A dearth of candidates Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Aug 3, 2012 at 7:46 am
With just 12 days remaining before the Aug. 15 extended filing deadline for candidates running for City Council and Board of Education, the November school board election is in danger of being cancelled entirely and the City Council race is looking uninspired.
Read the full editorial here Web Link posted Friday, August 3, 2012, 8:47 AM
Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Aug 3, 2012 at 7:46 am
I agree that we need new candidates for the school board. There have been governance issues in PAUSD for years, going back to Mary Francis Callan. The board does not want to take on hard issues, that's why we have site-based control. We need new blood on the board. While I was skeptical of We Can Do Better, on the other hand, the fact that they have data and do their homework makes them better than people who just scream about Manderin Immersion or the calendar. Whether you agree with them or not they make sense. I think having at least one dissenting voice on the board would be very positive. I hope Ken Dauber or Wynn Hausser will run.
Posted by Michael, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2012 at 9:41 am
Wayne Martin, please run.
You'll have support from me and a lot more like me who are bristling at the thought of Berman (a pro-labor attorney) and Kniss (a career bureaucrat who is beholden to special interest unions) on the council enriching the city employees on the backs of the next generation.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2012 at 10:10 am
I would like to see Susan Fineberg run; she had a "resident's" view on the Planning & Transportation commission - so much so, that the Friends of Developers of the current City Council would not re-appoint her, even though she is Vice Chair of the commission, and instead went with two newbies (one a real estate attorney).
And with her experience on the Planning & Transportation commission, the "in crowd" cannot say she lacks knowledge.
Posted by Small Town Living, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2012 at 11:37 am
Does it really surprise the PA Weekly Editor that people will not step forward and run for City Council? Breakdown the scenario; (1) Liz Kniss is running. She maneuvered for the PACC election to be changed to even years(this year), as opposed to the traditional odd numbered years(2011)just in time, as she is being termed out of the County Supervisory office. She lobbied that PACC elections held during even years, and during the general elections would be less costly than those held during odd numbered years. Her timing seems rather self serving, and basically a conflict of interest; (2) The other "in person", Berman did not run in 2009 probably because so many other "in people" were running and he did not have a chance at that time to win - now it will be a cakewalk for him to win; and he is supported by current council person Nancy Shepherd - and look at his list of monetary contributors - more in crowd people in Palo Alto, and surrounding communities; (3) Two incumbents are running, and normally, incumbents are guaranteed a win - look at Klein in the 2009 election; (4) The Palo Alto community does not normally support anyone for PACC unless they have so called served their time, and paid their respective dues on a local board or commission, as if only those experiences suit people for the PACC which is really non-sense; (5) Face the fact that the community is steered, and run by a few hundred people; and what they view, and vision for the city is what happens, including who is elected to council. There is no democracy in small city/town local politics, so for people who are not apart of the circle to step forward ends up being wasted effort, and wasted dollars spent. However, all that being said, the city runs, and in the final analysis, most of the decisions that are made, and ideas that are implemented, in general serve the residents rather well, and when they don't people at least show up to council meetings, and speak up!
Posted by Pa parent , a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm
This editorial paints a bleak picture. There will always be room for improvement
Pertaining to the school board I think listening to what Barbara Klausner had to say is important. However it is the structure of the relationship between the board and the district because of the leadership at the district that in my opinion is one of the root causes of inaction.
The role of a school board member is thankless. It requires long late hours. Unfortunately because of this it limits the number of people who can commit - who have full time jobs, young children at home etc.
I think that this editorial is a little concerning because of the call for WE Can Do Better subscribers to run. Instead of calling for a subset of people to run specifically from this group who has indeed been controversial in it's attack approach, a call for anyone with students who are currently enrolled in PAUSD is a more appropriate call. The tone of this editorial is one of panic and one that is trying to strike fear in people. Fear is a deadly motivator.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm
Not running for these positions shoes some sense in the community. Being a public servant in Palo Alto makes one a target for bullies, and the local paper takes sides with the bullies, as in the above article. If you're one of the bullies, you wouldn't want to put yourself up for election since you know all too well what a target you will become if elected. Easier to take shots from the sidelines. I know, go ahead and remove my comment. . .
Posted by Ryan, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm
The problem is that anyone with any decent business sense (the type of civil servant this town has been severely lacking) is too busy creating value in the private sector to commit their time.
That leaves us with council members who are more often than not politically ambitious (IE more likely to sell themselves to the union special interests -- see: GAIL PRICE) and out of touch with basic notions of efficiency. Why would we continue to overpay our city workers so much and continue to sell out future generations otherwise?
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm
Point of fact, I was Student Body President at Terman Middle School in 1977. I was Nelson Rockefeller Center Fellow in public affairs and policy from Dartmouth College covering council meetings in Mountain View and Santa Clara while Berman was still in short pants, in 1984. By 1996, I was on the cover of your Palo Alto Weekly for community leadership; maybe Marc Berman attended some of the teen programming I organized at Cubberley in those years, 1994 through 2001. And it's a moot point to compare my modest results in the 2009 election that Mr. Berman didn't participate in. Ironically, I jumped in in 2009 responding to an op-ed like this one.
It’s not that Palo Alto needs “more candidates” for the upcoming election --- I beg to differ. There is, however, a lack of residentialist and uncompromised voices in local debate and self-governance. Special interests here, especially commercial real estate moguls and deal-makers, hold too much sway and have too much say, and fill a Democracy gap, the difference between what we were taught in school, what our Founders foresaw, and what we actually have settled for.
Whether I run or not, whether I “win” or not, I stand with a significant number of people who have serious concerns that we are being poorly served, but not in the ways you describe. Your coverage barely fathoms the real dearth. We need a new residentialist platform.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2012 at 11:20 am
Site based decision making was terrible at Barron Park School but has been the best experience at Gunn. I felt that the school board had abandoned us in elementary school, allowing experimental fads to dominate. At Gunn, I wish the school board would leave us alone. The calendar decision was just one example of shallow thinking, especially for our seniors. They did have the wisdom to let us think for a while instead of ordering a guidance upheaval.
We need to watch out for groups, filled with people who have professional agendas of their own, undermining our teachers and our student learning processes. And yes, we are aware that the folks at 25 Churchill has professional agendas too.
Posted by Amy F. , a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm
It's frustrating at every age level. Elementary schools are overcrowded. It was projected, and now our schools are torn up and over capacity. We have moved in more portables and principals with political agendas.
Yes, having higher class ratios might work, if there is enough aide and volunteer support so teachers can TEACH. Yes, reducing fields and outdoor play areas while adding portables won't physically hurt our children, but that it isn't the standard of quality that we expect or wanted for our children.
There are so few stable schools, without constant turnover in leadership, in environment, in values. That echoes through Middle School, and I cannot speak to High School yet, but I worry, seeing and hearing about the pressures our kids our going through. Serving in a High School as and Aide I felt the pressure, and I was just there to help.
All of these values, these core environmental influences, and the culture of our schools begins with leadership, and it's imperative that we either need to find people or parents we can stand behind and support, or stop bullying ourselves, get in front of our leaders, and without bullying or yelling, talk.
Tell them to listen, or find someone who will. That's what I'm working on, and I ask those in my community to do the same. Media will do what they do, investigate and report how they will, but a passionate community can come together, and so no. I'm not going to take this anymore. And if you feel that way, volunteer, talk (not bully, irate, berate, belittle) to people who are in the positions for now, and find people in our community who you like. Encourage them to serve, like we have Mark Weiss, and help them.
You cannot make a change if you do not take a step towards change.
Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm
I couldn't agree more with Common Sense.
The timing is perfect; the need abundantly clear: both exhibited by the council's recent failure to re-appoint her to any of three open P&TC positions and what that portends in terms of future development, careful process, and transparency.
Change needs to start at the top, and Susan Fineberg is The Real Deal.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Aug 7, 2012 at 11:30 am
As an academic who has lived in several college communities, i know that "town/gown" issues often arise. For the most part the difficulties in the towns I lived in were occasional, and related to very specific project concerns.
--- The resolutions were mutually determined and projects were modified -- and the process did not go on for years with multiple lawsuits.
--- The Universities involved did not have to pay tribute or give campus land to the towns.
Palo Alto takes the "prize" -- hands down -- for the most irrational hostility and outright blackmail of it's university neighbor. The "Palo Alto Process" is a twisted misnomer, stolen and corrupted from HP.
Palo Alto's property values, wealth, and continued draw are a direct result of Stanford's presence and its role in building the intellectual and the tech economy. Without the University, PA would be Burlingame.
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm
To answer a question directed at me, above, follow Fred Balin's suggestion and review the Council's actions to give Susan Fineberg's PATC seat to Alex Panelli and then Dan Garber's unfinished term to Michael Alcheck. At media center site and archive of meetings on video.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:33 am
Thanks for your views on where you think each city council member stands; I agree with you on Holman & Schmid being residentialist. I think Shepard & Yeh are more neutral in their records, and the rest (Klein, Burt, Scharff, Price & Espinosa) are pro-developer.
I would consider voting for you if you would focus on the issues and policy, and not the other candidates personal characteristics (like age, etc). I think the Palo Alto Weekly editoral was a disservice to those who decided to run; it should have focused on the policy issues that the council will face in the four years.