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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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The Great ZOOM Pandemic of 2020

Uploaded: Apr 15, 2020
I. What’s happening?

What’s with all these Zoom meetings? My inbox is littered with various group chat appointments. Zoom is applied to myriads: Last week I attended a New York wedding that I couldn’t attend in person (something about a virus going around). This week I attended a group Passover Dinner – which rocked. The key to zoom success is there should be a camp counselor as master of ceremonies. It was like Hollywood Squares with bad comedians.

There is a slight legal dustup with Zoom is looming from a Shareholder Class Action suit over privacy issues.

==I See,

This is my fourth week sequestered in our house. It’s been a lot easier than I thought; and provides some other forced opportunities. While I’ve lost my ability to hold court mornings at Café Borrone (Menlo Park), and Happy Hours the Patio (Palo Alto), but I may have found couch to sleep on during the day:

Earlier in the year I scored on eBay a magnetic tape recording of the Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage live at the Fillmore East recorded 4/29/71. I discovered that Brian Flegel – owner of Flegel’s, was a major Dead Head. I had the tape digitalized, mailed Brian a copy and was instantly elevated in Brian’s eyes.

Brian recently moved Flegel’s Furniture (and his Grateful Dead shrine) from Santa Cruz Ave to 1010 El Camino. I can try out his couches between Borrone’s meetings. Brian should consider adding a pool table.

II. The Economic Impact

A walk around downtowns - Menlo Park and Palo Alto - reveals many strains on people and businesses. We have purchased meals from our favorite venues to help them stay afloat. I am an occasional participant in a standing Tuesday evening dinner downtown Menlo Park with some Stanford profs and entrepreneurs – a group with A-List experience, who collectively have been sending a weekly stipend to the proprietor to give to his staff.

The number of vacant stores on Santa Cruz Avenue suggests a grim economic outlook. Hotels have lower occupancy, reducing our Transient Occupancy Tax Revenue. The city already has locked in financial plans for the year – with revenue and spending expectations. I suspect that these are now unachievable – with nary a word from staff not council about their Plan B. Look for 2019-2020 Expenses exceeding Revenues.

III. The Public Records Act

Lurking behind the scenes is a report of lobbying via the League of California Cities (Daily Post, April 4, 2020) to relax transparency on city operations. I’ll say that again: cities want transparency – like financial transparency – relaxed. Using the Covid Pandemic as an excuse. So neither you, nor I, can check their work.

The league at represents nearly 500 cities is seeking to delay the state’s constitutionally mandated==I California Public Records Ac==t, which requires transparency in government decision-making and spending. The law requires public agencies to respond to requests for information within 10 days, though many routinely take advantage of legally allowed extensions.

IV. The Opportunity

This forced timeout gives me - and others perhaps - a time-out for professional development. Great opportunity to explore some new avenues. < More comin>

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Posted by Longtime Menlo Parker, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Apr 16, 2020 at 10:05 am

While I love Zoom, I use it heavily for work - even more so now that my tech company has us all working from home. Because of that, the thought of using Zoom socially turns me off. I've been invited to Zoom happy hours, book club meetings, shopping parties, etc. but just can't do it. I'm on the computer too much as it is!

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