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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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Flaws acknowledged in city's interview process


Mordo

When former Los Altos Hills City Councilman Jean Mordo moved to Los Altos earlier this year, he made it a goal to continue his active involvement in local government. So when a seat opened on the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission, Mordo jumped at the opportunity to apply.

He was the only applicant. But he did not get the position – at least not yet.

Los Altos councilmembers, who interview candidates and approve appointments, decided to continue seeking additional prospects for the seven-member commission.

Although Mordo was disappointed, he said he was also concerned about how the council handled the process. He said the council scheduled him ahead of the regularly agendized 7 p.m. Sept. 10 meeting, and interviewed him for 10 minutes. He felt that the council wanted to keep the interview closed to the general public.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said the council’s decision was “no reflection on Jean.”

Bruins said the interview session was public and properly noticed. But she acknowledged that Mordo’s case brings to light several problems with the process for interviewing and selecting members for city commissions and committees.

For one, the city has no policy in place that designates who should notify candidates on the status of their applications. Bruins took it upon herself to call Mordo after discovering that no one had contacted him a week after his interview.

Bruins agreed that the interviews, conducted in a conference room rather than the council chambers, might convey the appearance that they are not open to the public.

“It’s a public meeting – it’s posted as a public meeting,” she said. “(But) by having it in a conference room, does it suggest a different thing?”

Another challenge involves the Brown Act, California’s open meetings law. The law prohibits councilmembers from communicating privately about items prior to public airing. Bruins said it was only after the interview that the council realized the need to appoint someone with a stronger transportation background, as the commissioner who most recently resigned had such expertise.

The original advertisement for commission applicants included the transportation component but did not emphasize it. When Bruins told Mordo about wanting someone with transportation experience, it came across to Mordo as if the council changed the qualifications after the fact.

“I agree that there is room for improvement (in the process),” Bruins said. “I can understand (Mordo’s frustration) with the way it was handled.”

“Jean did not get rejected,” emphasized Councilwoman Jan Pepper.

Mordo is still being considered for the commission, Pepper and Bruins said, as the council has expanded the timeline to draw more applicants.

The city plans to readvertise the openings on the Planning and Transportation and Senior commissions over the next few months, Bruins said.

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