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City Council Changing the World

Original post made by BeHumble, Professorville, on Feb 21, 2007

While channel surfing last night, I caught the City Council discussing the need to increase their allowance for travel by a few thousand dollars (full disclosure, I have never seen the City Council in action before). I will not debate the merits of this. I understand having run businesses that budgets are a useful starting point and reality often necessitates mid-course corrections. There was active discussion among board members to justify this added expense. One city council member (I am sorry that I don't recall who) noted that Palo Alto needs to participate in state, regional and national meetings because of how highly respected Palo Alto city government is. I am paraphrasing the comments here but the gist was, "People want to speak to us to find out how Palo Alto does things so we have the chance to have an impact on a national level." As the self-congratulations and self-important comments continued, I suddenly had visions of Palo Alto as that "shining city on the hill" that Wintrop envisioned for the New World. Then reality set in. The City Council has certainly had its issues in recent years (the civility debate which did become a national embarrassment, frustrations with the Palo Alto process, loss of retail revenues, etc.) I have always felt that we can certainly learn from other city's leaders as much (and perhaps more) than they can learn from us. I think a little more humility and listening might be useful to ensure that our leaders can meet the challenges in the year ahead.

Comments (4)

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 21, 2007 at 12:56 pm

I am glad to see that the City Council are addressing the major issues facing our city. Of course our city council members can spend hours on "self-congratulations and self-important comments". I am sure they see themselves as shining examples of how city government should be run.
i find it hard to believe that any other city would want to do things the way Palo Alto does.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2007 at 1:06 pm

I take it that my suggestion, that they cancel all travel and attend only conferences that are teleconferences got short, or no shrift. We had a failed leader of the Utility department whose partial alabi was that he spent half his time traveling on utility business. If we send any more people out, I want them equipped with helmet cam to run whenever they are in public, the contents to be made a public record when they return.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm

I suppose City Council Members do discuss things other than what has been stated above plus the need to change the name of Oregon Expressway or name something in Palo Alto after someone as a sign of honoring them. When are they going to get down to something useful like building up our retail base, or sorting out problems with drains, sewers, etc? These are the real issues of our city and only when it seems that these are being dealt with will our community feel that we have a City Council honoring those who elected them into this elevated "self-congratulatory and self-important" position.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Read Kipling's "Sons of Martha" to better understand the Council.

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