Wed07302014

News

‘Brown is the new green,’ says local water district

‘Brown is the new green,’ says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spendi...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

CARSTEN HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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