Wed04012015

News

Council eyes bond for Hillview center

Council eyes bond for Hillview center


The Los Altos City Council accepted an $87.5 million cost model for its preferred layout for replacing Hillview Community Center. 

Residents could cast their votes as soon as November on a bond measure to partially fund the redevelopment of...

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Schools

Oak students showcase creativity in Destination Imagination competitions

Oak students showcase creativity in Destination Imagination competitions


Courtesy of Jane Lee Choe
The Sharp Cheddars, a team of Oak Avenue School sixth-graders, perform at the Destination Imagination state competition Saturday in Riverside.

A team of seven Oak Avenue School sixth-graders traveled to Riverside last week...

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Community

Heising-Simons Foundation relocates to 400 Main St. property in Los Altos

Heising-Simons Foundation relocates to 400 Main St. property in Los Altos


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
All in the family: Mark Heising, from left, Caitlin Heising and Elizabeth Simons make up the board of the eight-year-old Heising-Simons Foundation, now in its new headquarters at 400 Main St. in downtown Los Altos.

The He...

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Comment

What would Bob do?: Editorial

The recent passing of an extraordinary Los Altos resident, Bob Grimm, has generated a range of heartfelt reaction, from sympathy to fond memories, from all corners. That’s because Bob did not discriminate in his desire to help others with his money, ...

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Special Sections

Cars that are right on track

Cars that are right on track


Courtesy of BMW
The BMW M4 is packed with power, featuring 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

There’s nothing more fun than driving a responsive automobile that feels alive in the curves and eager to go when given more than a touch ...

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Business

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale

First Street's 'Fort Knox' up for sale


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos Vault and Safe Deposit Co. is on the market for $4.5 million. Its fortified steel and concrete structure has been compared to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s gold depository.

A downtown Los Altos structure “b...

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Books

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff


The idea that there may have a female pope at one time in history has generated much speculation throughout the centuries. “Pope Joan” (Crown, 1996) by Donna Woolfolk Cross, does not answer the question; rather, the author has created a detai...

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People

JOHN BATISTICH

JOHN BATISTICH

John Batistich of Los Altos Hills died peacefully on March 12 surrounded by his family. John is survived by his wife Claire Batistich (Vidovich) of 67 years and children Gary Batistich of Lodi and Gay Batistich Abuel-Saud of Menlo Park. He is also ...

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Travel

Eat, hike, soak: Cavallo Point Lodge offers Marin experience

Eat, hike, soak: Cavallo Point Lodge offers Marin experience


Eren Göknar/ Town Crier
Cavallo Point Lodge comprises former U.S. Army buildings, like the Mission Blue Chapel, repurposed for guests seeking a luxurious getaway.

It used to be a place where batteries of soldiers lived, with officers’ quarter...

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Stepping Out

'Fire' ignites in Mtn. View

'Fire' ignites in Mtn. View


Courtesy of Kevin Berne
The cast of “Fire on the Mountain,” includes, from left, Tony Marcus, Harvy Blanks, Molly Andrews and Robert Parsons.

TheatreWorks is slated to present the regional premiere of the musical “Fire on the Mountain” this wee...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Life Briefs

Oshman JCC hosts Judaism and Science Symposium

The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center has scheduled its inaugural Judaism and Science Symposium, “An Exploration of the Convergence of Jewish & Scientific Thought,” 5 p.m. April 12 at the JCC’s ...

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Magazine

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm


/Town Crier It’s not all cute and cuddly for teens participating in the eight-week Animal Husbandry Apprenticeship program at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. Mia Mosing of Palo Alto, left, and Sophia Jackson of Los Altos clean the pigpens – one of...

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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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