Publication Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2001|
(August 15, 2001) NeighborSpace.org
Thanks for the wonderful coverage about the launch of www.NeighborSpace.org (Weekly, Aug. 8). Indeed you captured the essence of this resource for building connections between neighbors on the Mid-Peninsula.
While you identified our innards accurately, you missed on the outside address. We are a dot.org and not a dot.com. NeighborSpace.org will connect you to Mid-Peninsula neighbors. NeighborSpace.com will take you to Pittsburgh, PA.
It's your money
We thank Mr. Alexander and others for detailing the deficiencies in our city government. Yet to be addressed, however, is why they have existed for so long. I offer some ideas on that, and how the situation might be corrected in the long term.
Several years ago, I reviewed the resumes of then council members. Most worked either for non-profits or for companies that did business with government. This suggested they were more politically conscious than cost conscious, the lack of which concerns us all.
In 1959, when I moved here, most council members tended to be cost-conscious local merchants or professionals.
So perhaps we have only ourselves, as voters, to blame for the present situation. The council sets the tone and makes all the major decisions in how the city is run. If members have never met a payroll, or don't know what cost-consciousness is, they may assume that's what we want. If they're wrong in their assumptions, vote them out and vote in those who meet your needs.
That is one solution.
The other problem, about which there is little argument, is that, per capita, Palo Alto has simply too much money to spend (twice that of surrounding cities?). Part of that arises from high retail sales (sales tax) and high home prices (real estate tax), but another part comes from multi-million-dollar real-estate transfer and utility taxes (both declared and hidden in the latter case).
The solution to this heart of the problem is a no-brainer: cut the real-estate transfer and utility taxes, thereby imposing some fiscal discipline on the City Council, whatever their tendencies. Force the council to concentrate their efforts on the cost-effective delivery of basic services, the role of a city.
If the City Council balks, remind them of the sacrifices being made and pain suffered throughout Silicon Valley today. If they insist on continuing their extravagant ways, replace them next time around. It's your money, and you have the last word.
Roger F. Berg
Active meeting point
Thank you for Robert Bradshaw's engaging photo essay on the Betty Wright Swim Center (Weekly, July 18). Some readers may not realize that the swim center is one of seven programs available at C.A.R. (Community Association for Rehabilitation), situated at 3864 Middlefield near Charleston.
A primary mission of C.A.R., which serves children and adults with a wide range of developmental disabilities, is to help our clients integrate into the broader community. As an active meeting point for disabled and non-disabled swimmers alike, the Betty Wright Swim Center helps us move toward that goal. For additional information about the Swim Center or one of C.A.R.'s other programs, call (650) 494-0550.
East Charleston Road
Stability and security
I enjoyed the article "A Better Life" by Jennifer Deitz Berry (Weekly, Aug. 1). It told of people who are strong, dedicated and steadfast in their pursuit of a more worthwhile life.
One aspect I do not understand. Life is difficult and tumultuous enough for all of us, even those born and raised in the United States and who have no children. It seems to me getting a college education, being settled physically, geographically, mentally and financially should have priority over having children.
Why not let life be as easy and harmonious for ourselves and others as we can? Children need stability, security and consistency.
People in need
I would like to congratulate Bill D'Agostino on an extremely well-written article -- "Living On The Edge" (Weekly, Aug. 8). The article was a heart-rending look at how the downturn in the economy has affected so many in our city.
I would like to point out that we at the American Red Cross, Palo Alto Area Chapter also offer some services and assistance to people in need.
Our chapter covers the communities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Stanford, Moffett Field, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. We have an ongoing homelessness-prevention program that offers rental and emergency assistance to low-income and at-risk families.
Our goal is to provide at-risk families in our community with stability. A caseworker works with eligible families and helps them get financial aid, in addition to referrals to other agencies for food, clothing and baby supplies.
Everyone knows the Red Cross provides disaster victims with shelter. But we believe that to be homeless, or on the verge of being homeless, is also an emergency. For more information on the American Red Cross assistance and its homelessness-prevention program, please call (650) 688-0415.
Public Relations Manager, American Red Cross, Palo Alto Area Chapter
Omit sensational news
I am concerned about the nature of your reporting. It is your duty to provide coverage of news, events and trends in our great city, yet I notice even the local publications have begun a slide into sensational news.
The tragedy in the Fitzhugh family touched many of us, but an independent newspaper may offer news that is much more responsible and thought provoking.
Will your newspaper commit to show how unique it is by displaying the talent and diversity of the people residing in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto? There are stories I would be glad to help you research or develop which would bring out the best in our city's people.
Let's use media to bring people out of the dark, to responsibly show how people are offering themselves to the greater good of our entire human race. It is time to focus on positive influences in order to create more positive outcomes for our future.
Give me a break! I am responding to your Seale Avenue resident regarding the noise from the Palo Alto Airport (ReaderWire, July 27).
I have the privilege of living on El Camino Real in Palo Alto, overlooking El Camino and Denny's restaurant. My unit is small, and not without problems or noise. I have the choice of seeing this as half-a-cup empty or half-a-cup full.
El Camino Real
I read...that an attorney, Mr. Richard Alexander, had requested records concerning consultant contracts and that the City of Palo Alto had responded by demanding money to hire a consultant or helper to locate and copy the records.
The council may recall that I spoke to them under oral communication on April 23, 2001. I pointed out that I had sent letters to numerous public agencies (including to the City of Palo Alto and City Council on Feb. 20) requesting one page from each agency's current Hetch Hetchy water contract "which shows the date obligation to pay for Hetch Hetchy water ends." I pointed out that I had written a follow-up letter on March 10, and that Palo Alto was the only agency that had failed to respond.
The next day, I received a call from a woman in the city manager's office who explained that my letters had gone to the City Council, but that the public records request had not been properly processed. She explained that she had located the page and that it showed that Palo Alto's obligation to pay for Hetch Hetchy water ends, like other agencies, in 2009. At that point, I told her to skip sending me the page.
I am in the process of submitting to the county Civil Grand Jury information about the failure of some public officials to abide by the Public Records Act. Under California law, the Civil Grand Jury may initiate the removal of public officials who fail to perform duties imposed upon the offices they hold.
I hereby request, pursuant to the Public Records Act, a copy of each request received since Jan. 1, 2000, from Mr. Richard Alexander for Palo Alto city records concerning consultant contracts and each response from the city (excluding any records produced).