MAKING JULES VERNE PROUD ... Rafael de Mestre, a Spanish-born entrepeneur and Tesla Roadster owner, pulled into Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto Monday morning, partway through what might be called an extended road trip. De Mestre is pursuing the Guinness Book of World Records title of "fastest around the world in an electric vehicle." In a nod to literary tradition, his goal is 80 days. Moving from charge station to charge station, he hopes to catch two Frenchmen who set out to take the title two months ago. The website race.com may be used to track the race — or just to find out how to make it through Ukraine and Kazakhstan in an electric vehicle.
EASING TENSION ... Palo Alto's effort to revise its massage ordinance has been anything but relaxing, with critics complaining about proposals to require massage therapists to keep customer logs and to undergo more stringent training. The proposed ordinance has gone through a series of iterations in recent months, with one controversial provision after another quietly falling by the wayside. In April, the City Council's Policy and Services Committee asked the Police Department to drop the logbook requirement and to consider less rigid requirements for reflexologists — practitioners who focus on tension points on clients' hands and feet and who typically don't require clients to disrobe. The newest proposal to revise the massage ordinance does just that. It also exempts reflexologists (as well as chiropractors, nurses and barbers) altogether, provided they're "engaged in the performance of the duties of their respective professions." The council committee will consider the latest proposal Tuesday night.
THEY YEARN FOR YARN ... The prominent Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto will be occupied Wednesday morning, though it won't be by grassroots protesters or Wall Street critics. Rather, it will feature members of Deborah's Palm Knitting Group and other needle-and-yarn enthusiasts. The knitters will be celebrating "Knitting in Public Day" at the University Avenue plaza between 10 a.m. and noon Wednesday.
THE COMPLAINTS DEPARTMENT ... City workers in Palo Alto have no shortage of options for reporting fraud, waste and abuse, including department heads, the Human Resources Department and the Office of the City Auditor. Next Tuesday, a City Council committee will discuss the newest tool for filing complaints: an anonymous hotline. Under the current proposal, the 24/7/365 hotline would be overseen by a vendor who would collect the complaints and issue incident reports. A newly formed "Hotline Review Committee," consisting of City Manager James Keene, City Auditor Jim Pelletier and City Attorney Molly Stump would meet regularly to consider these reports and, if needed, commission investigations (if complaints involve a committee member, that person would not be able to participate in the discussion). But if someone wants to use the hotline to make an anonymous complaint against a member of the City Council, they're out of luck. Keene, Pelletier and Stump are all council-appointed officers. As a result, the hotline "will not accept incidents involving members of the council." "Employees reporting these types of complaints will be referred to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the District Attorney's Office, or other appropriate outside agency, depending upon the nature of the complaint," the city's proposed policy for the new hotline states.
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