FALL 2010 OCTOBER 8, 2010 VOLUME 18, NO. 40 650.964.6300 INSIDE: WEEKEND | PAGE 15 Fall Home & Garden Design in this issue MountainViewOnline.com How would you spend $10 million downtown? COUNCIL CANDIDATES DEBATE HOUSING, HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN OLD MV By Daniel DeBolt I MICHELLE LE Michael Wilson, a teacher at Foothill’s Middle College, listens to a student’s analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self-Reliance.” Middle College engages restless teens’ minds By Nick Veronin T he 70 juniors and seniors from the Mountain ViewLos Altos and Palo Alto Unified high school districts don’t appear to be all that different from other kids their age. Some are outgoing, others shy, a few are sarcastic and, for the most part, they liberally pepper their sentences with the word “like.” What sets these students apart from the majority of their peers, according Middle College teachers Mike Wilson and Trish Lang- don, is that normal public high school was not working for them. Like, really not working. And so, they have enrolled in Middle College, a publicly funded alternative secondary school proSee MIDDLE COLLEGE, page 8 NASA’s potty problem — vandals By Daniel DeBolt N ASA has figured out how to make a toilet that astronauts can use in outer space, but down here on earth is another, messier story. The problem with a particular pair of bathrooms at NASA Ames Research Center has become so bad that Deputy Center Director Deb Feng sent an e-mail Friday to all 2,500 or so NASA employees in Mountain View about the “disturbing” vandalism, asking employees to call if they witness anything. “In Building 269, massive amounts of paper towels and toilet paper have purposely been placed in men’s toilets causing flooding in the hallway and creating an unsafe condition,” Feng’s e-mail said. The building is behind the NASA security gate, which means the culprit is likely a NASA employee or a student intern. INSIDE More bathroom vandalism is happening in building 244, Feng said, where both the men’s and women’s bathrooms were defaced with “objectionable graffiti.” The vandalism is costing NASA Ames thousands of dollars to clean up and “disrupts our work environment,” Feng writes. “We take these incidents very seriously and will take whatever lawful action is necessary to alleviate this problem,” her e-mail warns. Those “necessary actions” were questioned in an e-mail by an anonymous employee of NASA Ames who is concerned about two video cameras that have been pointed at the doors to the men’s bathrooms on the first and second floors of building 269, apparently to help identify suspects. “Is it legal?” the employee asked. “Is this also done at local businesses, such as Google and Hewlett Packard?” f the six candidates for City Council were given $10 million to improve Mountain View’s downtown, the area could end up with a subsidized grocery store, more park space, incentives for new retail stores, a revamped Civic Center plaza or tiny new “sidewalk parks,” depending on which one you asked. At Landels elementary school Monday night the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association asked the candidates what they would do if an “anonymous wealthy benefactor” gave Mountain View $10 million for downtown improvements. “Well, we have tried for years to get a grocery store downtown,” said mayor and incumbent Ronit Bryant. “If we could use the interest on the $10 million to open a grocery store, I would be interested.” Google employee Aaron Jabbari said he was “very much against” “throwing money” at certain types of businesses to attract them downtown, such as Safeway. For incumbent Jac Siegel the answer was easy. “Parks, parks, parks,” he said. He said the downtown is underserved by park space with only 2 acres of space for every 1,000 residents, when the city’s goal is 3 acres. Most everyone agreed that more park space is needed downtown. Waylonis wants small parks around downtown where people can sit down and have some lunch. Jabbari called for tiny parks placed on sidewalks, with tables and chairs that would encourage people to “sit down and play a game of chess, just like in Europe.” Bryant also mentioned the city’s GOINGS ON 20 | MARKETPLACE 21 | MOVIES 18 | REAL ESTATE 24 | VIEWPOINT 13 Civic Center plaza as needing some work to be more inviting. Incumbent Margaret-Abe Koga added that the money could be used to add diversity to the retailers downtown, such as a shoe store she thinks is missing. It could also provide a shuttle service for the whole city, she said. Loaded HSR questions The OMVNA chair Laura Lewis asked the candidates to describe three benefits of bringing highspeed rail to Mountain View, which Ronit Bryant and Jac Siegel refused to answer directly. The other candidates did. “It makes Mountain View even more of a regional center for employment,” Jabbari said, presumably about putting a high-speed rail station downtown. Google engineer Dan Waylonis See DEBATE, page 7 Now 21, Jabbari ducks out for a beer A fter a few questions at Monday night’s debate, City Council candidate Aaron Jab- Jabbari bari ducked out for what he called a “previous engagement” — a celebration of his 21st birthday, to which fellow candidate Greg David said, “Now you can have a beer!” Audience members were heard grumbling that the Google employee should have stayed for at least another half hour.