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Alvarez found guilty of killing Officer May Page 3
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Spectrum 16 Movies 28 Eating Out 31 Crossword/Sudoku 48 N Arts Arts Cafe series kicks off at new JCC
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Local news, information and analysis
Alvarez found guilty of first-degree murder Man who killed police Officer Richard May could face death penalty or life in prison by Gennady Sheyner lberto Alvarez, 26, who killed East Palo Police Officer Richard May in 2006, was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday and is now guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in prison or face the death penalty. The only question that still re-
mains to be answered is whether Alvarez will face a life sentence or death. It took the jury less than six hours to reach its verdict, which was announced shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in a Redwood City courtroom packed with May’s rela-
tives, friends and fellow officers. The sentencing phase of the trial is scheduled to begin next Thursday. May’s sister, Tami McMillan, said the family felt “relieved and overwhelmed” by the verdict, which she said vindicated May’s faith in the justice system. She said she was shocked by the speed of the jury’s deliberations, which came just hours after the closing arguments. Whether Alvarez shot and killed May was never in doubt. But the
defense argued throughout the case that Alvarez, a convicted felon, shot May in self-defense after May used excessive force. Alvarez testified during the trial that May shot him in the thigh as he attempted to run away from the officer because he feared he would return to prison for being a felon in possession of a gun. The defense also maintained that May did not have probable cause for stopping Alvarez.
The jury speedily rejected that argument and concurred with the prosecution’s position that Alvarez acted deliberately and willfully when he shot and killed May. Jurors had the option of finding Alvarez guilty on one of several lesser charges, including second-degree murder, justifiable homicide or voluntary manslaughter. But after a month-long trial that (continued on page 5)
Palo Alto, Comcast dispute Internet fees City, neighbors say company’s proposed rates are ‘excessive’ by Gennady Sheyner
COMMUTE OPTIONS A cyclist walks his bike in the tunnel underneath the tracks at the University Avenue Caltrain station, just as a northbound train stops to pick up passengers during the evening commute on Tuesday.
A court of opportunity East Palo Alto Youth Court aims to point young offenders in a positive direction by Royston Sim
ast Palo Alto resident Tasia Lacey, 15, faced a jury of her peers in court this August and argued against five youths who broke the city’s curfew law. After deliberating, the peer jury sentenced the five youths to perform community service for their offense. As part of their sentence, they will also be required to serve on the jury for future trials. This trial was not a scene from juvenile court, where a judge decides a youth’s sentence, but the East Palo Alto Youth Court — a communitybased restorative justice program that is almost entirely run by youths for youths. Youth Courts are an alternative to the juvenile justice system.
More than 40 Youth Courts operate in California; there are more than 1,300 nationwide. Funded in part through the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, the East Palo Alto Youth Court gives young offenders a chance to make amends for minor offenses and stay out of the juvenile-justice system. Young offenders who are referred to Youth Court must first admit the facts of their offense before they are brought before a jury of their peers, who evaluate them and decide the sentence they should receive. Common “restorative” punishments include community service to programs such as Collective Roots, writing letters of apology, attending classes or programs, and serving on
future Youth Court juries, Youth Court Executive Director Leeor Neta said. “This program is about how to mend harm and restore a young person to the community,” Neta said. “This is something that really endeavors to welcome them back into society.” Youths who complete their sentences will avoid juvenile hall and having a record, and some may be rewarded with a job incentive. Serving on the jury really resonates with youths, said retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, who presided over several mock trials and the Youth Court’s first trial in May. “Once they had been subjects of the system, and now they’re going to be part of the solution,” Cordell, a former Palo Alto City Council member, said. “I see (the Youth Court) as changing lives, breaking stereotypes that kids have of police and police have on kids,” Cordell said. “It’s a winwin in every possible way.” Serving as an advocate for the community during that trial in August, (continued on page 7)
alo Alto and its neighbors on the Peninsula are scrambling to keep affordable high-speed Internet in place at schools, city halls and other public facilities after Comcast has proposed to drastically raise service fees next summer. The cable giant is currently charged with running the Institutional Network (I-Net), a fiber-optic cable network that connects 70 public facilities in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and portions of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. A preliminary proposal lists fees of $2,200 to $3,300 per month per site, meaning that the Palo Alto Unified School District’s annual bill for its 20 I-Net sites could be between $528,000 and $792,000. Ravenswood City School District’s annual bill for its 12 sites could be between $316,800 and $475,000. But officials emphasize those are preliminary proposals subject to serious negotiations. Since 2006, 51 of the 70 connections in Palo Alto and its partners in the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) have been gradually activated (or “lighted”). The network enables voice, video and data communication internally and between the sites, according to a recent staff report. But a recently passed state law and Comcast’s recent proposal is threatening to make I-Net much costlier for local schools, community centers and other public buildings. The agreement between the cities and Comcast expires in July 2010 and Comcast’s proposed rates for future I-Net service has been characterized by Palo Alto officials as excessive and unreasonable. But Palo Alto, which negotiates cable rates on behalf of the coalition, may have little leverage in its negotiations with Comcast. The Digital In-
frastructure and Video Completion Act (DIVCA), which state legislators passed in 2006, has taken away local agencies’ powers to negotiate franchise agreements and placed that power in the hands of the California Public Utilities Commission. The state law also specified that existing cable franchise agreements would not be enforceable after their expiration dates. The agreement between Comcast and the Joint Powers Authority (the coalition) expires in July 2010. Melissa Cavallo, cable coordinator for the JPA, said in a recent report that officials have been meeting with Comcast for the past five months in hopes of extending I-Net service beyond July 2010. On Oct. 16, Cavallo sent Comcast a letter lamenting the lack of “forward progress in developing reasonable options” for continued use of I-Net. The cities, the letter notes, are “disappointed and frustrated by Comcast’s unwillingness to respond meaningfully” to the cities’ I-Net concerns. The loss of I-Net would hit East Palo Alto particularly hard. The city lies close to sea level, which makes use of underground copper wires for Internet service extremely unreliable. According to Cavallo’s letter to Comcast, the Internet network at East Palo Alto schools frequently went down before I-Net was installed. When this happened, the letter notes, “school principals would have to scramble and use cell phones to receive calls from frantic parents who could not communicate with their child’s school.” “The adverse educational impact on our students of not having access to the I-Net fiber bandwidth will be substantial,” Cavallo said in the letter. “For the last several years, we have strived to use technology to ac(continued on page 15)
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PUBLISHER William S. Johnson EDITORIAL Jay Thorwaldson, Editor Jocelyn Dong, Managing Editor Carol Blitzer, Associate Editor Keith Peters, Sports Editor Tyler Hanley, Express™ and Online Editor Rebecca Wallace, Arts & Entertainment Editor Rick Eymer, Assistant Sports Editor Chris Kenrick, Gennady Sheyner, Staff Writers Sue Dremann, Staff Writer, Special Sections Editor Karla Kane, Editorial Assistant Veronica Weber, Staff Photographer Jeanne Aufmuth, Dale Bentson, Colin Becht, Peter Canavese, Kit Davey, Iris Harrell, Sheila Himmel, Kevin Kirby, Jack McKinnon, Renata Polt, Jeanie Forte Smith, Susan Tavernetti, Robert Taylor, Contributors Royston Sim, John Squire, Editorial Interns Be’eri Moalem, Arts & Entertainment Intern DESIGN Shannon Corey, Design Director Raul Perez, Assistant Design Director Linda Atilano, Diane Haas, Scott Peterson, Paul Llewellyn, Senior Designers Laura Don, Gary Vennarucci, Designers PRODUCTION Jennifer Lindberg, Production Manager Dorothy Hassett, Blanca Yoc, Sales & Production Coordinators ADVERTISING Walter Kupiec, Advertising Director Cathy Norfleet, Display Advertising Sales Asst. Judie Block, Janice Hoogner, Gary Whitman, Display Advertising Sales Kathryn Brottem, Real Estate Advertising Sales Joan Merritt, Real Estate Advertising Asst. David Cirner, Irene Schwartz, Inside Advertising Sales Alicia Santillan, Classified Administrative Asst.
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The Palo Alto Weekly (ISSN 0199-1159) is published every Friday by Embarcadero Publishing Co., 450 Cambridge Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306, (650) 326-8210. Periodicals postage paid at Palo Alto, CA and additional mailing offices. Adjudicated a newspaper of general circulation for Santa Clara County. The Palo Alto Weekly is delivered free to homes in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, East Palo Alto, to faculty and staff households on the Stanford campus and to portions of Los Altos Hills. If you are not currently receiving the paper, you may request free delivery by calling 326-8210. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302. Copyright ©2009 by Embarcadero Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. Printed by SFOP, Redwood City. The Palo Alto Weekly is available on the Internet via Palo Alto Online at: www.PaloAltoOnline.com Our e-mail addresses are: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Missed delivery or start/stop your paper? Call 650 326-8210, or e-mail circulation@paweekly. com. You may also subscribe online at www.PaloAltoOnline.com. Subscriptions are $60/yr.
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All programs are on hold, indefinitely. — Susie Ord, community outreach officer, on nearcertain cuts within the Palo Alto Police Department. See story on page 5.
Around Town WE WANT UNCLE BEAR BACK ... Castilleja School students and alumnae have raised a chorus of protest over the unexplained absence from campus of longtime arts, film and drama teacher Bear Capron. “Uncle Bear” Capron, in the midst of overseeing the school’s fall production, “Twelfth Night,” disappeared from campus in late October. The popular teacher’s absence has sparked heartfelt letters to school trustees and a 455-member Facebook group pleading for his return and testifying to his impact on students over two decades. “Anyone who has ever interacted with him cannot help but feel the caring and inspiration that he radiates,” wrote Jessica Feinstein from the Class of 2002. Added Melissa Palmer, ‘09: “Bear Capron is one of the most utilized personal mentors on campus.” From former student Eleanor Liu: “Mr. Capron made us laugh daily. He comforted us; he taught us — by his stories and through his actions — to act for what we believed in. He taught us to find our hearts, on stage and off.” Capron’s phone message recording states he is “on leave of absence and will not be checking his voicemail.” Head of School Joan Lonergan assured the Castilleja community in early November that Capron “is in good health.” “He and I have been engaged in some extended, confidential discussions,” Lonergan said, adding that she hoped to share more “in a week or so.” More than two weeks later, the school still had no further comment. WHO’S CALLING? ... Palo Alto residents received phone calls this week from someone asking an awful lot of questions. When asked to identify himself, one caller said he was with “Topical Research,” a surveying firm. But he claimed not to know the client for whom he was asking the plethora of questions. One might make a reasonable guess, however, based on the tenor of the queries. While starting off in a general fashion (“What do you think is the most important issue facing Palo Alto?”) the survey then hones in on the rate of Stanford University’s
growth, the need for housing in the community and the proposed expansion of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the main hospital. It finally gets down to brass tacks, querying the survey-taker on how generous or stingy he or she would feel Stanford is if the university provided a certain dollar amount of community benefits, such as transportation, affordable housing and free medical services. Lest anyone doubt that a PR campaign is being shaped by the answers to the questions, the survey also asks the resident which groups in town they respect or are suspicious of. Among the choices: all three Palo Alto news organizations. HAPPY HAULING ... Palo Altans love their garbage collectors. For the fourth year in a row, the city has received a Voice of the People Award for garbage collection from the International City/ County Manager’s Association and the National Research Center. Public Works Director Glenn Roberts accepted the award, along with a round of applause, at the Nov. 16 meeting of the City Council. The award is based on a survey that the NRC conducted last year. RECREATIONAL LOTTERY ... It’s never too early for Palo Alto parents to start thinking about their children’s summer-camp plans. The city’s has moved up its randomized registration for summer camps to Jan. 14, about two months earlier than in previous years. On Jan. 15, the city’s Community Service Department plans to conduct “The Draw,” a random drawing to select participants in the city’s broad range of summer camps. Results will be mailed out Jan. 18. To inform residents about the city’s summer programs, the department has mailed out the Summer Camps and Aquatics Guide 2010 along with the Winter Enjoy! catalog. Those who miss the deadline for “The Draw” could still register in person, by mail, by fax or online starting Jan. 21 (Jan. 28 for nonresidents). Residents who would like more information may call 650-463-4900. N
Local architect calls for design competition for high-speed rail Courtesy of Bellomo Architects
Joseph Bellomo asks High-Speed Rail Authority to open design to international competition by Gennady Sheyner oseph Bellomo has a simple proposal for the California HighSpeed Rail Authority: Leave the design of the proposed highspeed rail to the worldâ€™s brightest designers. Bellomo, a Palo Alto architect whose projects emphasize modular construction, energy efficiency and sustainable design, laments that the design of the controversial 800-mile rail line has so far been dominated by teams of engineers, each working on a separate segment of the line. So while other local architects, urban planners and concerned residents are busy lobbying the state for underground tunnels, Bellomo advocates a different approach for selecting the design of the proposed line â€” an international design competition. Last month, Bellomo sent a letter to the rail authority, the state agency charged with building the $45 billion rail line, proposing a twotiered international competition in which architects and designers from around the world would send in proposed designs for the entire line. The proposals would be narrowed to three finalists whose ideas would be further developed. â€œThe only way to get good design, holistic design, is through competition,â€? Bellomo said. Bellomo said the High-Speed Rail Authority is reviewing his proposal. Similar calls for competition have also recently popped up in Los
Angeles, he said. Around Palo Alto, Bellomo is best known for his work near University Circle, including new office buildings at 102 and 116 University Ave. and a â€œcorporate cafeâ€? at the former Facebook building. But transportation has never been far from his mind.
ily is relieved to know that the man who killed their husband, father and friend will never be free again. Alvarez looked calm and composed when the verdict was announced, but several members of Mayâ€™s family had tears in their eyes as they filed out of the crowded courtroom. Diana May, Richard Mayâ€™s wife, said her family hopes Alvarez will some day feel remorse for his actions of nearly four years ago. â€œItâ€™s amazing how many lives he has torn apart,â€? she said. She also said the family never doubted that her husband did nothing wrong before he was killed. â€œWe all felt that Rich knew his job and he did it correctly,â€? she said. Officer Shante Williams, Mayâ€™s former partner and current member of the San Francisco Police Department, said Wednesdayâ€™s verdict was a long time coming. The community, Williams said, lost a hero when May was killed. â€œWe will celebrate Thanksgiving with something we can truly be thankful for,â€? Williams said. N Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@ paweekly.com.
(continued from page 3)
featured 170 exhibits and 67 witnesses, the jury concluded that Alvarez was guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances, a charge that could bring the death penalty. Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County senior deputy district attorney, said he was surprised by how quickly the jury reached its verdict. He said the jury requested to read a transcript containing Alvarezâ€™s description of the Jan. 7, 2006, incident. Less than half an hour later, the jury reached its decision. Wagstaffe said he believed the juryâ€™s deliberations ultimately came down to a simple choice: whether to believe Alvarez or the witnesses testifying on Mayâ€™s behalf. Wagstaffe said he expects the sentencing phase to take several weeks. â€œIâ€™m extremely pleased that the jurors could see through the defendantâ€™s lies and see that it was a case of an officer killed in the line of duty,â€? Wagstaffe said minutes after the verdict was announced. Wagstaffe also said Mayâ€™s fam-
â€˜The only way to get good design, holistic design, is through competition.â€™
Joe Bellomo, Palo Alto architect
Bellomo designed the awardwinning High Street parking structure and, more recently, he created the â€œBike Arcâ€? â€” a sleek curved parking stand for bicycles. He coinvented the â€œBike Arcâ€? with Jeff Selzer, general manager of Palo Alto Bicycles, in an attempt to give parked bicycles more dignity. Bellomoâ€™s vision for the highspeed rail line combines some of the same elements that could be found in his local work: smooth curves, sweeping arcs and as many green elements as the system can support. His concept for an elevated
rail line would be powered through a â€œphotovoltaic solar corridor,â€? a string of interconnected tubes and panels that Bellomo said would provide up to 25 million kilowatt hours of power per year. In addition to supporting the solar panels, the round corridor would also provide an acoustic screen, mitigating noise impacts of the speeding trains. Bellomoâ€™s rail system would be supported by curved concrete beams about 40 feet apart. A â€œconcrete dishâ€? would rest on top of the beams and support the speeding trains. Passenger platforms, elegant bike-parking structures and a continuous bike corridor further complement his design for the rail line, which would stretch initially from San Francisco to Los Angeles and ultimately from Sacramento to San Diego. He estimates the cost of the line to be $36 million per mile (or $28.8 billion for 800 miles). Bellomo acknowledged that his vision for a modular, energy-generating elevated rail line has a flurry of obstacles to overcome, both at state and local levels. The rail au-
Palo Alto architect Joe Bellomoâ€™s vision for high-speed rail calls for a modular, energy-generating elevated rail line, with smooth curves, sweeping arcs and many green elements. Heâ€™d also like to see an international design competition.
thority is taking a piecemeal approach to designing the line, splitting it into eight separate segments. The agency is expected to release its alternatives analysis â€” a study of various possible alignments â€” for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment next month. Jeff Barker, deputy director for communication for the High-Speed Rail Authority, called Bellomoâ€™s proposal an â€œinteresting idea,â€? but noted that the authorityâ€™s Board of Directors had not formally reviewed the proposal. Barker said the authority wants to make sure the communities along the proposed line have a say
in the design and not have any one company dictate what the entire line would look like. The authority plans to work closely with the communities before considering the final design, he said. â€œIf you call around to a number of communities across the state, theyâ€™d argue that they want to have a say in what the system will look like in their cities,â€? Barker said. â€œItâ€™s an interesting idea, one worth looking at, but our default is to look to local populations in the neighborhoods through which the line will be running.â€? N Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@ paweekly.com.
City to lose community-outreach police services Neighborhood Watch, mediation programs to get axed by Sue Dremann
he first chop of the budget ax fell last Friday when longtime Community Outreach Officer Susie Ord announced the near-certain elimination of her position within the Palo Alto Police Department. Ord sent a letter to the public Nov. 19 announcing her retirement, effective Nov. 20, and the plans to cut her position. She served residents for 24 years. â€œIt was a very bittersweet decision, one that had to be made in a very short time. It comes with sadness, but also a tremendous amount of joy and fulfillment in being able to do the work I loved so much,â€? she wrote. â€œMy position is identified to be eliminated to relieve budget issues. ... There are no plans to fill my position in the interim. ... At this time, Iâ€™ve been asked to tell you that all programs are on hold, indefinitely,â€? she said. Programs to be cut include the Citizens Police Academy; Neighborhood Watch program; bicycle licensing; community outreach; HEADS UP newsletter; e-mail distribution list, which sends out bulletins, press releases and breaking an-
nouncements to residents; National Night Out citywide block party; and community liaison services, such as Palo Alto Mediation Services. Palo Alto is trying to close a $10 million deficit. The City Council and its Finance Committee will discuss the budget cuts from each department on Dec. 1. Other police programs that could face elimination and their expenditure reductions, according to an Oct. 5 city managerâ€™s report, include: s 3CHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER WHO provides criminal- and non-criminal-activity intervention on school campuses â€” $162,000 s #RIME ANALYST PROGRAM WHICH handles information related to crime trends â€” $94,000 s 4RAFFIC TEAM FOUR POSITIONS Duties would be assumed by patrol units â€” $626,000 Eliminating Ordâ€™s position would save $83,000, according to the report. Lydia Kou, emergency-preparedness committee chairperson for the Barron Park Association, said the Palo Alto Neighborhoods and Barron Park group worked closely with Ord. The Barron Park committee will
incorporate outreach activities, such as Neighborhood Watch, into the emergency-prep program, she said. But other programs, such as bicycle licensing, will be missed, she said. â€œThe e-mail distribution list is good for announcements. Itâ€™s good for the community to know whatâ€™s happening and to be watchful as well. A heads-up alert if thereâ€™s a burglary is helpful to the community,â€? she said. Kou, a former mediator through the Palo Alto Mediation Program, said elimination of that program â€œwould be very sad if that goes away.â€? One of her personal concerns is how patrols would be impacted if cuts are made to the traffic team. Lt. Sandra Brown said the department does not know yet if cuts will be made to the traffic unit. The department is not at a point right now to comment publicly, she said. â€œWeâ€™re on standby. We want to make people calm. People are nervous about their positions,â€? she said. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweek ly.com.
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City hires guard for rail crossing Palo Alto police chief says outside company allows officers to attend to other duties by Jocelyn Dong
he Palo Alto Police Department has hired a security company to help monitor the West Meadow Drive rail intersection — a move the city hopes will discourage emotionally fragile youth from ending their lives there. Guards from Admiral Security Services of Oakland began work Monday and may continue through the end of the school year, according to Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns. The guards were hired to patrol the crossing from morning to night during the hours the trains operate. Their job is to observe and report any suspicious activity to the Palo Alto police, Burns said. If a potential crisis arises, the guard is to contact police, who will relay the information immediately to Caltrain. At night, the guards have been instructed to bring a flashlight and binoculars to scan the tracks, he added. “I feel good about it,” Burns said. “Our staffing is such that we couldn’t guarantee an officer (would be stationed there) all the time. With this solution, we have someone out there.
We have someone to make a call.” Burns said the city has worked with Admiral Security Services before, and staff was pleased with the company’s work. Since May, four teens have lost their lives at West Meadow, an otherwise ordinary rail crossing used by thousands of cars, bicyclists and pedestrians each day. In response, parents and other residents in October formed “Palo Alto Track Watch,” a group whose members sit on the sidewalk near the crossing daily. Concerned that a “suicide cluster” had formed, the volunteers said they wanted their track monitoring to show teens how much people care. They also hoped their presence would change the attraction of the rail intersection and therefore break the cluster, they said. Volunteer-group leader Caroline Camhy Rothstein said she welcomes the new guards. “It will make a huge difference in making the area safe. We’re glad the city has done it,” she said. The group will continue its moni-
toring, focusing more at the Charleston Road and Churchill Avenue rail crossings, she said. So far, the volunteers have seen some teens who looked “a bit shaky” though none lingered on the tracks. “We’ve always believed that simply being out there, we cause people at risk to think ... (and) we’ve changed the outcome,” Camhy Rothstein said. The goal is for people who are experiencing troubles not to come to the tracks seeking an option but to turn to family members, friends or school resources, she added. Camhy Rothstein said she met and spoke with one guard Tuesday morning. “He’s a very hardworking person. ... He’s sincere about being out there. If there are days he’s not paid, he said he might come out anyway,” she said. The cost for a guard is $25 per hour, and the city is accepting donations to fund the program, according to Burns. Patrolling the crossing full-time with police officers would be “cost prohibitive.” Additional volunteer track monitors
are welcome, Camhy Rothstein said. In addition to the rail watch, another group of Palo Altans is asking Caltrain to slow its trains to 5 mph from West Meadow to Charleston. The petition, signed by about 80 people as of Tuesday afternoon, states Caltrain would take 4 seconds to pass the West Meadow crossing at 5 mph, instead of less than one second at 60 mph. The petition also states that changing the train speed is a short-term solution: “Slower trains now will give us time as a community to work together in launching a multi-factorial effort to curb teen depression and suicide over the long term.” The group plans to approach Caltrain at its Dec. 3 board meeting to raise its concerns. The petition can be found at www. ipetitions.com/petition/Slowthetrains/index.html. Donations to fund the West Meadow security guards can be sent to Barbara Teixeira, c/o Rail Crossing Watch Fund, Palo Alto Police Department, 275 Forest Ave., Palo Alto, CA, 94301. Information about volunteer track monitoring is available at http:// paloaltotrackwatch.weebly.com/ and firstname.lastname@example.org. N Managing Editor Jocelyn Dong can be e-mailed at jdong@paweek ly.com.
Gunn students offer inspiring stories about themselves ‘Gives Me Hope’ website draws posts from alums, teachers, parents, kids by Chris Kenrick
n the wake of four devastating student suicides, students at Gunn High School are finding their spirits lifted by a little positive psychology. The five-week-old website “Henry M. Gunn Gives Me Hope” (HMGGMH) has inspired an outpouring of stories from students, alumni, teachers and parents about the good things, large and small, that transpire daily at the school. “Today I was kinda sad and I went to English class and my English teacher had a big box of donuts,” a student wrote. “After I ate the donut I was happy. HMGGMH.” A recent graduate wrote: “Today I was talking with my roommates in college and we started discussing our hometowns, where we come from
In the Weekly cover story “Hoho hum” (Nov. 20, 2009) it was incorrectly stated that complimentary Beatles products would be given away with purchases of the Beatles CD collection. The products, including T-shirts, games and album frames, are available for purchase and are not free. To request a correction, contact Managing Editor Jocelyn Dong at 650-326-8210, jdong@ paweekly.com or P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302.
and our high schools. After listening to everyone else’s stories I realized how truly amazing Gunn really is. I had so many friends who would never fit into the classifications like ‘jock,’ ‘nerd,’ ‘popular,’ or things like that. They were just themselves. I feel like all of Gunn is like that. “Thank you so much, Gunn, for making my high school years as amazing as they were. HMGGMH.” Gunn senior Joyce Liu created the website — modeled after a website called “Gives Me Hope” — in her room late at night on Oct. 20, soon after the fourth member of the Gunn community died at the Caltrain tracks since May. “A lot of Gunn students read ‘Gives Me Hope,’” Liu said. (After the fourth suicide) “people said reading it was helping them try to go forward. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we had something like that just for Gunn. There are a lot of really small things here that make people feel really nice, but we don’t necessarily record it, or remember to thank the person. “It’s a nice way for people to do that. It’s the really simple things that people do, but they just make you smile. If you ask anyone there, the people at Gunn are amazing.”
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Liu said she is “shocked, surprised and glad” about results of the website. Postings have come from around the world. She even got a posting from the originator of the “Gives Me Hope” website, which linked to hers. One student wrote last week: “As four-fifths of the students lined up for food today (Turkey Feast), I couldn’t help but think: this is amazing. It was unfathomable that Gunn parents cooked delicious turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie, etc. — all home-made food for 2,000 people. And probably more, since teenagers tend to eat twice the amount of an adult. It made me smile. Turkey Feast, and the parents of HMG students, GMH.” Another wrote: “I moved to Henry M. Gunn this year after being physically and verbally abused by students at my old school. I have a learning disability and I never told anyone at HMG. One day after school when I was chatting with some HMG students, I let it slip that I had a learning disability. All was quiet for a second until a girl slipped her hand into mine and told me that I inspire her. That girl and I now help tutor at an after-school center for learning disabled kids. HMGGMH.” Liu said an inspiration for her website was Fred Luskin, a psychologist,
author and lecturer who spoke to Gunn seniors in October. Luskin, author of “Forgive for Good,” also directs the Stanford Forgiveness Projects. “He talked about how positive psychology can be beneficial for teenagers,” she said. “With all the suicides, everybody says we have to do suicide prevention. Ms. Likins (Gunn’s principal) is getting e-mails from all over telling her what she should do. “Mr. Luskin gave me the idea that positive psychology is a good thing in general and, in another way, works indirectly for suicide prevention if it makes you feel better about life.” Liu, a graduate of Ohlone Elementary School and JLS Middle School, works on Gunn’s student newspaper, The Oracle, plays lacrosse and is active in the French Club. She also helped launch a student group this fall called ROCK (Reach Out, Care and Know) after she and her “study buddy” Esther Han realized they had served as one another’s emotional “rock” following the suicides. In open signups, about 100 students have volunteered to act as the “ROCK” during their free periods. The volunteer sits at a table in the library with a ROCK sign, indicating his or her availability to talk with any student. “In general it increases the sense of communication around campus. At least people know that if they do need someone to talk to they are available. It also allows people to know that they’re doing something.” N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
Paly ‘egg war’ suspensions may be scrubbed Students told there will be no permanent record by Chris Kenrick tudents who were suspended for participating in Palo Alto High School’s “egg wars” have been told the suspensions will be removed from their permanent records if they behave well for the rest of the school year, parents report. Word of the new decision spread rapidly through friends of the 11 students given one- or two-day suspensions. “In the overall scheme of things, we need to keep this in perspective,” Superintendent Kevin Skelly said Tuesday in a meeting with the Weekly. He noted that only about 18 students have received any kind of disciplinary action out of hundreds in the junior and senior classes. Skelly said he, Principal Jacquie McEvoy and Assistant Superintendent Linda Common have been meeting with individual parents and families about the egg wars incident and follow-up investigation. The Oct. 27 incident, involving anywhere from 50 to 150 Paly juniors and seniors, left Gunn High School’s parking lot and sports facilities littered with broken eggs. The $3,200 professional clean-up bill will be covered by Paly, McEvoy has said. Eleven students received suspensions and another six or seven were assigned to community service. Suspended students also were required to perform community service, McEvoy said. The “egg wars,” an unauthorized tradition of Paly’s Spirit Week, was spontaneously moved to an area behind Gunn after students encountered police at the originally planned location, a eucalyptus grove on the Stanford University campus. McEvoy said she alerted Stanford police when she heard rumors of the pending egg fight because Stanford last year complained to her about the egg mess. McEvoy initially issued five-day suspensions but reduced them to oneand two-day suspensions, saying the egg fight had not been as serious as early reports led her to believe. Some Paly parents, upset by what they view as McEvoy’s harsh and reactive discipline style, have called for a district-level administrative and Board of Education probe of the investigation conducted by Paly administrators, including questioning techniques. Some parents are alleging that students were pressured to identify their friends, and cell phones were confiscated and call records searched. McEvoy has denied that improper questioning or searching of cellphone records has occurred. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at ckenrick@paweekly. com.
Youth court (continued from page 3)
Lacey is one of several Youth Court staff members that act as attorneys, bailiffs and clerks during trials. “Helping kids make amends with the community feels so, so good,” Lacey, an aspiring attorney and Menlo-Atherton High School student, said. She said the program has made her a better law student and helped her mature. “When we’re dealing with a case, we’re dealing with someone’s life,” Lacey said. “We can’t play with that.” Youth Court members meet twice a week at the East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy on Bay Road, where they receive tutoring from Stanford law students, take lessons on juvenile justice and practice for Youth Court trials, Neta said. Still in its infant stages, the program was started this year and is currently seeking approval to operate as a formal diversion program for San Mateo County. Neta said he expects a regular stream of cases when trials resume next spring. The East Palo Alto Youth Court has received past funding from the Weekly Holiday Fund, All Stars Helping Kids, The Peery Foundation and other organizations. Additional funds this year would be used to provide training for Youth Court staff, arrange visits from speakers and pay for field trips to conferences, Neta said.
“We can go on doing what we’re doing, helping students and children out there,” Lacey said. Last year’s $7,500 grant from the Weekly’s Holiday Fund helped fund five Youth Court members’ trip to Southern California for the Fourth Annual California Association of Youth Courts Summit in June. Lacey was one of the five. The program was born out of months of careful planning between various stakeholders such as Cordell, former East Palo Alto mayor Patricia Foster, East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald Davis, San Mateo County Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson and public-interest attorney Peggy Stevenson. While the program presently only accepts youths with minor offenses such as non-gang-related graffiti, curfew violations and petty theft, Cordell said the goal is to eventually obtain referrals for more serious offenses such as assault. “We want to ensure kids have opportunities to succeed,” board president Cleveland Prince said. “I believe in the future of every child that I come into contact with.” N Editorial Intern Royston Sim can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund supports local nonprofit organizations, and the campaign runs through mid-January. Contributors may make checks payable to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund and send them to PAW Holiday Fund, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302, or donate online through www.PaloAltoOnline.com.
Online This Week
These and other news stories were posted on Palo Alto Online throughout the week. For longer versions, go to www.PaloAltoOnline.com/news or click on “News” in the left, green column.
New dance studio unveiled at Children’s Theatre The completion of a newly renovated dance studio in the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre complex will provide more than 500 dance students and performers with a space for performance rehearsals and dance classes annually. (Posted Nov. 24 at 3:41 p.m.)
NASA Ames breakthrough: algae makes biofuel Thanks to technology developed at Moffett Field’s NASA Ames, fuel for cars, trucks and planes can now be produced at your local sewage treatment plant. (Posted Nov. 24 at 11:02 a.m.)
Man beaten, robbed at Mountain View 7-Eleven Police say a 40-year-old Mountain View man was beaten and robbed by four attackers in a 7-Eleven parking lot Sunday evening. (Posted Nov.
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Miss California USA crown eludes Paly grad Enduring a grueling schedule this weekend, Palo Alto High School graduate and “Miss Palo Alto” Amy Rogg remained upbeat despite failing to win the title of Miss California USA Sunday afternoon. “I’m happy just to be in it,” Rogg, 23, told the Weekly in an interview Sunday night. (Posted Nov. 23 at 2:25 p.m.)
Elegant and Versatile Italian Wool Throw.
Firefighters respond to gas leak on Cambridge
Visit McRoskey online for more holiday gift ideas.
A gas leak on Cambridge Avenue in Palo Alto prompted city officials to shut off gas service to area businesses Monday afternoon. (Posted Nov. 23 at 12:24 p.m.)
Atherton resident dies in homebuilt-plane crash
Atherton resident and attorney Gary Lampert, 58, died after his experimental aircraft caught fire and crashed north of an apple orchard near Watsonville Saturday, according to the Santa Cruz County coroner’s office and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). (Posted Nov. 23 at 5:58 a.m.)
Want to get news briefs e-mailed to you every weekday? Sign up for Express, our new daily e-edition. Go to www.PaloAltoOnline.com to sign up.
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hen you are shopping for the holidays, remember your community and support your locally owned independent businesses. When you do, more of the dollars you spend remain in the local community compared to big box and chain stores. Local merchants know the community and are experts in selecting merchandise that is based on what you like and want. Shop with awareness. In a down economy with many businesses at risk, you are voting with your dollars. If you value a diverse local economy, choose to support these and other independent, locally owned businesses.
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Here are some good reasons to shop at locally owned businesses this holiday season and all year:
â€˘ It helps the environment. Buying locally saves transportation fuel. Plus you get products that you know are â€˘ It keeps dollars in our economy. safe and well made, because our For every $100 a consumer neighbors stand behind them. spends, local businesses give back $68 to the local economy, â€˘ It nurtures our community. chain stores only give back $43. Studies show that local businesses donate to â€˘ It makes us unique. Thereâ€™s community causes at more than no place like the Peninsula! twice the rate of chains. Homegrown businesses are part of what makes us special. â€˘ It conserves tax dollars. Spending locally ensures that â€˘ It creates local jobs. Local your sales taxes are reinvested businesses are the best at where they belong, right here in creating higher-paying jobs for your community. our neighbors.
This message is brought to you by Hometown Peninsula, an alliance of locally-owned independent businesses. We strive to maintain our unique community character, to educate local residents that purchasing locally creates a strong local economy and bring back the vibrant hometown to our communities that is being displaced by national chains and online stores.
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Trader Joe’s opens on December 4!
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Town & Country Village, 855 El Camino Real, Suite 125, Palo Alto,CA 94301 (between Day One & Honeys and Heroes)
Share the Warmth! Town & Country Village Merchants are collecting new or gently used coats to help those in need through January 31, 2010. Visit www.tandcvillage.com for drop off locations
Do you Nanoo? European made children’s clothing and accessories.
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s we plan for the holiday season, we reﬂect upon the ﬁne selection of local businesses that serve our community’s needs so well. Palo Alto boasts a wide variety of retail stores that offer gifts to meet the tastes and budgets of just about everyone… from shops located in neighborhood centers to California Avenue and Downtown to our regional shopping centers that provide unique one-of-a-kind art pieces to high-style designer clothing… and holiday decorations and cards to the most delectable baked goods or special ingredients for your family celebrations. It’s all here in Palo Alto. Since the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, it’s a great time to take advantage of Palo Alto’s many restaurants… to save time for yourself or to entertain friends and family. No matter where you shop in Palo Alto, you’ll ﬁnd eateries to satisfy your hunger. And when you “shop local” you support your community in more ways than one. Not only do you support the vitality of local
shops, restaurants and their employees, you participate in building community. When you shop Downtown this holiday season, you can participate in one of the many events planned for the renovated Lytton Plaza. You can help the California Avenue merchants support the Toys for Tots drive on Sunday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. when Santa arrives on the Cal Train. Town & Country Shopping Center businesses will match your food donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank pound for pound starting November 23 and Stanford Shopping Center will support area nonproﬁts Home and Hope, SV2 and the East Palo Alto Academy through gift wrapping services, gift tag sales and hot chocolate sales through the holiday shopping season. When you shop, eat and have fun in Palo Alto this holiday season you help to ensure that our businesses will continue to be an integral part of the distinctive character of our home. Thank you for shopping and dining locally!
This message brought to you by:
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W AY S T O G I V E , M U S I C , T H E AT E R , F A M I LY A C T I V I T I E S A N D S P E C I A L E V E N T S
Today’s news, sports & hot picks
Volunteers are needed to support distribution programs. Monetary donations are also welcome, as are donations of food, toys and clothing. A schedule of volunteer opportunities is available online. To sign up or to get more information, visit www. csacares.org/, email Alison Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-964-4630. 204 Stierlin Road, Mountain View.
Cops That Care The Mountain View Police Department is now accepting new, unwrapped toys and clothing as well as gift cards and cash. This program is designed for families in Mountain View that are unable to purchase gifts for their children this holiday season. Donations can be brought directly to the police department. For more information about this program, contact 650-903-6344. 1000 Villa St., Mountain View.
InnVision Donations of new books and toys are needed for distribution through the annual “Holiday Toy Shoppe.”
Donate New, Unwrapped Gifts to the InnVision Holiday Toy and Teen Shoppe The InnVision Holiday Toy & Teen Shoppe enables clients to participate in the giving from the heart tradition of the Holiday Season. The week before Christmas, family members select from thousands of donated gifts to give to their loved ones for the holidays. Need a gift idea? Visit us at www.InnVision.org
Donations may be dropped off at the following sites: Opportunity Services Ctr. 33 Encina Avenue Palo Alto M-F 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM 650.853.8672 Georgia Travis Ctr. 297 Commercial St. San Jose M-F 12:30 PM – 3:30PM 408.453.3124 Want to Volunteer? Contact Jaynie Neveras JNeveras @InnVision.org 408.292.4286 x 1018
Benefiting Homeless Individuals and Families at 20 sites throughout Silicon Valley This space donated as a community service by the Palo Alto Weekly
Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos.
Where to give
Happy Holidays from
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California Avenue Shopping District merchants welcome one and all to ring in the Holiday Season at 7:30 on Sunday, December 6, when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on the Holiday Train at the Cal Ave Caltrain depot. The Holiday Train is bedecked with 40,000 lights and festooned with decorations as it makes its annual run from San Francisco. The Salvation Army Brass Band and a live chorus will lead caroling from a special car on the train. Bins are available to donate new, unwrapped toys and books for the U.S. Marine Corp Reserves ”Toys for Tots” program and the Salvation Army toy drive to beneﬁt needy Bay Area children.
230 S. California Ave., Suite 103, Palo Alto Phone: 650-324-3800 Email: FTP230@gmail.com
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Donors are also needed to â€œadoptâ€? families and individual clients
Dec. 3 & 4 3-7:30 p.m.
through donations of gifts and gift cards. Donations of canned food and
coffee are also welcome. Visit www. innvision.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 650-324-5357. Food donations are accepted Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All food donations can go 425 Hamilton address at the All Saints Church. Toys and other gifts can be sent to the Opportunity Center at 33 Encina Ave, Palo Alto.
Pet Food Express
Free gifts with purchase
TO W E AL
BEST OF 2009
BEST STATIONERY STORE
Great and meaningful cards and gifts
yourself at Aven e t idas a n ! e v u
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Raise money for a nonprofit catrescue organization and Palo Alto Animal Services on Saturday, Dec. 12, from noon to 4 p.m., by bringing pets to have their pictures taken with Santa Claus. All proceeds benefit Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue (IBOK) and its emergency medical fund. Photos are $10 for one, $15 for two, and all participants receive a free thank-you gift from Pet Food Express. Throughout the month of December, the store is also offering a â€œgiving tree,â€? with proceeds benefiting Palo Alto Animal Services and IBOK. Customers can make donations of foods and toys after selecting ornaments from the storeâ€™s Christmas tree. Visit www.petfoodexpress.com or call 650-856-6666. 3910 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.
PETCOâ€™s Tree of Hope Fundraiser
Reiki ÂŒ Feldenkrais ÂŒ Podiatry Screenings ÂŒ Health Information ÂŒ Massage Hypnotherapy ÂŒ Acupuncture Holiday gift certificates available! For more information, please call (650) 289-5400 or visit www.avenidas.org.
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HOLIDAY FAIR Fine Crafts U Local Artists December 11, 12, 13, 2009 Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10-5 Hoover House (aka â€œThe Girl Scout Houseâ€?) 1120 Hopkins, Palo Alto for information: 650-625-1736 or TheArtifactory@aol.com
Through Dec. 24, PETCO stores are selling ornament cards in denominations of $1, $5, $10 or $20 to benefit the PETCO Foundation for orphaned animals. Donations may also be made online. Visit www.petco.com or call 650-966-1233. 1919 El Camino Real, Mountain View.
Ronald McDonald House at Stanford The house has holiday â€œgiving ornamentsâ€? (with one needed item listed on each ornament) available for decorating office Christmas trees or other holiday displays. The â€œwishlistâ€? items are also displayed online. New, unwrapped gifts should be brought to the house. Monetary donations and volunteers are always appreciated as well. For information on obtaining and using the â€œgiving ornaments,â€? contact Olga Corral at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650470-6008. For general information, visit www.ronaldhouse.net or call 650 470-6000. 520 Sand Hill Road, Palo Alto.
St. Anthonyâ€™s of Padua Dining Room
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University Art Palo Alto 650-328-3500 267 Hamilton Avenue For holiday gift ideas, visit UniversityArt.com Be sure to visit our stores in San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento too!
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526 Waverley Street Downtown Palo Alto 650-328-8555
The St. Anthonyâ€™s Padua Dining Room needs hams, fresh produce and all the trimmings for its Christmas Meal served on Dec. 25 from noon to 2:30 p.m. to the needy. New toys are also needed to give away for children 2-14 years of age to be distributed on Christmas Eve. Open hours for donations are 8 a.m. -4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and holiday-food donations can be accepted throughout December. Monetary and clothing donations are also accepted, as well as canned goods of all kinds. Visit paduadiningroom. com, 3500 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park or call 650-365-9665 or 650365-9664.â€?
Support Network for Battered Women SNBW is seeking gift cards in small
W AY S T O G I V E , M U S I C , T H E AT E R , F A M I LY A C T I V I T I E S A N D S P E C I A L E V E N T S
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra presents â€œGloria!â€? Philharmonia Chorale director Bruce Lamott and co-concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock will conduct the Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorale in a concert of instrumental
and vocal Baroque holiday favorites, featuring Vivaldiâ€™s â€œWinterâ€? from â€œThe Four Seasonsâ€? and â€œGloria.â€? Fri., Dec. 4, 8-10:30 p.m. $30-$75. First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto. email@example.com
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E E KL
Through Dec. 18, new, unwrapped toys for children of all ages can be dropped off at local Coldwell Banker offices. The toys will be delivered by the United States Marine Corps Reserve to local charitable organizations, which will do the distribution to kids. Coldwell Banker locations include 245 Lytton Ave., Ste. 100, Palo Alto; 800 El Camino Real, Ste. 300, Menlo Park; 116 Portola Road, Portola Valley; 2969 Woodside Road, Woodside.
Sounds of the season
Toys For Tots
cards and decorate cookies to be donated to the patients at the Palo Alto
denominations for families in critical need. A list of appropriate gift cards is available online. Normal office hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.snbw. org/donate/gift_cards.htm, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-541-6100 ext. 135. 1257 Tasman Drive, Sunnyvale.
Veterans Hospital. It is asked that attendees bring either cookie dough to bake or already-baked cookies to donate. Sugar-free cookies are preferred. The YMCA is at 3412 Ross Road, Palo Alto.
BEST OF 2009
The Palo Alto YMCA Nov. 27 through Dec. 14, the Palo Alto Family YMCA will be collecting gifts for The Family Giving Tree, to provide a present for every child, adult and senior who has asked for one. The giving tree will be displayed in the lobby with cards attached to it, and interested parties can take one or more cards and purchase the gift listed on the card, returning the gift unwrapped to the YMCA, with the card attached. The YMCA will also have blank cards available if individuals would prefer to write a check or give a gift card. To donate to The Family Giving Tree online, visit www. thefamilygivingtree.org. Also, Thursday, Dec. 10, the Holiday Card and Cookie Making Social will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. where participants will create
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