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News

Car breaks through glass door, closes Trader Joe’s for the day

Car breaks through glass door, closes Trader Joe’s for the day

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Trader Joe's employees survey the damage after a car smashed through the glass doorway earlier today.

Trader Joe’s on Homestead Road is closed for the remainder of the day (April 17) after a car barreled through the glas...

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Schools

Pinewood student writes book about living with autism

Pinewood student writes book about living with autism


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Pinewood School senior Georgia Lyon wrote and illustrated “How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl” in 2013.

Although first published under a pseudonym, Pinewood School student Georgia Lyon is stepping out to ...

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Community

How to pass a business gene across generations: Entrepreneur Kurtzig, 10, follows in grandmother's high-tech footsteps

How to pass a business gene across generations: Entrepreneur Kurtzig, 10, follows in grandmother's high-tech footsteps


Courtesy of Los ALtos History Museum
Like grandmother, like granddaughter: Sandra, left, and Jamie Kurtzig participate in the Los Altos History Museum’s Family Day event last month.

Silicon Valley’s love affair with high-tech innovation starts ...

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Comment

Editorial: Let's assume not to presume

Two recent downtown Los Altos stories offer lessons in the drawbacks of jumping to conclusions.

A few months back, the Town Crier published an article on Ladera Autoworks on First Street closing its doors. That part was true, but the reason was not....

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Special Sections

Fitness focus: No holds barred for Los Altos sisters

Fitness focus: No holds barred for Los Altos sisters


Photos Courtesy of Barre 3
Gillian Brotherson, kneeling at left, guides studio instructors through a workout at barre3 Los Altos.

Health is all about balance. That’s what two Los Altos natives learned as they navigated work, motherhood and welln...

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Business

Steinway gallery brings pianos, musicians to downtown Los Altos

Steinway gallery brings pianos, musicians to downtown Los Altos


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Chrissy Huang, manager of Steinway Piano Gallery in Los Altos, showcases Steinway & Sons’ signature instruments. The gallery plans to host concerts with performers tickling the ivories.

A new downtown Los Altos bus...

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Books

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff

'Pope Joan' Book weaves tale around legend of female pontiff


The idea that there may have a female pope at one time in history has generated much speculation throughout the centuries. “Pope Joan” (Crown, 1996) by Donna Woolfolk Cross, does not answer the question; rather, the author has created a detai...

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People

GREG STAHLER

GREG STAHLER

Greg Stahler died unexpecdly in his home in Belmont on March 26, 2015. (He was born in Mountain View on June 23, 1972). He will really be missed by three beautiful young children, Haley 7, Hannah 5, and Tyler 3, and his wife Kathryn. He will also b...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Those Darn Squirrels' invading Mountain View

'Those Darn Squirrels' invading Mountain View


Courtesy of Lyn Flaim Healy/ Spotlight Moments Photography
Noelle Merino stars in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Those Darn Squirrels.”

The Peninsula Youth Theatre’s world premiere adaptation of “Those Darn Squirrels” is scheduled Friday and Saturda...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm

Food for thought: Hidden Villa programs offer teens training in sustainability on the farm


/Town Crier It’s not all cute and cuddly for teens participating in the eight-week Animal Husbandry Apprenticeship program at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. Mia Mosing of Palo Alto, left, and Sophia Jackson of Los Altos clean the pigpens – one of...

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Inside Mountain View

Home for disabled youth yields greener pastures

Home for disabled youth yields greener pastures


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Green Pastures staff member JP Mercada, below right, helps Tommy, who lives at the group home, sort through papers and organize his room.

Tucked in the corner of a quiet residential cul-de-sac in Mountain View, Green Pastur...

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Two new state laws affect home-care services for seniors

Two new bills passed in last fall’s state legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown promise to have an immediate and long-term effect on California’s senior population.

AB241: Domestic Worker Bill of Rights

With our rapidly aging population and 90 percent of California’s seniors wishing to remain at home as they age, home-care aide is among the top five fastest-growing job occupations. These workers provide care to hundreds of thousands of seniors and disabled Californians every day. Historically, these workers have been exempt from overtime pay, but effective Jan. 1, they are eligible for overtime pay after nine hours in a day and 45 hours in a week.

On the surface, this change may not appear to be substantial. It’s hard to argue against providing overtime to any workers. Indeed, the net effect to seniors who require hourly care during the day should be minimal – perhaps a 5-10 percent increase in cost. However, a large number of California seniors and disabled require live-in care. Unfortunately, the new law did not take these situations into account, because all pay after the ninth hour in a 24-hour day must be paid at time and a half. It is essentially a 50 percent increase in cost for nearly two-thirds of the hours worked.

This seemingly small change in the law has prompted an immediate increase of 30 percent or more in the cost of live-in care. The law applies both to privately hired caregivers and those hired through an agency.

Interestingly, however, the state exempted itself from its own law. The hundreds of thousands of aides employed by the state through In-Home Supportive Services will not be paid overtime because the cost to the state would have been hundreds of millions of dollars.

AB241 expires in three years unless renewed. In the interim, Brown is setting up a committee to review the impact of the bill. I encourage you to write the governor and/or your state representatives to let them know your thoughts. See the sidebar on page 41 for contact information.

AB1217: Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act

After several attempts over the past seven years, legislators finally passed a bill to require licensure and oversight of organizations providing nonmedical in-home care to seniors. The law doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, which provides time to implement the regulations in a thoughtful way that promotes safety for consumers and professionalism of the home-care aide occupation in general.

For agencies like mine, Homecare California, the requirements are the same that have been practiced for years – thorough screening and criminal background checking of employees, liability insurance and theft bonding of aides, tuberculosis screening and caregiver training.

But AB1217 adds mechanisms to check the status of both home-care agencies and consumers as well as the status of their aides on a state website much like they can do today for a nursing home, nurse or nurse assistant.

And while there will be substantial costs to home-care agencies to support the program, I believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. For example, aides can be fingerprinted once and those results can be shared among agencies. Today, each agency has to perform its own background checks, and there is inconsistency to the extent each agency performs its check. Homecare California fingerprints its aides, whereas some agencies use the aide’s Social Security number and last-known address.

California can set the example for a well-thought-out implementation of licensure that puts consumers first and then balances the needs of workers and organizations that employ them to promote a steady flow of professional, well-trained aides to keep costs to seniors from rising too rapidly.

If you have questions about how these laws may affect your individual situation, feel free to contact me and we can discuss which provisions you may want to put into place to ensure that you comply with the new state laws.

Greg Hartwell is founder and CEO of Homecare California, a Los Altos-based in-home caregiving agency. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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