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on Jan 6, 2014
Shepherd and Kniss, can it get worse?
The meeting had this element of the bizarre.
Scharff going on about how charming Kniss was, and so charming, and soooo charming.
The word "regional" was mentioned dozens of times, why?
What a nightmare.
Do Palo Altans understand the damage they will do by rewriting the Comprehensive Plan to better enable the Manhattanization of Palo Alto?
Please, someone, start a recall. This cannot wait until the election.
Kniss is a retread, career politician. A classic example of someone who simply caters to the special interests. Just more of the same, repackaged and doled out as new. Pathetic and sad.
6/9 of the Council lives in some other universe.
"Weird" the reason regional was mentioned so many times last night is that election campaign just started. While Kniss isn't up for recall, the strategy for Scharf and Shepherd is clear - build up the credentials and "regional influence" to combat any newcomers that challenge the status quo. While totally out of touch w residents on zoning issues, they will point to how great the city is doing and deflect/confuse the issues in an attempt to stay in power.
Faced with the prospect of Kniss setting council agendas for the next two years I believe a recall of Kniss is now in order. Holman as a vice mayor would have been a way to heal the community and provide balance, but instead the gang of six decided to maintain the council "as is".
What was the electorate thinking when they voted in Kniss?
Now we have her attempting to make Palo Alto her own personal step up the political ladder. She is a career politician and she is more interested in where she wants to go next and who will back her then.
We are getting what those misguided voters voted for. I am not impressed.
Part of my earlier post was removed for mentioning the recorded council meeting last night, and my catching expressions which showed marked disgust when a couple of residents spoke up against high density zoning.
It is relevant that behind all the smiles and camaraderie and talk about council working together Palo Alto, some members have a clear bias, resentment, and hate towards the people who worked to defeat D. I was not an anti-D activist, though I took my behind over to sign the petition and voted against D. I don't know them but agree with them 1000%.
Emotionally charged animosity from any of the council members or their family members towards residents who challenged them (such as the anti-D people) or will continue to challenge them is of concern and cause for mistrust.
IMHO there is a massive cat fight going on, masked in "civility" another word mentioned frequently last night.
Stop the hating, and instead of all the charm, and politics (which we do not need) people please focus on being transparent, transparent, and transparent.
Deja vu, anyone? Web Link
It's easy to sit on the sidelines and throw pebbles at the workers. If you want to do the work.... Go for it. Think about solutions. Spell them out and present them to the council.
Green bean said "present your ideas to the Council"
They are ignoring it like Measure D.
Palo Alto Long term vision? They dont have one that make any sense.
Solution for parking permit is a sad joke, Fees and parking violation tickets monies collected will anable Mr Keene to hire other graduate from Antioch University
Wake up Palo Alto!
@ Green Bean's call for solutions:
Allow the public to elect the mayor. Do not give this task to council. In Mountain View, the next mayor will be another young lad with no lifetime experience, and can only learn on the job. It is too big a position to have, not to have any real-life experience.
This year, the same is in Los Altos, and in years past, in Palo Alto. Nice well meaning people. But it sets up the scenario where there are long-in-the-teeth people that can schmooze regionally, or youngsters with no experience.
Just because a populace may elect someone to council, does not mean they should be trusted with a top position, like mayor. Let the public vote.
Second solution - reduce the number of council people to seven, down from nine.
Third solution - have councilmen/women represent districts, so their fingers will be on the pulse of what districts think and feel. That will lead to more trust.
I rather like Shepherd. She may make a good mayor. I also think Greg Schmidt (not Scharff) would have made a good mayor this year too.
I have several good adjectives to describe Schmidt and his representation of PA, even if I do not agree with everything he has said. I respect the measured, detailed way Schmidt says what he thinks, and would trust him with big decisions.
Schmidt does not come across as self-centered, and career oriented, at the expense of residents and other PA taxpayer-stakeholders.
Must be nice for Liz to be crowned queen. Her developer subjects are dancing in the street, the rest of is not so much.
What's next? Lifetime appointments?
What a soap opera. Nobody to fix the potholes. No respite from the condo-ization of Palo Alto. No relief in sight on the incestuous relationship between the Utilities Department and the city. More highbrow "but we're Palo Alto" crap to shovel.
I am among the many who are disappointed that Holman was not named Vice Mayor. The City and County have all "benefitted" from Kniss' leadership - why not inject some new thinking into the mix? I also think it is time to have a smaller City Council and suggest shrinking to 7 or even 5. The way things work out and Council members team up we've effectively got a Council of six now anyway. Can someone who knows how "Council Shrinking" is achieved chime in on this? Imagine how much shorter Council meetings could be if there were fewer Councilmembers!
What a political nightmare. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Time to call Mayflower and move. The only other recourse is to vote out the present self-serving council members and elect civically responsible candidates.
> Nobody to fix the potholes.
For the record, the City is pretty good about fixing potholes, as long as the damage to the street is limited to no more than a couple square feet. Personal experience is that these are fixed in a few days.
As to street deterioration that might run into the hundreds, or thousands, of square feet--the City usually finds some creative reason for not fixing those problems. Example--California Avenue could have been resurfaced a long time ago--but this clearly needed project was sidelined until some grand plan redesign of the whole street could be put into effect.
> No relief in sight on the incestuous relationship between the
> Utilities Department and the city
Actually, the Utilities department is just another face of city government. There is no relationship between the two--because they are one and the same.
With less than a year left in their terms, it would be a waste of time to recall Shepherd, Scharff, Holman, Klein and Price. Klein can't come back due to term limits. The other four will lose in a landslide. But we should focus our efforts on recalling Pat Burt, Marc Berman, Greg Schmid and Liz Kniss, all of whom will remain in office until 2016. A recall this November is the practical time to do it.
We need a council that is free of developer influences and committed to obeying existing zoning, such as the 50-foot height limit.
Palo Alto wants to be a "big boy" city - like SF and Oakland. So why are we not electing our mayor and vice-mayor. San Jose elects a mayor. We can't be a big boy city if we act like town.
This is horrible news, and the fast-track to the ruination of Palo Alto. How could anyone with any brain cells vote in Nancy Shepard or Liz Kniss. [Portion removed.]
Palo Alto is an overwhelmingly liberal community. And these council members have been elected by that community. We are all going to have to live with the results unless voters elect council members with a different mindset and view of our community and its future.
Hopefully before what has made Palo Alto such a great place to live is irreversibly destroyed.
"Palo Alto is an overwhelmingly liberal community. And these council members have been elected by that community. We are all going to have to live with the results unless voters elect council members with a different mindset and view of our community and its future.
Hopefully before what has made Palo Alto such a great place to live is irreversibly destroyed."
Opposing growth at ALL costs (as no benefits) is not in opposition with a liberal mindset.
If one is a true liberal, there would be opposition to the powerful undemocratic business interests that the Council has been favoring against those of residents which are being priced out and shown the door to make more room money making stack and packs.
Stack and packs = $$$$$ for the 1%
There would also be opposition to destroying the character of a town. For more forward thinking liberals please check out what San Francisco is doing, saying no to developers.
Hopefully people will recognize that what made Palo Alto great was not Pottery Barn.
At least we were saved from having Holman as Vice Mayor. She has learned little about how to articulate her positions, and perhaps moderate them, so that her perspective is even considered.
Go Nancy! She'll be great!
>IMHO there is a massive cat fight going on, masked in "civility" another word mentioned frequently last night.
"Civility", in the context of public politics, has become a tool of control. I would rather that an uncivil council member simply spoke his/her mind about a particular issue...maybe like a Chris Christie, where he simply cancelled an expensive tunnel project, because he couldn't afford it, and said so...the project was cancelled.
Harry Truman famously said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" . We have absolutely nobody of his character in Palo Alto leadership. Thus, we get continual admonitions to be "civil", while essential issues are driven into quiet discussions among the elite.
I rarely agree with Craig, but he is correct about the whole " civility" thing-- for too long council members have equated criticism with " personal attacks"
Craig's comments about civility should also extend to the weekly and their wrong headed policies and censorship of comments.
Also would be nice for the editor to identify themselves by name and a policy of identifying the reason for the removal of a spit should be put into place ( sometime it is done, most of the time we just get " post removed").
What Craig said is about those speaking their mind about a particular issue.
Your complaints about the weekly and their editing policies are about the same issue you bring up in every thread. Why not start a separate thread about this topic?
The editing policies are fair enough, I often get edited, I probably deserved it each time. If the point is important enough for you, come back and tell it in a way that respects the policies. This is their kitchen.
The health of the council members is a matter of public record. It has been reported in the local media. Why is it off limits on this thread which is clearly about the council and who was chosen for certain posts and how health issues should or should not be considered.
Perhaps our intrepid editors could explain their censorship or else on has to think that it is business as usual with the Weekly and the council ( cozy ing up to their buddies on the council and making sure that the " process" is not questioned or individual members are not criticized by name )
Weird-- thanks for your comments. I bring it up I the threads where I feel that the weekly goes overboard with their censorship under their guise of civility. And yes it is their kitchen, but that does not mean that they get carte Blanche without any criticism.
And both of my deleted posts on this thread were respectful and yet they have disappeared without an explanation. The weekly wants to play with the big boys but acts like a spoiled child
how to start recall?
Seems to me we just need to pay attention, identify issues, propose possible approaches to issues, and help our council and the entire city governance structure thoughtfully.
Castigation and undocumented negativity are not helpful.
I totally agree with Peter Mueller!
This was the subject of a recent thread (how to recall city councilmembers)
It really would just take someone deciding to do it, there are a lot of people who would join now. Whether they ultimately ended up recalled or not, starting the process now would make their re-election awfully difficult even if they survived it. There would need to be good alternative candidates in place, though.
I don't know how active the commenters above are in City government, but many of us have been shocked by how insular this Council is. Maybe castigation isn't helpful, but neither is wasting time politely talking to the Hand at City Hall.
There would be many reasons to recall these guys (except for maybe Schmid), starting with the attempt to give away the Arastradero Reserve land to Arrillaga. Starting the recall now in advance of the election would give a chance to make the most promising candidates incumbents come election time, an advantage.
Schmid deserves credit for bringing up the committee assignment issue directly with Shepherd before the vote for Mayor. Besides getting a
committment from her he brought "transparency", what everybody says
we need, to what has been happening on this.
I have been concerned that on so many important and crucial votes, Liz Kniss was "absent". Why? Was health a problem or personal issues or personal travel? There were never any explanations. But there was a significant
number of absences. Since she didn't vote, she doesn't have a 'record' on contentious issues which would come in handy for her if she were running again for Council - or for another office.
As we discuss the issue of the Gang of Six and their pro-development policies, it's important not to let the debate get hijacked by political partisans. This is NOT a Liberals Vs. Conservatives issue. In fact it's a Liberals AND Conservatives Vs. Us issue.
It only seems otherwise because affordable housing activists are so voluble in the public debates. But the primary beneficiaries are the developers, followed by construction trade unions and city government. These special interests do not line up with the divisions in national politics.
But to a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to an ideologue everything is about Liberals vs. Conservatives. The genius of the developers is that they've gotten single-issue affordable housing advocates to become their public face. Follow the money, though, and the truth will out.
@Lee The -- my wife and I love your letters! Do you know anybody who might want to run in the Fall for Council?
If someone starts the recall campaign, I'll help.
Also, whenever I've written to the City Council, Liz NEVER EVER responds.
Any suggestions for someone that is known and resident friendly that could defeat Kniss in a recall?
I thought Kniss referring to and extolling the virtues of Shepherd's husband was in poor taste.
And perhaps a bit self-serving.
You should assume not, because if that person existed they would have already won the general election.
Yes, the issue is who can run against these local elites who have the backing of both the developers and the employee unions. Seems like that would require people with money as well as a willingness to stand up for residents.
There was a residentialist revolt some decades ago here. It won but the forces against us never go away and never stop trying to overturn the will of the voters, one way or another. So it also requires someone who realizes that an election night victory is just the start, not the finish line.
It's a tall order but not an impossible one. My ideal would be a Silicon Valley startup millionaire who has turned his or her interests to civic affairs.
I should add that the right person doesn't want the job and will need to be persuaded to run. So whoever's reading this--don't just look for someone whose burning desire is a seat on the Palo Alto City Council. Look for someone who's in a position to run, understands the situation, and is willing out of a sense of "if not me, who?" rather than some thirst for local power.
Especially since anyone who's the latter type will be suborned by the same special interests who are Manhattanizing Palo Alto.
"As we discuss the issue of the Gang of Six and their pro-development policies, it's important not to let the debate get hijacked by political partisans. This is NOT a Liberals Vs. Conservatives issue. In fact it's a Liberals AND Conservatives Vs. Us issue.
....to a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to an ideologue everything is about Liberals vs. Conservatives. The genius of the developers is that they've gotten single-issue affordable housing advocates to become their public face. Follow the money, though, and the truth will out."
From your lips to God's ears. Time to make Palo Alto famous for getting this one straight.
"Any suggestions for someone that is known and resident friendly that could defeat Kniss in a recall?"
If anybody is awake or has a heart beat left in them, they would know to get the pack of 6 out. BUT this ongoing practice of replacing with yet another "all we could come up with" candidate is CRAZY. That strategy is what keeps good potential candidates away.
Getting one attractive candidate will beget another, and maybe there is chance.
Question is who is trustworthy???
Anyone able to show all their cards, and promise in blood to not stray or be prepared to be exposed and recalled?
Anyone not easily floored by the usual "powers" supposedly running Palo Alto? Be it developers or other "pillars" of the community.
BTW if the usual movers and shakers with money were really pillars of this community there would be a heck of a lot more to show for it. Stanford gets all the money and all we are get are actual concrete pillars on every sidewalk holding up office cubicles.
Kniss lauded Shepherd for having "four children in five years while holding a job …"
How does that remotely qualify someone -- man or woman -- for being mayor?
Thanks to Greg Schmid for going "off script" and pointing out the elephant in the room: "30 committee appointments have been made, more than double the number three years ago. Three council members, including himself, have not been chosen to serve on any of the newly formed committees."
Nothing more clearly demonstrates who's part of the council "in crowd" than those committees. Just like middle school politics.
Yep, that's the thing.
Plus that description means a person who is probably in their 50's, and it's a 4-year commitment of at least half time. So that means it they sign up for it, they may never have a real job again.
I don't suppose you're that guy?
I think the citizens of Palo Alto would vote to recall Kniss and others. Palo Altans are very unhappy with this city council
Kniss is definitely in the pocket of developers. Last night's city council meeting was a joke. It was, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch my back." Kniss is a career politician, having already been mayor of PA two times, and poised to be mayor for a third time next year. [Portion removed.]
At a recent city council meeting, our "new mayor" said she didn't care what the people of Palo Alto wanted, and that she would not be bullied into voting for the wishes of her constituents. The new Mayor Sheppard will be a disaster for Palo Alto. [Portion removed.]
Pat- Liz never misses an opportunity to shower praise on someone she thinks may benefit her in the future.
Kate- Liz will miss any vote that she does not want on her record. When she was last on the council and was mayor she refused to schedule a vote on a contentious matter so that she would not have to go on the cord one way or another.
Neighbor of kniss- Web Link
I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that Liz Kniss lives directly across the street from a home that developer Arrillaga owns (in Old PA).
She will cozy up to him, at any cost. She really butters him up, and will try to allow him to get his way on any development he proposes. Kniss needs to watched carefully.
Kniss downplayed the Measure D vote, that it passed with a small
voter turnout, was therefore not meaningful,ignoring the fact that it
was a decisive outcome.These comments I guess for the majority on the
Council made her the best candidate for Vice Mayor and then Mayor next
correction: meant to say Measure D failed of course in above post-but you get the point!
Neighbor of Kniss,
Her connections with Arrillaga matter though, and any actions to charm this fellow would be in conflict with her job.
27 University, that should suck the air out of the room soon enough. Not sure what the plan is but the recall card will definitely need to be used if again Council and the city try to gift us a theater on the train tracks.
@neighbor of Kniss,
I agree, they would be recalled. Someone just needs to take the time to set it up. The Maybell neighbors showed that anyone can do these things, the people who did it were just neighbors. In fact, if someone wants to do the work but wants to remain anonymous, contact the Maybell zoning people, they'll be happy to run with it I'm guessing...
You can't have a recall unless you have a replacement lined up
What Palo Alto really needs is district elections for the city council and school board? Make the representative represent their district instead of those which finance their election. Anyone interested in a voting rights lawsuit to force district elections?
How do we get district elections? Is it via lawsuit or initiative? If it's initiative, ask Bob Moss, he'll tell you how to do it. You could circulate it before the end of the month, I'll bet it would be easy to qualify it. If it qualifies, Council can decide to adopt it (they won't) or put it to election, in which case, their refusal to adopt it will affect their chances in the next election.
We really need to have City Council be a full-time, paid job, too. This isn't a podunk town anymore. If the only people who can make the commitment are power hungry developer shills, we get what we pay for. We can pay for the positions by eliminating positions made unnecessary by a full-time council. It's about time the position was made attractive to ordinay Palo Altans who are not independently wealthy.
Once again, for district elections we have to have candidate(s) from each district.
We do not suffer from too many candidates that we can afford the luxury of such an idea. The theory is good, the practice may be impractical.
I disagree that a council member's health is not an issue.
Have we ever had a council member "retire" due to poor health midterm?
I am not sure, but if our mayor, hypothetically, was too involved in dealing with a health issue, what sort of mayor would that make them? We could probably manage with a part time mayor and the vice mayor taking over, but is that a good idea?
I believe the president of the USA has an annual physical each year and the results are told to the press. Is a mayor any different?
Best wishes to all our city council for their personal health.
When can we elect a new city council? I'm counting the days.....
"This isn't a podunk town anymore. If the only people who can make the commitment are power hungry developer shills, we get what we pay for. We can pay for the positions by eliminating positions made unnecessary by a full-time council. It's about time the position was made attractive to ordinay Palo Altans who are not independently wealthy."
How do we make this happen?!
There are many reasons this is critical, but one of the most compelling reasons is that they way council members operate now is that their "volunteerism" somehow entitles them to a broad political platform, and this offers them an excuse to infuse us with their personal thoughts day in day out X 9. It's a game of whacAmole.
A paid position is much more honest, QUALIFIED leaders would be paid to adhere to a job description. An election would not be a political competition, it would be a way to scrutinized the best candidates for the JOB, which would not and should not include a blank check for zoning.
A paid job would have metrics, to see if the person is doing their job or not.
Enough of these weird, bizarre mayor "selections."
How unfortunate that Palo Alto residents still allow politicians only to elect a Mayor and Vice-Mayor to govern our city. Both received major contributions from developers and will continue the downward spiral of livability in Palo Alto. In effect, those with money to spend on politicians are the real winners. As for residents, we are left with the status quo of a failing infrastructure, regurgitated parking reforms with no solutions, a dysfunctional city council out of touch with our community, and a multi-million dollar paid city management staff that offers no new ideas on moving our city forward and is essentially inept. What a pity!
""This isn't a podunk town anymore. If the only people who can make the commitment are power hungry developer shills, we get what we pay for. We can pay for the positions by eliminating positions made unnecessary by a full-time council. It's about time the position was made attractive to ordinay Palo Altans who are not independently wealthy."
How do we make this happen?!"
Same way the Maybell neighbors made the referendum happen.
1) Look at the relevant City Code for how our Council is set up.
2) Find another charter city in California that has a Council structure we would rather have, with district representation and paid positions.
3) Adapt that code for our needs.
4) Hire a government firm to check your work. (As the Maybell zoning people if they might help raise funds, but if you've done your homework, it could be as little as $1,000.)
4) Present your proposal at City Hall during open input. Send it out to all the neighborhood groups. Publish it in the paper.
5) When this Council rejects it, start an initiative. Having done most of the work already to come up with the code, all you have to do is follow the rules to start the initiative. Ask people who have done it like Bob Moss or the people on Measure D for help if you have question.
6) Same thing, have a government firm check your initiative.
7) Circulate the initiative.
8) When your initiative gets enough signatures, CC can decide to adopt it or put it to vote. If you collect a whole lot of signatures (you have 6 months) making the passage inevitable, you can shame them into adopting it instead of putting it to a vote which will be costly for no reason. You may be able to get help with signature gathering from many groups across Palo Alto.
If the Maybell situation did nothing else, it showed we have power as citizens. Let's fix some of these problems so we can go back to our lives! We need our public servants working for us, not themselves. Don't rely on your neighbor to do this. Pick one of these things that needs doing, like Neilson Buchanon has done with parking, and just go for it. I will be the first to sign the initiative!
"2) Find another charter city in California that has a Council structure we would rather have, with district representation and paid positions."
Any ideas out there of model Council structure?
What is a "government firm"?
City council salaries: to pay or not to pay:
City councils in major cities:
Sorry, I meant "government law firm" -- a law firm that specializes in government, used to looking at initiatives and referenda. I think you just have to ask around and use Google to find one. Or ask the Maybell people if they know, I think some of them used a firm to review the referendum before circulating it.
Thank you for those excellent articles. I thought it was really interesting that in one of the cities mentioned, the mayor got paid more because the mayor also acts as the city manager. There's one way to eliminate that expensive position and make the management of the City more transparent!
" I think you just have to ask around and use Google to find one."
"Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP [SF] is a law firm specializing in government, land use, natural resource and environmental law." - from their website.
In my 40+ years as a resident of PA, I have never read such disgust and frustration with the City Council as exists now. I can only hope that each member, especially the new mayor and vice-mayor, seek deeply inside themselves to recognize the frustration and disgust (yes, a strong word) expressed by so many citizens.
> Palo Alto has to change with the times, but change doesn't mean that developers run over our town with the support of the powers that be. Or that traffic/parking can be out of control - not almost out of control, but fully out of control. Development is closing in on everyone, except developers who see dollar signs through their magic glasses. Palo Alto has been put up for sale to the highest bidder so many times, it really is heartbreaking.
> If the mayor and vice mayor want to make their mark on this city, they should LISTEN to what we are saying. When a council member, now mayor, says she won't be bullied by Palo Altans voting to stop an ill concieved development - who does she represent and what are her goals, not platitudes, but real concrete goals?
> I wish Shephard and Kniss good luck as they govern in a city where so many have expressed the desire to keep Palo Alto livable, and to not have PC's rule the day.
Just a comment that a major developer said about a huge project that is on El Camino, "It is great, it is like printing money and so easy". Developers see it one way but they also do not have to live with the consequences.
Funny how the weekly did not think that Timothy gray was fit to serve on the council, yet they championed his cause during the anti-D campaign. Then they attacked all of their buddies ( Holman, kniss, Klein, Scharf etc) for their stand on Measure D. Now the person thatbtheynhave supported election after election will be mayor next year. Does anyone need further proof that the opinions/endorsements/editorials put forth by the weekly can and should be ignored-- they clearly base their opinions on what they feel will benefit the weekly.
Cannot wait for kniss to be mayor next year so that she can lecture us in her condescending manner that she knows what is best for us.
Thanks weekly. But please, people, make sure you make your donations to the weekly.
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