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LOCAL RESIDENTS participate in a project to tell the stories of World War II. Page 5


O C TO B E R 2 8 , 2 0 0 9

| VO L . 4 5 N O. 9

Plants, as

you’ve rarely seen them Menlo Park filmmaker takes the plants’ perspective in new PBS documentary. [SECTION 2]

W W W. T H E A L M A N AC O N L I N E . C O M

Are Fire District Policy’s Costing You Higher Insurance Premiums? The Insurance Safety Office, their Public Protection Classification program and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District The Insurance Safety Office (ISO) collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data using their Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). The ISO then assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPC) from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and class 10 indicates that the area’s fire suppression program doesn’t meet ISO’s minimum criteria. Virtually all U.S. insurers of home and business property use ISO’s PPC program to assess property policies. That’s because statistical data on insurance losses demonstrates the relationship between better fire protection, as measured by the PPC program, and lower fire losses. ISO statistics show that, per $1,000 of insured property, communities with the worst PPC ratings have fire losses two or more times as high as communities with the best PPC ratings. By classifying a community’s ability to suppress fires, ISO helps the communities evaluate their public fire-protection services. The program provides an objective, countrywide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment, and training. Agencies with the best PPC ratings secure lower fire insurance premiums for their communities by having better public protection. A community’s investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses. Insurance companies use PPC information to help establish fair premiums for fire insurance. Generally, lower premiums are in communities with better protection. Many communities use the PPC as a benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of their fireprotection services. The PPC program is also a tool that helps communities plan for their budget, and justify improvements. The ISO PPC program rates fire departments in three areas: 10% receiving and handling fire alarms, 50% fire department operations and 40% water supply. For more information on the ISO’s PPC program please visit their website at, or call an ISO mitigation specialist at 1-800-444-4554. The ISO has extensive information on more than 44,000 fire-response jurisdictions. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District is one of those jurisdictions. In 1987 the Fire District was given a Public Protection Classification from the ISO of 78.2% or PPC-3, just short of the 80% benchmark

necessary for the District to become a PPC-2. On June 1st, 2004 the ISO reevaluated the District and rated us at 70.99% or PPC-3, a 69.99% would have given us a PPC-4. What was disturbing to the firefighters of Menlo Park was that our Public Protection Classification (PPC) went form nearly a Class 2 to almost a Class 4 in seven years. Our rating was broken down in the following manner…


Maximum Credit

Credit Assigned

Receiving and Handling Fire Alarms



Fire Department



Water Supply



*Divergence Total Credit

-5.46% 100.00%


*Divergence is a reduction in credit to reflect a difference in the relative credit s for Fire Department and Water supply.

The Fire District’s current ISO Classification represents over a seven percent loss of credit assigned to our 1987 classification. The feature the District can most improve on is fire department. This feature includes: equipment, staffing, training, and geographic distribution of fire companies. Within the fire department feature, training can be best improved since it received a 0 out of a possible 10. This was due to the District not hitting training standards as well as not properly documenting those that we do hit.

departments in planning, budgeting for facilities, budgeting for equipment, and training; or as a tool used by insurance companies when they calculate your rates. The classification program is a source of pride for the firefighters that work for agencies that carry ISO Public Protection Classification 1. Fire agencies that carry that classification proudly display their accomplishment on the doors of their fire apparatus as well as on department letterhead. It was because of pride in doing our job, for our agency, and for the community we serve that the President of Menlo Park Firefighters put together a plan that would have taken the Menlo Park Fire Protection District from a PPC rating of nearly Class 4 to one that was well into Class 2. The plan could be implemented at no cost to the District. It merely utilizes one of the Fire District’s existing computer programs, known as Target Safety, to address the issues of missed training benchmarks and insufficient documentation of the benchmarks the District has achieved. The plan was first given to the District’s Training Chief and current Deputy Chief on May 23rd, 2008. Within two months the District had a new Training Chief and the plan was once again given to the new Training Chief on July 14th, 2008. It looked as though the new Training Chief was going to implement the plan, but he retired in late 2008. On February 2nd, 2009 the plan was again given to yet another Training Chief and to date the plan has not been implemented.

It is important to note that for the first 5.46% improvement we see in the fire department feature of our classification we will receive a 10.92% increase to our overall classification due to the 5.42% decrease in our PPC due to divergence. Improving our ability to reach specific training benchmarks and proper documentation of that fact would easily bring us up to a Class 2 Fire District.

What is troubling to the firefighters of Menlo Park is that our current fire administration has been aware of the plan to increase our ISO rating for over a year now and our current Fire Board knows nothing about it- as they have refused to speak with the firefighters of Menlo Park for 36 of the last 42 months.

After receiving the ISO report in 2004, our former Fire Chief Paul Wilson started to take actions that would have improved our ISO Classification. Unfortunately, the Fire District Board chose not to renew Chief Wilson’s contract. This was puzzling to the firefighters of Menlo Park because when the President of the Fire Board asked the firefighters of Menlo Park to vote to either support or reject a contract extension for Chief Wilson; we did, and 84% of our membership supported Paul Wilson and wanted to keep him as our Fire Chief.

Jack Nelson, Robert J. Silano and Jon M. Mosby are all aware of the potential for cost savings to our community associated with increasing our ISO Public Protection Classification. All three candidates support the concept and their commitment to the needs of our community has earned them our support in their campaigns for the Menlo Park Fire District Board. We respectfully ask that you do so as well.

The ISO’s Public Protection Classification is not just a tool that is used by fire

Please vote for Jack Nelson, Robert J. Silano and Jon M. Mosby for the position of Menlo Park Fire District Board Members on Tuesday November 3rd, 2009.

Menlo Park Firefighters Legislative Group (881024) P.O. Box 534 Menlo Park 94026 2 ■ The Almanac ■ October 28, 2009

Sacred Heart Schools

Where scholarship and values matter


This week’s news, features and community events.

PRESCHOOL & K: 650.322.0176 GRADES 1-8: 650.473.4011


Tours available for preschool - 5 (please call for an appointment) Open House for Grades 6-8 Sunday, November 1 at 1 p.m. Saturday, November 14 at 10 a.m. (registration required)

‘Fiddler’ in Woodside Twenty-five years after their arranged marriage, Tevye, left, asks Golde in a song, “Do You Love Me?” Tevye is played by Daniel Matis and Golde, by Claudia McCarley, in the Woodside Community Theatre’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Performing Arts Center at Woodside High School, 199 Churchill Ave., on several dates from Nov. 6 through Nov. 15. For details and ticket information, go to or call 529-4828.

GRADES 9-12: 650.473.4006 Open House Sunday, October 25 at 1 p.m. Sunday, November 22 at 1 p.m. (no registration required)

150 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton, CA 94027 Inquiries and reservations:

Photo by Barbara Wood



■ Atherton city manager wins 10 percent pay raise. Page 12

■ Local residents participate in a project to tell the stories of World War II. Page 5

Menlo Park


■ City Council’s recent decisions on development projects underscore need for green policy. Page 5 ■ Reconsiderations, accusations, recriminations, insinuations — just another council meeting. Page 8

■ George Baier achieves Eagle Scout rank at age 12. Page 7

Schools ■ Voters have choice of change or continuity in Sequoia high school district election. Page 9 ■ Want to serve on the Las Lomitas school board? Deadline to apply is Nov. 6. Page 12

Also Inside Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Obituaries . . . . . . . . . . . Police Calls . . . . . . . . . . Viewpoint . . . . . . . . . . .

Sports Viewpoint


■ Elections: Three pages of endorsement letters start on Page 16

She has completed three marathons and loves to hike and snowshoe when she visits her family in Oregon.

■ Vikings Pop Warner football teams wrap up regular season games. Page 13

She encourages her students to be enthusiastic in every endeavor and loves to see their enthusiasm radiate to other students. She hopes all her students carry their excitement and passion into the world to help those who are in need of their gifts.

On the cover 24 16 14 15 16

“The Botany of Desire,” a new PBS documentary produced and directed by Menlo Park resident Michael Schwarz, will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, on KQED-TV. The documentary is an adaptation of a book by the same name by Michael Pollan, and looks at botanical domestication from the plants’ perspectives. Cover photos, from top to bottom: a red delicious apple, photo by John Chater; a flaming parrot tulip, photo by Ruth Dundas; a marijuana bud, courtesy of Kikim Media; and a potato, courtesy of PhotoSpin. See Section 2.

She accredits her parents and family for inspiring her to see the bright side of any situation. Her favorite quote is one from Morrie Schwartz, “The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”


CALLING ON THE ALMANAC The Almanac Editorial offices are at 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Classified ads: Newsroom: Newsroom fax: Advertising: Advertising fax:

854-0858 854-2690 854-0677 854-2626 854-3650

■ E-mail news, information, obituaries and photos (with captions) to: ■ E-mail letters to the editor to:

To request free delivery, or stop delivery, of The Almanac in zip code 94025, 94027, 94028 and the Woodside portion of 94062, call 854-2626.

THE ALMANAC (ISSN 1097-3095 and USPS 459370) is published every Wednesday by Embarcadero Publishing Co., 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 940256558. Periodicals Postage Paid at Menlo Park, CA and at additional mailing offices. Adjudicated a newspaper of general circulation for San Mateo County, The Almanac is delivered free to homes in Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside. Subscriptions for $60 per year or $100 per 2 years are welcome. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025-6558. Copyright ©2009 by Embarcadero Publishing Co., All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

Admissions Office 302 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 94028 650/851-8223 ■


for Prospective Students and Families

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 at 10 a.m. For information and to R.S.V.P. contact Admissions at 650. 851. 8223

October 28, 2009 ■ The Almanac ■ 3


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4 ■ The Almanac ■ October 28, 2009



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City Council’s recent decisions on development projects underscore need for green policy ■ The council has been inconsistent in setting “green” requirements for recent development projects. By Sean Howell Almanac Staff Writer


wo recent approvals of development projects by Menlo Park’s City Council — and the headaches that ensued when council members tried to figure out how to craft green building

regulations from the dais — have made the city’s need for a “green” building code very clear. But setting climate change-related policy when it comes to new development projects won’t be easy. In approving an 110,000-square-foot development for 1300 El Camino Real at their Oct. 6 meeting, council members stipulated that the operation of the structures be “carbon neutral.” City staff members and the site developer say they’re still trying to figure out exactly


what that means; Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson and the city attorney spent several minutes hashing out the exact wording at a subsequent council meeting. In approving a two-story, 10,100square foot office building for 1706 El Camino Real at its Oct. 20 meeting, the City Council opted not to impose the same requirement.

“These things are tough to do up here on the last, final approval,” Mayor Heyward Robinson said. “It was OK on 1300, that was a bigger project, but I want to keep this one fairly clean.” Ms. Fergusson dissented in the vote, in large part because she wanted the council to stipulate that the operation of the buildings be carbon-neutral. While current council members have repeatedly stated their commitment to See BUILD, page 8

Lew Southern of Menlo Park, left, and Lee Boucher of Portola Valley are among the area residents who participated in the World War II stories project. Photo by Shawn Fender

Stories of war and resistance By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ew Southern and Lee Boucher no doubt have many good stories to tell of mutual experiences and adventures stemming from their 40-year friendship, begun when they first met at a Menlo Park Newcomers gathering. But the stories of their lives decades before they met — during the years of their early adulthood, when the world was wracked by

war — couldn’t have been more different. The lives of both men, now in their mid-80s, were profoundly disrupted by the advent of World War II. For Mr. Southern, now a Menlo Park resident, that meant shipping off for Italy and witnessing wrenching events that would never fade from memory. It was in the Italian mountainside that the 19-year-old Southern was seriously wounded; he would spend the next two

War stories project culminates in video presentation after nine-year effort

years in Army hospitals. Portola Valley resident Lee Boucher chose another route during the war years: He attained conscientious objector status, and spent more than three years in camps in this country, first in service camps designed to allow COs to perform tasks for the public good, then in a government camp that housed COs who refused to cooperate with the government in protest of war and conscription.

The two men are among 42 area residents who tell their wartime stories in the video presentation, “Remembering World War II: First-Person Accounts,” which will be premiered on Sunday, Nov. 1, at Foothill College. The program is the culmination of a nine-year effort, begun as a “life stories” writing course led by Sheila Dunec, a Foothill See WAR STORIES, page 10

October 28, 2009 N The Almanac N5


Menlo Park eyes tobacco ordinance Portola Valley school board Should Menlo Park ban smoking in apartment and condominium units? In parks and gardens? Everywhere within city limits? Those are some of the questions Menlo Park’s City Council will take up in a study session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. The meeting will be held in the council chambers, in the Civic Center complex between Laurel and Alma streets. The council will also discuss the prospect of adopting a licensing requirement for tobacco retailers, after El Concilio of San Mateo County lobbied it to do so. Menlo Park resident Barbara


Franklin has been stumping for a ban on smoking in multi-unit residences in the city for almost a year; the council is taking up the issue at her request.

Look! Another clothing boutique No, you didn’t mistakenly pick up an old copy of The Almanac. It seems a new clothing boutique is opening every month in Menlo Park, and you can add another to the list. A new retail clothing shop, Look,

picks Woodside Priory dean as new member of board

held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 23 to celebrate its opening at 642 Santa Cruz Ave. It’s different from other boutiques that have opened recently in one respect: It will sell men’s clothes, along with women’s. The Chamber of Commerce describes the styles offered as “casual� and “trendy.� For those of you still keeping score at home, this is (by our count) the seventh new clothing retailer to open since late spring in the downtown area. No fewer than 11 downtown shops now sell women’s clothing.

By Andrea Gemmet Almanac Staff Writer


cott Parker, the dean of students at Woodside Priory private school, is the newest board member for the Portola Valley School District. At the school board’s Oct. 21 meeting, Mr. Parker was unanimously selected from a pool of three applicants. “This was a hard choice. There were three really good candidates,� said Superintendent Anne Campbell. The other applicants were Maren Christensen, a school volunteer and a president of the Ormondale Parent-Teacher Organization, and Robert Brownell, a venture capitalist and first-year resident of Portola Valley. Portola Valley has a vacancy on the school board because only two candidates filed to run for the three available seats up for election on November 3. The election was cancelled due to the lack of a contest, and the school board opted to seek applicants to fill the third open seat for a four-year term.

Portola Valley: Redesign of Ford Field on council agenda rendering, go to ygu3poy. The council meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road. The council also will consider forming an ad hoc committee to come up with a plan for the six acres of open space known as the “Springdown parcel,� just south

of Town Center. The committee will examine questions such as whether to allow benches or tables, or a demonstration organic garden? The council will be seeking volunteers from the general public and the town’s standing committees.

Harvest Fest Saturday at Allied Arts

Wu (Chinese brush painting), Joy Lily (hand-painted scarves) and Cyndee Netwick (decorated gourds). Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children. An adult ticket includes an inscribed glass, three beer tastings and a bratwurst or frankfurter. Lunch will be available at Cafe Primavera, the new Allied Arts guild restaurant. Proceeds will benefit the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and

The Portola Valley Town Council will hear a presentation on a redesign of the facilities surrounding the baseball diamond at Ford Field at the corner of Alpine Road and Westridge Drive. Proposed changes include a paved parking lot, bathrooms and a snack shack. To see a

Bratwurst, beer and holiday crafts will be featured at the Allied Arts Guild’s first Harvest Fest on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The new event is taking the place of Pumpkin Day and Creative Arts Day. Gary and Jena Breitbard and the Pacific Coast Ragtime Orchestra will provide live entertainment during the day. Children’s activi-


ties will include musical story time with the Menlo Park Library and a special craft area. Among the artisans taking part in Harvest Fest are Larry Cazes (glass), Marcie Maffei (pottery), Neil Mindel (prints and jewelry), Linda Logan (watercolors), Lillian

the Friends of Allied Arts. Allied Arts Guild is located at 75 Arbor Road in Menlo Park. For more information, call 325-2450.

St. Raymond School wins trivia contest Students at St. Raymond School in Menlo Park won this

Mr. Parker has been with Woodside Priory since 2000, serving as a teacher and department chair prior to becoming dean of students. He earned a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Montana State University. He has a child at Ormondale, and another in preschool, said Ms. Campbell. “He was the best fit for the board because of his Ormondale connection,� she said, explaining that the other board members have older children in Corte Madera, the district’s grade 4-8 school, and they liked the idea of a member who could represent the families of K-3 students at Ormondale. Mr. Parker, along with incumbents Ray Villareal and Bill Youstra, will be seated on the board on Dec. 4, when their terms in office will officially start. Ms. Campbell said. Incumbent Donald Collat, the board president, chose not to run for another term on the school board. A

year’s annual trivia contest and scavenger hunt sponsored by Serra High School in San Mateo. Thirty St. Raymond students, grades 5 through 8, and two teachers, Sister Ann McGowan and Patrick Sullivan, took part in the six-day event. The Serra trivia hunt, held Oct. 14-19, originated 25 years ago. St. Raymond has taken part in the hunt for the past five years, coming in second several times.

Halloween parade, trick-or-treating in Menlo Park on Saturday

International School of the Peninsula &DPMFJOUFSOBUJPOBMFEFMB1Ă?OJOTVMFtŃ™ŕ§­ŕ­žáˆ­á?ąŕ¨Ż

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We hold the monopoly on the best pizza in town. PA L

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1001 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (650) 324-3486 989 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (650) 328-1556 • 227 First Street, Los Altos (650) 941-9222

Menlo Park’s annual Halloween costume parade will take place at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. The parade starts at Burgess Recreation Center, 700 Alma St. in Menlo Park, and continues to Fremont Park, corner of University and Santa Cruz Avenues. After the parade, children may trick or treat from 1 to 3 p.m. in downtown Menlo Park stores that display trick-or-treat signs on their doors. There will be a magic show and crafts at Fremont Park. The parade is sponsored by the city of Menlo Park Community Services Department and the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 330-2200.


George Baier achieves Eagle rank at 12 George Baier of Troop 64 in Portola Valley was recently honored at a Court of Honor for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He was 12 when he passed his Eagle Board of Review last November, appearing to be one of the youngest scouts in the organization’s 100-year George Baier history to receive the honor, according to the Troop 64 parents’ committee. For his leadership project, George oversaw the design and construction of a new tool and supply storage compartment system for Deer Hollow

Farm, a working farm at the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. The project, which he says involved 215 hours of planning and construction, was done in cooperation with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. George, now a freshman at Menlo-Atherton High School, remains active in Troop 64, earning two Eagle Palm awards since achieving Eagle rank. He has earned 31 merit badges and plans to continue working on merit badges and taking part in other scout activities. Troop 64 is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Menlo Park and has 35 active members. Kirt Williams is scoutmaster.

Bennett receives distinguished alumnus award Stephen Bennett of Woodside received a Distinguished Business Alumnus Award from the Wisconsin School of Business as part of the school’s homecoming gala Oct. 16 in Madison, Wisconsin. Mr. Bennett, an angel investor and former president of Intuit, Stephen Bennett is one of four business school alumni honored. He graduated from the school in 1976. Mr. Bennett joined Intuit as president and CEO

in 1999, after a 23-year career with General Electric, where he managed complex organizations, from consumer appliances to financial services as president and CEO of GE Capital’s e-Business and GE Capital Vendor Financial Services. During his eight years at Intuit, revenue grew to $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2007, from less than $1 billion in fiscal 2000. He is currently an angel investor and board member for companies such as Sun Microsystems, Qualcomm, Intuit, and two private companies: Sojern and Nemean Networks, where he serves as chairman.

R EAL E STATE Q&A by Monica Corman

Third Quarter Results Q: The economy is said to be miniums are still slower than in the showing signs of improvement. Is previous two years and prices are not this true of home sales as well? as firm as they are for single family homes. This market usually lags A: Sales of single family homes behind that for single family homes in the Mid-Peninsula increased more and will not improve until the single during the 3rd Quarter of 2009 than family market is more vibrant and during either of the previous two prices begin to rise. quarters. The number of sales during Mortgage rates are still very the 3rd Quarter of this year is roughly good and there are more jumbo equal to or in some cases greater than loans available with more flexible those in the two previous years. Prices terms than at any time in the past have stabilized and the volatility seen year. If you are a buyer, you should earlier in the year has stopped. In spite take advantage of lower prices and of this, prices are still down from the mortgage rates because rates are highs of 2007 and 2008 and probably likely to go up next year. If you will be for some time. are planning to sell your home you Sales of townhomes and condo- should do so before rates rise. For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property.

Tim Brady named to board of Woodland School Tim Brady of Portola Valley is the newest member of Woodland School’s board of director. “As an entrepreneur, community leader, and Woodland School parent, Tim Brady brings a wealth of talent and experience to our board of directors, “ says John Ora, head of the independent Por- Tim Brady tola Valley elementary school. Mr. Brady is the CEO of Questbridge, an Internet-based nonprofit organization that connects high-achieving, low-income students with top

colleges and universities. He previously spent eight years at Yahoo!, where he held several positions, the last of which was chief product officer. As Yahoo!’s third employee, he played a key role in its business development. Prior to working at Yahoo!, Mr. Brady spent three years with Motorola in Tokyo. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard University. Woodland School, founded in 1981, is an independent, co-educational pre-school through eighthgrade school, with approximately 260 students. It is located at 360 La Cuesta Drive in Ladera.

Woodside’s Village Pub restaurant rates a Michelin star The Village Pub in Woodside is one of 34 restaurants in the Bay Area to receive one star from Michelin’s 2010 San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Guide, according to the guide’s Web site. It is also one of only three restaurants south of San Francisco to be so honored. The others are Chez TJ in Mountain View and The Plumed Horse in Saratoga. One star means “a very good restaurant in its category.” Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville remains the only three-star restaurant in the San Francisco area guide. This is the second year for the Pub’s star rating. The restaurant has been a Woodside institution since it was first opened by Ralph and Barbara Oswald in 1958. It was sold to Tim Stannard in 1999. The Pub,

part of the Bacchus group, includes Mark Sullivan as partner and Dmitry Elperin as chef.

Cooking class For those who might like to cook like a one-star chef, Mr. Elperin is giving a Thanksgiving cooking class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Pub, 2967 Woodside Road in Woodside. Chef Elperin will demonstrate how to brine and roast a perfect turkey, as well as prepare side dishes, including caramelized brussels sprouts with bacon and bourbon pecan pie. After class, members will sit down to a familystyle meal of the dishes they helped create, paired with special wines. The cost is $100, exclusive of tax. Call Ashley Muggli at 851-6844 to reserve.

Mid-Peninsula High School FALL OPEN HOUSE Saturday, October 24 10:30-12pm Choose a small, caring, innovative high school

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1340 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025-1516 (650) 321-1991 October 28, 2009 ■ The Almanac ■ 7


Reconsiderations, accusations, recriminations, insinuations... just another council meeting By Sean Howell Almanac Staff Writer


n a City Council term that has enjoyed its share of strange, puzzling, and temperamental behavior by City Council members, the Oct. 20 meeting might have taken the cake in terms of entertainment value. Squabbling between Mayor Heyward Robinson and “minority” council member John Boyle has been a regular staple of Mr. Robinson’s term as mayor, but it was council members Andy Cohen and Rich Cline who got into the testy exchange at last week’s meeting. Mr. Cohen asked the council to reconsider its unanimous tacit approval at a prior meeting to keep the three-year, $1.2-million downtown planning process on schedule, saying he believed the city needed to do more to incorporate feedback from downtown business and property owners. “My concern is, unless an effort is made now to bring these people in, it’s not going to be successful,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been told, and that’s what I believe.” His council colleagues repeated their assertions that they plan to involve downtown “stakeholders” in the ongoing process. They say they have been careful to maintain a balance between business interests and residents all along, and don’t think recent criticisms betoken a major flaw in the process.


Mr. Cline offered a lengthy defense of that process, which he described as the most thorough in the city’s history. He reminded Mr. Cohen that he (Mr. Cohen) had endorsed it at every stage. “I understand the populist position you want to take, it’s very attractive,” Mr. Cline said near the beginning of his comments. He concluded by saying: “I don’t know if saying, ‘we need to stop this and be a champion for the people,’ is the right thing to do. That’s what I’m saying.” “Ok, I hear you,” Mr. Cohen said. “And it’s not the first time I’ve heard you say I’m taking a populist position. Or trying to be a martyr. Or a hero. And frankly, maybe you’re a good politician. Maybe this is all an act. I don’t know. I don’t know what you really think.” Mr. Cline: “Ditto, Andy. Ditto.” Mr. Cohen: “See? That’s what I mean. You can do your thing, and you’re doing it. All four of you are doing it.” A moment later, another combative exchange with Mr. Cline ensued, with Mr. Cohen accusing him of trying to twist his words. Mr. Cohen: “You tell me I’m stopping the process. I’m saying to you — and, it’s OK, you can twist my words, you’ve done it a number of times.” Mr. Cline: “It’s bordering now

on this personal diatribe. My point was —” Mr. Cohen: “You’re bordering on personal.” Mr. Cohen went on to say that he felt council members were pressuring him to withdraw his motion to reconsider, “so that you don’t have to face this issue. But I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna let you vote it out, vote it down.” Not the first time

It wasn’t the first time in the past year Mr. Cohen has accused his council colleagues of ignoring dissenters and shying away from making tough decisions, though he generally makes those complaints in interviews, rather than on the dais. He accused council members of willfully disregarding the severity of the recession, and of not listening to community members regarding a decision to build a new gymnasium — then voted in favor of the budget, and abstained in the gym vote. It also wasn’t the first time council members have publicly questioned each other’s motives. Mr. Cohen singled out Councilman John Boyle in an interview as an enemy of open government when the council refused to reconsider a decision on meeting minutes. The usually conciliatory Mr. Cline later responded in a public meeting by calling Mr. Cohen a martyr. Mr. Robinson has asked Mr.

Say what? In the face of an accusation by City Council member Andy Cohen that his council colleagues were ignoring exhortations by business interests for more influence in the downtown planning process, council members Rich Cline and John Boyle tried to assure business interests that they were being heard. So much so that, in one stretch, Mr. Cline said their input is “in the hat” no fewer than seven times. “That input is in. It’s in. It’s in the hat. It’s in there. I can hear it,” he said at one point, continuing: “I have it all in the hat. I know we all have it in the hat. We have it in the hat. It’s in the hat.” Emphasizing that council members were sympathetic to the criticisms raised, despite Mr. Cohen’s allegations, Mr. Boyle used some formulation of “further engage” or “engage

Boyle to explain his votes several times, implying that his positions were irresponsible. After one such occasion, Mr. Cohen passed Mr. Boyle a note, saying he thought Mr. Robinson was out of line. The finger-pointing often extends past the dais. Mr. Robinson and Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson have taken repeated jabs at former councilwoman Lee Duboc. Mr. Robinson once suggested the city give this reporter special math tutoring sessions, accusing The Almanac of mis-

as much as possible” four times in three sentences. “It is our intent to engage you further, and to find a way to ensure that you are engaged as much as possible, while at the same time respecting the process we’ve had to date,” he said. Did the message get across? “As downtown property owners, we want to thank council member Andy Cohen, the only voice on the City Council who not only heard and respected the concerns of downtown businesses, but also was bold enough to offer a suggestion that could have brought all parties together,” a lobbying group made up of business interests wrote in a letter to The Almanac. Aside from asking the council to reconsider its decision to keep the project on schedule, Mr. Cohen did not offer a specific suggestion.

representing financial numbers to make the city look bad and win readers. On a council where debates often play out in separate speeches, council members took a familiar approach at the Oct. 20 meeting: letting Mr. Cohen have his say, then moving to a vote. “I will say, as to the merits of what we’re actually voting on tonight, I’ve heard nothing up here that I would consider new information that I didn’t have last week, when I made that vote,” Mr. Robinson said. A

Development decisions underscore need for green policy BUILD

New policy?

continued from page 5

In January, the council is scheduled to discuss adopting the state’s green building code. That code will become mandatory for all development projects in late 2010, according to Community Development Director Arlinda Heineck. The code sets standards for water use and greenhouse gas emissions, but it does not call for carbon neutrality — the condition the council imposed on the 1300 El Camino Real project. If the city wants to set its own code, “it would take some research to look at what other options are out there, both the beneficial and adverse impacts of them,” she said. Even a demanding green building code would not regulate greenhouse gases generated by new traffic, which typically

addressing the issue of climate change, they have not set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Nor have they discussed setting policies related to new real estate development projects, perhaps the arena where the city can make the most impact in terms of climate change. “Menlo Park has not set a mandate for developers to reduce the emissions their projects generate. Shouldn’t we do that now?” Mitch Slomiak, head of the volunteer Green Ribbon Citizens’ Committee, said in an interview. “Once the buildings are already in place, it’s much harder to do so.”

8 N The Almanac NOctober 28, 2009

accounts for the great majority of emissions associated with a single project. About 86 percent of the projected greenhouse gas emissions for the 1300 El Camino Real project will come from vehicles going to and from the site, according to the environmental impact report. Despite the council’s carbon-neutral specification, the project will increase annual emissions by 1.4 percent citywide over 2005 levels. “We can build green all day long, I think it’s a good thing to do ... but the transportation impacts are a real challenge to mitigate, because in general, they’re things that involve multiple jurisdictions,” Mayor Robinson said at the Oct. 20 meeting. “They’re regional, if not broader, issues.” Mr. Slomiak suggested the

city require developers to offset climate impacts by either funding projects to reduce emissions elsewhere in the city, or buying annual carbon offset credits through a PG&E program. While the City Council could impose additional “green” requirements as a condition of approval for projects that come before it, doing so on an ad hoc basis would be dangerous, Mr. Slomiak warned. “When climate change gets thrown into the fray in politically controversial decisions, it’s awkward,” he said, noting that it can be convenient for people to wave the flag of climate change when they oppose a project on other grounds. “If Menlo Park had guidelines in place, it would be cut and dried.” Former council member Paul Collacchi sent a letter to the city

in September, urging the council to set a policy before it considers David Bohannon’s proposed “Menlo Gateway” office/hotel project in east Menlo Park, slated for a council decision in spring 2010. The environmental impact report for that project estimates that it would cause citywide greenhouse gas emissions to rise by 3 to 4.5 percent over 2005 levels — the bulk of that from transportation to and from the site. Getting a policy in place before then will be a tall order. For the city to even set a threshold of “significance” on greenhouse gas emissions, as it relates to environmental laws, would be a serious undertaking, Ms. Heineck said. And the council has not asked city staff to do so. “It’s not a project for us right now,” she said. A


Voters have choice of change or continuity in Sequoia high school district election By Dave Boyce


Almanac Staff Writer


he Nov. 3 election in the Sequoia Union High School District could be a call for change on how the school board handles such hot issues as charter schools. Or not. From among a pool of some 120,000 registered voters in the Sequoia district, those who do vote — a low turnout is expected — will choose two new trustees to serve on the five-member school board. Eight candidates are running to replace retiring trustees Sally Stewart and Gordon Lewin. Four of those candidates — Chris Thomsen, Virginia Chang Kiraly, Bob Ferrando and Alan Sarver — have higher profiles, in part because of the endorsements they’ve received and their differences on charter schools. These four have also raised at least $1,000 for their campaigns and must submit finance reports to the San Mateo County Elections Office. The four other candidates are Noria Zasslow, Jacquie Wallace Greene, Beth Injasoulian and Nohema Fernandez. (All candidates are listed in the order set by the randomized alphabet prepared by the Elections Office.) Considering the four higher profile candidates, what might the different combinations of candidates bring to the board? The Congenial Colleagues Scenario: Ms. Chang Kiraly and Mr. Sarver can expect hearty welcomes if elected. Both received the endorsements of the five board members, including three who will be there for another two years: Don Gibson, Olivia Martinez and Lorraine Rumley. Mr. Sarver has significant institutional backing from the district’s teachers union, the San Mateo County trade unions, and the county Democratic party. (The teachers have also endorsed Ms. Greene. Ms. Chang Kiraly, a former Republican candidate for the state Assembly, has spoken admiringly about merit pay, an issue that teachers unions tend to oppose.) Mr. Sarver and Ms. Chang Kiraly are apparently also on good terms with Superintendent Pat Gemma, for whom they said they traveled to Sacramento earlier this year to speak against a charter for Everest Public High School. Everest opened in August in Redwood City despite fierce opposition from

Mr. Gemma and a 4-1 majority of the board, and is now in a court battle with the district. Both candidates say they want more communication with charter schools. Mr. Sarver talks up the district’s successes and differs from the other three major candidates in not pushing for tougher analysis of district budgets, an idea the current board has also not supported. The Lone Voice Scenario: Mr. Thomsen or Mr. Ferrando may find themselves in a minority of one on some issues if elected with Mr. Sarver. While they distance themselves from a taint of singleissue advocacy with respect to charter schools, Mr. Thomsen and Mr. Ferrando are unique in that they both have a child in Summit Preparatory Charter High School. Mr. Thomsen also spoke in favor of a charter for Everest before the county Board of Education. Both men have said they want to dissect the district budget, and prepare many more students for four-year college. Both would be assertive on considering some charter school teaching methods for comprehensive schools such as Menlo-Atherton and Woodside high schools. Mr. Thomsen said in an interview that a one-person minority scenario is something he plans

to think about, and noted that he’s spoken about it with Menlo Park Councilman John Boyle, who is regularly by himself on council votes. Mr. Ferrando said such circumstances would simply stiffen his resolve to advocate for better communication, including with charter schools, and budgets that are easily analyzed. “It’s going to be more challenging to convince the (board) that we need to open up and have more communication. If I keep hammering away at that,” he said, “maybe it will sink in.” The Bloc for Change Scenario: If voters choose Mr. Thomsen and Mr. Ferrando, a coalition would seem a natural outcome. But while a tag-team of two could generate headlines, effecting the changes they seek would require three votes. Of the board members whose current terms extend to 2011, only Ms. Martinez voted in favor of a charter for Everest in September 2008, citing the school’s support in the community. (Everest had 325 applicants in March for its initial 100 seats, while sister school Summit Prep had 500, school officials said.) With Mr. Thomsen and Mr. Ferrando on the board (they have campaigned together and appear to share ideas for changing district policies and procedures), Ms. Martinez could be the pivotal vote.



How much the candidates have raised Following are the highlights of the campaign finance statements filed by the candidates at the San Mateo County Elections Office covering the 2009 calendar year. To read the reports yourself, go to the Elections Office at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo. ■ Chris Thomsen of Menlo Park. Total raised: $10,359, including $9,859 in cash and $500 in loans. Significant local contributions: $1,000 from Bob Adams of Portola Valley, who is a board member of Summit Preparatory Charter High School. ■ Virginia Chang Kiraly of unincorporated Menlo Park. Total raised: $15,298, including $9,319 in cash, $1,479 in loans and $4,500 in non-monetary gifts. Significant local contributions:

$500 each from Ronald W. Shepherd of Menlo Park, Stephen P. Nachtsheim of Atherton and John MacDonald of Woodside, and $250 from Atherton Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis. ■ Bob Ferrando of Atherton. Total raised: $3,295 in cash. Significant local contributions: $1,000 from Kurt Jaggers of Portola Valley, whose wife Sue Jaggers was a member of the board of directors of the foundation associated with Summit Preparatory Charter High School. ■ Alan Sarver of Belmont. Total raised: $14,695, including $8,795 in cash, $5,500 in loans and $400 in nonmonetary gifts. Significant local contributions: $500 from Colleen Tate of Portola Valley.

October 28, 2009 N The Almanac N9


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Local stories of war and resistance WAR STORIES


continued from page 5

College instructor who has offered the course for many years at the Menlo Park Library and in Ladera. The program, which begins at 1 p.m., also includes a display of photos, letters and documents, and music from the period. Many of the war stories participants are expected to be present for the screening and a recep-

Why Menlo School? Come Find Out.

Years in the making

The idea of videotaping dramatic readings of the war stories evolved as Ms. Dunec, program writers, and supporters such as the late Al Jacobs, a Menlo College professor whose expertise included theater and literature, worked to weave portions of written stories together for a live stage presentation. Gradually, the project was seen as an opportunity to introduce high school students to videotaped first-person accounts of a war they typically would read about in a textbook. Ms. Dunec says one of her main goals in leading the project is to give a voice to those who lived through the pain and hardship of the war, and to keep their stories alive in hopes that

future world conflicts might be avoided. Mr. Boucher is the only conscientious objector who participated in the project. But there are others who did not experience the front lines of combat who tell their stories in the video, including nurses and other medical professionals, war brides, support personnel, Holocaust survivors, and Americans whose racial background led to abuse and discrimination, but who nonetheless served heroically. Witness to genocide

Sophie Stallman of Ladera was a high school student in Warsaw, Poland, when she and her fellow students were ordered to report See WAR STORIES, next page


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10 N The Almanac NOctober 28, 2009

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NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Planning Commission of the Town of Portola Valley will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the housing element of the town's general plan on November 18, 2009 at 7:30 p.m., at the Historic Schoolhouse in the Town Center, 765 Portola Road, Portola Valley, California. The proposed amendments include four significant changes to town policy as follows: facilitation of approval process for some second units, allowance of emergency shelters at religious institutions, allowance of residential facilities for six or fewer people by right in residential areas (as required by the state) and consideration of a housing impact fee to be used for affordable housing. Other changes are intended to implement the housing element and do not represent changes in housing policy. Interested parties are urged to review a copy of the plan at Portola Valley Town Hall. The Planning Commission will consider all evidence, written and oral pertaining to the proposed amendments. All interested persons are invited to appear before the Planning Commission to be heard at the time and place mentioned above. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a proposed negative declaration regarding the above mentioned general plan amendments has been prepared. The Planning Commission of the Town of Portola Valley will consider the proposed negative declaration at its meeting on November 18, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the Historic Schoolhouse in the Town Center, 765 Portola Road, Portola Valley, California. The review period for the negative declaration will extend to November 16, 2009 and all interested persons are invited to submit comments in writing so that they are received at Town Hall no later than November 16, 2009. Copies of the proposed negative declaration are available at Portola Valley Town Hall, 765 Portola Road, Portola Valley, California. Portola Valley Town Hall is open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. Date:

October 22, 2009

Leslie A. Lambert Planning Manager


WAR STORIES continued from previous page

to the Jewish Ghetto to work. They were to gradually replace Jewish workers “who were to be ‘resettled,’” Ms. Stallman writes in her war story contribution. “We knew exactly where the resettlement was,” she continues. “Recently Oswiecim’s crematoriums were sending more smoke than ever into the skies.” Ms. Stallman’s girlhood experience in the factory includes witnessing civilians shot in the street outside the building, and watching with heavy heart as more and more Jews in the factory were forced to join a “new column of ghost-like people ... lining up on command and walking to their death on command.” She writes with deep affection of Helen, who was kept on for a time to oversee the workers in Ms. Stallman’s factory hall — and with great sorrow of the day Helen, too, was taken away. She concludes her story: “It was 59 years ago. I never forgot that day, and the beautiful Jewish girl named Helen, and I am still crying.” Lessons of war

Mr. Boucher ended up spending extra time in a camp during the war because, while being a conscientious objector was allowed if the CO agreed to work in service camps, he chose a more difficult course mid-way: “I decided to be a non-cooperator. That was my protest against conscription,” he writes. That decision led to a transfer to the “hard core government camp” at Minersville, in the California Trinity Alps. It was the same camp where Roy Kepler, founder of Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park, spent many of his wartime days. In his story, Mr. Boucher quotes President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a 1953 speech: “Every gun that’s made, every

warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. “This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Although Mr. Southern took a course different from his friend, Mr. Boucher, he is no fan of war. In his story, he recalls the words of General George Patton: “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge — it brings out all that is best. It removes all that is base.” Mr. Southern acknowledges that he “did see examples of ‘the best in men’ — courage and concern, with tenderness for injured soldiers and devastated civilians, but I can’t say, ‘It removes all that is base.’ In my limited war experience, both good and bad qualities seem to get magnified.” He writes that perhaps, in the history of the world, “we have probably needed people like General Patton. ... But I would like to see the day when we would stop needing and stop breeding the kind of mind-set and value systems that men like him represent. “That mind-set has been useful in fighting wars, but it is also instrumental in starting them.” A

N INFORMAT ION “Remembering World War II,” a video presentation, begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, at Foothill College, on El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills, just off Interstate 280. Admission is free, but seating is limited and tickets are required. For tickets, call 949-6965.

Training fair aims to help job-seekers A training resource fair will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, at 555 Marshall St. in Redwood City. The event is hosted by PeninsulaWorks, the career centers operated by San Mateo County Human Services Agency. The fair will provide jobseekers with information and tools to access federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds for short-term vocational train-

ing. Mini-orientations will walk participants through the steps to qualify for funding and access other job-related sources. PeninsulaWorks training providers will talk about the types of training and classes available through the special funding. For more information on the Training Resource Fair, visit www.StimulusatWork. org.

Join us in Voting Yes On Measures: P– to retain the current lower 4.5% rate Q– to reauthorize revenue for police services, roads, playing fields and trails R– to reauthorize revenue for purchase and preservation of open space These are NOT new taxes or a tax increase; they are a continuation of the taxes that have safeguarded Portola Valley’s fiscal health and Open Space for years.

(Partial List) 10/22/2009

Jeff Aalfs Rebecca Akers Daniel Alegria Margaret Amara Barbara Anderson Bob Augsburger Jean Austin Tom Austin Joan Barbour Kathleen Bennett Daniel Bergeson Diana Bergeson Chris Berka Chistopher Berka Caitlin Berka Nan L. Blackledge Evangelyn Boice John Boice Thomas Borden Connie Borders Lee Boucher Jane Bourne James Boyce Michael Bray Mimi Breiner Shelly Breiner Craig Brown Andrew C. Browne Bundy Browne Phillip Browne Susan K. Browne Chris Buja Scott Carey Alan Carpenter Betsy Carpenter Bill Clark Deirdre Clark Jeff Clark David Colburn

Don Collat Dottie Comstock George Comstock Kirke Comstock Gary Cooper Sue Crane Bonnie Crater Marisa Currier Ed Davis Lynne Davis Maryann Derwin Margaret DeStaebler Ted Driscoll Lorrie Duval Jean Eastman Philip Eastman Jerry Elkind Linda Elkind Joy Elliott Sylvia Elliott Susan Evans Marian Everett William Fanning Ellie Ferrari Nancy Fiene Tom Fiene Joan Finnigan Chrisi Fleming Reba Fournier Robert Fournier Don Fowler Jeanette Fowler Anne Galli Stephen Galli Janice Gere Jim Gibbons Lynn Gibbons Susan Gold Eileen P. Govan J. H. Hafkenschiel Diana Halprin

Steve Halprin Jennifer Hammer Ulele Hamway Carlin Hansen Jeanette Hansen Jennifer Harris Sally Harris Lee Harwood Charmian Hilleary Lang Hilleary Anne Hillman Trish Hooper George Hossfeld Mary Jo Hossfeld Mary Hufty Craig Hughes Erica Hughes Carol Jacobs Bob Jenkins Pat Jenkins John Johnson Phyllis Johnson Jean Johnston Majda Jones Jack Jorgenson Sallie Jorgenson Charlene Kabcenell Derry Kabcenell Hiroki Kato Joan Kato Andrew Katz Kathy Keehn Lena Kelly Betty Ken Jack Ken Dorothy Kennedy Keith Koehler Ruth Koehler Sylvia Kuran Bill Lattin Susie Lattin

Committee to Preserve Portola Valley Ed Davis, Chair Gary Nielsen, Treasurer 148 Pinon Drive Portola Valley, CA 94028 851-7519/851-1698

Barbara Lawson Sue Learned-Driscoll Dick Levy Sue Levy Howard Lewis Jane Lewis Bev Lipman Peter Lipman Peter Llewellyn Stannye Llewellyn Nancy Lund Tor Lund Margaret MacKenzie Joyce Margaroli Opal McCaffrey Chip McIntosh Kay McIntosh Nate McKitterick Irene McPherrin John McPherrin Peggy Merz Tony Merz Howard Middleton Barbara W. Milligan Malcom Mitchell Jayne Mordell Nancy Morrow Chrisi Murphy Judith Murphy Jon Myers Gary Nielsen Liz Nielsen Edward Oates Mary Paine Ward Paine Sandy Patterson Wil Patterson Don Peterson Nancy Peterson Fran Pierce Robert Pierce

Eloise Pollock Kip Pond Phyliss Quilter Dan Quinn Helen Quinn Peter Reiss SallyAnn Reiss John Richards Jean Ringe Richard Ringe Mary Ripley Tom Rodgers Jay Rossi Marjorie Rossi Daniel Rubin Paul Russell Stephanie Russell Helen Russom Bob Rutherford Carolyn Rutherford Janet Rutherford Jan Schachter Tracy Schilling Al Schreck Jo Schreck Pamela Seitz Fred Shepardson Julie Shepardson Jon Silver Tommy Simpson Pat Skillman BJ Sorensen Phil Sorensen Sally Stewart Marvis Stoecker Irene Swanson Lina Swisher Kajsa Tabor Rowland Tabor Michele Takei Marty Tarshes

Colleen Tate Geoff Tate Craig Taylor Mary Lou Taylor Betty Tight Ted Tight Janice Toben Steve Toben Bud Trapp Onnolee Trapp Jeanie Treichel June Tunnell Mary Urbach Cort Van Rensselaer Barbara Varenhorst Jack Vedder Nancy Vian Ted Vian Kelly Villareal Ray Villareal Peter Wait Marilyn Walter Ron Walter Sharon Walter Dieter Walz Susan Walz Tracy Wang Lyman Wear Suzanne Weeks Ann Wengert Barbara Wertheimer Peter Wertheimer Karin Wick Ruth Wilcox Nancy Wilson Ron Wilson Sue Wilson Chet Wrucke Ruth Ann Wrucke Alex Zaffaroni Leah Zaffaroni

Vote Tuesday, November 3rd October 28, 2009 N The Almanac N11




Atherton city manager wins 10 percent pay raise By Andrea Gemmet Almanac Staff Writer

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erry Gruber, Atherton’s city manager, has been on the job less than two years, but clearly, he’s won the whole-hearted support of the City Council. He is getting a 10 percent raise, bringing his annual salary up to $160,000. The 10-percent raise is retroactive to January 2009. The council approved the raise on a 5-0 vote at the Oct. 21 meeting. As an item on the consent agenda, it passed without discussion. “Jerry has done a yeoman’s job

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owned home in HolbrookPalmer Park. Living at the city manager’s house is a requirement of the job, and thus a tax-free perk, according to a legal opinion included in Mr. Gruber’s contract. Under his contract, the town also pays the full cost of his retirement and health-care benefits. Mr. Gruber’s new contract with the town was negotiated by a council subcommittee composed of Ms. Lewis and Jim Dobbie, and was reviewed by Atherton’s labor counsel before being brought to the full council for approval.

Deadline to apply for school board seat Residents of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District who are interested in filling the board seat left vacant by the Oct. 5 resignation of David Bailard have until Friday, Nov. 6, to submit an application. The district will host a panel discussion by current board members for potential candidates at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, in the district office at 1011 Altschul Ave. in Menlo

Park. Board members are expected to talk about their roles and responsibilities, and information about the selection process to fill the vacant seat will be discussed, according to a district press release. Mr. Bailard’s term expires in December 2010. The board must appoint his replacement within 60 days of his resignation, according to Karen Hiatt,

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Goats and chickens have left Woodside The little Woodside “farm” known as Goat Hill at the corner of Hacienda Drive and Woodside Road is still producing eggs and goat milk, but not at that address. Lisa Green had used the pasture for several years rent free for her goats, chickens, geese and a big black llama, but the property was sold last week. She moved the dairy to an undisclosed location in La Honda, she told The Almanac. “The animals are safe with me,” she said. “Start to finish, the (Goat Hill operation) has been a really positive experience for me and the animals.”


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these past 20 months experience as a city or so in a very difmanager, but was ficult environment,” seen as the best fit said Councilwoman for the town, Ms. Elizabeth Lewis after Lewis said. the meeting. “He should have Mr. Gruber started had a review and work for the town in salary adjustment January 2008 with after six months an annual salary of or so, but with all $145,000. Ms. Lewis of the things going said that Mr. Gruon, the review and ber’s initial salary Jerry Gruber adjustment (were) was substantially delayed,” Ms. Lewis lower than what would have told The Almanac. been offered a more seasoned The city manager job also candidate, and well below that comes with a $400 monthly of other local city managers. car allowance and free housMr. Gruber had no previous ing, in the form of a town-


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In a game the previous week, Menlo Atherton Viking Jr. Midget running back Malcolm Gates fights off four Bay City Bulldogs of San Mateo High players for a gain.

Vikings Pop Warner football report: week 8 This report is from Adam Greenlow of Menlo Park, a player on the Pee Wee Vikings team. He is a seventh-grader at St. Raymond School. All players named are with the Vikings. The Menlo-Atherton Vikings of the Pop Warner football league played their final games of the regular season on Oct. 25-25 at Menlo-Atherton High School. The opponent was the West Bay Rams of Cappuccino High School. Following are the game summaries: ■ Tiny Mites: In a game where you don’t keep score of the points, the Vikings had a long drive that lasted seven minutes and ended with Justin Sinclair scoring on a 2-yard quarterback sneak. Joe Posthauer had a 25-yard run up the middle to score in the second half. The defense did a great job and got many sacks. Coach John Posthauer said he thought that everyone should get an MVP award. ■ Mitey Mites: The Mitey Mites kept their title of being undefeated with a win of 18-0. Keyshawn Ashford put some points on the board with a 25-yard touchdown. He crossed the goal line a second time with a 50-yard run. Blake Stenstrom punched in a touchdown off of a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The defensive shutout was lead by Brad Yaffe, Floyd Gazaway, Zachary Drevno, and Reed Woods. ■ Junior Pee Wees: The JPW team lost 25-13. They had a hard offensive battle throughout the game. At one point in the

game they were tied 7-7. Then the score was 13-13. Offensive fumbles let the opponents take the lead. Lavell Gates scored on a spectacular 70-yard touchdown run. Charlie Ferguson crossed the goal line when he recovered a fumble. Tussing had a phenomenal game on defense. ■ Pee Wees: The Pee Wees lost 20-12. Turnovers and mistakes that started after the first dive cost the game. The Vikings first drive went 70-yards that ended with Memo Teu scoring on an

outstanding 40-yard run. Adam Greenlow scored on a 10-yard run. The defense had a great game and held the opponents from scoring. The special teams and offense let in the touchdowns. ■ Junior Midgets: The Junior Midgets lost 23-14. Isiah Nash, Alex Andrighetto, and Royce Branning had spectacular games. Matt Odell and Vike Talimalie played great defensive games. Jayshawn Puckett got an amazing 35-yard kickoff return.

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Services will be held Sunday, Nov. 15, for Helen Jensen of Ladera, who died peacefully at Stanford Medical Center on Oct. 18. She was 75. The services start at 2 p.m. at Ladera Community Church, 3300 Alpine Road. Ms. Jensen was a retired special e du c a t i on teacher in the Ravens w o o d School District. Helen Jensen Born in Tarrytown, New York, she came to California following her graduation from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She met her future husband, Lawrence Jensen, in San Diego and, later, moved with the family to the Bay Area in 1964. After living in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, the family settled in Ladera in 1968. Ms. Jensen resumed her teaching career in elementary special education in 1983, retiring from full-time duties in 1993. After retiring, she worked for several years as a substitute teacher in special education. She took great satisfaction in her work and was particularly pleased in later years when approached by former students, now young adults, with words of remembrance and appreciation, say family members. An avid horsewoman until back problems forced her to give up riding, she was a longtime

member of the Woodside Trail Club and enjoyed riding the Portola Valley and Woodside trails. She was also a spirited tennis player, say family members. For many years, she spent most of the summer at the family home on the Truckee River near Tahoe City. Exploring the mountains on horseback was a favorite activity. Their Truckee River home also served as the family’s base for skiing. Ms. Jensen is survived by her husband of 51 years, Lawrence, of Ladera; son Kent of Mexico City; sisters Peggy of San Diego and Barbara of Long Boat Key, Florida; and three grandchildren. Memorials donations may be made to the American Red Cross or to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Keith George Coblentz Property manager

A celebration of the life of Keith George Coblentz will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 333 Ravenswood Ave. in Menlo Park. Mr. Coblentz died Oct. 6 at his Lake Tahoe vacation Keith Coblentz home. He was 54. Mr. Coblentz was born in San-

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ta Monica and moved to Australia with his family when he was an infant. The family later settled in Menlo Park, where he attended Menlo-Atherton High School and Canada College. He was employed by Pacific Telephone and Telegraph and, later, held a management position with AT&T in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. After retiring in 1987, he spent the next 21 years in property management, first in New Jersey, then with personal property at Lake Tahoe. While living in New Jersey, he met Deborah Lynn Mitcham, whom he married in 1988. In 1994, the couple returned to California and settled in Sunnyvale. Mr. Coblentz is survived by his wife, Deborah; his mother, Jane Cudlip King of Menlo Park; brother Bruce Coblentz of San Ramon; sister Nancy Patch of Menlo Park; and nine nieces and nephews. His father, George S. Coblentz Jr., preceded him in death. Donations in his name for a Keith G. Coblentz memorial bench may be sent to Great Ideas for Tahoe, Inc., c/o Parks and Recreation department, 1180 Rufus Allen Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.

Esther Irene Hemm Retired seamstress and sales associate

Esther Irene Hemm died Oct. 14 in Redwood City at the age of 83. Ms. Hemm was born in Chicago and moved to Racine, Wisconsin, in the late 1940s, where she met her future husband, George Hemm. She worked as a seamstress at Rainfare, a clothing business, in Racine for more than 20 years. After moving to California in 1987, she lived in Menlo Park before moving to Redwood City. She worked part-time as a sales associate at Nordstrom at Stanford Shopping Center. Ms. Hemm is survived by her son, Todd of Menlo Park; sister Barbara Falore of Portola Valley; and three grandchildren. Her husband, George Hemm, preceded her in death. Services have been held. g

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Accident report: Vehicle driven into creek and driver taken by ambulance to Stanford Hospital, intersection of Marsh and Middlefield roads, Oct. 21.

■ Bike valued at $1,550 stolen from garage with no sign of forced entry, 500 block of Willow Road, Oct. 18. Grand theft report: Locked bike stolen from back yard after lock cut, 200 block of Waverley St., Oct. 18. Stolen vehicle reports: ■ Red 2005 Suzuki Forenza, 500 block of Ivy Drive, Oct. 18. ■ Blue 1990 Toyota Camry, 1100 block of Willow Road, Oct. 22. Spousal abuse report: 300 block of Ivy Drive, Oct. 18.



Residential burglary reports: ■ Thieves broke into home and stole jewelry, cell phone, sunglasses for total loss valued at $450, 400 block of Newbridge St., Oct. 16. ■ Bike stolen from garage, 500 block of Willow Road, Oct. 18.

Theft reports: ■ Street signs stolen from pole, intersection of Summit Springs and Tripp roads, Oct. 15. ■ Unlocked bike valued at $600 stolen, Woodside Elementary School at 3295 Woodside Road, Oct. 18.

This information is from the Atherton and Menlo Park police departments and the San Mateo County Sheriffís Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent until convicted. ATHERTON

Menlo Park

Emerald Hills

■ Erika and Matthew Palmer, a son, Oct. 15, Sequoia Hospital.

■ Sandra Fung-Mack and Alexander Mack, a son, Oct. 15, Sequoia Hospital.

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October 28, 2009 N The Almanac N15

Serving Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, and Woodside for 44 years.

Editor & Publisher Tom Gibboney

Editorial Managing Editor Richard Hine News Editor Renee Batti Lifestyles Editor Jane Knoerle Senior Correspondents Marion Softky, Marjorie Mader Staff Writers Andrea Gemmet, David Boyce, Sean Howell Contributors Barbara Wood, Kate Daly, Katie Blankenberg Special Sections Editors Carol Blitzer, Sue Dremann Photographer Michelle Le

Ideas, thoughts and opinions about

Endorsements: The Almanac recommends Menlo Park Fire District

Portola Valley Utility Tax

(Vote for three) Stephen Nachtsheim, James M. Harris and Rexford Ianson

Vote Yes

Sequoia Union High School District

(Vote for three) Bettina Pike, Wendy Warren Crandall and Marc Tarpenning In this race, the names of five candidates will appear on the ballot. However, voters should bypass Elianne Frenkel-Popell and Millo Fenzi, who withdrew from the race after the ballot was finalized. A vote for these two candidates will be wasted.

(Vote for two) Chris Thomsen and Bob Ferrando

Atherton Parcel Tax Vote Yes

Design Director Raul Perez Designers Linda Atilano, Laura Don, Gary Vennarucci

Advertising Manager Neal Fine Display Advertising Sales Ella Fleishman Real Estate and Advertising Coordinator Diane Martin

Published every Wednesday at 3525 Alameda De Las Pulgas, Menlo Park, Ca 94025 Newsroom: (650) 854-2690 Newsroom Fax: (650) 854-0677 Advertising: (650) 854-2626 Advertising Fax: (650) 854-3650 e-mail news and photos with captions to: e-mail letters to: The Almanac, established in September, 1965, is delivered each week to residents of Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside and adjacent unincorporated areas of southern San Mateo County. The Almanac is qualified by decree of the Superior Court of San Mateo County to publish public notices of a governmental and legal nature, as stated in Decree No. 147530, issued November 9, 1969. Subscriptions are $60 for one year and $100 for two years.


All views must include a home address and contact phone number. Published letters will also appear on the web site,, and occasionally on the Town Square forum.

TOWN SQUARE FORUM POST your views on the Town Square forum at EMAIL your views to: and note this it is a letter to the editor in the subject line. MAIL or deliver to: Editor at the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

CALL the Viewpoint desk at 854-2690, ext. 222.

Woodside Elementary School


Design & Production


local issues from people in our community. Edited by Tom Gibboney.

Perspectives on school board candidates L ETT E RS Our readers write

High school board needs new leadership Editor: Members of the Sequoia Union High School District board are campaigning for the two candidates they have selected to succeed two pending retirees. The board even sent both unelected candidates to represent it to the state Board of Education. Self-perpetuation might be tolerable if the district had no new challenges, had strong leadership, and did not have persistent sub-par performance outcomes. But all is not well. Published research reveals that the Sequoia district is far short of being an exemplary educational enterprise for all of its students. The key measures of sub-par performance follow: ■ The dropout rate is extraordinarily high, nearly one in three. ■ Only 36 percent graduated are eligible to apply to University of California campuses. ■ Only one in eight Latino students emerged prepared for UC campuses. Together these measures reveal that from 100 entering ninth-graders only 70 graduate and a mere 36 are UC eligible. Moreover the district superintendent is ignorant of his overhead burden on his educational programs. The board is in dire need of new leadership. The dropout rate is much too high, its college preparatory rate is much too low, and the board tolerates, without accountability, a superintendent who does not know

16 ■ The Almanac ■ October 28, 2009

his own administrative degree of efficiency. No other nonprofit board of directors would tolerate this incompetence. The Sequoia district must not continue with a cozy status quo board intent on self-perpetuation of the same dismaying performance. What’s a voter to do? Let’s elect two other candidates to perform for us. The Almanac has made its editorial endorsements. Harry Turner La Mesa Drive, Ladera

Couple offers support for Alan Sarver Editor: My wife and I wholeheartedly endorse Alan Sarver for the Sequoia Union High School District board based on more than a decade of working closely with Alan on countless projects to improve the quality of public education in our community. We are not aware of any individual who has given more of their time so selflessly in support of our students and our schools. Alan has worked in numerous leadership capacities, never shying away from taking personal responsibility to manage programs, chair committees, raise funds, provide direction and support efforts to improve the competitiveness of our schools and the richness of our curriculum across the entire district. In addition to his leadership, he has also demonstrated a willingness to be personally involved in a “hands on” manner, working directly with students, teachers and administrators, doing whatever it takes to advance worthwhile education causes, such as:

■ Ensuring the quality completion of a new community performing arts center despite a shortage of funds. ■ Getting out the votes to pass parcel taxes and capital bonds to invest in our public schools’ operation and infrastructure. ■ Raising private funds to support under-funded enrichment programs like music and the arts. ■ Helping launch and chairing an education foundation to fund innovative new programs like career and technical education in high school. In recognition of these and so many other contributions that are literally too numerous to mention, Alan was recently recognized by the Sequoia district as its Volunteer of the Year. He has all the attributes we are looking for on the board, including intelligence, communication and collaboration skills, vast experience with our public schools, commitment to quality education for everyone, and the passion to see that the job gets done. Please join us in voting for Alan Sarver on Nov. 3. Woody and Denise Shackleton Logan Lane, Atherton

Ferrando, Thomsen for Sequoia school board Editor: I’ve been asked who I support for election to the Sequoia Union High School District board. The answer is Bob Ferrando and Chris Thomsen, both of whom appear to be intelligent, creative, and dedicated to educating all high school students. The Sequoia district’s problems have persisted too long, such as poor retention rates (for

example, as low as 28 percent for Hispanics). Charter schools are one way of providing additional educational opportunities within the taxpayer-supported public schools. When a child transfers from a traditional public school to a charter school, the expense of educating that child, along with California’s low per-pupil allotment, goes with the child. No district charter school has ever received any funds from the education foundations at various schools in the Sequoia district. Cost is not a legal reason for denying a charter. But no one in the district, staff and teachers alike, appears to know this. We can’t afford the cost of fighting. It took almost a year and many e-mails to obtain the costs of closing Aurora Charter High School — a total of $125,522. The district’s actual report used to close Aurora did not arrive for three and a half years. The legal costs to close Aurora are over six years old; therefore it’s safe to assume the Sequoia district has spent at least another $125,522 fighting Everest, and their fight isn’t over. The district’s money is better spent educating children. Wouldn’t working with families be more productive? If you believe the Sequoia district needs more effective leadership please vote for Bob Ferrando and Chris Thomsen. Margaret Fruth Peggy Lane, Menlo Park ■ TOW N S Q UA RE Post your views and comments on TownSquare:


Valley leaders support utility tax Valley won’t know what its lost ‘til it’s gone Editor: Recently, while listening to that old Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi,” I perked up when I heard the refrain, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” thinking immediately of the 24 toilets at Town Center. If the renewal of our utility users tax — Measures P, Q, R — fails next Tuesday, we’ll have to prune another 14 percent from our budget, already bloodied by the state’s $220,000 tax grab, the recession-based 40 percent drop in building permit fees, not to mention the 30 percent law enforcement cost increase over the next three years. The places we’re likely to trim are the care and maintenance of our pristine playing fields, bucolic trails, and new Town Center which, may I remind you, was named one of the top 10 sustainable projects in the world by the prestigious AIA. Rumor has it that the town isn’t really that badly off, that our numbers are just fine, and that our doomsday predictions are just that, veiled threats. As a council member intimately involved with the inner workings of the town budget for the past four years, and a person in the community known as a straight shooter, I can tell you this with complete certainty: We’re not kidding around. Absent the dedicated revenue stream of the utility users tax, Portola Valley will not look the same after Nov. 3. If it is important to you to maintain these amenities at current levels, then please vote yes, yes, yes on Measures P, Q, R. Maryann Moise Derwin Town Council member

Utility taxes are a bargain Editor: I have great respect for the opinions of Portola Valley residents (many good friends) on both sides of renewing utility tax Measures P, Q, and R. But, in the process of making this very important decision, I cannot help but be reminded of years that I worked with many others to create our wonderful rural open-space community. We were well aware that our new town government would add to our taxes. We knew that new ordinances for our town — with very special requirements — would cost money.

L ET T ER S Our readers write

Letters from teachers were not ‘threatening’ Editor: I am writing to clarify some misunderstandings that readers might get from your Oct. 14 article about the resignation of Trustee David Bailard from the Las Lomitas School Board. It is true that letters written by teachers to trustees at their homes prompted Mr. Bailard’s decision to resign, but it is important for readers to know that none of the letters contained any language or

With the support of 81 percent of our voters for incorporation, we had a strong mandate to preserve our open space, support our awardwinning school district, good streets, minimum commercial development, and maintain a top quality town staff, which would all require new taxes. As we launched the new government, I was honored to be the first mayor after receiving the most votes in the election. With a very competent new town clerk and assistant, the town began. And, very importantly, it has continued to have a very small staff that has earned a reputation for quality that is remarkable, and recognized as very efficient and dedicated by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Fortunately, our staff and many critical volunteers now have a beautiful new earthquake “walk-out safe” green Town Center to do their work. And the government continues to operate with great help from a high number of volunteers and a conservative increase in taxes, much lower when compared to increases in county and state taxes. When I consider how Portola Valley would have developed without our incorporation, Measures P, Q, and R have been very helpful. In my opinion, our town has benefited greatly by the utility tax. So I stand by my recent comment to the town’s vice mayor, Steve Toben: “Voting yes on Props P, Q, and R is a bargain!” Bill Lane Westridge Drive, Portola Valley

Vote yes on Valley’s utility tax package Editor: Most of us have chosen to live in Portola Valley because of the quiet beauty of the open spaces surrounding us. Through judicious zoning, traffic noise is minimal and almost no commercial activity is allowed. But without the traditional commercial tax base, we must supplement our tight budget with a small utility tax. By voting for these measures not only will the present 5 percent utility tax be lowered to 4.5 percent, but also even more rate reductions can be made during the four years ahead. Certainly such a tax is a small price to pay for the peace and beauty of living in Portola Valley. Please vote yes on Measure P, Q and R on Nov. 3. Marilyn Walter Portola Valley

implications that were unprofessional or threatening. It definitely was not teachers’ intent to offend any board member or to cause any member of the board of trustees to resign. We will all miss Mr. Bailard’s skillful and heartfelt work for our district. In teachers’ minds, they were merely lobbying for a position they believed in. Teachers chose to write letters to express their concerns because in the past some of them had written individual letters to board members on a variety of topics. I have intentionally refrained from discussing any specifics of negotiations with teachers because that would be a violation of relevant law, but be assured that nego-

tiations are continuing and that we will find a solution. Meanwhile, the teachers of the Las Lomitas School District are continuing to provide inspiring, world-class instruction for our children. Eric Hartwig, Superintendent

Las Lomitas teachers lucky to have jobs Editor; I have read with interest the recent developments at the Las Lomitas school district. I believe the teachers behaved inappropriately towards the selfless board members. These people volunteer many, many hours on a weekly basis for the benefit of

Union support divides fire board race Firefighters union supports Nelson, Silano, Mosby Editor: The Menlo Park Firefighters offer the following endorsement of candidates Jack Nelson, Jon Mosby and Rob Silano for Menlo Park Fire District board of directors. We have endorsed them because they all are: ■ Concerned with our morale, which is at an all time low. ■ Concerned with our pension costs, and interested in our plan to cut annual pension payments in half saving $4.5 million. ■ Concerned that the current board will not communicate with us and have all stated they would. ■ Concerned with the district’s ISO classification and fire insurance premiums. ■ Concerned with the growth of our administrative staff, and the associated waste of tax dollars. ■ Concerned that we do not have enough paramedics, firefighters and engineers to staff our emergency apparatus. ■ Concerned with the lack of trust and respect between the current board, senior staff and firefighters on the frontline. ■ Supportive of consolidation efforts with the City of San Mateo Fire Department. Such efforts could save $2 million a year. ■ Aware of the importance of higher education for executive officers. ■ Concerned by the amount of money spent on legal expenses in the past three years, nearly $1.3 million. We want to go on record and state that we do not desire any elected official to feel obligated to us. We need a professional working relationship with our elected officials that is based on communication and respect, a goal the community and should be thanked profusely for all they do. Instead they have been berated by an ungrateful bunch of paid employees. Having experienced the last few months you would think the teachers would feel grateful to keep their jobs. Demanding a pay raise in the current climate goes against what is decent. I sincerely hope the teachers will rethink their stand. Sally-Ann Cooper Altschul Avenue, Menlo Park

Owners thank Cohen Editor: As downtown property owners, we want to thank City council

that currently escapes us. We need, and the taxpayers deserve, Nelson, Silano and Mosby as our next members of the district’s board of directors. John Wurdinger, president Menlo Park Firefighters

Citizens need to do their homework Editor: The real problem in government today is that the citizens don’t care enough to make informed voting decisions. All of the independent, evaluations of the six candidates for the fire board by local newspapers have resulted in the unanimous endorsement of the same three candidates — James M. Harris, Rexford Ianson and Stephen Nachtsheim. None of these careful evaluations endorsed the three candidates endorsed by the union. If the three union-endorsed candidates do get elected, they clearly will owe their election to the union’s massive campaign on their behalf. Will they feel some or any obligation to the union when the time comes to vote on a new labor contract? Or will they be totally committed to serving the best interests of the citizens? Because of the voters’ simplistic reliance on name recognition the big amounts of money and manpower being spent by the firefighters’ union can overwhelm the non-endorsed candidates. Such a dominant role by the unions coupled with poor citizenship on the part of the voters in not doing their homework will make our elections a sham. Peter Carpenter Larch Drive, Atherton (Peter Carpenter is retiring after nine years on the Fire Board.) member Andy Cohen, the only voice on the council who not only heard and respected the concerns of downtown businesses, but also was bold enough to offer a suggestion that could have brought all parties together. Sadly, the other council members chose not to follow Councilman Cohen’s lead. We (the downtown property owners) were once branded as “nay-sayers” back in 1988, after the failed attempt to create four downtown parking structures. A separate Downtown Study Group of property owners then formed to develop a realistic vision plan to See LETTERS, page 18

October 28, 2009 ■ The Almanac ■ 17


LETTERS continued from page 17

create a thriving downtown business community. As a result of its work, the residents of Menlo Park now enjoy Santa Cruz Avenue as an inviting, upscale shopping street, with shade trees in the median strips, safer traffic flow and additional parking on the avenue. Those same “nay-sayers” established the Sunday Farmers Market, which has since become a community institution. Our hope is that the residents of Menlo Park will wisely evaluate all aspects of the Downtown Plan on the merits and consider the impact of decisions that are being made on their behalf. We appreciate the fact that at least one council member did that. Above all, we hope that residents will not be swayed by ad hominem name calling but rather recognize that all of us have an important stake in our downtown. Nancy Couperus, Mark Flegel (The authors are members of the Downtown Property and Business Owners Vision Group.)

Housing at Cadillac site up to developer Editor: In a recent guest opinion piece, City Council member John Boyle laments a missed opportunity for housing at the former Cadillac dealership at 1300 El Camino Real. Housing was an option for this site because the council had requested that it be included in the environmental review. But the project’s developer made it clear (both publicly and in pri-

Reader miffed, columnist responds Editor: I have been a reader of The Almanac for decades but an article in your last week’s issue is the first time I have been prompted to write. Your continuing coverage of the Woodside Goat Hill saga has been enjoyable to read and seems to reflect what I have come to consider the pastoral sentiment of The Almanac which includes affection and compassion for both the land and animals of our region. It was therefore with considerable distress that I read Barbara Wood’s Dispatches column about her chicken coop. Obviously copying the current vogue for pet chickens, she writes proudly about her care for her flock and in the same

light tone describes with amusement and satisfaction a friend’s attempt to kill a coyote by running him over with his/her car! I found the tale repugnant, her moral hypocrisy disgusting and hope that her nameless “friend” is identified and charged. If The Almanac sanctions articles of this kind which promote the killing of non-domestic animals in their natural habitat this is not a publication I want to continue receiving. Janice Ross Atherton

vate meetings) that the economics of this alternative were unfavorable and that his company would not build a project that included housing. For this reason, Mr. Boyle’s suggestion that we “require him to choose the housing option” would have only added confusion and delay to the development of a lot that has been a city eyesore since the dealership’s closure in 2005. John is not alone in recognizing the need for additional housing in transit corridors. Denser housing near the Caltrain station is being considered as part of the El Camino/Downtown specific plan. But the City Council has been clear that we will not increase density or up-zone parcels in this area prior to the completion of the specific plan. To do so could tarnish the integrity of the ECR/Downtown planning process and potentially

jeopardize its completion. Housing at the Cadillac site is not completely off the table. If the site remains vacant at the time the specific plan is approved, the developer stated that he would consider building housing at this location, provided of course that the zoning and overall project financials make sense for him to do so. Heyward Robinson Mayor, City of Menlo Park

I absolutely agree that there shouldn’t be another grocery store there. It is totally unnecessary. In addition to that, the Draeger family has worked hard and long to build up a reputation for not only having a wonderful store but also doing a lot of community work. Good luck to all of the small shops in Menlo Park. I have always enjoyed shopping downtown. Helen Steinberg Crest Road, Woodside

Keep Draeger’s market in downtown Menlo

Where’s the transit in Gateway project?

Editor: I read with great interest the letter concerning the “new look” for Menlo Park and especially the question of which stores will go into the old car dealerships.

Editor: As much as I recognize the need for increased economic development to shore up the tax base, I question the scope and scale of the proposed Gateway project in east

Barbara Wood responds... As a vegetarian, I actually do not sanction the killing of any animal,

domestic or non-domestic. I’m not sure what angers Ms. Ross about my hens, but in the eight years I have had them I have derived great pleasure from their company. Despite the fact that several of them are too old to produce eggs, I heartily encourage the “vogue for pet chickens” if such does exist. And I do wish I could control the actions of others: I’d force them to all walk or carpool in a Prius, give up meat and bottled water, grow as much of their own food as possible and do volunteer work for 20 hours a week. Alas, I can only control my own actions, and sometimes my friends do not behave themselves!

Menlo Park. My biggest concern is the lack of public transportation options. Perhaps I am missing it in the report somewhere, but while the traffic-impact study projects an increase of 11,000-plus car trips there is no mention of bus routes, public transportation or light rail ideas for mitigation. As a teacher in Menlo Park, I experience every day the current congestion on city streets at all of our schools and the back-ups on Middlefield, Santa Cruz and Valparaiso. Marsh Road is always a mess from 7:30 to 9 a.m. I can only imagine what will happen when the projected increase in traffic hits our already congested streets. Toss onto this the proposed development of the Cargill Salt Flats in Redwood City (a proposal to build up to 12,000 housing units, 1 million square feet of office space, 20 playing fields and a 200acre park, and to restore 436 acres to wetlands) and I predict gridlock on our roads and freeways. Therefore, I implore the Menlo Park Planning Commission to consider all possible transportation modes in its traffic assessments. Could a future rail station utilizing the Dumbarton rail line for East Bay commuters be considered? Is there any chance of building in easements for a future tie-in with the Santa Clara light rail system? What about a Caltrain shuttle? A development of this size is a regional issue. Please consider the impact a development such as this will have upon all of the community. Richard Vaughan Redwood City

CASTILLEJA SCHOOL Women Learning • Women Leading

Educating Girls for the 21st Centur y Fall 2009 Open House Dates Middle School (grades 6-8) Sunday, November 15

Upper School (grades 9-12) Tuesday, November 3 Sunday, December 6

To make a reservation or learn more • 650.470.7733 • 1310 Bryant Street, Palo Alto

18 ■ The Almanac ■ October 28, 2009

"%6%2,9*%!./´35,,)6!. Visitation will take place on Thursday October 22 from 4-8 with the Vigil to begin at 7pm at Spangler Mortuary in Menlo Park. Funeral Mass will be held October 23rd starting at 11am at Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park for Beverly Jean O’Sullivan (nÊe Birk), 81, who died Thursday October 8 at her home in Atherton after a valiant fight with cancer. She was surrounded by her family. Beverly was a fourth generation Californian, born in San Jose to Glen and Myra Birk in 1928. She spent most of her youth growing up in the San Francisco, Bay Area (apart from a short stint in Medford, Oregon) until her parents finally settled in Menlo Park in 1950. Intellectually gifted, Beverly was a Stanford graduate and she studied for her Ph.D. in Psychology at U.C. Berkeley where she met her husband, Dermot Alexis O’Sullivan. They were married in 1957 and remained happily married until Dermot’s passing in 1994. During their marriage, Dermot’s career as Bureau Head of C&EN magazine as technical journalist, took the family to London where they were based for many years, but they always maintained a foothold in Menlo and Atherton, considering this to be their home. Beverly worked briefly as a School Careers Counselor at the Sacred Heart School on Valparaiso in Atherton and was proud that under her guidance, she saw one of the first Sacred Heart Students enter Stanford University! She was a devoted mother to her five children: Deirdre, Kathleen Siobhan, Glen, Maureen and John and her 13 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Spangler Mortuaries, 650 Live Oak Avenue, Menlo Park. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Menlo Park. For further information, go to PA I D


Beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Eleanor Wheeler, passed away October 18, 2009 at her home in Menlo Park after a short illness. She was 93. Eleanor was born in Opheim, Montana, to Judge Edward Burke and Eleanor Brugman. Her fondest memories go back to her childhood spent in Max, North Dakota where she was raised with four older brothers. The family moved to Portland,Oregon in 1927 when she was eleven. There she graduated from Grant High School and attended business college to learn a new accounting system. At age twenty, during the Depression, she secured a job at IBM punching the original IBM cards. Some years later she worked in San Francisco at Matson Navigation where she met her future husband, Alfred Wheeler, a purser for the luxury liner, Lurline. They lived in San Francisco for ďŹ ve years, then moved with their two children to Menlo

Park in 1951. Eleanor was actively involved in her children's education at Saint Joseph's Elementary School. In 1959 she served as the President of the Mother's club along with volunteering in classrooms. In 1978 she moved into Menlo Commons where she spent the remainder of her life. Above all, she enjoyed her independence and remained active until the very end. She'll be missed for sharp intellect, her loving spirit, and inner strength. Eleanor is survived by her two children: Kathleen Ladd of Gilroy, California and her husband, Alan; Charles Wheeler of Granite Bay, California and his wife, Valerie; three grandchildren: Jessica Edelen of Corte Madera, Eliot Wheeler of New York City, Meghan Netzel of Honolulu, Hawaii; and two great grandchildren: Gavin and Paige Edelen. A rosary was held at Spangler Mortuary in Menlo Park on Friday, October 23rd at 7pm. Mass was held on Saturday October 24th at 10am at Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park. Interment followed at Holy Cross Cemetery. The family would like to express its gratitude to her caregivers, Katokakala MaďŹ (Siu) and Nemi Tauelang. Donations can be made to Pathways Hospice, 585 N. Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale, Ca PA I D



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LOS ALTOS 167 S San Antonio Road 650.941.1111 | PALO ALTO 578 University Avenue 650.323.1111 MENLO PARK 1550 El Camino Real, Ste 100 650.462.1111 | WOODSIDE 2930 Woodside Road 650.529.1111 APR COUNTIES | Santa Clara | San Mateo | San Francisco | Alameda | Contra Costa | Monterey | Santa Cruz 20 â– The Almanac â–  October 28, 2009


project to tell the stories of World War II. Page 5 LOCAL RESIDENTS participate in a [SECTION 2] in new PBS documentary. Menlo Park filmmake...