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Palo Alto to consider smaller City Council Three council members say it’s time to consider fewer seats, more years of service by Gennady Sheyner hen the Palo Alto City whether the benefits outweigh Council meets for its reg- the fact that having a nine-memular meeting on Monday ber council means we can spread night, it will find itself grappling out and serve in all the different with a question with existential liaison roles (with local commisovertones: Is a nine-member sions),” Shepherd said. council really necessary? Because a seven-person counThe question is one of two cil would mean more work for being served up in a colleagues each member, Shepherd, Kniss memo by Vice Mayor Nancy and Price propose increasing the Shepherd and councilwomen Liz council stipend by $600. This Kniss and Gail Price. The three suggestion would be taken up by propose both shrinking the coun- the council’s Finance Commitcil to seven seats and extending tee if the council and the voters the limit of council service from were to decide to move forward two to three consecutive terms. with the change. The idea of reducing the numAt the same time, Shepherd ber of seats on the council is said, she feels strongly that the hardly new, though it’s been a long city should consider extending time since the council has consid- the term limit for council memered the issue. Rather, it’s popped bers from two to three, a change up periodically at that Santa Clara candidate forums County voters reduring election ‘The size of the cently undertook seasons, only to Palo Alto City with respect to the quickly die down county’s Board once the new coun- Council body of Supervisors. cil is sworn in. of nine members Palo Alto counShepherd, Kniss cil members have and Price are hop- is unusual been restricted ing to change that. for municipal to two four-year The memo recom- government for terms since 1992. mends the council More consecudirect the Office a city of our tive years on the of City Attorney population.’ council, Shepto draft a measure herd said, would —City Council enhance the abilfor the November colleagues memo ity of Palo Alto’s 2013 ballot that would reduce the elected leaders number of open council seats to represent the city on various from five to three in the 2018 regional boards, including ones election. dealing with public transit, housThe memo notes that other ing mandates, the rail corridor cities of Palo Alto’s population and utility regulations. (about 65,000) have smaller “To effectively represent Palo councils. Menlo Park, for exam- Alto’s interests, the city’s represenple, has a council of five. Moun- tatives need time to gain expertise tain View’s has seven members. and build seniority on these bod“The size of the Palo Alto City ies,” the memo states. “Term limCouncil body of nine members its interrupt this process. Under is unusual for municipal govern- the current charter, members can ment for a city of our popula- sit out an election cycle and re-run tion,” the memo states. “Although for two more terms, but we conreduced in 1971 from 15 to nine sider this disruptive and not in the members, we believe that coun- city’s interest. We think Palo Alto cil should discuss the merits of will be better served by extending reducing the body of government consecutive terms.” further from nine to seven memThe city, Shepherd said, is bers. It is typical for municipali- currently facing many “exterties to have a smaller council.” nal forces,” including a housing Shepherd, who was elected mandate from the Association of to the council in 2009, told the Bay Area Governments, a conWeekly Wednesday that the idea troversial high-speed-rail system of a smaller council has been planned for the Caltrain corridor floating around for so many and various issues relating to years that she felt it time for transportation and utilities. Lonthe council to have a “substan- ger terms would make it easier tive discussion” on the topic. A for city leaders to represent Palo nine-member council, she said, Alto on these regional issues. requires a lot of work by staff. “If we do make seniority (on It means longer meetings, more the regional boards) that would comments and more questions be fantastic because we can for staff to answer. then be representing Palo Alto’s “We should consider what the interests on a greater level,” benefit might be to reduce it and Shepherd said. N

Palo Alto High School graduates give each other a high-five as they make their way onto the field before the commencement ceremony on May 29.

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class stress case forced me to look at myself a little harder. “Was there something wrong with me? Did I care about the right things? Does living life to the fullest mean giving everything your best shot, or not taking things so seriously?” Song was disappointed by rejections from some colleges she’d set her heart on but felt better after seeing the raft of rejections posted on Paly’s “Rejection Wall” in the quad. At Paly it’s easy to “get caught up in things” and forget what matters and what doesn’t, Song said. “It all comes down to you. You must measure yourself not by what others think you achieve but what you know about yourself. What we About the cover: Palo Alto High School graduates throw their mortarboards in the air in front of the Campanile on Wednesday, May 29. Photo by Veronica Weber.

SEE MORE ONLINE More photographs of graduation and the lists of graduates from local high schools have been posted on www.

know about ourselves may be tiny now, but it’s a start.” In his speech “Lessons from Gatsby,” Justin Zhang spoke of arriving and adjusting to Palo Alto seven years ago after having lived in Oakland, New Jersey and China. “If there’s one lesson I took from Kirk Hinton’s American Classics course it’s that Jay Gatsby died because he tried to live in the past. Instead we must live in the future,” Zhang said. “Let us fear not the change that will come with the new day but instead seize the opportunity and add a new twist to our own personal stories. “Tonight all of us will be writing the final pages of Chapter 1, our childhood. Let us cheer for the end of our beginning.” Music was provided by the Paly Band, as well as separate singing performances by graduating senior Julian Hornik and the trio of Hel-

Veronica Weber


Veronica Weber

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Veronica Weber


en Cane, Yoko Kanai and Annie Vainshtein. Faculty members presented the Viking Award for exemplary students to graduates Jessica Tam and Ethan Cohen. Paly Principal Phil Winston recognized teacher Ron Williamson, who is retiring after more than 20 years at the school. Diplomas were presented by Palo Alto school board members Melissa Baten Caswell and Camille Townsend as well as by Superintendent Kevin Skelly and district business officer Cathy Mak. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly. com. Above: Sierra Parker pumps her arms in the air, celebrating receiving her diploma during Palo Alto High School commencement ceremony. Left: Palo Alto High School graduates Emma Beckstrom, center, and Olivia Maggi point to friends in the crowd during Wednesday’s graduation ceremony.

2013 05 31 paw section1  
2013 05 31 paw section1