Neighborhood gadfy Kent Brewster casts the spotlight on Menlo Park and Atherton issues

by Linda Hubbard on October 23, 2013

Confine yourself to the tech world, and you’ll learn that Kent Brewster is a “web guy” whose “difficult-to-detect JavaScript powers Yahoo’s Pipes badges, Netflix’s widgets, the badge, Lexity’s store instrumentation and Pinterest’s widgets, bookmarklet and Pin It! button,” according to an O’Reilly Conferences bio.

But locals may know him from his grassroots advocacy efforts, most recently for bringing attention to the disproportionate number of traffic citation and vehicle code violations issued to Latinos by the Atherton Police Department.

Noting on a website he put together on the subject that almost “no one from Atherton gets a ticket,” he found, via the police department’s blotter, that “175 out of 182 drivers cited have Hispanic names.”

The Atherton PD doesn’t dispute the statistic but denies that it engages in racial profiling. “We absolutely do not,” Lt. Joe Wade told the San Francisco Examiner. “We don’t know who it is before we stop them, and we have to have probable cause.”

Kent, who lives in the “Hidden Willows”, an area of East Palo Alto near the Four Seasons hotel, said in an interview that he looked at one month’s data from Menlo Park and found a “more normal looking distribution.”

Where he lives also has prompted Kent and his wife to create the Willows Traffic Hoax website that examines changes in traffic patterns that have been advocated by “a small but vocal minority of residents.”

“It’s a topic that continues to pop up from time to time at the Menlo Park City Council meeting,” he said.

Why has he taken on the role of neighborhood gadfly?

“We live in the Silicon Valley and have tremendous resources,” he said. “We also have a huge opportunity to do good. In my mind, doing good is a responsibility that is important for each of us as citizens.”

Photo by Scott R. Kline

One Comment

Barrett October 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Kent- Thanks for doing the important work of looking at the numbers and bringing it to our attention. It certainly confirms what many of us see. The notion that non hispanic people in Atherton don’t make traffic violations would be funny-if it were not so maddening.

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