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Logic, environment lose out to campaign donations

November 11, 2009

(No apologies for being away this time, let’s just jump into it)

I hate to rip on the state legislature after one of those rare occasions where they do something kind of good, but…

Local state legislators voted to exempt a billionaire from a state environmental law requiring study and mitigation of the impacts of large projects, enabling him to build an empty football stadium in a tax haven outside Los Angeles. In case you’re wondering, this particular billionaire also happens to shower representatives with donations. Backers cited the made-up benefits the stadium will have on job creation and economic activity, ignoring all available empirical evidence and common sense.

Fittingly, Majestic Realty Co. Vice President John Semcken compared the plan to the new Cowboys stadium, built with vast sums of public money, and touted the short-term, low-paying construction jobs that would be “created” by the stadium as “jobs that can happen here very, very quickly.”

Inexplicable yea votes included Ira Ruskin and Paul Fong, the Assembly members representing Los Altos and Mountain View, respectively, and State Senator Elaine Alquist.

When they write journalism’s obituary, will they spell its name right?

October 14, 2009

Coming soon, to a journalism school near you: students covering local government commission meetings.  Whatever else one might say about journalism students (other than my sister and her friends), they are certainly capable of doing this.  It wasn’t so long ago that I was paid to do exactly what UC-Berkeley students are going to be–depending on how you look at it–either doing for free or paying to do.  Not that I was raking it in, exactly, but it’s hard to imagine someone charging me for the right go to and write about those meetings.

I was thinking about those meetings recently when I read the news about the tragic passing of Rosemary Stasek, former Mountain View Mayor and City Council Member.  Before she moved to Kabul and briefly made the Voice the smallest paper I knew of with an Afghanistan correspondent, Rosey was the coolest thing going at city council meetings.  She could be as good at cutting people’s arguments down as The Professor thinks he is, and was always the one leading the party train from the council chambers to the dive bar.  Aside from one small typo in the headline, the Voice’s coverage — as well as that of larger papers — has been fittingly excellent.

I can’t believe I have to be one to ask this

October 1, 2009

But can anyone tell me if this guy got his stash back?

The worst thing about Los Altos

September 30, 2009

A bicyclist dies in the Hills.

Main Street is decaying.

The city is about spend millions building a parking garage.

Does this get you down?  It shouldn’t.

The way the Town Crier sees it, if there’s anything wrong with Los Altos, it can be solved by blue paint. Reading today’s editorial, it’s hard not to think that they wanted me to start blogging again. Pretty much everything is swell as usual, now that newspaper racks have been moved closer to the buildings.  Well, except for this:

Thumbs-even: To the city of Los Altos’ making a green move by installing recycling cans at seven locations downtown and seven more in local parks. The problem: Other than a small white band with blue “recycle” lettering, the recycling cans look just like the garbage cans. It’s no wonder workers are finding regular trash mixed among the cans and bottles. Painting the recycling cans blue to distinguish them from the trash cans will make this item a thumbs-up.

Other questions raised by this week’s edition: When did houses on University Avenue start getting referred to as “estates?” How sad is it if the most vibrant downtown you can think of is Saratoga?  And wasn’t Bud’s Ice Cream on State and Second, in the building currently occupied by Mexican restaurant Fiesta Vallarta?

NOE staff crashes NOE sister wedding

September 14, 2009

Fearing the consequences of having the entire NOE staff at the matrimony of the only sister of our recently returned publisher, neither BigDra, Happy nor myself were invited to the wedding. This, however, was no reason not to attend.

As readers may know, Jon is a very big fan of his older sister, and for good reason. She is simply an incredible person. Yesterday she was married. Today is her birthday.

All the best, Joc.

(NOE Group Photo, 9-13-09, Foothills Tennis and Swim Club)

Joc Wedding 9-13-09 NOE

If you like this blog, you’re going to love the new Voice

September 10, 2009

Like most other days, today is a sad day in the world of local journalism.  The Voice has publicly announced that it is moving its offices out of Mountain View, thus joining both me and the “Palo Alto” Daily in absentee journalism, or, in my case, absentee whatever-it-is-that-I-do.

Given the thrust of the comments on the Voice website recently, I didn’t expect people to be so forgiving about this.  Maybe we just have to give them time.

UPDATE: I apologize for failing to make the obligatory joke about the Voice still qualifying for the title of “Best Newspaper in Mountain View.”

Don’t go playing mercenary

September 8, 2009

Despite a lot of bad press and the recent Wonga Coup fiasco (that landed some of the biggest names in the mercenary world in Black Beach prison) there are apparently some still out there willing to make a foray into starting mercenary groups.