| Publication Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2005|
(August 10, 2005) Green is good
I read the article by Alexandra Rocha (Aug. 3) with great interest.
As a third-grade teacher in Palo Alto Unified School District, I have spent many fun hours with my classes over the past 10 years studying the ecology of Palo Alto and its baylands, the inter-relatedness of the planet's ecosystems, the bio-mechanics of the wetlands and bay, and shepherding projects that teach the necessity of all citizens, no matter their age, taking responsibility for preserving them.
That the Sustainable Schools Committee is taking on the large, institutional aspects and making progress with the district administration is very good news.
I am concerned, however, with the impression left that none of this has been going on. At Fairmeadow we have done composting for seven years now at a number of grade levels. We work closely with the County Master Composters Program.
We even donated our first proceeds to the school auction years ago, to be auctioned off for the support of our school.
A number of classrooms across the district have active garden programs, all have recycling programs, and energy use and alternative forms are part of the standard science curriculum. My class has even participated in a nutrition program that was linked to sustainable organic farming and improving school lunches.
This year we will work with the "Kids in Creeks" program to monitor the health and learn about the ecology of our local creeks.
I'd hate for the children and parent volunteers who work on these activities to feel their efforts are unrecognized.
E. Meadow Drive
As a citizen I have serious concerns about the leadership in the Human Relations Commission (HRC). Jeff Blum, head of the HRC, provided a column to the Palo Alto Weekly outlining his official memorandum that addressed his concerns for potential failure (July 13).
The outline for failure precedes any viable plan or completion of due diligence to identify a plan. When I read this I was stupefied. The cop-out has been planned prior to understanding a solution.
If anyone else went to their employer describing how they would fail (prior to understanding their purpose) he/she would not last a minute in his/her job. Is this common practice in Palo Alto government?
Mr. Blum is now in the clear. He has documented all the reasons why he and the HRC will fail and not be accountable. He filed a memorandum maintaining the status quo. No changes will be made in the City of Palo Alto.
The police oversight function will remain in flux and will eventually dissipate or the city will spend a great deal of money to punt to a newly developed function to avoid direct responsibility.
If you won't hear me at least listen to Hoover Institute Fellow Joseph McNamara. He addressed this issue as well.
From HRC to council
The fiasco over the appointment of the Human Relations Commission (HRC) as a police-review board illustrates what scores of Palo Altans have said for years: The HRC is not given the right job description.
If the members of the HRC were elected by the people of Palo Alto, it would be proper for the latter to bring their issues to the HRC for it to review and, perhaps, forward them to the members of the City Council for action.
But since the members of the HRC are appointed by the City Council, the proper thing to do for the people of Palo Alto is to take their issues to the City Council that may find it proper to consult the HRC for review and advice.
'One Oh One Plaza'
As a resident of South Palo Alto I was stunned to read that Charleston Plaza is now in Mountain View (ShopTalk, Aug. 3). When I last looked it was still at the corner of East Charleston and Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.
May I suggest the developer of the new "Charleston Plaza" now under construction between Highway 101 and East Charleston in Mountain View think up a new name for their shopping center? We are used to calling our Charleston Center "Charleston Plaza."
How about "One Oh One Plaza" or "Mountain View Plaza."
I travel southbound on Interstate 280 daily and have noticed an odd site between the Sand Hill Road and the Page Mill Road exits. I see squirrels sitting on top of the chain-link fences.
When I first saw the squirrels I assumed that they just perched there. The next day I saw a squirrel in the very same location, so I just assumed it got stuck and died. What I'm now noticing is that there appears to be more of them and that they often are in different locations.
So my question is -- are these real squirrels that are just sunning themselves or are these decoys placed by somebody as a joke? It is obvious that for safety reasons I cannot stare at these objects long enough to answer my question. And could you imagine the look I'd get from a highway patrol officer after finding out that I pulled off the freeway to look at squirrels? Does anyone have any possible explanation for what I'm seeing, and is it news worthy for the Weekly to even investigate these sightings?
I have seen the squirrels in at least two locations between the Sand Hill and Page Mill exits. People would be sure to see them about a quarter mile from the Page Mill exit (just before the turn-off lane becomes a solid white line).
I am grateful to Jocelyn Dong for her nice rendering of her interview with me regarding the pleasures of -- and prospects for -- California Avenue (Weekly, Aug. 3).
For sake of clarity, I wish to emphasize that no one working for Printer's Cafe has had anything to do with the anti-Starbucks campaign. They don't need to: there are at least several hundred of us locals who are opposed to Starbucks on California Avenue and in favor of incentives to encourage local businesses.
Those opposed to Starbucks can add their voice at www.petitiononline.com.
Jobs -- bad?
Congratulations to Palo Alto's Planning and Community Development Department. Its analysis of the 2000 census data has uncovered a fact never before considered: Jobs are bad.
Palo Alto has too many jobs and we need to get rid of them.
I encourage the City Council to take immediate action to correct this problem. All commercial-property owners should be notified that Palo Alto does not want them leasing their buildings to any business that will provide employment.
To make sure that the message gets across, use the power of eminent domain to target the most notable culprits: Agilent Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Company, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Roche Bioscience, Space Systems/Loral and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
The city should seize the property they occupy and evict them. Soon all the businesses in town will get the message and leave.
This will have a beneficial cascade for the rest of the community. Housing prices should drop faster than the Titanic. Any house purchased in the last five years will immediately be worth no more than 10 percent of its purchase price.
Soon the most expensive house in Palo Alto will cost less then $100,000. There will be an influx of new residents. All you will need is a part time job at McDonalds to afford a house in Palo Alto.
The drop in home prices and mass abandonment of commercial properties will effectively halt all tax revenue.
Who knows? With cheap land and distaste for jobs and outsiders you might even see farms returning to Palo Alto.
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