Tue05242016

Oh, behave!: Editorial

It’s a good thing the young historical essay contest winners and Girl Scouts recognized at the beginning of the May 10 Los Altos City Council meeting didn’t stay for the duration. They would have witnessed a poor example of civic engagement at a meeting marred by needless drama and dysfunctional leadership.

First, the approval of a resolution disbanding the city’s downtown parking committee over Brown Act (the state’s open meetings law) violations drew protests from both committee members and their opponents, chiefly two former Los Altos mayors, Ron Packard and David Casas. Their group, Friends of Los Altos, raised the Brown Act violations and triggered a third-party investigation. The arbiter agreed that there were violations and recommended disbanding the committee. However, the arbiter also ruled that the city could use the information the committee gathered as part of the public process for creating a downtown parking plan. That didn’t sit well with Casas and Packard, both of whom issued threatening responses (Casas: “Tonight is not the end of this saga – this is not going to go away.” And Packard: “We did not threaten to sue the city, although tonight we’re coming close to it.”). View the webcast at losaltosca.gov to see for yourself.

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Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Downtown Los Altos Farmers’ Market is slated to open 4 p.m. Thursday along State Street. It runs every Thursday through September. It’s an opportunity to shop for fresh produce and meet friends.

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Good decisions on seniors, schools: Editorial

The current Los Altos City Council has its ups and downs. Members’ competence and commitment is without question. The question for some is their ability to get things done. Still, members’ actions at their March 8 meeting showed their ability to listen and make good decisions.

Mayor Jeannie Bruins and Councilwoman Mary Prochnow were convinced going into the meeting that de-chartering the joint Los Altos/Los Altos Hills Senior Commission was the right thing to do. But after hearing strong testimony from local seniors and their advocates, councilmembers realized how important a chartered senior commission was to many involved in the city’s seniors’ activities. Some speakers interpreted de-chartering as taking away the commission’s authority. Instead of de-chartering, the council moved to re-charter the commission to include fewer members and remove age limits for its members. We appreciate the council’s action to preserve the Senior Commission.

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Los Altos at a leadership crossroads: Editorial

Don’t look now, but there could be some major changes ahead regarding how the Los Altos city government is run.

The current city council has the opportunity to hire a new city manager in the wake of Marcia Somers’ recent resignation. Furthermore, three open seats on the five-seat council are up for grabs in the Nov. 8 General Election. Voters can opt for a new council majority that may translate to new leadership and direction at city hall.

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Editorial: A clash over law -- or politics?

The city of Los Altos recently suspended Citywide Parking Committee meetings to investigate possible violations of the Brown Act, the state’s open meetings law. The city acted in response to a complaint by Friends of Los Altos (FOLA), a group whose board members include David Casas, Ron Packard, Val Carpenter and Lou Becker (former Los Altos City Councilmembers) and Jon Baer and Ken Lorell, both former Planning and Transportation Commission members.

FOLA contends that subcommittees researching and collecting data on city parking options were subject to and violated the Brown Act. Even if two or three members met as a subcommittee, FOLA alleged, there was sharing of information with other subcommittees, thus triggering the Brown Act breach.

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Spring has sprung – (mostly) thumbs-up!: Editorial

Spring is here, and so are some Town Crier takes on recent local happenings.

Thumbs-up (?): To local elected officials partnering with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo to apply pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration to reroute flights that travel directly over Los Altos. It’s unclear how much influence Santa County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Los Altos Hills City Councilman Gary Waldeck and Los Altos City Councilman Jean Mordo will have in the effort to thwart flight patterns. But their involvement, along with the congresswoman’s, acknowledges that they are taking the thousands of noise complaints from residents seriously. We, like they, anxiously anticipate an acceptable FAA response to the matter.

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From the City Manager's Desk: Fulfilling our mission

 

For those of us who work for Los Altos, the mission is “to foster and maintain the city of Los Altos as a great place to live and to raise a family.” The city’s employees take this mission seriously and – individually and collectively – do our best to make Los Altos a special place to live, work and play.

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