Thu09182014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Officials say Brown Act suspension won't cloud transparency


Photo By:
Somers

Transparency hawks who watch council meetings online or expect posted agenda notices in advance of public hearings can thank the 1953 Brown Act. The state’s budget shortfall, however, could throw a wrench in the transparency cherished by watchdogs.

The State Legislature last month deferred portions of the act, which mandates transparency and reporting accountability from local legislative bodies and guarantees open meetings.

The Budget Act of 2012 (AB 1464) suspends state reimbursement of expenses incurred by local governments under the Brown Act until 2015, allowing cities to legally bypass mandates such as posting agendas 72 hours in advance of meetings and disclosing closed-session decisions.

City officials in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills said they do not plan to alter their level of transparency, even if it comes at their own expense.

 

No change in Los Altos

The suspended Brown Act mandates won’t change anything in Los Altos, according to Mayor Val Carpenter.

“I’m confident that the city of Los Altos will continue to comply with all aspects of the Brown Act, including posting meeting agendas and reporting out of closed sessions,” Carpenter said in a statement released to the Town Crier. “The Los Altos City Council and staff are committed to being as transparent as we can be to ensure that our residents and other stakeholders are kept fully informed on issues that matter to them.”

In an email to the Town Crier, City Manager Marcia Somers noted that the July 24 city council meeting agenda includes an item affirming the city’s commitment “to continue following existing Brown Act procedures despite the state suspending reimbursement for a portion of those costs.”

The city currently webcasts live and archives all city council meetings (except closed sessions), special meetings and Planning and Transportation Commission meetings, at a cost of approximately $150,000 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

In addition, the city posts agendas, staff reports and additional documents online and publicizes regular meetings 72 hours in advance.

Somers said the city last submitted a $33,000 invoice for partial reimbursement of Brown Act mandates during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. She conceded that the city hasn’t received a reimbursement check “in the last few years,” noting the state’s budget woes.

Nevertheless, Councilman Ron Packard told the Town Crier the city would continue its Brown Act practices in a business-as-usual manner.

“I think that Los Altos residents expect a level of transparency that only can result from continued full compliance with the Brown Act,” he said.

 

Los Altos Hills still onboard

Los Altos Hills City Clerk Deborah Padovan said the town won’t change any of its practices and will continue to adhere to the Brown Act mandates.

The town makes meeting agendas and minutes available to residents and broadcasts its council meetings live. According to Padovan, the video feed received 200 views from May 1 through June 29, and the tool is growing in popularity.

Los Altos Hills officials said measures that require transparency are important even without state mandate.

“More people watching at home means more people attending meetings,” Padovan said.

 

LASD moves forward

Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier said the district’s legal counsel claimed that the recent updates to the Brown Act don’t affect school districts.

Despite the immunity, the district plans to broadcast its board meetings on KMVT and catalog them on the Internet beginning in the fall, Baier said.

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