In our latest Around Town column, learn more about a firefighter assisting in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, pushback against Verizon installing cell antennas and a local on this season's cast of Survivor.
TO THE RESCUE ... A Palo Alto firefighter is taking part in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts as a 15-year member of the state's Urban Search and Task Force 3, which was deployed to Texas last week. Chris Mosko, an apparatus operator, is a rescue specialist who was expected to join boat crews. Mosko is also a Class A equipment driver who was hired by the Fire Department in 2003 and promoted to engineer in 2011. He currently drives the Station 6 truck at Stanford University. Before joining the department, he was a heavy equipment operator with the Public Works Department. City Manager James Keene mentioned Mosko's participation at last Monday's City Council meeting. "Everything that's been happening in Houston (is) just both a reminder of visions of the future ... as it relates to global weirding," he said.
MIXED SIGNALS ... As Verizon prepares to install 93 cell antennas on utility poles and traffic poles throughout Palo Alto, it is facing increasing pushback from local neighborhoods. In recent weeks, residents have sent letters of protest to the City Council, urging the city to halt the project. Andrew Gibson, an Old Palo Alto resident, urged city leaders not to let Verizon "pollute our eyes and ears with 93 hideous and buzzing cell towers" and argued that the equipment would "destroy the great property value of Old Palo Alto homes. This ought to be enough to reject this devastating corporate proposal alone, yet I have not even begun to discuss the terrible side effects of 93 radiation-emitting towers on our quiet little town and it's population." While the overwhelming majority of the letters that the council received in the past week opposed the towers, some residents welcome the project. Judy Decker, a Bryant Street resident, said that for the past year she has been "almost completely unable to have an audible call from my home." "I don't want to switch to AT&T and would love to have more coverage in my home." As a real estate agent, Decker also disputed the idea that a "decent reception would diminish property values." Those fighting the antennas are facing an uphill battle, thanks to the council's decision earlier this month to approve a "master license agreement" paving the way for the installation and federal rules that prohibit localities from using health impacts as a factor in denying telecommunication equipment. City Manager James Keene recalled last Monday night an adage he used to hear back in his graduate school days: "'Feds have the money, states have the power and localities have the problems.' Feds don't have the money anymore but they have asserted themselves, particularly in the area of telecommunication, and pre-empted at (the) national and state level the authority of local communities to regulate the telecommunication issues," Keene said.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ... Palo Alto native Roark Luskin is one of 18 cast members competing on "Survivor" at Fiji's Mamanuca Islands premiering Sept. 27 on CBS. This season, the players are divided into tribes based on a perceived characteristic: heroes , healers or hustlers. The objective is still the same — to be the sole survivor who wins $1 million. Luskin is part of the healers group, nicknamed the Soko Tribe, "that receives gratitude for their good work," according to the show's website. She currently lives in Santa Monica and enrolled as a master's student in social work at the University of Southern California, according to her LinkedIn profile. The 27-year-old describes herself as sarcastic, focused and intelligent, according to a video on CBS' website. "I'm a really competitive person, and I hold myself to really high standards. I'm really, really, really achievement- and goal-oriented," she said on the video. Her take-charge attitude roots back to her childhood. "Bossy's a positive word in my mind," she said. "I'll have the ability to form genuine connections with people, but I'm not one to lose sight of why I'm on Survivor — to be the winner," she said on her show profile. Luskin's fierce personality could take her far. "I'm not going to set fire to you the second I come out on the beach, but I will insidiously bring you down," she said.