What Would Ponch and John Do?

Jon and Ponch chips

Would either of these Public Service Gods chase me down and give me a ticket?

Depends on the circumstances, you say? You’re right, so let me fill you in.

This morning, around 11:00, I was sitting in my truck in the McDonald’s parking lot at Rengstorff and Charleston. As I was getting fatter, a Palo Alto Police cruiser made a traffic stop right in front of me.

No lights, no sirens, no drama. Just a traffic stop for something small, I would imagine. However, as the officer approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, the person driving started to open their door.

Now, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I would consider that a HUGE no-no for someone getting pulled over.

I thought that would be common sense for everyone. Apparently not. The officer making the stop has no idea who they are pulling over and someone getting out of their vehicle can only send up a red flag indicating danger thus triggering adrenaline and a defensive posture in the officer. Is that what you want?

Folks, please stay in your car and wait for the officer to approach you, for everyone’s safety! But, I digress.

Seeing this, and already playing with the camera on my iPhone, I started to roll the video tape. To his credit, he remained very cool, calm and collected. The rest of the stop was uneventful, so I stopped recording after less than a minute.

However, the officer noted me sitting in my car video tapping him. I could tell that he didn’t like it, so I decided to get out of there before he found some reason to come over to me.

I’d rather not stick around and have a conversation with a police officer because that usually ends up with me giving them an autograph of some sort.

So, I leave the parking lot and make a right on Leghorn. I then made a left on Independence.

As I came to a complete stop at Wyandotte, I noticed red and blue lights in my rear view. I thought, “well, he either forgot to turn off his lights, or he’s pulling me over”.

So, not exactly sure if I was being pulled over or not, I kept going down Independence and made a right on Old Middlefield. Since the lights were still on, I pulled over.

Officer Cole Ghilarducci came up to my passenger side window and asked for license and registration and informed me that I was stopped for not having a front license plate. Interesting.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that this officer chased me down (after I was completely out of sight) to give me a ticket. He clearly did not see the front of my truck while I was driving and THEN pull me over.

He noticed me taking video of him, was irritated because of it and looked for something on my car which violated the vehicle code to cite me for. His vindictiveness then drove him to hunt me down a mile or so away and give me a ticket for NO FRONT PLATE.

Really Officer? Really? I wasn’t being a police watchdog. I thought something might be going down right in front of my eyes and I might be able to make a record of it. That’s it, plain and simple.

Boo to you Officer Ghilarducci. Boo.

Ponch and John would never have done that.

Please comment and let me know what you think.

Letter To The Editor

Go Tommy.

I believe the new Palo Alto Economic Development Manager, Tommy Fehrenbach, will be the communicator that will allow an energetic conversation about taking actions outside the box.

Being from Palo Alto, he will be sensitive to our desire to preserve the qualities that make Palo Alto unique, but he also has the vision to lead a creative conversation about how to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly, including the possibility of closing some streets to car traffic.

There is a balance between the business interests of Palo Alto and the preservationists desire to retain Palo Alto qualities.  Tommy will be able to bring those interests together.

He will just have to prove to the preservationist that his business background does not necessarily mean he is a hired gun of the high-density development interests.

Let’s leverage what we preserve and find a win-win for both interests.

A lot of people will be watching your moves Tommy, so make sure your actions are inclusive and fair. (yes, fairness can be a principal in City Government).

By the way, try to include residents from a broad spectrum of the City, and avoid the typical configuration of City insiders. And… no closed meetings, like other City managers have pulled (yes, I’m talking about you Chief Burns.)

Show us how the power of sincere Citizen Participation and entrepreneurial energy can move the City forward.

Best regards,

Timothy Gray (former City Council Candidate)