Town Square

Peery family is 'anonymous donor' for new Paly gyms

Original post made on Mar 18, 2013

The family offering to build a new athletic center for Palo Alto High School says it wants to "give back" in ways that enable youth and families to spend more time playing together.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 18, 2013, 9:56 AM


Posted by palydad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:09 am

wow this is so cool!

Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thank you, Peery family, very much; this is a very generous donation.

Posted by PA dad, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:14 am

Wonderful contribution to our community. Thank you!

Posted by addison and Jordan dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

super nice, thank you!!

Posted by George, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

It is wonderful to see a leading family offer such a generous contribution to the greater Palo Alto community and to all Palo Alto youth, no matter where you live in the city.

The cracker-box Paly gym, while charming, was antiquated when our family came to town in 1959. In earthquake country, you can never be too careful where our children go to school and participate in school activities including sports.

This contribution may make it possible to bring important community infrastructure up to today's standards in many ways, especially safety.

Posted by Paly mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

Thank you Peery family! Very exciting.

Posted by Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

So the Anonymity was a prelude to a big public relations blitz.

"This will change not just the physical landscape but the feeling on the campus at Paly forever," Winston said.
Is that what we want? Be careful of billionaires bearing gifts.

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:02 am

There's always one, and today, I am going to be that 'one.' I am seriously unhappy that the main gym at Paly will be torn down to make way for yet another modern boring gym. Slowly, we keep destroying bits of local history that make us unique. The old gym has a sense of time that is in keeping with the oldest parts of the campus. The plaques on the wall showing history back to I believe, the late 1800's are great. In no other gym in the Bay area are the players last names listed on a board you raise by rope. Refresh the main gym, BUT DO NOT TEAR IT DOWN!

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

Lease-leaseback encourages political corruption. It has been disastrous in other communities where it has been implemented. PAUSD should pass a resolution allowing for it only in cases of philanthropic donations and not for building with public funds. Here is a report from a respected independent journalism paper, the Voice of San Diego about the perils of lease-leaseback. The Weekly usually does a good job covering school politics but this is a real failure on their part to tell the community what is happening:

Web Link

Web Link

Lease-leaseback encourages crony construction contracting and leads contractors to pour money into school board races and bond issue campaigns in order to profit directly. Please PAUSD Board of Education do not take Palo Alto down this road. It is a terrible mistake.

Posted by missing detail, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

It will be sad to say goodbye to our own Hoosiers-style gym, but I expect it is a maintenance and code nightmare, and could certainly be improved with better light. Hopefully by "doing it right" they might incorporate the wood and style of the old gym. Do the basketball coaches want a new gym?

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:22 am

This is copied over from another thread on Cubberley:

The district will probably be doing all its construction in the future through Lease-Leaseback, as system that promotes political corruption. Indeed, the Cubberley report specifically mentions using Lease-Leasback in their fantasy high school they 20 years from now. Lease-leaseback will be by far the worst thing that has ever happened in Palo Alto school management and it is happening entirely under the radar and without comment from the media or the public. Lease-leaseback is a no-bid system in which rather than using sealed competitive bidding, the district develops cozy relationships with particular contractors and can simply give them the job. These contractors come over time to have an interest in maintaining whomever on the staff and school board will continue that relationship because literally hundreds of millions are riding on it. They then pour money into school board campaigns and bond and parcel tax campaigns in order to fund the construction from which they will benefit. Southern California, which has been using this relatively new method of doing business for longer than northern california (approximately 10 years) has seen its entire school system corrupted. A very good piece of investigative reporting on this was published in a San Diego independent last month. It is very scary reading:

Web Link

Because this form of no-bid crony construction has only been in use for a few years, school districts are just starting to have the negative experiences. Fresno Unified also had corruption. Everywhere this goes into place it causes problems. That is because school boards tend to be weak and dumb, and administrators are excited to be the belle of the ball getting all kinds of free "lobbying-type" perks from the developers, contractors, and bond underwriters. And it's all legal. As the story says:

"This is a quid-pro-quo that would be illegal in just about any other circumstances," said former Assemblyman Chris Norby, who introduced a recent bill aimed at barring bond underwriters from contributing to school bond campaigns. "Can you imagine a politician getting money from a company and then saying, 'You're going to get all of my business from now on?' He'd be in jail for sure."

PAUSD is going to use this at the insistence of the donor, Dick Peery, who is himself a major developer and partner of John Arrillaga, who could well stand to benefit from the move to lease-leaseback, for the $20 million Paly gym. The school board should pass a resolution at the same time stating that they will only use it in cases where there is a philanthropic contribution for the construction cost, in other words, this ticket good for one ride only. But this school board is comprised of naive idiots (with the exception of Barbara Mitchell who is a right-wing government hating libertarian who thinks no-bid is some nanny state control of free enterprise) so they don't even understand what they are about to do to us. At a recent board meeting Bob Golton (who is about to be the prettiest girl at the party) was asked whether he planned to use Lease-leaseback again and he said he would if he wanted to.

Whatever has happened up to this point with the district, with Cubberly, with deception, with hiding facts from the board, with spin -- all of it, is as nothing compared to the hurricane of corruption that Lease-Leasback will bring in its train. PAUSD will never be the same once contractors and developers are calling the shots behind the scenes.

Kevin Skelly has already repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to lie and conceal information from the board and public. The board has already demonstrated its willingness to treat being lied to by the superintendent as a "terrific opportunity" to learn about being lied to. This is going to be like taking candy from a baby. How much worse will this be when money is at stake? Every single PAUSD taxpayer and citizen should be fearful of this. It will be a catastrophe for local control of the schools.

This is a terrible step in the wrong direction for PAUSD and just another sign of how feckless and secretive our administration and board have become.

Posted by Aha!, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

You mean Peery as in The Peery-Arrillaga Corporation, right?

Now I am suspicious.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Maybe it is time to reform the law, change needed to prevent backroom dealings. Other then that how are we to improve school buildings quickly and not having to take years.

Posted by M, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

What a wonderful gift the Peery family is giving to Paly and the whole community. They are a very upstanding, wonderful family who are truly dedicated to helping those around them.

Posted by Dave Peery, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

We're very excited about this project! I'm happy to discuss this in person with anyone who would like to know more or has any concerns. I can be reached at dave[at] - Dave P.

Posted by Jeff, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Thanks Peery Family for your support of Palo Alto kids and families!

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I didn't attend Pally but wanted to add this comment. This is wonderful news about the Pally Gym, the students, the staff, the parents, alumni and visitors will mostly enjoy the benefit. Thank You for the gift and your support.

Posted by thankful, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

It's sad, but predictable, that whenever something concerning Palo Alto schools or city government comes up in the news, the conspiracy buffs and naysayers come out of the woodwork. It's too bad that these skeptics are always over-represented in the PA Weekly comments section. I hope the school board and the Peery's are not dissuaded from pursuing what looks to be a terrific gift to the community

Posted by Stuart Berman, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Thank you Peery family!

I have to say that I am embarrassed by some of the negative comments being made on this list.

Posted by Megan Swezey Fogarty, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I too am sad to see the old gym go, but what a gift from a wonderful Palo Alto Family who certainly feels that history and has made designs that are truly spectacular from the sketch I saw. How blessed we are to have deeply committed families who care about our school and civic spaces. This gift will live on for generations! It is also exciting to know it will be done in a timely way so construction time is minimal and the kids in middle school who are experiencing so much construction will have this beautiful facility. Thank you to the Peery family for your many gifts! Amazing and so appreciated!

Posted by Also no bid, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm

It isn't naysaying to say lets look before we leap on the method of contracting. This gift is terrific. What about the next case that might not be so terrific? Lets not set a precedent if we don't have to. We can have our cake and eat it too if we do as No Bid says and limit this to only private donation funded work. What's the problem with that. It seems win-win.

Posted by Miriam Rotman, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm

As a member of that other high school in Palo Alto (Gunn), I wish to remind Paly parents that there are 2 high schools and that Gunn should receive equal attention and monetary sources.
Unfortunately we don't have some one who can answer all our wishes with a check for 20 million dollars but why on earth should the district give an additional 5 million dollars to this project out of money that belongs to the entire community?
Palo Alto school board has not enough money to pay for a concession stand at Gunn and yet has enogh money for a new athletic facility to rival "all private schools" (per Melissa Caswell.
It surely is wonderful to be the beneficiary of this largesse and sure isn't fun to be the "poor relative".

Posted by Just a Thought, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] Perhaps they can donate $ to have more lunch and recess supervisors, so less bullying happens at our schools. That's another way to show that you care for the less fortunate, which in this case are the victims of bullying. Hope you considerate. I know I would do it, if I have the means. I already ask if I could volunteer at my child's school, but they do not take parents volunteers during lunch or recess hours.

Posted by Red Headed Stepchild, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Miriam, well what did you expect from a board that doesn't care that Paly has advisory and Gunn has a much much less effective counseling system. There was a suicide attempt ON CAMPUS AT GUNN IN THE LIBRARY BATHROOM ON MARCH 1, and yet Kevin Skelly sat at the school board meeting last week, one WEEK AFTER AN ON CAMPUS SUICIDE ATTEMPT and stated that PAUSD is in the "vanguard of suicide prevention." That statement should have made every Gunn parent head for the district office with a pitchfork. PAUSD still does not have a legally-required school safety plan. Never had one, never will.

All of the parents except one on the Guidance Advisory Committee, after 18 meetings and 5 months voted for advisory. All the teachers voted against. Guess who won? Hint: not the taxpayers and parents.

Now you think you should get equal treatment? Why would you think that. Four out of the five board members live in the Paly district [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by wish we were paly, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Gunn cannot even afford to install a new water fountain behind the field.

Posted by Hooray for Paly, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

The Paly gym has long needed replacing, and I am so happy for this ans for the future generations who will use it, BUT......knowing that most members of the BOE live in the Paly area, and knowing the Peery-Arrilaga company, I wonder if something is amiss that the public does not know about. It all seems a little suspicious when you start piecing things together, and I sure do hope I am wrong on this one.

Posted by Jason, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Thank you to the Perry family. What a lovely gift that will provide a state of the art facility for many generations to come.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm

What a wonderful gift -- setting an example for giving back to the community.
It's great to see positive stories on this website, despite the few odd naysayers' comments.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Look, Gunn has had the fabulous large Spangenberg theater while PALY was stuck with the aged small theater - no comparison.I was SHOCKED the first time I went in there as a parent and never liked it - too cramped and awful and tiny and almost unusable.
Spangenberg was always very well utilized and a fantastic size facility.
I always found Gunn facilities to be way superior to Paly's. I was stunned when I first saw the two Paly gyms. This gift is much appreciated and sorely needed.
There should be close equity in terms of educational programming; the facilities will never be exactly identical. They grow by leaps and bounds.

Posted by Thank you, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm

"Thank you to the Perry family. What a lovely gift that will provide a state of the art facility for many generations to come."
My girls just graducated from Paly. The said they will send their kids to Paly in the future. What a wonderful community.

Posted by Dave Peery, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm

We're very excited about this project! I'm happy to discuss this in person with anyone who would like to know more or has any concerns. I can be reached at dave[at] - Dave P.

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Hi Dave: Thanks for your generous family gift. It is truly terrific. I wonder if you would comment on your quote in this story about the use of lease-leaseback that is enabling you to work with Vance Brown and your chosen architect without having to use sealed bids. I understand the advantages of lease-leaseback for controlling cost and time overruns. I wonder if you could comment however on some of the problems of moral hazard that it creates in the long run.

Would you support the Board using this contracting method only in instances in which a philanthropic private donation pays some very significant proportion of the expense, such as 75% as in this case?

Thank you for your donation and thank you for responding.

A Concerned Citizen

Posted by A neighbor, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Thank you Peery family for your generous contribution to our community. It's especially meaningful because three generations of Peery's have lived in and attended public schools in Palo Alto. Thank you Dick and Mimi!

Posted by Bob Stefanski, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm

To the Peery family: thank you, thank you, thank you!

To "No bid!": My name is Bob Stefanski and I am also a concerned Palo Alto citizen. What is your name? I have the same interest in the gym project as every other current or future member of the Palo Alto community - that is the interest in seeing an absolutely incredible and generous gift to build a. gym for our children actually happen.

Your campaign regarding lease-leaseback, while perhaps well-intended, is a complete red herring in the context of the Peery's gift and, frankly, by implication casts a negative and highly inappropriate shadow on an extraordinarily generous gift. It has no place here, particularly repeated over and over in multiple posts. It makes one wonder if you have some other motive?

Of course the project will be done as a lease-leaseback, a better and more appropriate approach in the context of a project funded by a private donation. Throwing around FUD about corruption and vice relating to lease-leasebacks in this context is inappropriate at best. It does not apply and comes a cross as scare-mongering, or worse. The concerns about lease-leasebacks in the article you cite are all in the context of publicly funded school projects, where the theory is that public office holders are potentially conflicted in approving bids by contractors, e.g. builders, who are donors to their campaigns. That is simply not the case here. If you wish to pursue the issue of lease-leasebacks in projects funded with public funds, do so in a more appropriate context, where it is actually a potential issue. And perhaps pursue it with the school board, which actually has the authority to address it.

Please allow the community to be thankful for the wonderful generosity and the Peery's to pursue their philanthropy [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Bob Stefanski

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Hi Bob:

Well, I think if you look at your own comment it will be obvious why I am anonymous. It's not "inappropriate" to raise a question about district policy at a time when the district is making that policy. After the horse is out of the barn it will be too late to close the door. Saying "stop talking about this" is not the same as reasoned debate. Would you have a problem with a policy that this system of construction contracting can only apply in cases of large donations? If so, why?

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm

By the way, Bob, 5.45 million of this project is public money. So please retrain your anger on the school board which is deciding to let a public contract without sealed bid with no real discussion.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:43 pm

I support what ever is need to get our schools in shape, not just teachers, but books, computers, gyms, pools, state of the art labs.

This area is produced so much wealth, brains, and talent. Now while the real estate prices go up, prices have gone up and people build megs homes or big office buildings.

The schools also need upgrades.

Posted by Dave Peery , a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Hi No Bid - thanks for your thoughts. I can say that these issues did not cross our minds as we started to look at this project, as this is pretty new territory for us. Our objective is to take the most pragmatic approach to getting the job done. An important tenet of our philanthropy is "do no harm". The 75% approach you mention could be interesting, but I honestly am not familiar enough with all the variables to take a particular stance. It really isn't our role to try and change the system. We saw a need and felt like we could address it. Pretty simple. I'd prefer not to return here to read the comments so if you or anyone would like to discuss in person - I'm totally happy to do that. Again my email is dave[at] Thanks. - Dave P.

Posted by Lynn Brown, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:07 am

Just want to add my thanks to the Peery Family!

I have put in dozens of hours of volunteer work in the current gym, and while it has a certain vintage charm, it is really an unfixable wreck. Obviously Paly will keep all the banners, plaques, trophies, photos, and the like - same spirit, better facility.

One of the best aspects of the new project is the net gain in gyms. This will be a huge benefit to the entire area. (My 12 year old currently has basketball practice from 8:00 to 9:30pm because there is not enough gym space in town to practice at a reasonable hour. One year his practice was all the way up in San Carlos for the same reason. The wrestling team practices in a garage on campus, while the freshman basketball team practices at 6am OUTSIDE!)

Regarding the bid/lease stuff - it clearly does not apply to this project and is a bunch of nonsense. Yes, I read all the info and links 'No Bid?' has posted, and it is about use of public money, where this project is largely private money, there simply is no opportunity for corruption - political or otherwise. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I hope the Peery's [portion removed] know the community deeply appreciates their wonderful gift.


Posted by Scott Peters, a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2013 at 1:16 am

I am Scott Peters girls basketball coach at Palo Alto High School for the last nine years. I want to thank the Peery family for the generous gift. Even though I will miss the overall flavor of the main gym, I think having a state of the art of facility that creates pride not only for the student body but the community as a whole is a great thing. Palo Alto High's facilities are used by many youth programs that cater to all Palo Alto families not just those that live in a certain school boundary. So this gift will benefit the entire community of Palo Alto and that is something to be appreciated.

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 19, 2013 at 7:05 am

Hi Lynn: Thanks for sharing how hard you worked on the gym project. I guess we all owe you a debt of gratitude, and I for one would have trouble expressing just how I feel about your efforts on this terrific project.

I continue to think that it is not inappropriate in any way to express a desire that we go down this road with our eyes open. Lease-leaseback is no bid construction that absolutely creates cronyism and benefits large developer-contraactors who are able to put together a large team as well as capital in order to handle this kind of work. Small contractors are injured (I am not one), pricing is higher, and more importantly, a class of financially interested parties are created who fund bond issue campaigns and other political campaigns. There is no need to infer a sinister motive -- the plain old profit motive is good enough.

Gee, it sounds like everyone here thinks this is the kind of system that should only be used for philanthropic donations which is my proposal. So why all the rage for raising a proposal that everyone including Mr. Peery thinks is a sound idea? Why say it's "not worth a bean." Who says that anyway?

The best plan is to gratefully accept the donation and carefully write a policy that ensures that the Lease-Leaseback method is used only in this case and others like it. But that's not the plan. Instead Bob Golton has expressed the idea that he would like to use it more frequently because it makes his life hard to have to ensure that bidded construction goes smoothly and he would not mind if the public paid a bit more so that he could have that leverage of being the guy who gets to decide if they get the next job. That is the definition of cronyism. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 19, 2013 at 8:14 am

thank you to the. Peery family for this amazing gift to our community! I have to say that if I were donating the funds for a construction project in Palo Alto, I would want control over it too to make sure they $ are spent effectively and that the work proceeded in a timely manner. Think of how quickly Stanford Stadium was rebuilt (less than a year) vs. the still incomplete Mitchell Park library. I personally welcome their expertise.

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 19, 2013 at 8:55 am

Here is how Bob Golton himself described lease-leasback to the board last week: "Contractors have an incentive to perform well in a LLB atmosphere because they have confidence that a successful project may result in the award of future work." This precisely describes the problem. Contractors are eager to curry favor because they know that they will have a better chance of getting work regardless of whether they provide the best price to the public. As Golton acknowledges, the public can only "encourage" the price to be "reasonable," it cannot obtain the best price.

Golton, who would be this new unilateral awarder of future work, our own Bob Moses of Palo Alto, described this new method in completely glowing terms, with no mention of the hail of public corruption investigations, lawsuits, and bloated construction bonds floated to an unsuspecting public by campaigns funded by the developers and bond underwriters: "For this reason, an increasing numbers of school districts are moving to another method, called Lease-Leaseback (LLB). This construction delivery method has been used by school districts throughout the State to deliver school facilities on time and on budget, and often with a reduced amount of change orders, claims and litigation."

And an increased amount of public corruption but never mind that, we're happy. This is just a ridiculously partial and unduly rosy picture of this method. It ignores the negative experience recounted by independent journalists around the state, including the Voice of San Diego and the Fresno Bee.

School boards have a fiduciary responsibility to obtain the best price for the public. They also have a more general and equally important responsibility not to create a moral hazard by crafting policies that encourage cronyism among public officials and private interests. In this case the board can and should allow the use of this contracting method only in cases where the money is primarily private donation, and should not allow Golton to move to this more generally. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 19, 2013 at 9:22 am

I agree with No Bid that this method seems OK for this situation. We are not likely to have a generous donor willing to spend $xx million buying a building for the school district very often.
But and it is a big but: Switching to lease lease-back for regular construction seems like a bad idea because then big contractors would try to become repeat players. They could do that by doing a good job, and also by funding bond campaigns, school board candidates and nice lunches for school district staff people.
Competitive bidding keeps the process clean.
And thank you Peery family for this donation!

Posted by Lynn Brown, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:03 am

To Mr/Ms 'No Bid?':

Just to clarify, I have spent dozens of hours volunteering in the current gym - cleaning, organizing equipment, working concessions, etc. My main volunteer job is running Paly Gear which is located in the main gym and constitutes many hours of stocking and selling and otherwise managing the inventory.

I think the point was clear, that this time spent in the gym has given me a good look at the place and it is more of a wreck then I had first realized - and maybe then others realize which is why its worth mentioning.

How did you get out of that that I worked on the new gym project? That is a total miss.

You don't owe me anything. Most folks at Paly pitch in quite a bit - my bit just happens to be in the gym.

My objection your your bid/lease stuff is that it clearly does not apply here, and to imply that it does casts a pall on a beautiful generous much needed project.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I think this gift is great. I think we need proper fiduciary safeguards to ensure that lease-leaseback is only used when there is proportionately little public money at stake in order to reduce the moral hazard problem. I am concerned with the future protection of the public fisc. Bob Golton has already been public about his desire to move to this method of construction and has given the board what could at best only be described as a very very partial description of the benefits and risks of it. Indeed, he only talked about the benefits and omitted any mention of the risks.

Since your post about indicates that you don't see any reason it should apply outside the narrow context of this gift, perhaps you would like to drop this subject now since we appear to agree. If not, one wonders why.

Posted by parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

I am thrilled at the generosity of the Peery family and even more thrilled that it is a project that will be completed in a timeframe so my own children can enjoy it for part of their school years at Paly.

While some skeptics will argue against this arrangement out of fear of future corruption, etc. I think anyone who has had experience with construction projects will agree.... the least expensive bid is rarely the best or cheapest in the long run, whether publicly or privately funded. (Mitchell Park Library anyone?) I am much more confident that this project will be kept on schedule and that there will be less chance of surprising cost overruns... which is usually the case with lowest bid public works projects.

The Paly facilities are an embarrassment considering the size and age of the school. (Especially when I compare the facilities to the many schools I attended which were even older and had more "history.") The massive construction projects going on right now are long overdue. The new gym facility is an obvious final piece to the puzzle. When I think that the construction bond discussions started before my youngest was in kindergarten and that construction may only be complete after my youngest graduates from Paly, I will take this arrangement any day.

Thank you, thank you Peery family!

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

I agree with parent that there are problems with sealed, competitive bids sometimes. That actually hasn't been the case with the school construction which unlike the Mitchell Park Library, has been well-managed. All district construction is on schedule and on budget. That is a fact. There is no problem to solve here.

But even if there was, we need to be sure that the cure isn't worse than the disease. Lease-leaseback is relatively new. It has only been in use for around 10 years and it has caused massive problems of public corruption after it has been in use for a few years. If we do this, we won't feel it immediately because relationships between staff and contractors take time to develop and cause problems. But experience elsewhere suggests that this is not the unproblematic good thing that Golton presented to the board. The board is elected to consider things like this and proceed with caution.

So while I agree that there is no perfect construction method, we need to be sure that we are actually solving a problem and not creating a worse, different problem. My proposal, to limit the use of lease-leaseback to cases in which private donations provide 75% of the funding for a given project seems to solve everyone's problem. So why the pushback?

Thank you Peery family!


Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:51 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 19, 2013 at 11:19 am

Thank you to the Peerys for this generous gift! This will help our entire community and it sounds fabulous.

I have to admit that on bad days I come to these threads to vent (because misery loves company) and I see some fellow posters can find it in themselves to criticize this project [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] "I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way."

Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Why does Palo Alto Online resort to so much CENSORSHIP? I would rather read what people have to say - I have never seen this in any blog anywhere.
NoBid your comments are sort of redundant.

Posted by No Bid?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm

@Alphonso. You're right about that. I think the point has been made. I hope the board and the public consider it.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Thank you to the Peery family for putting your name on this.

I read the article on lease-leasebacks in San Diego and do wonder what is the best practice for our community.

Web Link

Any way to leave the old gym and build the new one on top of it? Even as a Gunn alum, you gotta love the old pit and the old team photos.

Posted by Paul (Student), a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Look at all of you bickering! You all have your own supportive comments or objections to add, but no one stopped to ask what the actual students and athletes think. I wish Palo Alto parents would stop accusing each other of narrow-mindedness and focus on opening their own minds.
Palo Alto parents are so concerned with controlling their kids I often feel they, as a community, overlook us as people. We have our own opinions, the future is ours, not yours. So [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] it would mean the world to us students if you (parents) took one moment with each of us and asked what we thought about the project. Seem like a fair idea?

Posted by Paul (Student), a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm

The press censors the people? Oh this is too ironic. Even our own school publications don't infringe on 1st amendment rights. Real mature PA Weekly.

Posted by Addison Parent, a resident of Addison School
on Mar 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The gift is generous, and the Peery family is entitled to direct its money however it chooses, but I think it would have been nice to see the money shared with a community of greater economic need. As I remind my kids, just because you want more doesn't mean that you need more. I have little doubt that the Palo Alto community will benefit from the new gym, but I also have little doubt that the new gym is just icing for a community that has already enjoyed more than its fair share of cake.

Posted by PA Native, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I am amazed that people have the gall to criticize where this family donates their money. Always easier typing behind a computer alias in a jealous rage.

The gift is generous and thank you to the Peers family!

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I live 5 miles north in RWC....we'll take the $20mill gift, gladly put the Peery's name on the bldg, and there won't be a single letter or written objection to the project whatsoever.

We'll just say "Thank You" for your incredible generosity.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

@ Addison Parent: Unfortunately you are mistaken with your criticism of Peery family and their decision to invest in Paly.

Take a moment to research the Peery Family Trust and you will find that they have a long history of donating and investing in many areas of need - EPA is one of many examples.

Web Link

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Video presentations of what the Peery Foundation has been working on:

Web Link

Posted by Addison Parent, a resident of Addison School
on Mar 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

To PA Native and Crescent Park Dad, I respect your opinions, and as I indicated in my comments, I acknowledge the Peery family's prerogative to direct how it spends its money. But I presume you also respect that I am entitled to an opinion about who might be most deserving of the Peery's generosity. I'm not saying that those who most deserve the money are entitled to it--life isn't fair, after all--but I'm expressing my opinion that the Palo Alto community might not have the greatest need for the gift.

To Dave Peery, who commented earlier in this thread, I was unable to find any indication of how much money the Peery Foundation donates annually to its partners. The Foundation's list of about three dozen partners is impressive, and the Foundation's web site indicates that each partner generally receives between $1,000 and $100,000 annually, but I'm curious whether the total annual donations are in the $40,000 range or the $4,000,000 range. Would you be able to share that information here?



Posted by Lee, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

The first time an article appeared regarding the dontation - the source of the dontation was not made public and the PA Online - blocked all comments.

The process for the donation has moved along quickly and more or less quietly. There has been little public disscussion and to my knowledge it has not been on the school board agenda or a topic of board discussion.

The donation is more than - extremely generous, and no doubt the intentions are sincere. ButI am wondering if there is enough due-dilgience being done as regards asking some very critical questions about in what ways will this be a community resource and what insurances will be put in place to make sure the facility will be accessible to all students, as noted by Dave Peery

It's not really about sports or athletics per se," Dave Peery said.

"This is much more about providing balance in the lives of our busy youth. Additionally, these facilities will be available to the broader community."

The divisions in the school district between north/south/east/west run much deeper than many would like to admit. Its one of those topics that constantly simmers just below the surface. Great effort has gone in to trying to mainain a level playing field and insure resouces have been fairly allocated.

It would not be my intention to reject such an offer, but I would strongly suggest that before the district puts it hand out - and the school board dissmiss this as an non- issue, that serious discussion take place as to the potential impact this may have on the district as a whole and what precautions might be put in place to maintain equity and insure it is a rescource for all.

Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

@John, aka "Addison Parent": There's always someone who needs more help. Shouldn't we all be sending our money to Third World Countries? Your curiosity is misdirected.

Posted by Local gurl, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Why don't we just designate the entire school as an historic landmark, close it to the kids, turn it into a nostalgia trip for its alums, and build an entirely new, modern high school? Our kids deserve better than a fight about "old" v "new".

Posted by Mixed Feelings, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm

While I am glad for Paly, Gunn needs improvements, too.....why do they never get equal treatment? They are, after all, in the sme district.

Having had some business dealings with Peery-Arrillaga in the past, I cannot help but feel a little suspicious of this gift. I fear there may be strings attached. I realize the son is not the father, but is he not part of Peery-Arrillaga?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Dave Peery, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Thanks for the encouragement on this project! I would more than welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns that people have mentioned above. Happy to meet in person. My direct email is dave[at] - Dave P.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Jason Peery also helped build the new Pinewood High gym on Fabian Way in Palo Alto (near 101) and coached there for four seasons recently, class of 1989 and a star player, if those facts put this proposal in more context. He's a partner at Peery-Arrillaga while Dave focuses on the foundation.

Web Link

I hope this project goes through but since it involves tax dollars, public property and our good name, it seems reasonable to ask that it be properly vetted.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm

It was in another article or posting, but once the Paly gym project is complete, the two indoor athletic facilities at each campus will be much closer in scope than ever before. It has never been closely matched.

For over 4 decades Gunn had the far superior Spangleberg Theater while Paly had the run down and small Haymarket. Now Paly is getting a new theater and Gunn's theater is getting a much needed update.

For many years Gunn and Paly had similar L shaped pools. Paly received a privately funded pool remodel. Gunn received a bond/publicly funded pool remodel and additional facilities (classroom, offices, deck locker rooms, storage). With the gym remodel, the Paly pool space will be brought up to par with Gunn.

Gunn's football stadium was updated about 4 years ago. Paly's football field is getting its update now.

While Paly has had 2 gyms for some time - the single Gunn gym had as much floor space as the two Paly gyms. Further, Gunn's athletic complex had a much larger and modern locker room facility. The current bond only scheduled $5m towards improving the Paly indoor space --- but that would not have allowed the construction of facilities to match Gunn's new (and remodeled) indoor space.

The schools will never match exactly. But it seems if you take a look at where things are heading, both schools should have pretty much identical square footage and capabilities once the bond construction and the donation construction finishes up.

Just to make the point (one more time) on this equity thing --- both the Paly pool and the new proposed gyms have been and will be funded by private donations. The new Gunn pool and the Gunn gyms were funded by public monies. In the end, both schools will have pretty much the same thing. What is the issue here?

BTW - have you seen the new Gunn gym? It's gorgeous.

Posted by PtL, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Thank you very much – this is and extremely generous gift to our community. Peerys are a warm, wonderful, humble, and generous family. Jason gave his time to coach my son's basketball team, while Lisa would help out with any volunteering grunt task at Addison and always with a good attitude. Three generations of Peerys attended PALY even though they can easily afford to send their kids to private schools with state of the art gyms already in place. My older child will graduate from PALY way before this project is finished and my younger one is at a private school with a wonderful state of the art gym (a model for the one planned for PALY) which is used for a multitude of community events, just to mention a few: school dances, school open house, festivals, international fairs and many other. With the help of Peery family, PALY can have an amazing facility to benefit our community for many generations to come. Thank you wonderful people for your generosity.

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2013 at 7:22 am

Private largesse exacerbates the gap between rich and poor kids. The Peery family balances their gifts but in general if you are not poor you are called upon to finance the school your kids go to. The question doesn't come up with the poor.

Posted by anonymous senior, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I am not using my name because not everyone knows about me. I am a gay Paly senior. I will be going to a pretty good college I hope. I love my school and my friends.Growing up in Palo Alto has given me a lot. I have known I was gay probably since I was around 11. I wouldn't say I was, exactly, bullied but it definitely hasn't always been easy.

I am writing about the gym.The Peery's are generous to give to Paly. Some people are listing their other charities here.They also gave a lot of money to stop gay marriage in California, for Prop. 8, something I have strong feelings about as a gay student. Mr. Richard Peery gave $20,000 which is a lot and his sons also, gave thousands. I think that sends a really bad message about who is a role model. It makes it seem like Paly is agreeing that he is right which is bad..Or that Paly is willing to overlook his prejudice to get the money for the gym, which is even worse.

Everyone is going to be mad at me for writing this which is another good reason I am not giving my name.I have thought about this a lot over the last few days and I just feel that I have to speak up. I think that it is wrong that Mr. Peery is against equal rights, for people like me. I feel like this gym isn't for me.

It says in this article that the Peery's are giving the gym to "enable youth and families to spend more time playing together." But I know that doesn't mean me and it doesn't mean all families, because families with same sex partners aren't even a "family" to them. It makes me even more angry, about not being able to just be who I am. Everyone is so happy about this, but from my perspective, it isn't great. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

It would be nice to have a new gym at Paly. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] A comment here says that "they are a very upstanding, wonderful family who are truly dedicated to helping those around them." Speaking as a gay young person that is hard to take.I don't know if the adults are even going to consider the student perspective, but if you are, I wish you would consider me, and not just the athletes.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Sorry Anonymous Senior, I do have some sympathy and understanding for you, but this is a case where two different actions by the same individual(s) are not relevant.

In this world, we are allowed to have our own political points of view. We are allowed to donate to whatever cause we agree with. We are allowed freedom of thought.

You are wrong when you use anti semitism as an allegy here. It would be much more accurate to look at whether democrats should benefit from a gift made by a republican or vice versa. Prop 13 is a political issue not a philanthropic issue. People can disagree politically without it being an issue of hatred. Prop 13 may have some haters among their supporters but there are also some haters among their opponents. Likewise, in any political issue.

If you feel that you cannot use a gym that is freely given by some people with whom you have a political difference, that is your choice.

Posted by JLS mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

@anonymous senior. I am so sorry that you feel hurt and upset by this situation. I didn't really think about it until I read your post and I am sure a lot of other people haven't thought about it either. After I read your post I researched it, and it's true. Richard Peery was one of the biggest donors in California to support Proposition 8. Here is a web link Web Link.

This is very disturbing information to me. It is certainly not what I think of when I think of pro-family and pro-kid.

I don't agree with Paly parent. This isn't just politics, it is about live and let live and respecting others. Those are the values I try to teach my children. Prop 8 to me was bigoted and bullying. I can't understand anyone supporting it and I don't want the name of someone who is that prejudiced on the side of a public school building. I also don't see the difference between being anti-gay and anti-black or being anti-Jewish or anti-immigrant or anti-anything. Prejudice is prejudice. We need to support our youth and I support you, Paly senior.

Posted by Paly Guy, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Paly Guy is a registered user.

Anonymous Senior - thanks for your comments. FYI the Peerys are part of a majority of this state that favored prop. 8. You or I may not agree, but 52% of this state went for prop. 8. Let's just keep this gift and politics separate.

Posted by Paly Guy, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Paly Guy is a registered user.

Again, to JLS mom. The 52% of this state that went for prop. 8 don't see themselves as "prejudiced." We're talking about a majority of this state, hardly the fringe.

Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:55 pm

isez is a registered user.

So typical. People enjoy raining on parades. I wonder if the poster who let the cat out of the bag is really a student or some envious adult. It's just a red herring. I don't agree with religions so should I avoid interacting with churchgoers?

For all the wide-eyed angels out there, it should surprise you that there is plenty of prejudice abound - people just don't talk about it. Our world will never be devoid of prejudice and those who think it will are in a pipe dream.

Posted by leka77, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2013 at 11:57 pm

leka77 is a registered user.

Dear Anonymous Senior - thank you for your poignant thoughts on this! I can understand why you would feel this way. In all fairness, however, the positive comments made above were by people who know the family personally. Your feelings, while valid, come from a name on a list. As someone who has known Dick Peery and his family all my life, I can attest to their goodness and love towards others. Many of the people who supported prop 8 were bigots, but many were not. I may not agree with them but I don't think it's fair to demonize them without knowing where they're coming from. This is a complex issue. Knowing the hearts of the Peery family, I know this could not have come from a place of hate or prejudice.

Posted by PalyDad, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

PalyDad is a registered user.

The weekly revoked its endorsement for a judgeship last summer of someone who had given just $500 to Prop 8, with the publisher saying that "The Weekly is a strong supporter of gay rights and of gay marriage, and we cannot lend our endorsement to a candidate for judge who has actively attempted to deny this right," The publisher went on to say that the candidate did more than just vote against gays. It was his financial support that made the difference. "By providing active financial and public support of a highly divisive and emotional ballot measure, Pogue showed a passion on the issue that is inconsistent" with the Weekly endorsement.

Web Link

I think the Weekly was right to do what it did and I agree with the publisher's comments from last summer. Now let's apply the same standard. The comments here are wrongheaded. The fact that the "52% of this state that went for prop. 8 don't see themselves as "prejudiced" doesn't mean they're not. Southerners didn't see themselves as prejudiced when they defended Jim Crow. They thought they were defending a way of life. I imagine Mr. Peery thinks he is defending a way of life, but that doesn't make it true. And the fact that there is "there is plenty of prejudice" in the world doesn't mean we have to create a monument to discrimination in a public school.

If Mr. Peery wants to give to Paly let's use part of his money for a "tolerance center" that promotes gay rights. If he's really pro-family and pro-teen I'm sure he'd have no problem with that. Is this Palo Alto or Richmond, Virginia?

Posted by Jordan mom of 3, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Jordan mom of 3 is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PalyDad, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm

PalyDad is a registered user.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Palo Alto needs to take a good hard look in the mirror. Our recent civil rights issues are very troubling to me as a longtime resident. Now this. What about this gay student and other gay students? If we take this money we should set aside a part for anti-bullying, tolerance programs and an LGBT student center. Who's with me?

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

village fool is a registered user.

Coping my response from a recent parallel thread dealing with this issue -Web Link
@ isez, a member of the Palo Alto High School community - you raise an interesting question that was addressed here in variant ways. Does a legal action make it right? Trying to show my point, going to the edge - What should a Boston school do during the Civil war, should a Southern wealthy, famous Citizen, supporting slavery in southern state, legal, then, would have donated $ to that Boston school for whatever the school choose to do?

And generally speaking -

Where have all the teachers gone? Long time passing...

Surly, they are very busy - still, I would hope the Paly gay student could read some support, here. Advice? Goes back to limiting access here only to those logged in. Lets see a teacher supporting the gay student? just supporting, no comments about donation. Obviously, there is no way to know who is writing, but threads dealing with teachers salary raise seemed to be packed with real teachers. Anonymously. Never signing in, such as requested now.

Posted by RMD, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:08 am

RMD is a registered user.

I'm not sure why we're doing anything besides celebrating the gift and the generosity. They support many worthwhile causes in our community - from many things in EPA and to counseling in the schools, which benefits all of our kids.

I understand and support a student who feels strongly about Prop 8 - but its unreasonable to say the gift is improper or should be met with anything but enthusiastic thanks.

Their position on Prop 8 was exactly the same as Obama's at the time and I assume that those who express doubt on this issue actually voted for Obama. Would anyone here object to Obama appearing at Paly on this grounds? or to a donation from from Obama? Even you can distinguish Obama's position (and its evolving), I assume we'd all agree Obama's not even CLOSE to the line where we'd object to a contribution from him.

Its obviously a hotly contested issue but we need to be able to disagree without demonizing our opponents (something that applies to both sides of the debate). We can disagree without invidious comparisons.

I hope we don't make them less likely to support the community by reacting unreasonably. I doubt any of us would be more likely to contribute to good causes if others made some of the negative comparisons made here.

Thanks to the Peerys!

Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

RMD you are incorrect about Barack Obama's position on Prop 8. Presidential Candidate Barack Obama was AGAINST Prop 8 in 2008. Below is a letter he sent in June 2008 to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. So that's not true. More to the point, tolerance and acceptance of all, and respect for the rights of all are the values I want to teach my children, not hate, intolerance, and taking away rights from people. I don't think the Peerys have the values I respect or want to teach my children. Especially in this day and age when we understand so much about the harm and damage inflicted by bullying of gay youth. Gay youth are at great risk for suicide attempts, and studies show that tolerance lowers their risk for suicide: Web Link.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What happened to the Developmental Assets and listening to youth? What happened to Project Safety Net and protecting gay kids and lowering their suicide risk? [Portion removed.]

Dear Friends,
Thank you for the opportunity to welcome everyone to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club's Pridc Breakfast and to congratulate you on continuing a legacy of success, stretching back thirty-six years. As one of the oldest and most influential LGBT organizations in the country, you have continually rallied to support Democratic candidates and causes, and have fought tirelessly to secure equal rights and opportunities for LGBT Americans in California and throughout the country.

As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.

For too long. issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. This is no less than a core issue about who we are as Democrats and as Americans.

Finally, I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks. My thanks again to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club for allowing me to be a part of today's celebration. I look forward to working with you in the coming months and years, and I wish you all continued success.



Barack Obama

Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Onlne staff.]