Town Square

Post a New Topic

Incumbent builds strong financial lead in crowded Palo Alto City Council race

Original post made on Sep 3, 2020

With two months to go until Election Day, City Councilman Greg Tanaka has amassed a formidable financial advantage over the rest of the 10-candidate field, financial disclosure reports show.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 3, 2020, 9:42 AM

Comments (35)

21 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2020 at 10:29 am

Educator is a registered user.

I took a 15 minute phone survey about the city council election. It asked a lot of general questions about who I support and how I feel, but also asked specific questions about Greg Tanaka and the man who founded WhatsApp, Ajit Varma. I wondered if one of them was funding the survey. It was very strange.


72 people like this
Posted by plantfruittrees
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 3, 2020 at 10:51 am

plantfruittrees is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

The number one theme of this coming election is whether we will vote to uphold the rule of law or not and whether the ethics and honor of our leaders matters.

Tanaka fails that test.


61 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2020 at 11:14 am

Follow the money is a registered user.

So based on mega donor reports (the only new info added since June) 2 out of 4 top money getters so far are primarily funded by special interests: developers/real estate (Tanaka) and YIMBYS (Templeton). Guess their primary goal on council will be new development - more offices, denser housing.

When regular filings come out later this month, it’ll be interesting to see who regular Palo Altans are pitching in for. From the June reports, so far Eisenberg has more out of town donors than locals. Templeton was about even, though most of her elected and appointed endorsers are from other cities.


9 people like this
Posted by William X
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 3, 2020 at 11:32 am

William X is a registered user.

Lot of ignorance in PlantFruitTrees above. The article itself says that these campaign contributions are legal.

Did you just see the name Tanaka and decide to disparage him?
Read the article and what it has to say.


68 people like this
Posted by Own Fiscal Watchdog
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2020 at 11:44 am

Own Fiscal Watchdog is a registered user.

Greg Tanaka's an archtypical politician attracting big developer, Real Estate, commerical, and now PAC donors who want a city councilmember they have confidence will vote their interests for another 4 years. They certainly found their man.

I never bought into the so-called "fiscal watchdog" thing about Tanaka. He is an ineffectual outlier on the council and his remonstrations about money usually never amount to a hill of beans, let alone a hill of savings for our city.

But I now understand why fiscal watchdog is applied to him - he maybe's got a dog. He watches the dog snuffling out donor money like truffles out of a French forest. His own personal fiscal watch dog. Got it.


6 people like this
Posted by plantfruittrees
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 3, 2020 at 11:47 am

plantfruittrees is a registered user.

@WilliamX, may I refer you to a previous article in the Weekly on the subject.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I have noticed that the anti-development crowd has always been the loudest in the comment threads. But during my several-times-per-week walks through the neighborhoods, I see plenty of yard signs supporting Tanaka (or, for that matter, Castilleja). So perhaps Palo Alto is not populated solely by NIMBYs.


60 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I've lived here since 1982. I cannot recall City Council races attracting campaign contributions like this. It feels like the massive amounts of money spent on congressional races and, of course, the presidential campaign, have somehow trickled down to Palo Alto. Tanaka's list of donors doesn't pass the smell test to me. It's the same pattern when, say, the New York Times reveals the donations by the National Rifle Association to certain candidates who are, what a surprise, big 2nd Amendment fans. And I don't think Tanaka, should he win re-election, would be biting the hand that feeds him; i.e., commercial developers.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Resident is a registered user.

This is such a weirdly late article - all the small dollar donor information available dates back to the end of June (which, btw, the Weekly did not cover at the time). The actual numbers will be available on September 24th. This article just gives free publicity to people with rich friends who can give thousands upon thousands of dollars to a City Council race, and forces candidates with more small dollar donors to cough up their numbers early for no reason.

And personally, as someone who will be voting for Rebecca Eisenberg in November, I dislike how the article characterizes her out of town donations. Not everyone has the luxury of growing up in Palo Alto and living here for a long time - she grew up in Wisconsin, so of course her donors wouldn't necessarily all be from this area. I, personally, will be waiting for the September 24th deadline so I can get a more accurate picture of how much money is being raised. Go Rebecca!


32 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Anonymous writes, " have noticed that the anti-development crowd has always been the loudest in the comment threads."

That's because pro-development politicians like Adrian Fine have explicitly refused to comment here and to answer questions posed here by voters. You may have noticed which elected reps and candidates ARE commenting here and answering questions and which ones don't.


41 people like this
Posted by Own Fiscal Watchdog
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Own Fiscal Watchdog is a registered user.

Resident - I think you are unclear on the concept. The importance of most donations
reported to date (this includes both large and small donors) as coming from Palo Alto residents is that we are the voters. City Council members are our elected representatives - representing our interests here in town. If someone lives in NYC or SF, they can't vote and they are not to be represented by our city councilmembers. So that's why it's notable and relevant that so many of Eisenberg's and Templeton's donors are out of towners. No one is being mean to them - this is a legitimate issue.

Also - to Anonymous - People are rightly offended and distrubed by Tanaka's conduct - the amount of fundraising, from whom, and given the pile of evidence (prior article in the Weekly) that most of it was likely garnered counter to CA election laws. To dismiss his conduct as the complaints of supposed nimbyism (why are you name calling, by the way?) is really incredible.


2 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 3, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Kathy is a registered user.

According to the PA Daily Post:Web Link “He (Tanaka) has been the swing vote on the council at times because he doesn’t fall clearly into the pro-housing or slow growth camps”


35 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 3, 2020 at 1:45 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

Swing vote? On office development, Tanaka has been part of the solid pro-growth bloc - very consistent with his donations from big developers.

PA Weekly: "Palo Alto scraps downtown office cap" 2/12/19 Web Link

Once again, the decision was made by a razor-thin margin, with Councilwoman Alison Cormack joining the council's pro-growth members, Liz Kniss, Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka, in supporting the repeal of the downtown cap.

PA Weekly:"Palo Alto lowers the cap on office development" 7/30/18 Web Link

By a 5-4 vote, with Mayor Liz Kniss and council members Adrian Fine, Greg Scharff and Greg Tanaka dissenting, the council moved to revise a key policy in its recently adopted Comprehensive Plan in accordance with an initiative measure launched by the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning.


45 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 3, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Take your time, read up on the candidates, and then, if there is a Zoomed forum for them to speak and answer questions, be sure and attend online. I have my early picks in mind but will watch and wait. I will sort out the YIMBY's and they will not get my vote. I will sort out the pro growthers, who seem to have big business interests and developers of offices in mind more than the residents of our city. I will sort out the ADU crowd, whose only answer to solving the housing problem is for homeowners to build cottages in their backyards and rent them out at BMR rates.

I hope there are enough smart people left in town to vote intelligently, and for the good of our citizens.


18 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Steve Dabrowski is a registered user.

Gale Johnson says it all!


36 people like this
Posted by SloGroPls
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2020 at 4:56 pm

SloGroPls is a registered user.

Based on big contributors those of you who favor slower growth, think traffic is a problem and want to protect neighborhoods should NOT vote for Tanaka.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm

Resident is a registered user.

> You may have noticed which elected reps and candidates ARE commenting here and answering questions and which ones don't.

The YIMBYs are all on Twitter and don't show the rhetorical restraint of this board


8 people like this
Posted by Look at the voting record
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 3, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Look at the voting record is a registered user.

I've been following the council closely for years. If you look at the actual voting record, of all the candidates, Tanaka is a true moderate. He basically votes for what the community wants or doesn't want in regards to development, independent of donations. I like him because he is a good listener.

He voted for:
* Wilton Court- Housing for developmentally disabled
* Buena Vista Mobile home park
* The Maybell housing project that was actually built

He voted against:
* Housing on Cubberley (only vote against) but instead wanted it on the adjacent parcel
* Lytton Gateway (old Survey Monkey building) saying it was under parked. I especially appreciate this because this is my neighborhood
* Original Maybell project that was referendum because the neighborhood wasn't properly engaged

However, what I really like about him is his fiscal responsibility. Personally, I think this is going to matter more during this recession than development issues which is why I support him even though I am a residentialist.


38 people like this
Posted by Enjoy PA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Enjoy PA is a registered user.

Follow the money. If you want more development, more traffic vote for Tanaka


19 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"> You may have noticed which elected reps and candidates ARE commenting here and answering questions and which ones don't.

The YIMBYs are all on Twitter and don't show the rhetorical restraint of this board"

And participating in PAID Palo Alto Forward events for which charge sizable fees are charged. Of course those fees don't count as official campaign contributions.


7 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 3, 2020 at 8:31 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Online Name is misinformed.

Palo Alto Forward does not charge for our webinars. Take a look at the events on our website and attend our events for free. We have a webinar on housing next week and an information event on eviction issues after that.


25 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2020 at 11:29 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Stephen Levy, maybe that's true now for the virtual events and webinars now but many of us have been copied on PAF's mailings in the past where they had sliding scales of quite hefty fees for in-person events starting at $20 and going into the hundreds of dollars.


3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Online Name,

You have confused voluntary membership donation levels with our free events.

You do not have to be a member to join events. They are free to all.


40 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Let's hear PAF's response and latest proposals/comments/solutions on how to make our lives, the lives of us common ordinary hard working citizens, better. And what is their position now on Palantir, their love child organization that got so much attention, and that gave them so much campaign support (money and voices) a few years ago? It's not good to have three groups working against the needs and wants of the residents and citizens of our city...PAF, big businesses (destroying our family owned small businesses), and developers only favoring the more profitable projects for office space, in lieu of building housing for all income levels.


33 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 5, 2020 at 9:47 am

Pat Burt is a registered user.

To update the article, my campaign has received $23,930 to date from 114 individual donors. Over 91% of those contributions have come from Palo Alto residents.


47 people like this
Posted by No on Tanaka
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

No on Tanaka is a registered user.

The article mentions that Tanaka accepted a large donation from Zachary Bogue. Bogue is married to Marissa Mayer who purchased the former funeral home property on Middlefield and Addison. They just bought Tanaka's vote on whatever they want to do with that property.

To those of you who think that Tanaka is a good listener: he records his meetings with residents and uses them in his advertising on Facebook. Talking to Tanaka does nothing other than provide content for his advertising. Other council members meet and talk with residents and don't brag about it. No on Tanaka, please!


41 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Anne is a registered user.

A few years ago Tanaka mistook me for a supporter of his based on a comment I made, and invited me to one of his weekend constituent phone chats. I accepted, called him out on a number of things and we ended up getting into an argument. This guy doesn't listen to his constituents. He is a pro business, pro development candidate which of course is confirmed by who is supporting him, developers. Thank you to "No on Tanaka" who has revealed Tanaka's unethical recording of constituents during chats. Now I'm even more creeped out by Tanaka!


10 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:17 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Gale,

If you want to learn about Palo Alto Forward, come to our events (now online and free to all, read our letters to council and PTC and visit our website.

As to Palantir your comments have no basis in fact. I have processed every donation to PAF since its incorporation and the only ones from a corporation are employee donation matches from Google.

As to the rest, we simply disagree. Our city includes residents who own homes as I do and many who do not. You speak as if only long-time homeowners have a right to vote and speak and as an long time homeowner and most of my friends, we are the ones working to keep PA a welcoming place for all residents and small businesses.


16 people like this
Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 5, 2020 at 4:30 pm

mjh is a registered user.

In the summer of 2014, PAF announced with much fanfare their new organization, including a new website. This new website appeared to imply that this was a completely new group that had just organized that summer.

However, PAF had existed prior to that summer, including an earlier website with meeting notes, correspondence between members, a blog, and interestingly outlining the history of their formation, which I had been following. Including which company the original group worked for, whose business office was helping them, and how their group expanded, etc. At the time I even copied this section, but unfortunately onto an earlier computer no longer available.

When PAF took down their original website prior to launching their "new" organization, I noticed none of this was earlier information was included in their newly "sanitized" version of their history on the website.


23 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 6, 2020 at 5:05 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@stephen levy

I accept your challenge and correction of facts re Palintir. And yes, we will still disagree on many, maybe all, of the issues confronting us.

When we first moved to PA in 1961 we rented a 2 bdrm apartment on Alma for $125/mo. Our big wish was to own our own home. We had fallen in love with PA and wanted to buy a home here but the prices were out of our range. We drove on weekends to the new tract home open houses in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and San Jose. Then I considered the commute time from them to my job at Philco's Western Developmental Labs here in PA. We decided to save up for a few years for a bigger down payment so we could afford to buy here in PA. That was a good decision.

I voted as a renter and I've voted as a home owner and you have misread and mis-characterized me and how I vote and who I think should be able to vote. There was a very good reason why we bought where we did. It was the neighborhood here in SPA. I've written a story for my Avenidas' Life Stories class about it. It has lost a lot of the character and charm of that original neighborhood but there's enough of it left that I don't want zoning rules and regulations to interfere with it.

And please, all you renters, get out there and vote. Your voice and vote are important, just like I thought mine was when I was a renter. But please be an informed voter. That will take some work.




18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 6, 2020 at 9:39 pm

Online Name is a registered user.


Do yourselves a favor and Google "Google housing development" and you'll be amazed at the number and sizes of the new "mixed use" complexes in the works. Read up om how many MILLIONS of square feet of offices are planned vs how many housing units. You'll see the new housing won't even come close to the number of new jobs and therefore will only increase competition for housing and hence raise prices.

Here's an article on just ONE of their latest planned complexes, this one for Middlefield in Mountain View.

Web Link

Then listen to the pro-development crowd lecture us on how roads like 101 must become ALL toll roads -- all lanes! -- to reduce congestion -- which just raises the cost of living while non-elected bodies like ABAG/MTC set targets of 3,000,000 more people and 1,000,000+ new jobs.

And the pro-development politicians tell US WE must pay commuters' commuting expenses which includes Lyft/Uber who threaten to leave if they have to pay their "gig workers" a living wage with benefits. How caring and civic-minded.

Like any of this will reduce congestion, create more affordable BMR housing or improve our communities.


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 7, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Perhaps the candidates, PAF and the YIMBY party and those setting ABAG/MTC targets could comment on how the above will improve our lives?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2020 at 6:51 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

A memory - onetime I slipped into a meeting of the Parks and Rec where they were discussing how Mitchell Park's new facilities could be used. Rental to groups. One young lady was very intent that only non-profit companies could use the facilities. What an odd concept - she was focused on Palantir as the ugly child to be disqualified from use of the park? Coming from a large corporation that has participated in all of the PA supported activities and paid their way doing that I wondered how a shift in concept had occurred. We clearly have a group that is trying to shape how this city works. And from where I am sitting that is all not to the good. We have been the incubator for HP, Apple, FB, etc. And the home base for the changing name of the large company on Fabien Way. Philco, Ford, SSL - Aerospace & Communications company. Now changed again. Bought by a group that will tear it down and make a work/residence community. Since Oshmen has taken over most of that property that is okay as long as all of the people park there and not all over the residential areas.
The problem I see is ABAG and it's cohorts that keep saying that multitudes of people will be descending upon us. And we do not have the space to do that. We do not have the infrastructure to do that. We do not have the power systems, water systems, transportation systems to do that. People single minded on an outcome with no concept as to how it will actually work. We need to keep check on people selling an idea that sounds good - single focus - but in reality will collapse under current circumstances. The whole state needs to have incubator locations and big idea places other than the peninsula.


3 people like this
Posted by Haru Sato
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Haru Sato is a registered user.

Any more developer donations reported? Does anyone report on donations from Palo Alto voters vs non-voters. That would be very interesting to understand.


5 people like this
Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Staying Young Through Kids is a registered user.

A bit of an aside from the thread...Overturning the Citizens United decision or reforming campaign finance at every level of government would solve a lot of our challenges. Including this one.

Mr. Tanaka will not get my vote for several reasons. His campaign finance sources and his gaming of the timing of his announcement will be just two of them.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.


Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Former Flea St. Cafe chef starts meal delivery service
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 7,222 views

10 ways to reduce your dog's "pawprint"
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 4,668 views

'Ignoring what's wrong has never made anything right'
By Diana Diamond | 4 comments | 1,485 views

Premarital and Couples: What Does Sex Mean to You?
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,117 views

A Rainbow After the Storm
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 301 views

 

Who is your local hero?

Whether they're grocery shopping for a neighbor or volunteering for a nonprofit, you can spread the joy and support our journalism efforts by giving them a shout-out.

Learn More