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Dysfunction, polarization mar influential city commission

Original post made on Aug 3, 2018

In a town where development is a touchy topic, Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commissioner Michael Alcheck is used to making waves by arguing for taller buildings and looser parking requirements for housing projects.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 3, 2018, 12:00 AM

Comments (122)

122 people like this
Posted by Alcheck Should Go
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 2:36 am

The problem isn't the Planning Commission. It's one particular member.

As the article explains, Alcheck used his commission seat for a prolonged harangue against a member of the community when the commission was instead supposed to be discussing a zoning rule. Back in 2015, he urged the commission to put off changing the very carport/garage rule that he then took advantage of - but he never disclosed his personal interest in the matter.

Such actions are utterly inappropriate. If he doesn't recognize that and resign, the Council should remove him.


126 people like this
Posted by PTC was politicized in 2014
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:06 am

The PTC has been political since the lame duck Councilmembers decided not to reappointment Arthur Keller in 2014 and appointed staunch pro-growth advocate Adrian Fine instead.

But the problem is not politicization, as the above comment says. The problem is specifically the inappropriate actions and speeches of Commissioner Alcheck.

Furthermore, the Planning Commission is supposed to independently review zoning ordinance and Comp Plan changes, and not be a rubber stamp to Council. That's why the Planning Commission is required by state law.


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 8:20 am

I like Alchek. He and I applied for the same seat for this board. when I tried to introduce myself to him months later, he said, "Oh, youre the guy who did a rap during his interview" which is not actually true but its funny. He make me laugh.

I cannot rap. But having worked in the music biz for 25 years and spoken to council or boards 100 or more times, I do sometimes come across like Warren Beatty in that movie where he is a US Senator, Bullworth I think. And I did play high school basketbal for Gunn when the program was 25 percent black, and i saw Spike Lee's first movie when it was a new release, here in Palo Alto I think.

Microphone check one two what is this? Mike Alcheck one two what is this? Yeah, boy!

Or as Cheech adn Chong might say -- and I do know a guy from Palo alto who dated Chong's daughter: who cut your hair?


8 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 8:40 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 8:59 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by DuBois is the problem
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 3, 2018 at 9:04 am

[Post removed.]


82 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2018 at 9:45 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"Kniss said she found the commission's vote "peculiar."

Of course she did -- because they disagreed with her and her pro-development agenda for once.

What I find "peculiar" is the lengths to which the pro-development forces with go to justify their agenda. Nope, we've got no traffic problems. And there's no relationships between office construction and the number of workers seeking housing and pushing up prices. First, the ballot initiative was "pure populism" and "extremism" and then it wasn't.


130 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2018 at 9:59 am

Pat Burt is a registered user.

Having spent nine years on the Planning and Transportation Commission and the same length on the City Council receiving recommendations from our many commissions, Alcheck stands out as the most dysfunctional commissioner in my memory. It is healthy and valuable for the commission to represent a range of views, expertise, temperaments and skill sets. We also each have our own strengths and weaknesses, but that is not the issue.
The problems with Alcheck's conduct are multiple:
1. A strong pattern of disrespect for his colleagues, staff, and the public, including frequent disparaging personal attacks and name calling.
2. Frequent long, rambling and incoherent remarks that are often off topic.
3. Use of his position to advance policies from which he may receive personal gain as a local real estate investor and failure to disclose potential conflicts of interest.
4. Driving the commission and its meetings toward frequent chaotic disorder through his unauthorized interruptions and his manner.
These actions have now occurred for so long and so frequently that some newer commission members now consider it to be the norm and feel enabled to act similarly on occasion. The current council majority has the prerogative to appoint someone who is aligned with their political views, but they should act to re-establish the integrity of the body.


7 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 10:15 am

Yes, I've been involved in local politics -- at least as a dissident or also ran -- since 2009 and before that dating back to the 1977 Terman Site Council as a student rep --and I fondly recall the days of working with Pat "Pitter Patter" Burt, he of the oh-so-genteel-my-Dad-is-the-yoga-coach manners.

So, I'm defending Alcheck because of his haircut and discounting Pat because his father was the top football coach in the history of Los Altos High.

Man, there should be a reality show about Palo Alto politics! [Portion removed.]


78 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Alcheck has used his position as commissioner for financial gains. With the exception of Palo Alto, anywhere else the words 'corruption' and 'corrupt' would be attached to him.


86 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2018 at 10:46 am

Novelera is a registered user.

Pat Burt, hear! hear! Your comment about Alcheck was reasoned, clear, and intelligent. I don't usually advocate for someone to lose their position, but after seeing (and thanks to the person who placed the web link on Town Square) Alcheck ranting at Elaine Meyer, I was stunned.

Like a lot of Palo Altans, I notice what the council does but don't know much about the workings of the PTC. It appears that Alcheck's behavior about the issue of the office cap, is his norm: out of control ego and disrespect for the public.


81 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2018 at 10:51 am

Online Name is a registered user.

From 2014. (He's been acting like this for a long time)

Web Link

Los Altos official blasts Palo Alto planning commissioner

Palo Alto planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck is perhaps the city's most strident advocate of growth, but his pro-development message proved to be a hard sell at the Dec. 4 meeting of the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission, which was reviewing a mixed-use development in the Loyola Corners area where he works. After more than a dozen speakers criticized the proposal, Alcheck said the opposition "is exaggerating every angle here because they oppose change." "They hear the word 'developer' and they start picketing,'" Alcheck said.

In response, Commissioner Ken Lorell said it was "really amusing to me that a member of the Palo Alto planning commission would come here and lecture us on how we should build our buildings when the stuff that has been going on in Palo Alto is absolutely amazing." The commission ultimately turned the project down.


72 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 10:56 am

jh is a registered user.

"including Alcheck's interaction with Meyer."

Alcheck did not have an interaction WITH Meyer, he harangued her from the dais. There was no response from Meyer because as a member of the public she was not allowed to respond.


4 people like this
Posted by More abusefrom.....
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 3, 2018 at 11:20 am

[Post removed.]


71 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 3, 2018 at 11:45 am

Annette is a registered user.

I think DuBois and Burt are correct. Just as zebras cannot change their stripes, it's pretty clear that Alcheck isn't going to change his approach. CC would send a constructive message to the entire community if it said "BASTA" and replaced Alcheck. As long as disrespectful behavior and shenanigans are tolerated they will continue. I hate to think our CC thinks that is okay. We shall see.


43 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

jh is a registered user.

"I find it sad that we've reached this point, where you have to be on one side or the other," Kniss said. "We've lost our balance. Maybe that's what happened with the Planning and Transportation Commission. Maybe they've lost their balance."

Watching past PT&C meetings broadcasts, there is only one member who I've seen consistently sabotage the smooth functioning of the meetings. This includes making personal comments during discussions directed at other commissioners impugning their intent. Interrupting others with, "Point of Order, Point of Order," in order to speak, until earlier this year told this was a misuse of that phrase. Monopolizing the dais with long winded, dramatic, ad nauseam soliloquys when disagreeing with the opinions of other commissioners. Almost as if repeating the same comments over and over will wear the "opposition" down. This appears to be one very frustrated and angry commissioner who at times seems almost unable to handle differing opinions. And overheard when the mike is off making unprofessional negative and personal comments directed at some of the other commissioners. Hardly conducive to the smooth functioning of the commission.

It would also be helpful to the efficient running of the meetings if all the commissioners were up to speed, prepared, and knowledgeable beforehand, without having to interrupt the discussion quite so often to ask staff to explain what is going on, sometimes requiring a somewhat lengthy back and forth with staff.


17 people like this
Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2018 at 12:24 pm

midtown senior is a registered user.

... and I note that in all this no one is talking about the traffic abomination on Ross Road. Is it true what the Council and "Planning and TRANSPORTATION Commission said about us in Palo Verde "they'll get used to it?"


22 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Or any of the other traffic abominations. Still waiting for to hear back from our city officials re my specific complaints/comments, some of which date back years and the most recent being last week.


13 people like this
Posted by Thanks goodness for Mike Alcheck
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Yep you read that right. Thank goodness for Mike Alcheck. There I said it again.

For those of you really interested in dysfunction, you may want to read about SF's Planning Commission in a week old article titled "The staggering inequity of the San Francisco Planning Commission" - Web Link

I guess its in vogue to write about your local planning commission. Welcome to the bandwagon Mr. Gennady.

But I digress, back to the point. Mike Alcheck may not represent your voice or may not meet your standards, but he sure represents me and does it better than anyone else in my view. And who am I you may be asking? I am a working mom of 2, a resident owner in Palo Alto, and African American. I think some people would call that a unicorn.

And now let me tell you what I know about Mike Alcheck. He actually gives a hoot about affordable housing. He doesn't mind if cars from lower income residents of nearby east palo alto apartment buildings park in front of his house. He votes his conscience (and mine) every time. EVERY TIME. And the reason I am grateful he's on this city's commission is because he's the only one raising the flag on the nonsense foul plays that constitute "decision making" in this City. The PASZ and no growth members of the Commission and Council are fighting to stop the evolution of Palo Alto. And Mike Alcheck is in the ring taking the blows on my behalf. Can you imagine, every other Wednesday night, having to fight tooth and nail to encourage the development of housing in our community. It's torture.

Ask yourself how Commissioners Summa and her gang of 4 voted for the housing project on the corner of Page Mill and El Camino. How ON EARTH does a commissioner in this town vote against a housing project!!!! Ask yourself that. That doesn't strike you as insane?

Ask yourself, what does Fred Balin and Co. really want? Here's the thing, I for one don't care about front facing garages. I don't think there was any unethical behavior. I think this is a take down effort and not a bad one considering the amount of misinformation floating around.

I watched that video of last week's meeting and anyone that believes that Elaine Meyer was a victim and Mike Alcheck was an aggressor, doesn't know what an aggressor really is. Talk about problematic. If we can't agree on what an aggressor is then we have no chance of agreeing on anything else.

Alcheck isn't the reason this commission is dysfunctional. This commission is dysfunctional because apart from Alcheck, it contorts itself every which way possible to slow down the process that we need to go through to address the housing crisis. Alcheck gets frustrated. SO DO I. Alcheck gets annoyed. SO DO I. Alcheck has to deal with Summa and Waldfogel and Lauing. I DO NOT. But thank god he's got the energy to make the case for more inclusionary housing policy because no one else is. Except for Lydia Kou - what a performance she gave at last Monday's meeting, if I didn't know better I would have thought she was the strongest advocate for affordable housing on our City Council. But I do know better - I know she campaigned against Maybell, the only affordable housing project this City has seen in nearly 5 years.

And for all of you, ALL OF YOU, who think I am alone. Walk yourself down to your local elementary. Ask the parents and the teachers if they've heard of Alcheck. We are not a small group. We just can't stand coming to these meetings to hear you articulate such vulgarities like "why should our neighborhood bear the burden of responding to the housing crisis?!"

I am so disgusted by the members of this community who only see the downside of development. Car light housing scare ya? Really, its under parked? Is it going to be a bit more inconvenient? THAT'S A BURDEN ME AND MY CABAL ARE WILLING TO SHOULDER TO UNDUE THE MASSIVE INEQUITY OF THE HOUSING CRISIS. Yes, we are willing to suffer some of the consequences. Yes. Yes. Yes. Try saying that for once to a housing project.

But you are not. And while I don't get it, I accept it. But don't dare remove Alcheck from this commission. He is our voice. And every time a home sells to a young family in this town, our voice grows stronger. We are pro-housing, pro growth and PRO-ALCHECK. And we are growing....

And one more thing - No he shouldn't settle down. Not until we've actually built something. Not until we've actually changed the rules so more housing, taller housing, and yes less restrictive housing, gets built.


35 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm

The current council will never remove Alcheck. They knew exactly what they were getting when they voted to reappoint him last year (by the usual 5-member majority of Kniss, Scharff, Wolbach, Tanaka, Fine), and they did it anyway. The public can complain all they like, but without a different council Alcheck is here to stay.


41 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm

@Thank goodness - appreciate your candor. But you remind me of Trump supporters, who despite the general awfulness that is Trump, rationalize their support by saying "at least he speaks the truth and stands up for me!" I hope that gives you pause. Because undermining our institutions in the pursuit of your interests is, well, not in anybody's interests.


62 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

@Thank goodness
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
As someone who supported the Maybell project, the new Page Mill El Camino housing project, nearly all affordable housing proposals in the city for the last 20 years, as well as the interests of East Palo Alto, I can say that the problems with Alcheck are not focused on his policy positions. The problem is how he has been undermining the effective functioning of a critical commission and, in doing so, has harmed public confidence in our local government institutions. His overt disrespect for the institution, his colleagues, staff and the public actually undermines public support for the policies and programs that you care about.
The council majority would be free to appoint a replacement who has similar policy views, but would help re establish the effectiveness and public confidence in the commission.


37 people like this
Posted by StarSpring
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2018 at 2:20 pm

StarSpring is a registered user.

Palo Alto wants affordable housing? Build transit FIRST!

Palo Alto had a budget problem? Stop spending money on road diets and bicycle boulevards until you have built transit FIRST!

If you built transit FIRST! You wouldn't have to synchronize the lights on University, or pretend that limiting left hand turn signals to three, max four cars, was not a preposterous thing to do.

And, well, Prop 13...

Why are we destroying the Village to save it?

The ballot box is your friend. I hope we have Christmas in November this year.


9 people like this
Posted by Colbert
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 2:21 pm

My, what am original looking front page on today's weekly. They must have obviously seen the recent Stephen Colbert skit where he made fun of trump with a double negative junction video. In fact, the train depot on the weekly cover looks much like the train depot in the video.

Sounds like pat burt, above, is campaigning to replace alchek and claiming he is now pro housing!!!!


29 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I always like Pat Burt's comments. Very rational and well thought out before responding...very much like the way he served and led on CC. Swing voters always keep fellow council members on their toes, makes them pay attention to facts, and not just rely on what feels good to them and the way they think, solitarily, on an issue.


47 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

@Colbert
Sorry, been there, done that, not interested.
As for my positions, they've been pretty well documented as pro-affordable housing for a socially and economically diverse community, moderate on market housing with strong TDM's, slow on office growth and very focused on solving our transportation problems.
However, neither my policy positions or Alcheck's are the subject of this article. My postings are about improving our local government. Let's stay on topic.


9 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 3:04 pm

jh is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Defender
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Defender is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Defender
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 3:25 pm

Defender is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Colbert
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 3:28 pm

[Post removed.]


41 people like this
Posted by Corruption with a Capital C
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 3, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Isn’t it curious- and a conflict of interest- that Alcheck hired the same law firm to defend himself that other notorious bad actors in the City have used (Sand Hill Properties of Edgewood Plaza and now AJ Capital of Hotel President?)


35 people like this
Posted by anon1234
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 3, 2018 at 3:58 pm

anon1234 is a registered user.

a commenter above said:

<< Ask yourself how Commissioners Summa and her gang of 4 voted for the housing project on the corner of Page Mill and El Camino. How ON EARTH does a commissioner in this town vote against a housing project!!!! Ask yourself that. That doesn't strike you as insane? >>

The Palo Alto Weekly reported on 2/1/2018:

<< By a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Doria Summa recusing, the commission threw its support behind a proposal to build a 57-unit apartment building on the central intersection of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road.>>

So the commenter above has it completely backwards!


13 people like this
Posted by Irony
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:06 pm

The irony here is infuriating. To Pat Burt's claims that Alcheck is attacking the institutions and staff and his colleagues, puh-lese!!

Alcheck is shouting fire in a fire. And you don't like that he's doing it loudly.

That's the truth. It's not even how he says it that bothers you, its what he saying. It's his unabashed support for density and housing production.

And to the poster above who suggested that defending Alcheck is like defending Trump, ALCHECK isn't lying! He's telling the truth. And for some, the truth hurts. But don't go attacking the messenger. My take away from this overly salacious article is that Palo Alto isn't ready to face the facts.

Finally, I am so sorry to burst your bubble Pat Burt, but you, along with your colleagues Filseth, Dubois, Holman and Kou don't realize how absurd your positions have been. What about First Baptist?!? What a joke. The City kicked a girls choir out of a church because it was too inconvenient for some outspoken neighbors?
What about Castilleja? Everyone in this town can upgrade their homes but a school that has been a shinning institution can't modernize their campus because some outspoken neighbors don't like it? Or how about every housing project Where did Alcheck come down on those issues? I bet you'd say he was rude in those hearings as well.

I'd say he stood his ground and made a recommendation that would have protected these institutions from the destructive forces of PASZ. No one accused the commission of dysfunction last year when he was the chair. Chew on that for a minute.



4 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Concerned Observer is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by No self-respect
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Concerned Observer is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:44 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

So much for proper comments here, even dragging in a political shot at our President. QUIT ACTING LIKE SPOILED CHILDREN. But many commenters may have never left that stage of their development.

The proper answer: Explicit following of Robert's Rules of Order.

A next answer: FIRE the present members and rehire the proper ones that MUST follow Robert's Rules of Order. Anyone having an adgenda or gets any money to take a stance GETS FIRED IMMEDIATELY!

The real problem is lack of any kind of control in a meeting. No more order in the meeting. A " Three Strikes " rule shall be applied The Sergent of Arms removes you 3 times, you forfeit you position on the board permanently. This penalty is far looser than the earlier ones.

I have had formal Debate in a Foothill College Course. We stayed professional, even debating Karl Marx " Das Kapital " .


8 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Concerned Observer is a registered user.

@ the_punnisher..... the perfect solution. Great post.


2 people like this
Posted by Colbert
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:55 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 4:55 pm

[Post removed.]


44 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Concerned Observer is a registered user.

@ Irony..... you are wrong. Check your facts. iSing is still a tenant of the First Baptist Church and they are complying with the CUP. I'm one of those outspoken neighbors who was fed up with the church operating as a commercial business enterprise until 11 PM every night without any concern for neighbors. Alcheck went off the rails and opposed nearly everything the city recommended that would have resulted in a reasonable compromise. Anyone in attendance at the Planning Commission meeting was a witness to his bizarre rantings. And when council approved the CUP with reasonable restrictions, Alcheck, who was in attendance, looked like a spoiled child who didn't get his way. And as for Castilleja, they have been in violation of their use permit for a long time. They need to be held accountable.


2 people like this
Posted by Colbert
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm

[Post removed.]


63 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm

Thank you council member Tom DuBois for taking a courageous and principled stand in calling for Michael Alcheck to be removed from the Planning and Transportation Commission.

It may seem hopelessly out-of-fashioned in the current political moment, but I believe we should hold public servants to a high ethical standard.


15 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2018 at 8:46 pm

Concerned Observer is a registered user.

I guess someone reported my civil comments regarding Alcheck as objectionable...nothing like being censored in a democracy that guarantees free speech.


56 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2018 at 11:36 pm

I have attended only one meeting of the PTC. I couldn't believe that Mr. Alcheck was allowed to rave, unchecked. I consider his rant towards an attendee at the PTC meeting, who had spoken earlier in the night, to constitute verbal assault. Mr. Alcheck stood; he pointed and waved at the attendee and actually shouted at him. He then turned towards his fellow commissioners and berated them. They didn't even look at him, let alone respond! They are so used to the elephant in the room! Mr. Alcheck controlled the room. The concerns of the group in front of the Commission were not even discussed by the PTC because Alcheck was grandstanding and did so for the duration.

The solution is to hire a professional parliamentarian who will impartially run the meeting and enforce Robert's Rules. The Chair or Acting Chair is apparently not able to control someone who is out of control. An impartial professional parliamentarians will not tolerate shennanigans. Paying a parliamentariam will be money well spent in this time when the confidence in City Hall is so low. Let's bring back dignity, fairness, decorum and respect to the chamber.

I considered what I witnessed at the PTC to rise to such a level of abuse to appropriately require an officer of the law to remove Mr. Alcheck from the Chamber, a Chamber deserving of respect for the rules of decent conduct and adherence to Robert's Rules. Mr. Alcheck verbally assaulted and intimidated a member of the public, who could not defend himself! How easy it would be to call through the doors to the police desk for help.
I have family members who behave as Mr. Alcheck does. The rest of the family support and help and guide these loved ones, because their condition clouds their judgment and behavior. Mr. Alcheck, like my relatives, should not be in a position of such import.
Shame on our City Council for reappointing Mr. Alcheck! The videos of his behavior are easily viewed. Our City Council majority mocks the citizens who in good faith depend upon thoughtful, thorough review of the important issues which come before the PTC. I was there in support of others, who attended that meeting expecting expert, well informed consideration of their concerns. They and I were disgusted.


59 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 4, 2018 at 8:46 am

Comments have strayed from the issue of PTC dysfunction and what causes that. Some posts prompt questions.

When will we stop weaving the Maybell decision into current growth discussions? It's over, lessons were learned, and it doesn't really help much to assume that people would apply only the same deciding criteria used for that to every subsequent development issue. Each parcel and project has its own circumstances. Some plans work, some don't.

When will we stop using Prop 13 as an accusation against homeowners who, because of their age, happen to have been at the stage of life when buying a home in CA ultimately resulted in benefitting from Prop 13? Everything is relative and, if you will allow a generalization, when Boomers and earlier generations were buying homes they did so in a wildly different economy. The implication that buying a home was financially easy "back in the day" is a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation that should be laid to rest. Also, the tech boom has changed things here significantly and it's pretty easy to see that that has strong advantages as well as strong disadvantages.

My main question is this: what's the end game? One post includes the accusation that some people are an obstacle to the evolution of Palo Alto. Evolving to what? A big city? A city that can accommodate all who want to live here? A city that is carless? A city with effective public transportation? Many of our frustrations are caused by growing pains and tensions around where we are going, what is achievable, and what is sustainable.

I do not think Palo Altans are against inclusionary housing. I do think many Palo Altans are against unchecked growth that erodes functionality. We've created a built environment that tests every aspect of our infrastructure. Someone suggested building transit first. That makes sense to me b/c it's pretty obvious that we are grinding to a halt, circulation wise.

Also, our geography imposes realities that constrict what we can do. Good zoning recognizes this. Palo Alto zoning is much maligned for not allowing high-rises and density. What's the point of building vertically and densely if that cannot be sustained? Are those who want that suggesting we forfeit parks and open space? Adequate public safety and other services? Circulation? Good student:teacher ratios in our schools? What about available landfill, the sewage system, and other utilities? Sure, we CAN build more, but how smart is that if we cannot support what we build and the people who live and work in what is built?

In the last century, developers and planners and visionaries such as Pat Brown had the advantage of working with the equivalent of a blank canvas. That is no longer the case and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. Our canvas is painted and while we can "paint over" some corners, we are, I think, obliged to do so smartly.


62 people like this
Posted by Mr Carport
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2018 at 10:22 am

I'm not sure how the guy got to keep his post after Carport-gate. He used his position and used the system for his own personal gain -- no other resident is likely to have gotten away with what he did. His presence on the committee should be an issue in the election, and even the pro-growth candidates should consider whether their cause is more important than city ethics.


50 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

jh is a registered user.

@ Mr. carport
So who on council is supporting Mr. Alcheck's continuance on the P&TC? I don't think it is Tom Dubois, Lydia Kou, Eric Filseth or Karen Holman.

One of Cory Wolbach's big promises during his last campaign was he would bring civility to the council chambers. It's time Mr. Wolbach stood up for what he believes and becomes the swing vote that removes Michael Alcheck from the P&TC.


9 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Quite clear that this campaign against alchek is being pushed by pasz, their 4 council members and the voice of pasz- the palo alto weekly.


42 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

How is that clear? Maybe unaffiliated people are simply disgusted.

Funny how authoritarians can't stand being questioned and have to find some bogeyman to blame rather than questioning the substance of the issues.

Listening to you, you'd think PASZ has tens of thousands of members to deserve so much blame on so many front. But it's great you're giving them so much name-recognition.


7 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Actually, online name-, there are actually very few pasz supporters in the city. They took a beating at the lst election and they lost the vote on the making the council smaller referendum. That is why they have resorted to the strategy of attacking non pasz council members and commissioners. Attack, impugn, vilify and denigrate in the hope the mud will stick- the weekly and this forum serve as the hq for the attacks.


44 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 4, 2018 at 2:29 pm

The article quotes the mayor as saying: "It is an advisory body to the City Council, and it's unusual when that advisory body would vote against something that we as a council voted on as part of the Comprehensive Plan. It's just not productive." The mayor wants a retreat "to discuss the commission's purpose and take a fresh look at its mandates."

This prompted me to look on the City's website to see what the City has to say about the PTC. Read for yourself:

"The Planning & Transportation Commission's primary responsibilities include:

1. Preparing and making recommendations to the City Council on the City's Comprehensive Plan regarding development, public facilities and transportation in Palo Alto
2. Considering and making recommendations to the City Council on zoning map and zoning ordinance changes
Reviewing and making recommendations to the City Council on subdivisions, on appeals on variances and use permits
3. Considering other policies and programs affecting development and land use in Palo Alto for final City Council action
4. Reviewing and making recommendations on individual projects such as Planned Community Zones, Open Space development, and those other projects as are directed by the zoning code, staff and City Council"

Nothing unclear there and the responsibilities specifically do NOT include one along the lines of "rubber stamp what Council puts before us". There wouldn't be much point in having a PTC if it existed only to approve what CC wants approved. They are supposed to advise and recommend. It is in the community's best interests to keep the responsibilities of the PTC as is. As Pat Burt points out, CC can appoint commissioners who align with certain philosophies. I think we should watch carefully to make certain the mandate of the PTC is NOT changed. Like what someone on the dais has to say or not, the discussion is valuable in and of itself.


18 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 4, 2018 at 5:05 pm

"Actually, online name-, there are actually very few pasz supporters in the city."

Yet they certainly seem to be very powerful. They rallied thousands of citizens and got the city council to bend to their will. You don't suppose they're secretly connected to one of those big international conspiracies, do you?


37 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 4, 2018 at 5:16 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@curmudgeon, I agree they PASZ did a great job of rallying thousands of people esp. for a group so small, because so many people agreed with them. I think they've done a great job of broadening the conversation and getting real issues on the table.

"You don't suppose they're secretly connected to one of those big international conspiracies, do you?"

Nope. But should you want to make their "conspiracy" bigger follow this handy link and donate to their cause. Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2018 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 4, 2018 at 8:37 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Annette, great post as usual. I have those same thoughts about Maybell and Prop 13. Old tired worn out arguments. What are we supposed to gain from talking about them? What's wrong with neighbors fighting to save their neighborhoods? Downtown folks had no skin in the game so of course they'd be in favor of the Maybell project. And how about us oldtimers who benefit the most from Prop 13? Are we supposed to have guilt feelings over that? How about people who bought homes 15-20 years ago? Are they also supposed to have guilt feelings but just to a lesser degree? How about 10 years ago home buyers? Still guilt but even less? I hope you get the point.


10 people like this
Posted by No self-respect
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2018 at 10:00 pm

It would show some moxie if Mr Carport showed up in an ostrich leather jacket like in Washington DC, paid for with the 8 million dollars the carport zoning yielded.
That would show those mamby pamby politeness freaks, you can't tell me how to behave!


36 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:41 pm

CeCi Kettendorf is a registered user.

I want to clarify my comments that Mr. Alcheck was chastising a man: I attened a single PTC meeting several months ago, sitting with residents of the Ventura neighborhood when their concerns were very first before the PTC. There was a man sitting to the right of the Commission who had spoken previously in the evening. Mr. Alcheck stood, waved and pointed at him and challenged him on his earlier presentation. Mr. Alcheck later turned to his fellow commissioners and berated them. They made no reply and did not look his way. Doria looked straight forward when he addressed her.
Mr. Alcheck so overwhelmed the meeting that there was little discussion about the Ventura neighborhood's concerns.
I sent my concern in a private email to a council member as to Mr. Alcheck's fitness to continue on the PTC.
I have not attended another PTC meeting.
Regardless of his political sway, Mr. Alcheck's behavior should be dealt with so the PTC can function. A professional parliamentarian will correct, for the time being, the chaos on the PTC by enforcing Robert's Rules and a standard of conduct. Have the police remove Mr. Alcheck when he is disruptive, as they would if he were an attendee.


38 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 5, 2018 at 6:15 am

Some patterns are good, some not so much. Alcheck's repeated hijacking of PTC meetings falls into the latter category. THAT (not PTC failing to rubber stamp something CC has previously voted on) is what is peculiar and not productive. These meetings are meant for business, not theater.


2 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2018 at 7:17 am

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2018 at 10:13 am

[Post removed.]






34 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 5, 2018 at 10:16 am

[Portion removed.] The topic here is the public demeanor of Michael Alcheck at public meetings of the PTC, NOT his positions. I was at the meeting where out of nowhere, and way "off-topic", he verbally attacked Elaine Meyer, who was astonished because (as she told others and me) she had never written or said anything specific about Alcheck. The agenda item before the PTC was the Non-Residential Development Cap in the Downtown Commercial District. Alcheck's rant against Meyer - and it was a rant - had NOTHING to do with the agenda item. The Chair, who I am told is a "good man", tried to rein Alcheck in, but to no avail as Alcheck keep on berating Meyer. Alcheck's mike should have been turned off or the meeting should have been adjourned on the spot (after one, and only one, warning to Alcheck). I was on the Commission for eight years and chaired the Commission for one year. I've never seen any behavior like that, and certainly as Chair would not have tolerated it in my day. It needs to stop now in whatever way possible, including, if necessary, removing Alcheck from the PTC, NOT because of his positions, but because of his totally inappropriate demeanor in public PTC meetings toward members of the public, who he serves, which, as I have personally experienced, are way "off-topic" (as I yelled out to the Chair at the July 25th PTC meeting).


34 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2018 at 10:44 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"It needs to stop now in whatever way possible, including, if necessary, removing Alcheck from the PTC, NOT because of his positions, but because of his totally inappropriate demeanor in public PTC meetings toward members of the public, who he serves,.."

@Joe, I totally agree with your conclusion but I think the City Council's attitude is indeed relevant since many statements by Mayor Kniss etc. imply the PTC is just a rubber-stamp body for them.

They appointed Alcheck and they have the power and responsibility to recall him.


3 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2018 at 10:48 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2018 at 11:38 am

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2018 at 11:41 am

Can Ceci or someone else provide a link to the meeting a few months ago when Alcheck supposedly stood and verbally attacked an audience member so that readers can judge for themselves?


38 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

[Portion removed.]

I DO support the right of those who feel Mr. Alcheck's behavior goes beyond the pale to question if there is something more at issue. A public official tasked with important work is rightly put under public scrutiny for wellness. It is not "a new low" for those citizens to complain about a commissioner's bizzare, offensive, assaultive, aberrant, angry, loud, disruptive behavior and rambling off topic diatribes while standing, pointing and shouting at members of the public or his fellow commissioners. [Portion removed.]

There would be no need for any of this if the CC had responded months ago to complaints about behavior. How can the PTC get anything done when the meetings are derailed? My reading of an abundance of reports is that there are those who regularly attend the PTC meetings and have witnessed the commissioner's off-behavior again and again, and have complained to the CC for months.


32 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Joe wrote:

"The topic here is the public demeanor of Michael Alcheck at public meetings of the PTC..."

----------

Yes, Michael Alcheck's disgraceful demeanor at public meetings is a topic here, but it is not the only topic. Please read the section above titled "Alcheck's actions criticized".

Mr. Alcheck violated Palo Alto zoning code regarding garages on two different properties, then subverted the law and threatened legal action to get the city to back down. Later, as a PTC member, he failed to disclose this conflict of interest and worked to revise the very same zoning code in question.

Rarely do we witness such a blatant display of corruption. Well, maybe not so rarely anymore. We must restore integrity to our city government.


7 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm

[Portion removed.]

If you feel so strongly that alchek behavior is so bad, I suggest that you either contact him directly with your concerns. Or address this issue, on the record, at the next council meeting.
And, by the way, your concerns about alchek are based on hearsay, you admit you have only been to one ptc meeting.
[Portion removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by No self-respect
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Clearly Alcheck lacks the temperament required for a city official.
Anyone who has not seen his inappropriate behavior should withhold judgement and watch the recordings of PTC meetings.

[Portion removed.]


29 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2018 at 2:33 pm

@Attack,attack


"And, by the way, your concerns about alchek are based on hearsay, you admit you have only been to one ptc meeting."

WOW! That one meeting was ALL I needed to see! I had no idea theretofore what was in place on the PTC. The Ventura neighborhood representatives in attendance, who were as shocked as I, agreed that Mr. Alcheck's behavior must be so usual that the other commissioners didn't even look at him or answer him when he berated them .....They were used to it! The elephant in the living room to be tiptoes around.
Sir, a read of the comments above and the article reported do not constitue
"vague hearsay." They are witnessed accounts by many citizens, including reporters.

"If you feel so strongly that alchek behavior is so bad, I suggest that you either contact him directly with your concerns. Or address this issue, on the record, at the next council meeting."

Sir, countless emails have gone to the CC complaining about Mr. Alcheck.
City Council members all read the comments here, so they know full well what is at issue. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2018 at 2:47 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Attack, attack
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2018 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2018 at 3:51 pm

@ Attack,attack and @ Online Name:

Emails, petitions and letters sent to City Council are all part of the public record to which you have access. You can read the public complaints about Mr. Alcheck's Carport-gate debacle, which are especially numerous. I'll grant you that there is no check to see if the correspondence is legitimate, but it is all there.

City Council members sometimes post on paloaltoonline. Even those who do not post reference online postings in their comments at CC meetings, which is the most telling.

City Council members also receive private emails from citizens.




14 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2018 at 5:19 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2018 at 7:53 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Thanks, CeCi. What I meant was I'd love to see ALL CC members and commissioners respond to specific points of discussion of the ISSUES.

Yes, it's telling when they reference online postings here and elsewhere, especially when they keep misquoting the posts even after having been corrected. The Acheck-Meyer incident reminds me of the Kate Downing/Pat Burt brouhaha that led to CC declaration that PA really is safe for technology companies.

"City Council members also receive private emails from citizens."

Yes they do yet only a few of them ever bother to respond or only respond to their organizations and/or known supporters and surrogates.


43 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Alcheck's belligerent attitude comes from knowing his views are shared by, and he is supported by, powerful business interests in the city.


7 people like this
Posted by Irony
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 6, 2018 at 9:47 am

I think its great that the newspaper has relied on the PASZ Taliban for guidance on what is civil.

I don't think this is a fair article and these comments are beyond the pail. There is nothing civil about the way the Residentialists attack our beloved community. They use ad hominem attacks anytime any member of the community stands up to them. They denigrate every developer, for profit or not for profit. They accuse Stanford of crimes against the community which in my mind is inconceivable (I have no affiliation with Stanford by the way).

After spending the last two days chatting about this article with a number of people, I get the sense that people see right through this charade. [Portion removed.]

You can say that Alcheck is rude and unprofessional all you want but repeating it enough times doesn't make it true. [Portion removed.] I know what I know. And I'm quite satisfied with that.

I only wish we had a more reputable local newspaper that we could trust to be a source of unbiased news as oppose to a mouthpiece for the Residentialist in town who act like the Sharia Law Police. What a shame.


24 people like this
Posted by No self-respect
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 6, 2018 at 11:03 am

To Irony: I enjoyed your comments. I didn't realize the Weekly was controlled by the Taliban and followed Sharia law.
I agree, that would indeed be "beyond the pail."

Actually the newspapers cover city meetings and see for themselves what goes on, so they don't need to check with the Taliban.
You too can listen and watch the recordings of the meetings and see Mr. Alcheck for yourself.c
"I know what I know. And I'm quite satisfied with that." -clear thinking there.


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 6, 2018 at 11:11 am

Online Name is a registered user.

To Irony: I wondered about your comment "Just this past week, the tone and conversation on the Crescent Park email group turned dangerous and scary in response to Mayor Kniss' comments about traffic."

More dangerous and scary than PA traffic? WOW! Those comments must be worth the read.

But given all the misquotes, maybe you -- or someone else - can share that conversation so we can judge for ourselves.

PS: Are you denying PA has severe traffic problems and has made dangerous "improvements"?


6 people like this
Posted by mark weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2018 at 11:23 am

Ok let me summarize: I rate Gale Johnson [portion removed] and Ceci Kettendorf [portion removed] over Pat Burt and Michael Alcheck in terms of public service, although nether to my knowledge has ever been leadership.
I rate Alcheck over Burt, for a reason I tried to explain here previously but it was deleted.

And in a similar vein, I think it’s unfortunate or less than optimal that out of 82 comments here only four posters use their actual names.

And I think the Weekly should restore all deleted posts.

[Portion removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2018 at 9:30 pm

It is rather ironic that the people in Palo Alto most opposed to letting a real-estate developer run our country, seem more than happy to let real-estate developers run our city.


5 people like this
Posted by maybe watch the meetings?
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2018 at 8:47 am

It's a good idea to actually watch the meetings.

3 commissioners are consistently well-prepared and conversant around their "area of expertise": Alcheck, Riggs and Summa. Monk is well intentioned but sometimes confused. Gardias is often off topic and random. Waldfogel and Lauing simply use the commission as an opportunity to grandstand from the dais. There is no attempt by these two to read the packages, and no attempt to understand the mandate of the Commission.

The fact that Dubois (a sitting council member) can recommend the removal of Alcheck is absurd and somewhat disturbing. The issue isn't that Alcheck isn't competent. It is that he is espousing positions that are in disagreement with Dubois. In this case, Dubois wants to halt most growth. Alcheck wants to implement policies that would result in more growth. It's okay to have a disagreement on the correct policy. It is not okay to decide that because someone is in disagreement that they should be removed.


17 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2018 at 9:00 am

@ Online Name

'"City Council members also receive private emails from citizens."

Yes they do yet only a few of them ever bother to respond or only respond to their organizations and/or known supporters and surrogates.'



I think they DO respond to those who are not in their camp.
The CC has no need to preach to their choir. They should and do respond to those in opposition. None of US would be posting here unless we thought we could influence others.

(This is anecdotal, but a city council member got my email from a letter to the CC and responded to a comment I made on PAonline about the water right gifting to EPA. Having more information, I now regret my post; he changed my mind.)

My concern with Mr. Alcheck is that citizens have the right under the law to petition their government, through legitimate channels. Mr. Alcheck has used his seat on the PTC to abusively address Bob Moss and at least one other who spoke properly before the PTC. Additionally, he spoke angrily of Elaine Meyers FROM HIS SEAT. If it were proper for government officials at a city meeting to angrily challenge citizens who have legitimately aired grievances before them, who from the public would ever speak except the brave of heart? Respect for the rule of law and the citizenry is lacking in Mr. Alcheck.


17 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2018 at 9:16 am

Sharia Law? Taliban? C'mon - there are differences of opinion about which growth approach is best and strong opinions about how Commissioner Alcheck addressed a member of the community. That the editor is letting the comments that contain references to the Taliban and Sharia Law stand is evidence that the control that is imputed does not exist. I am pretty surprised that anyone in Privileged Palo Alto would make such comparisons.

I have no say in this, obviously, but I hope the comments are not deleted b/c they are a stark reminder that Palo Alto isn't quite as perfect as it often seems to believe it is.


29 people like this
Posted by Serving the public
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 7, 2018 at 9:20 am

The problem is bigger than espousing positions, deportment, meeting prep, or even abuse of power.

He is there not to serve the public, but rather to advance his own interests.

Hence he is not fit for the role. He should leave and make room for someone who is.


22 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 7, 2018 at 11:37 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The fact that Dubois (a sitting council member) can recommend the removal of Alcheck is absurd and somewhat disturbing."

Why? The city council appoints the PTC commissioners and has the right to recommend their removal for failure to perform.

As was noted above, the PTC has long been politicized ever since they started appointing neophytes rather than those who actually know and care about the details rather than simply and blatantly pushing ideology and policies based on magical thinking.

The post above said the PTC politicization started in 2014 when we were content to simply live here. Now most people are mad about the current state of affairs. Trust and satisfaction ratings are dropping by 20% a year. When is enough enough?


19 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

It is not unreasonable to assume that Palo Alto legislators read the local paper. It is not unreasonable to assume they would especially read a feature article reporting on their council or their commission. Why on earth, then, would my contention that public officials read PAonline be removed from my comments?

The bulk of what I have posted lately in support of my comments has been removed, (and very quickly removed,) so I am left posting unsubstantiated opinions.

Horrible, horrible things are said here from the safety of anonymity. Those horrible things, which are sometimes lies, remain up for years on PAonline. Yet, I cannot get facts that I can substantiate or have been validated by this paper itself, to stand.

Why should I bother anymore?

MODERATOR COMMENT: You are misrepresenting your removed comments. In them, you not only stated as fact that a specific official reads Palo Alto Online but accused that person of posting comments anonymously. These are the kinds of comments that will always be removed when caught by a moderator. Only one of your comments on this thread was deleted entirely, because it accused an official of having mental health disorders.


20 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 7, 2018 at 12:50 pm

"Why should I bother anymore?"

Because we like your posts. Use a different name to thwart the censor's reflexes.


22 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Chiming in on the deletions. Sometimes there's a reason (e.g. "poster using multiple names") but usually there's just a [notation] that a post or portion was removed. Any chance of always including a reason?

MODERATOR COMMENT: Our past experience with providing a reason is that it leads to a debate over whether that was a valid reason and completely derails the actual discussion. For that reason, and because explaining every deletion would be too time consuming for a small staff, is why we generally don't do it. Most posters have learned by seeing what is deleted and what isn't how to craft their comments so they are respectful and within our terms of service.


22 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 7, 2018 at 3:31 pm

jh is a registered user.

@maybe watch the meetings?

I do watch the meetings, sometimes attending and sometimes the broadcast. The only person I have seen consistently unprepared and confused for someone on this commission is Commissioner Monk. Commissioner Alcheck is prepared and knows about land use but unfortunately too often disrupts the smooth functioning of the commission.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 7, 2018 at 5:39 pm

I’m not sure why, but this whole thing reminds me of the early Weezer song about Buddy Holly.


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 7, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

MODERATOR COMMENT: Our past experience with providing a reason is that it leads to a debate over whether that was a valid reason and completely derails the actual discussion. For that reason, and because explaining every deletion would be too time consuming for a small staff, is why we generally don't do it. Most posters have learned by seeing what is deleted and what isn't how to craft their comments so they are respectful and within our terms of service.


Thanks for your input. But sometimes comments are deleted just for mentioning a city staffer's name or for asking what's happening with an investigation or whether a candidate was previously working on an elected official's campaign even if the tone of the questions is respectful.

Yes, you may have a small staff but so do other "communities" which have learned to be self-policing. When a member tells another member they were of line, it's often as effective if not more so.

Not being disrespectful; just food for thought.


17 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2018 at 8:35 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 6:48 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I have a novel idea:How about NOT deleting any comments, unless they involve racist or threatening language, or self promotion? Censorship should be extremely rare, almost extinct in a truly free and democratic society. Censorship is an anathema to free speech, even in a private enterprise such as PAO. In our country these days, the free media is under very serious threat by the current administration, and I find it shocking that a local newspaper is actually practicing censorship on a regular basis.

MODERATOR COMMENT: As a frequent poster, it should be clear to you that comments removed or edited are done so because they are disrespectful or attack another person. An unmoderated forum, as has been repeatedly shown across the Internet, becomes an ugly place that drives away thoughtful people and rational debate. The goal of our moderation is to strike a balance between no boundaries at all and those that prevent good faith expression of opinion. If posters simply were respectful in their comments deletions would be very rare. But unfortunately there are some who can't do that.


2 people like this
Posted by Sacre blue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 7:08 am

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 7:52 am

Online Name is a registered user.

One more example re moderation that I think is most striking -- the deletion without comment of a City Council member and candidates' post in the 7/31 article about campaign fundraising: Web Link

In the article on how Wolbach and Cormack have taken the lead on fundraising. I posted something about how it would be great if the Weekly posted links to all the candidates' sites and more candidate info.

A few posts later, CC candidate Tom DuBois' post was deleted without comment. Was that due to bias or because he shared personal info or his campaign web site? We're unfortunately left wondering.

The moderator could have explained why a CC member's post was deleted and, better yet, said to stay tune because The Weekly was compiling a candidate directory covering positions, funding, donation links, full bios, etc.

MODERATOR'S NOTE: The post you reference from Tom DuBois was removed because it contained a link to his campaign website and an invitation to donate to his campaign.


14 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 9:07 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] By all means, delete posts which contain racist, misogynist or threatening language, or ones that are completely off subject, but that's where the censorship should stop.


4 people like this
Posted by Sacre blue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 10:04 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 11:20 am

Online Name is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

I would be very upset if they deleted any and all candidates' posts. I also want the Weekly to start providing useful and factual election information.

If Tom ate puppies for lunch I'd want to know. I also want to know what position his wife holds at Stanford since he's recused himself from several votes because of her position and I want to know if her job has/had any bearing on his vote just like I want to know about other candidates' real estate holding, (Obvious absurdity puppy absurdity here)

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Sacre blue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 11:52 am

Online name-- the weekly has to walk a fine line. They are beholden to pasz so they have to favour pasz council members. However since they depend so much on advertising revenue, and council candidates by ads with the weekly, they do not want to upset any potential customers.


15 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2018 at 12:11 pm

"they are beholden to pasz" - huh? How's that?

"council candidates by ads with the weekly" - hmm, my guess is that political ads are <1% of total revenue. Plus, almost all candidates buy ads in the weekly anyway, regardless of their coverage (including caustic editorials).

The idea that the Weekly's reporting is biased is silly. Many at the school district think/used to think they were biased against them/their board. But when they stopped doing stupid/illegal things and just tried the run things the right way, things have calmed down.


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Online name-- the weekly has to walk a fine line. They are beholden to pasz so they have to favour pasz council members. However since they depend so much on advertising revenue, and council candidates by ads with the weekly, they do not want to upset any potential customers.

The deletions above prove the exact opposite because the posts deleted cited questions asked and deleted about the candidates with the most, not the least, funding.


6 people like this
Posted by Curator
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 8, 2018 at 12:23 pm

From what i’ve seen, the staff is pretty good about removing comments that explicitly attack, demean or belittle other posters.

For example, if there were a self proclaimed philosopher, physicist, or economist who regularly spewed nonsense, you could not post that this person is an idiot and a dupe for profit making enterprises because they think atoms are atomic or some such. A posting like this would be culled even if it is essentially true.

But sometimes, and this is rare, they will delete a posting that presents things in a different light, if someone on the staff thinks ithe posting should offend some set of readers.


12 people like this
Posted by Silly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Here is Dubois' FPPC Form 700 conflict of interests disclosure, downloaded from the FPPC web site. Web Link

No spousal income is listed on Schedule C, so I'd guess that either his spouse no longer is working (at Stanford or elsewhere) or is no longer his spouse. In last year's form (available on the site), he listed his spouse's position as "Lab Manager."

Based on this, there appears to be no reason for Dubois to recuse himself going forward - and I believe on council's comments on the Stanford use permit earlier this year, he did not.


15 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:05 pm

jh is a registered user.

@Sacre blue and online name,

If you make a statement that the Weekly is beholden to PASZ members, please explain why that statement is correct? Or why you think that statement is correct? How can this be?

I am baffled because the Weekly gets it's advertising revenue from businesses. Or do you mean paid political ads? The number and size of ads paid on behalf of the two development advocates, Greg Scharff and Liz Kniss, during their election campaigns appeared to be much more frequent and prominent than those for other council candidates.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

jh wrote "Sacre blue and online name, If you make a statement that the Weekly is beholden to PASZ members, please explain why that statement is correct? Or why you think that statement is correct? How can this be?"

I never said they were beholden to PASZ; I'm usually trying to deflect the attacks on PASZ here.

I certainly agree with your last paragraph. Obviously more money is going to the pro-development candidates who are outspending the other candidates. The article I cited earlier on campaign contributions certainly makes that clear. Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:13 pm

jh is a registered user.

@ online name

"They are beholden to pasz so they have to favour pasz council members. "

Was that someone else writing under "online name" and posing as you?


6 people like this
Posted by Sacre blue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Jh- pay attention. Online name copied and posted my original post and then responded to it. No one is posing as online name.


8 people like this
Posted by JH
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Well, since the quote was copied from your earlier post, and online name was only responding to it, perhaps you can answer my question,

"If you make a statement that the Weekly is beholden to PASZ members, please explain why that statement is correct? Or why you think that statement is correct? How can this be?"


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

JH, Sacre blue is correct in the post above. Scrolling back up, I see I neglected to put the quote to which I was responding in quotation marks. It was addressed to me as the first line should makes clear

Here's the exact exchange.

"Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
4 hours ago
Online Name is a registered user.

Online name-- the weekly has to walk a fine line. They are beholden to pasz so they have to favour pasz council members. However since they depend so much on advertising revenue, and council candidates by ads with the weekly, they do not want to upset any potential customers.

The deletions above prove the exact opposite because the posts deleted cited questions asked and deleted about the candidates with the most, not the least, funding."

--------End quoted section

The first paragraph quotes Sacre Blue addressing me. I wrote the second paragraph in response. All clear now?


5 people like this
Posted by Sacre blue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Jh- the weekly's biased and one sided editorials and articles over the last few years and you will see a pattern of unwavering support for pasz, its followers and their stances on the issues. You will also notice articles and editorials attacking council and commission members who are seen as not in lock step with pasz.
The weekly also throws its support behind those whom they believe will benefit them then most-- recall the non stop bashing of the former owner of the buena vista park and their one sided articles.
It's all about following the money- the stance that will lead to the biggest financial gain is the stance the weekly will take.
The weekly like the NRA, is crying poverty, hence the attempt to force people to pay for their "news".


19 people like this
Posted by JH
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 8, 2018 at 6:17 pm

"It's all about following the money- the stance that will lead to the biggest financial gain is the stance the weekly will take. "

I don't see any money connection with PASZ that the Weekly could benefit from. Please spell out for me what that financial gain is that the Weekly gets?


16 people like this
Posted by JH
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 8, 2018 at 6:19 pm

PS The Weekly is a free newspaper you can pick up from any of their multiple kiosks in Palo Alto.


23 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Posted by Sacre blue, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> It's all about following the money-

Your statement regarding PA Online/Weekly in this context is-- without evidence. But, "it" being all about the money, and, the money obviously so heavily stacked in favor of Developers, it is astounding that anyone has even heard of PASZ.

On Topic: If the Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission is completely dysfunctional due to the continued presence of one particular commissioner -- then, hallelujah. If no project gets approved and nothing gets done by the commission-- good news. Unfortunately, judging by the vast line of dirt haulers (i.e. double bottom dump trucks) and concrete trucks (concrete transit mixers) marching up and down El Camino every single day, I fear that the commission already has gotten a lot done, and, our fair city will eventually look like Manhattan.


23 people like this
Posted by Chris Gaither
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 9, 2018 at 7:39 pm

[Portion removed.] Alcheck's behavior on the dais, as well as in public is the issue. He seems to not be fit to hold a PTC position given his need to verbally address all forms of constructive criticism. Being on any board, commission or the PACC is not about you the person, it is about what you are doing to help initiate good ordinances, policies and procedures for the city, community, residents, and yes employers and employees who call Palo Alto their business home during the work day and week.


Mr. Alcheck either needs some training on how to conduct himself in the public light as a PTC member, or he needs to be removed from the PTC. End of story.


12 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2018 at 11:49 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 10, 2018 at 1:06 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Sacre Blue said "Jh- the weekly's biased and one sided editorials and articles over the last few years and you will see a pattern of unwavering support for pasz, its followers and their stances on the issues. You will also notice articles and editorials attacking council and commission members who are seen as not in lock step with pasz."

Editorials reflect the publishers' viewpoints. That's their purpose. As for the articles showing "unwavering support: for pasz and the followers and their stances," is it possible people simply hate the traffic and congestion?? Bug difference there.

"The weekly like the NRA, is crying poverty, hence the attempt to force people to pay for their "news"."

No question about newspapers are hurting and have been struggling to find the right business model for decades Some publishers think they need paying subscribers, especially digital, instead of being ad-supported. The New York Times just announced they gained more online that print subscribers and their stock tanked 7%. Web Link because both "Analysts pointed that slower growth in paid digital subscriber and fall in digital advertising raised investors’ concerns."

Why does informative journalism matter? Pick the quote that resonates with you or find one of your own. Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 10, 2018 at 1:58 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm

CeCi Kettendorf is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Me thinks
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 10, 2018 at 3:39 pm

[Post removed.]


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

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