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Original post made on Oct 11, 2007

DID SOMEONE SAY 'WMDs'? ... Councilman Jack Morton, one of five members continuing on the council next year, has heard quite enough about infrastructure from campaigning council candidates, who've been bemoaning the state of the city's libraries, roads and more. "Shouting 'infrastructure' is about as intelligent as shouting 'weapons of mass destruction,'" Morton said. "It's just a slogan. ... It's just a way of trying to sound as if you understand something that the rest of us don't." So what does Morton understand about deteriorating city facilities and the need to find a way to pay for repairs? There are only two ways to devote more money to infrastructure, the dollars-and-cents Morton says: cut services or expand the city's revenue base. Hard to argue with that.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (6)

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Posted by Jeff Griffin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:50 pm

In "Did Someone Say 'WMDs'?," Jack Morton of the Palo Alto City Council is quoted saying "There are only two ways to devote more money to [Palo Alto] infrastructure...cut services or expand the City's revenue base." His thinking, and I think this is pervasive in our present city council, is quite narrow. Another area to get funds for infrastructure is reducing waste. I saw some obvious waste recently and presented my case to the City Council (see Mercury New article Web Link) only to witness what I would call a polite cold shoulder, followed by an immediate unanimous vote to unnecessarily spend the cash.

If I were to guess the motivation behind the City Council's decision to ignore the warning about waste of funds, I would say that it is simply more expeditious and easier to spend than it is to look into waste and correct it. I would also say that for Mr. Morton to say there are only two ways to spend more on infrastructure, perhaps that's more expeditious, easier and takes less thought than to actually have a meaningful dialog with citizens and candidates that care about the decline of several of our city's assets.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2007 at 1:39 pm

No opportunity for more efficiency???? No waste whatsoever?

Let's begin with the fact that every Palo Alto employee gets every other Friday off! This is in return for a commitment to work an extra hour each work day - god forbid they are required to stay until 6PM ! This is equivalent to an extra 5 weeks of vacation. It also institutionalizes the understanding that under no circumstances are they required to stay past 6PM.

This program originated in the dot-com days, when city workers felt abused that they weren't eligible to become instant millionaires like all their peers. The consolation prize was an extra 5 weeks of vacation.

Name me one Silicon Valley company where all the employees walk out the door at 5PM. We work as hard as our company needs - if we want the company to stay alive.

This perk must end!!!

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm

That's great Jack - no argument. So what have you done in the last term of raise revenue or save money by trimming services, in order to fund our massive infrastructure deficit? Please be specific, and make sure that you show results (i.e., hard dollars made/saved) not just actions or votes that wound up meaning nothing.

Good lord, the condescension for taxpayers among our elected officials (and senior hired staff) is breathtaking.

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Posted by rick
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 12, 2007 at 11:15 pm

It's time to come up with ideas to raise revenues, Here are some of mine:

Pay for the Police and the new building with parking meters and doing actual police work by stopping and tickiting speeders,red light runners and trucks cutting thru residential neighborhoods. This could probably produce many millions of $$ each year and pay for these things.
Charge a tax, or parcel tax on non retail or residental parcels . The commercial properties charge 3+ to 5+ per sq ft per month for rent. A $1 or $2 sq ft per year would be insigificant to them and would bring in many millions ever year to pay for the city services they receive.

Also charge the large companies a fee on every parking space they have. This would encourage car pooling and cut down on the wear and tear on the roads and cut C0 2.

Sadly since the city is run by the business people it will probably never happen

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Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 17, 2007 at 8:43 am

This is Tim Gray, candidate for Palo Alto City Council. I am not taking contributions and I am not seeking endorsements.

I am urging the current City Council to declare Financial Discipline the most urgent need for Palo Alto. Read more about this in my web site: Web Link...

The City must triage financial discipline to the top of the agenda if we really want the bond measures to have any chance of approval.

It's easy to talk about infrastructure, but the citizens will not fund the needs if we can't demonstrate best practices. See my web site:

Financial responsibility must be demonstrated before we can earn the trust of the community to approve bond funding. The City must triage financial discipline to the top of the agenda if we really want the bond measures to have any chance of approval.

Just look at the standards that the large charitable foundations have for supporting not-for-profit organizations -- i.e. "your own house has to be in order before funds will be provided."

Applying benchmarking to the budget and demonstrating best management practices must be achieved before the City can ask tax payers to chip in. What is standing in the way of the library and public safety facility bonds is the belief that the City has not demonstrated adequate financial care in daily operations. It is urgent that we address that concern head-on.

We can fund things like street improvements and underground utilities if we apply just a little fiscal discipline in City operations, and stop thinking that just because there is the appearance of a little surplus, we can just spend it.

Infrastructure needs that can be conveniently overlooked in any one budget year, but that is taking the politically expedient path of not having to say no. I am not a not a name caller, but our current infrastructure deficit is an accumulation taking the easy path vs. taking a stand for the long-term health of the City.

I will take a stand for the long-term vs. the politically expedient. I know that my independence will offer a voice really needed by the City. As with the hiring of any board of directors, I am the finance guy that will complement any other three candidates. We need that diversity of skills. See the "Budget" section of my web site: Web Link...

Best regards, and offered in the spirit of cooperation.

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Posted by Bob Davis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:15 am

Terrific Post, Tim Gray.

I don't know how serious you are: we've seen other candidates talk a good game and then "go native" once in office. But I like your stance and your willingness to be forthright about our city's problems, and your analysis of their provenance.

We need big changes in the "business as usual" culture in town. You seem to recognize this.

You've got my vote. Thanks for running and for taking a stand!

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