Social Justice in Palo Alto & Mountain View

Judge Ladoris Cordell of Palo Alto, also a former council member

Judge Ladoris Cordell of Palo Alto, also a former council member

“Evil man make me kill you, baby; evil man make you kill me, baby” Jimi Hendrix, “Machine Gun” 1970

Ladoris Cordell highlights a panel discussion Wednesday evening in nearby Mountain View, along with state senator Joe Simitian and four or five others. The topic is how are we different or alike Ferguson, Missouri, which is actually about 2,000 miles away.joes

I wrote to Ladoris on this topic last August and also spoke on this in a 3-minute address to Palo Alto City Council. During my campaign for City Council (which yielded 2,100 votes), I quoted Nina Simone about what it would like to be free.
From a note I wrote to the Judge:

Perhaps extraneously, I recall being at City Council a few years ago and Pam Wimberly the coach at Menlo-Atherton but I believe either a Palo Altan or married to one, she was sitting near me, accepting an accommodation about 400 wins or something{actually 600, and as of 1993 she is also in the San Mateo Sports Hall of Fame} and that same night mothers of young people from Ventura District in Palo Alto were speaking, 3 minutes each, complaining that the PAPD were following their boys and I leaned over to the coach, after I had earlier introduced myself and described myself as a Hans Delannoy former player — my coach I believe played with or against her husband, and maybe Hans coaching ladies in East Bay coached against Pam — I said, “Do these people sound believable?” and she whispered back “Yes. They follow my children, too”). 

I believe in a type of self-policing and self-governenance that in theory at least would involve a gradual continuum from Neighborhood
Watch or “It takes a village” up thru men and women in blue, in ‘the color of authority”. I would hope more Gunn and Paly young men and women would aspire to be Palo Alto public safety officers and agents and leadership AND more PA public safety could afford to and would want to live here. I would want a dialogue about such topics here.”

Last week I had 10 minutes in front of eight current council members as part of the interview process for Palo Alto’s Human Relations Commission.*

Seated or not, I imagine continuing to speak out, in my own voice, and work in my own manner towards a more perfect union.

On these general topics I also recall meeting an exceptional Stanford student, Shelby Sinclair who is among the leadership there of student input into college governance on these matters; if she were able to attend tomorrow’s event, the others gathered would surely benefit from hearing her perspectives.

This is Shelby: I also have a picture of her holding a sign, after the march on Palo Alto, that reads “DO SOMETHING”; and I sat with that sign, several times at Lytton Place (which is searchable here in Plastic Alto, but I do not offer a ping-back):

Shelby Sinclair PhD and potential POTUS

Jimi also dedicates the song I reference “to all the soldiers on the streets of Berkeley, and the soldiers in Vietnam and to everyone fighting a battle within himself.”

Meanwhile, I want to read up on Mayor Karen Holman’s white paper on civic engagement. The implication would be: more civic engagement from the rank and file Palo Alto, 500 or so people stepping up, leaning in and speaking out, might be remedial of the recent status quo, which seems to have let a special interest, commercial real estate cartel — if this is not too simple a model — to displace a more thorugh reckoning on various issues and situations including or especially social services (and justice). Case in point, newly promoted Director of Human Services Rob DeGeus told me recently that his department has shrunk by 30 percent, from 100 people to about 70, in his tenure as staff; And there has been a drain of good people, for instance, Kash Alaee being re-assigned from Recreation Department to the Development office; With due respect to Mayor Karen, an ally, I both endorsed and voted for her, I think she should start by taking office hours, as her five immediate predecessors did, and also, she should answer her doorbell when it rings, or there is a knock on the door. (Low tech, old school; in contrast, a cluster of “Millenial” commissioners are suggesting that we conduct government via a social media platform; Wednesday’s interviews were actually set up more for the archived camera than for the public per se in person; one guy, Jeff Hoel, attended the hearing, which was in a new chamber adjacent to the lobby of city hall).

Besides my laptop word-processor and magic lantern, I am packing George Packer “The Unwinding” whose central metaphor suggests that the Democracy gap (the difference between what we say we do and what we actually do) can be remedied by more people putting more energy into the process, especially to combat the corrupting and corrosive influence and effect of money, the concentration of wealth, the creation of a “1 Percent” super-class. (Wow: 500 reviews on leading market-social media page: here

Meanwhile there are now two music events and Earthwise topics I have on my radar; continuing a tug-of-war between the two distinct modes of conduct that have carried me along these recent 23 years (I count off from the day Rodney King came on tv, said “Can’t we get along?”, the network cut to a Chrysler commercial, and I switched off the tv, packed up my apartment and moved back to this area; I’ve been a fugitive, not unlike Harrison Ford as Richard Kimble, from corporate American and consumeristic values: the one-armed man is Moloch, alias Mammon).

And back on authors, as distinct from critiques of electronic media, if that is implied: I did see Bryan Stevenson do an author reading here recently, or nearby. And Ralph Nader, in 2012(“17 Solutions“).

Social justice topics I have glossed here in Plastic Alto and or tried to bring to the public forum include, but are not limited to: Buena Vista, Fergusen, Stevenson House, Albert Beltran and Jim Hardy (veterans issues), First Amendment rights and Lytton Plaza, teen suicide, tenants rights, single payer health care?


(a previous version of this had an excerpt of me speaking at a public hearing or as candidate for a board….updated seven years later, April, 2022…a very careful reader of “Plastic Alto” will notice I updated a more recent picture of Dr. Sinclair; the latest Black woman I had photographed and stored in my phone was jazz musician Savannah Harris who played a free concert here in April, 2022, or seven years after I had met Shelby Sinclair, at a Black Lives Matter march, or thereabouts. Ms Sav



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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