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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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Hikes in student-loan interest rates concern Foothill College officials

As lawmakers bicker, Foothill College students face the prospect of higher loan rates.

After the July 1 deadline expired, students applying for federally subsidized Stafford Loans face interest rates that have doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent for the 2013-2014 year.
    Federal lawmakers are working to lower the interest rates, which many Republicans and Democrats agree are too high, but partisan bickering over how to address the matter leaves no solution in sight.
‘Disappointing outcome’
    That doesn’t sit well with officials in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, whose low- and middle-income students benefit from such loans.
    “It saddens me that Congress did not maintain the 3.4 percent on student loans at this time,” Foothill College President Judy C. Miner said. “The economy has yet to recover fully enough to benefit the most recent
college graduates, and underrepresented communities show even more of an economic gap.”
    Kevin Harral, Foothill’s director of financial aid, added, “The doubling of the Subsidized Direct Loan interest rate is a disappointing outcome to say the least. At this time, there does not seem to be much momentum to get it back down in the short term, but hopefully our elected officials are hammering out a long-term solution for student-loan interest rates.”
    The good news, however, is that Harral does not expect an immediate impact on students borrowing money to attend Foothill.
    “The unsubsidized interest rate has been 6.8 percent for several years, and the dollars borrowed last year are almost the exact same as dollars borrowed from the subsidized program, despite the significant interest-rate difference,” he said.
    Harral reported 1,400 borrowers of $2.26 million in unsubsidized loans, compared with 700 borrowers of $2.33 million in
subsidized loans.
    “The interest rate is not front and center for most students,” he added. “Even when told the rate, the impact is often a bit abstract until they go into repayment, often years down the road.”
    The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill requiring that interest rates reflect the condition of the economy. The U.S. Senate last week considered a move to restore the 3.4 percent interest rates on the Stafford loans for one year.
    “There is some dissension among the Democrats regarding what to do. Republicans are not the only ones holding it up,” said Howard Myers, president of Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley. “Many Republicans want to tie the student loan rate to an index and some Democrats don’t want to give up the revenue.”
    “I think most people are not averse to the rate being able to adjust up and down in reasonable increments, as it was set up to do just about a decade ago,” Harral said. “But the fact that this rate just doubled, and really much more quietly than it was going to last year, when other lending rates are still very low and the economy is still depressed, just doesn’t seem reasonable.”
Local impact
    Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-18th District), who represents Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, estimated that approximately 8,500 students in her district have taken out low-interest loans.
    “If they’re just starting out, the double rate applies,” Eshoo said. “If the student’s in the middle of loan, it does not need to be renegotiated. Interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan.”
   Eshoo said she found it “befuddling” that the Stafford interest rates were allowed to double. As a result, she added, students could pay nearly $2,000 in interest.
    “Our society and nation cannot secure its own future unless we have an educated population,” the congresswoman said. “Instead of creating a plus and a win, this represents a subtraction sign.”

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