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A contemplative


Monks at Woodside Priory take the road less traveled Page 10

MENLO PARK Incredibly charming, 1-story Craftsman style home, substantially rebuilt 11 years ago. Separate 580+/- sf guest cottage and a separate 320+/- sf artist’s studio on 2/3 +/- acre. Beautiful and mature landscaping throughout, plus solar heated pool/spa. Gorgeous country kitchen, cathedral ceilings in most rooms, extensive moldings, and abundant, professionally designed art lighting. $3,700,000

WOODSIDE Beautifully updated, this custom contemporary inspired 4 bedroom, 3 bath home was designed with an emphasis on light and open spaces. With 3500+/sf of living space, sweeping views and magnificent outdoor spaces featuring landscaped stone terraces, fountains and a level lawn area, this very special home offers a private oasis in the heart of Silicon Valley. $2,760,000

MENLO PARK Tall ceilings, abundant light and recent remodeling make this home a ten. Refinished oak floors, granite counter in kitchen, and new interior paint. Decorator touches throughout: wood window shutters, artistic lighting, crown molding, and bay windows. Master bedroom with walk-in closet. Abundant extra storage, partial basement, tall attic with pull-down ladder access, and laundry room loft. $1,250,000

2NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJune 27, 2012


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Menlo Park council member Peter Ohtaki (right) throws his hands up in victory after a whipped cream pieeating contest at the June 20 Menlo Park block party. Without using hands, he was the first to find the bubble gum in his pie and blow a bubble. The contestants were current and former Menlo Park officials, plus a 7-yearold boy who joined the contest “cause I like pie.� From left, they are Alex McIntyre, Glen Rojas, Andy Cohen, Michael Medaglia (the 7-year-old), John Boyle and Peter Ohtaki.

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Pie-eating highlights block party By Allison Silverman Special to the Almanac


anta Cruz Avenue was awash with noise and energy as locals gathered Wednesday night to enjoy a block party and concert in the park on the first day of summer. People, including mainly families, walked the streets, taking in the live music on every block. Enter tainment options included face painting, perusing booths set up by businesses, and eating. Many restaurants, including Amici’s, Left Bank

and Mataro, set up tables along the street. A live band — the Big Cat & The Hipnotics — put on a concert in Fremont Park. The band drew people of all ages, enticing

Vice Mayor Peter Ohtaki wins by a bubble. many to pull up picnic blankets and towels, or simply sit on the grass and enjoy the music. The whipped cream pie-eating contest among current and for-

mer city officials was a major draw. On the Facebook “stage,� which was booked for various events throughout the night, these officials battled it out to see who could find a piece of gum in a pile of whipped cream — without using their hands — and blow a bubble first. Participants were Alex McIntyre, Glen Rojas, John Boyle, Andy Cohen and Peter Ohtaki. Another audience member, 7-year-old Michael, was asked to participate. When asked why he wanted to take part, he responded, “Cause I like pie.� Mr. Ohtaki won.



Woodside’s Theatre in the Woods takes a holiday Shakespeare, Aristophanes, Sartre, Mamet. Hiking to Act II, hiking again to Act III, bug spray on your socks, hiking to Act IV. It’s been 10 years, and having completed its 10th year, a break is in order for Woodside’s Theatre in the Woods, the players say. “In order to continue to strengthen our company and

determine the best course of action in keeping our company sustainable, we have made the tough decision not to produce a play at Theatre in the Woods during the 2012 season,� the troupe said in a recent announcement. “Many theaters find a ‘dark house’ time necessary from time to time. We will miss not being

with you this summer, however we look forward to our 2013 season and will keep you updated on our efforts. ... We hope you enjoy your summer and can’t wait to see you again.� Go to for more information, including plans for 2013 when they are announced, or write to us@ Reviews –

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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 Š2012 by Embarcadero Media, All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.


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Audit shows lax oversight, murky bookkeeping By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


hat has emerged from the recent forensic audit of the school district finances overseen by Tim Hanretty is a picture of a spending and accounting system without oversight and subject to abuse. And that lack of oversight has resulted in not only the alleged theft of more than $100,000 from the Portola Valley School District by Mr. Hanretty, but the apparent mishandling of other funds, including a fund set up by philanthropists Bill and Jean Lane to help employees with housing costs. The school board and about 100 parents and members of the district staff on June 20 heard a report by the audit team that went into more detail about the earlier revealed alleged theft of nearly $101,000, spent on a renovation of Mr. Hanretty’s house. Mr. Hanretty, who resigned as the district’s superintendent in January, has been charged with six felony counts of embezzlement, and has pleaded not guilty. The auditors were called in after the county District Attorney’s Office began an investigation into alleged misappropriations of public funds related to



work Mr. Hanretty performed earlier for the Woodside Elementary School District. The Portola Valley district had already been wrestling with a projected deficit of about $800,000 when auditors announced in late April that their investigation was uncovering irregularities that would almost certainly result in an additional shortfall, also estimated at about $800,000. The shortfall and the total depletion of the district’s reserve fund led to $2.1 million in spending cuts to balance the 2012-13 fiscal year budget. During the June 20 session, board members and auditors were peppered with questions — some of them tinged with anger or frustration — from teachers, parents and other community members about how the mismanagement of funds and murky accounting could have gone on unobserved by the five-member board. David Grisham of the Hemming Morse accounting firm gave example after example of Mr. Hanretty’s non-standard recording-keeping and report-

Piraino hired to head Portola Valley schools By Renee Batti

Since his resignation, Mr. Hanretty has been arrested on six felony counts of embezzlearol Piraino, who has ment from the district, and will scrambled over the last face charges of stealing nearly five months to keep the $101,000 of district funds to district functional during the renovate his home. crisis resulting from Although some parents the alleged financial have questioned why misdeeds of the former the district hired a new superintendent, has superintendent without been named Portola conducting a formal Valley School District’s search, board President permanent superintenScott Parker noted that dent. Ms. Piraino had gone The school board on Carol Piraino through a thorough and June 20 unanimously competitive process in approved a two-year 2010 before being hired contract for Ms. Piraino, who as assistant superintendent. had been serving as assistant Given all she’s had to manage superintendent under Tim Han- since February, “working 80 or retty. 100 hours a week,” he added, Mr. Hanretty resigned in late “we didn’t find it appropriate January, and Ms. Piraino was or even necessary to do a full appointed acting superintendent at that time. See PIRANIO, page 7

Almanac News Editor


Scott Parker, president of the Portola Valley School District board, listens to a forensic auditor’s report on the district’s finances. Almanac photo by Michelle Le

ing practices, which at times included not presenting required information to the board. He and other finance experts who helped to sort out the tangle of often unclear or inaccurate records Mr. Hanretty kept during his tenure, which began in 1999 when he was appointed the district’s business manager, noted that a better system of oversight needs to be put in place — a task that has already begun. Since the severity of the fiscal

crisis came to light this spring, several board members have acknowledged that they had placed a high degree of trust in Mr. Hanretty, and lamented the fact that their trust had been misplaced. Board President Scott Parker said after the meeting last week that it has been hard “for all of us to absorb the impact of someone who has a low threshold of ethics,” adding that Mr. Hanretty’s alleged embezzlement consti-

tutes “stealing from our kids.” Housing loan fund

An example of “non-standard” accounting practices and mismanagement of money revealed during the audit is the handling of a program begun by the late Bill Lane and his wife, Jean, to help district employees live nearby in spite of the exorbitant cost of housing. See AUDIT, page 8

Hanretty denies he stole from schools Assets frozen by the court at request of DA’s office. ■

By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


im Hanretty pleaded not guilty on June 19 to six counts of embezzlement from the Portola Valley School District, charges involving the alleged stealing of nearly $101,000 to pay for a construction project at his Woodside home during his tenure as superintendent of the district. Mr. Hanretty appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court with his attorney, Michael Markowitz, denying all allegations and enhancements, according to Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney. The enhancements have been added to the felony charges because the alleged

theft was an “e xc e s sive taking” — more than $65,000, she said. On June 25, the Dis- Tim Hanretty trict Attorney’s Office requested that Mr. Hanretty’s assets be frozen. The request was granted by the court, with no objection by the defense, Ms. Guidotti said. Mr. Hanretty remains out of custody after posting bail. A July 18 date was set for a court review of his case, and his preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 16, Ms. Guidotti said. In April, Mr. Hanretty was charged with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds stemming from his tenure as financial officer of the Woodside Elementary School District. Both cases will

be heard in court together, Ms. Guidotti said. In the Woodside district case, the District Attorney’s Office in April said it found no evidence that the misappropriation of funds was for his personal gain. In an email to the Almanac, Mr. Markowitz said he and his client have no comment about the new allegations. The embezzlement from the Portola Valley district allegedly began in December 2010, just months after Mr. Hanretty became superintendent and chief business officer of the district, according to a statement issued by Acting Superintendent Carol Piraino the night of June 15, soon after Mr. Hanretty was arrested. Mr. Hanretty resigned as superintendent in late January after the District Attorney’s See HANRETTY, page 8

June 27, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN5



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6NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJune 27, 2012

‘Shades of Glory’ Nancy Christy-Moore of Surprise, Arizona, will be the official artist for the 42nd annual Menlo Charity Horse Show, which takes place Aug. 7 through 12 at the Menlo Circus Club, 190 Park Lane in Atherton. Reproductions of her painting, “Shades of Glory,� will be featured on the event’s mugs, posters, invitations and stationery. The artist will attend the Aug. 10 sponsors’ dinner, where the painting, valued at $2,400, will be auctioned.

Portola Valley plans affordable housing at Al’s Nursery site By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he town of Portola Valley is negotiating to buy the 1.68-acre site of the former Al’s Nursery at 900 Portola Road and build a group of homes affordable to people of moderate incomes, Mayor Maryann Derwin has announced. The town would build at least eight homes, Town Planner Tom Vlasic said in an interview. In San Mateo County, a moderate income is around $86,500 for an individual and $123,600 for a family of four, the mayor’s statement said. The agenda for the Town Council’s June 27 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Historic Schoolhouse includes a discussion of this project. It’s too early to speculate on whether the homes would be attached or detached, Mr. Vlasic said. The only significant attached housing currently in town are the apartments at The Sequoias retirement community. “The Al’s Nursery parcel acquisition responds to Portola Valley’s housing obligations under state law and is well-suited to address the need for affordable housing in the town,� Ms. Derwin said. “With this parcel, we finally have the opportunity to provide housing to people who work in our community and love Portola Valley but can’t afford to live here.� The town has long sought to

build such housing on two parcels designated for affordable housing that the town owns in the upscale Blue Oaks neighborhood, but the hillside topography and the need for expensive grading complicated the project, Mr. Vlasic said. “The Portola Road location is far superior in terms of its ability to make the numbers work, as well as access to municipal services,� he said. “The intent is to at least fit the eight we had committed to in Blue Oaks, and possibly a little bit more if at all possible,� Mr. Vlasic added. Significant public process is ahead, including consultation with residential and commercial neighbors, coming up with compatible designs, and locating an experienced developer to do the work at a price acceptable to the town. The town plans to finance the project by selling the two Blue Oaks parcels. “We intend to listen carefully to the suggestions of all those who have an interest in the success of this project,� Ms. Derwin said in her statement. In a 2003 referendum, a group of residents opposed to multifamily housing funded a directmail campaign that bitterly divided the town and ultimately reversed a Town Council zoning decision that would have allowed construction of 15 to 20 small homes near the corner of Alpine and Portola roads. A



Kepler’s bookstore plans ‘reboot,’ will close six weeks for makeover By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer


s part of the ongoing effort to open a new chapter at Kepler’s Books, the iconic Menlo Park bookstore will close for six weeks starting July 1. Plans are to use the downtime to improve the store. Look for fresh inventory and more inviting, interesting layouts when the store reopens, according to transition team leader Praveen Madan. Other minor upgrades include new computer systems to provide “better, faster customer service.” “We’ve been talking about doing a reboot of Kepler’s for a while. It became apparent that when we look at what we have to work through, we could drag it out and do one project at a time and it would literally take years,” Mr. Madan said. “Or we could take a complete break from running the store day in and day out and get it all done at once.” The bookstore’s staff, who will spend the closure partly on furlough and partly in training, has been aware that the temporary shutdown was coming for several months, he said. “To my way of looking at

it, the store was on the verge of closing in January. We’ve been able to add six months of life to the store; people are mostly pretty positive about it.” Author readings scheduled for July will be relocated or postponed if possible. Other-

‘... the store was on the verge of closing in January. We’ve been able to add six months of life to the store; people are mostly pretty positive about it.’ PRAVEEN MADAN

wise, the store might open its doors briefly for specific events, the website said. Meanwhile, the store will continue to sell books online. Mr. Madan, a partner of Booksmith in San Francisco and Berkeley Arts and Letters, announced a fundraising campaign in May that aims to raise $1 million by the end of summer. So far almost 700 donors have contributed a little over $725,000, in amounts ranging

from $5 to $100,000. He said it was gratifying to see the support for a bookstore located in one of the most-tech savvy communities in the Bay Area. The long-term goal is to create a for-profit, communityowned bookstore alongside a nonprofit organization that offers an expanded slate of author events, workshops, and other resources. The transition team set about eliminating about $1 million in old debt and streamlining operations so that the bookstore is already making a small profit, according to staff. The bookstore will host an invite-only “Future Search” planning meeting at the end of July. Mr. Madan said donors, publishers, authors, bookstore owners, and others invested in the book industry will spend two and a half days discussing what the new Kepler’s could look like. While its ultimate future remains to be seen, one facet of Kepler’s will stay the same for now: its address. According to Mr. Madan, the bookstore recently finalized a renewed lease for 1010 El Camino Real. The term of the lease is 10 years with two renewal options of five years each. A

Menlo Park man, 19, dies in shooting A 19-year-old man who was shot and killed in Menlo Park early Saturday morning has been identified by the San Mateo County coroner’s office as Jesus Becerra Molina. Mr. Molina, a Menlo Park resident, was attending a party at a home in the 1300 block of Madera Avenue in Belle Haven when he went to move his car at about 2:45 a.m., Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Ackley said. As he left the party, which was being held in the home’s

backyard, shots were fired and he was hit by at least one bullet, she said. Officers found the man in front of the house and administered first-aid and CPR. Paramedics with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and the ambulance company AMR administered life-saving measures but he was unresponsive, police said. He was taken to Stanford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Partygoers said they heard

the shots and ran to the front of the house. Some reported seeing a vehicle leaving the scene but were unable to provide a detailed description of it, Ms. Ackley said. Police said they have confirmed that Mr. Molina was a member of a gang, but are still investigating whether the shooting was gang-related. No arrests have been made. Police ask anyone with information about the case to call the police at (650) 330-6300. — Bay City News Service


Ms. Piraino will be paid $185,000 annually, and be covered by medical, vision and dental insurance, according to her contract. “I’m thrilled to have the confidence of the board, and I’m excited about the district’s future,” Ms. Piraino said last week. Before her stint in the district office, where her role as assistant superintendent was to oversee the district’s curriculum and

educational program, Ms. Piraino was principal for two years of Corte Madera School, one of the district’s two schools. She came to the district from Walter Hays Elementary School in Palo Alto, where she served as principal for nine years. Earlier, she worked for the Ravenswood City School District, first as a teacher, then as assistant principal at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto.

continued from page 5

search” for a superintendent. During the last five months, Ms. Piraino “has been vetted, tested, (and has shown that) she is a phenomenal leader,” he said. “We have zero question in our mind that we have the person we need,” he said. “She’s just completed a five-month intensive interview.”

by Gloria Darke

Multiple Sales Offer Special Expertise Q. I have read where a number of homes are now receiving more than one offer. Does this require special knowledge to handle properly? – A.Lyles A. Yes. When a seller receives several offers to buy their property at one time, they could have a particularly difficult task judging which is the best offer to accept. It’s great to know that several buyers want the same property at the same time, but it’s “seller beware”! The offer usually originates with the buyer and then is presented to the seller by the real estate agent. The seller can reject, accept or counter this offer, and should ask the seller’s agent for advice and recommendations. If you are selling your home yourself and receive two or more similar offers

at the same time you can be placed in a rather difficult situation. Worse yet, what if you accept an offer then shortly thereafter you receive an even better offer from a second buyer. What do you do about the first offer you have already accepted? Not too long ago I head a horror story of a “for-sale-by owner” who mistakenly accepted two offers and two deposits from different buyers. This poor seller ended up paying out thousands of dollars in legal costs to straighten out the mess he created by not knowing the law and protocol for handling multiple offers. The best advice is, before the offers come in, hire an experienced real estate agent or broker who knows how to protect your interests.

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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June 27, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN7


Budget balanced, but more cuts possible By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


he 2012-13 budget is balanced, with $2.1 million in spending cuts, but the Portola Valley School District board and staff members are still trying to find other ways to trim costs so a now-empty reserve can be at least partially replenished. On June 20, the board adopted a budget that would spend $10.97 million in the fiscal year starting July 1, with projected revenues of just over $11 million. There will be less spending on teachers, which will mean larger class sizes at some grade levels, and no money for teachers’ aides. Summer school has been eliminated except for special education students, and K-3 Spanish will no longer be taught. The fate of Spanish instruction for fourth- and fifth-graders is not yet known: Although there’s some money allocated for the program, it is likely that it will no longer be offered during the school day, Superintendent Carol Piraino said. Instead, fourth- and fifth-graders may be offered after-school, fee-based Spanish instruction, as will kindergartners and firstthrough third-graders, she said. The district is asking its teachers for contract concessions, and the two parties are meeting this week and probably through the summer after teachers agreed to reopen their contract, which expires next June. Among con-

HANRETTY continued from page 5

Office launched an investigation in the Woodside district case. The Portola Valley district then hired an outside accounting firm to conduct a forensic audit to pore over its financial records. Ms. Piraino said the audit revealed that Mr. Hanretty submitted six invoices totaling $100,926 for reimbursement from the district’s solar panel escrow account at Deutsche Bank. The invoices describe work allegedly done at the district, but “the contractor never actually performed any work for the District. Rather, he performed work on Mr. Hanretty’s personal home remodel project. The amounts on the contractor’s invoices to Mr. Hanretty exactly mirror the amounts that Mr. Hanretty submitted to Deutsche Bank for reimbursement out of the District’s funds,” she said in the statement. Mr. Hanretty was hired as the district’s business man-



cessions the district is seeking are a salary freeze to save $110,032; elimination of up to 10 school days to save $300,000; and elimination of the summer technology institute for teachers to save $28,000. The proposal to cut 10 days in the school year, which has drawn much criticism from parents attending budget meetings, is not likely to go forward: John Davenport, president of the teachers association, told the Almanac last week that “there’s no support at all” among teachers for 10 furlough days, although some teachers have indicated they might support elimination of one or two days of school. In her review of the new budget on June 20, Sandra Lepley, who at the same meeting was approved as the district’s interim chief business official, summarized the circumstances that led to the district’s ending this fiscal year with a $1.1 million deficit, including shortcomings in the accounting process under former superintendent Tim Hanretty. She also recommended a number of changes for budget development in the future, including the creation of a budget advisory committee made up of school staff, parents and community members to help review the district’s annual audit and ongoing financial practices. A

ager in 1999, and soon after was appointed business manager of both the Portola Valley and the Woodside districts under a joint-powers agreement. In 2004, the two districts appointed Mr. Hanretty assistant superintendent — new positions for both districts — and he oversaw technology and human resources in addition to finances. He took over as the Portola Valley district’s superintendent in summer 2010, when his predecessor, Anne Campbell, left the post to become superintendent of county schools. The charges against Mr. Hanretty related to the Woodside district stem from his oversight of that district’s 2005-08 school modernization project. He is accused of taking out a loan of $2.6 million for the project, although the school board had authorized a loan for only $632,000. The alleged fraud was discovered last fall, when school district officials conducted an investigation to figure out why the district’s debt was so high.

8NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJune 27, 2012


Almanac photo by Michelle Le

The room was packed when the school board met to listen to the auditor’s report. In foreground, from left, are County Counsel Claire Cunningham, forensic auditor Fausta Shuler of Hemming Morse, and Ormondale School Principal Jennifer Warren.

Audit shows lax oversight continued from page 5

The Lanes had created a fund of $200,000 to grant nointerest loans to help teachers and other employees pay for required deposits and moving costs to rent housing, or for up to $20,000 for a down payment on a home. The money was to be paid back in a specified period through payroll deductions. Rather than placing the money in a restricted fund, Mr. Hanretty merged it into the general fund, which made it possible to spend it on other uses and made it more difficult to keep track of. The audit found that a number of payouts from the program were improperly made, including a $20,000 loan to Mr. Hanretty for an apparent refinancing of his home. Also, no payroll deductions were made for Mr. Hanretty’s loan; since his resignation, he “has written personal checks to pay the balance of his loan,” according to the audit report. Questions remain about other payouts, some of which were not given out as repayable loans. To put the fund back on track for the 2012-13 fiscal year, the district took $200,000 from the general fund to create an unrestricted account for the home loan program, further depleting available funds for unrestricted use. When the program was created, the district was supposed to create a committee to review loan requests, which never happened, the report said. Further muddying the dis-

trict’s financial picture, Mr. Hanretty overstated the receivables related to the home loan program, “which created the appearance that the district had more receivables than it actually did,” the report said. Doctored invoices

The allegedly embezzled money came from the district’s solar energy project fund, which was bolstered by a $1.5 million federal grant. Auditors now say the grant has been jeopardized because money earmarked for the project was diverted to pay for technology and other expenses. The audit found that six invoices charged to the district’s solar project fund for work performed by Ron Perez Construction totaled the amount of money the company charged Mr. Hanretty for his home renovation project. The invoices had been doctored to reflect work on the solar project, the district said. But the report said there is no evidence that the firm, which stated when asked that it had done no work for the district, knew the money it was paid belonged to the district. Superintendent Carol Piraino said the checks issued to the construction company didn’t bear the district’s name. Future oversight

Pressed by the board and public about the circumstances that led to the financial morass the district now faces, Mr. Grisham of the auditing firm cited the merging of two positions — that of the superintendent and

the chief business officer — into one in 2010, when Anne Campbell left the top position to become the county superintendent of schools. Before that, Mr. Hanretty had been the assistant superintendent in charge of finances, technology and human resources, but with his promotion retained his role as keeper of the books. That essentially left the accounting with “no controls,” Mr. Grisham said. “The last control that you have (in a situation like that) is ethics,” he said. Claire Cunningham of the county counsel’s office noted that the board, in its recent decision to separate the two positions again, has restored the “checks and balances that were there in the past.” “My recommendation moving forward is that you look for ways to increase your oversight,” she said. Board member Jocelyn Swisher pointed out that Mr. Hanretty withheld critical financial information at times, and noted that if fraud is occurring, mere oversight may not do the trick. “You’re right,” Ms. Cunningham said. “There’s no hundred percent guarantee. The best you can do is make it more difficult.” In addition to returning to separate superintendent and business officer positions, the district is creating an audit committee and is likely to appoint a budget committee to allow members of the public and school community to help provide oversight of the district’s finances in the future. A


Atherton kidnapper Celebrating clock tower anniversary living in Mountain View By Elena Kadvany Special to the Almanac

By Nick Veronin Mountain View Voice


ne of the three men convicted of kidnapping a bus full of children in Chowchilla, California, in 1976 is now on parole and living in Mountain View, police said Friday. Richard Schoenfeld, 57, of Atherton, after being released this month from his nearly 36-year stint in prison, has been “transported to Mountain View, where he will reside in an undisclosed location,” according to Liz Wylie, a spokeswoman with the Mountain View Police Department. Richard Schoenfeld, along with his older brother John Schoenfeld and Fred Woods of Portola Valley, pleaded guilty in 1976 to kidnapping 26 Chowchilla schoolchildren and their bus driver and secreting them in a quarry in Livermore, from which they all escaped on their own without injury. The men were sentenced to

life in prison. John Schoenfeld and Mr. Woods have not yet been found suitable for parole. Though he is a “high-profile parolee due to the notoriety of his crime, Richard Schoenfeld is not considered a highrisk offender by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” Ms. Wylie said in her statement. He must wear a GPS monitor 24 hours a day as a condition of his parole. “The State and the courts have determined Mr. Schoenfeld no longer poses a threat to society,” Mountain View Mayor Mayor Mike Kasperzak said in a press release. “I am confident of our police department and know they will appropriately monitor him to ensure the safety of our community.” The police were aware of the transfer for some time before it occurred, Ms. Wylie said. His exact location will not be given out by police, she said. His parole is scheduled to last three years. A

Local Realtors dominate national sales rankings By Sue Dremann Palo Alto Weekly


any of the nation’s top sellers of residential real estate come from Menlo Park, Palo Alto and other nearby towns, according to a report published June 22 in the Wall Street Journal. Ken DeLeon of DeLeon Realty in Palo Alto topped the list of the 250 leading sellers based on dollar volume of sales in 2011. He had $275 million in sales last year, according to REAL Trends Inc., a residential real estate data firm that compiled the list. Mary Gullixson of Alain Pinel Realtors in Menlo Park ranked fourth with $253 million in sales. Other top local agents on the list: No. 25: Keri Nicholas, Menlo Park, Coldwell Banker, $114 million; No. 41: Hugh Cornish, Menlo Park, Coldwell Banker, $94 million; No. 52: Tom LeMieux, Menlo Park, Coldwell Banker, $84 million; No. 103: Erika Demma, Woodside, Coldwell Banker, $60 million; No. 126: Peter Cowperthwaite, Portola Valley, Cowperthwaite & Company, $54 million; No. 134: Hanna

Shacham, Menlo Park, Coldwell Banker, $52 million; No. 160: Kristin Cashin, Menlo Park, Oliver Luxury Real Estate, $46 million; No. 239: Scott Dancer, Woodside, Coldwell Banker, $40 million. Mr. DeLeon, who has been a real estate broker for nine years, was previously an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. He has had two neardeath experiences, which he credits with instilling a laserlike focus to his work. He survived being run down by an under-the-influence driver and was diagnosed with cancer, which he beat, he said. This is the first year a Silicon Valley agent has topped the national rankings, he said in a press release, and he attributes that achievement to the area’s robust economy. His sales approach includes catered lunches, lattes, extended hours, and a 200-page strategic buyer’s guide. “I use economic models and analysis to empirically illustrate which neighborhoods have the greatest appreciation potential. This sets our company apart form brokers who just show houses,” he said. A


enlo Park celebrated local history at the 25th anniversary of the city’s clock tower on June 19 — 25 years ago to the day that the construction on this landmark was completed. The event was hosted and sponsored by the Menlo Park Historical Association. Jim Lewis, event coordinator for the association, opened the program by explaining the history of the clock tower. On Jan. 20, 1987, Mike Bedwell, then city manager of Menlo Park, wrote a letter to local businessman Tom Ford, confirming their plan to construct a clock tower next to the train station in downtown Menlo Park, according to Mr. Lewis. Mr. Ford, also known for developing the venture-capital hub 3000 Sand Hill Road, donated 100 percent of the funds needed to build the tower. The tower is the product of collaboration between Ford Land Company and two other Menlo Park organizations: architecture firm Hoover and Associates and Vance Brown Builders. Gary Wimmer, who took over the Ford Land Company after Mr. Ford’s death in 1998, reflected on the tower. “It stands as a symbol for many things to many people,” said Mr. Wimmer. He described relationships built through the tower and the people involved in the construction, many of which continue today, as Mr. Ford’s youngest son, Tommy Ford, listened in the audience. Richard Campbell and Paul Bunton represented Hoover and Associates, the architec-

Joe Simitian at farmers’ market State Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, will be at the Menlo Park Farmers’ Market from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, July 1, to listen to, and answer questions from, his constituents. The market is on Chestnut Street, between Santa Cruz and Menlo avenues. The day before, Sen. Simitian will be at the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market, at Hamilton Avenue and Gilman Street, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sen. Simitian said these “Sidewalk Office Hours” give him and the public a chance to interact in an informal, friendly atmosphere. Visit for more information.

Almanac photo by Daniella Sanchez

Menlo Park’s clock tower at the train station was freshly painted in advance of the 25th anniversary of its construction.

ture firm that designed the tower. Mr. Bunton explained that he designed the tower with the city’s historical, Victorian-style train station in mind. “(The clock tower) is a contemporary interpretation of Victorian style,” he said. “The four-sided clock tower can relate to all sides of the plaza.” Loren and Allan Brown of Vance Brown Builders reflected on the Menlo Park of 1987. At that time, Peg Gunn was the mayor. Her daughter, Margaret Gunn, who attended the original celebration of the tower’s opening that year, was in the audience again, 25 years later. The program included per-

formances by 5-year-old singer and Menlo Park resident Sophie Cheung, as well as Gail Dobson singing with Martan Mann accompanying on the keyboard. Vice Mayor Peter Ohtaki spoke of the clock tower as “a wonderful gathering place.” He also commented on the future of Menlo Park. “One element of the specific plan is creating a vibrant, new gathering place at this end of Santa Cruz Avenue, and the clock tower is really the anchor for that,” he said. “It’s the anchor for the next 25 years of evolution downtown.” Visit to see a video of the program. A

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650-743-7702 June 27, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN9



A congregant returns to his seat in the chapel at Portola Valley’s Woodside Priory School as four resident Benedictine monks conclude the ceremony of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Not complete

strangers ways to the



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Left: Preparing for a faculty talent show in March were, from left, French and drama teacher Cynthia Sleight, digital photography teacher Father Martin Mager, science department head Paul Trudelle, and campus minister and community involvement coordinator Bryan Scott-Lorentz. Below left: Father Maurus Nemeth connects with a younger member of his congregation at a Hungarian Easter Mass held at the Woodside Priory School chapel on April 8. Father Maurus, a native of Hungary, ministers to the local Hungarian Catholic community. Below right: In a quiet moment before evening prayers, Father Maurus checks his email in his monastery office.


he four Benedictine monks who reside in the monastery at the Portola Valley’s Woodside Priory School

have words to live by: treat others as you would treat yourself, don’t nurse a grudge, avoid laziness.

Such counsel is to be found among the 61 “instruments of good works” noted in the Rule of Benedict, a sixth-century guide for living for members of the Order of Saint Benedict. There is more: “Become a stranger to the world’s ways, love fasting, recognize always that evil is one’s own doing and impute it to oneself, keep death daily before one’s eyes.” A road less traveled. The Priory monks — Fathers Pius Horvath, Martin Mager and Maurus Nemeth, and Brother Edward Englund — have dwelt together at 302 Portola Road for decades and say they will complete their working lives there. It’s the Benedictine way, Brother Edward said in a recent group interview in the monastery.

“You’re joining a particular group of people and you’re committing yourself to that group,” he said. “The group is also committing (itself) to you. It’s a mutual dedication of growth between the individual and the community.” “It’s really a process of mutual support (within an ideal community),” Father Pius said. “The values given to us by Christ are not only possible but can be worked out in our lives.” Seven monks founded the Priory in 1957, according to “Being Benedictine,” a book celebrating the school’s 50th year. By 1979, their number had risen to 16, the See MONASTERY, page 12

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Ex-county employees charged with thefts from residents’ estates


By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


he FBI has charged two former employees of San Mateo County with theft and conspiracy to commit theft in connection with their roles in overseeing the disposition of the assets of residents who die without wills or estate administrators. An indictment by a federal grand jury and unsealed on Friday, June 22, charges Mandy Natchi Yagi, 54, of San Mateo, and Peter Wong, 43, of Daly City with conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program and theft concerning a federally funded program, according to a statement from U. S. Attorney Melinda Haag and Stephanie Douglas, who heads the FBI office in San Francisco. Both defendants are out of custody on $100,000 bail after appearing in court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins of the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Their next court appearance is set for Wednesday, June 27, federal prosecutors said.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office began the investigation and assisted the FBI’s investigation that led to this prosecution, prosecutors said. As deputy public administrators, Ms. Yagi and Mr. Wong had the obligation to protect a decedent’s property “from waste, loss or theft,” prosecutors said. The role includes making funeral arrangements; investigating a decedent’s assets and liquidating them, whether through a public sale or by distribution to heirs; paying the relevant taxes; and locating heirs and ensuring that they receive what is due them. Ms. Yagi and Mr. Wong had access to decedents’ cash, bank accounts and valuable items such as jewelry, the statement said. They used their access “to take possession of estate assets for their personal benefit and for the benefit of persons other than the rightful owner,” prosecutors said. If convicted, the defendants could face maximum prison sentences of five years on the conspiracy charge and 10 years on the theft charge, prosecutors said. A

Atherton attorney inducted into state bar Hall of Fame By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor


Top: Dressing for Easter Sunday Mass on the morning of April 8 were, from left, Father Maurus Nemeth, Father Martin Mager and, comb in hand, Father Pius Horvath. The white garments are a symbol of joy. Above: A Woodside Priory senior embraces Father Martin Mager at the June 2 graduation ceremony.

MONASTERY continued from page 11

high point. The Priory monks, though counseled to be strangers to the world’s ways, are not unfamiliar with them. Before taking his orders, Father Martin said, he worked in a meatpacking warehouse; one talent he brought to the Priory was his ability to drive a bus. Father Maurus came to the monastic life after three years in Northern Canada as a lumberjack, he said. The four monks, now in their 70s and 80s, have advanced degrees and either hold or have held administrative and teaching positions at

the school: ■ Father Martin teaches digital photography and the craft of making a ukulele. ■ Brother Edward was an academic dean and currently directs guidance counseling. ■ Father Pius taught Latin and German during his career and spent weekends assisting in Peninsula parishes for 45 years. ■ Father Maurus held management positions at the school, taught biology, led the science department and drove a school bus. The monks gather for prayer daily at 6 a.m. and after breakfast, celebrate public Mass. On weekends, they may “carry the sacrament” to the homebound

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and poor, Father Maurus said. In the evenings, they gather in a common room to “look at the newspaper and at each other,” Father Pius said. They abstain generally from TV and movies, though exceptions are not unheard of for San Francisco 49ers games, said Brother Edward, who also took a moment to sing the praises of actor Meryl Streep. A

On the cover Father Martin Mager had a bright smile for a bright day on the grounds of Portola Valley’s Woodside Priory School, where he is one of four resident Benedictine monks. Almanac photo by Michelle Le

ary Alexander of Atherton was inducted into the State Bar of California’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame in a June 23 ceremony in San Francisco. The honor is given each year to one trial lawyer who has excelled in his or her field and who exemplifies “the highest of values and professional attainment,” according to the state bar’s website. Ms. Alexander’s San Francisco firm, Mary Alexander and Associates, specializes in personal injury litigation statewide, but her leadership in professional associations has garnered her recognition far beyond California. She is the current president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, and is a past president of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the American Association for Justice — formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. When she was president-elect of the latter organization, she played a key role in its successful effort to bring lawyers from all over the country together to provide pro

Mary Alexander is a nationally recognized leader in the world of trial law.

bono legal services to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. These days, she is representing a woman who lost her father, brother and grandmother in the PG&E pipeline blast and fire that devastated a San Bruno neighborhood in 2010. The trial date for the case is set for July 23, she said. “The case is really about the corporate culture of PG&E that led to a lack of (commitment to) safety,” she said in an interview. “What we hope comes out of this case is greater safety for the public.” A


Council nixes library survey By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer



the library in the park. It was noteworthy, then, when Ms. McKeithen defected to vote with Councilman Jerry Carlson and Vice Mayor Elizabeth Lewis against conducting the survey. Mr. Carlson and Ms. Lewis thought the bitterly polarizing issue would best be settled by either a ballot vote or a survey mailed to every single registered voter in Atherton. Ms. McKeithen had spoken in support of the phone survey earlier, saying that people in Atherton weren’t going to take the time to read the dense environmental impact report and make an informed deci-

fter the vote was over, some in the audience wondered whether they were hallucinating. “Odd,” one woman murmured while staring at the dais, where the Atherton Town Council had just voted 3-2 against conducting a phone survey of 300 residents to assess support for building a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park. The audience was used to 3-2 votes from the council on that topic. But before the June 20 meeting, the split always favored Mayor Bill Widmer, Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen, and Councilman Jim Dobbie, who support building

sion. “Look at high-speed rail and how the voters bought into believing it would work,” she said. No matter how many times the council presented factual information about the proposed library, “it just doesn’t register.” Mr. Carlson retorted that Atherton was the only town to vote against high-speed rail when the state proposed the project. “Which says to me that Atherton residents are pretty damn smart.” Not one to let a challenge escape without response, Ms. McKeithen said, “And if you go back to who brought both of those (high-speed rail) lawsuits? It was me. I was mayor at the time. Thank you.”

Remodeled Menlo Park Library debuts By Elena Kadvany Special to the Almanac


small crowd waited, books in arm, for the main Menlo Park Library to re-open on June 19. After four weeks of renovations, the library at 800 Alma St. re-opened with new carpeting, new radio frequency identification (RFID) scanning technology, and a remodeled lobby with a new front desk and skylight. “I’m amazed at how it’s opened up the lobby,” said library director Susan Holmer. “It’s brighter, more welcoming, more intuitive.” There are many benefits to the remodel, according to library staff, who say the four new RFID machines should be more

efficient than the previous selfcheckout machines. Instead of the one-by-one barcode reader, the new machines automatically read the RFID tags installed in the books so they can read more material at a time, explained Ms. Holmer. Patrons can check out up to three books simultaneously. The RFID tags, installed over the past four weeks in the over 80,000 items in the library’s collection, are also more secure than the previous “tattle tape” magnetic system used to prevent theft, according to library staff member Nick Szegda. With the implementation of the RFID technology at the Menlo Park branch, all of the libraries in San Mateo County are officially converted to this

system. Library users now also have the option to pay fines with a credit or debit card at the library, rather than the previous options of paying with cash there or with a card on the library website at home. The rectangular slot in the wall that serves as the book return

Still, something in the arguments presented by speakers during public comment as well as colleagues on the dais must have swayed the councilwoman. The speakers pointed out how easy it is to create bias in a survey, based on how questions are worded, and that calling only a few hundred residents would enrage those who weren’t selected for the survey. And they applauded when Ms. Lewis said that she thought only a ballot would heal the town. Mayor Widmer said that mail surveys had a 1 to 3 percent return rate, rendering them “inconsequential.” He suggested increasing the number of residents to be surveyed by phone to 300; up from the 200 recommended in the proposed $18,500 contract with research

firm Godbe. A motion by Mr. Carlson to conduct a mail survey of all registered voters failed. The mayor then made his motion to have Godbe call 300 residents, and after hearing two ayes and two nays, looked at Ms. McKeithen, who sat in silent contemplation some time before she finally said, “Oppose.” Atherton resident Peter Carpenter began circulating a petition on June 21, the day after the meeting, that calls for a special meeting of the council to decide whether the library issue should be settled by voters. Other items the petition wants included on the meeting’s agenda: whether a new library should be built, and if so, whether it should go in the park, a new town center, or on the current site.

drop has been moved around the corner in anticipation of an automated materials handling system, or an automatic returns machine, that will eventually take its place. It is expected to be installed in 2013. There are also giant red and green circles on the new carpet in the main area of the library. The circles help people find their way around the library. “It’s a real updating that the

building needed,” said Ms. Holmer. The construction for the remodel cost $90,000. The RFID technology was allocated separately at $147,000. The funding came from three sources: the city’s capital improvement fund for the carpet; a library bond measure for the circulation area; and the public library fund and general fund for the RFID equipment and software.



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Derith Coonan Oct. 15, 1923-March 22, 2012 Derith Coonan Middleton nee Derith Goodloe Bruce passed away on March 22nd at the age of 88. Born on October 15, 1923 in San Francisco to Malcolm Carter Bruce and Clarascott Goodloe Bruce, Derry was the deeply loved matriarch of the Coonan and Middleton families. Derry grew up in homes on both Green and Filbert Streets near Divisidero in San Francisco. Even at an early age, Derry welcomed adventure. During summers when she was twelve and thirteen, she and a friend helped round up cattle at a ranch in Short Creek, Arizona, riding horses and sleeping under the stars. Over the years both Derry and her sister Janet related an indelible experience in their lives when, in their early teens, they were both enrolled at a school near Geneva, Switzerland. Very few people spoke English, and all of the courses were taught in German, a language that neither Derry nor Janet spoke. It was a testament to their strong wills, evident throughout Derry’s life, that they overcame these challenges at such a young age. They traveled that year with their mother as Europe was on the brink of war. In April of 1945 at the age of twenty-two, Derry married Terence Coonan, a childhood friend. Both Terry and Derry worked hard at success, later moving to San Mateo, then to Woodside as Terry rose to a senior management position at Wilbur-Ellis Company in San Francisco. Derry raised and helped guide four children to successful lives during this period. Derry’s

sense of adventure continued as she and Terry traveled extensively in Europe up until his death in 1985. Derry was twice blessed when, in 1993, she married another childhood sweetheart, Arthur Middleton. Art had also grown up in the same neighborhood as Derry, and they had played together as children. Together they explored the world with many trips, and their two families melded together with frequent visits to the Woodside home. Derry will be remembered as strong-willed, but loving mother, who loved exploring life. Derry had a lifelong love of gardening and gardens, painting, and flower arranging. Over the years, Derry’s Woodside home became the favorite and welcome destination of three generations. Derry supported her community and was an active volunteer in the Junior League, the Coyote Point Museum, and Filoli. She was also a member of the Town and Country Club in San Francisco, and the Menlo Country Club in Woodside. Derry is survived by her sister Janet Wentworth, children Bruce Coonan, Kevin Kennedy Coonan, Sarah Coonan Hart and Terence Michael Coonan; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Goodbye Mom. PA I D


that at-large elections violate minority rights by leading to underrepresentation on the ill the third time be board; the case is scheduled for the charm? San Mateo trial on Aug. 20. County voters may The two remaining candidates get to vote again on whether to for District 4 — Shelly Masur hold “at large” or “by district” and Warren Slocum — favor elections for the county Board letting voters decide the form of Supervisors, 32 years after the of election. “I have said consissecond time the issue made it to tently that the people should a ballot — and lost again. have a chance to vote on the issue San Mateo is of district vs. at the only counlarge elections. San Mateo is the Personally I supty in California where superviport the idea of only county in sor candidates district elections California where for supervisors — must campaign county-wide, not supervisor candi- my reasons are just in the district that the current they want to rep- dates must campaign system has a high resent. This year cost barrier for county-wide. a seat is open for those that might District 4, which includes Menlo want to run — and district elecPark, East Palo Alto, Redwood tions might encourage more City, and two unincorporated people to run for public office,” communities, as Supervisor Mr. Slocum told the Almanac. Rose Jacobs Gibson terms out The Board of Supervisors will after 12 years. discuss whether to let voters The county currently faces a decide during its meeting on lawsuit over the issue. “Satorre Tuesday, June 26. The meeting et al. vs. San Mateo County starts at 9 a.m. at 400 County Board of Supervisors” claims Center in Redwood City. Almanac Staff Writer


Atherton budget vote postponed

Oct. 30, 1924 – June 15, 2012 to raise their family. In 1963, Donn joined the staff of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Connie and her husband became of part of a close group of SLAC families to participate in 35 years of Stanford Football game tailgate gatherings and other activities. Connie became a teacher’s aide, working in several Redwood City elementary schools teaching reading, after her children left for college. She also was active in her grandchildren’s education attending many years of events at Selby Lane School, Phillips Brooks, Woodside Priory and the American Conservatory Theater. In recent years after her husband’s death in 2000, Connie enjoyed traveling with her friends and family. She moved to Eskaton in Carmichael, CA in 2007, where she remained active in exercise classes, the choir and on many committees until her death. She is survived by her four children and their spouses, Terri Tiffany (Joe), Carol Manley (Gary), Doug Robbins (Dawn) and David Robbins, and five grandchildren, Jamie, Melinda, Jordan, Forrest and Andrew. Arrangements for services are pending. PA I D

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By Sandy Brundage


Connie Robbins Corinne Lee “Connie” Stephenson Robbins Oct. 30, 1924 – June 15, 2012 Sacramento, California Connie Robbins, 87, a long-time resident of Redwood City and community volunteer, passed away in Sacramento on June 15, 2012, after a short illness. Connie moved to Sacramento in 2007, after 56 years in residence in Redwood City where she and her husband, Donn Robbins, raised four children. In addition to being active as a parent volunteer in the Redwood City schools, Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts, Mrs. Robbins was a member of the First Congregational Church and the Woodside Village Church. Born in 1924 in Norton, Kansas, to Dr. Walter and Grace Stephenson, Connie was an outstanding student and entered the University of Colorado at age 16. As a college student she was as member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and remained active with her membership until her death. She received her degree in Nursing and moved to California to marry Donn Byron Robbins in Glendale in 1942. Connie moved to San Luis Obispo with her husband to the campus of Cal Poly and worked as a nurse there while Donn completed his degree in Engineering. After graduation, she accepted a position with Mary’s Help Hospital in San Francisco while Donn joined the Bechtel Corporation. The couple moved to Redwood City in 1951

County may let voters choose ‘at large’ or ‘by district’ elections


As the hour grew late while the agenda remained long on Wednesday, June 20, the Atherton Town Council decided to call it a night and save discussion of the budget for another time. The council will hold a special meeting on Friday, June 29, at 9:30 a.m. to cover the budget and other remaining items on its agenda. Staff will release an

agenda on Saturday afternoon, according to Interim City Manager Theresa DellaSanta. The June 20 meeting was punctuated by long spans of public comment regarding the fate of Atherton’s tennis courts, the Athertonians blog, and debate over whether to conduct a phone survey regarding building a new library in HolbrookPalmer Park.

Huang joins MLSListings board Penelope Huang, a 23-year veteran real estate broker and principal of RE/MAX Distinctive Properties in Menlo Park, has joined the board of directors of MLSListings, a multiplelisting service for Northern California ( Ms. Huang, a native of South Africa, opened Taylor & Huang Properties in 1992. In 2009 she incorporated and became part of the RE/MAX international network. In 2010, she opened RE/

MAX Distinctive Properties in downtown Menlo Park. MLSListings is a Realtorowned, brokergoverned orga- Penelope nization. As a Huang board member, Ms. Huang joins 16 Realtors in shaping policies, products, and services for the organization’s membership.


Dead bird tests positive for West Nile virus By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer


ounty health officials have concluded that a dead bird found in Woodside on June 11 tested positive for West Nile virus, the first such indication for 2012 in San Mateo County. Beware the mosquito’s bite, but keep in mind the actual danger. San Mateo County has yet to trap its first mosquito infected with West Nile virus, Angie Nakano, acting lab director for the San Mateo County Mosquito & Vector Control, told the Almanac. Infected bird carcasses found within county boundaries are likely to have picked up the disease in another county, and that county may no longer harbor the disease as it once did. “It varies tremendously,� Ms. Nakano said. A statement released by the vector control agency called infected dead birds “an early indication that the virus is circulating in the environment.� The agency encourages residents to report fresh carcasses of birds or tree squirrels to the West Nile virus hotline at or by calling (877) 968-2473. If the carcass is more than 24 hours old, infectious agents will likely have degraded to the point at which they may not be detectable, but cooler temperatures can lengthen that testing window, Ms. Nakano said. Between 2004 and 2011, San Mateo County officials detected the virus in 38 dead birds and 12 squirrels, the statement said. With this June 11 discovery, San Mateo County now joins 15 other California counties in having reported the presence of

West Nile in 2012. Humans are susceptible. About 20 percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito come down with the symptoms of West Nile fever, which include days and sometimes weeks of fever, headache, body aches, rashes and swollen lymph glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In one of 150 cases, the disease can take a serious turn toward West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis, with symptoms that include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. People 50 or older are at the highest risk of severe illness, the CDC says. “West Nile virus activity may increase as we head into the summer months, and it is important for residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites,� Ms. Nakano said. Protection on your property begins with three steps, all of which begin with the letter D. ■Drain standing water wherever you find it, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. ■ Dawn and dusk are when mosquitoes bite. Use repellant and wear protective clothing such as long pants and longsleeved shirts. Keep mosquitoes out of the house with tightfitting screens. ■ DEET, or N,N-Diethylmeta-toluamide, is a common insect repellant recommended for clothing and skin to protect against mosquito bites. Other recommended repellants include picaradin, lemon-eucalyptus oil and IR3535.



Jean Shrader McFate Age 91 Jean Shrader McFate passed on June 8, 2012 in Sun City West, AZ. Daughter of Eva and Frank Shrader. Wife of Dr. Norman McFate for 65 years, a local Pedodontist. Born in Cortez, CO., 4th of 8 children and raised on homesteaded land without water, electricity and sometimes a teacher for their 1 room schoolhouse during the depression. She was 1st to graduate from high school by living in a boarding house in town and then business school in Denver. Worked as a high level secretary while Norman completed many years of school after WWII. They moved to Menlo Park to open his Pedodontic Dental Practice in 1954 and raise their 2 daughters. They lived there for 45 years. She was a member of many groups but her longest association was with Sharon Heights Country Club where they were charter members and had the honor of being husband and wife golf champions in 1977. She was a

dedicated mother and grandmother watching over her 3 grandchildren as much as possible. She was soft spoken, fun loving and beautiful inside and out and will be dearly missed as we remember her before alzheimer’s took her from us. She is survived by her husband Norman McFate(Sun City West, AZ), daughter Patty McFate-Johnson (Dan), grandchildren Brent, Reid, Camille (Los Gatos), also siblings Dick (Carol),Tom (Betty) Shrader, Barbara Hart, sister-in-law Glenda Shrader. Predeceased by daughter Joanne (1975). Donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation or charity of your choice. PA I D



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 $7,500 in break-in through smashed rear window and theft of jewelry, including rings, watches and earrings, Loma Prieta Lane, June 20. ■ Loss estimated at $1,600 in theft of bicycle from unlocked garage, Oakhurst Place, June 15. Theft reports: ■ Losses estimated at $2,500 in theft of two unlocked mountain bikes from open garage, Oak Ave., June 18. ■ Loss estimated at $500 in theft of purse, cell phone, makeup and costume jewelry from unlocked locker, Laurel St., June 15.

■Losses of about $160 in theft of three potted dahlia plants from garden of residence, Laurel Ave., June 17. Fraud report: Loss estimated at $2,000 in possible unauthorized debit of child support payment from victim’s account, Windermere Ave., June 18. Spousal abuse report: Arrest made, Hamilton Ave., June 16. WOODSIDE Theft report: Losses estimated at $4,000 in theft of miscellaneous tools from locked vehicle found with doors ajar but no signs of forced entry, Parkn-Ride, June 18. ATHERTON Theft report: Unknown losses in theft of two bikes from bike rack, MenloAtehrton High School at 555 Middlefield Road, June 18.

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June 27, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN15


In this year's Readers’ Choice we cheer the Olympian businesses that champion Menlo Park -- the Peninsula's gold-medal restaurants, retailers and services.





RESTAURANTS Best Casual Dining Best Chinese Restaurant Best Dining with Kids Best French Restaurant Best Indian Restaurant Best Intimate Dining Best Italian Restaurant Best Japanese Restaurant Best Mexican Restaurant Best New Restaurant

FOOD AND DRINK Best Bagels Best Bakery Best Breakfast Best Dessert Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Best Independent Coffee and Tea House Best Hamburgers Best New Food/Drink Establishment Best Pizza Best Place to Buy Meat Best Place to Buy Wine Best Sandwiches Best Take Out Best Wine List

SERVICES Best Auto Repair Best Barber Best Dry Cleaner Best Day Spa Best Gym Best Fitness Classes Best Florist Best Green Business Best Hair Salon Best Health & Nutrition Services Best Hotel Best Landscape Service Best Manicure/Pedicure Best New Service Business Best Painter Best Pharmacy Best Plumber Best Travel Agency Best Yoga

RETAIL SHOPPING Best Bicycle Shop Best Bookstore Best Boutique Best Children’s Boutique Best Floor Coverings Best Frame Store Best Gift and Novelty Store Best Hardware Store Best Home Decor & Furnishings Best Jewelry Store Best Lingerie Best New Retail Business Best Nursery Best Pet Store Best Produce Best Shoe Store Best Toy Shop


THANKS For Your Vote. We think you’re the best too! 1929 Menalto Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025 (Menalto and Gilbert in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park)

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16NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJune 27, 2012

Thank You‌

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FUN STUFF Best Art Gallery Best Happy Hour Best Place for a Date Best Place to Meet People Best Place for a Children’s Birthday Party Best Live Music

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Windrider Film Forum returns to M-A The Windrider Bay Area Film Forum returns to Menlo Park for a third year on July 12, 13 and 14 at Menlo-Atherton High School’s Center for Performing Arts, located at 555 Middlefield Road. The forum will feature three feature-length films: ■“Rising From Ashes,� a documentary about the first Rwandan National Cycling Team and its six-year quest to

compete in the 2012 summer Olympic Games in London. The film screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 12. ■“The Hammer,� the story of the first deaf wrestler to win a national collegiate championship. It screens at 7 p.m. Friday, July 13. ■ “Red Dog,� the true story of a dog’s impact on a community in the Australian outback. It screens at 7 p.m. Saturday,

July 14. The directors of the films will be present for questionand-answer sessions after their respective film is screened. Tickets are on sale now. A forum pass is available for all three films for $35. Individual general admission tickets are available for $15 and $5 for students. Visit for more information.

M-A class of 1982 sets reunion date The 30-year reunion of the Menlo-Atherton High School Class of 1982 will be held Sept. 28-30. The celebration begins with an outdoor party at the home of Eric and Gretchen Van Poppelen from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28. Cost is $15, with drinks and light snacks provided. The reunion dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in the Sequoia Room at the

Menlo Park Recreation Center. Cost of $70 includes dinner, wine/beer, dancing, and surprises. A family luncheon will be hosted by Elizabeth Heslop Sheehy on Sunday, Sept. 30. Cost is $10 for general admission and $5 for spouse and kids over 12. Kids under 12 and class parents are free. Visit for more information.


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June 27, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN17

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

Design & Production Design Director Shannon Corey Designers Linda Atilano, Lili Cao, Diane Haas, Paul Llewellyn, Scott Peterson

Advertising Vice President Sales and Marketing Tom Zahiralis Display Advertising Sales Adam Carter Real Estate Manager Neal Fine Real Estate and Advertising Coordinator Diane Martin Classified Legal Advertising Alicia Santillan 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 Email news and photos with captions to: Email 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

Ideas, thoughts and opinions about

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

City needs champion to fill theater seats


he city of Menlo Park is learning that it is not easy to make for local nonprofits. It also donates $26,000 annually to help money in the entertainment business, even if you own support the theater. A similar approach could work in Menlo Park if the City rights to 55 days of space in a snazzy 492-seat theater. Ever since the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center Council approves hiring a contractor to write a business plan opened in 2009, the city has hoped to develop its minority and bring in events that could fit into the theater’s complex interest in the school facility into at least a break-even program. schedule. It is no small feat to work around all the black-out But so far, its investment of $2.6 million, about 15 percent of dates for events in the school calendar, which is complicated the total cost of nearly $30 million, has failed to pay off. Dur- even more by an agreement with Atherton to limit traffic ing the 2011-12 season, which ends this week, only 36 of the 55 impact in neighborhoods near M-A. Years ago Menlo Park supported a lively Menlo available days were booked in the theater, the Players troupe that performed at the 300-seat best showing so far, after seeing only 11 days Burgess Theatre, a space now occupied by one used in each of the two prior years. EDI TORI AL of the city’s swimming pools. The theater dated Councilman Rich Cline, who was serving on The opinion of The Almanac back to World War II, when buildings at Dibble the Parks and Recreation Commission when the Army Hospital were converted to civilian use. deal was struck, said more analysis could have Burgess Theatre was one; it survived until a major structural been done. “I don’t recall anyone ever saying, ‘this is how much it costs component cracked and the structure was torn down in 2002. to run a theater like this,’” he told the Almanac. “It’s one area The Players survived for a few more years, but no longer perform. that wasn’t really considered as well as it should have been.” The city’s investment in the M-A theater was, in part, to make More due diligence was needed at the time, without question, but now that the city is in the theater business, its options are up for losing Burgess Theatre, although dreams of attracting limited. To turn the problem around will require hiring a pro- a community troupe to perform in the large venue have not fessional manager, rather than depending on city staff members come true. Now it will be up to the City Council and other city officials to reach out to local businesses that might want to help who have no experience in the entertainment business. As reported in last week’s Almanac, the cities of San Ramon sponsor a concert series or other performance that could draw and Campbell successfully operate large theater venues, a regional audience. The city needs a champion who knows the theater business charging rental rates comparable to the M-A PAC. San Ramon shares a 600-seat theater with a local school district, much like and can find patrons to fill its seats 55 days a year. It will be a the city’s deal with the Sequoia Union High School District. tremendous challenge, but one that could help the city’s bottom Campbell outsources management of an 800-seat theater, but line and provide local residents with quality entertainment for has a vibrant group of supporters who help defray rental costs years to come. N TOWN SQUAR E Post your news and views on TownSquare at:

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 December 21, 1969. Subscriptions are $60 for one year and $100 for two years.

■ WHAT’S YOUR VIEW? All views must include a home address and contact phone number. Published letters will also appear on the web site,, and occasionally on the Town Square forum.

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

CALL the Viewpoint desk at 223-6507.

Atherton council balks at survey Posted by Right to Vote & Freedom of Speech, a resident of the West Atherton neighborhood Recently the Almanac wrote an editorial regarding Atherton Mayor Bill Widmer and City Council members Kathy McKeithen and Jim Dobbie’s desire to “shut down” an Atherton email group that was allowing residents to comment on the library in the park and informing them of upcoming votes. Last week Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie voted not to allow the residents a vote on the issue. In Atherton, home to executives of Google and Facebook, companies who are bringing freedom to the world, the council blocks freedom of speech and freedom to vote. The agenda item was carefully worded by Widmer to hire a company to do a phone survey with the questions approved by a majority vote of the council. Lewis said that the only solution was a “town wide vote.” Widmer would not let her

18NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJune 27, 2012

Portola Valley Archives

Our Regional Heritage Trainer Kimball Hawlis stands with Ormonde, the famous English racehorse who spent the latter part of his life at the Menlo Stock Farm in Portola Valley, which was later named Ormondale Ranch in his honor. The horse is also the namesake of today’s Ormondale School, which stands on the site of the stock farm.

speak on the issue, claiming the Brown Act only allowed items on the agenda. Carlson found a solution. He called for a town wide “survey,” using the word on the

agenda, by mail to all registered voters. Lewis supported that way to obtain the opinion of all of Atherton. Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie voted “no” to a writ-

ten townwide survey. The same three that want to “shut down” an email group will not let the residents vote.

PUBLIC NOTICE WOODSIDE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT Notice is hereby given that the preliminary budget of Woodside Fire Protection District, for the FY 2012-2013 has been adopted by the Directors of said District, and is available at the Fire Department, 3111 Woodside Road in Woodside for inspection during the week commencing Monday, June 11, 2012. That on Monday, September 10, 2012 at 7 o’clock p.m. of said day at the Woodside Fire Station in Woodside, the Board of Directors will meet for the purpose of fixing the final budget, and any person may appear and be heard regarding the increase, decrease, or omission of any item of the budget, or for the inclusion of any addition items. Woodside Fire Protection District by Fire Chief Daniel J. Ghiorso


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June 27, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN19




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20NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNJune 27, 2012

Coldwell Banker Top 1% Internationally Top 50 Nationally, Wall Street Journal, 2011

The Almanac 06.27.2012 - Section 1  

Section 1 of the June 27, 201`2 edition of the Almanac

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