Palo Alto Weekly censorship of Arrillaga proposal debate

Printers Cafe in Palo Alto, March, 2012, people free to assemble, discuss drink of pour coffee, beer or tea.

Posted by been there, a resident of Menlo Park, 2 hours ago (on Palo Alto Weekly comments to G. Sheyner’s coverage of the Arrillaga Proposal, ie March 5, 2012, approximately 9 a.m.)

How shocking that PA online would remove a very amusing comment by MW that I enjoyed very much. Why don’t they remove their own nonsense, for example “billionaire turned philanthropist”?” And what is this philanthropy? If these people, his daughter included, really wanted to do some good they would give their money to tearing down the system that made them so off-the-charts wealthy at the expense of everyone else. The kind of philanthropy they are doing is only making things worse.

Which, after all, is probably good.

Read this fast, as it is sure to be removed.

I had the good fortune to run into Pat Burt today at Printer’s Cafe, the former Printers Ink, the former bookstore. our former former mayor and the son of legendary Los Altos Eagles football coach  Tom Burt , who won six championships and has the field named for him, and was the guest of honor more recently at a Rotary Club of Los Altos event that seemed to be open to the public that I wanted to check out but missed.

Last summer Mr. Burt, the younger,  and I had a not very useful exchange, while waiting in line together to buy tickets to Kiwanis Club bike and food event, regarding the future of the Varsity Theatre, and my initiative there that I call TLPW456.

I guess I am frustrated with his reticence to either use me as a sounding board for his ideas on projects I am interested in or figuring out how to use my energy and ideas to advancing his initiatives. We are so far like the video I saw not of teamwork but of a basketball and a soccer match being played on the same field but at crosspurposes.

Pat Burt told me he was disappointed by my comments on the Weekly site.  I said on Palo Alto Weekly comments section that Burt has said “We are taking the lead here, or at least that’s what John Arrillaga told me to say — I am paraphrasing or check the record.”

You can of course check the record and compare what he said, on City website archive of public meetings, as I know and helpfully suggest.

He definitely said “we are taking the lead here” which is the point I am disputing, the history of the proposal, the context et al.

Is is fair comment, in a comments section –where half the people don’t even use their full names — to playfully (but with method to the madness) suggest that Arrillaga conferred with Burt prior to 10 p.m. on Monday March 5, 2012 about 27 University Avenue proposal (new theatre, perhaps exclusively for Theatreworks AND 250,000 of office space, perhaps in nine stories, i.e. in excess of existing limits, AND requiring undedication of park lands AND moving of historic building, its tenant MacArthur Park Restaurant AND Red Cross — using funds dedicated for bike and pedestrian enhancement, to offset the addition of hospital workers).

If  Burt or I had more time for each other at the cafe I would have wanted to put my journalism training to better use and get answers to these four questions that seemed to be not answered in staff presentations and council comment Monday, to Mr. Burt:

1) Pat, how would you characterize John Arrillaga’s role in the community, if my comments and posts mischaracterize it? Is there a distinction between how Stanford as a private non-profit education corporation deals with its constituents and how a public government agency like Palo Alto does? Does it matter how Menlo Park deals with these offers — is the Arrillaga gym there an exact model for how we can or should act here, or is this case somehow more complicated, or do we have differing standards and values and considerations?

2) What communication or contact or instructions did you have or get from John Arrillaga about this project, prior to your public from dias statements Monday?

3) What do you mean by “taking the lead here” if Arrillaga and not Theatreworks and not staff or council initiatiated the discussion.

4) What about, Pat, Mr. Herb Burok’s public input and question of why are we taxpayers subsidizing the billionaire’s proposal if otherwise he would have to pay for the study himself?

By the way, in my somewhat fantastical reaction to and coverage of Nancy Shepherd’s comment at Council in the fall that she was asked by Chop Keenan to ask the citizens to quit yapping about 456 University –my coverage included a link via wordpress and youtube to a famous movie actress in a pink tightfitting outfit dancing to Imperial Teen “Yoo Hoo” from “Jawbreaker” movie — I was going from “no yawping” to “yoo hoo” — I recall that Aram James a former public defender and local public safety activist who endorsed my 2009 campaign saying, off the top of his head, that Sullivan Vs. New York Times (1964) still holds and protects citizens’ comments on public officials.

Certainly Nancy Shepherd, Pat Burt and John Arrillaga (he whose name is on at least three gyms or stadiums nearby) are public figures and therefore fall under Sullivan in terms of can they accept a certain amount of criticism and comment from the hoi polloi like moi.

But generally speaking I would rather find overlapping grounds to work with council members current and prior than chalk out a playing field of civic affairs with too many markers, yard lines, territory, red zones and perpendiculars.

In terms of following local issues and trying to make a positive contribution, to civic engagement, nothing is easy, and and neophyte quickly learns more about setbacks than progress. But it reminds me of one of my favorite Tom Petty songs: I won’t back down.

edit to add, March 17, 2012: as luck would have, my girlfriend and I and our guest were seated at a community table tonight at a local public house and kitchen with who else but former Mayor Pat Burt, his wife and four of their friends, two couples, most of whom it turned out were also interested in the same civic initiative as we three.  Politics can make strange breadfellows….Although the dinner talk was more about the arts and youth services, I did pick up the fact that the Giants have a 6’9″ lefthander working his way fast through the system with local ties. And that “Kaptain Crazy” Fulton Kuykendall of the Atlanta Falcons before all that was from St. Patrick’s of Vallejo and then a fraternity brother of Art Kuehn of Cubberley while at UCLA.

edit to add: on June 6, 2014, or two years and two months later, a Santa Clara County Grand Jury report asked essentially the same questions I was rebuffed for asking Pat Burt, and concluded that Palo Alto did not follow its policy in how it worked here, and in one other case, with Mr. Arrillaga. It also cited us for not answering public requests for information. The Weekly did, somewhere in here, this timeline, run a firmer story on the problems with the 27 University deal.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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8 Responses to Palo Alto Weekly censorship of Arrillaga proposal debate

  1. trey weiss says:

    I am gonna update this to add a graph after “puppet master” quip:

    Or as Trey Parker would say derka derka derka. I have this concept of talking in slang and modernisms as a way of reaching younger demographics and freaking out those baby boomers; to be really hip I might have left out the “trey parker” and just said, as a form of touchdown dance or touche derka derka derka.

  2. sam weiss says:

    nice try, tender foot. try:
    This meeting can do nothing more to save the country

  3. i am referring to the mighty Chaubunagungamaug, or Webster Lake, speaking of “been there”

  4. Ok, now I remember: did the Weekly censor and delete the part where i suggest that calling the applicant and athletic hero a “philanthropist” regarding the deal where he donates a theatre but builds for his own use $200 million in office space, and we are talking about the terminology here not the person per se — its not an ad hominem I am commenting on the terminology to describe the actions or proposed actions here – and I did laud GS for going from “philanthropist” in first reference of previous story to “billionaire here” I said something about the supposed scientific fact — and my fellow Gunn grad and sometimes kinda sorta neighbor Anne Wojsicki the founder of 23andMe could comment authoritatively here — that millions of people on the Asian continent have the genetic marker allegedly traceable to Genghis Khan — and I quickly found a suitable citation, to a reputable I think it was MSNBC corroboration of the facts —

    I said it was like calling Genghis Khan a pioneer in family values.

    Is that what Palo Alto Weekly is censoring?

    After how many complaints?

  5. markweiss says:

    okay i counted and out of 28 comments on this topic at PA Weekly only 6 of 28 back the project, so I was slightly under the “80 percent agree with me” comment I said to Pat Burt today, then admitted in print I was bluffing the exact number, we would need two more “pro-Varsity” or “wtf?” to be exactly 80 percent.

    Here is my latest (and I’ve already commented way too many times on this — thanks CT for noticing):

    If we are going to call the new theatre or office complex the Steve Jobs Center I would have absolutely no problem although people might confuse it with the Opportunity Center, which coincidentally used to be located at the same 27 University/400 Mitchell Lane parcel.

    What is funny is that no one mentions that this plan would also evict and relocate the executive of the business district Russ Cohen and come to think of it Chamber of Commerce who are trained not to comment on these issues — although Russ did bark at me once for calling him a “mouthpiece” for business. He is much much more. (and he is the one who dug up the phrase “There Goes the Neighborhood” regarding opposition — independent of PaDBID — re HSR. Until HRC (human relations council) set him straight: it’s racist.

    I don’t think mentioning Genghis Khan is racist but I would love to hear rationale from Weekly on why it was deleted.

    Meanwhile Nancy Shepherd pinged me back to say she laughed out loud when apropos of this whole thing she was reading about James Lick (which is funny in itself, and reminds me I have a paper due at Foothill about obscenity and Jeannette Walls) and how there was discussion of building in his honor as his legacy a pyramid higher than Giza.

    Regarding Arrillaga, and although they are known mainly for football and basketball, I did play in Saratoga Little League overlapping but never stepping to plate against Jeff and Randy, in 1973, the developer spoke first but we the 59,000 99-percenters get last licks.

    If they delete reference to Lick, James LIck, last licks or Jeannette Walls then we really do have a problem here.

  6. markweiss86 says:

    Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, 0 minutes ago

    [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

    An elected official called me and told me that he found my comments very amusing. He reminded me that what was also removed, besides the Genghis Khan bit, was my description of YY and LK being spared having to tell Mr. Arrillaga that this was not going to happen. I guess my stylings have something to do with the amount of Dickens we read and that Mr. Farrell introduced we editors of the Oracle to Hogarth.

    Klein scratched his head, and reminisced about the cool winds coming over the Keys while the sweat dried on his manly young Harvard-bound brow, under his football helmet; he craved lime pie, a larger portion, son of the immigrant he was, “more sir” something about a book he read earlier that day in Mrs. McGillicudy’s class — he liked her feet, always clean; “I cannot vote. I am a moral citizen. My wife. She works. I am not too proud to admit. She too (like Ms. McGillicudy) is a teacher. I gotta pee. Buh-bye.”

    with apologies to T.C. Boyle….

    • Mark Weiss says:

      the above is still intact but the Weekly seems to have removed the quasi-Marxist rant of “been there” of Menlo Park, which i restored thus:

      Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 0 minutes ago

      maybe we could start a whole blog of things removed by Palo Alto Weekly — i did send an account of this to council. here is the offending bits by Menlo Park resident:

      How shocking that PA online would remove a very amusing comment by (another anti-developer reader) that I enjoyed very much. Why don’t they remove their own nonsense, for example “billionaire turned philanthropist”?” And what is this philanthropy? If these people, his daughter included, really wanted to do some good they would give their money to tearing down the system that made them so off-the-charts wealthy at the expense of everyone else. The kind of philanthropy they are doing is only making things worse.

      Which, after all, is probably good.

      Read this fast, as it is sure to be removed.

      So, Bill, show us your Johnson! Or, why do you remove these types of comments?

  7. markweiss86 says:

    the thing about soccer and basketball being played for effect simultaneously by two or four different teams on the same pitch or court – which I reference above in terms of the lack of harmony — is about something I have only read about briefly, a 2000 installation piece by Mexican artist Gustavo Artigas called “Rules of the Game”

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