Welcome to Palo Alto – Now empty out your pockets!

Palo Alto Welcome SignFor the millions of visitors who visit Palo Alto annually, that greeting, “Welcome to Palo Alto” represents a sign of friendship.

However, for those who live just a stone’s throw away, in East Palo Alto, it’s more like an International Border crossing with unspoken conditions of travel appearing to be specially designed for the vast majority of African Americans and Latino Americans who live in East Palo Alto.

Fear of being pulled over

The welcoming sign, for many represents’ a sign of fear as one East Palo Alto business owner, Elwyn Rainer of Rainers Service Station put it; “The majority of Hispanics and African Americans are afraid to travel over to Palo Alto in fear of being pulled over and searched for no reasons”.

“Research has verified that people of color are more often stopped than whites” as reported in one study by the Office of Justice Programs. In fact, Mr. Rainer describes himself as the “Poster Child” of what he perceives as racially motivated vehicle stops by the Menlo Park and Palo Alto police departments based solely upon the color of his skin.

In one of Mr. Rainer’s many vehicle stops the officer did state the reason why he was pulled over. In one stop, it was because as he put it, “your bumper went over the white pedestrian crossing line”.

“It doesn’t matter what I’m being pulled over for I’m always asked; “Are you on probation, recently released from jail all asked all in one breathe” as he put it.

Questioning intensifies

That’s when the line of questioning intensifies; “Do you mind if we search your vehicle”? He said, “It makes you afraid so I always consent out of fear”. Mr. Rainer admittedly said that he does have a “colorful past” and did not disclose what the past was. None the less he no longer travels over to Palo Alto.

Many of the perceived unspoken travel requirements necessary before entering Palo Alto by East Palo Alto citizens include, functioning taillights, current registration, license, both plates, insurance, no strong odors and having the right tattoos of all things.

Recent border crossing from East Palo Alto

That was the experience of one recent border crossing detainment by the Palo Alto police department involving two East Palo Alto Latino citizens while traveling on University Ave.

She relates, “They had stopped us because the car didn’t have the front license plate; he first explained why he had pulled us over but then right after he asked my boyfriend if he has ever been in trouble before.

He asked how old were we and took down my information, within seconds he asked my boyfriend to step out the car and questioned him about his tattoos on both arms (his last name).

After minutes of having him by the police car, the cop asked me to get out the car and asked me to empty out my pocket’s and also he searched my boyfriend and the car.

He had said it smelled like the illegal substance Marijuana, when he had searched the car he didn’t find anything. After he was done he kept questioning both of us about where did we live and what we’re we doing in Palo Alto”.

Just being stopped by the police under any circumstance can be nerve racking in itself. However, we believe the nature or line questions asked in these two cases in our opinion appears to be discriminatory and biased in nature with the intent of targeting minorities and or the disenfranchised.

Attempted explanation

Not so! And in explaining the vehicle stop which occurred recently on University Ave, Palo Alto police Lieutenant now Captain Zachary Perron states; “every vehicle stop is different. There are many reasons why an officer might request an occupant to get out of a vehicle during a detention; in fact, case law allows officers to do it on any stop.

It would be irresponsible for me to speculate about why any officer would ask occupants to step out of a vehicle on any particular stop, since each stop is different.”

However, “building better community relations is still one of the primary concerns of law enforcement throughout the country. That is why every action by a law enforcement officer has a bearing on the relationship of the agency with the community. Since most citizens come into contact with law enforcement officers at traffic stops, this becomes a critical element for law enforcement agencies in their overall public relations effort.

“Traffic enforcement offers agencies a way to build bridges to the community, one traffic stop at a time”. As cited by the International Association of Chiefs of Police

Disturbing questions remain

Were disappointed but not surprised that Lieutenant Zachary Perron did not address the all important questions of; “have you ever been arrested or are you on probation” as the first questions asked in the two East Palo Alto vehicle stop examples.

We beleive the average citizen no matter what their ethnicity, would find these questions to be derogatory, inflammatory, offensive and discriminatory and in no way designed to build trust especially within minority communities.

We left a voice mail message with East Palo Alto Police Information Officer Veronica Barries seeking her comments. She has yet to return our call. Lastly, we strongly feel as suggested by the International Association of Chiefs of Police that “The first words spoken by the officer may very well determine the tone of the encounter and even the eventual outcome” in building better community relationships especially among minorities.

Also see: Palo Alto Police Department’s Response to Concerns Regarding Bias-Based Policing

Profiling Atherton http://kentbrew.github.io/profiling-atherton/

Palo Alto police official response to third party complaint

City of Houston v. Hill – 482 U.S. 451 (1987)

Are police systematically killing the mentally ill

Statistically, when it’s comes to police protecting and serving citizens this recent report, suggests law enforcement personnel are finding themselves having to confront the ever rising tide of community mental health issues often with fatal consequences.

The mentally impared represents a very small segment of our policing society and yet shockingly over 1/4 of the US population killed by police involved the mentally ill at some level.

Unfortunately, many policing agencies are ill equipped for handling emergencies dealing with emotional meltdowns on our streets and in our own living rooms.

The aftermath in far too many cases often results in heartbreaking news and the tragic loss of human life as was the case recently at a Palo Alto mental health facility.

And all to familiar, another man who was shot and killed was known to the San Mateo sheriffs department as a person suffering from schizophrenia.

The vast majority of police shootings are found to be justifies. Why? Officers fearing for their lives and in most cases, cleared of any criminal wronging doing a common outcome.

One of the most egregious cases of police abuse

was Kelly Thomas beaten to death by Fullerton police officers. Kelly Thomas also suffered from schizophrenia.

Kelly Thomas
Kelly Thomas

Few policing agencies are prepared to deal with the mental health issues encounter on our streets and despite the limited CIT [crisis intervention training] received by many local policing agencys including the San Mateo police, fatalities continue which suggests a broken training program.

Our National Mental Health System has gone beyond critical mass when it comes to policing the mentally impared. This is made evident by the continued stories of police responding to calls from distressed family members only to have their family member shot and killed by police or beaten to death.

This is exactly what occurred to a man in Pacifica, California, whose family members called police requesting assistance in calming down their distraught son.  The police responded, handcuffed the son, tazering him, and he subsequently died.

No one has all the answers as to whether or not the limited training class received by the for San Mateo police was enough training to handle these crisis situation but from all outward appearence this was not the case.

However, statistically, the continued increase in fatal police interventions of our mentally impaired citizens should give rise to, and dictate, a greater focus on the needs of the most vulnerable of our population, the mentally impaired.

One major policing agency making inroads into this growing national problems is the Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team which has become nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice, as being a first to establish an elite group of police officers and mental health professionals specializing in mental health crisis situations with phenomenal success.

We’re not sure if the outcome would have been any different in Fullerton, Pacifica or in San Mateo, but it’s time to address our policing of this minority group head-on with properly trained Crisis–Intervention-Teams. And the time is now!

Related stories: Hold Your Fire

Editor’s note: Tazers continue to be hotly debated as an effect compliance tool in dealing with those suffering from a mental crisis.

 

Open Challenge to Donald Trump

donald 3I challenge Donald Trump to fight ISIS for 30 days.

“Claiming that the Islamic State is competing with his wealth, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he will ‘bomb the hell’ out of the extremist group if elected to the White House in November 2016.”

“Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump. Nobody,” said Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“I’ve been dealing with politicians all my life. They are all talk, no action,” Trump said.  “Never going to get done. They’re controlled by the lobbyists, they’re controlled by donors, and they’re controlled by special interests.”

Mr. Trump, “put your money where your mouth is.”

I challenge Donald Trump to go to the Middle East to fight ISIS for 30 days and to engage the enemy in a minimum of 10 fire fights during those 30 days.  Should he accept my challenge I will join him.  Furthermore I will find ten illegal immigrants willing to fight along side Trump and myself for freedom and security.

Ten illegal immigrants willing to put their lives on the line for freedom, prosperity and America. “Mr. Trump are you willing to put your life on the line for freedom, prosperity and America Mr. Trump or do you want the poor sons and daughters of Appalachia and inner city neighborhoods to put their lives on the line in order to increase your profit margin?”

Mr. Trump is 69 years old.  By all appearances he has lived an extremely prosperous and enjoyable life.  Why should an 18 or 20 year old who has not had the opportunity to reap the rewards of American freedom give up his/her life just so Trump can enjoy another 10 to 30 years of hedonistic living?

donald 1Furthermore, it appears that Trump dodged the Vietnam war through a medical deferment that topped off several student deferments.  Trump was an athlete who loves the military, surely the army could have stuck him in a helicopter as a door gunner.

Mr. Trump called Ms. Universe a hypocrite for keeping her crown in response to her disdain over his uninformed remarks regarding illegal immigrants.  Mr. Trump is on record wanting to put young American men and women’s lives on line by attacking ISIS in order to protect his wealth.  He is willing to sacrifice the lives of 18 and 20 year-olds so that he can continue to enjoy the pleasures of his wealth and the freedom and security which provides his ability to obtain that wealth.

Trump calls Miss Universe Paulina Vega a hypocrite “Miss Universe, Paulina Vega, criticized me for telling the truth about illegal immigration, but then said she would keep the crown-Hypocrite,” he wrote on Twitter Sunday.

 

Immigration:

First Mr. Trump blames Mexico for the loss of American jobs to Mexico and then he claims that illegal immigration from Mexico is destroying America with crime and drugs.

Trump opines, “They’re, (immigrants),”They’re bringing drugs, bringing crime; they’re rapists and some I assume are good people.”  “They’re (Mexico’s government) sending us not the right people.”  “The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States.”  “They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”

First off Mexico can only take that which America allows it to take.  American economic policies that stripped American workers of their power is what sent jobs to Mexico all in order to lower American corporations’ labor costs.  the failure of NAFTA and GATT to raise worker’s incomes and quality of life in the United States and other countries has been a colossal failure.

According to Pew Research there were 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2012 5.9 million of whom were from Mexico.  Of that 11.2 million 8.1 million were working or looking for work in the U.S. labor force.  Given that a good percentage of the 3.1 million not looking for work are children a person must conclude that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are law abiding citizens.

At its core, Mr. Trump’s statement about illegal immigrants is false and therefore misleading.  Mr. Trump blatantly ignores decades of U.S. foreign, economic and drug policies as being the true cause of the cancers that are eating away the American dream for most.

“Harvest of Empire,” is a book and video documentary that examines the direct correlation between the exodus of people from Latin American countries to the United States and the U.S.’s direct intervention in those countries that has brought about that exodus.

The jobs that American corporations could not and cannot outsource to cheaper labor regions they have decreased costs by importing an over supply of labor to decrease labor costs and thereby increasing profits for the owners at the expense of workers here and abroad.

The net effect of these policies has been the loss of the living wage for the average U.S., Mexican and Latin American citizens resulting in the the widest income and wealth gap between CEOs/wealthy and workers/poor since 1928.

Awash in workers, employers have been able to rid themselves of the collective bargaining power that unions provided which not only raised compensation for their own members but those workers who worked at non-union jobs due to non-union employers being forced to compete with union compensation packages.  In the town that I live in there is a chain of a national retailer that has about a thirty to fifty percent turn-over of its work force every year.  How can it turn over the majority of its work force every two to three years?  It can because workers have absolutely zero power to negotiate with the owners for better, for living-wage compensation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute had the federal minimum wage kept pace with productivity as it relates to inflation over the last forty years it would have been $18.67 in 2013 and $18.97 or more today.  Had the median income kept pace with inflation over the last forty years it would be $28.87 today instead of the actual $16.56.

The bottom line is that workers are being paid half of what they were being paid in 1968 for producing the same amount of work.  Many Democratic and Republican businessmen/women and corporations have reaped the fruit of other people’s labor and therefor have an incentive to maintain the current status quo.

Democrats want to fix the problems by increasing the minimum wage and providing social services.  Republicans will correct the deficiencies by erecting a wall and enacting the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP, economic policy.  Social services are nothing more than a double drain sucking money out of the economy and raising the minimum wage will have little lasting effect as those labor costs are summarily passed on to necessity costs, (housing, food transportation and medical), of the very workers who received the income increase.  As Bill O’Reilly has pointed out, a wall along the southern border will not keep out all of the illegal immigrants, most likely just the good ones, and the TPP will be another significant blow to workers bearing the fruit of their labor here in the Americas and the other half of the world around the Pacific.

It’s not that there are too many immigrants in the United States, it’s that the U.S. economic policy is built to ensure that there are more workers than living wage jobs.  Whoever has the courage to write an economic policy that ensures that every U.S. worker receives a living wage in the town and city they live then it wouldn’t matter if there were only 100 illegal immigrants in the U.S.  If someone had the courage to write up a living wage economic policy then the U.S. could actually absorb another 90 million immigrants and if someone doesn’t do this soon the U.S. will be supplanted by China as the world’s leader in GDP.

Bill O’Reilly said the United States’ major supplier of illegal drugs is from drug cartels in Mexico.  “So Trump is correct in saying that only a massive wall will stop the chaos and even then drugs and people will get through although not to the extent they do now,” O’Reilly explained.

Well Bill there wouldn’t be a supplier if there wasn’t a customer.  If the United States wasn’t demanding illicit drugs then there would be no Mexican drug cartels providing those drugs and therefore there wouldn’t be much of the violent and secondary crimes associated with drug cartels and gangs in Mexico and here in the U.S.  And I am not the one who says this, some of the United States’ and the world’s most distinguished law enforcement personnel, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION, LEAP, are the ones saying this.

With a stroke of a pen POTUS could legalize marijuana and decriminalize all other illicit drugs and thereby eliminate the drug cartels and all of their killings over night.  Drug users and addicts would be treated as if they strictly they had a medical problem, addiction, removing them from the severely over crowded and expensive justice system.  According to www.drugpolicy.org 1.5 million people were arrested for non-violent drug offenses 609,423 of whom were for marijuana possession.  The U.S. spends $51,000,000,000 a year on the drug war that the U.S. has lost.  Why keep throwing that money away and the lives of the innocents in the process?  Your own people are the ones saying it, not me.

According to LEAP there have been more than 39 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses in the last 40 years. Those incarcerated over a 20-year period quadrupled so that now more than 2.3 million US citizens are in prison or jail. The US spends 70 billion dollars a year on incarcerating 22.5 percent of the entire world’s prisoners even though the U.S. only has 4.6 percent of the world’s population.  LEAP has concluded that not one U.S. drug policy goal of lowering crime, addiction, drug availability or juvenile drug use has been achieved over the last 40 years, but rather the drug war has exacerbated all of the problems associated with drug use. Drugs are cheaper, more potent and more accessible to adults and juveniles then what they were 40 years ago. Powerful drug cartels and inner city gangs are created due to the illegality of the drug trade which is beyond authorities’ supervision because it is not regulated. These cartels and gangs perpetrate all kinds of violent crimes against each other as well as innocent bystanders to maintain control over regions and aspects of the black market. Most of these unnecessary secondary crimes would disappear if drugs were legalized and regulated reducing the incidents of addiction in the process.

A new study, “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States” released by the American Immigration Policy Center found that:
foreign born people are much less likely to commit crime than native born residents;
each successive generation becomes more likely to commit crimes;
foreign born people make up 17 percent of the prison population  yet are approximately 35 percent of California’s total adult population.

Lead researcher, Walter Ewing, concluded that immigrants, (legal or illegal), “is a group motivated to not get in trouble with the law and blow it all,” he said.

Despite the facts that contradict Trump, other anti-immigrant activists and politicians who justify their get tough on immigrants because they are dangerous criminals and steal Americans’ jobs by relying upon unsubstantiated information and the over sensationalism of uncommon events they are able to mislead the masses by repeating these fallacies over and over rather than address the true causes to the ailments of American society.

Those who hold to restrictive immigration policies because immigrants are stealing American jobs are often times the same people who are “pro-life” regarding abortion.

According to the “National Right to Life” organization there have been over 57 million abortions performed in the United States since 1973.

According to the United States Census Bureau there were approximately 54.5 million Hispanic or Latino people living in the United States in 2014 making up 17.1 percent of the 318.8 million total population.  Throw in the other 12 million undocumented immigrants and you have a total of 66.5 million Latino immigrants of first to fourth generation living in the United States.

There were approximately 30 million abortions from 1973 to 1993; assuming that half of these people would have entered into a marriage and had children of their own it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that another 10 million children would have been born to these 7.5 million married couples by today’s date.  So in reality there would be 67 million more citizen residents living in the United States if zero abortions had occurred over the last 43 years.  Statistically speaking, for every aborted child in the United States an immigrant took his/her place, no more no less.  The question I pose to those who claim that immigrants are stealing American jobs, “if there were zero immigration to the United States from Mexico and Latin America over the last 43 years and zero abortions over that same time period would you be blaming the 67 million un-aborted fetuses for taking your jobs and committing crime, or would you blame the failed economic, justice and drug policies instituted by the politicians whom you elected to office and who are running for office once again behind the facade of a different name and a different suit?”

It’s your move Donald.

Tony

pressstrong@gmail.com

“¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” Cuba: An enchanted land to be revealed

Would you like a cohiba cigarOn a recent trip to Havana I encounter this wonderful and delightful inhabitant.  Of all the country’s I have traveled in the world, I found Cuba by far too be one of the safest.

My favorite restauranta – Gringo Viejo Calle 21 No. 454 e/ E yF Vedado C. Habana, Cuba  – Tel: 831-1946.  This experience was like stepping through a portal in time……And the food –  an epicurean’s delight.

Travel to Cuba as most of you know has been taboo for most US citizens.  So in reality, the decision to go would be an act of civil disobedience.

It was back in 2011 when I presented the question to then Palo Alto Mayor Pat Bert on extending a hand in friendship to Cuba and perhaps becoming the second US city too become a sister city with Habana.  Mobile Alabama being the first.  He said no, it would become to controversial.

Tourism is a billion dollar industry and a missed friendship opportunity for Palo Alto. Think about it. Were friends with China, Vietnam and countries of the former Soviet Union.

At some point in time, the political biases of narrowed thinking politicians will hopefully change. That moment may have finally arrived…..

Homeless Legal Shell Game Maybe Over

Homeless Shell GameBy all accounts most everyone prefers to have the homeless simply disappear. A closer look at laws and ordinances enacted to curb homelessness on the streets of America is staggering.

From all outward appearances, seemingly benign laws such as, loitering, sleeping on the streets or in your vehicles, sit and lie ordinances are designed in reality, to force homeless individuals to go elsewhere.

Many experts in the field refer to such actions as “Selective Enforcement” a human shell game of legal maneuvering with the intent of clearing out the homeless population specifically those living in their vehicles as with the ordinance facing vehicle dwellers in Palo Alto.

Although city leadership would have us all think otherwise, there is no denying the fact that in Palo Alto city leaders are set to ban vehicles dwellers off the streets.

So what are they waiting for? Their waiting for the California 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to render its decision on the constitutionality in a similar case as outlined in a memo by city manager James Keene to Palo Alto city council members.

The vast majority of past legal cases centers on vagueness of laws enacted and or the “lack of notice of proscribed conduct.” see: City of Chicago v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999).

We believe this is not just an ordinary 9th Circuit Court of Appeals waiting shell game, but valuable time being given the city of Palo Alto and its immense legal staff the opportunity of fine tuning or making sure that all vagueness is removed from the ordinance before enforcement begins.

Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles

Update: The human legal vehicle dweller shell game maybe over.

The city of Palo Alto has been anxiously awaiting the decision coming down from the 9th circuit court of appeals in rendering or putting its final touches on banning vehicle dwellers off its streets.

The delays stem from an earlier challenge in the case of Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles which questioned the constitutionality on a similar ban on vehicle serving as mobile shelters for the unconventionally housed.

This along awaited prolonged court battle for the time being is over. In its decision, the court stated and clearly pointed to the “Vagueness Doctrine”.

The vagueness doctrine is designed specifically to prevent this type of selective enforcement, in which a “‘net [can] be cast at large, to enable men to be caught who are vaguely undesirable in the eyes of the police and prosecution, although not chargeable in any particular offense.’” …

OPINION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

It’s unclear how the impact of this decision will effect the city of Palo Alto in rethinking or pursuing further its ban on vehicle dwellers. But, for the moment, the human legal vehicle dweller shell game maybe over….

Donuts That Go “Crunch” In The Night

The last time I visited Happy Donuts was back on July 2010 when I originally wrote this article. Happy Donuts is located on the El Camino Real in Palo Alto. I was saddened to here of their planned closure.

Unattended Taser
Unattended Taser

What I discovered on one early morning visit was an unattended Taser sitting on the table, so I was not quite sure what I would find this time around.

Not as controversial I suppose, but this time all I found were unattended Macbook Pro’s and a few iPhones.

Happy Donuts is in fact a happy place to hang out 24 hours day, and if you’re hypoglycemic it’s a sure fire way to get that sugar fix.

Creativity abounds for right before my very blurred eyes, the making of a new on-line blogging newspaper accompanied with the sounds of slurping coffee and crunching donuts.

I was half-way conscious when I stepped through the door at 1 or 2 AM so I don’t recall if he said Apollonews.com or Hawthornelab.com.

I should have been in bed but woke-up with an irresistible urge for one of there famous chocolate donuts with nuts.

Both were grad students out at Stanford University and I could see that entrepreneur spirit in their glazed over donut eyes.

Look at this guy and you’ll understand why! He was rolling in his own symbolic future dough. Destined to make millions in their initial IPO.

RIP Happy Donuts….

Palo Alto city employees to reap a boat load of money on taxpayers sponsored cruiseliner

Financial life preserverPalo Alto would spend $10 million more on salaries and benefits in the coming fiscal year then it did the year before if a new budget proposed last night is approved by city council.

Among other things, the 500-page budget proposes a 7% increase in employees compensation for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The budget proposes spending $150.3 million on those expenses from July to June 2015. In the current fiscal year, which ends in June, the city will spend $140 on those same employees. In the previous year, the city spent $134.5 million.

Other than a few brief questions, council members didn’t have much to say about the budget, in large part because they received the massive binders during their meeting and had only a few minutes to prepare questions. But the the council will review the budget and vote to approve it in the coming weeks.

Contact negotiations

Last month, City Council approved raises for the city’s 582 SEIU employees ranging between 4.5% and 14.3%.

The next largest employee group, with 213 members, is the cities managers and professionals. The city also employs 99 firefighters, 83 police officers, 46 utility department managers, seven police department managers and five fire department managers.

The police and fire unions are in the midst of negotiating new contracts. Police managers would make the most on average of all city employees, with $179,136 in salaries next year, not including benefits.

Utility department management professionals would make the second most, on average, netting $133,139 without benefits. The SEIU employees would make the least netting $70,659 without benefits, according to the proposed budget.

Thousands in overtime

For overtime work, police and firefighters would make the most. On average, each firefighter will take home $14,388 annually in OT while police officers would get an average of $13,815 annually.

The city budget shows taxpayers are going to spend a lot of money contributing to the pensions of city workers. Police and fire pension contributions are the highest on a per-employee basis.

The city’s pension contribution for police managers will be $59,903 on average, according to the proposed budget. Police officers pensions are the next most expensive, costing $42,688 each, followed by firefighters pensions at an annual average cost of $42,289, and fire chiefs pensions at $41,828.

Firefighters and police officers would also cost the most in worker’s compensation, between $12,146 and $12,887 each on average. The same is true of medical benefits.

Medical benefits for police managers would cost the city $19,992 each next year while medical benefits for firefighters and police officers trail close behind at second $18,500 for each employee.

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City of Palo Alto begins cigarette butt cleanup

The city of Palo Alto will soon require all businesses to report how many employees they have and provide other data, but the information could also be used for other purposes, such as the possible ban on selling cigarettes, according to Kim Torke, acting environmental services division director.

City council members and city employees such as economic development manager Tom Fehrenbach have said information collected by the registry would be mostly used to help the city gather information to solve parking and traffic problems downtown.

The information could also be used for disaster preparedness, business marketing, compliance with rules about water conservation, economic development and land use decisions, a report to city council from city manager James Keane said.

At its meeting Tuesday, the council members, with Greg Scharff and Liz kniss absent, voted to move ahead with creating the registry. All businesses would be required to pay a fee from $35 to $75 annually to support information collecting program.

But at the end of a report presented to counsel with a list of potential questions that businesses would be asked, such as: “does the business store hazardous materials or generate hazardous waste?”. “Does the business perform automobile repairs? “and “(does the business) sell tobacco products?”

Councilman Larry Klein told the Post earlier this week that he wouldn’t support the questionnaire asking those questions, because he and other council members wanted to limit it to a short, four or five question form.

Smoking ban

Torke told the Post that his office had asked that the question about cigarettes be added because the council had asked him to look at expanding the city’s current smoking ban in the downtown and California Avenue area.

The city already bans smoking within 25 feet of entrances to public buildings. Eventually, he said, it could help them ban the sale of cigarettes at places such as pharmacies and grocery stores.

Torke said it helps to have the information for people who would be affected by the ban so that the city can go talk to them about it in advance.

image

The city could already get the same information by going to the Board of Equalization, which licenses businesses to sell tobacco. But Torke, said it would just be more convenient to have it all on one form.

The sample questions also included inquiry about whether businesses use plastic pellets, which are used to make plastic products a rarity in Palo Alto.

Torke said that state water inspectors have asked for such information before when they check on the city’s operation, because the pellets can get into storm drains and eventually the ocean.

He said that state inspectors ask other cities to get information on their business registries. When the Post looked at the business license applications of the Menlo Park, Mountain View and Redwood City, none had questions about plastic pellets or cigarettes.

The Daily Post Today
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Money Sucking Santa Clara County Government Tube

Dave Price - Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post
Dave Price – Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post

Santa Clara County government is like a long pneumatic tube. Money gets sucked into the tube from Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View.

The money comes out the other end in San Jose, where it is spent by bureaucrats on their pet project. The North County pays but seldom sees the benefits of its tax dollars.

The proposal Guardino is floating would raise the sales tax rate from 8.75% to 9% for 30 years, giving Santa Clara County one of the highest sales taxes in the country.

This extra .25% is on top of the previous 1.125% in transportation sales taxes we already pay. The sales tax proposed for this November could raise as much as $3.7 billion over three decades.

Full Story – The Daily Post Today
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Skytran Trumps High Speed Rail

Unlike Elon Musk’s Hyperloop technology which is years Hyperloopaway from being developed there is a High Speed people mover already in use that would accomplish what the current High Speed Rail, HSR, is seeking to perform yet instead of the present price tag of $68 billion this superior technology would only cost $7.2 billion.

Over the last few weeks there has been a great amount of interest in Elon Musk’s idea of a Hyperloop train transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco at a fraction of the cost of the HSR project.

Elon Musk of Tesla Motors is quoted as stating, “How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) — doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars — would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?”

Actually Mr. Musk is half right.  It is true that Highskytran 3 Speed Rail is significantly overrated however there is a company, Skytran, right here in silicon valley that has already created a bullet beater using Maglev technology.

This technology is not years away like Musk’s Hyperloop, at this very moment Skytran is building a system of Personal Rapid Transit in Israel where the company believes the future of all innovation will be developed drawing people from around the world to work and learn about Skytran.

Israel’s bureaucracy “is not as onerous as in some other Western countries. It’s a ‘two-telephone call’ country. Once the government knows about something and is interested in it, they find a way to clear the bureaucratic hurdles, and that is what is going on with us,”  Jerry Sanders, CEO of Skytran

Although geared to decreasing vehicle use in large urban skytran 4settings there is no reason why Skytran cannot be built at a fraction of the cost of HSR connecting L.A. to San Francisco transporting the same number of people that HSR would in the same period of time or less.

Unlike HSR, Skytran integrates into the urban landscape without disrupting traffic flow infrastructure or current land uses; including private properties.  This ability to unobtrusively blend into the existing environment will reduce the push-back that HSR is currently receiving from a number of communities.

High Speed Rail Cost:   

$68 billion for 800 miles of track equals $85 million per mile.

Skytran Cost:  

$7.2 billion for 800 miles of track at a cost of $9 million per mile.  (Approximately $5 billion for the 380 miles from S.F to L.A. track.)

It is 380 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  Some estimates place the High Speed Rail traveling up to 200 mph transporting passengers to S.F. from L.A. in 3 hours or less.

That is if it is an express train with no stops.

What happens if you want to go to someplace like San Mateo from L.A. and not S.F.?  You will fly by your destination to S.F. where it will take you another hour to back track to where you truly want to be.  This dilemma does not exist with Skytran as Skytran’s individualizedskytran 2 pods take passengers directly to where they want go.  At 150 mph Skytran does not equal the top end speed of HSR however overall travel time will be much shorter using Skytran than HSR as every ride is an express ride.

The question is, why won’t the politicians scrap the current model of High Speed Rail for one that will require less energy per mile traveled enabling more people to access the system while removing more cars from the roadways and thereby obtain more goals than the current HSR system at a fraction of the cost?

Some answers here:

$7.2 billion is less than the $9.95 billion in bonds the people approved of and only 18% of the $40 billion cost sold to the people in 2008.

What would be the people’s approval rating of Governor Jerry Brown and our state representatives if they were to terminate the current technology of High Speed Rail and replace it with Skytran?  Instead of building tracks out in the middle of nowhere our elected officials could circle the greater San Francisco Bay Area all they way to Sacramento with Skytran as well as through-out the Los Angeles Basin down to San Diego prior to building anything connecting northern and southern California.

This would cost $10 billion for 1,111 miles of track which would also be the quickest and most cost effective method of reducing traffic congestion as well as green house gas emissions.   During this first phase Brown and his colleagues in Sacramento could then allocate up to $1 billion dollars to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop technology to prove its viability.  Should Mr. Musk’s Hyperloop technology be validated then Brown and our officials at the Capital would allocate up to $9 billion dollars to construct the Hyperloop system connecting L.A. and S.F.

If the Hyperloop cannot produce what Mr. Musk claims it can then the $9 billion would go to connecting L.A. to S.F. with Skytran during phase two of California’s High Speed Rail project.

For $20 billion, less than half of the original cost of the very limited High Speed Rail project the people of California couldskytran 6 have Rapid Personal Transit in the major metropolitan areas and High Speed Rail connecting Southern and Northern California.

Is there any logical reason why Governor Brown and the State legislators do not want to save the California people $20 billion to $48 billion when it is within their ability and authority to do so?

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Skytran

HSR  HSR2

Hyperloop  Hyperloop 2 Hyperloop 3