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Senate candidates clash over housing policies, PG&E's future at Palo Alto forum

Original post made on Feb 6, 2020

Seven candidates vying to succeed state Sen. Jerry Hill clashed Wednesday over housing policies, charter schools and a new proposal to have the state take over PG&E at a forum in Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 5, 2020, 11:10 PM

Comments (28)

27 people like this
Posted by Not fine
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 6, 2020 at 10:04 am

Main takeawy from this article is - do not vote for Masur. Supporting SB50 is as dangerous as supporting Trump.


16 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2020 at 10:18 am

Posted by Not fine, a resident of Charleston Gardens

>> Main takeawy from this article is - do not vote for Masur

My main takeaway is that Becker, Lieber and Brownrigg are all credible candidates with good ideas and good track records. I hope that they don't split the "rational" vote and have two other candidates float to the top.


21 people like this
Posted by The Architects of the Iowa Caucuses
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 6, 2020 at 11:28 am


I’m looking for a candidate who will help overturn AB5, and also vote down SB50.


16 people like this
Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2020 at 11:41 am

Except that most of them had enough brains not to support SB50, my take-away is that most of them are trying to be the most "progessive" candidate...not what I am interested in.


20 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2020 at 12:13 pm

Vote for the Republican and break the cycle of progressive liberalism in Sacramento.


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Posted by What Will They Do Next, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> Vote for the Republican and break the cycle of progressive liberalism in Sacramento.

The Republican Party, as popularized by Abraham Lincoln, was originally *liberal*:

"Liberalism, political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. " Web Link

As indeed, were the first six Presidents, in their distinct ways. Andrew Jackson was the first anti-liberal President. The struggle over slavery was obvious: no one who advocated freedom of the individual could accept slavery permanently. The Republican Party "formed in 1854 by former Whigs, Free-Soilers, and some Democrats who were united against the spread of slavery in the West and against the Kansas-Nebraska Act".

The Republican party was liberal, or, at least had a large liberal wing, through Eisenhower. Buckley+Goldwater turned that around, culminating in the Trump Party, which is anti-liberal and against freedom of the individual.

As you might expect, I'm a supporter of "freedom of the individual".


13 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2020 at 12:58 pm

[Post removed; off-topic]


11 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2020 at 1:40 pm

[Post removed; off-topic]


27 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Feb 6, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Please don't vote for Masur, as she supports SB 50, and building tall market rate towers next to your single family home. Also, teacher's unions just put $225,000 behind her candidacy. Teacher's unions resist any accountability for student performance, even though our state's public schools are performing poorly. This is wrong. All our students need to be proficient. No to Masur.

The only candidate I've heard clearly stand up for local control against SB 50 has been Michael Brownrigg. Go Brownrigg!


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2020 at 3:56 pm

[Post removed; off-topic]


9 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2020 at 5:10 pm

I came away with this thought about Becker: obviously smart and capable but too aligned with and supported by the establishment that hasn't done much to make ANYTHING better. The Newsome endorsement is especially concerning; how independent will he be? Will he go up against that machine? I tend to doubt it.

I think we need new thinking instead of more of the same old same old that has, frankly, failed us. After last night I will be paying more attention to Brownrigg and Glew.


15 people like this
Posted by Downtown PA
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 6, 2020 at 5:29 pm

The Republican is actually leading in the polls.

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2020 at 11:08 pm

Excerpt:
Masur was the only candidate who said she supported SB 50, whose author, Sen. Scott Wiener, is among her high-profile endorsers.

"As a local city councilwoman and a former school board member, I'm all about local control," Masur said.

Comment: surely this candidate can see how nonsensical her claim to be "all about local control" is.

Glew, on the other hand, called SB50 an abomination and said that what we want is for the State to help us, not control us. That is eminently sensible.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 7, 2020 at 4:20 am

I'm fairly new to the area, so I have some homework to do to figure out who I want to represent me. I will say this though.... I don't agree with Glew's comment of "PG&E is a business. If they’re going to fail, let them fail." The stakes are too high to let an organization fail when it provides such a vital service to our communities, one that evidently can be massively destructive when mismanaged. I also disagree that PG&E is overregulated. If it had been regulated sufficiently - either via state government or self-monitoring - there wouldn't have been billions in damage and loss of human life due to the company's negligence in maintaining its power grid. Glew's statements about PG&E disqualify him from getting my vote.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 10:18 am

Posted by Downtown PA, a resident of Downtown North

>> The Republican is actually leading in the polls.

Exactly what I'm afraid of, a Glew/Masur contest. I feel slightly sick. I feel disenfranchised already. The best that I can hope for is that at some point, two of the three, Becker, Lieber and Brownrigg, will drop out and support the third candidate. Maybe one of them can run as a write-in for Assembly.


4 people like this
Posted by Ironic
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 7, 2020 at 10:25 am

> The struggle over slavery was obvious: no one who advocated freedom of the individual could accept slavery permanently.

^^^yet we are are all slaves in one way or another.

Freedom is essentially an illusion & a delusion for some.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 10:38 am

Posted by Ironic, a resident of College Terrace

>> ^^^yet we are are all slaves in one way or another.
>> Freedom is essentially an illusion & a delusion for some.

Yes, and consciousness is -- {Buddhist view, various other historical views, Daniel Dennett/modern cognitive scientist philosophers, etc.}. You could fill a library with interesting books.

All I was trying to do was a shorthand history to get to the word "liberal", explain what it means, and point out that the Republican Party once was, but is no longer, liberal. But, I can assure you that, philosophy aside, the lash of the overseer's whip was a "real" consequence of "slavery", whatever philosopher's view you choose to embrace.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 11:00 am

Posted by Resident, a resident of Meadow Park

>> I don't agree with Glew's comment of "PG&E is a business. If they’re going to fail, let them fail."

A frankly revealing comment from Glew which shows his blind acceptance of right-libertarian dogma-- and, "dogma" is precisely the correct word. Even Milton Friedman understood that there are such things as natural monopolies, and that their misbehavior and failure may not tolerable.

>> The stakes are too high to let an organization fail when it provides such a vital service to our communities, one that evidently can be massively destructive when mismanaged. I also disagree that PG&E is overregulated. If it had been regulated sufficiently - either via state government or self-monitoring - there wouldn't have been billions in damage and loss of human life due to the company's negligence in maintaining its power grid. Glew's statements about PG&E disqualify him from getting my vote.

I agree. We let PG&E raise rates to pay for maintenance and then use the money to pay bonuses and dividends. We don't have to allow an electricity supplier to burn up a suburban block or burn down huge areas or kill a bunch of people. It would be dumb for us to allow the situation to continue as it was. If Glew's philosophy recommends that we be that dumb, there is something fundamentally wrong with his philosophy.


9 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 7, 2020 at 11:23 am

I am not sure where to turn for the best assessment of PG&E and it's future but I can't imagine state ownership is the answer. I do think the PUC should have done a much better job of overseeing PG&E operations.

About letting PG&E raise rates to pay for maintenance only to see them use it for dividends and bonuses - how is that any different from CPAU funds being diverted to the general fund or revenue from a general tax being spent on expenses other than the promised (and campaigned for) purpose of the tax? There are numerous tax measures coming before us this November. I think there may be two for the Foothill-DeAnza district. It's hard to conclude that $ is being well managed when the reach for new tax revenue is as frequent as it is.

I am going to be looking and listening to all these candidates to see what they have to say about fiscal responsibility. And as of now I plan to vote NO on any tax that is not specific.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 11:33 am

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace

>> I do think the PUC should have done a much better job of overseeing PG&E operations.

Agreed. If "regulated private monopoly" is what we choose, we have to make sure that PG&E does required maintenance. So, I agree with you about 86%.

>> About letting PG&E raise rates to pay for maintenance only to see them use it for dividends and bonuses - how is that any different from CPAU funds being diverted to the general fund

The difference is that PG&E actually diverted maintenance funds with the result that it killed people and did billions of dollars in property damage. That is a huge difference. The CPAU utility diversion was voted/agreed to by taxpayers, and, it functions as a tax. We all agreed to it and agreed to use the money in the general fund. The only "subterfuge" is that Prop 13 didn't envision us being able to do it, but, our lawyers figured out a legal way. Advisable or not... PG&E's actions have been criminal both literally and figuratively. Repeatedly.

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by TooBig?
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2020 at 2:15 pm

@Resident
Something too big to be allowed to fail should be broken up into smaller pieces which are not too large and can be allowed to fail. The owners, investors, and managers of businesses which can be allowed to fail have more interest in making sure that they do not.


10 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2020 at 2:33 pm

State ownership would bring sovereign immunity. The last thing we need is for our power company to be run like BART.

Let's just break it up into smaller pieces. The utility will argue that there are efficiencies in a monopoly, but those efficiencies never end up being passed through to the consumer anyway -- because it's a friggin' monopoly.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2020 at 4:10 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2020 at 10:22 am

Posted by TooBig?, a resident of Palo Verde

>> Something too big to be allowed to fail should be broken up into smaller pieces which are not too large and can be allowed to fail. The owners, investors, and managers of businesses which can be allowed to fail have more interest in making sure that they do not.

The problem is that electrical generation and high-voltage transmission are necessarily large-scale. These are O(100M)-O(10B) items. You can't efficiently break that part up. You can break up the distribution part-- small companies, cities with public utilities like Santa Clara and Palo Alto. But, upstream, in the grid, it doesn't work efficiently.

PG&E as company should have been dissolved, but, something like PG&E with hydro projects and long-distance transmission lines is not necessarily a bad thing. It just needs a culture of safety first, and, long-term financial incentives for investors and managers, instead of this quarterly stock price garbage that has polluted our culture and cost many lives and many billions of damage to communities that were conscientiously constructed over a hundred years. We need a culture change and a financial incentive change, but, the technology will continue to favor the large-scale grid, at least for now. (Cheap batteries could change that somewhat.)


Like this comment
Posted by Tim Dunfey
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 2, 2020 at 10:45 am

Masur is out of the question because she supported SB50. Lieber is out of touch. Brownrigg is the best of the lot.


2 people like this
Posted by Tim Dunfey
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 2, 2020 at 10:51 am

If it comes down to Glew/Masur then move away!

But Brownrigg is getting all the good endorsements (Filseth, Kou, Eng, Wu) while Masur is getting the awful ones (Wiener, Fine, Kniss, Chu).


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2020 at 10:55 am

Posted by Tim Dunfey, a resident of Mayfield

>> Masur is out of the question because she supported SB50. Lieber is out of touch. Brownrigg is the best of the lot.

Brownrigg and Becker are my top choices, but, since I received around 10 political flyers delivered to my mailbox that were special-interest attacks on Lieber, it really boosts Lieber in my mind. If all these special interests hate her so much, there must be a good reason.

Does anyone know why powerful special interests hate Lieber so much as to spend money specifically against her and not for their favorite candidate?


Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 3, 2020 at 9:53 am

'We do not need to solve the housing crisis by disrupting our single-home neighborhoods,' Oliva said"

I do wonder how someone can recognize and acknowledge that we have a housing crisis, yet in the same breath refuse to do anything about it. Perhaps this mindset can be achieved by lacking empathy? I'm not sure.

Even if Palo Alto were to somehow keep 1 housing unit per job, neighboring cities may not, and so a housing crisis of a form would still exist. As it stands, Palo Alto is benefitting from the tax revenue generated by these "extra jobs" and yet doing very little to abate the crisis.

Yes, Palo Alto is primarily a town with single family homes. So? It was once a rural area.

To the commenters above who seem to hate upzoning so much, would a duplex -- which often have similar square footage to SFH anyway, but naturally allow for greater population density-- truly ruin your QOL? When you walk downtown and pass apartments rental units do you avert your eyes to avoid the ugliness? What is so bad about rental units? Would you object less if new housing were for more long term residents e.g. condos?


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