Letters | October 19, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - October 19, 2012


Buena Vista diversity


I grew up in Barron Park, went to Barron Park School, Terman and Cubberley (which gives you some idea of how old I am). My parents lived here until they passed away, and though I lived other places, I have always sighed a great sigh of relief and contentment as I drove into Palo Alto from wherever I lived, knowing and feeling I was at home.

One of the qualities I have always loved about our neighborhood is the diversity. Even as the McMansions started popping up, there remained a sense of inclusion, of acceptance, of community and social responsibility with which I grew up here in Palo Alto

The Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, it seems to me, has always been part of our neighborhood, a rich and vibrant community within our community. The children there go to school with our children. My grandson is engaged to a lovely girl that he went to Gunn with, who lives there. These are families, honest, hard-working people with wonderful values, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and to give their kids the opportunities so many of us take for granted.

To my knowledge, there is no equivalent place in our community for these families to move, and I think it would be detrimental to our community to lose this important part of what makes Barron Park a special place to live and grow up.

Fran Kitt

Shauna Lane

Palo Alto

Bikes on the loose


This morning I was nearly knocked over by a speeding cyclist riding on the sidewalk on Homer Avenue from Alma as he headed up to Whole Foods. He was a fit, 20ish guy on an expensive bike. I assume he speeds in a Bimmer when he isn't busy terrorizing pedestrians. I'm a fit, oldish cyclist who bikes in the streets, the law in Palo Alto, when I'm not walking. Whole Foods is a major pedestrian area, and many of its patrons are not really able to hop out of the way of bikers who seem to feel they're too important to obey the rules.

It's great that more and more people are using bikes for transport, but this is the seventh time in two days that I've been sideswiped, startled or intimidated by people riding on the downtown sidewalks of Palo Alto in mid-morning. Two months ago I was forced off University Avenue at High Street and into a tree well, twisting my ankle, by a young man hell-bent toward Palm Drive.

Is the Palo Alto Police Department waiting until there's a major accident before it starts enforcing the law?

Janice Berman

Waverley Street

Palo Alto

Reschedule Menlo meeting


What is quite possibly the most important City Council meeting in Menlo Park's history is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. There are three problems with this. First, our City Council meetings are regularly scheduled on Tuesdays, and that is what people expect. Therefore many people may miss this important meeting. Second, it just so happens to be scheduled exactly on the day and time of the third and final presidential debate, which most people will probably want to watch, especially during this all-important election year. Third, having a crucial meeting on a matter of citywide concern at 6 p.m. on any day, virtually excludes huge segments of our population, who are either just getting off work, or who need to be home making dinner for their children and families.

Our City Council meetings regularly start at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Could it be that the city of Menlo Park wants to discourage residents from attending this vitally important meeting involving high-density zoning in numerous locations all over our city? It sure looks like it. And to further complicate matters, the city is holding its regular Tuesday 7 p.m. meeting the following day — but not allowing anyone who managed, against all odds, to attend the Monday night meeting and make a public comment, to speak out at the Tuesday night meeting.

So we're likely to have an under-attended meeting on Monday, followed by a largely silenced audience on Tuesday. Concerned residents should email or phone the city and insist on making Tuesday, Oct. 23, the initial meeting on this topic, and adding Wednesday, Oct. 24 as an overflow meeting to give all residents the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Cherie Zaslawsky

Oak Lane

Menlo Park

School board endorsements


I agree with your endorsement of Melissa Baten Caswell and Heidi Emberling for School Board, but believe you are wrong to endorse Ken Dauber over Camille Townsend.

Your recommendation acknowledged that the "criticism and aggressive style (of the group We Can Do Better, which Dauber represents) has made some uncomfortable and put the board and superintendent on the defensive," but argued that those concerns are overridden by the value of the group's new ideas.

I beg to differ. The district is thriving under its current leadership, and a key factor has been their collegiality. Some of Dauber's ideas may be good, but his conduct over the past year makes it highly doubtful that cooperation among board members would be maintained if he replaced Townsend. While he has come across as more moderate in candidate forums, his past conduct is probably a better predictor of what he would do if elected.

Camille Townsend's consistently positive relationship with her colleagues has been an important factor in the district's success. I urge your readers to cast their vote for her as well as Caswell and Emberling.

Walter Hays

Parkside Drive

Palo Alto


Posted by Maria, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Re: Buena Vista diversity

Thanks for your letter, Fran Kitt! Unfortunately we have a greedy landlord.

Posted by Molly Hale, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I am not speechless, but I am surprised at the Editors "No" on Prop 37. My first thought was "follow the money" as this recommendation and reasoning is simply wrong. An industry proud of their product Labels It as a selling point... organic, fair-trade, grass fed, free-range, natural. The resistance of the industry regarding proper labeling is suspect at best and we, here in California, have the power through the voting booth to demand knowing what foods we are buying and ingesting. Neither our Congress nor our FDA, which is run by a former Monsanto executive, is going to do anything about this. Californians have always led the way in making course corrections for the environment, for food sourcing, for recycling, etcetera.
We are here, now, voting YES on Prop 37 because it is the honorable action to take for our country.

Posted by Steve Tadelis, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Dear Editor,

I wish to commend your endorsement of Ken Dauber and Melissa Baten Caswell for the PAUSD board, and for not endorsing Camille Townsend for a third term (I have not met or heard Heidi Emberling.) Until recently, I was one of the silent majority of parents who "outsourced" any decision making to the board and the PAUSD, and was content knowing that my children go to some of the best schools in California. Recently, however, thanks to We Can Do Better Palo Alto, I learned about the stark differences in the advising models between Gunn (where I have a child) and Paly. As someone who served as a resident fellow at Stanford some years ago (the "adult" in an undergrad dorm), I recognize the importance of safety nets and a strong advising system. I have also tried to educate myself more on the topic, and it seems clear to me that the bulk of research suggests that Paly's system is indeed the better of the two. What I found more disturbing is that the survey commissioned by PAUSD had in its data sufficient evidence o this effect, but the analysis done was below par, and it was Ken Dauber's careful and thoughtful quantitative analysis that shed much light on the pronounced differences between the systems. I then chose to attend three PAUSD board meetings, expressing my opinions on the matter in two of them, and I was underwhelmed by the leadership of Camille Townsend. I am sure that Mr. Walter Hayes, whose Letter to the Editor commended her collegiality, believes that this trait is key to success. I, however, would like a board that addresses the real problems and is able to both question the status quo and have the assets needed to offer positive change where needed. I believe that proven critical thinking and analytical skills, which help shed light on the issues that need improvement, are what is really needed at this point. Ken Dauber possesses these skills (and from my attendance at the board meetings I believe that Melissa Baten Caswell does too.) Also, from my own interactions with Ken Dauber, I can only attest to his respectful attitude and engaging demeanor. Mr. Hayes suggested doubted whether "cooperation among board members would be maintained if he replaced Townsend." I have no doubt that cooperation would not only be maintained, but that we would have a board that would be able to offer guidance and insights that have been lacking in recent years.

Steve Tadelis, Greater Miranda, Palo Alto

Posted by Pp, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Thank you Walter for your thoughtful letter.
The three strongest candidates have shown they can represent the students, parents and teachers whilst moving the district forward. They have engaged with the community to make this one of the best school districts in California. Their endless support and volunteering in schools over the last decade have shown their commitment and understanding of the problems we face.
Hopefully all will recognize the validity of your analysis and vote accordingly.