Fire Chief Profile

Courtesy Nick Marinaro

Nick Marinaro experienced some strange things over the course of his nearly 40-year career as a firefighter. There was the time in the late 1970s that a herd of horses escaped from a stable and began galloping down Page Mill Road. There were the hydrogen fires that would occasionally break out at SLAC, fires that burned so clear that the only way to detect them was to stick a broom out in front of you and wait until it ignited.

As Palo Alto’s fire chief, Marinaro, who retired in June with plans to do volunteer work, supervised the 126 employees who respond to some 7,000 incidents every year in Palo Alto, Stanford and some parts of unincorporated Santa Clara County. About a third of the calls come from the Farm, mostly reports of small fires and requests for medical aid . . . (more)

Silicon Valley’s Toxic Past

EAST PALO ALTO—Silicon Valley is home to one of the nation’s heaviest concentrations of toxic-waste sites. The costly effects of the region’s tainted industrial past can be seen in this city’s eastern outskirts.

Here a residential neighborhood sits 2,000 feet from a toxic-waste site once used as a chemicals-processing plant run by Romic Environmental Technologies Corp. Romic processed hazardous materials like solvents, fuels and inks from local technology companies and other manufacturers for nearly 50 years. The facility was closed in 2007 after a series of environmental and safety violations. Romic paid fines in two cases, but admitted to no. . . (more)

New Wall Street Journal Story

Photo by Pablo Abuliak for WSJ

ORINDA—The Sleepy Hollow Swim and Tennis Club has been embroiled in a controversy over whether to charge a hefty fee to fund a renovation that could attract new members but potentially force out older ones, prompting a deep split at the private club . . . (more)

Mission Statement

I was reading Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg’s ethics statements on All Things D one morning, and I got to thinking about how transparency is such an important quality in today’s media world. With this in mind, I wrote a mission statement that describes my goals and values as a journalist. Although I certainly make mistakes, these are the things I try to live up to. It’s a living document, but here’s the first draft:

I believe that journalism is an essential part of a fully-functioning democracy. Although it is sometimes easy for journalists to convince themselves that they are rock stars, my first priority is to serve the public and provide them with the information they need to make educated decisions.

I believe that to be a journalist is to be devoted to the search for truth. I am accountable for the veracity everything I say and write.

I believe that committing myself to my own greatness is the quickest path to failure. It is only by adopting a cause larger than oneself that one can hope to be great.

I believe that journalism must always strive to bring a voice to the voiceless. It is so seductive to focus on those in a position of power, and while journalists should fulfill their roles as the watchdogs of the rich and powerful, they should also seek out the people who have been repressed, oppressed, ignored, abused, or misunderstood at every possible opportunity.

Journalism is one branch of a long and ancient history of storytelling. I will not forget the importance of engaging my readers.

New Website

I’ve finally updated my personal website to make it easier to find information about my work. I’ll be posting updates on this page about new projects and publications, as well as anything else that seems relevant. You can find a general bio here, a list of clips here, and my contact info here. Stay tuned!