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Title Pages 19
Eating Out 30
N News Edgewood Plaza revamp plan moves ahead
N Arts ‘Familiar Strangers’ debuts at Pear Theatre
N Sports CCS basketball titles at stake
Palo Alto Medical Foundation Community Health Education Programs
-OUNTAIN 6IEW s 0ALO !LTO
&OR A COMPLETE LIST OF CLASSES AND CLASS FEES LECTURES AND HEALTH EDUCATION RESOURCES VISIT pamf.org/healtheducation.
Lectures and Workshops
Past, Present, and Forever: Making the Most of Your Aging Journey Senior Lecture Series
– Exercise for Energy – men and women’s group – Expressions – Healing Imagery – Healing Touch
Presented by Peter H. Cheng, M.D., PAMF Geriatric Medicine, and Kelly Reilly, R.N., MSN, CDE, PAMF Diabetes Education Monday, Mar. 12, 2:30 – 4 p.m. 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-853-4873 Join Dr. Cheng and Ms. Reilly on an action-packed excursion to learn how to best take charge of your health as you get older.
Sleep and Your Child Parent Workshop Lecture Series Presented by Elizabeth Copeland, M.D., PAMF Pediatrics Tuesday, Mar. 13, 7 – 8:30 p.m. 701 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View, 650-934-7373 Understand sleep safety basics, learn importance of and recommendations for hours of sleep and discuss sleep training methods.
Eat Your Way to True Happiness! For Your Health Community Lecture Series Presented by Darcie Ellyne, R.D., M.S., CDE, PAMF Nutrition Services Tuesday, Mar. 13, 7 – 8:30 p.m. 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-853-4873 This lecture will help you understand the impact of food on how you feel, think, act, and sleep. You will learn to develop eating strategies that will boost your mood, eliminate that gnawing, craving for junk food and help you slim down and feel great.
Don’t Turn Green, LIVE Green Library Lecture Series Presented by Barbara Erny, M.D. Wednesday, Mar. 14, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Sunnyvale Public Library 655 W. Olive Avenue, Sunnyvale, 650-934-7373 By the end of this introduction to living “green,” you’ll understand what chemicals are present in your everyday environment, know about the safest fruits and vegetables, how to reduce your chemical intake, and learn what you can do to reduce environmental chemical exposure for you and your family.
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– Healthy Eating After Cancer Treatment – Look Good, Feel Better – Qigong – When Eating is a Problem, During Cancer Treatment
Childbirth and Parent Education Classes – – – – – – – –
Baby Safety Basics Breastfeeding Childbirth Preparation Feeding Your Young Child Infant and Child CPR Infant Care Infant Emergencies and CPR Introduction to Solids
– Mother-Baby Circle – New Parent ABC’s – All About Baby Care – OB Orientation – Prenatal Yoga – Sibling Preparation – What to Expect with Your Newborn
Living Well Classes – Back School – Mind/Body Stress Management – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Nutrition and Diabetes Classes Mountain View, 650-934-7177 s Palo Alto, 650-853-2961
– Diabetes Management – Healthy Eating with Type 2 Diabetes – Heart Smart (cholesterol management)
– Living Well with Prediabetes – Sweet Success Program (gestational diabetes)
Weight Management Programs – Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Program – Healthy eating. Active lifestyles. (for parents of children ages 2-12)
– HMR Weight Management Program – Lifesteps® (adult weight management) – New Weigh of Life (adult weight management)
Support Groups – – – – –
AWAKE Bariatric Surgery Breastfeeding Cancer CARE
– – – – –
Chronic Fatigue Diabetes Drug and Alcohol Kidney Multiple Sclerosis
Local news, information and analysis
Plan to revitalize Edgewood Plaza moves ahead Palo Alto’s planning commission approves proposal to rehabilitate three stores, build 10 homes at Eichler shopping center by Gennady Sheyner
shopping plaza anchored by The Fresh Market grocery store and featuring a small park could soon take shape at Palo Alto’s Edgewood Plaza after the city’s planning commissioners agreed Wednesday night, Feb.
29, to approve a zone change that would enable the project. The proposal to redevelop Edgewood Plaza, the only local shopping plaza to be developed by iconic home-builder Joseph Eichler, has gone through several iterations throughout the years-long approval
process. Developer John Tze of Sand Hill Property Company had previously proposed building 24 homes on the plaza, a plan that was widely panned by residents in the adjacent neighborhoods. The new proposal, for which the Planning and Transportation Com-
mission approved a zone change by a 6-0 vote (Greg Tanaka was absent), includes 10 homes and renovations to the three original retail buildings on the plaza, which is bounded by Embarcadero Road, Channing Avenue and West Bayshore Road. The most critical component of
the new plaza will be a 20,000square-foot grocery store that would occupy the building once occupied by Albertsons (formerly Lucky Supermarket). Albertsons left Edgewood in 2006. (continued on page 12)
Surveys: Student emotional health improving Schools report on citywide initiatives to boost teen wellness after suicides
and captured images of crimes, which can most definitely be useful in some circumstances,” Watson said. Duveneck residents had also asked for the Public Works department to trim trees and improve lighting. Watson said the department is looking into those improvements. Joel Henner, a neighborhood leader who has worked on emergency preparation and reconstituting some form of neighborhood watch, said crews have been trimming the shrubs and trees this week, and it has made a difference. He has also noticed increased police patrols, he said.
by Chris Kenrick alo Alto students gained a bit of ground in their overall social-emotional well-being between 2007 and 2011, according to survey data presented Tuesday, Feb. 28, to the Board of Education. Results of the California Healthy Kids Survey as well as the Palo Alto Reality Check Survey showed improvement in areas of student “school connectedness” and relationships with adults. Tuesday’s presentation came in a school board review of initiatives to boost “student connectedness” — a much-discussed priority for schools following a devastating string of Palo Alto student suicides in 2009 and 2010. In response to the tragedies, the school district helped form a community-wide youth mental-health coalition, Project Safety Net, and hired a staff member to coordinate an array of efforts related to student social-emotional health. The schools, along with many community groups, also adopted a youth-wellness framework known as the Developmental Assets, a list of characteristics needed for healthy development that is now widely promoted across Palo Alto. Nearly three years after the first student died in what came to be labeled a “suicide cluster,” Tuesday’s progress report delivered by school Student Services Coordinator Amy Drolette was greeted with praise. “We asked you to stitch together this net at a time when people were raw — I think that’s the word,” Superintendent Kevin Skelly said of Project Safety Net. “It’s a sign of how this community is dedicated to kids, but we still have a lot of work to do.” The Healthy Kids survey, given in
(continued on page 13)
(continued on page 17)
Checking out the modern drive-in Sabastian and Samay Jauregur adjust the steering wheel on their “car,” made out of a cardboard box, during the Box Car Drive-In event hosted by the Palo Alto Children’s Library on Wednesday, Feb. 29. The library provided building materials, license plates and driver’s licenses, and children got to watch cartoons while sitting in their new automobiles.
Duveneck residents call for surveillance cameras After spate of burglaries, neighborhood wants licenseplate readers to combat burglaries, street robberies by Sue Dremann
n armed street robbery on Feb. 15 and a rash of residential burglaries last week in Palo Alto has some residents calling for the city to install surveillance cameras and license-plate readers, and others ramping up efforts to com-
municate with their neighbors. Duveneck residents, who live near Embarcadero Road and U.S. Highway 101, asked Palo Alto police to consider adding cameras or plate readers at the neighborhood’s three access points after a man walking
his dog was held up at gunpoint. But Capt. Ron Watson told the residents in an email that he did not think it would be possible to blanket the area with cameras. “While I understand the concern for your neighborhood, it ... wouldn’t do anything if any future crime happened to occur in an area adjacent to your neighborhood,” he wrote. In addition, he said, the department proposed using grant money a few years ago to purchase a licenseplate reader to look for stolen vehicles and other criminal activity, but the City Council felt the idea leaned too far toward “Big Brother.” “Having said that, there are any number of citizens who have placed video cameras around their home
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Palo Alto Historical Association presents a public program
Life in Black and White Presenters:
Henry and Rochelle Ford 4HE &ORDS IN THEIR SCULPTURE GARDEN
Sunday, March 4, 2012, 2:00 p.m. Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middleﬁeld Road, Palo Alto 2EFRESHMENTS s .O ADMISSION CHARGE
PUBLISHER William S. Johnson EDITORIAL Jocelyn Dong, 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 Tom Gibboney, Spectrum Editor Sue Dremann, Chris Kenrick, Gennady Sheyner, Staff Writers Eric Van Susteren, Editorial Assistant, Internship Coordinator Veronica Weber, Staff Photographer Kelsey Kienitz, Photo Intern Dale F. Bentson, Colin Becht, Peter Canavese, Kit Davey, Iris Harrell, Sheila Himmel, Chad Jones, Karla Kane, Kevin Kirby, Jack McKinnon, Jeanie K. Smith, Susan Tavernetti, Contributors Cristina Wong, Editorial Intern DESIGN Shannon Corey, Design Director Raul Perez, Assistant Design Director Linda Atilano, Diane Haas, Scott Peterson, Paul Llewellyn, Senior Designers Lili Cao, Designer PRODUCTION Jennifer Lindberg, Production Manager Dorothy Hassett, Samantha Mejia, Blanca Yoc, Sales & Production Coordinators ADVERTISING Tom Zahiralis, Vice President Sales & Advertising Judie Block, Adam Carter, Janice Hoogner, Brent Triantos, Display Advertising Sales Neal Fine, Carolyn Oliver, Rosemary Lewkowitz, Real Estate Advertising Sales David Cirner, Irene Schwartz, Inside Advertising Sales Cathy Norfleet, Display Advertising Sales Asst. Diane Martin, Real Estate Advertising Asst. Alicia Santillan, Classified Administrative Asst. Wendy Suzuki, Advertising Sales Intern EXPRESS, ONLINE AND VIDEO SERVICES Rachel Palmer, Online Operations Coordinator Rachel Hatch, Multimedia Product Manager BUSINESS Susie Ochoa, Payroll & Benefits Elena Dineva, Mary McDonald, Claire McGibeny, Cathy Stringari, Business Associates ADMINISTRATION Janice Covolo, Doris Taylor, Receptionists Ruben Espinoza, Courier
NELLY SACHS: Migration and Memory, Poetry and Context A special evening featuring a workshop, dramatic poetry reading and reception )5(($1'23(1727+(38%/,&6($7,1*,6/,0,7('
RSVP required by Mar. 5 at http://europe.stanford.edu/events/registration/6883 For more info., please visit http://europe.stanford.edu
THURSDAY MAR. 8TH, 4:30-7:30pm
ALBERT M. BENDER ROOM at THE GREEN LIBRARY STANFORD UNIVERSITY Page 4ÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞ
EMBARCADERO MEDIA William S. Johnson, President Michael I. Naar, Vice President & CFO Tom Zahiralis, Vice President Sales & Advertising Frank A. Bravo, Director, Information Technology & Webmaster Connie Jo Cotton, Major Accounts Sales Manager Bob Lampkin, Director, Circulation & Mailing Services Alicia Santillan, Circulation Assistant Chris Planessi, Chip Poedjosoedarmo, Computer System Associates The Palo Alto Weekly (ISSN 0199-1159) is published every Friday by Embarcadero Media, 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 ©2012 by Embarcadero Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. The Palo Alto Weekly is available on the Internet via Palo Alto Online at: www.PaloAltoOnline.com Our email addresses are: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Missed delivery or start/stop your paper? Call 650 326-8210, or email circulation@paweekly. com. You may also subscribe online at www.PaloAltoOnline.com. Subscriptions are $60/yr.
Support your local newspaper by becoming a paid subscriber. $60 per year. $100 for two years. Name: _________________________________ Address: _______________________________ City/Zip: _______________________________ Mail to: Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610. Palo Alto CA 94302
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
450 CAMBRIDGE AVE, PALO ALTO, CA 94306 (650) 326-8210
This place should be inhospitable to crooks.
— Joel Henner, a Palo Alto neighborhood leader, on reconstituting a watch program in the Duveneck/ St. Francis neighborhood. See story on page 3.
Around Town TWEET TWEET ... Explaining Palo Alto’s budget problems or transportation projects in 140 characters or less is no easy feat, but that won’t stop Mayor Yiaway Yeh and City Manager James Keene from trying. On Monday, the two joined the city’s Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental in the city’s first-ever Twitter Q&A — a chance for residents to pose pressing questions and get brief answers about city government. The questions varied from big-picture inquiries (What are your goals for 2012?) to the specific (one questioner wanted the latest on the grant application for California Avenue streetscape improvements). The answers came in wonky bursts. When asked about goals, Yeh responded: “2012 = Year of Infrastructure & Renewal. Open Data-Hackathons! Youth Health and Well-Being. Balanced Budget. Mayor’s Challenge.” Why are the city’s revenues dropping? Keene responded: “Slow revenues = Prop 13 & sales tax dips as economy shifts to services.” In some cases, the answers weren’t as concise as they could’ve been. When asked whether he believes voters will approve a measure in November to legalize marijuana dispensaries, Yeh forewent a simple “No comment” or “Don’t know” in favor of, “Not in the business of predicting outcomes that are determined by the vote of the people.” At other times, officials were able to cram generous heaps of substance into their 140 characters. When asked about the California Avenue grant, Yeh responded: “The important project will be proceeding but grant funding at risk this year due to litigation. We remain committed.” Officials said after the event that they were pleased with their first foray into Twittersphere. “There were many lessons learned, in particular, realizing that 30 minutes is too short for a session,” they wrote at the end of the Q&A transcript. FANTASYLAND ... Before Mayor Yiaway Yeh took to the stage to deliver his State of the City address, Assemblyman Rich Gordon took the stage to introduce Yeh (the two had worked together when Gordon served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors). Gordon praised Yeh’s intellect and noted the mayor’s penchant for asking questions. “What impressed me the most — and what probably drives most colleagues a little crazy — is that he is completely inquisitive,”
Gordon said. “He always wants to know how, why, when, where and what.” Gordon, meanwhile, received a much pithier introduction from Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, who noted that Gordon had once worked at Disneyland. That experience, Scharff said, prepared Gordon “for being an assemblyman because he worked in Fantasyland.” DOWNTOWN ... For the latest sign that the local economy is improving, look no further than downtown Palo Alto. The city’s “commercial downtown” zoning area has seen a marked drop in vacancy rate and an increase in retail rents, according to an annual survey of downtown that the city released this week. While the vacancy rate in this area was 6.39 percent in 2008-09, it has dropped to 2 percent in 2010-11, the report states. Rent, meanwhile, has gone up. For small office spaces on University Avenue, for example, rent ranged from $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot in last year’s monitoring report (not including insurance, janitorial services and taxes). This year, the range is between $4.50 and $7 per square foot, the report states. It’s conclusion? “Economic conditions in Palo Alto downtown area are improving gradually.” PRESIDENTIAL PROPS ... Linsanity has reached the White House. President Barack Obama talked about the Palo Alto High School graduate and current New York Knicks point guard during an interview Wednesday, Feb. 29, with ESPN’s Bill Simmons. “I’ve been on the Jeremy Lin bandwagon for a while,” Obama said. “He seems like a wonderful young man. And, look, it elevates this great sport all around the world.” TECHY TIDBITS ... Palo Alto city workers will soon be saying farewell to their desktop computers as part of the city’s effort to become more green, modern and flexible. An announcement from the IT Department this week notes that the city plans to replace most desktops with laptops. “These laptops will use up to 90 percent less power than desktops and will enable staff to access their applications and information without being tethered to a fixed location,” the announcement states. The city also plans to look into whether it makes sense for staff to have tablet computers. N
Upfront CITY HALL
Yeh lays out vision for Palo Alto’s ‘renewal’ Mayor’s ‘State of the City’ speech focuses on infrastructure upgrades, citizen engagement roclaiming 2012 the year of “renewal,” Mayor Yiaway Yeh used his “State of the City” address Monday, Feb. 27, to lay out a vision for sprucing up Palo Alto’s aged infrastructure and encouraging residents to become more engaged in city life. In a speech that lasted about 40 minutes and was delivered at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, Yeh briefly highlighted the City Council’s progress on its five annual priorities — finances, environmental sustainability, landuse and transportation, emergency preparedness and youth well-being. But most of his address focused on explaining the city’s drive to get its infrastructure in order and to inspire community engagement. The focus on infrastructure has been Yeh’s main theme since he took over as mayor last month. In his inauguration speech, Yeh declared 2012 as the “year of infrastructure renewal and investment.” On Monday, he recapped the recent work of the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Committee, which surveyed the city’s infrastructure needs and considered ways to pay for them. “I’m eager to move forward with the infrastructure improvements that the community expects,” Yeh said. At times, the themes of infrastructure and engagement intertwined. Yeh described a recent “hackathon” at Stanford University during which the city made its data on street con-
ditions available to students, who over the next 24 hours developed a website that allows residents to learn about the state of the streets they live on. A subsequent version of this interface allows residents to upload photos of their streets, a function that city officials hope will engage them with Palo Alto’s drive to accelerate the street repairs this year. Yeh cited the hackathon as an example of the city’s willingness to solve problems in new ways. Yeh said people often don’t know what city officials mean when they talk about “infrastructure” — a broad word with many definitions. He catalogued the city’s many physical assets, including fire stations, bridges and municipal buildings that make up infrastructure. “Ultimately, our physical assets support our community. Yet they often go unnoticed until something goes wrong,” Yeh said. “A street with too many potholes and cracks, a sidewalk pushed up by tree roots, a community center’s classroom with a leaking roof, or offices for our police department that won’t withstand a significant disaster.” Yeh said he has directed staff to analyze the possibility of using the city’s gas-tax receipts as leverage to borrow $12 million to repair streets. The goal of this “enhanced funding program” is to make the repairs without relying on the city’s General Fund or additional taxpayer money, he said.
by Gennady Sheyner
Yiaway Yeh, mayor of Palo Alto, delivers his State of the City address Monday, Feb. 27, at the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center on Fabian Way as former and current City Council colleagues and other local representatives, seated onstage, listen. Yeh also said the city may ask voters for a bond measure for other infrastructure repairs, but only after it has considered every other option for paying for the needed improvements. Another major council priority in 2012 will be figuring out how to pay for much needed upgrades of the city’s worn down and seismically vulnerable police building and the fire stations near Rinconada and Mitchell Parks. He said the council would hold a special retreat later in the year (one of three that would focus on infrastructure) to consider its options. “As you know, our police build-
Palo Alto looks to hike refuse rates Staff proposes 5 percent increase and new $2.09 fee this year; more dramatic changes ahead by Gennady Sheyner
alo Alto residents who try to limit their waste by switching to smaller trash cans could find their garbage rates spiking dramatically and possibly doubling over the next several years as part of the city’s effort to bring financial stability to its troubled refuse operation. The city has recently completed a “cost of service” study that proposes a radically different rate structure for residential customers. The goal is to stabilize the city’s Refuse Fund, which has been losing money in recent years, and to get away from the existing system under which commercial customers subsidize through their rates the cost of providing service to residents.
A new proposal from the Public Works Department calls for a 5.3 percent rate increase for all residential customers along with a $2.09 flat fee that would be tacked on to every residential bill to cover the cost of street sweeping. The increases could be phased in over several years but start in July. The study, which the city initiated in August 2010 and which the City Council’s Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss Tuesday night, March 6, offers a rate structure that would affect all residential customers but would have the most dramatic impact on those who conserve the most. Under this model, residents who use mini-cans (about
29 percent of all customers) would see their monthly refuse rates jump from $20.52 to $45.46, a 121 percent increase. The 55.7 percent of residential customers who use the standard 32-gallon cans would see their monthly rates go up from $37.58 to $50.48, a 37 percent increase. Meanwhile, those who use 64gallon cans would see their rates decline by 12 percent, from $72.46 to $63.86. Because of the severity of the spike for customers who use the two smallest containers, staff is recommending phasing the rate changes over two or three years, according to Brad Eggleston, the city’s solid waste manager. The
ing and fire stations currently suffer from decades-old wear and tear. They have doubtful functionality in the event of a major disaster in our community.” Yeh also ran through the city’s efforts to engage local youth, a council priority for the past two years. He mentioned the new Teen Center that will be built as part of the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center and the Teen Advisory Council that will work in the newly renovated Palo Alto Arts Center. He called on businesses to participate in the city’s effort to make teens feel welcome. “What can you as a business
Public Works Department proposes keeping “conservation pricing” in place to encourage smaller cans but to reduce the savings of conservation pricing by introducing a flat fee for all customers. The plummeting revenues in the Refuse Fund can, in many ways, be attributed to the city’s success in encouraging conservation through its Zero Waste program. By switching to smaller cans, residents bring down their trash bills and, in doing so, reduce the city’s revenues. In addition, more people recycle and compost — services for which the city has not been charging its residents. The council began dealing with this problem last year when it approved a flat rate hike of $4.62 percent for all customers, regardless of can size. The new rate structure, however, would bring much more significant changes. Under the cost-of-service model, the city would start charging all residential customers $7.66 for recycling, and $10.99 for picking up their yard trimmings and $6.71 for street sweeping.
READ MORE ONLINE
www.PaloAltoOnline.com The text of Mayor Yiaway Yeh’s State of the City speech has been posted on Palo Alto Online. To read it, search for “Yeh lays out vision.”
do?” Yeh asked. “One idea is to create deals-of-the day or week for our students. Another is to highlight how students can patronize your business. Think creatively how to incorporate high-schoolers with internships over the summer. Open up your business world to the curiosity and commitment of our (continued on page 12)
While the city is unlikely to introduce all these fees in the short term, the street-sweeping fee would kick in as early as July under the staff proposal. Because the council already added the $4.62 fee last year, it would need to tack on another $2.09 fee to achieve the $6.71 rate required to meet the cost of providing street-sweeping services. The model, in short, proposes a major shift from a system that provides pricing incentives for customers who switch to smaller cans to one in which rates reflect the actual cost of services. Under the model in the study, the difference between the rates for those who use mini-cans and those who use standard cans is only $5.02. Under the current structure, this difference is $16.96. On Tuesday, the Finance Committee is scheduled to review the staff recommendation and consider an array of other options, including some that extend the rate increases over a longer period of time and others that would eliminate conservation pricing. N
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Upfront CITY HALL
Salaries, benefits and number of Palo Alto city employees
Despite tax growth, Palo Alto braces for deficits
Peninsula, due to increased business activity.” Sales tax, meanwhile, “has been on an upward trend with strong department store and electronicequipment sales.” But while revenues are projected to grow, they are not expected to keep pace with expenditures, particularly the sharply rising cost of employee health care and pension benefits. The forecast pegs the total cost of benefits in fiscal year 2012 at $36.8 million. By 2017, the number could gradually balloon to $51.2 million because of the two trends. The city’s health care expenditures, according to the forecast, have grown by 126 percent over the past decade, going from $6.6 million in 2002 to $14.9 million this year. The trend is expected to continue and to swallow up a greater chunk of the city’s General Fund. The pension costs are following a similar trend, having jumped from $15.6 million in 2005 to $23.9 million in 2012. The rising expenditures carry bleak implications for the city’s General Fund. While the forecast shows a balanced budget this year, it projects a $2.1 million deficit in 2013, a $3.7 million deficit in 2014 and a $4.1 million deficit in 2015. The forecast notes that while city revenues are improving, expense increases “continue to outpace the growth in revenue.”
by Gennady Sheyner fter a two-year slump, Palo Alto is finally seeing some sunny news on the revenue front, though officials predict that the rapidly rising cost of employee benefits will continue to saddle the city with years of budget deficits. The two trends — rising revenues and spiking expenditures — are both detailed in the new Long Range Financial Forecast, which the City Council Finance Committee reviewed Tuesday night. The document is not so much a prediction as a “snapshot” based on various current assumptions, city staff said, but it shows a picture of changing finances following the 2008 recession. Palo Alto sales-tax revenues for fiscal year 2012 (which ends on June 30) are estimated at $21.6 million, exceeding the city’s adopted budget by $1.4 million. Hotel taxes rebounded last year after two years of declines, increasing by 17.8 percent between 2010 and 2011. This year, the numbers are expected to be even stronger. Tax revenues in the first quarter of 2012 exceeded those in 2011 by a whopping 26.2 percent and for the year are expected to be 7.3 percent higher than last year. The forecast states that the transient occupancy and per diem rates in Palo Alto “have moved up appreciably as they have along the entire
City’s new Long Range Financial Forecast shows sales taxes rising, employee expenditures spiking
653 623 $30.9
by Gennady Sheyner
ive months after the City of Palo Alto completed its long and bitter negotiations with the city’s firefighters union, officials and Palo Alto’s largest police union find themselves at odds. City officials declared an impasse in negotiations last Friday, Feb. 24, after six months of negotiations with the Palo Alto Police Officers Association. The decision sets the stage for a possible unilateral imposition of benefit reductions by the city on the union’s 82 members. The two sides began negotiations on July 27, 2011, and according to a letter from the city’s negotiator, Darrell Murray, have reached “deadlock” and remain far apart. The union’s previous contract had expired on June 30, 2011, but the terms of that agreement remain in place until a new contract is signed. The city’s struggle with the police union comes five months after
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Full-time equivalent permanent employees (FTE) Source: City of Palo Alto
City of Palo Alto employee benefits have increased over the past dozen years as a percentage of compensation, in spite of the decreasing number of full-time employees. “The city-revenue projections are rosier than they have looked for a couple of years, but benefit costs continue their relentless upward climb — outpacing the rate of revenue growth,” the forecast states. The report also notes that a recent actuarial valuation of Palo Alto’s unfunded retiree medical liability indicated that the city needs to set aside an additional $2.7 million in 2012 and $3.5 million in 2013 to cover the backlog. “The city clearly still has its work cut out for it in addressing its structural deficit,” the forecast states. While the forecast is a forwardlooking, big-picture document, its implications are already being felt in the city’s negotiations with
its labor groups. For the past three years, the city has been aggressively pressuring labor groups to cover a greater share of employees’ health care and pension expenditures (both of which have been entirely paid by the city). Most labor groups have already agreed (or, in some cases, have been forced to accept) less generous benefits, including a new requirement for them to chip in for medical costs and a two-tiered pension system under which newly hired employees get fewer benefits. The sharp rise in health care and pension costs is also one of the prime justifications for the city’s decision to declare an impasse last week in its negotiations with the
Palo Alto, police union deadlocked over contract it reached an agreement with the Palo Alto Professional Firefighters Association after 18 months of tense talks. The police union, however, has less leverage than the firefighters did because of the voters’ decision in November to repeal the binding-arbitration provision in the City Charter. The provision had empowered a panel of arbitrators to settle labor disputes between the city and its public-sector unions, which unlike other labor groups are legally barred from striking. Without binding arbitration, the city can impose its conditions on the police union. The impasse comes at a time when the city is trying to cope with budget deficits by seeking benefit reductions from all of its labor groups — a process that gained momentum three years ago. The city’s largest labor union, the Service Employees International Union, Local 521, was forced to accept benefit reductions, including a second pension tier for newly hired workers and a requirement to pay a share of health care costs (the city had previously paid all medical costs). The firefighters union agreed to similar concessions in
City declares impasse after six months of negotiations
September. Sgt. Wayne Benitez, president of the police union, told the Weekly that he was surprised by the city’s announcement of the impasse, an announcement that he said officials didn’t share with the union before publicizing it. Benitez said he doesn’t understand why “the police union, who has a proven track record of cooperating with the city, could not even get the same concessions as the fire department received.” “We offered considerable concessions to the City, but the City denied them,” Benitez said. The city’s current budget, which the council passed in June, assumed concessions by both major publicsafety unions. City Manager James Keene has stated on many occasions that every labor group would need to make sacrifices to help the city cope with consecutive years of budget deficits — gaps that are largely driven by increases in pension and health care costs. The city’s newly released longterm financial forecast projects a $2 million deficit in fiscal year 2013 followed by budget gaps of
$3.7 million and $4 million in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The impasse creates a major wrinkle in what has been a generally amicable relationship between the city and its police union. While the City Council has engaged in various highly publicized spats with the fire union, it has consistently lauded the police union’s willingness to work with the city. In 2009, the union had agreed to defer its negotiated 6 percent wage increases by a year, helping the city close the budget gap. Keene said in a statement that while the city “greatly appreciated” the union’s decision to defer its members’ raises for a year, it is now looking for “ongoing structural savings.” “The City has reached agreements that include employee pay and benefit concessions with all of our other labor groups,” Keene said. “We expect the POA to participate fully with our other employees in concessions to help ensure the City’s fiscal sustainability.” Murray noted in his declaration of impasse that public-safety expenditures have been gradually taking a bigger chunk of the city’s General
Palo Alto Police Officers Association after six months of meetings (see story below). The city’s negotiator, Darrell Murray, highlighted the two trends in his declaration of the impasse. The city’s medical insurance premium payments per employee have gone up by 21.1 percent since 2008, rising from $10,500 to $12,713. Furthermore, the city’s pension contribution for police employees was 23.6 percent of earnable compensation in 2008, a rate that has gone up to 30.1 percent. “Clearly, public agencies have reason for concern that pension costs will continue to consume increasing shares of their budgets,” Murray wrote. N Fund, which pays for basic city services (not including utilities). In fiscal year 2006, 25 percent of the General Fund was allocated to public safety. The number went up to 36 percent in fiscal year 2011. An average member of the police union gets a salary of $104,013. The average salary and benefits total about $185,616. “As the City has often stated, it believes that fairness dictates that all employees contribute in a manner that would involve a measure of real and immediate adverse impact — without a wage increase to absorb that impact,” Murray wrote. “The Police Officers’ Association stands alone in its continued unwillingness to meet this measure of shared sacrifice — sacrifice that the City’s lowest paid employees began to experience over two years ago.” Lalo Perez, the city’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that the city continues to expend “significant resources” to support fair bargaining with its unions but noted that labor groups sometimes find delay preferable to settlement “because the existing contract with its better compensation package stays in effect until a new agreement is reached. “It is not feasible or fair to our taxpayers for negotiations without real progress to be prolonged,” Perez said. N
Gunn sisters juggle academics with life at the VA On-site hospital residence for families enables them to stick with dad
hen Amber and Julie Jacobson tell classmates at Gunn High School they live down the street at the VA Hospital, they’re astounded that some say they’ve never heard of it. “They know nothing about it,” said Julie, a freshman, who recently tried to explain military life — and the concept of an Army PX store — to a friend who “just couldn’t wrap her head around it.” Since last August, the Jacobson sisters have been living with their mother, Amy Jacobson, in Fisher House, an onsite residence for families of patients at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System. Their dad, Sgt. Martin Jacobson, lives a stone’s throw away in the hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury Unit. A U.S. Army plumber, he was paralyzed from the shoulders down following a beach accident last July in Hawaii, just as he was preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. The disastrous consequences of a dive into a sandbar upended the lives of the Jacobsons, who had spent the last two years on Army assignment in Korea. They abruptly shifted gears, following Martin Jacobson from Hawaii — where they had planned to live while he was in Afghanistan — to the Palo Alto Spinal Cord Injury Unit. “My dad’s the same person he always was — he just can’t move now,” said Amber, 16, a sophomore at Gunn. She and her sister stop to see their father each morning on their way to
school. During the afternoons, they settle into his hospital room with their books and laptops, using the wide window ledge as a desk to do their homework. Their older brother, Brandon Jacobson, 21, serves with the Army at Fort Bragg, N.C. Amy Jacobson spends her days trying to support her husband, preparing some of his favorite foods — Filipino dishes, soup, roast beef sandwiches — in the spacious kitchen at Fisher House and carrying them across the street to handfeed him. Amber and Julie say their academic transition to Gunn has not been difficult. “My school in Korea was challenging, so it isn’t that different,” Amber said. Making friends was more of a challenge. “People here grew up together. They know each other, and they’re not used to moving around,” 14year-old Julie said. “They already have their own groups, and when you come in, you have to find your own friends.” She finally started feeling comfortable in November, when she got to know classmates better on field trips to Yosemite and Jasper Ridge. Having just come from Korea, “We connect with the Korean kids (at Gunn) very easily,” Amber said. “I tell them what school I went to, and they know it.” Amber was surprised, upon joining the Model UN Club at Gunn, to find students she had known in Korea in the same organization.
by Chris Kenrick
From left, Amber and Julie Jacobson visit their father, Martin Jacobson, in his room at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System on Tuesday, Feb. 28. “They probably moved here the same time I did,” she said. Still, it’s tough to put down roots when they know their situation is temporary. “I keep trying to do sports, but it’s expensive, and I have to get signatures from my old school, and that’s hard because it’s in Korea,” Amber said. The family now anticipates a mid-March departure date for a new home at Travis Air Force Base, but little seems to be certain. Martin Jacobson’s room in the Spinal Cord Injury Unit is decorated with self-portraits by Julie, her drawing of Honolulu’s Diamond Head as seen from Jacobson’s room in the Intensive Care Unit of Tripler Army Medical Center, and other family memorabilia. Jacobson, 46, is up and about in his wheelchair, after having been bedridden for months and gradually
weaned from breathing assistance. He can make phone calls, switch TV channels, send email and surf the Web using voice-recognition technology, a small, circular “mouse” stuck in the middle of his forehead and other technology. “It’s definitely a new lifestyle for me,” Jacobson said. “I’ve learned some freedom, but it’s not a lot. After three months of lying in bed, I really started wondering what use I am, so that’s probably my biggest challenge — being of use again.” Of his family, he said, “They’ve been through a lot. “Amber does volunteer work here, and she’s interacted with soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and talked to me about how she can see the difference. “She seems to be thankful for what’s left of me.” Since its opening six years ago,
the 21 suites in Fisher House have provided temporary shelter to more than 3,000 families, according to Palo Alto VA spokeswoman Kerri Childress. Many families come through with young children, and about 20 have had kids old enough to attend local schools, a Fisher House staff member said. U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki recently approved a second Fisher House for the Palo Alto VA campus, to be built through the fundraising efforts of the Fisher House Foundation and local volunteers. Major donors for the first Fisher House were Palo Alto businessman John Arrillaga, Cadence Design, Inc., and local Rotary Clubs, Childress said. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly. com.
Board ponders Addison Elementary boundary change Minor shift is part of city-wide discussion of enrollment, facilities by Chris Kenrick chool officials are pondering changes to the attendance boundaries of the crowded Addison Elementary School as a temporary fix among longer-term, citywide challenges of matching new classroom buildings to where children live. The possible change would switch a portion of Professorville, as well as current Addison households south of Embarcadero Road, from Addison into the Walter Hays attendance area. Superintendent Kevin Skelly said he would return in April with specific recommendations on the boundary change for consideration by the Board of Education. In recent years, the boundaries have led to frequent “overflows” of Addison children into Walter Hays
and other schools, creating uncertainty for parents and home-buyers in the Addison neighborhood, Skelly said. A boundary change would offer more predictability for families, he said. The Addison proposal was a detail in a far larger discussion held in a Board of Education study session Tuesday, Feb. 28, to consider longterm enrollment projections and facilities planning. Though little consensus emerged on specifics, board members generally agreed there’s a need in the near future for a 13th elementary school and — perhaps more urgently — a fourth middle school in Palo Alto. They specifically mentioned two possible sites for expansion: the Garland campus at 870 N. California Ave. and the Greendell campus combined with the district’s new ac-
quisition of an adjacent parcel at 525 San Antonio Road. However, several members noted that many more desks soon will be needed on the west side of El Camino Real due to Stanford University’s plans to build faculty housing on El Camino between California Avenue and Page Mill Road, and on California Avenue south of Hanover Street. Board members did not specifically address a proposal by Skelly to postpone until at least 2019 any consideration of school facilities at Cubberley Community Center on Middlefield Road. With the school district’s longterm lease of Cubberley to the city coming up for renewal, Skelly said the district is “heavily dependent” on the $7 million a year in lease revenue, which represents 4 percent of
the schools’ operating budget. Skelly said the surprising bump in elementary enrollment of recent years will be dampened in the near future by the phase-in of a new state law mandating that children turn 5 by Sept. 1 of the year they start kindergarten, Skelly said. With funds from a 2008 facilities bond, the district has completed or is in the process of building up to 40 new elementary classrooms on existing campuses, including those of Ohlone, Fairmeadow and Duveneck elementary schools. Current middle school construction will provide district-wide capacity for 2,900 students. Conservative enrollment projections show this number will be reached in 2015, he said. Skelly urged the board to wait at least a year before firmly commit-
ting to entire new campuses, with hope that more data will offer guidance in light of currently iffy growth projections and financial resources. Board member Barb Mitchell argued the district should “move forward with scenarios for both a 13th elementary school and a fourth middle school” guided by aligning investments in new classrooms with the geographic “clusters” — north, south and west — in which enrollment growth is occurring. “North cluster” elementary schools are considered to be Addison, Duveneck and Walter Hays; “south cluster” schools are El Carmelo, Fairmeadow and Palo Verde; and “west cluster” schools are Barron Park, Juana Briones, Escondido and Lucille Nixon. Additionally, (continued on page 16)
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Community A roundup of nonprofit news
PRESCRIPTION FOR SAVING ... A team of Stanford University students and graduates has created a system to recoup unused prescription drugs and redirect them to uninsured patients. The university-based nonprofit startup, SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medications), has developed a Web-based system to aid medical workers charged with disposing of unused prescription products. The workers list the medications for a potential match with recipients in need. When a match is found, the system generates a Fedex label and packing slip, making it easy to document and donate. The system will start to make a dent in the billions of dollars in unused medicine that is wasted annually in the United States, according to State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. Simitian sponsored legislation to ease regulatory hurdles to the drug transfers after hearing about the medical waste problem in 2005 from a Stanford University medical student. Simitian said he introduced additional legislation last Friday, Feb. 24, to further facilitate SIRUM’s system by expanding the donor base and recipient pool and allowing pharmacy-to-pharmacy exchanges. FACING AIDS ... Gunn High School’s FACE AIDS chapter will be hosting a walkathon Saturday, March 31, to raise funds for the nonprofit organization, which provides health care and employment to patients with HIV and AIDS in Rwanda. The 12-mile walk at Palo Alto’s Foothills Park will start at noon at the Oak Grove Picnic Area, according to Rachael Acker, copresident of the school’s chapter. The length of the walk was chosen because patients in Nyamirama, which is near the capital of Rwanda, currently must walk 12 miles for treatment at the nearest health center. The funds will go to revitalizing the Nyamirama Health Center. More information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. N
MAYOR’S CHALLENGE ... The Palo Alto Family Y has stepped forward to help organize Mayor Yiaway Yeh’s “Mayor’s Challenge” — a series of four sporting events sprinkled throughout the year and designed to bring the city’s neighborhoods together. The first event, a pingpong challenge, will be held Sunday, March 25, from 2 to 5 p.m. at various local gyms: the Y, Cubberley Community Center, Jordan Middle School, Terman Middle School and the Campus for Jewish Life. Cosponsors of the pingpong event are the Palo Alto Table Tennis Club, Joola (a table tennis company) and the Palo Alto Unified School District. Neighborhoods will earn points according to the number of residents who participate, according to Yeh.
Betty Schneider, a longtime regular diner at La Comida, laughs after receiving a gift of flowers during lunch on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Forging friendships for 40 years La Comida lunch program provides seniors with more than a square meal by Jocelyn Dong
om Barry was holding court at the La Comida lunch program in Palo Alto Tuesday, 12 seniors joining him at the long folding table, all intent on his words. “Are we ready for trivia?” he asked, his voice reedy, like TV commentator Andy Rooney’s. Barry, a retired Palo Alto High School teacher, began quizzing his lunch mates on current events, starting with the Academy Awards. “What do they call the awards in France?” he asked, referring to that country’s equivalent of the Oscars. The seniors, all older than 60 and many retired professionals like himself, offered their guesses: “Cannes Film Festival?” “Spirit Awards?” “Palme d’Or?” Teasing them along, Barry disclosed that the answer was a fiveletter word starting with the letter, “C.” One woman asked for the second letter. Barry smiled. “You always want a hint, huh?” he joked. For people like those gathered at Barry’s trivia table, La Comida serves as a place both to dine and to
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mingle — and at a time of life when friends and intellectual stimulation can be harder to come by. The nonprofit organization provides about 31,000 lunches a year at Avenidas senior center on Bryant Street, serving close to 1,000 people, according to the organization. This week, the program marked its 40th anniversary. Started by the Rotary Club of Palo Alto in 1972, La Comida was the first “congregate” senior nutrition site in Santa Clara County. Now, there are 35 sites countywide. The county’s population of people older than 60 is expected to grow by another 50 percent by 2020, according to the Council on Aging, Silicon Valley. Supporters and participants say La Comida meets two critical needs of older adults: nutrition and friendship. “Some folks, this is their major meal of the day,” said Bill Blodgett, president of the La Comida board of directors. A third of the diners are low-income, and the $2.50 voluntary contribution per meal fits within their
budgets. Even for those not struggling financially, many simply don’t have the energy to shop for groceries and fix meals themselves or to go out to a restaurant, Blodgett said. Others — widowed and living by themselves — seek the companionship of people who share a similar stage of life and can relate to their experiences and interests, he added. “They are alone now. This provides a very important way for people to be engaged,” Blodgett said. Palo Alto resident Betty Schneider, 90, comes to La Comida five days a week. A world traveler with a lively mind, she and her late husband, Jack, lived for more than 15 years in South Africa. She is currently writing two books, one about apartheid as seen through the eyes of her black cleaning woman. Schneider’s fondness for meeting others was evident during a recent lunch. One man at her table, who had been fairly quiet, overheard her discussing Cambridge, Mass., and asked if she’d lived there. Schneider swiveled her head and set her blue eyes on him.
“Yes, I did,” she said, leaning in slightly and grinning, like she’d just disclosed a secret. “Did you?” Friendships extend beyond the lunch hour for some people. Schneider said she’s attended several theater productions with one man she met at La Comida, and she welcomed another to visit her home a few times. The trivia table is one of her favorite parts of lunch at La Comida, though. “We fight pretty hard to get in there,” she said of the table, noting that diners pull up chairs or stand at its edges. Ninety-three percent of seniors responding to a December 2010 La Comida survey said the lunch program helps them maintain their independence. A greater percentage reported feeling healthier and happier because of the socializing it affords them. Mary Ruth Batchelder, the program’s site manager for the past 10 years and one of its four staff members, said she’s seen people blossom (continued on page 10)
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC MEETING of the City of Palo Alto Planning & Transportation Committee
Please be advised the Planning and Transportation Commission (P&TC) shall conduct a public meeting at 6:00 PM, Wednesday, March 14, 2012 in the Council Chambers, Ground Floor, Civic Center, Palo Alto, California. Any interested persons may appear and be heard on these items. Staff reports for agendized items are available via the City’s main website at www.cityofpaloalto.org. and also at the Planning Division Front Desk, 5th Floor, City Hall, after 2:00 PM on the Friday preceding the meeting date. Copies will be made available at the Development Center should City Hall be closed on the 9/80 Friday. UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Other Items: 1.
Consider revisions to Commission policies and procedures regarding private meetings and other forms of communications (“ex-parte” communications) between Commission and the public and project applicants on development projects.
NEW BUSINESS. Study Session: 2.
Study Session: Update on Rail Corridor Study and Draft Report.
Public Hearing: 3.
Rochelle and Henry Ford, who have endured a barrage of racial discrimination, recently celebrated their 52nd anniversary.
A romance in black and white Palo Alto couple to speak about their 52-year interracial marriage by Sue Dremann
ighty-year-old Henry Ford sat in the dining room of his Palo Alto home and recalled the day he met Rochelle, his wife of 52 years. He was on a bus traveling to a high school football camp for the first time, leaving his home on gritty Orbin Street in Pittsburgh, Penn., for the white enclave of Ligonier, 35 miles north. “I saw this cute colored girl, and I told the bus driver to stop,” he said. Ford, the team’s African-American co-captain, went to speak to the beautiful girl. “I said, ‘Oops, sorry,’” he recalled. “Sorry for what?” Rochelle responded. “I thought you were colored,” he said. On Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m. the Fords will speak about their interracial marriage and their life. The talk will take place at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, and is hosted by the Palo Alto Historical Association. Theirs is a story of triumph amid some of the most searing racism of the past half-century. In the first decade of their courtship, they kept their romance a secret. It was a time when black men could be lynched in some parts of the country for looking at a white girl, and white women could be ostracized for dating or marrying a black man. Throughout their marriage, they’ve experienced being fired from work, alienation and burning crosses as a result of their relationship. Even in Palo Alto, 34 years after they moved in, racism has intruded into their lives, they said. But there is a strong measure of
satisfaction in knowing they have thrived. The Fords became prosperous and successful business people; and they remain a close couple. They have learned to take the painful and thoughtless comments of others with measured humor. “At times we were so busy fighting the world we didn’t have time to fight each other,” Rochelle said at the couple’s festively decorated home Tuesday. The Fords’ romance started out tentatively. After that initial meeting, they saw each other when Henry came to town for other football camps or games. But it would be 4 1/2 years before they would date, Rochelle said. Their lives couldn’t have started out more differently. Henry grew up poor and abandoned by his father. He lived on a dirt road with his mother and three sisters, sharing a home with another family of 15. The house was rat-infested and had a dirt cellar. But Henry refused to allow circumstances to interfere with his selfesteem and his plans. “When I looked in the mirror when I was 19 years old, I told myself that I was going to be black the rest of my life and I was going to enjoy being me — and I do,” he said. Football became his ticket out of the ghetto, he said. At the University of Pittsburgh, “Model T,” as Henry was known, became the first black quarterback at a white university. He also became the first black male to enter the School of Business, he said. Rochelle grew up in a small, upper-middle-class white town. Li-
El Camino Park, between Sand Hill and Quarry Roads, Palo Alto and 10 acres near Searsville and Fremont Roads in the County of Santa Clara (Special Condition Area B)*: Request by Stanford University for Planning and Transportation Commission review of an amendment to the 1997 Sand Hill Road Development Agreement to extend the lease on the El Camino Park site for a period of nine years, from June 2033 to June 2042 and to remove approximately 10.25 acres of land from Special Condition Area B. The amendment to the Development Agreement would not change the environmental impacts analyzed in the General Use Permit EIR. No additional environmental review is required. * Quasi-Judicial Items subject to Council’s Disclosure Policy
Questions. For any questions regarding the above items, please contact the Planning Department at (650) 329-2441. The ﬁles relating to these items are available for inspection weekdays between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. This public meeting is televised live on Government Access Channel 26. ADA. The City of Palo Alto does not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. To request accommodations to access City facilities, services or programs, to participate at public meetings, or to learn more about the City’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), please contact the City’s ADA Coordinator at 650.329.2550 (voice) or by e-mailing email@example.com. *** Curtis Williams, Director of Planning and Community Environment
gonier had a pedigree dating to the 1760s. “I was Miss Everything you were supposed to be — May queen ... and head majorette — everything but myself,” she said. She eventually transferred from Allegheny College to the University of Pittsburgh. The couple began to see each other secretly in 1950. Henry had graduated by this time, but he could not find a job in business. He signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns and eventually went to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1956. But in 1958 Steeler officials ordered him to stop dating a white girl, he said. Henry said he had two lives: one professional and one personal, and the two were separate. The Steelers soon fired him. “I thought his world was coming to an end. No one called me,” he recalled. He moved to Arizona and played quarterback in a sandlot league with other ex-professional ball players. He stayed for two years, but Rochelle said, “If you don’t come home, I’ll marry someone else.” The Fords married in 1960, more than 10 years after they began dating. Interracial marriage wasn’t legal in many parts of the United States. The Supreme Court made it legal in 1967, Rochelle said. When they married, the white school principal where Rochelle worked as a teacher asked Rochelle’s mother: “How are you going to feel about having little black children?” she recalled. Henry got a job in business working for Acme Markets grocery chain.
Series Sponsor: Jean Lane, in memory of Bill Lane Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts 500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Joel Salatin Monday, March 5, at 8 p.m.
Local Food to the Rescue Sponsored by Sand Hill Global Advisors
Media Sponsor: Embarcadero Media
Order tickets by phone: (650) 903-6000 www.openspacetrust.org/lectures
Peninsula Open Space Trust 222 High Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (650) 854-7696 www.openspacetrust.org
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HELP YOUTH THRIVE PALO ALTO FAMILY YMCA
Asset of the Month: Creative Activities Youth involved in creative activities have higher grades, are more socially competent and likely to volunteer, and are less apt to experience depression. +HOS\RXWK¾QGWKHLUFUHDWLYHVSDUN ([SRVHFKLOGUHQWRFUHDWLYHDFWLYLWLHV $GYRFDWHWKDWVFKRROVSURYLGHDUWVSURJUDPV ([SODLQZK\\RXHQMR\\RXUDFWLYLW\ /HDUQPRUHSURMHFWFRUQHUVWRQHRUJ
DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS are the positive relationships, opportunities, values and skills that young people need to grow and thrive.
COMMUNITY TALK: COLON CANCER Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S., and can be one of the most serious. But advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of colon cancer are helping to make this disease rarer and less dangerous. The Stanford Cancer Center invites you to learn about some of these recent successes and hear a vision of future care based on current research. This event is free and open to the public. SATURDAY, MARCH 3 t 9:30AM – 11:00AM Sheraton Palo Alto (Justine Room) 625 El Camino Real t Palo Alto, CA To RSVP, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please register, seating is limited.
George Fisher, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Medical Oncology
Uri Ladabaum, MD Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
For more information: www.stanfordhospital.org/colonhealth
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Mark Welton, MD, MHCM Professor and Chief, Colon and Rectal Surgery
through La Comida. “We get a lot of people who come after they’ve a lost a spouse. ... I’ve seen new people come to volunteer and to dine that, you know, are a little bit down in the mouth, and they become part of a community,” she said. “That’s why the program was originally designed. The ‘congregate’ dining is good for their mental health and just as important as the meals,” she said. The program offers lunches every weekday, cooked in the kitchen onsite. Each meal includes a salad, entrée, dessert and drink and is prepared by a staff of three. Volunteer musicians provide entertainment most days of the week, playing the grand piano tucked into one corner of the brightly lit room or bringing their own instruments. If conversation is food for the mind, then music, apparently, is food for the spirit. “Some people love to sing” with the musicians, said Blodgett, who volunteers along with his wife. “Some people, whenever they get half a chance, they dance.”
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“I was the Jackie Robinson of the grocery business,” he said, referring to baseball’s first black Major League player. Rochelle was teaching in schools in Pittsburgh ghettos. The district wanted her to teach wealthy white kids, she said. “But I wanted to teach where I could make a difference,” she said. Housing issues dogged the couple in the decades that followed. The Fords were shown and in some cases unknowingly purchased “black homes,” which were designated by Realtors. In Levittown, Penn., where they purchased a home, there were riots and burning crosses in front yards and bloodshed when black families moved in, Henry said. The Fords came to Palo Alto in 1977, eventually buying Coca Cola’s vending operations from Sonoma to Santa Cruz. More business purchases and sales were to follow. By this time they were financially comfortable and could afford a better home. Rochelle had seen the Professorville house in real estate listings, but a Realtor took the couple to East Palo Alto and other cities, where once again they were shown “black houses,” she said. When they purchased the Professorville home with the aid of another agent, two big vans brought their furnishings. A neighbor was soon designated to investigate the couple, knocking on their door. “How many people are going to live here?” she asked, according to Rochelle. Henry, who was tired and a little exasperated, said there would be 11. “I knew it!” the woman said. The Fords’ two sons entered Palo
The program operates on a budget of more than $235,000, funded in large part by the County of Santa Clara through its Senior Nutrition Program, Batchelder said. The City of Palo Alto contributes about 10 percent of the budget. Private donations help with expenses including personnel and a free shuttle that picks up frail or disabled diners from their homes. Back at the trivia table, Barry once again turned his attention to France, inquiring about a word that the country’s prime minister recently banned from official documents. It was a word popular in World War I, Barry hinted. “It came from a song a soldier sang in WWI,” Barry said. Immediately, a slight man with closely cropped white hair began to croon the long-forgotten tune. Recognition spread across the faces around the table. “Oh, Mademoiselle from Armentières, parlez-vous?” he sang, as others smiled. “Hinky-dinky, parlez-vous?” N Editor’s note: The French equivalent of the Oscar is the “César” award. And the banned word in France is “mademoiselle.” Editor Jocelyn Dong can be emailed at email@example.com.
Alto schools when integration with East Palo Alto had just begun. The boys were immediately placed in the lowest reading group along with other black children, Rochelle said. Her sons had to find the appropriate moment to show their teachers they could really read, she said. But the Fords are not bitter. In their 34 years in Palo Alto, they have had many wonderful experiences, they said. Since the couple married, American acceptance of interracial marriage has improved. According to a Feb. 16 study by the Pew Research Center, 8.4 percent of all marriages in 2010 are interracial, up from 3.2 percent in 1980. And 15 percent of all marriages that took place in 2010 were interracial. In recent years Rochelle has turned to metal sculpting, fulfilling a longtime dream to be an artist. The Fords’ home is filled with her whimsical sculptures — Rochelle has made about 2,000 from found objects and sheet metal. A majestic oak canopies their front yard amid the sculptures and immaculately manicured plantings. Henry does the yard work. But even in their front yard, the old stereotypes still seep in. Assuming he is the family’s hired gardener, a woman asked Henry how much he charges for his work. “I don’t charge anything. I just sleep with the lady of the house,” he said. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WATCH THE VIDEO
www.PaloAltoOnline.com A video excerpt from Sue Dremann’s interview with Henry and Rochelle Ford is posted on Palo Alto Online.
Heâ€™ll pick his birthday. You pick his birthplace.
Lucile Packard Childrenâ€™s Hospital is devoted exclusively to expectant mothers and children. s &ULLY INTEGRATED /"