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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Keeping things from the public trumps transparency in town

Uploaded: Apr 5, 2022
I watched the Palo Alto City Council meeting to the bitter end (12:30 a.m.) of Monday night’s meeting, and, indeed, it was a bitter ending for me, a champion of transparency in town.

By a 6-1 council vote, transparency in the police department has dangerously diminished. And this time the chief has the council’s blessing to keep things in the department absolutely secret. What is released to the public is his decision to make.

The almost unanimous vote took away the ability of the media and other members of the public to monitor daily police activities through scanners.

That’s baffling behavior for a town like ours, where constitutional rights like the public’s right to know about government activities and First Amendments rights were important for years.

One would have thought that council members would be more concerned with getting police activity information to its 65,000 residents than deciding that the chief can keep on encrypting, a new rule he made and enforced 13 months ago, without council approval.

The council apparently made their decision because Chief Robert Jonsen told them he needed encryption. His apparent reason: our police can better communicate and coordinate with neighboring police departments who also use encryption. Never mind that Palo Alto police for the past several months is interacting with both Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, which remain unencrypted

Several things deeply disturb me about the council’s discussion with the chief:

• The council is disregarding what’s best for residents.

• Jonsen and others acknowledged the unions played a much bigger role in setting up rules for encryption and other policies. Such a department liaison with this powerful police union was something most of us, including me, were not aware of. The public has no say in how the union and the department work together, because we don’t elect union members or the police chief. We only elect council members.

•The council majority suggested reliance on a new police report online map which shows circled areas where there was police activity. The council indicated this would serve the public almost as well as radio transmissions in alerting people to the trouble spots in town.

Nonsense. The map does not pinpoint a specific locale, just an area, nor does it transcribe what kind of incident occurred – a murder, a break-in, an arrest, a kidnapping, a big accident. It also is not immediate – it takes time for an incident to get on the map. It’s useless – because what happened when is significantly more important than where it happened.

• Before the meeting, three council members – Mayor Pat Burt, and councilmen Tom DuBois and Greer Stone were leaning toward getting rid of encryption, Burt and DuBois changed their minds – they seemed to kowtow to the police chief. Only Greer Stone stood up for the First Amendment and ending encryption.

• Several times during the meeting, the chief said police were worried about safety issues if their location was disclosed. Just what the safety issues are was not addressed, and I can’t understand how going into a building is more of a safety hazard than stopping a speeder in the middle of night in a dark part of town.

• While the publishers of both the Palo Alto Weekly, Bill Johnson, and the Palo Alto Daily Post, Dave Price, addressed the council at the meeting, the council discussion that followed didn’t focus much on taking away the ability of the media and other members of the public to monitor police activities through scanners.

•Nor did the council focus much on the potential safety of residents who can’t find out about a fire or a flooded street or downed electrical wires in town. Sadly, the entire discussion focused much more on the police than it did on the residents in town.

The result: the council decided it will rely on new (unnamed) technologies to solve this problem of letting the public know what the police are doing. The other hope was a new bill, SB 1000, authored by state Sen. Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) which, if adopted, would keep radio transmissions open but also protect some private information. It’s a good law – but will it be adopted?

Not if police unions have their way.



Community.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 5, 2022 at 3:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

We have a nice natural experiment here - some agencies have had encryption in place for months. Was there any change in those agencies performance i.e. did they catch more criminals while being encrypted? If not, then why encrypt?

Over the years I have counseled a lot of young people considering public safety careers.

In general (but not always) those wanting to be in control become police officers and those wishing to take care of others become firefighters.

That selection bias shapes the culture of both police departments and fire departments.

I have never seen a firefighter or fire department that was not PROUD of the public display of their fire calls.

Web Link

Allowing the police to strengthen their culture of control and secrecy is a dangerous and unnecessary step.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 5, 2022 at 4:51 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

As said in the article written by the Weekly, when problems at Paly on two separate occasions and parents were receiving texts from their students, parents were able to go to PA Online to find out what was happening. This will not be the case next time as PA Online doesn't get the news out until the Press Release the following day.

Instead, in future we will be turning to Nextdoor to get information. Is this really where we should be getting our information now rather than the local newspaper?

Without reliable information from a newspaper that is getting their information from the scanners, we are going to end up with rumors and speculation from social media to get latest information on important local issues as they are happening.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by gtspencer, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Apr 6, 2022 at 1:16 pm

gtspencer is a registered user.

In general (but not always) those wanting to be in control become police officers and those wishing to take care of others become firefighters.

That selection bias shapes the culture of both police departments and fire departments.

I have never seen a firefighter or fire department that was not PROUD of the public display of their fire calls.


What a quack statement by Peter who is uninformed as usually. You're comparing apples and oranges. Fire Departments are not transmitting peoples personal information or involved in dangerous situations where encryption is necessary.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville,
on Apr 6, 2022 at 3:53 pm

Anneke is a registered user.

I would like to clearly understand why Tom Dubois and Eric Filseth decided to support the police chief's position of encryption. I am surprised by their decisions.

We all see the huge amount of secrecy and the lack of transparency in Russia. How did this all start?

The citizens of Palo Alto pay for the Police Department, including the Chief's salary. I would like to know how many citizens either approve of or disapprove of encryption.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 8:08 am

Annette is a registered user.

Thank you for this summary of Monday's extremely disappointing vote. I have lived here for decades and never been as concerned about Palo Alto's direction as I am presently. Hopefully Santa Clara County voters are paying attention to what is going on here.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 10:49 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Thank you so much for saying what needs to be said. Please solicit responses from the 6 council members whose votes were so depressing after what seemed like one of the first substantive meetings. Those of us who wrote to them got very unsatisfactory vague responses.

The one thing positive about Monday's meeting was that Dave Price of The PA Daily Post and Bill Johnson of Palo Alto Weekly were invited to speak which they did eloquently, coming out for public safety, a free press and transparency.

Unfortunately, their points were ignored and even dismissed by some CC members in their response to our emails.

Re the online crime map, it's a useless pr gimmick. I tried it, gave feedback on obvious problems and got a Kafkaesque set of instructions in return rather than a serious response saying the problem would be fixed in future releases.

I'm so tired of the "community involvement" charades where the media and the community are ignored. PLEASE get the CC, Mayor and City Manager on record.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Art Moreno, a resident of Ventura,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 10:54 am

Art Moreno is a registered user.

"Instead, in future we will be turning to Nextdoor to get information. Is this really where we should be getting our information now rather than the local newspaper?

^ Only if one elects to accept 'Karens' as local news correspondents.

"I would like to clearly understand why Tom Dubois and Eric Filseth decided to support the police chief's position of encryption. I am surprised by their decisions."

^ They opted not to 'rock the boat' because they are saavy local politicians who want to get re-elected with the support of the police union.

Simple as that.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Rick Solomon, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 3:23 pm

Rick Solomon is a registered user.

> "You're comparing apples and oranges. Fire Departments are not transmitting peoples personal information or involved in dangerous situations where encryption is necessary."

There is some truth to this point as suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Why publicize the names of arrestees and their primary city of residence?

Even suspected criminals have a right to privacy.

> "...we will be turning to Nextdoor to get information."

Considering the fake news reportage of late, a Nextdoor accounting of an incident could very well prove more accurate than those presented by a biased media and press.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Mildred Taylor, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 3:58 pm

Mildred Taylor is a registered user.

If right to privacy is the primary concern, why not simply release the Santa Clara County Jail mugshots upon processing of the arrestees?

That way the citizens of Palo Alto will be better informed of what types of individuals are actually committing these felonies?

Names are not important as a picture speaks a thousand words and we must be vigilant in terms of identifying those who are trying to harm or steal from us.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Lauren Jacobs, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 7:20 pm

Lauren Jacobs is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Julian, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Apr 7, 2022 at 7:38 pm

Julian is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Horst Wilhelm, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 6:34 am

Horst Wilhelm is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Aron Weiss, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 7:07 am

Aron Weiss is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Fred Laney, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 8:34 am

Fred Laney is a registered user.

From a technological perspective...

At one time, police communications were analog. Today they are digital.

An encryption key (aka code) is required to gain access to encrypted communications.

Modern (since the late 90's) digital P25 radios are using DES encryption - the same basic technology used by the military. Unless there's a bug in how it's implemented, the encryption cannot be cracked even with modern supercomputers for hundreds of years.

In other words, without an encryption key it is impossible to access police communications that are encrypted from the public.

Countless law enforcement agencies throughout the nation are encrypting their communications.

The PAPD is simply following a current trend.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jessica Zhao, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 9:05 am

Jessica Zhao is a registered user.

In the People's Republic of China, all government-related communications are encrypted to ensure that certain information is not divulged to the public.

A government spokesperson then releases whatever pertinent news needs to be known as the internet is also highly monitored via government surveillance.

Encryption helps to stem the tide of any potential dissent and grievances.

Perhaps this is what the Palo Alto City Council and police department are striving towards.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Arik Singh, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 9:27 am

Arik Singh is a registered user.

Both Google and Apple OS have the capability to monitor and track any computer or cellphone related communications between various parties.

Since 95% of the American population now carries a smartphone, the PAPD could also enlist proprietary surveillance technology to eavesdrop on potential criminals or terrorists using text messaging and cell phone calls.

The major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) are required by law to provide full user access if required by the Department of Justice and the NSA is actively monitoring all phone communications to prevent another 9/11.

This a step in the right direction as personal privacy rights takes a backseat to the safety and well-being of all American citizens.

Personally speaking, I do not need to be kept constantly aware of police activities
because I have other far more important responsibilities to tend to, like going to work everyday and providing for my family.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Jules Bach, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 10:00 am

Jules Bach is a registered user.

The police have a tough enough job to do without always having to look over their shoulders when carrying out their official duties.

The media should be kept informed of police activities but on a 'need to know'
basis as established by the chief of police and city council.

Encryption is not that big of a deal and though it might get abused at times, chances are the police were in the process of dealing with an uncooperative suspect.

Besides, the police officers wear bodycams to archive the incidents and civilian onlookers always seem to have a cellphone camera available to record any events to the contrary.

The key is not to attract the attention or scrutiny of the police by doing something illegal.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Marissa Long, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 11:43 am

Marissa Long is a registered user.

As long as I am not personally involved, what goes on between the police and arrested suspects is of no concern to me.

And the same applies to the George Floyd incident. Had he not tried to pass a counterfeit $20.00 bill, chances are the police would not have been called


 +   6 people like this
Posted by James Laudereaux, a resident of another community,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 1:12 pm

James Laudereaux is a registered user.

No one is perfect including the police but someone has to arrest suspected criminals and issue citations to traffic violators.

Encryption of police dispatches will not reduce or increase crime so what is the big deal?

I could care less what the police do with suspected criminals especially if the suspects are resisting arrest or discharging weapons at the police.

It is oftentimes foolhardy to challenge the police and advisable to cooperate with the PD when stopped.

The BLM advocacies and ACLU complaints are overblown as the resisting arrestees often have prior arrest records and do want to go back to jail or prison.

That is their problem & I do not have any sympathy for those who continue to brake the law for personal gain.




 +   5 people like this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 2:57 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

To those who agree with these statements ...

"Personally speaking, I do not need to be kept constantly aware of police activities because I have other far more important responsibilities to tend to, like going to work everyday and providing for my family."

"As long as I am not personally involved, what goes on between the police and arrested suspects is of no concern to me."

... I want to recommend a wonderful movie called "Remains of the Day", which is based on a novel by Nobel prize winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. The movie stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, and tells the tale of a butler who was so busy attending to his "important responsibilities" that he remained ignorant of the atrocities committed by his employer, who turned out to be a Nazi sympathizer.

There's also the wonderful poem by Martin Niemoller, “First they came . . ." which ends:

"Then they came for me"and there was no one left to speak for me."

What's that old saying? Evil triumphs when good people do nothing? I think there's more than a little wisdom in those words.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Mildred Adams, a resident of Community Center,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 8:06 pm

Mildred Adams is a registered user.

*Evil triumphs when good people do nothing?"

Is it reasonable (or fair) to compare the local police with Nazi Germany?

I can see this concept being applied to the leaders of Russia and China but Palo Alto as well?

The police need to be held accountable for their misdeeds but it is also imperative that the residents of Palo Alto elect PACC members who take a stand on these improprieties and initiate the necessary house cleanings whether it involves the city manager, chief of police, and other top-tier city officials.

Is the PACC little more than a bunch of ineffectual wusses?

If so, vote them out and start anew.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Fred Schultz, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 8, 2022 at 8:13 pm

Fred Schultz is a registered user.

Unlike Mountain View, has Palo Alto ever had a police chief who represented the best interests of its residents?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Barry Winslow, a resident of University South,
on Apr 9, 2022 at 11:06 am

Barry Winslow is a registered user.

"Unlike Mountain View, has Palo Alto ever had a police chief who represented the best interests of its residents?"

Former COP Lynn Johnston and her advocacy of racial profiling did not put Palo Alto in a flattering light.

Then again, there were probably some Palo Alto residents who agreed with her strategies.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Gil Fuentes, a resident of Whisman Station,
on Apr 9, 2022 at 11:30 am

Gil Fuentes is a registered user.

° I could care less what the police do with suspected criminals especially if the suspects are resisting arrest or discharging weapons at the police.

Agreed.

° It is oftentimes foolhardy to challenge the police and advisable to cooperate with the PD when stopped.

Common sense should prevail in these instances.

° The BLM advocacies and ACLU complaints are overblown as the resisting arrestees often have prior arrest records and do [sic] NOT want to go back to jail or prison.

Anyone on probation or parole should not be placing themselves in this position.

° That is their problem & I do not have any sympathy for those who continue to brake [sic] the law for personal gain.

Lock the repeat offenders up upon conviction & throw away the keys because repeat offenders are usually repeat offenders.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 9, 2022 at 11:52 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Mildred, it is completely reasonable and fair to review and learn the lessons that history teaches us. In fact those who don't learn them ... I'll let you do the math.

Minding one's own business because one doesn't happen to be a target at the moment leads to very bad things. Politicians overreaching for power are not limited to Russia and China. In fact, the founding fathers tried to set up a system of checks and balances because they knew that the human soul is not intrinsically angelic.

"There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health." - Web Link

Transparency is NECESSARY to keep authorities on their best behavior.

"It was Lord Acton, the British historian, who said: “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."" - Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Bill James, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 9, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Bill James is a registered user.

Except for academic purposes, history teaches us very little as it incessantly repeats itself due to human nature.

Whether we are discussing the 1938 appeasement, the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, the 1965 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the 2003 response to the 9/11 attacks, Bosnia intervention, the 2011 overthrow of Ghadaffi, and whatever is going on at present as past history is an unresolved broken record including everything and anything that has taken place since the beginning of mankind.

So as Alfred E. Newman once stated so eloquently, "What, me worry?"

So whatever takes place somewhere is of no major concern to me me unless it directly impacts my family and myself.

And this includes events occuring in underdeveloped 3rd world countries as well.

Who cares?

Trying to hopelessly save the world lies exclusively within the the realm of the United Nations, World Health Organization, NATO, ivory-towered academians, and troubled poets.

Meanwhile, back to the ballgame (which is also meaningless in its own way).




 +   5 people like this
Posted by Tom Blake, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 9, 2022 at 8:29 pm

Tom Blake is a registered user.

> history teaches us very little as it incessantly repeats itself due to human nature.

@Leslie Bain

All things considered and in deference to the devout....

Jesus supposedly died for the sins of man over 2,000 years ago.

Technological innovations aside, how far has mankind actually evolved in terms of humanity and grace since then?

History has taught us nothing.

Don't delude yourself.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Bill Higgins, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 8:53 am

Bill Higgins is a registered user.

"Transparency is NECESSARY to keep authorities on their best behavior."

Countless 'authorities' continue to exhibit bad behavior despite TRANSPARENCY.


"Evil triumphs when good people do nothing? I think there's more than a little wisdom in those words."

History 101:
Either side (or proponent) of a conflict tends to consider themselves the 'good people' while condemning the opposite side as 'evil.'

History 101A:
History is highly subjective and generally written by the winners of a conflict.

History 101B:
History is not a science and except for the exact dates, borders on fiction.


"it is completely reasonable and fair to review and learn the lessons that history teaches us."

History is nothing more than a timeless circle of events with a repeat button.

And it gives history teachers a job which beats pumping gas.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Mallory Young, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 9:13 am

Mallory Young is a registered user.

I had to take history in college as part of a breadth requirement.

It involved a lot of reading and the lectures often centered around a discussion of 'what ifs'.

'What ifs' are utterly meaningless and a complete waste of time. Like does it really matter who won some Pelepolynesian War in ancient Greece?

History is easier for older people like my parents to recall and reflect upon because there was considerably less history for them to learn and remember during their time.

Millennials reside in the present tense.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Brandon Cross, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 9:42 am

Brandon Cross is a registered user.

>> the founding fathers tried to set up a system of checks and balances because they knew that the human soul is not intrinsically angelic.

@Leslie Bain

"Tried" is a good word considering the likes of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

As for seeking total transparency, life is more along the lines of opaque depending upon one's perception and position in regards to certain issues.

Thus no one is inherently right and nobody is completely wrong.

That is the HISTORY of mankind.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 11:04 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Wow, I think I pushed a button, but might have a better understanding of why predatory capitalism is increasingly prevalent today. Love the reference to Jesus when the comments clearly advocate Darwinism.

"Countless 'authorities' continue to exhibit bad behavior despite TRANSPARENCY."

@Bill, you are gravely mistaken if you think we have transparency in this country. Obama promised to be the most transparent president ever, then exchanged emails with his secretary of state on the private, unsecured email server that she kept in the basement of her house.

6 corporations control 90% of the media, objective is not to inform the public but to generate profit. - Web Link . And technology creates info bubbles to protect all of us from stories that would challenge our world views.

"History is nothing more than a timeless circle of events with a repeat button."

I'm not sure what the goal is, this statement sure sounds hopeless. Human nature remains deeply flawed, I agree. Should we just shrug our shoulders and accept that resistance is futile? It seems that you are scolding me for wanting to prevent/ curb abuses of power, do I misunderstand?

@Mallory, I hated history until I got older and realized that it is the STORY of mankind: what have people attempted, and what were the results? What worked? What failed? Teachers who merely focus on dates and events don't do it justice. You know those "You are here" signs? History allows us to understand the context of today's world. I was born before the Civil Rights Act was passed, we live in a different world because of it. Residing in the present tense alone is like a horse wearing blinders.

@Brandon, we need BETTER checks and balances. Did you know that none of the founders were happy with their 2nd try at a Constitution, but had TIME CONSTRAINTS to raise funds to fight the British?

Our little experiment in democracy can still fail.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Colton Young, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 11:46 am

Colton Young is a registered user.

@Leslie Bain

It is far too easy and convenient to rely on historical analogies in an ongoing and futile effort to move forward.

FWI...it doesn't work that way.

I interned at the Hoover Institute awhile back and later learned that namesake Stanford graduate Herbert Hoover in addition to being held accountable for the 1929 Stock Market Crash and subsequent Great Depression was also a despot who ordered then Colonel Douglas MacArthur and a young Captain Dwight Eisenhower to fire upon and kill American World War I veterans who were encamped at Washington DC to protest the witholding of their guaranteed War Bonuses.

A shameful White House decision and that said, who are we to condemn other world leaders accused of crimes against humanity?

Republicans, Democrats, Nazis, and Communists (along with various religious sects) all share a common agenda...to establish an uncontested sphere of influence.

As another poster inferred, Jesus died for nothing and so it goes.

Human history is nothing more than a broken record.






 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 11:52 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Shocked about some of the comments here about history.

Without a knowledge of history it narrows our thinking and allows us to be misled.

Example. Slavery. Slavery has been going on since society evolved. As an example, think of the Biblical Joseph being sold by his brothers to be a slave in Egypt. Think of the jewish people who were enslaved in Egypt and escaped with the story of Passover. Think of the slaves who built the pyramids in ancient Greece. Think of the slaves in Rome (often Christians) who were sent into the arena to fight the lions or the gladiators to their death as entertainment for the wealthy. Think of the slaves taken by the Norse Vikings. Think of the northern Europeans who were captured by the Barbary Pirates and taken back to the Barbary coast as laves, having first been castrated to make them both docile and infertile. The slave trade in Africa between tribes and countries which sold their slaves to traders who transported them to the Caribbean and America to work on farms. Then there has been slavery in modern Soviet countries and China which have both tried to hide the truth. Think of the slave labor that has built the World Cup stadium and support venues for the World Cup later this year in Qatar. And that doesn't take into account modern slave trafficking for sex.

How much of these types of slavery are taught in schools when it comes to learning about slavery?

It is important to study history, because regardless of topic, there are horrendous atrocities and if we don't teach them, if we don't learn about them, we are unable to prevent the repetition of them.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Mike Lamm, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 12:35 pm

Mike Lamm is a registered user.

@Bystander

FYI...human slavery and exoitation of labor still exists in many parts of the world.

Do you own an Apple iPhone or MacBook? Or a Windows OS computer?

Let's not get too carried away with personal indignation and outrage

As for the PAPD and PACC, it is up to the residents of Palo Alto to put an end to encryption by electing civic leaders who reflect your concerns and act upon it.

Otherwise there is no merit in complaining.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Mike Lamm, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 12:37 pm

Mike Lamm is a registered user.

[sic] exoitation > exploitation


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Judy Bach, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 1:05 pm

Judy Bach is a registered user.

• Do you own an Apple iPhone or MacBook? Or a Windows OS computer?

• Let's not get too carried away with personal indignation and outrage.

Comedian Dave Chappelle once commented that if iPhones were manufactured in the United States, they would cost around $9K and nobody wants to pay that kind of price including do-gooders and progressive mentalities.

Like countless armchair quarterbacks, the utterly clueless have no concept of the harsher realities of life.

And this also includes think-tank intellectuals and academians who live in their own private world of 'know it all' narcissism.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Raul Uriegas, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Raul Uriegas is a registered user.

@Bystander

We are all slaves in one respect or another.

Only self-imposed slavery can be resolved.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Biff Roberts, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 1:18 pm

Biff Roberts is a registered user.

As far as saving the world at present, it is the responsibility of the Russian populace to depose of Putin if so inclined, not NATO or President Biden.

And if they refuse to do so, then they are as guilty as Putin.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Manny Kalakua, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 1:57 pm

Manny Kalakua is a registered user.

"Think of the northern Europeans who were captured by the Barbary Pirates and taken back to the Barbary coast as slaves, having first been castrated to make them both docile and infertile."

@Bystander:

Oh the humanity...now what were the Northern Europeans doing in Africa in the first place?

Trying to colonize the continent and exploit the available natural resources or were they on a mission from a higher authority?

I am originally from Hawaii and the islands were ruined by Congregationalist missionaries and aspiring plantation owners who strived to destroy the native culture in the name of self-righteousness and commerce.

Screw thy neighbor is a universal mantra regardless of ethic, religious, or political backgrounds.

History has taught us that.








 +   6 people like this
Posted by Madison Jeffries, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 2:10 pm

Madison Jeffries is a registered user.

The Barbary Coast is in San Francisco, not Africa.

Even a Millennial knows that historical fact.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Peter Christian, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Peter Christian is a registered user.

> now what were the Northern Europeans doing in Africa in the first place?

They were captured from coastal cities in Portugal, Italy, Spain, and England by Muslim pirates.

The United States Marines put an end to this practice.

Semper Fi.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Poppy Winters, a resident of North Bayshore,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Poppy Winters is a registered user.

Transparent reportage of current events is critical to initiate contemporary pro-active social changes.

A review of past history is not as impactful and only serves as discussion fodder.

Whatever took place over 300 years ago in Tripoli is immaterial.

Besides, why did the Northern European countries allow the Muslim pirates to continually raid their coastal cities for so long? They had armies and navy fleets to repel them.

As usual, the United States came to the rescue in 1804 even though the pirates were not from San Francisco!


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Larry, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 7:58 pm

Larry is a registered user.

It would be interesting to see if PAPD radio decryption keys could be provided to the press under a non-disclosure agreement. Of course, the scheme would probably never work, but the process of trying to itemize what would and would not be disclosed would certainly reveal the underlying motivations for encryption. Downed power lines would probably be disclosed; cops slamming folks' heads onto car hoods, probably not.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Gary Locke, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 10, 2022 at 8:33 pm

Gary Locke is a registered user.

Encryption ensures secrecy while public access to police communications assures a certain degree of accountability.

If Palo Alto residents want full access and further accountability, they should make their voices heard at the PACC meetings.

Do Palo Alto residents acquiece to the PACC and PAPD?

OR

Does the PACC and PAPD have a civic responsibility to answer to the residents via full disclosures of their activities?

Only PA residents can answer this question.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 8:45 am

Bystander is a registered user.

@Poppy Winters. <<ransparent reportage of current events is critical to initiate contemporary pro-active social changes.

A review of past history is not as impactful and only serves as discussion fodder.

Whatever took place over 300 years ago in Tripoli is immaterial.>> Thank you for showing the reason we need to study history. From many of the comments above, it is apparent history is not being taught well. Without transparent reportage of history, or present day events, future generations will get it wrong as the commenter who asked why Northern Europeans were in Africa to be enslaved. Assumptions are due to preconceived ideas and not facts. If what happened 300 years ago the slave trade would not have ended and understanding how it ended is more than just discussion fodder but critical to many of today's present day problems.

I suggest we all study history more.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Jamie Montrose, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 10:06 am

Jamie Montrose is a registered user.

@Bystander

The Northern Europeans were frequently captured and enslaved by the Barbary Coast pirates from around the mid 1500s until 1804 when the United States Navy and Marines finally intervened at Tripoli.

The pirates were Muslims traders and fanatics who believed that ALL non-practitioners of Islam were infidels.

Today we are still at war with Islamic terrorists so nothing has changed for over 600 years (excluding the earlier Crusades) despite any historical reviews or academic discussions.

Effectively dealing with foreign enemies and eradicating human rights abuses is up to those entrusted to address these matters (e.g. state department, military etc.).

From a global perspective, slavery has not been abolished in today's modern world.

The study of history can be an interesting pastime but those in charge are not historians by trade.

Getting back to police encryption, my elder neighbor enjoys listening to his police scanner as a pastime and will most likely be dismayed by the scrambling of police communications.

Like the study of history, his is a hobby and not an implement of comprehensive social change.

The PAPD should consider allowing embedded PA Weekly reporters to accompany them as ride-alongs. Then we will have full disclosures and accurate reportage.

BTW...the study of history did not and will not terminate all forms of slavery.

And simply having access to a police scanner will not end crime.

History has taught us that.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Reality Bytes, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 11:30 am

Reality Bytes is a registered user.

Bystander...

Human beings are wired to make comparisons based on their perception of history.

The question...which moment in history is most relevant?

The choice generally reflects prior biases and agenda of the observer which can serve to mislead rather than illuminate.

History is not a science and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

As for police encryption in Palo Alto, if enough residents complain about this perceived lack of transparency, then perhaps some changes can be made.

But it is up to the residents and not the extensive study or embrace of past history.

Yes, Jesus died for the sins of man but nothing has changed as various societies and countries could care less.

We cannot expect everyone to toe the same line as lofty idealists who base their philosophies on past history.

It doesn't work that way.

Today is today and yesterday is yesterday


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Max Petrie, a resident of another community,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 11:45 am

Max Petrie is a registered user.

"Like does it really matter who won some Pelepolynesian War in ancient Greece?"

@Mallory

I don't recall the ancient Greeks making it all the way to Polynesia though they were very enlightened people according to some historians.

I guess one just had to be there.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Tyler Paine, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 12:07 pm

Tyler Paine is a registered user.

I recall a quote from my history instructor at Foothill College.

He said something about those who forget the past are doomed to relive it and credited the quote to someone named George or Carlos Santana.

Upon further research, I learned that Jorge and Carlos Santana are fellow musicians as well as brothers.

As a college-aged Millennial, I am somewhat perplexed by this recent discovery.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Marion Joost, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 12:27 pm

Marion Joost is a registered user.

@Tyler Paine

I could be mistaken but I think your history teacher was referring to George Santayana who was famous for creating trivial aphorisms like "Those who experience the end of war are the dead" and the quote you previously mentioned.

Philosophy like history is another useless form of academia because it is purely subjective and has no significant bearing in regards ongoing events.

Every day is a new and different day.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 1:29 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

It is wild to me how discussion can morph like that old children's game of Telephone. The point of the article is “transparency in the police department has dangerously diminished."

Some persons here are apparently advocating that past learnings from history that show that politicians have a tendency to suppress transparency and also suppress news of their own misbehavior from the public are not the least bit relevant to this particular current event. Just because the situation has occurred before and ended badly, doesn't mean that it will also end badly THIS time, so (I guess) we should take a chance and hope for the best!

And as evidence they offer stories of supposedly respectable persons, like Herbert Hoover, turning out to be despots. I don't follow that logic at all. We should accept reduced transparency on the part of the police because supposedly respectable persons turn out to be despots? Are you kidding me? That story further proves my point: putting blind faith in “authorities" can be a tremendously bad idea. THAT is the point made by "Remains of the Day", BTW.

“It is far too easy and convenient to rely on historical analogies in an ongoing and futile effort to move forward."

I respectfully disagree. Learning the truths of history is a difficult task, and getting harder every day now that propaganda is increasingly widespread.

And calling reform efforts “futile" is to cast a vote for the status quo, nothing more. Unless one is Nostradamus, such declarations are merely personal opinions. The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. I suppose that's just another opinion too, but I agree with the luminaries who said it before I did.

I admire the efforts of Diana Diamond, Bill Johnson, and Dave Price to take a public stand on this matter. Thank you so very much.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results." - Albert Einstein, supposedly, but all history is stupid so nevermind


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Tamika Brown, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Tamika Brown is a registered user.

Leslie Bain brought up some valid points.

The police need to be held accountable for their potential misdeeds and full transparency is the only way to curtail the ongoing genocide of young African Americans.

History has taught us that America is a perpetually racist country going back to 1619 and the police are reflective of this mentality.

Relying on past history to help us prevent future wars, avarice, homicide, and mankind's ongoing inhumanity towards others remains to be seen but we have to start somewhere.

It's been 10,000 years and counting...


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Phil Devers, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 3:38 pm

Phil Devers is a registered user.

"Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results." - Albert Einstein, supposedly, but all history is stupid so nevermind"

^ If the study of past history is so critical towards improving mankind, then why does the 'insanity' continue?

Had everyone diligently read their history-related papyrus scrolls and post-Gutenberg book printings, would the history of mankind have been any different?


"It's been 10,000 years and counting..."

^ Most people do not have that much time to rely on the abstracts of history to improve their lot in life, let alone the entire universe.

As a result, countless people seek religion while others play the lottery.

Of note...the bible is also considered by some to be a historically accurate document.





 +   5 people like this
Posted by Anthony McKinley, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 7:30 pm

Anthony McKinley is a registered user.

Let's see now...if George Santayana is on point and history advocates concur, the recent conflict in the Ukraine should be easily resolved given the infinite wisdom we have acquired from studying the aftermath of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy with Adolph Hitler in 1938.

Anybody want to wager on this one?

And while we are at it, history should also guide us towards permanently ending the social and political instability in Africa along with resolving the never- ending conflict between the Islamic and western worlds.

Now how can we accomplish these objectives if concerned Palo Alto residents cannot even rectify the police encryption issue based on past incidents?

Inquiring minds are curious.





 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 11, 2022 at 11:09 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

All kinds of opinions here - what is the standard process in the state of California? Across the state there is a uniform method for running police departments. Running a police department is a public safety function which means catching the bad guys when things are going wrong as one of those functions. We seem to have a lot of that going around right now. Catching bad guys usually involves more than one city since they seem to be coming from other cities so you have cooperation between the police departments. They have to have a uniform method for communication with each other.

When a police action is "in process" they do not need "the public" running in to view the situation. All that does is add complications to a situation while "in process" to go any way possible. If shooting is involved then that adds to the complications on public safety.

What are you all expecting to happen when a crime is "in process"? How do you all expect to be notified? There are APPS which tell you when there is a freeway accident that is stopping traffic and how to avoid it.

Given the whole array of situations the police have to exercise their procedures IAW the laws of the state and how the communication with other cities is progressing.

If the city council and the city hired someone then let them make the calls for how the police department should function - that is what we pay them for.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Calista Fiore, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 7:34 am

Calista Fiore is a registered user.

The police transparency and radio encryption issue needs to be further clarified.

Will having open access to their radio communications prevent future police abuses of power?

Based on the debate surrounding the validity of human history, chances are it will not.

For example, the police are required to wear body cams yet they still rough-up and gun down unarmed suspects of color.
And many simply turn their body cams off.

Are suspects actually taking the time to carry around a police scanner while they are in the process of committing a crime?

Does police radio encryption reduce crime before it actually occurs?

Getting back to the debate on history, how much have we actually learned from past history given that countless human misbehaviors and crimes against humanity continue to reoccur?



 +   3 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 8:23 am

Bystander is a registered user.

It is fairly apparent that historical knowledge is as divisive as politics.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Benito Cruz, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 8:39 am

Benito Cruz is a registered user.

The police are not goodwill ambassadors and need to be further monitored by the public.

History has taught us that.

Radio encryption is a bad idea.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Giselle Hendricks, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 9:00 am

Giselle Hendricks is a registered user.

"The police are not goodwill ambassadors..."

Nor should such a burden be expected of them.

Having compassion and exercising restraint are not part of the law enforcement handbook either.

The debate on history is very entertaining as academic ideals cannot be applied to everyday life in most instances.

"History has taught us that."


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Jayne Richter, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 10:13 am

Jayne Richter is a registered user.

>> It is fairly apparent that historical knowledge is as divisive as politics.

Historical 'knowledge' of dates and places is one thing but the 'interpretation' of historical events can oftentimes be divisive depending upon the perspective of the observer.

Historical interpretations should be taken with a grain of salt just like any political discussion because both history and political science are not true sciences as compared to chemistry, physics, and biology.

Human behavior cannot be predicted accurately nor can one expect the same results at any given point in time.

History can be entertaining and informative but it will not cure any of the ills of mankind.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 11:37 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

On the news the NY Mayor just said that he does not want people coming to crime scenes that are in process. It is a disruption to the police that are trying to do a job. NY definitely needs direction in that matter as they are in a major crime wave.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Dieter Lange, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Dieter Lange is a registered user.

Police encryption and any suppressions of transparency will most likely result in fewer reportages of Palo Alto law enforcement-related improprieties.

Can we trust the police to always do the right thing?

Probably not because the less desirable traits of human nature always seem to find a way to re-emerg despite what we h ave l










 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Dieter Lange, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Dieter Lange is a registered user.

Probably not because the less desirable traits of human nature always seem to find a way of re-emerging despite what we have learned from historians.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 12:09 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"^ If the study of past history is so critical towards improving mankind, then why does the 'insanity' continue?"

It's wild to me that anyone who thinks the study of history is a waste of time would ask that question. Again: "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Obviously anyone who thinks that the study of history is a waste of time is going to continue the 'insanity'.

History shows that bad things happen when governments are not transparent. Politicians pursue their own personal interests rather than doing what is best for the public. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The founding fathers understood that the nature of mankind is not angelic. To be ignorant of these teachings is simply to be ignorant.

"Had everyone diligently read their history-related papyrus scrolls and post-Gutenberg book printings, would the history of mankind have been any different?"

I get that this question is intended to mock me, but I'll answer it anyway. One example that comes to mind: the founding fathers were educated and aware of the wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe; they set up our government in ways to prevent those wars from raging here.

Another example: Dr King saw the success of non-violent protest of Gandhi in the amazing feat of freeing India from British rule, and used those same techniques when conducting civil rights protests. He achieved HIS OWN amazing feat when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. It didn't just come about by accident.

The Gutenberg press wasn't put into use until the 1450s, so for most of history the general population has had limited knowledge of history. Those in power tend to object to education for those who are not in power. Why? They want to keep the masses ignorant in order to better exploit them. After the Gutenberg press went into operation, more people learned how to read because they understood that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

Today's news is tomorrow's history. Is news stupid too?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Ryan Harper, a resident of Atherton,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Ryan Harper is a registered user.

~ Again: "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

^ So far, so good. Next question?


~ Dr King saw the success of non-violent protest of Gandhi in the amazing feat of freeing India from British rule, and used those same techniques when conducting civil rights protests.

^ Tell that to President Zelensky and the Ukrainians.


~ Is news stupid too?

^ This depends on who the 'newsmakers' are.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"On the news the NY Mayor just said that he does not want people coming to crime scenes that are in process. It is a disruption to the police that are trying to do a job. NY definitely needs direction in that matter as they are in a major crime wave."

If you've been following the news about the huge Home Depot fire, you'll notice that a former Home Depot worker "immediately" rushed to the scene to see if his former co-workers were ok AND then noticed that no one was doing anything for the animals at the vet's office and animal hospital next door to Home Depot.

Immediacy matters. Safety matters.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 1:20 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Moving on from the history debate (of which I still can't comprehend some of the comments) here is an example of what we should be told.

Yesterday it was windy enough for a tree to come down in downtown near Whole Foods. I suspect it didn't cause a power outage, since Palo Alto Weekly has no mention of it in today's news items. I heard that a car was under the tree probably destroying it. I suspect to the owner of the car that was a great inconvenience as well as financial and emotional loss. Not newsworthy enough. If there was a power outage in downtown and Whole Foods and other businesses lost power, that would presumably have made it major local news. Instead we have two instances of hate crimes, a Ukrainian flag and a Black Lives Matter, being the major news stories.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but isn't it up to us, the public, to decide what we think is important local news? Please let us know what is happening in town in a timely manner. We can have our own opinions if we know the facts. Don't guide us into what we consider serious news and what we think of as unimportant. All local news should be of interest to those of us who take an interest in what is going on. I want to know just as much about a downed tree with the potential of hurting a passerby, destroying property and putting businesses in a no power situation, as there is about a sign being covered with a piece of paper to alter its meaning and a flag of another country that we all have great sympathy for being used as toilet paper.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 3:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The NY Mayor's comments were relative to the shooting in the subway. Many people shot but the perp got away. The Home Depot fire is in another city - the building had no working sprinkler system but the fire started outside. Suspicious fire. No one was hurt in the Home Depot fire - not a shooting incident.
You all are jumbling different circumstances with different impacts. Shooting incidents are very dangerous to everyone in the vicinity and can spin out of control.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The animals in the offices/hospital next to Home Depot would have burned to death or escaped if it hadn't been for the concerned citizen who acted quickly.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Ryan, I was sarcastically asked “would the history of mankind have been any different?"" if people actually made efforts to learn history. I provided two examples of how great leaders were able to move the arc of justice a bit forward by understanding history. I provided evidence that understanding history CAN be very useful. But fighting for justice is a tricky thing, I never said that using non-violent techniques would automatically succeed in each and every struggle. Please don't take my words out of context.

Some persons here apparently don't understand that “history happening" is different from people UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED and using that knowledge to fight for something better. There is a saying, "Life is a series of lessons. They will be repeated until the lessons are learned". If people don't LEARN from experiences and MAKE AN EFFORT to change things, history will repeat.

Moderns are not much different than ancient Romans. Most of us are predominantly interested in Bread and Circuses.

Democracy requires an informed electorate. When the population prefers entertainment over becoming educated and informed, democracy dies. Sad that those who are relatively fat and happy will lose something that so many have fought and died to obtain, and all because they don't even understand the value of what was lost until it is gone. THEN they will understand, but it will be too late.

In this specific case, those who haven't learned that a lack of transparency leads to bad things will not object when transparency is dangerously diminished. Don't be surprised when, sooner or later, we learn that some bad actor(s) in the police department have abused their powers for their own personal gain or enjoyment and kept the public in the dark about it.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Common sense, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 2:12 am

Common sense is a registered user.

Just wanted to register appreciation for the delicate wit of commenters Madison Jeffries and Tyler Paine. Which I take to be well-aimed parodies.

"To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child, governed by your appetites." (Original comment appeared over 2000 years ago; refurbished by Richard Mitchell, "The Underground Grammarian," around the time today's Millennials were born.)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Layla Cole, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 2:38 am

Layla Cole is a registered user.

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