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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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Judge rules against local businessman in Ponzi-like case

After a year of back-and-forth, a judge concluded this week that Los Altos resident Mark Feathers and his company, Small Business Capital Corp., violated federal securities and exchange laws.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila accepted Securities and Exchange Commission evidence that because of fraud and mismanagement, SB Capital’s 400 investors have lost approximately 25 percent of the $42 million they invested.

In an order filed Friday, Davila granted the SEC’s request for a summary judgment and denied Feathers’ competing request for the same. He ordered the “disgorgement of ill-gotten gains” and set a hearing date Oct. 22 to consider “what remedies are to be granted and in what amounts.”

A court renders a summary judgment when a judge finds no genuine dispute as to any material fact – in other words, when evidence appears so conclusive as to not require a full trial. Representing himself and his company, Feathers had to show what Davila called a “genuine issue for trial.” In his order, Davila laid out why Feathers’ submissions to the court did not meet that standard and discussed to what extent the court had to cut Feathers some slack – to “liberally construe” his submissions – because he represented himself without a lawyer. Evidence submitted to the court must include affidavits or “other evidentiary material,” and Davila described Feathers’ submissions as falling short of that standard.

“I have been outnumbered by a large margin in the manpower necessary to present facts, never mind putting them into the right legal framework,” Feathers told the Town Crier in an email.

He wrote to investors that he would appeal the judgment.

Investors, many of them Los Altos residents, bought into two mortgage investment funds Feathers managed from an office on San Antonio Road. The SEC contended that Feathers transferred money from the funds to pay expenses and make cash distributions to investors that masqueraded as “returns on investment,” maintaining an illusion of profitability.

SEC attorney John Bulgozdy described the process of using investor money to pay returns as “Ponzi-like.” Feathers maintained that because he disclosed the loans and transfers to investors, his actions were aboveboard and not in fact evidence of fraud and misrepresentation.

Feathers submitted hundreds of documents including SB Capital paperwork and emails to the court, but Davila wrote that Feathers didn’t indicate with sufficient specificity what he believed they proved – “It is not the task of the court to comb through the record in search of genuine issue of triable fact.”

In his order, Davila referenced testimony from an auditor and a consultant suggesting that Feathers loaned himself money from the funds, then documented it in a way that made the business appear to still be generating profit.

Davila had to weigh whether a “reasonable investor” might have made a different decision with his or her money if he or she had known about the loans and money transfers at SB Capital. He concluded, based in part on declarations two investors made to the SEC, that investors might have withdrawn their investments if they had known what the company was doing.

Davila declared that Feathers’ accounting demonstrated an intent to deceive or, at a minimum, “extreme recklessness in his management of the (f)unds.”

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