I think voters should support measures G and H as an investment in workforce education for our local communities.
Over the past 10 plus years, I've closely observed the Foothill-De Anza district and have been impressed by its conscientious management of its physical and financial resources and the educational opportunities its colleges offer local students. I have served as a business organization representative on the district's independent Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee and more recently as a citizen member of the governing board's Audit & Finance Committee. In these capacities, I have regularly reviewed detailed reports about the district's budget and use of bond funds.
Foothill-De Anza has done an excellent job managing its bond money. Through strategically timed refinancing and with a stellar credit rating, the district has reduced costs for property owners.
I have worked as a financial adviser, corporate executive and business founder, and I know what good management and financial practices look like. I can advise with confidence that measures G and H are a sound investment.
Greer Road, Palo Alto
An education for all
I was heartened to read the Weekly's Feb. 21 editorial "Yes on community college measures G, H." As the editors recognize, keeping public higher education affordable is an investment, not an expense. The point is not whether we choose to avail ourselves of this resource, but that the resource is available and is beneficial to the community and to students alike. Our nurses, dental hygienists, auto technicians and paramedics receive their education from Foothill and De Anza colleges and go on to become tax-paying members of the community. Plenty of citizens from local high-tech and other industries also teach in our colleges because they want to give something back to their communities.
And I might point out that despite some readers' negative comments about students who live outside of the district "using" these resources, plenty of people from the community also make use of Foothill-De Anza (FHDA). The district has consistently been the No. 1 choice of graduating seniors from Palo Alto High School since at least 2016, enrolling more students than any of the UCs or CSUs.
Whether it's for transferring to a four-year school, vocational training or lifelong learning, people recognize a good educational value when they see one. And this is the essence of public education — that the doors are open for all, not just a select few.
I also commend the Weekly's editorial for underlining the fact that the FHDA district has a proven track record of being a good steward with public funding. According to investment firm Morgan Stanley, the district has saved taxpayers almost $70 million by refinancing previous bonds at lower rates. Let the district's critics show specific examples of financial mismanagement instead of fear mongering about the current bond/parcel being a "blank check."
Mountain Meadow Road, Redwood City
Remove Castilleja's proposed garage
As we know, Castilleja School submitted plans for an extensive expansion in student enrollment and facility space, including an underground garage, which is not permitted in single-family residence district zones.
But the city has not completed its review or responded to comments related to Castilleja's initial Draft Environmental Impact Report, as legally required. Castilleja recently submitted minor changes to its original expansion plans and appears to be starting a new PR campaign stressing how accommodating Castilleja is to its neighbors' concerns. Because the school will not demolish the houses at 1235 and 1263 Emerson St., the neighbors and those opposed to the expansion plans are encouraged to "be reasonable," "negotiate," "be good neighbors" and say, "OK, let's build." Sorry, I can't.
Castilleja's original plans were so unreasonable and harmful to the neighborhood; its impact report was so incomplete and shoddy; and its claim to be the only institution able to educate girls for future leadership roles was so offensive. I cannot jump on the Castilleja bandwagon.
Rather, the parking garage is best removed from Castilleja's expansion plans. Student enrollment is best returned to the number allowed by the conditional-use permit (after 15 years of non-compliance) and shuttle buses are best hired to transport students from out of town locations. These will solve the need for a garage and eliminate resulting traffic concerns.
My daughter received an excellent education during her six years at Castilleja. However, Castilleja's current expansion plans are unreasonable and are not compatible with its campus size. The school needs to return to the drawing board.
Rita C. Vrhel
Channing Avenue, Palo Alto
A disingenuous point
Full disclosure: I support Josh Becker, though purely as a friend and not as a campaign staff member.
But your editorial supporting Mike Brownrigg, who I think is a decent candidate, makes a rather disingenuous point. You question Becker for receiving a $500,000 donation from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, while mentioning that Brownrigg only has an independent expenditure campaign funded by his mother with $460,000.
Now, it's great that his mom has that kind of resources and cares so much about her son, but realistically that money is the difference between advertising with mailers and a radio/television campaign. So is the Weekly advocating that only multimillionaires and the children of multimillionaires should be able to run for office?
To my mind, a rich friend and a rich mother aren't that different. And should voters elect Josh Becker to state Senate, I have no worries that he won't be a strong independent voice for the Peninsula.
Bryant, Palo Alto
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