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Editorial: Five for City Council: Klein, Price, Holman, Scharff, Shepherd

Original post made on Oct 9, 2009

The Palo Alto Weekly recommends Larry Klein, Gail Price, Karen Holman, Greg Scharff and Nancy Shepherd for election to the Palo Alto City Council.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 9, 2009, 5:35 PM

Comments (34)

Posted by Mary Carlstead
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 9, 2009 at 7:41 am

I recommend Karen Holman and Leon Leong. Karen is a known asset, and Leong is an upcoming 'shining star'. One of the best of the candidates. He really has his civic head screwed on straight.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2009 at 7:54 am

Gail Price was a very strong presence on the school board (and is sorely missed) as she had plenty of common sense and was not afraid to speak her mind, stand her ground and vote on her own convictions rather than being "talked round" for political reasons. I feel she would do the same on City council and is an excellent choice.

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 9, 2009 at 8:03 am

I am disappointed in two of the Weekly's endorsements. Larry Klein is indicative of the problems with the city council--they refuse to take responsibility for issues that arise on their watch. There was no council oversight on the PACT finances--when the scandal broke, Klein was quick to vilify the police while singing the praises of an incompetent person in charge (we will not mention is obvious conflict of interest in this matter, which raises questions about his ethics). Klein supported the HSR, co-signed a colleagues memo in support and encouraged a yes vote on the measure--when the you know what hit the fan, Klein changed his tune and claimed he was misled. After the California Avenue tree cutdown, when once again the you know what hit the fan, Klein acted outraged and pointed fingers.
This appears to be his MO--act outraged, point fingers and put the blame on someone else. I do not believe he is fit to sit on the city council.
Karen Holman is also problematic. She was one of the leaders behind the ill-fated land grab known as the historic ordinance about a decade ago. This would have denied homeonwners the right to control their property, because according to Ms Holman, everything in Palo Alto is historic and homeowners are not competent enough to decide what to do with their homes. Cuurently Ms Holman is on the Planning and Transportation committe, where nitpicking projects to death seems to be her current goal in life. This is another example of the PA process run amuck and we do not need it on the council. Holman will probably be a sucessor to Kishimoto---i.e. nitpicking issues to death, afraid to make any decision that may offend someone while constantly whining about traffic. Ms Holman also did not address the question regarding the Stanford Hospital rebuild in the questionnaire that was sent to the candidates, suggesting that she will be a replacement Stanford basher now that Drekmeier and Kishimoto will be thankfully exiting the council.
I think we can do better than Klein and Holman.

Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2009 at 9:09 am

How many of these recommended Council persons live in South Palo Alto? The Weekly is endorsing a group of North centric candidates.

When budget cuts are inevitable, they will all support continued funding for the Children's Theatre, Children's Zoo, the Historic Museum, the Arts Center, the Children's Library, the Downtown Library, all located in North Palo Alto.

I can see a scenario where funding for the schools will be cut and that will mean cutting the Cubberley Community Center.

We need candidates who actively demonstrate their support for South Palo Alto and I don't see any of the Weekly's recommended candidates doing that.

Also, I notice that candidates events have, so far, all taken place in North Palo Alto. When is South Palo Alto going to get a candidates' night perhaps at Mitchell Park or The Cubberley Community Center? Or perhaps they just don't care about us.

Posted by RJ
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 9, 2009 at 11:36 am

I recall Larry Klein recusing himself when a matter involving the Weekly came before City Council in the past year. I believe Klein said that he and/or his law firm does legal work for the Weekly. If that is true, then the Weekly should disclose its business relationship with Klein when it endorses his candidacy for city council. The Weekly likes to lecture others about ethics. It should practice what it preaches.

Posted by Wynn
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2009 at 11:45 am

Gail Price is from South Palo Alto (Barron Park). So is Corey Levens, who has been very impressive in the forums I've seen.

Posted by Darwin
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I for one will be hoping that Price and Levens are elected since they represent south Palo Alto. South Palo Alto has been ignored for far too long and it's the largest growing area in Palo Alto.

Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Levens is good - I believe he lives in Stanford. Price is excellent. Couldn't agree more - south Palo Alto is woefully under-represented and gets short shrift. For instance, the Terman library branch closed with hardly a whimper - Downtown we can't even get the LAC plan approved! South PA candidates will contribute to a "common sense council" much more so than we've had in the past.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm

There is a map of where the candidates live in the print version of today's Weekly.

Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Oct 9, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Here is a link to the map of where the candidates live (PDF):

[Web Link

Posted by Check your facts
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 9, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Darwin thinks south Palo Alto has been ignored. I guess he hasn't been paying attention. There is a 65 MILLION dollar library and community center going to be built. Darwin, have you ever been to Mitchell Park? It's quite an impressive place.
Also, really odd that you say the south needs more representation. Have you ever checked where the current council lives?
FIVE of the nine do not live in the north. Barton, Schmid and Yeh live in the south. Klein and Morton live in the middle.
It takes very little effort to check the facts. Please try it some time.

Posted by Oldtimer
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Unfortunately, Larry Klein was Mayor and Council Member during the turbulent years of police misconduct and he did nothing about it.

Posted by KNature
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Avoid union endorsements and those involved in "the process" - no on Price and Holman.

Posted by Check your facts
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Candidates who are accepting donations from the union are Shepherd and Price.
Holman has stated that it would be a conflict of interest to accept donations from the union.

Posted by Holly
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm

To: Check your facts

Nancy Shepherd is not accepting money from the union or from any other organization; she has over 80 individuals who have contributed to her campaign. The next FCCP financial reports will be out the week of the 20th.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 11, 2009 at 12:28 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2009 at 9:18 am

Should Palo Alto go to the old fashioned Midwestern "ward" system, and divided the city up into "wards" for equal representation then have some some at-large membesr? Is the present system perceived as problem? I don't think it is. Most of the city issues are city-wide anyway. Candidates run on their merits irregardless of where they live, and there has been ample representation of the south part of the city over the years e.g. Mike Cobb,
It isn't broke-don't fix it. Just get qualified people to run - and elect them.

Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 15, 2009 at 9:04 am

The three candidates the the Labor Council has endorsed are Gail Price, Nancy Shepherd and Corey Levens.

While they may deny getting "financial" contributions, they get Big Dollar mailers and other support. The Labor Council will spend $40,000 this year in "influence peddling". It is definately a conflict of interest as defined by the Fair Political Practices Commission, except that a loophole in the law allows them to do Independent Contributions, and therefore it side-steps disclosure requirements.

Please see the Town Square Posting for more information. Web Link">Web Link

Basically the Fair Political Practices Commission has said that the Big Dollar Mailers like the one's Price, Sheherd and Leven received "Thwarts the will of the people."

This is a big manipulation of the FPPC Conflict of interest rules, but the technical loophole of "Independent Contributions" gets around the intent of the law. Furthermore, the Labor Council's web site clearly states that the prize for endorsement is Big Dollar mailings and campaign support, so there is full announcement of what going to the Labor Council Endorsement Interviews means. That is why several council candidates declined based on the conflict of interest -- they were not seduced by the insincere thought that the rules can be manipulated by hiding behind technicalities.

What is worse, when faced with the conflict of interest charge, the three feined that they were not receiving support, and then two days later a two-sided full color mailer that exactly duplicated their campain brochures arrived in the mail of all Palo Alto voters.

With printing, card stock, mailing list cost, and postage, that would cost any candidate $30,000 at least. To put on the charade of it being provided by an independent third party that they have no control over, they claim that they didn't ask for it, yet the Labor Council publishes on its web site what the Grand Prize is for winning endorsement. It was the same in 2007 and in 2005. All of this makes a mockery of democracy. It skirts disclosure -- that's wrong. It skirts the Conflict of interest laws -- that's wrong. See the Town Square topic to read more: Web Link">Web Link

Read carefully, and you will find out that this is a major issue in our Cities, States and Country. Please do not reward the abusers of this law.

Timothy Gray, Candidate for Palo Alto City Council (I am not accepting endorsements or contributions.)

Posted by
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I agree with Marvin should be retired. Too many problems on his watch. Plus the trees on California Avenue. Where was he? On the council when the "enabling" legislation was passed.

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 17, 2009 at 7:55 am

Tim Gray nailed the labor conflict of interest now benefiting candidates Price, Levens, and Shepherd. Any thinking Palo Altan will avoid like the plague voting for those three candidates.

Posted by Enough already
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Mr. Gray continues to sing one note in an echo chamber. But he lost me from the start when he revealed that he believes this is all a grand conspiracy:

"Gray said Monday that the labor group's plan is to get three of its choices elected to the nine-member council, which will see at least four new faces next year. Gray pointed to the labor group's 2007 endorsement of two current council members, Yiaway Yeh and Sid Espinosa, and said the labor group is looking to get a "majority" of supporters on the council." Web Link

So, according to Mr. Gray, we have local politicians conspiring with organized labor to take over local government and advance a pro-labor agenda. Huh.

This smells like a political candidate who doesn't want to take the many hours to do the hard work of seeking endorsements, but instead is seeking (and getting) free media attention with his grandstanding intended to inflame ugly anti-union sentiment.

Do we really want someone on the Council who thinks it is a wise strategy to throw gasoline on delicate labor negotiations for his own political gain?

Mr. Gray has been singularly unimpressive in the forums I have attended. He doesn't seem to know how to connect with people or speak in a way that addresses the concerns of voters.

Mr. Gray: With two weeks left before the election, go file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission if this is a violation. Or go work to change the process (where were you between your last campaign and this one if this is the most pressing issue facing us?). But please, get down off your soap box so we can hear from the candidates who are serious and make our voting decisions based on issues, not conspiracy theories.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Here is a thought:
Much of what appears lately in the Weekly is coverage of city scandals, budget problems, labor problems and other coverage of things not going well and the ensuing issues and problems.

Is it possible that recommending candidates for city council who may well contribute to the production of problems of this kind is potentially good for the newspaper business?

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 22, 2009 at 9:26 am

Today's PA Daily NEws has a section where they put 4 questions (regarding Union negotiations, HSR, Measure A and jobs/housing imbalance) to the council candidates.
IMHO, Ms Holman did not answer any of the questions directly--she did go on and on, but never answered the questions.
Now I understand why she has the endorsements of so many of what I call "the usual suspects" in Palo Alto

Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 22, 2009 at 11:54 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: Marvin
The length of Holman's replies was comparable to the other candidates (not Marvin's "on and on"), presumably a length dictated by the newspaper.

And the directness of her answers was typical of the other candidates.

Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 23, 2009 at 8:48 am

Doug--I will respectfully disagree with your comments. I felt that she did not directly answer any of the questions posed-when asked if HSR would be a good thing for PA, if she supports Measure A, about the jobs/housing imbalance and union negotiations, she did not give a direct answer to any of these questions. Two of the questions were yes/no questions, one was a choice of two responses and the last question could also have been answered yes/no. Ms Holman did not answer any of them. This goes along with another published series of questions were she did not answer a question directly about the Stanford Hospital project.
What the other candidates did is irrelevant to this discussion, though a number of them answered the questions directly.
I would like to hear some specific stances that Ms Holman is taking--all I hear from her is avoidance of the issues posed to her. She claims in her ads that she listens--but she does not answer what is asked of her.
I see ms Holman, if elected to the council, as a continuation of the incompetence, inaction, refusal to take responsibility and general feeling of superiority over the public that we have had over the last few years with the council. As I said she is endorsed by many past and present council members who are responsible for our current sad condition.
And of course let us not forget Ms Holman's part in the failed Historic Ordinance land grab attempt of a decade ago, when the voice of the people fell on her deaf ears because of her overzealous crusade to make everything in PA historic

Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:26 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 29, 2009 at 11:38 am

Can we return the focus of the City Council campaign to the deep love we all share for our City?

While the divisive topic of Labor Unions has captured our recent attention, let’s really focus on the end-game: that being a balanced financial future where there is room to:
1.) support measures that that strengthen the emotional as well as the academic well-being of our youth,
2.) find a way to fix our creeks before a flood delivers a tragedy,
3.) revitalize our business district so that we restore a retail tax revenue base, and
4.) find a High Speed Rail solution that does not blight our neighborhood.

I know we can unify around that better future. However we must make some sacrifices today, just as Union members are being asked to share in the pain of the current situation. This is not an anti-Union statement. It is simply a necessity of the times. My father, who retired from a Union job, impressed upon me the value that Unions play. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, my education was self-funded by a Summer Job with Teamsters Union wages.

We have great compassion and appreciation for the City workers who may only see a take-away. We have all had setbacks in the current environment. I know for myself, looking to the future through the lens of appreciation has been the most effective medicine while bridging to a balanced future.

Tim Gray (Candidate for City Council, and not accepting contributions or endorsements)

Posted by squid
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Holly, you don't know how the game is played.

Candidates rarely report contributions from unions. Instead the unions send out mailers, walk precincts and do phone banks on behalf of candidates, but this never gets reported on a candidate's 460 form because the unions claim they're doing this independent of the candidate's control. If it is independent, the candidate doesn't have to report it---so that's how Nancy is conning you into thinking she isn't getting support from labor.

In many elections, the unions try to run stealth campaigns, where they make it seem as if other groups (like neighborhood associations) are supporting candidates when it's really the unions.

You may have received the flier the unions put out about a month ago proclaiming Nancy, Gail and the mean lawyer guy (can't remember his name) as the best candidates for neighborhoods. If you looked closely (maybe got out a magnifying glass) you'd see that it was paid for by the South Bay Labor Council.

Labor runs stealth campaigns because smart voters know that a vote for a union-backed candidate will result in runaway spending and tax increases. Look at what happened the other night when Jim Keene was asking council to impose a new contract on SEIU that called for very small reductions in benefits and no pay cuts.

The very young and naive Yiway Yeh wouldn't even go for a minor reduction in SEIU wages. Yeh was backed by labor two years ago when he was elected. Sid Espinosa, who was also backed by labor then, was a no-show. Apparently a distant relative was ill. More likely he is worried about his political future and didn't want to be on the wrong side of an important vote.

Yiway is not only labor's guy on council, he is a city employee himself, for the city of Oakland. So he has the mentality of Palo Alto city workers, where they want the biggest paychecks possible, gold-plated benefits, 6-digit pensions and screw the taxpayers. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

If Gail gets on council, hold on to your wallets. She used to be a union organizer, that is, she tried to persuade non-union people to join a union, which isn't easy these days. She's downplayed her feelings in this campaign, but on the school board, she always was ready to give the unions whatever they wanted.

Posted by Check your facts
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I received a phone call from a man who said he is a member of the union asking me to vote for the 3 candidates they support.
In addition, he made some careful remarks to reflect negatively on the other candidates and I am very offended by the underhanded message.
I hope this sleazy campaigning works against the big development candidates they support.

Posted by A Palo Alto voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2009 at 8:21 am

I've decided to vote against John Hackmann. It's a little late I know to say something like this. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Last election I voted against the high speed rail initiative because of the reasons voters later realized. My feelings are similar about Hackmann. Let him prove himself over the next few years, but not as a Council member.

Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2009 at 10:49 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Matt
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Amazing that no candidate has come out in support of HSR, new hospitals, new infrastructure. Is a 20 ft berm really that far from the current Alma St/caltrain track divider that separates Us from Them?

Posted by Vivian Wells
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2009 at 11:09 pm

I am going to save the staff a lot of trouble: I have removed my own remark.

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