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July 21, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Letters Letters (July 21, 2004)

Election importance


The Homeland Security Department is announcing plans to develop procedures to either cancel or postpone the November election in the event of a terrorist attack that is perceived to disrupt the election process.

The government is in effect telling Osama bin Laden and terrorists in general to attack us -- it will stop the election.

No matter if the White House itself is blown up (God forbid) this country must not stop its election process. This is the most important aspect of our democracy. If elections can be cancelled here out of fear, then what hope does the rest of the world have?

Instead, we must announce to the world that nothing will stop the United States election process or the functioning of its government. We do need to be reasonable: a thermonuclear holocaust or the assassination of both presidential candidates would stop the election and probably everything else in our lives.

To reverse this process should now become the number one priority of all members of congress. This is how Fascism begins. People will be outraged; the possibility of serious internal unrest could cause the government to take further action to remove or curtail our freedoms.

Only police states cancel elections.

We must not give in to this kind of fear. This is what happened in pre-World War II Germany. This was the modus operandi of the former Soviet Union. It is the tactic used by current dictatorships.

We must not be fooled into thinking that this is just prudent planning. It is not prudent; it is traitorous to our Constitution.

Even publicly announcing these plans is paramount to giving aid to the terrorists. This ignominious proposal must be stopped.
Richard and Jeanne Placone
Chimalus Drive
Palo Alto

Impressive efforts


I was impressed with the efforts of the City Council to take a leadership roll in resolving the difficult land issue at Rinconada Park. Council discussed three different ways in which .193 acres of city land at Walter Hays Elementary School could be exchanged with an equivalent piece of school district property.

They debated long and seriously on the best way to balance the needs of both the city and the school district while adhering to the City Charter. When Palo Alto's charter was written, the exchange of such a small piece of land between two government entities was not foreseen.

Council chose the least costly solution while protecting the interests of all parties. An ordinance will be drafted which will exchange two equal pieces of land and permit school district portables to remain at Walter Hays Elementary School. The proposed ordinance will avoid the very costly process of putting an amendment to the City Charter on the November ballot.

Both the City Council and the school board have at different times indicated a land swap would be in the best interest of Palo Alto. Spending more than $100,000 on an election to amend the City Charter or require the school district to spend $300,000 to move the portables over a very small piece of land would show a lack of common sense.

Councilmember Jim Burch suggested as much. Anyone who is concerned about our city's limited resources and wellbeing would not file a costly lawsuit over an ordinance that benefits all residents of Palo Alto.
George Browning
Sutherland Drive
Palo Alto

Moore and Cordell


In his excellent column in the New York Times of July 2, Paul Krugman asks why should Michael Moore, a self-proclaimed polemicist, be held to a higher standard than the president of the United States.

A local situation shows some interesting parallels.

In the July 9 Weekly, LaDoris Cordell urges that the tabloid Daily News be held to a higher standard than a public official, namely herself.

In leading the City Council's rush to remove the traffic-diversion barriers from Downtown North, councilmember Cordell used distortions more than worthy of the Daily News and disingenuously tried to shift the blame for her abrogation of duty to the hard-working and dedicated staff, a staff that had been highly responsive both to the city and the neighborhood.

The main pillar of her argument was that the citizens of Palo Alto had been promised a post-trial survey, which was never carried out. However, Ms. Cordell did not deign to answer a question that was repeatedly put to her -- before, during and after the public hearings -- as to why did she not insist that a neighborhood survey on the barriers be carried out, when she had every opportunity, and indeed an obligation, to insist that staff carry out that survey.

Her recent comments to the Weekly provide the answer. She finds the "symbolism" of the barriers personally objectionable, and for her that justified any means for achieving barrier removal -- never mind honesty, the city's process or neighborhood input, or the science of traffic engineering.

Like our appointed, or perhaps anointed, president, Judge Cordell seemingly answers to some higher authority.
Walter Sedriks
Waverley Street
Palo Alto

Read it yourself


Please allow me to suggest to your readers, be they city employees or not, that they take the opportunity to read several issues of the Palo Alto Daily News and decide for themselves what they think of it, rather than have LaDoris Cordell be their judge, jury and executioner all wrapped up into one.

In an article printed in the July 9 Weekly, Cordell is quoted as saying that, "The Daily is a joke at City Hall," and "The paper is full of distorted headlines, erroneous facts and grammatical errors."

She cites as an example, "a story last month in which the paper (Daily) reported that Palo Altans were criticizing the city for allowing a concert at Foothills Park, which is off limits to non-residents, to go forward."

Please be advised I am one of those outspoken critical residents. I have written both to the Daily and to the council on the subject. I have heard from the Daily -- it printed my letter. I have yet to hear from anyone on the council, including LaDoris Cordell.

Contrary to the sentiments Cordell expresses, overall I find the Daily to be a fine publication, well worth reading. It regularly reprints columns by well-known journalists on both sides of the political spectrum and has, for example, just completed a two-issue series covering both sides of the upcoming Baylands recycling center question.
Michael Goldeen
Cambridge Avenue
Palo Alto

Nutritional value


It was great to see the school lunch problem get such prominent coverage in the Palo Alto Weekly (July 14). There seems to be general agreement that there is room for improvement in the taste and nutritional value of the food served in Palo Alto schools.

If you visit a school, you'll see that many kids make a lunch of soda and chips. Why? Kids say that salads and entrees are unappealing.

Other school districts have improved both taste and nutrition in the foods they serve by hiring their own food-service director. By doing so they have increased sales of sandwiches, salads and main dishes, and have started making money.

The Healthy School Lunch Committee has not proposed banning pizza or burgers, just serving tastier, fresher food. We hope that the school district will see that improving food is a win-win situation for its finances and for students' health.
Gerda Endemann, Ph.D.
Parent and member, Healthy School Lunch Committee

Cut cholesterol


Last week, another study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health has called for a further reduction in the tolerable level of cholesterol. The move was endorsed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

So what's new? Health authorities have been cautioning us for years to replace cholesterol-laden meat and dairy products with vegetables, fruits and grains, which contain no cholesterol.

How many more studies will it take? How many more people must die of heart disease and stroke, our nation's top killers, before consumers get the message?

Eating a cholesterol-free diet is a snap these days. Every supermarket carries a rich variety of veggie burgers, soy dogs, soy-based lunch meats, microwave-ready dinners, dairy-free ice cream and other desserts, and of course, a huge selection of vegetables and fruits.

We have the means to lead healthy, productive lives. All we need is the will.
Ken Braiser
Northampton Drive
Palo Alto

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