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High-speed rail should merge with improved Caltrain, say legislators. Page 7


APRIL 20, 2011

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Riekes Center works with the VA in helping injured veterans and others ignite their ‘spark’ | SECTION 2

2 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011


The spark behind Riekes Center


Ken Coverdell (650) 726-5990

Serious football injury leads to a new way to inspire athletes, artists

Award Winning Since 1985

By Barbara Wood For more about the Riekes Center, see Section 2.

Special to the Almanac


he Riekes Center for Human Enhancement is a place of many contrasts, eclectic, busy, and full of surprises — much like the man who founded it, Gary Riekes. For starters, Mr. Riekes has always excelled at both music and athletics. By the age of 10 he was playing paying gigs in the Dixie Gaters, who played pop, ragtime and swing. Young Gary played the saxophone and clarinet, and sang. He played football and basketball in high school, and was a wide receiver at Stanford University, despite being only 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 140 pounds. Growing up with a mother who was a professional violinist and a father who played college football, Mr. Riekes says he felt he had “every advantage possible and a tremendous amount of love.� Then he was injured playing football at Stanford. Although he was in pain, Mr. Riekes told his coaches he was not. That denial and an initial misdiagnosis worsened the injury. Unsuccessful surgeries followed, and Mr. Riekes’ parents sent him to rehabilitate in a spinal cord injury unit. He hated it so much, he convinced his fraternity brothers to break him out. Then Mr. Riekes, against everyone’s advice, went to Canada for experimental surgery, which went badly wrong.

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

“I felt I was helping them; they felt they were helping me,� says Gary Riekes.

He spent most of the next decade in a fetal position or in a pool. “In water I was well,� he says. He stayed busy. Mr. Riekes began using his athletic knowledge to train friends from his bed, and he ran Soundpiper Music, which recorded children’s music. Soon he was training professional athletes. Young people got involved when some of the students packaging Soundpiper’s recordings asked if he would train them. Instead Mr. Riekes taught them how to supervise themselves. He ran both businesses from his home on Fernside Avenue in Woodside. “This program

evolved around me,� he says. While recovering from injury Mr. Riekes had athletes try music. Students looking to pay their tuition cared for his garden, the germ of the nature program. Then, former students returned after studying landscape architecture, film, and photography, and began to teach others. “Most of the things they were doing were because I couldn’t do it myself,� Mr. Riekes says. “I felt I was helping them; they felt they were helping me.� When Mr. Riekes was finally back on his feet, he spent more than four years coaching in the World Football League, assisting Mouse Davis, who Mr. Riekes says invented the run-and-shoot offense. Then former students began urging Mr. Riekes to move to bigger quarters. He sold his house and moved the business to unincorporated Menlo Park. Part of the original program is literally still there in the current Riekes Center on Edison Way. Students step through the Fernside home’s relocated front door to get to the workout area. The center is meant, he says, to be “a place where everyone feels welcome and comfortable.� Mr. Riekes does public relations, curriculum design, and fundraising for the center. But he also spends 15 hours a week working with students. “I like coaching and teaching,� he says. “I’m not willing to give that up.�

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The Riekes Center is located at 3455 Edison Way in unincorporated Menlo Park. Barbara Wood is a freelance writer, photographer and gardener from Woodside. Gary Riekes, age 12, on saxophone in the Dixie-Gaters band. Others in this picture from a newspaper clipping: Joel Aresty, bass; Bob Guss, trombone; Gary Soreif, drums; Gary Kaplan, piano; and Ron Brockemeier, trumpet. Photo by Dundee West-Omaha Sun

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Sacred Heart to rebuild its Lower & Middle Schools ■ Demolition of buildings to begin in June By Jane Knoerle Almanac Lifestyles Editor


ounded in the 19th century, Sacred Heart Schools will offer 21st century teaching and learning for its Lower and Middle Schools students in new state-of-the-art buildings to be completed in August 2012. In June the venerable Atherton institution will begin demolition of its existing Lower and Middle Schools campus to construct four new buildings, which will surround a large green courtyard. The new campus will be built to LEED-Silver environmental standards, said spokesperson Millie Lee. The Lower and Middle Schools campus will double in size to 89,000 square feet. There will This rendering shows the interior of the courtyard facing the new library. be more than 25 classrooms, along with science lab rooms. The The buildings will feature natuThe existing buildings, which 23,000-square-foot fine arts center ral lighting and ventilation, and now house grades 1 through 8, will have seating for 650 people will use renewable and recycled were constructed in the 1950s. and soundproof rooms for band, materials and water-efficient land- Sacred Heart began discussing the chorus, music and drama. scaping, she said. need to replace the buildings with At 6,500 square feet, the new WRNS Studios of San Francisco the town of Atherton in 2007. At library will triple the size of the is the architect for the project. Her- that time the Lower School (grades existing library, and will be built rero Construction of San Fran- 1 through 5) and the Middle to “net zero” environmental stan- cisco is general contractor and School (grades 6 through 8) were dards for electric and water, Ms. Rockridge Group of San Francisco called St. Joseph’s School of the Lee said. will serve as project manager. Sacred Heart.

Rendering by WRNS Studio

Together with the high school (grades 9 through 12), Sacred Heart Schools has an enrollment of 1,123. There are no plans to increase enrollment because of the new campus, according to Ms. Lee. Richard A. Dioli is director of schools, Anne Holloway is chairman of the board of trustees, and Sandy Dubinsky is chief

operating officer. Capital campaign fund

The new campus is made possible through funds raised by the school’s current capital campaign, launched in 2008. With a goal of raising $95 million, it is the largest capital campaign that Sacred See SACRED HEART, page 8

Woodside underground: Town School funding news keeps getting worse of the Menlo Park City School similar pain, and worries that revisits basement regulations By Renee Batti District sent a letter on April without the tax extensions the Almanac News Editor

By Dave Boyce

structures, I am just not personAlmanac Staff Writer ally aware of them,” Mr. Schaan said in an email. here is a tunnel in WoodTown staff members are in side not made by a mole, the early stages of examina vole or a gopher. ing basement regulations and “Basements have evolved in were seeking direction from ways we didn’t the council on imagine many an ordinance years ago,” ‘Basements have evolved that would Senior Planner eventually Sage Schaan in ways we didn’t imagine come before told the Town the public for a many years ago.’ Council at its hearing before SENIOR PLANNER SAGE SCHAAN April 12 meetadoption. ing. The council The town gets tunnel inqui- suggested that tunnels should ries periodically and there is not be wide enough to accomone Woodside home in which a modate a motor vehicle or a wall tunnel connects the main base- of wine racks, and that maybe ment to an underground garage tunnels should be excluded from and another basement under an footprint limits. Underground accessory structure, he said. spaces beneath accessory struc“There are likely some other tures should be acceptable but properties that have underSee BASEMENT, page 8 ground connections between


7 to the school community Legislature might pass new ocal elementary school detailing what bleak looks like: bills allowing lottery money districts have been bracing If extensions on soon-to-expire to be withheld from the state’s and adjusting for dramatic taxes aren’t approved, he wrote, schools, and reducing the guarfunding cuts for the next school projections show that the dis- anteed $120 per student all disyear as the state wrestles with trict can expect a payment from tricts receive from the state. a $12 billion projected The four elementary budgetary shortfall. But school districts in the the latest indications Almanac’s circulation ‘It’s unconscionable: Our state wants area — Menlo Park City, from Sacramento are that the seemingly pruLas Lomitas, Portola a first-tier education system on dent budget planning by Valley, and Woodside, a third-world budget.’ district leaders may not all basic-aid districts — have gone far enough will be affected by the ERIC HARTWIG, SUPERINTENDENT, to address the scale of so-called “fair share” L AS LOMITAS SCHOOL DISTRICT, cuts to be made once the funding cut signed by dust has settled in the the governor several Capitol. the state of only $588,000 for the weeks ago. That measure will “Bleak doesn’t begin to fiscal year. That compares with cost basic-aid districts in the describe it,” State Sen. Joe Simi- $2.9 million in funding three state 8.9 percent of what is nortian, D-Palo Alto, said on April years ago, and represents an 80 mally paid to them in categori14 during a short break from percent funding cut over that cal funds. the Senate Budget Committee period. Superintendent Tim Hanretty hearings on school funding for Eric Hartwig, superintendent of the Portola Valley School Disthe 2011-12 fiscal year. of the Las Lomitas School See SCHOOLS, page 8 Superintendent Ken Ranella District, said his district faces


April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N5




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R EAL E STATE Q&A by Gloria Darke

Way Out? Dear Gloria, I recently sold my property to a qualified buyer and at a price I was willing to take. During the recent rainstorms I had a very small leak in my roof. When I mentioned it to my realtor, he said that this would need to be disclosed to the buyer, even though I had already fixed it. So I filled out the form he gave me; it was given to the buyer and I am then told that they are not proceeding with the sale. I am furious with the realtor and cannot understand why that would give the buyer the right to cancel the sale, with no repercussions. All the contingencies were removed and as it was explained to me earlier, I should have the right to the liquidated damages. Roger W. Dear Roger, Once the offer has been made, negotiated and ratified, there are three main bumps in the road in order to successfully close. The inspections are usually the biggest bump to deal with. In this area, we usually have all the inspections done prior Photo by Veronica Weber/Embarcadero Media

Announcing support Monday for a new high-speed-rail line that would use a modernized Caltrain corridor are, from right, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, state Sen. Joe Simitian and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon.

Reps: High-speed rail should merge with improved Caltrain system on Peninsula By Jocelyn Dong and Gennady Sheyner Embarcadero Media


aying that government funding for California’s High-Speed Rail program will be “severely limited ... for the foreseeable future,” local federal and state representatives are calling upon the California High-Speed Rail Authority to essentially link the high-speed rail route from Los Angeles with an improved and electrified Caltrain system running from San Jose to San Francisco. U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, made their announcement Monday morning at the Menlo Park Caltrain station. The three legislators described the “blended” system of high-speedrail and Caltrain as the best way to save money, protect Peninsula communities from unnecessary construction, and ensure the continued viability of Caltrain, which is facing a financial crisis. Reps. Eshoo, Simitian and Gordon said California’s high-speedrail plans should include what they called a “21st Century Caltrain” — a definition that includes electrification, positive train controls, and new rolling stock. Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline said he was very pleased with the news. “Looks like we are more aligned with our state and federal representatives today than we have been for a long time.” Sen. Simitian called Monday’s announcement a “first step in a new conversation” that aims to create what he calls “high-speed

rail done right.” The rail authority’s failure to come up with a viable proposal for the voter-approved rail project has prompted the lawmakers to present their own vision for the project, he said. He pointed to a series of critical audits of the rail project, including ones from the Bureau of State Audits, the state Office of Inspector General, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. These reports had found a series of flaws in the rail authority’s business plan, ridership analyses, and revenue projections. “Frankly, a great many of our constituents are convinced that the High-Speed Rail Authority has already wandered so far afield that it is too late for a successful course correction,” Reps. Simitian, Eshoo and Gordon wrote in the statement. “We hope the Authority can prove otherwise.” If high-speed rail isn’t “done right,” Sen. Simitian said, it simply won’t get done at all. The three agreed that any proposal for a new rail line should be “sensitive and responsive” to local concerns. Rep. Eshoo told the crowd at the Caltrain station that the rail authority has failed, thus far, to listen to the communities’ concerns. Three of her constituent communities — Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton — are in the process of suing the rail authority over its environmental analysis. “I really believe that they have squandered a great deal of goodwill on the Peninsula by not honoring our communities,” she said. “Each community is unique, each com-

munity has its own history, each community has its own traditions, and they’re proud of it and they’re entitled to this source of pride.” Among the most contentious proposals on the table is an alternative to run the new trains on an elevated structure such as aerial viaducts. The three lawmakers called on the rail authority to scrap any proposal that includes an elevated structure on the Peninsula. They also affirmed their support for the new rail system running through the existing Caltrain corridor. Most significantly, they called on the authority to abandon plans for a larger project, which would involve running the high-speed rail line alongside a modernized, electrified Caltrain system on the Peninsula. Instead, they urged the rail authority and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (which oversees Caltrain) to improve the existing system without building what they characterized as a “duplicate” one. “Given the current financial straits at the federal and state level, amassing the funds to build this across California will take time,” Mr. Gordon said. “In the interim, there will be funds spent on high-speed rail and I believe it’s imperative for the High-Speed Rail Authority to guarantee that whatever funds are spent are spent in a way that enhance and upgrade our existing intercity and regionalized transportation systems in California. “Where high-speed rail is built it needs to be able to connect and interface in a seamless fashion with local transit systems.”

to putting the property on the market so that if there is anything major that needs to be addressed, it can be done before it becomes a problem in the buyers mind. An inspector is hired to find every little thing that is wrong with a property and that is done to protect everyone in the transaction, including the inspector. In addition to the inspection, the sellers are required to disclose any and all defects known to them. There are two forms to fill out, one of them being 9 pages long. Most of the time, we give all this information to the buyer prior to the writing of an offer so there are no surprises. You had something occur to the property of a somewhat substantial nature after the inspection and after you had disclosed all KNOWN defects and your realtor was right to have you disclose it. What this does is give the buyer a three day right of recession because of this new information. Just from what you tell me it sounds as if the buyers may have had second thoughts and this provided an out for them.

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.

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SCHOOLS continued from page 5

trict said the “fair share” cut will cost his district about $350,000. In an April 13 report, Mr. Hanretty said the district may be facing another $225,000 if the tax extensions aren’t approved. But Mr. Hartwig said that the state Legislative Analysts Office on April 14 indicated that school districts should prepare for a hit of about twice what was originally predicted should the taxes not be extended. In Las Lomitas’ case, that means a loss of $900,000 to $1 million rather than the $485,000 the district originally was told to expect. Although the cutbacks will hurt, Mr. Hanretty said that the Portola Valley district’s challenges “aren’t as great as some of our neighboring districts.” That’s because in the last few years, “we saw the future,” and took significant measures to keep the district on solid financial ground. “During the dotcom days, we established a good reserve,” he said, adding that the reserve now represents about 16 percent of the budget. If the tax extensions aren’t approved, the district will spend from its reserves in the next fiscal year, he said. “We put that money away when times were good as a rainyday fund. And it’s raining.” Mr. Hartwig said the Las Lomitas district has spent from its reserves this school year to compensate for previous state “takeaways.” The district has also taken advantage of the

state’s rule change on reserves that lowered the requirement to squirrel away 3 percent of a district’s budget to 1 percent, according to Carolyn Chow, the district’s business manager. The district plans to continue programs at much the same level next fiscal year, thanks to stepped-up donations by parents to the Las Lomitas Education Foundation, Mr. Hartwig said. He expressed much gratitude for the foundation support that will allow the district to keep its programs, and an equal measure of irritation that such support has become critical. “It’s unconscionable: Our state wants a first-tier education system on a third-world budget,” he said. In his letter to the community, Mr. Ranella said that some of the initiatives planned for the next school year to accommodate the district’s increasing enrollment — such as more counselors, curriculum coordinators in math and English/ language arts, and increased staffing for elementary art and music programs — are now in jeopardy with the prospect of much deeper cuts in state funding. “If we were to follow through with and pursue all these initiatives, next year’s ... budget would be much higher than what would be financially prudent,” he wrote. As a result, he said, he will be working with other staff members and the district’s Financial Advisory Committee, among others, to reduce spending by another $600,000 in the preliminary budget, he said. A

Town employee benefits won’t take hit By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he staff in Portola Valley’s Town Hall, reportedly among the lowest compensated in the county in terms of retirement benefits, will retain free health coverage for their dependents, a majority on the Town Council decided at its April 13 meeting. The council discussed a recommendation by the town’s Finance Committee that employees contribute 12.5 percent toward dependent healthinsurance cost. Having employees contribute was a philosophical position, said Michelle Takei, chairwoman of the Finance Committee, which voted 4-1 for the recommendation. “We thought that the town’s citizens would probably be supportive of the employees paying a little,” a concept common in the private sector, she told the council. Portola Valley’s budgets are consistently in the black. With 13 full-time and two part-time employees, the town would save $900 a month, Town Manager Angie Howard said in defending the status quo. “This amount will not impact our town in any way” but could hurt some employees who can ill afford a $130 hit to

Almanac Staff Writer

continued from page 5

not habitable nor should they have access to daylight, council members said. Mr. Schaan led the group through a discussion that also touched on the dimensions of basement footprints, their extension into setbacks, the handling of graded earth, light wells and whether they should count as square footage, and groundwater and tree-root impacts. A sampling of opinion: A basement should not exceed the footprint of the structure above, possibly excepting light wells; limited extension into setbacks may be OK on small or nonconforming lots; perhaps it’s appropriate to increase the maximum volume of graded earth before requiring a permit; extensive tunneling can inhibit groundwater flow by creating an underground dam effect. “It’s very difficult, it’s nearly impossible” to predict the

impacts of underground development on groundwater, Mr. Schaan said. How a basement evolves is a battle of wits, to some extent. Homeowners and their representatives will study town regulations for interpretations that favor their plans and then argue accordingly at the Town Hall planning counter. Forethought is a must in writing regulations, council members advised. “It’s like whack-a-mole,” Councilwoman Anne Kasten said. “You’ve got to be really careful about it. You’ve got to think about it,” Councilman Peter Mason added. “We should not criticize our (residents) for following the rules,” Councilman Dave Burow noted. A

Go to and click on the agenda for April 12 for Mr. Schaan’s staff report on basement regulations, beginning on Page 46.

8 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011

their take-home pay, she said. “We do have to live on the Peninsula and, as you all know, it’s not inexpensive,” she added. Of the 20 cities and towns in San Mateo County, Portola Valley’s employees are apparently among the least compensated in retirement. Their pensions are based on 2 percent of the average of their last three annual salaries, one of two municipalities that use that formula, Councilman Steve Toben said. The average is 2.7 percent, he said. Five cities offer 2 percent, four calculate based on a three-year average instead of the last year’s salary, and six, including Portola Valley, do not offer health benefits in retirement, according to a compilation by Stacie Nerdahl, the town’s administration service officer. “Portola Valley’s employment package simply does not provide a ‘go to’ example of a generous public employment benefits package,” Ms. Nerdahl told the council. In arguing for leaving the benefit package as it is, Councilman Steve Toben acknowledged the private sector trend but argued that the comparison is not accurate.

Willows burglars ordered to repay victims By Sandy Brundage




ix months after their arrests, three burglars who targeted Menlo Park’s Willows neighborhood pleaded no contest in San Mateo County Superior Court on April 11. Ricardo Esparza, 18, and his 19-year-old brother, Victor Alfonso Esparza, and Jesus Enrique Lara, 19, pleaded no contest to two counts of burglary. Each man also pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree burglary, according to the district attorney’s office. Judge Lisa Novak ordered the men to pay at least $42,050 to four victims. She also sentenced them to three years supervised probaSACRED HEART continued from page 5

Heart Schools in Atherton has embarked on in its 113-year history, Ms. Lee said. Among capital campaign achievements to date are: construction of the Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life


tion following one year in county jail, with 279 days credited as time served. The trio was arrested after 10 daytime burglaries and two attempts occurred last September in the Willows neighborhood. The district attorney’s office said Mr. Lara was on probation for car theft when the burglaries occurred.

Challenging us to drive less If paying more than $4 a gallon for gas doesn’t encourage people to drive less, what will? Perhaps the annual Drive Less Challenge, which kicks off on

Center; new athletic fields with all-weather turf; and refurbishment of the Aquatic Center. Groundbreaking celebration

The Rev. George H. Niederauer, archbishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese, will attend the groundbreaking ceremonies to

“The reality is that a great many of our employees are specialists in public sector business,” he said. “We have specialized skills within our workforce. Thus, the appropriate comparison of work skills is with other public agencies.” Mr. Toben said he is not opposed to examining benefits, but that it should be done in a comprehensive way, not by chipping away at them. Councilman John Richards agreed with Mr. Toben’s take. “We’re clearly not being lavish in terms of the rest of the communities,” Mr. Richards said. “I don’t see where we have a problem. I don’t see any real point in addressing a non-issue.” In dissent, Councilwoman Ann Wengert praised the town’s employees and asked them not to take her remarks personally. “You guys are the best,” she said. Including staff behind the dais, there were eight employees in the room. Public sector compensation is “no longer so separate from the private sector,” she said. “The impact of health care costs on everyone across the entire world is dramatic.” “To me, the writing is on the wall that these (public sector) plans won’t be sustainable,” Ms. Wengert said. A

April 22 and ends May 5. The challenge asks participants to use alternative transportation such as buses, bikes, carpools, and their own two feet. Top performers can win prizes from local merchants. An awards party will be held on Saturday, May 21, at Kepler’s Books at 1010 El Camino Real. A press release said 120 participants in Menlo Park in 2009 replaced over 5,000 car miles with alternative “green” trips, reducing local carbon dioxide emissions by over 2 tons. Last year 280 participants from around the Peninsula replaced 29,000 miles, equivalent to taking 55 cars off the road. Go to for more information. A

be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 15, on the Sacred Heart campus. There will be a community Mass by the Rev. David Ghiorso and site blessing by the archbishop. A celebration on the football field will include a barbecue lunch, live music, games and activities for all family members. A


Almanac wins seven awards in state-wide CNPA contest The Almanac won seven awards in the state-wide Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, it was announced Saturday. The Almanac won first-place awards for public service, editorial comment, and news photo, and second-place awards for editorial pages, news photo, photo essay, and environmental reporting. Staff photographer Michelle Le won both first- and secondplace awards in the general news photo category. Public service

The public-service award was given for News Editor Renee Battiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cover story on March 17, 2010, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Who is prospering from Prop 13?â&#x20AC;? The article detailed the efforts of Menlo Park resident Jennifer Bestor, whose intensive research and review of parcel assessment rolls illustrated that the property tax burden since the 1978 passage of state Proposition 13 has shifted dramatically to homeowners, creating a windfall for commercial businesses. While Ms. Bestor deserves much credit for her extensive and meticulous research, the Almanac devoted many hours to fact-checking Ms. Bestorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s figures and conclusions, adding pertinent information and context, and creating a narrative to bring the issue home. Reaction to the article was huge, and the Almanac received more comments about it than perhaps any other story during the year. It created a healthy â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and rare â&#x20AC;&#x201D; dialogue about the tax measure, and people began to see that a discussion of

Proposition 13 reform could go beyond the hysteria of whether grandma would lose her home. Other awards

The first-place editorial comment award was for an editorial by editor and publisher Tom Gibboney, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Managing the Atherton news,â&#x20AC;? published Jan. 6, 2010. The editorial was critical of the Atherton City Council for failing to inform the public that it had agreed to an embarrassing $230,000 settlement with an employee who sued the town for sexual harassment and disability discrimination. Photographer Michelle Le won first place in the general news photo category for her photograph of the Dalai Lamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visit with Menlo Park and East Palo Alto students in October 2010. Ms. Le also won the secondplace award in the category for a December 2009 photo of a vigil for Lisa Xavier, a 6-year-old girl who was killed in a hit-and-run car accident at the intersection of Willow Road and Bayfront Expressway in Menlo Park. In the photo essay category, Ms. Le won a second-place award for a September 2010 photo spread on Jeffrey Adair returning to the stage. The wellknown owner of J Flora Art was a professional dancer and singer before he opened the florist business about 20 years ago. Reporter Dave Boyce won a second-place award in the environmental or agricultural resource reporting category for a March 10, 2010, cover story, on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gardening (to eat) at school.â&#x20AC;? The story was about Sacred Heart Preparatory students tending a large organic garden as well as chickens and goats

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

This photo of the Dalai Lama meeting with Menlo Park and East Palo Alto students won first place in the general news photo category of the contest. The photo by Almanac staff photographer Michelle Le shows the Dalai Lama holding a gift from students while chatting with Rudy Rivera, left, at Costano Elementary School in East Palo Alto. Belle Haven student Adagio Lopeti, right, and another student anticipate their group picture with the Dalai Lama.

on the campus. The fruits, vegetables and eggs provide ingredients for breakfast and lunch at the school. Editor Tom Gibboney won a second-place award for editorial pages, published Aug. 11 and Aug. 25, 2010. The pages contained two editorials. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wake-up call on high-speed railâ&#x20AC;? discussed the decision not to use tunnels for high-speed trains crossing Menlo Park and Atherton. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why delay in reporting pool gas leak?â&#x20AC;? was critical of the delay in announcing a potentially dangerous gas leak at the Menlo Park pool. Former Almanac reporter Sean Howell won a certificate of achievement in the environmental or agricultural resource reporting category for two stories in the Nov. 4, 2009, issue about the growing number of local people raising chickens at home.




Briefs: Bookkeeper deserves more time in jail, judge decides By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


ome Americans celebrated Emancipation Day, but probably not Evette Christine Weiler. A judge decided that the bookkeeper, who had pleaded no contest to embezzling $140,000 from Roger Reynolds Nursery in Menlo Park, deserved a longer jail sentence than the 16 months promised under the plea bargain. The 32-year-old Fremont woman withdrew her plea after hearing Judge Lisa Novakâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision on Friday, April 15, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Ms. Weiler attracted suspicion after vendors complained about not being paid, and employee health insurance lapsed because

premiums werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t paid, according to the district attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office. She had worked at the nursery for almost two years. In January, auditors discovered â&#x20AC;&#x153;dozens of checksâ&#x20AC;? written to a Fremont business called â&#x20AC;&#x153;When Every Penny Counts,â&#x20AC;? police said. Prosecutors alleged that Ms. Weiler concealed the embezzlement by transferring money from the nurseryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 401K retirement plan. Menlo Park police arrested the bookkeeper in July, and she had pleaded no contest last fall. Now Ms. Weiler faces a jury trial scheduled for May 23.

Repeat DUI driver pleads not guilty An Atherton woman charged with six counts of felony drunk-

en driving remains out on bail, despite having to post a higher amount at the prosecutionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s request. A San Mateo County Superior Court judge had raised Margaret Brillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bail by $100,000 on April 12, according to the district attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office. The 62-year-old woman allegedly careened down Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park on Dec. 7, her car striking at least four vehicles and injuring two people, according to police. Three bystanders helped the injured and took Ms. Brillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s keys away, keeping her on the scene. She has two previous DUI convictions, and was arrested again two days after the Dec.



See DUI, page 15

April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N9

A community health education series from Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Clear Sight Into Fragile Globe: New Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Combines High Technology with Advanced Knowledge Jennifer Thompson was feeling pretty good about her cataract surgery until shortly after it began, and she heard the surgeon say, “I can’t proceed. There is something very wrong.”

“I think he was pretty shocked by what he saw,” said Thompson. “He told me I was in danger of losing my vision and my eye.” Without quick action, that was a strong possibility. As frightening as that possibility was, she was thinking of something else that frightened her even more. Her husband had died eight years earlier of melanoma. Its first symptom was vision blurred by a detached retina.

Delicate architecture Our eyes may be the most complex organs. Protected by our eyelids, which blink 14,000 times each day,

“I think he was pretty shocked by what he saw. He told me I was in danger of losing my vision and my eye.” – Jennifer Thompson, patient at Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics Venturing into retinal territory requires infinitesimal precision. “The retina has the consistency of wet tissue paper,” said Leng. “Touch it with an instrument and you will rip it.” By the time he saw Thompson, scar tissue was already forming on the retina’s surface, blocking her vision. The accumulating blood was seeping under the retina, like bubbles in wallpaper, lifting the retina off its contact with the interior of the eyeball and destroying the ability of her left eye to process light as coherent vision. Thompson went into surgery with Leng, a retinal specialist, and other Eye Institute colleagues expert in the cornea. Two hours later, she was in recovery. “I had zero pain,” she

said. But she did have to spend the next two weeks, asleep or awake, face down in the head cradle of a massage table. The goal: To hold all the repairs together long enough for them to be secure.

Norbert von der Groeben

What he saw was blood where blood was not supposed to be. Thompson’s left eye was hemorrhaging, several layers of its delicate tissue torn open in a pre-operative procedure. Thompson had emergency surgery, but it was clear she needed the most advanced level of eye care possible. She was referred to the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics to see eye surgeon Theodore Leng, MD, the Institute’s Director of Ophthalmic Diagnostics.

each small globe is fronted by the stack of cornea, pupil, iris and lens that face forward; lining the interior of the globe is a thin layer of tissue called the retina, made up of several layers of neuronal cells. They have a biochemical response to light that sends information through the optic nerve to the brain.

“It wasn’t easy,” Jennifer Thompson was about to have cataracts removed from her left eye when she said, “but the surgeon suddenly stopped the procedure. Her eye was hemorrhaging and when you’re trythe accumulating damage to fragile tissues inside the eye was an immediate and ing to save your serious threat to Thompson’s vision. vision, that’s what you do.” Her advances in eye care, Blumenkson set up a three-way mirror so ranz said, including the invention she could watch television and her of many of the features of modern grandchildren could crawl under the ophthalmic laser delivery systems table to look up at her and talk. “It for the retina. The initial system, was pretty hilarious,” she said. developed in the 1960s, became the standard of care for eyes for decades, he said. In the last decade, new Stanford’s Byers Eye Institute, generations of scanning lasers have where Thompson went for her care, made treatments even more precise, opened this fall, bringing together a quicker and less painful. group of physicians and the latest in equipment for diagnosis and treatStanford patients were among the ment. This new building is a natural first on the West Coast to benefit progression of the groundbreaking from another recent development, work done in ophthalmology for dethe use of monoclonal antibodies to cades at Stanford, said Byers’ Direcstop leaking blood vessels that cause tor Mark Blumenkranz, MD. several types of blindness, especially in people with age-related macular degeneration, Blumenkranz said. Stanford physicians have been inThe macula is the central portion strumental in many of the major

History of eye care innovation

Norbert von der Groeben

After a two-hour surgery at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, performed by Theodore Leng, MD, Thomson’s vision is almost completely back to normal. Leng is keeping careful watch on her eye health, however. Thompson may yet need another surgery. 10 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011

special feature

The architecture of sight

Protecting Your Eyes · Our mothers weren’t joking about carrots being good for our eyes. So are leafy green vegetables. A balanced diet, said Theodore Leng, MD, of Stanford’s Byers Eye Institute, is an important part of healthy eyes. · Wear a hat or sunglasses or both, Leng advises. Ultraviolet light can cause cancers on the surface of the eye, in addition to skin cancer on the eyelid. · Ultraviolet light is also a likely impetus for cataract development and may also be a factor in macular degeneration. That condition, very often related to increasing age, is caused by cellular debris that accumulates between the retina and the choroid, another layer of tissue in the eye. · Knowing the symptoms of retinal detachment can also prevent complete loss of vision. Those symptoms, which are painless, include the sudden

appearance of floaters, debris that looks like bits of string or hair or spots. Sudden flashes of light in one or both eyes and a shadow over one area of vision can also mean trouble. · Talk to your doctor if there is a family history of eye problems. Some diseases have a genetic component. The Byers Eye Institute at Stanford is home to six specialized care centers. It offers the latest technologies for diagnosis and treatment. Its professional staff includes 25 eye care specialists in all services, including cataract evaluation and surgery, oculoplastic surgery, cornea and external eye disease, glaucoma, and neuro-ophthalmology. It opened in fall 2010 in a $26.3 million building at 2452 Watson Court, Palo Alto.

Cornea: transparent protective tissue Iris: muscular ring that controls amount of light entering the pupil Pupil: allows light through to retina Lens: changes shape to allow focus at various distances Retina: thin layer of tissue whose photoreceptor cells transmit signals to optic nerve and visual Optic process centers Nerve Pupil in the brain Macula: central Macula portion of the Lens retina that Iris processes central field of vision and Retina enables vision acuity Cornea

For more information about the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, visit or call 650.723.6995. Join us at

of the retina; it can become clouded with material that obscures vision.

“The retina has the consistency of wet tissue paper. Touch it with an instrument and you will rip it.” – Theodore Leng, MD, Director of Ophthalmic Diagnostics, Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics

More than 1,000 surgeries were performed at the Eye Institute last year; 40,000 patient visits covered treatment of cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, lid and orbital problems, corneal disease and vitrioretinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Complexity overcome With Thompson, the first challenge was diagnosis. At Stanford, physicians use specialized cameras and scanning equipment that produce a microscopic-level image of the eye’s structures without having to remove any tissue from the eye. A low-intensity laser light beam allows information about the retina, even the optic nerve, to be gathered in ways previously not thought possible, said Blumenkranz. That data is then processed with software that constructs the image.

While repairing Thompson’s injury required great surgical skill, “she was very lucky,” Leng said. “It was a glancing injury which, fortunately and miraculously, did not cut the retina.”

“I feel nothing short of lucky, thanks to the skills, empathy, concern and knowledge of Dr. Leng and his team.” – Jennifer Thompson, patient at Byers Eye Institute at Stanford Hospital & Clinics The surgery was conducted with a raft of special devices designed to cope with the challenge of an organ that is 90 percent water

Norbert von der Groeben

Current research at Stanford includes continuing development of microsurgical devices and lasers that operate in femtoseconds—that’s a millionth of a billionth second. Stanford physician-scientists are also investigating how semiconductor chips might be used to help patients whose retina is intact, but who, because of genetic disorders, have lost the rods and cones in the retina necessary to translate light into images.

The Institute has also been nationally recognized as a center for clinical studies in refractive surgery, including LASIK and PRK.

Jennifer Thompson is an active grandmother who knits for her two granddaughters. She loves to bake, especially scones, a traditional tea time treat in her native New Zealand. If she had lost the vision in her left eye, she would now have a far different life, one marred by difficulties in reading, driving and other daily activities.

and only about one inch long. “As a young medical student,” Leng said, “you have no idea of how complicated the eye is.” The complexity of the eye, he said, means there are more things that can go wrong. When he embarked upon his education in eye care, “they give you a set of books that stretches out three feet—and that’s the basic knowledge,” he said. “Then we specialize even more.” “I feel nothing short of lucky,” Thompson said, “thanks to the skills, empathy, concern and knowledge of Dr. Leng and his team.” They even returned her calls on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, she said. “They made sure they were available. I was totally impressed.” She may need to have more surgery. There is still some scar tissue that Leng may have to remove, but her vision in her left eye is currently 20/30, just 10 vision feet below normal. Because of the damage, however, even repaired, Thompson knows that left eye has some weakness. That hasn’t stopped her from being an active grandmother to her two granddaughters or from taking a long visit to back home to New Zealand. “I flew with no problem at all!” she said.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics is known worldwide for advanced treatment of complex disorders in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer treatment, neurosciences, surgery, and organ transplants. Consistently ranked among the top institutions in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of “America’s Best Hospitals,” Stanford Hospital & Clinics is internationally recognized for translating medical breakthroughs into the care of patients. It is part of the Stanford University Medical Center, along with the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, visit April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N11


When mountain lions enter residential areas Special to the Almanac


ocal public safety agencies should work with experts on mountain lion behavior to develop contingency plans for cases when the big cats are found in residential areas, speakers at a public forum on mountain lions held in Redwood City last week said. Such a plan might have saved the life of a mountain lion that

was killed by state Fish and Game wardens after it was found in a Redwood City backyard near Sequoia Hospital on March 29. Officials said they had tried to find a way to tranquilize the animal and remove it, but were unable to do so. In response to that incident, experts on the big cats held an educational session for the public at Sequoia High School on April 13. The event was sponsored by the Felidae Conservation

“There‘s no place like home.”

Redwood City - San Mateo - San Jose

Fund, which is currently studying mountain lions (also known as pumas, cougars, panthers and as many as 35 other names) with the California Department of Fish and Game and the University of California at Santa Cruz. The study is called the Bay Area Puma Project or BAPP. While mountain lions’ current range includes half the state of California, remarkably little is known about the elusive animals. Zara McDonald, Felidae’s executive director, said researchers are expanding their knowledge with projects that include using electronic tracing collars and remote cameras to study mountain lions in the Santa Cruz mountains. Such research has found that mountain lions may live only 20 to 30 feet off trails used by hikers and runners, but that they are so reclusive that they are rarely seen. “We want you to understand (mountain) lions are among us,” said Marc Kenyon, who coordinates the California Department of Fish and Game mountain lion program. Mountain lions are protected in California, but any lion that threatens a human can be killed. About 100 mountain lions that threaten pets or livestock are killed each year with a special depredation permit, he said. Mountain lions are the top predators in our area, a spot they once shared with wolves and grizzly bears, Ms. McDonald said. They tend to live where there are deer, the source of C U S T O M


between 60 and 80 percent of their diet. Mountain lions have been known to eat coyotes and bobcats. While any attack on a human by a mountain lion is a high profile event, since 1890 there have been only 16 verified attacks in the entire state, Ms. McDonald said. The last verified mountain lion attack in the Bay Area was more than 100 years ago, in 1909, she said. Bobcats are often mistaken for mountain lions, but bobcats are smaller. Mountain lions usually weigh between 75 and 150 pounds; bobcats are usually between 15 and 30 pounds. Bobcats are usually spotted or striped; adult mountain lines are a solid tawny color. Mountain lions have long, thick tails while bobcats have short tails. During a question-and-answer period, some of the close to 90 people attending the meeting questioned why the Redwood City mountain lion was killed and not tranquilized. Mr. Kenyon of Fish and Game explained that a tranquilizer dart must hit the animal in the shoulder or rump, something that was not possible with the Redwood City mountain lion because it was trapped between two fences. What to do with a tranquilized lion is also a problem, he said. Adult lions can not adjust to captivity, he said, and relocation will usually put them in another mountain lion’s territory. “Our policy is to ensure the safety of humans,” he said. “The F O R






last resort is to kill the animal — it always has been.” In Contra Costa County, however, procedures for dealing with interactions between lions and humans have been successful, said James “Doc” Hale, vice chair of the Contra Costa County Fish & Wildlife Committee. No mountain lion has been killed in the county since the plans were developed, he said, noting that all animal services in the county have tranquilizer kits. Redwood City Police Department Captain Dan Mulholland said his department is hoping to learn from this incident. They have a relationship with the Fish and Game department, as does the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, which receives many calls about mountain lion sightings. Captain Mark Wyss of the Sheriff’s Office said that the department often calls in experts for advice on how to proceed if mountain lions are repeatedly sighted. “We had a mountain lion sighting as recently as yesterday,” he said. See MOUNTAIN LIONS, page 14










Photo by Trish Carney for Felidae Conservation Fund

This photo of a mountain lion was taken in the Santa Cruz mountains in January 2010.

By Barbara Wood




4 0 8 . 3 7 0 . 1 0 4 1 W W W. VA L E T C U S T O M . C O M


12 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011


Willows traffic plan gets thumbs down from Transportation Commission on 3-2 vote By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


oes the Willows neighborhood need traffic calming? No. Yes. Maybe, but not like this. The answer, as Menlo Park has discovered through 20 years of studying the issue, depends on whom you ask. The Transportation Commission met on April 13 to discuss the latest study by consultants TJKM, which analyzed the traffic situation within an area bounded by U.S. 101, Willow Road, Middlefield Road, Woodland Avenue, and Manhattan Avenue, and that includes a swath of East Palo Alto. Of the 554 residents who answered an online traffic survey, 80 percent said they had no concerns, although 92 percent were worried about speeding. However, the survey had only a 27 percent response rate. Based on that meager feedback, the city forged ahead with the study, which identified three main areas of concern: speed, volume, and safety, particularly at intersections such as Gilbert Avenue and Willow Road. Some residents thought the situation called for intense traffic calming; others for limited measures; and some didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think anything needed to be done at all, according to the report.

One way, or another

The suggested traffic calming measures include speed feedback signs, speed bumps, and oneway traffic controls. Based on comments during the April 13 meeting, the proposal to convert a section of Woodland Avenue into a one-way street near its intersection with Euclid Avenue roused the most ire. One Oak Court resident estimated having to spend an extra one-and-a-half hours commuting every month as a result of having to detour around that section. Vice Mayor Kirsten Keith, speaking as a private citizen, asked the commission to forget the one-way idea. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It just diverts us all the way around through Willows and it just doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make any sense,â&#x20AC;? she said, and added that it would also force friends and services such as UPS to take the long way around. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I know you are common sense people, and that you will use your common sense when you evaluate this plan,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Keith concluded. Another Oak Court resident, Philippe Davis, questioned how such a change would impact East Palo Alto residents commuting along Woodland Avenue. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the first time there has been


talk from residents about stopping Hispanics from coming into â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; neighborhood either to commute, go to school or to use the local Mexican market on Menalto,â&#x20AC;? he wrote in an email to the council and commission. Mr. Davis told the Almanac that the â&#x20AC;&#x153;creepy, quiet undercurrent of racismâ&#x20AC;? surfaced when residents criticized a local Mexican grocery store on Menalto for being targeted by robbers, instead of supporting the storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s efforts to offer new items to the neighborhood. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sadly, blocking cut-through traffic, as neutral as that label sounds, is motivated by some of that racism.â&#x20AC;?

will meet with the Menlo Park police department to discuss signage and speed enforcement, and said another group is working on creating a community awareness program to encourage safe driving. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So while the outcome is unclear, one thing is for certain, the process is working and neighbors are working together towards a solution,â&#x20AC;? he said. A

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Twenty years ago, the city conducted its first traffic study of the Willows neighborhood. Fifteen years later, in 2007, it formed the Willows traffic task force. Now a proposal is once again making the rounds of the Transportation Commission and council. The April 13 vote suggested that, like its predecessors, the latest plan is off to an inauspicious start. Before voting, Commissioner Katherine Strehl said she wondered why no one asked the Willows residents whether trafficcalming measures were needed before spending $120,000 on the study. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So many people have come forward who live on Woodland, live on Oak, who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want this one-way, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be imposing it on them,â&#x20AC;? said colleague Ray Mueller. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The problem is if we take it out, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what the plan is, because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an amalgam, and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s responsible to recommend a plan for the council to go forward with when I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be.â&#x20AC;? By a 3-2 vote, the commission opposed a proposal to recommend the plan to the City Council, with Commissioners Charlie Bourne and Robert Cronin dissenting. Chair Penelope Huang recused herself since she lives in the Willows, and Maurice Shiu was absent. The City Council could still vote to take the next step by approving another survey. Fiftyone percent of Willows residents would have to vote in favor of the modifications for the plan to be implemented, according to city staff, who told the transportation commission they werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sure yet how much the survey would cost. Mr. Mueller said he thinks compromise is still possible. He, along with Willows residents,

',) !"$3*$+!&"-)*"+0 Lucile Packard Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital offers classes and seminars designed to foster good health and enhance the lives of parents and children. THE FUTURE AND PERSONALIZED HEALTHCARE: THE ROLE OF GENES, DATA AND THE ENVIRONMENT @  ,+,)'()*'&$"1!$+!)."$$"&-'$-&"&"-",$3* &+"%#,($"*+0$ &&-")'&%&++()-".'.!+$"*!&!'.+!&'$' 0&'&+)",++' "%()'-!$+! ,&0057442874(% 

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C H I L D R E Nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S H O S P I T A L V I S I T W W W. L P C H . O R G TO S I G N U P F O R C L A S S E S April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N13

50th Anniversary Celebration

La Entrada Friday, May 6th 5:00 - 8:00pm ARE YOU A LA ENTRADA ALUM? Reconnect with old friends and teachers and reminisce about your middle school days with videos, memorabilia, musical performances, and campus tours.


Police to hold meeting on â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;grandparent scamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


he Atherton Police Department is holding a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 21, to discuss a phone scam that targets grandparents â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an operation known as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;grandparent scamâ&#x20AC;? thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s being played out all over the country but that recently has victimized several residents in town. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers,

By Sandy Brundage

To RSVP or for more information, go to the alumni website.



dents receiving fraudulent calls seeking wired funds. Unfortunately, some of our residents have fallen prey to this scam.â&#x20AC;? The bulletin advised residents receiving such a call to contact the grandchild directly, or call his or her parents or other relative. Those who have fallen prey to the scam are urged to call the police to file a report. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You should also file a fraud report with the company you used to send the funds,â&#x20AC;? the police bul-

Fergusson has no conflict yet, commission says

Spread the word to your La Entrada friends!


94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center. The scam involves a caller pretending to be a grandchild or a person of authority, such as an attorney or law enforcement officer. The grandparent is told that the grandchild is out of town, in some sort of predicament, and needs to have funds wired immediately. On April 4, the police department issued a bulletin on its blog, saying: â&#x20AC;&#x153;In the past weeks, there have been several reports of resi-

Almanac Staff Writer

he informal opinion of the Fair Political Practices Commission is that a Menlo Park councilwoman at this time doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a conflict of interest by participating in council business regarding high-speed rail and also working for Siemens, a global corporation interested in bidding on the project. According to emails released to the Almanac by the ethics commission, Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson asked for advice before traveling to Washington, D.C., in early March to meet with legislators regarding high-speed rail after a

â&#x20AC;&#x153;political detractorâ&#x20AC;? complained of a conflict of interest. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The political detractor pointed out on Friday that Siemens promotes itself as a manufacturer of High Speed Trains and rail equipment, and therefore, in that personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mind, I have a conflict of interest,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Fergusson wrote on March 6. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I do not believe that I have a conflict of interest, and request that the FPPC make a determination on that matter.â&#x20AC;? On March 31, she also told the commission that Siemens was one of 1,100 companies listed on the rail authorityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website as expressing potential interest in the high-speed


2011 Wallace Stegner Lectures Series Sponsor: Jean Lane, in memory of Bill Lane

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rail project, and that she had voted as a member of the Menlo Park City Council to sue the rail authority. The ethics commission responded on April 1 that Ms. Fergussonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;decisionmaking could potentially financially effect (sic) Siemens, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not foreseeable yet. She should probably request further advice (maybe written advice) if Siemens becomes more involved in the actual CHSRA (request for proposals) down the road.â&#x20AC;? The response also states that this was not a final decision by the commission, and didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t constitute legal advice. In a memo sent by Ms. Fergusson on April 8 to her colleagues on the dais, she said sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll keep participating in council decisions related to high-speed rail until a conflict exists. That might settle one source of consternation regarding Ms. Fergussonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s trip to Washington, D.C., but not another â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the councilwoman still hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t decided whether to ask the council to reimburse the approximately $1,400 trip. In the days leading up to the trip, residents expressed indignation over her plan to stay in a $400-per-night hotel. City Manager Glen Rojas said he wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t aware of a deadline for submitting reimbursement requests, apart from the end of the fiscal year on June 30. A

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14 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011

Sponsoring the forum on mountain lions is part of the educational work of Felidae, which also offers programs for local schools. Available to all grade levels through junior college to any school in San Mateo, Santa Clara or Santa Cruz county, the classes include a field trip, where students interact with Felidae field biologists. The program is funded by the Packard Foundation. A

Barbara Wood is a freelance writer, photographer and gardener from Woodside.


Investigator named to review complaint against police chief

Budget cuts coming to high school district

By Renee Batti

Almanac Staff Writer

Almanac News Editor


private investigator whose background includes a long stint with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and reviews of hundreds of personnel matters for public agencies and private corporations has been chosen to conduct the investigation of a complaint against Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra and Lt. Joe Wade. The town announced on April 15 that David Reuben will look into allegations of misconduct by the chief and Lt. Wade, filed by former finance director John Johns. Interim City Manager John Danielson chose Mr. Reuben to assist him in the personnel investigation, according to a contract signed by Mr. Reuben on April 11. Mr. Reuben is the principal of DR Associates International of Davis. The firm has been the investigative consultant for the Oakland City Attorney’s Office since 1983, according to a statement issued by the town of Atherton. Under terms of the contract, Mr. Reuben will be paid $175 per hour, not to exceed a combined total of $6,125 without the city manager’s approval. Mr. Johns alleges that Chief Guerra and Lt. Wade denied him “the right to a (proper), thorough


and timely investigation of the citizen’s complaints I filed during the time frame of February 2010 through January 2011.” Those complaints stemmed from his August 2007 detainment by police at the Atherton Town Center, when he was on paid administrative leave while being investigated by the town. He was subsequently fired, then he successfully sued the town for wrongful termination. Chief Guerra hired Pete Peterson, a former police chief of Clayton, California, to investigate Mr. Johns’ original complaints, which included allegations against several officers involved in the 2007 incident. Mr. Peterson concluded in March that Mr. Johns’ complaints were unfounded. Mr. Johns, who had written a flurry of emails and postings on the Almanac’s Town Square forum complaining about Mr. Danielson’s authority in choosing the investigator, said late last week that he had reconsidered his opposition. “I trust Mr. Danielson’s judgment and intentions,” he said, adding that he had “acted rashly ... in questioning his intentions so far.” A

Atherton council chooses new attorney By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


he City Council has chosen Pebble Beach resident William B. Conners, the former city attorney for Monterey, as Atherton’s next city attorney, contingent upon the successful negotiation of a contract. The council met April 15 in closed session, and voted unanimously to hire Mr. Conners to replace Wynne Furth of the Burke Williams and Sorensen law firm. For the last six years, Mr. Conners has been the sole practitioner in his firm, William B. Conners Municipal Law Consultant, he said last week. Interim City Manager John Danielson will now work to negotiate a six-month contract with Mr. Conners, with a one-year optional extension, based on an evaluation, City Clerk Theresa DellaSanta said. That contract is scheduled to be brought before the council for final approval at a special council meeting on Wednesday, April 20, at 6:30 p.m., she said. Mr. Conners was one of three top candidates recommended for the post by a town citizen advisory committee and an ad-hoc

committee made up of council members Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson. His firm tied with Best, Best & Krieger for first place in the list of recommendations. Burke Williams and Sorensen of Menlo Park ranked No. 3 on the list. Mr. Conners, who was Monterey’s assistant city attorney for 10 years before holding the top attorney’s post for that city for about 15 years, said he was able to offer his services to Atherton for a lower cost than competing applicants could. “I can do the job expertly, but not as expensively as a large firm,” he told the Almanac. “I don’t have to pay junior attorneys. ... It’s much more efficient doing the work myself — it eliminates a whole lot of middle men.” Mr. Conners’ daughter, Jennifer Larson, is an attorney specializing in litigation and living in Hillsborough. Not only does that mean he has a place to take shelter after a long council meeting in Atherton, it also provides the opportunity for father and daughter to work as a team as the need arises and she becomes more familiar with municipal law, he said. A

By Dave Boyce


he local impact of the state’s budget crisis is beginning to get serious at local public high schools. Under the best-case scenario — Gov. Jerry Brown convinces voters to approve new taxes by an initiative in November — the proposed cuts of $5 million for the Sequoia Union High School District for the budget year that starts July 1 would include the loss of one administrative vice principal and one guidance counselor for each high school. Five fewer vice principals would save $773,000; a cut to the district’s public information office would save $150,000, according to a staff report. The counseling staff reduction would save $481,000. Go to and page down to Page 11 to see the report. The governing board

meets Wednesday, May 4, to consider the cuts in more detail and vote on them. Lean times look likely to continue. “We’re definitely anticipating additional cuts in subsequent years,” Woodside High Principal David Reilly said in a phone interview. “I’m growing more and more worried. We’ll just have to do more with less.” The Sequoia district is on spring break. Menlo-Atherton High Principal Matthew Zito could not be reached for comment. The loss of a vice principal at Woodside High would mean more involvement with autistic and orthopedically impaired students by the principal and the remaining three vice principals, Mr. Reilly said. Other targets for reduced spending include professional development, bus service, adult education, and classes in technical skills at the nonprofit Job-

Train in Menlo Park. Funding for charters

Everest and Summit Prep charter high schools in Redwood City have significant enrollment from the Almanac’s circulation area and depend on per-student revenues that are set by the state but paid by the Sequoia district. Revenues will be lower but by how much remains to be seen; the cuts could be $100 per student or $800, Jon Deane, the executive director at Everest, said in an interview. The schools have budgets for different scenarios. “The great thing is we’re really doing an incredible job of budgeting very tightly,” Mr. Deane said. The charters are light on nonteaching staff, “very creative” in the use of funds, and “very thoughtful” in tapping the existing staff’s talents, he said. “We’ve been running very lean.” A

City seeks comments on Facebook EIR for new campus By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


acebook would like to swap a cap on the number of employees that can work on its new Menlo Park campus at 10 Network Circle for a cap on the number of vehicle trips, so the city is preparing to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR). The Planning Commission has scheduled a scoping session for the EIR on Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. Menlo Park will also accept written comments on what items to include in the EIR until May 26. Email comments to Development Services Manager Justin Murphy at or send to 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

Boys, girls, and hoops Should girls be able to sign up for two spots on a 15-member boys basketball team? The Parks and Recreation Commission will weigh in on that question during its meeting on Wednesday, April 20. The proposed policy would let up to two girls opt-in to joining the city’s youth basketball team for boys. Meetings will be held in May DUI continued from page 9

7 incident for allegedly being drunk in public at an Atherton train station, police said. Ms. Brill pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday, and Judge Lisa Novak scheduled trial for Oct. 31. A



to collect feedback from coaches and team coordinators, and the rest of the community will get a chance to comment in September before the policy goes to Community Services Director Cherise Brandell for approval. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center at 700 Alma St.

Meeting canceled It’ll be a quiet night in Menlo Park on Tuesday, April 19. The City Council has canceled its meeting, but don’t worry, they’ll convene again the following week, on April 26.

Job Fair at Stanford Park Hotel Calling all restaurant staff: The

Stanford Park Hotel is hosting a job fair on Wednesday, April 20, to find employees for its new Menlo Grill restaurant, which opens at the end of May. The job fair runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the hotel, located at 100 El Camino Real. Contact Wanda Berrig at or.330-2764 for more information.

Easter bunny The Easter bunny hops into Menlo Park on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to noon at Burgess Park. The city’s annual Easter egg hunt is free. Children may collect up to four eggs, and the hunt will be broken down by age groups. Other activities include a bounce house and guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar. In case of rain, the festivities will move to the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center at 700 Alma St.

Joe Wise awarded for volunteer service Joe Wise, 17, of Menlo Park, a student at Sacred Heart Preparatory, has been awarded a President’s Volunteer Service Award, according to Millie Lee, a spokesperson for the school. Joe, who was diagnosed with incurable mitochondrial disease at age 9, is a youth ambassador for the United Mitochondrial Disease foundation, which promotes research and education. He has given thousands of hours to raise awareness of the disease among lawmakers and the general public, Ms. Lee said. The award was presented by the Prudential Spirit of Community

Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama, she said. Joe participated in the program as a representative Joe Wise of the Atherton school. “What inspires me about Joe is that he is constantly forging ahead with his goals despite the frequent setbacks that he encounters because of his disease,” said Sacred Heart Preparatory Principal James Everitt in the school’s announcement.

April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N15



TOWN OF ATHERTON STATE OF CALIFORNIA UPPER ATHERTON CHANNEL CREEK STABILIZATION AND SLOPE RESTORATION PHASE II PROJECT PROJECT NO. 56037 Notice is hereby given that SEALED BIDS will be received at the office of the City Clerk, 91 Ashfield Road, Atherton, California 94027, until 3:00 p.m. June 7, 2011, at which time they will be publicly opened and read, for performing the following work: Install Weir 1 in the vicinity of Creek Station 19+24, Install Weir 2 in the vicinity of Creek Station 16+57, Install Weir 3 in the vicinity of Creek Station 13+00, Install Fascine #1 in the vicinity of Creek Station 18+84, Install Fascine #2 in the vicinity of Creek Station 15+91, Install Fascine #3 in the vicinity of Creek Station 12+36, Stabilize the embankment in the vicinity of Creek Station 19+93 to 19+08.

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. WOODSIDE Theft reports: ■ Laptop and iPod Touch stolen after party, 300 block of Highland Terrace, April 10. ■ Cell phone stolen from learning center, Canada College at 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., April 11. ATHERTON

As a part of the construction of these facilities, the contractor will be required to provide Creek dewatering, install exclusion fencing, provide tree protection plan, prune trees for construction access, provide best management practices to protect Upper Atherton Channel from site stormwater and non-stormwater runoff during construction, grub and stockpile Creek biotic soils, regrade the Creek sideslopes, provide geofabric cover for disturbed slopes, install plantings, install erosion control seeding, provide permanent irrigation, follow protocol outlined in the Biological Opinion and other miscellaneous site work described in the construction documents, and any other amendments or addenda.

Grand theft reports: ■ Laptop computer left in classroom stolen, Menlo College, 1000 El Camino Real, April 14. ■ Cell phone stolen, Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Ave., April 13. Fraud reports: ■ Identity theft, first block of Winchester Drive, April 14. ■ Email account compromised, Linda Vista Ave., April 8. Child protective services report: Park Lane, April 8. MENLO PARK

The Engineer’s Estimate for the project is: $516,439 Per Section 6.01 of the Town of Atherton’s Standard Specifications, the General Contractor shall perform, with his own organization, work of a value amounting to not less than 50% of the total contract, excluding specialty items as indicated on the bid schedule. Bids must be for the entire work, and shall be submitted in sealed envelopes clearly marked: ”Bid of (Contractor) for UPPER ATHERTON CHANNEL CREEK STABILIZATION AND SLOPE RESTORATION PHASE II PROJECT, Project No. 56037”, along with date and time of bid opening. Plans and specifications may be obtained at the Town of Atherton’s website at under Bid Solicitation at no cost. Additional important information is contained in Town of Atherton Standard Specifications, which are available on line at Contractor shall be responsible for any addendums that may be posted on the Town’s website. No Planholders list shall be available. A pre-bid walk through at the site is scheduled for May 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm. Meet at the intersection of Reservoir Road and Sargent Lane. Bids must be accompanied by a bid security in the form of cash, a cashier‘s or certified check or bid bond for not less than ten percent (10%) of the amount of the bid, as a guarantee that the bidder, if awarded the Contract, will fulfill the terms of the bid. The Town of Atherton, The City, reserves the right to reject any or all bids; to make any awards or any rejections in what it alone considers to be in the best interest of the City, and waive any informalities or irregularities in the bids. The contract will be awarded, if at all, to the responsible bidder that submits the lowest responsive bid. [NOTE: If there are alternates in the bid, the City will need to state how the low bid will be determined, as required by PCC 20103.8.] Bidders are hereby notified that, pursuant to California Civil Code Sections 3247 and 3248 and Standard Specifications Section 3.02, the successful bidder will be required to provide payment and performance bonds in the amounts of 100% of the contract price. Bidders are hereby notified that provisions of California Labor Code regarding prevailing wages and apprentices are applicable to the work to be performed under this contract. Pursuant to Section 1773 et seq. the general prevailing wage rates have been determined by the Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations and appear in the California Prevailing Wage Rates. Copies are on file at the office of the City Engineer and are available to interested parties upon request. The successful bidder shall post a copy of the wage rates at the job site. The Contractor may elect to receive 100 percent of payments due under the contract, without retention of any portion of the payment by the Town of Atherton, by depositing securities of equivalent value to the retention amount in accordance with the provisions of Section 22300 of the California Public Contract Code. The successful bidder must be licensed under the provisions of Chapter 9, Division 3, of the California Business and Professions Code to do the type of work contemplated in the project at the time the contract is awarded and shall be skilled and regularly engaged in the general class or type of work called for under the Contract. Failure of the bidder to obtain proper and adequate licensing for an award of the contract shall constitute a failure to execute the contract and result in the forfeiture of the bidder‘s bid security. Each bidder shall submit with this bid a statement setting forth his/her/its experience and qualifications. The statement shall be made on the forms provided by the Town and must accompany each bid. The three lowest bidders will be required to submit subcontractor‘s experience and qualifications statements within 48 hours of the bid opening, on forms provided by the Town. By submitting a bid in response to this advertisement for bids, the bidder shall be conclusively deemed to have read, understood and agreed with all of the information and materials contained in the bid documents, including but not limited to the construction contract, the standard specifications, the special provisions, the required nature and amount of insurance and the documentation evidencing said insurance. Any questions regarding points of clarification for these documents should be directed to David Huynh, Project Engineer, telephone: (650) 752-0555 or by written Requests for Information (RFI) to: Public Works Department, 91 Ashfield Road, Atherton, CA 94027. All questions and RFIs are due by May 19, 2011 no later than 12:00 P.M. RFIs may be emailed to or faxed to (650) 688-6539. All questions will be compiled and written responses distributed to all the bidders via email by 5:00 P.M. on May 26, 2011.

By:___________________________________ Duncan L. Jones, P.E., City Engineer Date: _________________________________

16 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011

Residential burglary reports: ■ Loss estimated at $3,000 in break-in and theft of two laptop computers, tablet computer, camera, video game player, cell phone, mountain bike, iPod with speaker, and shoes, 1100 block of Windermere Ave., April 11. ■ Loss estimated at $350 in break-in and theft of speaker and DVD player, 1100 block of Del Norte Ave., April 14. Grand theft reports: ■ Loss estimated at $1,200 in theft of two video cameras, first block of Willow Road, April 11. ■ Unknown loss in possible theft of shotgun, 1300 block of Willow Road, April 11. ■ Loss estimated at $190 in theft of purse and cash from unlocked vehicle, first block of Cathy Place, April 9. Fraud reports: ■ Loss of $998 in unauthorized use of credit card, 700 block of Live Oak Ave., April 13. ■ Loss of $255 in unauthorized use of bank card, 1200 block of Madera Ave., April 14. Auto burglary reports: ■ Loss estimated at $500 in break-in and theft of GPS device, 400 block of Bay Road, April 14. ■ Loss estimated at $100 in break-in and theft of GPS device, 200 block of O’Connor St., April 9. ■ Window smashed but nothing stolen, 1200 block of Carlton Ave., April 12. Stolen vehicle report: Black 2008 Haulmark Trailer dump truck, 3500 block of Haven Ave., April 9. Indecent exposure report: 1000 block of Woodland Ave., April 10. Suicide report: 600 block of Sharon Park Drive, April 14.

Quake rattles Peninsula An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8 shook the Peninsula Monday afternoon on the 105th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco quake. The quake, which occurred at 2:57 p.m., was centered about two miles southeast of Pacifica, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In the Menlo Park area, people reported feeling a short rattle. An office worker in San Mateo said she felt a jolt. “I couldn’t tell if it was an airplane crash or an earthquake. It was a booming jolt. There were no initial reports of damage or injury.




Winter Lodge founder Duncan Williams dies Duncan Williams, 90, a longtime resident of Ladera and the founder of the Winter Lodge skating rink in Palo Alto, died from complications of a brain tumor April 11. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at The Sequoias retirement community at 501 Portola Road in Portola Valley. He and his wife Mercedes moved to The Sequoias eight years ago. Mr. Williams, who lived in Ladera for 47 years, was commended by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on the 50th anniversary of Winter Lodge, in 2006. In the proclamation, he was noted as having “brought with him to Palo Alto the joy and excitement of community outdoor ice skating.” It also noted that Winter Lodge is one of the three largest skating schools in the United States. Born June 6, 1920, in Evanston, Illinois, he studied engineering at Dartmouth College. He earned

his graduate degrees in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin. He met his future Duncan Williams wife, Mercedes, on the beach at Lake Michigan when they were teenagers. They married in 1942. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then taught engineering at the University of Wisconsin for nine years. He moved to Ladera in 1956 to work as a civil and mechanical engineering professor at San Jose State University. His fond memories of ice skating outdoors in Illinois and Wisconsin made him want to recreate the experience in California, Winter

Lodge’s Executive Director Linda Jensen said. “No one had ever done that before. It was his big experiment,” she said. He decided to open a rink on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto because of the open space and increasing number of young families, Ms. Jensen said. The Winter Club was opened in 1956, offering recreational skating and lessons to kids and adults, as it still does today. He utilized his engineering background to develop a system of refrigeration and brine to maintain an outdoor ice rink in Palo Alto’s mild weather, making the rink the first of its kind west of the Sierras. Mr. Williams retired in 1983, after his lease expired. When the Winter Club was then threatened with closure, a community group was founded to help save the rink. In 1986, Palo Alto residents passed


She married Cort Van Rensselaer and moved to Los Altos Hills, where she taught third grade Jean Van Rensselaer before becoming a full-time volunteer and homemaker. During their marriage, except for short stints in Washington, D.C., and Colorado, the couple lived on the Peninsula and spent the past 46 years in Portola Valley,where there was room for Ms. Rensselaer’s horses. They

moved to The Sequoias retirement community in 2005. Ms. Rensselaer was a member of P.E.O. chapter HV in Palo Alto for more than 60 years and served in many official capacities. She enjoyed gardening, cooking, reading, and boating, say family members. She and her husband traveled to many places around the world. Surviving are her husband of 64 years, Cort Van Rensselaer; her children, Steve Van Rensselaer, Amy Scrivner, and Rick Van Rensselaer; and six grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for May.

Jean Van Rensselaer Longtime Portola Valley resident

Jean Van Rensselaer, who served as an elder at Valley Presbyterian Church and headed its membership committee for many years, died April 4 of heart failure. She was 87. Ms. Rensselaer grew up on a ranch in the Imperial Valley, where she became an avid equestrian. She earned an AA degree from Stephens College in Missouri and a bachelor’s degree from UCLA, and began her teacher career at the kindergarten level.

Jean A. Orr May 3, 1915-April 1, 2011 Menlo Park, California Jean A. Orr, a resident of Crane Place in Menlo Park, Calif., passed away on Friday, April 1, 2011. Mrs. Orr was born in Huntington, Indiana, on May 3, 1915, and attended Huntington High School. She married her high school sweetheart, Gerald M. Jung, on Aug. 4, 1935. She and Jerry had one son, Steven M. Jung, and moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. She was widowed for the first time in 1957. In 1961, she married Edward E. Orr, and moved to his home in Huntington, Indiana. She was widowed again in 1979. In 1984, she moved to Menlo Park, Calif., and became an active member of the community at Little House Senior Center. In addition to her son, Steven Jung, Mrs. Orr is survived by four grandchildren (Martha W. Galina-Mu oz, San Jose, California; Russell S. Jung, Paso Robles, California; Kenneth M. Jung, Seattle, Washington; and Laura J. Jung, Olga, Washington) and six great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at Little House on Middle Avenue in Menlo Park on Friday, May 6, from 2 to 3 p.m. Burial will be at Star of Hope Cemetery in Huntington, Indiana. Memorial donations may be made to Peninsula Volunteers. Link: PA I D O B I T UA RY

an initiative asking the city to acquire the land from the owner and preserve the skating facility. It’s now supported and run by a nonprofit group. After retirement, he maintained an active interest in Winter Lodge (as it was renamed) and was a familiar, friendly face to many. “Any time we needed help, he would be here. He was really proud of it. He was sort of everybody’s grandpa,” Ms. Jensen said. He was also a volunteer tutor at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park for 19 years, helping Englishlanguage learners. He also tutored

adults in English after he and Mercedes moved to The Sequoias in Portola Valley. Family members recalled him as kind, humble and witty. He is survived by his wife, Mercedes Williams of Portola Valley; sons Jeff Williams of Georgia, Dave Williams of Cloverdale, California, Don Williams of Sonoma, and Tom Williams of Belmont; and five grandchildren. The family asks that any memorial donations be made to the Nature Conservancy or CARE. Carpooling to the May 21 memorial service is recommended. FDR 502

John O’Connor’s 1182A Chestnut Street Menlo Park, CA

FD 2060

Ann Mary Hirsch February 17, 1916-March 30, 2011 Ann Hirsch of Menlo Park passed away on March 30, 2011, at the age of 95. A true pioneer’s daughter, she was born Ann Bobic on a little farm in Woodside to Croatian immigrant parents in 1916. She attended a two-room grammar school in Woodside and graduated from Sequoia High School. Ann married Don Hirsch of Redwood City in 1938 and they raised their family in Atherton. She is survived by two sons, James (Lucy) of Redding, and Robert (Paula) of Los Altos. Ann also leaves behind three granddaughters, Katie, Chrissy and Cindy, and one greatgrandson, Riley. A memorial fund has been established in her name. Link: PA I D


Jean Elizabeth Van Rensselaer June 27, 1923-April 4, 2011 Jean Van Rensselaer, 87, passed away Monday, April 4, 2011 due to heart failure that occurred over a few short weeks. She was our beloved wife, mother and grandmother and was surrounded by family at the time of her passing. Jean is survived by her loving husband of 64 years, Cort Van Rensselaer; her children Steve Van Rensselaer (Judy), Amy Scrivner (Dan) and Rick Van Rensselaer (Missi), and her grandchildren, Eric and Matthew Van Rensselaer, Karen and Julie Scrivner, and Sara and Kyle Van Rensselaer. The only child of George Royeston and Genevieve Lucille Thomson, Jean grew up on a ranch in Imperial Valley, California where she became an avid horse-woman. She went to school in nearby Calipatria before going to Stephens College, in Missouri, for an AA. She then earned her BA at UCLA and began teaching kindergarten. After meeting in Idlewild, California, Jean and Cort married, moved to Los Altos Hills and Jean taught third grade before becoming a full-time volunteer and homemaker. During the majority

of their marriage, they lived on the Peninsula and spent the past 46 years in Portola Valley. Jean was a 60+ year member of P.E.O. Chapter HV in Palo Alto and served in many officer capacities. She was also an active member of the Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley where she served as an elder and for many years headed up the membership committee. Jean loved her family and was always supportive and encouraging. Jean enjoyed gardening, cooking, reading, boating with family and friends, and traveling around the world with Cort. A Memorial Service is being planned for May. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jean’s memory may be made to Valley Presbyterian Church, 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 94028. PA I D


April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N17

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

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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.

CALL the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.

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

Don’t forget to vote for supervisor


any residents of southern San Mateo County might be surprised if they were told that there is an election going on right now to fill the seat on the Board of Supervisors recently vacated by Mark Church, who became chief elections officer, assessor and clerk-recorder in January. In fact, the election began April 4, so any registered voter in the county should have received a mail-in ballot and if you have not, call the county elections office. This vote-by-mail experiment will save money and make it easier on everyone to vote and ED ITORI AL to count the ballots. The opinion of The Almanac Unlike many elections, this one is fairly simple: the key question is which one of the six candidates you support. (In the Ravenswood City School District, there is also a parcel tax measure that requires approval of two-thirds of the voters for passage.) After marking your choice, simply fold the ballot as instructed, place it in the postage-paid envelope and put it in the mail. Ballots must be received by the county elections office by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 3. The open seat is for District 1, which includes South San Francisco, San Bruno and Hillsborough. Residents in the Almanac’s circulation area are in District 3, but all supervisor candidates run county-wide. In prior years, supervisors planning to depart often waited to resign until after an election, which left it up to the board to fill the seat by appointment, allowing the candidate to run as an incumbent when the election arrived. This tactic was enough to scare competitors away who feared running an expensive countywide campaign against a sitting supervisor. But suddenly there is renewed interest in county elections. The recent District 3 race for Rich Gordon’s seat, originally contested by five candidates, was won by Don Horsley but not before a runoff with Coastside resident April Vargas, and now a half-dozen candidates are in the race to fill the remainder of Mr. Church’s

term. With a mail-in ballot, such races are less expensive and are much easier for voters. We hope the results will show enough interest to justify continuing this trend. At a recent candidate forum in Redwood City covered by the Almanac, all the candidates made their case to be elected to the board. Four of the six, Dave Pine, Terry Nagel, Gina Papan and Richard Holober are now serving in public office. The two others, Michael Stogner and Demetrios Nikas, have not run typical campaigns but are vocal about two of the most important issues: the county budget and pension reform. The budget will be a huge issue for whoever wins the seat, as the county is facing major financial problems, including a fiscal deficit that is expected to reach $80 million by 2011-12 unless something is done. This year supervisors already have dipped into reserves to close part of the budget shortfall. At the Redwood City forum, another issue arose — paying for a new county jail that some candidates said is a necessary expense to cope with up to 400 additional inmates that Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to ship back to the county this year. The jail, to be located at a site in Redwood City, would cost some $160 million and add $18 million or more in operating cost. On another complex and controversial issue, most candidates at the forum did not express a position on the controversial Cargill Saltworks project to build 12,000 homes and 1 million square feet of commercial space on what is now salt-producing wetlands off Redwood City. Instead, they are willing to see Redwood City’s review process play out. Only Mr. Stogner and Mr. Nikas voiced their opposition to the project, which has also been opposed by most local governments in the Almanac circulation area. Although the Almanac has not interviewed each candidate, it is our opinion that Mr. Pine, Ms. Nagel, Ms. Papan and Mr. Holober are qualified for this office. All have worked hard as public servants in their communities, and are ready to take the next step. Please vote and mail in your ballot by May 1.


Chronology for Sand Hill improvements Several dates were incorrect in last week’s editorial regarding Sand Hill Road. In approving the widening of the Sand Hill Road and two intersections in 1997, Palo Alto required Stanford to pay $10.3 million for most — but not all — of the project. But Menlo Park did not permit the work to begin on its portion of the road until 2002. In January of that year, Menlo Park agreed to talk about approving the widening, which had already been completed on the Palo Alto/ Stanford portion of the road, and, finally, in December, the Menlo Park City Council voted 3-2 to support a plan brokered by Steve Schmidt to approve the project. The deal included the requirement that Stanford pay for the entire project, which cost about $14 million, thus saving Menlo Park $3 million, according to Mr. Schmidt.

18 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011

The Jac Audiffred Collection

Our Regional Heritage This 1930 view of Woodside Road, looking up the hill from what is now Roberts Market, shows Arata Feed and Fuel at the top, Gene Urban’s barber shop, and another service station operated by Bill Jackson and Gayle Shine.

Journey to Easter 11:00a.m. 11:00a.m.

You Are Invited Sunday, April 17th Sunday, April 24th

Palm Sunday Easter Service

WESLEY UNITED METHODIST 470 Cambridge Ave (one block off California) Rev. Karen Paulsen




Peninsula Easter Services

Maundy Thursdayâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; April 21 V6:15pm

Monastic Supper & Liturgy of the Word followed by Holy Eucharist & Stripping of the Altar

Good Friday â&#x20AC;&#x201D; April 22 V Noon to 2:00pm Stations of the Cross with Reflections V 2:00 to 3:00pm

Labyrinth Stations: A Walking Meditation

V 7:30 to 8:30pm

Good Friday Prayers, Art and Meditation

Easter â&#x20AC;&#x201D; April 24 V 5:30am

Easter Vigil, Eucharist & Baptism

V 8:00 to 9:30am

Festive Breakfast & Family Easter Activities

V 10:00am

Festive Holy Eucharist

600 Colorado Ave, P.A. (650) 326-3800

Holy Week Services

Holy Week Maundy Thursday 4/21 | 7:30 pm


Good Friday 4/22 | 12 pm & 7:30 pm

Easter Vigil 4/23 | 7:30 pm

Easter Sunday April 24 | 8:30 am and 10:45 am


Staffed child care available at all services.

April 21 April 22 April 24

6:00 pm Seder Dinner Noon & 7:00 pm Good Friday Services 9:30 am Easter Festival Service Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Easter Egg Hunt after the service!

Free gift for every family.

Bethany Lutheran Church 1095 Cloud Avenue, Menlo Park 650.854.5897

Join Us For Easter

A resource for special events and ongoing religious services. For more information please call Blanca Yoc at 650-326-8210 ext. 6596 or email Holy Week & Easter at

St. Bedeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Episcopal Church 2650 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park

Valley Presbyterian Church

Love Wins! Easter Sunrise Service 6:15 a.m. Easter Worship 9:00 & 11:00 a.m. 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 650-851-8282

The great question of Easter is about us: where are the tombs in our life that God is inviting us to leave and where is new life rising in us? Join us at Trinity as we celebrate the promise and possibility of new life. Palm Sunday, April 17: 8:00 am and 10:00 am* Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper) April 21, 6:00 pm* (with simple meal) Good Friday, April 22 7:00 am and Noon The Great Vigil of Easter Baptisms & First Easter Communion Saturday, April 23, 7:00 pm* Easter Sunday, April 24 6:30 am in the Memorial Garden 8:00 am* & 10:00 am* in Church with Festival Choir *Indicates child care available.

April 21 t MAUNDY THURSDAY 12 noon Foot Washing 12:10pm Holy Eucharist & Healing Rite 7:15pm Foot Washing 7:30pm Holy Eucharist April 22 t GOOD FRIDAY 12 noon Service of music, reflection, and prayer 7:30pm Meditation on the Passion of Christ April 23 t HOLY SATURDAY 9:00pm Great Vigil of Easter, Holy Baptism & Eucharist April 24 t EASTER SUNDAY 8:00am Eucharist with Hymns 10:15am Sung Eucharist 11:30am Easter Egg Hunt Nursery available 10-11:30am

April 20, 2011 N The Almanac N19



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5-bedroom, 4.5-bath home on approx. 4.5 acres Offered at $5,995,000


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650.566.5353 DRE# 00912143

20 N The Almanac NApril 20, 2011

This information was supplied by Seller and/or other sources. Broker believes this information to be correct but has not verified this information and assumes no legal responsibility for its accuracy. Buyers should investigate these issues to their own satisfaction.

Providing A Network of Reputable Home-Improvement Professionals

The Almanac 04.20.2011 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the April 20.2011 edition of the Almanac

The Almanac 04.20.2011 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the April 20.2011 edition of the Almanac