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Palo Alto wins 'Voice of the People' award

Original post made on Nov 15, 2007

The City of Palo Alto has received a "Voice of the People" award for having city services that are highly rated by its residents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 15, 2007, 11:05 AM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Who would have thought it?

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Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2007 at 1:43 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Senior Blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Who was surveyed?
I would like to hear from anyone who was surveyed.

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Posted by Survey says
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 15, 2007 at 2:07 pm

The following people were surveyed:

Frank Benest
Emily Harrison
Bern Beecham
Yoriko Kishimoto
Dena Mossar
Larry Klein
john Barton
laDoris Cordell
Judy Kleinberg
Jack Morton
Peter Drekmeier
Lanie Wheeler
Jim Birch

All were asked to wear a pair of rose-colored glasses while taking part in the survey

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Posted by Anna
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 15, 2007 at 2:18 pm

According to the article, this award was given by the International City/County Manager Association (ICMA).

Guess who's on the board of the ICMA? Yep...none other than our own Frank Benest. Web Link

Not that this has anything to do with award going to Palo Alto, of course.

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Posted by Native Girl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Hi Fireman,

I don't want to extinguish your passion for writing, because I think most of us enjoy hearing how it was from your perspective on the inside, but I would strongly agree with the above results.

From my direct experience (as a citizen) in dealing with all of the above, I would like to give the Fire Dept. EMT, and PASCO 100%!

The emergency services, fire response, and investigation department have provided my friends and myself with top notch service.

My parents have used PASCO for years, and the Fire Dept. and EMT's were always there for my folks and all our elderly friends.

Walgreens Fire - Solved!
Suspicious house fires - Investigated!
Questions and customer service - 100% Top Rated!

I would even like to go as far as to name names of some of the top guys in the Fire dept, but I would not want you to explode.

I would like to add that our Police Department be included - 100% Satisfaction

And those Utility Line Men are THE BEST! They are heros too - 100%

The Police and the Utility Department should have been included.

I think that I will send them a personal thank you.

We pay a lot for our services, but we are getting great service.

I know that you will come back with a bunch of financial details.
We know that fire trucks cost a lot. We've heard it from you.

The misunderstanding about the flag being lowered was made public and an apology was made and accepted. Please accept it. It probably won't happen again.

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Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Native Girl:

Have I ever said that the Firefighters are bad as a whole. Do not think so. I so,I was not clear.. We tried and did a good jod. Even with all the problems we had with the Leaders. We could have done a better job.. Should people have too suffer while doing there jobs. The people leading the Fire Department are more of a Hazdard to the Firefighters then doing the job.. The cost of the Fire Engines is not the point. The point is we paid approx $$$750,000$$$ each for Fire Engines that should have cost $$$$$400,000$$$ There were built for a program that the City does not have.. It is hard to know the cost because everything is covered up.. Did you miss the posting on the Fire Engines and how dangorious they are. Well the leader said we screwed up have to cover up then stuffed them down are throats. Union pres rolled over. The best medical service you have are not the EMT's..It would be the Paramedics a much higher level of service. Remember I was One for 12 years. A firefighter for 20. I care a great deal about some of the people I worked with. That is one reason I am doing what I am. Remember I was told my problem was that I cared too much,about my co worker, the Citizens and the Fire Service.. Read a couple of the posts above do you think they agree with you.
Police very hard job. Could not pay me enough to do it. Like Lynn Johnsons stand on the Flag.funneral issue." I just send them" Fire Chief has to wait to get told what to do. No comment..

Franks flag issue misunderstanding..I think not ,Lie..

Are you talking about the utility out golfing on the City's Overtime money. Or the hard working one who does his job does it well and reads about himself being the problem of why Frank can't keep his promisses or this City from falling apart and a older women falls to her death.

I have always said... Do not blame the Employee's we are trying to do are job.. And yes most do a very good job.. Its the other snakes that you must watch....
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Native Girl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Hi Fireman,

I know that you are still smoldering. But...maybe the City could/did sell those engines to another city or donate them, and get a tax write off? I have no idea what I am talking about.

Calendar? You did a calendar? I think the Kirkland, WA fire department made a lot of money from theirs, and they had fun too. A lot of the guys had to get permission from their wives first. LOL.

Regarding sidewalks, I am going to report a major sidewalk lift/crack I saw down our street. Many of our elderly neighbors like walking. I will notify the City tomorrow. They have always been quick to send out people to fix things once they are notified. There are miles of paved streets here, I think that it is a good idea that residents report these. The logistics of hiring people to walk the streets to detect these would be difficult for the City to do.

I heard of someone who recently slipped on an acorn and injured his back. It was an accident.

You know that we are billed for the paramedics/EMS services.
I never hesitated a bit when I wrote the check out to the City for my mom 11 years ago.

As for Mr. Benest. I don't know him, but how about we conclude that he was may not have been aware of the proper protocol, and thus incorrect remarks were made. I made a mistake in my post. I meant to say "the misunderstanding of the flag not being lowered".

Your portion was removed where I was going to ask a question. It may not be allowed if the investigation is still pending.

BTW - I am not a City employee. I just pay a ton of property taxes.

It appears from the ICMA that Mr. Benest has done quite a bit a service. All of the members appear to be high level City officials. Mr. Benest has done some laudable work with this group.
This is not to be used as an accelerant, to start you up again, but it will . . .

Web Link

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Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Native Girl: Want to buy some land East of 101..About 1 mile or so.. Give you a great deal??/.. You do not pay a bill for EMT service.. Now the BLS service that was Fraud..

We lost money on the Calenders and the money to start this up came from the union without a vote..If you remember we tried to sell 2 year old calender. Then gave them away.. Some people will do anything to get there picture taken.

Ask Frank why it has been 5 years to settle a case??? Funny how I think City's should follow the Law? Do not think this City's track record is very good when it comes to that.. Keep score.. If they will let you.. Wins and loses?

An acorn is not infrastructure...

If you pay so much property tax as I know you do, you should get your moneys worth/ No?

What does the IMCA know, Where in Palo Alto do they live. What Department in the City do they work for?

Keep the glasses on..They look good on you..

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Posted by Where's Walter?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I guess satisfaction with the City Web site wasn't on the list of questions. Hate to thread-jack, but I just noticed that the City of Mountain View uses the same content management system (CMS) as Palo Alto does now (Civica). However, Mountain View uses Google to do the searching. The bottom of their results page shows: "Powered by Google". Is that so bad? That was the reason given by Palo Alto staff for not using Google. A company that is expanding into and now owns land in Palo Alto.

Ever notice that there are only HP desktop computers at City Hall? HP is our native company with many Council ties. Wonder if that contract is competitive? Anyway, my point is that the simple text-based Google add on the bottom of the search results is a very small price to pay for EFFECTIVE searches. Palo Alto's site is currently preventing web crawlers via its ROBOTS.TXT file. won't show historic City web pages because of this. So much for open government....

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Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2007 at 9:48 am

Where's Walter.
Had this same type question many years ago. Had a person in the back of the Paramedic Ambulance. She worked for HP.While talking with her I informed her "we just got computers at the Fire Station". As we talked she asked "What model" HP 3000. She looked at me and asked" What type of work do you do on the computer" Fire and Medical reports. A blank look came across her face. "What" I said? The 3000 is a good computer but,very hard for people without strong computer skills to use. If you are only doing reports and things like that why have such an expensive and hard to operate computer system. I would think you would have a work station and not a main frame.

Point the City buys equipment that is not right for the job. They buy it because they cut a deal with someone. Then the poor Employees have to try and work with something that is not right for the job. I do not know if the deal is cut for cost or to make someone happy and get a kickback/perk.

The computer system for this City is so terrible. I know very little about computers and I can figure that out. Again take a look at the Emails I have on how poor the system is.
We could not even get useable data out for Fire information. Spend all this money on a computer system and have people going through hard copies and writting notes down on paper. Been there done that. Could not beleive that a City like Palo Alto had a computer system that was so terrible and did not work much of the time. Look at a Santa Clara Fire Engines and so many other city's.Look at a police car. Computer.. Look in a Palo Alto Fire Engine. Old binder with pages falling out and missing. Now thats Service.Sunpro joke!

I do not think it is the equipment. HP has to be and I think is a great company. The Company that built the Paramedic Transport Engines builds nice stuff. It is the City of Palo Alto that screws it all up. Leaders? Look at the Web-site has this company done this type of work before. If so and the product was poor. Why use them? If so and the product was good. Why is the CPA version so bad?

Again no problem with Stanford,however, if it said Powered by Stanford or Frank that might be OK?

When will you make a change. Accountability... Lets start with Frank?

Where is Walter,you ok? Just can't stand anymore? Been there..

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Posted by TK
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 16, 2007 at 12:30 pm

This award story is a spoof. There's no way the city won such an award. The Weekly is stealing stuff from the Onion!

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2007 at 12:57 pm

We did receive a survey to our home sometime during the summer. We first got a pc telling us a survey would be coming in about a week, then came the survey, then a week later, we received another pc asking us to do the survey, although it had already been returned straight away.

Interestingly, the survey asked for the adult who had last had a birthday to respond to the survey which in our case was my husband. He answered satisfactory to practically all the questions because he never deals with the city, it is me who has to sign up for classes or camps for the kids, run errands to city hall, the planning office and get out library books for both of us, etc. I am the one who looks at the website to find the right number to call for someone. So, yes, my husband is satisfied with the service he gets because I am the one who gives him the service (no jokes please) that he finds satisfactory. He is never waiting in line, on hold on the phone, or dealing with the rec. dept to get two kids into the same camp or whatever.

Interesting isn't it.

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Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Do you agree with your husband's responce? How would you of answered.
Why not ask both or all adults members of familys living in Palo Alto homes? Only some of the people living in Palo Alto count?.
I would guess that this City might make you nuts?? No joke the work you do to help keep a family running and raise your children is hard and takes lots of work and effort.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2007 at 2:04 pm


Yes, I should have said that if I had answered the survey the replies would have been very different. With the exception of the questions about PASCO and trash/recycling, I think my replies would have been much further down the satisfaction scale. True enough though, the wording of the questions was clever enough to never actually require a very negative answer unless you were out to make it look worse than it actually was.

In this situation, I was very sorry to have seen that the responses could have been mine except for the timing of our birthdays.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Funny how you do not count to the City.. Also if the people who where allowed to count have not lived in any other City's. How or what do they have to compare there services to?

The wording was clever enough..Is that not the makings of a cover up. Ask a question knowing what type of answer you will get back. Now that's open and honest?
We would laugh at the Fire house Saying "Pasco has better garbage trucks then we did Fire Engines and Ambulances" Now does Pasco share any trucks with other city's
Pasco has always been a first rate company..In my eyes.. Good job Pasco.. Hey how about dumping some of the trash at City Hall.. I think there is some on the 7th floor..A little on the 6th also.

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Posted by city employee
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2007 at 8:23 am

It is nice to know that our hard work is appriciated by the residents and that the are satisfied with the work and services that the city provide. In my job I deal with the Palo Alto residents on a daily basis and the great majority of the people are GREAT and THANKFULL. Then there are the unhappy residents who are just bitter about the leadership of city, and the city employees. If they are so unhappy with the city leadership and services they should move out of town.

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Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Me again: City Employee, yes the Employee's do a good job. How has your benifit package done over the years? We keep losing benifits in the Fire Department. Health insurance was one big one. The Leaders are mismanageing the funds and trying to make it look like the Employee's and there Unions are to blame? Remember the attacks from the public? Saying the unions are too strong.
Frank asked Employee's to take time off without pay to make up for some of the money they lost.Remember?
Funny how he did not give back any bonus money or offer to pay his own property tax? He cuts services,trys to close a Fire station,reduces benifits for retireing employee's and reduces benifits for the Employee's{That would be you}. Then not only does he not give up any of the above,he adds the 90 day safe from the new counsil benifit, along with a nice big pay day if he loses his job. Not only for him but, the 3 or 4 Employee's who he works the most/closest with? Lets see do you have any 90 pay outs?
So if the Citizens are unhappy with the leaders being accountable or unaccountable then they should move out of town? If a Citizen wants his City to follow the Labor Laws and stay out of court, he should move. If someone is unhappy with the service they get, tough move out of town? If a Citizen think the new Web-site is terrible. Lets see move? I see you do not live in Palo Alto. Move out of town?
I liked most of the people I helped while working in the City of Palo Alto.. When I did not, I do not think I asked them to move out of town? It is just part of the job. Maybe they have a reason for being that way?
All that a side keep up the good work. I think what most people are talking about is above what you do for the City. When people would complain about how bad the leadership was in the Fire Department I did not take it personal. I did my job,however, me doing my job does not make the inept leadership OK. Unless you want to be an inept leader also?
The Employee's should get an award for doing a good job inspite of there leadership? Look at the PAT on the back Brandon got for his work.Right out the door. Is that the kind of award you where talking about?

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Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 18, 2007 at 6:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Pasterini
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2007 at 7:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2007 at 7:49 pm

Response to Native Girl: You live in Old Palo Alto so you probably get 90% of the services that Palo Alto Offers. Those of us who live in South Palo Alto get the other 10%

The police have told me repeatdly that they seldom come to the South part of the city to do law enforcement and have hasseled me when I called because of some ellagle activty going on and didn't question those doing the illegal things. I have been told they just don't have time to enforce laws here. I suspect they are being told to only do law enforcement in certain neighborhoods and business districts in North Palo Alto.
Just compare all the money spent in North Palo Alto to that spent in South Palo Alto.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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