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November 19, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, November 19, 2004

ReaderWire ReaderWire (November 19, 2004)

Act on libraries

The future of the Palo Alto Library is in all of our hands. But it is the City Council that must take charge. It's up to council members to ask the central question: Will we as a community continue to sit back and watch our library's ongoing decline -- or will we start to develop a long-term sustainable vision for a better library?

Last week, Library Director Paula Simpson outlined several possible courses of action with the goal of starting what City Manager Frank Benest called a "courageous conversation" about the future of our library. We urge the mayor, the council, the city manager and the entire community to keep an open mind and to join this conversation about the future of our library.

Doing nothing is simply unacceptable. The Palo Alto library collection is not adequate and our once shabbily genteel facilities are becoming merely shabby. Solving these problems will require bold, creative action by the council. Why not leave a legacy of positive change rather than a trail of neglect?

The Palo Alto Library Foundation stands ready to support any alternative that will improve Palo Alto's library in the long term. Let's not write off parcel taxes or bond measures just because these approaches have failed in other instances. If the foundation can raise substantial funds for major capital projects, will voters really reject measures that will get them excellent library services at a portion of the cost?

To the community we say this: Look at the big picture. Ask not only what best meets your library needs today, but what will best serve Palo Altans for the next 50 years.

And to the City Council we say this: Don't be shortsighted. Lead the way toward a library of which we can all be proud.
Katherine Miller
President, Palo Alto Library Foundation
Forest Avenue, Palo Alto

Beautifying El Camino

The article about continuing beautification of El Camino Real with economic development (Weekly, Nov. 10) reminds me that this same notion has been the rationale -- for many years -- for Palo Alto's policy for retail stores. The results, as everybody knows, have pointed in the opposite direction.

While the spending power of local citizens has grown, as evidenced by the current housing prices, the proportion of their spending in local stores has continuously shrunk. It is clear that aesthetics play a minor role in deciding were Palo Altans shop for their daily needs or their luxuries.

The same point is well demonstrated by the Weekly's pictures of a beautified El Camino, flanked with splendid trees. Consider, however, the view of a prospective merchant, who might wish to open a store on El Camino, which is about to be beautified.

He would undoubtedly recognize that in a few years time his new store might be virtually hidden by these lovely trees to drivers and passengers zipping along at 40 miles an hour.

This is not exactly what the owners of such stores would want.
Ely Brandes
Alma Street, Palo Alto

Drain repairs needed

I couldn't agree more with Jean Wilcox's statement (Weekly, Nov. 12), "Property owners in Palo Alto should know what they're voting for next year."

I served on the city's Blue Ribbon Storm Drain committee. There's no doubt in my mind that the system is in dire need of repair. The committee's recommendations are the best-case scenario for getting the work done.

If we do nothing, if the storm drain measure is defeated next year, the problem won't go away -- storm drains will continue to cost the city money whether the system is duly upgraded or patched up.

As for the cost-of-living clause included in our recommendations, it is prudent to include a cost-of-living increase. Without it we can't guarantee sufficient funds to see the project to completion and an independent oversight committee, another of our recommendations, will ensure that happens.
Susan Rosenberg
Stanford Avenue, Palo Alto

Turkey-less dinner?

Here are the top ten reasons to skip the turkey this Thanksgiving:

10) You won't spend a sleepless night wondering how the turkey lived and died.

9) Fruits and vegetables don't have to carry government warning labels.

8) You won't have to call the Poultry Hotline to keep your family alive.

7) Your body will welcome a holiday free from saturated fat and cholesterol.

6) Commercial turkeys are too fat to have sex. Could happen to you.

5) You are what you eat. Do you really want to be a "butterball?"

4) Your kids can tell their friends about their cool "unturkey."

3) You won't sweat the environmental devastation guilt trip.

2) You won't fall asleep during the football game.

1) Your animal-rights friends will cherish you.

Millions of vegetarians across the United States find these reasons sufficiently compelling to celebrate the joyous Thanksgiving holiday without the carcass of a dead bird on their dinner table. The menu may include an "unturkey," lentil or nut roast, stuffed squash, corn chowder, or chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin or pecan pie, and carrot cake.

This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks for our good fortune, health and happiness with a gentle, cruelty-free feast of the fruit of our earth's bounty: vegetables, fruits and grains. An Internet search on "vegetarian Thanksgiving" will provide more recipes and other useful information than we need to know.
Andrew Kagan
San Antonio Road, Palo Alto

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