SHAKING THINGS UP ... With Palo Alto in the midst of rethinking its longstanding system of advisory commissions, several City Council members backed away this week from some of most dramatic proposals. These include the idea of splitting apart the Planning and Transportation Commission (an idea that was summarily rejected) and creating two new panels — a Sustainability Commission and a Senior Commission — to advise the council. The ideas came out of a memo by Councilwoman Alison Cormack and Vice Mayor Tom DuBois, an ad hoc committee leading the effort. While the council didn't completely rule out the new panels, several members argued that these would be unnecessary. "We have a hell of a lot of senior input here. ... I say that with utmost respect to the seniors in the community, who contribute so much. I just had some hesitation when I saw that," Mayor Adrian Fine said of the proposed Senior Commission during the Feb. 24 discussion. Councilwoman Lydia Kou also noted that many of the issues pertaining to seniors are already handled by the Human Relations Commission. Councilwoman Liz Kniss saw things differently and suggested that given the growing population of seniors throughout the county, a Senior Commission might add some value. "The needs of seniors, the needs for transportation, the needs for nutrition — it's really remarkable," Kniss said. A Sustainability Commission also proved to be a tough sell. Councilman Eric Filseth noted that the city has other panels and departments — particularly in the Utilities Department (and the Utilities Advisory Commission) — dealing with the subject. The council directed the ad hoc committee to scope out what other cities are doing on these two fields, as well as to explore creating a single interviewing period for commission candidates and disbanding the Library Advisory Commission, a direction in line with the ad hoc committee's recommendation and that has been proposed by several members of the commission itself.
TIMELY ADVICE ... Three Gunn High School students have won $1,500 for their video that explains "Why Attendance Matters," a contest run by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Scott Lee, Deven Pawar and Alex Li's two-minute submission, titled "The Right Path," examines what would lead a high schooler away from class and the consequences they face. About 10% of students, or 25,000, in Santa Clara County are chronically absent, according to the office, which announced the winners on Wednesday. The group's clip begins with a boy leaving a Gunn classroom and returning home where he plays his favorite video game. He falls asleep and wakes up in a dream where he's sleeping on the street on top of newspapers. The teen gets up and walks downtown, where he hears people laughing and teasing him. "I think I remember him from high school, he kept skipping all the classes," a passerby says. The boy runs into another person who appears to be homeless and gives him this message: "I've been in the same situation as you. I was a bad student and look where I am now. Go back to school kid, it's the right path." The teen then wakes up, shaken by what the future could hold if he continues skipping class, and returns to school. Watch the video at bit.ly/3a8iyXi.
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