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

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Among those in the cast are, from left, Brianna Ramies of Woodside, Tessie Rhodes of Woodside, Kyra Bowser of Redwood City, Katelynn Degnan of Woodside, Zoe Magnussen of Woodside (a second-grader at Woodside Elementary), LeeAnn Patrick of Woodside, Elayne Hovsmith of Woodside, and Austin Merrill of Woodside.


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Photo by Tina Patrick

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Woodside High stages ‘Once on this Island’ By Miranda Simon Special to the Almanac


oodside High School students will present as their spring musical, “Once on this Island,” in five performances starting March 18 at the Performing Arts Center on the school campus, 199 Churchill Ave.

The play is based on Trinidadian author Rosa Guy’s novel, “My Love, My Love,” set on an island in the French Antilles. The plot, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid,” involves a group of Caribbean peasants, a pair of lovers, and a pact with the devil, and is laced with themes of class distinction and racial prejudice.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. on March, 18, 19, 25, 26; and 2 p.m. on March 20. Visit or call 367-9750 to buy tickets. Tickets will also available after school at the Performing Arts Center box office starting March 10. The price is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students and staff. A

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owner, Lee Isgur, decided not to renew the lease when he couldn’t come to an agreement on terms with the property owner. The restaurant had planned to redesign its space and menu to accommodate a more casual atmosphere and menu, with more “approachable” prices, Mr. Redberg said on March 7. “That’s the direction we were going,” Mr. Redberg said, adding that “it’s hard to do formal dining” in today’s market. “Who’s actually making it?” he said. The Left Bank restaurant in Menlo Park serves about three times the number of diners as Marche, but it’s a more casual and affordable restaurant, he said.

Marché employs about 35 people, said Mr. Redberg, who has been with the restaurant for 19 months. The chef, Guillaume Bienaime, has been there for two years, Mr. Redberg said. To commemorate Marché, the restaurant plans to host “one last Nantucket Dinner event” on Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26. “As always, our friend and fisherman Steve Bender will be joining us to share his stories of times past,” the website statement says. “Please note that on these final days, we will only serve this special menu” Go to for more information.

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THE ALMANAC (ISSN 1097-3095 and USPS 459370) is published every Wednesday by Embarcadero Media, 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 ©2010 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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Marché restaurant to close at month’s end Marché restaurant in Menlo Park, which opened its doors at 898 Santa Cruz Ave. in late 2001, is closing after an attempt to negotiate a new lease failed, according to the restaurant’s general manager William Redberg. The last day of service for the restaurant, known for its pricey, high-quality cuisine, will be Saturday, March 26, the restaurant announced on its website on Saturday, March 5. “After nine years of service, the difficult decision to close was made this past week, as we faced the expiration of our lease,” the website announcement said. Mr. Redberg said the restaurant’s

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Can county handle more inmates in local jails? By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


ith a $25 billion hole to fill in the state budget that takes effect July 1, a proposition by Gov. Jerry Brown would shift to counties, including San Mateo County, responsibility for some state functions, including elements of criminal justice, mental health and child welfare services. This “realignment” would include a gradual transfer of oversight from the state to the counties of parolees and prisoners convicted of “non-violent, non-serious and non-sex-related” crimes. The county Board of Supervisors discussed realignment on Tuesday, March 1, in their boardroom in Redwood City. Joining the discussion were the three state Assembly members whose districts include the county: Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon participat-

ed by phone; Fiona Ma attended in person. To make room in the jail for some 400 more inmates annually, the county would have to find alternatives for people in custody for less serious offenses, Sheriff Greg Munks told the board. Other county officials testified as to the spillover effects of this shift on health, welfare and parole services. The incoming prisoners will be serving three-to-five-year sentences and would have been returning to San Mateo County anyway, Sheriff Munks noted. With realignment, they’ll be coming back sooner but will complete their sentences, he added in an interview. “There’s a lot of people in prison who need to be in prison. That aspect is working (but) I think the governor’s idea is a good one,” Mr. Munks told the Almanac. Programs to lower recidivism rates are not work-

‘We’re not used to having people (in jail) for two or three years. It could change how we build jails and operate them.’ SHERIFF GREG MUNKS

ing, he said, and local agencies, which are closer to communities in which ex-convicts attempt to rebuild their lives, may be better suited to help them. “We know the (nonprofit) local service providers,” Mr. Munks said. “We are connected with the community. We’re able to do more.” Ending the re-incarceration cycle is also expensive and thus critical to more efficient operation of local and state governments, he said. The county jail, officially rated for 834 inmates, currently houses 1,000, Mr. Munks said. Plans for

a new jail in Redwood City are well along and will eventually boost capacity to 1,456. Sixty percent of current inmates are awaiting trial, and a good percentage of them are headed to prison, he said. The other 40 percent are serving less than a year. The average stay is 27 days, a low number due in part to thousands of arrestees who are simply booked and released. Inmates who would otherwise be in prison “will be a new normal,” Mr. Munks said. “We’re not used to having people in there for two or three years. It could change how we build jails and operate them.” Alternatives for the lesser offenders who will be squeezed out include the Sheriff’s Work Program, which has inmates working along roads and in parks, and the Work-Furlough Program, in which inmates spend nights in jail but days otherwise employed.

Realignment thus presents a great opportunity to address reentry and rehabilitation issues with such cost-effective programs, Mr. Munks said. “It’s kind of the centerpiece of what we want to build.” The crux of the matter: “How do we do this so we don’t crash one system in favor of another?” Higher case loads

County resources are limited. The probation department, for example, had to lay off 30 percent of its staff, Chief Probation Officer Stuart J. Forrest told the board. The higher case loads predicted after realignment would “build a structure on very weak legs,” he said. The early prison transfers may, “because they represent the greatest cost to the state,” include prisoners with “severe” substance abuse and mental See REALIGN, page 7

Las Lomitas district has plans for portables, lower class-size By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ew portable classrooms will be situated at both Las Lomitas School district schools this summer to address the unexpectedly high enrollment growth at the elementary school district, the school board has decided. The board last month approved installing up to eight portable classrooms, at a cost of about $100,000 each. Superintendent Eric Hartwig said the district may start with only four — two at Las Lomitas School (K-3) in Atherton and two at La Entrada School (4-8) in Menlo Park. Creating new classroom space will allow the district to start easing class size back down to earlier levels by hiring new teachers, Mr. Hartwig said. Since the 2007-08 school year, the district has curtailed teacher hiring, in spite of growing enrollment, because of budgetary concerns. As a result, class size has grown from two to three children per classroom at Las Lomitas, and about four students per classroom at La Entrada, he said. “It saved us a lot of money to have higher class sizes,” he

said, adding that it allowed the district to eliminate deficit spending. Now, the district is in a position to hire “in the neighborhood of four to seven new teachers” to reverse the inchingup of class size as enrollment continues to grow, he said. Projections from a demographic study done a number of years ago underestimated the rate of student growth in the district. The study also predicted that enrollment growth would level off by about 2015, and possibly decline after that. A more recent study refutes those projections, however. By 2016, there will be 148 more students than the earlier study predicted, and by 2017, that figure is expected to grow to 172, according to the recent study. Current district enrollment is 1,339, with 642 at Las Lomitas and 697 at La Entrada, according to district records. Mr. Hartwig said that projections for the next school year show a jump in enrollment of 32 children (to 674) at Las Lomitas, and 15 students (to 712) at La Entrada. At its February meeting, the school board also hired the See PORTABLES, page 7

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Oak Knoll Elementary School student Jalea Ragins leaps off an assembled piece from Imagination Playground during recess last week.

Negotiating the school playground By Miranda Simon Special to the Almanac


ome will grow up to be masters of persuasion and savvy entrepreneurs. Others will mellow into more generous sorts. For now, they trade blue foam bricks for cylinders and “noodle

tubes” to build fortresses and ships — and make “marshmallow guns” to defend them with. According to Principal David Ackerman, who is watching from the sidelines, Oak Knoll elementary schoolers are learning negotiation 101. Oak Knoll is the first Califor-

nia school to have Imagination Playground on campus, Assistant Principal Kristen Gracia said. The $8,000 blue foam play kit was brought to Oak Knoll, a K-5 school, to wedge some unstructured play into kids’ overschedSee PLAYGROUND, page 6

March 9, 2011 N The Almanac N5


Negotiating the playground PLAYGROUND

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uled daily lives, and give those who don’t like sports an alternative way to enjoy recess. But it’s also meant to bolster their problem-solving skills, and help them deal with one another to get what they want. The foam shapes, mats, balls and fabric pieces, designed by architect David Rockwell, are intended to fit together in specific combinations so children have to learn to negotiate to get what they need. The kids often squabble, but teachers don’t butt in unless it involves their safety. The school philosophy is minimum teacher intervention in the playground, so that children learn to fend for themselves. Children, in turn, establish their own, unspoken rules for coexistence, Mr. Ackerman said. “They have to compromise, decide what’s fair and what’s not fair,” he said. To some parents, this looks chaotic, but those who really study the kids see they have made their own rules without anyone telling them what to do, he said. Out of the array of recess-time equipment at Oak Knoll, Imagination Playground — purchased with a grant from the Menlo ParkAtherton Education Foundation and funding from Oak Knoll’s Parent-Teacher Organization — has been the most difficult to deal with for adults, Mr. Ackerman said. The adults would, on first impulse, try to settle children’s squabbles themselves. The foam shapes, Mr. Ackerman said, have been a test in patience. “It gives you faith in the kids’ ability” to settle problems on their own, he said. What the kids live out on the playground is reflected in their class work. Piecing Imagination Playground together is a problemsolving exercise, and gives the kids practice in collaboration and dealing with one another. “All the recess (experiences) carry over to the classroom,” he said. “If you go in today’s classroom, it includes a lot more collective work than before.” Sharing and trading

When the cart full of Imagination Playground pieces rolled into

the playground one noon in January, kids didn’t automatically work together, Mr. Ackerman said. As the doors opened, each child rushed to pick his or her favorite shapes. As their architectural plans became more ambitious, the only solution they found was to share and trade shapes, said Ms. Gracia, the assistant principal. This meant they had to learn some serious negotiation skills. Almost two months later, Jack Barry, 9, and his brother Huck, 8, are building a fortress with what looks like a canal system. That fortress is under attack by Wylie Ocken, 8, using what he calls “marshmallow guns” (foam circles attached to floppy noodle tubes). Margot Gibbons, 6, and Esmirna Taylor, 7, are building a house or a ship — they’ll decide as they go. One of the girls asks Ms. Gracia for help with getting a piece they need from the boys, but Ms. Gracia turns her away. Random notes

Imagination Playground is not the only tool for unstructured play at Oak Knoll. The school’s playground is bustling with bouncing elementary schoolers playing basketball, descending slides, or playing catch. Their high-pitched shrieks of joy blend with random notes from a playground piano — another (successful) experiment in unstructured play, Mr. Ackerman said. It’s a brimming amusement park without the rides. But despite the rich selection of toys and playground equipment, there isn’t something for everyone. While most children rejoice when recess comes around, a handful of children may count the minutes until it’s over. “A lot of the kids who play with this are the kids who don’t like sports, so recess has been very hard for them,” he said. “This gives those kids something else that’s not sports.” According to Mr. Ackerman, the school used to have a group of children who liked to play with mud rather than a basketball, but the puddle is not there anymore. He wonders whether kids would like to bring it back into the mix. It may not be as innovative as Imagination Playground, but making mud cakes is, after all, an old recipe for fun. A

Two cougar sightings in six hours Two mountain lions were sighted in the Woodside area within a six-hour period from Thursday night, March 3, to early Friday morning, county emergency officials said. The Thursday sighting was at about 6 p.m. in the vicinity of 359 6 N The Almanac NMarch 9, 2011

Preston Road near state Highway 84, officials said. At about 12:05 a.m. Friday, another cougar was spotted in the vicinity of High and Woodside roads, they said. Visit for information about mountain lions.



Council approves modified pool contract By Sandy Brundage


Almanac Staff Writer


hey didn’t have to split a baby, but the Menlo Park City Council had to split the city’s public pools on March 1, an issue so contentious that a former planning commissioner weighed in from afar — far away, as in out of the country — while on vacation. Patti Fry’s lengthy letter analyzing the situation and asking for more sunshine made an appearance via proxy at the podium as another Menlo Park resident read it out loud. As Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kelly Blythe summarized the commission’s advice regarding the proposed terms, he told the council, “Good luck.” The final unanimous vote to approve the contract, with a

few changes, probably left no one happy except city staff and council, who might be relieved to finish the months-long debate. The changes included letting city staff decide how much Team Sheeper will have to pay for facility repairs; accepting SOLO’s decision not to accept additional lane hours on Sundays nights; and appointing representatives from the Finance Audit Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission to help staff review Team Sheeper’s annual financial reports. Councilman Peter Ohtaki’s suggestion to figure out how to charge higher fees for nonresidents, with the goal of having the money go into a pool repair and maintenance fund, was also accepted.

SOLO did get more pool time during the week with a bump to 80 lane hours, up from the 45 available under the previous contract, and set practice times. Since the club declined the Sunday hours, lap swimmers will lose 35 hours only during the week. The contract requires Team Sheeper to pay $3,000 a month to lease the Burgess pools; be responsible for all operating costs; and operate the Belle Haven pools for at least three months a year. City staff estimated that would save Menlo Park $540,000 to $640,000 a year, not counting the additional $36,000 in revenue from the rent payment. Team Sheeper also agreed to complete $200,000 in capital improvements to one or both pool facilities, which would trigger automatic renewal of the five-year contract. A

by Gloria Darke

Foreclosure Market Q: I am wondering if I am too late to take advantage of the foreclosure situation here. I would like to buy something in foreclosure, do a little fixing and then resell it. I know the market has gotten better here in the Bay area but I was thinking further out in Stockton and surrounding communities. I have done a bit of research and it appears there are many distressed sales there. What do you think – have we missed the best buying opportunity? Dan W. A: While I am not so familiar with that area, I would suggest that you really need to know what you are doing in buying a foreclosure. You would be competing literally on the courthouse steps with people who do this all the time. You don’t have the opportunity to inspect the properties as you normally would so you cannot be assured of the condition of the house. Another hurdle will be the lending institutions, not only for you to purchase (you need all cash) but for a buyer to purchase the property from you. The lenders are requiring extensive paper work, appraisals, tax returns, income and job verification, for even the lowest loan to value. Buying a bank owned property is

a somewhat less challenging process but it also is not for the meek. One would think that since the bank owns so many of these properties they would be service oriented and anxious to have a smooth sale. Not at all. It is nearly impossible to reach someone at the bank – even if these properties are listed with realtors it is difficult to get a call back – and even when you get through it is several calls to reach the right person. It may take many days for you to get a response to your offer. And should you need anything from the title company, they may well be out of state or out of the area and equally unwilling to expedite the closing process. I would also ask what you might know about real estate in this area? There is a reason there are so many foreclosures there and one has to speculate about who the buyers might be for available properties. You would be competing to sell your property with all the other foreclosures remaining on the market, certainly for the near future. I would suggest finding an experienced realtor in the area who can advise you as to neighborhoods, inventory and sales prices before making a decision. Good luck to you. There is no doubt bargains to be had for someone.

For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at gdarke@apr. com or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property.

Menlo Park council cracks open union negotiations By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


orking into the latenight hours of March 1, the Menlo Park City Council voted 5-0 to keep the public a little more informed about negotiations with the city’s five labor unions, making it one of the few local agencies to do so. Fourteen of 15 Peninsula cities surveyed by staff indicated they don’t solicit public comment beyond allowing speakers to address proposed contracts when the contracts go before

REALIGN continued from page 5

health problems and less predictable behavior, Mr. Forrest said in an e-mail. Helping these people will require “a consistent, multi-disciplinary approach containing elements of cognitive skills, training, targeted treatment, vocational training and education,” he said. “Realignment may present an opportunity to expand the capacity of such programs.” The county health establishment, while quite critical of proposed cuts in allowed Medi-Cal visits and skilled nursing assets, agrees. “Overall, we’re quite optimistic

council for approval. The exception, Pacifica, presents employee compensation as a topic during public budget study sessions. Menlo Park’s new policy came as a follow-up to the formation of a labor subcommittee in December, manned by Mayor Rich Cline and Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith. During the March 1meeting, city staff argued that full disclosure would leave the city at a disadvantage during negotiations, since the unions aren’t required to be equally transparent. The council agreed, but also

found ways to shed a little more light on the process. “The fact is, there is an unfair system if we have to negotiate in public and they don’t,” said Mayor Cline. “But we should be public as much as we can without losing our position.” Now, city staff will prepare public reports before labor negotiations start, and at least 15 days before any proposed agreements go to the council for approval, that outline employee salaries, benefits, associated costs, and the process used to decide what constitutes a competitive package.

about realignment to have closer connection of services to clients,” said Srija Srinivasan, an assistant to the county manager for public health issues. The long recession has “greatly increased” demands for county assistance, which already serves 84,000 children, youth and adults, said Beverly Beasley Johnson, director of the county’s Human Services Agency. Medi-Cal in San Mateo County now serves 64,000 children and adults, up from 55,000 in 2009, she said, noting that determining eligibility now takes up to five months. “The system of safety net service will be critical to the success of realignment,” she said. “Our safety net is going to be

pretty frayed,” said Supervisor Don Horsley, whose district includes Atherton, Woodside, Menlo Park and Portola Valley. “We may well have to revisit some issue of tax” to retain “outstanding” and “robust” public services, he said. Assemblyman Gordon, asked to comment on the discussion, said, “I have great confidence in the ability of local governments to effectively and efficiently implement these services after realignment.” San Mateo County is noted for demographic concentrations at either end of the age spectrum, and for cooperation between the public and nonprofit sectors. “One defines a need and the other defines how it can be met,” he said.

architectural firm Sugimura Finney Architects to design and engineer the specifications needed for placing the portable classrooms on the two cam-


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PORTABLES continued from page 5


puses. The cost for the architectural service, which Mr. Hartwig estimated at $30,000, is in addition to the $100,000 cost per portable classroom approved by the board that night.

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March 9, 2011 N The Almanac N7



WOODSIDE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT COUNTY OF SAN MATEO, STATE OF CALIFORNIA AN ORDINANCE ADOPTING BY REFERENCE, THE 2009 INTERNATIONAL, FIRE CODE WITH THE 2010 CALIFORNIA AMEDMENTS INCLUDING ALL ADOPTED STANDARDS AS SPECIFIED PRESCRIBING REGULATIONS GOVERNING CONDITIONS HAZARDOUS TO LIFE AND PROPERTY FROM FIRE OR EXPLOSION WITHIN THE TERRITORY OF THE WOODSIDE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT, ESTABLISHING A BUREAU OF FIRE PREVENTION AND PROVIDING OFFICERS THEREFORE AND DEFINING THEIR POWERS AND DUTIES. WHEREAS, Health and Safety Code section 13869 provides that the Woodside Fire Protection District Board of Directors (“Board�) has the authority to adopt a fire prevention code by reference pursuant to applicable governmental code provisions. WHEREAS, Chapter 33 of the International Fire Code pertains to fireworks and this Board finds that the Woodside Fire Protection District enacted Ordinance No. 3 in 1986, prohibiting the use and sale of fireworks within the entire territory of the Woodside Fire Protection District; and WHEREAS, Chapter 33 of the International Fire Code pertains to storage of explosives and ballasting agents where the storage and use is permitted, and this Board finds that it is in the best interest of the District to specify and restrict where such storage and use be permitted in the District. WHEREAS, Section 108.1 of Chapter 1 of the International Fire Code pertains to the Board of Appeals and this Board hereby determines that the Board of Directors act as a Board of Appeals; and WHEREAS, Chapter 38 of the International Fire Code does not specify where the storage, use, handling, or dispensing of liquid petroleum gas is permitted, and this Board finds that it is in the best interest of the District to specify where such uses should be permitted in the District; and WHEREAS, Table B105 of Appendix B of the International Fire Code provides specified fire flow requirements for buildings and this Board finds that said requirements are not practical due to the lack of existing municipal water systems and the rural nature of the fire district; and WHEREAS, Section B103.1 and Section B103.3 of Appendix B of the International Fire Code allows for the reduction of fire-flow requirements or authorizes the fire code official to utilize NFPA 1142 or the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code to set requirements; and WHEREAS, Chapter 1 of the International Fire Code does not specifically authorize audio visual or other recording including photographs to assist with investigations of alleged violations of this Code or fire incidents and this Board finds that use of said technological assistance is in the best interest of the District; and WHERAS, In accordance with section 101.3 of the California Fire Code for subjects not specifically covered by the code, as deemed necessary for firefighter safety and suppression activities, Woodside Fire Protection District finds it necessary to maintain a set of design and installation guidelines as deemed necessary for firefighter safety and suppression activities. WHEREFORE, this Board does ordain as follows: SECTION 1.


This Ordinance shall be known as the “Fire Code� of the Woodside Fire Protection District and may be cited as such, and will be referred to in this ordinance as the “International Fire Code� or “this Code�. SECTION 2.


It is hereby adopted by the Board of Directors for the purpose of prescribing regulations governing conditions hazardous to life and property from fire or explosion, that certain code known as the 2009 International Fire Code with the 2010 California Amendments Title 24 Part 9, and the whole thereof, including all Appendices and the International Fire Code Standards, as compiled, recommended and published by the International Code Council, save and accept only such portions thereof as are hereinafter expressly deleted, modified or amended by this ordinance; and including such new sections and paragraphs which are hereinafter added to and made a part of the Fire Code and of this ordinance, of which not less than two (2) copies have been and are now filed in the Office of the Fire Chief of the Woodside Fire Protection District and the same are hereby adopted and incorporated, by this reference, as fully as if set forth out at length herein, and from the date on which this ordinance shall take affect, the provisions of same shall be controlling within the Woodside Fire Protection District. SECTION 19.

Menlo councilwoman pays for D.C. trip — for now By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


o stranger to raising eyebrows, Menlo Park Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson did it again when she mentioned her plans to stay at a $400-per-night hotel while in Washington, D.C., for two nights this week on council business. Ms. Fergusson, who will accompany the city’s high-speed rail lobbyist Ravi Mehta and Palo Alto Councilman Larry Klein on the trip, told the council the goal is to “educate members of Congress.� Ms. Fergusson defended herself in a memo written to City Manager Glen Rojas on March 3, stating that she’ll pay for the trip until reimbursement can be placed on the agenda at the next council meeting on March 15. The memo outlined the city’s stance on high-speed rail, which Ms. Fergusson will present as a member of the city’s HSR subcommittee: Build high-speed rail right or not at all; publish a credible ridership study and business plan; correct oversight deficiencies; and invest in electrification to benefit both Caltrain and Menlo Park. The team hopes to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California; Rep. Anna Eshoo D-Menlo Park; and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, according to Ms. Fergusson, to discuss those topics and ask for $1 billion in funding to electrify Caltrain. But does Ms. Fergusson need to go?

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AYES and in favor of said ordinance: Directors: Berger Cain Gardner

“I don’t think it’s necessary,� Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith noted during the March 1 council meeting. “We’ve hired a lobbyist, and that’s the goal or the purpose of the lobbyist. Anna Eshoo has an office in Palo Alto, Jackie Speier has one in San Mateo. I don’t see the need for it.� Ms. Fergusson responded that meetings are “a lot more powerful if elected members from affected communities are there carrying the message as well.� Who decides who goes where and how, anyway? Mr. Rojas explained the council travel policy: A $10,000 fund covers travel for all five council members. They can ask the city to pay in advance, or request reimbursement. If they travel out of state, the reimbursement must be approved by the council during a regular meeting. Political players, such as former mayor Lee Duboc, questioned whether a potential conflict of interest exists between Ms. Fergusson’s service as a councilwoman and as an employee of Siemens, a global corporation that may bid for a high-speed-rail contract. City Attorney Bill McClure said he hasn’t seen any facts indicating that Ms. Fergusson’s employment presents a conflict of interest as defined by the Fair Political Practices Commission. That could change if Siemens bids on or wins a contract, he said, at which point Ms. Fergusson would need to recuse herself from high-speed rail discussions conducted by the council.



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Teacher put on leave after student calls cops By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


teacher at Selby Lane School in Atherton has been placed on paid administrative leave after a 13-year-old student in his class called Atherton police to report that the teacher was yelling and that she felt threatened, according to the Redwood City School District. Police responded to the elementary school at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, after the girl called and made the allegations about her teacher, John Haynes. In a prepared statement, the school district said that when the police arrived, they “found a calm classroom, with no students in danger.� Police Lt. Joe Wade said the

M-A players stage ‘Putnam Spelling Bee’ The Menlo-Atherton International Thespian Society will stage the musical comedy, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,� on March 18-19 and March 24-26 in the performing arts center at Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., plus a

student called the police from the campus restroom, saying that the teacher “was going crazy and throwing tables.� She sounded genuinely scared, he said. When officers arrived at the classroom, he said, they found class in session, everyone was calm, “and there wasn’t anything strewn around.� After talking with the teacher and students, the officers determined that “there was no criminal activity,� Lt. Wade said. The teacher had lifted a table up a couple of inches from the floor and let it drop to make a loud noise as a way to get the students’ attention, and the table toppled over, he said. No disciplinary action has been taken against the teacher, who was placed on leave so the district could

investigate the student’s allegations, the school district’s statement said. “Administrative leave is a procedure that is used to protect the rights of both teachers and students; it ensures that facts are determined before any conclusions are reached,� the statement said. “(It) allows time for a full assessment of the situation; input is gathered from students, teachers and anyone involved in the situation. “After the situation is investigated and the facts are determined, the district decides on an appropriate course of action and determines whether discipline of either teacher or student is warranted.� Superintendent Jan Christensen said the district hopes to conclude the investigation within a matter of days.


en Speaker Luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, in Menlo Park. Guest speaker is Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, whose affiliated attorneys defend religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties at no charge to defendants. Call for location and where to send check: 591-7269. Admission is $35 pre-paid if reserved by March 14.

2 p.m. matinee March 19. The Menlo-Atherton High Orchestra will accompany the performers. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Visit for more information.

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Menlo: Con man swaps closet for prison cell Simon Gann, who pretended to be a millionaire math savant to romance a Menlo Park woman into a relationship and out of approximately $1,900 was sentenced to 16 months in state prison on March 4. Posing as “Saleem Dutante,” he told the victim his credentials included a degree from MIT, and the ability to count cards “like Rainman,” according to court testimony. Mr. Gann pleaded no contest to grand theft and witness tampering in January, which saved his 32-yearold victim from testifying about their relationship after he threatened to broadcast her sexual history. Visit for more on the Almanac website.

Three busted for drugs, guns Three East Palo Alto men watched their fortunes take a turn for the


worse on March 3, as police officers and FBI agents pounced. A search of three locations in East Palo Alto turned up a “large quantity” of cocaine base, powdered cocaine, money, and four guns, including a MAC-11 machine pistol, according to Detective Sgt. Eric Cowans of the Menlo Park police department’s narcotics enforcement task force. Jeron Jones, 23, Ricardo Alvarez, 30, and of East Palo Alto, and Rodney Powell, 40, were arrested and booked into San Mateo County jail. According to Detective Cowans, all three suspects have prior records for drug-related crimes. The FBI’s involvement was standard procedure for task-force investigations, police said.

Meeting on impact of hospital expansion This week, Menlo Park’s transportation commission will discuss a neighboring city’s development — the planned Stanford hospital expansion, which is expected to impact traffic in Menlo Park. The commissioners will review the final environmental impact report and make recommendations to the Menlo Park City Council. The $3.5 billion project, described by Palo Alto city officials as the city’s largest project ever, would bring about 1.3 million square feet of new development and more than 2,200 new employees to Palo Alto by 2025. It includes reconstructing Stanford Hospital and Clinics, expanding Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, renovating the Hoover Pavilion, and replacing School of Medicine facilities. Perhaps of most interest to local residents, the report details how the project would affect local roadways and intersections,

Peter Buffett holding free concert in Atherton Peter Buffet, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett and a composer and pianist, will hold a free “Concert and Conversation” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in the Harman Auditorium

on the Sacred Heart Prep campus at 150 Valparaiso Ave. in Atherton. During the 90-minute performance, Mr. Buffett will play the piano, accompanied by cellist

Michael Kott. The program will reflect messages in his book, “Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment.” Reservations are strongly recommended.

Nancy Hood Nancy Hood was born in San Francisco on December 1, 1920 and passed away January 13, 2011. Nancy attended Miss Burke’s School and Stanford University where she majored in French. After college, she embarked on a career in the United States Foreign Service that took her to posts in Washington D.C., and Europe over the span of twenty years. When she retired she returned to California and became active in the church communities of the Woodside Village Church and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park. She also volunteered countless hours to the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California Nancy was preceded in death by her three

10 N The Almanac NMarch 9, 2011

bringing 10,000 new vehicle trips to the area per day. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, in council chambers at the Civic Center, 701 Laurel St.

Caltrain declares fiscal emergency Caltrain’s board of directors declared a fiscal emergency March 3 during a meeting in San Carlos that attracted hundreds of riders who oppose service cuts. The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which governs Caltrain, declared the emergency so directors could consider “radical” solutions and close a $30 million budget deficit Caltrain faces over the coming year, Caltrain Executive Director Michael Scanlon said. Service cuts could include Visit to make reservations.

‘Wizard of Oz’ “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented by the Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory, in Lane Family Hall Theater, 945 Portola

ending all daytime, evening, weekend and special-event service except for peak commuter times, the board has warned. But residents urged the board to consider several alternatives, including taking $5.5 million earmarked for the Dumbarton Rail project, deferring electrification, and raising fares and parking fees. The board could decide service cuts by April 7.

Meetings cancelled The comfortable chairs in Menlo Park council chambers are getting a rest from harboring dozing gadflies during late-night meetings for a couple weeks. The City Council will not meet again until Tuesday, March 15. The Planning Commission also takes a short break, returning on Monday, March 21. Both groups meet at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. Road in Portola Valley. Preview performances are March 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Regular performances are March 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m., and March 20 and 27 at 3 p.m. Visit for more information and to order tickets.

Jeanne L. Marx

brothers, Jack, Robin and Tom. She will be greatly missed by her sisters-inlaw Jean Hood and Shari Kiser and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park on March 19 at 11am. Please send remembrance donations to the Alzheimer’s Society in lieu of flowers. PA I D




Warner Raleigh Carr, Jr. Warner Raleigh Carr, Jr., a long time resident of the Peninsula, died on February 21, 2011, just one month after his 87th birthday. He was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, the eldest of 6 brothers. He taught himself to read and attended a one room school in his early education. He enlisted in the Navy during WW II and graduated from the University of Southern California after the war. After a successful career as the head of two local steel companies and The George F. Cake Co., he earned a Master’s degree in English,


writing a novella for his thesis. He volunteered as a reading tutor for underprivileged children late in his life, supporting his belief that education is the both a right of and key for success for every person. He was an avid golfer, reader, and an amateur historian. His second wife, Loretta predeceased him. He is survived by first wife, Nedra Carr, his daughter Lisa Carr, and his two grandchildren, Catherine and Clayton Carlson. His family will have a memorial service for him in May.

Passed away peacefully on February 23, 2011, surrounded by her loving family. Jeanne was born on October 17, 1915, in Oxnard, California and graduated from Scripps College in 1936, and attended graduate school studying French Literature at U.C. Berkeley. Jeanne married Daniel Marx, Jr. of San Francisco in 1939 and together they lived in Hanover, New Hampshire for more than 30 years, where Dan was a Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College and where they raised their four children. When Dan retired in 1970, they moved to Menlo Park, California. Jeanne was a devoted wife and mother and remained active in volunteer activities into her 90’s. Among the many organizations to which Jeanne contributed many volunteer hours in Hanover were the Girl Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts of America, the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, for which she transcribed schoolbooks into Braille, and the League of Women Voters. In Menlo Park, Jeanne was a volunteer for Bay Window, Allied Arts Guild, and the Charter Auxiliary to the Lucille Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Jeanne was an active member of the Charter Auxiliary for more than 30 years. Jeanne enjoyed her many loyal friends and encouraged and enjoyed large family gatherings. She was beloved by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Jeanne is survived by her children, Constance Angove of Nevada City, Daniel H. Marx of Needham, Mass., Nancy Ellsworth of Menlo Park, and Richard Marx of Penngrove. She is also survived by seven grandsons, Jonathan Renner, Dirk Renner, Mark Ellsworth, Daniel Ellsworth, Joshua Marx, Julian Marx and Alder Marx; five great grandchildren, Nicholas Renner, Erik Renner, Ella Renner, Reese Renner, and Opal Marx; and her brother, Joseph E. Levy of Berkeley. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, 400 Hamilton Ave., Ste 340, Palo Alto, CA 94301, or to a charity of your choice. Friends are invited to join the family in a celebration of Jeanne’s life from 3 to 5 pm on March 11, 2011, at Allied Arts Guild, 75 Arbor Road at Cambridge Avenue, Menlo Park. PA I D




Sam Goodman Atherton civic volunteer

Sam Goodman, for years a familiar figure on the Atherton civic scene, died Feb. 26 at the age of 80 after a long illness. Mr. Goodman moved from Atherton about a year and a half ago, according to his son, Stephen. The Goodmans first moved just over the border into Redwood City, then, as Mr. Goodman’s health worsened, to Los Altos. He died of kidney failure at El Camino Hospital, his son said. A retired consultant and corporate executive, Mr. Goodman served on the town of Atherton’s Audit Committee, and was active in the Atherton Civic Interest League. In 2008, he was on the ballot for a seat on the City Council. Weeks before the election, he announced that he was dropping out of the race, but it was too late to have his name taken off the ballot and he received several hundred votes. Born in New York City, Mr. Goodman was raised from the age of 3 by his mother and aunt after his father died. He received his MBA and doctorate from New York University, and was the author of seven economic and finance textbooks, according to his family. He served as the commanding officer of the USS Mononga-

hela during the Korean War; his military awards include the National Defense Services Ribbon and the Sam Goodman European Clasp, his family said. His career included a long-held position as chief financial officer of the Nestle Corp. He held that position for Ampex Corp. as well. Later, he joined the Turnaround Management Association, an international nonprofit dedicated to corporate renewal and turnaround management, his family said. Mr. Goodman was also a distinguished adjunct professor in the Department of Finance and Economics at Golden Gate University. A man whose knowledge crossed into many fields, Mr. Goodman was “a perpetual student of history, and especially the American West and Wyatt Earp,” his family said. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Bea; three sons, Mark of Los Angeles, Stephen Grant of Los Altos Hills, and Christopher of Tucson; and eight grandchildren. Funeral services have been held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Bay Area Association of Kidney Patients, an organization of which he was a founding member. Donate online at baakp. org, or by mail to BAAKP, P.O. Box 2332, Menlo Park, CA 94026.

N PO LI C E C A L L S This information is from the Atherton and Menlo Park police departments and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent until convicted. ATHERTON Fraud report: Unauthorized uses of credit cards, Moulton Drive and Holbrook Lane, Feb. 28. MENLO PARK Grand theft report: Losses estimated at $2,000 in theft of two leather jackets, two cell phones, and purse with credit cards and cash from unlocked vehicle, 1600 Marsh Road, Feb. 26. Residential burglary report: Loss estimated at $900 in break-in and theft of mountain bike and laptop computer, 300 block of O’Connor St., March 2. Robbery report: Loss estimated at $41 in robbery of four T-shirts and four pairs of jeans, 800 block of Newbridge St., Feb. 26. Fraud reports: ■ San Francisco man arrested on charges that include using false name in prescription for a morphine-related cough syrup, Walgreens at 643 Santa Cruz Ave., Feb. 25.

■ Loss of $822 in unauthorized use of checking account to purchase fireplace in another state, 300 block of Sharon park Drive, March 3. Auto burglary reports: ■ Loss estimated at $405 in break-in and theft of leather boots, briefcase, Apple iPod and 30 CDs, 2800 block of Sand Hill Road, March 3. ■ Loss estimated at $20 in break-in and theft of satchel, 800 block of Alma St., Feb. 27. Stolen vehicle reports: ■ Silver 2000 Toyota Celica, 4000 block of Campbell Ave., March 2. ■ Gray 1999 Honda Civic, 1200 block of Willow Road, Feb. 26. WOODSIDE Theft report: Loss estimated at $500 in theft of GPS device from unlocked vehicle during interval of 15 to 20 minutes, parking lot of Roberts market at corner of Woodside and Mountain Home roads, March 2. PORTOLA VALLEY Fraud report: Unauthorized use of credit card to make two gasoline purchases, 400 block of Minoca Road, Feb. 25.

Burglary at Menlo Park Presbyterian A burglary and associated loss of about $12,900 has left the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church at 950 Santa Cruz Ave. without its electronic device that controlled the church lights, according to a March 5 police report. Police investigators have no idea how many people might have been involved in the burglary, Menlo Park Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Acker told the

Almanac. The police report shows no indication of fingerprints having been found at the scene, she said. The church was undamaged. Like many churches, this one was unlocked and open to the public from time to time, Ms. Acker said. Police believe the burglary occurred between 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4.

Frances Nippes May 27, 1925-Feb. 21, 2011

Frances C. Nippes, 85, a 40 year resident of Atherton, died February 21, 2011. Frances departed this life at her home in Atherton after a courageous 4 year battle with ovarian cancer. At the time of her passing, Frances was surrounded by her family and at her side was Dick Nippes, devoted husband of almost 64 years. Frances and Dick had a wonderful marriage that was full of love and together they enjoyed many simple pleasures such as visits from the children and grandchildren, great conversations over evening cocktails, entertaining friends, bridge parties, as well as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Frances was born in Philadelphia, PA and, after marrying Dick in 1947, they lived in several east coast cities including Barberton, OH, Natick, MA, Westfield, NJ, and Pittsburgh, PA before moving to Atherton, CA in the summer of 1971. She was an avid volunteer and an active member of several charity organizations. Her favorites were the local charities where her activities made a difference including Holbrook Palmer Park, Atherton Dames, and Atherlons. She enjoyed being a member of several social bridge groups and discovering new recipes

with Recipe Traders. Frances is survived by her husband Dick and 4 children, Rick Nippes of San Francisco, Jim Nippes of Menlo Park, Louise Gusha of Pleasanton and Bill Nippes of Mountain View. Frances affectionately called Mema, leaves behind 6 grandchildren, Nicole, Andrew, Jimmy and Mark Gusha all of Pleasanton, CA; and Matthew and Kristen Nippes of Mountain View, CA. She is also survived by daughters-inlaw, Mary Rohan Nippes of Menlo Park, Teresa Nippes of Mountain View and son-in-law Greg Gusha of Pleasanton. At the request of Frances, there will be no funeral services. The family requests contributions in Frances’ memory be made to either of these two organizations: Holbrook Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave, Atherton, CA 94027; or to Ovations, 251 W Central St #32, Natick, MA 01760. The latter is an organization specializing in ovarian cancer research and can accept online donations. PA I D


George Daniel McDonald November 12, 1910 - February 20, 2011 George Daniel McDonald was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, two years before Arizona became a state. His father, (Archibald) Daniel McDonald had been a cook in the lumber camps of eastern Canada. He migrated west and married the former Mary Elisabeth Hatfield of Kentucky. Mary Elisabeth had been orphaned in the famous feud with the McCoy family. The family lived in lumber camps throughout the west. Aside from school, George learned the ways of the world as a “Whistle Punk” blowing a whistle in the logging camp near Placerville, California to alert the operators of the “Steam Donkey” to start their move to pull logs to the flotation pond. He also worked as a golf caddy at the Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento. George, his sister, Ruth, and his mother (now divorced from Daniel) moved to Oakland, California. He ran the mile for Oakland Technical High School and later competed for the Olympic Club of San Francisco. He also caddied at the Claremont Country Club. After high school, George signed aboard a banana boat which plied the route between San Francisco and Hawaii. Some of his favorite memories are of the trips he made to sea. Later, George apprenticed as a pattern maker, a trade now lost to computer technology. Patterns were wooden mock-ups of items later to be cast from iron. The molten iron was poured into sand molds which had been packed around the wooden patterns. As a journeyman pattern maker, he worked with wood for much of his career. During most of this life he handmade many gifts and trinkets from wood for family and friends. He made gavels for organizations, bird houses, trivets, and other useful items, never accepting money for his efforts. He worked at H.C. Macaulay Foundry in Berkeley, California, for several decades. While there, he met Barbara Sainsot on a streetcar en route to his job. They married and had three children: Sally Fay McDonald

Menzel, Warren George McDonald, and Michael Robert McDonald. Their marriage lasted 68 years until Barbara’s death in 2002. For much of their lives, George and Barbara lived in Albany and nearby Berkeley. It was there that George began long association with the Masons, going through the chairs, becoming master and serving in many other capacities in several lodges. He was active in the Blue Lodge, the Shrine, York Rite, Royal Arch, Commandry and other Masonic organizations. He was a 32nd degree Mason and had received the Hiram award. He left Macaulay in the 1960s and took a job as President of Berry Foundry in Sacramento, necessitating a move from Berkeley to Sacramento. After retiring from active employment in 1970, he and Barbara moved to Meadow Vista, near Auburn, California. After Barbara died, he moved to Irvine to be with his daughter, Sally. In 2005, he moved to Menlo Park, and lived with his son, Warren, until his death. George is survived by his three children, two daughters-in-law (Bobbie McDonald and Lauri Parks) and a son-in-law (Daniel Menzel), seven grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren. No services are planned. George will be greatly missed by all who had the great fortune to know him.



March 9, 2011 N The Almanac N11

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The Class Guide, with information about local classes, is published quarterly in the Almanac. To inquire about a listing, e-mail Karla Kane at To inquired about paid advertising, call the display advertising department at 650326-8210. Bullying Workshop for Parents. The Parents Place presents a bullying workshop for parents, to learn what bullying is, and how and when to intervene. Presenter is Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet, LCSW. March 16, 6:307:30 p.m. Portola Valley Library, 765 Portola Road, Portola Valley. Call 650-851-0560. California Native Plant Society Gardening Program. Tips on planting native plants and sustainable gardens. All lectures are given by CNPS professionals, experts in native plant landscaping. March 15, 9:30 a.m. Free. Woodside Library, 3410 Woodside Road, Woodside. Call 650-851-0147.

Call for a Tour: 650-324-8617 The German-American International School 275 Elliott Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025 (650) 324-8617 |


Mid-Peninsula High School

Parenting Workshop. A workshop on what to do when children are not following directions and understanding limits. Presenter: Susan Stone Belton, BSE. March 14, 5:306:30 p.m. Free. Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside. QWERTY Education Services. 1050 Chestnut St., #201, Menlo Park | 650-3268484 | | Academic tutoring and diagnostic educational evaluation for K-12 and college. Contact Michael Perez, director, for a no-cost phone consultation. Sequoia Adult School. Little House Community Center, Menlo Park. 650-306-8866. | Middle-Eastern belly dance classes. Approx. $8 per class. Mondays in Menlo Park in studio at Little House Community Center. Tuesdays in mirrored, well-floored Palo Alto High School dance studio. All welcome. Any weight or age. Sequoia District Adult School. 3247 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park | 650-306-8866 | | Clothes making: Kimono robe class introduces beginners to the basics of sewing and making clothes. Please bring your own sewing machine. Be Yoga Be Wellness. 1923 Menalto Ave., Menlo Park | 906-9016 | | Community yoga studio. Small class sizes, excellent instruction, reasonable prices. Also offered are workshops on ayurveda, reiki, and mediation.

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1340 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 (650) 321-1991 12 N The Almanac NMarch 9, 2011

Jazzercise at Little House Activity Center. 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park | 703-1263 | | Jazzercise blends aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing movements into dance routines set to fresh new music. All fitness levels welcome. Classes are ongoing, go directly to class to register. Istituto Educazione Italiana. 868-5995 | | Italian Language for adults in the evening on the campus of Menlo College in Atherton. Courses in Italian cooking in Redwood City. Workshops in painting Tuscan and Venetian landscapes/ cityscapes using acrylics in collaboration with the Pacific Art League (668 Ramona St., Palo Alto). Workshops in Florentine silversmithing at the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park. Full fee and schedule information can be found online. Bair Island Aquatic Center. 1450 Maple St., Redwood City | 650-241-8213 | gobair. org/learntorow | Learn to Row classes for adults at BIAC, a local nonprofit boathouse. No previous experience or fitness level required. Six sessions in spring and summer, consisting of two weekends of classes (9-12 Saturday and Sunday), followed by four weeks of instruction in our novice crew. Cost: $250 (includes 3 month membership at BIAC). Children’s Health Council. 650 Clark Way, Palo Alto | 688-3625 | chconline.eventbrite.

Panel: Remembering the Duvenecks Six people who knew Josephine and Frank Duveneck will participate in “Remembering the Duvenecks of Hidden Villa,� a panel discussion, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16. This free event takes place at the Hillview Community Center Multipurpose Room at 97 Hillview Ave. in Los Altos. Panelists include grandson David Duveneck, a former Hidden Villa camper, former directors, and former and present Hidden Villa board members. This discussion is being held in conjunction with the exhibit, “Touching Lives: The Duvenecks of Hidden Villa,� on view at the Los Altos History Museum. Visit for more information.

Parent education program at M-A Fred Luskin, author, professor and director of the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University, will give a parent education presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday March 16, at the performing arts center at Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton. The free presentation is entitled “Authentic Parenting: A Prescription for Health and Happiness.� RSVP to 8680590 or parenteducation@

Jacob Richter goes to spelling bee finals Laurel School third-grader Jacob Richter is going to the Bay Area finals of the Chronicle Spelling Bee to be held Saturday, March 19, in San Francisco. Jacob, 8, qualified for Jacob Richter, 8 the finals by

com | More than 20 parent education classes offered every semester for parents of children from birth to age 18. Getting to Sleep, Children & Technology, Positive Parenting for the Strong-Willed Child, and more. Lucy Geever, Flight Instructor and Advantage Aviation. 1903 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto | 533-4018 | | Offering learn-to-fly seminars, private pilot ground school and flying lessons, along with free seminars for pilots.


Horses played an important role in the lives of Josephine and Frank Duveneck, who for years held an event called “Horseplay� to raise money for charity.

placing among the top 50 spellers in the Chronicle Spelling Bee semi-finals on Feb. 19. The spellers at the semi-finals ranged in age up to those in the eighth-grade The winner of the Bay Area finals will be invited to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June.

How to apply for Zider scholarships Preliminary applications for Chris Zider scholarships must be postmarked by March 21. Two $15,000 scholarships are awarded annually, one to a boy and one to a girl. High school sophomores may apply if they live in Atherton, East Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside, or on the Stanford campus, or if they attend Menlo School or Woodside High. Financial need is not a requirement. Applications are available at high school counseling offices or by calling the Beta Group at 233-8700. Visit chriszidescholarship. com for more information.

County of San Mateo RecycleWorks. 555 County Center, 5th Floor, Redwood City | 599-1498 | | Become a certified master composter. Learn to compost and garden without the use of toxic chemicals. Classes are free to San Mateo County residents. The Talking Playhouse. 595 Price Ave., Suite A, Redwood City | 678-9769 | | Social-learning and

Continued on next page


Continued from previous page social-skills classes and activities for all age groups, including theater games and writing groups. See website for timetable and more information. Little House Activity Center. 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park | 326-2025 | | Computer workshops, health lectures, investments, travel, self-improvement, movies, opera previews, ballroom dancing and weekend trips for people over 50. Costs range from free to $40. Register in person or by phone. Children’s Music Workshops. P.O. Box 60756, Palo Alto | 306-0332 | | Kids music classes and private lessons for guitar, piano and voice. Locations in Palo Alto and Mountain View. Music for special-needs children too. Community School of Music and Arts at Finn Center. 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View | 917-6800 | | The Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) offers classes year-round in music, visual and digital arts for ages 18 months to adult. Vacation and summer camps, one- and two-day arts workshops offered throughout the year. Private music lessons , taught by international faculty. Financial assistance available. Private lessons also offered.


of growth into the fabric that is the Phillips Brooks School community.

Jim Gorman Swim School. 3249 Alpine Road, Portola Valley | 854-6699 ext. 100 | | Patient, professional instructors and warm, clean pools make it fun to learn to swim. Private and small group lessons for all ages and abilities, from water babies (3-30 months) to national champions. Weekday and weekend lessons available for sign-ups now. Kirk House Preschool. 1148 Johnson St., Menlo Park | 323-8667 | | Kirk House Preschool is a half-day preschool with both morning and afternoon classes for children 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds (Young Fives class). Kirk House Preschool is a Christian, play-based school which offers a development-oriented curriculum in a parklike setting. Phillips Brooks School. 2245 Avy Ave., Menlo Park | 854-4545 | | The Phillips Brooks School, an independent co-educational day school for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, prepares each student to live a creative, humane and compassionate life, and to be a contributing member of society. The curriculum emphasizes the basic academic disciplines and their integration into everyday life, while developing the foundation for individual scholastic excellence and inspiring an enthusiasm for life-long learning. The overall school experience weaves the intellectual, spiritual, social and physical areas

Midpeninsula Community Media Center. 900 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto | 4948686 | | The Media Center offers classes every month in a wide range of media arts, including publishing media on the Web, podcasting, digital editing, field production, TV studio production, Photoshop for photographers, citizen journalism, and autobiographical digital stories. One-on-one tutoring is also available. Biweekly free orientation sessions and tours. Website has specific dates, fees, and scholarship information. Circle of Friends Preschool. 3214 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park | 854-2468 | | Circle of Friends Preschool offers a well-rounded curriculum in a warm personal environment. Its goal is to promote the development of the whole child: physical, emotional, social, language and intellectual. Detailed assessment of each child helps build partnerships with families to support emerging competencies. All this in a play-based program where children have opportunities to create, explore, problem solve, learn concepts, and integrate knowledge in a hands-on


Trinity School. 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park | 854-0288 | | Early childhood through grade 5. Trinity School encourages children from all backgrounds to love learning. Trinity fosters rigorous academics grounded in child-centered content. The legacy of a Trinity education is a curious mind and a discerning heart. Woodland School. 360 La Cuesta Drive, Portola Valley | 854-9065 | | Preschool-8th grade. Woodland School’s focus is a challenging academic program with a strong enrichment program of art, music, drama, computers, gymnastics and physical education. Science, math and technology are an integral part of the 5th-8th grade experience. Extended Care is offered 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Call for a brochure or to set up a tour. German-American International School. 275 Elliott Drive, Menlo Park | 650-324-8617 | | | GAIS is an international school serving approximately 300 students in preschool through 8th grade. GAIS offers a German bilingual program through 5th grade, and welcomes English-speaking students in a new English language Middle School program that offers German, Spanish and French as additional language options. GAIS follows the academically rigorous, inquiry-based programs developed by the International

Baccalaureate Organization. Portola Valley Non-Fiction Book Club. The club will discuss “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks� by Rebecca Skloot. March 17, 1-2:30 p.m. Portola Valley Library, 765 Portola Road, Portola Valley. Call 650-8510560. The Menlo Art League. The March meeting of the Menlo Art League will feature Melinda Miller Collins, who will do an acrylic painting with collage. March 9, 6:45-8:30 p.m. Free. The Menlo Park Library, 800 Alma Street St., Menlo Park. Call 650-9062045. ‘Women and Jazz.’ Marcus Shelby brings his trio to the Woodside Library for a musical presentation that reflects the works of female jazz composers and celebrates pioneering women in American history. March 19, 2-3:30 p.m. Free. Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside.

Gardening Under Oaks. Alexandra Von Feldt will speak on caring for oak trees. A tour of the native-plants garden follows. March 15, 9:30-11 a.m. Free. Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road, Woodside. The Portola Art Gallery presents “Atmosphere and Land� by Mark Monsarrat. San Francisco plein-air and studio painter Monsarrat is featuring large works and smaller pieces in his classic tonal-colorist landscape style. Through March 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Portola Art Gallery, 75 Arbor Road, Menlo Park. Call 650-321-0229.

Marcolivia. Marcolivia, violin duo, returns to Master Sinfonia for Martinu’s Concerto for Two Violins. MSCO also performs Mendelssohn’s “Ruy Blas Overture� and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.� Reception included. March 12, 8 p.m. $5-$20. Valley Presbyterian Church, 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley.

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Birds of Bedwell Bayfront Park. Volunteer birders will point out a variety of wintering




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bird species. Meet along entrance road. Heavy rain cancels. March 12, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Free/Bedwell Bayfront Park, end of Marsh Road, Menlo Park. Call 650-3257841.


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               Š 2011, Barbara B. Baker

March 9, 2011 N The Almanac N13

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 Dave Boyce, Sandy Brundage Contributors Barbara Wood, Kate Daly, Katie Blankenberg Special Sections Editors Carol Blitzer, Sue Dremann Photographer Michelle Le News Intern Miranda Simon

Design & Production Design Director Raul Perez Designers Linda Atilano, Gary Vennarucci

Advertising Vice President Sales & Marketing Walter Kupiec Display Advertising Sales Heather Hanye Real Estate Manager Neal Fine Real Estate and Advertising Coordinator Diane Martin Published every Wednesday at 3525 Alameda De Las Pulgas, Menlo Park, Ca 94025 Newsroom: (650) 223-6525 Newsroom Fax: (650) 223-7525 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.

Ideas, thoughts and opinions about

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

Alpine-280 bike lane long overdue


n the wake of the tragic death of cyclist Lauren Ward at the Alpine Road and Interstate 280 intersection, county and state transportation officials are working on four designs for a dedicated bike lane that could improve safety there. Ms. Ward, of Los Altos Hills, was a veteran cyclist who was run over by the trailer wheels of a tractor-trailer truck that was heading to the southbound I-280 on-ramp. An initial accident investigation found that Ms. Ward somehow turned or fell into the path of the truck. The driver said he never saw the cyclist in his rear-view mirror. But about a month ago, the California Highway Patrol, citing ED ITORI AL new evidence that has not been The opinion of The Almanac made public, conducted a second investigation at the site, including bringing the truck back, which apparently was needed to help officers recreate the circumstances on the day of the accident. It is our hope that the CHP will release details of this second probe soon. Just as important as the accident report is the work now under way by the county Public Works Department and the California Transportation Department to design a bike lane that will give drivers and riders a much safer path through the intersection. (One of the four design options under study resembles the bike lane at Sand Hill Road and I-280.) At the stop sign on westbound Alpine Road and I-280, there is one lane heading into Ladera, one lane that serves Ladera and southbound freeway traffic, and some extra space on the right to commit traffic to the southbound freeway. There is no bike lane; bikes merge from the right at places of the cyclist’s choosing while mixing it up between lanes of diverging vehicle traffic. The proposed bike lane would straddle the two lanes of traffic, but to get to it, cyclists would have to cross in front of one lane, carrying westbound Alpine Road traffic, either before or after the stop sign. There is no easy way to do that so that cyclists can be highly visible and move safely through the intersection. While this intersection tends to have orderly outcomes as drivers

L ET TERS Our readers write

After fatal accidents, residents want safer El Camino Editor: This letter was sent to all Atherton and Menlo Park city council members. As nearby residents, we have noted with alarm all the recent accidents on El Camino Real. In the space of just three months, there have been three major accidents, including two fatalities, all practically on our doorstep on the stretch of El Camino between Spruce Avenue in Menlo Park and Fair Oaks Avenue/Atherton Avenue in Atherton. On Sept. 30 last year, a bicyclist was killed trying to cross El Camino in a crosswalk at Isabella Avenue; on Oct. 15 last year, a pedestrian was killed trying to cross El Camino near the Watkins Avenue intersec-

CALL the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.

14 ■ The Almanac ■ March 9, 2011

See LETTERS, next page

wait their turns, bikes approaching and waiting at the stop sign must watch for traffic heading to the onramp for northbound I-280. After the stop sign, cyclists must ride between the traffic lanes and hope that motorists see them, which can be challenging when a bike is changing lanes in the shadow of the overpass. And regardless of what design emerges from this study, riders will face the essential danger that Lauren Ward faced. Any of the four designs would greatly improve bicycle safety at this intersection. We prefer Option D2, which has bikes moving left into a bike lane that splits the traffic lanes well before the stop sign. A key advantage to D-2 is that drivers would be conscious of the presence of bikes before leaving the stop sign. And the bike lane would be marked with a thick and highly visible white stripe. The other versions introduce bikes to the merging traffic under the freeway overpass where it is dark and where abbreviated distances leave little time or space for lazy drivers to make split second decisions while at the wheels of potentially deadly machines. Whatever design is chosen, a new bike lane will serve as a memorial to Lauren Ward, whose tragic death sparked the discussion to make this long-needed improvement a reality.

Our Regional Heritage The gatekeeper at James C. Flood’s 674-acre estate off Middlefield Road lived in this four-bedroom home in what is now Lindenwood. The “lodge” was built in 1878 and razed in 1954, despite the objections of a citizens group that hoped to save it.

Atherton Heritage Association


L E T T ER S Continued from previous page

tion; and most recently, on Nov. 30, a driver lost control on El Camino and crashed in front of the medical building just south of Watkins. We can personally affirm that traffic goes by very fast on this stretch of El Camino. There are no stop lights or stop signs between Encinal Avenue in Menlo Park and Fair Oaks Avenue in Atherton. Drivers regularly exceed the posted 35 mile per hour speed limit as they travel in either direction between Redwood City and Menlo Park. Cars take advantage of the open stretch to speed up, which makes the two crosswalks extremely dangerous, because cars are unlikely to see any pedestrians in time. We would like to see the following traffic controls put into place in order to make our area safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike: â– An electronic speed limit reminder (such as that one posted along Watkins Avenue) should be installed to remind drivers that the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Regular monitoring and ticketing by

police would also serve as a visible deterrent to speeding. â– The pedestrian crosswalks should be augmented with flashing lights on the ground and orange flag stands (as they have been on Ravenswood Avenue and the corner of University Drive and Menlo Avenue in Menlo Park). Now the crosswalks give the misleading impression that it is safe to cross there. â–  Other proven traffic-calming and slowing measures could be installed that would make drivers more aware that this is a residential area. We understand that depending on where these traffic improvements fall, they may lie in the jurisdiction of either Atherton or Menlo Park. However, it is a section of road that both our communities use heavily and to that extent, it is a mutual concern. If we are serious about making our community a friendlier place for bikers and pedestrians, we should not put them in dangerous situations. Nor should we expect too much from our drivers; they should have due warning so they can do right by their fellow citizens. We would like to see some steps taken to improve the situation before there is another tragedy. Lydia Lee, Spruce Avenue, Menlo Park and more than 20 others

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Menlo Park still lacks official position on rail project By Steve Schmidt


s the saying goes: you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you

don’t. The latest Menlo Park kerfuffle puts City Council member Kelly Fergusson in the cross-hairs again and this time the critics are making a variety of complaints. Her planned trip to Washington, D.C, to influence Congress members “on funding for high-speed rail� seems to be a problem due to a questionable need for the trip, the cost of the trip, and more recently, an alleged conflict of interest due to her employment at Siemens, a company that some say wants the contract to build high-speed rail. The high-speed-rail issue in Menlo Park has become an animal of many colors and stripes. Ms. Fergusson was one of two council members who approved the city’s joining Atherton in a lawsuit opposing the project two years ago. She has also approved the city’s participation in two other lawsuits against the project and approved our city’s membership in the Peninsula Cities Consortium, an organization that appears to oppose high-speed

rail on the Peninsula. One might think that based on these bold acts, she would be appreciated for her devotion to the anti-HSR cause and her trip to D.C. applauded. Applause is not what she’s getting. Because of Ms. Fergusson’s employment, she is presumed to be a high-speed-rail proponent. The often-used line, “Do it right or not at all,� has left a void in both Ms. Fergusson’s and the city’s position regarding HSR. The question that lingers is: What is “right�? Does it mean two, three, or GUEST four tracks, a OPINION tunnel, a trench, at-grade, on a viaduct, six trains a day, six trains an hour, or not on the Peninsula ever? No one really knows where Menlo Park stands on any of these variables, as there has not been a full discussion by the council with high-speed rail on an agenda. Mayor Rich Cline has stated that the city “has been on this for two and a half years. It’s been in every

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newspaper. (and) ... nothing has been outside the public light on our position on high-speed rail. ...â&#x20AC;? While this may be true, it is the councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job to adopt a policy regarding this state-wide project, a project that will bring both benefits and negative impacts to Menlo Park. There appears to be no policy. This process is overdue and puts Ms. Fergusson in a tough position as she travels to Washington, D.C., carrying a message that may be only hers and has not been adopted in public by the city. If the council had a policy position, Ms. Fergussonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job of influencing key members of Congress would be much easier. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no surprise sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s getting flak from all quarters, most of it not based on substance. As Mr. Cline asked last Tuesday night, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that (high-speed rail) policy going to be?â&#x20AC;? Apparently, no one knows. Yet we have a paid lobbyist and a council member going to Washington to say something to important people without our knowing what that something is. Steve Schmidt, former Menlo Park council member



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16 N The Almanac NMarch 9, 2011

Providing A Network of Reputable Home-Improvement Professionals

The Almanac 03.09.2011 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the March 9.2011 edition of the Almanac

The Almanac 03.09.2011 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the March 9.2011 edition of the Almanac