Around Town | April 16, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 16, 2010

Around Town

CUTTING THE WASTE ... Palo Alto officials have finally stumbled upon the best way to trim waste at City Hall — take away workers' trash cans. On March 29, the city introduced its three-sort recycling system, which involves separate containers for recyclables, compostables and plain old trash, to City Hall. Under the new system, which has also been adopted at local fire stations, Cubberley Community Center and the Regional Water Quality Control Plant, janitors collect only recyclable goods from individual work stations. Employees have to carry the other stuff to "centralized collection points," according to a new staff report by Rene Eyerly, the city's solid-waste manager. So far, the results seem promising. "After just two weeks, garbage services at City Hall have been reduced by 50 percent and recyclables collection has increased from two to three times per week," Eyerly reported. Staff plans to introduce this "zero-waste sort system" to the remaining city facilities over the next few months.

MEDICINE AND THE MUSE ... "Fiction is the great lie that tells the truth," said Northern California writer Dorothy Allison.  Allison's observation was cited by Stanford University medical student and novelist Blake Charlton at a recent gathering of Medicine and the Muse, a forum for medical students, faculty and staff to share their art.  Following a performance of a Tchaikovsky string quartet movement by medical students Lisa Qian, Luz Silverio, Anna Lee and Chris Nguyen, doctors, lab managers and students shared poetry, humor and other creative projects probing the intersection of medicine and art. Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell addressed the packed auditorium with his musings on serendipity in medical research. A physician's first obligation must always be to the privacy of the patient, Charlton said, but fiction "allows us to tell the truth about healing, about patients and physicians — about the beauty of the human body and the horror of disease."

THE NEW WATCHDOG ... San Jose's new police auditor might look familiar to civically engaged Palo Altans. LaDoris Cordell, who served on the Palo Alto City Council between 2004 and 2008, was appointed this week to serve as the leading watchdog over the San Jose Police Department. Cordell, a former judge who recently retired from her position as vice provost and special counselor at Stanford University, will begin her new job in late May. "From my years as a state court judge and as a city councilmember, I have worked with all sides in the justice system from law enforcement to victims and their families to community organizations," Cordell said in a statement. "My goal is to bring that experience to this new role and work collaboratively with all the stakeholders."

HIGH-SPEED HUMOR ... "I'll wager that most people in the room are supporting our objectives," Rod Diridon said at the beginning of last week's meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority in San Jose. The audience laughed and jeered (though no one took him up on the wager), prompting Diridon to remind everyone not to talk when other people are talking. Diridon, a former Santa Clara County supervisor who now serves on the authority's board of directors, was asked by board Chair Curt Pringle to make a few welcoming remarks to his hometown audience. After the shaky opening, Pringle reminded Diridon, "This is supposed to be a positive message." The $42.6 billion rail project has encountered significant grief on the Peninsula over the past two years so one might have expected the board to engage in some damage control during its rare Bay Area appearance. Not so. Pringle, the mayor of Anaheim, poured more salt on the local wounds by conjuring up the possibility of a "high-speed World Series" between San Francisco and one of the Southern California teams. "If it ever got to a World Series, we know how that worked out last time," Pringle said, alluding to the Anaheim Angel's victory over the San Francisco Giants in 2002. "I'm doing my best to build a close bond in Northern California," Pringle added with a grin. "Chairing high-speed rail and trying to rub in a World Series championship at the same time."


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