Local Blogs

Off Deadline

By Jay Thorwaldson

E-mail Jay Thorwaldson

About this blog: I was editor of the Palo Alto Weekly from June 2000 to January 2011, capping a more than 50-year career in journalism and writing since Los Gatos High School, where I was editor of the student newspaper and president of the speech...  (More)

View all posts from Jay Thorwaldson

Is Mayor Sid Espinosa's glass half empty or overflowing?

Uploaded: Aug 5, 2011
Every mayor in recent decades has had a unique experience, following the usually pro-forma election and inauguration at the first City Council meeting in January.

Read the full column here http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story.php?story_id=15332 posted Friday, August 5, 2011, 12:00 AM

Comments

Posted by svatoid, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 8:25 am

"Some mayors have adopted themes, such as Dena Mossar's "shop Palo Alto" effort, Bern Beecham's expanded "economic development" initiative (which Jim Burch continued during his term by asking Beecham to continue), Judy Kleinberg's push for emergency preparedness, and Yoriko Kishimoto's shift to a heavily "green" environmental theme on a broader stage, followed in that path by Peter Drekmeier."

And that is the problem--we have mayors for a year. They then finish their term and a new mayor arrives with a new agenda. Some of these , such as those pushed by Kishimoto (who also made the "too much traffic" issue a mainstay of her 8 year ineffective term on the council) and Drekmeier have been to the detriment of the city as a whole.

I agree with Gary Fazzino, we need a directly elected mayor.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:26 am

I have often thought the same. I come from a town back east about the same size as Palo Alto, with directly elected mayor serving four year terms. MUCH higher accountability and responsiveness and better results. Our city council as little real power and less direction - not appropriate in my view for the challenges we face.


Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

I have been very disappointed with all our city elected officials for the past eon!

We need to get people who really want to achieve a progress on real issues rather than pet projects. Issues like increasing sales tax, improving infrastructure (particularly transportation issues) and moving ahead with projects are much more important than the feel good issues we have had to contend with.


Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:36 am

Correction, I mean the sales tax spent already by PA residents being kept in Palo Alto. I do not mean increasing the sales tax rate!


Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

Sid has done a terrific job, as mayor. Even if the position were to be elected by the public, (& I agree it should be!) I believe he would have been the wisest choice for the job.

Sid has proven himself to be a leader - and not only approchable, evidenced by his holding office hours & meeting people on their own turf, but he's also visible via the web, with his regular Mayor's Newsletter sent to those of us that want to receive it. Palo Alto seems healthier to me, & it's in large part, due to Sid.

If anyone is not satisfied with the way Palo Alto is being run now, at least within the purview of the Office of Mayor now, then no one would please them, because Sid is doing a stellar job.

I've watched the councils for the past 20 years, actively involved in the Shop Palo Alto, Another Way (helping homeless), Bike Palo Alto, Emergency Prep efforts, etc., as part of my volunteer efforts on California Avenue, and while each were wonderful, and Shop Palo Alto even evolved into "Destination Palo Alto" - having a life of its own, only right now- with Sid being so approachable & responsive to citizens, for the first time in years, I'd use the word "healthy" to describe Palo Alto.

Keeping in mind I placed myself in the middle of a physical assault of one resident upon another & stopped it, after a Planning meeting two years ago, I am qualified to speak about "health" in Palo Alto.

A suggestion:
Should the city decide to make the mayoral position elected, it would be efficient, at the same time, for everyone to also consider reducing the number of Council members from 9 to 7...& better yet, 5.


Posted by Ernesto USMC, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Espinosa is bought and paid for by the special interest public unions. His stand against even letting the voters vote on the provision shows his colors. We're at a crossroads; are we going to let special interests rack up unfunded pension obligations and run away with our future, or are we going to take a stand and right the ship.

For Espinosa, the path he's chosen is unfortunately the former, as payback to his special interest supporters. The sooner his term expires, and the sooner we can vote him out of office the better.


Posted by Ernesto USMC, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

"the provision" refers to the binding arbitration provision for firefighters.


Posted by Millie, a resident of ,
on Aug 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

So his term can be one of ridiculous utility rate increases to counter our declining sales tax revenues.


Posted by Chuck Jagoda, a resident of ,
on Aug 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I endorse Mayor Sid Espinosa's response ("They are Palo Altans" in the Palo Alto Daily News) to the proposed ordinance banning vehicular habitation. He has been inclusive, he has listened, he is in favor of finding a workable alternative to the proposed ordinance.

Following is my letter to the Palo Alto City Council after speaking to them on this issue.


Mayor Sid Espinosa
Assistant Mayor Yiaweh Yeh
Members of the Palo Alto City Council

Several of us who were at the City Council meeting July 27th were caught unawares by the last minute limitation of our speaking opportunity to one minute. You may have noticed the rushed and incoherent quality of some of our speeches.
Two of the speakers on vehicular habitation that night struck me most powerfully: the woman who told of her fears of sleeping in a shelter and other alternatives—and how she could only feel secure when she locked the four doors of her car before she went to sleep was quite moving. I don't know how anyone could listen to her and not be taken by the picture she presented.
I was also impressed with the young man who said that after a party when he felt he had indulged too much to safely drive, he curled up in the seat of his car and napped until he felt he could drive safely. Don't we all want to live where such civic- and saftety-minded behavior is legal?
In order to respond to those members of the community who feel imposed upon by people living in vehicles, the Community Cooperation Team is developing a structure to deal with past and future home-owner complaints. We are forming a Committee of Cooperation--a Homeowners Association for the Unsheltered--to respond to complaints and mediate mutually agreeable solutions between homeowners and vehicle residents. We see no need for additional legislation or police duties. Sometimes less government can be more efficient than.
We are also gathering and will be publicizing the good deeds done by unsheltered people. There are many opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit between vehicular dwellers and the rest of the community. We aim to explore and emphasize them.
Vehicle dwellers can perform yard chores, act as neighborhood watch sentinels, and keep on eye on children playing in the street. Instead of instant enmity, there can be an atmosphere of welcome relief between all concerned.
It is truly heart warming and reaffirms values of humanistic brotherhood and sisterhood to see the heart felt support and solidarity Palo Altans have shown for the plight of those of us without shelter. The progressive, generous, far-sighted reputation of Palo Altans is not exaggerated.
We look forward to cooperating with the Council in seeing to the needs of all and we welcome the sensitivity and openness with which the Council is approaching this important issue.
The measure of a society is not the height of its buildings nor size of its treasury but the depth of its concern for the least of its citizens.

Sincerely,

Chuck Jagoda
3790 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
516.398.5100
chuckjagoda1@gmail.com


Posted by John, a resident of ,
on Aug 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Surely, Mayor Espinosa will want to be the first to sign the Registry, followed by all of the other compassionate, progressive Palo Altan with "heart".

All they have to do is to provide their full name, street address and email address to this site. Their simple commitment would be to house 1-2 of the unhoused, in their own homes.

Mayor Espinosa, since you claim that the homeless are all Palo Altans, will you be the first to sign up? Or are you just another liberal hypocrite?


Posted by svatoid, a resident of ,
on Aug 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Why is it certain people claim that if you are in favor of the homeless living in cars or helping the homeless you have to volunteer your home to house them? If you do not then you are a "liberal hypocrite". This is a constant theme we hear from those lacking in compassion for those less fortunate than themselves. i bet that many of these people who are against aid to the homeless march in lockstep with the hateful, mean-spirited born-again "christians"/conservatives/republicans that are out to ruin our country.


Posted by John, a resident of ,
on Aug 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

"Why is it certain people claim that if you are in favor of the homeless living in cars or helping the homeless you have to volunteer your home to house them?"

Because they (the liberal progressives) have absolutely no problem condoning the homeless livng next to those Palo Alto citizens who are not in a postion of power to prevent it, as they, the progressive liberals do. It is complete hypocricy. If the movers and shakers in Palo Alto want to show compassion, then it is up to them to lead the way. The most direct way to do it is to sign up for the Registry. Mother Teresa would be the first to sign, without hesitation. Where are are liberal leaders? They always seem to evaporate, when they are called out to match their actions with their words.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of ,
on Aug 8, 2011 at 6:18 am

John, you clearly do not know what you are talking about. The only way to help the homeless is to offer to house them in their homes? You assertions about the progressive liberals and positions of power is also ridiculous.
You and others have latched onto a formula about this issue--rather than trying to address the problem, you "suggest" the only solution that hateful, mean-spirited born-again "christians"/conservatives/republicans look at--take them into your homes. If people do not do that they are automatically labelled as "hypocrites". How easy to solve the problem!!!


Posted by john's kindof right, a resident of ,
on Aug 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

John's right in that there is a group as a whole that sees the solution in terms of pushing others to help the vehicle dwellers, but will not help them themselves.

Those who would readily welcome vehicle dwellers at their residence should do so.Those who would not should not be forced to. Especially by a group that will not themselves welcome them.

This is the aspect of the modern liberal attitude that is under attack here- "make other people do so much that I no longer feel guilty."

Make them pay more taxes. Make them bring their own bags to shop. Make them support illegal immigrants over legal ones. Make them deal with increased crime.

The non liberal attitude is, "this is America, if you want to help them, help them." As opposed to, "I feel bad about this thing so I'm going to force you to do something so I feel good."

The problem is, the approach often backfires and makes things worse.




Posted by Chuck Jagoda, a resident of ,
on Aug 15, 2011 at 2:25 am

WOW! So it's come to this--arguing about hypocrisy. I agree this the view expressed above--"This is America. If you want to help other people, do so." I would add: "If you don't, saying a kind word is more helpful than trying to lay a guilt trip on those who, for whatever reasons, don't feel they can offer shelter at this time."

Furthermore, I think it's only fair to note that a lot of the progressive talking Palo Altans DO actually walk the talk. For example, during my recent stay in the Hotel de Zink program, I stayed at First Presbyterian Church on Cowper at Kingsley. Some truly Christian, gentle, kind, and fun people fed us. Some of them got up at 5 a.m. to come make toast and eggs and lay out cereal and fruit and juice for us. Every morning for thirty days. And they and we shelter-challenged folk enjoyed the mutual exchange--them giving charity, us receiving it--very much. It wasn't exactly like receiving the sacraments at Sunday Mass, but it sure wasn't empty posturing either. These folks walked the talk and had a great time doing so. We swapped stories of our lives and jokes and ideas and philosophy and started each others' days off with appreciation, love, and sharing.

None of them invited us home--nothing like that came up on their part or ours. They were already giving us shelter through their church's participation in the Hotel de Zink program.

The Hotel de Zink is sleeping on a gym mattress on the floor of a warm, safe, comfortable church for three months. The churches provide meals--dinner and fixings for lunch and breakfast. We provide them the opportunity to give. Can you imagine life without the opportunity to give to ANYone? Can you imagine how impoverished your life would be if you had no one to give to?

Please don't get hung up on offers of shelter. If you want to offer, fine. If not, a wave and a smile as you pass by is also fine. I have two children who live in nice Palo Alto homes. Neither of them have offered so much as a garage floor for me to sleep on. And I'm not sure it would be all that comfortable to stay with them if they DID offer. It would be nice if they at least offered, but it's not necessary. Fortunately for me, there is enough generosity of spirit in Palo Alto for me to find a place to sleep every night without any trouble. And, at least for now and hopefully for the foreseeable future, there will also be my car to fall back on.


Posted by mongoose, a resident of ,
on Aug 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@Chuck J: so your two children have lovely homes and don't offer you a place to sleep....I wonder why. Even after, as you stated in a earlier letter, you paid for thier education. Really!?!


Posted by education, a resident of ,
on Aug 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

That is because our laws and education system do not have the concept of filial piety.


Posted by Chuck Jagoda, a resident of ,
on Sep 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Hi,

Right--they don't want me at their houses. As near as I can figure they are angry that their mother and I separated. They blame me. I was the one who left.
I did not pay for my children's educations. They were fortunate enough to get loans and scholarships and some help from family. I did try to teach them principles of charity and respect, to remember those less fortunate, to value internal values not external appearances, and to speak truth to power. Obviously I was not completely successful.
They object to things like my being here (in Northern California), the distressed exterior of my vehicle, and that I don't leave the area.
The fact that they don't want me in their homes is not so bad--I don't think it would be comfortable for anyone if I slept there, for example. I do wish they'd let me see their kids--I don't think it's fair to the their kids or me to use them to punish me.
I do believe it's easy to condemn and complain--but far healthier to find those things you can feel grateful for and go on with life rather than reliving the reasons for one's anger and resentment and fueling that fire. I do have some great memories.
I think my kids and too many of us and in too many situations--focus on what we DON'T have and what we have to blame other for. Instead, we would be much happier and more productive and live longer--if we were grateful for the contributions of parents, grandparents, and ancestors--and we ourselves--have made to the quality of life we have now.
If all you do is complain about your life, your past, and the wrongs done to you--how do you ever enjoy any of the good things in your life? You might just as well not have them if you ignore them so you can dwell, complain, and wallow in the things you regret.
My kids and too many others are born on third base and think they hit a triple. They didn't hit a triple--they had parents whose genes, time, heartache, and sacrifices enabled them to have the intelligence, education, insights, tools, and toys that we all to often take for granted while we cry out for "More!"
If you ONLY have complaints, you're only telling the negative side of the story. You're not in touch with all of the reality around you. Your view is skewed. You're missing out. You won't make good decisions with a biased view.
The realistic thing to do is be thankful--even saying "thank you" isn't going too far. It balances one's views and calms one's body.
It's also more self-empowering to take responsibility for one's lot in life. To assign all power to others leaves one as a total victim whose life is out of (one's) control.
I accept that whatever the reasons for my kids rejecting me might be to them or an outside observer--I am the one ultimately responsible. I obviously didn't do a very good job of teaching my kids the importance of family, respect, and gratitude. I very much regret that the children I've fathered and helped bring up (their mother and step father did most of the work) would treat any human being (let alone a parent) the way they treat me. I believe we are responsible for the behavior of the children we bring into the world and I regret the harsh and mean behavior my kids feel they have to visit upon me and their children. I am grateful for the many good qualities they have and display and the effort they put into parenthood.

Thanks for your interest.

Chuck Jagoda


Posted by Chuck Jagoda, a resident of ,
on Sep 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I'd like to add that as posted by "education," our kids do not have much of a sense of filial piety. It is traditionally one of our most basic values and thrives in most cultures--all the ones I can think of.
In my education and upbringing loyalty to one's family was such a basic and obvious value I assumed it would be obvious to my kids. I neglected to emphasize it until it was too late.
"Sum pius Aeneas," I learned in fourth year Latin in high school.
When a professor told us of a student who was embarrassed by his parents' foreign accents, I felt sorry for the student because he was not valuing his most valuable assets--his parents.
Other cultures--Koreans, other Asians, Hispanic peoples--have a much greater appreciation of parents, teachers, and elders in general. It is not a good sign that our young value their origins so poorly. To me it says that their children will value them even less than they value us.


Posted by barry, a resident of ,
on Jan 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Two of the speakers on vehicular habitation that night struck me most powerfully: the woman who told of her fears of sleeping in a shelter and other alternatives—and how she could only feel secure when she locked the four doors of her car before she went to sleep was quite moving. I don't know how anyone could listen to her and not be taken by the picture she presented.

I was also impressed with the young man who said that after a party when he felt he had indulged too much to safely drive, he curled up in the seat of his car and napped until he felt he could drive safely. Don't we all want to live where such civic- and saftety-minded behavior is legal?

In order to respond to those members of the community who feel imposed upon by people living in vehicles, the Community Cooperation Team is developing a structure to deal with past and future home-owner complaints. We are forming a Committee of Cooperation--a Homeowners Association for the Unsheltered--to respond to complaints and mediate mutually agreeable solutions between homeowners and vehicle residents. We see no need for additional legislation or police duties. Sometimes less government can be more efficient than.

We are also gathering and will be publicizing the good deeds done by unsheltered people. There are many opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit between vehicular dwellers and the rest of the community. We aim to explore and emphasize them.

Web Link


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Veggie Grill coming soon to Mountain View's San Antonio Center
By Elena Kadvany | 21 comments | 3,351 views

Is HBO's Silicon Valley Any Good?
By Anita Felicelli | 23 comments | 2,201 views

Finding mentors in would-be bosses
By Jessica T | 0 comments | 1,910 views

PAUSD Leadership Challenges
By Paul Losch | 23 comments | 1,690 views

A memorable Paly prom
By Sally Torbey | 7 comments | 1,092 views