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2NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012


Stranger than fiction

Author Salman Rushdie speaks at Kepler’s about life in hiding By Renee Batti

Summary Reports Summary Real Estate Reports forfor Week ofofOctober Week May 7.1. Available at

Almanac News Editor


istening to Salman Rushdie tell the story of a desperate man who goes into hiding to save his life, is forced to move from house to house — sometimes in the dead of night — and must lock himself into the bathroom whenever the plumber or electrician comes around to fix some common household problem, it’s easy to forget that the acclaimed novelist with a bent toward the fanciful isn’t spinning a tale. But the spellbinding story Mr. Rushdie shared with some 300 people gathered last week at Kepler’s bookstore, and which he details in a new memoir, is no flight of fancy. It’s the true story of how his own life was forever changed when, in 1989, the spiritual leader of Iran issued a “fatwa” informing his followers that Mr. Rushdie must be hunted down and killed — a death sentence that followed the release of the author’s novel, “The Satanic Verses,” which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned as “blasphemous against Islam.” Mr. Rushdie was introduced to the standing-room-only Kepler’s audience by novelist and memoirist Tobias Wolff, who was among the cadre of fellow writers and friends who supported Mr. Rushdie during his decade of hiding. Describing his friend as a “bon vivant and a great raconteur,” Mr. Wolff spoke of “the amazing weight (that) had been put on Salman and his family” by the ayatollah’s fatwa, and noted that despite the circumstances, Mr. Rushdie managed to write a number of books “of the highest quality.” Now a New York City resident, Mr. Rushdie appeared at Kepler’s as part of a promotional tour of his memoir, “Joseph Anton” — a reference to his alias during his years of hiding. The conversation between the two writers ranged from political and philosophical musings on

STEVE GRAY offers 30+ years of local knowledge. Born in Menlo Park. Raised in Atherton. A Woodside resident.

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Gulliver graduated with honors from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Masters in Education.

Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac

Characterizing the literary world as “gossip central” — people who “can’t keep their mouths shut to save their lives” — author Salman Rushdie added: “Yet, to save my life, everybody kept their mouths shut for more than a decade.”

freedom of expression and the increasing limits placed on it by religious extremists, to the sharing of anecdotes that offered glimpses of the strange, often tense, but sometimes funny life Mr. Rushdie was forced to lead as a hunted man. The British Indian novelist spent nearly 10 years in hiding before intense pressure by England, strongly supported by President Bill Clinton, according to Mr. Rushdie, led to a half-hearted lifting of the fatwa. During that time, the British government provided roundthe-clock security. But even after the fatwa was withdrawn, death threats persisted and hardliners in Iran continued encouraging his execution. After the fatwa was issued, many writers and human rights leaders spoke out against the extremists calling for the novelist’s death. But Mr. Rushdie

noted with residual anger that some, such as the British spy novelist John le Carre and children’s book author Roald Dahl, publicly criticized him and accused him of arrogance and greed because he would not withdraw the novel. But he also spoke gratefully about other writers — including Mr. Wolff, Margaret Drabble, Michael Holroyd and Ian McEwan — who stood by him, offering him protection, sometimes shelter, always keeping the secret of his whereabouts. Characterizing the literary world as “gossip central” — people who “can’t keep their mouths shut to save their lives” — he added: “Yet, to save my life, everybody kept their mouths shut for more than a decade. ... It was an incredible act of solidarity.” Mr. Rushdie spoke of the See RUSHDIE, page 7

Gulliver is passionate about diversity on campus. He was born in Buenos Aires and is fluent in both Spanish and English. In addition to teaching Spanish and History, he leads students from the Priory back to his homeland of Argentina for some great adventures in cultural diversity. Gulliver also has a strong interest in serving underprivileged students in our communities and is the Priory Site Director for The Summer Bridge Program, where kids from Redwood City and East Palo Alto are offered courses in Math and English in a summer camp environment. As a member of the Priory’s on-campus faculty, when Gulliver isn’t teaching, he loves to spend time with his family. ONE OF THE MANY REASONS TO SEND YOUR CHILD TO: Woodside Prior y School Admissions Office 302 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 94028 650/851-8223 ■

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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.


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Saturday, November 10th, 2012 at 10 a.m. Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 8th, 2012 at 10 a.m. For information and to R.S.V.P. contact Admissions at 650.851.8223 October 3, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN3

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AT 50

AT O M S M A S H I N G H A S G I V E N O V E R T O X - R AY I N V E S T I G AT I O N , O F E V E R Y T H I N G By Dave Boyce Photos by Michelle Le


he SLAC National Linear Accelerator Laboratory on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park is 50 years old this year. The facility began as a particle smasher — accelerating protons to nearly the speed of light inside a two-mile-long underground tunnel and allowing the particles to collide in such a way as to produce meaningful information about the structure of matter. Over the decades, the mission has changed. Today, the linear accelerator, or linac, continues to generate high-energy protons moving at very high speeds, but they don’t collide much. Scientists have expanded and modified the facilities so that they now generate high inten-

sity X-rays. X-rays are a form of light, invisible to the human eye, that is broadly useful for probing deeply into objects. At SLAC, X-rays have probed objects biological and geological, pharmaceutical and atmospheric. A facility that was once a particle smasher is now used to investigate on a scale from the vanishingly small to the impossibly large. It’s been a matter of survival. Wolfgang “Pief” Panofsky, SLAC’s first director in the early 1960s, routinely heard the question, “How long will SLAC live,” in an account given to the Almanac by SLAC spokesman Andrew Freeberg. Mr. Panofsky’s reply: “About 10 to 15 years, unless somebody has a good idea. As it turns out, somebody always has had a good idea which was exploited and which

has led to a new lease on life for the laboratory.” “That’s a tough thing to keep doing, but those ‘good ideas’ really are what’s kept SLAC funded and relevant through 50 years,” Mr. Freeberg said. Some of those good ideas: ■ Sending a beam of energy into a container of superheated liquid (known as a bubble chamber) to elicit behavior from various subatomic particles and learn about their properties based on enigmatic line drawings that the bubble chamber produces. Go to Bubble-777 for an example. ■ Sending a beam of energy into a spectrometer, a device for analyzing the properties of light, to capture information on how particles interact with each other. SLAC scientists in the late 1960s and early 1970s

used spectrometers to demonstrate the existence of quarks, for example, and received the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics for their efforts. ■ Sending two beams of energy in opposite directions around a circular accelerator to see what happens when the beams collide. SLAC researchers used these devices to discover the psi and tau particles, which led to Nobel prizes in physics in 1976 and 1995. There are also projects that have little to do with accelerating small objects. Aaron Roodman is a particle astrophysicist helping to develop a digital camera for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). The camera will have 189 16-Megapixel sensors, each costing about $100,000. “Basically, the best you can get,” Mr. Roodman said. When the $160 million LSST is up and running at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the mountains of Chile, it will scan the sky for gamma rays every night for 10 years, each night capturing 2,000 images encompassing billions of different galaxies. Three or four nights’ operation will capture the entire visible sky, then the routine will start over. Above: SLAC is helping build a digital camera for a telescope that will capture images of billions of galaxies over 10 years. Left: Physicist Mark Hogan at a modified section of the original accelerator, still used to study the structure of matter. On the cover: Scientist John Bozek explains how the LCLS system generates powerful X-rays for studying secrets of nature, such as photosynthesis.

Gamma rays could help in understanding dark energy, which scientists say makes up about 70 percent of the universe. The captured images, trillions of them, will be stored in an electronic catalog to allow scientists to compare the same sections of sky as time passes. The catalog will be able to “detect changes within minutes,” Mr. Roodman said. A particle astrophysicist? What can be gained by focusing on the extremely small and the extremely large at the same time? “There’s no way to understand the universe without knowing how the particles behave,” Mr. Roodman said. “We understand only 4 percent of what’s out there.” SLAC researchers could make more money in Silicon Valley, Mr. Roodman said. But at SLAC, “they’re part of a team that can work together to discover things about the universe, really hard problems.” Big science

Big tough vehicles used in construction, farming and utility work have powerful engines to carry them down the road and across the field. When the vehicles are standing still, the engines continue to be a source of power if equipped with the right kind of tap. By adding an extra set of gears or clutches to the transmission — the power take-off, or PTO — operators can “take off” engine power and use it for other tasks, like pumping water onto a fire, or raising the bed of a dump truck, or lifting an electrician up to a utility line. It turns out that scientists at SLAC can use power from the accelerator, but it’s more comContinued on page 8

October 3, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN5



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Red-light camera reforms become law By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer













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oodbye, snitch tickets. The latest version of State Sen. Joe Simitian’s red-light camera reform bill was signed into law by the governor on Sept. 28. The bill, a revised version of one vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, establishes statewide standards for the installation and operation of red-light cameras, and makes it easier to challenge unjustified tickets. The new law requires that camera locations be chosen solely on the basis of safety rather than revenue considerations; regulates operation and signage; and prohibits “snitch tickets,� which some police departments such as Menlo Park’s have used to try to coerce recipients into identifying drivers in photos when the camera’s shot is unclear. “I am extremely pleased that the Governor has signed this bill, which will help restore public confidence in the use and fairness of red-light cameras,� Sen. Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said in a press release. “Red-light cameras can be an important public safety tool, but they shouldn’t be abused. This bill will establish important ground rules, (and) ensure that if drivers get a ticket that they shouldn’t have, they can contest the ticket easily. It will put driver safety, rather than the revenue, first.�

Draft housing plan update released


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6NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012

In preparation for submitting an updated housing plan to the state on Oct. 31, Menlo Park has released a draft of its proposal. The draft supports legalizing second units, otherwise known as “granny units,� and identifying appropriate locations for infill development on existing housing sites. Still, that’s not enough to provide sites for the estimated 650 units required by state law. Reaction from some portions of the community to proposed sites has been decidedly negative. Residents living near Sharon Park successfully campaigned against having two acres of the park rezoned for housing. Those living in Linfield Oaks are trying


to follow in those footsteps, but without the politically valuable platform of open space defense to buttress their arguments, the movement hasn’t gained as much traction. Fifteen sites remain on the list, distributed around the perimeter of the city’s boundaries and off Willow Road. The update is part of a lawsuit settlement with three housing advocacy groups that sued the city in May, alleging that Menlo Park has failed to comply with state housing laws. The city must add housing zones as well as provide incentives for developers to build below-market-rate units as part of the agreement. Go to to review the draft plan and other housing documents. The Planning Commission will review the document during its Oct. 15 meeting; the council is expected to follow suit on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.

Saturday: Council candidate forum The Green Ribbon Committee wants to find out how green the candidates for Menlo Park’s City Council are. On Saturday, Oct. 6, the committee will host an interactive forum to explore the five candidates’ ideas for protecting the environment. The forum is co-sponsored by the Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizens’ Committee, Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter Cool Cities, and Peninsula Transportation Alternatives. It starts at 1 p.m. at the Menlo Hub, 1029 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Oct. 11: Council candidate forum A League of Women Voters forum for the five candidates running for two seats on the Menlo Park City Councill will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11. The forum will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. in the Civic Center. Contact Ellen Hope at ellenjhope@aol. com or 839-8647 for more information or help with transportation. A

Good for Business. Good for You. Good for the Community.


Gehry project ‘a rare treat’ Planning Commission kicks off permit process for Facebook’s west campus By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer



come to town?” Ms. Yu then reminded everyone that the city needs to consider what benefits may be derived through the project’s development agreement, cautioning that “we don’t want to get so excited because it’s so shiny ... that we get distracted and forget benefits for our city.” Two areas she had in mind: Direct revenue, and planning for a population bump in already overcrowded schools as Facebook employees have kids. Unfortunately Ms. Yu will not be in town for the negotiation process — Sept. 24 was her final meeting as a planning commissioner; her family is moving out of town, according to city staff. The notion of payments to make up for a lack of sales tax revenue arises at an interesting time. Commissioner Vince Bressler asked during the Monday night meeting whether Facebook would be selling products in the future, although at the time there wasn’t an answer. However, three days later the social networking giant introduced “Facebook Gifts,” a service allowing users to give each other real goodies such as chocolate or stuffed animals. Will that trigger sales tax revenue? A Facebook representative said that will depend on

ove was in the air at the first public review of Facebook’s proposed new west campus design — a sprawling office in a forest envisioned by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. The 433,555-square-foot building would perch on top of approximately 1,540 parking spaces, and blend into the landscape by incorporating groundlevel gardens that wind their way up to a rooftop terrace. The goal is for the 22-acre Constitution Drive site to resemble a forest as people drive by on the Bayfront Expressway, according to Facebook. The west campus would accommodate 2,800 employees, mainly engineers. During the Sept. 24 Planning Commission meeting, community members and commissioners alike hailed the design. “It’s a rare treat to have a project like this,” said Commissioner Henry Riggs. Fellow architect Peipei Yu, a member of the Planning Commission, shared the excitement, but wanted more. “When I first looked at it, I thought ‘it’s not Frank Gehry enough!’” She urged Facebook to play with the idea of technology popping out of nature. “If you’re going to have Frank Gehry come to town, why not really have Frank Gehry

Stranger than fiction RUSHDIE continued from page 3

growing threat to the world and human freedom from religious extremism and intolerance. He described events over the last few decades, including the campaign to execute him, as “modernity turning on itself.” In the late 1980s, there were enough modern tools — telephones, faxes, air travel — for extremists to cross national lines in pursuit of a perceived enemy. Even before the “information age,” the threat followed him, he said. “Had there been what we have now, this

thing would have been more severe, much more difficult to come out of it.” Mr. Rushie noted that 13 years after the fatwa was issued, the world saw another example of the use of advanced tools used against modernity: Religious extremists “took the modern — a jet plane — and turned it against another icon of the modern — the skyscraper — (in the service of) a medieval idea.” The author is troubled by the trend toward self-censorship and governments’ timidity in the face of intimidation by religious extremists and “bully

Election forum on supervisors’ race Shelly Masur and Warren Slocum, the two candidates vying in the Nov. 6 election to represent District 4 on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, will take questions in a one-hour League of Women

Voters’ forum starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the San Mateo Library, 55 W. 3rd Ave. District 4 includes Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Redwood City and the unincorporated communities of North Fair Oaks

where the gift ships from, since the company has partnered with vendors who stock the items. In some cases the tax will be factored into the price. The California Legislature has pushed hard for taxes on online purchases, and Amazon recently began collecting sales taxes from California residents. The development agreement for the east campus included a one-time payment of $1.1 million as well as incrementally increased payments over 10 years starting at $800,000 annually, commitments to funding community programs, and other niceties such as local bike trail improvements. Facebook will likely try to negotiate a smallerscale agreement for the west campus — and appears to have some support for that within the community and commission. JobTrain Executive Director Sharon Williams praised the social networking company’s efforts to follow through. Very often when a client announces they’ve gotten a job, it’s at Facebook, Ms. Williams said, and “they’re taking great pride in the opportunity.” She also pointed out that a landmark Gehry building itself will be a community benefit, an observation that several commissioners agreed with. The city will formally commence negotiations after the Oct. 30 council meeting, according to the staff report. A

R EAL E STATE Q&A by Gloria Darke

How to take full advantage of today’s record low mortgage rates Q. I’m both surprised and pleased by the further drop in mortgage rates. How can I make certain I get the lowest rates possible, even if the FED offers further cuts before my loan funds? – T. O. A. Dear T.O, Better be prepared. As you probably know, because of the financial disruptions that have taken place in the last few years and the tightening of credit, you need to be organized. To make certain you don’t end up at the bottom of this very long application line, I would advise submitting complete paperwork and don’t lie on your application. Be sure to bring your pay stubs (preferably 1 month), your last two years W-2’s and two months bank statements (all pages, not just the first page) to verify your income

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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boys.” In his memoir, he writes: “As to the battle over ‘The Satanic Verses,’ it was still hard to say if it was ending in victory or defeat. The book had not been suppressed, and nor had its author, but the dead remained dead, and a climate of fear had grown up that made it harder for books like (Mr. Rushdie’s) to be published, or even, perhaps, to be written.” Whether or not Mr. Rushdie is still in danger from extremists bent on carrying out the 1989 fatwa is not a settled question. But precautions are still taken. The hundreds of people who walked through the doors of Kepler’s before last week’s event had their bags searched by two security guards at the entrance. A

and Oak Knoll, and has been represented by Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson for 14 years. The candidates must reside in the district, but run county-wide. Write to Ellen Hope at or call 839-8647 for more information, including transportation to the forum.

and assets. If you are self-employed you need to have two years tax returns to submit and a current profit and loss statement. This is only the basic documents needed. Additional information and disclosures may be needed so be prepared to send more documentation if requested. The longer you delay getting the bank your information, the longer the process will take. Finally, make certain your lender will both lock-in your rate and allow it to adjust down should rates drop even lower. Now you have covered both possibilities. TIP: Put yourself in the lender’s shoes. Lenders are swamped and working overtime. Anything you do that increases the lender’s burden will hinder a speedy approval. The application process can’t start until everything is complete.

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N E W S Continued from page 5

its own capabilities. The X-ray beam is millions of times brighter than a medical X-ray, like a laser compared to a gently glowing light bulb, Mr. Freeberg said. But to what end? Imagination comes

and 120 million years old. The discovery that could lead to plicated than a couple of extra more accurate depictions of gears. The electron beams, when prehistoric birds in dioramas, they’re deflected properly, genermovies and textbooks, scientists ate X-rays. Parts of the accelerator said in a report. have had strong The Almanac magnets added published a in arrangements related story in “There’s no way to understand the universe that cause the 2009 in which without knowing how the particles behave. We a team of visitenergy beam to wiggle. “The paleontolounderstand only 4 percent of what’s out there.” ing faster the elecgists brought tron is going and with them a —Aaron Roodman, particle astrophysicist the harder you 14 5 -m i l l i o n suddenly turn it, year-old fossil the higher the energy of the light or into play at this point. of archaeopteryx, a proto-bird the shorter the X-ray wavelength,” Some 1,500 scientists reserve preserved in limestone and made SLAC spokesman Andrew Free- time at the SSRL every year. portable as a thin rectangular berg told the Almanac. Among their achievements: slab about two feet on a side. The Stanford Synchrotron designer pharmaceuticals, bet- Thinking there might be softRadiation Lightsource (SSRL), ter fuel cells and better under- tissue residues in the limestone, a circular tunnel that opened standing of the relationship of scientists superimposed a pixel in 1974, generates electrons that genetic mutations to diabetes. map on to the fossil and scanned become X-rays as they’re sent Fossils are not known for the it pixel-by-pixel with a precision around and around. Scientists preservation of soft tissue, but X-ray stylus at the SSRL. at each of 33 stations along the the SSRL in 2011 revealed chemThe scan returned indications circumference can tap into the ical traces of colored feathers in of phosphorous and sulfur in X-rays as needed. Each station has fossilized birds of 100 million the feathers, similar to modern

8NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012

Scientist John Bozek at the LCLS, a device that generates powerful X-rays. The aluminum foil is necessary to restore a high-quality vacuum in a vacuum chamber.

birds, according to an SSRL report. “Because the SSRL beam is so bright, we were able to see the teeniest chemical traces that nobody thought were there,” physicist Uwe Bergmann said in the report. It’s one thing to observe nature, another to duplicate its ways. One long-term goal at SSRL is to find ways to copy the efficiencies of nature, such as mimicking the way soil bacteria convert nitrogen to plant food. Solving that problem could go a long way toward reducing the huge amounts of energy humans expend to produce nitrogen fertilizer. This and other projects at SSRL are examples of applied research: research that explores the unknown with the intent of developing new and practical applications. Basic research, by contrast, explores the unknown in order to answer fundamental questions. Scientists at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), founded in 2009, are engaged in basic research, also using X-rays but used with more precision than at the SSRL, Mr. Freeberg said. Another contrast: while the SSRL can run many experiments simultaneously, the LCLS can run only one, though a second track is in the works. The LCLS taps energy from the linac and uses its own magnets — called undulators — to deflect the electrons, creating X-rays that are more than a billion times brighter than SSRL X-rays and shorter in wavelength, meaning that the LCLS can illuminate faster-moving objects than the SSRL. Climate change is an area of LCLS study. What if scientists could find a way to turn atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen as is done by daisies, trees and blades of grass every day? The fundamentals of photosynthesis are under investigation at LCLS. “Because (they’re) able to work at a better resolution than anything available before, the (LCLS) researchers

are trying to explain how plants convert sunlight and water into energy,” Mr. Freeberg told the Almanac. Big power

The linear accelerator at SLAC draws about 8 billion volts of electricity to accelerate electrons over that two-mile distance. In measurement terms of 9-volt batteries, that would be 888 million batteries in a line that would stretch from Menlo Park to London, SLAC Instrument Scientist Bill Schlotter said in an email. Monthly electric bills of around $1 million are not uncommon. When all the facilities are operating, not a common occurrence, SLAC uses about 30 megawatts of electricity, Mr. Freeberg said. SLAC has a record of about 70 megawatts from the time when scientists were using the circular accelerators and the entire length of the linear accelerator. “Running all facilities at full power, it’s fair to say SLAC can pull about as much power as a small city or use as much as west Menlo Park,” he said. What does a linear accelerator sound like when it’s running? “It’s really noisy,” Mr. Freeberg said, “like an electrical hum coming from a transformer loud enough (so that) you basically have to shout to hear. We offer ear plugs for people visiting and probably close to half of visitors will take them.” SLAC’s budget from the U.S. Department of Energy for 2012 fiscal year was $324 million, he said. Other minor sources of income include outside researchers who use the facility and patents. DOE budgets have a political element, but SLAC has “fairly uniform bipartisan support, SLAC Director Persis Drell said in an email. But in an era of tight budgets, “we have to keep making the case for the importance of basic research to both the White House and Congress, regardless of who is in charge,” she said. A


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By Renee Batti

erty “to insist that improved safety measures are taken on therton Mayor Bill Wid- Atherton’s El Camino corridor.” mer has sent a strongly With three lanes moving traffic worded message to Cal- in each direction, that stretch of trans demanding that improved the state highway “has become safety measures be put into place the scene of multiple car-pedeson El Camino Real — the scene trian and car-bicycle accidents, of yet another accident that left often leading to severe injuries two pedestrians seriously injured and multiple deaths,” he wrote. after being struck by a vehicle “On other streets, pedestrian Sunday, Sept. 30. crossings are made more visible Two women were struck at with the use of lighted/blinking about noon while crossing El signs and in-pavement flashing Camino at its intersection with lights,” he continued. “These Isabella Avenue, according to Sgt. have been available for years, and Anthony Kochler of the Ather- yet the state has taken the cheap ton Police Department. They route (in mitigating Atherton’s were hit by a southbound Chevy problem), which is costing our Blazer, whose unnamed male residents dearly. driver remained on the scene, “Improved crossing on this Sgt. Kochler said. state road is The women, mandatory!” he Atherton mayor wrote. “Traffic who police believe were in the crosslights, f lashing demands that walk, were treatcrosswalks, or ed on the scene Caltrans install new other safer meaby fire departsafety measures. sures are defiment paramedics nitely required.” before being taken by ambulance Mr. Widmer noted that he has to Stanford Hospital with major been discussing the dangerous injuries, he said. Their condi- situation with Assemblyman tions are unknown at this time, Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, he said, and the department is following another accident that still working on identifying one occurred several weeks ago. of the victims. “Please acknowledge this note Coincidentally, the accident and provide me with your plans occurred two years to the day and actions so that this serious that Christopher Chandler, a situation can be quickly recti62-year-old Redwood City resi- fied,” Mayor Widmer said in the dent, was struck and killed in email. “The lives of our residents the same crosswalk while riding are at stake here. The liability of his bicycle across El Camino. inaction rests with the state.” Sgt. Kochler said the driver in This summer, the town of the latest incident voluntarily Atherton, a motorist, and sevsubmitted to a blood test for drugs eral other public agencies were and alcohol. He said that dam- named in a lawsuit filed by the age to the vehicle indicated that mother of a teenager who was the driver was not speeding, but struck while crossing El Camino that police were continuing their Real on foot last year. Courtney investigation of the incident. Schrier was struck in the crossOn Monday morning, Mayor walk at Alejandra Avenue in July Widmer sent an email to Cal- 2011, suffering a broken pelvis trans Director Malcolm Dough- and brain injuries.

Almanac News Editor



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Tony Reyes killed on freeway A 38-year-old San Bruno man was killed after he exited his crashed vehicle, walked onto a northbound lane of U.S. 101 near Marsh Road and was hit by an oncoming car early Friday morning, Sept. 28, according to the California Highway Patrol. Tony Edward Reyes, who competed for 14 seasons in the Professional Bowlers Association tour, was identified as the motorist who died just before 12:30 a.m. on the freeway near Menlo Park. He won the Motor City Classic in 2006 when he bowled a perfect 300,

according to the U.S. Bowling Congress. Mr. Reyes was headed north on the freeway when his Chevrolet Trailblazer skipped off of the fourth and fifth lanes and hit the right-side sound wall, the CHP said. He then got out of his disabled car and stood in a lane where he was struck by a Jeep Liberty, driven by Romeo Tutop, 31, of San Jose, according to the CHP. The crash remains under investigation, CHP Officer Art Montiel said. — Bay City News Service

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What if you could erase bad memories and wipe out stress, use sadness to make you more creative, keep your brain fit into your 90s, and drastically reduce your risk of Alzheimer‘s and memory loss? The plasticity and capability of the brain have never been better understood. New research is revealing compelling findings that will change the way we think, interact, and plan throughout our lives. As longevity and at the same time mental health issues are on the rise, our ability to impact the brain is also increasing. Yet these are the very early days of understanding what some have called ”those three pounds of meat inside our heads.” How can we apply the new brain science to our own lives, and how is neuroscience in the 21st century going to impact us all? Join ABC News correspondent Juju Chang and a panel of distinguished thought leaders and scientists to explore the brave new world of neuroscience and what it means for you and your family. Free and open to the public. Held in collaboration with Reunion Homecoming Weekend. -No tickets required -Event begins promptly at 9:30 a.m. and seating may be limited thereafter -Parking is limited so plan to arrive early and consider public transportation

October 3, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN9


What’s in a name? ■ Menlo Park council candidate endorsements reveal lines of support ... or lack thereof

By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer

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Cancer: From Prevention to Survivorship Saturday, Oct. 13 s 9:30 a.m. – noon Please join us for a free program dedicated to increasing awareness about cancer, prevention and survivorship. Mountain View Center 701 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View, Conference Rooms C & D

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Aging and the Reproductive Cycle Wednesday, Oct. 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunnyvale Public Library 665 W. Olive Avenue, Sunnyvale

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Walk away with a better understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the female and male reproductive tracts, including the factors that impact fertility. Learn what a fertility workup consists of and available treatment options to facilitate conception and a successful pregnancy.

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Learn about eye conditions including macular degeneration, dry eye and cataracts in this interactive session.

What’s Autism and Is It More Common Today? Dr. Marvin Small Memorial Parent Workshop Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mountain View Center 701 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View

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10NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012

ith about a month to go before the Nov. 6 Menlo Park City Council elections, the five candidates are hitting the campaign trail hard and taking names — in the form of endorsements. Proclaiming himself the “no strings attached candidate,” firefighter Dave Bragg remains coy about naming his supporters, with the exception of the local and county chapters of the firefighters union. “Unfortunately my endorsements are from non-political community leaders (who) cannot list their affiliations due to how their nonprofits are set up,” he said. Mr. Bragg thought that might change after the Nov. 6 election, since after this race people will see him as a politician. “I am also confident that after I have worked with the local politicos, I will earn their respect and gain their endorsement in future races. Until then the only endorsement I am looking for are the citizens of Menlo Park.” Transportation commissioner and attorney Ray Mueller represents the opposite approach — the more endorsements, the better, and preferably in complete sets. He’s collected endorsements from the entire Transportation Commission, Planning Commission, the county Board of Supervisors, and the boards of three school districts. Everyone from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, to the San Mateo County Labor Council to three current council members — Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki — is lending their support. That’s three more sitting council members than incum-

bent Kelly Fergusson can claim as she fights for a third term. Although she does have a very long list of endorsements that includes former city officials as well as the labor council and county supervisor Dave Pine, the absence of current council members stands out. Asked about the support of those she serves with, Ms. Fergusson provided the following statement: “You can see that my endorsements include Sierra Club, Democratic Party, and Police Officers Association, in addition to Assemblymembers Gordon and Fong, as well as over 100 neighbors and local businesses, including prominent members of our venture capital community, as well as strong regional support.” Parks and Recreation Commissioner Catherine Carlton, on the other hand, does have endorsements from five of her six fellow commissioners, as well as Vice Mayor Peter Ohtaki. The Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform signed on, an endorsement she shares with Mr. Mueller. Housing Commissioner Carolyn Clarke counts former mayors Steve Schmidt, Gail Slocum and Dee Tolles among her endorsees. Joining them are housing commissioners Sally Cadigan and Yvonne Murray and county supervisor Don Horsley. A stream of Belle Haven neighbors, as well as community leader Bishop Teman Bostic of Mt. Olive Apostolic Original Holy Church of God, also appear on her list. A League of Women Voters forum for the five candidates will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. A

PV council lowers asking price for parcels Portola Valley’s Town Council has lowered its asking price for four parcels the town is selling in the Blue Oaks subdivision. The council plans to use the proceeds to buy a 1.68-acre property for eight to 12 small homes for people of moderate incomes who live or work in town. The new asking price for the Blue Oaks parcels is $2.8 million, down from the original $3 million, Town Attorney Sandy Sloan at the Sept. 26 Town Council meeting. The council, acting on the advice of real estate listing agents, approved the lower price by a unanimous

vote in closed session. The town needs up to $3 million to buy the former plant nursery site at 900 Portola Road — $2.6 million for the property and up to $400,000 to clean up herbicide residues in the ground. Should the Blue Oaks properties not sell for a sum sufficient to pay for the Portola Road property, the town does not plan to use tax revenues to make up the difference, but would undertake “a concerted fundraising effort,” Town Manager Nick Pegueros told the Almanac in an email. — Dave Boyce


Time running out for ancient oak at Ford Field By Dave Boyce Almanac staff writer


t continues to shade the home team dugout at Portola Valley’s Ford Field baseball diamond, that solitary old oak with its still-vibrant green canopy, its massive hollowedout trunk, and its one or two remaining major limbs, but for how much longer? Little League home teams have not had the benefit of that shade since April 2008. A

Town Council majority voted at the time to close the dugout but save the tree — after a major pruning and the addition of a metal support brace — in response to community pressure and despite negative reports from six arborists, one of whom reconsidered after the remediation. But as it is said, all things must pass. A recent report by Portola Valley arborist McLenahan Consulting cites the high


potential for “limb failure� and recommends removal, according to an email from Parks & Recreation Committee Chair Jon Myers in response to an Almanac inquiry about developments concerning the tree. Also in Mr. Myers’s email: a recent statement by the town’s insurer, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) rec-

ommending the tree’s removal to “abate (the) hazard as soon as possible,� and a note that the board of the Alpine West Menlo Little League, the field’s only organized user, is concerned about player safety. The tree’s friends “focus on the beauty of the tree, its historic presence at Ford Field, and the Town’s commitment to maintain an open and natural environment,� Mr. Myers wrote.

Majorities in the Parks & Recreation and the Conservation committees “are saddened at the possibility of losing this historic tree,� but agree that it should come down if something cannot be done to address its weaknesses, Conservation Committee Chair Judy Murphy told the Almanac. The committee would see things differently if the tree were not a hazard sitting next to the field, she added. A

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October 3, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN11


Schools budget revised after county’s rejection By Renee Batti


Almanac News Editor


fter having its boardapproved 2012-13 budget “disapproved” by the county Office of Education, the Portola Valley School District is hoping an amended budget showing an unrestricted balance of nearly half a million dollars will pass muster with the county. The district, still trying to recover from the financial escapades of former superintendent Tim Hanretty, has managed to balance its budget in large part because of a major boost in funding from the Portola Valley Schools Foundation. Foundation members rallied to raise more money and to allow the district to spend it sooner than it was allowed to in the past after

the financial crisis came to light in January. The foundation has pledged $1.3 million, to be used in the current fiscal year. Last fiscal year’s contribution was $975,000. Although the foundation’s contributions are supposed to be incorporated into the following fiscal year’s budget, recent audits have revealed that Mr. Hanretty was using the funds to cover costs of the current budget. The foundation has agreed to allow the same-year spending to continue until the district is able to stabilize its budget and re-establish its reserve, which now is empty. Mr. Hanretty has pleaded guilty

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to charges of embezzlement and other misappropriation of the district’s money. His sentencing is scheduled for this month. The school board is expected to approve the amended budget on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The district will then submit the document to the county for approval. In August, the district was informed that the county Office of Education would not accept the budget approved by the board in June. The county cited several factors, including a projected ending deficit, and a concern that the district would be unable to “meet its multi-year financial obligations.” The district has been in danger of going into receivership because of the deep hole discovered in its budget as auditors pored over the books after Mr. Hanretty’s January resignation. County Superintendent of Schools Anne Campbell told the Almanac that her office is working closely with the district

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to come up with a spending plan that the county can sign off on. “We don’t want them to be taken over by the state any more than they want to be taken over by the state,” she said. “The district has done a tremendous amount of work in getting on track to make them fiscally solvent,” she added.

Sandra Lepley, the district’s interim chief business official, said the amended budget projects a $480,000 balance in unrestricted funds. The ending balance for both unrestricted and restricted funds is $735,000, she said. The district is optimistic that the amended budget will be approved, she added. A

Thirteen apply for three seats on Planning Commission By Sandy Brundage


Almanac Staff Writer


he number of open seats on the Menlo Park Planning Commission jumped from two to three. Two were not a surprise — commissioners Katie Ferrick and John Kadvany have reached the end of their four-year terms — but colleague Peipei Yu quietly stepped down after the Sept. 24 meeting. According to city officials, Ms. Yu is moving out of Menlo Park. The former commissioner, appointed in January 2011, said her growing family was unable to find a big enough home in Menlo Park, and turned to Los Altos instead. She expressed disappointment at leaving the Planning Commission behind. Both Mr. Kadvany and Ms. Ferrick are seeking reappointment. Joining them on the list of applicants: retired SLAC physicist James Clendenin, attorney Michael Holy, architect Raymond Neal, architect John Onken, middle school teacher Keith Rocha, sales consultant Shannon Thoke, and Google manager Shawn Thompson. Other names may ring a bell: Public relations specialist Katherine Strehl has served on the transportation and housing com-

missions, and also served as a consultant for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Fellow applicant Honor Huntington, retired from working as a chief financial officer, has volunteered on the city’s finance and audit and budget committees. Community activist Don Brawner also applied, although staff noted he didn’t respond to inquiries about when he’d be available for an interview. And then there’s Fran Dehn, Chamber of Commerce CEO. “As a long-term resident, homeowner and business representative I have a vested interest in the architectural ‘look and feel’ of Menlo Park, my community,” she wrote on her application. Ms. Dehn would like to see the city “evolve with a planned and compliant approach” that balances its history with “an inspired future direction.” She didn’t respond to an Almanac inquiry about how she would handle conflicts of interest between her chamber job and the commission. The City Council plans to interview most of the applicants from 2 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The final appointments will be made during a regular council meeting in upcoming weeks. A

At Kepler’s Tony La Russa, the third-winningest manager in baseball history, will discuss and sign his new book, “One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season,” at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, at Kepler’s, 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. In the book, Mr. La Russa gives the inside story behind the comeback of the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals and his remarkable career. Photo by Eve Roytshteyn,

Museum upgrades history exhibit The San Mateo County History Museum is reopening its upgraded exhibit space, “Joseph W. Welch Jr. Gallery: Journey to Work,” on Sunday, Oct. 7. The reopening event, free to the public, takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, located in the historical courthouse building at 2200 Broad12NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012

way in Redwood City. The 1,500-square-foot gallery, which explores how different forms of transportation changed San Mateo County, has been substantially upgraded, thanks to a gift from the Christensen Family Foundation. Visit or call 299-0104 for more information.


Candidates forum set for Atherton City Council seats Candidates for the two open Atherton City Council seats will be given a chance to state their positions and answer questions at a forum set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Holbrook-Palmer Park Pavilion. The forum is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County and the Atherton Civic Interest League. There will be a fiveminute ACIL business meeting before the forum begins. During the forum, each canN O B I T UA RY

Dorothy Cartan Longtime Atherton, Menlo Park resident

Dorothy Mary Bjorkland Cartan of Menlo Park died peacefully at home on Sept. 24. She was 87. Ms. Cartan was a first-generation American born to Swedish parents in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 1943. During World War II, she moved to California. A community leader and philanthropist, Ms. Cartan was known for her sense of humor and compassion, say family members. She was married for 32 years to Henry Cartan of


Local forums on state propositions

didate will make an opening statement, then a moderator will ask questions that have been submitted by attendees and consolidated, according to an announcement from the two sponsoring organizations. The four candidates are incumbent Elizabeth Lewis, Cary Wiest, Denise Kupperman, and Greg Conlon. It is unknown whether all candidates will attend.

The League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County invites the public to local forums to discuss state propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot. Here are the times, dates and locations: â–  11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Menlo Park Library, 701 Laurel St. in the Menlo Park Civic Center. â–  11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, in

Atherton. Mr. Cartan died in 2001. Ms. Cartan is survived by children Leslie Shackleford, Linda Philpin, Dorothy Cartan Karen Dunton, Henry Cartan IV, James Cartan, and Ian Cartan; brother Richard Bjorkland; and two grandchildren. Contributions in Ms. Cartan’s memory may be made to the Charles Armstrong School, 1405 Solana Drive, Belmont, CA 94002; American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718 Oklahoma City, OK 73123; and the American Heart Association, 1710 Gilbreth Road, Burlingame, CA 94010.

lost in the shuffle,� Sen. Simitian said in a written statement. “(This law) is going to ensure that renters don’t get their homes yanked out from under them, and are fully informed before they sign a lease on the dotted line.� Samantha James of San Jose came up with the idea about a year ago after having paid a security deposit to rent an apartment, only to discover two months after furnishing and moving into the unit that the building was in foreclosure proceedings.

N P O L I 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 $3,475 from entry through unlocked side door of residence and theft of several pieces of jewelry, Oak Knoll Lane, Sept. 25. ■ Losses estimated at $500 in breakin by forcing open sliding glass door and theft of two necklaces, Sharon Park Drive, Sept. 27. Theft reports: ■ Loss estimated at $469 in theft of locked bike from bike rack, Coleman Ave., Sept. 21. ■ Loss estimated at $400 in theft of bike from under outside staircase, Sharon Park Drive, Sept. 26. ■ Loss estimated at $250 in theft of

right rear tire and hubcap from vehicle, Sharon Road, Sept. 23.

â–  Loss of $25 when passenger left taxicab claiming he needed to get money from his apartment and never returned to cab to pay his fare, Pierce Road, Sept. 26. Accident report: Bicyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries and refused medical treatment from medics after colliding with car while riding bike in crosswalk, Oak Grove Ave and Crane St., Sept. 27. Adult Protective Service report: Sharon Park Drive, Sept. 27. ATHERTON Theft reports:

â–  Unknown loss in theft of white Apple iPhone with blue paisley case, Tuscaloosa Ave., Sept. 25.

â–  Unknown losses in theft of locked bike from bike rack, Menlo-Atherton High School at 555 Middlefield Road, Sept. 24.




Landlords must disclose foreclosure Prospective tenants, as of January 2013, will have the right to be informed of possible foreclosure of a residence they are planning to rent. Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1191 into law on Sept. 25. It was authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and is another in a series of constituent-proposed laws from his annual “There Oughta Be a Law� contest. “In this foreclosure crisis, much of the focus has been on homeowners, and renters have gotten

the chapel of the Woodside Village Church, 3154 Woodside Road, opposite Woodside Elementary School. â–  7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at The Sequoias, 501 Portola Road in Portola Valley. League volunteers will present non-partisan information about the various ballot propositions. For more information or transportation help, contact Ellen Hope at ellenjhope@aol. com or call 839-8647.



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October 3, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN13

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, Rosanna Leung, 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:



City should reconsider Belle Haven ‘engagement’ plan


number of questions arise from the City Council’s decision cussions, workshops, community connector hosted meetings and late last month to hire a consultant and spend an estimated action teams” makes the process seem superfluous, considering $90,000 to develop a “community engagement” process the work that city staff has already done, as noted in the staff for the Belle Haven community in Menlo Park. The first question report. Staff has created a “community snapshot” that identifies was implicit in Councilman Peter Ohtaki’s explanation of why various aspects of the community, including recent demographic he voted against the plan: Why spend tens of thousands of scarce information, available city services, statistics on use of the serdollars primarily on what a staff report identifies as “community vices, and information based on an August 2012 survey of nearly outreach activities,” rather than on an “action plan”? Through 250 residents. surveys, community meetings and other means, Belle Haven It also conducted 25 informal “community conversations” with residents have for years expressed their concerns, frustrations residents, many of whom are currently engaged in neighborhood and ideas about their neighborhood. “I’d rather programs and services. From those meetings spend $90,000 of taxpayers’ money to identify and the survey, themes were identified that — EDI TORI AL solutions to these issues and alternate funding surprise! — sound amazingly familiar. Residents The opinion of The Almanac sources,” Mr. Ohtaki said. are concerned with Menlo Park’s east-west There’s no denying that Belle Haven, like all divide, the poor education opportunities for communities, has changed in some of its demographics in the last their children, “gentrification” resulting from higher home prices, decade. But there are constants from which many concerns spring: and a lack of city investment in the care of the community that The Belle Haven population remains far less affluent than the rest “would not be tolerated on the west side.” of the city’s; the crime rate is significantly higher; the community Does the city have enough information about Belle Haven and is divided by a major freeway from the more affluent part of the its residents to stop studying and start acting? Could the council city; and it is in a school district that is the poorest in the county, do its own “outreach” by holding more of its regular meetings, or as opposed to districts serving other Menlo Park children that are scheduling special meetings, in Belle Haven? These are among the among the wealthiest. questions that should be considered before the city goes forward The city shouldn’t be faulted for wanting to address the needs of with the plan to spend more money on a consultant and “outreach Belle Haven, where about 20 percent of Menlo Park’s population activities.” lives. But there’s a high probability that the route chosen by the As one Belle Haven survey respondent said, as reflected in Attachcouncil, while paved with good intentions, will merely lead to one ment B in the staff report: “The City Council members should know more thick, dusty consultant’s report filed away in City Hall. all that there is to know. They shouldn’t need me or anyone else to The plan’s emphasis on information-gathering through “per- tell them. If you are going to run for City Council, you should know sonal interviews, focus groups and community roundtable dis- the community, know the issues, and know the people.”

Email letters to: The Almanac, established in October 365, is delivered each week to residents of Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside and

L ET TERS Our readers write

adjacent unincorporated areas of southern San Mateo County. The Almanac is qualified by decree of the Superior Court of San Mateo County to publish public notices of a governmental and legal nature, as stated in Decree No. 147530, issued 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.

Train noise disruptive for library users Editor: Atherton residents who live within a few hundred yards of the Caltrain tracks, who visit the town offices or use the tennis courts, know that the noise created by the current diesel commuter trains is annoying, disruptive and distracting. Electrification will mean quieter rolling stock, but the trains will be just as noisy at advertised high speeds The website at cites stringent limits recommended by the World Health Organization on noise levels for classrooms (akin to libraries) due to external sources. No on F group’s implied preference to locate a replacement library at the town center within 100 yards of the Caltrain right of way appears to overlook this recommendation. And why do that when we have the option of putting the new library in the park? We build up tolerance for discomforts like train noise, telling ourselves that the effect

14NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012

From “Menlo Park Beyond the Gate”

Our Regional Heritage In this undated photo, Sister Maria Christine drives a tractor on the grounds of the 11-acre cloistered monastery for Dominican Nuns of the Corpus Christi in Menlo Park. Nuns moved into the monastery beginning in April 1928, and continue to live the devotional life on the grounds of 212 Oak Grove Avenue. Photo courtesy of Domincan Nuns of Corpus Christi.

is indeed tolerable and at any rate inevitable. Yet the present situation is different. We need not accept the train noise and

disruption in our new library. We need not build a fortress library with double- or tripleglazed windows with views of

the parking lot and the tracks. We can put the library in a quiet, Continued on next page


L ET T ER S Our readers write

Continued from previous page

green place, distant from whatever future commuter rail holds for our community. I invite open-minded residents who are tempted to vote against locating the library in the park to attend a weekday Caltrain crossing of Fair Oaks Avenue.

Wait a few minutes for another to come in the other direction. Then you may agree it doesn’t make sense to put a library at the town center. Karen Moore Parkwood Drive, Atherton

A thumbs-up for Masur Editor: I sure hope your readers will look at their whole ballot this November and cast a vote for the best person for San Mateo

The Old Guard doesn’t get it — citizens want real pension reform By Henry Riggs and Roy Thiele-Sardina

can never happen again — residents here must now vote to approve such an increase. he Old Guard doesn’t In the Almanac piece, Ms. get it. Fergusson oddly takes credit Contrary to what for turning back the formula Kelly Fergusson said in an for calculating future employAlmanac opinion piece last ees’ pensions — as members week, the “pension reform” of our group started calling bill package passed by the for from late 2009. Ironically, state is a shadow of what Gov. the new formula is pretty Brown proposed, offers almost much what the formula had zero current savings, and does been for current employees not reform the corrupt pen- before she and the council sion system. Even the inclusive increased it! * League of California Cities Last week’s opinion piece argued strongly for reflects Ms. Fergusthe governor’s origison’s unique view; nal reform and was one need only read disappointed with her distorted ballot the outcome, and arguments against every major newsMeasure L two years paper in the state ago and compare; called the so-called and not one of her pension-reform bills dire predictions then GUEST a bluff. has come to pass. OPINION T he ev iscerWe, Menlo Park ated package that voters who approved emerged may even Measure L by nearly retard meaningful reform 72 percent, can take pride. — not advance it — because We were fiscally prudent — it failed to change the state hardly mean spirited. We Constitution as the governor blamed elected officials — asked. But voters have finally not employees. Measure L caught on and want real pen- prevailed quickly in a court sion reform, not whitewash. challenge. And by demonHow sad that a City Council strating that responsible citiincumbent/candidate touts zens support fair reform, we the virtues of that flimsy inspired many of the subsepackage. quent reforms that citizens in Here is the issue in Menlo other cities have passed with Park: On Feb.13, 2007, deliber- similar majorities, and helped ately dismissing citizen input, spotlight the issue nationthen Mayor Fergusson and the wide. Citizens of Menlo Park council voted to increase pen- deserve credit. sion benefits by 35 percent. * The formula was 2 perFor example, any non-police cent of best-year earnings, employee making $100,000 with retirement allowed at a year in Menlo Park — and age 55 for all employees. It more than 26 MP employees was increased to 2.7 percent, do — could increase his/her applying retroactively for then retirement (not counting per- current employees. It is now sonal savings) from $60,000 2 percent at 60 for employees to $81,000 annually in one hired since February 2012 and stroke. Solely because of Mea- remains 2.7 percent at 55 for sure L that enormous mistake the rest.


County Supervisor: Shelly Masur. As a school board member she’s experienced in managing a difficult budget while still providing important services. I find Shelly to be the more open and the more credible candidate for a job caring for the many needs of San Mateo County residents. Gail Sredanovic Ashton Avenue, Menlo Park

BMR housing benefits the working middle class Editor: The Almanac did a good job of

providing the list of occupations for those who qualify to live in BMR units — the working middle class. The Almanac provided education and knowledge to the Menlo Park communities, especially for the one anonymous “MP Citizen” who wrote (on the Town Square forum) a very naive and stereotyped remark. The “MP Citizen” wrote: “Keep low income trash out of Sharon Heights. Put them in East Menlo Park where they belong. People who don’t have the ability or work ethic to live in a nice neighborhood shouldn’t be given handouts.”

The housing commissioner also clarified the difference between BMR (below market rate) and affordable housing. This was important. C. Contreras Monterey Avenue, Menlo Park

Join today:

John R. Johnson

October 20, 1923-September 17, 2012 John R. Johnson, who ran the Palo Alto Medical Foundation for more than two decades and served as city manager of Menlo Park during the boom years of the early 1960s, died Sept. 17 at The Sequoias in Portola Valley. He was 88. A nationally respected health-care administrator, Mr. Johnson was an active community volunteer and dedicated Stanford alumnus. He was devoted to his family, especially to his wife, Phyllis, to whom he was married for 66 years until her death last year. He loved to travel, play tennis and dominoes, and spend time with his granddaughters. Mr. Johnson was born in Greeley, CO, on Oct. 20, 1923, the son of the Rev. Rector and Elsie Bales Johnson. As the son of a Methodist minister, he moved frequently as a child, from Colorado to Arizona and eventually to San Jose, CA, when he was in high school. He met his bride, Phyllis Hackman, at the First United Methodist Church youth group. After graduating from San Jose High School in 1941, Mr. Johnson entered Stanford University, where he majored in political science. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, he joined the U.S. Navy and was sent to officer training school. In 1944 he was commissioned an ensign, got married in Asbury Park, NJ, and headed for Guam, where he served on a minesweeper, the USS Oracle. After the war, Mr. Johnson returned to Stanford and received his B.A. in political science in 1946. In 1947 he received a fellowship in Public Affairs from the Coro Foundation in San Francisco. Mr. Johnson’s distinguished 40-year career was dedicated to serving Peninsula residents during a time of tremendous growth and change. From 1952 to 1964, he worked for the City of Menlo Park, as Assistant City Manager and then as City Manager. Menlo Park was in the midst of the post-war boom, and under Mr. Johnson’s direction the city expanded its boundaries and built a new library and police station. In 1964, Mr. Johnson went to work for the Palo Alto Medical Clinic as Executive Administrator. Over the next 23 years, as doctors transitioned from house calls to managed

care, he presided over the clinic’s growth into the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a premier regional provider of medical services. In 1987 he became Vice President of Administration for PAMF. He retired in 1991 but continued to serve on the board of directors for several years. He also served as president of the Medical Group Management Association and the American Association of Ambulatory Health Care, and was a fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives. Mr. Johnson was a fervent Stanford booster and a generous community volunteer. He served as president of the Stanford Alumni Association, as a member of the “chain gang” at Stanford football games and as a docent in the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame. He served for 32 years on the board of directors of Channing House and received the Lifetimes of Achievement award from Avenidas. John and Phyllis Johnson had a son and a daughter, Steve and Kris. “Dad was my hero and always will be,” said Kris. “He was a perfect father, a perfect gentleman and he was always there for me.” “Although we’ll miss Dad,” Steve said, “he’s back where he belongs, which is with Mom.” His granddaughters, Anna Johnson and Sarah Johnson Macek, have fond memories of summers at Lake Tahoe, evenings around the fire pit in their grandparents’ Menlo Park backyard, and thousands of domino games. “He was always so delighted to see our faces,” recalled Anna. “And he genuinely cared about the happiness of those around him.” “He was the most amazing man I, or anybody had the chance to meet,” Sarah said, “and I was lucky to share so much of his life and love.” Mr. Johnson is survived by Steven Johnson and his wife Carol of Petaluma, Kristina Johnson of Truckee, Anna Johnson and Mark Heaphy and Sarah Johnson Macek and Brandon Macek, all of San Rafael. A memorial reception was held Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Sequoias in Portola Valley. Memorial contributions may be made to the Coro Foundation, 601 Montgomery St., Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111, or the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301.



October 3, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN15


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16NThe AlmanacNTheAlmanacOnline.comNOctober 3, 2012



The Almanac 10.03.2012 - Section 1