Weiss response to Sierra Club survey

(Note: I was NOT endorsed by Sierra Club although I was interviewed by four members of their policy committee in September at Terry Trumbull’s Palo Alto home, and two members of that group said that they either voted for me in 2009 or would likely vote for me in 2012 — reminds of the Emerson line about “winning the respect of intelligent people…”)

2012 Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter
Candidate Questionnaire for City Council

Candidate Information

Name: Mark Weiss
Campaign manager & Office Address:
Election ID (FPPC):
Phone: (650) 305-0701
Fax:
Email: earwopa@yahoo.com
Website: https://markweiss2012.wordpress.com

Please Send a JPEG photo of candidate: Send it to johncordes@yahoo.com. Please do not embed the photo into the email as our layout person can not copy it with the resolution needed for publication.

Are you a Sierra Club member? (NOTE: membership is not required for endorsement) No.

Helpful Hints for completing this questionnaire: We are looking for what you actually accomplished. For example, were you were a member of elected body during the process of xyz or did you shepherd the issue through the process. Please describe how YOU moved an issue through a process to success.

Questionnaire (Candidates, please provide explanations with your answer and please include the original question with your response.)

1. The club considers your past record as the best indicator of your future action for the environment. What have you done, especially in a community leadership context, to protect natural resources and the environment? In 1992, a combination of factors, a set of recent external events, such as the first Gulf War, the Rodney King Riots, the SF Earthquake a couple years prior, and the Oakland Hills Fire combined in my mind to lead me to choose to abruptly change my path – I was a freelance copywriter at mainstream SF ad agencies and want to become an activist; I eventually joined Bay Area Action, where I worked on an Earth Day event and a Native American perspectives committee and then founded something called Earthwise Productions, a concert company. As the name implies, Earthwise was informed by my readings and experiences in the environmental movement. I am an entrepreneur and activist, and blogger and little of Earthwise’s doings involve the environment per se (the first events were benefits for NGOs). Earthwise to me means “like the earth” in the way that clockwise means “moves like the clock’s hands”; it meant adapted to a niche, like a tree-specific type of moss, et cetera. To the extent that my business is so tiny I sometimes think that that fact too is consistent with environmental thinking in that mainstream corporate capitalism is predicated on a growth model that is not sustainable; I’m doing less harm at this scale than if I had become Another Planet or Bill Graham Presents. I do not think of myself as environmental leader, on the other hand, but I feel I understand “deep ecology” and other green dictums. SEE ALSO APPENDIX “MARK WEISS 900 MORE WORDS ON HIS ENVIRONMENTALISMS” attached

2. What do you regard as the major environmental and conservation issues facing the City/Town/Enviro District and the Bay Area as a whole?

3. What are the principal areas of the environment that you will work on if elected? How will you deal with them?
2 and 3: the most obvious debate is about Bixbee Park, Measure E and the compost facility. Leaders like Tom Jordan and Emily Wenzel are determined to keep fighting against the facility, and to keep the park a park. I wrote in my blog and on Patch that I agree with them. I think building a local facility is less green than doing nothing or waiting for a regional solution.

It’s hard for me to think of Palo Alto as environmentalist given the build-build-build, go-go-go attitude toward development. Even the green certification of building projects I take with a grain of salt; for instance, I wrote a satire about my contention that simply put two housing units at 420 Cambridge might be “green”, but four units – what was built – is “greed”.

Another example of how I think – and if 420 Cambridge is too specific this might be too general – but how can any environmental movement in the U.S. take itself seriously while, for the last ten years or so the U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq; what are the environmental affects of those two humongous initiatives? Just as you seek to speak about campaign finance in 11) below, greens could and should be more vocal on the profligate and immoral defense-dominated budget priorities of our nation. Speaking of which, why isn’t there a viable Green Party in the U.S.?

The Sierra Club and the Loma Prieta Chapter care about a range of environmental issues and each year we prioritize issues that are the most critical for our area. The following questions are based on these priorities.

Climate Change

1. What is the status of (insert your city)’s climate change plan? Are goals being met and are the enough? What would you do to reduce greenhouse gas generation locally, regionally, and nationwide? What do you do as an individual to reduce your GHG generation?

Green Building

2. Describe (insert city)’s green building program? What more can be done to ensure that all new construction and remodeling incorporate green building principles? How would you go about it?

Land use, Transportation & Transit Oriented Development

3. Climate action plans for the peninsula call for reducing traffic by increased use of walking, biking and public transit. It has been shown that increasing density and adding a mix of uses, e.g. combining retail, residential, and commercial, along with urban design that promotes walking and biking as well as comprehensive parking solutions, is most effective in reducing vehicle trips. What are your views about the creation of downtown and transit hub specific plans that zone for building heights sufficient to generate significant economic value that will benefit your entire community? What types of projects would you support to provide people with an alternative to the private auto? How would you include affordable housing?
Not to completely dismiss 1, 2 and 3 and well-intentioned best efforts by good people focused on exact policy on these issues, but a lot of these questions seem to start from a premise of letting builders and business dominate the debate; some of these concerns seem pretty superficial; societal change, if humans actually want to conserve our habitat, to keep it human friendly and democracy-friendly (and moving towards peace), has to be much more fundamental and a deeper green. On parking per se (and I admit I am jumping between way too vague and way too specific) I notice that the same two or three people who arguably have too much say and too sway and push through too many and too large development projects – and the core of my campaign is to question this, or poke through it – also are the ones who are the self-appointed “parking czars” and thwart the efforts of residents to get traction on their concerns about downtown workers parking in the neighborhoods.

In the context of, as I see it, leadership being unwilling, afraid or unable to address the issue of development out of control, it feels a little bit trivial to trumpet our bike friendliness. Or there is a dissonance. I think the commercial real estate industry is a threat to self-governance. Not that we don’t need a measure of it, but nowadays, in recent memory it does not seem like proposals are properly vetted. And our planning commission was gutted, replacing an experienced and diligent Vice Chair with a group of young “yes men”. The difference between a potion and a poison is the dose.

I don’t have a plan to fix all this but am merely pointing out – where no one else seems willing – that there may be a problem in a special interest—commercial real estate developers who have so much power that they are beyond rapproach; this dynamic, if it exists, impacts environmental concerns and fundamentally may be a warp in what we think of as democracy per se.
I saw the presentation at council about Cool Cities with Acterra; my initial reaction was we were doing fine with our local approach; tell me more.

I think of Palo Alto as having a vacuum filled by a leadership system that is not actually representative of what citizens want, is severely compromised, and that environmentalism gets lip-service rather than having us a substrate for potentially-world changing innovation, the way apparently our region has for technology and computers.

When I was hanging out in environmental circles, in the early 1990s, people said that they would stand in front of Al Gore events, waving “Earth In The Balance” and chant “Read Your Own Book!” There are layers and layers of approaches and ideologies and players and counter-players (“green-washing”) and I am sorry to report I am not sure we’ve made any progress. (On the other hand, in the prologue to the book there is a quote attributed to a Palo Alto activist Gary Lapid who may be the first one to quote Gandhi “Be the Change you wish to see in the world” – and as I said above, to the extent that my tiny Earthwise Productions keeps me from, for example, helping an oil company – something I did back in the day, write ads for Chevron – I took that much to heart. I also like to say, “People call me an activist but I do so little that I am more of a passivist”.

It’s fair to say I am not so much running for Palo Alto Council as standing witness. I’m a participant but on somewhat limited terms. I am hoping, at the very least, to have the opportunity to say something, at a candidates’ forum, that sounds intelligent and that a small group of people will agree with. And build from there.

Open Space & Urban Recreation – Access to Nature

4. In these tough economic times parks and open space are affordable ways for residents to spend their leisure time. However, these conditions also make maintenance a challenge. How will you ensure that residents in your city will have access to safe and enjoyable parks and open space? This is what I mean about the premises of some of these questions: “tough economic times”? What about the recent and somewhat local creation of $100 billion dollars worth of wealth in the form of the Facebook IPO? How can we simultaneously be complicit with a system that creates billionaires and (let the poor stay poor) and claim that we have no money for parks? Palo Alto has a roughly $150 million budget; I haven’t looked at these numbers recently but our parks maintenance budget I am guessing is around $2 million per year (a lot of which we outsource, supposedly saving money). I’m not an economist but I would think we could find a way to save these parks, which are probably worth hundreds of millions. I recently rang City Hall to complain that are subcontractor was mowing the lawns at 7 a.m. at Cogswell Plaza – staff called back and said they were not to supposed to start until 9.

Water Conservation & Recycling, Rivers & Creeks

5. California will continue to face increasing droughts, what is the most important water-related issue for [insert your jurisdiction] and what policies or actions would you advocate to address this issue?
1) I haven’t worked on this part of my platform yet.
2) Although I have not asked him to endorse me or work on my campaign, I have an old friend who is former Santa Clara water board commissioner and staff lawyer, Greg Zlotnick who I could tap, so to speak, to help shape my views here. When I went to their re-interviewing process, I mentioned his name to Palo Alto Utilities commissions Eglash ad Foster, neither of whom said they had heard of him.
3) Not to risk being the Malcolm Gladwell of responders – he of making too much story out of too little data, but when Labor Council recently hosted a candidates forum and served Kirkland brand bottled water, a candidate for water district held up a bottle and claimed it was regulated less closely than our tap-water.
4) there’s a local artist Linda Gass who makes art out of water policy, whose work I like. Other art/ideas influences: “Life on the Mississippi” by Mark Twain, “Imperial” by William T. Vollman; the movie “Chinatown”.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486414264/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0870233300&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=15NNWH6M5SC5NW80X0Y6
6. What is your position on stream setback requirements for development? Do you believe current requirements are too strict, too lax, or just right? Too lax.

Wildlife

7. What would you do to help preserve wildlife habitat, wildlife corridors, and biodiversity (in the Bay Area or Calif.) in the face of pressures from the growing human population?”)

Zero Waste and Extended Producer Responsibility

8. Do you know where the yardwaste and foodwaste collected in your city goes? Explain the problem with using organics as alternate daily cover at landfills? Will you support a statewide ban of organics from landfills and from any form of high temperature energy generation facilities like gasification or incineration of mixed waste?

9. Will you push your city and the county to adopt an ordinance requiring drug manufacturers to pay for programs to collect unused and expired medications similar to the one recently adopted by Alameda County?

10. Will you lead your city to adopt polystyrene take-out food packaging bans and single use bag bans? NOTE: Delete the bag ban if your city has already adopted the mandatory ban, same with take-out food ban. If your city has done both, just delete this entire question.
What about “seven generations” philosophies wherein native cultures allegedly would not implement a policy or action unless they felt that seven generations into the future their children would agree with and understand the change – how does that differ from quarterly based corporate earnings reports and corporate culture and what are the implications for recycling? That plus Paul Hawken, “Ecology of Commerce” and the idea that the manufacturer should be responsible for the waste?

I do not have well-thought out stances on some of these topics. I could revise or re-post later in the campaign, even if that will not help you in selecting someone to endorse. I am always trying to learn.
Campaign Reform

11. The impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision is becoming distressingly clear with the infusion of huge sums of outside super PAC money in recent state ballot measures and in the upcoming elections. The damage to the environment, as well as to the general health and welfare, will be felt at national, state, and local levels. Will you support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, end constitutional corporate personhood, and stop this corruption of our elections and political system? In March, while listening to a lecture in San Francisco by Jeff Clements, I texted Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh suggesting a local initiative supporting the repeal of Citizens United. I believe I am the first Palo Altan to have suggested this. I am pleased to know Sierra Club is on this.

Campaign Readiness

1. Tell us about your campaign readiness, including funding, volunteers, and organization. Please bring examples of your prior and current campaign literature. Campaign readiness is a relative term. I am one of only six people even qualified for the ballot, for four open seats. I ain’t doin’ much, but there are about 15,000 Palo Altans even more apathetic than me. I have not formed a committee. I have not hired a campaign manager nor spoken with any consultants. I will not accept any contributions to my campaign. I do not plan to spend any money on the campaign. (It cost me $25 to file). My stance on contributions comes out of my concern with Citizens United et cetera.
My plan is to write about the issues on a blog at wordpress called “Svayambh-PA: or, New Residentialist Platform”. There are about 10 events, debates and forums in the election season here, which I plan to take part in. I am not seeking any endorsements from groups or citizens, but would be honored in many cases to earn the acknowledgement from people  I respect or groups I support and have followed. With the caveat that, for example, I consider myself pro-worker but do not necessarily agree with the entire platform of the Labor Council who interviewed two candidates. And I think of myself as environmentalist, but am doubtful that my various thoughts and beliefs constitute a platform overlapping with the various projects encompassed by Loma Prieta chapter. I think I have more to learn on these topics than to teach.

I am a serious person but use clowning and humor to mask my concern. What’s that expression? If I wasn’t laughing I’d be crying. I want to make a difference in my community, in what I think of as progressive ways. I think my participation in the election process has potential to impact some of my issues of concern, but it is not a full-on process. I hope I am opening a new thread of debate on some of these issues, or introducing new methodologies, like Brian Eno’s “oblique strategies”. I work with arts and artists; this process informs my understanding of certain artistic projects and creators, and will impact my future dealings with artists. And I think policy-makers could learn from artists, that some global problems may only find a solution if artists approach the problem.

People say “no one could win running for office with your restrictions” or “no one except Ladoris Cordell has ever won with your tactics, and she was already a judge”. Others call me names: clown, moron. I mean no disrespect, to the people whose issues I have not delved deep enough into, nor to the current leadership whose actions I object to. I think our community benefits from a variety of voices, and from a choice of tactics.

2. Please list your endorsements. If they are on your website – please just insert your URL.
See above regarding my endorsements
3. Please include below an exact copy of your ballot statement as submitted to the County at filing.

End of Questionnaire — this is the best I can do right now. Thanks for asking!

edit to add: the Twain book I inserted above reminded me of one of my favorite inspirational book, Wendell Berry’s “What Are People For?” which, in my copy, features a T.H. Benton illustration on the front cover — click thru to “back cover” to check it out.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Are-People-Wendell-Berry/dp/1582434875

If I get to it, I can publish a reading list and film list apropos of my campaign for City Council. I also am somehow drawing inspiration here from about a half dozen visual artists or their works.

 

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Watching the detectives, II: from the honorable Diana Diamond

I want candidates / council members who…bring new ideas. Council members are elected to make decisions; they should generate their own ideas about what the city needs instead of slavishly following an agenda prepared by staff.

(from the San Jose Mercury and Palo Alto Daily News, op ed, October 18, 2012

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I wrote this on my personal, arts blog “Plastic Alto” but since Citizens United is being considered Monday at Council, I am re-posting it here. There is also the long-way home in that I talk about “limited public forum” and food on the way to the Constitution. Work with me. Chew. Chew. To wit:

Plastic Alto with Mark Weiss

After the excellent Kiwanis’-sponsored Palo Alto May Fete Parade (90th) and Fair(1st) Saturday, I had lunch with Council Member Karen Holman at Peninsula Creamery. As a convenience to our server, I had what she’s having, a BLT on rye with extra pickles. Actually she had six pickle chips and I had two as I thought I did not like pickles on my BLT and gave away mine to her. (We otherwise had separate checks and I paid my own way and did not try to bribe her, nor did I even bring up either TLPW456 – -the Save the Varsity Theatre campaign — nor music at Lytton Plaza, the two debates I am most known for talking about here; I almost make a joke about becoming a lobbyist in that I believe that the Gunn High School gym and the Cubberley Theatre should have nicer lobbies).

What we did talk…

View original post 819 more words

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Did Arrillaga and city staff cop from Weiss activism on 456?

Here is another insight into 27 University “Arrillaga Office Towers Proposal” and how it compares to 456 University, the Varsity Theatre, about which I was plenty active last fall, suggesting that local leadership could work with the landlord to let an arts group get the lease on the historic and beloved site. The landlord, a very well-known person, has meanwhile gotten approval to convert the theatre to office space above and in back, and retail in front, possibly including glassing in the courtyard (which arguably would be inconsistent with the site’s historic designation)

I spoke to Palo Alto Historic Resources Board in October, 2011 about community interest in 456 University, the former Varsity Theatre. I suggested that community leadership, boards, commissions and our council, could work with the owner –who they know quite well and generally have a project or two in the works with — to bring in a qualified operator to re-store the Varsity as a downtown entertainment amenity, I suggested concerts could be the primary use, although I did run into the head of the Theatreworks trustees at the time and bounce it off him. At the meeting, reported here at Palo Alto Weekly, board member David Bower denounced me and my idea saying “This is America”, that if I have an idea about a property I should go out and buy it myself, conditional to commenting on it. He was basically calling me a Bolshevik.
http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=22767

So jump ahead a year and you have John Arrillaga articulating what should be done with SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY. He does not own this property. (27 University) But the distinction is he is a billionaire and he is working with an entity that has a $20 billion endowment and people like me are merely citizens and taxpayers. But what do you call it when giant entities can dictate what the market can do? A command economy? Does not sound like Democracy to me. Oligarchy? Plutocracy?

I am still curious about the timing of the so called ‘”Theatre proposal” and whether or not that “false advertising” as posters at, for example, The Plao Alto Weekly site, here say is related to the talk that was going around about people wanting a cultural amenity downtown. It would be interesting if it turns out that Palo Alto staff suggested that the Arrillaga proposal add the entertainment element. Indeed, staff had a list of concert promoters they were supposed to track down, so they had at least a vague sense of what people like me were trying to say. Concerts like you have in SF at the Fillmore or Warfield are a bigger need downtown than Theatreworks which is doing just fine splitting their schedule with nearby venues plural. Actually there is someone on the 7th floor who worked on, or at least has spoken to the press about 456 University, 27 University, and for good measure, CCAC, the Cubberley ad hoc committee, to whom I recently wrote a white paper or one-page memo about its history and potential as an arts venue.

Here is the actual quote from The Weekly (Gennady Sheyner) and commissoner Bower (or compare to the actual archive for more complete context):

Historic Resources Board member David Bower responded to Weiss’ entreaty Wednesday by advising him to rent the space.

“That’s the way we do it here in America — we own property and we rent and buy it,” Bower said. “What our job is is to preserve the building and the architectural features of the building.”

But the main point is to question whether this comparison means that billionaires have more free speech than people like me.

Posted in development, residentialists | Leave a comment

Dress classy, vote cheesy

Margaret Mead said to never underestimate the ability of a small group of people to change the world.

I am the 500 millionth person to jump on the Gangnam Style bandwagon, but I think I can outflank my opponents on this topic, if it comes up at the Oct 30 KMPT channel 32 live debate — I would limit myself to just the hand-gestures.

By the way, it looks like if the Lytton Plaza new ordinance goes thru, that flash mobs like this one shot by Ms.”Jennifer Jo” would be illegal. So much for the First Amendment.

Although I am jumping on a bandwagon here, one of my first ideas was to base my campaign on The Meters “Hey Pocky A-way” which I was going to re-name “Hey, P-A Way”. It was a metaphor about how our local discourse needed to be re-set to a new rhythm. I had a “hold” at a local restaurant for a launch party but let it fall through. I have also mulled over some PE references which would go over the heads of too many people, the types who the minute they see me fear me. Don’t believe the hype!

Bottom line, put it this way: if we say some flashmobs at Lytton Plaza, doing K-Pop or whatever, I would take it as a good omen for change in Palo Alto and the Mark Weiss campaign for City Council.

I’m hip enough to know Bob Dylan came thru town last night, but not hip enough to get to the City to check him out — plus the Giants and 49ers were both playing.

I do put all of this and more into my version of Democracy.

edit to add: I just noticed that a copy of the new rules – the proposed draft ordinance banning amplifiers during business hours are posted at the plaza, and mention this informative city webpage.

The City is testing a proposed plan for managing amplified sound at Lytton Plaza.

Live amplified music at Lytton Plaza is allowed on a first-come first-served basis

during the following times:

Monday through Thursday 5pm to 10pm

Friday 5pm to 11pm

Saturday 12pm to 11pm

Sunday 12pm to10pm

No permit, insurance or fees are required during these standard hours – unless a group

wants to reserve the Plaza in advance for amplified music during these hours. To

reserve a time in advance a permit must be obtained by submitting a permit request to

the City’s Special Event Team- headed by the Police

Department.

http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3946

The basic permit fee is $90.

Amplified sound outside of these standard approved hours may be available via the

existing permit process. To request a permit for amplified sound outside of the hours

listed above, you must submit a permit request to the City’s Special Event Teamheaded

by the Police Department. The permit fee is $90.

City Sponsored events or paid permit events have priority, and musicians without a

permit would not be able to use the plaza during the permitted event. The City will post

permitted events on the City Parks web page so that musicians may check to see if there

would be a conflict with their events.

Only one musical group may perform at a time. For musicians without permits there is

a three hour limit on performing, if there is another musical group waiting to perform.

This will be a self-enforced limit.

Acoustic music is allowed anytime during regular park hours.

The existing noise ordinance applies to all music (amplified or acoustic) at all times.

If a group has more than 25 people present for an event, they need a special use permit

whether they have amplified music or not.

The existing ordinance prohibiting commercial activity applies to all music in the Plaza.

Posted in Downtown parking, Public Art | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ralph Nader’s Cubberley appearance and “The Seventeen Solutions”

I am reading a new Ralph Nader book “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for our American Future”. I caught the first 30 minutes of his lecture at Cubberley Thursday, before sneaking out to make my own appearance at the Palo Alto City Council candidates’ forum scheduled with a slightly later start at City Hall chambers.

Here are the topics of the 17 chapters:
1. “Fundamental tax reform”
2. “Make Our Communities more Self Reliant”
3. “Give Science and Technology Back to the People”
4. “Protect the Family Unit”
5. “Get Corporations off Welfare”
6. “Crack Down on Corporate Crime”
7. “Create National Charters for Large Corporations”
8. “Restore Our Civil Liberties”
9. “Use Government Procurement to Spur Innovation”
10. “Reinvest in Public Works”
11. “Reduce Our Bloated Military Budget”
12. “Reengage with Civic Life”
13. “Invent New Tools for Reform”
14. “Organize Congressional Watchdog Groups”
15. “Get Congress to Have Skin in the Game”
16. “Enlist the Enlightened Super-rich”
Which denotes positive contributions towards progressive social change from George Soros; in a previous chapter, on corporate welfare, it mentions favorably T.J. Rodgers’ testimony to Congress.
17. “Get Back on the Field – Literally” which is about the negative effects of professional sports compared to participatory sports.
I have skimmed most of the book and lingered on Chapter 8, which sent me on a tangent tracking down, via the internet and Palo Alto libraries, Erich Fromm, and especially his book “The Two Freedoms” from 1941. I also found a 30 –minute archived video of Erich Fromm with Mike Wallace, from the nineteen-sixties.

There is a bibliography of about 100 books(Saul Alinsky, Jeff Clements, Cornell West, etc.), plus notes, although I didn’t see the actual Fromm citation – I found this book by cross-referencing’s Fromm’s mention in another Nader book. I find myself using indexes of books to guide my grazing – who has time to read cover-to-cover? — but was disappointed in this case that the Nader book is not indexed. In terms of having a desire to delve deeper into this work – Nader is quite erudite and inspirational – it occurred to me that it might be a fun project to try to create my own index. I would buy a stack of notecards and jot down and then alphabetize each proper noun I come across. Maybe it would be merely “First 100 Pronouns in Nader ‘Seventeen Solutions’ (2012)”. Now I am drawing a blank but there was something in there about “civic engagement” that reminded me and affirmed my notion of a political campaign as merely a starting point, not merely August 16 thru November 6, “pulling papers” thru Election Day – I’ve stated publicly that the timing of the Arrillaga Office Towers proposal alone would necessitate continuing opposition thru March at the very least (thru when Council might sponsor a referendum or special election). The closing chapter is called “”Commencement”” in quotes. As in, we have only just begun.

Slightly off topic, somewhere in my readings apropos of the election, I also am seeking the Jack London anthology which includes the short novel “Iron Heel” about totalitarianism. And Keynes and Galbraith (mentioned in Nader text, but not listed in bibliography; because everybody who is anybody was already read “The Affluent Society” now on my list).

Nader references Eisenhower which reminds me that I am meaning to make progress on Jim Newton’s Eisenhower biography – Newton is a Paly grad and editorial page editor of The Los Angeles Times – we worked together at the Daily Dartmouth. He was my editor and publisher.

Regarding the aforementioned Palo Alto City Council candidates’ forum, Jason Green of the Daily News / Mercury made me his lead in that he said I “came out swinging” in my vehement opposition to the Arrillaga Office Towers project. In general, although I don’t feel a groundswell of support, I am pleased that my thoughts on subjects such as planned community (PC) zoning, “residentialism” and Arrillaga – which I object to on process grounds and the project per se, as an example of the distinction between Democracy and the more troubling plutocracy – are at least part of the agenda and dialogue. Generally, however, the dialogue is pretty non-existent. There are fewer candidate forums, less press coverage and generally an apathy or maybe just the fact that the switch to even years (2011 to 2012) means we are dwarfed in significance compared to the more important choice of Obama over Romney – worse case scenario is that discerning Weiss and Schmid from Burt and Kniss might means that more inattentive people could be seduced by the slickness and disingenuousness of Romney, God forbid.

I am deliberately trying not to review Nader’s book but I also noticed that he quotes what he calls a Buddist proverb about “being the path you wish to travel” that I wonder if it is the source of Gandhi’s now popular “Be the change you wish to see in society”. At one point I believed that Al Gore’s book “Earth in the Balance”, by quoting Palo Alto psychiatrist and peace activist Project Victory’s Gary Lapid, was the source of this round of “Be the Change”. In Lapid’s account, a woman asks Gandhi to help her teach her child to stop eating so much sugar and he says come back in three weeks because he wants to personally go on a sugar free diet before he speaks to the topic.

Way off topic but in Jed Perl’s “New Art City” –which I’ve also skimmed and nibbled on, on and off for months, –there is talk of aesthetics and makes me ponder whether the difference I feel between what I potentially bring to the table — or rather, what spurs me to try not to be, to stand up to, speak out against — in Palo Alto discourse is more subtle than mere ideology, my sympathy with the underdogs and have-nots. I think of most of the discourse as being a piles of parroted platitudes –if perhaps by brilliant, effective and well-meaning people. For what its worth, I am generating a never-ending reading list, like the “sorcerer’s apprentice” — each book I crack makes me want to search out ten other sources. (I was also meaning to list the coursework, teachers and texts that were my education per se; at various forums, for instance, I have mentioned “Democracy is taught in Palo Alto schools in civics courses by John Attig, Clay Leo and Clay Henry”. As distinct from chance meetings with people like Budd Schulberg – “On the Waterfront” with whom I once shared an elevator ride, a pungent elevator ride rest assured).

If Democracy is like a sausage, mine is high fiber, due to all the books ground up therein. (I was working on a text about “Democracy is like making sausage” per se; check your local “Svayambh-PA” listings/index later).

It also occurs to me that win or lose Palo Alto needs an independent press that covers the developers closely, as a watch dog and not mere “real estate rags” and cheerleader organs; noting the distinction between (my) internet-style ramblings and journalism per se. Beyond the impact on policy, discourse and actual citizen’s lives, the campaign has provoked me to try to describe our world via these posts.

edit to add: I sat across the aisle in the front row from Ladoris Cordell at the Ralph Nader lecture, but resisted handing her the business card that announces this campaign and references this link (to wordpress, my campaign blog; the card was donated and completely at the volition of Terry Acebo Davis, former PAPC commissioner and my girlfriend). Cordell was to lead the q-and-a that Nader presumable gave after I had left the building; the Commonwealth Club event reminded me of my concert series at The Cub, most specifically of packing 370 people into the 300-cap room to hear rocker, label owner, politician and rebel Jello Biafra talk: realizing we had over-sold the house, we got permission to seat 70 on stage in the round on folding chairs.

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Weiss platform in 70 words

 for text only click here

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