Mon10202014

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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Town gives vendors another crack at Westwind

Candidates with equine management experience and the desire to assist Los Altos Hills with maintaining Westwind Community Barn as a public facility are invited to step forward before Friday with proposals. In a bit of a twist, the Los Altos Hills City Council determined at its Nov. 5 meeting that its first call for proposals was flawed.

“We were asking them to respond to so many things in so many ways,” said Councilman John Radford of the town’s first request for proposals. “It was impossible.”

Before soliciting new proposals, town staff and Radford, acting as the council’s liaison, spent the week interviewing concessionaires and vendors interested in serving as “inspirational community leaders who want to build the barn back up.” According to staff, an additional six individuals or organizations have indicated potential interest.

With the possibility of a subsidy on the table, councilmembers said the right barn operator(s) could devise a plan to reduce the town’s contribution, launching more profitable initiatives and reinvigorating the Year-Round Riding Program.

Jitze Couperus, a member of Friends of Westwind, a nonprofit organization that operated the barn for 30 years prior to the town’s management takeover in 2008, noted that the entity operated with a much smaller subsidy, approximately $1,000 a month, even without programs that offered significant profit potential.

Residents who spoke at the meeting attributed skyrocketing town subsidies for Westwind Barn’s operations in recent years to poor management and the steady loss of boarders and equestrian program participants as program facilitators and riding-arena conditions deteriorated. Numerous residents who moved their horses to alternate facilities over the past few years said they would return to Westwind if operations improve.

Proposal Evaluation Committee member Roddy Sloss noted that his analysis showed that significant savings were possible, but a subsidy of at least $75,000 to $100,000 would still be needed. Most members of the town’s Finance and Investment Commission found the subsidy level appropriate as long as operators have an incentive and opportunity to reduce the town’s burden.

Sloss said that unlike the model used by Friends of Westwind, the new operator(s) would have to contend with additional expenses, such as meeting the town’s code for 24-hour surveillance at commercial barns and hiring an accountant. The council requested that planning staff modify the code requiring on-site attendants to permit electronic surveillance if a new operator determined it a more financially and logistically palatable option.

Several residents expressed continued resistance to any barn subsidy based on the small percentage of boarders who are residents, but the council and most members of the public argued that the barn’s diverse programs benefit more than just a small group of equestrians and riders.

“People in town want to be able to drive by there and see a horse,” said former Los Altos Hills Mayor Breene Kerr. “People do care about it, even if they don’t own a horse.”

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