Sep 25 2018

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Safety Committee will on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. This meeting is open to the public.  It will not be broadcast.

The agenda includes introductions and updates on:

  1.  Minutes of 5/13/18
  2.  Announcement of New Committee Members
  3.  Local Hazard Mitigation Plan
  4.  Get Ready, Piedmont Guides and Checklist
  5.  School Liaison Activities and Campus Safety Preparedness
  6.  Crime Prevention/Community Outreach
  7.  Neighborhood Meetings
  8.  City Website
  9.  Year End Crime Report
  10.  Boy Scouts and Map Your Neighborhood Project
  11.  Public Safety Cameras and consideration of a Subcommittee on the Public Safety Cameras Program
Sep 17 2018

The Wall of Honor at the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Library at Piedmont High School opened on Friday, September 14 at 4:30 p.m.


The Wall of Honor is an extension of the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Collection at the Piedmont High School Library and is part of Piedmont’s distinguished tradition of “Achieving the Honorable.” The Wall of Honor lists Piedmont Service Members who have bravely served our country in the US military and the Foreign Service from WWI to the present.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts: a visual installation in the Piedmont High School Library, a permanent digital repository of the names of over 1,000 men and women from Piedmont who have served our country from WWI to the present, and an interactive website intended as a place where students as well as service members and their families can learn more about the service given to us by those from Piedmont.

The Wall of Honor website,, has been thoughtfully designed by talented local web designer, Kristen Long of Oakland based Mighty Minnow with direction from professional museum display designer Agata Malkowski, to be a site that can grow over time as service members and their families contribute more names, service details and photographs. It is hoped that Piedmont High School students as well as community members will access and use the site as a resource of factual information and thoughtful contemplation.

A Wall of Honor planning committee has worked for the past two years with the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD), the City of Piedmont, the Piedmont Historical Society, and the family of Ambassador Stevens to plan the project and raise the funds necessary to make it a reality.

The public may visit the Wall of Honor online at any time ( or in person at the Piedmont High School Library during school hours after first signing in at the school office.


The following is the statement made at the opening of the Wall of Honor on Friday, September 14, 2018 . 

Thank you for being here today as we officially open the Wall of Honor!

A special welcome to the Stevens Family. We are honored to have you here and it is with special consideration that we remember Ambassador Christopher Stevens on the sixth anniversary of his passing.

I, and my fellow committee members are so proud of this project for a number of reasons. First of all because the Wall of Honor fulfills a need in the school community for a place to recognize and learn more about the service provided to our country by Piedmonters from WWI to the present in the military and diplomatic service.

Inspired by Ambassador Stevens, and continuing his legacy, we hope the young people of Piedmont will use the Wall of Honor as a resource for reflection and inquiry. By doing so they will be able to share in the lessons, whether easy or hard, that military or diplomatic service can teach. Hopefully this sort of inquiry will also give our community a chance to reflect on what public service means to them and how best to incorporate it into their lives.

We believe that students, and our country will be the better for it.

Secondly, and just as important, I am proud of the collaboration and cooperation that has marked this project’s creation. Keeping in mind the school’s motto: “Achieve the Honorable”, while planning the Wall of Honor, we sought input and advice from the Stevens family, school administrators, teachers, students, the Piedmont Historical Society, the City of Piedmont, veterans and current service members. I believe the Wall of Honor that you see today truly reflects this thoughtful approach.

Along the way, we were extremely fortunate to have met Agata Malkowski, without whom this project would never have come to life. Agata is a talented and successful museum experience designer, who happens to have a soft spot in her heart for the US Marine Corps. Agata had the professional know how to take this project from an idea to reality. Thank you, Agata.

And of course, we are also extremely grateful that we had the opportunity to work with web design firm Mighty Minnow, based locally in Oakland and headed by the extraordinary Kristen Long. The Piedmont Education Foundation introduced us to Mighty Minnow, and we feel very fortunate that Mighty Minnow has applied their creativity and professional ability to the Wall of Honor website.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts:

  1. A permanent digital database which can be added to over time, of the names and service details of Piedmonters from WWI to the present who have served our country in uniform and the diplomatic service.
  2. A physical place of inquiry and reflection that can be visited by students, teachers and the community.
  3. A digital repository which can grow over time, to collect the stories, memories and information about the time in service performed by Piedmonters.

In closing, I would like to share my personal aspiration for the Wall of Honor here at PHS.

The World and National news we hear today of entrenched partisan politics, global environmental concerns, mass immigration worldwide, and never ending wars can make the world seem like an unapproachable mess and it is easy to see how a student might feel that his or her individual actions would not make a difference.

Yet, as extraordinary as we feel this time is, it is certainly not unique in history. Piedmont students have faced extraordinary times since WWI and have taken the education they received here out into the broader world to help make it a better place.

Piedmont students have been fortunate since the founding of the school to be in an environment where they learn and put to use the building blocks necessary for lifelong education. Critical thinking, the capacity to care and practical know-how are tools that Piedmont students are equipped with upon graduation.

Just as Ambassador Stevens will forever be remembered for his leadership in taking these tools and using them to build better understanding and cooperation between cultures on the world stage, my hope is that the Wall of Honor will be place where Piedmont students can find a source of knowledge, strength and inspiration to go out and lead the way to make our world a safer and more caring place.

Katie Korotzer  for the Wall of Honor Committee 

Click photos for enlargement. 

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Erin Pope, Assistant Principal at PHS, Kathleen Winters Wall of Honor Committee Member, Dana Lung, Judge Tom Stevens and Daughters Elena and Olivia Stevens, Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Adam Littlefield PHS Principal, Katie Korotzer Wall of Honor Committee Member, Amal Smith PUSD School Board Member, Randall Booker PUSD Superintendent, Terisa Whitted Wall of Honor Committee Member and Agata Malkowski Wall of Honor Designer.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Agata Malkowski, Wall of Honor Designer demonstrating the Wall of Honor Website to Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Sep 11 2018


  Piedmont League of Women Voters 

              Presents: David Thigpen

David Thigpen

Implications of Modern Journalism

 Sunday, September 23, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

  Piedmont Community Church

  400 Highland Avenue

  Piedmont, CA

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont presents an afternoon of conversation with esteemed guest speaker, David Thigpen, Lecturer at U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

An academic, journalist, culture critic and public policy thinker, David Thigpen is a former Time Magazine staff correspondent who reported for the magazine from New York and Chicago. He has extensive experience covering the music business, Wall Street and the Chicago political scene. David’s work has also been published in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and the Chicago Tribune Literary Review.  David served on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 Mayoral Transition team. He holds an A.B. from Brown University and an M.S. from Columbia University.

David Thigpen is also a public policy analyst affiliated with the Institute for the Future, a research organization in Palo Alto, California where he conducts research on the future of American cities.

This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please visit and click the David Thigpen Speaker link.

Aug 31 2018
Community members and students gathered to “build a more inclusive Piedmont through deliberative dialogue”.

Last Sunday, I attended Session I of Let’s Talk, presented by the Piedmont Unified School District, the City of Piedmont, and the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee (PADC).  On this specific weekend of August 25th and 26th, there were four Let’s Talk Sessions, and, to my knowledge, Let’s Talk! occurs on four separate weekends a year.

The main goal of the program is to “build a more inclusive Piedmont through deliberative dialogue”. To do this Sara Wicht, the leader from the Southern Poverty Law Center, informed us of the goals for our session: reflecting on how our own identities influence us; engaging in conversations exploring diversity; and learning the tools for quality conversations.

The central issue that Lets Talk! covers is diversity and how Piedmont, a city that currently lacks diversity, can grow to be more inclusive and, hopefully, more diverse.

In order to understand and then embrace diversity, we first went over the main types: economic and racial.

We also learned the four main domains- identity, diversity, justice, and action, and how all of these domains must fit together. Going along with the theme of identity, we engaged in an activity where everyone wrote down eight different traits about themselves (simple things like gender, religion, and race) and then crossed out the traits one-by-one in the order of least significant to most important until each person was left with one. We then discussed how it was only easy to cross out non-threatened categories that you shared with the majority, how nobody’s identity could be defined with a single relatively generic trait, and how this most important trait may shift depending on the company you share.

I thought it was interesting how nearly all of the traits were things that you were born into and could not self-identify with. It led me to question my group: what actually does shape who you are and what is actually most important to you?

I enjoyed the format of the seminar of small table groups (a mixture of strangers and fellow students) to engage in specific conversations with.

Then, after exchanging views, opinions, and experiences with your table, Sara opened it up to the whole room to share main concepts and takeaways from each group.

At my table, Dave McMartry’s story stood out to me. Dave shared with me that he recently moved to Piedmont and he does not intend to stay because of its lack of diversity. He fears that it will not be a suitable environment to raise his multi-racial children. By coming to Let’s Talk!, Dave hoped to become a better parent, develop a better understanding of what living in Piedmont is like for people of color, and see for himself if this community was taking the appropriate steps to becoming more inclusive.

While most of my table, including Dave, was very understanding and accepting of whatever I said, there was one person that seemed to target me when he spoke. I did not say anything disrespectful or offensive towards him (or anyone for that matter) and I am fairly certain that the source of his targeting was me being white. When he spoke he would say things like “you people do not understand” and point and stare directly at me.

This made me quiet down and keep to myself more, not wanting to upset him (even though I do not know what he was upset about in the first place). I felt very supported by my table group other than this man. After he left, I opened back up, sharing experiences, posing questions, and contributing ideas and opinions.

In the big group though, with everyone, at times the conversation could be slightly hostile, given people with opposing views.  One particularly controversial debate regarded the scenario of asking an Asian child to tutor the rest of the class. This played on the stereotype that Asian kids are “smarter” and “better at math”.  With it, we discussed implicit bias and stereotypes, acknowledging how negative their effects can be.

While most of the other students and I were on the side that if the Asian child was actually the smartest kid and was willing to help the rest of the class, then there is no reason for him not to be a tutor.  Much of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee disagreed.  They specified that the teacher should go to the next smartest and most willing kid to do it, avoiding the damaging stereotype towards Asians.

I shared how I thought that, in a way, this would be a step too far, going so far around the issue that it exaggerates it. While much of the community did agree with me, one woman from PADC was extremely opposed.

Ultimately, these slight conflicts taught me that politics is not always black and white.

People will always have contrasting views and this makes it impossible to determine a right answer in most cases.  On top of that, there are varying definitions and degrees of being right, just like the issues of equality and equity.  Different people value them differently, making consensus extremely difficult. Yet, that is exactly the thing “Let’s Talk!” was trying to do: bring the community together to assess our discrepancies and come to a successful common ground regarding diversity and for the most part, I’d say they were successful!

By Mariela Cole, Piedmont High School Senior

Jun 10 2018

Piedmont’s “new waste disposal contract” with Republic Services relies heavily on the company’s ability to properly recycle garden cuttings, kitchen waste, paper, plastics, glass, etc.  Questions have arisen as to whether Piedmont’s waste is actually being recycled or is merely headed to a landfill site?

Republic Services apparently was sending recycling to China. Recently China has decided to stop accepting it and our “recycling” will end up in landfill. At premium prices!

“Western states, which have relied the most on Chinese recycling plants, have been hit especially hard. In some areas — like Eugene, Oregon, and parts of Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii — local officials and garbage haulers will no longer accept certain items for recycling, in some cases refusing most plastics, glass and certain types of paper. Instead, they say, customers should throw these items in the trash.”

The Piedmont Civic Association made an inquiry to Piedmont’s provider, Republic Services in Richmond, asking about the destination of Piedmont’s recyclable waste.  There has been no response.  Our email, which was copied to the City Council, is below:




June 1. 2018

——Media Inquiry—–

Republic Services

3260 Blume Drive, Suite 100

Richmond, CA 94806

Manager: Richmond, California, Republic Services

RE: Actual disposition of Piedmont, CA recyclable waste

Recently, the Piedmont Civic Association was informed, as validated by the New York Times on May 29, 2018, that much of Republic’s collected recyclable waste is going to landfills rather than going to reuse.

We are asking what is the disposition of Piedmont recyclables including glass, paper, plastic, etc.

The residents of Piedmont have exceeded their goals set for recycling waste materials and keeping reusable materials out of the landfills.

Please promptly reply to our inquiry so we may include your response in the forthcoming article on our well established website:

Thank you,

PCA Editors


Jun 5 2018

Superintendent Booker Responds to concerns about construction costs of the new high school STEAM BUILDING. The following are excerpts from Superintendent Booker’s letter.  The full letter is linked at the end of this article.

“June 3, 2018

“On May 31, Piedmont resident William Blackwell published a letter describing plans for construction of a new high school STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) building and theater building as “A Costly Mistake.” The District shares his interest in maximizing value and avoiding waste, and has exhaustively reviewed his and many other concepts for modernizing antiquated facilities and adding much-needed science, technology and engineering labs. Mr. Blackwell’s concept is based on inaccurate information and is simply not feasible under rules and restrictions as determined by the Office of Public School Construction and the Division of the State Architect. Additionally, over the past two years, District staff and Board members have met with Mr. Blackwell on multiple occasions to hear his concerns and provide him with accurate information.”

Program Milestones

“The District is on schedule for accomplishing the most pressing goals of the Measure H1 facilities program. This year, the District finalized plans for the new STEAM and theater buildings. The District will submit these plans for State review this summer, and State approval is expected in the Spring of 2019. The District expects to begin construction of the STEAM building in the Summer of 2019, and complete and occupy the building in August 2020. The District expects to begin construction of the new theater in the Summer of 2020, and complete and occupy the building in 2021.

Also this year, the District:

• Completed plans to make a range of safety and security improvements at PMS this summer, including installation of new doors, hardware, and electronic locks.

• Completed plans to add ventilation and climate control equipment at the elementary schools and the PHS 30s building this summer, to prevent classroom overheating and improve the learning environment.

• Finalized plans for the improvement of underground drainage and replacement of the turf and track at Witter Field. The District expects to begin construction of these improvements in the Spring of 2019, and complete this work in the Fall of 2019.

• Completed plans to replace antiquated light fixtures at Witter Field with new LED fixtures this summer. The new fixtures will improve overall field lighting and player safety and promote energy efficiency in accordance with District and community goals.”

More information about the Measure H1 facilities program can be seen at As always, I welcome questions and comments at any time at 

Randall Booker, Superintendent Piedmont Unified School District


Letter re-H1 Bond 6-3-18

Feb 18 2018

The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Recreation Commission has been cancelled for the month of February.  The next meeting of the Recreation Commission will be on Wednesday, March 21 at 7:30 pm.

Feb 4 2018

Big changes have been suggested for how Piedmont is administered. 

City Administrator form of government is evolving toward City Manager form of government, further limits on Council terms, increase in tax funds held in reserve, reduced meeting requirements, etc.

On the Monday, February 5, 2018 Council agenda is an item that potentially starts a change to long held principles within the Piedmont City Charter. The City Charter is in the domain of the voters of Piedmont, who must approve any changes to the City Charter..

When the Charter was updated and revised approximately 35 years ago, a citizen Charter Review Committee appointed by the City Council was established to develop recommendations for City Council consideration.  After review of the recommendations, the City Council placed the recommended revised Charter on a Piedmont ballot, and it was readily approved by Piedmont voters.

The Piedmont City Charter specifies expenditures, revenues, budgeting, decisions to be made by the Council, decisions to be made by voters, personnel roles, zoning, loan mechanisms, etc.

City staff actions are subject to Council direction and Council action in many instances is subject to citizen approval of major issues such as zoning, taxation, borrowing, and reserve fund limits.  Some staff members over the years have resisted  the requirement of gaining Council approval in a public forum before taking action on policy matters.  The result has led to some policy actions taken without Council authorization.

The City Council has exceeded its authority in some instances, supporting a reinterpretation of the City Charter diminishing voter controls.

Recent issues questionable under the City Charter reinterpretation have been:

  • Election process for selecting a mayor following a resignation
  • Loans taken out without voter approval
  • Refusal to allow a citizen vote prior to making zone use changes

City Administrator form of government evolving toward City Manager form of government –

Piedmont has for generations benefited from its City Administrator form of government, giving citizens and their elected representatives the primary authority and responsibility over numerous governmental actions.  The proposed Charter changes in a number of instances would alter this authority.

Unlike the proposed changes, the City Council, rather than the City Administrator, currently has the responsibility to appoint the top administrators of the City.  Some of these positions include:

  •  Police Chief
  •  Fire Chief
  •  Public Works Director
  •  City Clerk
  •  City Engineer
  •  Finance Director

The process for changing the Piedmont City Charter, foundation of Piedmont governance, will receive consideration by the City Council on Monday, February 5, 2018, on how to proceed with review and any updating of the Charter.

Residents interested in following this issue can attend the meeting, observe the Council live on Cable Channel 27 or from the City website under videos. This item is last on the agenda.

Read the staff report regarding Charter changes HERE.

Read the agenda HERE.

Jan 30 2018

The Crown Castle Corporation filed a complaint in Federal Court against Piedmont prior to completion of the cell tower permit consideration process.  Crown Castle blames the City for its failure to offer complete applications and is suing to overturn the five denials and the conditional approvals on three cell towers. Crown Castle Corporation, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is “the nation’s largest provider of wireless infrastructure.”

Many Piedmont residents have been outraged at the Council decision to allow conditional approval of the sites.  Opposition has been primarily based on health concerns, unsubstantiated need and aesthetic problems.  

Read a report of the matter below:

Dec 18 2017

Newspaper had already received pre-approval from City Administrator for a sublease of the public property at 801 Magnolia that houses the Piedmont Center for the Arts.

At the December 18, 2017  Council meeting starting at approximately 10:00 p.m., the Piedmont Center for the Arts was given approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) allowing space to be sublet to one local news organization, The Piedmont Post. The Council approval was on a narrow vote of 3 for and 2 against.

Voting for the motion to approve were Mayor Robert McBain, who praised the newspaper, Vice Mayor Teddy King, who was eager for  approval, and Council Member Betsy Andersen, the newly appointed member of the Council, who inquired about the hours of operation.

Voting “no” on the motion to approve the CUP were Council Member Tim Rood, who had noted his disapproval of the Post and Jen Cavenaugh, who had many lingering unanswered questions regarding the lease and potential of gifting valuable city resources to a business.

Unbeknownst to the public, and evidently, the Council,  City Administrator Paul Benoit had already given permission to the Arts Center to sublet their space to the Post if approval of a Conditional Use Permit was granted by the Council.  Benoit stepped into the Council discussion supporting the Post’s usage of the building.

Numerous questions went unanswered: basis of the lease to the Arts Center’s ability to sublet or use the City’s property at 801 Magnolia for profit businesses, while denying non-profit usage, ability of City Administrator to grant permission to sublet the property without public involvement, hours of operation, unknown sublease conditions, amongst other matters.

The City Code and lease were recently changed by the Council to allow businesses in the Arts Center building.