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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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County sheriff Smith reviews long career, touts public-safety record


Smith

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has witnessed dramatic changes among female law enforcement officers over her more than 40-year career, an evolution she chronicled at a recent Rotary Club of Los Altos appearance.

Now seeking her fifth term in office, Smith, the first female sheriff in California, oversees 1,400 sworn officers and an annual budget of approximately $340 million. The California State Assembly named Smith its 2012 Woman of the Year.

In the 1970s, when sworn in at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, Smith’s title was “matron,” because women were not allowed to serve as deputies at that time. She displayed for the Rotarians her outdated green uniform skirt and purse, complete with gun holster and handcuff pockets. In time, Smith said, the “ladies of the law” uniforms changed from skirts to pants, and their salaries rose from a rate that was 15 percent lower than male deputies’ pay.

She gave a nod to the early female deputies whose 1975 lawsuit and subsequent ruling from the Supreme Court reclassified them as “sheriff’s deputies” rather than “matrons.”

Quoting the law enforcement textbook she used while studying at San Jose State University, Smith read its 1960 text with a smile: “There is no evidence that the ladies of the law are about to take over police departments.”

The department’s jurisdiction covers all unincorporated areas, 73 percent of geographically widespread Santa Clara County, which includes Los Altos Hills and the Moffett Field area.

The department manages every aspect of law enforcement except traffic, which the California Highway Patrol oversees. Sheriff’s deputies, however, respond to crimes committed on highways and can also write speeding tickets.

Los Altos Hills, Cupertino and Saratoga contract for law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department rather than staff their own local police departments. By consolidating three cities under one administration, Smith said law enforcement is managed well and in a much more cost-effective manner.

According to the FBI’s uniform crime reports, Saratoga is the No. 1 safest city in California. Los Altos, which has its own police department, is rated the second safest city and Cupertino the 12th.

The Santa Clara County sheriff also runs county jails, which house more than 4,000 inmates. When asked about the effect of inmates being transferred from state to county jails, Smith responded that nonviolent, nonsex and nonserious offenders now serve their sentences locally in their county of residence rather than in jail.

“But do not believe that crime rates are up because of this prison thing,” she said.

To combat the traditionally high recidivism rate – approximately 70 percent of those who commit crimes return to jail within three years – the Sheriff’s Department has established vocational training programs.

The Rotary Club of Los Altos meets 12:15 p.m. Thursdays in the Garden House at Shoup Park, 400 University Ave., Los Altos.

For more information, visit losaltosrotary.org.

Marlene Cowan is a member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos.

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