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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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Why I don’t give money to beggars: Other Voices

I don’t give money to beggars holding cardboard signs on the medians of our roadways. I don’t drop coins in the paper cups of disabled veterans outside the ballpark. I don’t give cash to transients looking for a tank of gas coming to my office at church.

It is difficult to say this out loud. I can’t escape Jesus’ words: “Give to everyone who begs from you”(Matt. 5:42, Luke 6:30). His call to compassion for the beggar is unequivocal. And my response is full of qualifications.

I want to follow his teachings. I want to follow his example. But as with his insistence that “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” (Matt. 5:30 and 18:8), I don’t take his begging admonition literally.

Handing a few dollars to the one holding the cardboard sign by the side of the road or dropping a few coins in a cup is designed to make us, the donors, feel good – benevolent, superior. Those invested in begging count on that. Such charity does little to move a suffering individual to wholeness.

When a transient comes to the church looking for money for food, I personally take them out to lunch or to the grocery store and pay the bill. When they come looking for money for a tank of gas, I drive with them to the gas station and pay for a full tank.

I don’t lecture or proselytize in such encounters. I try to listen to their stories and affirm their humanity. If they are local, I refer them to organizations that can assist them to work toward self-sufficiency, if that is their goal. If they are just passing through, I bless their journey.

Dropping a dollar in a cup doesn’t involve a conversation or an encounter with a human being. It’s designed to be convenient and detached for the donor.

Is that what Jesus had in mind?

He sets his admonition about begging in the verses about “turning the other cheek,” “going the second mile,” “lending to any in need of borrowing” and “praying for our enemies.” Vulnerability, openness and connection between human beings were his call.

My bias is to serve the Community Services Agency, the local food bank/direct assistance nonprofit agency and “safety net” for our community’s poor and frail elderly.

I have been on CSA’s board of directors for years and have worked with similar agencies throughout my 36 years in ordained ministry.

Our local Alpha Omega Homeless Services program assists the transition to decent housing and economic self-sufficiency for an average of 350 people each year.

When we distribute food and/or emergency PG&E or rent monies to those facing hunger and potential homelessness, we do so with trained social workers developing a plan toward self-sufficiency for our clients. We work with them in an ongoing relationship. Dignity in such a process is one of our highest priorities as an agency.

What dignity is there for the person begging on the side of the road when we drop in a few coins and just pass by?

Jesus didn’t intend for alms-giving to be an exercise in convenient piety for the donor, but a spiritual practice in which we participate in God’s promise that someday all will have enough, all will be treated with dignity and all will have a safe place to call home (Luke 4:18-19).

I won’t give money to beggars. I will contribute to the team/community effort it takes to restore a life.

The Rev. Mark S. Bollwinkel is senior pastor of Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave. For more information, visit www.laumc.org.

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