We live in a community that was formed and has grown around the core value that education is very important. Promoting education is central to the identity of Palo Alto. I may advocate conservation of our financial resources, but when it comes to Youth Services and community education, my sentiments are clear.
Our three attend Palo Alto School District schools. Ten year old twins Michael and Julia are in 5th grade at Juana Briones Elementary School and daughter Catherine is in 8th grade at Terman Middle School and my wife Susan has been a Girl Scout leader and PTA president. My wife also works at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Our commitment is not just words, but is reflected in a lifetime of community service. See Tim's Bio for more details.
"Civic Engagement" is so much more than City activities. I must ask your permission to offer a different perspective puts the word "Civic" into a much broader and inclusive definition:
I was spurred to community service in 2007 when former Mayor Vic Ojakian lamented the lack of community participation in City government. I was inspired, and having worked in Community Service nearly all of my career, most notably as a member of the Finance leadership that created the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. I was well-trained in the Stewardship of a Public Trust, and I had learned what can be accomplished with the spirit of cooperation and a clear shared vision.
I felt the City could use not only my financial skills as a Certified Public Accountant, but also the skills of finding common ground in a large organization with competing priorities. I learned by jumping in and attending meetings, speaking at council, and writing letters to the editor advocating Citizen Participation, greater inclusiveness of the residents in Government, financial discipline, and freedom from special interests.
The Stanford Hospital and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital expansion was a major issue for the Council, and I advocated for the life-saving benefits that the project offered, with fairly quantified mitigations for the traffic and housing – which was resolved on a very positive basis for the City. Since my wife works at the Children’s Hospital, and Hospital expansion was a top issue even past the 2009 election, it was viewed that the fact that I could not be an suitable representative on this issue. Even though I only spend $800 on my campaign in 2009, I contributed by bringing Financial Discipline to the forefront of the conversation. I was the first to point out that the Labor Union funding of the local candidates represented a Conflict of Interest. It was at first very controversial, and then later understood to be an accepted truth.
The letters to the editor and times I have spoke to the Council are too many to mention, but I have been consistent vocal advocate for financial discipline, transparency in government, and community justice (City government is our first line of defense for constitutional issues.)
Finally, Civic Engagement is so much more that City activities. I was recruited by Dr. Walter Bortz (Palo Alto Physician and Healthy Aging Expert) to serve on the Board of Directors of the Age Center Alliance and served many years on the Board of Directors for East Palo Alto Teen Home (mission was to allow young girls to finish high school by providing them with a safe place to live.)
My advocacy for responsible government continues. The web site www.Vote4Gray.com restates the letters to the editor and Council presentations that most recently have been around Financial Discipline, moderation of Mega Projects and proper valuation of Community Benefits, and moving forward in matching the progress of our neighbor cities in the public access of our waterfront.
Any parent will tell you that just having children in school and the related activities is Civic Engagement. Especially when one parent is a girl scout leader and PTA president for a couple years. Community Service is not just offered by the individual -- it really takes the cooperation from an entire family. I want to recognize my wife Susan and our three children for cooperating with this important community conversation called City Council Election.