply that by the number of planes over our homes each day.

The EPA lists lead among the very worst of toxic environmental hazards, especially for growing children. Lead has been gone from house paint since the 1970s, and more recently, millions of toys made in China were recalled in 2007 because of lead contamination. The only acceptable amount of lead in the environment is zero, yet everyone in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto breathes in measurable amounts of lead daily.

Citizens have long complained about the noise and danger from the airport, and in the 1980s submitted a petition with 1,000+ signatures to the City Council to do something about it. The council of that time chose to vote on the side of the noise polluters. Will the current city council vote on the side of the lead polluters? Let's hope not.

L. Hinckley

Arastradero Road

Palo Alto

Plane-crash preparedness


Hitting the streets last Friday was the Palo Alto Weekly, just two days after a private airplane crash adjacent to San Francisco Bay and East Palo Alto. The editorial was entitled, "Tragedy is a reminder of our vulnerability."

What the newspaper does not address is that this "tragedy" could have been prevented and/or the consequences should have been mitigated or lessened!

Thank goodness for the "Herculean efforts" of Pacific Gas and Electric crews; this effort would not have been necessary if only the guys that planned, designed and constructed the power systems, had only chosen a safer way to implement the power grid.

Thank goodness for the teachers who continued instructing their students despite having no electricity. Not exactly a novel idea but an odd situation in 2010 (This is not Americana 1810).

Let's hear applause for the local Palo Alto residents, employees, co-eds and homeless "Internet refugees" who jammed Menlo Park and Mountain View coffee shops and restaurants with wi-fi connections.

And did you see the bedlam on urban streets with traffic control signs and light signals?

Were you involved in a business transaction whereby there was no known way to do it just because there were breakdowns in power, data and other telecommunication lines?

"Shallow Alto" is a nickname attributed to a great many of the people you will see along the street and in some stores and restaurants. Perhaps this attitude applies to the approach government entities, energy and telecommunication companies, local businesses, and others pay to the subject of emergency preparedness, response and disaster recovery?

I am deeply sorry that three good men died in the plane crash. I am puzzled why high-voltage power lines would be constructed so close to an airport. Or why a landing field is placed adjacent to obvious electrical hazards.

I honestly do not feel sorry for the responsible elected officials, government entities, big-business facility managers and the like because they failed to develop an effective emergency management program and maintain its implementation.

I am sorry for the "little guy." Take the small-business owner, high school student and household engineer who assumes that their government is capable and ready to properly react in the event of a man-made or natural emergency.

D. A. Dailey

Max's Scout Services, LLC


New police relations


Police Chief Dennis Burns deserves recognition for his continued efforts in mending the police/community relations.

However, we can do more. This is especially true in the case of the Police Advisory Committee, which is a good start, but falls short of addressing the community's desire and absolute right to participate in a solution.

I respect Chief Burns desire to provide a comfortable environment where members feel safe in providing feedback, but that is called a public relations focus group, not an advisory committee. Focus groups are used by organizations to formulate a marketing spin for restoring their public image.

We must stop treating police/community relations as a public-relations issue and face the well-documented history that shows that the first step must be a public acknowledgement that we are dealing with a police behavior issue.

Efforts to depict the issue as a "perception" problem will prevent any potential mending.

We must be forthright and direct. This would include forming a new open police advisory committee that would welcome all feedback from all members of the community on an ongoing basis. (The current focus group can continue separately but let's call it what it is.)

Here is the new motto: "Have a complaint? Let's talk about it in an open and direct way." This is the fastest way to offer accountability to the citizens. A new relationship can then be forged out of mutual trust and respect.

Timothy Gray

Park Boulevard

Palo Alto


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