In this week's Around Town column, how a Paly teacher performed in the "Jeopardy!" Teachers Tournament semifinals, a special proclamation that recognizes the city's efforts in creating more affordable housing and local spots C-SPAN visited for a special feature on Palo Alto.
OUTSMARTED... Palo Alto High School teacher Trevor Crowell fell short on Monday's episode of "Jeopardy!" Teachers Tournament, where incorrect answers, including missing the final clue, cost him a spot in the finals. His knowledge of local figures proved useful in the first round when he was presented with this question under the colleges and universities category: "John Steinbeck studied marine biology at this private California school on and off from 1919-1925, but never got a degree." (Answer: Stanford.) He racked up more errors as the competition entered the second round. In a category about medical conditions, he was given this clue: "One more reason to monitor this substance in your diet: It can build up & cause strawberry gallbladder." Crowell said sugar, but the correct answer was cholesterol. Another mistake came through a Daily Double question on which William Shakespeare play had the future Henry VII declare "We will unite the white rose and the red." Crowell said King Lear, but the correct answer was Richard III. Going into the Final Jeopardy round in second place with $10,600, he took a risk and wagered all but $100. The clue on Americana got the best of him (and his fellow competitors): "John and Priscilla Alden lie in the USA's oldest maintained cemetery, which like a poem about the couple, is named for this person." The Paly teacher said Arlington, but the correct answer was Miles Standish. Despite falling short of his chance at $100,000, Crowell congratulated the tournament finalist at the end of the show.
STRONG WORDS ... With no noticeable hint of irony, the Palo Alto City Council approved on Monday a special proclamation honoring "Affordable Housing Week." Read by Mayor Eric Filseth, the proclamation calls affordable housing "one of the cornerstones of democracy." It also calls upon the entire community to "recognize the successful efforts of the City of Palo Alto and its dedicated partners who seek to improve access to affordable housing opportunities in Palo Alto and our neighboring communities." The resolution does not mention the city's consistent failure to meet regional housing allocations for affordable housing, the council's staunch opposition to Senate Bill 50, which would loosen development standards for housing near jobs and transit, or the city's 2013 referendum that shot down a housing development that included 60 apartments for low-income seniors as 12 single-family homes — a referendum that was supported by Filseth, Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou (all of whom subsequently joined the council). It also makes no allusions to the city's current goal of building about 300 housing units annually, a target that the city came nowhere close to meeting last year. That said, the city has some modest victories. In January, the City Council approved a 59-unit apartment complex for low-income and disabled residents at 3705 El Camino Real — the city's first affordable-housing project in seven years. Next month, the council is scheduled to also approve $10 million for this project. Sheryl Klein, board chair at the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing, highlighted on Monday the magnitude of the problem. "Too many of our friends, neighbors and residents have been left behind in this economic boon and lost their housing. ... So I encourage you to do all you can to help expedite the creation of affordable housing," she said.
EMBRACING HISTORY ... Palo Alto found itself in the spotlight through C-SPAN, which televised a special feature on the famous city on May 4-5 as part of its Cities Tour. Producers recorded the local segments on March 7-13. They had a plethora of people and places to focus on, given the city's impact on academia, technology, architecture and more. In the end, they conducted interviews on architect Joseph Eichler's signature homes, the city's rock 'n' roll connections, Hewlett-Packard Garage, the giant redwood El Palo Alto that gave the city its name, Stanford University's Hoover Tower, Stanford Stock Farm, the Leland and Jane Stanford Collection, Silicon Valley archives and the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. They also sat down with several authors, some with Stanford connections, who focused on either Silicon Valley icons or explained how the university's archives helped them produce their book. To view the network's videos on Palo Alto, visit c-span.org.