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Spring Real Estate in this issue

Riding the rebounding wave

Double trouble or easy entry?

Not so extreme makeover

Smoothing a rough process






APRIL 27, 2011

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



transformed a


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A long but satisfying Monday Portola Valley’s Ruth Anne Bortz runs Boston Marathon at age 80 By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


here are mileposts you pass that, while due mainly to genes and luck, you may be justified in claiming some credit for, like turning 80 years old. Then there are mileposts for which the reverse is true and you can claim most of the credit: like turning 80 and completing the 26 miles and 385 yards of the prestigious Boston marathon. Ruth Anne Bortz of Portola Valley has both mileposts under her belt. She celebrated her 80th birthday in October and on Monday, April 18, completed the Boston race. With a projected time of seven hours and 41 minutes, she came in second out of two women in the 80-plus age group, first place having gone to a nun named Madonna Buder, also known as the Iron Nun. “She’s a great runner,” said Ms. Bortz, who herself took first place awards in Boston when she was 60 (with 10 women in her group) and 70 (with three women in the group). At the ages of 53 and 55, Ms. Bortz completed the annual Western States race, a 100-mile run through the Colorado wilderness, she said. To prepare for the 2011 Boston race, she ran 50 miles a week on Portola Valley roads and trails, Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac including eight 20-mile days, she said. “I love this Ruth Anne Bortz wears her Boston marathon town,” she said. “I run a lot on Windy Hill and on medal at her Portola Valley home. the trails.” Running, at her age, is walking rapidly. She car- thons, Ms. Bortz said, including their daughter ries a transistor radio tuned to KGO and for the last Danna Breen, a resident and a member of the town’s hour of her practices, she sings to herself, she said. Architecture & Site Control Commission. While Ms. Bortz’ has a Of their nine grandchilmedal for finishing Bosdren, one has completed a ton this year, her official marathon, Ms. Bortz said. time is not known; her To prepare for the Boston race, she “The other eight will run slow pace put her behind marathons because we are ran 50 miles a week on the workers in the rear offering them quite a large of the pack who were reward,” she added. “I Portola Valley roads and trails. collecting the electrondidn’t want them to wait ic timing mats that lay until they’re 50.” across the roads. “We just can’t keep the roads open,” a spokes- A late start Ms. Bortz started running at age 48 after comman for the Boston Athletic Association said in a phone interview. “It’s very noble of her to take on ing home from a hard trek in Nepal, she said. the event but at some point, we have to open the She has raced in Dublin, Australia, Honolulu and Greece. She’s run eight times in Boston, the roads to the public.” “I’m not the runner that I used to be,” Ms. Bortz nation’s oldest marathon. Some marathoners run for the accomplishtold the Almanac, noting that she had surgery four years ago that left her with a partially metal knee. ment of finishing the race. “I run to win,” Ms. “I proved that you can have half a knee and still Bortz said. “It’s kind of fun when you’re older.” Asked why she began running marathons, she run a marathon,” she said. Her husband, Dr. Walter Bortz, has also run the replied that she wanted to stay out of a rocking Boston marathon but accompanied his wife this chair. “I’ve always been an athlete,” she added. She said she ran the Bay-to-Breakers race in San year as a support team. He rented a car and met her at six points along the course with M&Ms, Francisco once years ago, but that short races can be boring. The reward for her 20-mile practice runs: peanuts and “a big smile,” she said. “I did it last year, so she had to chase me this runner’s high. “When you’re supposed to be tired, I’m not tired,” she said. “I’m excited. I’m hyperacyear,” Mr. Bortz told the Almanac. The couples’ four children have all run mara- tive. I want to do stuff.” A

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THE ALMANAC (ISSN 1097-3095 and USPS 459370) is published every Wednesday by Embarcadero Media, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 940256558. Periodicals Postage Paid at Menlo Park, CA and at additional mailing offices. Adjudicated a newspaper of general circulation for San Mateo County, The Almanac is delivered free to homes in Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside. Subscriptions for $60 per year or $100 per 2 years are welcome. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Almanac, 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025-6558. Copyright ©2010 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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Community activist tells of night of terror ■ City refuses to release 911 call. By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


Saturday drive for Chinese takeout turned into a terrifying night in Menlo Park, said Vicki Smothers. Ms. Smothers, who co-founded a treatment program for addicts and was inducted in 2003 into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame for community service, described the ordeal. While driving along Ringwood Avenue around 8 p.m. on April 9, a dark SUV, possibly a Ford Expedition, started tailgating her car, she said. The vehicles stopped alongside each other at a light on Ravenswood Avenue and Laurel Avenue. The other driver shouted racial epithets at

Ms. Smothers, who is African American. The tirade continued, she said, even after the light changed. “I was thinking, oh, let his light change, I’m going straight, he’s turning. But he pulled out of the turn lane to cut my car off,” Ms. Smothers said. He mixed obscenities with threats to kill her. When she again tried to drive away, the SUV blocked her car a second time — sideways, keeping the license plate out of sight. A Caucasian man got out brandishing a stick or club as he walked toward Ms. Smothers. “I said, ‘aw, shut up’ when he said, ‘I’m going to lynch you, you black ****, and that really set him off,” she said. Ms. Smothers found her cellphone dead when she tried to call 911. A woman riding in the SUV

kept her gaze fixed straightforward as cars drove around the shouting man. Ms. Smothers drove in reverse down the street until finally, her assailant got back in his car, made a U-turn, and turned right on Laurel Avenue. She drove to Su Hong restaurant on El Camino Real. By that time her cellphone had picked up enough of a charge to call 911. But when Sgt. Bob Simpson of the Menlo Park Police Department arrived at the restaurant, the night took another turn for the worse. “Before I was able to say five words, he said, ‘So you came here first to order your dinner? I just find it kind of funny that you would come in here and order dinner if it was such a high impact incident,”” she said.

She asked for an apology for being treated like she had done something wrong. When none was forthcoming, Ms. Smothers went to the police department to speak to the watch commander. That night it was Sgt. Simpson, so she returned the next day to talk to Sgt. Matthew Ortega instead. Sgt. Simpson did not respond to requests for comment from the Almanac. Ms. Smothers, 60, co-founded East Palo Alto’s Free At Last, a treatment program for addicts. People working within the recovery community tend to be familiar with police procedures, so when Ms. Smothers wonders whether the man who harassed her was in law enforcement, it sounds like a credible question. “His mannerisms. The way he stopped me, the way he was

blocking me. The way he got out of the car holding the object,” created that impression, she said. “He had on a dark blue shirt, with something yellow, like an emblem. The way he cursed at me, the way he got out of the car, it was like he could get away with this. Most people wouldn’t do that in the middle of a busy street.” He stood about 6 feet tall, and was muscular, clean shaven, and had close-cropped brownish hair, according to her recollection. 911 call

The Almanac ran into a stonewall after requesting a copy of the 911 call. Calls are not automatically exempt from disclosure under the California See SMOTHERS, page 8

Menlo Park contemplates high-speed rail along the Caltrain corridor By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


he sound of approaching high-speed rail just got louder in Menlo Park, after three Bay Area legislators announced their support for running the trains along the Caltrain corridor. After Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, issued a joint statement on April 18, the project’s advocates and detractors mulled over what it all meant. Mr. Gordon said that this vision of high-speed rail wouldn’t be much different from Caltrain’s baby bullet trains. “You do need to electrify the line; electrification is the future of Caltrain anyway,” he noted, explaining that this would require overhead wires. “If you have an electrified third rail, you have to completely separate the tracks — you can’t have cars going over the tracks, can’t have people going over the tracks. So you’d have to install the overhead wires.” He also thought that adding a third track at a few locations,

to allow the trains to pass their slower counterparts, would help. Mr. Gordon disagreed that all crossings would need grade separations, an expensive proposition. “Obviously for safety, the more the better, but in many ways, those are community by community decisions. San Bruno, just recently embarked on a project to do a major grade separation. The city really wanted that to happen, it was part of their long-range plan. But there are other communities where people would not want that to happen.” Electrification would also lead to quieter trains, although federal law still requires sounding a horn at any at-grade crossings, he said. Balderdash?

Transportation commissioner and anti-high-speed-rail advocate Martin Engel called the April 18 announcement “balderdash.” He said that Caltrain electrification is code for highspeed rail, even though there’s no funding yet to build the proj-

Spring Down meadow to remain open space By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


here are changes ahead for the six-acre grass meadow and pond that sits along the southern side of the Portola Valley Town Center, but the changes will be modest. On April 13, the Town Council reached a consensus — Mayor Ted Driscoll was absent — to accept recommendations of the

21-person Ad-Hoc Spring Down Master Plan Committee, a group of residents and town officials who met four times in 2010 to discuss the future of the meadow, which was already designated as open space. The discussion was not without argument. There were proposals for a skate park or space for a pick-up baseball game, but that remained a minority view,

according to a staff report. “It very much emerged that a consensus wanted to keep it in an open state (though the minority’s views) were definitely considered,” committee liaison and Councilwoman Ann Wengert said in response to questions from Councilman Steve Toben. For Phase 1, the report recSee SPRING, page 8

See RAIL, page 8

April 27, 2011 N The Almanac N5

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Conners takes over as Atherton attorney


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illiam B. Conners wasted no time before climbing into his new saddle â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a seat on the Atherton City Council dais â&#x20AC;&#x201D; after the council unanimously confirmed his appointment as the new town attorney. In a closed-session meeting just before the regular April 20 council meeting, the coun-

cil approved a contract with Mr. Conners, a Pebble Beach resident and former Monterey city attorney, to provide legal services. Mr. Conners then took his seat between Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen and Interim City Manager John Danielson for the regular meeting. Among the public attendees in the audience that night, seated in the front row, was the new assistant town attorney, Jennifer Conners Larson â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Mr. Con-

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nersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; daughter, who is an attorney specializing in litigation. Under terms of the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s contract with Mr. Conners, the new attorney will be paid a fixed monthly retainer of $9,800, which will cover fees for his standard services and for â&#x20AC;&#x153;other members of his legal teamâ&#x20AC;? in delivering agreed-upon services. Those include attendance at City Council and Planning Commission meetings, and meetings of â&#x20AC;&#x153;other bodies as requestedâ&#x20AC;?; weekly office hours in Town Hall; preparation of ordinances, resolutions and other legal documents; and preparation of legal opinions requested by the town. The contract notes that the new attorney â&#x20AC;&#x153;expects that virtually all costs he expects to incur in providing legal services to the town will be included in his retainer.â&#x20AC;? But if additional services outside of those agreed to in the retainer are required, he will be paid $175 an hour to provide them. Mr. Connersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; first performance evaluation will take place six months after his hiring, under terms of the contract, and every year thereafter. Montereyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assistant city attorney for 10 years before holding the top attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post for that city for about 15 years, 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. The other two finalists were larger law firms. Mr. Conners has been the sole practitioner in his firm, William B. Conners Municipal Law Consultant, for the last six years. In an earlier interview with the Almanac, he said he was able to offer his services to Atherton for a lower cost than competing applicants could. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I can do the job expertly, but not as expensively as a large firm,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to pay junior attorneys. ... Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s much more efficient doing the work myself â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it eliminates a whole lot of middle men.â&#x20AC;? Mr. Conners replaces Wynne Furth of the Burke Williams and Sorensen law firm, which also applied for the position. When Ms. Furth was hired by the town in February 2009, she worked for McDonough Holland & Allen, with offices in Sacramento and Oakland. When that firm announced last year that it was closing, the council decided to use the opportunity to bid for legal services, employing Ms. Furth on a month-by-month contract since last summer. A


City’s dilemma: how to replace Rojas By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


hen City Manager Glen Rojas announced his intention to retire in July, Menlo Park faced a dilemma. Voters passed Measure L, a pension reform initiative, in November, but the changes won’t take effect for at least another six months, until the contract with a union representing city employees expires in October. If the city hires a new manager from outside Menlo Park before the measure takes effect, that hire would fall under the current pension policy with higher benefits. The council will consider its options during its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 26. Mr. Rojas offered to stay on for another six months under a contract that would pay the same $18,369 monthly salary he makes now, but saves the city an estimated $4,700 per month in benefit costs, according to the staff report. He would also earn no vacation or sick leave hours. Personnel director Glen Kramer confirmed that Mr.



Rojas would receive both his pension and a monthly salary — as does Mr. Kramer, who retired Dec. 29 before returning as a contractor on Jan. 3 and who makes $68.40 per hour on top of his $10,877 monthly pension. Retired employees are limited by CalPERS to working 960 hours per year as contractors. Other options include selecting a manager from within the city ranks, which would save the most money, based on the staff report, or recruiting from outside Menlo Park. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center, 701 Laurel St. in Menlo Park

Go fly a kite Bedwell Bayfront Park hosts its annual Kite Day this Sunday, May 1. Bring a kite or buy one at the park, where volunteers will be on hand to help assemble the kits. The kites take to the sky from 12 to 3 p.m. The park sits at the intersection of Bayfront

Expressway and Marsh Road, east of U.S. 101.

Elder financial abuse case goes to trial A Menlo Park woman charged with using an 81-year-old relative’s credit card to rack up $13,000 in bills, which she then allegedly intercepted to cover up the theft, went to trial on Monday, April 25. Mary Patricia Stuart, 52, is out of custody on $15,000 bond, according to the San Mateo County district attorney’s office. Prosecutors expect the trial to last five days. While out on bail, Ms. Stuart was arrested along with her brother Eric in Palo Alto on Aug. 29 for allegedly assaulting and robbing an employee at Hotel California. The brother and sister were known to the 45-yearold worker, and had an ongoing dispute regarding financial matters, according to Palo Alto police. The Stuarts reportedly forced their way past a door secured with a safety chain, then swiped a cell phone and keys. A

Special to the Almanac


etsy Halaby, program director of Art in Action and an Atherton resident, was named 2011 San Mateo County Arts Educator of the Year for Arts Education Development, said Art in Action spokesperson Torben Gronning. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors issued a resolution March 1 commending Ms. Halaby for her contribution to arts education in the county’s schools. Ms. Halaby joined Art in Action in 1987, five years after it was founded. AIA is a Menlo Park-based nonprofit that promotes visual arts education in schools, provides art curriculums, and trains local school teachers.


According to Mr. Gronning, Ms. Halaby has trained more than 10,000 teachers and parent volunteers in K-8 education. In turn, she has helped provide more than 23,000 local students with an art program each year, Mr. Gronning said. Ms. Halaby also supervises the annual Art in Action Summer Art Show in San Mateo County public libraries and helps county schools with their annual spring art shows. “Many teachers and parent volunteers ascribe their teaching success to Betsy’s outstanding, knowledgeable, and friendly teaching of art history, art concepts, and art projects,” said Judy Sleeth, executive director of Art in Action.

Trucker in bike fatality seeks indemnity Truck driver Gabriel Vera and his employer are seeking indemnity from San Mateo County in connection with a lawsuit brought against Mr. Vera by relatives of Los Altos Hills bicyclist Lauren Ward. Ms. Ward died in a Nov. 4, 2010, collision with Mr. Vera’s tractor trailer at the intersection of Alpine Road and Interstate 280. The county’s risk management

by Monica Corman

Good Rentals Are Not Easy To Find Dear Monica: I have been look- ply of apartments and townhouses ing for a house to rent long term for rent. If you have school aged children, in a good school district and am you understandably want to find a not finding much to choose from. longer term rental so that you do I would pay up to $6000 a month not have to change schools in the but there is so little available. near future. I recommend you cast Any suggestions? as wide a net as you can and not David G. narrow your search to a limited area. Dear David: The supply of single family homes to rent in good school Be as flexible as you can be with districts in the Mid-Peninsula has respect to the size and condition of always been limited and seldom the property if it meets the impormore so than now. More people are tant criteria of location. You may moving to this area for jobs than at want to advertise on websites and any time since 2007 and for various social media, talk to your friends reasons many would prefer to rent at (word of mouth can work very well), first rather than buy. Many younger and keep looking. You should be people are looking for rentals too, able to find a rental within a reasonand are filling up the limited sup- able period of time. For answers to any questions you may have on real estate, you may e-mail me at or call 462-1111, Alain Pinel Realtors. I also offer a free market analysis of your property.


Ken Coverdell (650) 726-5990 Award Winning Since 1985

Halaby named arts educator of the year By Miranda Simon


division is recommending that the Board of Supervisors deny the claims at its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 26. Mr. Vera and his employer, Castroville demolition contractor Randazzo Enterprises Inc., allege that the intersection is dangerous and caused the death of Ms. Ward. The California Highway Patrol determined that Mr. Vera was not at fault. Masonry-Plantings-Woodwork-Irrigation-Water Features-Drainage-Pools/Spas-Lighting

$100,000 grant for Meals on Wheels Peninsula Volunteers Inc. has received an annual $100,000 grant from the Sequoia Healthcare District to help with the delivery of Meals on Wheels to homebound older adults. Meals on Wheels delivers a hot meal a day five days a week, providing a nutritious, wellbalanced meal, as well as faceto-face contact with a delivery person. A total of $1.5 million in grants has been awarded this year to 27 non-healthcare agencies by the Sequoia Healthcare District as part of its Caring Community Grant program, said hospital spokesperson Bart Charlow.

Project Read Project Read-Menlo Park announces spring training dates for adults who wish to volunteer as tutors. Session 1 takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 10; session 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14; and session 3, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14. Volunteers must attend all three sessions. No experience is necessary to volunteer, flexible hours may be arranged, and Project Read provides all necessary materials. Visit projectreadmenlopark. org for more information. A

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N E W S RAIL continued from page 5

ect along the Caltrain corridor. “To a significant degree, that’s what they are doing in the Central Valley with available funding; marking their territory. What they intend to build won’t be high-speed rail usable. They excuse that by saying that it’s merely the first step,” Mr. Engel said. “What is planned currently for the Central Valley is the construction of a rail corridor, presumably two tracks, although even that’s not entirely clear,” Mr. Engel continued. “What they won’t build is the entire high-speed rail capacity, which includes electrification, signaling, and positive train control. What does this mean? They prefer to use all the available dollars on laying as much track as possible. Never mind if it’s not high-speed-rail usable. That, they say, will come later.” The trio of legislators sent out a second statement later in the week to address the misconception that they were suggesting high-speed rail should stop in San Jose, then force riders to transfer to Caltrain. “There would be no transfers. The idea is to upgrade the Caltrain corridor so that high-speed trains can run on the same tracks,” the statement said. “High-speed trains would run northbound and southbound all the way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, as required by Prop 1A.” But at least one transportation commissioner thinks that should be a fallback position. Ray Mueller, who compared a high-speed rail train to a “horiSPRING continued from page 5

ommended a perimeter trail, a “rustic” perimeter fence and some changes to vegetation at a cost of about $30,000, Public Works Director Howard Young told the council. The trailbuilding will begin before July 1, he said. A bench or two is not out of the question. The 2010-11 budget allocated $75,000 for the project, Mr. Young said. With Phase 2 expected to cost $79,000, additional money could be set aside in the coming budget year, he said. Phase 2 involves hiring a biologist to look for endangered species. If none are found, the town would then hire a hydrologist to change the eight-foot-deep, manmade, oxygen-starved, debris-strewn and possibly dangerous pond into something

zontal rocket,” said he’s also concerned about the feasibility of running the trains through residential areas, and the volume of trains necessary in an integrated system. “History tells us accidents will happen in any transportation system. We need to remain cognizant of that fact in planning,” he said. “I am not saying it can’t be done, but we should remain cautious about not trying to force square pegs through round holes.” Mr. Mueller, along with Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline, expressed happiness that the legislators took a stand against elevated tracks on the Peninsula. Friends in high places

Since the legislators firmly rejected any high-speed rail design that included elevated tracks along the Peninsula, how much will that count with the California High Speed Rail Authority? According to Mr. Gordon, although they can’t tell the authority what to do, of the three legislators that made the announcement, Ms. Eshoo is well placed in Congress, while Mr. Simitian and himself chair the budget committees that oversee the budget of high-speed rail. “That probably gives us some capacity to be listened to,” he said. “I certainly hope that the authority is listening to the public and to the elected officials. Continuing to think about and pursue elevated rails in communities that don’t want them really is a fool’s errand.” Rail authority CEO Roelof van Ark was unavailable for comment, as was Caltrain’s CEO, Michael Scanlon. A

natural, seasonal, shallower and perhaps welcoming to amphibians and insects. “The pond could be the crown jewel,” said committee member Gary Nielsen. As is true now, the water would be deoxygenated, having nowhere to go, but animals could use it, it wouldn’t be more than a couple of feet deep and it would dry out in the summer, Mr. Young said in an interview. “We don’t believe we’re going to find endangered species there,” he added. “We’re pretty sure of that.” Such a finding would complicate matters and add about $20,000 to the cost, Mr. Young said. The town would have to engage the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers, and the council would have to weigh the extra time and expense of getting permits.

8 N The Almanac NApril 27, 2011


Woodside’s May Day Parade grand marshals Kara Ireland D’Ambrosio, left, and Beth Dameron, stand behind members of the royal court in their off-duty garb. From left, they are Queen Morgan Helfand, Prince Justin Pretre, Princess Nina Pasquesi, King Hunter Foster, Princess Catherine Pittman, and Prince Ryan Goldberg. Photo by Michelle Le/ The Almanac

Woodside May Day Parade set for May 7 The 89th May Day parade through downtown Woodside is set for Saturday, May 7, following a fun run and a pancake breakfast at the Woodside Village Church. After the parade, there will be a Maypole dance and an announcement of the town’s Citizen of the Year award. Activities begin at 7:30 a.m. with the fun run, which starts at the public library and ends a little more than two circuitous miles later at the Woodside Village Church, where the Rotary Club of WoodsidePortola Valley will hold its breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Woodside Road and Albion Avenue, just west of Woodside Elementary School, 3195 Woodside Road. The traditional route is both straight and straightforward: a procession that starts at

SMOTHERS continued from page 5

Public Records Act, and cities such as Mountain View and Palo Alto release calls on a case-bycase basis, as does San Mateo County, but Menlo Park flatly refused. We have a policy of not releasing 911 calls, City Attorney Bill McClure said on behalf of the police department. The city then refused to allow Ms. Smothers to listen to her own call, with Mr. McClure calling it inappropriate “in light of the City’s position regarding non-disclosure of the recording.” They also refused to identify

the elementary school and proceeds east for a quarter of a mile to the corner of Woodside and Canada roads, at which point everyone turns around and conducts another quarter-mile parade back to the school. The members of the kindergarten Royal Court this year are Hunter Foster as king, Morgan Helfand as queen, Ryan Goldberg and Justin Pretre as princes, and Nina Pasquesi and Catherine Pittman as princesses. After the parade, everyone is encouraged to adjourn to the outdoor amphitheater behind the school for the third-graders Maypole dance, which will be followed by the ceremony announcing the citizen of the year. A barbecue, carnival games, and crafts will be ongoing at the school through the

the dispatcher who handled the call. The Almanac discovered that in 2002, the city did release a call despite its policy — as a courtesy, according to the couple involved. The couple, who asked that their names be withheld for fear of repercussions, had an unfortunate encounter with police after a dispatcher mistakenly labeled their call as a domestic violence situation. The woman said attorney Dan Siegel played the tape and gave them a recording, which they later handed to Mark Martel, a lawyer representing David McBay in a lawsuit for police brutality. Jim Ewert, an attorney for the California Newspapers Publishers Association, said Ms.

early afternoon. Tickets are available at the event or in advance through the elementary school.

Woodside High The Woodside High School Alumni Association is taking part in the Woodside May Day parade on May 7. Alums interested in walking in the 10 a.m. parade, should meet at 9 a.m. in the Woodside Elementary School parking lot. Look for the orange alumni banner. After the parade, alums are invited to meet near the Woodside Elementary School’s new gym for a social gathering and picnic. Food and drinks may be purchased at the festival. Email beckyp108@gmail. com or call 365-9419 to get more information from Becky Preimesberger.

Smothers is legally entitled to the recording, just as state law requires disclosure of witness statements and case reports to all parties in a case unless doing so harms another victim, a witness, or the investigation. Mr. McClure cited none of those exceptions in denying the request. “This creates even more frustration because it highlights the fact that they can pick and choose whether to release the tape and to whom,” Mr. Ewert said. “They are misusing the exemption which was designed to protect the integrity of the investigation, subsequent investigations, and witnesses to secrete information. It is just nefarious.” A


Caltrain to keep all trains running, for now By Gennady Sheyner Embarcadero Media


altrain will keep all of its 86 weekday trains running in the next fiscal year, though riders will have to shell out a little extra for tickets and parking, the agency’s board of directors decided April 21. The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which oversees the cash-strapped transit agency, voted 5-3 to adopt a budget plan that depends largely on one-time revenues to balance the books in fiscal year 2012. The approved plan also assumes the agency will close its projected $3.5 million budget deficit through a contribution from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), a regional planning agency. Though the final details of the deal are still being negotiated, the money would likely be transferred from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s allocation for Caltrain’s capital budget to its annual operating budget, Caltrain staff said. Caltrain CEO Michael Scanlon called the deal a “one-year patch” and said the money could come from a vehicle-replacement budget, which is already underfunded. “It’s a complicated deal,” Mr. Scanlon told the board. “It’s close to done. There’s been good, positive spirit that has characterized the talks between the partners

Paul Thomson directs Yale film festival Paul Thomson of Woodside was program director of Yale University’s third annual Environmental Film Festival, which took place from March 28 to April 3, the university announced. Mr. Thomson is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental science at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. His interests lie in large carnivore conservation and working to popularize conservation through media. Mr. Thomson is also a director of Ewaso Lions (, a lion research and conservation project in northern Kenya, where he has been working for the last few years. He said he regularly returns to Woodside to visit his family and eat sandwiches at Roberts Market. “We had a record number of submissions and our lineup is the best we’ve ever had,” Mr. Thomson said of the film festival. “The films cover crucial topics from waste to light pollution to environmental terrorism. And it’s not all doom and gloom — we have some fun films, too.”

and the MTC.” Under the plan, train fare would go up by 25 cents, while the daily parking costs would rise from $3 to $4 starting July 1. The cost of the monthly parking pass would go up from $30 to $40. Members of the public and the board majority hailed the plan as a victory, however temporary, in the agency’s ongoing budget crisis. Caltrain staff had previously proposed reducing service to 76, or possibly even 48, trains, suspending weekend service at some stations (including California Avenue in Palo Alto) and

Caltrain warns of deep budget troubles ahead. closing other stations altogether. These proposals drew heated opposition from the public, with riders, business owners and city officials packing into recent public hearings to urge the agency to keep its service levels intact. The board agreed to adopt the staff proposal to keep all 86 trains running and to keep stations open and weekend service intact. But members also warned that most of the fixes in the proposal are only good for the next fiscal year and that the agency still faces the monumental task of getting permanent, dedicated funding. This is the third year that the Caltrain board has declared a fiscal emergency. “The reality is that we have to be in this together during these

two years to come up with a solution because we could be back here with something far more serious than what we’re talking about now,” said Director Adrienne Tissier, who made the motion to accept the new budget plan. Director Liz Kniss said she was “amazed” that the agency was able to come up with a plan this quickly and called the proposal “very satisfying.” Director Ken Yeager agreed, though he acknowledged that the long-term problem is far from solved. “I think we all sensed the message that this is a service that we’d like to maintain as much as we could,” Mr. Yeager said. “Even though we got the little train up the hill this time, there’s a lot of clouds.” Board Vice Chair Omar Ahmad, who along with Chair Sean Elsbernd and Director Jose Cisneros opposed the resolution, called the proposal a “one-time spending plan” that is “not a solution” to the agency’s financial struggles. He proposed an amendment that, barring a new funding source, would have established a 48-weekday-train model as the “sustainable” service model for the agency. His amendment failed, with only Mr. Elsbernd and Mr. Cisneros supporting it. “I absolutely guarantee with the budget we’re about to adopt, we’ll be here in January or February declaring a fiscal emergency,” Mr. Elsbernd said. “The underbelly of this system is completely corroded.”

Photo by Pete Zivkov, Menlo School

Celebrating diversity Menlo School students Jessica, left, and Monica Juan display their Ojo de Dios (God’s Eye) craft at the Spanish-Speaking Countries booth at the school’s first International Fair. The ornaments are made by wrapping colored yarn around sticks to look like an eye. Held on March 12, the fair included performances, booths and food. It was held to celebrate and learn about different cultures and nationalities represented by students. According to an online survey, the student body consists of more than 70 nationalities, and some 47 languages are spoken.


David Ramadanoff presents Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra’s Spring Concert With Hans Boepple Tickets:


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Symphony No. 7 in A major

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Saturday, April 30 at 8:00 pm Valley Presbyterian Church 945 Portola Rd., Portola Valley (Reception follows) Sunday, May 1 at 2:30 pm Los Altos United Methodist Church 655 Magdalena at Foothill Expressway, Los Altos (Reception at intermission)

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April 27, 2011 N The Almanac N9


Camp Connection

Summer at Saint Francis


Athletic Fitness – “Train with the Best”

Menlo Park

Riekes Summer Camps — A world of opportunity and fun-filled learning. Ages 9-18. Strength & conditioning, speed & agility, sport specific training, skills development, professional coaches, pre & post evals, leading edge methods, latest equipment. Sessions run from June through August. 650-364-2509

Bay Area Equestrian Center


At Wunderlich County Park Stables. Kids 8-15 have outdoor fun joining BAEC for horse camps. Camps focus on caring for and riding horses so come ready to ride and have fun learning good horse care. 650-446-1414

California Riding Academy’s Camp Jumps For Joy!

Menlo Park

Join us this summer for fantastic and fun filled week with our beautiful horses and ponies! Each day Campers have riding instruction, learn horse care, create fun crafts and play with our kids’ jump course. During the week we learn beginning vaulting, visit our Full Surgical Vet Clinic, and meet our miniature horses. Voted the best horse camp by discerning young campers. Choose English, Western or Cowboy/Cowgirl. Register and pay online at: 650-740-2261

Camp Jones Gulch


CTC programs provide an enjoyable way for your child to begin learning the game of tennis or to continue developing existing skills. Our approach is to create lots of fun with positive feedback and reinforcement in a nurturing tennis environment. Building self-esteem and confidence through enjoyment on the tennis court is a wonderful gift a child can keep forever! Super Juniors Program, ages 4 - 6. Juniors Program, ages 7 - 14. 650-400-0464

Creighton School of Wrestling Summer Camp

Palo Alto

Learn to wrestle and train with champions including our national champion guest clinicians. We offer sessions appropriate for athletes of all skill levels from beginner to Elite (Ages 6 to 18). Camp runs for 3 sessions from June 20 to July 9. *** NEW Option for youths — “All-Day Camp” — Includes morning wrestling and afternoon activities ** 650-219-6383

Don Shaw’s Volleyball Training Academy


Join former Stanford University Men’s and Women’s head coach, Hall of Famer and 4-time NCAA Champion Don Shaw this summer at our camp for HS GIRL’s July 13th, 14th & 15th and for HS BOY’s July 18th, 19th & 20th. This camp gives players, who have the desire, the chance to improve their skills and learn proven techniques that will help them become more consistent and enhance their chances to play at a higher level. 408-329-0488

Earl Hansen Football Camp

Palo Alto

Mountain View

Advanced Sports Camps (5th-9th grades): We offer a wide selection of advanced sports camps designed to provide players with the opportunity to improve both their skill and knowledge of a specific sport. Each camp is run by a Head Varsity Coach at Saint Francis, and is staffed by members of the coaching staff. 650-968-1213 ext. 446

Team Esface Elite Basketball Skills Clinics

YMCA of Silicon Valley


Say hello to summer fun at the YMCA! Choose from enriching day or overnight camps in 35 locations: arts, sports, science, travel, and more. For youth K-10th grade. Includes weekly fieldtrips, swimming and outdoor adventures. Accredited by the American Camp Association. Financial assistance available. 408-351-6400

Academics Delphi Academy

Harker Summer Programs

iD Tech Camps - Summer Tech Fun!

iD Teen Academies

Fun and Specialized junior camps for Mini (3-5), Beginner, Intermediate 1 & 2, Advanced and Elite Players. Weekly programs designed by Kim Grant to improve players technique, fitness, agility, mental toughness and all around tennis game. Camps in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City. Come make new friends and have tons of FUN!! 650-752-8061

Matt Lottich Life Skills Basketball Camp

Woodside/ Redwood City

MLLS offers high-level, high-energy basketball instruction for ages 6-16. This summer we celebrate the 8th year!! With two to three “leagues” in each session, young beginners to advanced elite players get to learn fundamental skills, advanced footwork and valuable life lessons from an unparalleled staff of Pro and Collegiate level players. Camps at Woodside Elementary and Sequoia High School. Early bird, multi-session, and group discounts available. 1-888-537-3223

Nike Tennis Camps at Stanford University


Come join the fun this summer and get better! Dick Gould’s 42nd Annual Stanford Tennis School offers day camps for both junior and adults, June 11-16. Weekly junior overnight and extended day camps offered June 19-Aug 12 for boys & girls ages 9-18 and run by Head Men’s Coach John Whitlinger and Head Women’s Coach Lele Forood. There is a camp option for everyone! 1-800-NIKE CAMP (645-3226)

Spring Down Camp Equestrian Center

Portola Valley

Spring Down camp teaches basic to advanced horsemanship skills. All ages welcome! Daily informative lecture, riding lesson, supervised hands-on skill practice, safety around horses, tacking/untacking of own camp horse, and arts/crafts. 650-851-1114

Stanford Water Polo Camps


Ages 7 and up. New to the sport or have experience, we have a camp for you. Half day or full day option for boys and girls. All the camps offer fundamental skill work, position work, scrimmages and games. 650-725-9016

Summer at Saint Francis

Mountain View

Sports & Activity Camp (ages 6-12): This all sports camp provides group instruction in a variety of field, water and court games. Saint Francis faculty and students staff the camp, and the focus is always on fun. The program is dedicated to teaching teamwork, sportsmanship and positive self-esteem. 650-968-1213 ext. 446

10 N The Almanac NApril 27, 2011


Teens spend two weeks immersed in the dynamic world of video game creation at iD Gaming Academy, computer science/application development at iD Programming Academy or photography/filmmaking at iD Visual Arts Academy. Overnight programs held at Stanford, Harvard, MIT and others. Week-long programs for ages 7-17 also available. Free year-round learning! Save w/code CAU22T. 1-888-709-TECH (8324)

Mid-Peninsula High School Summer Program

Palo Alto/Menlo Park/ Redwood City


Ages 7-17 create video games, iPhone apps, C++/Java programs, websites and more. Weeklong, day and overnight programs held at Stanford, UC Berkeley, Santa Clara, UCLA and others. Also special Teen programs held at Stanford in gaming, programming and visual arts. Free year-round learning! Save with code CAU22L. 1-888-709-TECH (8324)

Jefunira Camp

Kim Grant Tennis Academy Summer Camps

San Jose

K-12 offerings taught by exceptional, experienced faculty and staff. K-6 morning academics - focusing on math, language arts and science - and full spectrum of afternoon recreation. Grades 6-12 for-credit courses and non-credit enrichment opportunities. Swim, Tennis and Soccer also offered. 408-553-0537

ISTP Language Immersion

Palo Alto

Santa Clara

Have your best summer ever at Delphi Academy’s summer camp! Ages 5-13. Full Day Camp. Morning academics with experienced teachers, afternoon activities, day trips, camping trips, swimming, sports, crafts, activities, and a lot of fun! 408-260-2300

Learn the fundamentals of football with Earl Hansen, Palo Alto High School and State Champion coach. This is a non-contact camp where kids develop fundamental skills with proven drills and techniques. Full practices in the mornings with 7 on 7 games in the afternoon. July 11 to 15 @ Palo Alto High School. Ages 10 to14. Lunch provided daily. 650-269-7793 Celebrating our 20th year of Jefunira Camp summer fun in 2011! Come join us for some good old fashion summer fun! Our combination of an exceptional college aged staff and innovative, inclusive programming will create a memorable summer experience for your child. Programming for children ages 4-13. Pre and post camp care offered. 650-291-2888

Woodside/ Redwood City

Spring Training (April-May). High-energy, high-level basketball training for ages 6-16. Use your offseason as a time to develop your basketball skills and IQ with the unparalleled coaching staff of Team Esface. Learn the fundamentals of the game, offensive attack moves and advanced footwork through dynamic drills and competitions led by young, positive coaches including former Division 1 athletes. April and May. Two days per week. Sibling and group discounts available. More information and sign up at: 1-888-537-3223

La Honda

Join the fun this summer! Camp Jones Gulch offers friendship and growth to kids ages 6-16. Enjoy our Traditional Camp or Mini, Horse, Surfing, Leadership and Travel Camps. One- and two-week sessions. Limited financial assistance available. 415-848-1200

Champion Tennis Camps

For more info see our online camp directory at Please call us at 650.326.8210 for other camp advertising opportunities

Palo Alto

International School of the Peninsula camps offered in French, Chinese, Spanish or ESL for students in Nursery through Middle School. Three 2-week sessions, each with different theme. Students are grouped according to both grade level and language proficiency. 650-251-8519

Menlo Park

Mid-Peninsula High School offers a series of classes and electives designed to keep students engaged in learning. Classes Monday-Thursday and limited to 15 students. Every Thursday there’s a BBQ lunch. The Science and Art classes will have weekly field trips. 650-321-1991 ext. 110

Summer at Saint Francis

Mountain View

Summer at Saint Francis provides a broad range of academic and athletic programs for elementary through high school students. It is the goal of every program to make summer vacation enriching and enjoyable! 650-968-1213 ext. 446


Stanford/San Jose/Berkeley

SuperCamp is the summer enrichment program that parents and kids love! Now in our 30th year and with over 56,000 graduates worldwide, we’ll give your son or daughter the skills, added confidence, motivation and character direction to flourish. Junior Forum, incoming 6th-8th graders; Senior Forum, incoming 9th-12th graders. Located at Stanford, San Jose State, UC Berkeley and 6 other prestigious schools nationwide. 800-285-3276

Synapse School & Wizbots

Menlo Park

Cutting-edge, imaginative, accelerated, integrated, and hands-on academic summer enrichment courses with independent in-depth and project-based morning and afternoon weeklong programs for children ages 4-12: Young Explorers, Thinking Math, Leonardo da Vinci’s Inventions, Nature Connections, Girls’ & Soccer Robotics, and more! 650-866-5824

TechKnowHow Computer & LEGO Camps Palo Alto/Menlo Park/Sunnyvale Fun and enriching technology classes for students, ages 5-14! Courses include LEGO and K’NEX Projects with Motors, NXT Robotics, 3D Modeling, and Game Design. Many locations, including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Sunnyvale. Half and all day options. Early-bird and multi-session discounts available. 650-474-0400

Woodland School Summer Adventures

Portola Valley

For kindergarten through 8th grade. Offers academics, sports, field trips and onsite activities. June 27 - July 29 650-854-9065

Write Now! Summer Writing Camps

Palo Alto/Pleasanton

Emerson School of Palo Alto and Hacienda School of Pleasanton open their doors and offer their innovative programs: Expository Writing, Creative Writing, Presentation Techniques, and (new!) Media Production. Call or visit our website for details. 650-424-1267, 925-485-5750 (continued on next page)


11 S 20ug 14 P M CA 3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;A

Summer at Saint Francis

1 MERps June M U S ly C a m

Woodside principal to resign

k Wee

By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer

sports & activity


middle school

freshman experience

high school

s Mini (3-5yrs)

advanced sports

iana Abbati, principal and superintendent of the Woodside Elementary School District since mid-2008, has announced plans to take over as superintendent of the Los Gatos Union School District. Ms. Abbati informed the Woodside school board at a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 20, board president Bettina Pike told the Almanac. Her resignation is effective June 30. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No career experience before or after will ever compare for the depth of personal and professional regard I have felt in my role as superintendent/principal,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Abbati said in an April 20 letter to parents. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As I transition, I leave much of my heart with you.â&#x20AC;? With 2,800 students, one middle school and four elementary schools, the Los Gatos district is considerably larger than Woodsideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one-school district with 500 students. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every district has its challenges,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Pike said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If anyone was qualified and determined to meet them (at Woodside), Ms. Abbati was.â&#x20AC;? The resignation was a surprise, Ms. Pike said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be very sad to see her go,â&#x20AC;? she added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She loved our children. She was (usually found) out on the

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Camp Connection

Continued from previous page

Arts, Culture, Nature and Other Camps Bay Area School of Performing Arts- Summer Day Camps 2011

Palo Alto

Two fun and comprehensive programs offered in 1, 2 or 3 weeks for ages 4 and up touching every aspect of Music,Theater and Dance: Improvisation, Musical Theatre, Play Production and Stage Performance. July 5-July 22 and July 25-August 12 (Full day and Half Day) 9-3pm M-F, Performance each week! 824 San Antonio Rd., Palo Alto 650-561-4146

Camp Jano India

Mountain View/Santa Clara

Celebrate Indian culture, languages, arts, festivals, literature, cuisine, and leaders. Weekly themes are brought to life through related arts, dance, games, projects, stories and theatre in a very unique, exciting, creative, interactive, and structured style. June 13-August 5. Age 5 to 14. 650-493-1566

Camp F.U.N. (Friends with Unique Needs)

Palo Alto

A nurturing environment for kids with challenges to experience the fun of summer camp. Led by therapists at Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health Council. Ages 5-12, full days, Mon-Fri, three sessions. Small groups. Financial aid available. 650-688-3625

Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA)

Mountain View

50+ creative camps for Gr. K-8! Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Sculpture, Musical Theater, American Idol Workshop, more! Twoweek sessions; full and half-day enrollment. Extended care available. Financial aid offered. 650-917-6800 ext. 0

Creative Arts â&#x20AC;&#x201C; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Express Yourselfâ&#x20AC;?

Menlo Park

Riekes Summer Camps â&#x20AC;&#x201D; A world of opportunity and fun-filled learning. Ages 9-18. Rock camps, Hip Hop, recording, filmmaking, animation, B&W and digital Photography, graphic arts, comic book creation, Photoshop, magazine publishing. Sessions run from June through August. 650-364-2509

Nature Awareness â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x153;Explore Our Natural Worldâ&#x20AC;?

Menlo Park

Riekes Summer Camps â&#x20AC;&#x201D; A world of opportunity and fun-filled learning. Ages 6-18 and families. Learn awareness & survival skills, explore Monterey Bay, deep redwoods & coastal marsh. Surf camp. Family Festival. AFCANA Combo Camps combining fitness, arts & nature. Sessions run from June through August. 650-364-2509

Registration now open for Jefunira Camp 2011!



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12 N The Almanac NApril 27, 2011

Fire board imposes terms on firefighters By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


he firefighters of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District will get $350 more per month for health and welfare benefits, and an additional $400 more per month for post-employment health benefits, but no salary increase, according to terms imposed on the union by the district board of directors April 19. The board voted 4-1 to impose the offer. Director Peter Carpenter said he thought it was a good decision, but not a great outcome. Director Jack Nelson cast the single dissenting vote. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never been a fan of either imposing or forcing anything upon people. I think even after two and a half years of negotiations, both parties need to catch their breath and reassess their positions,â&#x20AC;? Mr. Nelson said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Both sides need to look at and reflect upon what isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t working, why isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it working, and try to improve upon that.â&#x20AC;? Negotiations between the board and union first ground to a halt in 2009 after Local 2400 filed a grievance with the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) alleging unfair labor practices that included refusing to bargain in good faith, and offering regressive terms that were less than previously agreed upon. Talks broke down again in October 2010 after union representatives asked to meet with the districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s board members individually. The board declined the request, saying in a response letter that such meetings violated state law. The district sent a letter last November to union leadership saying it would double the amount put toward health benefits in hopes of coaxing the union back to the bargaining table after the firefighters rejected an offer of $750 per month towards their health plan. Now the PERB case heads to court at the end of May. John Wurdinger, vice president of the Menlo Park Firefighters Association, said the union has already amended its PERB complaint as a result of the imposed terms. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Last night the fire board voted on a resolution that amounts to a $450 a month pay cut for some of our members, all the way up to a $350 a month pay increase for others,â&#x20AC;? he said, adding that the union continues to wait for a judgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision to settle the dispute. Under the previous terms, Mr. Wurdinger explained earlier, a firefighter could choose to take the $750 home in cash, an option no longer available. A


Road out of town a smooth one for public works director By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


ne of the key things Athertonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s public works director Duncan Jones was striving to do before retiring was â&#x20AC;&#x153;make the streets in Atherton the best streets in the county.â&#x20AC;? Recently, the town of Atherton tied with Foster City for the best and most improved streets in San Mateo County, in the estimation of the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, he said with more than a hint of pride. And, he added, Foster Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s streets are much newer than Athertonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. Mr. Jones, 59, spoke of the MTCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s glowing pronouncement a few days after announcing, on April 4, that he will retire at the end of the month from the post heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s held for the last eight years. He had been working for the city of Belmont when he was hired by Atherton in April 2003 to head the department that oversees the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s streets, drainage projects, Holbrook-Palmer Park, and related programs. In a press release announcing the retirement, the town cited Mr. Jonesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;tremendous skills,â&#x20AC;? and wrote: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mr. Jones played a major role in improving Athertonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pavement condition index to one of the best in San Mateo County. ... He assisted with improvements at HolbrookPalmer Park to help achieve the vision of the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s master plan, which included a pedestrian bridge and trail across the train tacks, a master irrigation system, South Meadow rehabilitation, Main House fountain relocation, and a water tower lawn.â&#x20AC;? Mr. Jones successfully wrote many grants that benefited the park and other projects in town. He obtained â&#x20AC;&#x153;Safe Routes to Schoolâ&#x20AC;? grants from Caltrans for projects near Las Lomitas and Sacred Heart schools; and oversaw the installation of a traffic signal at Encinal Avenue and Middlefield Road. In many school-related projects, he worked with multiple jurisdictions, and with parents and other residents, to create routes and infrastructure to bolster safety for kids traveling to and from school, he said. Notable projects he oversaw to completion include the reconstruction of numerous arterial streets, such as Valparaiso and Atherton avenues and Alameda de las Pulgas.

Duncan Quixote?

Mr. Jones won high marks

from council members for his work in researching and analysis of the highspeed rail plan for the Pe n i n s u l a , which the Photo by Michelle Le/ town opposThe Almanac es. He was Duncan Jones instrumental in drafting and editing letters to the agency overseeing the planned project, which would run the train along the Caltrain line that divides Atherton in two. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If anything that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done would help stop this high-speed rail boondoggle, that would please me,â&#x20AC;? he said.

Among his concerns about it: â&#x20AC;&#x153;My kids and grandkids will have to pay for it,â&#x20AC;? he said. His work on behalf of the town regarding the rail plan â&#x20AC;&#x153;felt a little Don Quixote-ishâ&#x20AC;? at times, but he hopes that, in the end, the work will prove to be more than just tilting at windmills. In collecting and analyzing information about the highspeed rail plan, Mr. Jones said he benefited greatly from the â&#x20AC;&#x153;very, very smart people here in Atherton who wrote a lot of the stuff we put together in those letters, especially financial (analysis). ... These guys know finances, and they say this dog wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hunt.â&#x20AC;? In leaving his post, what advice would he give his yet-tobe-determined successor? He would pass along the advice a former department head gave to him when he came to town, he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d say how I have avoided See DUNCAN, page 14



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Priory wins regional robotics contest By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he word â&#x20AC;&#x153;Woodsideâ&#x20AC;? appears in the name of the high school that placed highly at the Silicon Valley regional robotics competition, held April 1-3 in San Jose, but for a change it was not Woodside High, normally a powerhouse. Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley took first place with its barn2robotics team, in concert with its allies at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose and High Tech High, a charter school in San Diego. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is the first year weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve won anything,â&#x20AC;? Priory science teacher and team mentor Bob Bessin told the Almanac. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been doing it for a long while and never got past the preliminary rounds. The kids really came together this year.â&#x20AC;?

Woodside High won the Imag- rest are sophomores and juniors. ery Award. The regional contests There are three girls, one of are held under the umbrella of whom is co-president, Mr. Bessin FIRST (For Inspiration and Rec- said. Experience with robotics ognition of Science and Technol- starting in middle school is not ogy), founded in 1989 by Segway uncommon, he added. inventor Dean Kamen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We really rely on the genWith its viceral knowledge tory, the Priory and experience qualifies for the everyone to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The kids really came of national combring us togethtogether this year.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; petition, to be er,â&#x20AC;? he said. held April 27-30 Some are great TEAM MENTOR BOB B ESSIN in St. Louis. programmers, Mr. Bessin is some great with one of three adult team mentors computer aided design, and for the team, which has had from many are quick studies. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re 12 to 20 students on any given just sponges,â&#x20AC;? Mr. Bessin said. night in the campus barn that â&#x20AC;&#x153;They know more about bolts serves as a lab and construction and metal than I do at this space. Parents and a part-time point.â&#x20AC;? worker at the Tech Shop in Robotics at the Priory is 10 Menlo Park are also on hand. years old. The programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s corner The team this year includes two of the barn is equipped with freshmen and four seniors; the lathes, drill presses, â&#x20AC;&#x153;all kinds of

-*)+'%+'',*+#'&($. SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS



stuff,â&#x20AC;? he said. A typical robot consists of sheet metal, aluminum mostly, and components that each team receives but that often need resizing with a machine tool. Dimensions and weight limits are very specific to ensure a fair fight. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lightness is very important,â&#x20AC;? he said. Also important: lessons that naturally arise out of such an enterprise. The kids learn to work as a team in close quarters, to rely on one another, to meet deadlines and communicate well, Mr. Bessin said. These qualities carry into the competition in the form of â&#x20AC;&#x153;gracious professionalism,â&#x20AC;? a sharing of tools and knowledge and getting to know other people and schools. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It really kind of gets them out of their shells, so to speak,â&#x20AC;? he said. Go to to see a contest. The threerobot teams are on the same field



Residential burglary report: Jewelry valued at $26,642 stolen from inside her residence, Wilburn Ave., April 17. Fraud reports: â&#x2013; Unauthorized use of credit card but no financial loss, first block of Ashfield Road, April 15. â&#x2013;  Unauthorized spending of air miles in connection with unauthorized forwarding of e-mail messages but no financial loss, first block of Winchester Drive, April 15. â&#x2013;  No financial loss in connection with letter falsely representing Internal Revenue Service and attempt to obtain bank account information, 200 block of Oak Grove Ave., April 21. Child protective services report: 100 block of El Camino Real, April 20.

Grand theft report: Purse stolen from unlocked vehicle, 100 block of Olive Hill Lane, April 16. LADERA Auto burglary report: Break-in and theft of purse containing about $300 in cash, three credit cards, checkbook and seven gift cards to various businesses, 200 block of S. Castanya Way, April 17. MENLO PARK Residential burglary reports: â&#x2013; Loss estimated at $25,000 to $35,000 in break-in through unlocked window and theft of TV, Apple iPod, sunglasses and jewelry, 200 block of

See POLICE CALLS, page 17


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. Spread the word to your La Entrada friends! To RSVP or for more information, go to the alumni website. WWW.LAENTRADA-ALUM.ORG

14 N The Almanac NApril 27, 2011

together under remote control and vie to place colored rings on extended posts while blocking the other teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s efforts. Some robots are better at one thing than another. The Prioryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s machine was maneuverable and quick and thus focused on protecting its teammatesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; machines and interfering with those of the opposition, Mr. Bessin said. Young team

What happened to Woodside High? Many team leaders and designers graduated and the new kids had to work things out for themselves, robotics coach and biology teacher Arlene Kolber said in an interview. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have a very young team this year,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not about the destination, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about the journey. That tells you one reason why we werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t up there (winning), and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good,â&#x20AC;? she added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing to learn when everything goes right. Our kids have had that experience and do every year. ... If they fail at something, we let them do it. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s their robot.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;They were changing the design every few minutes,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We kicked them in the rear a couple of times. It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always work.â&#x20AC;? A

DUNCAN continued from page 13

being embroiled in all this bad press in Atherton. (The key was to) keep my head down and do the job Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m supposed to do.â&#x20AC;? Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ahead?

Mr. Jones plans to move to Incline Village, Nevada, once he retires, where he hopes to indulge in the skiing, kayaking, mountain biking and other outdoor sports he loves. He also is likely to pursue another longtime interest: writing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I started out in school, I wanted to be a creative writer,â&#x20AC;? he said. His grandmother and aunt are both published novelists, he said, adding that his aunt began writing her series of mystery novels at age 72. Mr. Jonesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; pending retirement wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be the only major change in his life in recent times. Last year, he became a grandfather â&#x20AC;&#x201D; twice, with one grandson born in September and the second in December. A

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Short takes Next guess, please An Atherton resident who recently happened upon San Mateo County’s protocol on dealing with domestic violence had a good laugh before passing a key piece of information along to the Almanac. The resident recalled a pertinent conclusion by outside investigator Pete Peterson, who reviewed resident Jon Buckheit’s complaint that an Atherton cop had illegally altered the police report detailing Mr. Buckheit’s arrest after a domestic violence incident. Although the Peterson report wasn’t made public, Mr. Buckheit was given a copy, and told the Almanac that Mr. Peterson claimed in his report that the judge who granted Mr. Buckheit

a declaration of factual innocence in the case “is unfamiliar with how the county’s domestic violence protocol works.” The resident who found the protocol noted that San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum, the judge in question, was a co-author of the protocol.

Coming to a library near you: petting zoo You wouldn’t think libraries and petting zoos belong together. But in Menlo Park, they do, even if the “animals” aren’t warm and fuzzy. The public library plans to let staff cuddle up with e-book readers, according to director Susan Holmer. They’ll get to try out the Nook, Color Nook, Kindle, Kindle DX and iPad for three weeks, which were bought by a state grant that circulates the electronic pets from library to library. Ms. Holmer said that since the library subscribes to e-books, staff needs to be able to show patrons how to download the items.

June 24 – August 6 Tickets On Sale May 2


















Portola Valley plans work on Alpine The stretch of Alpine Road that enters Portola Valley from Ladera is on deck for resurfacing, part of the annual road repair program that starts this year on April 25 and continues through June, according to a report from Public Works Director Howard Young. Also scheduled for attention this year are Deer Park Lane, Fremontia Street, Horseshoe Bend, Meadowood Drive, Saddleback Drive, Sandstone Street and Sunhill Street, the report said. The road work begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and the road will be open to normal traffic at the

end of the day, albeit on a temporarily rougher and dustier road. Parking restrictions will start two days before construction begins. The work will include grinding worn areas, covering old asphalt with new, sealing pavement, and making new traffic markings, Mr. Young said. The timing between road repair and resurfacing may lag so as to accomplish the work in a cost effective manner. To reach the on-site inspector, Tom Anderson, during the work days, call 831-915-3395. For questions about the project, call Mr. Young at 851-1700, ext. 200, or send him an email at


Correction In April 20 issue, a story on a traffic plan for the Willows area of Menlo Park had incorrect information regarding the results of a survey. The story said that of 554 residents who answered an online traffic survey, 80 percent said they had no concerns, although 92 percent were worried about speeding. Those figures actually referred to the number of respondents, not the percent.

Brooks School in Menlo Park. Ms. Wright began her fundraising post April 11 at Phillips Brooks, a private school for grades preschool through 5 that is located at 2245 Avy Ave. in Menlo Park. “She is a significant addition to our administrative staff,” said Michael Eanes, head of school at Phillips Brooks. Ms. Wright received a bachelor’s degree in English and French from Georgetown University and master’s in intercultural communications from the American University. “From the moment I set foot on campus, I could sense that PBS is a community that truly lives and breathes its mission in serving each child,” Ms. Wright said in the school’s announcement.



Wright named development director Erin Wright, who has been a top fundraising official at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C., has been named director of development for Phillips



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Oscar Castro-Neves Duo Anat Cohen Quartet Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes Marcus Shelby Orchestra Ken Peplowski Quartet Bird with Strings featuring Andrew Speight The Heath Brothers Scott Amendola/Charlie Hunter Duo Jeb Patton Trio featuring Albert “Tootie” Heath Pamela Rose Presents Wild Women of Song Irvin Mayfield

7/24 Ruth Davies’ Blues Night with Special Guest Robben Ford 7/25 Judi Silvano with Special Guests 7/26 Edmar Castaneda Trio 7/27 Victor Lin presents the Music of The Beatles 7/28 Yosvany Terry Quartet Plus Guests 7/30 A Tribute to Electric Miles Featuring Wallace Roney 8/3 Taylor Eigsti Quartet with Tillery: Featuring Rebecca Martin, Gretchen Parlato, and Becca Stevens 8/5 SJW All-Star Jam Session 8/6 George Cables and Madeline Eastman

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Online: April 27, 2011 N The Almanac N15


Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re invited! Avenidas

Lifetimes of Achievement 2011

Sunday, May ď&#x2122;&#x201E;ď&#x2122;&#x2C6;, ď&#x2122;&#x2026;ď&#x2122;&#x192;ď&#x2122;&#x201E;ď&#x2122;&#x201E; ď&#x2122;&#x2020;:ď&#x2122;&#x192;ď&#x2122;&#x192; - ď&#x2122;&#x2C6;:ď&#x2122;&#x192;ď&#x2122;&#x192; pm Join us for a garden party honoring the signiďŹ cant professional and community contributions of seven seniors.

Jim Burch Betsy Collard Jan Fenwick Dick Henning Bill and Carolyn Reller Veronica Tincher Call (650) 289-5445 or visit for tickets.

Audrey Rust named â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Woman of the Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Assemblyman Rich Gordon of Menlo Park honored Audrey C. Rust, president of Peninsula Open Space Trust, as the 2011 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Woman of the Yearâ&#x20AC;? for the 21st Assembly District on March 21 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Ms. Rust, a resident of Menlo Park, was recognized for her service at POST, where she has worked to save 53,000 acres of open space out of the total 64,000 acres POST has saved since its founding in 1977. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Without the work of Audrey

Rust, the South Bay and Peninsula would be a much different place,â&#x20AC;? Mr. Gordon said. After 24 Photo by Paolo Vescia years as Audrey Rust president and executive director, Rust recently announced her plans to retire from POST in July. The Palo Alto-based nonprofit

Hollywood cinema artists in spotlight Free screening of documentary about six men who mattered in making of classic films By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor

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    16 N The Almanac NApril 27, 2011

land trust works in partnership with public agencies and private property owners to save land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Before coming to POST, Ms. Rust worked with the Sierra Club, Yale University and Stanford University. A graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, she has served on the boards of numerous local, state and national organizations, primarily in the conservation and housing arena.


ix cinema artists who helped create 400 Hollywood films â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including classics such as â&#x20AC;&#x153;North by Northwest,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;To Kill a Mockingbird,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Ten Commandments,â&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kidâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; take center stage in the documentary, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Somethingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gonna Live,â&#x20AC;? which will be screened at 7p.m. Saturday, May 7, in the MenloAtherton High School Performing Arts Center. The filmmaker, Daniel Raim, will be on hand to answer questions afterward. The event, presented by the Menlo Park Library, is free, but reservations are required. Mr. Raim was nominated for an Oscar for his 2001 documentary, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Man on Lincolnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Nose.â&#x20AC;? That film spotlighted the life and work of Mr. Raimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s former film school teacher, Robert F. Boyle, one of iconic film director Alfred Hitchcockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most successful production designers. Mr. Boyle, whose credits as an art director include Hitch-

Pitching in Students at Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park deliver first-aid and school supplies to third-grade students, who sponsored a recent Japan relief drive. The students are shipping more than 500 pounds of first-aid and school supplies to Japan. Phillips Brooks is an private coed day school for grades prekindergarten through 5.

cockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Birdsâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;North by Northwest,â&#x20AC;? is one of the six cinema artists featured in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Somethingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gonna Live.â&#x20AC;? Also spotlighted are art directors Henry Bumstead (â&#x20AC;&#x153;To Kill a Mockingbird,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Stingâ&#x20AC;?)

Ten years in the making, the film weaves together vintage footage, snapshots, sketches and interviews. and Albert Nozaki (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The War of the Worlds,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Ten Commandmentsâ&#x20AC;?); storyboard artist Harold Michelson (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Graduate,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Star Trek: The Motion Pictureâ&#x20AC;?); and cinematographers Haskell Wexler (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Medium Coolâ&#x20AC;?) and Conrad Hall (â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Cold Blood,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kidâ&#x20AC;?). The film has received high marks from critics, including Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times, for its moving portrayal of the aging men, who reflect on their lives and work in Hol-

lywood. Ten years in the making, it weaves together vintage footage, snapshots, sketches and interviews with the film artists. In the directorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s statement on the filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website, Mr. Raim says the film â&#x20AC;&#x153;gives voice to the hopes and dreams of these filmmakers, at the same time addressing fundamental issues artists face in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s film industry.â&#x20AC;? The filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story inspires admiration not only for the menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work, but also for the energy and commitment to their work they retained largely until the end of their lives. Five of them have died since their interviews â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one, Robert Boyle, died last year at age 100, still teaching at the American Film Institute, where Mr. Raim studied. Haskell Wexler continues to make films at age 88, Mr. Raim says. The event will begin with live jazz by the Jym Marks Quartet. Free wheelchair-accessible van service is available for Menlo Park seniors and people with disabilities. To reserve a spot at the event or for van service, call 330-2512, or email Go to SomethingsGonnaLive. com for more information about the film.


continued from page 11

campus surrounded by children who really adored her.â&#x20AC;? Asked about parental involvement, Ms. Pike noted that â&#x20AC;&#x153;our parents generally are very successful, motivated, passionate people. They want the best for their children and the community,â&#x20AC;? and, thanks to their wealth, many have the time to significantly involve themselves in the education of their children. Having that time â&#x20AC;&#x153;can be double edged sword,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Pike said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have to make sure that their passions are channeled in the right direction.â&#x20AC;? Asked if that aspect of Ms. Abbatiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job weighed on her, Ms. Pike said that if it did, it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t show. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think Diana ever saw it as a burden. She is so well equipped to handle anything that comes up. Los Gatos is lucky to get her.â&#x20AC;? Ms. Abbati did not respond to a request for comment. Woodside Elementary regularly scores in the highest ranks in terms of academic performance statewide. The school, Ms. Pike said, needs a strong and dedicated leader in keeping with its POLICE CALLS continued from page 14 Ivy Drive, April 19. â&#x2013; Loss estimated at $40 in break-in and theft of costume jewelry, 100 block of Newbridge St., April 15. Commercial burglary report: Juvenile arrested in attempted theft of three bottles of alcoholic beverages, Draegers Market at 1010 University Drive, April 15. Grand theft report: Losses estimated

Los Gatos Union School District

Diana Abbati

strong and dedicated staff, and Ms. Abbati has made some â&#x20AC;&#x153;great hiresâ&#x20AC;? in replacing teachers, most of whom have retired. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I believe we have the deepest bench in terms of the administrative team and teaching staff,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Pike added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a loss that she goes but the school is resilient and in the best place that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been in a long time.â&#x20AC;? Finding someone new

Ms. Pike said the board would not rule out a national search for a new superintendent, but noted that the district cannot afford to offer to pay for the cost of relocation. The district will tap the Woodat $3,655 in theft from unlocked vehicle of duffle bag containing camera, clothing, reading glasses and watch, 1500 block of Mills Court, April 17. Auto burglary reports: â&#x2013; Loss estimated at $800 in break-in and theft of laptop computer, 700 block of Stanford Ave., April 19. â&#x2013;  Loss estimated at $400 in break-in and theft of purse, cell phone and clothing, 200 block of Oak Grove Ave., April 16. â&#x2013;  Loss estimated at $165 in break-in and theft of wallet, Campo Bello Court, April 19.

side community for ideas and recommendations. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The future remains very bright. I think we are an incredibly attractive district and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find someone who really wants to be with us,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My sense is that we will probably end up with someone local from a like district.â&#x20AC;? The district has combined the role of superintendent and principal in one person for at least the last three people who held the job. Will that hold true this time? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something that the board is going to have to discuss,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Pike said. Parents visiting a school for a matter of concern often want to talk to the person at the top of the hierarchy, which in most schools would be the principal. But at Woodside, with one school and one administrative office, a principal and a superintendent would be sitting a few doors away from each other if not in adjacent offices. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Being very clear about the separate roles and responsibilities can be a challenge if both people are sitting in the same place,â&#x20AC;? Ms. Pike said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s difficult not to have a certain amount of redundancy between the two positions.â&#x20AC;? A

Fraud reports: â&#x2013; Loss of $1,300 in unauthorized withdrawal from bank account, 1100 block of Noel Drive, April 20. â&#x2013;  Loss of $319 in identity theft case, 700 block of Coleman Ave., April 19. â&#x2013;  Loss of $100 in unauthorized use of credit card, 1100 block of Windermere Ave., April 15. â&#x2013;  Loss unspecified in connection with six unauthorized charges on victimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s credit card, 200 block of Chester St., April 16.




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summer school June 27-July 28, 2011 WWW . MID - PEN . COM Classes of 5-15 students. Open to students from other schools (grades 9-12). Science & Art ďŹ eld trips weekly. BBQ lunch included every Thursday

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1340 Willow Road, Menlo Park

April 27, 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.


Ideas, thoughts and opinions about

Sudden switch for high-speed rail


he blockbuster suggestion that the proposed high-speed train system share the Caltrain tracks on the Peninsula should make a huge difference in how the project is viewed in Menlo Park and Atherton and other communities up and down the Caltrain corridor. In a press conference held at the Menlo Park train depot, state Sen. Joe Simitian, Rep. Anna Eshoo and Assemblyman Rich Gordon announced last week that the California High-Speed Rail Authority should back away from building a separate set of tracks between San Jose and San Francisco and instead work out a plan for Caltrain and ED ITORI AL the high-speed trains to use the The opinion of The Almanac same tracks starting in San Jose. In their message, which was strongly supported by Palo Alto City Council members last week, the legislators said that the state simply cannot afford to add two more rail lines to the corridor, when the existing two tracks could suffice by routing high-speed trains around electrified Caltrain equipment, much as Baby Bullet trains share the rails with local trains today. For example, a high-speed train could arrive in San Jose for a brief stop before quickly continuing on to San Francisco with its full load of passengers, who would not have to change trains. Sen. Simitian called the plan a “first step in a new conversation” that intends to create “high-speed rail done right.” For Menlo Park and Atherton, the plan would mean property owners along the corridor would no longer have to fear losing their backyards to make room for the additional tracks and that Menlo Park’s downtown would not be disrupted by a massive building project during installation of another two-track system. One critical factor — whether costly grade separations will be required to accommodate electrified trains — was not discussed by the legislators, although Assemblyman Rich Gordon later told the Almanac that it may be up to individual cities to make that decision. There are six intersections in Menlo Park and Atherton that would be candidates for grade separations, unless a street was simply closed at a grade crossing. During last week’s announcement, Sen. Simitian noted a series of critical audits of the rail project by various state agencies and the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, which found flaws in the rail authority’s business plan, ridership analysis and revenue projections.

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.

“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,” Sen. Simitian said in the statement he authored with Rep. Eshoo and Assemblyman Gordon. “If high-speed rail isn’t done right” it simply won’t get done at all, he said. We applaud the legislators for proposing the two-track solution and putting pressure on the high-speed rail authority to be more careful in budgeting and preparing a viable business plan. But it will take more than pulling back to two tracks on the Peninsula to make high-speed rail a viable project. The state continues to face a huge budget deficit and the outlook is for more of the same in the years ahead. It simply is not prudent to take on billons of dollars in additional debt to carry passengers to Los Angeles by train when airlines offer the same service at comparable fares. This is a project that is now estimated to cost $42.5 billion but which could far exceed that amount. The outlook for further federal financing looks even more shaky during a climate of trillion dollar budget reductions in Washington. And dreams of attracting billions of dollars in private financing are hardly viable in today’s economy. Nevertheless, the high-speed rail project was approved by voters in 2008, who also authorized a $9.9 billion bond issue. And so far, no proposal has appeared that would reverse the course of this initiative. So funding issues aside, could Menlo Park and Atherton live with a two-track version of high-speed rail? The answer depends on whom you ask. Die hard opponents like Martin Engel, who lives in Menlo Park just a stone’s throw from the Caltrain tracks, is buying none of it. In his big picture view he sees an under-funded project that could get its foot in the door by starting out sharing the Caltrain tracks as it waits for more extensive funding to build an additional set of tracks dedicated to high-speed rail. Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline, who has strongly opposed elevated tracks, had a lot to like in the announcement. He characterized the support this way: “Looks like we are more aligned with our state and federal representatives than we have been for a long time.” If the project survives the state’s debt crisis, it makes sense for Caltrain and high-speed rail to share tracks on the Peninsula. And by doing so, electrification of Caltrain and the necessary grade separations could be built with high-speed rail funds. But there is a lot more to be done before any work could commence on the Peninsula rail corridor.



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.

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

Our readers write

Facebook’s opportunity to help out Belle Haven Editor: Facebook is moving into Belle Haven, which has a tremendous need for Wi-Fi since many residents cannot afford to pay for their own Internet. I suggest that the city of Menlo Park let Facebook build more than normal, if they agree to provide free Wi-Fi access for Belle Haven. I chair the PTA computer donation program at MenloAtherton High School. We give computers to M-A students who can’t afford them. We can give them free computers, and

18 N The Almanac NApril 27, 2011

Our Regional Heritage From the 1960s until a few years ago, this Chevron station at the corner of Alpine Road and La Mesa Drive served the automotive needs of Ladera residents. The station has now been replaced by a modern building awaiting tenants. Portola Valley Archives

can hook them up to Wi-Fi 101, but we can’t give them free Internet. It’s getting harder and harder these days to succeed in school without Internet access. Google currently provides

free Wi-Fi for the entire city of Mountain View. Wi-Fi 101, which currently provides free Wi-Fi service to portions of Belle Haven and East Palo Alto, will run out of funding

early this summer, and will disconnect its service, unless Facebook (or someone else) steps in. See LETTERS, next page


L E T T ER S Continued from previous page

How about it, Facebook, and Menlo Park planning department? Sue Kayton Doris Drive, Menlo Park Chairman, M-A High PTA computer donation program

Endorsement for Terry Nagel Editor: Terry Nagel is the only candidate running for San Mateo County supervisor who is providing concrete ideas on how to realistically address the county budget deficit. For that reason, she has my support. Terry understands that employee compensation is by far the biggest line item in the county budget. She knows that if we do not address this issue, we will have to cut vital services. Terry recognized five years ago that we needed to address escalating employee compensation because, even then, it was overtaking our ability to pay. As chair of the San Mateo County Council of Cities, Terry brought together union leaders and council members to discuss solutions. With her leadership, a compensation task force was created, which has issued 50 recommendations that cities are using today to reign in costs. In Burlingame, where Terry is mayor, they have negotiated significant savings in the area of employee compensation and, as a result, have remained financially sound. Terry does not favor balancing the budget with tax increases or by spending down our reserve funds. She recommends a common sense approach to save money and protect vital services. Terry Nagel would be the best

After 150 years, Valley school district will celebrate By Nancy Lund

came into being. ho would guess that a town that is 45 Thus, 2011 is the time for the young town to years old would be home to a school celebrate the sesquicentennial of its school disdistrict that began 150 years ago? trict. A committee is already making plans for Although it is surprising, in April 1861 — the weekend of Oct. 1-2. It seems early, but for the month the Civil War began and when the the news to spread to members of the district’s Pony Express was still in operation — the San family that have scattered far and wide, it takes Mateo County Board of Supervisors time. To date, plans are under way for authorized the creation of the Searsopen houses at the schools in the late ville School District. The students morning or early afternoon of Oct. at that little school moved to a new 2, followed by a picnic on the Town one on Portola Road in 1894 after Center’s fields. Under discussion are the Searsville Dam flooded the area possible activities for the evening of around the school. In 1909, enrollOct. 1. ment was large enough that a second There are several ways for schoolhouse was built, the one that members of the school district family still stands, and the district’s name to become involved in the celebration. GUEST was changed to Portola. First, reserve the dates. Alert people OPINION you know outside the boundaries of With the rapidly expanding population after World War II, the 1894 the PV Forum and the Almanac to school was taken down, and the new Portola sign up for Yahoo group PVSD150 for news. Valley School rose on its site during the first The committee is looking for photos through years of the 1950s. It wasn’t until 1955 that the the years, second- and third-generation famicurrent name, Portola Valley School District, lies who’ve attended the schools, and also for


addition to the Board of Supervisors. I encourage voters to cast their ballot for Terry Nagel. Matt Grocott Council Member, City of San Carlos

Endorsement for Richard Holober Editor: As a graduate of Skyline College, I greatly appreciate the quality and affordability of higher education offered in our local community colleges. Now we have the opportunity to elect an education leader to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, community college board president Richard Holober. Richard’s accomplishments in his 13 years on the San Mateo County Community College Board

of Trustees include doubling the number of nurses trained at the colleges to meet our health-care needs; creating a program to retrain laid-off airline workers in the biotech field; and instituting environmental building standards that save taxpayers millions of dollars in energy costs. I am proud to support Richard Holober for San Mateo County supervisor. Virginia Medrano Rosales

We can raise money to restore Baylands Editor: Saltworks developers claim to be saviors of the Baylands: they will restore some of the salt ponds — if we let them pave over 70 percent first. They argue that preservationists couldn’t raise money to buy and

Supervisors knew suit on elections was coming By Henry Organ

voting “by district,” and explained why. Without this he class action suit against San Mateo County leadership, asking voters to support a “by district” and its “at large” voting system for elect- system would be preordained to failure, as it has in ing members of the Board past ballot efforts. of Supervisors was predicable, but There seems to be a culture among some avoidable. supervisors, especially former supervisors who A year ago, the Lawyers’ Comappeared before the Charter Review Commitmittee for Civil Rights, which filed tee, to preserve a form of political incest using the suit this month on behalf of “at large” elections and filling vacancies on the Asian Americans and Latinos in Board of Supervisors by appointment. Irrespecthe county, alerted the supervisors tive of questions of voting rights violations of of this possibility. The committee is communities of color, “at large” elections is not no paper tiger. It has an impressive good government. GUEST and respected track record in similar I believe the majority of people in the counOPINION voting rights act cases in California. ty want to provide and maintain voting rights of Even prior to the committee’s alert, all its citizens. The Board of Supervisor’s opporin June of 2009, the county’s 2008-09 Civil Grand tunity to provide this leadership and accountability, Jury forewarned supervisors of possible voting rights unfortunately has now been abdicated to a judicial violations. body. The 2008-2009 Civil Grand Jury did exercise The Board of Supervisors knew the current “at leadership and accountability, for which many will large” election system has serious voting rights flaws. be grateful. It should have addressed these issues forthrightly by Henry Organ lives in Menlo Park placing it on the ballot last November. While doing and was a member of the so, the board should have recommended a change to Charter Review Committee.


former members of the Corte Madera band for a potential “jam session” at the picnic. A souvenir book is being created, including a timeline and vignettes of important events in the district’s history. The plan is to also include a list of those volunteers who have been recognized for exceptional service. A complete list from 1992 to 2011 exists. Many gaps exist in years before 1992. If you know of people who have been so recognized, please report their names. The most special part of this commemorative book will be the memories of people who have passed through the doors. Students, parents, staff and school board members (past and present) are encouraged to contribute memories of their days in the schools, from a paragraph to a page in length. It is these memories that will make the book wonderful. Send all information and any questions or comments to or call 8511700x210. Nancy Lund is Portola Valley town historian.

restore Redwood City’s Baylands. Yet many groups have saved land for future generations: ■ After the proposal to develop Bair Island was defeated by voters, the Peninsula Open Space Trust bought the 1,623-acre site (twice the size of the salt ponds) for $15 million. ■ Save the Redwoods League raised $7.5 million to buy 426 acres along the historic Skunk Train route, saving an old-growth forest from logging. ■ Five Silicon Valley land trusts joined forces to preserve 80,000 acres of open space over the next 20 years. They’ve already raised $15 million. Over the past 20 years, every private, restorable Bay shoreline parcel offered at fair market price has been acquired by land trusts for the benefit of residents and wildlife. The Environmental Protection Agency has already reported that multiple parties are interested in purchasing and restoring Redwood City’s Baylands. All we need is for Cargill to be a willing seller and Redwood City’s salt ponds can join this list. Pat Marriott Oakhurst Avenue, Los Altos


“High index” is a term used to refer to any number of plastic lens materials that can do the same job as the more common CR-39 plastic material used for the majority of clear prescriptions lenses, only they are lighter and thinner. High-index lenses owe their lower profile to the fact that they have a higher refractive index that enables them to bend light more efficiently than materials with a lower refractive index. Because the index of refraction determines lens thickness, high-index lenses

Why doesn’t Obama save money like the rest of us? Editor: It’s an interesting conjecture as to just how much President Obama’s campaign appearance that turned Palo Alto into an auxiliary war zone cost the taxpayers. With Air Force One flying across the country, at least four very large helicopters and a couple of smaller ones to haul all the acolytes, and zillions of extra police around, I doubt that anyone in the administration will own up to the cost of the trip that, of course, is not billed as a campaign stop. Why can’t he link into the conference via video conferencing just as the rest of the high-tech world now does instead of squandering our money? When we can’t afford money to pave our roads and we’re looting Medicare to pay for all the votes Obamacare can buy, it’s time to rethink whether we can afford an ultra-liberal as president. Stan Gage Old Spanish Trail, Portola Valley are thinner than materials with a lower index of refraction. As a result, eyeglass wearers with higher prescriptions (in particular) stand to benefit most from high-index lenses’ greater comfort and appearance. You probably remember people in your life who wore thick eyeglass lenses. Eyewear has changed dramatically over the past decade. Today’s thin, lightweight lenses help people see near, far, and in-between without compromising their appearance. Bring your eyewear prescription to MENLO OPTICAL at 1166 University Drive, on the corner of Oak Grove Avenue and University Drive. We carry the latest lenses and frames and will help you select the eyewear most flattering to your appearance and suitable to your lifestyle. Call us at 3223900 if you have questions about eyewear. P.S. High-index lenses with a refraction index of 1.67 are about 50% thinner than their CR-39 counterparts. Mark Schmidt is an American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners Certified Optician licensed by the Medical Board of California. He can be easily reached at Menlo Optical, 1166 University Drive, Menlo Park. 650-322-3900.

April 27, 2011 N The Almanac N19

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Ed Kahl – Real Estate Experience you can trust

The Almanac 04.27.2011 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the April 27.2011 edition of the Almanac

The Almanac 04.27.2011 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the April 27.2011 edition of the Almanac