My actual correspondence with the Weekly

“At this point I am focusing my campaign… on three points:

1) To question whether the developers have too much say and sway; 2) whether PC planned community zoning is the most concentrated form of abuse of the system and

3) as a recent, dramatic and potentially pernicious example, if the 27 University project, Arrillaga Towers{is indeed the worst proposal in 40 years}.”

“I believe it is disingenuous to flog the working class when most of the current financial problems in America are due to the fact that rich people don’t pay their fair share of taxes, corporations often don’t either and with expensive and life-costing campaigns (7,000 American dead) in two foreign nations, we do not receive an historical peace dividend as in more normal times.” My response to Palo Alto Weekly’s survey question number 1

“Our so-called leaders too often kowtow or capitulate to power including how we deal with the giant communications companies. I call it a “tap-out”. So I can think of other places they should put their hardware, thank you.” My response to PAW’s survey question number 5

Here is what I actually wrote as a response to the Weekly’s so-called survey. And as I stated previously, I was also interviewed for an hour by their editor and publisher, plus spoke to the reporter Gennady Sheyner about my reasons for not following the directions strictly.

Ok, so 3,103 words is a bit of a commitment here, but then again, do you really want to read five different versions, or not so different versions of the nine prompts for sound-bytes as posted on the Weekly site?

I felt the idea of reducing the discussion to too-processed 75-word boxes was reductivist and did the readers and public a disservice. Plus, I objected to the idea that their survey was creating or imposing an agenda, and called that “advertency”. There’s a political cartoon in this week’s The New Yorker (Sept. 24, 2012) with a similar point, in a feature by Ruben Bolling  about politicians “SO EAGER TO PLEASE, THEY CAN EVEN BE TRAINED“.

Obviously my point was not well-taken and they chose to make me look bad rather than working with me or trying to include me. Certainly they have the right to cover or not cover my campaign as they see fit, but I think they can do better than claiming to treat all six equally and then letting their biases creep in.

Out of context of this long treatise I would not otherwise continue to use the jazz and rock musician Nels Cline as an inspiration or talking-point. I was merely stating that being a musician known for both rock and jazz there was a metaphor about my ideas being influenced by a diverse set of arts, rock and jazz, as well as poetry, literature and visual arts. To wit, or more simply:

“My campaign seeks to provoke a louder and more harmonized voice of dissent among the people who are dismissed as naysayers, gadflies, cranks and fuddy-duddies. 

I’ve met Nels Cline but am not implying an endorsement (he of me; by all means, go listen to Nels!)

From: mark weiss <>
To: gennady sheyner <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 1:35 PM
Subject: declining or nels-clining
This is 1,600 and 75 words – feel free to cut and paste it in whatever 75-word slices as fits your format.
I appreciated having a few minutes of your time last night, especially after a late-running meeting, and while you were on deadline and said you intended to drive home and start writing your story. I went home to Downtown North, got in bed by 12:30, was up at 4:30 a.m. to let the dog relieve her bladder, back in bed until 8:30, when a Pollack crane at a nearby Pete Moffat site within-posted-code started ripping through concrete and wood, walked dog again, fed her, showered, then came here to Coupa by 10:30 to respond to your needs more fully, or try to, in my own voice.
Please feel free to use my line: The Arrillaga Project at 27 University as a purported gift is like me saying ‘Take my watch, but you have to wear also my eyeglasses.’
I had a riff, mostly unpublished, about what a hoot that guy must be around the Holidays.
Regarding the survey, thank you for taking the time, already served, for hearing me rationalize my behavior. I enjoyed and appreciated having the opportunity to discuss most of those topics with Bill Johnson and Jocelyn Dong Monday.
I am trying to be consistent in what I believe and how I enact these ideas.
I am running for public office partly out of dissatisfaction with our leadership and the system, the status quo. Your paper’s tagline “Rage Against the Machine”  apropos of a blurb about my campaign was appropriate, although I did post to suggest a greater affinity, for example, with AFI, the rock band (“a fire inside”, “asking for it”, on an indie versus major label, played in Palo Alto,  et cetera).
My campaign is partly a statement about the typical conduct of elected local officials and the electioneering process itself. I do not like “pre-packaged” candidates and leaders, who talk in “sound-bytes” and who parrot back half-baked clichés and call it policy or progress. I am trying to think different (ly).
I admit it is a reach to conflate my dissatisfaction with the quality of the discussion with a subtle critique of how policy is covered, the fourth estate. But I don’t think the public is best served by having each issue reduced to 75-word mini-arguments, nor is it the best practice of journalism, as you allude to in your instructions. (It sounds a little like Heisenberg or Moore’s Law: how little can we say and still make sense? )
Obviously I respect your abilities as a journalist, and appreciate that you have been fair and generous in your depictions of my role in local self-governance in recent years. Actually, you were helpful; you sent me links or clippings about HSR, as you had covered it preceding my interest in the 2009 campaigns. Thanks again.
So to the extent that rather than fabricating or formulating ten 75-word responses to each of the prompts, I attempted to decline from responding yet indicate that I feel that topics raised in #10 and #7 are by far, in my view, the most important issues to Palo Alto and my corresponding strivings and utterances looking towards Nov. 6 and beyond, I am asking you to take a cognitive leap, or give me benefit of the doubt, I admit.
Certainly you can say “Weiss did not respond to our survey” and imply that I have no thoughts on those topics, am lazy, careless, willful, or whatever pejoratives the reader could conclude.
I am taking the risk, somewhat calculated, that you are too good of a journalist and not lazy or cynical and if forced (by your own high standards, as evidenced by all your previous writings, someone like me would maintain and estimate) to write something to balance out an article about the race per se, you might have done just that, without me having had to counter-prompt you or explain or plead as I am doing here, that actually informed your readers about my role in the debate, or my attempts to play a role, and how my unconventional tactics are part and parcel of  and consistent with my message.
I am more interested in having my ideas adapted into our current self-governance than merely winning the election. Or, similarly, I feel there is a type of victory (more substantive than my claim of “victory on cost-basis” that you reported in 2009) to be had by participation per se. I feel that I am more like a Paul Revere figure getting the word out about Residentialists v. Developers 2012 – The Highrises Are Coming! The Highrises Are Coming!” — than a Samuel Adams planning and catalyzing the revolution per se. My campaign seeks to provoke a louder and more harmonized voice of dissent among the people who are dismissed as naysayers, gadflies, cranks and fuddy-duddies. (Like a noise pop band, if you permit the digression into my actual field of expertise, rock music; Deerhoof, versus a random assortment of car alarms, Asplundh grinders, and dishes dropped on concrete floors; Deerhoof, who opened for Radiohead; Radiohead who wrote a song perhaps as agitprop or commentary called “Palo Alto” if you, again, excuse the further digression. Pomo digression, self-referencing, and, in form, also alluding to the acrylic sax and compositional innovations of Ornette Coleman, he of the famous “Plastic Alto” – I work with jazz musicians and sometimes steal their mindset – as well as Ginsberg’s “Howl” – his “Moloch! Moloch! Moloch!” and such. I like to claim that these long digressions, and like my description of my piece “420 Cambridge” in response to a question by Bill about dope normlization per se, are a “jazz” type of structure or form and not mere ramblings. The Czechs had a writer for president once, for example. Splitting the difference between jazz and rock, if you can still follow this, like Nels Cline. I am not so much declining to state as Nels-clining-to-state, if you will).
At this point I am focusing my campaign – as I explained late last night, or, rather earlier today – on three points: 1) To question whether the developers have too much say and sway; 2) whether PC planned community zoning is the most concentrated form of abuse of the system and 3) as a recent, dramatic and potentially pernicious example, if the 27 University project, Arrillaga Towers and Theater, — disregarding or clarifying the distinction between PC zoning – and for example the varying application of “public benefits”therein, –and the re-zoning and “re-evaluat(ion of ) development policies and regulations” inherent in that proposal and case (but not yet, despite the use of the term “applicant” an actual application).
But you can of course cover or not cover my work as you see fit. I feel a better story might be why is it that there are so few candidates this cycle? What is the effect of the switch from odd years to even, and how was that switch accomplished? Why did PAN cancel is forum?
Also, I wish to establish the point that what further distinguishes my candidacy is the fact that I do not accept contributions and have so far pledged not to spend any money. I do this, despite its obvious hindering of my messages being heard, because I believe that on a national level certainly and perhaps locally as well, money plays  a disruptive role in the functioning of a Democracy and the running of fair elections. Similarly, although I will probably not push this any further since I am simplifying my platform-in-progress and set of tactics, I am an early local advocate for a non-binding initiative about repealing “Citizens United”. There is actually, as I mentioned to J and D yesterday, a story in Monday’s Chron about an SF ballot initiative on this point, you may actually get to vote on.
Please feel free to call me at 650.XXX.XXXX on any of these points. And thank you for your service for our Democracy and our local attempts at continuing self-governance via your excellent work as a Palo Alto Weekly staff reporter.
Mark Weiss
See also: “Svayambh-PA: Or, New Residentialist Platform” (blog)
As you know I have also posted roughly 50 times on your websites on some of these same issues
“I believe it is disingenuous to flog the working class when most of the current financial problems in America are due to the fact that rich people don’t pay their fair share of taxes, corporations often don’t either and with expensive and life-costing campaigns (7,000 American dead) in two foreign nations, we do not receive an historical peace dividend as in more normal times.”
“Palo Altans demand excellence from their civil servants and are willing to pay for that”.
“Our so-called leaders too often kowtow or capitulate to power including how we deal with the giant communications companies. I call it a “tap-out”. So I can think of other places they should put their hardware, thank you.”
P.S. You can think of this as background or on the record, After the publication of your next bylined story that mentions the campaigns of three or more of the six candidates, if there is such, or after October 1, I may run this in entirety on my own blog, “Svayambh-PA: Or, The New Residentialist Platform .
Or as Sam Adams once said, there is nothing else here towards the furthering of our Democracy. That, and I have to move my car to avoid a parking ticket. NB: I actually moved the car to the purple zone, prompting me to wonder if the process of going from Coral Zone to Purple zone is like the redshifting of the universe; the redshifting is explainable in part by Doppler; not sure how to explain the Purple Zone. Also: how did [  ] get his street-trees replaced so quickly, and will he start watering them this time? I am touching this up at Downtown Library.
edit to add, three hours after inception: although I decided to stop once I literally hit on exactly, above, 1675 words by the Word-TM word-counter, I switched to the Palo Alto Library’s computer share- system to perhaps proof-read and edit above and to add the fact that apropos of Arrillaga I have now counted, on my hardcopy of the “council packets” I receive as a candidate 270 places that I had marked with questions or comments on the project and proposal and “master plan” — separate from whatevever comments or questions I might have subsequently come up with or will have about the reporting on the case that you might have already filed today or are about to file, and from what is in the two other stories I have not even glanced at, or what might have occured to me at the meeting. Actually one of my biggest questions is what exactly has gone on at the “secret meetings” which apparently started in August, 2011 and not merely, as myself and many others supposed, at briefings for council directly before the meeting of March 6, 2012. And personally, although this might be a rabbit-hole of self-indulgence, I look at this proposal in context of attempts that I made in a similar vein, about 456 University, in August/September 2011 (!!), to engage staff and community and leadership, and actually back to 2001 when Leon Kaplan — part of the so-called Dream Team referenced in the dialogue here and long-time director of Arts and Culture Division — wrote a draft of what might have involved my company Earthwise Productions in a similar intent to provide “arts and innovation” here, at Cubberley, with the City. My other thought: gosh, why can’t I bill the taxpayers at $158 per hour like Geoff Bradley, or Dan Garber, for these types of things? Not only am I not taking contributions but I am not charging anybody for, for instance $474 for 3.0 hours on this today…
edit to add, an hour later, : meanwhile a commenter on PA Weekly website asks me about 27 Uni:
Mark Weiss,Instead of asking a voter to read your 30 short essays, or rely on a 1984 referral,can you please state what you think about the Arrillaga/Stanford office complex plan on University and Alma?1) do you agree on giving away dedicated parkland for it2) on exempting height code from 50 feet to over 100 feet?3) do you think there are real and specific reasons Palo Alto “needs” such a complex?4) do these reasons outweigh the costs to the city?irrespective of how one feels about developers, at the end of the day it would be nice to know how people think about a specific situation. Or just how candidates think.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 0 minutes agoRegarding 27 University, and in response to a posted comment directed to me here, I have read the full staff report, dated Sept 24, and have two hundred and seventy (270) places that I’ve marked that merit further looking into, questioning and in some segments and maybe in entirety simply ridiculing and denouncing as a travesty, as commissioner Bob Moss was quoted as saying.In fact, on March 6, when Council made public the existence of this proposal, (although now the report says secret meetings started in August, 2011!), I texted council members with my dismay, commented here at PAW site (some of which were subsequently deleted, for comparing their euphemisms about the instigator to pr for a famous historical figure –whether “philanthropist” was the right term, versus “developer” or “billionaire”), and wrote an indirect counter-attack on my personal blog — as distinct from my new campaign blog – by quoting from a famous Allen Ginsberg poem, where he compares the skyscrapers outside his window to Biblical monsters called “Moloch”.I hope to somewhere get the chance, or multiple chances, to speak more directly and oppose this project.Briefly, this is example of an oligarch and plutocrat basically taking government hostage and trying to force his way; I am concerned with process as much as product or outcome. I am concerned in many ways about Democracy, on local and national levels.We have already spent upwards of $200,000 in defense of this attack, staff and consultant time, not to mention three hours from the dais Monday.I would rather community via an inclusive and Democratic process decide our needs (be it office space, arts venue, intermodal transit improvement or whatever) and then find the way to enact our will and NOT as in this case merely be responding, as if under siege, to the will of a billionaire.Also, what is clear to me in the report as distinct from reporting on such is that there is nothing in writing that states that the 260,000 sq feet of office space (for a corporate headquarters of a mature tech company and not an incubator on innovator per se) will be donated to Stanford; if anything, that is between Stanford and the individual. Even if staff seems to in good faith think he is promising verbally to do that, it should not be a consideration in the merits of the proposal, and its drawbacks.So here is from March 6, since you asked, my posted response elsewhere, if you can work thru the long quote from a poem — since you asked how my or our, including my fellow candidates, minds work: and I think after hearing bureaucrats talk in double-speak and jargon on so many cases it is good to throw a little poetry and art reference into the mix, feel me?Web LinkFor “another voter” to be specific:1) NO!2) NO!3) maybe

4)Probably not. Or prove it to us. And don’t kowtow or capitulate to power.

And for anybody still reading who is curious about Nels Cline:

edit to add, Monday, October 1: I am trying to get beyond the meta-issues of the lack of fairness or the unevenness of the way the local press covers the election. Regarding the distinction between PAW saying “Weiss declined to participate” and my claim that I responded quite fully but in a different format, here is more of the actual chain:

From: mark weiss <>
To: Gennady Sheyner <>
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:45 AM
Subject: Re: Palo Alto Weekly – candidate survey
Hi, Gennady.
1) Are you running our responses verbatim in a box that is like a collection of “Q&As”, or are you using our answers to re-write your own summations in the third person?
2) Can we answer with links? i.e. I would like to reference things I’ve already written on these topic, or  link to youtube videos I’ve seen that address these issues…
I am still planning to finish this by my 2 p.m. appointment at your office, but my inclination is to respond more generally (as opposed to gennady-ishly) and fully with something more like 2,000 words that put questions 10and 7 at the top and 1 and 2 at the bottom — I may do that and post on my own site, which you could link to or read for reference…my answers to all 10 questions fall under a general and consistent way of looking at things that is hard to establish in this format — I don’t think your format meets its self-stated “goals” too well…
I kinda bristle at the attempts at advertency and reducing this all down, and then to call it “fairness” and “balance”.
sorry to hold you up, ‘though…my bad.
And they call this “railing”, or “declining”. Good job in getting five of six to in essence work for you! (Or is it a donation of space, and I don’t take donations?)
edit to add, Oct. 3: I should probably just move on here but I did post on their site:

Posted by Mark Weiss , a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 0 minutes ago

It’s a half-truth for the Weekly to state that I did not respond to their survey. I said that questions #10 and #7 about developers having too much sway and PC planned community zoning being particularly problematic were by far the most important issues to me, and that overall their format was reductivist. In a letter to the reporter, I also complied with the request for actual faux-soundbytes to two other questions. You can read more about it at my blog

or the 30 minute video on their Youtube page gives a little more insight into my platform.

Web Link

Of course the fact that I was photographed and on a separate day talked to the editor and publisher for an hour contradicts the impression that they give that I was not cooperative.

I’ve been a supporter of the Weekly for many years, as advertiser, source and reader — I was disappointed they played me like this, although I admit I kinda asked for it by suggesting a different format.

They have the right to cover or not cover the issues as they see fit, but I bristle at the idea that they claim they will cover all six candidates equally then employ varying standards for that.

They could obviously update the online version of this to include me, or could follow up with more info on my campaign, background and platform, if they want to. Maybe they will.

In my letter to Gennady Sheyner I do mention my concerns with “the proposed arts district” a poster asks about, although that was not part of the survey either. It’s not really an arts district, by the way, it’s one type of art — theatre – -and one purveyor. I think they might have bid out the lucky tenant of the new proposed theatre, or had a rotating residency for world class companies from various parts of the world. It’s three times more office space than theatre.

I might be paranoid about being mistreated and misunderstood, but readers can ask: why would the Weekly suppress these particular viewpoints?

I think there is enough truth behind the things I believe will make our community better and enough people who agree with me and are equally concerned that I can probably survive the egg on my face here.


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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