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January 28, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, January 28, 2005

ReaderWire ReaderWire (January 28, 2005)

A draining problem

Why am I concerned about storm drainage?

My neighbors on Bibbits Drive and Gailen Avenue have been frequently threatened by local flooding -- water coming within inches of inundating homes.

A recent single-story overlay and ongoing zoning changes and development will add to impervious surface, meaning more local flood risk.

The city, and possibly upstream homeowners, will be liable for flood damages, and rightfully so. Such liability may or may not be more expensive than improving the pipes and pumps; Palo Alto staff doesn't seem to know because they don't use available models to forecast risks and liability.

What do I suggest?

Raise the storm drain fee to $10 and properly analyze and develop the lowest cost combination of structural improvements and self-insurance for each threatened neighborhood.

Get high-level Public Works staff to perform up to their compensation levels. Don't depend on the general fund to help -- it won't happen.
Paul Grimsrud
Bibbits Drive, Palo Alto

Racism one-sided?

I would like to respond to the question asked by "Streetwise" in the Jan. 19 issue: "Is racism a problem in Palo Alto?"

I am a white European American who would be lying if I did not admit that I enjoy my white privilege on a daily basis. I was struck by the fact that the interviewer polled for the most part white European Americans like myself to answer this question.

Would the answers have been different if she had asked an African American person this question? Is it possible that she could not find any people of color on University Avenue to ask?

For the majority of white European Americans, racism is not a problem. Not a problem for us. We do not have to see it because it does not affect us.

We can be assured that we will find what we need in the shops, such as hair products and food, and that most likely we will be given a fair trial, or have the money to hire a lawyer, such as Bruce Munro, to plead our defense.
Andi Barlas
Princeton Street, Palo Alto

Bayside blight

I am one of many citizens who are very concerned about the proposed construction of an industrial processing garbage plant at the entrance of Byxbee Park.

I understand the need for garbage management, but this plant is not the only answer. I understand that Public Works Director Glenn Roberts has stated that the new curbside recycling program can succeed without this potential construction.

The baylands is a fragile, beautiful reserve, enjoyed by so many humans. I have spent many enjoyable days there, thrilled by the wild birds and delicate natural balance of life. A garbage plant will certainly be a blight on this wonderful bayside treasure and will destroy the eco-system that supports the wildlife in this area.

Big business loves to call those of us who enjoy nature the "environmentalists" (a negative term) and dump us into the "wacko" category. Perhaps if our culture supported our natural environment, we might all be so much the better for it.
M.S. Nichols
Talbot Avenue, Pacifica

Selfish spending

Now that President Bush has had his "big day," I'd like to know just exactly what he means when he calls himself a "compassionate president."

What this president spent on his nine inaugural balls, pomp and circumstance, was enough to provide more armored Humvees and protective gear to our soldiers who are dying right now in Iraq.

I find that this kind of grandeur in times when most folks don't have good medical insurance or jobs and students get turned away for college grants rather appalling and very, very selfish. If he had any concern, good taste or real compassion he would have skipped the "kingly delights" and redirected money spent for this "show" to our troops.

Wouldn't it have been more compassionate to practice some of what he preached on Jan. 21? Maybe I'm too liberal and have more compassion than the president touts.

Then again, this is a presidency of propaganda and hypocrisy.
Donnasue Jacobi
Haight Street, Menlo Park


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