Around Town | January 7, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 7, 2022

Around Town

FOND FAREWELL ... In his final meeting as Palo Alto's mayor, Tom DuBois received a proper send-off from his colleagues, who approved on Jan. 3 a resolution of appreciation and gratitude for leading the city during a most unusual year. The resolution acknowledges the many projects that DuBois has championed for years and that took major steps toward becoming reality in 2021, including the restoration of the Roth Building, construction of the new public safety building, approval of an 88-apartment "transitional housing" project near the Baylands and the creation of a new "sibling city" program to foster dialogue between red and blue states. But in a nod to the craziness of 2021, it also calls out DuBois for being the first mayor in the city's 127-year history to give the State of the City address virtually and to be "the first to do so while wearing shorts." DuBois concluded his term by thanking his family, his friends, his council colleagues and city staff for all the support he had received over the past year. "It's really been an honor to serve as mayor this last year. It really is an enormous privilege to serve this community," DuBois said. "It's an amazing, highly educated, very involved community. That doesn't make it easy, but it certainly keeps it interesting."

POPULARITY CONTEST ... Palo Alto's first City Council meeting of the year is typically a festive and ceremonial affair, a time for council members to choose their new mayor and vice mayor, thank the outgoing mayor and treat themselves to treats in the City Hall lobby. But for council member Alison Cormack, this year's gathering was a perennial disappointment. Despite garnering the most votes in the 2018 council race, Cormack has been passed over for the vice mayor and mayor positions since that election. At the start of 2020, when she and Tom DuBois each received three votes for vice mayor (Greg Tanaka voted for no one, creating the deadlock), she stepped aside to allow DuBois to take the position, which typically serves as a stepping stone to becoming mayor the following year. The 2020 election further cemented a majority for the council's slow-growth "residentialist" camp. Now in the political minority, Cormack watched the council choose Pat Burt over her to serve as vice mayor in 2021. And on Jan. 3, her colleagues voted to make Burt mayor despite Cormack's argument that the position should go to Lydia Kou, in recognition of both Kou's many years of community service and of the city's growing Asian American population. After the vote, Cormack suggested that the city follow the example of neighboring cities like Mountain View and Menlo Park, where mayor and vice mayor get selected based on seniority rather than politics. "Our neighbors seem to manage this with a lot less drama, and it's more straightforward," she said. Cormack said she hopes the council will reconsider its process for electing mayor and vice mayor during its annual retreat. Liz Kniss, a former three-time mayor, also said she supports selecting mayors and vice mayors on a rotating basis. "It's been mentioned many times in the past. Maybe it's the year it will actually happen."

TIMELY TEST RESULT ... California Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, has tested positive for COVID-19, he said Wednesday in a statement on Twitter. Becker, 52, received a positive test result prior to a speaking engagement. "Thankfully, I am feeling fine and am grateful to be vaccinated and to have received my booster shot. I will be quarantining at home and look forward to returning to work as soon as possible," he said. Becker also encouraged people to get vaccinated and boosted. "If you have not received your vaccine or booster, I strongly encourage you to do so. You can find information and schedule an appointment here:," he said. He also directed people to, a state website with information about where to get tested for COVID-19. Becker didn't specify which variant he contracted, but federal health officials on Wednesday said that 95% of cases throughout the country are now caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant. Only about 5% of cases are now found to be the previously ubiquitous delta variant.


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2022 at 7:10 pm

felix is a registered user.

It is hard to take 3-times elected ex-Mayor Liz Kniss seriously, having never proposed such a thing till she was off the Council and not subject to it. She’s just playing politics.

Well done Tom DuBois - you were a fine Mayor. Kept the good ship Palo Alto on a steady course, and I appreciated your civility - a refreshing change from your predecessor.

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 10, 2022 at 10:18 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

Tom, Thank you for your thoughtful leadership and service to the community!

Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 10, 2022 at 10:29 am

rita vrhel is a registered user.

Folks: Allison is in the minority on the City Council. Why should she be elected anything when she is in the minority view? it does not, and should not, work that way.

And when will the papers stop quoting Liz Kniss? She had no problem when her pro-growth majority elected their folks, including her, to be Vice Mayor and then Mayor. But i guess she wants the election process changed so her protege can be elected?

I was shocked when Allison wanted Lydia elected as she was an "Asian woman". How insulting! And the press continues the insult. Sounds like a bad definition of affirmative action; can't make it on your own, only on your race. Please stop a second and look at Lydia's solid accomplishments and what she has done for our community.

I have never heard anyone nominated because they were a "white male"! Really was a dis on Lydia. Glad no one listen to the "sour grapes" and elected Lydia Vice- Mayor because she was the most qualified.

Tom did a great job moving several projects forward which were blocked by the pro-growth majority. A good and very decent man. Thank you Tom.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 10, 2022 at 10:35 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Ms "No traffic problems in Palo Alto" Kniss is so ridiculously transparent in pushing to reform how mayors are elected and how candidates are backed after her unfortunate decades of "service" where she never met an office development proposal she didn't like, where she had no problems advocating for the city manager's high salary even though he was the ONLY candidate she allowed to be interviewed.

Here choice of acolytes for her "Liz Kids" is unfortunate. Look at Fine's rudeness and insults to the entire community. Look at Cormack's consistent waste of taxpayer money and consistent support of big developers / landlords.

Why she thinks Cormack deserves a chance when she's so pathetically uninformed she can't even define the "medical/retail" for Town & Country she kept pushing with laughable claims that patients hurting from medical procedures will go shopping and ignoring the lost sales tax revenues to the city is so typical.

Glad we've got public-service oriented officials like Tom and Lydia.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2022 at 10:48 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

I've always thought I'd like the mayor to be elected as a separate seat lasting four years for continuity. That said, I think Pat Burt was the better choice for mayor this year. He has much more experience and historical knowledge --which City Hall badly needs right now given the staff turnover and shortages we have. (CM Burt has 19 years on PTC and City Council, I think, compared to CM Cormack's 3 years) He has a willingness to listen to points of view that differ from his own and can be persuaded by facts. He knows how to bring people together to find points of consensus-- which is absolutely necessary to get things done. In all of these ways, he was the best choice.

Thank you, former Mayor DuBois and Mayor Burt and City Council Members for your service. The transition followed established process. CM Burt has far more experience than CM Cormack. The person with the most seniority did, in fact, become mayor.

Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 10, 2022 at 1:03 pm

Carol Scott is a registered user.

Tom DuBois did a wonderful job as mayor. He was not afraid to get disagreeing parties together to discuss solutions that would work for both sides, he listened to community members with respect, and he provided a competent and consistent voice for fair and rational City policies. I am grateful for his service.

Pat Burt perhaps was the obvious choice for mayor, and it is typical to elect the vice-mayor to serve as mayor the following year. But I am particularly happy that the Council recognized the incredible work that Lydia Kou has done for Palo Alto. She has worked tirelessly to make Palo Alto a better place to live and to hold City staff accountable to residents' as well as business' concerns.

Posted by PaloAltoVoter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 10, 2022 at 7:43 pm

PaloAltoVoter is a registered user.

Shouldn't the subtitle been "Greg Tanaka and Alison Cormack passed over again"? Greg has been on Council much longer than Alison.

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