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Winter Home & Garden Design IN THIS ISSUE JANUARY 28, 2011 VOLUME 19, NO. 4 650.964.6300 INSIDE: WEEKEND | PAGE 13 NASA accused of favoritism at Moffett “AIRGOOGLE” IS STILL MOFFETT’S ONLY PRIVATE PLANE OPERATION By Daniel DeBolt F DANIEL DEBOLT “AIRGOOGLE” A Boeing 767 owned by Google’s top three executives parked in front of Hangar 211 at NASA Ames Research Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Several of the executives’ smaller planes are parked in the background. LASD rejects flood basin SCHOOL BASIN WAS CRUCIAL TO MAJOR FLOOD PROTECTION PROJECT By Daniel DeBolt I n an unexpected move, on Monday night Los Altos School District board members rejected plans to construct a flood basin at Blach Middle School, halting a larger project that would protect 2,220 homes in Mountain View and Los Altos from floods. The board surprised Santa Clara Valley Water District officials by voting 4-1 against the Blach School basin, despite previous support INSIDE from a four-member majority. The board said that the 7-acre, 10-footdeep basin would prevent future sale or development of the school’s fields if it needs to expand in the future. The sole supporter, board member Tamara Logan, called that concern a “red herring” because the school district would probably never use the space for anything but athletic fields. Water District engineer Afshin Rouhani said the entire $40 million project — which includes three other flood basins — may now be scaled back, modified or killed altogether. An affordable alternative is to build a dam upstream near Lehigh cement quarry, which could impact wildlife and endangered red-legged frogs in the area, Rouhani said. It would complement some of the remaining flood basins and block water flow only during heavy storms. The move confirmed fears See FLOOD BASIN, page 7 our years after the surprise news that Google executives were allowed to base their private planes at Moffett Federal Airfield, there have been not been similar agreements made to use the airfield as officials had promised. Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page, co-founder Sergey Brin and chairman Eric Schmidt have the special privilege of flying in and out of Moffett Federal Airfield for business and pleasure, including trips to Tahiti, Gavin Newsom’s wedding in Montana and the Cannes Film festival. Their growing fleet of aircraft now includes at least one helicopter, two jumbo jets and a fighter jet. The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has issued a report criticizing Mountain View-based Google’s “cozy” relationship with the federal government, using the controversial deal for “AirGoogle” to use Moffett as the most visible example, and calling out NASA for playing favorites with Google on Moffett’s airfield. The report says that the privilege of landing at Moffett has been denied to others who came willing to pay for it, including a non-profit called Humanitarian Air Logistics (HAL). “It’s a sign of the times,” said Paul Asmus, president of Palo Alto-based HAL, in an interview with the Voice. “The wealthy get special treatment and the rest of us don’t. I’m fighting to create jobs for people, and these people (NASA and Google) sure weren’t helping. I wasted a year and a half” trying to base planes at Moffett. The plans would have been used to transport food and supplies to the world’s disaster zones, he said. Since the responsibility was dumped on them several years ago, NASA Ames has struggled to pay the $7 million a year to run the GOINGS ON 17 | MARKETPLACE 18 | MOVIES 16 | REAL ESTATE 20 | VIEWPOINT 11 Moffett airfield, even with the $1.3 million a year from the Google executives pay to park their planes there. “We will act responsibly and aggressively to meet that shortfall,” NASA Ames official Steve Zornetzer told the Mountain View City Council in 2007. “There will be other partnerships.” Favoritism at Moffett? The deal allowing the “Google jets” at Moffett has been called the “ultimate perk” for Silicon Valley executives, many of whom would be happy to pay for the convenience of a runway in the middle of Silicon Valley. Asmus knows at least one of them. He had partnered with a billionaire, See AIRGOOGLE, page 10 City leaders cool with Google shake-up By Daniel DeBolt W ith more businesses than ever targeting its customers, Google is aiming to get back some spark from its early days with co-founder Larry Page now taking the helm as CEO. The company’s 10-year CEO, 55-year-old Eric Schmidt, will step down and take the job of executive chairman. Cofounder Sergey Brin joins the two to continue to run the company as a “triumvirate,” See GOOGLE CEO, page 6

Mountain View Voice 01.28.2011 - Section 1

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