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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Neither guilty nor innocent: No Shoes, Please

I didn’t follow the George Zimmerman trial carefully; for the most part, I listened to summaries developed by legal analysts and journalists who were watching the proceedings like hawks. When the verdict was announced, however, I wasn’t surprised, and believe it’s probably the correct one. But I likewise believe the exonerated man is far from innocent.

There’s a lot to unpack in the analysis of this situation in which Zimmerman stalked, then fatally shot Trayvon Martin. For example, the Stand Your Ground law is something worth rethinking, considering the consequences of not obligating people to walk away from violence when a legitimate opportunity to do so exists. Self-defense is one matter, but untrained, self-appointed vigilantes are another, and the mingling of the two issues in this one case proved tragic.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) also needs scrutiny. ALEC is a nonprofit organization that unites legislators and multinational corporations in closed-door environments, and is inexplicably allowed to author many state laws, including Stand Your Ground legislation. With little oversight, the most powerful corporations in our country together with members of Congress submit pre-written laws – not mere ideas, but actual statutes that are voted on – to legislative bodies with no mention that they are ALEC-sponsored or ALEC-affiliated.

ALEC corporate members represent a wide range of industries: AT&T, Pfizer, Koch Industries and Farmers Insurance among them. After Martin’s death had become headline news, companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Amazon pulled out of ALEC to avoid being affiliated with the NRA-backed, ALEC-authored Stand Your Ground law in Florida that was the legal justification for Zimmerman’s actions. To be clear, none of ALEC’s individual or corporate members are doing anything illegal. But I believe that’s part of the problem.

The other problem is the kryptonite of our national discourse – race. In a post-verdict press conference, defense attorney Mark O’Mara stated that had Zimmerman been a black man, he never would have been charged with a crime.

That pronouncement illustrates the great divide between the perceptions and experiences of white America and people of color, particularly around the subject of racial profiling. I think O’Mara is wrong, and incarceration rates of blacks versus those of whites certainly bear this out. However, O’Mara has probably never been stopped and questioned for simply walking down a sidewalk, or pulled over in his car just because. Black and brown men, on the other hand, face a lifetime of being targeted in this manner from an early age. O’Mara isn’t racist when he fails to recognize this chasm between white and black experiences in America, but I think he represents why our country remains defensive.

If George Zimmerman had been a 29-year-old black man, and Trayvon Martin a barely 17-year-old unarmed white boy, the verdict in that trial might have been the same because of Stand Your Ground. But the emotional response to the tragedy would differ person to person, community to community. Maybe that’s human nature, maybe that’s bigotry. But let’s start the conversation there. We can honor Trayvon’s memory by first being honest with ourselves.

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