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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Los Altos to consider potential $2.1 million in unfunded liability for firefighters

The Los Altos City Council is scheduled to consider an unfunded pension liability for firefighters at its regular council meeting next Tuesday.

This liability could be for as much as $2.1 million.

"This did not just suddenly appear," said Layne Long, assistant to the Los Altos city manager, "but has existed for several years."

In January 1996, the city of Los Altos no longer had firefighters on its payroll because it had begun contracting for fire protection from the Santa Clara County Fire Department. So the city's contribution to the firefighter pension fund, PERS, changed.

In January 1999, the city received a letter from PERS saying that even though the firefighters were no longer employees, the city must still make a contribution, said City Manager Phil Rose. "That's the first time we were aware of a problem," Rose said.

In February 1999, the city sent a memo to PERS asking questions, including asking why, if there was a problem, it took two years to surface.

"We do have an obligation," Rose said, "but this is not news. What they told us in January, we told the council during the budget process that there was this unfunded liability. I don't know why there was two years of not knowing."

In July and again on Sept. 23, PERS responded to city questions.

PERS makes its calculation of a city's contribution based upon the city payroll.

When the firefighters went off the city payroll, the PERS calculation changed, Rose said. Yet the city still has an obligation to fund the retirement.

"Regardless of why it happened, we own it and are going to pay it," Rose said.

The city will owe $367,899 per year, Rose said, and it has 10 years to pay.

Long said there are still several issues that need to be resolved, one of which is the portion due from Los Altos Hills. The town contracted with Los Altos for fire protection prior to contracting with County Fire.

Long estimates the Los Altos Hills County Fire District will be responsible for approximately one-third of the contributions.

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