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Neighbors appeal Oak Knoll School permit

Original post made on Dec 8, 2008

Plans for construction on the campus of Oak Knoll elementary school have hit a snag. A group of neighbors is asking the Menlo Park City Council to overturn a city staff decision to issue conditional permits for the project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, December 8, 2008, 6:21 PM

Comments (48)

Posted by Ranella needs a long, Long vacation, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2008 at 9:10 pm

[Portion removed] Challenging the city attorney and demanding production of documents for "an unprecedented city action" when anyone who was at the October 7 council meeting heard about this coming back to council for further review after required revisions.
His issue is, incompetent enrollment management, on his watch.
Check out the school board agenda for tomorrow (12/9), Tom Williams, district's enrollment consultant states that Oak Knoll is overcrowded by over 134 ("out of district enrollment boundary kids"). No other K-5 campus anywhere in San Mateo county has more than 500 kids, and Ranella's making excuses to allow over 700 to crowd into this neighborhood school. No wonder the Oak Knoll neighborhood is outraged at the district's tyranny to cover its own incompetence. Now Kenny distorts facts in an email to get anxious parents to pressure city council to cover Kenny's mistakes.
Time for reality check Kenny. You and the previous board blew it on the give away lease on O'Connor to GAIS. It is clearly stated in Measure U bond issue that buying out the GAIS lease is an option if enrollment keeps rising. And it is. O'Connor could easily handle 300 kids from the Willows, avoid the Coleman Ave. to Laurel School safe routes controversy.
Sorry Kenny, its not about the kids. Its about your incompetence in allowing TOO MANY KIDS AT OAK KNOLL, and your favored insiders trying to overbuild the Oak Knoll campus.


Posted by Al Franken, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

I think it's outrageous that once again, MPCSD Superintendent Ken Ranella is abusing his monopoly over the dissemination of information to district families in order to spread misinformation.

I'm pretty sure I saw Mr. Ranella seated in the front row at the council meeting in October when the right to appeal was clearly stipulated. But, I shouldn't be surprised -- it's just one more example of the how the various minions of the school district have put a disingenuous "spin" on their actions.

Sure, the District can huff and puff and assert its autonomy from city regulations, but heaven forbid if residents object to unsafe traffic conditions, compromised drainage, or the obnoxious behavior of Oak Knoll parents.

The city's actions are NOT unprededented; they are standard practice. Furthermore, the Council has every right to rescind an encroachment permit.

School Board: You better pray that no one is injured as a result of your reckless and dangerous plans. You've been brandishing your legal weapon for some time now. I hope it doesn't come back to bite you.


Posted by NIMBY Go Home, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 9, 2008 at 3:24 pm

It's very obvious, from the two entries above, that 2 of the 12 or so families that live around Oak Knoll School are still upset. Still upset after 6+ public hearings, 15 changes in the plans, 70%+ approval of the bound measure, and the half hearted approval by council in October.

Get over it neighborhood, you should not have bought near the school, period! Some of you don't even own the land your home sits on! Your have over exaggerated this issue, you are over reaching your bounds, and you are starting to sound like a bunch of maniacs!

I find it utterly ridiculous that a school district is being delayed from upgrading itself!You would think that "Kenny" is trying to build a toxic waste dump on this land! We all know it's about your little home, it has NOTHING to do with the kids and safety. Your home is worth what it is, because you live near a top-rated school!!! Perhaps we should close the school, and allow your home to be worth less?? Your play has no play left. Please stop the madness and allow this to happen. Use some common sense!


Posted by Geezer Smasher, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Right on NIMBY Go Home.

These old geezers that are complaining about the new construction that is about to begin at Oak Knoll are just whining about losing their beauty sleep. They are all senior citizens that stay home all day, hating on the young students and their families that come and go past their houses, or even "horrors" park in front of their houses to drop their kids off. They and the Hillview Mafia are one and the same.

They bought a house next to a school, and then their kids grew up and left them. They don't have anything to do with the school in their neighborhood and just want it to go away.

I particularly enjoy watching the City Council reduced to using storm water drainage and curb cut outs to waste two or three hours of their time, in a futile bid to stop the construction of both Hillview and Oak Knoll. The School District, thank god, does not have to kiss the keesters of our pompous City Council to build on school property. I love watching the Council rant and rave over storm water drainage, and hating the fact that they are impotent and have their hands tied. I will definitely be there to watch these Council members pontificate before telling the senior citizens that there is nothing they can do. The School District rules when it comes to construction on school property. Their is a good reason for this, and now those residents of Oak Knoll and Hillview are starting to understand why things are the way they are as they try to block making our schools better.

The bulldozers are ready to roar and roll. Bring it on Oak Knoll and Hillview and god bless the German American School which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary in Menlo Park, on the beautiful and teeny tiny campus that was once the O'Connor school many generations ago.

Misery, misery for those of you that live next to Oak Knoll for the next 18 months as the construction begins. Snowbirding in Florida might be a nice alternative for the retired seniors that are fretting about their loss of beauty sleep. Lets do it for our KIDs. : )


Posted by Sickened, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 9, 2008 at 9:31 pm

I favor the renovation of Oak Knoll School. But I find the sneering, ugly, utterly alpha male comments of "Geezer Smasher" despicable. It pains me to be on the same side of a debate as such a vicious creature.


Posted by Give Me A Break, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2008 at 8:55 am

I guess "alpha male comments" is a much better statement versus "Geezer Smasher". If you want to be totally PC, then the likes of people like you, shouldn't pick and choose. I'm sure you are the type of person that also does not like "Stupid White Guys" too. Wouldn't it be embarrassing for you, to find out that "Geezer Smasher" is a woman?


Posted by mpcsd mom, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:15 am

It doesn't matter whether GS is a male or female -- the age-bashing is just mean and stupid. Unless GS has found the secret formula, s/he is getting older, just as we all are. Hope that s/he has the grace to leave Menlo Park/Atherton when s/he crosses the line into senior citizenship, as this is clearly not a community that is friendly to old people.

I live on the other side of town and have no dog in this race, but seems to me that both parties have legitimate points. Name-calling is never a productive way to resolve disputes.





Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:14 am

Same old game here. The biggest cowards of the anonymous forums are the folks who offend over the top. GS is just a prime example of the extreme minority groups in this town who relish insults and conjecture over discussion and opinions.

From what I saw last night the council followed its city attorney's direction to provide for another public hearing. I think there are a lot of people like GS who were hoping for more reasons to insult council and name call, but it actually was handled with a level of professionalism that caught me by surprise.


Posted by not a senior citizen, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I'm glad John Boyle brought up cost in last night's meeting - although it seemed he was trying to pin blame on Council & Planning Dept. for carefully scrutinizing Oak Knoll plans. What he forgets is that many of the concerns brought up by the Planning Department were safety issues brought up months ago by school parents and neighbors but ignored by the District. In fact, as recently as September 30th District council Tim Fox threatened litigation should any safety conditions whatsoever be placed on encroachment permits. That was nuts. The District could've built in changes months earlier - but instead they waited until their encroachment permits were at risk before accepting the safety conditions they now state are completely reasonable. The District and School Board are entirely responsible for any delays in the process and any associated cost overruns. The City's not perfect, but in this case they just did their job.


Posted by not quite a senior citizen, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Of course it was Ranella who pressured Tim Fox, asst. DA, to send the threatening letters to McClure and the City.
The demand for production of documents in Fox's Dec. 2nd letter, that forced the city to photocopy 2000 pages of documents (according to the staff report last nite), just shows how arrogant Ranella is.
Of course, Boyle was careful to not mention any of that.
What a great lesson on Ranella's abuse of power to the children of the school district.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Unbelievable town this. A reputation for being overly burdensome from public process standpoint, yet criticised by some who think there isn't enough public input. Yet, regardless of the issue, regardless of the side, if you lose, you bitch & moan about the process or the back room deals, AND if you win, you still can't just move on--you have to rub it in and put labels on those on the other side. I hope the great schools in this town are teaching the kids to be better neighbors and better people than the lessons represented by some of these posts. While I'm ranting, while I don't know enough about the issues of the Oak Knoll project to have an opinion, I do believe that there is just as much room for criticism of some on our school boards as there is for some on our city and county counsels. I'm still wondering why people aren't up in arms about the scale and mass of the new performing arts center at MAHS and the terrible parking/traffic issues that are coming---all because the school district was exempt from CEQUA and the sups played the exemption card.


Posted by Willy Wonka, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:16 pm

It's CEQA - the California Environmental Quality Act, and everyone in the state is has to comply with it, even schools. Everything has to go through the CEQA process, even projects that are declared exempt have to be reviewed first in order to get exempted.


Posted by Just a Guy, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I find it amazing that you have the Palo Alto Council constantly fighting with Stanford, and the Menlo Park Council constantly fighting "developers". Who ARE these council people? Palo Alto wouldn't be 1/10 of what it is, without Stanford, they should kiss the ground that university sits on! And if it were not for developers, we wouldn't have potentially nice looking schools, the beautiful Barrone's/Kepler's Book center. Why can't council work with these types that are trying to IMPROVE the city? Stanford and "developer" are not 4 letter words! It's time to open a positive dialogue with those that can help improve the community, stop saying "no" to anything and everything suggested, and stop the multiple delays. This issue is becoming quite serious, particularly with the lack of funds to go around. Our cities need help, we need to stop pushing back!


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2008 at 8:21 am

Just a Guy - Bullseye!!!! Could not agree more.

Willy W. - You're right-don't know why I put that U in there, but to clarify my point. Yes, even the school district had to have their lawyers check CEQA to see if the huge ugly building was exempt. They did and it was. Seems that so long as they're not adding more than a certain number of classrooms or a certain percentage of gross s.f. they need not do anything else-like a traffic study or seek architectural approval (massing & scale, etc.). My point, in saying they chose to play the exempt card is that any idiot should have known that adding a 400+ seat performing arts building to a campus that already is under-parked and adjacent to some really screwed up intersections should have done a traffic study anyway so as to have mitigated impacts on their neighbors. Even if you like the building (you can tell I do not), you aren't going to like the traffic issues that come with it. I just think that people on a public body like a school district board should be a bit more sensitive to such issues even if there is, legally,, an exemption.


Posted by Willy Wonka, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Dec 11, 2008 at 3:17 pm

I see your point, but put yourself in the school board's shoes -- you've asked people to tax themselves in order to build a performing arts facility, and then you tell them you're going to voluntarily spend more of that money on additional environmental studies and traffic mitigations that aren't required?

I think that would be a pretty hard sell.

And that's also why Atherton had to file a lawsuit in order to force some concessions on traffic, parking, drainage and other issues.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2008 at 8:12 am

Willy, back at ya, you make a good point, and one I hadn't considered. It does still bother me, however, that at some point issues aren't addressed just because its the right thing to do. I believe that the City of Atherton dropped their law suit after some "urging" by a couple of members representing the Menlo Park City Council met with Atherton officials. This was prompted because MP put in about $2 million for the project in order to secure some joint use benefits. So, as far as I know-and if anyone has information to the contrary I'd appreciate hearing it-there won't be any further traffic/parking mitigations done by the school. Finally, and last time, I promise, Man that is one ugly structure!


Posted by Bleeding eyes, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 12, 2008 at 9:37 am

WhoRUpeople, lest you think you're alone, trust me: I haven't heard a single person say anything kind about the design of that monstrosity. Also, I've heard quite a bit of grumbling about the ugly price tag -- a true abomination. Heads should roll on this one.


Posted by Willy Wonka, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Dec 12, 2008 at 10:57 am

I absolutely agree with you that the PAC is one big ugly building.

Atherton's official line is that they got concessions and they're OK with the project now, but then, the school district also claimed victory, so it all comes down to who you want to believe.

I don't know if MP officials put on pressure, but a lot of M-A parents who live in Atherton sure made a lot of noise.


Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 14, 2008 at 9:47 am

Nimby Go Home wrote:

"Get over it neighborhood, you should not have bought near the school, period! Some of you don't even own the land your home sits on! Your have over exaggerated this issue, you are over reaching your bounds, and you are starting to sound like a bunch of maniacs!"
_____________________________________________________________________

You are over-simplifying the issue -- I expect no less given the rest of your post. "[We don't own our land]"? And your "ownership" provides what greater facility? Does it now allow you to pack it into trunk and take it with you into the afterlife? As a young couple, we bought a home in a nice neighborhood that we could still repair to our tastes without over-extending our finances. I offer you my sincere apologies for being financially responsible.

Ridiculous.

Take a look at the posts. The only poster supporting your tone is someone with the handle "Geezer Smasher" who unwittingly (no pun intended) is berating seniors worried about noise next to the school. One of these seniors is a vigorous woman fighting cancer (successfully so far) actively undergoing chemotherapy after surgery. You and "Geezer Smasher" are a sorry pair of hypocritical and cowardly ingrates with marginal intellects hiding behind anonymous handles. Spill your drivel to my face at a public hearing. We can then see how things proceed from there. My only regret is that there will be no more hearings allowing you the opportunity to arise out of anonymity.

It is not a NIMBY issue for my wife and I. For others it is. For me personally, it is an environmental and safety issue with little to no concern about the aesthetics of my view. In fact, the aesthetics will likely improve if the Board is <b>honest</b> about it's efforts to provide a green barrier. For others, it is all about the looming MPR and use of it. However, as a thought exercise, let's suppose it is solely a NIMBY issue. Exactly why is it wrong to expect a governmental planning body to respect one's property rights when engaging in their planning process? In our opinion, the Board only played lip-service to inclusion and circumvented the law by filing a negative declaration. Even then, the neighbors tried to work with the Board productively. Alternatives were provided that met operational objectives. In fact, one plan from my wife was functionally better and cheaper. Our involvement in the process was not simply obstructionist.

As for "over-stepping or bounds", nobody filed a lawsuit. We have sought counsel, but haven't executed on it. Why? Because all of us actually voted for the bond measure that presented a very different development plan than the one being offered. Also, I ultimately don't believe in exercising legal recourse where simple discussion should have sufficed. Such cases are rarely, if ever, productive. Despite what we perceive as deception and half-hearted efforts at inclusion, we have curtailed our anger and stayed largely positive.

The first time a kid here is hit by a car with this plan, we'll ask the MPCSD and the city if there were things they could have done to avoid this. Even now, the current arrangement teeters on a knife's edge. This plan was an opportunity to address that problem. In the opinion of my wife and I who watch the traffic flow twice a day for roughly 200 days per year, it is a bad plan.

Anyway, I've wasted too much time trying to reason with cowardly bloviators hiding behind anonymous handles. It's time to go back to my life.


Posted by Ram Please Move, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 15, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Ram - Ever since you gave that "inspiring" sales pitch, with your beautifully appointed PowerPoint display, many of us in the Oak Knoll Community have turned sour regarding your intentions. We know what this is all about, you have continually exaggerated the issues, played games with the media, lobbied the Mayor, and all so that you can look out your window and not have to look at a larger building or drop off area. Your "safety concerns" are half-hearted, and ironically the safety issues right now, are much worse. It makes no sense that if you have a longer drop off area, ON the property, this will somehow increase our "safety concerns?" Having "no horse in the race" also questions your intent, when you send your kids to private schools. You stick out like a sore thumb, I suggest you cool your temper and apply those energies toward something good for our community. You also need to dial it back a little bit with your threatening overtones, you're about half my size. :)


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 15, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Are we seriously talking tough on city forums like we are in high school? "You're half my size" is just a lame retort. It would mean so much more if you didn't hide in anonymity. The irony here is profound. Rich, upper class people threatening each other but doing it under fake names...anybody else giggling?

This boat left the dock folks.

The city has moved on and the school development will now move on. You can write a thesis on this here and it won't matter. Oak Knoll is a done topic.

Next up?

Hillview.


Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 16, 2008 at 10:46 am

Response to "Ram Please Move" a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, 21 hours ago

Ram - Ever since you gave that "inspiring" sales pitch, with your beautifully appointed PowerPoint display, many of us in the Oak Knoll Community have turned sour regarding your intentions. We know what this is all about, you have continually exaggerated the issues, played games with the media, lobbied the Mayor, and all so that you can look out your window and not have to look at a larger building or drop off area. Your "safety concerns" are half-hearted, and ironically the safety issues right now, are much worse. It makes no sense that if you have a longer drop off area, ON the property, this will somehow increase our "safety concerns?" Having "no horse in the race" also questions your intent, when you send your kids to private schools. You stick out like a sore thumb, I suggest you cool your temper and apply those energies toward something good for our community. You also need to dial it back a little bit with your threatening overtones, you're about half my size. :)

___________________________________________________________________


I'm not sure where you get the private school accusation. My kids are and will be attending public schools at least until college. Maybe you saw my wife at informational sessions for private schools as a matter of exploration. Enough said, and please leave my children out of this discussion. If you want to make them part of the discussion, shed your coveted anonymity.

As for my view out of my window, you're wrong about that as well. I think it is telling that you cannot conceive of people actually caring about issues that do not hit their immediate interests. If and when you are interested in shedding your anonymity, you are welcome to look at the view outside of my window. Bright multicolored play structures, rusted swings, and a big green backstop all set against a poorly kept half-mud/half-grass field rimmed by asphalt. Pretty ugly right now. I have no doubts the building and promised landscaping will provide aesthetic improvements -- unless the Board is being disingenuous in its promises. You know absolutely nothing about me or my wife to draw your conclusions. If you looked into her professional background, you might understand a bit more about our passions.

Since my "inspiring" sales pitch, with [my] beautifully appointed PowerPoint display" I have been largely silent on this issue. I think you have the wrong guy -- I haven't had the time except for a follow-up email or two. What my wife chooses to do is her business and driven by her passions.

You choose to inform yourself in-so-far as it supports your case. This is not an adequate forum to discuss why the extended drop-off lane is a solution only if there are process improvements that facilitate a multi-server queue. Those same process improvements will make a big difference if they are implemented now. Nobody wants to understand this. They simply want to hand $100K+ to a traffic consulting firm that largely tells you what you want to hear.

As for your last point, we can agree to disagree, but your tone deserved my response. I am genuinely unconcerned with your size. Spare me. I'm sure you're not over 11 feet tall or 360#. You apparently know where I live, but you still hide behind anonymous handles. That speaks volumes. False bravado is unbecoming.

Leave the kids out of it.


Posted by bridge to nowhere, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 16, 2008 at 12:53 pm

What was supposed to be a $7.5 million board and State Architect approved project is now up another $2 million. Last Tuesday, the School Board authorized Ranella to sign a construction contract up to $9.5 million without full board, or even bond oversight committee, review and approval. Allegedly, it's because of the Holidays and the new board can't be bothered to have a special meeting. And the rubber stamp on future change orders that further escalate the cost is a foregone conclusion. Just look at the automatic upcharges given for Laurel and Encinal. So much for Ranella's "positive construction bidding environment". At the rate this district spends money, it looks like it will top $10 Million before it is finished.
Does anyone care that fewer than 30 percent of the some 18000 district taxpayers approved the bond measure, since it was an off year election with under 40 percent turnout? Not the 70% approval of all taxpayers that the district and Ranella proudly trumpet. And guess what, seniors are not exempt from Bond taxes on their property tax bills. So, fixed income seniors, did you vote for this $90 Million bond measure because someone lobbied you into thinking you would be tax exempt? Won't cost you a dime to build these grandiose facilities? Not so fast.
Does anyone care that the Bond Oversight Committee has NEVER had the Taxpayer Organization representative as required by State Law per Proposition 39? And only a Senior Citizen organization committee representative for a short time? Where's the oversight? Where's the 2/3 majority approval as intended by State Law?
With $125 MILLION in outstanding district bonded indebtedness, doesn't anyone think there should be tighter scrutiny on construction
contracts and expenditures?
It sure looks like this Oak Knoll project is spiraling out of control.
Oh, but then, it does have a BRIDGE. Sure hope there are not any kids trapped on that bridge when the BIG EARTHQUAKE hits.


Posted by Ram Please Move, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

"Keep the kids out of this" - I know, that's what you are trying to do, but we are trying to prevent this. We are very much thinking about the kids! Good schools, with good teachers, with good buildings, with good environments, with good neighborhood support = Well Taught Children Prepared To Enter Further Studies. Oh, and I forgot, higher real estate values for any home located in Menlo Park, whether you are 1/2 a block away from the school, or 1 mile from the school. This is a win, win proposition for everyone. You can banter about numbers and distorted facts all that you want, but the bottom-line is, this is a good thing for everyone. The ironic thing about your comments, and your buddy Rollins's comments, are that YOU guys are the ones that are going to create additional costs, no one else! Stop wasting our time Ram, and stop the coordinated blog comments, they won't work!


Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Posted by Ram Please Move, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, 13 minutes ago

We are very much thinking about the kids! Good schools, with good teachers, with good buildings, with good environments, with good neighborhood support = Well Taught Children Prepared To Enter Further Studies. The ironic thing about your comments, and your buddy Rollins's comments, are that YOU guys are the ones that are going to create additional costs, no one else! Stop wasting our time Ram, and stop the coordinated blog comments, they won't work!
______________________________________________________________________

Wow. You are incredibly paranoid. I suspect you are referring to the poster who commented on costs. I had nothing to do with that. In fact, I knew nothing about the new costs. Who's more credible on this? The guy who isn't hiding in anonymity ... me.

Your equation: build things = better education is about as faulty a syllogism as there is. Capital improvements are easy to envision and easy to execute. They also happen to be quite expensive. True solutions as to why our nation's kids rank in the twenties among 1st world nations and the BRICK countries on numerous achievement measures do not lie in larger buildings and performing arts theaters. I'm no education expert, but I listen to those who are. There is nothing in my professional and community history to suggest that I am against spending tax dollars for our children.

Apparently you are naive and/or self-important enough to think that our little banter on this blog is is of interest to anybody but you and me. Delusional. I let this battle go months ago. Ask your friend/s on the council if you like. I can't believe I'm wasting time on this site. I'm just here to see if you have the integrity and courage to come out of your protective shell or if you're just about bluster and insulting seniors in anonymity.

It's laughable that you think you know who I am and what makes me tick. There are people on the school board, including ones who don't like my wife or me, who have had interactions with me who know your accusations don't fit my profile.

More importantly, I see you're still hiding. Yes, I noticed how you switched your neighborhood from Linfield Oaks to Downtown Menlo Park. Courage my friend. Do it for the kids...


Posted by Tough Guy Ram, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 16, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I'm speechless, and WILL remain anonymous. You scare me. I guess my biggest concern is that you are teaching our adults of tomorrow. I think we have bigger problems at our universities! Wow.


Posted by GetReal, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2008 at 8:36 am

Tough Guy Ram, You really need to get a grip. You're not afraid of Ram, as you claim. You're afraid of a healthy debate on a topic you apparently have made up your mind on. I wish more rational, engaged people like Ram were teaching our kids (if that's what he does, as you claim).


Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2008 at 8:37 am

Posted by Tough Guy Ram, a resident of the Menlo Park: Fair Oaks neighborhood, 10 hours ago

I'm speechless, and WILL remain anonymous. You scare me. I guess my biggest concern is that you are teaching our adults of tomorrow. I think we have bigger problems at our universities! Wow.
_____________________________________________________________________


In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
- Thomas Jefferson


Posted by Whatever His Name Is, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:02 am

I think you (he who won't reveal his name) is missing the point. This all started when "Nimby Go Home" opened with an assault on people living near the school. Shortly followed by GeezerSmasher.

They shouldn't have bought near the school? What, do you want an industrial slum near our school? It makes no sense. It's a residential area. That's part of the charm of the school. I don't live near OK, but I know people who bought there. Many of the young couples, no doubt like Ram, bought there because they wanted to live in West Menlo, but did not have the means to live elsewhere in West Menlo. Ram admitted as much. Is it a crime to be just plain old upper middle class? Is that something you should shout at them about? I support the school project. That's not the point.

"Nimby Go Home", "Ram Please Move", "Get Real", "Mark Box", whatever your name is, you were in the wrong from the beginning.


Posted by Not So Fast, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 17, 2008 at 10:22 am

Contrary to what Ram thinks, there are people watching the banter here.

Ram Please Move (who is likely Nimby Go Home and maybe even Geezer Smasher), you've been out-thought and out-debated even in the short spurt here. It might shock you to know that I also support the OK, Encinal and Laurel projects.

Ram, please don't move. You're smarter than the average bear.


Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2008 at 11:11 am

This will be my last post here. I'm an idiot for spending as much time as I have here.

Thank you for those who support me -- whoever you are (I can guess who some of you are).

I still think people should not post anonymously here. The Almanac prefers it as well. Read the disclaimer above the "Name:" text field. Anonymous posts lead to the unseemly victory dances and senior bashing of Nimby Go Home and Geezer Smasher.

Yes, I got hot under the collar. But I found the demonization of the families around the school and of seniors unconscionable. That has been a characteristic of this discussion way back since mid 2007. I never brought up physical confrontation. "Ram Please Move" brought that up by regaling us with his "size". Stunning retort indeed. For those of you who know me, you also know why that is of no concern to me. Folks who have been in this community longer than most of us have a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge to bring to the debate. Maybe they are a bit crotchety. I don't think that, but so what. Maybe they are impatient with young fools like me. I judge people on the merits of the discussion.

The community members asked me to be the public face of those opposing the OK project at the Neg Dec hearing because most were concerned about speaking publicly before so many who did not support them. I wasn't playing the martyr, nor did my wife and I share all the same concerns as everyone in the group, but I was willing to put myself out there. I have nothing to hide. Judging by the vitriol here, they were right to be concerned.

As "truth" said above, this debate on OK is over. As I wrote to a community leader recently who was exhorting me to keep fighting, I'll always fight the good fight, but I also know when I am banging my head against the wall. I accepted that after the district adopted the Neg Dec many months ago. If people from the press ask me for an opinion, I give it. It doesn't mean that I'm still fighting.

End of story. Case closed. Build your monuments. It's telling that my opponents here keep parroting points about property values. Gimme a break. If building was coupled with true educational reform as it is in other wealthy communities (i.e., Scarsdale, La Jolla), then they would have a strong case.

Environment, traffic safety for the 60% of OK families that bike/walk, true solutions to our educational crisis, fiduciary responsibility, setting good examples for our children, creating better economic incentives for quality teachers all be damned. We're just NIMBYs, obstructionists, loose cannons right? Labels are easy. Listening, understanding, comprehending, are hard.


Posted by Tough Guy Ram, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 17, 2008 at 11:26 am

"Spill your drival to my face at a public hearing. We can then see how things proceed from here" - THIS is how this trail began.

"...curtailed our anger...." - I think not.

You ARE a loose cannon, supported by your buddies on the blog, but fortunately not by Menlo Park citizens.



Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2008 at 11:35 am

Posted by Tough Guy Ram, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, 6 minutes ago

"Spill your drival to my face at a public hearing. We can then see how things proceed from here" - THIS is how this trail began.

"...curtailed our anger...." - I think not.

You ARE a loose cannon, supported by your buddies on the blog, but fortunately not by Menlo Park citizens.
______________________________________________________________________

Sorry. Have to respond to that.

Why wouldn't you assume that a healthy but spirited debate would ensue if you confronted me directly?


Posted by Tough Guy Ram, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 17, 2008 at 12:21 pm

I believe that, as much as I believe "this is my last post here".(I think you said that a few times) I guess you just can't help yourself. Have a nice day.


Posted by Hacker, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 17, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Posted by Tough Guy Ram, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, 1 hour ago

I believe that, as much as I believe "this is my last post here".(I think you said that a few times) I guess you just can't help yourself. Have a nice day.


Nope. He's gone. No pings from that IP address. It was just getting interesting too. On another note, you misspelled "drival". Your opponent did not. Try spell check.


Posted by Geezer Smasher, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 17, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Ahhh, victory, victory.

As a previous poster has written:

The city has moved on and the school development will now move on. You can write a thesis on this here and it won't matter. Oak Knoll is a done topic.

Next up?

Hillview.

Absolutely correct. The bulldozers will roar at OK. The obstructionists have been routed. Put a fork in them. The losers are right to slink away, licking their wounds, and the salt will rub raw over the coming 18 months as the dump trucks and bulldozers and contractors turn the school into a chaotic construction site. Mud on the roads, drive ways blocked, views and sight lines blocked permanently once those tall new buildings get erected. It is already maddening in the morning and afternoon, with the noise and pollution and traffic of school students. Imagine what life will be like now on that block with massive construction. Absolutely enraging and maddening. We all know this to be true.

Maddening enough to provoke rage and violence, both physically and verbally by the poor miserable residents of that block.

Comments like "Spill your drivel to my face at a public hearing. We can then see how things proceed from there."

Followed by the typical passive aggressive "who me" whine "Why wouldn't you assume that a healthy but spirited debate would ensue if you confronted me directly? " Yeahhhh right Dr. Jekyll. Or was that Mr. Hyde?

There has been absolutely no healthy debate at all on the subject of OK expansion. There has just been a one sided whupping and drubbing. The school plans will roll on, about 95% intact, with obstructionists reduced to whining about water drain off and curb cut outs to the Menlo Park council, which provides a venue for the seniors in the neighborhood to vent and nothing more. The sole accomplishments of these rightfully thrashed NIMBYcomplainers is to have slightly delayed construction, and to have increased the costs of the project through their narrow minded road blocks.
"Let's suppose it is solely a NIMBY issue. Exactly why is it wrong to expect a governmental planning body to respect one's property rights when engaging in their planning process?"

Ahhh. Where to begin. The term NIMBY is used as a perjorative. It is used to describe opponents of a development that have narrow, selfish, or myopic views. It is used to describe hypocrites. "I'm all for Indians being able to live anywhere they want, except Not In My Back Yard. LOL, in your own words you describe this as a NIMBY issue and ask what is wrong with that? Here's your answer. It is hypocritical and selfish.That is why it is wrong.

Don't buy a house next to the airport and then turn around and picket the place because of airplane noise. Yes, you have the right to protest. You also deservedly will get ignored and shut down.

Speaking of hypocritical statements. How about this one. "Anyway, I've wasted too much time trying to reason with cowardly bloviators hiding behind anonymous handles. It's time to go back to my life." and "I still think people should not post anonymously here".

Followed by this comment "The community members asked me to be the public face of those opposing the OK project at the Neg Dec hearing because most were concerned about speaking publicly before so many who did not support them. I wasn't playing the martyr, nor did my wife and I share all the same concerns as everyone in the group, but I was willing to put myself out there. I have nothing to hide."

No, but apparently all those senior citizens on that block had something to hide. They wanted to hide their faces and names. Does that make them cowardly bloviators or anonymous? Yes, I think it does if you followed the intellectually bankrupt logic of some posters on this thread. Those retirees and senior citizens that lived on the block, and had nothing at all to do with school they lived next to were looking for a sap to be their blast shield in front of several hundred OK school parents who were furious at the obstructionists. There is one born, every minute, as any old timer will tell you.

And don't you just love, self styled experts on traffic flow. When people start paying you money for your expertise on traffic flow, then you just might be taken seriously. Comments like "In the opinion of my wife and I who watch the traffic flow twice a day for roughly 200 days per year, it is a bad plan." are real howlers. I have an observation for everyone that lives next to OK. It's really rough driving in or out of your driveway when school is starting or ending. No kidding. You think? Spare us your concern for the safety of the children. When you come barreling out of your house to yell and rant at school parents who have the temerity to park in front of your house to drop off their kids, is the motive really safety? We know it isn't anything but another excuse to complain about the school.

We've already seen the same pathetic attempts of obstructionism for Hillview. A small group of senior citizens, who stay home all day long, have nothing to do with the school across the street, and hate the kids and noise and traffic and litter associated with living next to a school, will get the same treatment that the OK neighbors got. They will get drubbed. Stay tuned here.

Here's food for thought. If the neighborhood around OK consisted largely of school volunteers, parents of students, mentors and coaches of OK programs, do you really believe the school would have run rough shod over them in the manner they did? If school-neighborhood relations were healthy, the "matter of style" would have been different. As it was, the neighborhood was a burr under the saddle of the school and they got trampled. Here is what I suggest to the neighbors of OK. Join a school club, volunteer, be a mentor or coach and join the school community. Otherwise all that hating will give you an ulcer.

Dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.


Posted by Make Some Sense, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 18, 2008 at 6:21 am

They wanted to hide their faces and names. Does that make them cowardly bloviators or anonymous? Yes, I think it does if you followed the intellectually bankrupt logic of some posters on this thread.

--> Make some sense. Saying someone who hides remains anonymous is stating the obvious. I think the poster was referring to cowardly bloviators -- that would be you...

LOL, in your own words you describe this as a NIMBY issue and ask what is wrong with that? Here's your answer. It is hypocritical and selfish.That is why it is wrong.

--> Just curious: is it hypocritical and selfish to worry about your property rights while denying the importance of the same to others?


And don't you just love, self styled experts on traffic flow. When people start paying you money for your expertise on traffic flow, then you just might be taken seriously. Comments like "In the opinion of my wife and I who watch the traffic flow twice a day for roughly 200 days per year, it is a bad plan." are real howlers. I have an observation for everyone that lives next to OK. It's really rough driving in or out of your driveway when school is starting or ending. No kidding. You think? Spare us your concern for the safety of the children. When you come barreling out of your house to yell and rant at school parents who have the temerity to park in front of your house to drop off their kids, is the motive really safety? We know it isn't anything but another excuse to complain about the school.

--> The family you are referring to doesn't even drive regularly nitwit. Both Ram and Kristin bike to work. Additionaly, if you knew a whit about them, you would understand why their opinion is not simply that of a self-styled expert. Also, it's really not that tough. Nobody yells at people parking in front of the home. They yell at people blocking drive ways.

Here's food for thought. If the neighborhood around OK consisted largely of school volunteers, parents of students, mentors and coaches of OK programs, do you really believe the school would have run rough shod over them in the manner they did?

--> Let me see. Are 7 of 12 houses enough for you in this regard? Does it have to be all 12? What's your threshold for acceptability?


Comments like "Spill your drivel to my face at a public hearing. We can then see how things proceed from there." Followed by the typical passive aggressive "who me" whine "Why wouldn't you assume that a healthy but spirited debate would ensue if you confronted me directly? " Yeahhhh right Dr. Jekyll. Or was that Mr. Hyde?

--> That's right. The poster was inviting your cowardly friend (brothers in arms I see) to a public hearing for a fist fight...
Do you think much? It might not have been a quiet debate, but I don't think people invite folks to public hearings in the interests physical confrontation. I think the perception of your "coward-in-arms" has much more to do with expectations given the attitudes expressed.


There has been absolutely no healthy debate at all on the subject of OK expansion. There has just been a one sided whupping and drubbing. The school plans will roll on, about 95% intact

--> That's the one thing you have right. The spirit of the law protects districts to avoid unreasonable objections from surrounding community. The spirit of the law is not meant to ensure that schools get to engage in a "one-sided whupping and drubbing".

Well, I suppose 1 out of 6 ain't bad. I'm glad you're supporting our educational system. We can't go wrong with masters of logic like you blowing their hot air into our sails.




Posted by OK supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 18, 2008 at 9:06 am

Geezer Smasher, It must be painful living with all that hatred. You might consider saving your vicious rants for your diary or your therapist. Or do you just need to grow up?


Posted by Mark Miller, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 18, 2008 at 10:42 am

You may not like Geezer Smasher's methods, but he does have some very good points. He does expose the argument for what it really is, it's all about the neighbor's property, it has nothing to do with the safety of the kids. I think THAT, and THAT alone, was the most cowardly sales pitch thrown at the school board. I didn't get to hear Mr. Duriseti's arguement at that school board meeting, but using the kids to save your front yard, or your quiet neighborhood is just plain old ugly.


Posted by OK supporter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

Mark, Geezer Smasher may have made valid points in his rant, but I was so sickened by the glee he takes over others' pain -- "...and the salt will rub raw over the coming 18 months as the dump trucks and bulldozers and contractors turn the school into a chaotic construction site...." etc. and ad nauseum -- that I couldn't stomach reading most of it. If he hasn't learned that most people are disgusted by gloating, braying bullies, he needs to get a clue.


Posted by sick to my stomach, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

This thread is one of the nastiest I have read. It isn't enough for many of you to disagree with positions. No. You have to attack well-intentioned fellow residents and parents who really do care for more than their own property values.
Rather than model for our kids a way to resolve conflicts through direct discussion and compromise, you model a winner-take-all approach that includes personal attacks even when admitting you never even listened to the individuals involved. Where is the barf bag?


Posted by Mark Miller, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 18, 2008 at 2:48 pm

I didn't "listen to the individuals involved", I think you meant Mr. Duriseti's pitch, that I did not listen to, because my kids go to school on the other side of town. However, I did read his threats and aggressive tone, that was enough for me to understand what's going on here, believe me. As for "Geezer Smasher" I think he's just one of those types that like to drive the Mr. Duriseti types crazy, I wouldn't read too much into it.


Posted by we reap what we sow, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2008 at 2:48 pm

I am a former resident, but also a governmental official so I will remain anonymous with a "borrowed" IP. I have been following this discussion as I know about MPCSD's bond issues and because of lease holder inquiries. I'll say no more on that topic.

Having seen the mailings from Ranella and the Board (forwarded to me by various parties), their communications inciting parents to action against the school neighbors and city council reaped exactly the type of braying we see above. They were simply over the top and maybe even irresponsible. Geezer Smasher (just typing that handle is annoying) has it right about the district getting 95% of what it wanted. That's exactly the problem: compromises were available, but were not incorporated even when school neighbors openly acknowledged that new development was a must. I have talked to the neighbors, at their invitation, and I have seen their suggestions.

As an outsider, when rabid plan supporters accuse OK neighbors of selfishness, the irony is overwhelming. Looking at the plans they came up with, I simply do not agree. Yes, they were looking out for their self-interests BUT not at the expense of the school's needs. There isn't a homeowner in this county who doesn't have a right to have the preferences of their neighborhood respected as long as they are willing to be fair-minded.

The MPCSD Board and Ranella abused their power and their pulpit. Make Some Sense has it right about the spirit of the laws that protect the district. They were used as a bludgeon rather than a shield.

The county provided much more cover for Vine Street residents than the MP City Council. That is fundamentally why the MPCSD went after the non-Vine St neighbors.

The answer is to have dilapidated houses and/or commercial property right near the schools. That's the solution. The district should buy the folks out if this is how they want to proceed.


Posted by Ram Duriseti, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Posted by Mark Miller, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, 6 minutes ago

I didn't "listen to the individuals involved", I think you meant Mr. Duriseti's pitch, that I did not listen to, because my kids go to school on the other side of town. However, I did read his threats and aggressive tone, that was enough for me to understand what's going on here, believe me. As for "Geezer Smasher" I think he's just one of those types that like to drive the Mr. Duriseti types crazy, I wouldn't read too much into it.
_______________________________________________________________________

Thanks for having the integrity to post with your name. A friend told me you were doing this so I wanted to thank you quasi-personally.

Having said that, I don't think you have the slightest idea about the specifics of this discussion or "what's going on here". I was directed here by a friend because of unseemly senior bashing and braying by anonymous posters when one of the targeted seniors is battling an illness. I'm no altruist, but I found it a bit disgusting. So yes, I reacted to the initial "Nimby Go Home" and "Geezer Smasher" posts. No, they didn't drive me crazy. It takes a lot more than that...

I can't summarize 1.5 years of discussion and evolution for you -- nor would you want me to. Suffice it to say that things are not as simple as they seem. There were some who cared about their property values and aesthetics who never invoked safety or environmental issues and some who cared more about safety and environmental issues who never invoked property values or aesthetics.

Calling someone out of anonymity when they are demonizing and misrepresenting is not a physical threat. It's a challenge for accountability. I asked them to come over to my house to look out my window to validate/refute their claim for goodness sakes.

Frankly, when the person in question notes the movements of my wife to private school open house sessions, drags my kids into the discussion, and knows where I live, I think I have a bit more to be concerned about. They didn't appreciate the fact that I got up and made an organized, respectful, and honest "pitch" to the MPCSD and community on behalf of my neighbors when others were not so respectful. They resented me for it and noted the movements of my family because of it. While that came out in the subsequent discussion, I only had to scratch the surface to expose it. I think that's telling.

I also think the Almanac should close this thread. It's not going anywhere positive. The horse has already left the barn.


Posted by Geezer Smasher, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Gee Whiz

Mark and Government Official. Nothing ruins a party as much as when the adults show up. Your moderate tone and succinct and accurate analysis of the situation, is a bit shaming, but you must admit, it ruins the joy of the thread.

I imagine both of you focus much more on the merits of a case, first hand documentation and your personal experiences when you involve yourself in a dispute, online or otherwise. I also prefer to attend the actual meeting, read the actual document or view the actual presentation than have someone I do not trust provide a slanted summary of events.

With that in mind I present you with a couple of links and would be interested in your opinions of what they represent.

Government Official, I agree with you about 95%. The neighborhood around OK (and it consists of more than 12 houses as you well know) deserves the respect and consideration of the School District. They deserved to be contacted and informed about plans and invited to meetings where those plans were being publicly discussed. When it came down to cosmetic areas that the neighborhood felt strongly about (like construction times, noise and dust levels, locations of bus stops) the school district should have bent over backwards to accommodate these poor folks. And I say that without malice, as anyone living next door to a construction site can attest to, it is hell.

Having said that, one should recognize that the neighborhood consists of some outright obstructionists (open up O'Connor and other schemes) that do not agree with the expansion plans of OK. These people can not be accommodated. That decision was already fought and lost. These people are just making noise, want to delay the construction as long as possible and throw a monkey wrench in the procedures. They do not get a seat at the table. They are disruptive and nonconstructive.

There is another group that needs to be addressed. It is folks in the neighborhood that have taken it upon themselves to totally redesign the school. While I admire their enthusiasm, albeit their total lack of qualifications, the neighborhood does not get to vote on how many stories the building is, where the playground will be located and basically play wanna-be architect. If you want to design the school, get an architecture degree, build a firm and then put in a bid. In medicine one often speaks of the "God complex" that many doctors develop which makes them insufferable. That's bad enough in the medical field but when the good doctor soon fancies himself a architect, traffic flow consultant, arborist and expert educator, well enough is enough.

Mark, you said you hadn't seen Ram Duriseti's pitch. Here is one of them. You check it out and tell me what you would think if one of your neighbors showed up to a council meeting after to you applied to remodel your house and with no subject matter qualifications proceeded to tell you how your house should really be designed. I know what my reply would have been, and it was the same at the school district. Thank you for your interest and goodbye.

Web Link

Government official, I have not seen all of the communications from the supervisor and the board to parents, but I imagine many of them were like the one I have linked to below. I do not find it at all intimidating, offensive or threatening. The example I link to is a message from Catherine Jaeger(PTO president of OK) to parents encouraging them to come out to a board of education meeting to express their suppport for the school district's plan. I know for a fact that Ram Duriseti found it upsetting and threatening, because as you can see from the link, he included it in an e-mail he sent the Menlo Park City Council protesting it. Paranoid indeed. The school was simply doing what the opponents of the plan wished to do, which is drum up support. I do agree I would find it daunting to attempt to challenge 99% of the parent base at OK that supported the modernization plan, but when you develop a "God complex", those odds do not deter you.

Web Link

I don't think the answer is to have dilapidated houses and/or commercial property right near the schools. I think neighborhoods should choose their spokesperson wisely, and that the neighborhood should be reasonable. Once the neighborhood becomes unreasonable, they are subject to getting steamrollered. That's what happened at OK. I have lived next to a large elementary school for over 8 years and understand the inherent conflicts of having such a place in the neighborhood. It works when there is dialogue and respect. Redesigning the school district or the school remodeling plans is a bit above our pay grades. That is what some neighbors attempted to do in OK, and they got rolled. They have delayed the project considerably, if they can take comfort in that.

Lastly, I would leave you with the most current post by Ram Duriseti.(who I can assure you is checking this thread every 5 minutes, you know the type), unwilling to summarize the 1.5 years or discussion and evolution", because it is not simple, and you probably can not follow anything complex. Heh. He is done talking about this subject. He has lost, hence there is no point in allowing anyone else to discuss it (or to gloat).

"I also think the Almanac should close this thread. It's not going anywhere positive".

The arrogance of that statement. Moderators, close this thread immediately, It does not please the pasha.

And you wonder why the school board didn't give him a seat at the table or allow him to present at their meetings on how he would redesign OK. I think its pretty clear.



Posted by Billy, a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Dec 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm

People, you are doing this to yourselves. Do Not Feed the Troll.


Posted by Ram Move Now, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 22, 2008 at 12:11 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Posted by Geezer Smasher, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Here's an updated and working link that I cited above on the paranoia exhibited by NIMBYs living next to the OK construction. The Menlo Park City Council lets the public read many of the e-mails it receives, many from this individual. If you run a quick search on all of the crazy e-mails this particular person has sent, you will understand why this thread, over two years later is such a sore point, to him. Rarely has an individual been so thoroughly discredited by facts and shown to be a complete charlatan.

Web Link


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