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Menlo Park City Council approves budget for 2021-22 fiscal year days ahead of deadline

Original post made on Jun 30, 2021

Days before a new fiscal year starts July 1, the Menlo Park City Council approved its budget and capital improvement plan to run until June 30, 2022.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 11:56 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by Jim B
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2021 at 1:21 pm

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I am sorry to read about the controversy over funding for festive lighting downtown during the winter months. I may be an atheist, but I find the cheery lights uplifting during the winter darkness.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2021 at 3:19 pm

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No need for anyone to be a Scrooge and ruin the much needed festive atmosphere. Just have a menorah lighting ceremony at Fremont Park in addition to the tree lighting. And offer the same opportunity to other cultures.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2021 at 3:22 pm

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Why did Taylor dissent on the vote to approve? Didn't notice any mention of reason(s) in the article.

Posted by Debbie Hall
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2021 at 3:57 pm

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Why don't we leave the lights ON the trees in Fremont Park and in Belle Haven, and simply turn them on for the lighting ceremony? I recall we spent something like $30k last year having the lights put up and taken down.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 30, 2021 at 5:07 pm

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Thank you, Jen Wolosin, for voicing the feelings of so many of us who do not celebrate Christmas.

This community prides itself on being inclusive, yet those of us who observe a religion other than Christianity will continue to be openly marginalized. I'm sure you all have friends who are Jewish or Muslim "and they love the trees!" but many more of us are, as Jen noted, uncomfortable. Invoking Scrooge is downright anti-Semitic, but we non-Christians know we are in the minority so we mostly keep quiet.

Comparing the celebrations for the Fourth with money spent on Christmas is a false equivalence. The Fourth is an American holiday; Christmas is a religious celebration. There are many ways to brighten the darkest days of winter without spending an excessive amount of public funds in favor of one religion.

Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 30, 2021 at 8:23 pm

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Lighting a Chanukah menorah (sometime between Thanksgiving and New Years's Eve, whenever Chanukah happens to fall) in Menlo Park might be a nice idea but it would be only a very small step in the direction of inclusivity, as there are many Menlo Park residents who are neither Christian nor Jewish. In order to plan truly inclusive public events, there is no quick fix, rather a lot to think through.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 30, 2021 at 9:11 pm

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"The Fourth is an American holiday; Christmas is a religious celebration."

Mind you it has been decades since I attended church services or read the bible but I can't recall anywhere in Christian literature that calls for the decoration or lighting of trees to celebrate what really is a pagan holiday repurposed for the Christion religion. Lighting a tree around the winter solstice is not really a "Christian thing". It is like friends of mine that would have a "Hanukkah bush" simply because they liked the lights and decorations. Lighting a Menorah for Hanukkah would be good if the Jewish community were interested in doing so.

I do like the idea of putting up lights and leaving them up if they can get lights that can withstand the weather for several years...

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2021 at 9:38 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Re my earlier reference to Scrooge
Never really thought of the character as anything but an unChristian Christian. Every culture has cheap, face
to the grindstone bosses.
But I guess cancel culture seeps into everything, including colorful lights to encourage good will and lots of shopping. Guess some want to cancel the White House Easter Egg Hunt and lighting of the tree at shopping time. There are a zillion more crucial things to deal with in society. Oh and before anyone goes and calls me an antisemite ... think twice... bar mitzvahed and married under a hoopa and do yarzheit every year for the scores of relatives slaughtered by the Nazis, while the rest of the world did nothing to save them. But I do love a good ham and cheese and BLT and fresh steamed Dungeness crab.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 1, 2021 at 7:59 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Most "christian" holidays aren't christian. They were pagan celebrations hijacked by christian churches. Christmas? Christ wasn't born in December. It's pagan celebration of the winter solstice hijacked by christians. Easter? Hijacked from pagans for spring celebration and hopes for a fruitful growing season. Christ died around then, but the whole celebration originally had nothing to do with Christ. The list goes on. People need to get over themselves. These aren't "christian" holidays. This cancel culture BS has gone too far. If lights are put up on trees in the winter it's not to exclude jews, muslims or hindus. It's an American tradition that is festive and people enjoy.

Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 1, 2021 at 9:29 am

kbehroozi is a registered user.

It's not cancel culture, it's moderation. We are coming out of a year with a projected $12 million budget deficit. $45K buys us lights in Fremont Park (which is the downtown shopping draw) + a tree somewhere TBD in Belle Haven, just like last year. We could spend twice that (plus the cost of electricity, which is unaddressed in this equation) for additional trees in other places (Ravenswood/ECR, Burgess). Would those really double your enjoyment?

Moreover, I appreciate Councilmember Wolosin's bravery in sharing her experience of our holiday/Christmas celebration. We can fix this–-not by tacking on a Menorah to what is obviously a Christmas celebration--but by expanding our repertoire of community celebrations.

As a kid, I took for granted how our schools and towns celebrated Christmas (although I don't remember any public Easter stuff–that seemed to be a church thing). I never really thought about what my peers who were Jewish might be feeling, or whether that Dreidel song really did it for them. As an adult, and a practicing Christian at that, it does give me pause. We have cocoa and Santa at Christmas; Easter eggs in Burgess Park during the spring. Regardless of the pagan origins of some of these traditions, they are not for everyone. The Jewish kids I grew up with didn't get Easter baskets or enjoy Christmas trees. They went to Chinese food and the movies on Christmas Day, built a Sukkah in their backyard during Sukkot, and baked hamentashen for Purim. Could I have respectfully joined these experiences and appreciated them? Sure. But was the city spending money to create them? No. I'm okay with spending public money to celebrate cultural and religious traditions; less okay, though, with celebrating only one tradition and claiming that it's for everyone. Instead of spending $90K on Christmas lights, take half of it and invite other faiths to help design and sponsor public celebrations reflecting their traditions. Imagine Diwali, Tet, Purim, Norooz, Eid! We have a lot to celebrate.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 1, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Thanks to so many of you for making my point. Because Christmas is your holiday, you think it should be everyone's holiday. But it's not, no matter how often or vehemently you insist that it is, or should be. The origins don't matter (humans predate religion); we're talking about customs -- as well as inclusivity and respect for those with other backgrounds and beliefs -- in 2021.

"Cancel culture?" Well, the Nazis already tried that, and no one is suggesting that you stop celebrating or observing your religion -- just that it might be appropriate to limit the amount of public funds devoted to that celebration.

Chanukah is a minor holiday commemorating a successful fight against oppression. It's nowhere near the equivalent of Christmas in terms of religious significance, and I'd prefer not to see public funds dedicated to it (or any other Jewish holiday or holy day).

Colorful lights, music, family-oriented activities, great. December is a dark time of year. Let's make it brighter. But can we do that without using public funds for an extravagant celebration of one faith?

Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 1, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Let's be clear here. this is a FINANCIAL play.

the retail sales between Nov-15 and Dec-25 are HUGE. and the associated sales tax income to MPK is not insignificant.

they want people to shop in MPK instead of AMZN or Stanford.

to do so they make downtown more appealing....hence the lights.

the electricity bill is low enough they can leave the lights on all year if that makes people happier.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 1, 2021 at 2:23 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Roy, I agree 100%.
Linfield Oaks Observer
you said "Because Christmas is your holiday, you think it should be everyone's holiday. But it's not, no matter how often or vehemently you insist that it is, or should be."
As one tribe member to another it's time to step back and tone it down. No one has vehemently insisted that you have to observe Christmas, in any form. You made your point, you don't want public funds going to anything that smells like religion or culture. Fine. Now instead of perhaps offending folks, and giving them a reason to be upset with all Jews instead of just you, go to the city council and budget meetings and voice your concerns. Talk to a civil rights attorney. Canvas the retail shop owners about funding the holiday lights. And I'm sure all the Jewish shop owners would say the want the holiday lights.
And if you just part of your complaint includes that you just don't like holiday lights then just wear your mask over your eyes. Remember Genesis Old and New Testament...and god said let there be light.

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