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Santa Clara County, CA November 8, 2005 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Jack Morton

Candidate for
Council Member; City of Palo Alto

This information is provided by the candidate

Who is Jack?

I'm a transplanted Canadian-grandson of an Alberta rancher, Wild Jack Morton, famous for chuck wagon racing and son of a bush-pilot father. After completing a PhD in Greek Philosophy and Decision Analysis from the University of Toronto, we returned to Mary Ellen's hometown because there was no better place for an unemployed academic to raise a child. We arrived in Palo Alto just in time to join our Webster Street neighbors at City Hall to protest a proposal to condemn her family home and a half-dozen other homes so that an overpass could be built at Middlefield and Oregon.

Palo Alto politics seems to frequently pit the community against its elected officials. The outcry of the neighbors eventually convinced the Council to reject the overpass proposal; but shortly afterwards, the voters had to turn out of office the Council majority in order to save University Avenue from being turned into a supper block of offices.

Jobs in academia being somewhat scarce in the early 70s and a PhD in Philosophy not being a prime guarantee of employability, I attended night school in the city at Golden Gate University, retraining myself for a career as a Certified Public Accountant. I founded my own accounting firm, Morton & Associates, in 1980.

I don't know whether other communities are blessed with a Parents Family Nursery or a Pre-School Family but the joy of being able to participate with your child in such terrific pre-school programs was certainly tempered by the hard reality of Proposition 13. I was asked to serve as Treasurer of the Walter Hays PTA whose function in the post prop 13 era was to raise funds for classroom aides and materials. I also tried valiantly to make a contribution to youth sports as an assistant Soccer Coach and as Co-coach of a Y basketball team. If truth be told, my skills clearly tend in the financial direction.

Having every school your son attends close, or be threatened with closure, the year after he enrolls served to make school closure the substance of my political baptism. I wrote editorials against the then prevailing view that closures and school consolidations would result in substantial expense reduction. The community eventually mobilized and elected anti-closure candidates like Diane Recklis. The new school board reversed the decisions to close Gunn and sell Jordan, then set up citizen advisory committees to develop ways to provide the schools additional operating revenue. I was asked to serve on the District's Finance Advisory Committee and worked for passage of both the City's Utility Tax, which ended the funding of school operations by the sale of closed school sites, and the School Bond measure, which refurbished long neglected school facilities. I have continued to be an ardent supporter of our Schools and this spring I mailed a memo to the community supporting Measure A and outlining the need for supplemental funding not only for the schools but for the storm drain upgrade and hopefully not too far in the future for a new Library and Art Center

In 1983, I was invited to become a Board Member of the Chamber of Commerce in large part, I think, because I had been the Chamber's auditor for a number of years and understood their finances. During my 6 years tenure, I championed the interests of the residents and small business community whose positions did not always coincide with Stanford's or of the multi-nationals in the Industrial Park. I was a founding member of the Palo Alto Jazz Festival, an even co-sponsored by the Chamber and the City. The event was a success as a community event but never raised the funds that the City and Chamber had hoped would provide supplemental program funding.

By happenstance, one afternoon while picking Dawson up from ice skating, I overheard the Winter Lodge's founder, Duncan Williams, announce that the rink was scheduled for demolition. That there was an outdoor ice rink in sunny California had always struck this immigrant from northern climes as nothing short of a miracle. I could not believe that the Council could have rezoned all of Midtown for high density housing, condemning one of the most popular recreation facilities on the Peninsula to extinction. With a group of equally dismayed community members, I was able in an amazing short time, to form the Trust for Community Skating and to get a demolition extension from the landowner. With a $25,000 matching grant from the City and operational assistance from the YMCA, the rink was saved. This year the Winter Lodge celebrates 50 years of unparalleled fun for generations of youngsters and oldsters alike and has the distinction of being one of the largest skating development programs in the country.

The Trust qualified 2 ballot initiatives to guarantee the rink's continuance with a no cost to the City provision. With the overwhelming passage of Measures A & B, the Winter Lodge became the City's first public-private partnership. While voter approval was decisive, it took 15 years to get through the City process, during which time, the former Chuck Thompson pool and workout gym were demolished by the City. The night the Council finally agreed on the color and height of the sound wall, Council member Gary Fazzino said, possibly in jest, that with the final implementation of the voter mandates, I would no longer have anything to do on Monday nights. He suggested that I run for City Council. I made the mistake of telling a few friends that I had also been approached by then Vice Mayor Ojakian. By the end of the next day, I was qualified for the Ballet, running on a platform of fiscal caution in order "to help preserve the qualities that make Palo Alto unique". I promised "to improve the responsiveness of City government to Community interests."

Besides founding Community Skating, Inc.-the non-profit operating entity for the Winter Lodge, I am a Founding member and Past President of the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation which this year through Palo Alto's Black & White Ball raised $ 180,000 to fund community recreation and school programs and over the last 16 years has provided three quarter of a million dollars for recreation programs as diverse as the May Fete Parade, the Chili Cook Off and Middle School Athletics.

As an accounting professional, my firm has assisted such non-profit groups as the Friends of the Children' Theatre, Palo Alto Community Child Care, Palo Alto Housing Corporation, Adolescent Counseling Services, Palo Alto Players, Palo Alto Recreation Foundation, Project Sentinel, Urban Ministries, Homeless Care Force, Friends of Palo Alto's Parks, Morrissey Compton Education Center, Canopy and East Palo Alto Micro Businesses to meet their financial reporting obligations to the community and to governmental agencies. It has been my, and my staff's way, of making a professional contribution to those groups which so enrich our community environment.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 3, 2005 12:31
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