Silicon Folly: Flying in the face of COVID-19

You may remember my grandfather, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He was a worldwide literary phenomenon in the early 1970s. He and my grandmother settled down in Berkeley to join the “Free Fly Movement,” which was all the rage in the skies above the Cal campus.

From the Mayor's Desk: Let’s be a leader for a clean, sustainable energy future

When we marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day last April, I asked: What if we harnessed the same level of dedication that we are using to battle the COVID-19 pandemic to combat climate change?

From the Mayor's Desk: Show that you care – wear a face mask

Face masks block droplets that are emitted when you talk, sneeze and cough. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these droplets are the main way that COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person. So face masks are very important to protect other people from any germs you may have. And they reduce the spread of the virus from people who have COVID-19 but don’t realize it because they have no symptoms.

A Piece of My Mind: Navigating the minefield of words describing races

When I was a child, my parents moved us from Palo Alto to a small city of about the same size in the segregated South. (It was a bad move, but that’s another story.) My parents were from a part of the country where you were more likely to see an antelope walking down the street than a person of African descent. I had to learn some new words, and meanings of words.

Mtn. View police remain major contributor to community

On Memorial Day, communities across this country watched in horror as a former officer in Minneapolis held George Floyd to the ground, his knee restraining Floyd by his neck, actions which directly led to Mr. Floyd’s death.
            Police agencies across the country, including the Mountain View Police Department, came out to condemn, in no uncertain terms, the inexcusable actions of the officer. The department reiterated a vow to continue the strong partnership with the community, as it has for decades. The actions of the former Minneapolis police officers, at their very core, went against everything the Mountain View Police Department stands for, from human rights to rendering immediate medical aid for those calling out for help.
            With more than 36,000 calls for service in 2019 alone, the Mountain View Police Department is a valuable organization in our community, serving vulnerable populations, our children, and more with a Mountain View-first mentality. The department is known as a dedicated leader in the community policing model. In the past three months alone, the department has single-handedly helped distribute nearly 10,000 face coverings to those who need them to help us flatten the curve of COVID-19. Department employees have distributed more than 2,000 bags of food to those in need. And they have been working in close collaboration, as they have for years, with community-based organizations to help find housing resources for those who need to stay healthy and safe while we battle this pandemic.
            For more than 20 years, officers have served the children of Mountain View as mentors and trusted adults with the Dreams & Futures program, which helps students learn and deal with peer pressure, family issues, drugs, and more. These officers are beloved by their students, and they are repeatedly requested for reading days, assemblies, and more.
            And that’s not all – our community comes out in force every year to help the Mountain View Police Department build meal baskets for families in need for Cops + Gobblers, thanks to the incredible donations from our community members. Last year, in less than 45 minutes, Mountain View residents, in tandem with officers, assembled more 400 baskets that were in turn distributed by both officers and families to those who needed some help making their Thanksgiving Day special.
            Every year in December, Mountain View officers help bring holiday gifts to thousands of Mountain View students with the Cops That Care program – an event that takes months to coordinate but is worth every smile of the more than 1,000 children that walk through the door to receive a present of their choosing in time for the holidays.
            These are just some of the efforts you may know about, and are part of the fabric of who we are and the values we hold. They are ingrained in the community policing model, which the Mountain View Police Department wholeheartedly embraces and follows. This doesn’t include the tens of thousands of calls for service Mountain View officers were dispatched to last year – calls for crime, calls for help, calls for someone to be there to support them when no one else was.
            Of those 36,000 calls last year, less than a fraction of 1 percent – just 26 calls total – required the use of force, resulting in, at most, minor injuries. That’s because Mountain View officers are trained holistically to constantly work to de-escalate, to help those in need at their pace and to ensure that every possible avenue is taken before force is even brought to the table as an option. This isn’t just a policy we have – it is ingrained in multiple policies, it is repeatedly covered in training every year and it is a constant topic of discussion within the department.
            Your Mountain View police officers care deeply for this community. They work to build bridges every day, not because it’s their job, but because they, like you, are men and women searching for a better way to serve the greater good. They will continue to meet you at the table, be there when you are having your worst day and be there for every call in between. Because that is what it means to be a police officer in Mountain View.
            Going forward, there will be many moments and conversations with many community members in many neighborhoods. Mountain View police will continue to be there to listen, to learn and to help create intentional, meaningful movements forward.
            Margaret Abe-Koga is mayor of Mountain View and Max Bosel is police chief.

A Piece of My Mind: Silver linings – and storm clouds

I read the disheartening news articles at the end of May about the George Floyd protests gone awry. I read about looters standing with crowbars at the ready as peaceful protesters marched down the streets of San Francisco and Oakland. They were waiting for the right moment to turn and smash a window for plunder. I read about rubber bullets and tear gas and arson and professional criminals driving up in vans to strip computer shops and appliance stores of their goods.

The message is clear: Racism will no longer be tolerated


Note: Following is Los Altos Mayor Jan Pepper’s statement, read at the June 9 council meeting in the wake of the local Black Lives Matter protests.

The last couple weeks have been a tumultuous time in our country and in our community. It highlights how very far we still have to go to fight racism in this country. I want to make it clear that I firmly support Black Lives Matter. I am engaged. And I am enraged.
There is systemic racism toward the black community in this country. I honor the memories of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, and the too many others who have been killed or harmed by the racism that persists in this country and continues to divide our society. Growing up as a child of the ’60s, we thought we were making progress. As the Rev. Martin Luther King said in December of 1967, “There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice.” There still is not justice, there still is not peace. Rampant racism still exists.
The color of our skin should not matter – we are all humans – we share a common humanity and a desire to live a meaningful life. We are born into this world as equals, with no say as to who our parents are or what color skin we have. None of this should matter – we should all have the same opportunities to make the best of our lives. But unfortunately, that is still not the reality in this country. Black citizens are not treated the same as others, and that is wrong. The peaceful protest march that was held in Los Altos last Friday made it clear that thousands of us here in Los Altos agree: Black Lives Matter. Racism has no place in this community and will not be tolerated. We must promote and continue to fight for freedom and justice.
This also applies to how the police treat citizens, which I will discuss in a moment. This applies to the words we use in expressing ourselves. There is no place for racist speech, particularly among our elected officials, and this will not be tolerated in Los Altos.
I have received hundreds of emails from residents regarding the inappropriate words that have a racist history recently used by council member Jeannie Bruins at one of our council meetings in May. I do not condone such language. Hundreds of residents have further demanded that I, as the mayor, take action to remove Ms. Bruins from office.
State election law does not provide for the mayor to remove any council member, nor for the council as a whole to remove any council member. I checked with our city attorney and she said, “There is no process and/or action the city council can take to remove an elected official.”
The brutal police killing of George Floyd and so many other black citizens is wrong and unjust. We cannot sit idly by when this kind of action continues to take place across our country. We have received hundreds of emails from residents and others urging Los Altos to adopt the 8 Can’t Wait policies and to defund the Los Altos Police Department.
Tonight I propose that Vice Mayor Neysa Fligor and I form an ad hoc committee to work diligently with Los Altos Police Chief Andy Galea, members of our community, and other city staff to ensure that our training, policies and practices reflect the values of our community. I propose that this subcommittee be in line with the call issued by President Barack Obama to mayors and other city council officials to introduce common-sense limits on police use of force. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is calling on mayors to commit to the following actions:
1. Review your police use of force policies.
2. Engage your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences and stories in your review.
3. Report the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
4. Reform your community’s police use of force policies.
The vice mayor and I will be coming back to the council at our next meeting on June 23 with a specific agenda item and a resolution outlining the goals and processes of this subcommittee’s work. I hope that the council will fully support this proposal so that we can quickly get to work. This can start the process without delay.
As your mayor, I will do all that I can to promote justice in Los Altos – to fight for equality, to respect each other’s humanity, and particularly to recognize that Black Lives Matter.

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