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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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Community engagement pitch hits dead end: Proposal to improve communication goes nowhere

A bid by two Los Altos city councilwomen to examine the city’s community engagement efforts ended without a vote Sept. 17 after their council colleagues deemed it too broad.

Councilwomen Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper sought the council’s approval at a special meeting last week to form an ad hoc task force that would examine the city’s current community engagement endeavors, review best practices in other cities and identify possible areas of improvement.

According to a staff report, Bruins and Pepper proposed forming a committee of residents, staff members and themselves, citing residents’ concerns about a lack of two-way communication on certain issues voiced during their 2012 election campaigns. Bruins and Pepper added that the effort would also fulfill a 2013 council priority to “encourage and employ effective community engagement practices.”

“People want to know up front, ‘What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? Don’t ask me about whether I want a traffic light – let’s agree first on the problem we’re trying to solve,’” Bruins said, explaining the motivation behind the effort.

The remainder of the council expressed doubts about which problem Bruins and Pepper were attempting to solve.

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee said she couldn’t support voting to form a task force “at this point” because the scope of the project was too broad, suggesting instead a more narrowed focus on a specific issue, such as examining ways to engage the public on traffic issues.

“I think just a generic call, ‘Hey, everyone, let’s talk about public engagement’ – really, I’m struggling as to what that’s going to get us,” she said.

Satterlee also rebuffed the assertion that a lack of effective community engagement was a central issue during the 2012 election campaign.

“I did go through (the 2012) campaign and this was not something that I heard a lot,” she said. “So if there is a lot of resident concern about the engagement process, I have not heard it.”

Councilwoman Val Carpenter said the issue appeared to lack public interest, noting that she received no emails on the topic. She also pointed to a lack of public speakers at the meeting. Carpenter suggested instead calling a study session on the matter, “so the entire council, the mayor and myself, can hear from those who have expressed concerns.”

Pepper countered that the lack of public speakers and emails on the issue were proof that the city should examine community engagement practices in the first place.

“The methods we’re using now are not reaching the people who might be interested, which is maybe why there isn’t anyone here to talk about this with us tonight,” she said.

Pepper also expressed frustration at her colleagues’ resistance to examining the issue from a broader perspective.

“Part of community engagement is getting more people in our community involved – utilizing the talents and ideas that they have,” she said. “Basically what I’m hearing back from my fellow councilmembers is that we don’t want to do that. We want to just kind of keep doing the same thing we’re doing. I don’t know – are we afraid to see what the community has to say?”

Without the necessary votes to move forward, Bruins told the council that she was “comfortable taking no action” on the item so that she and Pepper could “noodle on this a little bit more.”

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