Sun10192014

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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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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