Police chief starts citizens advisory committee — member invites Zuckerberg to drop in

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto Police Chief Bob Jonsen has launched a new Chief’s Advisory Group of 30 residents who will have the chief’s ear in meetings that are closed to the public — and one member of the group has already invited one of the city’s highest-profile residents, Mark Zuckerberg, to sit in.

Ardan Blum, a 48-year-old University South neighborhood resident and internet marketer who also completed the department’s Citizens Police Academy, took to Facebook yesterday to invite Zuckerberg to one of the group’s meetings.

“Do drop in to one of our meetings!! It would be great for the community to hear about Facebook projects to promote safety and security within Menlo Park and Palo Alto,” Blum posted on the Palo Alto Police Department’s Facebook page yesterday afternoon, tagging Zuckerberg in the post.

Blum included an email address for Palo Alto police administrative assistant Barbara Teixeira so that the billionaire could “officially set up a time” to come by. Zuckerberg hasn’t responded publicly.

The group of residents and business owners will have the opportunity to give Jonsen feedback from the public at meetings every two months and learn about police initiatives, policies and procedures, police said.

“It is up to each individual member to decide how they are going to reach out to the neighbors and businesses in their respective area of town to solicit that feedback,” police spokeswoman Janine De la Vega said in a statement.

De la Vega said the meetings would be closed to the public because the group is not a board or commission.

Members of the public who aren’t in the group and don’t know any of the members can also email pd@cityofpaloalto.org to provide input to Jonsen or suggest an item for the group to discuss.

Police put out the call for applications for the group in July and said it was initially going to include 16 members. But when 32 people applied, Jonsen decided to accept all of them.

When police announced the formation of the group on Wednesday, they initially declined to release a list of the group’s members and directed the Post to file a Public Records Act request, which gives the city 10 days to decide whether it legally has to respond.

But after others asked for the names, police notified each member on Wednesday night that they would be releasing their names the next day. Two members dropped out after getting that call, De la Vega said.

Committee members identified

Police identified the members as:

Midtown residents Eric Newman, Jake L. Olsen, 48, Jonathan Keeling, 50, David Wills, 68, and David E. Gobuty, 71;

Barron Park residents Laura Porter, 39, Joe Landers, 60, Ann Pianetta, 66 and Yvonne Boxerman, 72;

Crescent Park residents Hamilton Hitchings Jr., 52, Evan G. Reade, 62 and John Guislin, 68;

Duveneck/St. Francis residents Andrew Davidson Mackenzie, 50, and Vycelka Gatto, 53;

Old Palo Alto residents George Richard, 60, Kathleen Jason-Moreau, 61 and Alan Bennett, 77;

Adobe Meadow residents Paul Koo, 68 and Albert Dorsky, 77;

Charleston Meadow resident Jennifer Zimmerman, 46;

College Terrace resident Susanna Hursh, 36;

Community Center neighborhood resident Cathie Foster, 67;

Downtown North resident Pat Markevitch, 58;

Evergreen Park resident Sophie Tsang, 56;

Greenmeadow resident Carol Turner, 50;

Southgate resident Peter Shambora;

St. Claire Gardens resident Carl Darling, 67;

Triple El resident Dana Wong, 54, and

University South resident Ardan Blum, 48.

The members have a range of professional backgrounds, and some have a history of political advocacy and volunteerism in town.

Reade is an immigration attorney with an office on Bryant Street. Jason-Moreau is a corporate attorney. Keeling is a karate instructor and owns Silicon Valley Shotokan Karate.

Pianetta is a registered breathing educator and certified medical hypnotherapist. Zimmerman works in HR for Bill.com.

Guislin and Hitchings have both advocated against development interests in Palo Alto. Hitchings served on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Comprehensive Plan Update and gave money to Mayor Eric Filseth, Councilman Tom DuBois and then-council candidate Pat Boone in November’s election.

Markevitch has served on the executive board of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. Dorsky is a member of the Palo Alto Neighborhoods and has helped lead emergency preparedness efforts in the group.

Boxerman is the volunteer coordinator at the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and has served as a leader of the synagogue Kol Emeth.

4 Comments

  1. Clearly there is a bias towards older residents of Palo Alto who have been selected as a part of the “advisory” committee. Perhaps the committee should include a representative cross section of all age groups, including teenagers. After all older people are likely to be at home at night when some crimes occur and may not be in touch with what is going on the apartment complexes, downtown at night, commuting on Cal Train, riding a bike on the street, …

    Also why weren’t businesses included in the committee?
    Clearly there are problems on University both on the street, in garages, and in the actual businesses themselves. People are getting hassled, harassed, robbed, victimized, … by thugs coming from out of town.

  2. So what’s the point of the meeting? I mean it’s the police department’s job to enforce the laws. Would these members be telling the chief who to arrest? Or who to surveil? To avoid that (or even the perception of that), I think the meetings should be open to the public.

  3. Let’s turn this into a city commission where the members are appointed through a public application process like the Planning and Transportation Commission, Parks and Rec Board, Utility Advisory Commission or Library Commisssion. That way their meetings would be held in public and we could hear what the police are being asked to do. Other city departments have advisory boards, but they’re all subject to the Brown Act. I don’t understand why police should be the exception.

  4. I hope the group and the Palo Alto Police Department will look into additional patrols in residential neighborhoods. Incidents of crime are rising in areas around Paly and Southgate. What once felt like a safe neighborhood for evening walks has become dangerous after dark.

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