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2 N The Almanac NFebruary 8, 2012


Working Together Works By Anna G. Eshoo

UP F RONT

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t seems like only yesterday that our Valley was preparing for “Netday.” It was 1996 and Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Apple and many other leading companies planned, in barn raising fashion, to wire schools. If the internet could educate, it should surely be in classrooms! John Gage of Sun was the project’s Chief Evangelist and before long, employees, vendors and educators were at work filling up rosters of volunteers at school sites. Cable was donated and engineers consulted. Enthusiasm and resources quickly spread across the country. On the assigned day, then-Vice Prsident Al Gore pulled wires at a high school in Contra Costa County and nearly half the Clinton Cabinet were engaged – several in California. Mayors, legislators, local officials – including many school board members joined in. The imagination, vision, know-how and purpose that produced Netday became a permanent part of tech folklore. Private initiative with government support lifted and gifted schools and their communities.

Susan Lang with her horse Hermes and dog Keeper.

Serving equestrian community Susan Lang named ‘Outstanding Horseperson-Citizen’ for 2011 By Dave Boyce

in an interview. “We would ride all over the hills, and in those f the elegant century-old days, you could.” Folger Stable off Woodside Woodside, she added, remains Road in Wunderlich Park a bastion for extended rides. has champions, a notable one is Her horse, Hermes, is 26, half Susan Lang. thoroughbred and half quarter The stable and its carriage horse, and was a polo horse room museum, once before she acquired him 15 dusty and debilitated, years ago. He is semi-retired are again well-appointand resides at a ranch on ed and glamorous after the Western side of Skyline ‘I always felt (riding) was a nine-year, $3 million Boulevard. a wonderful connection between campaign, completed in Ms. Lang said she loves a person and an animal.’ 2010. Ms. Lang served all animals and enjoys their as co-chair of the camcompanionship, including SUSAN L ANG paign. that of her dog Keeper, who An equestrian and is 16 years old. Woodside resident, Ms. Lang this award, which was presented “I guess since I was a child, I has long involved herself with at a Jan. 21 ceremony during the always felt (riding) was a wonpublic-spirited and environ- Mounted Patrol’s annual din- derful connection between a mental nonprofit organizations, ner at the Menlo Circus Club in person and an animal,” she said. often involving equestrians and Atherton. “I just enjoyed being out in the equestrian causes, according to country. There is a wonderful the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo Joys of riding connection with other people Ms. Lang, who is 68, grew up who ride and with horses.” County. In recognition of her efforts in riding in San Rafael in Marin Using a line reputedly from Woodside and on the Peninsula, County, where she had a natural Winston Churchill, she added: the Patrol has named Ms. Lang affiliation with horses: her father “The outside of a horse is good “Outstanding Horseperson-Cit- owned the Sleepy Hollow Stable for the inside of a man.” in nearby San Anselmo. izen” for 2011. Ms. Lang has a bachelor’s “We would ride from stable to The award honors men and See LANG, page 12 women for community service, stable with our friends,” she said

Almanac Staff Writer

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leadership in a profession or charity, and “outstanding” contributions to equestrian life — trails, facilities and horse-riding — in San Mateo County. Ms. Lang is the 27th honoree, the fifth woman, and the second consecutive woman to receive

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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 ©2012 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

Over the years, the relationship between government and the tech industry, not surprisingly, has had its ups and downs. That’s as it should be. Industry is understandably self-interested and government must advance the public’s interest. Yet, government’s ongoing role removing barriers, leading investment and prompting a supportive climate for industry expansion hasn’t always been featured in the Tech Narrative. So it was with some interest that I noted the recent news about job growth in the Valley last year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the past 12 months the South Bay job market grew by 3.2%, nearly triple the U.S. rate of growth and almost double the rate for California. Why is it that Silicon Valley companies are the first to rebound and expand following lean times? Talent, capital and a culture of inventiveness and experimentation are certainly essential to our region’s success. Curiosity, a high regard for education and a willingness to fail add to our brand. “Government policy” rarely gets a mention in the story. It is common to hear “only the private sector can create jobs.” Government is cast as an impediment to progress and rarely recognized as the vehicle for progress that it is. At critical junctures, government policies advance and expand industries, creating new jobs. For the past thirty years the R&D tax credit, for example, has rewarded a company’s investment in research and development. Valley Members of Congress have worked to make the R&D tax credit permanent because we know that government support for innovation is one of the best ways to foster job growth. I’m proud to have written a bill to expand and permanently extend the Research and Development tax credit. Consider my e-commerce legislation that enabled online signatures to be legally binding on digital documents. Sounds almost quaint today, but it is a clear example of government removing a barrier to commercial progress. Who could have imagined online banking as it is practiced today, but the on-line signature was its ancestor. The solar industry offers another example of government enhancing a Silicon Valley vision. The scientific community’s recognition of climate change led to demand for alternative sources of energy. In Congress, we appropriated funds for high risk, high reward clean energy research and we extended a renewable energy grant program that provided grants in lieu of existing tax credits to spur job growth in the solar and wind industries. Investors saw their opportunity and solar and wind companies grew. So the next time you hear carping about obstructionist, gridlocked government, remember that sometimes government gets it right; sometimes growth is unleashed by a digital signature or sparked by a federal grant. Sometimes public-private partnerships work. When they do, it can mean a computer company in Silicon Valley has a new customer in Iowa or a social media site has more room to grow on the spectrum. And government did that. Not that different from pulling wire at schools, working together works. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) represents California’s 14th Congressional District and serves as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology subcommittee

Paid for by Anna Eshoo for Congress February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N3


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Realtors: Facebook IPO is talk of the town Real estate agents say both buyers and sellers are buzzing about Facebook’s plans to go public. ■

By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac

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hat will happen to the local real estate market when Facebook goes

public? That question was on the minds of just about everyone Menlo Park real estate broker Tom LeMieux spoke to last week after Facebook announced on Wednesday that it soon will make an initial public offering of stock that could make millionaires of many of the company’s more than 2,000 employees working in its Menlo Park headquarters. “I think this IPO is the talk of the town and the nation,”

said Mr. LeMieux, who works for Coldwell Banker in Menlo Park. On Saturday, even his barber asked: “So Tom, are you going to be selling a ton of homes to Facebook employees when they go public?” he said. “Every buyer and seller I meet with, this is one of the first things that come up.” Real estate broker Ken DeLeon, of DeLeon Realty in Palo Alto, says that just the rumor of Facebook’s plans to go public may have fueled unusual January activity in Palo Alto, during a month that is traditionally slow for sales. Palo Alto had 19 home sales last month, he said, with all selling for at least $200,000 over the

listing price and three for more than $400,000 over. Many buyers are trying to close deals before they face what they see as competition from the newly wealthy Facebook employees.

reach all-time highs,” Mr. DeLeon predicted. “The first wave is going to benefit Palo Alto more than Menlo Park,” he said. “The reality is, prices probably will go up 8 to 11 percent depending on the neighborhood, and maybe a

‘Every buyer and seller I meet with, this is one of the first things that comes up.’ REALTOR TOM LEMIEUX

“People are so motivated right now,” he said. Last week a 1,082-square-foot home in Midtown Palo Alto, not far from the freeway, and on a 6,600-square-foot lot, was sold for $2.3 million with 17 offers. The asking price was $1.98 million. “For 2012 Palo Alto’s going to

little bit less in Menlo Park,” he said. Other real estate agents say the news of Facebook’s IPO has already motivated some to sell their homes. Cutty Smith, a Woodside-based real estate agent with Keller Williams in Palo Alto, said that by Saturday

she had heard from a client who wanted to put her Palo Alto home on the market and buy in either Menlo Park or Atherton. “I’m talking to potential sellers wondering about the timing,” Ms. Smith said. On the other side, “I have clients who have actually gone into contract sooner than they planned to try to beat this explosion,” she said. She, too, believes that Palo Alto will be the main beneficiary of an increase in sales activity. “However, because the inventory is so low, there will be spillover into Menlo Park, Woodside and Atherton,” Ms. Smith said. “All these neighboring communities are going to benefit from this.” Mr. LeMieux was cautious. See FACEBOOK, page 10

Superintendent resigns as DA probes school finances By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor

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im Hanretty has resigned as superintendent of the Portola Valley School District while an investigation is conducted into suspected “financial irregularities” in the accounts of the Woodside School District when he served as that district’s finance officer. Karen Guidotti, San Mateo County chief deputy district attorney, said her office has been investigating the matter since it was brought to its attention in early December. She would not elaborate on the details of the investigation. Mr. Hanretty’s resignation was effective Tuesday, Jan. 31. Assistant superintendent Carol Piraino was named acting superintendent. Attempts to reach Mr. Hanretty were unsuccessful. Woodside district Superintendent Beth Polito said the district first discovered the irregularities last October. The questionable accounting dated back to a building modernization project that was completed in the 200708 school year, she said. In a written statement, Ms. Polito said that, after the discovery, the district “immediately contacted legal counsel and through counsel, hired indepen-

dent forensic auditors.” The informat ion gleaned from that audit led to the district’s contacting the district attorAlmanac photo by Michelle Le ney’s office. Tim Hanretty The Woodside School District, she said, “has retained independent accountants to further investigate these irregularities. We do not believe there will be any immediate negative impact on the ... district’s budget.” Portola Valley school district officials have “absolutely no indication that any fiscal wrongdoing has taken place during Mr. Hanretty’s tenure at this district,” according to a letter from the district’s school board president, Scott Parker. “Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, the board is working closely with the Office of the County Superintendent of Schools to retain an independent auditor to evaluate our district’s finances. The district is not able to provide any further comment or details until the completion of the investigation.” Mr. Hanretty worked many years for both the Portola Valley See HANRETTY, page 10

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

It looks like farm country in places at the Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, where Emmanuel Legorreta recently tilled grass land to expand the school’s vegetable garden.

Garden expands at Woodside Priory By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer

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he paths to the cultivation of a home vegetable garden have been many — the hardships of the Great Depression, the backyard victory gardens during World War II, the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s. Here is another one: the school classroom. Hovey Clark, the science, visual arts and sustainability

coordinator at the Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, began the 50-foot-by-60foot garden in the late 1990s with the help of several interested 12th-graders, he said in response to several e-mailed questions. Now it’s expanding. Growing at the moment are members of the broccoli and cabbage family and root vegetables, Mr. Clark said. Fruit comes with the summer. The

expansion includes hopes for more leafy green plants, he said. In 2010-11, for the first time, Mr. Clark offered a for-credit garden elective class for juniors and seniors in the grade 6-12 private Catholic school, located on 60 acres at 301 Portola Road. For middle-schoolers, there are retreats that involve plantSee GARDEN, page 10

February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N5


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Late donations poured in for bond measure n the two weeks before and one week after the Nov. 8 election, corporate donors gave $68,500 to promote Measure H, a $564 million bond measure for the San Mateo County Community College District, according to campaign finance reports released Jan. 31. Fifty-three percent of voters favored the measure, short of the 55 percent required for passage. Of the 22 late-in-the-campaign corporate donors, most are from the Bay Area and all have ties to the construction industry. In round numbers, the Measure H campaign took in $410,000 and spent $217,000 on direct mail and $11,500 on an election survey. The campaign closed its books with $180,500 unspent, according to a report from the Citizens for Support of Community Colleges in San Mateo County. Eight donors gave more than $5,000 in the final weeks, joining 16 earlier donors who gave at that level. The largest donors: three construction companies that gave a total of $100,000.

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ELECT O N ( 12 (2 0 Since 2001, voters had approved $675 million in bond measures for the district’s three colleges, which includes Canada College in Woodside. Candidate reports

Of the four district board candidates with finance reports available from the county Elections Office, two — challenger Joe Ross and incumbent Dave Mandelkern — spent more than $30,000. Mr. Ross, an attorney for an educational nonprofit, reported spending $41,355 — including $8,100 on a campaign consultant — from a total of $41,013 raised in contributions, including loans to himself of about $13,000. Mr. Mandelkern, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, spent $33,040 and raised $36,525, which included $26,000 in loans to himself, according to the report. The three incumbents were reelected: Mr. Mandelkern, Patricia Miljanich and Karen Schwarz. A

N PO LI C E C A L L S This information is from the Atherton and Menlo Park police departments and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Under the law, people charged with offenses are considered innocent until convicted. MENLO PARK Residential burglary reports: ■ Losses estimated at $5,950 after someone entered through unlocked bathroom window and stole a bicycle, laptop computer, notepad computer, and jewelry, on Hollyburne Ave., Jan. 29. ■ Losses estimated at $3,400 after someone smashed a rear window and took two notebook computers, a laptop computer, a personal digital device and miscellaneous costume jewelry, Harmon Drive, Jan. 31. ■ Losses estimated at $2,500 after someone pried open a locked side window and took a laptop computer, Woodland Ave., Jan. 27. ■ Losses estimated at $2,250 after someone pried open a rear door and stole a laptop computer, a crystal bowl, miscellaneous jewelry and $400 in cash, Sevier Ave., Feb. 2. ■ Losses valued at $1,642 after someone forced open a door and took four leather jackets, passports and birth certificates, Sevier Ave., Feb. 2. Auto burglary reports:

â–  Losses estimated at $250 in break and theft of CD player face plate, jacket and tools, 1000 block of Noel Drive, Jan. 31. â–  Losses estimated at $220 after someone smashed a window and took a purse and wallet with $160 in cash, 1600 block of Marsh Road, Jan. 29.

Theft reports:

■ Unknown losses in theft of 50 construction-grade stud beams and 35 screw jacks, Ringwood Ave. and Van Buren Road, Feb. 1. ■ Losses estimated at $950 in theft of two bicycles from unsecured apartment courtyard, Coleman Ave., Jan. 30. ■ Unknown loss after couple checked into hotel and stole television, 1700 block of El Camino Real, Jan. 30. ■ Losses estimated at $85 when three customers left without paying for services, Nina’s Nail Salon at 891 Hamilton Ave., Feb. 1. Injury report: Bicyclist taken to Stanford Hospital with non-lifethreatening injuries after being hit by a vehicle, Gilbert Ave. and Willow Road, Jan. 28. Fraud reports: ■ Losses estimated at $2,300 in unauthorized use of credit card, Henderson Ave., Jan. 31. ■ Losses of $186 in unauthorized transfer out of victim’s account to pay for cell phone bill, Middle Ave., Feb. 1. Stolen vehicle report: Green 1995 Ford Explorer taken from driveway, police substation, Jan. 29. WOODSIDE Auto burglary report: Unknown losses after a window was smashed and sport clothing was stolen from back seat of locked vehicle, Park N Ride at Woodside Road and Interstate 280, Jan. 27. WEST MENLO PARK Auto burglary report: Losses estimated at $4,000 after break-in to locked vehicle and theft of personal and electronic gear, Alpine Road and Piers Lane, Jan 31.


N E W S

R EAL E STATE Q&A by Gloria Darke

Should We Wait? Or Should We Hurry? Dear Gloria, In regards to the 3.8% tax you wrote about in your last article; are you suggesting that those of us who have a substantial gain on our primary place of residence hurry up and sell this year to avoid that tax? If so, there may be a flood of properties coming on the market. Nancy M., Portola Valley

Photo courtesy of Virginia Chang Kiraly

Roaring in the new year Parent volunteer Russell Kao leads students in Cynthia Chiu’s Mandarin language class at La Entrada School in the Chinese Dragon Dance, celebrating the lunar new year. Students also played drums and cymbals to accompany the dance, which was a parade around the Menlo Park school’s lunch area. The celebration took place on Jan. 30.

Menlo mayor joins supervisor race By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff

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ewly minted Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith on Saturday tossed her name into a crowded field of candidates for a seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. She became the sixth candidate for the District 4 seat that’s up for grabs since Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson terms out this year. The district includes Menlo Park, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, and unincorporated North Fair Oaks and Oak Knoll. Ms. Keith said that seats open up about every 12 years, since a supervisor can serve three fouryear terms, meaning that it’s a very long wait before the opportunity comes around again. “A lot of people were asking me and encouraging me, so I thought about it and decided to go ahead,� she said. She was elected to the Menlo Park City Council in 2010 and was appointed mayor by the coun-

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ELECT O N ( 12 (2 0 cil this year. The mayor serves as chairman of the council, but has one vote just like the other council members. She drew parallels between the issues facing the council — Kirsten Keith balancing the budget, transit, job growth, and economic development — and those challenging the county. “I think that translates very well.� Ms. Keith, a criminal defense attorney, has also served on the city’s planning and housing commissions, along with several county panels on women’s issues. She sounded excited about returning to the campaign trail. “I think it’s going to be really great.�

As for endorsements, Ms. Keith declined to announce any at this time. That enthusiasm will be needed, as no fewer than six candidates are now running for the seat. The field to date includes East Palo Alto councilmen Carlos Romero and David Woods, Redwood City Planning Commissioner Ernie Schmidt, Redwood City school board member Shelly Masur, and county education board trustee and Menlo Park resident Guillermo “Memo� Morantes. If any one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote during the June 5 primary, the election is over. Barring that, there will be a runoff election in November, making for a lengthy countywide campaign season. According to City Clerk Margaret Roberts, if Ms. Keith wins, the council could choose to appoint a member of the public within 30 days of her leaving office, or call a special election to fill the vacancy. A

Shelly Masur top fundraiser in election for supervisor Redwood City resident and school board member Shelly Masur is the top fundraiser so far in the election for the District 4 seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Six candidates are running for the seat now held by Rose Jacobs Gibson, who is termed out this year. Ms. Masur took in $28,202, according to a campaign finance report for the last six months of 2011. Among her donors is supervisor and former sheriff Don Horsley,

who contributed $500. Candidate Guillermo “Memo� Morantes, a resident of Menlo Park and a member of the county Board of Education, reported total contributions of $37,329, but that includes a $25,000 loan to himself. Ernesto “Ernie� Schmidt, a Redwood City planning commissioner, raised $9,935, and East Palo Alto Councilman David E. Woods, $495, according to the report filed with the county Elections Office.

No reports were provided for East Palo Alto Councilman Carlos Romero or Menlo Park Councilwoman Kirsten Keith. Ms. Keith announced Saturday that she was running. A primary election is set for June, with a November runoff required if no candidate wins a majority. Ms. Jacobs Gibson, the current occupant of the seat, was appointed by the board in 1999, and elected in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Dear Nancy, The tax is to take effect in 2013 and as I mentioned, like all government programs it is somewhat complicated. At first blush it would appear that many people who live in our area and have owned their homes for a long time would be subject to this tax. I met with some good friends and long time clients a while back who have lived in their house for over 30 years. They would like to move

some place where they don’t have the upkeep of a large garden and home to maintain. They would owe substantial capital gains and would want to buy a quality townhouse or condominium in this area to maintain a nice lifestyle. By paying an additional 3.8% it suddenly didn’t seem worth it. But doing some numbers on the back of the envelope, adding in the $500,000 deduction for a married couple, the enormous amount they put in over the years of remodeling and other deductions, it turns out they would owe an additional $36,000! While that is still extra dollars that wouldn’t need to go to the government, it doesn’t seem enough in the big scheme of things to disrupt your life. If you are going to sell in the next 1-3 years it would just make sense to get all your numbers together.

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

  



      

    

      

  





 





 

  





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               February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N7


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February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N9


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Realtors: Facebook IPO is the talk of the town FACEBOOK

continued from page 5

“I remember the same types of expectations in 2004 when Google went public,” he said. “I think oftentimes the expectation doesn’t match the reality, though.” People think they will see an “overnight phenomenon,” he said. “The reality is these situations play out on a longer-term basis.” After the Google IPO in August 2004, Atherton’s median sales price actually declined by 5 percent in 2005 before rising again by 11 percent in 2006 for a two-year 6 percent increase. Menlo Park did have a jump, with the median price increasing 24 percent between 2004 and 2005, but then increasing less than one percent more in 2006. “That’s not the hype that everyone was talking about back then,” Mr. LeMieux said. “Over time, as their families expand and especially because Facebook is now headquartered in Menlo Park, I think Menlo Park will benefit.” All the agents cautioned that putting a home on the market at an inflated price is not likely to succeed, no matter how many newly minted millionaires are competing for the sale. “The buyers are still brilliant,” Mr. DeLeon said. “Overpricing doesn’t really work.” Mr. LeMieux agreed. “I like to think buyers and sellers are smarter than that,” he said. HANRETTY continued from page 5

and the Woodside elementary school districts, first as business manager, then as assistant superintendent. He was appointed superintendent of the Portola Valley district in 2010, replacing Anne Campbell when she moved on

“We have very informed buyers here,” he said, and the value of a home is still what recent comparable homes have sold for. Those who still have dollar signs in their eyes might also do well to reflect on where Facebook employees currently live. According to a housing impact study prepared by the company as part of its request to expand the Menlo Park headquarters, 27.4 percent of Facebook employees live in San Francisco, 20.4 percent in Palo Alto, 9.5 percent in San Jose and 8.8 percent in Mountain View. Only 3.1 percent live in Menlo Park, 0.5 percent in Atherton, 0.4 percent in Woodside and 0.2 percent in Portola Valley. New housing

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Sustainability Coordinator Hovey Clark, center, enlists the help of Woodside Priory School senior Jake Seawick in sifting soil above a lettuce and spinach bed in the school garden while junior Cesar Perez prepares to add more soil for the sifting.

For those Facebook employees who want to live within walking distance of their work, Facebook has been working with local developers to try to get some new multi-family housing built on the 700 and 800 blocks of Hamilton Avenue. They have had discussions with the Sares Regis Group and others, Facebook spokesperson Tucker Bounds says. “We have been working with local developers to find ways we can support new housing projects so that our growth doesn’t negatively impact the integrity of the existing housing market,” he said.

Facebook files for $5 billion initial public offering

to serve as San Mateo County superintendent of schools. Ms. Campbell concurred that there’s no indication of fiscal irregularities in the Portola Valley district, but her office is nonetheless overseeing the audit of certain areas of the district’s finances. “We want to be absolutely, positively sure that everything is OK,” she said. “We owe that to the public.”

Menlo Park-based Facebook Inc. filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 1 for an initial public offering of $5 billion. The filing reports that the company received $3.7 billion in revenue in 2011, $1.9 billion in 2010, and $777 million in 2009. Net income was $1 billion in 2011, $606 million in 2010, and $229 million in 2009, according

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Garden expands at Woodside Priory GARDEN continued from page 5

ing and harvesting, and a quarter-long elective is in the works, he said. Other local schools that include gardening in the curriculum: Woodside and MenloAtherton high schools, Menlo School, La Entrada, Woodside and Corte Madera middle

May 5, 1927-Jan. 19, 2012 system in 1980. She enjoyed life and filled hers with ballroom dancing, reading, hiking, flower arranging, sewing, crossword puzzles, gardening and spoiling her family with delicious baked treats including her famous banana bread and peach cobbler. Char was a bright light, like a ray of sunshine. When Char entered a room you could feel her warmth, her kindness and her loving energy. She will always be remembered for her charismatic voice and her charming sense of humor. Charlotte was a wonderful woman and will be severely missed by all whose life she touched. PA I D

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to the filing. CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds 533,801,850 shares of Class B stock, which has 10 times the voting power of the other class of stock, Class A. He also has voting proxy over additional shares, bringing his total voting power to 57 percent before the IPO. Mr. Zuckerberg earned a base salary of $500,000 in 2011, but

Academically, the gardening class at the Priory digs deep. Topics include large and small-scale agriculture, food distribution and its impacts on the planet, plant metabolism, seed collection and care, pollination and seed growth, and soil characteristics, Mr. Clark said. There are no farm animals and none planned, he said. A

Facebook’s compensation committee accepted his request to reduce his salary to $1 in 2013. Morgan Stanley will be the lead underwriter of the initial public offering. JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Merril Lynch and Barclays Capital will also participate. Facebook’s ticker symbol will be FB. — Eric Van Susteren

Library vs. gym parking at Civic Center

Charlotte Ruth Stafford Charlotte Ruth Stafford was born May 5, 1927 in Mangum, Oklahoma to parents Myrtle Levine JonasNabours and Walter Lee Nabours. Charlotte passed away peacefully in Sacramento, California on January 19, 2012 with her family at her side. Charlotte leaves behind Leland Clinton Stafford her loving husband of 67 years, her two sons Kirk L. Stafford and Mark L. Stafford, daughter-inlaw Marie and two grandchildren Natalie Stafford-Tenzer (Scott) and David M. Stafford (Neosha). Charlotte will be remembered as a devoted wife, loving mother, grandmother and cherished friend to many. Her kindness, friendly smile, sense of humor and zest for life was an inspiration to all. Charlotte or Char as she was known lived life to the fullest. She was a school secretary from 1972-2002, loved by many students and honored with a award for her excellent service to the Portola Valley school

schools, and Sacred Heart Preparatory High School, which gained permission from San Mateo County in December 2009 to prepare and serve the food in the school cafeteria. The Priory will cross that homeg row n-student-mea l bridge when it comes to it, Mr. Clark said. For now, the vegetables are eaten by the faculty and at fundraisers.

OBITUARY

As long as you’re not trying to park during a tournament, there’s plenty of parking available for both public library and gym patrons at Menlo Park’s Civic Center, according to a Feb. 2 memo from the Library Commission. But when there’s a game happening — and particularly during 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. during the weekdays after school gets out — parking can be an exercise in frustration for about 31 percent of visitors, the memo said. Commissioners conducting spot checks of the lot saw “substantial illegal parking” and “children in unsafe situations,

running across parking lots from wherever parents could find a place to drop them” during peak hours. They also saw drivers give up and leave the lot without finding a space. The memo listed several suggestions, including better coordination of program schedules between both facilities, improved signs and directions for sports league participants, and more traffic mitigation by the transportation department. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the police, as the commission also called for increased parking enforcement.


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Big cost overrun on drainage, road project By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor

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project to fix drainage and overruns indicates that, while roadway problems in an some added costs were the results area of Atherton crossed of legitimate factors that aren’t the finish line with a price tag unusual for such projects, numerthat’s 83 percent over the project- ous other extra costs resulted from ed cost, thanks to some $768,000 “design errors and omissions” on in change orders. the part of the design contractor. While the project has been officially accepted by the Atherton City Coun- ‘If they screw up, they should pay cil, council members have COUNCILMAN JIM DOBBIE made it clear: They will not accept most of the additional costs without a fight. “If they screw up, they should The project to fix drainage and pay for it,” said Councilman Jim roadway problems in the area of Dobbie, adding that he wants the Fletcher Drive and Ridgeview town to “go after” the firm responDrive was begun in mid-2010. The sible for the overruns. town budgeted $922,055 for the The council approved the offiproject, with a 10 percent contin- cial “notice of completion” so gency of $92,205 for unforeseen that the main contractor, Galproblems that could legitimately lagher and Burk, can be paid, but boost the original projected cost. City Attorney Bill Conners said The final cost came in at about that engineering firm Wilsey and $1.69 million. Ham, the project’s design contracMike Kashiwagi, the town’s tor, has been put “on notice that interim public works director, told they should talk to their insurance the council at its Jan. 18 meeting carrier because this (the cost overthat the staff’s analysis of the cost runs) is a very serious matter.”

FOOTHILL COLLEGE He noted that Gallagher and Burk “didn’t do anything wrong that we can ascertain” and that the town’s gripe is with the engineering firm. The first change order for $140,300 was brought before the council in September 2010, followed by $305,108 in April 2011. The council was asked to approve a third change order of $322,483 at the Jan. 18 meeting as part of signing off on the project. Mr. Conners explained that accepting the project is necessary to claim damages, which the town is poised to do. In a report to the council, for it.’ Mr. Kashiwagi wrote that the town sent a letter to Wilsey and Ham in June, “notifying them that due to the type and amount of change orders, the Town would immediately begin investigating the cause and damages to the Town resulting from what we believed to be design errors and omissions.” In November, after the town’s investigation, staff met with Wilsey and Ham representatives to review the town’s analysis of the change orders, Mr. Kashiwagi wrote. Mr. Kashiwagi said last week that the engineering firm had not yet responded to that analysis. A

New division chief joins fire district By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer

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former Oakland firefighter who left for Colorado has returned to California as the new operations division chief for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. Manuel “Manny” Navarro, 65, will supervise the day-to-day operations of the district’s seven fire stations and 100 emergency personnel, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said. “We’re happy to have Manny back in California and honored to have him as part of our team,” Chief Schapelhouman said in a statement. “His extensive experience, command presence, tactical abilities and people skills will be an asset to our community. He always places the community first and has a deep respect for our profession and firefighters.” The district serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, and portions of unincorporated San

Mateo County. Mr. Navarro’s experience includes managing rescue operations during the 1999 Loma Prieta Courtesy Menlo Park Fire Protection District earthquake, the Manuel Navarro Highway 880 freeway collapse, and the Oakland Hills fire in 1991, the district said. After leaving Oakland in 1994 he was hired as the fire chief for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, where he supervised 20 fire stations, 27 fire companies, two trauma units, 508 personnel and an annual budget of $53 million. The Colorado Springs Gazette in June 2008 wrote an article about Mr. Navarro’s planned retirement. According to the newspaper, while the fire chief was hailed for his public service, his 14-year tenure with the department also saw controversy — at one point the city

Fire at former home of Larry Ellison The large Japanese pagoda-style home in Atherton where firefighters quickly extinguished an attic fire Jan. 29 was the former home of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The property, which had been

offered at $16 million, sold in 2007. Hanna Shacham represented the buyer and Marry Gullixson, the seller. Zillow.com says the property sold for $14 million but Ms. Gullixson

manager suspended him for one week for violating city policy by allowing his name and title to appear on a flier endorsing a commission candidate. At other points during his service, the newspaper wrote, Mr. Navarro issued a gag order against his firefighters publicly criticizing policy decisions, which was rescinded after the ACLU sued, and also endured criticism in 2007 for driving fire vehicles to golf courses and possibly playing golf while on duty. Mr. Navarro was not immediately available for comment. Chief Schapelhouman said Mr. Navarro is not replacing anyone, but instead filling a position that was frozen a few years ago. The district decided to hire a chief to shift some of the workload off other positions. “It is a 24-7, 365 days a year job,” he said. A vacant deputy chief position is expected to stay unfilled until the chief retires. A

said that number is not right and that Zillow data is often wrong. She said she signed a confidentiality agreement and can’t disclose the sale price. Ads in 2007 describe the property as the “Larry Ellison Atherton Estate” and say it occupies 1.78 acres and has 7 bedrooms and 7.5 baths.

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The instructors have taught over 30,000 Northern Californians their money managing techniques. SOME COMMENTS FROM PAST CLASS MEMBERS: “This course has been excellent, very informative and enlightening.” “...Very objective in presentation of material...” “I have looked forward to each class like opening a new package each week.” “The course exceeded my expectations.” “...A very helpful, well thought out, well presented course. I have recommended it to many people.” “Well done, informative, stimulating.” “Terrific! Loved the course.” “Your ability to take subject matter and make it understandable commands my highest respect.” THIS IS THE ONLY AD THAT WILL APPEAR FOR THIS COURSE. PLEASE CUT OUT AND BRING TO CLASS (This space donated to Foothill College. Not paid with tax dollars.)

February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N11


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Speakers: Save Belle Haven services By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer

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arely does anyone show up to a budget hearing to say “please cut my program.� The Menlo Park City Council’s Jan. 30 study session to evaluate how to adjust to losing millions of dollars in redevelopment agency funding was no exception. Oddly enough, several people did say “raise my taxes.� But the main focus of the 10 public speakers attending the session was to plead for the survival of Belle Haven’s community services. Programs such as the Onetta Harris Community Center and the Child Development Center are on the chopping block because those services were heavily subsidized by the city, according to a staff report. These subsidies may no longer be possible thanks to the $3 million gap left in next year’s budget by losing the city’s redevelopment agency (RDA). Matt Henry, representing the Belle Haven Neighborhood Association, said its members understood that the state killed the RDA, not the city.

N ONLINE Go to tinyurl.com/Face-131 to see the story, “Menlo Park council examines Facebook’s impact on city.�

“We understand there will be some pain here, but we’re asking you not to concentrate the pain in Belle Haven,� he told the council. “This is not just a Belle Haven problem. This is a citywide problem. We’ve got to share the pain a little bit.� The council assured the audience that the cuts were recommendations, and that staff would continue to seek alternate funding sources. Some speakers, as well as council members, voiced support for raising Menlo Park’s transient occupancy tax on hotel rooms from 10 percent to 12 percent. Council members took no action at the meeting beyond voting 4-1 to officially eliminate the city’s housing department. Councilman Andy Cohen dissented. “Putting a little whitewash on an ugly vote is not good enough for me,� he said. “What I want to go back to is what I asked

for a while ago. I contend that this situation is intolerable, it’s unacceptable.� He asked that the council direct city staff to write a letter to state representatives asking for relief for cities such as Menlo Park that used redevelopment funds for the intended purposes of housing rehabilitation and emergency repair. One reason the governor wanted to dissolve the agencies is that some cities have not used RDA funds for their intended purposes. Mayor Kirsten Keith disputed his characterization of the vote as a whitewash, but agreed that drafting a letter would be appropriate.

Former coach pleads not guilty Michael Taylor, a former Menlo School assistant baseball coach, has pleaded not guilty to stealing computers from the Atherton school that had employed him. Mr. Taylor, 28, entered his plea in San Mateo County Superior Court on Jan. 24. The case was continued to March 7 for a pretrial conference, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Taylor is suspected of stealing a number of electronic devices from Menlo School and its students. Two other men accused of the theft of computers and

backpacks at Menlo School were also in court Jan. 24. Ironically, Mr. Taylor reportedly had been instrumental in apprehending at least one of the men on the Menlo College campus, which is adjacent to Menlo School. Both men were Menlo College students. Ryan Alexander Goodman, 20, pleaded guilty to grand theft, and was sentenced to two years of court probation, conditioned on completion of a substance abuse treatment program. The case against Raphael Daniel Bettan, 18, was continued to March 8 for a pretrial conference.

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degree in art from Scripps College in Los Angeles, a master’s degree in art therapy from Lone Mountain College (now part of the University of San Francisco), and a master’s degree in business with an emphasis on nonprofit management from Golden Gate University.

The Folger Stable renovation project “turned out to be a determined, well-organized project from start to finish, funded by almost 600 donors,� said the Mounted Patrol in announcing their selection of Ms. Lang. “Without Susan and her associates’ vision and direction, the project would not have succeeded in saving this 105 year-old structure.� Ms. Lang has lived in Woodside since 1991 with her husband Robert. The couple, who have two sons, founded the Friends of Huddart and Wunderlich Parks and the If Not Now When Fund, which has made grants to environmental causes such as the Committee for Green Foothills, the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City, and Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills.

She has been active in the Woodside-area Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA), the San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association, and the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, a Woodside riding facility serving the community of children and adults with special needs. The Mounted Patrol, a menonly club begun in 1942, fills several roles at its 23-acre compound at Kings Mountain and Tripp roads in Woodside. It is a social club and a venue for rodeos and other Western equestrian activities. The club also has a search-and-rescue team on call when the territory to be searched is inaccessible to vehicles, as are parts of the dense woodland in and around Woodside. A

          



     

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Portola Valley seeks ideas, speakers for ‘green’ series A search for workshop presentation ideas on greening one’s home, and the people to explain how it’s done, is on in Portola Valley, but not for long. The town is accepting emailed or faxed ideas until 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, according to a town announcement. The speaker series “Tuesday Harvest” is set to meet on seven Tuesdays extending from March through November. Among the possible topics: backyard bees or

chickens, energy independence, water conservation and sharing of the harvest. Write to bdegarmeaux@ portolavalley.net (Brandi de Garmeaux, the town’s environmental programs coordinator) or send a fax to 650-851-4677. Go to tinyurl.com/PV-speakers to find an online form that streamlines the process of explaining your idea, and explains this series in more detail.

Can two counties work together to fix Alpine trail? By Dave Boyce

there, but for the sticking points: Did Stanford have an ulterior motive in improving a trail he chance for San Mateo along a commuting artery into County to take $10.4 mil- campus? Why were the routing lion from Stanford Uni- options so rigid? As it passes versity to repair an Alpine Road Stanford Weekend Acres, the trail is gone, but residents in and trail’s right-of-way becomes around Ladera hope to persuade nightmarishly complex. Could it the supervisors in Santa Clara be made safe without impacts the County, where the money is now residents would see as adverse? going, to help fix the trail now that Would even looking at redesign Stanford is out of the picture. open a can of worms? Through spokesman PJ Utz, Most Weekend Acres resiresidents of Ladera and some dents rejected Stanford’s offer from communities nearby per- out of hand. Residents in Ladsuaded the Porera and some tola Valley Town in Portola ValCouncil to urge ley did not deny ‘I doubt that it’s the supervisors Weekend Acres’ going to happen.’ from both counconcerns, but ties to collabourged at least SUPERVISOR DON HORSLEY rate on improva fact-seeking ing the deteriorating asphalt trail exploration of the problem. that borders both counties along Stanford was willing to pay. the south side of Alpine Road At its Jan. 25 meeting, the between the Portola Valley and Portola Valley council agreed Menlo Park. to send a letter to supervisors in “I doubt that it’s going to hap- both counties. The council had pen,” Supervisor Don Horsley written to the San Mateo County said in an interview, adding that supervisors in September taking a Santa Clara County supervisor a neutral stance on Stanford’s broached the idea of sharing long offer. This latest letter, based on ago, but that it never gathered the the original and edited by Mr. necessary momentum. Utz, removes the neutrality and In December, a 3-2 majority advocates for improvements, or of San Mateo County supervi- at least repaving. sors rejected Stanford’s money, “I wish you all the best,” Porthe third time since 2006, and tola Valley Councilwoman Ann now a deadline has passed. By Wengert said to Mr. Utz. an agreement related to the The residents’ first proposal university’s general use permit, anticipates a willingness to share the money now goes to Santa and includes a possible trail Clara County for off-campus realignment, a possible traffic recreational uses that serve the light at Weekend Acres, and college community. much safer paths under InterIn rejecting Stanford’s money, state 280. the San Mateo County superviA second plan has San Mateo sors considered using county County going on its own with a funds to address the trail. But the less expensive upgrade, including project is deeply complicated and repaving, better crosswalks, and money is scarce. better signs and striping along Stanford’s millions had been Alpine Road.

Almanac Staff Writer

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TAKE CARE of your heart. February is American Heart Month and the perfect time to make sure you’re on a healthy track. At the Stanford Congestive Heart Failure & Cardiomyopathy Clinic, we offer innovative treatment options based on years of pioneering research. Taking care of your heart condition with the right care today can make a difference. Make an appointment to meet with our team of heart specialists and establish the right treatment plan for you. Learn more about your heart health: stanfordhospital.org/heartmonth February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N13


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

Ideas, thoughts and opinions about

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

Editor & Publisher Tom Gibboney

Newsroom Managing Editor Richard Hine News Editor Renee Batti Lifestyles Editor Jane Knoerle Staff Writers Dave Boyce, Sandy Brundage Contributors Marjorie Mader, Barbara Wood, Kate Daly Special Sections Editors Carol Blitzer, Sue Dremann Photographer Michelle Le

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Menlo should spread pain of RDA loss

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s Menlo Park struggles to close a $3 million budget gap inflicted when the state forced redevelopment agencies to go out of business, we hope Belle Haven will not be the primary victim. Even though Menlo Park’s agency was formed to fight blight in the Belle Haven area and along Willow Road, where most of its money was spent, the City Council can find a way to keep at least some of the eastside neighborhood’s key agencies in business. To do otherwise would send a terrible message to the residents there, who are not nearly as affluent as those living in many other parts of the city. Using a mix of strategic cuts and revenue increases, the council should be able to patch together ways to bring the $3 million shortfall down to manageable size, if not wipe it out entirely, at least for this budget year. A major step on that path was taken last week when the council voted 4-1 (with Andy Cohen dissenting) to close the Housing Department, which could save

Email letters to: letters@AlmanacNews.com The Almanac, established in September 1965, is delivered each week to residents of Menlo

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Atherton struggles without leaders Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community I found it impossible to tie the logic used in the editorial together. Atherton is not a city, it is a town. As the article stated, it has no industrial base and collects no sales tax. The “haircut” that has recently taken place was necessary; there are less expensive ways to deliver services than were in place. That isn’t a “discount operation,” it’s sound management. Posted by john, a resident of an Atherton neighborhood Really, check the cost of what those contractors are costing you in real money, not what they tell you. Also, for a town that is so concerned with what city employees cost, why is it that all of

14 N The Almanac NFebruary 8, 2012

EDI TORI AL The opinion of The Almanac

with a list of possible savings and ways to increase revenue. Many cuts, like the $110,000 from eliminating funding for community agencies, would ripple across the city. Eliminating the business development manager (a post vacant after David Johnson resigned) would save $160,000 now but could limit the city’s economic growth in future years. A stop-gap option before the council is the already planned sale of a property on Terminal

Avenue in Belle Haven, which would bring in a one-time payment of $850,000. This is the former site of a Habitat for Humanity housing project that the city abandoned after neighbors objected. The Beechwood School next door has coveted the property for years, and is planning to purchase it. The council should strongly consider adding 2 percentage points to the Transit Occupancy Tax, which could generate as much as an additional $500,000 a year. The city’s rate is currently 10 percent, but many nearby communities are at 12 percent, including Redwood City, Half Moon Bay, San Mateo and San Bruno. Another option, to raise the current 1 percent Utility User Tax (UUT), would have a much larger impact, bringing in nearly $1 million with every 1 percentage point increase. At the current 1 percent rate, the average monthly cost for residential consumers is only $1.79, while commercial users pay $25. There are many more pos-

sible cuts throughout other city departments, including options focused entirely on Belle Haven that could eliminate some of the most popular and successful programs in that community: closing the Onetta Harris Community Center would save $340,000; closing the Belle Haven library, $265,000; closing the after school and summer camp (which could be saved with help from the Boys & Girls Club), $340,000; and closing the Senior Center, $350,000. We believe it would be unwise for the council to enact any cuts that would focus on Belle Haven, although it might be possible to reshape the Onetta Harris Community Center and Senior Center into one facility. That is something we hope Belle Haven citizens and the new city manager, who will arrive in March, can work on together. Losing the redevelopment agency was a blow, but despite the hardship, the city has plenty of ways to overcome a major blow to its budget. A

the contractors are retired city employees that are double dipping on our tax dollars? That seems to be OK with all of you, just as long as it benefits your individual agendas. Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood and a member (registered user) of Almanac Online The notion that “double dipping” is bad is simply wrong (except for the fact that prohibiting double dipping increases job opportunities for the unemployed). It makes no economic sense or management sense not to employ highly experienced people who do not require pension contributions.

Menlo Park Historical Association

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

Here’s what they’re saying

up to $1.7 million, depending on how a transition is restructured. The department was in charge of the below-market-rate housing program, among other things. Three staff members will be laid off if they don’t find other jobs within the city. There are other possibilities. In preliminary discussions last week, the council was presented

Will Atherton say ‘yea’ to Willie Mays Way? Posted by Robert D., a resident of Menlo Park This is great news. I have talked with Willie Mays several times dating back to the mid 1980s and he is a great person and would be even if he never was a star baseball player. I appreciate the effort and hope this gets approved. Continued on next page

Our Regional Heritage The Menlo Park Presbyterian Church was organized in 1873 and became the town’s first Protestant house of worship, although early congregations were made up of many denominations. The building’s site, at 700 Santa Cruz Ave., was donated by Thomas H. Selby for $1. Funds for construction were given by Milton S. Latham, Faxon D. Atherton, Charles N. Felton and Judge Henry P. Coon, as well as Mr. Selby. The sanctuary seated 168.


V I E W P O I N T Continued from previous page

Posted by Kathy Schrenk, a resident of Atherton Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Residents denied bid to change districts Posted by Member, a resident of another community Our son went to a lowincome population Redwood City school. He is now at a Sequoia High School District high school, will graduate a valedictorian, and is applying to MIT, Stanford, etc. It is all about parental involvement. Redwood City schools did not harm him. In fact, I think they made him a better person because he knows about other cultures. Posted by Administrator A, a resident of another community However you rationalize it, California public schools spend the least per pupil in the country except for a few basic aid districts. Even those need a lot of parent involvement and giving, just to be par. Of course parental involvement and the child’s attitude are important, but let’s face it, Prop 13 keeps the seniors around but there are only so many people who can sustain the higher taxes. If they want to really fix things, they would give those people paying the higher taxes options too. They are the ones you need to keep happy since they have the most potential to give and pay the taxes to keep the schools going. You all talk about how great Redwood City School District is but you all are in Menlo Park, not at a revenue-limit school. Don’t be a hypocrite. Posted by Dad F, a resident of West Atherton Engaging and demanding sounds like a game plan. Let us know how it goes. We can change this by engaging with our local school districts, demanding change, demanding high academic standards. But when the best educated, most wealthy parents — the ones with the most means to change the system — simply walk away from the system, that is my quibble. I’m a Stanford graduate with a master’s degree and own my own company. I have spent the last 20 years working very hard to improve my local public schools. Poverty, bureaucracy, a deeply flawed system of taxation and governmental gridlock are part of the problem. But so is the willingness of so many of my peers to simply walk away from the problem. N TOW N S Q UARE Post your news and views on TownSquare at: www.TheAlmanacOnline.com

Leadership in Atherton By Jim Dobbie

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have lived in Atherton for more than 18 years and have been involved with its civic affairs long before I was elected to the City Council. I am responding to last week’s editorial in the Almanac, which is counter to what I am seeing as a former mayor and current member of the Council. I feel the need to help people go behind the scenes. Until the beginning of 2011, when my mayoral term began, many residents believed that our leadership in Town was lacking in almost every administrative position. Some of the residents GUEST believed our “leaders” OPINION were mostly overpaid and underperforming. We had staff with experience but no drive. Some were virtually retired on the job. Some knew what needed to be done, but if it was controversial, they did not have the backbone to do it. Not only was there incompetence and lethargy, but outright insubordination. A successful business is measured by the products it produces. These have to be high quality and the price must be right. In Atherton, our product is service to the community and, the price is the cost of providing that service. Before John Danielson was hired as interim town manager, these tenets had been ignored. The Town was spending nearly $1 million more than it was collecting and complaints about service were commonplace. “Long term” was used to describe some of our employees, but long term and high performance do not necessarily equate. Nearly all of our functions were run-

ning in a manner that could not be called efficient or effective. Many residents were unhappy with the police department, public works, building department and park supervision, to name a few. In my capacity as mayor, I found John Danielson to be very professional and together we realized that serious changes were required. Through attrition and retirements, John brought in new department heads with energy and motivation, such as the interim police chief, public works director and finance director. Expenses were reduced when positions were eliminated or dramatically changed. This was done over the loud objection of a local union and the threat of a lawsuit. The Town moved forward with competitive contracts and was able to hire highly qualified contractors to take over many of the municipal functions and improve service to our residents. The Council decided that our legal expenses were out of control, sometimes exceeding $40,000 a month. With the help of a resident selection committee, Bill Conners was hired as our new town attorney. Bill has not only been a highly effective lawyer, but has also reduced our monthly legal fees in 2011 to a fraction of previous years, from up to $40,000 to as low as $10,000 a month. And for the first time, the interim city manager put job descriptions in place for each employee with measurement criteria including regular evaluations. And at my request the town conducted its first comprehensive inventory of equipment and assets. An action plan to decide what to do with excess items is under way. Scrap, sell or keep are the choices. In 2011 expense reductions reduced the deficit by over $500,000, still not enough, but serious progress from a year ago.

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I am sad that CalPERS has recently changed its own rules and will not allow Mr. Danielson to finish the job he has started. We assumed that we would have John much longer, but that is not now possible. The Council should possibly have pushed harder to hire a permanent town manager sooner, but without the positive changes accomplished in 2011, I believe it would have been nearly impossible to recruit a highly qualified replacement. However, our town is now much stronger than just one person. Even though they are on contract, I believe we have some of the most qualified and capable department heads anywhere in the state. These people have real talent and abilities. They’re still with us, working every day. And long before they depart, we’ll make sure we have secured highly talented replacements. I’m hopeful some of them may decide to stay for the long term. The incredible load of corrective actions needed to make the Town viable reduced the time Mr. Danielson could spend looking for a replacement city manager. As we begin our search, we can rest assured that our past year’s efforts have blessed us with a strong management team. Unlike the gloomy comments in your editorial last week, leadership is not judged by having a permanent employee in every slot. Our leadership will be judged by the services that we are providing to the community. A professional, service-oriented police department; a building and safety division that regularly processes complex engineering plans in five days and not four weeks, like in the past; a street crew that is accomplishing more work than ever before, and the list goes on. On that basis, I believe even without a full-time manager our service is as good, and frequently much better, than in previous years. That’s real leadership. A

Jim Dobbie is a member of the Atherton City Council and was mayor in 2011.

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sgray@cbnorcal.com February 8, 2012 N The Almanac N15


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16 N The Almanac NFebruary 8, 2012

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The Almanac 02.08.2011 - Section 1