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Palo Alto swiftly approves Council Chambers upgrades

Original post made on Jan 2, 2019

In its final meetings of 2018, the Palo Alto City Council approved a nearly $2 million project that could significantly change how local democracy looks and sounds in the future: a major upgrade of the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 1, 2019, 8:49 AM

Comments (12)

Posted by Marj
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 2, 2019 at 10:40 am

Here we go again. The City says it needs to cut 4 million from the budget but let's spend 2 million on the Council Chambers. This definitely is NOT fiscally responsible.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 2, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Unbelievably poor fiscal management.

I recently attended a meeting in council chambers to speak, and the chambers felt clean and modern with minimal wear. The chambers look practically new!

What is $4M going to, and how can it be justified? A modern voting system, really? Here's how we could accomplish the same result at a tiny fraction of the cost:

iPads or chromebooks, going for the most expensive models on the market and rounding up (let's throw in some warranties or whatever): $2k each.
Council members + staff + one at the lecturn, say 10 devices.
$20K for tablets.

Large, ultra-high-definition screens are currently $600-2k. Let's go for a giant $2k model and add $1k for install (family recently got a quote for $2500 for a 70 inch+ installed). So that's $3k. Let's go crazy and say 4x displays, for a total price of $12K installed.

Need some computers to drive those displays? You can get tiny intel NUC computers, or otherwise, for less than $500. Let's say $1k due to incompetence, and 5x computers (4 for displays, 1 backup!), for a total of $5k.

So now we have all new hardware for the staff, four giant 70+ inch ultra high def displays with computers, all for an exorbitant retail++ price of $37k. This is 0.925% of this proposal!!!

Now, I work hard at my job, and can *guarantee* that I could install this hardware (or sub-contract it out) in a month of time. Will the city pay me $4M to do so? Nope! This is going to go to a local developer who BRIBED the CC (oops, I mean donated).

This is a SCAM, and one that the CC should be embarrassed by.

Posted by yes, its a SCAM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2019 at 1:26 pm

The only mike that doesn't produce good sound is the _public_ mike. The staff is very audible, as are the council members who speak into the mike.

Height adjustable lectern? You've got to be kidding.
The mike is height-adjustable.

This is a juicy payoff to his friends by both the departing city manager and IT manager.

As Anon says, it is a SCAM.

Posted by PACC Is Raising the Bar
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 2, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Wow. Attending a PACC meeting will now be like going to a high-tech movie theater!

Will there also be a refreshment stand or perhaps a coffee bar with various pastries?

Palo Alto is really taking things to a higher level.

Posted by Compare to PAUSD
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm

I compare this to PAUSD. They are a governing body, with a $250M budget, a couple of thousand employees, and represent slightly more people than the PA City Council.

The PAUSD "board room" hasn't had $2M spent on it over its lifetime. They put out folding chairs. The dais is cracking laminate. They count the votes by asking for "ayes" and "naes." There's no "technology" beyond microphones and a projector. There's a big screen in the front that everyone can see, and a couple of bonus screens (smaller than most people's home TVs) around the room. But the meetings are on cable TV and live internet streaming, same as with the PACC meetings. It all seems to work pretty smoothly and I don't think people find the school board meetings inaccessible or otherwise unsuitable.

It's an interesting contrast - one body spends $2M on an upgrade, and the other you could easily replicate for $50K.

Posted by mahsm
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 2, 2019 at 8:08 pm

mahsm is a registered user.

thank you council member Tanaka for representing me.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 2, 2019 at 11:45 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Can PAUSD also use Council Chambers for its meetings? Shouldn't the space be used as much as possible?

Posted by Worker
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 4, 2019 at 9:05 pm

One of the last contractors that did the remodel job used undocumented workers. I do not have a problem with that, except the city did not do a proper background check. I guess lowest bid rules. This was around eight to ten years ago.

Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2019 at 8:42 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: Wow. Attending a PACC meeting will now be like going to a high-tech movie theater!

Yes. This costly undertaking should be promoted as 'The PACC Experience' in order to generate additional civic interest.

QUOTE: Will there also be a refreshment stand or perhaps a coffee bar with various pastries?

Probably not...but a full buffet would add a nice touch. That way, people could come directly to PACC meetings from either work or school without having to rush home first to prepare dinner. Catering could easily be provided by any one of Palo Alto's fine dining establishments.

Posted by Fiscal Restraint
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Sounds like an added and unnecessary expense just to listen to drivel.

Posted by yes, its a SCAM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Not long ago the Manager spent $4.5 MILLION remodeling the lobby and installing really ugly carpet and upholstery in the Council Chambers.
And useless BIG screens all around the lobby. Expensive and Useless. Our money.
Same mentality at work here.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:46 am

Posted by Anon, a resident of Ventura

>> This is a SCAM, and one that the CC should be embarrassed by.

Well, if we are going to spend this money, I want PACC meetings to be broadcast via the internet in 4K @ 60 fps. I want to see every pore, every bead of sweat, and, especially, see the eyes, and watch the CC flinch when asked uncomfortable questions. Let's make this high-tech chamber work for us citizens.

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