Wednesday, June 28, 2006

 

Numbers count

Wow. According to the site meter attached to this blog, I have now had over 1,000 visitors to the online pages of My Year As Mayor since I started keeping a count in late February. I wonder who you are. Very few have posted public comments, but I have received many private emails and calls about the blog. Although I started this with the intention of sharing this special year of my life with the community, I’m finding it a fun and meaningful way for me to keep track of the moments and memories of My Year As Mayor. Thanks for visiting and please come back again

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

 

The play's the thing



Just got back from the Biz to Biz Monthly Networking Luncheon of the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce. The speakers were from the Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival which begins its 5th year on July 14 and runs through August 5 in Oak Meadow Park. There are only a few towns in America lucky enough to have outdoor performances of Shakespeare, and Los Gatos is one of them. Many years ago the California Shakespeare Festival used to perform in the theatre at Old Town which is now Border’s Bookstore. I remember coming to the plays there with friends during my high school years and thinking we were so cool and sophisticated. Now the whole family can be introduced to Shakespeare in a casual, friendly environment that takes full advantage of our beautiful weather and park. MARK PICKENS of the Festival Theatre Ensemble told the Chamber crowd today a little about the background of the festival and actor WILL BROWN gave us a preview of his Hamlet. [See photos of him at Chamber event and in full costume] What a treat! By the way, the organization is in desperate need of about 1,000 square feet of storage space. It can be indoors, outdoors or partially covered. If you’ve got a good idea, please give producer Jennifer Selden a call at 408-504-9605. For ticket info call 800-838-3006.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

 

Living among the wild

The other day I was complaining to a friend [who does not live in Los Gatos] about the deer eating the agapanthus in front my house. Every time they start to bud I go out and find them nibbled away. So my friend gets this quizzical look and says, “But you live in downtown. You have deer in your neighborhood?” Visitors don’t seem to realize how much Los Gatos is nestled into the hillside of the Santa Cruz mountains. One or two blocks off of Main Street and you’re into canyons and nature. Over the years, we’ve had many wildlife visitors to our home – raccoons [Who can forget the time my husband opened the door to the garage to see 5 raccoons on our cars. That was when we eliminated the cat door to the outside world.] … opossum … lizards … one snake … an injured hawk that we had to rush to the Wildlife Center … countless crows…roof rats ... … and an unfortunate backyard encounter between our dog and a skunk. We walked the dog to the groomer to save our cars, but 3 baths were only able to partially tone down the smell. It’s an interesting experience to walk across town with a dog that’s been skunked and watch people turn around to see where that odor is coming from. We think it’s the best of both worlds – you walk one way out our front door to a world class charming downtown and the other direction to feel as if you’re miles away from metropolitan life. I guess agapanthus blooms are a small price to pay.

Monday, June 19, 2006

 

Vroooom


Maybe you read my quotes in the newspaper about the expansion of one of our auto dealers. Silicon Valley Auto Group -- the folks on Main Street with Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royces – will be opening a new Lamborghini showroom about a mile away on the corner of North Santa Cruz and Bachman. One motivation is to find more space for their newest car: the Bugatti Veyron, one of the world’s most exclusive supercars with a price tag of $1.3 million. That is a long way from my first new car, a cherry red Mustang with black interior that I bought at Swanson Ford for $2,500. Not only will these expensive cars bring us much-needed revenue [the Town receives one penny in sales tax for every dollar spent in Los Gatos, and sales tax contributes about 30% of the Town's Operating Budget], they bring visitors to town who will dine and shop before and after their test drives. This business has become a tourist landmark in Los Gatos, and it's rare to go by there without seeing folks drooling over these elegant motor machines. To read a Los Gatos dateline story about this car in USA today, go to http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/life/20060614/d_cover14.art.htm. The confirmation of the new Lamborghini showroom means that downtown Los Gatos retail commercial space is now 98.5% full! There aren’t many downtown areas that can boast about such a small vacancy rate. It’s a tribute to the unique character and charm of Los Gatos.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

 

July 4th


I have to miss the annual July 4th celebration in town this year. We had some problems scheduling our flights for our vacation so we’ll depart earlier than intended. [Fortunately, our house sitter's schedule is flexible.] But I hope you all have a chance to come down to Patriot Plaza [the Civic Center] and enjoy the entertainment, games for kids, bingo, banjos, lemonade and All-American feel of a small town celebration. I remember well the first year of the Town’s July 4th celebration in 2001 because I was the community volunteer who was Chair. The idea for the event came out of the Chamber of Commerce Board Retreat when I was president of the Chamber, and then Mayor JOE PIRZYNSKI jumped on it. The concert on the high school lawn had been going on for several years, so the thought was to make that the centerpiece of a full day of activities for all age groups. Lots of people go out of town for the holiday, so we weren’t sure how many would attend. Turns out the Town isn’t exactly empty on Independence Day since we estimated about 5,000 in the crowd. It was very hot and I worked the information booth all day, but it was worth all the effort that evening to see families dancing in the twilight as a giant new moon rose over the mountains. What a vivid memory. Now the coordination of the event is handled by Town staff and all of the partners – LGS Recreation, the Chamber, the service clubs, etc. – have it as a regular part of their annual schedule. Norman Rockwell would love it. Hope you do, too.

Friday, June 09, 2006

 

About closed sessions

Several people have asked me about the Council’s closed sessions and wondered if this is where “the real decisions are made.” The quick answer is no, that is not the purpose of closed session. Let me explain. The Brown Act, also known as California’s “sunshine law,” prohibits a quorum of elected officials from discussing the public’s business in private. In Los Gatos, this means that each of us can talk to one other Council member about a subject outside of a Council meeting – but only one – because three would be a majority. The purpose of the Brown Act is to make sure that the public process is transparent and that there aren’t any old-time-politics backroom deals. Closed sessions, therefore, are confined to those subjects that require privacy: personnel matters, pending litigation, and the purchase/sale of real property. Inspiring trust and confidence in local government is a high priority for me. I want the public to understand the public process of municipal government and to believe that their elected representatives are acting as fair and impartially as we can. People need to know that we come to each Council meeting not knowing how we are going to vote on the agenda items before us. If we have a personal connection to the issue (for example, if it is a land use decision on a property close to our homes) or if we have such strong opinions that we don’t think we can be objective and unbiased, then we must recuse ourselves from the discussion. Whether we are acting in our role as legislators setting policy or making budget decisions, or in our quasi-judicial role where we are acting as judges to make a decision on a specific case, such as an appeal from the Planning Commission, our ethical standards must remain high. So, this was a long answer to a short question, but I hope it helps to clarify how the Council does its work.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

 

The week that was


It’s been a fast-paced 10 days for the Mayor of Los Gatos, but with lots of good things to talk about. First on the list is a great visit to Villa Vasona, an affordable housing complex for seniors on low and very low income and other adults with disabilities. Council member MIKE WASSERMAN joined me in serving lunch to many of the 125 residents and then we toured a few of the studio and one-bedroom units. The residents were so gracious including MORREY CORT, pictured here in her comfortable home that has a plant-filled balcony with a view of our beautiful mountains. Another significant recent event was the annual Town Council-Planning Commission retreat. We focused our discussion on “best practices for excellence performance” and all shared our thoughts on how we can achieve and sustain outstanding results for the town. The dedication of our Planning Commissioners is awesome. They spend hours and hours every week in preparation and public hearings. Thank goodness, we have people willing to step forward and make this huge commitment to our community. If you see any of them around town – JOHN BOURGEOIS, D. MICHAEL KANE, PHIL MICCICHE, TOM O’DONNELL, LEE QUINTANA, STEVE RICE, and JOANNE TALESFORE – please say thank you. And then there was yesterday when we celebrated two significant events in Los Gatos: the graduation of the 5th Leadership Los Gatos class and the announcement of the Senior of Distinction award, co-sponsored by The Terraces and the Los Gatos Weekly Times. This year’s Senior of Distinction award went to RAY COBB, past president of the Los Gatos Rotary and a dozen other local organizations and a key organizer of one of the groups of local residents who went to Pascagoula, Mississippi to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. You’re probably tired of hearing me say what an amazing community we have, but it is true that we are blessed with an abundance of individuals who care so deeply about the quality of life of others and are willing to put forth an extraordinary effort.

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