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On Deadline: Mayor Greg Scharff on 'home stretch,' but should mayor terms be longer?

Original post made on Sep 6, 2013

Just about every mayor in recent years has complained — many directly to me — that the one-year term limit as mayor is too short to accomplish any personal agenda as mayor.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 6, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (18)

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Posted by Less sweet talk, its how you vote
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Mr Scharff is a real estate lawyer.
>He envisions finding a way to build two new parking structures, one for downtown Palo Alto and one for the California Avenue business district.
So he approves of more construction. Developers will support him.
When will he stop approving construction without the required parking?
He voted to give the Chamber of Commerce Below-Market-Rate office space in the big office building at Alma/Lytton. And to allow that developer to underpark.
I will also look forward to his votes - not the sweet-talk - on the Arillaga project.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

If Greg Scharff wants an easy win (low hanging fruit), one that guarantees his legacy, he could enforce the gas-powered leaf blower ban. All he needs to do is to get the council to tweak the ban, so that the property owners are fined, not the gardeners who use them (and ignore the ban).

Within a few years, he will have a bronze statue in his likeness, somewhere in Palo Alto, perhaps in a park in one of our neighborhoods.

The parking issue will go on forever....


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Posted by More weekly "journalism"
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

"In tough years, as in the early part of the last decade when a personal power struggle preoccupied the council, the mayorship can be a bit of hell. "
CAre to enlighten us, Jay as to what exactly you are referring to here?
And the poor Mayor. If it was so hellish, they could have resigned from the council

"Several mayors indicated they just would rather not talk about those times, thank you. One even suggested that I was asking that mayor to "spill my guts" about the experience."
Martyrdom becomes them, I guess. Why don't you do a story--you can call it: "My Life in Hell-One year as Mayor of Palo Alto"

"Just about every mayor in recent years has complained ' many directly to me ' that the one-year term limit as mayor is too short to accomplish any personal agenda as mayor."
Well, you might have told them, Jay, that being mayor is not a vote to push "personal" agendas. They need to be serving the city and the people that elected them. The ego and self-absorption of these self-centered individuals is mind boggling.
ANd why would they tell you, Jay?? Did they expect the weekly to launch an editorial push to change thins so that they would be satisfied?
After all, the weekly is and always has been partial to council members [portion removed.]


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Crescent Park Dad is a registered user.

The mayor position is not an elected slot by the public. So it goes that any PA mayor should not hold sway over the city...newsflash: you're not elected. Therefore you have no mandate from the people. Get over it.


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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Definitely "No". We've had some really poor Mayors in the past and Palo Alto voters have been quite glad to get them out of Office. We even had a Mayor who ran for re-election to council the following year and lost. One year terms for Mayor is quite enough.

If you're going to change the City Charter for longer term Mayors, reduce Council from 9 to 7 members at the same time, and be prepared to pay the Mayor a high six figure salary.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Let's be honest-- the mayor is a ceremonial post. All the council members have a self- serving love fest, where they heap prose on one another. Then they get to play mayor and push their little agenda-- most have little to do with palo altos needs or priorities-- remember yoriko and her climate change? Every one gets to be mayor-- even drekmeier!!!! Well almost everyone-- jack Morton was not elected mayor and was barely elected vice mayor.
Not sure why jay did not say anything about personal agendas for non- elected mayors. Well, I do understand- the weekly is the voice of the council. Ever seen the weekly push candidates for council to actually take a stand on issues? They just endorse the usual suspects


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Posted by Stoopid
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm

It is ridiculous, time consuming, and costly to have elections annually. How can any elected official be effective in just a o e-year term? Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway? is there ANY other city in the nation that does something so pointless?

last year, the City Council and mayor we had then were AGAINST the Maybell-Climo project when it was first introduced. After the elections, the Council shockingly passed it. What changed was not the plan--it still lacked enough e trances and exits, it would still cause too much traffic ( actually more traffic; by then Arastradero had been narrowed). The change was a new mayor and many new Council members.

Just plain Stoopid!


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

You do understand that the council itself selects the mayor, right? They vote among themselves; no city-wide election.


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Posted by Why Vote
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2013 at 12:57 am

Mr Scharff is a real estate lawyer.If I had a chance, I would not vote for him.


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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2013 at 1:41 am

Stoopid says: "It is ridiculous, time consuming, and costly to have elections annually. How can any elected official be effective in just a o e-year term? Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway? is there ANY other city in the nation that does something so pointless?"

Our Mayors are elected by the other members of the City Council, they are not elected annually by the voters of Palo Alto. Our Mayor's job is to run Council meetings. Most small cities like Palo Alto rotate their Mayors annually because we have a City Manager who runs the City on a daily basis.


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Posted by Estupido Alcalde
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

The mayor is elected, just not in an open election by the populace. Sounds like Palo Alto does not really NEED a mayor, it is just a silly ceremonial figurehead position, like the Queen of England.


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Posted by Agenda?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

Mayor is ceremonial. It's not to execute a policy agenda. Greg isn't the prime minister of Palo Alto he's the guy who shows up at events. Anyway to the extent that he is executing an agenda what is it? Pass an unconstitutional ordinance criminaling the homeless that will cost the city zillions in legal fees? Draw a referendum and divide the city over low income housing turning neighbor against neighbor? Throw 2 million into the PSN slush fund for a lunch club that does literally nothing with no transparency? Maybe it's to never fix potholes. Or perhaps it's to marginalized and exclude half the council. If Greg Scharff has a agenda I think a year was plenty. And who's the next mayor? Greg's hand picked crony nancy shephard who if she has a thought that is not given to her by Greg on any topic it would be shocking.


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Posted by Maybe if the people elected the mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

Leslie,

"costly to have elections annually."

WHy?! The people do not elect the mayor in Palo Alto!

Costs nothing, and worth nothing to switch every year, as far as I can tell.

City council elect the "Mayor". The "elected" person gets the "title" and OF COURSE tell the residents everything they want to hear, to then vote for the developers. I was not impressed with Scharff on the Arrillaga thing, he admitted that he met Mr. Arrillaga but it was a casual meeting. A Real Estate lawyer will go for overdeveloping, it is not in his dna to say no to developers or business owners, they are his clients. The development catastrophes in Palo Alto are because guys like him are so impressed with big words like "Gateway" (that ugly thing on Alma and Lytton) to justify just another ugly glass or just plain ugly building towering over the nano sidewalks and nano streets of PA.

Since the people do not vote, one year for the charade is PLENTY.

Not an issue,

"Let's be honest-- the mayor is a ceremonial post. All the council members have a self- serving love fest, where they heap prose on one another. Then they get to play mayor and push their little agenda-- most have little to do with palo altos needs or priorities-- "


Thank you!





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Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

A 2-year term for a mayor when public confidence in all levels of government is plummeting? I think an extended year for Greg Scharff is not only a good idea but essential. Palo Alto as a fully built out city is struggling in this economic boom. Like many Palo Altans I am waiting for greater leadership from the Council as a whole and so far in 2013 I am not impressed. However, I see enough potential in Scharff to warrant serious consideration for a second term. Three things need to happen quickly. The Council needs to show its receptivity to stronger continuity. And Mayor Scharff must lay out a practical, achievable vision for a better Palo Alto during the next 2-4 years. Finally, we citizens must step forward, say what we want and demand greater accountability from the elected folk who have to manage our city. Palo Alto Council must step up its game...changing horses midstream might not be a good idea. 64 thousand dollar question: Can Scharff dial back his pro-growth, real estate lawyer bias? I think he can if citizens demand it.


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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Neilson Buchanan if you want a Mayor for longer than one year you'll have to get the City Charter changed by the voters of Palo Alto, this will not be easy because you'll have to start by collecting an ungodly number signatures on a petition.


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Posted by Less sweet talk, its how you vote
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 8, 2013 at 10:06 am

We will have ample time to see how Scharff votes on 27 University in a couple of weeks, on Maybell, on the big glass box proposed for 240 Hamilton, on giveaways to Chop Keenan, and lots of issues.
He started his term as Mayor as a strict disciplinarian, now he seems to be on a charm offensive.
But he seconded Burt's motion to give the Chamber of Commerce BelowMarketRate rent in the monster building on Alma at Lytton, so we need to watch how this chameleon develops.


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Posted by residet
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm



Less sweet talk,

"We will have ample time to see how Scharff votes on 27 University in a couple of weeks"

What is the upcoming vote on 27 University?


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Posted by Less sweet talk, its how you vote
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 9, 2013 at 1:13 am

Tentatively scheduled for Sept. 23:
>Traffic Impact Analysis for the Arts and Innovation District (27 University Avenue) (PLNG)<
The city keeps referring to the project with that pretentious name instead of just the address. Makes me wonder how much bias the city will have.


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