Candidates forum at UUCPA

This is what Democracy looks like.

I thought I fared pretty well at the candidates’ forum Saturday, Sept. 16, 2012 at Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, put on my League of Women Voters.

You can watch the stream here at MidPeninsula Media Center; it’s two hours long. It should appear on cable access as well. (So far, the video is not posted, as far as I can tell; if you need a government fix, meanwhile, check out a recent Planning and Transportation Commission meeting and see how the fledgling new commissioners are doing).

Jason Green wrote a short account of the forum in the Daily News. His reporting was accurate and balanced although I would disagree with what he thought were the highlights.

I will update this with more info and perhaps a partial transcript.

I am basically running as a land-use watchdog. I am appealing to “residentialists” meaning people who actually live here, as distinct from the interests of “Downtown” or “Commercial Real Estate” interests.

If it were up to me, I might like to see the election turn into a referendum on “PC Zoning”, “planned community” zoning, a legal device by which developers get council to basically toss out zoning in return for supposed “public benefits”. When it was my turn to lead the discussion Saturday, I asked incumbent Greg Schmid whether he agreed with the statement that PC Zoning is being abused. He basically concurred, then off-mike leaned over to me and said “Good question”.

Meanwhile, PAN, the Palo Alto Neighborhoods umbrella group led by Sheri Furman, announced they are cancelling their candidates forum. Sheri told me that she canceled the event as an executive decison on her own volition, based on not being able to gather enough support from either PAN leadership or the rank-and-file to hold the event.

I feel that the lack of candidates events and forums, along with the decision to move the election to even years, 2012, competing with the Presidential election, limits interest in the event and will serve the incumbents, as oppossed to those of us working for change, reform or progress. (Progress in a social sense, toward justice, not in the sense of boom-town building).

Although slightly out of context and naked, Jason Green of the Daily News got it right when he quoted me as saying that Council should move at the speed of the residents not the speed of the industry, who are always trying to cram things down our throats and maximize profits in the shortest time possible, without a thorough vetting of proposals and applications. My statement was made in the context of an audience question about whether Council composition should be reduced to seven members from nine, which I think is both preposterous and anti-Democratic. Pat Burt, meanwhile, another incumbent (but in my opinion, much different from Schmid in terms of deserving voter consideration — I support Schmid) took the opportunity to laud “efficiency”. I would rather Democracy get it right in the time it takes than get results fast; I think of Democracy as a meal that takes time to prepare, not “fast food” or gobbling down food on the run.

Meanwhile, I am posting this snapshot of the small crowd gathered for the event.

edit to add, Sept. 30: The forum is starting to air at various times, including 2 in the morning Sunday-Monday and some primer times next month, on local 26 tv. Also, you can check it on Youtube here, embedded or a link at least:



About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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